Spectrum - August 2020



SPECTRUM
aglasem.com

EDITION AUG 2020

LEADER DIARIES
AMITY UNIVERSITY VC, SPSU
PRESIDENT NARRATE THEIR
PLANS FOR THE FUTURE

EXPERT TALKS

PROF NEERAJ GUPTA,
DURGESH TRIPATHI, SEEMA
SHAH ON TEACHING, LEARNING ASSESSMENT IN THE NEW
WORLD

TEST FROM HOME
EMBRACING THE NEW
AVATAR OF ONLINE HOME
BASED EXAMS

HALL OF FAME
SCHOLARSHIP EXAM TOPPERS
ON THEIR JOURNEY AND FUTURE
PLANS

20+

Free online courses to
enhance your CV



EDITOR'S NOTE

Welcome
Warm greetings, and welcome to Spectrum, the
magazine by Aglasem.

I

f you have come across the
words “unprecedented”, “challenging”, “dark times” more than
once in the past months, and are
quite weary of them by now, we
hear you. But can we ignore the
“crisis” simply because we have
gotten bored of it?

Spectrum is a
movement to connect and empower
a community of
engaged stakeholders to share their
work and ideas in
the world of education and career,
learn from each
other, and foster innovation.

While many of us are stepping out
of our safe spaces and trying to go
about our daily life as before, truth be
told, things are no longer the same.
Whether we like it or not, living with
COVID-19 is the new reality.
On one hand it is heartening to see
that the education space has reacted
extremely maturely to the situation:
classes went online almost overnight,
assessments and examinations were
redesigned, and there has been an
impeccable level of coordination,
commitment, and communication
between the administrators, faculty,
students, and all other stakeholders
involved. On the other hand there
are evident challenges that these
changes bring like requirements of
access to technology, adaptability to
new methods of teaching, learning,

and assessment et al.
But arguably the worst demons are
the ones we cannot see - panic,
anxiety, ignorance, misinformation.
As education leaders spend long
days and nights to implement new
solutions, we bring Spectrum as a
platform to collate and present the
meaningful.
Through Spectrum, we want to bring
movements in the education and
career space to the forefront; to
highlight the work that’s being done,
and get involved. Most important of
all, we want to provide an inclusive
forum for the community, where everyone can bring their work together
to learn and be inspired by the work
of others.
Thank you, for joining us in this beautiful journey.

ANWESHA BOSE
EDITOR

ABOUT AGLASEM

THE TEAM

Aglasem Edutech Pvt Ltd is an Indian EdTech company, in operations since
2012. The portal aglasem.com and various apps of the same provides study
materials and updates on education for school studies, entrance exams, college
admissions, government jobs, talent search exams, olympiads. What started as
a simple way of helping the student community with study notes, and papers
back when the founders were in college, has today transformed into a movement where information, resources and guidance is available to all students and
govt job aspirants. All thanks to the growing community of millions of students,
teachers, educators and aspirants.

EDITORIAL

2

AUG 2020

Anand Meena, Anwesha Bose, Ifrah
Rehman, Arunima Sharma, Ginni Tyagi,
Mamona Majumdar, Juel Parag, Yogesh
Chawla
FEATURES EDITOR
Laxman Sharma

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Leaders Diaries

Experts Talk

6

16
Evolution in teaching
and learning with
Prof Neeraj Gupta

On success and safety
of students with Dr
Balvinder Shukla

10

Thinking long
term for fruitful
outcomes with
Mr Ashok Ghosh

51

28

e:
Test from hom w
ne
Embracing the s
avatar of exam

Beginning of a
new world
Plight of schools
amidst pandemic
21 Free online
courses to enhance your CV

14

The
privilege
pyramid

55

Coronavirus warriors: Students who
made a difference

56

Pros and cons of
online classes

57

Traditional schooling
vs online schooling

Insight Edge

50

On choosing a
career and the
changing face of
education

SPECTRUM

Light Byte

48

When teachers
matched the skills of
gen-z, for gen-z with
Dr Durgesh Tripathi

24

Op-Ed

4

20

44

In memory of
classrooms
and conference
chambers

Nex Gen

58

Free app for JEE, NEET
by IITM startup

NEET, coaching, students' rights: Honest talk with Dr Amit
Gupta

30
Overcoming challenges, one step at a
time, with Dr Seema
Shah

Hall of Fame

36

Aarshiya Mittal

37

Ayush Sankaran

38

Praneet Raj

39

Tripathy Divyajyoti Senapati

41

Eknoor Singh
AUG 2020

3



THE BEGINNING
OF A NEW WORLD
Now that the unprecedented has descended, the way we lead an everyday life is undergoing changes every day. Fighting, one
battle at a time.

4

AUG 2020

SPECTRUM



FOREWORD

I

t was the morning of Holi, and
like every year, I was peeking
from behind my curtains to check
whether my friendly neighbors
in the posh society of Gurgaon
(sorry, Gurugram) were rolling around
in muddy waters already. Though
the distant sounds of rang barse had
been playing since 9 am, I was not
surprised to see that this year, the
celebrations were not as much in
full swing as last year. As opposed
to a ground full of over 200 people
surrounded by colorful puddles, open
beer bottles, sweets aplenty that
I witnessed in 2019, today, only a
few groups of people could be seen
playing only with dry gulaal, that too
rather coyly. After all, people were
taking the advisories on the novel
coronavirus seriously.
However that was not the larger
picture. During a conversation with
a colleague 2 days later, he brazenly confirmed that he did not give
a damn about the virus. After all
“beemar to padhte rehte hai, holi toh
saal me ek hi baar aati hai” (we keep
falling ill, but Holi comes only once a
year). True that.
The novel coronavirus though, seems
to have taken rather an offense to
that and decided to well make its
point. This less than 100 nm sized
virus has wreaked havoc globally:
More than 4.6 M confirmed cases
have been reported all over the
world, with more than 310K deaths.
The figures rise as you read this.

IN INDIA
The first case of the novel coronavirus
was first reported in Wuhan, China, in
December 2019. It was then on 30th
January 2020 that India reported its
first case. Hours later on the same
day, WHO declared the novel Coronavirus to be a global emergency.
Today India has the 4th highest
number of confirmed cases, having
surpassed the UK. While efforts are in
full force from all fronts, the country

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of 1.36 billion people is facing an
unprecedented challenge - to survive,
and emerge uncrushed, on the other
side of the storm.

EDUCATION
Lockdown was imposed from 24th
March. A necessary action to pinch
the growth of the virus, the first
edition of lockdown gave way to
the second, then third, then fourth.
Schools and colleges were shut,
students in hostels were sent back
to their homes. Board exams were
cancelled.
In the beginning, students cheered
the delay in board exams, deferment
of annual exams, and shutdown of
schools and colleges. No crime there.
A child after all finds no joy in exams,
and has his own complaints about
the general education system. So for
many, it was just an extended vacation.
When little Chintu was asked by
a smartly dressed news reporter
“Aapko Coronavirus ke baare me kya
pata hai?” (what do you know about
coronavirus), he wasted no breath in
answering “Jaise diwali, dussehra bade
bade festivals hote hai India me, waise
hi coronavirus ek bahut bada tyohaar
hai, jiske liye hume bahut saari chhutti
mili hai.” (just like diwali, dussehra
are big festivals in India, similarly
coronavirus is a big festival for which
we are getting lots of holidays!)
However the happiness turned to
confusion, then fear and alarm.
Ruchika, mother of young Puneet said
mid- April “When will classes begin?
My son will fall behind if schools do
not open soon!”. Gayathri Reddy,
another concerned parent voiced
“My daughter has consistently been a
topper in her class. She just appeared
for her class 12 board exams and was
looking forward to college admissions.
We are worried how that will happen
now”.

THE ANSWERS
India is an adaptive nation. We are
known problem solvers. So, it was not
much of a surprise to see the education system quickly trying to adapt
and adopt technology to answer the
questions.
Schools started using online classes.
So did colleges. Paper checking of
board exams was outlined to suit
the circumstances. And by mid-May,
details of datesheets for the delayed
board exams also started coming.
But, this is not the happy ending.

THE CHALLENGES
To “take education out of brick and
mortar classrooms” is one of the
visions of Aglasem. The goal is to
ensure that education is not restricted to schools and colleges - that
everyone, wherever they are, should
get access to it. And this can be possible through technology.
And the times of COVID-19 have
shown just how important a role technology plays in connecting people
and enabling solutions. However now
that the system is falling back upon
online education as the sole resource,
it appears that this plan is not without
its flaws.
Moreover, the education system is not
only about imparting education. For
many, school is a source of satisfying
their hunger via the mid-day meal.
Going to schools and colleges means
interacting with peers, a seamless
flow of thoughts and brainstorming.
All stakeholders involved - students, teachers, professors, parents,
principals, vice chancellors, deans,
educationists, and politicians - are
actively working on identifying the
challenges in the field of education in
a COVID-19 / post COVID-19 world,
planning ahead for viable solutions,
and implementing them at a breakneck speed.
LET US TAKE A WALK DOWN THIS ROAD

AUG 2020

5



LEADER DIARIES

ON SUCCESS & SAFETY
OF STUDENTS WITH DR.
BALVINDER SHUKLA

M

y father has taught me
a couple of things. He
always used to say,
“Do what you really
enjoy and enjoy what
you do. Don't do anything that you
consider a burden. Once you feel like
it is a burden you will not be able to
satisfy yourself.” Dr. Balvinder Shukla,
has been following this philosophy
throughout her life and career.
An intelligent female, with forward
thinking, she is heading Amity
University, Uttar Pradesh, as a Vice
Chancellor. Throughout these tough
times, priority has been the safety of
the students and the staff. Yet, Amity
University has not compromised with
the education quality. In a one on one
talk with Dr Shukla, we unveiled how
Amity University efficiently coping
with the pandemic and is leading in
the new era of education.

6

AUG 2020

Hello ma’am, how are you? How are
you coping with COVID-19 situation?

keeping morale high and ensuring the
engagement of students.

First of all, thank you for having me.
I am doing fine. I am thankful that at
this time my entire family is with me.

Dealing with the situation was not
difficult for us. We started using an
online teaching medium the next day
the lockdown was announced. We are
using face to face remote teaching
and during the month of March to
April we had 1,65,000 classes and our
faculty developed 6000+ e-content.

How do you think COVID-19 has
impacted the education space? And
How is Amity University dealing with
the situation?
The pandemic has really changed
the educational sector and it is not
going to be the same anymore. Amity
University is closely monitoring the
global pandemic and our priority is
the safety of our students and the
staff.
We have been in constant touch with
the students and faculty members and have been keeping them
updated about what is happening at
the University. You see, at this time, it
is not just about teaching, it is about

As a group, Amity has 10 Universities,
we have campuses in 17 countries,
we have schools that run groups of
175000 students, so without wasting
any time we got online classes for
everyone online.
Our faculties have also been engaged
in producing research papers. Thousands of research papers have been
published in this period. Faculties and
students of Amity are also engaged
in developing low cost ventilators,

SPECTRUM



masks and sanitizers that are a must
nowadays. We have distributed the
masks to people.
So these are all we have done to cope
with COVID-19 and we are preparing
for the next academic session.
When the lockdown was first announced in March what was the first
instinct of the University? How did
you move around it, what was the
first step?
As I said earlier, the first step was
the safety and the well being of the
students, and second was to ensure
that the learning doesn’t stop for
them. We directed the students to go
back to their homes, hostelers were
also asked to move back, however,
some international students could
not go back. They were with us on
the campus till May. The last international students to stay back with
us was from Afghanistan. We kept
the hostel cafeteria open and asked
the staff to take care of the students
staying there. Facilities provided to
such students comprises paramedics,
security etc.
One of the challenges that we have
been facing is the examination of
the students. We are conducting the
online examinations, almost 50% of
the exams are already over. Keeping
the current situation in mind, semester as well as entrance exams for
admissions are being held online.
This is what happened when the
lockdown started. However, as we
have seen since March a lot has
changed. So what is the approach
of Amity now about the lockdown,
COVID-19 and everything?
We all are working from home and
are well prepared from the beginning. Amity has its branches across
the globe and we need to maintain
uniformity in all our campuses. Thus,
most of the things were already
online. That was not a big challenge
for us.
But the biggest challenge was that if
the students were not able to meet
us face to face how can we keep their
motivation high throughout? So we
made the Amity counselling center. It
is called as Amity Centre for Guidance and Counselling (ACGC) and is
very active. It is a 24X7 service, where

SPECTRUM

students can approach the trained
and professional counsellors anytime
if they are facing any psychological
issues.
Then we decided on how to support
our faculties and staff. For that, we
started the faculty emergency support services.
Thirdly, we started taking weekly
reports on the well being of the
students. We try to extend help in
case of need and provide all sorts of
online resources to our students like
e-books, e-library, etc to help them as
much as possible. All resources have
been made accessible from anywhere
and anytime.
Very impressive. Everyone is focusing on online teaching right now
but education, as a whole, is a lot
more than just classes. How is Amity
compensating that during this pandemic?
We did a lot of planning at the
start, due to which we are able to
hold awareness campaigns for the
students, faculties, community and
others. Since the spread of the virus
many discontinued the newspaper
subscription, we stayed connected
viaTwitter, Instagram, Facebook,
Linkedin etc. Also, we encouraged the
faculties and students to download
the Aarogya Setu app to know the
COVID-19 status around them and
stay safe.

sectors which are highly affected
due to pandemic. However, these
webinars aim to inform students that
not everything is lost. The sectors will
eventually bounce back and getting
tensed or worried is not a solution.
How different will be the post COVID19 and pre COVID-19 era, especially
in the education sector?
In pre-COVID era we always valued
face to face education. All emphasis
was on the brick and mortar factors,
having big campus buildings and
all. Value of distance education and
online education wasn’t known to all.
But now the people have started to
realise the power of technology.
So here are the following things that
can happen:
Mobility: Now fewer students will
opt for international education. I am
not saying that it will finish but will
definitely reduce. Even travelling to
far off states will be restricted.
Use of technology will increase: UGC
and MHRD are promoting online education. Earlier not all Universities had
approval to provide online degrees.
Amity was the first University of India
to receive it but given the situation,
UGC has approved all the Universities, which meet the set conditions.
Fee might be reduced: With changing
times certain programmes may lose
their popularity and hence their fee
might be reduced.

Online learning will be the way of life in
the times to come.
Another concern was how to connect
with the industry as Amity always
believes in Industry connect. We
had conducted nearly 1900 online
webinars for our students until now.
Every day, around 25 to 30 webinars
are conducted and as we speak, few
are going on right now as well.
The Industry connect webinars have
many roles to play. Students get to
know and learn about different sectors like insurance, banking, manufacturing, telecom, tourism hospitality,
aviation, etc. sectors. These are the

Online learning will be the way of life
in the times to come.
No one could have imagined the
current situation back in January.
How is Amity preparing for future
crisis situations? Is there any crisis
management programme that the
University is planning?
We already have a disaster management programme. But COVID-19 is
a very different kind of disaster, it is
like a natural disaster. Now the team
is reviewing the situation and we will
try to include the pandemic under

AUG 2020

7



already existing disaster management
courses.
Schools and Universities are adopting innovative online tools and techniques to teach students. Of these,
what technology or methodology
do you think will sustain, even if the
situation is all back to normal like
before and physical classes resume?
Technology is going to be an integral
part of teaching and learning now,
even more than before. For example,
the webinars are so engaging and
helpful as they bring the industry experts, global laureates, management
gurus to the computer screens of the
students.
I think the webinar must go on. We
will also continue MS team mode
of interaction where the experts of
all the courses will interact with the
students every semester. Moreover,
earlier if a faculty could not attend
a class, the class was called off.
However, now if the faculty wants
they can conduct online class even
if they are not physically present,
thus classes will continue. We will
continue this too.
Lockdown has been lifted by the
center, however, many states are still
under it. Do you think it is a good
idea to go back to face to face teaching now?
No. Unless you have a 100% accommodation facility for faculty and
students, one cannot resume face to
face classes. It is not safe now. We
cannot monitor each and every one.
It is risky now and at least for the
coming semester, classes should be
conducted through remote teaching
methods only. Maybe we can start
face to face classes in December,
which also depend on the situation at
that time.
But what about lab work and practical works?
Talking of this, we have created virtual labs. Here students can use the
labs for their practicals and experiments. For clinical experiments which
are not possible via virtual labs, we
will be focussing on completing the
theory as of now, later the lab based
classes will be held. Also these classes will be planned keeping the ease
of the students in mind. No student
will be forced to attend the class, only

8

AUG 2020

those who can, will be asked to come.
What are the common concerns of the
students and their parents that you
have come across in this pandemic
situation?
One of the concerns are the examinations, especially the final year’s.
Students are worried about how the
exams will be conducted and how the
results will be declared. Their decision to go for higher education or to
take up a job is based on this entire
thing.
Secondly the students who got
placed are worried about their future.
They don’t know when they will be
called for the job. In order to lessen
their burden, we are constantly in
talks with the companies. Some
industries have asked the students
to join early and we have allowed it.
However, in few industries, like hospitality and tourism, the situation is a
bit bad. In such cases we are counselling and guiding the students.
Thirdly, students are worried about
their admissions. Those who are
passing out this year and had plans to
take admission overseas, are feeling
helpless. We are guiding them and
trying to figure out the best possible
available options.
So these are the 3 major concerns
from the students: exams, placements
and admissions.
Parents on the other hand are majorly
asking about the safety and well
being of the students in the campuses. Keeping this in mind, we are
not conducting the physical classes.
However, there are students from
remote areas who cannot access
online classes due to lack of internet
facility like students from Jammu
and Kashmir, north east and all. Many
such students, who have booked their
seats in the hostels are welcome to
stay in the campus and take online
classes from their hostel rooms. They
can get internet connectivity in the
campus.
Many students had plans to get a job
after their graduation. But most of it
has now come to a halt. What is your
word of advice for them?
My advice to all the students is to
first take care of their well being and
safety.

Secondly, if they already have a job
then they should wait for the company to ask them to join. In case there
is no job in hand, then I suggest that
instead of waiting for ‘a particular job
with a particular’ package, students
should accept the offer that they have
in hand. Experience is more important than the profile and money. This
experience will help them to get into
a better job as the situation improves.

Most importantly
have patience and
do not lose hope.
If you get a job
continue it and
enhance your skills
and competencies.
Keep a positive attitude, that is very
very important.
Industry might be
going through a difficult time but that
doesn't mean that
jobs are not there.
Jobs are there.
The old generation jobs are vanishing.
Now be ready to take up new generation jobs where creativity, technology
and innovation is very important. Also
this is a very good opportunity for
those who have an idea and want to
start a venture with it. This is the time
to test your skills.
Amity University is known for its
campus. The campus life is talked
about among the students and is one
of the major reasons Amity is most
sought after Universities. Now because of the pandemic, do you think
students will miss out on it and how
can it be compensated?
Campus life is campus life. As per the
situations I need to go to the campus
now and then with all safety measures. When I enter the campus, the
campus now feels so lonely.
The hustle and bustle, students roam-

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ing around, make the campus lively,
that is what is called campus life.
Campus is not a campus without the
students.
So if I as an administrator is feeling
this way, what must the students be
feeling. They are missing it more than

anybody else. The only thing we can
try is to try giving them that life, via
online platforms. These platforms will
help them to interact with their peers
and they can do some fun activities.
If you can go back in time, what one
lesson will you give humanity?

KEY TAKEAWAYS

We are moving very fast. We need
to slow down, take care of ourselves
and spend time with family. We are
chasing materialistic life, rather we
must take care of the environment
and rejuvenate ourselves. Be more
health conscious and have a value
based life.

It was a scintillating session, talking with the woman who is steering the
ship in this stormy weather. Here are 7 things she said that you must take
a note of.
»
»

»
»
»
»

»

In these times the most important thing is to take care of self and stay safe.
Technology should be embraced as it has all sorts of advantages. It can barring students close to their choice of industry while they are in their student life. Webinars and online video conferencing cam bring industry experts closer
to classes with students.
Graduating or graduated students must not be choosy right now about jobs. Experience can be gained from any job
and it is more important than profile and salary.
Now the jobs that will take off the market are going to be creative, technology based and more innovative.Thus learn
new skills that cater to these demands.
This is also the best time to give shape to the ideas that were once nurtured just in the mind. One can take a step
forward to execute their plans and test their skills.
One should learn from the pandemic that we are running way too fast. We must be more considerate towards what is
actually important in our life rather than chasing materialistic things. It is important to prioritise self care and health
and then rest of the things.
Staying positive and hopeful is important.

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AUG 2020

9



LEADER DIARIES

THINKING LONG TERM
FOR FRUITFUL OUTCOMES
WITH MR ASHOK GHOSH

"The education system will be completely transformed when this is over"

C

hange is the only constant
in life. The popular adage
has been taught to us right
from the early years of our
childhood. However, dare
we say, COVID-19 has played the role
of the instructor who taught us how
to accept change and grow with it.
At Aglasem, we have always shared
a common vision to contribute to
the academic scenario of the nation.
Amidst such rough times, we thrived
to connect with peers who have dedicated their lives to the regulation and
development of the academic success
of the youth of our nation.
Recently, we had the opportunity to
connect with Mr. Ashok Ghosh, the
President and Trustee of Sir Padampat Singhania University through
an online session. Must we say, the
session that lasted for some minutes
shy of an hour, was indeed a learning experience from one of the peers
bearing the flaming torch of wisdom
and knowledge in the academic scenario of India.
Sir Padampat Singhania University
has been in operation for more than a

decade in the academic scenario, and
responses of our guest reflected the
immense pride and responsibility he
took in being the flag bearer of one
of the most successful educational
institutions in India. Situated just out
of Udaipur, Rajasthan, SPSU is one
of the 70 odd private universities in
the state of Rajasthan. The varsity
operates through two schools i.e.
the School of Management and the
School of Engineering. At both these
institutions, programs are offered at
three levels i.e. Undergraduate, Postgraduate, and Doctorate.
Mr Ashok Ghosh's words provide
some highly inspirational insights
into the way that contemporary institutions of the nation have accepted
and implemented unprecedented
change; a change that was inevitably
brought upon us by the disastrous
pandemic created by the COVID-19
virus. However, going through the
view of Mr. Ghosh, we explored the
highly positive stance that academicians and mentors engaged in the
academic development of students in
our nation are bearing.

The academic staff has been committed
to the design and implementation of a
new academic routine and our students
have been extremely supportive in their
responses.
10

AUG 2020

SPECTRUM



It is a great privilege to have you.
Given you are in such an administrative position of a University of such
caliber, can you share your perceptions of the world, as we know it
now?
If you ask me, I will say that the situation that we all are into was something that could not be foreseen.
Nobody was ready for it, nobody
could predict it. However, how I see
it, is that people are progressively
coming to terms and we are learning to live and go back to normal
even in a situation where we have an
ongoing virus outbreak. I can see this
optimism where even without the
presence of a specific medication or
antidote against the disease, people
are actually in the process of acceptance of the situation and trying to
make the best of it. There is no denial
that COVID-19 has put us all through
a lot of trauma and difficulty, but the
best part is we have kept moving
forward. The initial panic can be seen
fading away.
A direct consequence of the lockdown
is the choice between economic
development and taking care of one’s
health. If one is chosen, the other is
compromised. How do you see it from
your end of the table?
It is not a matter of choice. It has
become a matter of balance. A
balancing act where both are equally
important. There is no denying that
public health and safety are of the
utmost importance. However, there
is no survival without a productive
national economy. There should not
be a debate on choosing between
economy and health. It poses more
of a catch-22 situation where there
seems to be no possible way out.
Thus, a middle way is required so that
we can arrive at an equilibrium. I feel
that since the lockdown cannot go on
forever, we, as individuals have to be
extremely responsible at a personal
level.
We are in the educational sector,
which means that we are dealing
with a very delicate and comparatively immature audience i.e. the
students. Although offices are slowly
being opened now, with schools and
colleges, the idea of social distancing
does not seem to quite pan out. What
are your views on how the academia
has been affected differently?

SPECTRUM

If you ask me, I would not say that a
difference exists in terms of the type
of industry, but in terms of the extent
to which different sectors are affected
and recovering from the aftermaths
of the pandemic. For instance, if you
take the case of manufacturing units,
they were completely closed down.
We at the educational sector, however, had a way out. Although I would
not deny that disruptions to a certain
extent have been witnessed in the
educational sector, fortunately, we
have been able to connect with our
primary stakeholders i.e. the students
over the internet. The internet has
come in handy to maintain seamless
connectivity with students. I must say
that the transition from the classroom to online learning was a rather
smooth and easy experience for us,
even in such unpredictable situations.
The lack of the social connection and
energy of a residential institution like
ours could not be felt. I believe this
is where the education sector stood
apart from other sectors.
The academic staff has been committed to the design and implementation
of a new academic routine and our
students have been extremely supportive in their responses.
Speaking of online methods of
teaching-learning, you are probably
the first in our knowledge to say
that both students and faculty have
been supportive. There are instances
where the opposition is being faced.
Can you shed some light on what
steps you took since March and what
are your views on the opposition
against the adoption of technology
in education?
Yes, in our case, I am glad that both
our faculty and students have been
very supportive of each other and
acted responsibly. I will give you the
actual attendance figures. We have
achieved more than 80% attendance
in our online classes and at times, we
even had 100% attendance. Now tell
me if that is not something very few
Universities can beat.

aglasem.com

#StaySafe
#StayHome
Get free study
material and
mock test at
aglasem.com!
BOOKS
NOTES
NCERT SOLUTIONS
PAPERS
VIDEOS
MOCK TESTS
SYLLABUS

However, let me remind you as I say
this that none of us were prepared
for this. Previously, we were using
MOOC or Moodle platform for online
learning but then we moved to the
MS Team platform. The point is that
we cannot stop. I cannot close down

AUG 2020

11



my institute and ask students to wait
for 6 months to acquire their degrees.
The students are more aware these
days and they do not want to miss out
classes. It is my duty to ensure that
the University supports its cause in
all ways and any situation.
Did you face any issues in accessing
technology or IT infrastructure?
Yes. Even in the era of smartphones
and the internet, people do not have
access to a 1 GB bandwidth that we
have at our institute. Despite such
shortcomings, students have responded very well and made the best
use of whatever they have.
I believe the University is conducting
admission tests. Are you conducting
these tests online?
Yes. We have been in the process of
conducting an admission test also
known as the SPSAT. However, to
some extent, we are getting slack
from regulators that we can do away
with the admission tests and we are
okay with that. I am of the opinion
that the rules must be followed in
the spirit of the rules that are made.
However, our purpose is to help the
students who are the primary stakeholders of our institution.
Is it operated on the “Take From
Home” model or a center-based
examination?
Yes. It has always been a take from
the home model. Not only the exams
but other aspects of learning such as
classes, assignments, quizzes, openbook tests, and everything is being
conducted through a Take from Home
model.
Does that mean that the semester
exams are also going to be held using
the Take From Home model?
Yes. We are going to conduct the
exam on that model although we
have been asked by regulators to
pass some students provisionally. We
will inform the students about the
schedule in the next couple of days.
I would like to point out that there
are social aspects of learning that
students look forward to and these
often include learning from peers,
informal discussions with classmates, and other activities that take
place outside of the classroom. How
are you going to address this when

12

AUG 2020

imparting online learning?

panic is not there.

I am sure that we are not the only
ones giving a thought to this aspect
of online learning. I would term these
activities as moments of engagement
that in the conventional form include
hostel discussion, dining room chats,
on-campus engagement, etc.

I will be very happy to reproduce
your views to our audience. Your
optimism is something that people
need at this moment. Parents and
students alike are intrigued by
aftermaths such as the placement
scenarios. Can you comment on this?

Before COVID, we only had learning
resources available over the online
learning platform. However, now
that we have moved to MS Team, we
have been involved in social media
and online forums. We have included problem-solving time. Faculty
members are available for dedicated
problem solving and query resolution
sessions. We have also implemented
simulation software to simulate the
laboratory setup. We are also thinking
of a virtual hobby center in the future.

I would comment about my institution and our placements that are
going far better than before. As a
matter of fact, we are considering
paid internships for the students. We
have written to recruiters to not defer
joining dates however, we have to
respect the corporates amidst these
non-profitable economic situations.

Students often tend to compromise
their area of interest and opt for a different course to not compromise with
the campus. What are your views on
this aspect of new admissions?
I believe that there will be a dramatic
shift in the manner in which parents
and their wards select colleges for
admission. In fact, the student is at a
more decisive position about what
he/she wants to study and where
they want to study and the parents
are very supportive of the students’
choices.
In our sessions with parents, we have
encountered resistance to the idea of
taking admissions amidst COVID-19.
Some are even ready to drop a year
or a semester. Do you anticipate a
negative drop in admission in your
institute this year?
There might be a marginal drop and
that too is an outcome of panic and
a sense of protecting the students
against the disease. However, as I
said, we are coming to terms with the
pandemic and it would not be a wise
decision to drop a year.
In your view, when do you think that
physical classrooms can be resumed?
See, I cannot comment on when situations can be normalized because I
am an academician and it is beyond
my expertise. However, I believe that
with or without COVID, we are not
going to stop moving forward. Take
the example of how situations were
in the initial stages and now. That

So there are students who are optimistic like you and they want to keep
moving forward, seek admissions,
and move forward. What would be
your guiding words for them?
I am a great believer in giving space. I
have a son and he has complete freedom to decide for himself. A lot of
people are of the view that the child
does not understand and is immature
but I do not subscribe to that idea.
The child should be allowed to select
and do what they want and believes
will be good for him/her.
There are many changes that were
decided and adopted overnight.
Among these, what changes do you
think would remain permanent even
when the situations are restored to
normal?
I think that the education system will
be completely transformed when all
of this is over. Physical classroombased education has always been the
trend, and even though online learning resources and library platforms
were there, there would be more to
be done and delivered through online
channels in the future. That is something which is here to stay.
Any message that you want to send
out to our audience?
I think I would ask people to stop
panicking and make informed decisions that can bear fruit in the future.
Time is an important and finite
resource in the life of a student. So
what you want to do, you have to
decide today. COVID will pass away
but you are here to fight and grow.

SPECTRUM



KEY TAKEAWAYS
It is evident that there is little that COVID-19 has done to weaken the spirit of Mr Ghosh. During our online session
with him, he made it very clear that he is not someone who finds COVID-19 as an excuse to shy away from his
responsibilities. In fact, as the President and Trustee of SPSU, Ashok Ghosh is of the view of putting the students
at the forefront. We drew some very knowledgeable insights through this interview and some of them have been
highlighted below.
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»

The initial panic is slowly starting to fade away
We have to attain a point of equilibrium between the conservation of public health and economic activities
The educational sector has been affected by the pandemic but at the same time online education has shown a bright path forward
SPSU already had online file hosting systems to deliver learning resources and they quickly moved on to a completely online education system
There is no way that institutions can close down completely and whether it is online learning or other alternatives, the interest of
the students cannot be compromised
Students have also been supportive and both the students and the faculty are making the best use of the technology access that
they currently have
SPSU is moving on toward a completely online system that will include admissions, exams, extracurricular activities and everything
else
There is a need to address the social aspect of learning when it comes to online classrooms
The drop in admissions is only marginal and students are looking to move forward even amidst the restrictions as a result of
COVID-19
Online learning is here to stay even after the pandemic is over and we can look up to a blended learning environment in the near
future.

SPECTRUM

AUG 2020

13



OP-ED

THE
PRIVILEGE
PYRAMID
"Tumhare paas kya hai? Mere paas internet hai!"

N

eelima (name changed)
stays in a gated community in Bengaluru. It has
power backup. Yet, for the
brief 2 minutes that the
power goes and the backup starts
working, she is disconnected from
the internet. Not a big deal, but if she
is in the midst of an online class, it is
irksome.
So her parents bought a UPS for the
router. The UPS costs Rs 2000. The
internet broadband connection with
100 MBPS speed, unlimited data in
her home costs Rs 1000 per month.
She has a laptop. Plus, her parents
have one work laptop each, and
there is a common family PC at home.
Her brother uses a macbook. Not to
mention each has the latest mobile
phones. Everyday during school
hours, Neelima settles down on her
study table, in her own bedroom, and
diligently attends all classes, finishes
homework, and also takes online
tuitions.

14

AUG 2020

For the Neelima’s out there, life in
lockdown does not necessarily put a
stop to education.
However for every Neelima, there are
hundreds of such students who have
half of the facilities, and thousands
more who have not even half as
much.
Picture this: 13 year old Parth (name
changed) lives in a 2 bhk. Under the
same roof stay his father, mother, 2
siblings, and grandmother. The family
shares one laptop between them,
borrowed from Parth’s mamaji.
And this is not even close to the
worst.

been introduced to the internet on
their mobile phones.
And to address the challenge on the
other end, the educator’s end, not all
teachers and schools and colleges
have the required infrastructure to
make their classes and exams reach
their students.
At the end of the day, there is an
economic divide. Which has created
the privilege pyramid. This pyramid
goes a long way in determining who
can, and who cannot seamlessly get
education in the COVID-19 / postCOVID 19 world.

The students in villages have perhaps
not even seen a computer or a laptop.
Though thanks to Jio, some have

SPECTRUM



PRIVILEGES

TOP OF THE
PYRAMID

MIDDLE OF
THE PYRAMID

BOTTOM OF
THE PYRAMID

Computer / laptop

Y

N

N

Mobile phone

Y

Y

N

Internet

HIGH SPEED

NORMAL

N

Power connection

UNITERUPTED

NORMAL

N

Separate room

Y

Y/N

N

Backup laptop / computer /
mobile phone at home

Y

N

N

Go to schools and colleges
that can provide education
online

Y

Y

N

AVAILABILITY OF INTERNET
Popular internet speed test data and analysis company
Ookla consistently provides data on country wise average
internet speeds.

THE ISSUES
India Mobile Network Experience Report April 2020 by
Opensignal says that there are 1.15 billion unique wireless
subscribers in India - making it the largest market in the
world. However that’s only how far the golden picture goes.
Whether it be an internet outage, internet being slow, or
just one device simply refusing to connect to your router
- we are at the mercy of the plethora of issues that plague
internet connections.
The first question 90% of the principals, VCs, deans,
professors, teachers ask me during the demo sessions of
Test From Home (TFH - online proctored exam platform) is
“What will be the bandwidth requirement to take the test on
this platform? You see, our students are in different parts of
India and most do not have access to high speed internet!
Also, what if the internet gets disconnected suddenly?” These
are common problems.
For all aspects of online education - classes, assignment
submissions, exams - both the students as well as the
teachers are at the mercy of internet issues.

SPECTRUM

As of June 2020, India ranks at 129th position in mobile
internet speed, out of 139 countries.
The average download speed in mobile is 9.81 mbps,
and 35.84 mbps in broadband. While the average upload
speeds are 3.98 mbps and 32.36 mbps respectively.

ONLINE VS OFFLINE
“It’s just not the same!” laments Aditya, studying in class
10th. He adds “I find the offline mode of learning more effective and interactive”.
Subhrajeet Patra on the other hand says, “Online classes
are a divine blessing for me. I used to find it difficult to follow
what the teacher says in class. But now I can record and
repeat what was said during the lecture anytime.”
Online learning vs offline learning has been a hotly debated topic ever since the online education space started
taking a shape. Not only have educational institutions
adopted different aspects of it over the years, but there is
now a billion dollar marketspace on e-learning with players
such as BYJUs in the territory. However, debate was out of
the question as the novel coronavirus forced schools, madrasas, colleges, coaching classes, and all forms of centre
based education points to shut down. By and large, some
or the other form of e-education tool is being used by
them all to hold classes. Though that does not mean that
even those who have embraced the new learning mode
with open arms, will prolong their embrace longer than is
necessary. And thereby hangs a tale...

AUG 2020

15



EXPERT TALK

ON EVOLUTION IN TEACHING AND LEARNING WITH
PROF NEERAJ GUPTA
“The new normal is going to be the abnormal moving at a normal pace.”

O

ne of the fundamental
components of reform
is a vision for change.
Indeed, history bears
witness that all great
reforms bloomed from the buds of
a vision for change. Coincidentally,
looking at the contemporary situation of the education sector in India,
one can smell the birth of a complete
reformation which is likely to change
the sector in unfathomable ways.
Evidently, to lead a reformation, we
need visionaries; and perhaps we
have found one, in one of the recent
interviews conducted by Aglasem.
In the recent interview of Professor
Neeraj Gupta, Dean of Academics at
the Central University of Rajasthan
(CURAJ), we were guided through
some tremendous ideas to bring

Having been in the field for 20 years,
how have you seen education evolve
over the years?
To be very honest, education has not
evolved in the ways it should have. It
is only since the last six months that
we are evolving at a very fast pace.
Our government system has been
engaging in bringing new reforms in
the education system. But more often
than not, it is oldies like me, who
preside over different panels and
management bodies and our perspectives have been confined to whatever
we have seen during our times. This
has been a constraint and education
reforms, such as choice based credit
systems, have not really happened
the way they should have.
Having said that, it would be very
unfair to say that there have been no
developments in this sector. We have
seen evolution in the information
flow right from the schooling levels.

16

AUG 2020

about a positive change in the Indian
education system amidst the pessimism centering the novel coronavirus
pandemic. Incidentally, CURAJ has
been one of the first educational institutes in India to conduct an online
proctored semester examination
where Aglasem’s Test From Home
platform found substantial implementation.

they were trying to implement training in government systems through
distance mode. He has also worked as
a trainer of various subjects at IGNOU
and other universities.

Professor Gupta, an architect planner,
has been in the education sector for
two decades. Prior to that he used
to work in a Development Authority
and almost 10 years of his career was
spent in training institutes. His career
has thus been a colorful combination of field work, academics, training
and development. His first tryst with
online education happened when as
a part of his career as a master trainer,

In the last decade, the government
has enhanced the information flow
by making a number of learning
resources available, including NCERT.
So I would say that the implementation aspect has been very good.
But there has been a constant gap
between knowledge for the sake of
knowledge and knowledge for the
sake of employment.
It is somewhat an archaic thought
process that knowledge for the sake
of knowledge is important. However,
if I ponder over knowledge for the
sake of employment then a huge gap
exists between what employers seek
and what educational institutes are
delivering.
Can you demonstrate this gap that
you are talking about through an
example?
I will give you a very good example
from the IT sector. Why should a Com-

puter Science graduate undergo a 09
months training at a corporate sector
to get back to the basics of information? This means that the candidate
has not been trained effectively on
the platforms that the employers are
looking for. He might have studied
these things in the initial years and
then has completely forgot about the
basics. This brings me to the conclusion that the educational institutes
have failed to keep up with the industry demands in producing skilled
human resources.
Over the last five years or so, I have
seen subtle changes. For example
accreditation agencies such as UGC &
NAAC are focusing on outcome based
learning. I believe that the focus is
now changing toward the welfare of
the student. There was a mandate for
us to implement a learning outcome
based curriculum. Now when that
happens, the examination pattern
also has to change.

SPECTRUM



IN THE CONTEMPORARY
EDUCATION SCENARIO,
IF WE DO NOT PRODUCE
EMPLOYABLE GRADUATES
THEN WE ARE NOT DOING
JUSTICE TO THE STUDENT
COMPARED TO THE FEES
THAT WE ASK FOR.
What do you mean when you propose
a change in exam pattern?
I can see a significant challenge as
our examination patterns have always
been synonymous with memory
based curriculum. In the name of objectivity, MCQs came into trend. Most
of these MCQs are memory recall
based questions. So what we have
done is reinforced the mindset of an
era when the purpose of education
institutes was to produce clerks for
the government. That memory recall
system is still continuing. So you
will come across a lot of intelligent
people who are full of information
but when it comes to common sense
and application, they are at a loss.
Education and exams have to evolve
to bridge this gap otherwise we will
just keep producing unemployable
graduates.
Here don't you think a challenge
exists that students after their class
12th are pushed to take up higher
education in streams that they are
not interested in? Do you think that
the students coming to you for education services are not actually the
right people to be taught what you
are teaching?
No, I do not subscribe to the idea that
the right people are not coming to us.
Children today are very smart.
A marginal proportion of students do
exist in every class who have been
forced into a particular education
stream just because their parents
wanted them to. Actually this has
become a sense of achievement
among parents. Parents today indulge
in petty conversations about where
they have enrolled their wards for
coaching and similar things. It is kind
of a peer group pressure.
I have been interacting with a lot of
students at the Class 10th level and

SPECTRUM

trust me, in every group 4-5 students
would come up to me and say that
they are grateful. They would say
that I am the first person to be telling
them that they don't need to get enrolled into coaching centers for medical or engineering entrance exams.
This industry is actually backed by
the examination pattern that entrance
exams tend to follow.
Oftentimes, a very intelligent student
enrols in a program and also performs
very well during the first semester.
But as application based learning
commences during the second semester onwards, the same student is
found to be at a loss. This is actually
because these students are trained
to perform very well when they have
exam patterns where they have to
answer x questions in y minutes on a
set date. I can bet that you shift the
exam date by 24 hours and the peak
performance will go off. So you are
essentially training for memory recall
and there is no logic in expecting that
the student will perform well in applying concepts.
Things have changed a lot in the past
few months. How does the world
appear to you now? And what does
the future look like?
How things will turn out is a very unpredictable affair. However, there are
two thought processes in my mind.
The first is, maybe two months down
the line medical science comes up
with an effective drug and the entire
pandemic becomes a petty issue like
a common cold. The other thought
process is fearsome if we have to
reinvent out ways of living in a different way.
At the moment, I am personally
in a state of confusion. Following
IIM-Bangalore, IIT Mumbai has now
declared online exams. Prior to that
American Universities have been
conducting online exams. So my
point is we cannot really wait. I mean
somebody has to muster the courage
and the political will to declare the
next academic year to be conducted
online. There would be challenges
which I cannot deny. But we have to
prepare for that and that I believe is
the most important aspect of dealing
with the current situations.
I would like to ask for your views as

a parent whether you would opt to
send your child to attend classes if
they are reopened?
My daughter studies at Visakhapatnam and if you ask me, I would rather
make her drop a year or a semester
than let her go to attend physical
classes in such situations. If her
classes are resumed anytime soon, I
would be worried for her.
You are actually not the first one
as a parent to have unanimously
disagreed on sending your ward to
school/college. In this situation,
going online seems to be the only
way for education to continue. What
other steps do you think should be
taken in the education realm?
It is high time that we formally acknowledge distributed learning in the
education sector. We have been investing a lot of capital into educational real estate as I call them. Hundreds
and thousands of acres of campuses
are being developed with kilometers
of boundary wall and crores and
crores of currency are being invested.
The maintenance of such infrastructure is borne by the exchequer by
paying phenomenally high costs of
education. My point is that the cost of
education has to come down and the
only way to bring it down is to stop
investing in educational real estate.

IF WE SWITCH TO A DISTRIBUTED LEARNING, A
SUBSTANTIAL AMOUNT
OF INFORMATION FLOW
CAN BE ENABLED ONLINE.
IF REQUIRED, THE STUDENT MAY NEED TO COME
DOWN TO THE CAMPUS
FOR A VERY LIMITED
NUMBER OF DAYS. THE
ONLY WAY TO BRING THIS
CHANGE IS TO SWITCH TO
THE DISTRIBUTED LEARNING SYSTEM BY GETTING
OFF FROM THE FACE TO
FACE MODE.
We may have to expand our choice
based credit system which will ensure
a modular learning for the student
according to the employability that
he or she is seeking. A similar system
has been implemented successfully
in Australia.

AUG 2020

17



Regarding all the scepticism, I personally will be very comfortable in teaching a Master’s program in Architecture
online. If I were to redistribute the
learning process over online modes,
I am very sure that given a specific
number of disciplined students, I can
very comfortably convert the learning
process in a manner that demands
only 3-4 months of physical interaction distributed over a period of 2
years while the rest of the information can be online. I say this because
I do not sit at a high tech office, but
with that, things would have been a
whole lot easier.
In a normal classroom, with a small
teacher to student ratio, I can teach
20 students at a time. However, it is
possible for me to have a classroom
of 100-150 people when I am teaching online. Besides, people could
come up to me in batches of 10s or
20s for off classroom query resolution. The outcome is that the cost of
the infrastructure that is borne by
20 to 40 students can be distributed
among 200 to 400 students to eventually lower the cost of education.
Every person will be able to access
quality education in such a system.
I would like to point out two more
aspects of education besides classes
namely exams and physical interaction. What do you think will happen
to exams if education is to go completely online?
Over the last few months, a lot of
people have asked me this question. I
have a counter question to the educationalists and teachers regarding this.
As a teacher, what is your purpose?
To conduct exams to judge or evaluate somebody or help them learn?
We have to decide that first. Exams
are a necessary evil because they
help us to award a certificate and an
imaginary number which will help the
employer establish some standards
to shortlist students for employment.
I have seen students with very high
grades perform very poorly in the
system and vice versa.
Once the pattern of exam changes,
then only we will start discovering
new things. Right now we are only
trying to implement the old examination system through an online mode
of education. We have to think afresh.
There should not be a need to proctor
online exams. I am required to proctor an exam because I don't trust my

18

AUG 2020

students or teachers. That complete
system of distress needs to be converted into an affair of trust. We have
to redesign the examination pattern
to achieve this. Take the example of
an advocate. Even he has to read a
judgement, go through all documents
before he is informed well to present
or defend a case. But then you sit
him in an exam for three hours and
expect him to remember the whole
IPC - I think this is a very unfair way
of examining students. Having said
that, there are alternative methods
available and we have tried that in
our University and it has worked very
successfully. Students who vehemently opposed online exams are
coming back now in favour of online
exams. So the mindset has changed
completely and it was due to the
compulsion of the pandemic. I cannot
believe institutes like IITs and IIMs
opting for online modes of education
had it not been for this compulsion.
I will come to the second aspect i.e.
physical interaction. It is a process
of growing up through peer group
learning. If the education system
goes online, how would that process
be supplemented?
I think I said that we need to have
a system of distributed learning.
There are obviously advantages and
disadvantages. I can understand and
appreciate the role of peer group
learning in education. But if you look
at the modern day trends of social
communication, technology has made
its way into that realm too. I can tell
you about my own family. The other
day we were sitting together and
all of us were looking at our mobile
phones. So the point is, with the implementation of distributed learning,
I can always get the peer group learning. Well the fun part of it might go
off, but I am sure the purpose served
by peer group learning will not be
defeated. The methods of communication have also evolved in the same
way that our mindsets have. Something can be figured out because I
am never saying that it will be 100%
online but a method of distributed
learning. A lot of people will be able
to take up education while they earn
bread for themselves.
Let us say that the situations go back
to normal in a post COVID world.
What do you think would be the new
normal? What changes do you think

would be carried forward to the post
COVID world?

DESPITE ALL THE
RESISTANCES COMING FROM CERTAIN
GROUPS, MOST OF THE
CHANGES THAT WE
ARE IMPLEMENTING
RIGHT NOW WILL CONTINUE IN A POST COVID
WORLD.

Personally, given an opportunity, I
would like to run all operations of
education, including exams through
a system which offers a complete
reporting system. The monitoring of
the students in the real time I would
say. I would definitely like to have an
agency who are experts in analysing
examinations and produce statistics
about the student’s performance. This
will also lead to adoption of immediate corrective measures.
We will be able to uncover issues
concerning why a student is performing well in a particular course and
not in a different course. With these,
we can definitely do a huge quality
improvement in the performance of
the student. It will take some time for
teachers to get used to it. Compared
to classroom lectures, I personally
observed that I am more precise and
focused when I am recording and
delivering lectures online because I
am open to scrutiny and criticism.
What are the main concerns and
main challenges that you faced as
these changes occurred in a matter of
a few days?
See, one of the biggest qualities of
Indians is our ability to change at
a very rapid pace. We have been
living in a dynamic society where we
become extremely adaptable to any
situation from an early age. We are
very good crisis managers compared
to our counterparts in other parts of
the world. This is one quality that I
believe we demonstrated very well
when we shifted from face to face to
online teaching mode.
We definitely faced challenges. For
example there was this instance
when teachers were asked to submit
question papers online in encrypted
mode and some teachers did not
even know how to put a password on
a simple Microsoft Word document.

SPECTRUM



They have never done it because
there was never a need for it. My
point is that a substantial amount
of learning took place for all of us. I
believe that all of us discovered the
power of technology.

AN IMPORTANT AND
POSITIVE ASPECT THAT
WE DISCOVERED IS THAT
ONLINE LEARNING IS A
VERY INCLUSIVE THING
AS OPPOSED TO MY EARLIER BELIEFS THAT IT IS
EXCLUSIVE. I DISCOVERED
THAT WHEN I ASKED
THE STUDENTS TO POST
QUERIES DIRECTLY TO ME
AND MANY STUDENTS APPROACHED ME. THIS INCLUDED STUDENTS WHO
WERE NOT OPENING UP IN
THE CLASSROOM.
In this context, some of the teachers
have been complaining that they
are being approached by students
all round the clock and they feel it
is a burden to them to be available
all the time. What would you say on
this?
If you would like to hear a very blunt
response, then I will say that these
people are not used to working the
way that they should. See ours is a
service industry and we have to serve
the purpose of welfare of students.
Take the example of doctors. There
are some who would switch off their
phones just so that patients do not
approach them after work hours.
But I personally know doctors who
will never switch off their phones
because they have that attitude of
servitude. It is a matter of attitude. I
can tell you, no student is as much
free as we think of them to be. If a
student is calling me at the middle
of the night, surely there is a cause
of distress and as an educator I must
serve the purpose for which I am in
the education sector. I believe that
over a period of time these things will
settle down.

going to be the abnormal moving at a
normal pace. We will have to accept
these dynamic changes and we will
have to learn to live with it. It is definitely going to cause a lot of stress to
many of us, since it is a war like situation. But then there are examples of
nations who have been at war for 50
years at a stretch and even they have
grown and flourished. Compared to
that we are far better equipped and
skilled to tackle these situations.

Like I said, mentally, I will have to
reconcile to the fact that a year or two
will not affect the quality of life or the
experience of my child. First priority
is the family bondage and wellbeing. Secondly, parents will need to
acknowledge the fact that education
has become different and it is not
anymore limited to getting a certain
degree from a certain institute. There
is a need to bring reforms in the
social perspective of education.

What message would you put out
for students who have just graduated and are looking for placements
amidst the dynamic chances that our
economy is going through?

Anything else that you would like to
share with us? Any special milestones of your institution?

Economy is a global phenomenon. So
what we will have to change is our
priorities for employment. I think this
is the time to think about upgrading
one’s own skills rather than worry
about jobs. Another aspect of it that
I understand is that a lot of entrepreneurship will evolve. We will have
to change our mindsets. We have to
adapt to the situations and reduce
our necessities. We have to acknowledge the ground realities.
Any message that you would like to
give to parents?
Honestly, in the current situation, I am
also as confused as other parents because I am also being a parent here.

Not in particular my institution but
there are many institutions in Jaipur
that have moved on with online
exams. But I believe our institution,
along with another renowned one
in Rajasthan were the first to bring
rapid change in the education system.
This bears witness to the fact that we
are not the only ones to be thinking about such reforms but there
are others all over the nation who
have embraced the changes that our
education systems are undergoing
and explored alternative means of
delivering quality education. Initially,
there were issues but now I am very
confident that given the opportunity, I
would go for such an online platform
that makes it possible to monitor the
student continuously.

Speaking of settling down, do you
think that we will go back to the old
normal or what do you think will the
new normal be?
To be very honest, the new normal is

SPECTRUM

CURAJ was one of the first institutes in India to conduct online proctored exams, using TFH online exam platform (testfromhome.in).

AUG 2020

19



WHEN TEACHERS
MATCHED THE SKILLS OF
GEN-Z, FOR GEN-Z WITH
DR. DURGESH TRIPATHI
" This is not just a global public health issue but also a test of human resilience and spirit"

T

No one was prepared for the pandemic. How did Guru Gobind Singh
Indraprastha University deal with it
when it was initially announced?

EXPERT TALK

ruly quoted by Dr. Durgesh
Tripathi, this is the time of
test, in which we all are
together. The entire mankind
is in it together and will
be getting through it together. Each
one of us is now responsible for the
future that lies ahead of us.
Dr. Tripathi is a founding faculty
member of University School of Mass
Communication (USMC) at Guru
Gobind Singh Indraprastha University
(GGSIPU). However, at heart he is a
teacher who believes that teachers
now have an even bigger role to play,
by paving the path with new innovatives tools ideas.
He believes in innovating new teaching methods that enhances skills of
both the educator and the students. A
strong advocate of “Flipped Classroom”, who withholds Bhartendu Harishchandra Award, assisted as Course
Coordinator of MOOCs Course titled
“Society and Media”, UGC-SWAYAM
initiative.
It was a great experience to have him
talk to AglaSem about the scheme
and plans that the Government of
India is planning, implementing and
enhancing based on pandemic based
needs in education. He also threw
light on how teachers, students, parents and the management of GGSIPU
is working at their own level to make
the learning experience as easy as
possible during this difficult time.
COVID-19 pandemic has turned the
world upside down. Especially the
education sector, which is struggling
to adapt to new teaching methodologies that cater to the need of social
distancing. What are your thoughts
on this?
You are right in saying that COVID-19

20

AUG 2020

is a global issue and caught the world
unaware. Most people and organizations were clueless about how to
deal with the situation. Eventually,
most countries had to announce
lockdowns. I believe it was not just
a global public health issue but also,
a test of human resilience and spirit.
It had an impact on all sectors of the
economy and how human beings
functioned and we are still learning
to deal with the new normal. But, I believe the education sector was one of
the first ones to respond to the crisis
and even adapt to the new normal
imposed by the pandemic. Within
a few days of the lockdown being
announced, most universities across
the globe switched to online teaching
and continued the learning process
even in these unprecedented times.

I BELIEVE THIS WOULD BEGIN THE ERA OF BLENDED
LEARNING IN INDIA AND
NEWER PEDAGOGIES AND
TOOLS WOULD EMERGE IN
THE FUTURE WHICH WILL BE
MORE STUDENT-CENTRIC IN
THE APPROACH.

A decision was taken by the ViceChancellor and Registrar to suspend
University classes and office activities
for the safety of the students and
faculty as per the directions from the
government. Since the lockdown was
announced teachers began to take
live classes through various online
tools and shared the material through
emails, Cisco Webex, and other such
tools. Students were given assignments and projects to gauge their
level of understanding. Even online
sessions were taken for doubt clearing and discussions regularly. Teachers also addressed the concerns of
students regarding emotional stress,
access to the internet, and other resources for studying and limited data
availability.
What were the steps that the university has taken since March?
University had a multi-pronged approach to deal with the situation and
to engage the learners and students
regularly. The university started
online classes for the students. Teachers were encouraged to share notes,
teaching materials, and other open
education resources (OERs) from various government platforms like e-PG
Pathshala as students had no access
to library facilities.
How is GGSIPU coping with loss of
studies?
Under the leadership of Padam Shree
Vice-Chancellor Prof. Mahesh Verma,
the university started a series of
Faculty Development Programmes
/ Webinars / Online Workshops for
the capacity building of faculty in

SPECTRUM



the latest technologies and pedagogies related to Online teaching and
Information and Communication
Technologies.
Webinars and Lecture series were
organized for students by various
University Schools under the directions of the Honorable Vice-Chancellor and Registrar of the university.
NSS Cell of the University has been
actively involved in keeping the spirit
and enthusiasm of the students high
through its lecture series and workshops on the theme of ‘Mind Matters’
and to keep them motivated.
Students have been encouraged to
take up MOOCs courses available on
various platforms including SWAYAM
to use their time constructively
and enhance their skills. Following
the same policy, the University has
launched an interdisciplinary course
on the Ministry of HRD’s platform
SWAYAM titled ‘Society and Media’.
The course is being re-run in 2020
due to the demand from the student
and the quality of its content.
What about the plans for the upcoming days?
As I am the Coordinator of MOOCs
for the University, I would assure you
that all departments and University
Schools of study are planning to
launch their own interdisciplinary and
innovative Online / MOOCs courses
to engage the students to enhance
their skill sets and understanding. We
have already initiated the process but
there are certain delays due to the
pandemic situation.
The number of coronavirus cases
are increasing day by day but life is
coming back to normal. How is your
institution planning to get back to
normalcy?
Appropriate decisions will be taken
based on what is decided by the competent Authorities. The University will
follow the instructions given by the
Ministry of Health and the University
Grants Commission.
Do you think students are ready to
come back with social distancing
and such measures? Is it possible to
have face to face classes with the sort
of measures that are being implemented in offices (masks, distancing,
frequent hand wash, attendance in
shifts)?

SPECTRUM

Competent Authorities and stakeholders of the university will decide
as per the directions of the Government of India and Government of
Delhi whereas if the classes will
resume, the University will ensure the
safety and health measures guided
by the government authorities.
Information, Communication &
Technology, Management, Law,
Architecture, and so many other
courses are offered at GGSIPU. This
requires hands-on practical knowledge. How are the practical aspects
being handled?
I agree with you that providing handson skills is a challenge in online
teaching. But until the situation
improves, we could finish the theory
part of the syllabus through online
teaching and could impart skills and
training after the situation improves.
We have great examples of online
teaching from renowned institutions
like Harvard, MIT, and other academic
institutions, who are offering online
education which includes imparting
practical skills as well.
College life of a student goes beyond
just classes. It is all about day to day
experiences, interaction with friends,
seniors, professors and other diverse
groups. Do you think all these can be
supplemented with online classes?
Interaction, communication, and
exchange of ideas is a crucial aspect
of the learning process. College or
University plays a significant role in
the socialization process of a student.
As part of campus, they learn both
curriculum and hidden curriculum
through interaction, participating in
societies, sports, debates, competitions.

ONLINE EDUCATION CANNOT
SUPPLEMENT ALL THE PARTS
OF A UNIVERSITY LIFE NOR
IS IT AN ANSWER TO ALL
THE PROBLEMS THAT OUR
EDUCATION SYSTEM FACES.
HOWEVER, I BELIEVE THAT
TECHNOLOGY IF FULLY UTILIZED BY THE TEACHERS CAN
BE TRANSFORMATIONAL.
UNIVERSITIES ARE ALREADY
STRIVING TO GIVE DIVERSE
EXPERIENCES TO THE ENROLLED STUDENTS THROUGH
BLENDED CLASSROOM AND
INNOVATIVE PEDAGOGY.

Did the faculty face any challenge
during this shift from offline to
online?
The two big challenges that any
faculty faces at this time is to mould
the teaching method that suits the
online medium as attention spans
are low. The second challenge is
access to good quality reading material even after the availability of the
internet. Thus, to make my teaching
more effective in online mode I share
the reading material for the topic
beforehand and discuss the topic
and critical issues in the class rather
than just delivering a lecture. I taught
online PR and Advertising last semester thus, I shared a lot of videos from
Youtube, and then we discussed them
during the class. It helps to develop a
critical insight into the students and
also makes them aware of contemporary trends. I asked my students
to access reading material from
authentic sources like e-PG Pathshala,
ShodhGanga, e-Shodh Sindhu, Vidya
Mitra etc. The government of India is
making huge investments in creating
and providing good quality content to
students free of cost through Online
Mediums. I was the Co-Principal Investigator for Media and Communication Studies paper for e PG Pathshala
and can vouch for the quality of the
content.
What about the students? Are they
happy with the online mode of
education? Also did you get feedback
from the parents about it, what do
they feel?
We have to understand that today’s
youth are digital natives and have
been using online educational
resources even before the pandemic
situation arose. They have been very
active with digital platforms for education. Students have been receptive
and very active during the period.
Many have joined online courses and
e-internships to hone their existing
skills and improve their knowledge.
They are using their time effectively.
Even my course on the SWAYAM
platform titled ‘Society and Media’
has got an overwhelming response as
students are now opening up to the
prospect of self-paced learning and
the skills they can acquire even while
sitting at home.
If we see a few months ahead of us,

AUG 2020

21



we have to live with the virus and
co-exist with it. It is the new normal.
From this perspective if you see, how
do you think the education system
will be like?
I have been an advocate of flipped
classrooms as it provides more time
for discussion, debates, and sharing
of unique experiences. It leaves time
in the classroom to clear the doubt
of every student and understand
their perspective. It enables learning
as a two-way process in which both
the teacher and the students learn.
Newer perspectives that may be
hyper-local in nature can be discussed in the classroom. Thus, with
the pandemic situation, I believe the
flipped classroom idea will be more
acceptable to all stakeholders in the
process which includes universities,
administration, faculty, students, and
even parents. Even UGC promotes
the idea as it allows students to take
up MOOCs courses and students can
transfer credits after they complete
the course. The government of India
is promoting Online education from
various institutions and universities.
For admission students not only look
for courses, they also look for the
city, the location, the campus, etc.
However with online classes these
play a less significant role now. Are
admissions affected due to this?
What other factors due you think will
play major roles in admission now?
I think the single most important
factor for admissions remains the
choice of subject or the degree that
one wants to acquire. I think good
colleges are always in demand irrespective of the pandemic. And, all
the students and parents understand
the value of good education, college
and faculty that can make a huge
difference. I sincerely believe that it
is a temporary situation and we hope
to go back to University soon.GGSIPU
has an impeccable academic record
and attracts students from across
India.

and assignments?
Since the University began its semester in January 2020, we were able to
cover almost 80 percent of the syllabus including the practical classes
and lab work by mid-March. We are
almost wrapping up the syllabus.
Under the directions from Director,
IQAC, Prof. A K Saini, and Director,
Academic Affairs, Prof Sanjiv Mittal,
the leftover portions were covered
by the faculty by giving assignments
and projects. We tried our best to
keep the projects and assignments
open-ended so that students can
apply their creativity and thinking.
This was the best possible alternative
available to us. The University had
planned to start practical examinations after the first week of April.
Continued and effective learning in online classes - how is that
being regulated? How has teaching
changed now?
I believe teaching was already changing. Teachers are using more audiovisual resources and open education
resources to teach. Teachers are
also upgrading their set of skills and
learning new online teaching tools
including collaborative whiteboards
and content management software.
Teachers are trying to match the
skills of Generation Z. Newer ways
of engagement and assessment are
being evolved through online mediums. Increased online education also
leads to increased democratization of
education however, access in the rural
areas is still a concern which I believe
will be overcome in the upcoming
times.
Any light hearted incidents that happened during online classes?

It will depend on the guidelines
issued by the Ministry of Human
Resource Development and Delhi
Government. For University, student’s
safety is the top priority.

Both the faculty and students were
trying to adapt to the online environment. I do not recall any particular
incident but both students and teachers were trying to pursue the learning
process online for the first time and
thus, all of us faced initial glitches
with technology such as many of us
began speaking without unmuting
ourselves and then someone had to
indicate that to us. It also took a few
classes to set the basic ground rules
for the class as well following the
internet etiquette.

How are you covering the practical
subjects based on lab works, projects

What are the biggest concerns of (a)
students (b) their parents (c) teach-

How will hostels be repopulated?

22

AUG 2020

ers (d) administration (e) Government?
a) In the pandemic, the first and
foremost concern of everyone is
that safety is ensured and health is
maintained. However, many students
who are graduating are concerned
regarding the examination and placements. Whereas those students who
do not have access to digital devices
and internet access also have a fear
of missing out on the academic front.
b) Parents are concerned about the
provisions that will be available at
the university regarding sanitation
and hygiene whereas the outstation
students are concerned about returning to states with a high number of
positive cases.
c) The administration is working rigorously to plan out the unlock of the
economy while ensuring the security
of the individuals.
d)The government’s main concern
is to keep the citizens safe and
healthy while ensuring the needs
of the vulnerable sections are met.
It is also ensuring that the economy
once again comes back to the growth
trajectory it had been following until
March 2020 and minimizes losses
especially to the MSME sector which
is a large employment generator.
When do you think things will go
back to normal?
It should depend on the cases of
COVID-19. However, we need to learn
to live with the virus until the vaccine
is readily available.
What about the placement situations
in your institution? Did the COVID-19
and the current economic status of
the nation affect it somehow?
Due to impeccable academic record,
the university is expecting good
placements across the streams and
Director Placements, Prof A K Saini
has already initiated the process of
placements for our students. We have
a long relationship with the industry
and hope to have good placements
this year as well.
The world is now divided into pre and
post COVID-19. What do you think is
the scope of journalism in the post
COVID world?
Journalism is undergoing significant
changes. There will be more demand

SPECTRUM



What would you like to tell the students, and parents across the nation?
I would like to say that it is a good
time to acquire new skills and
develop perspectives. Students
should utilize this time to take up a
new course or re-connect with their
hobbies and skill development. It is a
good time to rejuvenate and upgrade
yourself. It is not necessary to take
up a new course or book which is
related to your subject, you should
explore more as I believe the future
belongs to collaborative work which
will be interdisciplinary in nature. So,
do not confine yourself to the subject
and look for multiple ways to solve a
problem. Innovation is the key to success in the future. For parents, I would
like to say that these are difficult
times for all of us but I assure you
that teachers are working very hard to
ensure that the students do not miss
out on any important area though the
mode of teaching and learning might
have altered for the time being. All
the Best to students and we shall all
strive to remain positive and healthy

SPECTRUM

»

This is the time to stay positive and fight together.

»

It is the time that teachers understand and adapt the ways of Generation Z. This generation is already active digitally. They are more
open to digital learning as they have shown active participation in
online classes. Teachers have to come up and match the level of this
activeness.

»

New techniques of teachings like “FLipped Classroom” can be highly
useful at this time. Flipped classroom is a reverse process. All content
and teaching lessons are provided at home in this method. This is
opposite to the traditional methods of teaching, which means that
content and teaching lessons are provided in class and the working
through it is done at home in the form of homeworks and assignments.

»

Access to online education in rural areas is a challenge. But it will be
overcome with time.

»

Students interested in Journalism have to note that now there is
more need for specialized reporting and now the focus would be
more on covering development issues like labor issues, public
health, immunization. journalism and mass communication students
must enhance their social media skills. Also digital reporting is more
impactful now. It has become easy to report and easy to deliver. Use
of smartphones to capture and produce news worthy stories is the
need of the hour.

»

Change is the only constant now. Adapting to day to day needs and
changes is important. Teachers, students and their parents have to
welcome new changes in their studies, examinations, practicals and
even in personal lives.

»

The Government of India has been continuously working to provide
skill based resources, quality reading materials and online courses
via various online portals like e-pathshala, SWAYAM and more. Students must utilise them to the fullest.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

for more specialized reporting and
now the focus would be more on
covering development issues like
labor issues, public health, immunization. Journalism students should
acquire more skills to create multimedia stories. There will be demand
for journalists to report in local
languages as well in English. Digital
Media is covering many areas which
traditional media is not reporting, this
is a positive change. To survive in the
competitive market, students need
to have all basic skills that include
producing the stories, the use of
smartphones to cover the story, and
writing the story for various formats.

STUDENTS' VOICE

~ by Janvi

AUG 2020

23



EXPERT TALK

NEET, COACHING,
STUDENTS' RIGHTS:
HONEST TALK WITH
DR. AMIT GUPTA
“You see, somebody has to raise their voice against the wrong”

M

alala Yousafzai, the
youngest nobel prize
laureate and Pakistani
activist for female
education once said
in what is now a famous quote that
“One book, one pen, one child, and
one teacher can change the world”.
Indeed, the contribution of a good
teacher, in the success of students
surpasses the conventional boundaries of a teaching-learning environment. A teacher is a source of inspiration for students. A teacher is one
who instills hope and dreams and
nurtures the courage in the student to
pursue that dream.
Today, when pondering upon the
great role played by contemporary
teachers in building up the young
generation of our nation, we cannot
overlook the immense contribution
of Dr. Amit Gupta, who wears many
feathers of different colours on his
hat.
We had the opportunity to interact in
an online session with Dr. Gupta over
his views on the current situations
of medical education in India and
what future he anticipates in all his
years of expertise and knowledge
in the field. There is no introduction
which can sufficiently justify the role
of Dr. Gupta as a student leader and

24

AUG 2020

a teacher in all essence. Even after
completing his degree in medicine
from Nair Medical College, Dr. Gupta
chose to stay back in India; a dream
that he now drives for his motherland
to escalate the number of doctors in
service in our country. With 20 years
of experience as a tutor and mentor
operating from the coaching hub
of India, Kota, Dr. Gupta has played
the role of a hero in standing up for
students’ rights in more instances
than one. We had the opportunity to
learn some of his ways, the excerpts
of which are reproduced here for our
readers.
First of all congratulations on the
good work that you are doing for
students of the nation.
Thank you. I try to do things which are
in the favour of the students. That is
what actually drives me and that is
what puts the students behind me.
It is all by the grace of God and the
love of the students that I am able to
achieve my targets.
We are aware that you wear many
hats. Besides being a doctor, you are
a teacher, a students’ right advocate
and an RTI activist. Which of these
roles do you best identify yourself
with and why?
Well I started out as a medical
student (chuckles). I did my graduation from Bombay, Nair Medical
College where I enrolled on the basis
of my AIR of 574. At that time, the
trend among MBBS students was to
go overseas and most of my batchmates moved abroad. Even though
I had offers from the UK, but I was a
bit homesick and having stayed at
Bombay for five years, I decided to

stay back in India with my parents.
So I came back to Kota, my native
place. At that time, getting a decent
job in the medical profession was a
big deal and Kota was just starting to
bloom as an academic coaching hub.
I was lucky that the Director of Allen
Career Institute proposed me to join
the institute. They had a vision to
grow the Institute and I could relate
with the vision. The syllabus was
changed and I could use my knowledge to help students. Even though I
would not practice my profession as
a doctor, my contribution as a teacher
would help many medical students to
become doctors of the future. This is
what motivated me to join the academy. After a feat of almost a decade,
I had made a name for myself to start
my own online teaching courses and
all. That is how it all happened.
So from being a doctor to a teacher,
how did you end up fighting on the
forefront for the rights of students?
It all started with an incident that
happened in 2015. You must be
aware of the Bluetooth cheating
scandal that was reported in AIPMT
exams originating from Rohtak. So
one of my students called me up to
inform me that the AIPMT exam was
not going to be fair. I clarified to him
that no such thing is going to happen
and these were just rumors. Few days
after the exam, the student called me
up and he was very depressed that
since the scandal was confirmed, the
cut-offs were going to be high and
therefore we would not be able to
bag a place in a good medical college.
I being the one who in the first place,
assured this student had to step up
and fight against the corruption. You

SPECTRUM



see, sometimes you end up being the
hero because many people have their
hopes in you. My students had high
expectations from me that I am going
to do something and I just could not
let them down.

hospital. So we can think of projects
such as Public Private Partnerships to
convert these into medical colleges
like infrastructure. This can genuinely
help to increase the number of medical students.

Despite opposition, I fought on with
signature campaigns on the streets
of Kota. But finally it was required to
take the case to Delhi, so I filed a PIL
in Delhi. As more and more parents
started supporting our cause, we
also received fundings. After several
benches and judges were changed,
we eventually won the case and my
journey as a social activist began.
Even now, whenever something
wrongful is faced by students they
seek my help and I have no other
option but to fight. You see, somebody has to raise their voice against
the wrong.

Another suggestion is that we can
actually work to allow students to
go study abroad and come back. We
have made foreign medical education
at par with Union Education by introducing exams like NEXT. If a student
is graduating from a good medical
college abroad, he has prospects to
practice there. We must allow foreign
medical graduates to come back to
work in India.

You mentioned that during the 2015
scandal, you said to your student to
work hard and success will be yours.
Will you still stick with what you said
back then?
Yes, I will still give the same advice to
my students. If you are on the right
path i.e. hard work eventually you will
succeed. It is what we call the law of
karma. I belong to a family of educationalists and I felt that the blame
was upon me that I was the one to
assure everyone that the scandal was
just probably rumours. I had to stand
up for the students. Working hard is
the right thing to do.

Which countries will you recommend
to students to complete their medical
graduation degree given that getting
a degree in medicine in India is very
tough?

THERE ARE A NUMBER OF
FACTORS WHICH NEED TO
BE CONSIDERED WHEN
CHOOSING A COUNTRY
TO GET ONE’S MEDICAL
DEGREE. IN THE CURRENT
SITUATION, THE FIRST
FACTOR IS THE BIOLOGICAL AND POLITICAL SITUATION OF THE COUNTRY.
ANOTHER ASPECT IS THE
FINANCIAL SUPPORT THAT
THE STUDENT HAS.

Taking into account the financial
situation of an average middle class
student, I have already proposed to
the Health Ministry before that the
government can acquire 50% of the
seats in private medical colleges that
we have. These seats can then be
subsidized by the government. If you
put a service agreement bond before
the students enrolling to these subsidized seats, they will have no choice
but to work here in India after they
have completed their medical degree.
I understand that challenges exist but
something of this sort must be done
in the interest of the middle class
students. There are good colleges in
neighboring countries such as Nepal
and Russia which are good and cheap
at the same time. There is a list of
colleges available on the MCI website
which students can refer to before
seeking admission.
What is the current situations related
to NEET 2020?
See, there are three categories of
students when it comes to the question of postponement of NEET 2020.
One category of students consist of
those who have worked very hard
and they just want to do away with
the burden of the exam. In my 20
years experience, I can say that this
category constitutes about 25% of
the students. Then there is a 50%
segment of students who does not
share a specific viewpoint on this.
Lastly, there is a 25% segment of
students who just wish that the exam

It was a well known fact already that
the doctor-patient ratio is poor in
India. Though the global pandemic
reveals that the picture is no different in other countries as well. What
do you think is the reason behind this
and what needs to be done to address
this in India and abroad?
See, there are genuine issues and
then there are finally issues that
can be sorted out. So talking about
genuine reasons, medical colleges
are not like engineering colleges
which can produce a larger number
of professionals within a short time.
You will need a 100 bedded hospital,
facilities to teach students. So it is
very difficult to establish medical
colleges in large numbers overnight.
However, my suggestion is that every
city happens to have a 100 bedded

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AUG 2020

25



is delayed even more.
I have created social media polls
and from what I see, those who
have really worked hard are praying
that the exam does not get delayed
anymore.
Recently AIIMS conducted the PG
entrance exam in the midst of this
pandemic situation. There were
many formalities that students had
to go through to appear for the exam.
Also, only 33,000 students appeared.
Do you think it was the right decision
to conduct an offline exam amidst
such situations?
I think they could have postponed
the exam or at least conducted the
exam by some other means in the
face of this situation right now. I am
sure that AIIMS did the very best to
conduct the examination considering all aspects of safety, but even
then, I cannot justify holding an
offline exam. The students who took
the exam are already doctors and
right now I feel that such doctors
are needed more at the frontline
dispatching medical service than
anything else now.
Do you feel that it is a wise decision
to conduct the NEET 2020 in July,
considering that the graph of COVID
positive cases is still going up? What
are your personal views on this?
Indeed the way that the graph is
consistently going up, it is for certain
that the virus affected situations are
here to stay for a long time unless a
vaccine or an antidote is developed.
In such situations, conducting offline
exams only increases the risk of
exposure and contraction. From my
perspective, there are at least two
things that can be done.
First, if the exam is indeed going to
be conducted as scheduled on July
26, then I would suggest authorities
reassess the situation before the
exam. If situations indeed permit,
then the exam can be conducted as
scheduled. Otherwise, alternative
means can be considered.
It is possible that NTA considers doubling the number of test centers for
conducting the NEET 2020 exam. This
way, they are aiming to sit only 12 to
15 students diagonally in every exam
center. Another possible option is to

26

AUG 2020

conduct the exam online like they do
for JEE Mains.
But then again, considering the current situation, it would be difficult
to conduct the exam for lakhs of
students on a single day. One thing
that can be done is conducting the
exam on different days and/or time
slots and then using normalisation to
remove any bias in evaluation. This
can help control the exposure to the
virus.
(Editor’s note: NEET 2020 exam date
was changed post this interview)
A fair share of parents are reluctant
to send their wards back to schools/
colleges even if they reopen now.
What are your views on this matter?
Do you think that admissions are
going to be affected this session?
From where I see it, the hit will be
taken by private colleges since government colleges happen to be the
first choice more often than not and
they also charge lesser fees. However,
for private colleges, they will not be
able to take students in for admission
like before. Many colleges have resorted to online classes. However, the
medical field is one where you cannot
rely entirely on online classes. This
is particularly applicable during the
first semester when a student learns
the basics of anatomy, dissection
etc. These are things that must be
taught practically. So I think that the
academic session is definitely going
to take a hit and this is especially true
for medical students at least. It will
also affect the quality of education.
Since March, we have seen a major
shift in the teaching-learning process
in schools, colleges, coaching centers. What are the long term positive
steps you see?
See, whenever there is a new change
introduced, there are always two
aspects of it i.e. positive and negative.
The current COVID-19 situation has
distracted us toward the negativities but it is high time that we also
focus on the positives and make the
best out of them. In Kota, the education system has always followed
the conventional offline method. I
was among the first of the pioneers
to have used the online teaching
methods. This was because of my
wish as I wanted to reach out to more

and more students. I have a good
social media presence and I observed
that students from distant states like
Andaman & Nicobar, Gujarat etc are
also interested to join my classes.
They cannot however come to Kota
but they can join if I conduct classes
online. So initially many teachers
were hesitant but now months into
the pandemic and everyone is shifting to the online means of teaching.
In this context, I would like to add
that not everything can be done and
taught online. There are negative
aspects such as prolonged exposure
to computer screens but the teacherstudent interaction is seldom established through the computer screens.

MY SUGGESTION IS TO
CONDUCT CORRESPONDENCE COURSES. THUS
THE INSTITUTE CAN CONDUCT OTHERWISE ONLINE
CLASSES, BUT FACE TO
FACE CLASSES ONCE A
MONTH IN 2-3 CITIES IN
A STATE. SUCH CLASSES
CAN SERVE TO RESOLVE
QUERIES EFFECTIVELY
AND ESTABLISH A BALANCE BETWEEN ONLINE
AND OFFLINE LEARNING.
I FIRMLY SUGGEST THAT
THE FACULTY STARTS GOING TO PLACES INSTEAD
OF ASKING THE STUDENTS
TO COME. I BELIEVE THIS
IS WHERE THE FUTURE OF
EDUCATION LIES.
You are in Kota which is known in
India as the hub of coaching. What
changes do you anticipate in the
months to come?
Actually, there are various different
stakeholders involved in this scenario.
I will explain them one by one.
The first stakeholders are the faculty
and the students. Earlier, there used
to be around 300 students in a classroom in Kota. Considering that many
classrooms have their own ducting
and ventilation systems and going by
the claims of WHO that the virus can
spread through air, there are urgent
changes that we need to make to our

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cooling and ventilation systems. In
addition, it would be impossible to
accommodate 300 students safely
in the classroom. I don't see how we
can take in more than 50 students
in a class if we maintain 1-2 metres
gap between students. However, one
positive aspect of this is that the
teacher-student ratio will improve
and students will be able to interact
more personally with the teachers.
The second category of stakeholders
are the directors and entrepreneurs
who run the institutes. Being the
owners, they will have to bear the
financial losses. They have to hire
more teachers and arrange for more
classrooms. In turn, the salaries of
employed teachers will also take a hit
if the owners themselves make lesser
profits. I can however say that a positive aspect is that the employment
graph will definitely increase as more
number of teachers will be required.
Coming to NEET 2021 and 2022,
the students that are currently in
their 11th and 12th standards are
going to be affected. If the syllabus is
changed, will it not affect the quality
of medical education? I mean, they
have to study everything in their
MBBS degree course even if the syllabus is reduced now. What are your
suggestions?
I agree that there are these talks of
trimming down the syllabus in the
interest of the students. However, I
think that even if such a step is taken,
it will not be permanent and will
probably apply to the sessions for
the current year only. For NEET 2021,
the syllabus is going to be reduced
a little bit. In competitive exams as
such, subjects such as English, Hindi,
CS are not of that prime importance.
However, you cannot take out core
subjects such as Physics, Chemistry
and Biology. Currently, these are only
being considered for temporary implementation and if there are positive
outcomes then the government can
consider it for the future. I also feel
that non-essential topics from the syllabus of Physics can also be trimmed
in the interest of the students.

online proctored exams? What are
your views on this?
In my view, there should be a mixed
bag approach. Some weightage of the
marks must be on projects, some on
thesis submission and one part on
online tests to evaluate the academic
skills of the students. These things
are not new since many exams such
as GRE are conducted online. In such
pandemic situations, it is hard to conduct the exam of lakhs of students on
a single day. So I believe shifting to
some sort of online solution might be
the answer.
Do you have any message for parents?
I would like to say just two things to
parents.

1.

The first is to lessen the exposure of the child to panic. Do not
show your worries to the student
as they are already in a state
of confusion. There are sources
to make informed decisions on
what can be the best for your
child. Go look up the internet,
ask questions, discuss with peers
and then impose something on
the child.

2.

Secondly, I would say to worry
less as I can assure that people
like me, the government, educationalists and institutes are
worrying about the future of
education. So whatever decision
is made, it will always be in the
best interest of the students.

KEY TAKEAWAYS
The online session with Dr. Gupta lasted for more than an hour and must
we say it was an extremely insightful experience. We were keenly observant of the way our guest backed up his claims with life experiences and
his insights of both ends of the industry. Being a doctor by his qualifications,
teacher by his choice of profession and an activist by nature, Dr. Amit Gupta
was probably the most desirable peer who has researched and experienced
the medicine and medical education industry from the viewpoint of all the
stakeholders. As we concluded the interview, we were observant of how our
notebooks had filled up with many crucial points that Dr. Gupta highlighted.
Let us take a tour of the key takeaways from this insightful session.
»

»

»
»

»

»

»

»

Doing the right thing and sticking to the roots is what seems to have driven Dr.
Gupta in his multifaceted professional journey. He still recommends working
hard to his students as he does not believe there is an alternative to this.
The government can promote Public Private Partnership projects to utilise the
existing medical infrastructure to develop facilities for medical colleges in
India.
Students opting to study abroad to get their medical degree must be provided
some incentives to come back to the country and work here.
The government must step forward to acquire some percentage of seats in the
private medical colleges that can be subsidized for students belonging to the
middle class society.
Online education seems to be a very feasible alternative to conduct exams
and take the academic industry forward without compromising the safety and
public health of students.
Not everything can be taught and demonstrated practically for which institutes
can switch to the correspondence learning method where physical classes are
held once a month in 2-3 cities of a state.
There are positive aspects of the pandemic as the lesser number of student
accommodation per class will only open up employment opportunities for
teachers. In addition, the student-teacher ratio will also improve.
Instead of letting students pass without exams, the total marks can be divided
in terms of weightage to different activities which will only lessen the dependency on exams to test the mettle of the students.

There is a lot of debate on whether
students should be passed on the
basis of projects now that semester
exams are difficult to conduct. Some
Universities are planning to conduct

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AUG 2020

27



OP-ED

TEST FROM HOME
EMBRACING THE NEW
AVATAR OF EXAMS
"In the age of doorstep delivery of everything under the sun, why should
exams be any different?"

I

n the 21st century, technology
has become an indispensable
phenomenon in all aspects of our
lives. There is hardly any industrial
or service sector in the global
economy that has not been impacted
by technology.
One of the finest and contemporary
examples of technology adoption is
in the education sector. On a global
scale, information technology
in particular has made its
way into the education
systems to transform
the entire teachinglearning process.

part of the global economy and new
world society has been introduced to
modern e-learning platforms.
While online teaching has been
popular for quite some time in the
country, a hitherto sparsely explored
facet of e-learning - online exams
were slow in gaining traction in India

Going a step further,
from online exams, we
now have a new (in
terms of popularity) type of exam
- take from home
exams. As the
name suggests,
they are online
exams which
students can
take from
home. As the
country battles
the microscopic
enemy, test creators as well as test
takers across the
country are slowly
embracing this new
tool for a new normal.

As a matter of fact,
the conventional
brick and mortar
classroom
model is
slowly being
replaced
either partially
or wholly using
artefacts of
modern-day
information and
communication
technology.
An already well known
concept, which has now
become the new normal for
education is e-learning.
As per May 2020 reports published
by Global Market Insights (GMI), the
global market value of e-learning was
already over USD 200 billion in the
year 2019. Based on the growth in
the global market, GMI has predicted
that the e-learning market will continue to grow at 8% CAGR between the
years 2020 and 2026. India too, as a

28

AUG 2020

number of takers, like the JEE went
online, online exams became more
normalized. And with the recent shift
of NTA to completely online exams
(except NEET), all high schoolers
know that online exams are inevitable for them. Though what really
tilts the scale in terms of number of
online exam takers are the recruitment exams - in India, over 2 crore
take govt job exams every year; most
of which are now online.

TFH: TEST FROM HOME

in the past. Initially, either international level exams such as GRE, GMAT,
or PG level exams in India like CAT
used to be online. Back then, a few
hundred thousand students faced
online exams in a year.
However once exams with a larger

An emerging name in the online
exams space happens to be “TFH
(Test From Home)”.
A unique online exam platform based
on cloud-based service delivery, TFH
has already been put to successful
use in different exams. Developed
by Snaprabbit India Pvt Ltd, TFH is
designed to support online exams in

SPECTRUM



proctored as well as non proctored
models, in ways that surpass the
concept of classroom-based examinations.
It is now possible to hold objective
tests as well as subjective tests in
this new avatar of exams. With a short
enough project deployment time, establishments who have to overnight
take the decision of holding take
from home model exams too can now
make use of this technology. Based
on advanced Artificial Intelligence
and Machine Learning technology,
TFH is the feasible, pocket-friendly
artefact to conduct online proctored
examinations to suit the differing
needs of Universities, Colleges, Education Boards, Recruitment Boards
and any other concerned.

INVIGILATION VIA PROCTORING
One of the most unique features of
the Test From Home platform is the
ability to proctor exams that are conducted online. In the age of advanced
technology, TFH leverages Artificial
Intelligence to proctor online exams,
providing a plethora of data points
to the examiner, without burdening the examinee. TFH monitors the
examinee through different proctoring methods viz. image, audio, and
interaction proctoring.
Image proctoring method functions
through the webcam which takes
pictures at fixed intervals. Audio
proctoring utilized the audio recording devices such as the microphone
to capture the audio from the user’s
end. The audio can be analysed to
detect the possible presence of any
other person with the examinee. Finally, the interaction proctoring monitors, records and analyzes anomalous
events such as the user attempting to
switch between apps during the exam
or intentionally closing and resuming back the application. For every
such activity, the unfair attempt ticker
records a count.

MODULES AND CUSTOMIZATION
While the standard model is the most
popular among Indian institutes,
as it has the least bandwidth and
software requirement on examinee

SPECTRUM

end (and is most pocket friendly!),
separate modules are deployed and
attached on need basis. Some of the
popular modules used along with the
standard product are face recognition, biometric identification, video
proctoring, screen capturing, virtual
calculator.
Besides, TFH provides enough flexibility to customize features based on
specific exam system requirements.

IS TFH ANSWER TO THE NEW
NORMAL?
COVID-19 forced cancellation of
exams throughout the nation. Be it
board exams, entrance exams, or
recruitment tests, dates have been
pushed back again and again. With
the number of cases only increasing
every day, it has become increasingly clear that holding exams in the
center-based model is not practical.
Nevertheless, holding exams is necessary. No matter how much we debate
against the examination system; at
the end of the day, they are critical,
and they exist for a reason. Would
you like bridges to be designed by an
unqualified engineer, or be treated by
an unqualified doctor?
A number of Universities have already
conducted online proctored exams
using the TFH platform in order to
avoid any further delay in achieving pre-scheduled academic events.
Those who haven't, are starting to
consider alternative means when
there is absolutely no safe way to
conduct physical exams.

UGC MAKES FINAL YEAR
EXAMS MANDATORY
In the latest guidelines on examination released on July 6, 2020, UGC
mandates, "In view of the emerging
situation related to COVID-19 pandemic in India, it is important to safeguard the principles of health, safety,
fair and equal opportunity for students.
At the same time, it is very crucial to
ensure academic credibility, career
opportunities and future progress of
students globally. Academic evaluation
of students is very important milestone
in any education system. The performance in examinations gives confidence and satisfaction to the students

and is a reflection of competence,
performance and credibility that is
necessary for global acceptability."
Whether technology-driven education is a bane or a boon is a debatable subject. But it has certainly made
its way into the Indian educational
scenario. The current health crisis,
among many things, has taught us
that we cannot fight against the
forces of nature. However, it has
also shown us that there are always
alternative ways to do something. A
transformation in the entire socioeconomic scenario is obviously
evident.
As the country still fights against the
pandemic, it still seems to be a far
cry when situations can be expected
to restore back to their normal state.
However, the new normal is the way
that everyday people are fighting and
winning in the race of human survival.
In somewhat a similar essence, elearning is starting to find large-scale
acceptance, and Test From Home
has been designed to complete this
picture.
The developers of Test From Home
were only as much aware of the 2020
pandemic as the rest of us were.
However, the platform was designed
under the inspiration of the undeniable ways in which information
technology is taking over the world’s
academic scenario. The pandemic has
worked as a driving force to surge the
market of online education in India.
However, with or without it, it was inevitable that in the near future, exclusive e-learning and blended learning
would find widespread acceptance in
the Indian academic scenario.
Here is to dreaming for a future
where learning is uninterrupted, and
boundless.
To enquire about TFH for conducting
online exams, contact
Email: tfh@snaprabbitindia.com
Call or Whatsapp: 9871891385 /
78275 65851

AUG 2020

29



Thank you so much for joining us
today ma’am. How is everything
going on?
Life is good so far. The work is keeping me busy and gradually things are
coming back to normal.
If someone from the past called you
and asked, “how is education happening today?”, how would you describe the current situation to them?
The status of education today is
online. In February, no one thought
that we would be conducting online
classes but look at us now. We
have started our full fledged online
classes. To make the students familiar
with the online mode of studies, we
are holding non-study classes, such
as orientation programs, yoga sessions, music sesion, etc.

EXPERT TALK

OVERCOMING
CHALLENGES,
ONE STEP AT A
TIME, WITH DR.
SEEMA SHAH
"Utilize the time to learn skills that will help you
in the future."

T

eachers, just like parents,
influence the lives of the
students for eternity. From A,
B, C to complex equations, it
is teachers who lead toward
learning and clarity. Humans have
tried to find various technological advancement to replace these warriors
of education but time after time they
have proved that in disparity they can
drop the cloak of comfort and take
on contemporary tools to fulfil their
mission of providing education.
From writing on black board to
conducting zoom classes, teachers
around the world saved education
sector during this pandemic. Some
of them did not even know how to
operate computers. Yet, they learned
every digital tool they could to teach
the students and save them from

30

AUG 2020

dropping a year.
One such teacher, who not only
helped students but also led the
entire department towards technological advancement is Dr. Seema
Shah. She is incharge of the 6 years
B.Tech integrated program at the
Mukesh Patel School of Technology
Management and Engineering, NMIMS
and is a teacher at core.
In a heartfelt conversation with
AglaSem, the Ph.D holder explains
how she helped students online,
pushed the department towards
online education and what could be
the solutions to the prevailing problems. The educationist also threw
light on the mental health of students
and what should be the approach
towards it. You can check it all in this
amazing interview.

We have also decided to scrap the
final examination and pass the
students on the basis of the internal
assessment. This helped in releasing
the burden of the students during
this lockdown period. Side by side,
we took these 2 months to prepare
for the online session and become
familiar with whatever tools are available.
Online teaching is very different from
classroom teaching where you can
see the students upfront. Thus, there
is a change required, so that you can
engage the students for the time
but also on the other hand you don’t
know what they are doing.
“Catching attention of students” is
one of the most challenging parts of
teaching. Does it apply for college
students as well?
Yes, it does. Basically it is all about
interest. If a student is interested in
studies they will anyway listen to
what you are saying. But if there is
no interest then the teacher needs to
build interest for that subject. Once
it is built, the student will listen and
understand.
What are the pros of online education, in your opinion?
Of course, there are many pros of
online education. Before I came here,
I was in the industry where we only
used online teaching. It has various
advantages like 24 X 7 learning. Students can record the online class and

SPECTRUM



refer to it for revision.
Also today’s generation is more used
to online tools. Online learning will
actually help them out, as they are
already very comfortable on their
mobiles and other devices. If we tell
them to read a book or write down,
it is a little bit difficult. But if you tell
them to do something online then
they do it 10 times faster and better.
But there are also certain disadvantages. Have you come across any
roadblocks or challenges?
There are a few, like how to ensure
that the student is actually studying
/ listening to you, or understanding
what you are saying. These are the
challenges, of which one needs to
think in advance and make the plan
accordingly.
Like there can be online quizzes
in between and at the end of the
session to access if the students are
learning or not. Even homework,
including reading material, shall allow
us to evaluate how much a student
has grasped.
Since you are heading a technical
course, B.Tech integrated, I will
put forth one common concern of
the technical course students. They
generally find it a bit difficult to
comprehend complicated equations
and in online class it becomes more
challenging. Is there any particular
way to overcome this and make
things easier for the students?
Things can be simplified with various
tools that are available. Just like the
offline classes, teacher can use white
board in the online class to explain
the equation. This will also help the
teacher, as they may find it difficult to
type the entire formula. They also can
use digital and other available tools.
Also, I believe that only talking in
online class for 1-2 hours will not do.
It has to be a mix of videos, interaction, presentation, etc. to engage the
students. We are working towards it
too.

over. But now, the parents will know
that screen time is not just for gaming
but for studies as well. We took one
month of online classes last time
and a lot of parents called us and
told us that they were glad to know
that their child is studying this much.
They could see their child studying at
home which they never could in their
time.
On a lighter note, bunking is a
phenomenal part of college life.
But with online classes, students
have nowhere to go, and parents
can monitor them too. Do you think
students miss it?
See, the bunking here will be in a different way. Let me tell you, students
can put on the system and then go
and do something else or just don't
listen at all. So bunking will happen.
I will always have a doubt whether
the student is listening to me or not.
However, if you have continuous
assessment and examination, their
performance will tell you what they
are doing.
Talking about the assessments.
Now various institutes have started
taking exams online. AglaSem is also
helping a lot of colleges and universities to hold the online test. Do you
think that even in NMIMS, online
exams would be a normal thing in
the coming months?
We have already conducted some
tests online. We are ready to take
exams online.
Education is not just about the learning part or just the teacher student
interaction. When we go to college to
meet other people too and basically
transform from a child to adult. Now
that classes are going online, do you
think there is a way to compensate
for that wholesome college experience?

In recent reports parents have
expressed concern about increased
screen time due to online classes.
Your take?

Whatever interactions we had earlier
in physical form, is now bound to be
held online. We have a lot of student
groups who had their meetings
online. This is a testing phase for all
of us. Students thus have started
forming groups online, coming
together in zoom calls and interacting
with each other.

Increased screen time is not a new
issue. It has been the concern of parents since the gaming industry took

I understand the campus life, where
we learned from each other, will be
impacted in the coming months.

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However, observations do not come
from only talking. It comes from being
with each other and doing things
together, which may not happen that
much online.
You said “coming months”, do you
think the situation will get back to
our preconceived notion of normal
in the upcoming months, or the next
year?
I think 4 to 5 months. That is what I
am looking at in the positive front.
But we will still have challenges. Colleges of Mumbai or anywhere in India
have batch sizes of 60 students or so,
but the classes are small. The campuses might be safe and sanitized,
but how do we handle the crowd and
maintain social distancing?
Yes, coming to that, there are going
to be a lot of restrictions in reopening
an education institute. Also, it will be
difficult to make the students follow
these. So, will social distancing and
implementation of these measures
possible in a student senario?
Flat no. Not every student is mature
enough to understand the norms and
follow them and it is not possible to
oversee each one. Plus it is risky. See
life is more important than anything.
Parents are also concerned about the
same. Most parents agree for online
classes but are in no mood to send
their child to school / college, at least
for this session. So, how do you think
this will affect the entire admission
session?
The thing is everyone wants to be
educated. The decision to take admission will not change, however it may
be affected due to financial aspects.
Because of the lockdown there has
been a big impact on the market.
Thus, admission now depends hugely
on affordability. That will be the only
impact on admission
Conventionally, before taking admission, students and parents research
on campus life, location and such
non-educational aspects of a college. However, now with only online
classes,, will the decision on where to
take admission slightly change?
A course is at least for 2 to 4 years.
Hence, I don’t think that the students
will just look at the current situation.
They will be considering the entire
duration of the course and will take

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31



admission accordingly.
How do you think the inflow of
foreign students in India and outflow
of Indian students to foreign nations
will be affected?
In our case, it is the masters students
who wish to go to foreign nations to
study. So they are waiting. They are
not going this year. Now the students
from foreign nations will definitely
compare the colleges in their country
with the programmes here. Most of
the big cities in India are not safe
now, containment zones are high.
Everybody is worried, so I think they
too will wait a year before coming, if
they can afford that.
Decision might be a question mark
now for postgraduate students especially. Because a break after undergraduation is affordable, but not after
11th and 12th.
What is your word of advice for
students who are taking a break to
get admission in a PG course or are
looking for jobs but are unable to get
any due to poor market scenario?
Learn skills that you don't have. Learn
the technical skills that you may
need. Also stay updated with the
latest technological changes that are
happening due to COVID-19. Many
things are changing everywhere, especially in the technical fields. So to
make your CV impressive, learn some
skills to get an edge over others.
Are there any courses that you
would like to suggest, esp. for B.Tech
students?
Yes, there are millions of courses
out there. B.Tech students can go for
cloud computing, machine learning,
artificial intelligence, IOT, block chain.
These may not be your core area, but
they will help in the long run.
Coming back to the question of jobs,
have the companies kept their offers
or have they rescinded it?
The campus placements at NMIMS
for the outgoing batches have been
completed in November and December. Most of the companies have kept
their offers. Some of them have also
given the students online works and
training. Few of them have started
work from home with the placed candidates.There are many rumors about
companies taking away jobs. Students

32

AUG 2020

are advised to know what is actually
happening by contacting their institute's placement cell. Misinformation
adds to worry and nothing else.
For examinations like JEE Main and
NEET lakhs of candidates have applied. These students are now asking
for postponing / collection of the
examination. If you had the power to
decide, what would you have done?
JEE, NEET are national level exams.
You can't just cancel them. Lakhs
of institutes across the nation take
admission based on these exams. I
guess that a decision should be taken
to conduct them online and get over
with. Anyhow it has to be held sooner
or later. Students have spent 2+ years
preparing. Lots of money has been
spent. Not holding it will be more
strainfull.
So when you talk about online
exams, are you saying the “take from
home'' model of the exam?
That is the only solution right now.
We too are going for an online proctored exam for our entrance exams.
We cannot expect students to come
to the exam centers, it is very difficult.
What do you think will be the challenges in education, if the situation
remains the same in the coming 6 or
more months?
I don't think we will be going well.
Because the system is not geared up
and prepared for that.
Many are able to afford the online
classes as they have access to the
internet and devices like laptops,
tablets, smartphones etc. But students of some institutes do not have
access to devices and also internet of
good bandwidth needed for online
classes. How do you think that India
can tackle this problem?
It is all about the affordability of the
device and the network needed for
online class. For this cheaper devices
like tablets, if not laptops, can be
made available in the markets for
students. Plus if the telecom companies or others can come up with some
better affordable internet plans in
this regard that will be good.
Any tips for the students who will be
completing their schools and entering college? Like how to choose their
career?

Career planning needs to start in
class 10th. Students must decide
wisely between science, arts, commerce, and that too what specifically
in that. Then start shaping your path
from there. And parents should not be
the sole decision makers. It is better if
parents and children decide together.
Know likes and dislikes, what career
options exist in the likes, and so on.
Spend 2-3 months on research and
getting a clarity.

STUDENTS MUST BE
ENABLED TO BE INDEPENDENT THINKERS.
THEY MUST BECOME
INDIVIDUALS WHO
CAN CONTRIBUTE
TO OTHER PEOPLE
AROUND IN WHATEVER WAY POSSIBLE.
Can you please tell about the
programme that you are heading at
NMIMS i.e. B.Tech 6 yrs integrated
course after class 10th?
It is one of a kind in the country,
which allows students to pursue
engineering after class 10. It is a 6
years programme with 2 semesters of
implant training in the industry where
students get industry exposure. The
course was started 6 years ago and
we already have one batch graduating this year.
The initial 1.5 years of the programme
is common for all. Through this
students are given a foundation for
engineering. We don't teach 11 and
12, we teach the foundation of engineering. After that they can select the
branch.
We have 3 branches: Computers,
Electronics and Telecommunications
and Mechanical. From 4th year we
have started offering specialisations
in training technologies which are
going to be very much required in the
future. Like AI, security, Automation
etc.
So after 6 years, unlike a normal
B.Tech degree, students get a diploma
and degree certificate with a specialisation which normal B.Tech students
do not have.

SPECTRUM



This course has an advantage for the
students who have decided firmly
that they want to pursue engineering in class 10. They do not need to
get into JEE or any entrance exam for
admission.
Mental health of students is also one
of the major concerns, and I would
like to know your opinion on it. Lots
of students go into depression and
even take the extreme steps. What is
your take on this?
Over the period of time, the interaction at home has become less and
it is more with the friends. A person
who is in such a situation should seek
out help and talk it out. Also, if we
get a hint of sadness or depression
in someone that we know then we
should also try and be there for them.
How has your teaching journey been
up until now?
I have spent 28 years in teaching,
with 5 years in industry. I always enjoyed teaching and that is how I came
into this profession. I have students
from 5 years ago just coming by and
chatting with me. Students can come
to me anytime. I do a lot of good
interactions on Quora, I have around
23000 followers there.
Being a woman and playing so many
roles at once, how do you manage
everything?

KEY TAKEAWAYS
Encouraging, wasn’t it? It is all about the will, determination and
being positive. Students and parents and even teachers can take
away so much from this interview. Dr. Seema Shah has poured her
heart out. COVID-19 pandemic puts all of us at a tough spot but we
are all together in it. Here are some key points to note from our conversation with Seema Shah.
»

»
»

»
»

»

»

»
»

Online teaching is very different from regular classes. It takes a lot of creative
approach from the teacher’s end to be able to grab the student's attention.
Use of online tools and being creative with them is required.
Online classes have their own pros and cons. But we have to live with it now
and work a way around it.
Physical contact and campus life experience is sure to be diluted unless
the world is COVID-19 free. However, until then online group activities, chat
rooms, discussions, group video call is to be used to communicate with
friends, classmates and teachers.
Evaluation methods including taking Test From Home is the only safe option
now. Asking students to come for an exam at a particular exam centre is risky.
Education must reach all, even if many students cannot reach it. For this, the
government can plan out putting out cheap devices in the market like tabs.
Telecom companies can come up with some cheaper internet plans that can
be affordable by the maximum section of the society.
It is the responsibility of the students and parents to start deciding career
choices from early stages of high school, like from class 10 itself. Making a
career choice in class 12 is not a good decision.
If the situation gets tough, do not hold it in. Students are encouraged to talk
to their parents, friends, teachers about anything and everything. Discussion and advice seeking can solve a lot of problems and also it gives a push
towards the right direction.
Parents have to treat their children as adults and be friendly. This encourages
them to open up and share their problems.
Students must take care of their health and balance their studies and other
activities wisely.

You have to learn how to delegate
and you have to learn how to focus.
Then plan your day. We cannot keep
everything at the last minute. Also
there where there is a will there is a
way. So we have to find time.
Coming to the end of this great interview, what are some messages that
you want to give to the students and
their parents out there?
For students it will be to stay healthy.
Balance your mobiles along with
studies. Finally, a degree is important
and nothing comes for free, so some
efforts are to be made.

We want to hear from you!

Write to us at
editor@aglasem.in.

For parents, they have to understand
that their children are adults or are
going towards being one. So they
have to be treated like adults. Give
them some space and interact with
them as friends and I think they will
come closer.

SPECTRUM

AUG 2020

33



FUN SPACE
All answers on page 40!

• Locate the given words in the grid, running in any
of the eight possible directions horizontally, vertically, or diagonally.
• The objective of this puzzle is to find and mark
• All the words are hidden inside the box.
• The words may be hidden in any direction.

SUDOKU

WOW NEWS

WORD HUNT
A Krishnakumar, 40, a software
engineer from Bengaluru has been
helping villages in his native Virudhunagar district disinfect streets with
a customised equipment, making the
most of the work-from-home facility
offered by his company.
He used a tractor and boom sprayer.
With this, he has been spraying disinfectants in villages in his Kariapatti
block for the past couple of weeks.
The equipment can reach up to the
first floor of a house. It has a capacity
to spray 200 litres of disinfectant in
30 minutes.

Complete the grid so that every row, column and 3x3
box contains every digit from 1 to 9 inclusively.
DIFFICULTY: MEDIUM

34

AUG 2020

SPECTRUM



CROSSWORD
ACROSS
1. The Yardbirds' guitarist, Jeff (4)
3. Bruschetta or soup, perhaps (8)
9. White metallic element (Ca), essential in bones and teeth (7)
10. Ancient Roman's country
house (5)
11. Flag (5)
12. Muslim leader (6)
14. Too sure of oneself? (13)
17. Puzzle involving the numbers
1 to 9 (6)
19. Synthetic fabric invented in
1938 (5)
22. Something worn around the
head or neck and shoulders (5)
23. Any number that is not a fraction (7)
24. Belief system (8)
25. Stick around (4)
DOWN

piece, Boléro, d. 1937 (5)

15. Train (7)

1. Theatrical scenery (8)

6. Oval (7)

16. Fire (6)

2. Jacqueline du Pré's instrument (5)

7. Glance quickly over (4)

18. Entrails (5)

8. Lust for Life, for example
(6)

20. Frivolous — insubstantial
(5)

13. Large venomous fish —
it's angry (anag) (8)

21. Capital of a north-west
Italian province, known for its

4. Protracted (4-9)
5. Composer of the orchestral

MATH PUZZLE

DID YOU KNOW?
The Burj Khalifa is so tall that you can
see two sunsets from it in one day!

SPECTRUM

Crack the pattern and find the
value of the missing number!
AUG 2020

35



WORK HARD TO
ACHIEVE WHAT YOU
WANT IN LIFE
~ AARSHIYA MITTAL
How was your experience with ATSE?
It was good. I liked the concept of
ATSE, which involves taking the exam
sitting in front of a video camera,
which makes the test cheating-proof.
What was your preparation strategy?
I prepared from my school textbooks
of class 5 and revised the whole syllabus from the books before taking
the exam. Whenever I had a problem
understanding something, my mom
and teachers were always there to
help me.

A
HALL OF FAME

arshiya Mittal is the ATSE
2019 Topper. She is currently studying in class
7th. We, at AglaSem, got
in touch with her to know
about her life, hobbies, how she prepared for ATSE, about her plans and
suggestions to other students, if any.
For those who are new, ATSE is the
short form of AglaSem Talent Search
Exam. This exam is conducted every
year by AglaSem, for all the students
from class 5th to class 12th. Students who qualify the ATSE, get the
cash prizes of more than Rs 10 lacs,
medals and certificates. Let us get on
with Aarshiya’s interview!
How would you describe yourself in a
few lines?
My name is Aarshiya Mittal. I am studying in Class 7th at Ryan International
School. There are 6 members in my
family, including me and my sibling,
who is 4 years older to me.
What do you want to be when you
grow up and why?
I want to be a Scientist when I grow
up. I am a space enthusiast and would
like to explore and learn more about
space!

36

AUG 2020

How do you prepare for annual
exams, olympiads or other exams?
Firstly, I go through the entire syllabus and learn everything that is there
to learn. I also make notes, take help
from mother and teachers, wherever required. As the day of exam
approaches, I dedicate more time to
study, practice a little harder and do
revisions.

People in this field should motivate
and inspire the students through
competitions.
What are your favourite subjects?
I like science, especially the field related to Space, other than that, I also
like Maths and Art.
Tell us about your hobbies.
I like to draw and read mystery books.
I like reading the Nancy Drew books.
Recently, I read “The Ghost of Blackwood Hall”, it was very interesting.
I would love to pursue art, along with
Science. Science is my first love. My
brother and I used to take art classes
when we were younger. That is where
I developed this habit and liking for
art and drawing.

How has your experience been with
online classes?
I am missing school. The major
problem with online classes is that
there is not as much interaction as it
is possible physically. Sometimes, the
video would get disconnected due to
internet issues. Other than that, I did
not face any major problems.
Assume that you are a Prime Minister
of India for a day, what would you do
to make the life of a student better?
I would provide better means to
promote communication between
the students and the teachers. I
would work to encourage interaction
between them.
How can AglaSem or those in the
education sector help students?
Competitive exams such as ATSE
should be conducted more often.

SPECTRUM



What are some problems, you think,
the world is facing? How would you
solve them using Science?
I see pollution and global warming as
major threats to humanity. I do my bit
by trying to save water and eliminate
wastage wherever possible.
What is your message for students
and teachers out there?
My message for the students is “Work
hard to achieve what you want in life”.
The teachers should encourage and

inspire the students to achieve their
goal.
Who is your Role Model?
There are 2 people who I see as my
role model: My mom and Dr. APJ
Abdul Kalam. My mother because
she motivates and inspires me all the
time. She is always there to assist me.
And Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam as he has
contributed so much to the science
and space research of our country. I
would also like to follow his foot-

steps.
What is your SUCCESS MANTRA?
Work hard and have a clear vision of
what you want to be.
So, what are your plans for ATSE
2020? Are you appearing again this
year?
I have a thing for competitions. So,
yes, I am all set for the ATSE 2020. I
have already registered for it. (chuckled).

ATSE TOPPER AYUSH
SANKARAN IS A MRIDANGAM PLAYER
AND NU AGE CODER
Ayush Sankaran believes that studying all day just might not be the best
strategy to excel in extra-scholastic
examinations; and he might just be
right. The 10 year old is the winner of
the Aglasem Talent Search Examination, 2019. But this is just one of the
many gems that adorn the crown
of numerous awards and accolades
he has won over the years. Ayush
has also bagged the MIT App of the
Month award, won the iRoboKid
competition and is gearing up for the
finals of Clash of Pi, India.

“I remember participating
in the ATSE. There were 80
questions of Science, Maths
and English and I got first
rank in that. I got a cash
prize worth Rs 50000 ”
A student of Class V of the Billabong
High International School, Malad,
Mumbai, Ayush is just like the rest of
us in most aspects. However, growing
up, he has acquired a good taste in
different extracurricular activities.
Even then, his perfectly balanced
everyday routine has seemingly
empowered the kid to turn everything
he puts his hands on, into gold. In
an exclusive online interview with
Aglasem, Ayush Sankaran opened
up to us about his love for coding,
learning to play the Mridangam and

SPECTRUM

the untiring support he receives from
parents and well wishers.
Incidentally, his mother happens to
be a coder and also offers online
classes. When asked whether his
mother is the source of inspiration
for his love for coding, Ayush told us
that he had been into coding since he
was in the second grade. The results
are evident in the fact that this kid
has already won the MIT App of the
Month award and developed two
different applications in the iRoboKid
competition.

“I am preparing for the
Clash of Pi finals. They take
all the domains and then
select the highest scorer. I
was selected as the Circuit
winner. I could not attend the prize distribution
ceremony because of this
lockdown. It was organised
in New Delhi in April”
Ayush was introduced to coding in
second grade. In the iRobokid competition, he developed two different
applications based on the theme of
fighting Corona. He was more than
delighted to tell us how his mother
has been a role model and inspiration
in his coding career.

Ayush that he is indeed a very smart
kid to be managing to participate in
so many extra-scholastic activities;
and excel in all of them. It seems that
Ayush has a perfect time management strategy to achieve his goals. He
told us that he would study for short
intermittent hours. Ayush believes
that unlike those, who study for 6 to
7 hours a day, he studies a little bit
everyday.

His strategy seems to be
working just fine and is
brightly reflected through
all his achievements. "I

We could not help but compliment

AUG 2020

37



have a daily routine. One
hour is dedicated to study
in the morning. Before the
vacations, online classes
would take place and I
had to attend five sessions every day. My mother
would allow me to take a
30 minutes break between
two consecutive tasks”
Ayush said he remembered his ATSE
experience vividly. Speaking in this
context, he could easily recall his
experience of topping the exam that
combined the subjects of Science,
Maths and English in a single paper.
He was quite amazed to find out that
Aglasem launched the ATSE in 2019
in response to the plight of students
from Mumbai who could not attend
different competitive talent hunt
exams due to heavy rains flooding
the city. Mumbai rains are known for
their notorious nature. Hailing from
the City of Dreams, Mumbaikar Ayush

is well aware of such circumstances.
Ayush is just like most of us. On a
normal day, he and his friends would
not waste any time in having their
lunch, just to save that extra few
minutes to play.
“I miss my friends. We used to play
football, cricket and kho-kho. I have
my birthday coming up and in this
lockdown, I am planning to host an
online birthday party”, Ayush’s enthusiasm seemed untiring as he opened
up about his views on the Coronavirus crisis and the ongoing lockdown.

Apparently, this kid has also
got his facts clear about the
pandemic. “I will host my
birthday party over Zoom
or Google, whichever my
friends are comfortable
with. The only problem
is my friends will not get
cake”

Apart from supportive parents,
Ayush’s well wisher also includes his
school and his classmates. “I show my
awards to the Principal and the Vice
Principal and they announce it publicly in the assembly.” Indeed such
encouragement is desirable from
every academic institution in this age
of advanced technology and development where the future of India would
rely to a great extent on the competence of the younger generation.
Ayush’s generation might have an
altogether different perspective to
the world. Academic achiever, coder,
mridangam player, the accolades just
seem to be piling on. However, different as it might be from ours, there
is no stopping to what this Generation Z kid can do. He says his success
mantra is to never stop trying and
learn from his mistakes. Evidently,
this seems to be just the beginning
of what his extremely talented fifth
grader can achieve.

UNDERSTAND, DO NOT MEMORIZE, SAYS PRANEET RAJ

P

raneet Raj Lingamallu is a
Class 9 student from Telangana who took the AglaSem
Talent Search Exam in 2019.
But little did he know that
he would secure All India Rank 3. We
congratulated him and had a brief
one-on-one to know how he feels
about his achievement. ATSE 2019’s
3rd ranker also shared with us his
exam strategy and Success Mantra.
Hi Praneet! How would you introduce
yourself?
I am Praneet. I am currently studying
in class 9th at Rockwell International
School, Kokapet.
What do you like about your school?
Diversity is what I like the most about
my school. There are some students
who have been to countries like the
USA and came back, as well as students who have been to local schools.
I really admire this accommodating
aspect and cultural diversity of my

38

AUG 2020

school.
Assume that you are made the Principal of your school for a day. What
changes would you like to make?
I would perhaps encourage more
student empowerment.
Student empowerment! That’s interesting. How do you actually plan to
accomplish that?
By making a student legislative body,
though seemingly impractical.
How was your online test experience
in ATSE? Have you ever appeared for
a “Take from Home” test before ATSE?
I have not taken any such test before.
But I feel that students of this generation are not intimidated by the idea
of online testing, even if they are
doing it for the first time. This generation spends much of its time online.
So yes, they are well acquainted with
the technology.

SPECTRUM



Since you took the ATSE, SOF Olympiad and keep taking part in many
competitive exams, what role do you
think such exams play in a student’s
growth?
Such competitions enhance students'
thinking ability and make them think
out of the box. For example, in competitive exams, there are reasoning
questions wherein you have to think
of a relation between 2 numbers in
multiple ways, forcing the test takers
to come up with something innovative.
What is your strategy for any competitive exam, in general?
I study thoroughly and vigorously for
major olympiads, but for most others,
I study more casually.

Do you take the help of your parents
in studies?

So, yeah, my handwriting is pretty
much my only fear.

They used to help me out until I was
in 5th and 6th grade, but now I’ve
become self-dependent and managing studies by my own.

Okay. Tell us about your hobbies.
What do you like to do in your free
time?

How do you prepare for your school’s
annual exams?
I am comparatively weaker in Hindi,
so I start putting in efforts for Hindi
a month prior to the exam. But when
it comes to other subjects like Social
Science or English, I start studying
2-3 weeks before the exam.
Currently, you are in 9th grade and
next year, you will have Boards. So,
how are you looking forward to it?
Are you scared or nervous?
I am really
scared about
my handwriting. People tell
me that the
Board examiners would look
at my handwriting and fail me
without even
reading my
paper. (smiling)
But then again,
I have seen the
students write
Boards just like
any other test.

I love to read fan fiction.
I really like Harry Potter fan fictions. I
would say, my favourite one is “Prince
of Slytherin” by the Sinister Man.
What are your views about online
teaching? Do you think it is as good
as classroom teaching?
From a student’s point of view, I feel
offline learning is better. You can get
your doubts cleared, then and there,
while the teacher is explaining. You
do not need to wait until the lecture
is over.
What is your Success Mantra?
I would say “ Understand, do not
memorize”.
My last question to you would be if
you had to send out a message to the
people out there, what would it be?
I have seen people fighting over the
internet on a number of petty issues.
Nationalism and Nativism have been
on a rise in recent years and it’s
creating a rift among the people. My
message to the people would be not
to get divided over such things and
stand as one. In the end, we are all
humans.

PRACTICE IS THE
KEY TO ACHIEVE
ONE’S GOAL, SAYS
TRIPATHY DIVYAJYOTI SENAPATI
Divyajyoti, who is the topper of
AglaSem’s ATSE 2019 in his class,
sat down to have a chat with us over
a video call. He shared his achievements with us and we got to know
how much this little genius knows at
such a young age. We had an interesting discussion over his future aspirations, he also shared his Success
Mantra with us.

SPECTRUM

How would you describe yourself in a
few lines?
Hi, I am Tripathy Divyajyoti Senapati.
I am currently studying in class 6th.
My favourite subjects are Maths and
Science. I aspire to get into an IIT and
become a software engineer.
How did you come up with this
thought of becoming a software

engineer?
I want to develop software which is
free for all and includes all the functionalities. Basically, I wish to create
an Indian version of “Google”.
What steps are you taking to pursue
your dream?
I am taking scratch coding classes. My
school offers scratch coding classes

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39



from class 7th onwards but I have
already started taking them.
Tell us about your achievements and
milestones so far in life?

sor.

are going to take part in?

Since both of your parents have
an academic background, does it

Recently, I have appeared for Tallentex, ISTSE and NSTSE. In the near
future, I am planning to take NTSE
and KYPY exams.

When I was in 3rd grade, I won an
olympiad and received the cash
prize of Rs 5000. Thereafter, in 4th
standard, I secured All India Rank 5
in Allen Champ Program, and then I
topped ATSE 2019.

That’s very good. Are you going to
take part in ATSE 2020?
I am definitely going to, and have
already registered for ATSE 2020.
How do you manage school and
competitions simultaneously? How
do you take out time to prepare for
olympiads?

Apart from academics, what
interests you? Tell us about your
hobbies.
I like to cycle, read and do scratch
programming when I am not studying.
Have you been taking online classes?
How was your experience so far?
I did take online classes. The experience was good, except that the
network lags sometimes.
Do you think online classes are beneficial? Can you suggest one aspect
where online teaching has an edge
over classroom learning?
One good thing I feel about online
classes is that the syllabus gets
covered at a quicker pace. We also
have a separate doubt clearing class,
reserved specifically for clearing the
doubts.
Brief us about your family.
Both of my parents have an academic
background. My mother is a lecturer
in a Government Polytechnic College
and my father is an Assistant Profes-

ANSWERS TO PUZZLES IN
FUN SPACE

motivate you or put more pressure
on you?
I would say, it motivates me.
How did you come to know about
ATSE?
I am curious about such competitive
exams. I found out about ATSE while
browsing the internet for competitive
exams.
How was your ATSE experience? Have
you appeared for a similar “Take
from Home” test earlier?
I had taken the ISFO Olympiad from
home earlier. And then I took ATSE
exam online. In ATSE, I had a great
experience as usually in such online
exams I face connection lags, which
makes taking tests difficult, but in
ATSE, there was no problem.
Do you still take Olympiads or similar exams? Can you tell us about an
exam you recently participated in or

SUDOKU

After completing my homework, I
study for 1-2 hours a day from the
olympiad books. Also, I devote my
weekends to prepare exclusively for
competitive exams.
What is your SUCCESS MANTRA?
Practice
and devotion is
the key to
achieve
one’s goal.
What message do
you wish
to send out
to the world?
The leaders should take steps to
make technology more accessible
and reachable. Newest technologies
must be in easy reach of everyone,
including those belonging to weaker
sections of the society.

CROSSWORD

WORD HUNT

MATH PUZZLE
The missing number is "1".
Explanation - 17*17=289,
18*18=324, 19*19=361

40

AUG 2020

SPECTRUM



FROM BEING THE ICAI COMMERCE WIZARD TO TWO TIMES
ATSE TOPPER, EKNOOR SINGH
IS THE HUMBLEST TEENAGER
YOU WILL EVER MEET
Einstein once said that a
true genius admits that he
knows nothing. Who knew
that we at Aglasem would
be so lucky to get in touch
with someone of that calibre.

and passion for Computer Science.
Eknoor’s father is a bio-technological
entrepreneur employed with a firm,
also based in Gurugram. He also has
a sister who is pursuing her B.Tech
degree from BITS Pilani.

Eknoor Singh also happens to be the
most humble, calm and composed
teenager you will ever come across.
For those who are not aware of the
name, Eknoor was the topper of
Aglasem Talent Search Exam; twice.
The 12th Grader from Delhi Public
School, Gurugram has numerous
awards and accolades under his belt
while his career goals are extremely
well thought out and informed by
his inherent passion. Eknoor Singh
exhibits the maturity and ideology
that easily surpasses one that can be
conventionally expected from a 12th
grader.
We at Aglasem, had the opportunity
to get up close with Eknoor, who hails
from the city of Gurugram, the same
city that Aglasem Edutech Pvt Ltd is
based in. However, we conducted an
online video conference with Eknoor
abiding with the rules of social
distancing in such tough times. Even
then, the good thirty minutes spent
with Eknoor over the video conference, allowed us to take a glance
into his life. It is probably the roots
that determine the way that a person
turns up in their life. At least, in Eknoor's case, both his parents are gold
medalists in their respective academic realms. Eknoor gives all credit to
his parents to have supported him in
every way they can. His mother, being
a gold medalist in Computer Applications is the source of inspiration for
Eknoor when it comes to his love

SPECTRUM

pany based in Gurgaon. My
mother has a Gold medal in
MCA. My sister is pursuing
her B.Tech from BITS Pilani”
Eknoor has clearly set out goals and
a well thought out plan to support
and achieve them. Throughout the
interview, he talked about his love
for Computer Science and that being
the reason for him to have taken up
Computer Science in the secondary
level as a subject. Eknoor wants to
crack the IIT JEE and get enrolled
preferably in IIT Bombay or Delhi
where he wants to pursue his graduate degree in Computer Science. He
added that the institute does not
matter so much as long as he gets a
seat for studying his passion. He lists
almost all the IITs in India but adds
at the end that his preference of the
college would be based on whether
a degree in Computer Science is offered or not.

“Obviously I am aiming
for IIT Delhi or IIT Bombay
for Computer Science. I
have taken up the subject
in Class 11th and 12th. It is
my area of interest”

“My parents are gold medalists in their respective
fields. My dad is a biotechnologist from Punjab University and he is currently a
Bio-technological entrepreneur working in a com-

Almost at the verge of completing his secondary level education,
Eknoor Singh would have already
been a free soul had the Central
Board of Secondary Education
not postponed the final paper of
Computer Science to a later date.
“Yes, the datesheet is out", Eknoor
exclaimed to us. When asked whether
he has to prepare again for the
subject, Eknoor was of the view that
he has a lot of time till the exam date
to prepare and we could not help but
agree given the academic genius of

AUG 2020

41



Eknoor could not remember his rank
he secured in the very first ATSE that
he appeared. We looked up the charts
and reminded him that he secured
the second rank.
Thereafter, he secured the third rank
again when he took the test for ATSE
the second time.
On that note, the ATSE exam was first
conducted in 2019 for students of
standard 4th to 12th. In 2020, the
first edition of ATSE was held for
students of the 12th standard only
in the areas of Engineering, Medical
and Law.
We asked whether his experience
was good and he was of the opinion
that being his first online proctored
exam, ATSE was an unique experience
for him. At least he found the proctored nature of the ATSE exam to be
extremely useful as the need to travel
to a center to take the test is eliminated. One can take the ATSE test from
the comfort of their homes. Having
said that, Eknoor added that now he
would prefer to be able to get out of
home. However, earlier when he appeared for the ATSE, the online nature
of the exam helped him manage his
hectic schedule efficiently.

“The fact that I took the
test again that itself bears
evidence of how much I
loved the uniqueness of the
ATSE exam i.e. the fact that
it can be given online. I had
a great time as it could be
taken easily from the comfort of our home. I think
that is probably the best
thing about it”
We were curious to know about
his views on the lockdown and his
experience with the postponement of
the CBSE boards due to the COVID-19
outbreak.
“Just the previous night, CBSE declared that all exams are postponed”,
exclaimed Eknoor. “Everyone was
very sure and even CBSE earlier
intimated that although stringent
safety measures would be followed,
the board exams would not be
cancelled”, Eknoor recalled. Some of
the students had reportedly attended

42

AUG 2020

exams wearing face masks and using
sanitizers as prevention measures but
Eknoor recalled that he was spared of
such arrangements and his exam was
instead shifted to a later date.
The online experience of learning
did not seem to be a very important factor that in anyways affected
Eknoor’s goals. He finds the convenience of being able to listen to
lectures from the comfort of one’s
homes as a positive aspect and even
though online classes allow the flexibility to schedule the class during
anytime of the day, he believed that
some aspects of learning are better
done through the traditional offline
methods. He believed that the connection between the teacher and
the student, an important aspect of
teaching-learning is built through
offline methods only. On this note, we
became curious about Eknoor’s views
on any substitute to the currently
existent online teaching-learning
artefacts. Although Eknoor could
not come up with an alternative at
that moment, he was polite enough
to ask for a little time to research
on the matter and promised to get
back to us. In fact, the young genius
reached back to us a few days after
the interview to let us know that he
believed that Augmented Reality (AR)
can be a feasible alternative to online
educational programs.
Evidently, Eknoor engaged in his
own pre-interview research which
reflected the sincerity and commitment of this teenager.
During the interview, we also asked
Eknoor whether in a post COVID19 era, his choice of the IITs would
remain the same if the methods of
teaching were to be shifted toward
an online platform. We found out that
his goals were set in rock and perhaps nothing can distract him from
pursuing his Computer Science.
We struggled to keep track when
Eknoor started to belt out his scholastic achievements one after the other.
Few of his achievements: An NTSE
and KVPY scholar, Eknoor has been
appearing in Olympiads since when
he was in the second grade. He
bagged his first international rank
when in Class 9 and then again in
Class 10 in the National Science

Olympiad. The list just kept on
growing as Eknoor added his feat of
topping the National Finance Literacy
Assessment Test and being the ICAI
Commerce Wizard in the 10th grade.
Eknoor has also secured the All India
Rank One in the National Creativity
Olympiad in the 11th grade. He has
also secured an international rank in
the top five of the International Cyber
Olympiad, thrice.

“I have appeared and
topped the National Finance Literacy Assessment
Test conducted by NCFE
and ironically I was also the
ICAI Commerce Wizard in
Class 10th. But since I was
more interested in Science,
so I took up Science”
We asked Eknoor whether he had any
other hobbies and he mentioned basketball and reading books. However,
his passion for Computer Science
seemed to have outshined these.
Eknoor’s role model is his principal
who supported him by going beyond
the teacher-student traditional role.
He was all smiles to mention that the
principal of his school, has been very
supportive toward all the students
and was the prime cause of success
of his school DPS, Gurgaon.
Eknoor shared his success mantra
with us as we came closer to conclude the session.
He believes in overcoming all the
negativities that pull down a person
and the parents play a very important role. He believes in hard work
to achieve success and we could
not help but
agree with this
teenager whose
ideologies and
outlook seemed
to be extremely
mature beyond
his age. Humble
as he is, Eknoor
shied away from
offering any
tip for teachers
stating that he
is not qualified
enough to do
that.

SPECTRUM

HALL OF FAME

this teenager that he has become.



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SPECTRUM

AUG 2020

43



IN MEMORY OF
CLASSROOMS
AND
CONFERENCE
CHAMBERS

by Karishma Singh Khehra

T

he reader is advised: In your
course of finding answers
to what lies next, especially
from a standpoint of job
search and/or education

assessments, you will stumble across
many experts who would impart their
share of knowledge mostly accumulated by the prestigious Whatsapp
university.

Every conversation will arouse the
question of dire significance: What
next? But as someone who graduated with a Master’s degree from
one of the top 3 universities in the

LIGHT BYTES
44

AUG 2020

SPECTRUM



UK in December of 2019 accompanied by a lucrative job offer from the
Queen’s land who is currently a slave
to domestic chores and her mother’s
orders regarding the esteemed job
of peeling vegetables, I just want to
assure the confused reader about one
thing: You are not alone in this.
If that conjecture were not enough to
make you feel as a part of the club,
here’s some data to stir things up:
Approximately 1.2 billion students
across ages are affected by the
pandemic. And this effect will only
continue to echo in the new future
that we are moving towards.
It is often said that children are the
architects of a country’s upcoming.
And while nobody suggests that a
particular fragment of the society is
affected the most during these tough
times, it won’t be wrong to assume
that it is in fact the bright minds of
tomorrow who are struggling to understand if tomorrow really exists and
if it does, what does it hold? Irrespective of age, every student faces a new
normal.
Would children in primary school
become more ‘socially’ distant?
Would Indian secondary school
students ever know the wrath that
comes with taking exams in alien
schools during board examinations?
And finally, would World universities
witness diversification since lesser
students would cross borders for
higher education? While nobody
has all the answers, one can surely
speculate.
Regarding the already enrolled
students, if I had to bet on anything,
I would bet it all on digital learning. 2020 may not have brought
the promised flying cars and robot
butlers, but technology will surely
take a spin in terms of education.
From artificial intelligence to virtual
reality, nothing seems far from reality
in this sector. It is believed that AI
would in fact be advanced enough
to be able to evaluate a student’s
progress by the means of actions and
showcased speed which would be
useful in paper setting and in turn,
grading. Delhi Technological University conducted end-term examinations online by the means of artificial
intelligence led invigilation. Back in

SPECTRUM

our days in DTU, the only thing available online were the results, for the
entire university to see, including the
backlogs. The only downside is that
your parents may just be a video call
away from the faculty.
Attending school and those early
alarms sure don’t seem so bad now,
do they? After all, who did not love
those PT periods, which may also
seem like a distant dream for years to
come. As a matter of fact, sports and
physical gathering of any kind may
wear off in schools as a result of the
new normal. And this brings a crucial
take away for students, parents and
administration: Will institutionalized
education be reduced to information
only with the lack of focus on physical
education and wellbeing?
But there is a silver lining to the
dark cloud, and it is the progression
in the idea of learning. It took me
22 years to realize that while the
people who encircled me made me
believe that I should think in binary,
my World wasn’t engulfed in the 0's
and 1’s. I was more creative than I
ever imagined and even the most
renowned school in the country could
not identify that. A part of me blames
the highly theoretical system of our
education and while covid brings
many troubles, I believe that the
evolution of technology in education
would re-imagine visualization of
theories and concepts for the betterment of an ancient, monochrome idea
of learning.
Turning the wagon towards a closer
proximity to adulthood, students considering college and higher education
amidst this can find them- selves in
the middle of some sour pickle. And
I say this from personal experience
as there are numerous nights where I
thank my stars for graduating before
all of this began. Having said that, I
believe that there are pros and cons
regarding this scenario. Obviously,
college is not just about a degree and
education because if it were, Good
Will Hunting would have been a horrible movie. And everything else it
stands for, the current circumstances
do seem to disintegrate them i.e.
socializing, geographic exposure, and
most importantly, physical proximity.
However, do not let that diminish
your thoughts and baffle your focus

from the fact that 2 out of 5 employees are facing salary cuts currently
in India, putting approximately 100
million jobs at risk. Being a student
in these times may seem like an
omen but if you try to be the glass
half full person given the state of
the world, it may start seeming like
a boon.
Every new venture and decision that
one takes, comes with its own sets
of successes and failures with no
warning. So, if nothing is set in stone,
why not take a chance? Why defer
your plans when we have no idea
when the sky would be pink, and the
air would be purple again? If you are
ready to absorb a World full of knowledge by the means of the World Wide
Web, do not shy away from enrolling
yourself to a college even in these
volatile times.
With Universities going completely
digital, the most recent being Cambridge University in the UK that has
decided to eradicate face-to-face
lectures up until 2021, who knows if
this is going to be the new normal for
the next decade to come. And if even
for a moment you feel enslaved to
the lack of choices, imagine how hard
it would have been for students who
had to return home from International campuses within 3 months of
their course onset with a void in their
hearts and well, pockets.
In order to prepare for better, avoid
proactive deferring and aim to
collect as much information from
universities.
One of the best sources of information in today’s time is social networking i.e. reaching out to the members
of staff from universities in your
consideration set by the virtues of
LinkedIn. It is of utmost significance
to realize that the people on the other side of the table i.e. the faculty
and administration of universities,
both local and international, are also
striving and would do the best in
their abilities to provide optimal and
well-fitting solutions to the problems
of students and parents.
This phase may bring about a transformation to the stagnant societal
denigration of distant learning that
our society has witnessed in the past,
which in turn may become the satire
of the new normal in the post COVID-

AUG 2020

45



19 World of education.
It is rather a wry situation since the
worst pandemic that this generation
has ever seen also unites us in some
ways. Employment or the lack of it,
being the foremost that comes to
mind. Unlike any previous economic
crisis, Coronavirus does not target
a sector of the economy, it has not
proved to be partial to any. Every
sector imaginable has been hit, if not
by the lack of demand, then by the
lack of supply.
While this article has kept the reader
intuitive enough for the answers that
hint towards the new normal, one
should stop and think that in a highly
competitive country like ours, when
has job safety not been a topic of
worry?
Irrespective of pandemics, job opportunities have not been knocking
enough doors as is. There was always
that colleague lynching for your
future role, one has always settled
for paycheques below the dream
number and a work call has always
been frowned upon, whether taken at
home or office. So, what has changed,
if at all? Personally, the answer is
perspective.
In a World recovering (?) from COVID19, the perspective of both the employer and employee is destined to
change. The idea of settling for something below the expectations would
now seem logical because “At least I
have a job”. Which in turn is not very
different to a phrase overheard from
at least one friend on a Friday night
cribbing about how they are stuck in
the rut of the 9-5 schedule. So, while
not a lot would change, the schedule
would most definitely do.
Like distant learning, remote working may become the new normal.
For everyone who dreamed of home
as a workplace, they might have
convinced the universe. It might
be completely plausible that every
meeting that we swore could have
been an e-mail may in reality, be one.
The downside may not be taken well
by HR professionals though, since
cake cutting and rangoli competitions
might be reduced to customs of the
past.
On a serious note, which the curator is obviously missing throughout,

46

AUG 2020

there are numerous changes and
challenges that every employed individual would witness, both financially
and behaviourally.
Firstly, horizontal and vertical fluidity
of job roles i.e. with many sectors
like hospitality, aviation, luxury,
etc taking a tumble, one should be
prepared to shift, either within sector
to different roles or onto a different
sector altogether. While it may seem
daunting, it may be done swiftly if
planned correctly. Being a marketer
myself, I had always considered
my gold mine being FMCG but with
brands not being able to spend on
supply chains albeit marketing, shifting focus to B2B, especially SAAS
(Software as a service) in the current
times of technology being the king
and not content, is my personal idea
of improvising.
Secondly, as of now, most companies
have frozen recruitment and are not
issuing offer letters even if one has
managed to clear all interviews. And
I know this not from Chinese (not
the best choice of words) whispers
but because I am in the boat and I
am smiling while it's sinking. However, the best part about hitting rock
bottom is that the ball bounces back
with equal force and taking cue from
Newton, when the storm calms, the
opportunities will rise and nobody
will blame the gap in your resume
because the World fell together.
Thirdly, it would be naïve to compare
the upcoming economic downfall to a
recession.
In Business schools we are taught
that the effect of a recession appears
a quarter later than the action that
caused it, adhering to which experts
can further concur the steps and
timelines for a recovery. So, while
we continue believing that the worst
has happened, we should prepare to
be surprised.
Lastly, addressing the elephant in the
room, a Worldwide Chinese business
boycott could be on the cards and
while no single country should be
rightfully blamed for this situation,
in a bittersweet turn of events, India
might benefit economically from this.
With the reputation of cheap labour
and being amongst the top 5 most
desired countries for international
market entry, there might be a curve-

ball of increase in job opportunities
in the country.
It goes without saying that planning
and improvising comes with privilege.
The harsh aftermath in both education and employment is expected to
reverberate the Matthew effect, which
in layman’s terms means the rich
will get richer and the poor will get
poorer because all would rely on a
matter of opportunities, which in turn
are infamous to be partial towards
privilege.
However, if you are lucky enough
to not be caught in the whirlpool of
competing or struggling to make ends
meet, my last approach would perhaps infuriate parents reading this. In
the current scenario of uncertainty,
slowing down is not the worst idea.
Knowledge and education, often used
interchangeably are rather poles
apart. There lies a pool of knowledge
waiting to soak you. From a wide
array of online courses available to
stepping out of the comfort zone of
being a Maggi chef exclusively, if
there’s a thing that you continued to
side-line for the lack of time, it’s time
to unfurl.
To conclude, it should not be forgotten that the countries that won World
wars are on their knees with this
blinding flash that nature signed us
up for. We on the other hand are mere
pawns in this race.
It is a different kind of war involving both physical endurance and
mental wellness. Being brought up
in a country where the latter was
never a concern, it is time to feed that
dragon. A rather interesting point to
note is what is causally attributed as
common flu today was a pandemic a
century ago.
Whether this story would end similarly or change the face of society is
uncertain. However, you have never
been more globally united than
this as 7.8 Billion people are in this
together with you.
So, no matter what the outcome, we
will get through this, one bottle of
hand sanitizer at a time.

SPECTRUM



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SPECTRUM

AUG 2020

47



OP-ED

PLIGHT OF SCHOOLS
AMIDST THE PANDEMIC
76% parents do not
want schools to
reopen unless there
have been 0 reported cases in the
last 21 days in that
district.
Shows the report from a survey by
community platform LocalCircles.
The education column in newspapers
carry new dates for reopening of
schools in different states each day.
While some states want to reopen
schools for middle and senior school
students in July or August, and for
junior classes in September. On the
other hand, some states and schools
are voicing the concerns on it being
near impossible to open schools at all
this year.

PARENTS RELUCTANT
TO SEND CHILDREN TO
SCHOOLS
The global pandemic has changed our
priorities.
While education is essential, health
is vital. Parents are ready to face the
battle themselves, by going to offices
that have reopened. But the prospect
of sending their young children to
schools seems scary. And this is not
without reason.
“It is not possible to expect children to
follow the safety measures that we are
following! Even if you tell them to do
social distancing, even if the schools
give the facility (enough space, circles
marked, staggered timings), young
children are bound to get close enough
to each other.” says Navin Chawla, a
parent from Delhi.

48

AUG 2020

Social distancing aside, students will
also have to wash hands at regular
intervals, wear masks all the time, and
follow several precautions. But expecting them to actually do it all time
is like wishing for Santa to appear in
real life.

SYLLABUS CHANGE FOR
ONE SESSION?
It is also being debated to reduce
the syllabus. However that does not
sound like a very viable solution.
Say a class 6th student has to study
only 60% of the usual syllabus. But
what happens when he goes to class
7th? Will the absent 40% syllabus
not affect his future education?
If the intent is to trim off non-essential subjects, then the students, even
if they are in small numbers, who are
interested in those subjects, will be
adversely affected.

SENIOR STUDENTS WORRIED ABOUT BOARD EXAMS,
ENTRANCES
On one hand (most) students in junior
classes are more or less carefree
about their education, those in senior
classes have much to worry about.
“I want to do well in my board exams.
But in this scenario I don't know how
that will happen.”, says Parth, a class
10th student.
Lily, a medical stream student in
class 12th had returned from her
Kota coaching classes just before
lockdown. Her coaching has started
online classes. “The online classes
are fine. I am also studying with full
focus at home. My parents are very
supportive and they are helping me
in every way they can. They have
set up high speed internet for me at
home, bought a laptop for me, and I
have one room to myself with AC. But
I don’t think all my friends have these

facilities”.

STUDENTS VOICE THEIR
CONCERNS
How will my syllabus be completed
on time? If the syllabus is changed,
will it affect my higher education?
How my skills will be assessed timeto-time. How will they ensure that
exams conducted online are fair and
nobody cheated? How will I clear my
doubts about the lessons?

TEACHERS CAUGHT IN THE
CROSSFIRE
“A good teacher is like a candle – it
consumes itself to light the way for
others.” —Mustafa Kemal Atatürk
Classroom teaching in itself is complicated. It is difficult to have the attention of dozens of young easily distracted minds, with different grasping
abilities, responsiveness, and then to
make them understand the concepts
with varied degrees of complexity,
is the challenge of another level.
Now add the suddenness of change,
uncertainty of normalcy, indecisiveness of authorities, and reluctance of
students' parents to change methodology, all you get in the end is chaos.
Teachers deserve due credit in this
scenario where they have tried their
best to adapt to technology. From
taking online classes, to getting
assignments on what suits their
students the best, be it emails or
whatsapp.
The past, present and future of
changes in education will all have to
be carried out by the teachers. They
are nothing less than soldiers in a
war in this scenario. Whatever be the
decisions of the various authorities,
they need to be prepared to welcome changes and implement them
smoothly.

SPECTRUM



FINANCES UNCERTAIN
It is no secret that an insofar uncounted number of jobs were slashed
during the pandemic. Those working for as short as a few months, to
as long as 20 years lost their jobs
as things came to a head. For once,
it was not a fault of the employers;
they were left with no choice as a big
spanner was thrown into the gears of
the economy. Of those who lost jobs,
and have school or college going
children, the looming worry on how
to pay the next sessions’ fees hovers
large.

An estimated 12.2
crore Indians lost
their jobs during the
coronavirus lockdown in April: CMIE
THE BOTTOMLINE SEEMS
TO BE THIS
If and when schools reopen, this
needs to be the perfect opportunity
to reduce the class sizes, embrace
technology, hire more teachers and
educators. Let us build more schools,
hire more teachers and educators,
and embrace technology. The solution is definitely not easy. But we as
humans are a race of survivors. We
have no other way, than to get innovative, and keep moving ahead.
When you feel like your back is against
the wall, there is only one way, and
that is to push forward.

VIRAL PIC: IRANIAN TEACHER DRIVES TO THE VILLAGE TO TEACH
HIS ONLY STUDENT IN THERE, USING HIS CAR AS A WHITEBOARD.

DID YOU KNOW?
There is a lesson in CBSE
Class 9 English book
chapter 1 named ‘The Fun
They Had’ written by Isaac
Asimov, the world-famous
science fiction author. The
story is set in the future,
when books and schools
as we now know them will
perhaps not exist. The
diagram below shows the
concept of Schools of the
Future in this story. What
a coincidence!

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AUG 2020

49



ON CHOOSING A
CAREER & THE
CHANGING FACE OF
EDUCATION
by Gaurav Sachdeva (Career2Success)

INSIGHT EDGE

HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT
CAREER?
God created each child to be different
from the other. A child’s home atmosphere, socialization, upbringing and
schooling are some of the factors that
are responsible for shaping their personality and making them a responsible adult. As each individual receives
a different type of upbringing, there
cannot be a common standard for
making a career choice. Career choice
and consequently stream selection
is done on the basis of interest, personality, aptitude, and the behavior
of the student. The process must take
into account the student’s interest,
hobbies, co-curricular activities. Students and parents must realize that
education is not just about livelihood,
but about making one's life.
Students now have a bewildering
array of career choices. They have to
make an informed choice, without
any confusion and without yielding
to pressures. An early beginning in
career planning can enhance their
chances of becoming successful.
Fortunately, there is professional help
available to students in the form of a
career counselor.

THE ROLE OF A CAREER
COUNSELLOR

50

AUG 2020

The counselor provides a realistic
evaluation of a student’s strengths
and abilities. Counsellors use a variety of psychometric testing tools to
gauge the interest, aptitude, personality and behavioral tendencies of
students. The counselor also analyses
the student’s academic performance,
personality type, whether introvert or
extrovert, level of engagement with
teachers and classmates.
The tools applied by counselors have
a universal application. The counselor
is able to tell whether the student is
suitable or not for outdoor or indoor
types of work activities? Whether
the student is inclined towards office
work or research work or community service? Does the child have an
inquisitive mind, do they question
everything, or solve puzzles and
riddles easily? Do they look at the
things and situations in a logical/
structural manner, if the answer is
yes, then maybe they are meant to
pursue science? Does the child play
with numbers? Do they look at loss
and gains frequently, maybe they
have a nose for commerce stream? Is
the child interested in a creative and
social environment? Do they look at
Human aspect of most situations, if
yes, then maybe they might do well in
humanities?

EDUCATION INDUSTRY
REINVENTS ITSELF IN THE
COVID-19 AGE
COVID-19 has had a major impact in
all walks of life and arguably most
in Education. Billions of students all

over the world were refrained from
going to their respective schools and
colleges. Did it mean that their learning stalled? Fortunately, technology
emerged as a major lifesaver. Technology enabled interaction between
students/parents and teachers.
Education today, has become more
flexible and accessible by the use of
technology.Teachers and online education companies create content and
used delivery systems to impart education to remotely located students
The future of education will utilize
technology platforms to empower
learning in an age that is integrating
technology as a way of life. Successful teachers will be those who are
early adopters of technology so that
they achieve the following:
• communicate with learners in
real-time.
• share with learners a variety
of resources in different file
formats,
• assign them individual or collaborative work,
• assess learners' understanding
as it evolves during the lesson
and make changes in the teaching strategy to improve overall
learning outcome-formative
assessment and evaluate their
learning at the end of chapters/
unit for grading purposes-summative assessment,
• provide individual learners with
feedback on their work for further improvement.
Teachers will use Hangouts, Meet,

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Zoom to connect with learners in realtime. Newer classwork management
platforms, and classroom applications are likely to emerge which may
include sharing resources with learners, designing worksheets and tests,
assigning individual and collaborative
work, providing feedback to individual learners, and grading. The world
of education was not gearing towards
all this but was forced to adopt in
light of COVID lockdowns being announced by states and provinces all
over the world.

THE CHALLENGES TO
WHICH WE ARE DISCOVERING ANSWERS
It is pertinent to note that the
changes come with their own set of
drawbacks. To start with, the extended screen time on a daily basis that

too for long hours can affect the eyes
of small children.
Then there is the inability of the
(online) medium to clarify individual
doubts. Students may, in the long run,
be affected by low efforts in making
notes and doing revisions. Online
learning is also impacted by poor
network quality.
School teachers too will be equally
impacted, finding time for teaching and evaluation of work, both
online can be a tedious job, and on
top of all, answering every call from
students and parents may drain their
energy. Schools may also have to take
a call on making huge investments in
their web infrastructure.

to their learning in the classroom. It
enables the students to explore their
creativity by participating in debates,
quiz, sports, dramas, dance music etc.
Unfortunately, all of these essentials
for child growth will be kept in abeyance for the time being as COVID 19
threat looms.
The author has been guiding students
in making the right career choices for
more than a decade. You can reach
him at:
88, Hakikat Nagar,
opp. GTB Nagar Metro Gate # 2, New
Delhi-110009
email: career2success.in@gmail.com
Tel: 9289479996 / 8510039148
www.career2success.in

Schools are one of the best platforms
for children to discover their limitless
potential, which is not just limited

21 FREE ONLINE COURSES
TO ENHANCE YOUR CV
“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps
learning stays young.” - Henry Ford

OP-ED

Henry Ford knew the secret to success. Hence, despite the hardships he
created history by making one of the
first affordable automobiles and went
on to establish the Ford Motor Company. What he knew is that learning is
an ongoing process which never goes
to waste. So, despite the pandemic
bringing a halt in the physical movement one can still learn and grow.
In fact, this is a fantastic time to
learn new skills and upgrade your
CV. Various amazing courses are
available online, which will help you
learn new basic, as well as advanced,
skills. These are available in the field
of technology, coding, social media,
languages, arts, etc.
Having skill sets apart from your core
area of functionality always puts the
limelight on you in any job recruitment. HRs will definitely spot in the
crowd if your CV is loaded with skill
sets. Here are 21 free online courses

SPECTRUM

that will help you update your CV
to the max, even in lockdown and
COVID-19 situations.
1. Google - Digital Unlocked
Online market space stood firmly,
while the physical market collapsed
under the veil of coronavirus outbreak. In the online world, ‘content is
the king’. But to manage the king, one
must know the kingdom. To do so,
there is no better place than Google
- Digital Unlocked. With more than
120 free online courses, Google is offering free learning content on digital
marketing, online promotion and
advertising, basics of coding, etc. It
also offers a learning plan and remote
working facility as well.
2. Google - Skill Shop
Google skill shop provided courses
to master all the Google tools. In
all, 12 courses are available Google

Ads, marketing platform, Google for
education, analytics, Youtube, Ad
manager, etc. These courses offer
beginning and advanced level knowledge on the tool.
This is one of the best resources to
learn the correct usage of the tool
from the master.
3. Harvard University Free Courses
In collaboration with Edx, Harvard
University is offering free courses on
social science, health and medicine,
business, programming, humanities,
computer science, etc. To get the
certificate, candidates need to pay
but those who seek knowledge can
opt for these courses and learn from
faculty of one of the best universities
in the world.
4. Secret Sauce of Great Writing by
Udemy
Aspiring to be a writer or editor?

AUG 2020

51



Then do join this course by Udemy.
In this course Ex-Wall Street Journal
Editor, Shani Raja, teaches how to
make your blogs, books, and business
writing better and stand out. To join
this course only free registration is
needed. Apart from that, a computer
for doing writing and editing exercises and you are good to go.
5. SEO Training Course: Building
Sustainable Traffic for Business by
HubSpot Academy
How to rank #1 in Google? Well,
Hubspot Academy is helping to learn
about how to evaluate and improve
your website's SEO, build backlinks
to your website and more. Even those
who plan to do blogging for the sake
of leisure can also opt for this course
6. Conquering the Fear of Public
Speaking by Udemy
Being a leader, being a manager or
team lead, requires good speaking
skills. Udemy’s free course helps getting over the fear of public speaking
by learning the techniques elaborated in this course. The course is
instructed by Joseph Prabhakar who
is a keynote speaker, communication
expert and also the CEO of Power
Communication Corp.
7. Free Online MBA by Qunatic
For those who were planning to do
an MBA but due to whatever they
reason, they were unable to do so,
can now do it from home. Quantic is
offering a free Executive MBA course.
It is a 10 month long course which
has been designed to develop core
business skills to maximize your
career success.

growing within you but you don’t
know what to do about it, then “How
to Build a Startup” by Udacity is the
best course for you. From building
a company to owning the team, the
course curates to all the needs. It is
approximately a 1 month course.
10. Email Marketing Certification by
HubSpot Academy
A good e-mail can make it or break it.
Growth in business and career comes
from writing a good email. Yes you
heard it right. Emails are the “first
impression” of you and your business when it comes to professional
space. This email marketing course
will teach you how to create an email
marketing strategy that grows your
business, and your career.
11. Graphic Design Essentials: Easy
Steps for Creating Your Own Compelling Visuals by HubSpot Academy

Academy
Learn how to get started with online
video marketing and attract, engage
and present video content strategically.
16. Diploma in Web Business Development and Marketing by Alison
This free online e-business course
will guide you through setting up a
website for your business. The total
duration of the course is 10-15 Hours.
17. Basic French Language Skills For
Everyday Life by Alison
Having a hold over a foreign language
comes as a shining star in your CV.
Alison’s free online course is a series
of engaging video lessons that introduces beginners to various aspects of
the French language.
18. Dash by General Assembly

Designing is your passion and graphic
designing is your career choice? Then
to enhance those skill sets HubSpot
academy provides a free course that
covers the fundamental concepts of
graphic design and how to use them
to create simple graphics.

Dash teaches HTML, CSS, and JavaScript by giving you step-by-step
instructions on creating websites.
General Assembly is a pioneer in
education and career transformation,
providing training in today's most indemand skills.

12. Diploma in E-Business by Alison

19. Marketing in a Digital World by
Coursera

This free online e-business diploma
course teaches you about the various
aspects of an e-business. It even
helps in understanding how to implement a successful e-business strategy
and take your e-business to the next
level.

This course examines how digital
tools, such as the Internet, smartphones, and 3D printing, are revolutionizing the world of marketing. This
course is part of the iMBA offered by
the University of Illinois.

13. Adobe Illustrator for Absolute
Beginners by EduOnix

20. Data Visualization with Advanced Excel By Coursera

Learn to master Adobe Illustrator
with real world examples with this
free online course. EduOnix provided the ultimate course where you
can master this one of the most in
demand tool.

Managing work, assigning work,
presenting work, keeping track and
many more day to day work activities
requires the advanced use of excel
sheets. Learn all about it via this free
course by coursera.

14. Learn What Content Marketing is and How to Do It by HubSpot
Academy

21. WordPress Training Course: How
to Build a WordPress Website Using
Elementor by HubSpot

9. How to Build a Startup by Udacity

This certification course will give you
an overview of how to become an effective content marketer and it is free.

Startup is one of the biggest trends
today. If a budding entrepreneur is

15. Learn What Video Marketing
is and How to Do It by HubSpot

Get to know all about setting up a
WordPress website for your business. Know all about setting up your
domain and how to make it functional
and attractive.

8. Excel Skills for Business Specialization
It is a very common saying that if you
want to excel then learn excel. Coursera is offering Excel Skills for Business Specialization course. It claims
to teach the technicalities of the
tool which can eventually become a
highly valuable asset to your employability portfolio.

52

AUG 2020

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53



STUDENTS' VOICE

54

AUG 2020

SPECTRUM



CORONAVIRUS WARRIORS
STUDENTS WHO MADE A DIFFERENCE!
As a child I read that in difficult times,
heroes emerge to save the world. But
as I grew I realized a hero does not
wear his underpant over the pants
or climb the wall or fly in the sky
like a kite. Instead, they are common
people like you and me, who make
the impossible, possible.

While our frontline workers like doctors, nurses, wardboys, para-medical,
police, sanitation workers, are no
doubt the biggest heroes of 2020
but there is also a hidden community
who has used their knowledge and
education to make a difference. These
are those unsung heroes who have

TOUCHLESS DOORBELL
A student of class 11, Sarthak Jain, used his common sense
and observation to develop a touchless doorbell called
Arduino. This student from modern school says he understands how doorbell is a medium of transferring viruses,
as it is used maximum times in our daily routine. Arduino

SHARDA UNI STUDENTS MAKE ROBOTS
Nishant Sharma is currently
studying 2 year Computer Science in SU. He, with his fellow
student Atul Kumar, under the
guidance of their HOD Nitin

LPU B.TECH STUDENT DEVICES A GADGET TO MONITOR COVID-19
Prabin Kumar Das has devised a square-shaped pendant
that is to be worn around the neck. This gadget allows
the wearer to stay notified about their body temperature
and reminds them to wash hands at regular intervals. This

SAFEKEY TO OPEN DOOR W/O CONTACT
Zaid Naim has created a safe key by the name C - safekey.
A BBA student at Bennett University, his safekey is based
on the idea of opening doors with no contact so the spread
of the virus is minimised.
This safekey is made of solid brass alloy that has antimicro-

brought a change and are students
like you.
Let us have a look at how these students used their education to bring a
change.

is designed to detect the presence of a
person or object within a distance of 30 to
50 cm and produce a beep sound from the
buzzer without the person having to ring or
touch it.

Rakesh, have developed a robot that can lift weights up to
10 kg. Now the robot has a pre-installed sanitizer jet within
it. The robot will automatically apply sanitizer on the hands
of anyone who brings their hands close to it. No manual
labour is required to perform the action. It can also give
medicines and other things, and used by those in isolation.

device also warns when a person is in close contact with
COVID-19. It beeps every 30 minutes to remind the wearer
to wash hands and sends SMS’s in case of any increase in
body temperature.

bial properties. It can be used
to open sliding doors, pulling
lever type handles or can be
used to press buttons in elevators and ATMs. The key can
be also used for touchscreen
systems.

LOW-COST AUTOMATIC SANITISER DISAmal Varun Mathew, of Kozhikode, has created a low cost
no-touch sanitiser dispenser. The dispensers made by this
NTTF, Thalassery student have already been installed in 2
local police stations. They are sensor fitted devices, that
run on minimal electronic components.

IIT STUDENTS CREATED HAND SANITIZERS FOR FREE DISTRIBUTION
2 Students from IIT R prepared 150 liters of hand
sanitizer to distribute it for free. The project was in
collaboration with Heal Agonistic Innovations, which
is a start up. The sanitizers were prepared as per the

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guidelines of WHO and CDC. The
sanitizers were distributed for free
on the campus. Even chemistry lab
technicians at IIT-D created 50 liters
of sanitizer for the campus and the
same was reported by IIT-H.

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55



PROS AND CONS OF
ONLINE CLASSES
AGAINST

B

y now, we have understood
that the pandemic has
changed the way the world
was once seen and felt. To fit
in this new normal, humans
are trying to reshape and restructure
their conventional way of living. Be it
a work from home, maintaining a safe
distance, avoiding public places or
switching to online learning.
Efforts are made to ensure that
the education system doesn’t get
hampered, which is considered as
an integral part of a civilised society.
Hence, many schools, colleges &
universities have opted for digital
platforms to ensure that the students
don't get disconnected with their
study routines. Though the idea of
online classes is not new, many open
universities already provide this
facility, where students get the certification for professional courses by
taking virtual classes. But this surely
is a completely new experience for
the students who are young and are
habitual of studying in a classroom.

OP-ED

Data published by unicef.org shows
that the temporary closure of educational institutes has impacted 91% of
students, all across the globe, which
counts to be 1.6 billion.
As per the article published in weforum.org, ‘Research suggests that
online learning has been shown to
increase retention of information, and
take less time, meaning the changes
coronavirus have caused might be
here to stay.’
Leading online education platforms
have noticed a 200% increase in the
number of their users. This shows
that students and their parents have
started adapting the digital form of
learning, in the absence of physical
classrooms.

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AUG 2020

On one hand, online classes have helped in breaking the physical barriers
impacting the studies, but on the other hand, it has increased the screen
time for the students, and making them prone to the many hazards of
staying online. Meeting and greeting friends and teachers has a positive impact on human brains. Moving to online learning thus has its
Neverthelimitations resource wise, and impact wise.
less the
teachers in
Mehreen (name changed) a Maths teacher in a Hindi medium
favor of online
school says, ‘students who come to the government schools
education too
are not well-off financially. Many students and even teachers
happen to be in
do not have smartphones, internet.’ Besides the unavailcomfortable numbers.
ability is the case of lack of familiarity; “I had to take the

FOR

help of my niece to take online classes”, she adds.

The biggest advantage is
the elimination of the need
to travel, which saves time
as well as money, for students
plus teachers.

Another complaint of teachers is the lack of interaction and involvement. In a conventional class,
teachers use the tactics of picking up low
attention students to ask questions and urge
questions; feasible in the online mode, but
Next is the flexibility that online
not practically possible if the internet
classes offer wherein changes in class
is too slow and students are not able
timings are easily coordinated and
to interact. While many teachers are
students can also record classes and refer
using Whatsapp to interact with
at any time.
students on a personal level,
students without their personal
Online communication also allows shy and
smartphones are unable to use
introverted students, who would otherwise
the channel.
not raise their hands in class, to have one to one
discussions for doubt solving. Few also point out
The reasons could be
that away from the distractions of a setting where a
many, but all these
gathering happens, online classes present better focusissues are ultimately
ing opportunities to students.
hampering the
ultimate aim of
While not feasible for perhaps all, but a few institutions are
conducting the
planning to have specific LMS, online class softwares, online
online classes,
exam softwares, and devices to implement online learning for
which is to
the longer run. The infrastructure and human resources cost that
impart
are being offset from the typical classroom learning and examinaeducation model is being pumped into software development and project
tion.
implementations.
Impact Of Online Classes: A Case
Study
Here is a summary of a survey
conducted on U-platform, with the
support of UNICEF of Romania and
Romanian Children's Board, to know
the impact of online classes on
students. Around 2400 youth and
children responded to the survey.
• It was stated that 72% of the
students/young people were
happy with the online classes,



they understood the task and
information provided easily
and the problems that they
encountered were insignificant.
Remaining 28% were unable
to maintain the active communication with the teacher and
in some cases, there wasn’t any
communication recorded.
21% of the respondents agreed
that it is quite easy to access
the internet, whereas 4% didn't
agree with the same.

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4% of the respondents had
access to internet and devices,
be it a tablet, laptop or phone,
only for a specific time, 95%
were able to access them
any time whereas 1% of the
respondents were not able to
have any access to any device or
internet at all.
Online courses are held either
daily or several times in a week
for 54% participants and not for
13%
36% of the youth and children
looked for assistance to know
how to operate the e-learning
platforms.
When asked if they have a
classmate who is unable to come
online, then around a third of
total participants replied in affirmation.

CONCLUSION?
Experts contradict each other when it
comes to deciding the pros or cons of
online classes. Few of them say little
preparation, insufficient bandwidth
with no or minimum training will lead
to the bad user experience, whereas,
others say that this hybrid model of
education might become the reason
for many significant benefits. There
exists this third group which believes
that e-learning and offline classes can
go hand by hand.
But, if we keep everything aside
and notice the trends, then isn’t it
true that we all are witnessing this
transition from conventional learning
methods to online learning?
The course launched by The Imperial
College London on Coursera, based

on coronavirus science created a
record and became the most enrolled
class of the year 2020.
The number of students enrolling
themselves for online classes is a
clear indication that we have intentionally or unintentionally started
following the new trend.
On an endnote, with the children
spending more time on the screen,
parents should work to ensure that
their kids stay away from any kind
of harm. They should plan a proper
routine for their kid, try to have regular conversations with them, discuss
their day-to-day progress, last but
not least, stay in touch with the body
engaged in providing education to
their child, be it the school, college or
a tuition teacher.

TRADITIONAL SCHOOLING
VS ONLINE SCHOOLING
Schooling and education form the
base for the life ahead. Lucky are
those who get access to the primary
level of education and graduate
towards higher studies. In India,
traditional offline schooling is quite
popular. However, online schooling is
slowly making its way in the system.
The trend for online schooling paced
up during the quarantine period and
has saved many students from losing
a year. But is online schooling the
future? Is it possible for a country like
India, where people are still struggling for clean water and electricity.
Let us explore and pros and cons of
both

SAFETY IS THE NUMBER 1
PRIORITY!
Until the medicine for coronavirus
is not discovered the only way to
fight it is learn to live and cope with
it. The lesser the social interaction,
the safer we are. Hence, looking at
the scenario, online schooling seems
like the solution. It allows students
to continue with studies without

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meeting in person. Whereas, under
traditional schooling there is no way
to avoid social interaction.

BUT, THE LACK OF INTERACTION
Minimum social interaction leads to
lack of personal touch. When students and teachers meet in person,
they form a bond. This allows students to easily interact with teachers
and clear out their doubts, even after
class. However, in online schooling this is not possible other than
through messaging. In online school
the teachers and students just attend
the class and formation of bond
to that extent is difficult. Students
also miss physical peer interactions,
activities, games etc and remain confined to the virtual world.

place as per the schedule. Even in
online school, students have to follow
a set timetable but commute is not
needed. This gives financial advantage and also saves time.

CHALLENGE OF RESOURCE REQUIREMENT
Not all the students, teachers, and
schools can afford online schooling.
Until now, only the private schools
have started online classes and government schools are struggling with
the idea to do so. On the other hand,
even if online schooling is started
in all the private and public schools
then how will the entire population
afford computers / laptops, internet,
and electricity is a big question.

THOUGH, THE ADVANTAGE OF FLEXIBILITY
Traditional schooling has a fixed
schedule to be followed. The
schedule for the entire year is fixed.
Classes, tests and other activities take

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57



REINVENTING TEACHING
METHODOLOGY
In traditional forms of teaching the
method of teaching can vary from
classroom interaction to practical
classes to field visits and a lot more.
Various group activities and on spot
activities can be implemented when
students and teachers are under one
roof.
Online schooling restricts the teaching methods to just video interaction,
chats and screen sharing. There is
less or no scope for group activities or other teaching methodology.
Hence teachers and students can
sometimes find online classes a tad

monotonous. Now it depends on the
creativity of the teachers on how they
get through this barrier and come up
with new online teaching methods
to make classes more interesting and
engaging.

THE QUESTION OF INCULCATING DISCIPLINE
In traditional schooling, the discipline
factor is easy to maintain and monitor. The punctuality and other values
can be implemented with ease. Attendance is also easy to verify.
Online schooling needs self discipline. The motivation to pursue
classes and being committed to the

IIT M STARTUP DEVELOPS
FREE LEARNING APP FOR
JEE, NEET ASPIRANTS

NEX GEN

In the wake of COVID-19 lockdown,
the govt imposed a lockdown across
the country. The nationwide lockdown and the ensuing uncertainty
due to the ongoing covid situation
put India’s education system in
uncertainty.
Students in India are facing multiple
issues including incomplete syllabus,
delay in exams, unavailability of
study materials, lack of guidance and
many more. Due to social distancing,
learning through a classroom setup
will be hugely affected. The crisis has
led to a communication gap between
the students and the professors. The
only potential option left to overcome this hurdle is through e-learning platforms.
An IIT-M startup, Melvano, is helping
students pursue their preparations
for competitive entrance exams like
JEE Main, JEE Advanced, NEET. Melvano is an artificial Intelligence based
learning app that is transforming the
face of learning by providing an adaptive practice interface for millions of
aspirants in this lockdown.
This app has a student-centred approach that guides students, based
on their individual learning needs. It
uses artificial intelligence to identify

58

AUG 2020

candidates’ strengths and weaknesses, based on which learners are given
set of important qs, solved examples
and study material for effective learning and thorough practice. Users can
appear for mock test or the ‘daily live
test’ to gain experience of the examination environment and can keep a
track of their progress with the help
of the performance report available
in the app.
Melvano’s CEO, Taran Singh, an IIT
Madras alumnus said “India has
an enormous lower to middle-class
student population. It pains me to see
parents taking burdensome loans with
heavy interest rates, just to provide
coaching to their children. Melvano
was curated to tackle this very problem and help students achieve their
dreams. The app is completely free for
all students so parents need not worry
about financial issues.”
“This year, a large number of students
have opted for e-learning as the JEE
Main & JEE Advanced exams are now
completely held online. Since the
lockdown, we are experiencing a 2x
surge in the questions practiced on our
app. Students are now getting familiar
and comfortable with technologydriven preparations. Our app provides
aspirants with personalized tools to

lessons must come from within the
students. Online schooling is not
worthy for the students who cannot
self regulate themselves.
To conclude, online schooling and
traditional schooling both have their
advantages and disadvantages. A
mix of both can be a better way to
go ahead instead of following one.
It also depends on the students and
the situation. Like amidst COVID-19,
online schooling seems to be the
best option over traditional schooling. However, under normal situations
a mix of both ways of schooling can
benefit the students and teachers
in many ways with their own unique
advantages.

help track their daily performance.
The added advantage of E-learning is
that it gives students the freedom to
learn at any time of the day as per their
schedule”, Singh added.
Singh also said “E-learning platforms
also make it easy for parents to keep a
daily track of their child’s performance
as opposed to traditional learning,
where parents are clueless about
the day to day developments. Currently, many E-learning platforms are
opting for Gamification to increase
the student’s interest in studies. As
students are experiencing the benefits
and comfort of E-learning, I believe it
will be extremely hard for aspirants
to go back to their old routines once
the Coronavirus issues subdue. Currently, Indian engineering and medical
aspirants are around 5 million out of
which 2 million students opt for online
learning. Melvano had already got a
good chunk of 5% market share, and
aims to cross 1 million students by the
end of 2020’’
Melvano, born out of Nirmaan Labs,
IIT Madras, was awarded with the
prestigious Sri Chinmay Deodhar
Award by IIT Madras for the ‘Most
Innovative Project’. The startup has
raised Angel funding and is currently
looking to raise another round of
investment to scale their user base.
This year two Melvano students were
in the Top 1 percentile of JEE Main,
with Sarthak Diwan scoring 99.968
percentile (around AIR 200).

SPECTRUM



Thank You, and What Next?
“Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the
end of the beginning.”
Thus said Winston Churchill at London's Mansion House when the British scored
their first victory against Germany in Egypt, after a series of defeats from Dunkirk to
Singapore. In his memoirs, he wrote, “Before Alamein we never had a victory. After
Alamein we never had a defeat.”
After the harsh blow from the downfall caused by the pandemic we are slowly rising from the ashes. With big and small victories on various fronts including medical,
economic, education, and others, we can and we must firmly look ahead.
In this edition of Spectrum our aim was to compile the work of education leaders
to dissipate the dark clouds of uncertainty brought about by the pandemic. We have
tried to present the bare truth, endearing possibilities, and far-sighted visions of all
stakeholders to give a complete picture. In doing so, it has become clear that there are
concrete ideas as well as flexible plans of action which, through coordinated efforts,
will soon repair the damage done by the pandemic. And perhaps, when we emerge
on the other side of the tunnel, we will have built a better world for ourselves, and for
the generations to come.
I invite you, dear reader, to share your views and opinions on all that you read here,
and all that you want to read in the future. After all, you are the most important
wavelength of the spectrum.
ANWESHA BOSE

SPECTRUM

AUG 2020

59



SPECTRUM
The Aglasem Magazine
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