VCCircle conference on Edu-Investments, November 18, Gurgaon, India – My notes as a Panelist

I was part of two sessions, one as a panelist and the other as a special invitee… Here is my notes – Pre-event, during Event and post thoughts…


Edupreneurs: Revolutionising the Effectiveness of Education Delivery Systems (How can edupreneurs work in a dichotomic market like India to merge the chasms between the organized and highly unorganized education sector in the country, mainly higher education? Building sustainable businesses is the key to being a successful entrepreneur. How should entrepreneurs and institutes walk away from working in silos and leverage each other’s strength in creating a robust education system?

Panel Members –

– Manjula Pooja Shroff, Chairperson, Kalorex – Moderator
– Bindu Rana, Director, Millenium schools
– Prachi Windlass, Director, Michael and Susan Dell foundation, INDIA
– Gopal Devanahalli, VP, Manipal Global Education, Manipal Group
– R. Sreenvasan, Co-Founder, CL Educate


Each one planned to introduce oneself and ones work, in short….

My Pre-Event NOTES of CL Educate Intro…

Career Launcher is a leader in –
– Test Prep
– K-12 education – Indus world schools
– Skill education – skill schools

Also through the following entities, CL does capacity building of University and Corporate

– CL Media – Digital Presence
– GK Publications – Curricula and Pedagogy; Curriculum Support & Publishing
– 361 degree – On Demand  Learning
– Accendere – Research Incubator
– Bilakes – Business Incubation & Seed Funding
– Kestone – Corporate empowerment and building institutional Partnerships

Statistics in Numbers

CL – 265 locations, 1.5 million engaged, over 1.5 lakhs more than 50 hours
Accendere – Research incubation, Patenting, Journal publishing
CL Media – 163 institutions trust with us for branding, outreach and awareness building
Kestone – integrated marketing,events, customer activation, training, staffing; 100 corporates, 500 events – wipron nokia, microsoft, snapdeal, PayTM
G K P – 1.5 million books.. career and education
361 degree – largest in India – online enabling partner for University and corporates over 20K learners

Footprint – 20K schools and colleges; 1.5 lakh students > 18,200 hours on our web offerings per week


Academic Thought Leadership, International Presence, Institution Credibility

– Capacity building of universities and institutions, learning institutions
– Consulting Visioning Strategic Thinking
– Faculty, Academic development, Research and innovation
– Admissions: Outreach and Application – TAAF Services
– skill education
– Incubation and entrepreneurship
– Career Development Center – Employability, Higher studies facilitation

—CONTEXT——- current market scenario —–challenges for the nation

Only 18% graduates are employable in India
91% software professionals lack programming and algorithm skills while 60% lack domain skills
71% lack soft and cognitive skills while 73% lack English speaking and comprehension skills
57.96% have poor analytical and quantitative skills
For core jobs in mechanical, electronics/electrical and civil jobs, only a mere 7.49% are employable

The session was supposed to be on higher-education, but the panel felt that the continuum from school to university has similar challenges and reforms are needed across the segments. Also opportunities and investment needs do exist across. So the pre-session discussion covered the entire spectrum.

Pre-event notes of each of the panelists..

Issues I noted down ..

– Democratization of Learning and its access
– Contestability of markets, access to Universities
– Digital technologies and creating impact
– Mobility and the influence in learning; Global Mobility
– Integration with industry; Industry funding research
– Opportunities for entrepreneurs and Funding possibilities

– Life-long LEARNERS, COURAGE, HUMILITY : Key, How to instill?

Gopal Devanahalli wanted to talk about

– I would like to focus on higher education and continuing education for working professionals.
– Changing learning needs of working professionals – esp in certain industries like IT
– Online courses & types of courses that are relevant to the learners
– The effectiveness of the online delivery model and how to make it more effective.
– Regulatory issues

Prachi Jain Windlass  wanted to talk about the following –

– Opportunity areas in K12 education, college entrance and career readiness.
– Opportunities for collaboration and leveraging the ecosystem. Many of our portfolio companies: Avanti, Convegenius and OnlineTyari are taking this approach. understanding their core and leveraging the ecosystem for non core areas.
– Our experience in breaking down the silos in the govt education system, and the role that private sector players can play, risks involved.

Manjula Pooja Shroff of Kalorex wanted to focus upon
– Changing scenarios
– Integration of k-12 to Higher Ed
– Teaching Learning delivery process

Bindu Rana’s concerns included

– Challenges in running schools – to deliver the intended
– Regulations stifling the effectiveness
– Challenges in setting up rural schools – quality, price point, training, delivery

– Why cannot the government see education as any other industry? With challenges of access and quality existing all across..

  • Promote PPP models across
  • Engage and bring in private partners to collaborate in school and university systems
  • Use technology to improve training of teachers in enriching content, pedagogy and all processes
  • ….

Other Issues discussed across panels – My notes

Is the nation ready for only digital? Is that trend every where?
– hybrid model is the most successful one
– engaging is the key, mentoring, giving the confidence

Lessons from failures? Key to success
– Team with vision
– sustainable relationship within and with customer
– respect with disagreements in board room and among the team members

Skill education went through cycles.. now we are in the third..
A. IT education – 80s and 90s
B. Sales upgradation – 2000 onwards..
C. now vocational? Entrepreneurship
– quality of higher education is lacking
– rote to conceptual learning, how will we make it happen
– concept of job, loyalty shifting
– nature of learning will have to shift
– propensity to entrepreneurship
– learning to learn paradigm

How do we enable learners to face VUCA?

– VUCA – volatility, uncertainty, complexity, ambiguity
– learning, calling passion from within, help others raise their capabilities

Public education….how to revive?
– policy enablement

– Rote to Conceptual learning?
– edtech – retrain teachers, students,
– appraising teachers, reward them, being discipline,monitor

Home schooling
– becoming popular
– investment opportunities?
– work-life, work-home balancing

Key to succeed in Education space

Quality first, then scale
Be prepared for long haul, then scale
Then comes franchising

—————————————————– As a special invitee..

AKAMAI Presentation – Digital delivery platform, especially Video that will be 80% of the content on-line in the near future..

– formats : 5 min and 20 min content
– launch has to be fast, else you lose the client/subscriber

High quality
– no stalling/no buffering;
– always available, relevant,
– no data plan restrictions

Education on mobility? what are the trends, and what will be challenges of the future..

Instant user experience – FB provides
Consume as much as possible
Offline content goes online – you tube
Download during nights, local content play while travel
Challenges about space on device
Battery running out – delete the app

Here is the link to a set of photographs of the event uploaded by VCCircle on their FB page





Anna and Mannu, we definitely need an effective and just Lokpal

In the last four months, we have heard a lot of shrill noises on which Lokpal Bill being better.  There are at least four versions – Jan Lokpal of Team Anna (not civil society anymore, thankfully) and that of Government, which are being shouted about and compared; that of Opposition (on-the-wall version) and that of a few members of so called, ‘National Advisory Council’.

Undoubtedly, Team Anna being the vociferous, pushing Jan Lokpal to the extent of making it the only Agenda in front of the nation today. The Lokpal Bill“We need real independence”, “It is the second war of Independence”, “We have second Gandhi”, “I am Anna”, “Anna is India, India is Anna” are the kind of war cries heard from various quarters, even pushing the real agenda to the background. At times these cries made me wonder whether the personality has become bigger than the cause. Good to have an inspiring crusader, but the cause is paramount. It looks like everything is being lost sight of. Anna too must be wondering about this, at times!!

In the whole Hungama, are we any enlightened on the real issues? I can vouch that most of us are not. This was what I discovered when I happened to go a couple of times, in the last one week, to the Ramlila Maidan, while walking with the surging crowds. The Lokpal BillStanding in the rains, drenched, at times huddled under the plastic makeshift pandals, listening to the howling voices of various ‘personalities’ with a variety of affiliations on the podium, one after another, crowds singing songs and swinging to the beats, the whole arena has become a mela, in true sense. One gets to see families after families in the mela, with a-few-months-old in arms to turbaned eighty-year-olds in tow, as well as scores of youth – boys and girls – a few canoodling in the The Lokpal Billrain. I happened to interact with a cross-section to realize that most are ignorant of any version of Lokpal. It seemed that they are there to just ‘have a look’ and be part of the Anna Lila and Jalsa! Anna has been merchandized in every way in and around the arena. Yes, indeed, it is one of its kinds.

What made them come? The media frenzy whipped by television channels, and the screeching voices of their reporters. It has caught the imagination of the nation; especially the youth, already fascinated by the recent Middle-eastern and North African spring movements that have toppled the decades of autocratic rulers. This youth have been fed with every announcement at Rajghat or Tihar or on the podium at Ramlila maidan as the breaking news! The new-age media, that is just a click away, is no less influential, especial among the bourgeois. The television channels have taken the essence out of the very debate of ‘India against corruption’. They have somehow become the ‘winning the noise match’ than ‘winning the debate’. “It has become the TRP game. TV channels have realized that Anna gives the TRP and that has helped us,” as one of the core Team Anna member puts it.

Yes, the courteous and silent Prime minister, the government or the ruling party have not helped their own cause, by their actions as well as inactions; while the opportunistic opposition, sitting on the wall, only uttered and muttered when cornered time and again, conveniently throwing the shrapnel at the government.

In such a scenario, are we losing out a golden opportunity to reform and create a robust system that can weed out corruption?

No doubt corruption exists in every country, but undoubtedly we Indians are perhaps one of the most corrupt. We Indians, honestly speaking, do not think beyond I-me-myself. Every thing is a race that I have to win, at any cost. Not just indifferent, completely callous towards others. We shout hoarse supporting Anna on anti-corruption movement, but are the first ones to violate all civic rules – respecting fellow beings, maintaining public property, adhering to traffic-signals, driving on the roads, parking, garbage disposal etc. The list can go on and on. We do not mind bribing the traffic policeman when we violate a rule, giving a box of sweets to influence a favorable action at another place. We will find very few people who are neither willing to bribe nor willing to take bribes. We will always find an excuse to fault the system or point at others while justifying our own actions.

Who are ‘we’ and ‘they’? We make the community, we make the city, we make the policeman, we make the politician, we make the bureaucrat and we make the government…. We all want every thing for us by whatever means! But we want others to be clean!! We pollute everything. Little drops of water make the mighty ocean. If every drop in the ocean is pure, the ocean naturally will become pure.

We need to take responsibility. We need to take the lead in setting an example. That is the only way to eradicate corruption. I have experienced it time and again. There are numerous instances of I standing my ground not to pay, or raising voice against some unfair action. Yes, in the short run I suffered at times, but eventually made a difference. The message goes down to the perpetrators. We need to keep sending all the time.

From the bigger perspective on eradication of corruption and the Lokpal bill, time has come for all the groups to come together, climbing down from their respective high perches; meeting at a common ground and work in harmony; debate and share insights and understand one another’s viewpoints.

We need to understand that we have made enough laws, enough ordinances, a good constitution has been amended many times, some times in a hurry, to run the country in a noble way. At times these hurried laws and bills have not really helped. A case in point that comes to my mind is, IPC sec 498A – concerning marital discord, that has been misused to put the other party in the dock with falsehood. Statistics show that, in close to 98 per cent of cases the accusations are false and that the complaints were only filed with ulterior motives.

So we have to be very foresighted, not to just get carried away and create a monster of a Lokpal bill that is very counter productive. We need to debate thoroughly first.

This is a great opportunity to take democracy to the next level. Why not we have a debate on each of the contentious clauses, one at a time, exploring all the upsides and downsides. This debate should happen in the parliament with representatives of all stakeholders – the four groups that have raised the issues – Government, Team Anna, Opposition, Larger civil society and also representatives of specific groups – Judiciary, Bureaucracy etc. – based upon the clauses that are being debated. This should happen live on television across all channels, radio to reach far and wide, and also web cast for all those Indians who are abroad. This is a great way to educate the complete nation. Govt should initiate this debate in parliament with all good intentions. Once the debate takes place, all the representatives in the parliament should cast their votes for the amended version of clauses, without any pressure or whips, whatsoever.

I am sure this process will yield a Lokpal that will be the first step towards eradication of corruption, and does not end being a draconian one, that may paralyze governance. We need to focus more on the implementation of it, with severest of punishments built in, so that it proves a deterrent. We, as a nation, have a very poor record on this front. Having lived and traveled in a few other countries, I can definitely vouch for it. We need to really work on this front.

I hope media too understands that the ‘Freedom of Speech’ is a great responsibility, and cannot be a privilege. It has to understand and show how it uses this freedom for the public good, without any external regulation. Hope it comes out of the TRP game soon.

Whatever said and done, it is the character of every child that we build through the school and early ages of life that will actually bring about the change in the nation. It is the duty of every parent, every teacher and every adult to be an example to every child in the environment, to be upright, trustworthy and honest. That is the only way to build a nation devoid of any ills.

Come friends, let us make it happen. Jai Hind.

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40 People Who Changed the Internet – Author: Aurora Gatbonton

Author: Aurora Gatbonton
Au aka AwGatsby is a photographer and portrait artist who works full time in creating web content for the web. You can follow her on Twitter.

As I came across this article by Aurora on another blog, I felt it is a good one to be incorporated and shared! I am linking to the blog from here!

The world has become tightly connected since the internet. The web itself has replaced the practice of reading newspaper. Most of us now communicate through e-mails instead of paper and pen. We now watch networks or movies online, it has even become a wide business venture, so much so we can now make purchase and pay our bills through the internet. The web has also transformed friendships through various social media. It also provides us the possibility to reconnect with people from our childhood and it can be a life changing event.

Having a great idea is one thing. Turning that idea into a booming company through innovation and execution is what that matters most. Here, these are the people who have the biggest impact on the direction of the web: past, present, and future. They changed the internet and revolutionized the way we lead our lives today. Just imagine the world without internet. You can’t because it has become our daily life.

Forty people who changed the internet @

I will try and do a much broader and interesting one on these forty in a few days!

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