Saturday, August 29, 2009

Intellectual pursuits for the young

Everytime I conduct a teaching session on "The Economist" magazine, I realise the following
1) it is one of the best examples of well-researched weekly journalism
2) it is one of the best tools to improve your command over the English language
3) it takes you round the world in one shot, every week
4) everything of use for a leader-manager of global importance can be found here, &
5) a sincere reader, over a few years, can almost develop a mastery of key global issues

( I extensively use technology while conducting this session. Electronic PC Whiteboard, Giant screen, audio-video multimedia, videoconferencing with remote campuses, live streaming within campus, etc. It's quite a strong IT stuff. )

Let's talk about the last week's issue, on which I took a session this Friday. We covered the following issues in the course of 4 hours
Teach me, will you?
* The problems in Afghanistan  * The changing nature of Obama's priorities * The Iran situation * Desperation of Hugo Chavez, and importance of 'institutions' in democracies * The World economy - a sullen U shaped recovery predicted * US Healthcare system and its royal mess * Changing nature of brand marketing due to recession * Reckitt Benckisor and the lessons in lean management * Somalian pirates and private security * lessons in global geography * colonial past of Africa * Amar Chitra Katha - 2 small stories (to highlight lessons in morality) * credit crisis summarised in a great YouTube video ... etc.

Imagine! In just a 4 hours, we get a fantastic chance to breeze through all these, and more, and stop at the really serious issues to take a deeper look. At a personal level, I need to work very hard to prepare for each such session but it is rewarding. I learn so much. Each session throws up interesting surprises - like the question yesterday from a student that 'why do so many African countries have almost straight line borders?'

I remember the summers of 1990 when I had the first brush with this publication, on the streets of Daryaganj where I would buy the old issues of The Economist by weight. My friends at IIT found that a crazy thing to do (reading this publication) but somehow I found it interesting! And ever since, I have been unable to put it down.

Larry Ellison (Oracle) famously said "Earlier I used to think, now I just read The Economist". I second that. Oops, doesn't mean I have stopped thinking :)

The Economist is a revered, old, solid British publication. Is it truly secular and even-headed? I now take help of my almost 20 year-long association with this publication as a dedicated reader, issue after issue. And I don't speak lightly on this. 

Well it 'seems' that this publication is even-headed. But its flagrant (now getting subtler) anti-India intellectualism can get on one's nerves especially since you know that we are not that bad as a nation. Maybe I understand - there is definitely a small probability of the post-colonial hatred that these editors may be harbouring against India(ns), especially since Churchill's prediction of India breaking up into hundreds of pieces did not quite come true. Maybe the continuously collapsing credibility of the South Asian neighbours of India will ultimately convince the editors that India is the only place you may trust as a potential world superpower in this region. 

The idea of teaching The Economist as part of course curriculum was the brainchild of the top team including our CEO Varun Gupta, and Director Dr Manas Fuloria.


Unknown said...

Hello Sir,
Really we wait entire week for this rigorous Economist Session. After analyzing it in detail really we have started thinking and connecting the dots via whatsoever happening across the world and connect it to happening in India.
Thank You so much !

Proton Neelesh Dani

Test said...

Hi Nilesh, actually, I am pleasantly surprised at how much seriousness a lot of students are displaying towards so many aspects of their learning at PROTON, the Economist being one of them. You have no idea - you guys are going to race ahead in life as if you started in a Porsche! It will take some time, but just you wait and watch :)

Anonymous said...

Good morning sir,
Really we have become fan of The Economist magazine. It looks small but if I want to read whole magazine it takes a whole week.
As Nilesh rightly said every week we eagerly wail for the session conducted by you.
At starting before joining the college (before July 1,2008), we would have never thought that you would interact with us for such a long time and it is for every week.

Thank you so much for such high quality education.

shraddha said...

Respected Sir,
It was great video.
Thanks Sir.