The Global Social Network
Results of PISA international test released by OECD in Dec, 2011, show that Indian students came in at the bottom of the list along with students from Kyrgyzstan:
Students in Tamil Nadu-India attained an average score on the PISA reading literacy scale that is significantly higher than those for Himachal Pradesh-India and Kyrgyzstan, but lower than all other participants in PISA 2009 and PISA 2009+.
In Tamil Nadu-India, 17% of students are estimated to have a proficiency in reading literacy that is at or above the baseline needed to participate effectively and productively in life. This means that 83% of students in Tamil Nadu-India are estimated to be below this baseline level. This compares to 81% of student performing at or above the baseline level in reading in the OECD countries, on average.
Students in the Tamil Nadu-India attained a mean score on the PISA mathematical literacy scale as the same observed in Himachal Pradesh-India, Panama and Peru. This was significantly higher than the mean observed in Kyrgyzstan but lower than those of other participants in PISA 2009 and PISA 2009+.
In Tamil Nadu-India, 15% of students are proficient in mathematics at least to the baseline level at which they begin to demonstrate the kind of skills that enable them to use mathematics in ways that are considered fundamental for their future development. This compares to 75% in the OECD countries, on average. In Tamil Nadu-India, there was no statistically significant difference in the performance of boys and girls in mathematical literacy.
Students in Tamil Nadu-India were estimated to have a mean score on the scientific literacy scale, which is below the means of all OECD countries, but significantly above the mean observed in the other Indian state, Himachal Pradesh. In Tamil Nadu-India, 16% of students are proficient in science at least to the baseline level at which they begin to demonstrate the science competencies that will enable them to participate actively in life situations related to science and technology. This compares to 82% in the OECD countries, on average. In Tamil Nadu-India, there was a statistically significant gender difference in scientific literacy, favouring girls.
QS World University Rankings 2014 announcement lists 10 Pakistani universities among Asia's top 300.
South Asian institutions featuring on this list include 17 from India, 10 from Pakistan and 1 each from Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. The list is topped by Singapore with its National University at #1 and includes Singapore's Nanyang Technical University at #7. It is dominated by 58 universities from China (including 7 in Hong Kong and 1 in Macao), 50 from Japan, 47 from South Korea and 28 from Taiwan. Other nations represented with universities among top 300 in Asia are: Malaysia (17), Thailand (10), Indonesia (9), Philippines (5), Vietnam (3) and Brunei (1).
Pakistani universities on the list are: Pakistan Inst of Engineering and Applied Sciences (PIEAS) at 106, Aga Khan University (AKU) at 116, Quaid-e-Azam University (QAU)at 123 National University of Sciences and Trechnology (NUST) at 129, Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) at 180-190, COMSATS Institute of Technology at 201-250, Karachi University (KU) at 201-250, Punjab University (PU) at 201-250, University of Agriculture Faisalabad (UAF) at 251-300 and University of Engineering Technology (UET) Lahore at 251-300.
India's lost generation: A systemic risk?
Singaporean Thomas Ong, a director at a local private equity firm, recently got invited as a guest lecturer at a private college in Jaipur, India. "I had heard stories about India's young people with 'excellent academic and English speaking skills' but what I encountered was the complete opposite," he said.
Not one student in a class of 100 has ever heard of Bill Gates or Warren Buffet. Most students could not understand, let alone speak fluent English. "The only question they had at the end the lecture was how to find a job at home or abroad," Ong said.
His account is anecdotal evidence of what human resource experts, corporate leaders and countless surveys have been highlighting over the past few years - that despite India's huge talent pool of graduates, few are equipped with skills to be gainfully employed.
According to a survey conducted by Aspiring Minds, an entrepreneurial initiative in preparing youth for employability, as many as 83 percent of graduating engineers in 2013 could not find jobs, given their poor English language and cognitive skills.
In fact, only 2.6 percent of graduates in India were recruited in functional roles like accounting, 15.9 percent in sales-related roles and 21.3 percent in the business process outsourcing sector. "Nearly 47 percent of Indian graduates are unemployable in any sector, irrespective of their academic degrees," noted Varun Aggarwal, co-founder and COO of Aspiring Minds.
The statistics run counter to the perception that India's relatively youthful population could help reap demographic dividends for the country down the line.
For India however, the reality on the ground couldn't be more different. "It is not unusual to see graduates employed as security guards, driver or waiters in restaurants, given the poor standards of education. So what demographic dividend are we talking of? The generation coming of age in the 1920s faces the greatest underemployment ever in history," said Anil Sachdev, a human resources specialist and career coach.
The fault appears to lie in the dismal education standards in India. As little as 10- 12 percent of the 15-29 year-old age group in India receives any formal or informal training compared with to 28 percent in Mexico or 96 percent in South Korea.
For tertiary education, none of the 42 central universities in India feature in the most recent QS list of best 200 colleges in the world. In the rankings of the best MBA schools by the Financial Times, the prestigious Indian School of Business has fallen six places to the 36th spot this year and Indian names are conspicuously missing in the top 25 places.
Analysts say a lack of occupational focus in the degrees offered by local universities could be partly to blame. Some 82 percent of the enrolment is in arts, sciences and commerce programs rather than specific skill-based courses. Even among the engineering and management colleges, less than 25 percent can apply theoretical knowledge to functional areas, given the emphasis on rote learning and theory in the education system, says Aggarwal. The situation progressively deteriorates moving into the tier 2-3 towns from the metros.
"Excessive government regulation, outmoded curricula and a drop in the standards of teaching have led to a deterioration in the standards of education so much so that India's demographic dividend may well turn out to be a demographic disaster," said Pramath Sinha, co-founder of the new-age Ashoka University and ex-dean of Indian School of Business, the country's first public private initiative to bridge jobs and employability gap.
#Modi's (and his cabinet's) poor education, #India's great educational divide fueling anti-#Muslim bigotry, hate?
Aatish Taseer Op Ed in NY Times:
In India, the Congress Party was liberal, left-leaning and secular; but it was also the party of the colonized elite. That meant that practically everyone who was rich, and educated, and grew up speaking English, was also invariably a supporter of Congress.
The cabinet, save for the rare exception, is made up of too many crude, bigoted provincials, united far more by a lack of education than anything so grand as ideology. At the time of writing — and here the one will have to speak for the many — Mr. Modi’s minister of culture had just said of a former Muslim president: “Despite being a Muslim, he was a great nationalist and humanist.”
Some 10 days later, there was the hideous incident in which a Muslim man was lynched by a Hindu mob in a village outside Delhi, on the suspicion of slaughtering a cow and eating beef. It was a defining moment, the culmination of 16 months of cultural chauvinism and hysteria under Mr. Modi, the scarcely veiled target of which are India’s roughly 170 million Muslims. This ugliness is eclipsing Mr. Modi’s development agenda, and just this week, there was yet another incident in which a Kashmiri politician was attacked in Srinagar for hosting “a beef party.”
Poisonous as these attitudes are, they have much more to do with class than politics. They are so obviously part of the vulgarity that accompanies violent social change. If the great drama of our grandparents’ generation was independence, and our parents’ that post-colonial period, ours represents the twilight of the (admittedly flawed) English-speaking classes, and an unraveling of the social and moral order they held in place. A new country is seething with life, but not all vitality is pretty, and there now exists a glaring cultural and intellectual gap between India’s old, entrenched elite and the emerging electorate.
In other places, education would have helped close the gap; it would have helped the country make a whole of the social change it was witnessing. No society is so equitable that men as economically far apart as Bill Clinton and George W. Bush — or as Ed Miliband and David Cameron, for that matter — would have attended the same schools. But, in England and America, there is Oxford and Yale to level the field, to give both men the means to speak to each other.
This is not true of India. In India, one class has had access to the best private schools and foreign universities, where all the instruction is in English; the other has had to make do with the state schools and universities Indian socialism bequeathed them. The two classes almost never meet; they don’t even speak the same language. It has left India divided between an isolated superelite (and if you’re an Indian reading this, you’re probably part of it!) and an emerging middle class that may well lack the intellectual tools needed to channel its vitality.
In another society, with the benefit of a real education, Mr. Modi might have been something more than he was. Then it would be possible to imagine a place with real political differences, and not one in which left and right were divided along the blade of a knife by differences in class, language and education. But just as that other society does not yet exist, neither does that other Modi. Indians will have to make do with the Modi they have; and, as things stand, perhaps the cynics are right: Perhaps this great hope of Indian democracy, with his limited reading and education, is not equal to the enormous task before him.
How bad are most of #India's medical schools? Very, according to new reports. #highereducation #health #MEDICINE
In a country with the world's heaviest health burden, and highest rates of death from treatable diseases like diarrhea, tuberculosis and pneumonia, corruption at medical schools is an extremely pressing issue. The Indian Medical Association estimates that nearly half of those practicing medicine in the country do not have any formal training, but that many of those who claim to be qualified may actually not be.
a couple of recent studies and reports have cast serious doubts on the quality and ethics of the country's vast medical schooling system. The most recent revealed that more than half of those 579 didn't produce a single peer-reviewed research paper in over a decade (2005-2014), and that almost half of all papers were attributed to just 25 of those institutions.
The 2011 court case against a man, Balwant Arora, was one of the earlier indications of the massive levels of fraud. Arora brazenly admitted to issuing more than 50,000 fake medical degrees at around $100 apiece from his home, saying that each of the recipients had "some medical experience" and that he was doing it in service to a country that desperately needs more doctors. He had served four months in jail in 2010 for similar offences.
Private medical colleges have proliferated rapidly in India. When in 1980 there were around 100 public colleges and 11 private, the latter now outnumber the former by 215 to 183. Most are run by businessmen with no medical experience. Last January, the British Medical Journal found that many private medical colleges charged "capitation" fees, which are essentially compulsory donations required for admission. Jeetha D'Silva, who authored that report, wrote, "Except for a few who get into premier institutions of their choice purely on merit, many students face Hobson's choice — either pay capitation to secure admission at a college or give up on the dream of a medical degree."
The best public medical colleges have acceptance rates that are minuscule, even compared to Ivy League universities. Those colleges also tend to be the ones that produce the most research papers, as well as handle the most patients, which would seem to eliminate the possible excuse that overwhelming patient burdens prevent private colleges from producing valuable research.
The most productive medical college in India is also its largest public health institution, the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, or AIIMS. In the 10-year period that Samiran Nundy and his colleagues examined, AIIMS published 11,300 research papers. For context, that is about a quarter of what Massachusetts General Hospital produced in the same time frame.
#India’s largest Amity U. is expanding to #US, and #American officials are ‘very, very skeptical' http://read.bi/2dNaGzg via @bi_strategy
"We are very, very skeptical about this," said Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, who is asking the state's Board of Higher Education to block the sale. "It's hard to imagine that this outfit from overseas, which has never done any education work here in this country, is well-suited to provide any kind of education to these students."
Amity hopes a U.S. campus will attract students from abroad who want to gain the prestige that comes with studying in the United States. It also hopes to forge research partnerships with other colleges, and to connect foreign scholars with their counterparts here.
"We have a global vision for education, a model of education which allows for student mobility, faculty collaboration and research collaboration," said Aseem Chauhan, Amity's chancellor. "We believe that the leaders of tomorrow will be those who have perspectives from different parts of the world."
Owned by a nonprofit company, the chain offers bachelor's and graduate degrees in a range of fields, from art to engineering. It enrolls 125,000 students at more than a dozen campuses, and has grown rapidly amid rising demand for higher education in India.
Its founder president, Ashok Chauhan, was charged with fraud in the 1990s by authorities in Germany, where he ran a network of companies. He returned to India and was never extradited. A plastics company in the U.S. also sued Chauhan in 1995 for failing to pay $20 million in debts, which led to an ongoing court battle in India. Amity officials said Chauhan is not involved in the U.S. expansion. The university is now in the hands of his sons, Aseem Chauhan and Atul Chauhan.
Some in the U.S. say the school is more similar to a for-profit college than a traditional four-year university.
"They are a subsidiary of a conglomerate of companies," said Barmak Nassirian, director of federal relations and policy analysis for the American Association of State College and Universities. "This is by no means reassuring, if you ask me."
Aseem Chauhan counters that Amity has an "excellent and exceptional" track record of student outcomes, although he declined to provide the statistics.
#India's #IIT professor says 'ghosts exist', claims to have driven out 'evil spirits' via chants. Behera teaches Electrical Engineering. He has a PhD from IIT #Delhi. His specialities include #robotics and Artificial Intelligence (#AI) #Hindutva #BJP #Modi https://www.timesnownews.com/the-buzz/article/iit-mandi-director-pr...
KEY HIGHLIGHTSProfessor Laxmidhar Behera, Director of IIT Mandi, said that "ghosts exists"In a video, he claimed that he went to Chennai in 1993 to drive out "evil spirits" from his friend's house and familyHe said that he chanted holy mantras in his apparent act of exorcism
A video of the newly appointed Director of IIT Mandi, Professor Laxmidhar Behera, talking about his apparent act of exorcism to get rid of "evil spirits" from his friend's house by chanting holy mantras has surfaced online.
In the five-minute video, Behera recalled the 1993 incident when he travelled to Chennai to help a friend who was in distress as his "family was affected by ghosts".
The professor said that he had started "practising the thoughts and wisdom in the Bhagavad Gita" along with chanting the 'Hare Rama Hare Krishna' mantra. He said that he had decided to help his friend to "demonstrate the potency of the holy name", The Indian Express reported.
"So I took two of my friends and reached at 7 pm. He was in a research scholar apartment. After 10-15 minutes of loud chanting, we suddenly saw his father, who was a very short... person, absolutely old, barely able to walk, and suddenly his hand and leg was... he was creating such a ghastly dance and his head is almost touching the roof. You could feel that he is being completely devoured by the evil spirit," Behera said in the video.
He added that the mother and wife of the friend were later "possessed by the evil spirit'. It took them around "45 minutes to an hour" of loud chanting to ward off the "evil spirit", he said.
The video was posted seven months ago on a YouTube channel named "Learn Gita Live Gita". The tagline of the channel is "Project by IITIANS who live Gita."
Behera told IE, "I narrated what I said. Ghosts exist, yes."
Behera is a professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering. He has done PhD from IIT Delhi and his areas of speciality are robotics and Artificial Intelligence.
Hindu nationalists claim that ancient Indians had airplanes, stem cell technology, and the internet
The rapid rise of pseudoscience in the Modi era triggers ridicule and concern
The most widely discussed talk at the Indian Science Congress, a government-funded annual jamboree held in Jalandhar in January, wasn't about space exploration or information technology, areas in which India has made rapid progress. Instead, the talk celebrated a story in the Hindu epic Mahabharata about a woman who gave birth to 100 children, citing it as evidence that India's ancient Hindu civilization had developed advanced reproductive technologies. Just as surprising as the claim was the distinguished pedigree of the scientist who made it: chemist G. Nageshwar Rao, vice-chancellor of Andhra University in Visakhapatnam. "Stem cell research was done in this country thousands of years ago," Rao said.
His talk was widely met with ridicule. But Rao is hardly the only Indian scientist to make such claims. In recent years, "experts" have said ancient Indians had spacecraft, the internet, and nuclear weapons—long before Western science came on the scene.
Such claims and other forms of pseudoscience rooted in Hindu nationalism have been on the rise since Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power in 2014. They're not just an embarrassment, some researchers say, but a threat to science and education that stifles critical thinking and could hamper India's development. "Modi has initiated what may be called ‘Project Assault on Scientific Rationality,'" says Gauhar Raza, former chief scientist at the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) here, a conglomerate of almost 40 national labs. "A religio-mythical culture is being propagated in the country's scientific institutions aggressively."
Some blame the rapid rise at least in part on Vijnana Bharati (VIBHA), the science wing of Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS), a massive conservative movement that aims to turn India into a Hindu nation and is the ideological parent of Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party. VIBHA aims to educate the masses about science and technology and harness research to stimulate India's development, but it also promotes "Swadeshi" (indigenous) science and tries to connect modern science to traditional knowledge and Hindu spirituality.
VIBHA receives generous government funding and is active in 23 of India's 29 states, organizing huge science fairs and other events; it has 20,000 so-called "team members" to spread its ideas and 100,000 volunteers—including many in the highest echelons of Indian science.
VIBHA's advisory board includes Vijay Kumar Saraswat, former head of Indian defense research and now chancellor of Jawaharlal Nehru University here. The former chairs of India's Space Commission and its Atomic Energy Commission are VIBHA "patrons." Structural biologist Shekhar Mande, director-general of CSIR, is VIBHA's vice president.
Saraswat—who says he firmly believes in the power of gemstones to influence wellbeing and destiny—is proud of the achievements of ancient Hindu science: "We should rediscover Indian systems which existed thousands of years back," he says. Mande shares that pride. "We are a race which is not inferior to any other race in the world," he says. "Great things have happened in this part of the world." Mande insists that VIBHA is not antiscientific, however: "We want to tell people you have to be rational in your life and not believe in irrational myths." He does not see a rise of pseudoscience in the past 4 years—"We have always had that"—and says part of the problem is that the press is now paying more attention to the occasional bizarre claim. "If journalists don't report it, actually that would be perfect," he says.
But others say there is little doubt that pseudoscience is on the rise—even at the highest levels of government. Modi, who was an RSS pracharak, or propagandist, for 12 years, claimed in 2014 that the transplantation of the elephant head of the god Ganesha to a human—a tale told in ancient epics—was a great achievement of Indian surgery millennia ago, and has made claims about stem cells similar to Rao's. At last year's Indian Science Congress, science minister Harsh Vardhan, a medical doctor and RSS member, said, incorrectly, that physicist Stephen Hawking had stated that the Vedas include theories superior to Albert Einstein's equation E=mc2. "It's one thing for a crackpot to say something like that, but it's a very bad example for people in authority to do so. It is deplorable," Venki Ramakrishnan, the Indian-born president of the Royal Society in London and a 2009 Nobel laureate in chemistry, tells Science. (Vardhan has declined to explain his statement so far and did not respond to an interview request from Science.)
Critics say pseudoscience is creeping into science funding and education. In 2017, Vardhan decided to fund research at the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology here to validate claims that panchagavya, a concoction that includes cow urine and dung, is a remedy for a wide array of ailments—a notion many scientists dismiss. And in January 2018, higher education minister Satya Pal Singh dismissed Charles Darwin's evolution theory and threatened to remove it from school and college curricula. "Nobody, including our ancestors, in written or oral [texts], has said that they ever saw an ape turning into a human being," Singh said.
Those remarks triggered a storm of protest; in a rare display of unity, India's three premier science academies said removing evolution from school curricula, or diluting it with "non-scientific explanations or myths," would be "a retrograde step." In other instances, too, scientists are pushing back against the growing tide of pseudoscience. But doing so can be dangerous. In the past 5 years, four prominent fighters against superstition and pseudoscientific ideas and practices have been murdered, including Narendra Dabholkar, a physician, and M. M. Kalburgi, former vice-chancellor of Kannada University in Hampi. Ongoing police investigations have linked their killers to Hindu fundamentalist organizations.
Some Indian scientists may be susceptible to nonscientific beliefs because they view science as a 9-to-5 job, says Ashok Sahni, a renowned paleontologist and emeritus professor at Panjab University in Chandigarh. "Their religious beliefs don't dovetail with science," he says, and outside working hours those beliefs may hold sway. A tradition of deference to teachers and older persons may also play a role, he adds. "Freedom to question authority, to question writings, that's [an] intrinsic part of science," Ramakrishnan adds. Rather than focusing on the past, India should focus on its scientific future, he says—and drastically hike its research funding.
The grip of Hindu nationalism on Indian society is about to be tested. Two dozen opposition parties have joined forces against Modi for elections that will be held before the end of May. A loss by Modi would bring "some change," says Prabir Purkayastha, vice president of the All India People's Science Network in Madurai, a liberal science advocacy movement with some 400,000 members across the country that opposes VIBHA's ideology. But the tide of pseudoscience may not retreat quickly, he says. "I don't think this battle is going to die down soon, because institutions have been weakened and infected."
The catastrophic cost of junk science, bogus information and the Hindutva inferiority complex
Pseudo-science will be the death of us.
May 01, 2021 · 07:30 am
In part, the packaging of junk science as genuine Hindu scientific knowledge represents a deep-seated complex about the significance and worth of Hindu identity in a global world. In the Hindutva schematic, Hindu identity is, of course, conflated with Indian identity. In part, this phenomenon is a product of a very specific battle that Modi has been fighting forever with the legacy of Nehru, who is his intimate enemy, the figure he wants to surpass and displace from institutional, collective, and public memory in India.
As India collectively gasps for breath, confronted by a catastrophic surge of Covid-19 infections and deaths, the control and content of information related to all aspects of the pandemic have become highly politicised, even more so than has usually been the case for a good while now.
Having masterfully managed, threatened and eventually dominated most of the legacy media over the last seven years, the Bharatiya Janata Party government suddenly finds itself haplessly trying to contain not just the virus but the narrative about the extent of the carnage, the breakdown of the healthcare system, and the reasons for the clearly visible failures of Modi’s leadership.
In February 2021, at an event which was attended by the health minister, Dr Harsh Vardhan, Ramdev claimed that Coronil had received certification from the World Health Organisation, an assertion that was shortly thereafter denied by the WHO and condemned by the Indian Medical Association.
In April 2020, Jaggi Vasudev, who has built a fortune by peddling senseless jargon like “inner engineering” to gullible and stressed Indian techies in Silicon Valley, stated with his characteristic confidence that “the virus does not want to kill you. This virus is living in our body because we are a wonderful habitat for it.”
As a defence strategy, Vasudev advocated not treatment, but mental strength, calm, and a positive attitude. Good virtues all, no doubt, but unproven as a remedy for illnesses. As Siddhartha Mukherjee, doctor, researcher, and author of the Pulitzer-prize winning book on cancer, The Emperor of All Maladies, states, “A positive attitude does not cure cancer, any more than a negative one causes it.”
Cow urine party
In March 2020, a Hindutva group, the Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Mahasabha, held a cow urine drinking party as a means of providing protection against the virus. Given the reach of Ramdev and Vasudev and the incessant promotion of gaumutra by the Hindu Right since 2014, these grand pronouncements beg one big question: if there is any significant measure of truth to any of these claims, why was the virus not effectively vanquished or contained in India within a few months of these remedies being trotted out?
As with celebrity affirmations of dubious science, though, the more alarming issues here are, one, the complicity of the BJP government in actively promoting snake oil cures and, two, the moral and ethical responsibility for the harm arising from the propagation of such inaccurate and misleading information among the Indian populace.
To be clear, these kinds of arguments are not an invention of the Modi era nor exclusively believed by Hindu nationalists. They have a long history, dating back to at least the nineteenth century. The historian Gyan Prakash’s fine study, Another Reason: Science and the Imagination of Modern India (1999), describes how such claims are rooted in colonial-era anxieties about the universalist nature of neglected Hindu knowledge, which, Hindu intellectuals argued, had the potential to hold its own against Western science and technology though it first needed to be resuscitated from the depths of time.