dkspost parts 45-59

Part 43

Let us now look at the core of problem generation that is design.


Let us look at the nucleus of generation of technologies – that is design. It is a brain and thinking activity, not a physical and production activity.  Design also needs imagination and visualization skills. Design provides a good illustration of problem generation. Designs do not have a solution available. One needs to search for solutions. Even alternate possibilities need to be searched for. Our starting landscape many times is an Arabian desert with thousands of ways of making a civilization there. Most designs involve out of the box thinking. Design is not inward looking.

One of the great designs in India is the idly flour grinder. The western grinders don’t work for long. But this totally new product changed the situation. It used traditional stone grinders instead of blades, and used conventional motors, so it can work for long time uninterrupted, without heating up.

P. Sabapathy developed the wet grinder in Coimbatore in 1955. In 1975, R. Doraiswamy invented the tilting wet grinders L. G. Varadaraj introduced the table top wet grinders which replaced grinders which had to be placed on the ground. This dramatically changed the wet grinding activities. Now almost every middle-class house in South India has one. Its utility is proven and established.

Part 44

Discussions on design

Prof K M Babu Vice chancellor, Reva University and previous Principal of BMS college of engineering has commented on thinking:

“Good morning sir. Critical and creative thinking are the two most important skills need to be imbibed in the young minds.”

 It is definitely important to inculcate thinking in students

 Some institutions have a course on thinking. It won’t work. Thinking is a constant activity stimulating our brain. What is required is to define a number of activities to be done by students. Let me list some.

Simplest is to make as a part of curriculum with credits for students to read a book every semester and write a critique as well as give a seminar on it. This can be followed by a good literature critique on some latest topic. This sharpens the mind. It is not literature survey.

Second is to have a good design project, not a small one but a big one. Institutions can list a large number of areas and topics for guiding students. Students can choose their topics.  It is necessary to come up with a detailed write-up on the project. It should request students to submit a detailed problem definition first followed by a methodology later, say after a few months, followed by crowd sourcing, and followed by a preliminary design report with feasibility / technologies to be selected/outcomes and uses etc. The final design output can come out at the end of the year. It is preferable to look at social problems and government plans like smart City etc.

Third is give more time say a year for project work. Students come with good ideas. They need time to think, conceptualize , design , implement, experiment and conduct tests. The projects need at least a year.

Fourth is group discussions a good stimulant for thinking and group work and learning.

Fifth is follow Gurukula system of questions and answers mode of teaching not just lecturing. Explain where needed.

Sixth is setting up startups. Most IITs have a startup culture. This also helps in thinking.

Mr Sanjay Gupta Ex MD of PNBHFL has this comment.

“Widely accepted designs are those which are practical and elegant- timeless!

Like a brand they do not have a lifecycle.

And the architect behind such beauties should be experienced and childlike innocent to accept different perspectives and not be self-obsessed.”

Part 45

Thank friends for discussions.

Let us go back to the design of idly flour grinder. There is a query on the source / cause for the design from Bala Ajjampur, an ex TCS er and a passionate educationist. His comments are

“Which one prompted the design? Is it that heat produced by blade grinding altered the taste and texture forcing designers to look at copying its mechanics of grinding OR is it that someone wanted to simulate the hand grinding process to a machine process to achieve the exact texture?”

It is important to know what prompted a design. The primary cause is people’s needs. They saw the need. People who went abroad found grinding with the blenders a tough job. The speed is high. It heats up fast. So continuous operation for ten minutes is not possible. Secondly the dosa made after the struggle of grinding by switching on and off several times, is not good. The table top tilting grinder can be carried in a suit case. So the people accepted it.

Regarding our discussion yesterday on activities for improving thinking, I got two responses. One wants faculty to buy it and make changes. Another wants students to change their mind set. I strongly believe students will accept this.  Once you have a formal recognition for reading a book, for doing a design or giving a seminar or germinating a startup idea, students will be excited. There will be a few who will be unwilling in the beginning. But majority will join and then it becomes routine and others will follow. It is a good habit to encourage thinking. Faculty need to change their mind set. I think younger faculty will accept this easily.

Part 46

We had a sad news about the passing away of Mr F C Kohli.

I knew him from 1968 onwards. He was a great banyan and worked on IT despite a lot of challenges, lots of negativism, lots of regulatory issues and restrictions on imports and total lack of understanding of technologies by people who matter. He overcame all these and built TCS with a lot is sweat and blood. Let us pray for his soul to rest in peace.

Let us move to some more aspects of design.

In 1847 Sir Henry Cole, a public-spirited Englishman, startled the Council of the Society of Arts by saying, “Of high art in this country there is abundance, of mechanical industry and invention an unparalleled profusion. The thing still remaining to be done is to affect the combination of the two, to wed high art with mechanical skill. The union of the artist and the workman, the improvement of the general taste of our artificers, and of the workmen in general; this is a task worthy of the Society of Arts and directly in its path of duty.”

We know Steve Jobs. He looked at artistic design of his products. iPod is a great product.  The apple computer is easy to use compared to PCs and MS-DOS.

iPhone integrated talk, music and messaging as well as storing and retrieving of files. He concentrated on aesthetics and ease of use. He introduced a lot of novel features. Similarly, Cray showed that he can design and build the first super computer with new technologies with the help of a small team and the entire activity in a house. Contrast it to thousands of people and large working space and facilities used by IBM and Intel corporation.

Part 47

Mr Bala asked about Indians in the hall of fame. So, let us look at some names. This is taken from web.

Green Living – Streets Made Of Plastics An Indian Chemistry professor Rajagopalan Vasudevan, from Thiagarajar college of engineering, Madurai – known to many of us-,and a Padmashree awardee, devised a way to transform common plastic litter into a substitute for bitumen – the main ingredient in asphalt used for road construction. He is also known as the “Plastic Man,” Vasudevan’s ingenious invention has already paved 3,000 miles (5,000 kilometers) of plastic roads in at least 11 Indian states.

USB The USB is a part of our daily lives. This tiny, data storage gadget was co-invented by an Indian-American computer architect Ajay Bhatt. But he didn’t make any money out of it and he is okay with that. According to a report from Business Insider Ajay said that he didn’t do it for money, instead he did this to bring about a change. And according to him, not very often people get a chance to bring about this big a change.

Radio In 1895, Sir J. C. Bose gave his first public demonstration of electromagnetic waves, Sir J. C. Bose invented the Mercury Coherer (together with the telephone receiver) used by Guglielmo Marconi to receive the radio signal in his first transatlantic radio communication in December 1901. Sir J. C. Bose holds the first patent worldwide to invent a solid-state diode detector to detect EM waves. The detector was built using a galena crystal. Bose has been credited belatedly for his achievement.

We will see more tomorrow.

Part 48

Pentium chip by Vinod Dham

Most of us probably know that Pentium microprocessor chips play a vital role in the speed and performance of a computer. The first Pentium chip was invented in 1993 by Vinod Dham, a technologist of Indian origin. Dham was working at Intel when he and his team developed the Pentium chip.

Fiber Optics by Dr. Narinder Singh Kapany

Yes, this might be a surprising revelation for you. Dr. Narinder Singh Kapany, an Indian-origin physicist is considered the creator of the first actual fiber optic cable that was invented in 1952 based on John Tyndall’s experiments three decades earlier. Kapany coined the term ‘fiber optics’ in an article in Scientific American in 1960. Simputer: The Simputer (acronym for “simple, inexpensive and multilingual people’s computer”) is a self-contained, open hardware handheld computer, designed for use in environments where computing devices such as personal computers are deemed inconvenient. It was developed in 1999 by 7 scientists from the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, – Dr. Swami Manohar, Dr Ramesh Hariharan, Vinay and Dr Vijay Chandru from IISc and Mr Vinay Deshpande and Mr Shashank Garg from Encore India, a company based in Bangalore.

Part 49

Now I want to look at some principles and steps in design and also common to problem generation and solving. I am going to talk about my journey into banking in a big way. There is anoyher reason for this. I want to discuss about a device called IMFAST developed for door step banking in early 2004 later built and operationalized by Integra micro systems.

I became advisor to Indian Bank on IT in 2002.The major task was selection of core banking software. Core banking provides for centralized banking. It facilitates banking from anywhere. There were three major problems. One, bankers felt it is not needed. They are wedded to branch automation and did not see advantage of core banking. Many felt it is expensive and will not yield benefits. Second was whenever you talk of software a lot of half-baked people jump into the fray. It is difficult to convince managements not to consider them. Because of poor products with no good quality or development process, their costs are low. We believe in L1 lowest cost. 

Third our IT infrastructure particularly networking is not good and data centers are coming up. I worked with Mr P V Joshi and team and we had a great support from Mr N B N Rao ED at that time and CMD afterwards.

We diligently prepared the RFP – request for proposal. It is a detailed one. We also decided on methodology and criteria for evaluation. We proceeded systematically, cleared several hurdles including at the board level.

We selected a product and implemented successfully. It is working well even today.

The first step is discovery.

What is the scope? Which products are available and what are their capabilities?

How do we know and assess them? What are the functional requirements and infrastructure requirements? How do we accept the product and make employees move to the new transformation -their willingness and acceptance are important -? Many questions need to be addressed.

We need to go through a discovery process, the first step in problem solving. We need to discover technologies, vendors, products, market, our needs, customer needs, scope of work, cost estimates, evaluation etc. This is an important step. It is not mathematical and the process changes dynamically. This is called empathy by David Kelley.

Let us continue this further.

Part 50

The first stage in design thinking is called empathize by David Kelley. Our concept of discovery is similar to this. Let me put down their explanation here.

The first stage of the Design Thinking process is to gain an empathic understanding of the problem you are trying to solve. This involves consulting experts to find out more about the area of concern through observing, engaging and empathizing with people to understand their experiences and motivations, as well as immersing yourself in the physical environment so you can gain a deeper personal understanding of the issues involved. Empathy is crucial to a human-centered design process such as Design Thinking, and empathy allows design thinkers to set aside their own assumptions about the world in order to gain insight into users and their needs.

We also have many methods in addition to brain storming.

Conferences, lectures, regular – say daily -visits to web sites, following tech news bulletins, crowd sourcing, visits like Steve jobs did to get display in his Mac PC, EOI – expression of interest widely followed by Indians, technology updates etc are other methods we follow to get information.

Depending on time constraints, a substantial amount of information is gathered at this stage to use during the next stage and to develop the best possible understanding of the users, their needs, and the problems that underlie the development of that particular product. Use search engines and crowd sourcing.

 Now comes the most difficult cognitive decider – to separate fact from fiction. Most people who provide information on a product may not know a lot about the product. They will promise the moon. I have attended hundreds of presentations and found their knowledge levels suspicious. So, create two data bases one with dependable data and another with suspect data.

This will give us some understanding of the problem not fully. It is an iterative activity keep on looking back and improving your concepts of the problem.

Part 51

Some felt Indian inventions are disappointing. But lot of inventions are in non-formal sectors. Restaurants have added innovations like coconut graters, potato peelers, commercial idly steamers, tandoor ovens etc.

Two major government departments have given us pride. Department of Space produced SLV to PSLV to GSLV in addition to several satellites. Department of Atomic Energy has a great innovative project of designing and building fast breeder reactors. I call that as a greatest design activity in India.

There are also many major software packages developed in India which are successful. To name a few:

Infosys developed first a branch automation software and then built the Finacle, core banking software, TCS built and operated software for NEFT and RTGS, TCS built IGNEO, a very successful AI engine. IFLEX built a core banking software, Ramco systems-built Marshall, an ERP software, COWAA built by dept of Space etc. Many designs and products are developed by groups or unsung heroes and not known to us.

Many startups in India succeeded by looking at consumer needs. Flipkart started with books, learned it won’t scale up and moved to ecommerce of products. This was followed by several startups dealing with clothes, food, travel, second hand items including cars, grocery etc and moved to others. So the discovery was not just user needs but also its sustainability of demands and growth and scaleups. It also moved into health and education, daily needs like vegetables, security and housekeeping services. We have hundreds of these doing well. They created a generalized platform. Many fintech and electronic wallet companies are successful.

Let me talk about my development of a handheld device for rural / home / mobile banking. At the Indian Bank, I found out that a large number of people don’t have a bank account. I visited Manipal several times and have seen the vision of TMA Pai becoming reality. He introduced the Pigmy scheme collecting small amounts from traders who can’t go to banks for transactions. So I thought why not build a versatile device which stores information, works without network, takes banking to people. It is different from POS devices used by shoppers. This led to the thinking of a new device which will open accounts, do transactions at doorsteps and liaise with banks.

Mr MB N Rao, CMD of Indian Bank and Mr Sambamurty who was ED at Indian Bank and later became CMD of corporation bank showed interest in it and it was piloted first at corporation bank. Mr Mahesh Jain, CMD of Integra micro systems saw the potential and took it up as a project of Integra. Mr

Mahendra pratap and Mr Shiva built the device based on my specs and functions. It became successful for the Financial inclusion activity started by most public sector banks.

It helped in account opening and transaction processing work of banks.

The device was reinvented with changes in technology becoming like a mobile phone now. That in short is the story of IMFAST device.

It gave us a lesson: don’t just look inside. Look outside for problems and look for solutions. Despite IT being there for three decades minimum, we have not computerized about 80% of activities in many sectors in India. Look at our ESCOMs, water supply systems, small and micro industries lakhs of them, agriculture, health, hotels, hospitals, financial institutions, government functions. The potential is enormous. Lots of problems can be generated here.

Part 52

Let us look at step 2

It is problem definition.

Look at the following aspects and detail them

Who are the stakeholders? What are the uses?

What is the scope?

What are the constraints?

Completely list the functions expected. Divide into must, can be built and optional and not feasible. You can’t have the moon. Rework scope.

What are technologies available and who are the vendors and what is the maturity level?

Is scope of design feasible?

What alternatives for parts, components, subsystems, are available and maintainable?

Will there be provisions for changes, growth, adaptability?

What is the level of user involvement and participation?

What is the cost estimation? Is it affordable?

What are the requirements for performance, reliability, usability, scalability?

What are the infrastructure items required? What is the complexity of operations?

Do we need training?

What is the effort required for maintenance?

Any previous products existing?

What improvements can be fitted in?

What are the routine tests needed and acceptance tests required? How do we fix the bugs?

What are ecological and environmental constraints required?


We do a diligent and in-depth analysis to define the problem. This is called Request for proposal for software purchases.

Let me give Kelley’s views on definition.

During the Define stage, you put together the information you have created and gathered during the Empathize stage. This is where you will analyze your observations and synthesize them in order to define the core problems that you and your team have identified up to this point. You should seek to define the problem as a problem statement in a human-centered manner.

To illustrate, instead of defining the problem as your own wish or a need of the company such as, “We need to increase our food-product market share among young teenage girls by 5%,” a much better way to define the problem would be, “Teenage girls need to eat nutritious food in order to thrive, be healthy and grow.”

The Define stage will help the designers in your team gather great ideas to establish features, functions, and any other elements that will allow them to solve the problems or, at the very least, allow users to resolve issues themselves with the minimum of difficulty. In the Define stage you will start to progress to the third stage, Ideate, by asking questions which can help you look for ideas for solutions

Part 53

Let us call step 3 as selection activity.

We have many alternatives for various components and parameters. We decide a starting point of values and iterate.

Some major selections are

Select operating parameters. For example, in the case of design of Electrical distribution, these will be voltages, currents, power flows, etc.

Select performance parameters. In the Electrical distribution case, it will be loads and generations and power loss and energy loss. In the case of IMFAST, it is response time. In the case of core banking software, it will be tps, i.e. transactions per second and time of response for end of day activities, recovery time, queue sizes etc.

Identify output parameters like voltages, transformer sizes, power-factor, conductor size, line routing, substation locations, etc.

Select and define functions. This is a major task in the selection of core banking software.

Select technologies to implement

Select materials

Select user interface

Select methodologies for implementation

Select evaluation strategies – what to choose, whom to choose, transparent processes, etc.

Select acceptance test plans and performance tests.

The third stage in Kelley s design thinking is ideate.

During the third stage of the Design Thinking process, designers are ready to start generating ideas. You’ve grown to understand your users and their needs in the Empathize stage, and you’ve analyzed and synthesized your observations in the Define stage, and ended up with a human-centered problem statement. With this solid background, you and your team members can start to “think outside the box” to identify new solutions to the problem statement you’ve created, and you can start to look for alternative ways of viewing the problem.

Part 54

Let us listen to comments.

Mr Jayashankar comments as:

“Yes I agree with your concept of problem defining.

We have to use 5 Ws and two Hs

What, when, who, where, why.

how, how much.

By applying this technique and getting the answer one can define the problems well. Besides one has to think deeply to answer these parameters. I have done this for all problems defining

and it is very effective and efficient method I believe. You may also very well about this and I am just trying to teach the professor who is well versed in all things. Sorry.


P Raja, Dean, TCE has commented on design thinking


Thinking is an unique process for human being. Streamlining the thinking process with an objective is vital one and framework such as Kelly’s model of “Design Thinking” has yielded a good amount of design in engineering with effective products, processes and systems throughout the globe in the past three decades. Now it has been extended to many other professions including finance, Healthcare, archaeology… and it is proven as successful framework. It is felt that this type of approach is highly essential in our curriculum, which kindle the student innovative and collaborative thinking process with alternative solutions.”

We will see more comments tomorrow.

Part 55

Very meaningful, perceptive comments by Mr Sanjaya Gupta Past CEO of PNB housing finance


These parameters are technical and I do appreciate a lot their significance and relevance in coping up large business volumes.

A fact which most of the IT professionals over look is the workflows and parameterization of algorithms.

A system esp. ERP for a large & growing concern cannot be oblivious of the fact of user convenience and sequential work streams.

In today’s world interface with external world, regulators, vendor partners, customers and internal customers is a must to have – to insulate the main data repository the requirement of a middle ware is again an important aspect to have in the subconscious mind.

For AI and ML personally, I never let algorithms run on the ERP but on extracted data bases.

I am not an IT professional but a user of IT as a tool to augment human capital productivity and convenience of both internal and external users.

Simplicity of Data tables cannot be under played while working an ERP solution.”

My response

This is a timely observation. The anguish of a user is seen here. I had experienced this anguish in several organizations and banks. We put piecemeal IT in a system like say banking or any other system. We do not have a holistic architecture and overall design like power grid.

Most systems like fintech, legal, health and medicine, education have hundreds of functions and hundreds of types of stakeholders. The use of IT is poor in all these. Many will object to this saying we are doing well. Unfortunately, we are on fire-fighting mode doing it successfully no doubt. But we are just at the bottom. We need to move up. When and how are serious questions. It is not a one-sided affair. Organization’s need to build functional and operational architecture, flows and interconnections before going in for IT. There are no competent institutions to do this. All the big four don’t know both domains and technologies. It has to be done in house.

ERP is not really ERP. Lots of procedural adjustments are required it does not automate most functions. I talked about ERP plus about twenty years back.

Look at banks as we have a few bankers in this discussion. Many think core banking is great and it is end all. I know they have struggled and done and doing a lot of fire-fighting. It is a purely reactive process of changes every day. But core banking is only a transaction application. You see ecommerce startups doing it easily. The reason is integration of many functions, databases by eCommerce companies. We have a large number of companies doing well.  Many types of ecommerce companies do complete architecting, design and implementation in house. They integrate with multiple websites and multiple data bases very well and handle users without troubles. Why did banks not learn from them.

We will continue further on this tomorrow

Part 56

Some problems with IT use and corresponding solutions lead us to a set of general principles.

Highly inward and closed looking – frog in the well syndrome.  The attitude is “I am with other bankers. That is enough for me.” They live in their world. It doesn’t work.  Same is true with Software developers. They are rigid. Many, not all, have a take it or leave it policy. The software guys focus only on functionalities. They don’t consider user needs, behaviors, usability. Solution is: Outward look is crucial for survival. Remember Clayton Christenson’s theory of disruptive innovation. We need to understand changes happening outside and learn from it and adapt to present and future. Don’t believe in SRS like God.

Why not build a startup culture everywhere. At least as much as possible we need to be flexible, nimble, and distributed. Things get corrected fast. Move away from rigidity. You are no more building a software for life. You change it every day.

Awareness is not enough. Apply it. Change and transform.

We have a worm’s view, not a bird’s eye view. We see tasks and functions but not interconnections.

Get a holistic integration architecture first for the organization with units, events, activities, interconnections and flows.

We may have functions which are not needed. Why keep it? Are we discarding unwanted?

90% of functions in some generic software are not used. Mobiles are successful because of simple easy to install and use apps. Maybe we should move away from large software go for many packages. Core should work like operating system – schedule and run. In agile world it is needed.

We are highly reactive. We take actions after an event. NPAs are good example. Even daily changes are reactive. It is possible to plan changes in core banking at least once a week. A well-prepared plan helps in minimizing firefighting which will mean handling daily changes which are minimal. Monthly plans are preferable. But we need to inculcate proactive habits and thinking in executives not just IT department.

Proactive thinking will prod one to find alternates.

An interesting concept of proactive actions is prevention and avoidance. Don’t allow events to take place. We need to think and build preventive actions. High levels of quality control is a good example of avoiding breakdowns.

Dan Heath has written a book titled Upstream quest to solve problems before they occur. It tells you how to be proactive.

Synergy is a problem amongst departments. Prioritize on architecture.

We need top down thinking and actions badly. Each one handles his function and worries about it. What about linkages and even removal of the function itself.

Change management is not an easy task. We don’t have it.

Collaboration between functions and IT is needed every day. A five minutes standup meeting will solve a lot of problems between software developers and organizations. In one case of ERP, we found after three years of development, the ERP does not meet any of the user department needs. We have to discard the project.

Finally mindset changes and open mind in most people is a basic requirement.

I did not discuss this in my earlier post on design, as this is an architecture issue not a design issue.

Further cyber physical systems is a great generic concept. We may need branches from it like cyber legal systems, cyber fintech systems, cyber health systems, cyber governance, etc. We may consider looking for a futuristic field

Intelligent automated social and physical systems or to borrow a word from Chandra, Chair, Tata Sons, call it sophygital systems or sogital systems and phygital systems. I don’t like artificial in AI. We need to change it.

Changes are needed in the education system to move to learn agile, flexible, usable and rugged systems.

Comments are welcome.

This applies to all disciplines not only to banking.

Part 57?

Bala Ajjampur has commented as:

Thank you for bringing the education to the forefront and taking A out of AI. There is absolutely nothing artificial about intelligence, be it be a robot or human or a system. I think you just made every one rethink the design of intelligent systems as a thing not to fear, but a thing to embrace. However, the embrace has to drive the human activities towards the sustenance of the only world the humans have settled into and to create an awareness that our sustainability is intricately woven into the sustainability of the entire ecosystem that is part of us.

Prof Ashok Kumar is trying an experiment:

Dear Sir,

I have given an assignment to the final year student who approaching their final semester projects. I think this will give them a good insight about the project they are going to take. Will share the feedback once I receive all the submissions.

Part 58

It is clear that problem solving we are taught is routine and mostly numerical. We start at school level routine arithmetic which RK Narayan was not happy about. Application flavor was missing. Rigidity was there. It was one dimensional. Even at later stages in higher education this approach of numerical problem solving was emphasized. Is it enough?

No. It had we have seen, it cannot solve many problems. That is why we are discussing problem generation. It solved only small problems. With computers, we moved further in problem solving by extending our skills to logic and algorithms. We started looking at data more curiously. We could solve large problems. We are able to solve real life problems. So we saw a lot of applications coming out like simulation, ecommerce, interpretations, predictions with large volume of data, designs of aircrafts and utilities, finance, etc. Still skill levels and types are restricted.

Software design and development gave us a glimpse of new skills needed like usability requirements. We did not learn it fast enough. We understood it slowly. We developed slowly in stages to improve usability. Some steps are

High level programming languages: these allowed a larger number of physicists, engineers, financiers, business people to use computers and solve large problems which are meaningful in real life. Till the languages came, people were solving small problems. Cpu speed and memory capacity were restricted. But these also improved, people can learn a programming language quickly and use it to solve their problems. More than a decade was spent in developing algorithms. These were package by domain experts so that others can use them. It increased user base. Today most swear by Matlab . Many do not know the principles behind algorithms. This has led to troubles but in most cases, these packages are useful.

Secondly, operating systems simplified use of computers.

Thirdly, we introduced many concepts like cursers, touch screens, good interactive features etc so that most can use a computer. Let us see more of skills and intelligence needed by us in problem solving.

Part 59

We talked about missing problems. what are they? It means that basically don’t look at the society and its activities in a reactive way. look at it in a highly proactive way. That is anticipate problems. Don’t wait for them to occur. When we look at reactive problem solving it is based on experience and expertise.

A simple remembrance of IMFAST and many gadgets will give us a glimpse of problem discovery. when we came with it , bankers did not believe in it. Bankers were not thinking of financial inclusion. So the idea of reaching rural people was not understood by bankers. It needed a lot of convincing many bankers. we were lucky to have Mr Samba murthy to accept our solution and allow us to implement it.

When Tesla invented alternating current, he was opposed by Edison and Morgan. He was troubled by both until he proved it in Niagara power plant. The question is how to find missing problems. . it is not general and easy. Human experience and common sense are needed to identify many missing problems. there are millions out there in the world. this is a versatile field for imagination.


Let us take an example. a child is swimming in a river and gets swept in the water. how do you handle this? people jump into water and swim towards the child and tried to drag it to the shore safely. many times, this may be a late reaction. the question how do we avoid such mishaps. we need pro-action not reaction. so, we employ wardens to jump fast into water to rescue. well, we go one step further we float a lot of big balls tied by chain. we allow children to swim in safe areas. we put on a floating jacket as another solution. so we have a lot of solutions. another example for which we don’t have a good solution is to stop many students from dropping out of schools and many failing in the school final exam. Many solutions are possible and many are tried out. solutions may be midday meals schemes, access to contents, monetary benefits etc. and not just mugging up and compulsion. look for more alternatives – even change the curriculum, make learning easy, interesting and relevant, use innovative teaching and learning methods and use games to teach. why are we not teaching agriculture, rural life etc relevant and understood by students? Why don’t we change schedules? change class timings and school timings? so there are a lot of solutions we can adopt. this is called proactive approach.

Part 60


Part 61

What are the skills needed by many to handle requirements of industry 4.0.? Industry 4.0 means the fourth revolution with AI and connected world.

World economic forum listed many. Let us see them.

Eight critical characteristics in learning content and experi­ences have been identified to define high-quality learning in the Fourth Industrial Revolution— “Education 4.0”:

1.Global citizenship skills: Include content that focuses on building awareness about the wider world, sustain­ability and playing an active role in the global community.

2.Innovation and creativity skills: Include content that fosters skills required for innovation, including complex problem-solving, analytical thinking, creativity and sys­tems analysis.

3.Technology skills: Include content that is based on developing digital skills, including programming, digital responsibility and the use of technology.

Let us the remaining tomorrow.

Part 62

The remaining skills are listed below. Kindly express your views on their relevance and also whether we need more or less skills and whether every one need to acquire all these skills. These are for school going children. The next question to look at how do we impart these skills?

4.Interpersonal skills: Include content that focuses on interpersonal emotional intelligence, including empathy, cooperation, negotiation, leadership and social awareness.

5.Personalized and self-paced learning: Move from a system where learning is standardized, to one based on the diverse individual needs of each learner, and flexible enough to enable each learner to progress at their own pace.

6.Accessible and inclusive learning: Move from a sys­tem where learning is confined to those with access to school buildings to one in which everyone has access to learning and is therefore inclusive.

7.Problem-based and collaborative learning: Move from process-based to project- and problem-based content delivery, requiring peer collaboration and more closely mirroring the future of work.

8.Lifelong and student-driven learning: Move from a system where learning and skilling decrease over one’s lifespan to one where everyone continuously improves on existing skills and acquires new ones based on their individual needs.

Part 63

Good sir. 🙏

It’s simple. I will read it a few times to have a feel of it.

Please help me with the description of robotic process automation.

My response

Robotic process automation (RPA) is the use of software bots to automate highly repetitive, routine tasks normally performed by knowledge workers.

Intelligent Automation

An Integrated Robotic Process Automation platform which comes bundled with key essential technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Natural Language Processing for front office, middle office, back office and IT operations automation.

It helps in reducing cost, improve response time, grow business and achieve compliance. Ready bots and development environment are available to build new bots.

Robotic process automation (or RPA) is a form of business process automation technology based on metaphorical software robots (bots) or on artificial intelligence (AI)/digital workers.

It is bot software to ape robots.

Initially robots were designed for motion. Now we want them to do routine jobs. So robots are combined with bots to do this. Bots can analyze, can help people, can alert etc. Chatbots are well developed. Next stage is cobots, collaborating robots,

Part 64

MGPL Narayana has comments on global skills.

“I agree with this advocacy of learning content and learning experiences in the changed world. It is not only digital technology, but the event like the current pandemic situation is forcing the change happen faster than it was projected. Innovation and creativity are widely accepted and highly desirable qualities in our times. We forget that as kids we were all creative, but over a period of time we get onto traditional pursuits. As the saying goes,  “children enter school as question marks and leave as periods”. The learning environment plays a very important role in shaping the creative mindset. In a highly connected world, sustainability is a paramount important. The advocacy on Global Citizenship Skills is highly desirable by inculcating in the kids the awareness of greater world. The earlier discussion postings that you highlighted rightly funnel into these contents and experiences through this framework, Education 2.0″

My response

I agree with your emphasis on learning environment. It is the main problem we have . We are in education 1.0 and trying to jump to education 4.0.  can we do it? And how?

I just want to give an example. In my visits to several institutions for TEQIP audit and mentoring, I was to interact with faculty and students. Both faculty and students said we are from rural areas and so don’t expect anything from us. So step one is to break such mindsets

 Build their confidence levels. After a lot of persuation it was partially understood by them. Similarly the students want teachers to teach everything. For instance they wanted teachers to teach Python language. This at an NIT. I said no body taught me a programming language. It is self learnt. We at IISc expect students to pick up languages and use it to solve problems.

Remember the book – deep work by Cal Newport. So mindset changes are needed. It won’t come in a day . The environment will help in this.

The second experience is more interesting. Teachers used to complain students are not motivated they don’t know English- great excuses for not doing the job. On the other hand , students used to complain teachers don’t know the subject; they copy without thinking  even including halls in the US universities. . The students also said most teachers are poor in English. See the irony of the situation. We need to address implementation at the level of upgrading the mind sets of teachers first. It is a tough job not easy. Some principals understood this and encouraged younger faculty and involved them in activities. This worked well for many. Today survival of institutions is a big issue. So we need to wake up and get into attacking the mindset changes very seriously.

But let us take the first step in the direction.

Part 65

Mr. Srinivasan, PNB

“Good morning sir. Scientist Roddam is no more. A reference from you highlighting his contribution would be appreciated 👍🙏”

My response

A good friend of mine. Worked with him in many committees. Discussions with him were exciting and illuminative. A remarkable person with phenomenal clarity, good thinking, and great humility. He never got upset or angry. Was active till the end. An inspiration for most of us.

He started the aerodynamics activities at IISc. Later he started activities on climate. Now the atmospheric sciences at IISc is a big department. He was involved in analyzing the failure data of Avro planes for Dhawan committee. He was a student of Prof Dhawan. That made, I think, Prof Dhawan reluctant to recommend him as Director of IISc. But he became director of NAL and later NIAS. He was the chief guest for the valedictory function of reach to teach program by FAER.  He was involved in many scientific activities. He will be missed by many people and the scientific community.

Part 65 – continued

Mr. Bala is doing a great service for improving education. He has a web site and all my posts are available there. Any of you or your friends want to get information or see my posts, I request them to visit qtimelearning. It is given below.

Part 66

Let us see implementation aspects later. Let us look at another aspect.

People are gifted with virtually unlimited potential for learning and creativity. How do we make use of it ? Education should sharpen this. 

In his modern classic, Frames of Mind (1983), psychologist Howard Gardner introduced the theory of multiple intelligences, which posits that each of us possesses at least seven measurable intelligences (in later work Gardner and his colleagues catalogued twenty-five different sub intelligences).

The seven intelligences, and some genius exemplars (other than Leonardo da Vinci, who was a genius in all of these areas) of each one, are:

Logical-Mathematical—Arya Bhatta, Bhaskara, Stephen Hawking, Isaac Newton, Leibnitz, Einstein, Marie Curie

Verbal-Linguistic—William Shakespeare, Panini, Tiruvallur, Shivaram karanth

Spatial-Mechanical—Michelangelo, Buckminster Fuller, Dreyfuss

Musical—Mozart, Thyagaraja,

Bodily-Kinesthetic—Yoga gurus, wrestlers, athletes, Muhammad Ali,

Interpersonal-Social—Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi,

Intrapersonal (Self-knowledge)— Gautama Buddha, Shankaracharya, mother Theresa, Dalai Lama,

The theory of multiple intelligences is now accepted widely and when combined with the realization that intelligence can be developed throughout life, offers a powerful inspiration for aspiring people. This should be developed in our education system.

Part 66 – Continued

We looked at three views of human traits. First Da Vinci’s principles; second skills needed as per studies of world economic forum; third is multiple intelligences of Gardner. It is time to think on them. You can see the confusion of terms like thinking, skills and intelligence.

I believe intelligence cannot be categorized like Gardner. These are skills. Intelligence is multidimensional, multilateral. Let me take an example. How do you recognize an acquaintance? You don’t recognize by face or speech or emotions or gestures or behaviors alone.  You need more time and parameters to recognize him or her in the beginning. You don’t recognize by looking at the face alone. You may not remember the face. Multiple factors play a role. You can recognize the person a well acquainted one from a distance even when his face is not visible. You recognize by gait, way of walking, overall structure of the body, gestures etc. Initially you take more time to recognize that person. But after several meetings, recognition is instant. So we perceive, recognize and resolve with multiple factors and use knowledge / experience and definitely intuition or liking to arrive at conclusions and decisions. It is not one skill or one dimension that is used.

Same is true with intelligence. You use multiple skills in various situations. You know what combination to use in different situations. When ordering in a restaurant, you may not use mathematical skills, but may be taste and liking.

This MI concept is explained by Gardner with a Chinese example. During his first visit he was told “These are simply eight areas in which we (meaning Chinese here) want all our children to excel.” When he returned to China six years later, he learned that a great many schools, particularly for young children, claim to be based on MI ideas. Again, I queried widely why this was the case. I received a surprising reply from one informant, who said, “If we had a psychologist in China who was pushing for progressive ideas in education, we would not need to quote the words or ideas of Howard Gardner. We don’t. In the absence of such a person, mentioning you and your ideas is a good way to open up our rather rigid educational system. So, it is another way of looking at skills.

Part 67

Gardner proposed his theory to question IQ tests according to some. He says measurable. Is intelligence measurable?

I feel as explained earlier, intelligence is use of observation, experience and thinking and it is a multitrack activity and uses multiple skills, including experiences, imitations and intuitions, many times without a rationale. The so-called intellectuals have a single-track mind when they talk of rationalism and atheism. Even those who look at systems thinking, design thinking, or scientific approach miss a lot. They see a forest as a collection of trees. Remember a forest is a huge eco system housing a large variety of trees, shrubs, grasses, animals, insects, ferns and many other biological entities and many resources like water, minerals etc. as well as growing. We need a similar view of life, living and intelligence. Our learning process simplifies a lot of aspects and approximates many parameters and behaviors. We classify for our understanding, but events in reality are always intermixed and random – not mostly predictable. We are today puzzled with the happenings due to covid and we are yet to understand it. We will slowly improve our understanding with both experience and science. Remember research starts with hypotheses many times. So the key learning is not to have one track mind, not to get attached with one aspect like mathematics or logic only. Look outside and everywhere. Build multiple skills. Use intuition and commonsense. As Rig Veda says knowledge comes from everywhere. Try to analyze and find the truth .

Remember this

 “Ekam Sat Vipra Bahudha Vadanti.” Truth is one but experts give many meanings and manifestations and interpretations.

Part 68

Mr.  Sambamurty, past CEO of IDRBT introduces his views on leadership.

“A good leader cultivates a “sense” of future.

Future sense  of technology, future sense  of consumer behavior, future sense  of ecosystem. These influence the skill sets and mind sets.

Any strategy needs to begin with sense of future and it needs to be shared with rank and file.

These outlive tenure of CEO. But by cultivating sense of future and share this sense, a leader can leave a legacy.”

He is correct about the need for a futuristic outlook. we know that world is changing and changing at a high speed.  Prof Clayton Christenson talks of disruptions. One reason companies loose business is due to the blindness in looking at changes and disruptions happening with time across the world. As Charles Darwin says adaptability to changes is the best chance for survival. In order to adapt, we should know what is happening in the world. Netflix is a good example of good thinking and transformation. It moved from offline video lending shops to online streaming to production. It survives today and is growing.

Instead of talking about leadership alone, today futuristic outlook is needed by even normal people for survival. One example I want to quote is the single skilled COBOL programmers. They lived in their well and lost jobs when COBOL went out of the window. Many technologies are transitory. So it takes us to have a look at future proofing. We cannot predict future trends accurately. But we can be ready to welcome changes. Normally it takes about five years for a new innovative technology to come into practice even now. So it gives us time to get ready. So continuous learning habit is an essential requirement not just today but for ages. Curiosity is another requirement for not success but survival. Multiskilling is another requirement. What we need is a holistic picture to decide and select life goals.

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