Friday, September 30, 2011

Pinned post for prospective faculty to IITs/IISc

This is a pinned post (i.e., this post will always appear at the top of this blog though newer posts appear below it) for prospective faculty to IITs/IISc. 

Please, please read this site and the old posts, here, here and here. There are over 800 comments and replies to these comments in these posts. Read them carefully before you post here. 

If you post a question that has already been answered several times, it will be deleted. If you require an answer to your question, post it with a name, initials, pseudonym or anything that is distinguishable.

Monday, September 26, 2011


to my friends and colleagues in IISc, U. Ramamurty and K.N. Balaji for winning the Bhatnagar award in engineering and medical sciences, respectively.

Congratulations to my good friends, Balasubramanian Sundaram and Narahari Sastry, for winning the award in chemical sciences.

Congratulations also to Sirshendu De, a fellow chemical engineer for winning the award.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Android apps

I had previously written about the usefulness of having a net book. It weighs less than a kilogram, has a battery power of nearly 11 hours and can be used extensively during travel.

However, during travelling, especially when it is only for a few hours, one does not even feel like editing any text (except for small corrections). It is a good time to read books/papers and listen to music. I use olivepad, which is the Indian version to the Ipad and costs around Rs. 15,000. The advantage of olivepad is that it is touch screen, weighs less than 400 g and switches on instantly. It is directly synchronized to Gmail, Google calendar, Google tasks and Google docs. It runs on my favorite system, Android and has a number of free applications, including a heart rate monitor. I list below the applications that I have installed and often use.

The olivepad comes loaded with the software, "Documents to Go", which can read Doc,xls,ppt and pdf but can not edit any of these documents. You need to pay for the premium version if you need to edit the documents. OliveOfficePremium can view to view and edit Microsoft Word(doc/docx), Excel(xls/xlsx) and PowerPoint(ppt/pptx) files. In addition, it can view pdf and chm files. There are several instances where you just need a good editor for simple text. One of the best software for this is the Jota Text Editor.

Considering the large number of books available in the epub and pdf format, the best epub and pdf readers are Aldiko book reader and APV PDF viewer. The former (effective version 2.0) can read PDF but the APV PDF viewer is much better.

The android system was designed to manage its own memory and the concept of closing/exiting an app does not exist because the operating systems manages the memory and apps ensuring that the apps that run in the background do not use much resources. However, one needs to know which apps are running, memory used etc. This can be done by the software called ZDBox.

The olivepad comes with a browser but it is not as good as the Opera Mini browser in terms of speed and functionality. The olivepad also comes with a music player but it can not play some formats (like flv) and the moboplayer is probably the best software for playing videos. I used to be a state chess player and I found the software Chess Free to be quite good, though it is adware.

Please let me know if you have any favorite Android apps, especially for reading, viewing/listening to media and browsing.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

New resolutions

The IIT council met in Delhi and

  • proposed a pan-India common entrance test for admission to engineering programmes possibly from 2013.
  • suggested a hike in the tuition fees that can be paid by the student after graduation. 
  • significantly increase the number of Ph.Ds

The third initiative specifically says that the IITs will produce 10,000 Ph.D graduates annually from around 1000 currently. This will be based on increasing the faculty strength from around 4000 currently to 16,000.

What does this mean? Currently, 4000 faculty guide 1000 Ph.D students annually (ratio of 0.25) but within this decade, 16,000 faculty will guide 10,000 Ph.D students annually. What will bring about this change of faculty willing to guide so many students? Faculty normally complain on the lack of students for not doing research. But, as pointed out by Prof. Dheeraj Singh, "One of my colleague once said that we talk about PhD program because it is in fashion to talk about research, and we need to justify not doing research. But we really don't want to admit more PhD students because we are afraid we will have to work harder. "

The IIT council seems to taken the view of lack of students for research seriously and recommended, "From 2013, students would have to pay the balance Rs 6 lakh if they take up a non-teaching job after graduation." The minister says, "The intention is to attract IIT students to teaching and research" Currently, around 1% of B.Tech students from IITs pursue Ph.D in India and I am not sure how this move will attract more students to research. Will the council exempt the fees for students who pursue research and teaching in USA rather in India? Why not introduce many schemes that will make research and teaching attractive in India? Will that not make more students to take up teaching and research rather than asking them to pay if they do not take up an academic career?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Lab assistants

In the article, BU rated best, but students, the correspondent says A researcher and professor from the university told Deccan Herald: “The fact is, be it here or in IISc, money matters. Pay a few thousand rupees to the lab assistant and he will give you whatever you want for a whole month. As much as 70 per cent of the funds provided for purchasing lab equipment are pocketed by the staff. Even the remainder of the funds is used very business-like.”

Lab assistants do not manage labs in IISc and I do not think the above applies to IISc. I do agree that it happens in many universities in India but not in IISc.