Free CDs to support Open Source movement from Indian Govt

The Technology Development for Indian Languages started distributing free software tools and fonts in Hindi on June 20th. Earlier in April they started providing Tamil language tools on the cd . This CD contains open source alternatives softwares in localized language like BharateeyaOO.o (Office suite in Indian Languages, based on ) , Columba Email Client , FireFox browser, GAIM , Unicode compliant fonts and keyboard drivers et al … This cd is available for public freely upon registration. ..

      This move of the government seems to me inspired by Brazil’s earlier initiative PC Conectado to make the use of computers and Internet cheaper for the masses .. Brazil govt realised that to become such program feasible, it had to be Open Source .. The IT Minister of India, Dayanidhi Maran also declared in his Ten Points Agenda that he will put stress on Language computing as well as Internet connectivity in his policy .. All the points look pretty attractive and if he is really serious about it then we will soon get many new advances ..

      Now back to the CD .. It has most often used softwares like an office package, browser, email client and instant messenger but it lacks an operating system .. If the government is really serious about bringing the computers to common masses, it should also realise that most people cant afford to spend on softwares too .. This is the main point why piracy is so much on rise here .. If the CDAC can provide a localized version of Linux for India then I am sure it will be a huge success …

      Along with this government should introduce Linux as a part of computer courses in schools and colleges .. Most students graduate out of college knowing only Windows and related technologies and if they are taught about Linux right from the start, I am sure they will feel more comfortable with it and Open Source will strengthen more here …

      PS: I learnt that TDIL will also look forward for distributing these cds along with computer magazines .. So I am contacting Raaabo if he can get it with next issue of Digit ..

The Abolition of Entrance Tests — Boon or Bane ..?

Umm.. A Sunday looks good after a hectic week .. I aint getting much time these days as I am doing this lecturership .. Anyways .. Here we go ..

The recent announcement of doing away with Common Entrance tests for admission in Professional Courses by Tamil Nadu has rose many questions .. According to the new system, the admissions in professional courses will be made solely on the basis of performance in Plus Two exams and reservation system ..

Who will benefit ..?
   According to Ms Jayalalitha, it is aimed at benefitting students from rural areas. .. As the students from rural areas are unable to attend coaching classes which are specifically focussed on entrance exams, it will play as a levelling system .. Also as now students will have to concentrate only on their exams only, it will reduce the stress from both the students and their parents …

What can be the problems ..?
   The first thing that comes to mind is what will they do when there are many students with same marks ..? How will they decide the gradings then ..? Another problem is with CBSE students.. as the CBSE and local board have different systems, there must be a system that will correlate the performance of CBSE students with local board students ..
   Earlier students used to take a year drop for preparing for entrance exams but as now there will be no entrance exams, the students will have get only one chance in their board exams as there will be no grade improvement exams ..

So ..? Will it help or make the system worse ..?
   Umm… As most of the problems that arise are related to grading system, it will need immediate improvements .. When the student’s apprehension are removed, most of the people will consider the system favorably .. I myself liked the idea .. Cauz these entrance exams make students so much stressful .. Their concentration is diverted between board exams and entrance exams .. And entrance coaching centers have grown like mushrooms who have made this their business .. When there will be no entrance exams, the students will concentrate on their school syllabus .. This is the main point of the system .. What are we encouraging ..? These coaching centres teaches “tricks” to solve the questions in less time .. Most of the time, they focus only on sections of syllabus that are considered “scoring” .. This results in students who knows 100 formulas but dont know the basics of the subjects .. Getting rid of entrance exams will surely help in students taking more interest in the curriculam studies .. But there should be grading improvement exams too .. When you are putting so much on one exam, there can be chances when some unfortunate thing happen and student not performing well in the exam .. So it will be a lost chance for him .. If there will be grading improvement then they can try again …

I hope more States follow the lead and accept this system .. It will help reduce the stress burden from both students and their parents .. And it will give more credit to school exams too ..