Thursday, April 26, 2007

How should your preparation be in the last 25 days before the Civils Preliminary examination?

1. Have the full syllabus for the papers before you as a reference. Divide the whole syllabus covering both the papers into about 20 portions covering about 20 days. The remaining 5 days are for slippages that may occur in executing your plan and certainly the last two days before the exam are meant for total relaxation and freewheeling.

2. Had you been in the habit of writing notes while preparing for the exam, have the notes before you. Go through each and every topic that you prepared for and you would find that many of the topics are very well known and easy. In some of them, you may find that a little bit of detail would be needed. Open the relevant portion of the book(s) and delve deep into it. It should give you a good understanding of the topic. If it still proves tricky, leave it at that and don’t bother. Move on with the other topics. Don’t get stuck with a chapter/topic or don’t be tempted to read extensively again. This would NOT be the time to do an extensive reading on anything. You typically had more than one year to do that.

3. If you are not the type that makes notes while reading, my point one above still remains the same. Just do the same with whatever material you prepared in the first place. It’s been my experience that people of this type usually have the habit of underlining what they have read, or making notes in the margins on the text books or material. Apportion those many chapters/topics that you can cover to a typical day and stick to the schedule religiously. Even if you are not able to implement your schedule for a day thoroughly, don’t carry forward a backlog. Get on with the planned schedule. Cover up the backlog in the extra days that you left blank.

4. In these 20 odd days, try to set apart a couple of hours for discussions with your friends. Choose your friends carefully – it is not necessary that your best buddies will be best study partners. Be ruthless there. Try to review and explain to each other what was studied or reviewed during the day. This gives you some practice of expressing yourself well, remembering points and analyzing them; qualities which will be very much in demand when you move on to the interview stage.

5. And don’t forget to attempt at least a mock test every alternate day. Work on the bits where you answered wrongly. Let not the totals scored by you in these tests get to your head – whether they are good or poor.

6. Enjoy and relax in the last two days before the exam. Remember: Civils is not the only thing life. There are people who are not successful there in the exam; but have succeeded extremely well in their life. Some very successful people in the exams have been miserable failures in the government and/or personal life. Let that not happen to you. This may look a bit philosophical; but ultimately there are times when you need philosophy more than what it needs you.

7. On the exam day, this should keep you in good stead.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

ECB limits may have been breached

Though the government has kept a cap of $18 bn (2006-07) for the ECBs (External Commercial Borrowings), data upto February suggests that the cap may have been breached. It is still not official though.

Under current ECB guidelines, all companies registered under the Companies Act except financial institutions such as banks, financial intermediaries and housing finance companies are eligible to raise up to $500 mn under the automatic route in a financial year.

However, there is a restriction on end use. Funds raised from overseas markets can only be used for investment purposes such as import of capital goods, modernization and expansion of production units, new projects and investment in infrastructure such as telecom, roads and ports, among others.

So, is there a case for restricting the ECB window? NO argues today’s editorial. While forex reserves have crossed the $200 bn mark, external debt as a proportion of GDP has fallen from 17.3% in March 2005 to 15.8% in March 2006. India now ranks eighth among the top ten debtor countries in the world. It was ranked number 2 in 1991. Even the conservative Tarapore committee on capital account convertibility has suggested that longer term (7 to 10 years) ECBs be kept outside the ECB ceiling. Any review of the ECB policy must not lose track of the original guiding principles:

· To keep maturities long

· Costs low

· Encourage infrastructure and export sector financing

Friday, April 13, 2007

Innovation in education

Here is the article written by me recently, that won the first prize in a nationwide contest for independent bloggers on TechTribe, a website that connects innovators from various fields.

Innovation in Education:

At the moment India is like a caged Tiger. The door of the cage is opened; but the Tiger, not having noticed the opening, is still wildly swaying inside the cage. The country’s poor performance in educating its populace is holding it on a leash and is not allowing it to gallop. For a country of India’s size (population wise), the number of uneducated voters is abnormally high – a good 40.93% (from Census 2001 figures) of India’s adult population is illiterate. Such a large base of illiterate voters cannot vote its government to power in an informed manner. It is lack of education that makes people choose badly or choose inaction. Education has tremendous potential to bootstrap the country’s democratic processes and governance. If only the primary and secondary education sectors are strengthened more deeply than what they are at present, will they provide the necessary background for the country’s populace to make an informed and well considered choice in electing its government. When the electorate is capable of making informed choices, the country will surely gallop.

We have all heard of or witnessed viral marketing. Why can’t there be a viral education concept in India? Can’t educating responsibility be cast on all educated people? Albeit voluntarily? Remember military conscription? Something on similar lines (but only voluntary) can be implemented in India too, to spread primary and secondary education among the larger populace. A la PPP models, a CGP (Citizen Government Partnership) model can be put in place, wherein the educated India shoulders (and loves it!) part of the responsibility of educating the uneducated India. A portion of the funds that are earmarked for education every year can be deployed for paying such education volunteers. The volunteers would take up the responsibility of educating a few other people and show results – by way of ensuring that their students pass/acquire the targeted qualification at the end of their learning process. The volunteers can be anybody – educated unemployed, employed people, educated housewives etc. The volunteers would be paid money by the government and in case they are employed people, policy prescriptions can give due recognition to their contribution and encouragement.

This concept is based on the idea that it is not necessary to have brick and mortar schools for imparting primary and secondary education. The other premise is that every educated Indian can easily educate a couple of other people in a year, given the necessary encouragement. This will partly address the problem of having so many ‘unemployable’ graduates in India. India’s graduates, howsoever ‘unemployable’ cannot be so bad as to be not in a position to teach primary and secondary education to a few other people in a year. This provides an honourable way of employing India’s millions of educated unemployed. It can harness the strengths of the educated India in a big way.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

About Ireland cricket team

Yesterday, Ranchal was asking me why England, Ireland & Scotland are playing in world cup cricket if they are wholly called UK? What is the relevance of UK then?

Such questions give us an opportunity to learn a bit of history and gain a bit of perspective.

The UK has four constituent parts, three of which — the ancient nations of England, Wales and Scotland — are located on the island of Great Britain. The fourth part is Northern Ireland is the northern most part of a totally different island. Southern Ireland (Republic of Ireland) is an independent country. Independence for the Republic of Ireland in 1922 followed the partition of the island of Ireland two years previously, with six of the nine counties of the province of Ulster remaining within the UK, which then changed to the current name in 1927.

Remember the IRA (Irish Republican Army)? It was fighting for independence of the Northern Ireland from the UK. There are various versions of the IRA. But by and large it is understood that they have given up their armed uprising and that they want to follow the political path to secure independence from UK for the Northern Ireland.

The Ireland cricket team is the cricket team representing all Ireland (i.e. both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland). Due to political difficulties, the Irish Cricket Union was not elected to the International Cricket Council until 1993, and qualified for the World Cup for the first time in 2007. However, cricket has been played in Ireland since at least the 1880s - including a tour of North America in 1888. Their first match with first-class status was played in 1902 against a London County side including W.G. Grace. The Irish won convincingly, by 238 runs.

Ireland's greatest cricketing success to date was in the 2007 Cricket World Cup, where a tie against Zimbabwe and a victory over Pakistan in the group matches qualified them for the "Super 8" stage of the tournament.

Wanna know more? Follow this.