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Friday, January 14, 2011

'Sam Uncle' at IIMA

Yesterday, Sam Pitroda visited IIM-A to deliver an address on "Nation Building in the 21st Century and Indian Challenges". Like any other initiative of his, the talk was interesting and well thought out. Starting from the origins of nations(in tribes), he discussed the evolution of national building and said that in the present age when goods & services move freely, are borders/passports relevant to keep people out? He discussed Japan & EU which were suffering from economic issues and hoped that India could take its place in the sun soon. He prefers 'Collaboration over Command and control'. He does not see technology as the 'silver bullet' to address India's problems but wants it to be accompanied by 'domain experts' of which India has a chronic shortage(maybe as good engineers either do MS abroad or MBA in India-but I'm digressing). He hoped to spark off a discussion/debate here so that the fruits could be seen over time.

What was more amazing was the Q&A session after his talk. While I have seen blatant abuse of this system elsewhere, today's session was the last straw and I simply had to post the type of Q&A that happens when such sessions are opened to the public(I am NOT elitist but I've not noticed such things in IIM-A only events)
  • The attention seeker:-This person spends a disproportionate time on his own introduction/self edification, pushes his own views and asks a 'sitter' question at the end.  For example, the self professed head of a management college was guilty of this during Sam Pitroda's talk.
  • The lobbyist:-This type of person(no reference meant to Radia&Co) asks on issues tangential to the talk and wants to push his interest. 
  • The crank:-We had a scientist who had developed a machine to 'generate energy out of gravity'. When gently reminded that this talk was not the right forum to air the issue, he walked out with his wife
  • The idealist:-This person expects the speaker to be omnipotent and have solutions for all the national issues. It is better to remind such people, "Ask not what the country can do for you but what you can do for your country".
 Those of you wondering why 'Sam Uncle'.well..that's what he was addressed by a student during a Q&A!!!

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