Wednesday 26 December 2007

Watt By Watt Initiative


Indian Social & Political Environment (ISPE) is a course for PGP at IIMA offered by Prof. Anil Gupta. Guptaji is reknowned for his works in grassroots innovations and are firm believer of Indian traditional knowledge and its efficacy in resolving contemporary issues. He is honored with Padamshri by Government of India.

ISPE is a unique course in many aspects. Many students find it misplaced in the management program. However, Prof. Gupta believes that it is a much required course to sensitize future managers regarding current social and political issues. This is a Zero Credit but compulsory course. Professor believes that you decide how much did you learn and give credits to yourself. He doesn't believe that credits and grades are effective tools to motivate students to learn more. Quite unlike the way PGP program is designed.

ISPE requires us to take up any project that bring about a positive change in the society. As a part of this project, we took up Save Energy Initiative @ IIMA campus. More challenging were the behavioural aspects of energy saving than technical aspects and thus we came up with this video to motivate people and appealed to take affirmative action for reducing wastage of energy.

Like many other ISPE projects, this has also become a continuing projects despite the course is over and our team has decided to continue our efforts in this direction. In fact, many more from the community have shown interest to join the efforts!

Tuesday 25 December 2007

21st Century Gods!

We are 21st Century Gods. Let me tell you something about another layer of cultural fabric of IIMA student life before you can figure out what 21st Century Gods mean. We have 18 dormatories in old campus and 7 more in new campus. I live in D-21. But that's a boring label, isn't it? At least we don't feel good to throw just another number. Each dorm has its own identity and they like to maintain that at all cost. There are inter-dorm rivalries and intra-dorm strong loyalty! Super Tuchchhas visit their old dorms and cherish the memories, take people out for dorm-dinner! Yes, dorm dinner is an event when all 30 to 40 students go together for dinner and thats kinda very regular event and we have an outing manager to negotiate with Ahmedabad's lead restaurants and get hefty discounts! We cash IIMA brand everywhere!!! Well, I was talking about dorm identities. Each dorm has its own unique name. Student has also its own dorm-name. My dorm is that of 21st Century Gods and we feel like god!

We spend quite a good time back in dorms and its like our family. A family of 30 to 40 students in each dorm. Students Activity Office is very particular about composition of this groups. We are allocated to dorms on scientific basis as we join the institute and rarely anybody changes the dorm. At least I have not heard of anybody. They try to balance Fachcha vs. Tuchcha, Engineer - Non-engineer (thats like caste here: upper class and lower class!), IIT- Non IIT and what not (we don't know the heauristics that Student Activities office use, this is just my guess). Well, gender is something sacrosanct. We have saperate dorms for guys and girls :) but then students try to balance this equation by visiting cross-gender dorms! Dorms and NYC never sleeps. We are nocturnals. We work (and not work) at night! Well, each dorm celebrates their dormi's birthday at midnight. Its a tradition. We call a girl (on a guys bdday) as Guest of Honour and so do the girls (they call a guy as GOH). Birthday Manager of the dorm prepares a birthday invite and floats it on network. Midnight is the time when the poor guy gets bumps!

Well, now that you know that we are 21st Century Gods and we celebrate birthdays at midnight let me tell you what happened on 24th December. People called out and asked to assemble in the courtyard of our dorm and said that we have one of our dormie's bdday tonight! I could not recollect getting any b'day invite and was quite surprized, whose birthday it is? Voila!!! The birthday manager got out 3 kg of cake and announced that its Jesus's birthday today and thou is one of our dormies! We are 21st century Gods and we need to celebrate each and every dormie's birthday! This is what I meant by our identities, we live them in full spirit.

Wow! My dorm has impressed me with the philosophy that God is within. Each individual has the potential to be God (I like the same thing about Jainism where they say that everybody can become Tirthankar). God is one of us. We are one of the gods. Thats the philosophy that we have at Dorm 21. We celebrated Jesus's birthday last night and I felt so good! If you wanna meet Jesus look within. Thou stays with you, around you, is one of you.
-Dolly (Yep, that's my dorm name!)

Thursday 22 November 2007

Joint Probability, Indian Mythology & Lateral Thinking!!!

Here is a Katha in my village by a Saint who might be coming from some village in Saurashtra. And here is a Lecture from a Professor at IIMA who might be holding a PhD from Stanford. Well, both talked about Joint Probability in their own distinct way and here I am to synthesize the best of both world. My feet are in rural Saurashtra and my head is in elite IIMA! I have all rights to syntehsize :)

Katha is of Hiranyakashyapu. He gets Vardaan from Lord Shiva. He asks for immortality but Lord Shiva says that everybody who takes birth has to die. To reduce the probability of death to nil, Hiranyakashyapu asks specifics of death in Vardaan. Here they are: He says that his death is possible only when its neither day nor night, neither inside nor outside, neither on the earth nor in the sky, neither with the shastra nor with the astra, neither with the living not with the dead, neither by the human nor by the animal. Well, apart from the amount of lateral thinking it calls for, his death has least probability to happen. Thanks to principles of joint probability. Joint probability means that all the event should happen and probability of simultaneous happening of all the events reduces exponentially. Hiranyakashyapu knew application of this well before the theory of probability was developed!

But as Lord Shiva promised, everybody who takes birth has to die once. And here comes Narsima, one Avataar of Lord Vishnu who is neither man(Nar) nor animal (Sinha). He catches him at dusk: neither day nor night; he catches him in the doorstep: neither inside nor outside; he lifts him up in his lap: neither on the earth nor in the sky; and finally kills him neither with astra nor with shastra but with his nails and nails are neither living nor dead! Isn't that an out of the box lateral thinking? Professors at IIMA and Stanford that trains them are too late and far behind !!!

Tuesday 13 November 2007

Countdown 3,2,1,0 NO its 0,1,2,3...

The most talked about campus event. Placements. The highly glamorized event. IIMA follows the day system of placements. The most sought after B-School starts the placement process with most sought after organizations on 'Day Zero'. Count down begins in reverse. Its a matter of pride to get selected on Day Zero. Its a matter of money and prestige too. Students joyce. Students regret. Students get frustrated. Its all about getting selected or NOT. Entire life's journey so far is summed up in one selection or rejection. Further, reinforcing the belief to work on the CV points! I have yet not seen the mood of final placements. This is just a beginning. Its for summer internship. But competition is still in the air. Ultimately, summers are linked with PPOs - Pre Placement Offers. Companies recruit people for summers to test them for final placements when they graduate. Afterall, its a costly affair! You know the IIMA graduate's salary from those news stories every year!!! This event brings the most glory to IIMA. The handsome placements. So much that most people's motivation to join the program is the job that they get after the completion. This is a cause of worry for some professors. People loose motivation, once they get placed into a dream organization for summers. And this happens so early, its just the mid of second term! Four more terms to go. Let me observe, how true it is! Many of my classmates have got into Goldman Sachs and Lehman Brothers!

Monday 22 October 2007

Fun with Folded Names!

'Folded Names' is another creative game that we play! We do conceptually no less mischevious things than throwing paper aeroplanes at professors to make fun inside the classroom as we used to do in our undergrad! Offcourse in much creative and unique way (now we are grad students, come on!) that we only enjoy, thanks again to Case Method of teaching. In our auditoria like classrooms, each one of us carry a name plate in front of our seat. Its a thick paper on which our names are printed so that when we discuss, professor and academic associate can notice and take note who has put the CP! What we do after the class is over and nobody is there in the room? We fold other people's name in creative manner and put them back in the slot. And then comes the fun part :) when somebody puts a CP and professor replies trying to read the name: she finds Manish Goswami becoming ManGo! Or even worse, Saurabh Singhal found as urinal!!! Its not difficult to imaginge a situation when Professor really gets embarassed when Hardip Kaur carries her name as Hard Kaur! Try imagining your name, you would find its really possible to make many different words out of it!

Wednesday 10 October 2007

Cribs & C+, CPs & Cold Calls , Clubs & CV Points...

Contradictions. Dualism. Constant tension between two forces. Should I sharpen my gray cells or worry about Black on White? Here is a race. Race to win. Not everybody can win, but then everybody has to run. Bleeding. Stressed. Thats how our system is designed. The most respected grades by IIMA. Industry takes them on face value. Each additional subgrade has a potential to earn a lac rupee more (incremental contribution as they say in managerial accounting!). Thats why we care about our grades so much. If we get C+, we try to convert it to B-. How does it happen? There is a provision for crib! Not happy with C+? Go for crib. Try to convince your Academic Associate that what you intended to do, or why your solution is also true, etc. etc. But crib is not always that easy. Sometimes, you know from within, that you are unnecessarily complaining about your grade. At least I get what I deserve : C+!!!

This contradiction also prevails for CPs and Cold Calls. Let me first explain what these terms mean. CP is an acronym for Class Participation. Class Participation is very important in case method of teaching which is widely used at IIMA - thanks to early ties with Harvard Business School at the time of genesis. Now, to motivate people to effectively participate in the class and for maximum learning to take place, Class Participation is also graded. Intention is clear and admirable. Same is the story of Cold Calls. Again one more ritual from Harvard and an essential for case method of teaching. Cold Call is the random call from professor to any one of us to present the case analysis. You will not know why we call it cold call until you experience the shivering generated by that randomness, especially when you haven't prepared for the class! Precisely that is the point why professors cold call. But unfortunately, sometimes both CPs and Cold calls loose their relevance and work agains the spirit of case method of teaching. Near the end of the term, all of a sudden, many people realize the need for scoring (at least!) in CP and then classroom becomes a fish market in the race of putting CPs. The opposite happens in the case of cold call, many people take risk of not preparing the case given that only one or two out of class of seventyfive will be cold called in a day! (They teach us probability so well, that we can't resist using it for our comfort!!!).

Anyway, thats the academic side of the story. Contradictions and dualisms prevail even in the extracurricular activities. We have quite a few clubs to take care of the several extracurricular intersts of the students. We have serious clubs like Niche for marketing, Beta for finance, Consult for consultancy and several others for socializing like Cultcomm, Faculty Student Interaction and yet another set is of self interest groups like Perspectives for photography, stargazzers for astronomy, Freeriders for travelling fraternity and so on. Contradictions comes when interests clash with the potential to get a CV point by joining a club. Not all clubs are prestigous to look good on CV! Once again, we have to make a choice between what my heart says vis-a-vis what my head thinks! CV point prevails, I drop my old hobby of photography and join Beta club because that is what gives me a great CV value! Contradictions. Contradictions of my identity and the expected identity which has a fixed mould. (However, you always feel that you are shaping your own career and you have full control over life!)

Its a constant choice between putting a CP for grades or a genuine CP. Joining a club for CV point or for interest. Putting a crib or accepting a C+!!!! I would prefer the later in all cases. (Disclaimer: I am not sure, what would I have done if I would have stakes. I am a doctoral student and none of this really matters for me unlike MBA students. I am with them for my first year).

Friday 5 October 2007

Rem, Ramp, Rep, etc.

This place has a lot to offer! You name it and you will find it. What more, everything has a distinct name and a manager to look after! You know what Rem is? and Ramp? and Rep??? Read on to find out more about this lingo and the community that resides on this island located in the city of Ahmedabad, so to say! We have our own world within our 100 acre campus and we are like self sufficient setup reminding me of face-to-face society of rural India! (However, I don't like this step-motherly attitude towards the city which proudly hosts this great institution! And how can I forget that it is not in Ahmedabad by accident, there were great visionaries behind it that this great city has nurtured). Though I am happy that this attitude prevails only in first year and then we jump out from this red brick walls to explore the Ahmedabad and its environ. There you go: we have a club which takes care of this thirst - Freeriders!
Rem is a short form of Remedials. We survive on last minute rems! We don't understand what professor says in the class because we don't go prepared! Then comes a time, when all our algorithm says that we would have a surprize quiz, we organize a rem! As short and as direct the rem, better it is. Professors need to learn how to teach from this great remtakers! Who organizes this? Thats where we have a role for Rep! We have Rep for all major activities and formal posts and then we have managers for almost everything! Birthday manager, Printer Manager, Infrastructure Manager (Infrastructure is a better word for our common toilets!) Pantry Manager, Outing Manager,... you know everything can be managed and everybody is a manager of something or the other. We have no dirth of posts!!!
Ramp is the most exciting part of all this. What if we want to dance? We don't go out (and anyway this city has nothing to offer on that front) so we come together at 12:00 am on Saturdays and one of us become a DJ! Why it is Ramp - because this event used to happen in a cozy courtyard near the famous Ramp of this Louis Kahn's marvel! However, for some good reason (which only god knows), we have stopped using that space and we organize it in auditorium now.