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

Dennis Ritchie, a Truly Great Software Guy

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Dennis Ritchie, a Truly Great Software Guy

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Last Updated On December 26th 2011

A friend passed on the news of Dennis Ritchie, one of the truly great contributors to the software industry & profession, passing away.

He wrote a touching mail:
I imagine somewhere up there, earlier today a class just started with:


    printf("Hello, heaven!\n");

So long and thanks for everything, Dr. Ritchie!


Eklavya Sai: I am immensely grateful to Dennis Ritchie for his 'C' programming language as well as Unix. I pray to Almighty God to shower His Grace on Dennis Ritchie.

I will never forget how much his (& Kernighan)'s book, "The C Programming Language", contributed to my learning programming decently. So, in a sense, I guess I am a student of his, and also a long time practitioner of his programming language creation.

But, to be honest, he was a private man and so I have very little info about the man, Dennis Ritchie. I am sure he would have been a very decent chap.

His contribution to CS & IT can be felt by the fact that even today in most CS depts. and some other depts. in Indian academia they still teach 'C' programming!! Linux is still written in 'C'. From 1971 (?) to 2011 - 40 years on in the fast changing tech. world and still current!!! I think that is tremendous testimony to the value of his creation.

Here's a nice article on him:

Here's his Bell Labs home page:

And here's the wiki page on him:

Wiki on 'C' programming language:


Eklavya Sai Maalik, October 14, 2011 at 11:16 AM

Here is a tribute to Ritchie from, where an MIT Prof. says, “Jobs was the king of the visible, and Ritchie is the king of what is largely invisible,”

Eklavya Sai Maalik, December 30, 2011 at 5:38 PM

Here's a nice tribute to Ritchie from NYTimes:

IT Finishing Schools

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

IT Finishing Schools, October 2011 

More on IT Finishing Schools, October 2011 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

IT Finishing Schools

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A somewhat recent trend in Academia seems to be having IT Finishing Schools (ITFS) which help graduates of any discipline who could not land a job to pick up IT skills so that they land a job. specifies how Ministry of Human Resources & Development (MHRD), Government of India, directed NITs (National Institute of Technology) in Calicut, Durgapur, Jaipur, Kurushetra, Surathkal, Tiruchirappalli and Warangal and IIT-Roorkee to experiment with IT finishing schools. The document (dated 2007) also gives the syllabus covered in these "IT finishing school" courses.

And a finishing school set up by the Government of Kerala, states:
"Achieving quality standards in employability has fuelled the setting up of the Model Finishing School by the Government of Kerala. It is hoped that this venture will go a long way in remedying the perplexing problem faced by the youth of Kerala; of not being able to secure employment in desired numbers in spite of brilliant technical and analytical credentials"!!!
Here is the finishing school:

I think these initiatives on part of the Central & State governments are wonderful, as it will be of great help to needy students who graduate with degrees & skill sets which are not in demand. I mean, it is all fine to be very knowledgeable about something and have "brilliant technical and analytical credentials" but if society does not have enough jobs/needs requiring that brilliant technical and analytical knowledge and skill set, how does such a person earn a living?

A great challenge in the Indian educational system is the availability of "higher education" opportunities for the masses which are relevant to society's needs, or in other words. relevant to job opportunities in the market place. So a student may do B.Sc. Physics only because he could not get a B.Tech. (IT) seat and not because he wanted to become a Physicist. Many times, he just wants to do his "graduation" as many white-collar jobs need at least a "graduate" degree. If the student had a choice he may have studied B.C.A. or B.Tech. (IT).

Now my comments should not be misunderstood as me looking down upon Physics or other sciences in comparison to IT. There are many brilliant students who do sciences, say B.Sc. Physics, out of an interest in Physics. But some, like me, studied Physics as I could not land a day-scholar engineering seat in Mumbai (in 1979), and could not really afford hostel-scholar engineering. It is not that I did not like Physics - it was just that I was given the impression then that the job prospects of engineering are better. And, given the financially strapped condition of my family, job was THE vital thing for me, and not knowledge for the pure love of knowledge.

[As an aside, even as a kid, the knowledge that I really loved most was scriptural knowledge but then there were, and still are, not many decently paid jobs/earning opportunities for guys who know Upanishads, Geeta or Bhagavatham! I mean the profession(s) related to scriptural knowledge expertise expect you to lead a life of Thyaga (sacrifice) and submission to God's Will, which at that age, frankly, I was not prepared to do.]

And even among those who study Physics (or other sciences or commerce or arts) as a second-option, like me, a love for Physics blossoms. IMHO, pure sciences like Physics are far, far more intellectually challenging to master than applied science streams like software/computer engineering. Specifically, IMHO, IT software design & development, while it does have its intellectual challenges & complexities, comes nowhere close to the intellectual challenge of mastering areas of science like General Theory of Relativity ( or understanding the genetic makeup of the human species (

Many of such science-first-choice or science-second-choice (or commerce or arts) students may become brilliant scientists (or experts in commerce & humanities) and contribute to extending the horizons of scientific (or commercial or artistic) knowledge.

But I think the inescapable truth is that many, many students doing science, commerce and arts degrees do it only to procure a decent job (like me). And IT is an area where many jobs are available. But IT degree seats are far, far fewer than the demand. So many students do something else as second-choice. And eventually many BUT NOT ALL science, commerce, arts and engineering graduates from various streams gravitate to the IT stream when they start looking for jobs. You just cannot escape from the market realities of Supply & Demand.

I feel, if AICTE/UGC policy makers seriously explore Internet based education possibilities, at least for the CS & IT field, they can really open up higher education opportunities to the masses. See the post on CS & IT: Internet Based Learning for some thoughts on this.

Private finishing schools also seem to have joined the bandwagon. Here is a 2007 news report:

Here is the "About Us" page of that finishing school, which claims that it "Pioneered India’s first IT finishing School in 2007":

This 2007 news article gives some idea about the cost too:

Another ITFS states:

"---- IT finishing school is a concept aimed at moulding industry-ready candidates. As per statistics, only 1 out of 4 engineers passing out from Indian Universities are employable. This is definitely a matter of concern and is a prominent factor that leads to unemployment among IT graduates. It may sound as a paradox that there are large volumes of unfilled vacancies in all leading MNCs. ---- IT finishing school is thus a creative solution for such bewildering factors. The new venture of ---- is an academic-industry association, where a student is provided training in all the needed hot skills and soft skills and then offered a real time industry experience." 

and that it has "Offered service to more than 300 educational institutions in South India".

Here's its home page:

And there is a small wiki page on (IT) finishing school too:

But does all this apply to CS & IT academia? Well, if CS & IT academia produce only "theory and research Generals" with poor programming skill set then employers from industry may prefer employing "software development soldiers" from IT finishing schools instead of CS & IT "theory and research Generals".

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

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