Indian Computer Science (CS) & Information Technology (IT) Academic Reform Activism Consolidated Blog Document

Safe Path for Budding Academics in India

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Safe Path for Budding Academics in India

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I think the world economic climate is pretty grim now. US academia seems to have suffered significant budget cuts in the recent past. Perhaps this is due to the condition of the US economy. The current debt of the US is reported to be around 15 to 16 trillion dollars and growing.

Will Indian academia be spared the problems that are currently afflicting US academia? I think a challenging economic climate in India may impact Indian academia too. How should budding academics in India chart out a safe course for themselves in this uncertain world economic climate?

The safe path for budding academics in India seems to be to clear UGC-NET for LS (Lecturer-ship), get appointment as an Assistant Prof. and then pursue a PhD. Time for PhD work can be difficult to make as teaching load may be 3 to 4 courses per semester. But job security is assured (after one becomes permanent) and the PhD can be done slowly, even over, say, a 10 year time period. 

The big risk comes when one does PhD without an Assistant Prof. teaching position. Even if one is on a research fellowship I am given to understand that most of such fellowships at this junior level are time-bound (4 or 5 years). One day the fellowship will end and that's when the lack of permanent on-scale teaching position (Assistant Prof.) can hit very, very hard. By which time the young man/woman may be close to 30 years old! Even if he/she does win the PhD degree but does not have a job, they may find themselves in a severe life-crisis. Of course, this path provides far more time for PhD research work and so one can really delve into research fully and do possibly excellent research work.

The brilliant PhD holders will not be having any problems landing a job either in academia or in industry research. It is the less than brilliant that may struggle depending on the PhD job situation.

I think the problem may be quite challenging in the US now even for fields like CS. Starry-eyed youngsters may be under the impression that a US PhD program is the dream to be achieved and presume that there will be gold at the end of the US PhD rainbow in terms of an assured tenure-track faculty position. I am not entirely certain that that is the case now. There seems to be significant risk of even CS PhDs having to work for many years as adjunct (temporary) Professors/temporary researchers in the US which has (relatively) poor salary and perhaps no benefits. Perhaps industry research positions in the US are plentiful for CS PhDs now - I do not know for sure.

I was given to understand by an eminent Indian industry research correspondent that the Indian IT industry and Indian academic demand for CS PhDs is very good as of now. So, it seems that PhD scholars in the CS area in India need not be so worried about job prospects provided they do quality research work during their PhD program.

My intent in posting on this topic is just to ensure that the right job opportunities picture is presented to would-be (and current) PhD scholars. It certainly is not to be a scare-monger. If viewers of this post have input that presents a different picture (more positive hopefully) from what is presented I would be glad to receive it and be corrected.

Steve Jobs

Discussion/Informative Posts Involving Others' Articles/Views, Media reports and Some Comments from me

Steve Jobs: One of The Greatest Tech. Revolutionaries of Our Times, October 2011 

Steve Jobs: The iPhone Introduction (2007), post last updated in October 2011 

Steve Jobs: Some Criticism and Some Defense, October 2011 

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Steve Jobs: One of The Greatest Tech. Revolutionaries of Our Times

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Last Updated on 23rd October 2011

One of the Greatest Tech. Revolutionaries of our times has passed away. May God shower His Grace on Steve Jobs. May God give strength to his personal family as well as his 'company' family at Apple to bear this HUGE loss.

And this is a HUGE loss not only to his personal family and Apple, but to millions, or should I say billions of people on this planet as even those whose lives have not yet been touched & improved by the CREATIVE GENIUS of Mr. Steve Jobs & Apple, may get touched in future, directly by Apple products or indirectly by competition inspired by the proven & breathtakingly beautiful ideas of Apple products.

Thank you so much, dear Steve, for bringing so much joy into our lives. May you rest in everlasting peace and joy.

I read some very good articles on him and also viewed videos. Am sharing some of it below.

Please read Stanford University, 2005, Commencement Address by Steve Jobs:

Some comments on it:
[I wanted to copy-paste extracts but that would be a copyright violation - Unfortunately this address is not under a Share-And-Share-Alike kind of copyright. What a pity!]

Steve's biological mother wanted his adoptive parents to be college graduates and had planned it out. But a quirk of fate resulted in Steve being adopted by a couple who were not college graduates - the father had not finished high school and the mother had not graduated from college. But Steve's biological mother signed the adoption papers only when his adoptive parents promised that he would someday go to college.

And Steve does join college. But one that is almost as expensive as Stanford! All his working-class parents' money was being spent on his tuition. Six months into college, he does not see the value and drops out - and calls it one of the best decisions he ever made. But his college, Reed college, is a nice one as he is allowed to drop-in on courses that interest him.

But he is strapped for cash - sleeps on the dorm floor - returns empty coke bottles to buy food and walks 7 miles every Sunday night to be fed Hare Krishna temple Prasadam! 

His drop-in courses include calligraphy which eventually helps him bring beautiful typography into the Mac [and then it goes into Windows :-)].
And he talks about trusting in your gut, destiny, Karma! Maybe it was the Hare Krishna temple influence. Great Spiritual Masters say Self-confidence is THE VITAL thing.

Then he talks about the devastating & public ouster from Apple. How he felt he was a public failure at 30. And how he even thought about running away from the Valley.

He digests the ouster and becomes a 'light' beginner again and embarks into one of the most creative periods of his life. And says that it would not have happened if he had not been given the bitter medicine of being thrown out of Apple!!! I mean, you and I and the world would not have got the iPod, iPhone & the iPad if Steve had not been thrown out of Apple the first time. What a rum thing, life is?

Then about matters of the heart and about the only way to do great work is to love what you do.

About death!!! Wow, this guy was a real spiritual guy. The great spiritual people learn some of the greatest lessons of life from death!! All this will pass, they say. Antah Maya (All is an Illusion). And as Steve says, in the face of death all unimportant things like external expectations, pride, fear of failure fall away and leave only what is truly important. And he says, echoing Great Spiritual Masters, "You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart."

Then his cancer diagnosis. He says, "I didn't even know what a pancreas was." We take our biology for granted. But, at the body level, it is the complete biology that rules no matter how evolved the brain may be. The brain's just a part of the biology and needs a lot of the other organs & stuff for it to tick. I mean, if the brain does not get blood, it dies. Period. Doesn't matter if it is a Nobel Prize winner brain or an uneducated simpleton brain.

Some great philosophy from the great man. He says that death is life's change agent. And he tells the Stanford Univ. youngsters that they are new now but they will become old and get cleared away!! He doesn't pull any punches, does he?

And so he advised them that in the limited time that they have life they should have the courage to follow their heart and intuition. "They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary." Wow!!! I mean, this guy was spiritual guru-level material. Some of his teachings, shall I say, match with those of the Great Spiritual Masters.


I have put down some more links, and also thoughts of mine about Steve Jobs below:

The venerable NY Times:
[Some extracts from the above: "Mr. Jobs was neither a hardware engineer nor a software programmer, nor did he think of himself as a manager. He considered himself a technology leader, choosing the best people possible, encouraging and prodding them, and making the final call on product design. " Eklavya Sai: That ties in with the UK Telegraph article, "How Steve Jobs changed computing", whose link is given below.

"It was an executive style that had evolved. In his early years at Apple, his meddling in tiny details maddened colleagues, and his criticism could be caustic and even humiliating. But he grew to elicit extraordinary loyalty. " Eklavya Sai: Ah! The perfectionist wants his way :)

The NY Times article is fantastic! I wanted to give more quotes but felt it would not be fair to do so. I urge the interested reader to study the NY Times article for a superb account & analysis of Steve Jobs.]

How Steve Jobs changed computing:

Steve Jobs was undoubtedly one of the great technology pioneers of our age, says Ian Douglas, but his biggest talent was for leadership, not engineering:
[Eklavya Sai: Interesting analysis that Steve's prowess was not in engineering or design. Understanding needs & desires of consumers, ability to attract talent and leadership was what he possessed states the above article in its conclusion. Perhaps, like many great political and business leaders, Steve's expertise was having a very keen feel of the desires of people, and the creative vision & business management ability to satisfy them.]

Some fascinating extracts from the US conservative, Democrat-baiting FoxNews tribute to Steve Jobs (even if you are not comfy with FoxNews I suggest you read the article skipping the Obama baiting stuff):

I did not know that Steve Jobs was born of a Syrian father (biological father) & an American mother who insisted that Steve be given for adoption to a couple that will guarantee his college education!!! Steve, as a baby, was given for adoption to a Mountain View, California couple. Fascinating! I mean, the genetic makeup of Steve + his upbringing seems to an interesting mix. And, once he came to know of his biological background, it may have had a very significant impact on his mind-set.

Here's some info. on the biological father:

Here's some info. on the biological mother:

And here's some info. on his adoptive parents (real parents I guess as they raised him):

Interesting that Steve Jobs massive impact on the world was quite recent. I mean, as a young techie I had heard of Next and, of course, Mac. But that was limited to the techies. His products reached out to the non-techie, man/woman on the street with:

iPod released in 2001 but probably gets really well-known in 2004 (4.4 million ipod sold in fiscal 2004).

2003 - iTunes music store announced

2007 - iPhone announced. [It is that recent - just 4 years - and what a presence it has now and how it has completely changed the smartphone game. Wow!!!]

2010 (Jan) - iPad announced.

So his (and company's) products that really impacted the world-at-large were all in the last decade. My God!!! I mean, I am finding it difficult to swallow this. Just one decade and how his stuff has gone and touched and changed the lives of millions across the world. Personally speaking, my music experience has been enhanced tremendously by the iPod. And my iPod Touch has been a pretty good pocket e-Reader with some cool apps too.

And, this creative genius was a college drop-out!!! He finished high school, joined college but dropped out after one semester. And his biological mother had wanted his parents to guarantee his college education!!! Amazing!

Here's the ComputerWorld timeline which was the source of the dates given above:

Here's what the Taiwanese manufacturer of iPhone & iPod for Apple said:
"Steve had an immeasurable and positive impact on the lives of people around the world and the global electronics industry is all the better for the many contributions he made to ensuring that technology is understandable, beautiful, and, most importantly, accessible to people from all walks of life," Hon Hai said in a statement.

[Eklavya Sai: I think that is a beautiful and very meaningful tribute.]


IBN Live News clip:

ABC News clip:

Steve Jobs: a man of contradiction and genius:

CNN's video timeline:

The World Reacts - ABC News:

[Eklavya Sai: The share price chart at the bottom of the article clearly shows how it is after 2004 that Apple really started impacting the world-at-large. The money numbers give you the real deal on this kind of impact-on-world-at-large stuff.]

[Eklavya Sai: A young 1984 Steve in Padmasana with a Mac in his lap! BTW Steve travelled to India in the 70s (IFIRC) looking for spiritual wisdom.]

ABC (Autralia video interview)

[Eklavya Sai: Has good insights on Steve's personality. The interviewee is a senior journalist who seems to be quite knowledgeable about big businessmen.]

And, finally, this post draws to a close with our Economic Times giving an account of the India link to Steve Jobs including a reference to Neem Kairolie Baba!!!


Eklavya Sai Maalik, October 7, 2011 at 10:59 AM

A friend passed on a lovely Ad. video from Apple about Thinking Different: Think Different

Eklavya Sai Maalik, October 7, 2011 at 11:32 AM

A friend passed on this superb Paul Graham essay which analyzes social factors and startups: The High-Res Society.

Eklavya Sai Maalik, October 7, 2011 at 1:13 PM

A friend shared some Steve Jobs quotes:

"Design is a funny word. Some people think design means how it looks. But of course, if you dig deeper, it's really how it works. The design of the Mac wasn't what it looked like, although that was part of it. Primarily, it was how it worked. To design something really well, you have to get it. You have to really grok what it's all about. It takes a passionate commitment to really thoroughly understand something, chew it up, not just quickly swallow it. Most people don't take the time to do that."
- Wired magazine, 1994

"In most people's vocabularies, design means veneer. It's interior decorating. It's the fabric of the curtains and the sofa. But to me, nothing could be further from the meaning of design. Design is the fundamental soul of a man-made creation that ends up expressing itself in successive outer layers of the product or service."
– Fortune magazine 2000

Having done a fair bit of OOAD, I entirely agree with his statements above as far as software design goes. "... fundamental soul of a man-made creation that ends up expressing itself in ..." - so beautifully expressed!!. BTW I don't have any exposure to hardware design. And, perhaps, that's where Steve was at his aesthetics-cum-engineering-design best.

Eklavya Sai Maalik, October 7, 2011 at 2:21 PM

The rough side of Steve Jobs: Steve Jobs: The unparalleled revolutionary 'tyrant'

Eklavya Sai Maalik, October 7, 2011 at 2:26 PM

And a not-so-nice side as well: Steve Jobs kept tight rein as he drove Apple

Eklavya Sai Maalik, October 7, 2011 at 6:29 PM

But then we all have our flaws, don't we? And CEOs can't be nice guys - fact of life - it is not a popularity contest post.

And here's a reviewer's take on Steve's Genius: Steve Jobs: Imitated, Never Duplicated

Monday, October 10, 2011

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