India Higher Education Administrators Seminar, March 26, 2009

Today we went to the Taj Mahal and Agra Fort, both in Agra which is near Delhi. It was an amazing day. The Taj is incredible. My experience seeing the Taj is much like the first time I saw the Grand Canyon. It is such a beautiful building – a true wonder of the world – and is breath taking. The story of the Taj Mahal is very romantic and the white marble has a sheen to it that makes it very romantic looking, too. The Taj was built in memory of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan’s favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. She is buried in the Taj as well as Shah Jahan. Mumtaz Mahal died at the age of 39 giving birth to their 14th child. She made several last requests including that the Shah build a memorial for her. The Shah kept all of the promises he made to his wife as she was dying. This was one experience that I wish I could have shared in person with my husband, Dave. The Taj Mahal is the resulting memorial that Shah Jahan built. Later in life, Shah Jahan was imprisoned in Agra Fort for eight years. He could look lovingly (and longingly) at the Taj Mahal from his window (see picture below). He died on the balcony that overlooks the Taj. Both the Taj Mahal and Agra Fort have beautiful pietra dura which is stone inlay in white marble. Agra Fort is an amazing complex and housed several Mughal emperors, their wives, concubines, and servants. The Fort also has many monkeys running round the entry way.

The Taj Mahal.

The Taj Mahal.

View of Taj Mahal from Agra Fort.

View of Taj Mahal from Agra Fort.

Gate into Agra Fort.

Gate into Agra Fort.

On our way back to Delhi we stopped at a restaurant for dinner and also posed in front of an elephant. Some of the group also took a short camel ride!

Beth with elephant on way back to Delhi from Agra.

Beth with elephant on way back to Delhi from Agra.

The ride to Agra took about 5 hours. The ride back was about 6 hours. The traffic always amazes me.

Tomorrow is my last day in India. So, this may very well be my last entry before I get back to the US.

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India Higher Education Administrators Seminar, March 25, 2009

Today we flew back to Delhi via Kingfisher Airlines. Once we arrived in Delhi, we freshened up and then made our way to a reception held at FICCI (Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry). FICCI is interested in higher education issues that address the education gap between post secondary education and industry. In particular, FICCI aims to promote best practices in education in India and abroad, facilitate industry-academia linkages, provide a network platform, and recommend policy reforms to government. For more information, see http://www.ficci-hen.com. FICCI-HEN holds a summit every November and brings higher education leaders together to discuss education issues relevant to national (and international) forefront. This conference provides a great venue for US institutions of higher education to make connections to Indian institutions of higher education. FICCI is very keen to facilitate such interactions. After a general introduction to FICCI, the floor was open to discussion for FICCI representatives, members of their higher education network, and us. It was a lively discussion and we all felt that it is important for Indian and US institutions of higher education to interact to “promote peace and understanding.”

After the reception we went to a wonderful Tandoori restaurant that Indira Ghandi frequented.  We also celebrated Funke’s birthday today!

Jeanne's Tandoori chicken.

Jeanne and her tandoori chicken dinner!

We have an early day tomorrow because we are off to Agra and the Taj Mahal.

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India Higher Education Administrators Seminar, March 24, 2009

Our first stop today was the Indian Institute of Management Bangalore. This is a stand alone business school like the London School of Business. IIMB offers only graduate degrees: MBA, PhD in Management, weekend program for IT employees in Bangalore, a public policy program, and a one year MBA for people with 7 to 10 years work experience. (Note that Bangalore is the tech center in India much like Silicon Valley is in the US.) The school is small (e.g. 350 entering students in the traditional MBA program and 83 faculty) but growing. We continue to learn about the shortage of seats for students. For example, 350 students were admitted to the program but IIM (Bangalore plus other sites) received over 300,000 applications. The one-year MBA program is the new revenue generator for IIMB and the first class will begin in April 2009. IIMB is hoping to form more research collaborations between IIMB faculty and faculty at universities across the globe.

Poster at IIMB.

Poster at IIMB.

The next stop was at Wipro which is a multinational company that sells many different products. It was started in 1946 as West India Products and produced vegetable oil. It now is the third largest toiletry producer in the world but also has diversified in energy drinks, honey, sweetners, furniture, lighting, and infrastructure equipment. “Mission 10X,” launched in September 2007, is a program to introduce systemic changes for undergraduate engineering education. The program recognizes that faculty are key to change. Wipro is collaborating with academia and has the goal to introduce innovative teaching methodology via a five day workshop to 10,000 faculty by September 2010. The thrust of the program is to get teachers to use active learning techniques based on Bloom’s taxonomy. This seems like a program that could link with Project Kaleidoscope (www.pkal.org).

Our last stop of the day was at one of the campuses of the National Institute of Design. The main campus of NID, located near Mumbai, although the campus we visited is also quite large. NID uses active learning, hands on learning, and project based design. The most distinctive aspect of NID is industry interaction. The campus in Bangalore is a research and development campus that uses the integration of original research in design education. NID has many different undergraduate and graduate programs. Possible interactions include student exchanges and faculty exchanges. NID also believes that it is important to include the management aspect of design and, as such, has programs that reflect this. They have a glass and ceramic design. I wonder if the IWU School of Art would be interested in some sort of collaboration.

Hanuman temple in Bangaluru.

Hanuman temple in Bangaluru.

The day ended with dinner at the hotel and then Prof. Rao all shared her saris with us. We all felt very elegant wearing Prof. Rao’s saris!

Prof. Rao and the women from the delegation in saris.

Prof. Rao and the women from the delegation in saris.

Random thoughts of the day. Bangalore is amazingly colorful! So many beautiful flowers (hence, the nickname the garden city) and so many colorfully painted buildings. All of the institutes of higher education that we visited in and around Bangalore were gorgeous! It is hard to leave the city.

Another random thought. It is amazing that with so many stray dogs that none are hit by cars. They must be street wise dogs!

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India Higher Education Administrators Seminar, March 23, 2009

We visited the National Assessment and Accreditation Council this morning. NAAC accredits institutions of higher education in India. NAAC was established in 1994 and is an autonomous body and India’s flagship quality assurance agency. The accrediting process in India is similar to our system with the preparation of a self study followed by a site visit by consultants from similar institutions. Seven major criteria are used to assess institutions. Institutions are given a cumulative GPA of A, B, C, or fail, although nearly every institution that has applied has eventually received accreditation.

We then went to the Indian Institute of Science which is also located in Bangaluru. Unfortunately, the support staff (lab technicians and administrative assistants) were on strike so the director was not available. Instead, we were able to talk to the director of international relations. IIS is a graduate institution that (obviously) focuses on science and engineering. With only 2200 students, the faculty-student ratio is very low. IIS is planning to start a four year BS program of about 100 students in 2010. A priority at IIS is to increase international faculty collaborations.

Strike of support staff at Indian Institute of Science

Strike of support staff at Indian Institute of Science

On the way back to the hotel, we stopped by Bangaluru Palace which is also a Wodeyan palace. It was built in 1880 and is modeled on WIndsor Castle. It was hard to understand with such a mix of style and odd things in the Palace. It is rented out for functions such as weddings. We purchased one camera pass at a cost of $10 so that Yenbo could take pictures of the Palace. It wasn’t worth all of us buying a camera pass!

After the Palace we went to the shopping district to walk the busy streets and then to a south Indian restaurant to each rice idli (pancakes made of fermented rice and a vehicle for yummy chutneys) and dosas (crisp pancakes filled with potatoes). Yum!

Bullock cart in Bangaluru.  This contributes to traffic congestion in the cities!

Bullock cart in Bangaluru. This contributes to traffic congestion in the cities!

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India Higher Education Administrators Seminar, March 22, 2009

Our trip today was to Mysore to visit Infosys and its Leadership Institute and then to Mysore Palace. It took about 4 hours to drive from Bengaluru to Mysore (86 miles southwest of Bengaluru). We were hosted by Infosys which one of the largest software firms in India. It was started in 1981 by a few Indian entrepeneurs with $250 and has since grown to a global company with $4 billion in revenue in 2008 and over 110,000 employees. The Infosys campus is incredible! They train about 20,000 employees from around the globe per year in a 10 week leadership program at the Mysore campus. In addition, they have leadership training for employees in management positions. All of the training is based on “power by intellect, driven by values.” The campus is a city in itself with all the facilities that a trainee would want – food, movies, laundry, beauty salon, housing, etc. Quite an incredible place.

Leadership Insitute at Infosys (Mysore) with Prof. Rao in forefront

Leadership Institute at Infosys (Mysore) with Prof. Rao in forefront

After Infosys, we headed to the Mysore Palace. It was built by the Wodeyar rulers and was designed by Henry Irving in 1897. It was quite an amazing palace but no pictures were allowed inside. We then headed to the top of Chamundi Hill to get a view of Mysore. In addition, we visited the Nandi monolith (bull god). Nandi was carved from a single boulder and is dated to 1659. After dinner, we went to see Mysore Palace all light up – beautiful! Then the 3 hour drive back to Bengaluru.

Nandi (the bull god) at Mysore

Nandi (the bull god) at Mysore

Thoughts of the day. Traffic is incredible in India. So many cars, auto rickshaws, and buses. It takes so much time to travel from point A to point B because of the traffice. Smog is bad in Bengaluru because auto rickshaws, etc, do not use natural gas as they do in Delhi.

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India Higher Education Administrators Seminar, March 21, 2009

Today we visited University of Mumbai. This is the second oldest institution of higher education in India. UM was founded about 150 years ago along with University of Calcutta and University of Madras. Altogether, there are 650,000 students in the UM system. MU offers degrees in a diverse set of disciplines. There are many opportunities for interactions of our students. For example, MU has a Theatre Arts Department. And, MU also has a music program. We learned quite a bit about training of teachers at all levels including pre-K through high school. UM education department is interested in courses, including short courses, that instill multiculturalism, peace, and understanding. The science faculty are very interdisciplinary and are encouraged not to “compartmentalize.” UM has an one year program in animation with Westminster University. I wonder if both Music and Theatre Arts are interested in a collaboration with UM.

After visiting UM we then traveled to Bangaluru via airplane. The Indian air carriers are amazing! It will be hard to go back to US air carriers. Even though we were in coach, we were served meals on our 1 hour trip. And, all meals were served on china with cloth napkins with actual silverwear! Indian air carriers really know how to treat a passenger well.

Hindu temple in Bangaluru

Hindu temple in Bangaluru

Bangaluru is, again, very different than Mumbai or Delhi. It is drier than Mumbai and more desert-like. Tomorrow we visit Infosystem’s Leadership Institute and Mysore.

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India Higher Education Administrators Seminar, March 20, 2009

Today we went to two different institutions of higher education in Mumbai. Our first stop was Ramniranjan Jhunjhunwala College. RJC is located at a train station and in the midst of a poor section of Mumbai. Slums are just steps away. RJC has both a school to educate disadvantaged kids from the slums and also a college that offers undergraduate and graduate programs. Many of the students in the college are disadvantaged. RJS’s motto is “knowledge is all ambrosia.” Isn’t that a great motto? RJC has about 3,500 undergraduates. Although class sizes are large (about 120), the student faculty ratio in pratical sessions is 1:15. Faculty involve students in their research and most of the research is community based. RJC provides support from morning to night for students. They also believe in providing cocurricular programs for their students and have several different athletic teams. Apparently, they have a very talented basketball team! Our visit with the faculty began with a beautiful prayer to the godess of learning, Saraswati. The faculty have some very interesting research projects that are focused on social justice and human rights. For instance, one faculty member in History is studying Indian diaspora in the US as well as a comparison of Dalit versus African American literature. (Dalit is the untouchable caste.) If our students want a real Indian experience focused on social justice and working with disadvantaged groups just steps away, this would be the ideal location. It seems like an incredible place.

Funke and Beth in front of Saraswati, godess of learning

Funke and Beth in front of Saraswati, godess of learning

We then went to the Tata Institute for Social Justice. TISS is also focused on social and rural development and all programs are based on equality, justice, and inclusion. Most of the programs are graduate level. However, TISS has a program for undergraduates with Wells College. This program is during the January term and takes place in a rural location. This is one of the few institutions we have visited that has many agreements with other US universities. Much of their work is field based. As the directors stated, they research science evidence for social issues. The Wells program is definitely worth a closer look.

Plaque at Tata Institute of Social Science

Plaque at Tata Institute of Social Science

We arrived back at the hotel a bit earlier than the past few days. So, a group of us decided to go to Colaba Causeway to do some shopping. It was incredible! I did buy some gifts and enjoyed the sights. We walked past the famous Leopold Cafe which is well-known for being a hang out for foreigners. It was one of the locations that several people were killed during the attacks in November. I remember reading about it, too, in the book “Shantaram.” The Causeway has so many people shopping and so many street vendors. One can find a real bargain if one looks hard enough.

Thoughts of the day. As US citizens, we take for granted clean water. I do not drink the water in India nor do I use the water from the tap to brush my teeth or rinse my tooth brush. We just expect the water to be safe when we are in the US. But, without infrastructure and money, safe water is not possible. We have it easy in the US. Another thought is that my dog lives better than many, many children in India. She gets two good meals a day, has fresh water, and a very comfortable place to sleep.

Goat resting by the side of a busy street in Mumbai

Goat resting by the side of a busy street in Mumbai

Colorful stand of imitation flowers in Mumbai

Colorful stand of imitation flowers in Mumbai

Mumbai has certainly been a wonderful place to visit. We spend the morning at Mumbai Unversity tomorrow. Then off to Bangalore.

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