Education woes

Dipankar Gupta has an article in the India Today special issue called ‘Transforming India’ (dated 06th Oct). Some of the numbers from his piece do make for interesting reading:

  • India spends around 45 billion USD on Research and Development (he doesn’t specify what exactly counts as R&D, but those line items should be available somewhere)
  • From 1990 till 1998, the spend on R&D and Technology Training came down from INR 219 crore to INR 156 crore (note: 10 million make a crore)
  • The global rank of some of the institutes are as follows: IITs (50th), IIMs (84th) and JNU (192nd)

He goes on to add that India doesn’t cut a dashing figure in the Scopus Index as well.

There would be more such numbers available to show that

  • the country isn’t doing enough by means of policy and implementation to encourage basic science and technology
  • the country isn’t getting its act together to ensure primary education is being delivered correctly

State run/sponsored/funded schools still take in a large segment of the student population. And, various schemes notwithstanding, the schools have a systemic problem in terms of delivery of content and availability of teachers.

F9 -> rawhide -> F9 and some nice URLs in between

I spent a large part of yesterday evening and the morning of today waiting to download the packages that would make my F9 -> rawhide transition possible. Pulling 2000+ packages (based on the installed set I had and needed to be upgraded) took some time and finally I rebooted the machine.

Plymouth progressed – I anticipated being greeted with the mind-blowing eye-popping grandeur. And … nothing. A fairly standard corporate issue Dell Latitude D630 decided today of all days was not for rawhide.

Took me around 10 minutes to figure out that going back to F9 would be the sensible option. I found my trusted F9 LiveUSB and started the process. I had a few encrypted volumes, and since I hadn’t backed up the data I wanted to figure out how to get access to them. This was as opposed to the instruction flashing on the screen ‘e2fsck -b 8193 ‘. A little bit of searching landed me this fine document for which the author gets my gracious thanks and heartfelt appreciation. A little bit of $ cryptsetup luksOpen magic and I backed up the data to a USB drive, re-installed, re-configured the mirrors, cleaned out the accumulated data bits that weren’t being useful and I was ready to go.

I think I am going to harvest some newer hardware and give rawhide a spin. Can’t just wait to get my hands on the loveliness.

And, being on topic, do remember to drop by the Fedora Project Home Page and check out the banner. It has been 5 glorious years and there’s much much more to come.

বসে আছি হে কবে শুনিব তোমার বাণী ।
কবে বাহির হইব জগতে মম জীবন ধন্য মানি ।।
কবে প্রাণ জাগিবে, তব প্রেম গাহিবে,
দ্বারে দ্বারে ফিরি সবার হৃদয় চাহিবে,
নরনারীমন করিয়া হরণ চরণে দিবে আনি ।।
কেহ শুনে না গান, জাগে না প্রাণ,
বিফলে গীত-অবসান —
তোমার বচন করিব রচন সাধ্য নাহি নাহি ।
তুমি না কহিলে কেমনে কব প্রবল অজেয় বাণী তব,
তুমি যা বলিবে তাই বলিব — আমি কিছুই না জানি ।
তব নামে আমি সবারে ডাকিব, হৃদয়ে লইব টানি ।।

I wonder if…

  • … there is any study that attempts to connect the dots in the statement ‘participants in FOSS projects tend to stick because they end up liking their collaborators as opposed to having strong emotions about the projects’
  • … Linux Foundation would provide a good set of reasons for me to fork out 49 USD and become a member
  • … I’m getting old since at the end of a fairly long mail trail on a mailing list, I ended up feeling bad about the need to get involved in the first place
  • … I need to see a doctor for the odd bouts of fever, shivers and chills I get each time the temperature swings towards “being cold”
  • … reading ‘Three Cups of Tea’ slowly would mark a new way of reading books
  • … I’ll be there at this year, I’ve missed GUADEC and OOoCon already

About the OLPC ‘thing’

A recent mail to a list I read had the following:

One of my colleagues had the following to say about OLPC in Nepal:

“Nepal has had perhaps one of the most active grassroots OLPC community, that became active in the fall of 2006. The OLPC Nepal movement has needed to develop its deployment plans, school server architecture, and strategies of interfacing with government. The most active members of the OLPC community within Nepal formed a local non-profit organization in July 2007, OLE Nepal, to implement Nepal’s initial OLPC deployments. All of these became the exemplars for later deployments ..”

What has prevented the development of such a movement in India? Bangladesh? Srilanka? Pakistan? Bhutan?

The fun part about this is that there is no single silver bullet response. A primary issue with the effort around OLPC in India has been the lack of investment in building up a community around the project. While there has been breakthroughs around the deployment and proof-of-concept runs, there hasn’t been a single sustained thrust in ensuring that there is a buy-in with a larger group of people who contribute. Which means that while there are significant areas where OLPC could do with community love, there hasn’t been any plans made in public on them.

A much secondary issue is the lack of clarity about who is OLPC in India. For a certain period of time, any OLPC related issue was discussed with the team handling the Khairat pilot. Moving on, there exists a lack of structured information about how the organization plans to work – what the plans moving forward are and how it plans to attract volunteers to the cause. Scaling up the deployments and notching up the numbers is a measure of success. Another yardstick is how much of interest has been developed with newer contributors.

Still searching for l10n process documentation for Thunderbird

Near about the beginning of this month Simon Paquet had written to a few folks off-list about working on localization of Thunderbird.

Since the bn_IN team hasn’t had a cheery experience of working with the Mozilla team, Runa had requested that a few bits be cleared up. These relate to documentation especially around processes.

Quoting from the mail:

1. A pointed list of to-dos (preferably sequentially) that would allow even a seemingly new translator to complete most of the work without constant supervision/querying

2. An explanation of the automated processes (e.g. the scripts to create local workable copies) that would allow translators to troubleshoot

3. Segregating the inherent processes (like translation of UI, web-parts, getting started pages) and posting them in the aforementioned list of to-dos as part of the standard template.

4. Clear identification of the tools and methodologies (like tinderbox, dashboard, litmus etc.) used and mapping them to the monitoring processes to be followed by the translation group.

5. Identifying the process of querying about context of translatable strings. ( I generally ask on the mailing list, have not seen many queries in there)

I haven’t seen a response about this from either Simon or others from Mozilla. And, I don’t really find that strange.

A passing thought

যদি তোমার দেখা না পাই, প্রভু, এবার এ জীবনে
তবে তোমায় আমি পাই নি যেন সে কথা রয় মনে ।
যেন ভুলে না যাই, বেদনা পাই শয়নে স্বপনে ।।
এ সংসারের হাটে
আমার যতই দিবস কাটে,
আমার যতই দু হাত ভরে উঠে ধনে
তবু কিছুই আমি পাই নি যেন সে কথা রয় মনে ।
যেন ভুলে না যাই, বেদনা পাই শয়নে স্বপনে ।।
যদি আলসভরে
আমি বসি পথের ‘পরে,
যদি ধুলায় শয়ন পাতি সযতনে,
যেন সকল পথই বাকি আছে সে কথা রয় মনে ।
যেন ভুলে না যাই, বেদনা পাই শয়নে স্বপনে ।।
যতই উঠে হাসি,
ঘরে যতই বাজে বাঁশি,
ওগো যতই গৃহ সাজাই আয়োজনে,
যেন তোমায় ঘরে হয় নি আনা সে কথা রয় মনে ।
যেন ভুলে না যাই, বেদনা পাই শয়নে স্বপনে ।।