MARCH 30, 2003
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Q&A: Kunio Sebata
The President and CEO of the $3.8-billion Hitachi Home and Life Solutions Inc tells BT Online about what it's like to operate independently in India, the company's past relationship with the Lalbhai Group in the air-conditioner market, its faith in joint ventures and its current plans for India.

Q&A: Eran Gartner
As Vice President (Operations), Bombardier Transportation, Eran Gartner, outlines what would make his company such a hot pick to build Bangalore's mass transit system. It isn't just about creating a network and vanishing, he claims, it's also about transferring modern technology to the local operations.

More Net Specials
Business Today,  March 16, 2003
Reinventing The School

A clutch of schools is changing the way students and their teachers approach education with bold experiments online. Welcome to the brave new world of schools.

SelaQui School, Dehradun: Connected by long-range ethernet, students can log on from anywhere in the school's 52-acre campus
Let's Play

Shruti Ravi is in the sixth standard, but peek into her school satchel and there's never an exercise book in there. Nor a workbook. Or even a notebook. That's because Shruti never needs one. At school every morning, she merely flips open the laptop computer on her desk, checks the assignments that appear on her screen and then gets down to business. On a typical day, she searches for a few e-texts on the school's virtual network-yes, that's precisely why she doesn't have to lug around fat tomes with her every day-and even checks out a digitized video clip and surfs the net for all the information she needs. Research over, Shruti completes her written assignment and e-mails it back to her teacher.

Back home, Shruti's parents can go online to check their daughter's grades, compare them with the previous ones and also monitor her progress, while her teachers at school mark and grade their students online. Welcome to a paperless classroom at Mumbai's American School. Well, the school hasn't quite gone totally paperless yet but is getting there. According to James Mains, the school's superintendent, the transformation is being done in phases and the senior school will be completely paperless by next year. All students from Class VI through Class XII will have a laptop to take notes, complete assignments, take tests and do research and also get simultaneous feedback from their teachers. Gushes Harry Berret, the American School's technology director, who has set up a WI-FI (wireless fidelity) network for the school: "We are not subscribing to an on-line curriculum source, not just making equipment available to teachers and students, but rather we were changing the way we approach education."

Jain International Residential School, Bangalore

They're not alone. Just next to the American School is the upcoming Dhirubhai Ambani International School (dais), whose students will be able to hook up desktops and laptops via 420 data points and learn in computer laboratories and a social science laboratory, where technology will be the means for teaching history and geography. At dais' library, 44 networked computers will help students do research and browse reference texts.

Technology is it in the brave new world of schools. Up north in Gurgaon, near Delhi, the new Pathways World School, a Rs 100-crore project, is also a wireless school where it is compulsory for all students to have laptops. At SelaQui, a residential school in Dehradun, parents fork out Rs 1.57 lakh in annual fees but get in return a package-wholesome education, extra-curricular activities and discipline-all technology-enhanced, of course. SelaQui's technology and networks are facilitated by Cisco Systems whose head of Indian operations is also on the board of the school. The Gurukul Trust, founders of SelaQui, will invest Rs 50 crore in the 52-acre campus that began operations last year. For the record, the school, which now has just 125 students, expects to breakeven in another two years.

Vasant Valley School, New Delhi

Thousands of miles away from SelaQui is the Jain International Residential School, whose Chairman, R. Chenraj Jain (who, incidentally is a high-school dropout), has pumped in Rs 78 crore in the 150-acre campus. Jain's school charges a hefty Rs 2.5 lakh annually but there are 20 applicants for each of its 680 seats. At the Pathways World School, science labs are designed for computer simulation of dangerous experiments and a well-equipped library/media centre includes a distance-learning studio for access to curriculum and teaching from some of the best universities in the world. Fees are upwards of Rs 3 lakh but bookings are in full swing.

But technology is just the means to an end. Most of these new age schools emphasise new methods of learning. Says Arun Kapur, Delhi's Vasant Valley School, which has been a pioneer in this field: "The corporate world has always had an arm in research and one in education. Now they are simply transferring that new-found knowledge in terms of new education method.'' At Vasant Valley, which was established in 1990, the emphasis is not just computer-based education but both student and faculty development through technology-enabled education.

American School, Mumbai

The new breed of schools also splurges on creature comforts. The Pathways World School is centrally airconditioned and entirely covered with a fibreglass ceiling; it has a huge amphitheatre as well as mini amphitheatres in each academic block for outdoor classes; and its dorms are almost like five-star hotel rooms-spacious with a bathroom for every two students-and pamperingly equipped with luxuries like left-handed scissors for southpaws. At Bangalore's Jain International, former national sportsmen like Ashish Balal (hockey) and A.V. Jayaprakash (cricket) coach students in a Rs 25-crore indoor stadium. Personal attention is another big USP of most of these new age schools. No class size is bigger than 25 and teacher-student ratios are often as good as 1:10 (Jain International School). With special attention and an encouragement for extracurricular activities, many students have already started making a mark. Last year, Neha Nagpal, a student of Class IX at Jain International, released her debut album Man Doley through BMG Crescendo. Neha's a budding Hindi-popper, thanks, in part, to her music lessons in school. What more could she (and her parents) ask for?

What You Eat Is What You Are

Anybody who's serious about working out knows that breaking your meals into four or five small ones, spread through the day, is better than two or three big ones. That way your metabolic system is active throughout the day and you assimilate food better. Ditto for the importance of having breakfast. It kick-starts your metabolism and you should heed the advice not to skip it. But this time Treadmill will dwell on the Food Pyramid and how that could explain what you should eat.

The Food Guide Pyramid was developed by the US Department of Agriculture. It places food into six groups and shows how many servings from each you should eat. The six groups are: a) Fats, oils and sweets. They are the pyramid's apex. Advise: eat sparingly; b) Milk, yoghurt and cheese; Advise: eat two-to-three servings (a serving of milk is a cupful and 30 grams of cheese); c) Meat, poultry, fish, dried beans, eggs and nuts; Advice: two-to-three servings (a serving means 50-80 grams of cooked meat or fish, one egg, a cup of cooked beans or dal); d) Vegetables; Advice: three-to-five servings (a serving is a cup of cooked vegetables); e) Fruit; Advice: one serving (a piece of fruit and a cup of juice); f) Bread, cereal, rice and pasta; Advice: Six to 11 servings (one serving is a slice of bread, half a cup of rice or pasta).

If you use the pyramid as a guide to plan what you eat, you'll see the benefits. There's a catch. You have to exercise. Start with a programme-it could be brisk walking or running or resistance training-that's not exacting. Spend 20-30 minutes three times a week working out. Exercise makes your heart beat faster. How fast your heart has to beat depends on how old you are and your general state of health. To find your maximum heart rate, subtract your age from 220. If you're healthy, aerobic exercise should increase your heart rate to 60-80 per cent of the maximum. Multiply your maximum rate by .06 to find 60 per cent and by .08 to find 80 per cent. That's the number of times your heart should beat in one minute during exercise.

As Treadmill has often observed, getting into or even getting back to an exercise programme and sticking with it can be painful-the temptations to dump the programme and get on with your slothful life are just too overpowering. But there's just one thing: if you adopt an exercise-diet combo, it just has to show results. There now, motivated enough?