Not enough quality institutions to educate next generation: President - The Times of India

Not enough quality institutions to educate next generation: President - The Times of India: "India had dominated higher education for 1,800 years from 6th century BC to the fall of Nalanda University in 12th century AD. "I don't find any reason why India cannot go back to dominating the higher education scene. We have the talent, capacity and dedicated teachers who can inspire and rekindle the interests in the minds of students," President Pranab Mukherjee said. Expressing satisfaction over making right to education (RTE) a reality in the country, he said the focus should now be on imparting right education."

'via Blog this'

The genius is within

Every child is gifted, as teachers, mentors, parents and those who have the responsibility to help us learn need to find the 'gift in the child'.

Jacob Barnett, 14-Year-Old With Asperger's Syndrome, May Be Smarter Than Einstein
When Jacob Barnett was 2 years old, he was diagnosed with moderate to severe autism. Doctors told his parents that the boy would likely never talk or read and would probably be forever unable to independently manage basic daily activities like tying his shoe laces. But they were sorely, extraordinarily mistaken.

Read more at 'Why don't you try this?'

BBC News - A Point of View: Why embracing change is the key to happiness

BBC News - A Point of View: Why embracing change is the key to happiness
New situations, new people, new languages - we can interpret any of these as an unwelcome, if not threatening, change. Which is bad news for how we police crowds, carry out overseas peace-keeping actions, or treat unfamiliar people. Our overreaction to what can feel like chaos may actually produce real chaos. When change finally overwhelms us we can get so scared we forget other humans are human and behave badly. Why not? We're in chaos.

Even if change-avoidance forms a prison, walking outside it can seem appalling. Being without love, or novel interactions, might be awful, but their presence might change us. And when something, or someone we already love is taken, by accident, by bereavement, by changes we can't control - we're not only hurt - their absence changes us. This does nothing to make change attractive.

We may try to control our own superficial alterations - buying the latest iThings, taking risks, not only swimming with sharks, but with sharks we've never met - seeking what's new and then newer. But that's just as rigid a behaviour as my sad clinging to defunct electrical goods, neat solitudes and tales of doom involving shark attacks. Real change will still happen.

Change is inevitable...

Thank you Dr. Amrita Dass for the link to the story.

People remember us for our deeds

People don't remember us for what we do for ourselves-for the size of our bank account, the car we drove or how big our house was. They remember us for what we have done for them. Leadership, after all, is a relationship, and the quality of that relationship determines how effective we are and how we are remembered. When we talk about legacy, people often think about what they are bequeathing to others, in terms of material goods. But, in fact, the legacy you leave is the life you lead: it's what you are doing right now that determines how you will be remembered.

Good CSR Strategy

By: Ashish Dhawan

The Parliament approved the new Companies Bill, which mandates that companies of a certain size spend 2% of their three-year average annual profit towards corporate social responsibility (CSR), is a landmark one as it makes India among the first nations to have social welfare spending as part of company statute by law.

Around 8,000 companies would fall under the Bill's ambit and this mandate would translate into an estimated CSR spending of Rs 12,000-15,000 crore annually. In order to maximise the impact of their CSR, Indian corporate houses need to look beyond the traditional lens of "charity" and develop succinct CSR strategies with potential for large-scale social and economic impact. Private philanthropies set up by India's business leaders can be looked at as models for CSR. The first step towards developing a CSR strategy is to define a maximum of 2-3 social issues.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, a benchmark for a focused socially-relevant enterprise, chose just two areas of effective and measurable action: education and healthcare. The foundation then made worldwide eradication of polio akin to a business goal and is confident of achieving it in the next six years. In India, the Azim Premji Foundation chose to focus on improving the quality of primary education, and has maintained this effort for over 12 years.

In order to ensure organised and successful CSR initiatives, companies will have to identify and hire an appropriate team of professionals: Tech Mahindra hired Loveleen Kacker, a former senior IAS officer and a domain expert in children's education, to lead its foundation. The Azim Premji Foundation recruited Dilip Ranjekar and Anurag Behar, senior executives from Wipro, to lead efforts towards large-scale impact in education.

The Michael and Susan Dell Foundation has Barun Mohanty and Debashish Mitter, former senior executives with McKinsey & Co and American Express, to help children living in urban poverty. Even at full scale, India's CSR spend will be a drop in the ocean when compared with government expenditure on social schemes. However, even these funds have the potential for large-scale impact as there has been limited scope for innovation within the government system. Corporates should view CSR efforts as R&D by piloting innovative models and gathering evidence of the impact.

Government resources can then be used to scale up smaller operative models. Businesses should not feel pressured to take on the operational responsibility of every initiative they undertake. It is wiser to operate CSR initiatives that are tightly linked to the core line of business and outsource other initiatives to non-profits with expertise.

The Piramal Foundation operates its healthcare initiatives internally, but for its education-related activities, it backed two highly capable social entrepreneurs, Madhav Chavan of Pratham and Aditya Natraj of Kaivalya Education Foundation. For giving to be ingrained in a company's culture, employees must be involved with CSR. At Tech Mahindra, associates engage with communities through partner NGOs. Their CSR goal is to get 10% of company associates to volunteer 10% of their time by 2015.

At HDFC Bank, over 5,000 employees contribute around Rs 1 crore a year through payroll giving. Successful businesses are all driven by measurable goals, strong monitoring processes and data-driven decision-making. Bill Gates has said, "From the fight against polio to fixing education, what's missing is often good measurement and a commitment to follow the data. We can do better. We have the tools at hand." Businesses need to extend these principles to their CSR work.

The new Companies Bill should galvanise companies into collaborative action for real change. For instance, many companies focus on education in their CSR but there are few instances of collaboration. Corporates, who have a vested interest in the quality of education as that is the most powerful tool towards the creation of adynamic workforce, can come together to change the Indian school education system.

The writer is CEO and founder, Central Square Foundation

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