UoH on Wikipedia

when searching for information on almost anything – and on our university in particular- one would usually check Wikipedia. Do that, and you are led to a page where the information (such as it is) is presented somewhat whimsically. For instance, one finds that the university imparts knowledge, in the Basic Sciences, Applied Sciences, Medical Science, Engineering Science, the Social Sciences, the Humanities, Arts, Fine Arts, Media Studies and Communication. In addition, traditional subjects like Folklore Studies, Health Psychology, Dalit Studies, Women’s Studies, Neural and Cognitive Sciences are also taught.

Traditional? If anything, the last named subjects are very far from traditional. But there other other inadequacies one can discover upon reading through the (rather dreary) text. There are no images, no photographs of Mushroom Rock, nothing. The description accompanying  Sukoon (सुकून) says (and I quote verbatim) that ‘Sukoon’ is an annual cultural meet for the university students. Organised by the Students’ Union, it is held in the March at the Open Dias. ‘Sukoon’(सुकून) means ‘Peace’. In this colourful event, many competitions are held for and by the students, like ‘Mr.& Ms.Sukoon Competition’, Rangoli, Shayari, Quiz, Antaakshari, Debate in English-Telugu-Hindi-Urdu, Dance, Singing, Spot Painting, etc. Other events like DJ night, Quawali, traditional folk musical events, etc. are organised. The School of Economics, we are told, offers M.A, MPhil and Ph.D in Economics, and optional subjects like Transional Economics, Law and Economics, Financial Econometrics, and Health Economics. Spelling errors apart, surely we can do better than this!

Wikipedia-logo_kaClearly, given the nature of the Wikipedia project, in the end we alone are responsible for this. I know that several of us at the University contribute to Wikipedia- in fact there are regular meetings of the Telugu Wikipedians at the Golden Threshold campus- but it remains a reality that the existing UoH page on the English Wikipedia is really not up to the mark. Nor is the one in Telugu, regrettably.

A little effort can change that, and that effort has to come from us. Its sometimes easier to be inspired by what others have done for themselves, so here are quick links to the relevant pages of some representative universities here in India as well as elsewhere. I’d like to ask all of you at the University to take a look at the UoH page and edit it to improve the quality of the information. And the quantity and the nature of the information as well. After all, this is often the first face of the University that others will see…

On reading Matthew

The holy BibleMost of the schools I attended as a child, as well as the college where I did my Bachelor’s, were Christian establishments. Although it was typically not required, as students we did acquire some amount of Bible instruction, some  through osmosis and some through disciplining… And this has stood me well over the years.

As I have indicated in recent posts, the overall funding situation for higher education in the country (and for most Central Universities, and the UoH in particular) is very worrisome. The XII Plan allocations from the UGC and MHRD have been less than generous, and one parable from the New Testament strikes a chord. This is the miracle of the five loaves and the two fishes recounted in the Gospel of St. Matthew (14:13-21), and here it is in the New King James Version:

Jesus blesses the loves and fish before feeding the five thousand Matthew 14:1913 When Jesus heard it, He departed from there by boat to a deserted place by Himself. But when the multitudes heard it, they followed Him on foot from the cities.

14 And when Jesus went out He saw a great multitude; and He was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick.

15 When it was evening, His disciples came to Him, saying, “This is a deserted place, and the hour is already late. Send the multitudes away, that they may go into the villages and buy themselves food.”

16 But Jesus said to them, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”

17 And they said to Him, “We have here only five loaves and two fish.”

18 He said, “Bring them here to Me.”

19 Then He commanded the multitudes to sit down on the grass. And He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, He blessed and broke and gave the loaves to the disciples; and the disciples gave to the multitudes.

20 So they all ate and were filled, and they took up twelve baskets full of the fragments that remained.

21 Now those who had eaten were about five thousand men, besides women and children.

It is difficult not to see this as an allegory of the funding of public universities in India. There are many of us- the forty Central Universities and the few hundred State Universities- that are all primarily dependent on the government for funds, to pay salaries, build infrastructure, and to deliver education and carry out research. And at meetings when University administrators gather to discuss the state of finances, we are always told that funds are severely limited for one reason or another…

Maintaining our University at our present level (let alone taking it a notch higher) with the quantum of funds that are given to us by the UGC is going to need nothing short of a miracle. Like the feeding of the five thousand, and that too without a messiah on the horizon.

Navigating the Campus

map

We’ve needed a manageable campus map for quite some time, what with the number of buildings, Centres, Departments and Schools increasing as they have done in the past few years. Not to mention the increasing numbers of residents of the campus, as well as of visitors…

Thanks to the efforts of Prof. A C Narayana of the UCESS we now have a functional map which is well indexed, and which can be downloaded here on our Campus rEsources page.

There was always Google Earth of course, but having a map with all buildings indicated on it and numbered is an advantage. Invaluable when giving directions to those coming from outside, and often even those within the campus!

The map itself is schematic (mainly so we can fit it on an A4 sheet), and if you note omissions and major inaccuracies, or would like inclusions, please write in and let us know.

index

Bloggers of the Campus, Unite!

10168564-the-pen-is-mightier-than-the-swordA blog, Wikipedia will tell you, is a discussion or informational site published on the World Wide Web and consisting of discrete entries (“posts”) typically displayed in reverse chronological order (the most recent post appears first), and that the word itself is a truncation of the expression web log.

The Urban Dictionary is chillingly brutal. Not for them the factual niceties of Wikipedia- in fact the least cruel definition I could find there was that a blog is a recent and disturbing trend on the internet. A blog lets people easily post comments onto a webpage. While blogs have many purposes, some of which can be useful, most people seem to use blogs as a way of having an online diary. These people have such massive egos and are so narcissistic that they believe that other people would be interested in reading their pointless ramblings. Even more disturbing is the fact that many people have such boring lives that they have nothing better to do than to read these stupid online diaries… Hopefully, “blogging” will turn out to be just a fad that passes quickly.

Fad or no fad, blogging does not promise to go away that quickly, although reactions to blogs (including this one) can range from an extreme lack of interest and stifled yawns to something less disengaged that translates into several “hits” or featuring on being freshly pressed.

Be that as it may, I thought that I would bring together all our campus bloggers onto one page, to offer an easy navigation to the different writers in our community. Here they are:

For now just listing regular blogs,  so please let me know of others that are not included here but should be.  Thanks. This is a diverse group, united only in the fact that we all inhabit the physical space of the campus, but still. Only 15? I thought there’d be more…

Round 3 of the NAACcreditation

indexThe results from the NAAC reaccreditation are now out, and our University has been awarded the overall score of 3.72 out of 4. This is lower than what we had in the first round of reaccreditation when we were given 3.89 out of 4. It is disappointing that we have slipped by 0.17, a percentage drop in quality of about 5%, however that may be estimated… From the documents that can be seen on their website, it is clear that with the passage of time the NAAC has gotten somewhat stricter, but that in of itself is little solace, given the effort that went into the preparation for the visit of the peer review team in January.

SMBe that as it may, all of us owe a word of appreciation to the Coordinator of the effort, Professor Sachi Mohanty of the Department of English. He was a veritable one-man army, mobilizing the efforts of so many staff in preparing reports, collecting information, supervising cleaning, painting, and doing the million things that we all saw him do.

As a colleague wrote to him after the NAAC peer team visit, “I want to take the opportunity to congratulate you and your team for an excellent academic presentation and for the efficient coordination and organization of the NAAC visit. We may know the grade/marks later, but whatever these may be, you and your team made the UoH community proud of its achievements.

I would also like to acknowledge and salute your personal commitment, dedication and devotion to the University; it is rare to find this today. You not only put together and presented an academic assessment through the voluminous report documenting the achievements of the various Departments and Centres and Schools but also highlighted the small and big endeavors made by the teaching, non teaching and student community. As a member of the campus residential community I want to particularly thank you for efforts you made to improve our environment and ambience and make the campus a clean and aesthetic place to live in. In ensuring this, you went beyond the call of duty.

we-try-harder-tvlowcost-australia There are some advantages to not being No. 1 – one tries harder to achieve excellence… There will be time enough to discuss what all needs improving at the University- starting with the infrastructure, both physical and academic. But we should find both the time and the will to bring about some real changes, to earn the higher grades that we all know that we are capable of. Till then, we should keep trying.

See an interview on the local tv station: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=57gT5J8wrxE#aid=P-sgiBrV7IE

CKN: The Campus Knowledge Network

Yesterday’s Distinguished Lecture by Ashok Venkitaraman was exciting in more ways than one. First thing- it was a superb lecture. Great material, excellent presentation, very thought provoking and truly inspiring. And the best part was that you can see it again, here. And again. And tell your friends they can see it via the National Knowledge Network (NKN) all over the campus, and all across the nation.

mapThe NKN is a state-of-the-art multi-gigabit pan-India network for providing a unified high speed network backbone for all knowledge related institutions in the country. The purpose of such a knowledge network goes to the very core of the country’s quest for building quality institutions with requisite research facilities and creating a pool of highly trained professionals. The NKN will enable scientists, researchers and students from different backgrounds and diverse geographies to work closely for advancing human development in critical and emerging areas.

This is just the beginning, I hope. We should have all our Distinguished Lectures made available to all Universities on the NKN, and as you can see from the map on the right, that network is pretty extensive. In some ways this would be better than just putting them on UoHTube, but since it is in addition to that, it only widens our range.

inaugural_lecure_sk_udgata_140214

Our Campus Knowledge Network needs strengthening, though. Too often our ivory tower is actually more like a set of ivory minarets, each housing a School, Department or Centre, isolated even from each other. To that end, starting this Valentine’s Day, the University begins its Inaugural Lecture Series, an ongoing set of colloquia that will be delivered by newly appointed Professors. These lectures are to be very general and accessible to colleagues from all disciplines, and are open to students and faculty from all across the University. The first of these will be given by Professor Siba Udgata of the School of Computer and Information Sciences: February 14, 2014 at 3:00 pm in the Raman Auditorium.

Siba works on Wireless Sensor Networks, crucial to many aspects of the ubiquitous computing environment that we inhabit. A great opportunity for us all to learn about the work that he and his group are doing in the area of green computing among other things.

We do need to cross the many divides that separate the two or more cultures that inhabit our academic landscape, and it requires not just the effort of the lecturer to reach out to a diverse audience, but also the effort of the audience to listen and learn. I hope that our community on the campus can learn to engage with ourselves and the variety of scholarly work that is going on here at home, namely our very own campus knowledge network!

The Palamuru Seven

37On Monday the 27th January, I was in Mahbubnagar,  at Palamuru University, to attend the Annual Convention of the Andhra Pradesh Akademi of Sciences (APAS), to keep an old commitment, namely to deliver the Sitamahalakshmi Memorial Lecture. And I was fortunate in at least two ways…

The first was that I got to see- after too many years- Ranga, aka Professor S Ranganathan who taught us Organic Chemistry so brilliantly at IIT Kanpur. Ranga, who is now at the IICT in Hyderabad, retired from Kanpur after decades of teaching generations of chemists. His classes were wonderful, and he was one of the first to seriously try to get some of us interested in biology- I remember him and Balu (Professor D. Balasubramaniam, also now in Hyderabad, and at the LV Prasad Eye Institute) inviting a number of people in ’73 or ’74 to try to educate us philistine M Sc students of the exciting things that were going on in biological chemistry. Some of my classmates took the bait, but it didn’t work out in my case… But more of that in another post, maybe.

The second was that I got to see seven of our colleagues being inducted into the Akademi at one go- the largest contingent from anywhere to be so elected! In the alphabetical order of the handout, here they are :

Untitled 3

M. Ghanshyam Krishna of the School of Physics was elected Fellow. His work focuses on the growth, characterization and applications of thin films.

Subramanyam Rajagopal of the Department of Plant Sciences, School of Life Sciences was elected Fellow. (OK, so the photo is an older one, and he does not sport the mustache now…) His group is working on bioenergy related to photosynthesis and phytomedicines. His major research contribution was on abiotic stress effects on photosynthesis apparatus of cyanobacteria, algae and higher plants.

Samar Das, of the School of Chemistry, was also elected Fellow. The focus of his research effort is to synthesize metal-oxide based inorganic compounds and to exploit their host guest, ion exchange and catalytic properties.

Pradeepta Panda of the School of Chemistry was elected an Associate Fellow. His  work is on the design and synthesis of various porphyrins.

S Srilakshmi of the UCESS was elected an Associate Fellow. She is a geophysicist, and the only woman in the group.

S Srinath of the School of Physics was elected an Associate Fellow. His areas are Magnetism, Multiferroics, Oxides, Nanomaterials  and  Thin films.

S Venugopal Rao of theACRHEM was elected an Associate Fellow. He does a lot of things, as you can see on his homepage, but to mention a few areas of his interest,  Semiconductor Nonlinear Optics: Optical frequency conversion techniques [Second Harmonic Generation, Sum Frequency Generation, Difference Frequency Generation], Optical Parametric Oscillators/Amplifiers in the near- and mid-infrared spectral region and construction and characterization of femtosecond/picosecond Ti:sapphire lasers.

And in addition, there were many other colleagues from the UoH there: they had already  been elected to the Akademi in earlier years. The President, Dr Ch. Mohan Rao, being an alumnus, made the presence of the University even stronger, and drove home the point that we are the preëminent research university in AP. And, of course, also in the country. Nice!