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According to a study, first-born are more likely to become engineer or doctor

Brain Buxa |  16 November 2017 |

Relative probabilities: not only do second-borns differ from first-borns in terms of career choice, the trend towards choosing less prestigious occupations increases with every further child. For example, the probability for a second-born child to study journalism is 16 percent higher than for the first-born. Between the third and the first child, the difference is 40 percent. Data: Swedish Administrative Register. © MPI for Demographic Research

According to a recent study, children who are born first in the family are more likely to choose engineering or medicine as a career choice and as a consequence earn more than their siblings who choose streams like academics and humanities as a career choice. The findings, led by researchers from the Max Planck Institute in Munich, Germany, showed that the second born children are less likely (27 percent) to apply for the engineering and medical course as their career choice. The probability of choosing engineering or medicine as a career choice even further decreased with the third born choice. Third born are 36 percent less likely to apply for engineering or medical course.

The difference in the choice of university program is not only due to first born having better grades in the school but also due to the fact that parents invest more on the first born in early years which plays a crucial role in shaping the ability, preferences and ambitions of the siblings though they live in the same shared environment. “Our results suggest that parents invest more in earlier-born children than in later-born and that this shapes sibling differences in ability and ambitions even within the family,” said Kieron Barclay, demographer at Max Planck Institute.  “First-borns benefit exclusively from parents’ attention as long as they are the only child at home. This gives them a head start,” said Mikko Myrskyla, Director at the Institute, in the paper published in the journal Social Forces. – Courtesy   /    Click here to Read More Later-borns choose less prestigious programmes at university – First-borns are more likely to study more prestigious subjects at university such as medicine and engineering and can thus expect greater earnings than later-borns, who turn to arts, journalism and teaching.

Click here to download the fulltext article:  Birth Order and College Major in Sweden


MOOCs: The new generation learning

Digital Learning | | Archana Thakur | Opinion |


MOOCs provide an affordable and flexible way to learn new skills, advance your career and deliver quality educational experiences at scale, writes Archana Thakur, Joint Secretary, University Grants Commission (UGC), how MOOCs is helping students in their learning for Elets News Network (ENN). Gone are the years when whatever we learnt in school or colleges used to get stuck with  us throughout our working life.  The rapid pace of technological advancement has turned constant learning as the most pressing need of the day and for this the massivee open online courses (MOOCs) have been adequately equipped to address and help in it. MOOCs have been one of the most hotly-debated topics in the education circles over the past few years. Opinions have been extremely polarising, with some people heralding it as the greatest leap for education since the invention of the printing press, and some dismissing it as another fad. MOOC is an online course which aims unlimited participation and open access via the web. The first MOOCs emerged from the Open Educational Resources (OER) movement. The term MOOC was coined in 2008 by Dave Cormier of the University of Prince Edward Island in response to a course called Connectivism and Connective Knowledge (also known as CCK08). CCK08, which was led by George Siemens of Athabasca University and Stephen Downes of the National Research Council, consisted  25 tuition-paying students in Extended Education at the University of Manitoba, as well as over 2,200 online students from the general public who were studying free of cost.

This provides interactive user forums to support community interactions among students, professors, and teaching assistants. MOOCs are widely researched development in distance education introduced in the US in 2006 for the first time. It emerged as a popular mode of learning in 2012. According to The New York Times, 2012 became “The Year MOOC”. MOOCs did not rely on posted resources, learning management systems, and video lectures. Instead it uses structures that mixed the learning management system with more open web resources. MOOCs are of two distinct types: one of them emphasises the connectivist philosophy and other resembles to more traditional courses. Stephen Downes proposed the terms “cMOOC” and “xMOOC” to distinguish in between them. The principle on which cMOOCs are based is of connectivist pedagogy indicating that material should be aggregated rather than pre-selected, remixable, re-purposable and feeding forward. It tries to connect learners to each other to answer questions emphasising collaborative development of the MOOC. MOOCs have a much more traditional course structure typically with a clearly specified syllabus of recorded lectures and self-test problems. The instructor is the expert provider of knowledge, and student interactions are usually limited to asking for assistance and advising each other on difficult points. MOOCs are becoming popular as they offer university-level courses without the need to complete an entire programme of studies. Students get the opportunity to study high quality courses online with prestigious universities, often free of cost. Users can select courses from any institution offering them independently. Video-based study offer interaction either through peer review and group collaboration or automated feedback through objective, online assessments. EdX is a non-for-profit provider, created by Harvard and MIT universities. Now extended to the Australian National University, TU Delft (theNetherlands), and Rice, Berkeley and Georgetown universities in the US.  Around the world, other MOOC providers include EduKart in India, ALISON in Ireland, and Aprentica in Latin America.

The reasons behind considering MOOC are:

         i.            Quality courses with low cost,

       ii.            Can be studied in combination with other work and

      iii.            Study resources are easily accessed from any computer at any location through web.

MOOCs can generate affective learning through four pathways or mechanisms:

  1. Sharing instructor enthusiasm.
  2. Discussion on controversial topics.
  • Exposure to diversity.
  1. Experiencing innovative teaching approaches.

The disadvantages are that while most courses are free, some are fee-paying and videos are normally short, drop-out rates are high – up to 90%. These rates are marginally lower for paid-for courses. A reasonable degree of computer literacy is needed. Many of the MOOC users are graduates seeking to top up their skills and competences. MOOCs do not feed into a degree or other qualification but are self-contained. Only a few students complete the courses. Content of MOOC offered by other country may not match the culture and condition of the home country of the student accessing the course.

 Advantages of MOOCs over physical colleges and universities are-

  • Scaling up the course batch size is a few clicks away.
  • Thousands of young minds can be guided by an emeritus tutor.
  • Self-paced study enables student to study and learn at their own leisurely rate.
  • Online courses can help mitigate and remove all systemic barriers, thus truly making education a universally available resource.

Three of the most pressing critiques of an open learning system are (a) lack of an effective system to measure and validate the progress of the learners, (b) how to integrate the course credits into the present system so that it counts towards a degree from a college, and (c) how to ensure personalised guidance and mentorship. However, all these are resolvable as having certain multiple choices questions at the end of each session to evaluate the understanding of the learner and a few universities have started launching their full-fledged courses online or allowing certain validated MOOCs to contribute credits to their physical courses. In India, SWAYAM (Study Webs of Active-Learning for Young Aspiring Minds) was launched on 15 August 2016 which is an information technology platform. It aims at providing high quality education on various subjects from school level (class IX-XII) to under graduate and post graduate students, covering all disciplines is a new portal for MOOC. SWAYAM is a programme designed to achieve the three cardinal principles of Education Policy viz., access, equity and quality.

The objective of this effort is to take the best teaching learning resources to all, including the most disadvantaged. SWAYAM seeks to bridge the digital divide for students who have hitherto remained untouched by the digital revolution and have not been able to join the mainstream of the knowledge economy. To ensure best quality content are produced and delivered, seven National Coordinators have been appointed. They are NPTEL for engineering,  UGC for post-graduation education, CEC for under-graduate education, NCERT & NIOS for school education, IGNOU for out of the school students and IIMB for management studies. SWAYAM platform is indigenously developed by Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) and All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) with the help of Microsoft and would be ultimately capable of hosting 2000 courses and 80,000 hours of learning: covering school, under-graduate, post-graduate, engineering, law and other professional courses. It is thus anticipated that MOOCs impact is going to be felt strongly on the education system in India not only in improving standards and availability of quality education in all fields, on the click of a button but also granting affordability of learning science for students from rural background or colleges in remote areas with paucity of competent science instructors.

‘When it comes to grants, Govt discriminates against private educational institutes’

Business line on Campus |   Garima Singh | 13 November 2017 | Opinion |

Manipal Global chief Mohandas Pai speaks on the challenges and future of education

TV Mohandas Pai

Technology has become an integral part of our everyday life and its impact can also be seen in education. In the age of smartphones, smart classroom and online exams, the vision of future is Education 4.0 or personalised education, TV Mohandas Pai, Chair-FICCI Skills Committee and Chairman of Manipal Global Education, told BusinessLine in an interview. Excerpts:

What do you mean by the term Education 4.0?

In the earlier times, education was a repository for a few, then it became available for many. As time passed, knowledge became available freely on the Web and now the ultimate outcome of all this that the student has flexibility to learn what she wants to learn, in a manner that she wants to learn and need not pay an outrageous fee. So, Education 4.0 is about personalisation of the educational experience for a student. The students will look at all the courses and will opt for those online or otherwise.

What is the policy roadmap and other challenges in higher education?

The biggest issue in higher education is autonomy. My suggestion to the government is to look at all the mandatory regulations of the University Grants Commission and make it voluntarily and not recommendatory for the top 100 universities. The 100 universities that are best, get them away from UGC, AICTE regulations and give them full freedom. Another issue is public funding for research. The government needs to create a kitty of Rs. 5,000 crore a year and ask all the universities to bid for research. The Indian government discriminates against private institutes, they do not want private universities to come and bid for educational grants. A total of 65 per cent of India’s students are educated by the private sector, but the government does not give them the same money that they give to public institutions. Everything is not IIT and IIM.

Many students from India go abroad for higher studies, but when it comes to foreign students, only a few choose India?

When Indian students go overseas, they go to a country that gives them good education and jobs. Around 3, 67,000 Indians are studying outside the country. On the other side, only 40,000 students come here and that too mostly from the neighbouring countries. The reason for less number of oversees students coming to India is because we are not in the top 100. We do not market our universities, our pedagogy is old and we have rigid course structures. Apart from IITs and IIMs, the degrees that students get from Indian universities are not recognised in the world. Also, we need to focus on better infrastructure, since students from advanced countries are used to a better quality of life.

How is higher education going to contribute to the country’s GDP?

Higher education creates people who can think, who are problem solvers, who are skilled and naturally a part of the knowledge economy. We need more and more human capital that is very knowledgeable, which understands, which can work. So, it’s obvious that higher education is the key to development. Today, the US is greatest superpower, innovator and economy in the world because of its universities. In universities, research happens, you train people, they innovate and come out with a new product and create new economies. Somehow our academia thinks that more the number of students, the lesser will be the quality. This notion is rubbish. For a country like India, which has 29 States, there are only 25 IITs. India should have 100 IITs. The government says there is a less faculty. But faculty will come, get them from abroad. Thousands of Indians are doing PhDs in America. Now is the time to bring them back. Give them grants and they will come back. –  Courtesy

Why we need science in a liberal arts education

The Asian Age | 10 November 2017 | Malabika Sarkar | Opinion |

According to the Human Capital Report 2016 by the World Economic Forum, India has the second highest STEM graduates (2.6 million) after China.

All science graduates are not necessarily doing the best jobs in the country or are employed.

There is no doubt about the popularity of the “sciences” as the preferred choice among students in India. Traditionally, not only is an education in the sciences considered prestigious, it is also assumed to be a means to better employability and consequently a higher standard of living and recognition in society. Statistics attest to the still-increasing number of STEM (Sciences, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) graduates from the country and India’s obsession with professional courses such as engineering. According to the Human Capital Report 2016 by the World Economic Forum, India has the second highest STEM graduates (2.6 million) after China. However, unemployment rates among them in India continue to be high. This means that all science graduates are not necessarily doing the best jobs in the country or are employed. The introduction of the sciences into the curriculum of a liberal arts university should not be seen as a gesture towards this dominating trend of privileging the sciences. As if an alien component is being accommodated into a framework where it does not belong. In fact, the sciences belong quite naturally within the liberal arts. After all, what are the roots of a liberal arts education?

If one goes back in history, the genesis of a broad-based education, which is the fundamental character of the liberal arts, can be traced back to the classical trivium and quadrivium. These concepts belong to the era of Plato, to classical Greece, continuing through the Latin middle ages, to find a home first in Britain and Europe and then in North America. Trivium, the first stage of higher education, envisioned the study of grammar, logic and rhetoric. Through this, the basic foundations of languages, quantified reasoning and communication skills were established. The next step was the quadrivium — arithmetic, geometry, music and astronomy. These were traditionally the seven liberal arts and sciences. Beyond this one reached the realm of philosophy. It was the unfolding of this tradition in the liberal arts and sciences curriculum and pedagogy of North American universities that saw primarily the study of literature, philosophy, history, languages and allied subjects. In India, the idea of a liberal arts education is still relatively new. This unfamiliarity is primarily the reason why people associate the liberal arts only with the humanities and, at most, the social sciences. And yet, as the tradition of the trivium and quadrivium shows, the sciences were always an integral part of the liberal arts.

Science at a liberal arts university does not seek to replicate the science education of pre-professional institutions. Nor does it seek to offer a science education that is charged with nuances from the study of literature, philosophy, history and culture while being deficient in quantitative reasoning, experimental approaches and other defining modes of scientific enquiry. Science in a liberal arts university is not “soft science”. The mark of distinction of science in such an institution, compared with the science taught at more traditional universities and technology institutes, is that it is concept driven, building a strong foundation in the basic philosophy of each science subject while at the same time paying careful attention to the ground realities of the core components and methodology of each of the disciplines in the sciences. With this foundation carefully built, the student is guided and encouraged towards research which may be either theoretical or experimental. All this, in an environment filled with the competing interests of humanities, social sciences, languages and co-curricular activities. As a result, a science graduate from a liberal arts university has as much opportunity for research and an academic life as well as employment in a variety of fields associated with economics, computer science, and psychology. Other opportunities are in science policy or in the corporate sphere where a science background is required and the science student from a liberal arts university brings additional training in critical thinking and communication skills. The truth is that sciences always had been, and always will be, an integral part of liberal education. Historically, there was no separation between the sciences and the humanities. Any problem had to be looked at from multiple perspectives, which is only possible in a holistic education. The separation of these fields in institutions happened much later and that is why we hear terms like “liberal arts and sciences education” used by universities across the globe. In today’s world of increasing complexity and convergence, it is time to reconsider this age-old model of learning. Commonalities and overlaps in the sciences and humanities will help us come up with novel, creative and relevant solutions. By incorporating sciences we are just completing a picture which was only partially drawn.

In India, since Independence, science policy created a bifurcation between teaching and research. Universities and colleges were expected to teach and research was expected to happen at research institutions. The problem with this bifurcation is that faculty at universities and colleges were not encouraged to conduct research; while research institutions were not able to attract enough young people who could be trained to become future science teachers. At the best universities around the world, the teaching of the sciences is closely linked to enquiry and research. Both of these aspects are equally important and must coexist. This blended model empowers students by teaching them the fundamentals of science subjects as well as inspiring them towards research. Admittedly, the inclusion of the sciences in a “liberal arts” curriculum may be seen as “utopian”, as there is a common misconception that the sciences do not belong to the liberal arts. Introducing the liberal arts framework into the Indian education system is itself a radical step. The inclusion of the sciences into its pedagogy and curriculum might seem even more radical. But the genesis of the liberal arts as philosophy and its existence in practice at premier universities around the world shows that this is nothing but the completion of a holistic picture. That Milton had a deep interest in mathematics and Darwin in the arts, that Kepler was obsessed with music and the metaphysical poet Andrew Marvell had an informed knowledge about sunspots are among many instances that prove that a holistic approach to knowledge is a natural inclination of the human mind. – Courtesy

Engineering a new future

The Hindu | Sci-Tech | Science |   Nahla Nainar |  October 13, 2017 | Opinion |

Engineering programmes that do nothing to address the challenges of globalisation will soon be irrelevant, says this India-born academic.

Dr S K Ramesh, Dean, College of Engineering and Computer Science at California State University, Northridge (CSUN), seen in his office.

It’s amazing where a love for solving problems can take you. For academic S K Ramesh, born in Madras and now based in California, United States, his early aptitude in working out mathematical and science problems has led him to specialise in fibre optic communication and beyond. “If there is one constant in engineering, it is change. The pace of change in Electronics and Communication Engineering (ECE) has been remarkable when you consider where we are today with ubiquitous connectivity that has changed the way we live and work all over the world,” writes Dr Ramesh, Dean, College of Engineering and Computer Science at California State University, Northridge (CSUN), in an email interview with The Hindu MetroPlus.

Dr Ramesh is also the director and lead principal investigator of ‘Bridging the Gap: Enhancing AIMS2 for Student Succes,’ a collaborative $6 million-project that involves improving overall graduation rates for all Hispanic and low-income students. Growing up in a family of bureaucrats and studying in schools all over Tamil Nadu in the 1970s, Dr Ramesh’s story has a link to Tiruchi too. Following his Pre-University course (PUC) in Loyola College, Madras, he was selected to attend Regional Engineering College (REC), Tiruchirapalli in 1976. The REC is now known as National Institute of Technology, Tiruchirappalli (NITT), and its ECE Alumni Association recently hosted Dr Ramesh for its 50th anniversary celebrations. Dr Ramesh earned his BE (Honours) degree in ECE in 1981. Upon graduation he received a graduate assistantship to pursue his Master’s degree in Electrical Engineering at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, United States. He earned his Master’s degree in 1983 and continued his studies to earn his PhD degree from the same university in 1986. He taught at his alma mater (SIU Carbondale) as a Visiting Professor for a year before he was recruited by California State University, Sacramento where he began his academic career in 1987.

Excerpts from the interview:

Tell us a little about yourself

I was born in Madras and moved to United States to pursue graduate studies at the age of 21, soon after my BE. I was an only child. My father KA Sundaram, earned his Master’s degree in Mathematics and had a long and distinguished career in the Indian Administrative Service (IAS). He retired at the age of 58 as the head of the Tamil Nadu Energy Development Agency (TEDA) that was responsible for renewable energy technology. Many projects that he envisioned almost three decades ago in solar and wind energy are now fully operational. My mother Saroja Sundaram, an Economics graduate, was a homemaker. She was an accomplished singer but literally put that on hold while I was growing up. It was not until I left for the US that she returned to her music career – two decades later. She has rendered over 500 Thevaram concerts all over Tamil Nadu and received the Kalaimamani award from the Government of Tamil Nadu in recognition of her contributions. The timeless values that my parents taught me continue to help me every single day in my life. I met my wife Utpala in graduate school in Carbondale. She has a PhD in Biochemistry and is a research scientist for the California Air Resources Board. Our elder son Arvind (26) is an electrical engineer and works for Northrop Grumman Corporation, while the younger one Anjan (19) is in college studying Biology.

Why did you choose to study engineering?

I loved solving problems and I was doing well in my mathematics and science classes in school. That led me on the path to study engineering. Electronics and Communications engineering were fascinating fields of study. If there is one constant in engineering, it is change. The pace of change in ECE has been remarkable when you consider where we are today with ubiquitous connectivity that has changed the way we live and work all over the world. I was excited to be a part of this new and emerging field. My parents thought that I would follow the family tradition and sit for the IAS exam after my studies in the US. But I had no idea at that time that I would find my true calling as an educator here. In my first semester I was assigned to serve as a teaching assistant for an introductory programming course on PL/1. I was worried since I had to learn this new programming language and serve as a teaching assistant at the same time.

But as my department head told me at that time: “You will figure it out”! Indeed, that’s exactly what happened. That lesson has stayed with me to this day and launched me on the path to becoming an engineering educator. Optical Fibre Communications was coming of age in the early ’80s and gave me a chance to work on many exciting projects going back to my roots in Communications Engineering. The other defining moment for me as I look back on my career is my involvement with Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). I was one of the founding members of the IEEE student branch at REC Tiruchi in 1978 and continued my involvement when I came to the US. The IEEE is the world’s largest, professional, technical society with over 400,000 members worldwide.

Despite a boom in engineering education, many institutions are folding up (in India especially) due to factors like a lack of adequately trained faculty. What would be a good reset point for the subject?

I am aware of this challenge and have volunteered my time along with several colleagues to improve the quality of engineering education — particularly by supporting ongoing faculty professional development. It is vital that educational institutions work closely with employers and industry to keep their curricula relevant. While the fundamentals remain the same, there are remarkable developments taking place at the boundaries between traditional disciplines for instance between Mechanical and Electrical Engineering, leading to the field of Mechatronics. We have a number of global challenges in the world today: food security, clean air, clean water, energy, sustainability, healthcare, transportation, climate change, education, and so on. Engineers continue to find innovative solutions to these global challenges that confront society. Global education needs to be integrated into the engineering curriculum to achieve maximum impact on addressing societal needs. Programmes that do nothing to address the challenges of globalisation will soon be irrelevant.

What are some of the biggest takeaways from your days at REC?

I am incredibly proud of my education at REC Tiruchi. We had some truly outstanding faculty in the ECE department who cared about us as individuals. The late Professor AL Abdussattar, who was the Head of the department, Professor P Ramakrishna Rao, and Professor MJS Rangachar and not to forget our dynamic Principal the late Professor PS Manisundaram, left an indelible mark on all of us in their own inimitable ways. Teamwork and communications are much sought after in the workplace today. Thanks to living in the REC hostels, with batch mates who spoke different languages, we had a virtual melting pot of cultures, languages and traditions. Sure, there were differences and disagreements — but the lesson for all of us was that one could disagree without becoming disagreeable!

With the increased move towards artificial intelligence (AI) and automation, are the days of the human engineer numbered?

Hardly! As we advance technologically and come up with innovative solutions that employ heuristics, AI, and Robotics, now more than ever we need engineers who understand the humanistic values and the impact of their solutions on society. There will always be a need for engineers who can create that next generation of solutions that address the contemporary issues of their time. – Courtesy    /       Profile

Watch the Video: Think CSUN: If You Want to Change the World, Be an Engineer

Students voice dissent over sudden changes in competitive exams such as JEE-Mains

Hindustan Times | Shreya Bhandary | Oct 08, 2017 | Opinion |

One of the common complaints from students has been the limited time given to adapt to these sudden and radical changes.

This academic year has proven to be one of the toughest ones for class XII students, especially for those planning to appear for competitive examinations in 2018. Be it the decision by Joint Admission Board (JAB) of the Indian Institutes of Technology to conduct Joint Entrance Examination (JEE)-Mains only online from the next year or the decision of All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) to take the difficulty-level of Common Entrance Test (CET) for engineering admissions on par with JEE. One of the common complaints from students has been the limited time given to adapt to these sudden and radical changes. “The admission authority should know that any changes should be applicable only two years after its introduction, so that students get ample time to prepare themselves. We not only prepare for our class XII exams in these two years, but also for the various competitive exams,” said Natasha Borges, a class XII student. The decision to do away with the pen-and-paper format for JEE-Mains came in August and took many by surprise. The change was introducted despite popularity of the pen-and-paper format among students. In 2016, hardly 10% of the 13.5 lakh students opted for the online format.  “My friends and I have been trying our hands on mock tests online and every time we do that, errors creep up due to problems with the internet connection. Since the JEE has gone online, most of us are worried because there have been numerous instances wherein a student’s answer to questions has not been registered on the site due to technical glitch and nothing can be done after you submit your paper,” said Supreeth Baliga, a class XII student of RIMS International Junior College, Andheri.

One after another

Just when students got their heads around the fact that MH-CET will now be on par with JEE in terms of quality as well as difficulty-level, the state Directorate of Technical Education (DTE) last week released the final syllabus and break-up of marks applicable for MH-CET in May 2018 — which includes 20% weightage for Class XI syllabus of state board. “JEE is based on CBSE syllabus, whereas CET is based on state board syllabus. How can the two be at the same level when the syllabus itself is different? The DTE authorities have not made this clear, but are expecting us to be prepared for a difficult paper. That’s unfair,” said Sejal Shah, another class XII student. – Courtesy

When cooks get higher salaries than engineers: Bibek Debroy explains state of education

Financial Express | Bibek Debroy |  October 5, 2017 | Opinion |

We have been repeatedly warned against blindly believing everything we read or are forwarded. With that dash of sodium chloride, here is the gist of a message I was forwarded, not as a prospective job applicant, since I possess qualifications for neither.

A restaurant 89 km from Ankamaly (Angamaly) requires a full-time “porotta maker”, at a monthly salary of Rs 18,000-20,000. (Reuters)

We have been repeatedly warned against blindly believing everything we read or are forwarded. With that dash of sodium chloride, here is the gist of a message I was forwarded, not as a prospective job applicant, since I possess qualifications for neither. A restaurant 89 km from Ankamaly (Angamaly) requires a full-time “porotta maker”, at a monthly salary of Rs 18,000-20,000. A concern 60 km from Thrissur requires a full-time “civil engineering B.Tech or diploma holder”, at a monthly salary of Rs 6,000-7,000. These are two isolated advertisements from Kerala and don’t constitute a proper sample. However, some sample survey data are available on the Net, though sample sizes are small. For instance, salary for a cook (not a full-blown chef) is Rs 12,000 per month in Delhi and that for an engineering diploma (not degree) holder between Rs 10,000 and Rs 12,000 per month. That for a driver is Rs 14,000 per month. Therefore, correlation between education and salary isn’t quite what we might expect a priori. Let me throw in an anecdote from a colleague. His maid/cook is around 45 and has two sons, aged 18 and 20. These two exited school after Standard XII and sit at home, subsisting on their mother’s salary. When my colleague asked them, “Why don’t you work as a cook?” the response was, “That is work meant for girls.”

There is an anecdote that features in jokes about economists. I have seen it ascribed to many economists, in place of Kenneth Arrow. The only authentic source I know is attributed to Curt Monash, who studied in Harvard. “I was standing with Ken Arrow by a bank of elevators on the ground floor of William James Hall at Harvard. Three elevators passed us on our way to the basement. I foolishly said ‘I wonder why everybody in the basement wants to go upstairs.’ He responded, almost instantly: ‘You’re confusing supply with demand.’” The labour market is segmented, sectorally and geographically. However, regardless of sector and geography, principles of economics, supply and demand, do apply. There is a quote misattributed to Thomas Carlyle. “Teach a parrot the terms ‘supply and demand’ and you’ve got an economist.” It is misattributed in the sense there is no evidence Thomas Carlyle ever said or wrote anything like this. Parrot or not, prices of everything, labour included, are determined by intersection of supply and demand, unless institutional constraints get in the way of that clearing function. Let’s take the example of a cook’s wages being more than that of an engineering diploma holder. What we have observed is a market clearing wage. Purely on this basis, it is impossible to ascribe it to either purely supply or demand, since the outcome happens to be a combination of both. Because NSS (National Sample Survey) data on unemployment are dated, a lot of people use the BSE-CMIE data, with a fairly decent sample size. This is based on household surveys, a better indicator in a country like India than enterprise surveys. There has been discussion in media about what this shows on the unemployment rate, for all-India, as well as for states. For example, in September 2017, the urban unemployment rate is very high (more than 15%) in Goa and Haryana. The rural unemployment rate is very high (more than 10%) in Haryana and Jammu & Kashmir. On October 3, the all-India rate was 5.83% for urban and 3.75% for rural. While the unemployment rate and its trend merits discussion, as does the question of creation jobs, what’s the definition of “unemployment rate”? Before that, the survey has four categories—‘currently employed’, ‘not employed, but is willing to work and is actively looking for a job’, ‘not employed, is willing to work, but is not actively looking for a job’, and ‘not employed, is not willing to work and is not looking for a job’. “The unemployment rate is computed as the sum of number of persons not employed but willing to work and actively looking for a job as a per cent of the total labour force, where the total labour force is the sum of all those who are employed and those who are not employed but are willing and looking for a job.”

We should certainly have a discussion on the unemployment rate. However, given the example I started with, there is an aspect that is missing from the customary discussion. This is highlighted in a document known as Unemployment in India: A Statistical Profile, a separate product from the same survey. This has the standard unemployment rate, but also has something known as greater unemployment rate, that is, including those who are unemployed and willing to work, but inactive in seeking jobs. The gap between the two rates is highest in the 15-19 age-group, followed by the 20-24 age-group for males, while it is uniform across all age-groups for females. Going back to supply and demand curves for labour and their intersection, everything else remaining the same, wages drop/increase when either supply or demand curves, or both, shift. I think there is an issue of correlation between education and skills, or its lack. Some educational attainment may help acquisition of skills, but the correlation isn’t strong. For females, the gap is uniform across age. However, for younger males, the job-seeker’s perception may be of a stronger correlation than warranted. – Courtesy

Lord Parashuram must have been an engineer: Goa CM Manohar Parrikar

The New Indian Express | By PTI  |   15th September 2017 | Opinion |

Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parikkar (File | PTI)

PANAJI: Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar today said that Lord Parashuram who is believed to have created Goa must have been an engineer who reclaimed the land from the sea. Parrikar was addressing the Engineers Day function in the city. “This is a day when India recognises the importance of engineering talent,” the chief minister said. Referring to the origin of Goa as per mythology, Parrikar said “it is said that Lord Parashuram created Goa. I believe that Parashuram must have been belonging to the clan of engineers who reclaimed the land from the sea.” “It was thousand years back that we knew about the instances like Hastinapur or Pandava Palace which showed the use of all kind of technology.  “Engineering is a very old art and skill that existed in India, which is recognised in the  modern era,” he said. – Courtesy

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Lord Ram’s arrows were like missiles developed by ISRO now, says Gujarat chief minister

Hindustan Times | Aug 27, 2017 | Press Trust of India | Ahmedabad  | Opinion |

Invoking the Ramayana, Rupani praised Ram for his engineering skills by having a bridge, the mythological Ram Setu, constructed between India and Sri Lanka.

Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani said Hanuman carrying an entire mountain to bring a cure for Lakshman was a story of infrastructure development.

Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani on Sunday equated ISRO’s rockets with the arrows of Lord Ram, saying the Hindu deity had done in the past what the space agency was doing now. Invoking the Ramayana, Rupani also praised Ram for his “engineering skills” by having a bridge, the mythological ‘Ram Setu’, constructed between India and Sri Lanka, “with the help of the engineers of that era”. “Each arrow of Lord Ram was a missile. What ISRO is doing right now (launching rockets), Lord Ram used to launch in those days,” the chief minister said while addressing the first convocation ceremony of the Institute of Infrastructure Technology Research and Management(IITRAM), located in Maninagar area here, yesterday. Tapan Misra, director of the Indian Space Research Organisation’s Space Application Centre, was also present at the event. IITRAM is an autonomous university established by the Gujarat government.

Rupani said, “If we link infrastructure with Lord Ram, imagine what kind of engineers he had at that time to build that Ram Setu bridge between India and Sri Lanka. Even squirrels contributed in building that bridge. It was Lord Ram’s imagination which was realised by the engineers of that era.” The BJP leader went on to pick more examples from the mythological text to connect to the modern era. According to the chief minister, Hanuman carrying an entire mountain to bring a cure for Lakshman was a story of “infrastructure development”, while Ram eating berries tasted by Shabari was “social engineering”. “When Lord Hanuman could not pick up the right herb which can cure Lakshman, he brought the entire mountain. We wonder what kind of technology existed back then which facilitated the shifting of the mountain. This is also a story of infrastructure development,” he said. “Not just developing weapons and infrastructure, Lord Ram also did social engineering. He brought people from all castes and communities together. By eating berries offered by Shabri, he won trust of adivasis (tribals). Imagine bringing together Sugreev, Hanuman and the army of monkeys, it was social engineering by Lord Ram.” – Courtesy