February 2003 Archives
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February 14, 2003


It is not sufficient to look just from where you are: it is also essential to look from far and beyond.

How to look from far and beyond in space and time? It can be done by yourself staying at a place which is far beyond your place, or by reading books written by those from far and beyond, or by going to the Internet and gaining information about the thoughts around in places and times far and beyond.

Or otherwise you are just a frog in the well who thinks that the world is only water and frogs...


February 11, 2003

Education comparison of US and India

I had mailed a friend about the comparison of a typical US undergrad engineering education with that in India. Here is the mail:

Hi xyz,

This is abt the discussion we were having abt the comparison of the Undergrad Computer Science/Electrical Engineering education in India and the US.

It may seem that since Indian students have to take a lot more courses in EECS they have a more thorough preparation in the tech field and get better education - there are the following arguments against that -
1. The education viz professor and teaching quality in those courses is really bad.
2. You are forced to take each course you may or may not be interested in. Many people in India are not interested in the major itself, leave aside specific fields in the major (for ex. graphics).
3. The focus is on rote learning - exams are made to test your memorization of the topic - here the exams test more concept based and there are a lot of homeworks.
4. Infrastructure and facilities are lacking which contribute to lack of or inferior lab equipment/facilities.
5. The course structure here is at the cutting edge.(CS445 - build robots and take part in a competition)
6. Many undergrad CS people at USC end up taking all the 400 level courses and 2-3 500 level courses too so they too get a reasonable background in the things they are interested in.
7. Here undergrads, if they are good, have the opportunity to participate in world class research.

Besides, the students here get a better education apart from getting a reasonable background in the Tech area, because:
1. No person I would say is interested _only_ in computer science. Generally all people have some interests in other areas like music, dance, physics, history, geography, psychology, philosophy, astronomy, etc. People in India have to suppress their interests or develop it personally on their own. Here they can take a few courses in the areas they are interested in - it facilitates "learning what you want to". If they are particularly interested in a particular area people, then they do a double major, for ex. in CS and Math, EE and Phys, etc.
2. More social activities on campus - more parties, more clubs (want to fly a plane? join the flying club at USC), more facilities like the Gym, having friendships with people in different majors (giving a broader perspective of life in general), opportunity to participate in totally different activities like writing for the college student newspaper, etc. : all these develop a better well rounded individual.

In India, there are the following advantages:
1. Because of very high population and all people trying to get into engineering or medicine, the competition is intense. People study a lot and excel themselves, they have to become bright and expert in order to survive itself. This leads to some quite bright and expert people coming out of the system. (Note: This advantage is kind of incidental since it is rooted in the disadvantages of high population and non-availability of other majors which also lead to many other disadvantages.)(Note: In the US, bright people are spread out in different majors - and brightness is rooted in interest, and not as a necessity )
2. Taking courses in which one is not interested in has a chance of helping you later on, when you can suddenly apply the things you learned there to other problems in other areas of the field. (this point is debatable)
3. In the US, effort is made to make a course easy to the student - i.e. student concerns are taken into account while designing the course - because of the philosophy of not to unnecessary trouble a person. This might lead to easier undergrad courses. (this point is debatable)
4. Education is cheaper. (this might be a significant advantage but becomes milder when you consider that community colleges in the US are dirt cheap yet of not bad quality)

Overall, the US education system is freedom oriented (learn what you want to), and Indian system is forced (you gotta learn this).

I undoubtedly feel that the American education system is superior.

Education is dependent on the development of the country in general. And India has progressed a lot, and is improving at a rapid pace. I think in 50 years, India will be quite developed and near world class.

(Education *above* undergrad level i.e. graduate level in the US is without question superior than India's - it is not even worth a discussion)

(Education in branches other than medicine and engineering in the US is superior than India's without question again - not worth a discussion)

(Education *below* undergrad level in the US is good or not is a debatable issue - since they have choice of course selections atleast as early as the 9th grade - so many people dont take all fundamental courses - some people avoid courses they hate like math, geography etc. Anyway the quality of life in general is high in the US, and there are lots of facilities and infrastructure for learning if you want to, the US has a stronger performance than India in the international math and physics olympiads - so I would give the edge to the US here too)


Note that IITs are not considered here. They will be considered in a later post.


February 9, 2003


Probably what you know and opine has been influenced in a strong way by the information and opinions of the people you have met and talked with.

Strong attachment with the group of people around us makes us unconsciously agree with the same opinions and ideas as the group.

And when those people around have some shared view, the view inevitably becomes our view.

This leads to irrational thinking and narrowminded views.

What is required is the ability to independently reason for oneself, taking the opinions/data from the group into consideration.

The countries that were out of the scene when reason and science were being invented routinely fall victim of this .... though how are these two facts related is less obvious.

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