July 06, 2004
Star of Mysore
My friend and I were comfortably seated in the Park Hotel, after an
hour's brisk walk, sipping hot coffee.
Suddenly there appeared on the scene another old friend of mine, who
had recently undertaken a tour of the Western countries to study the
working conditions there.Yankee spirit
When he was coming towards us, I shouted, 'Hello! My good friend! come
on here. Long time no see!,' in the Yankee style. 'The way things are
going on in Iraq, it is time we all adopted the Yankee spirit, to save
our skins. The Yankees are going to be the virtual rulers of the world,'
'Aha!' exclaimed my friend, with a grin. 'Virtual rulers! So you have
not forgotten what I told you sometime ago, after my study tour of the
Western world. I am glad to find you converted to the virtual way of
Now it was my turn to grin. 'Yes! Yes! I remember. I think it was about
two months back; in the first week of May, I suppose (SOM, May 11).
I remember your telling me how it is becoming common in the United States
for office workers to stay at home and earn their salaries or remuneration
without as much as taking the trouble of driving all the way to their
At this stage, the other friend of mine, who was seated with me across
the table, intervened and said, "Do you mean to say that, like
us in India, they are clever enough to put their signatures in the attendance
register and stealthily slip out of office and enjoy domestic peace
at government's cost?"
To which my other friend responded, saying, 'No! No! office or home
makes no difference there. They have to work, anyway, wherever they
are. The electronic gadgets, their on-line system, fax and others have
enabled them to work wherever they are and everything is automatically
recorded at the office. This saves a lot of cost for the firm or office.
It is a great revolution.' 'Oh! virtual work you mean! I understand
it,' said my friend No. 1.
'I am glad you know it,' said my friend No. 2. 'Had you been to the
United States recently? Or, are you an NRI?'
'No,' said No. 1. 'My daughter is there, married to an NRI. She has
become an NRI herself, and a us citizen.'
'Oh I see! Do her citizenship rights include her right to get elected
to the highest post of the President of USA? Let her make sure about
'No fear! She has no such ambition. Neither does her husband have it.
They want to make money and come back to India. But what I wanted to
say is, my daughter virtually works at home, for her office. When she
was with child recently and wanted maternity leave, the office permitted
her to stay at home, work at her leisure and earn money. It is all a
Virtual work culture
My friend No. 2 listened to what No. 1 said and added, 'Now the virtuosity
of virtual work or virtual work culture, if I may say so
is extended to the educational field also.'
Now it was my turn to speak. I said, 'virtual education, virtual class
rooms and hot spots I remember to have read about it is some
No. 1 suddenly blurted out with great enthusiasm, 'The marvels of Science
and Technology are opening out new vistas in all spheres of human activity.
I read in the papers sometime ago that a day would come when our teacher
need not speak at all in the class room. If they simply sit before the
students without so much as opening their mouths, the students can read
the minds of their teachers from where they are sitting. No shouting,
no writing on the blackboard. It is boon!'
'Not a boon, but a curse. Our professors can now masquerade as masters
without any difficulty. What they say is not understood by the pupils
and they think that the knowledge is above their heads. The professors
also do not know what they say. The examinees and examiners do not know
what is the correct answer. The whole situation is a fool's paradise.
Nobody knows what is in the head of the professor. If the advances in
Science and Technology can make it possible to read the minds of their
professors, what the students see would be a vacuum! The ignorance of
professors is exposed! What a calamity!' said friend No. 2.
'I do not agree with you in full. There are exceptions. There are still
many teachers who are earnest and who take their profession seriously,'
'Of course, there are great educational institutions in our country,
my friend No. 2 conceded. What I said about the virtuosity of virtual
work is now spreading to the educational field. If our Institutes and
Universities do not update their system as well as content, foreign
Universities and Institutions such as Harvard and Yale may come to India
without anybody's permission and compete with our institutions and have
virtual classrooms and virtual imparting of knowledge without as much
as entering the country in flesh and blood or in concrete form. Globalisation
of trade in services has made it possible. If Indian doctors can conduct
surgical operations, watched by foreign doctors from their places, giving
instructions to the Indian doctors, education also can be imparted in
the same way.'
My friend No. 2 was in a mood to convert the Park Hotel into a classroom
and deliver, not a virtual lecture, but a real lecture! But under the
influence of virtual technology, the difference between virtual classroom
and real classroom disappears. So, I told him to explain to us briefly
how this is done, before our talk attracts the attention of others in
My friend No. 2 continued, 'Our Manipal Group of Institutions have
woken up to the reality of the virtual situation. They have pioneered
in this field. They have expanded their activities beyond Karnataka
and have their institutions in Nepal and Sikkim. They have planned now
to have a good satellite linked tele and video conferencing facilities
where teachers and students can see each other. One classroom is real
and the other virtual (you know real image and virtual image). Education
becomes cheap and quality-oriented.'
'Amen!' I said. It was getting late. I had to hurry to the office.
No virtuosity or virtual work for me!