Thursday, June 15, 2006

[MBA] Death by thousand cuts

So I got put on the summer waitlist at Kellogg. Since I am an international applicant and it's taking 2-3 months to get a student visa, I was expecting a firm yes/no from Kellogg this week. So my 1st reaction was WTF! But then I found out that since I already live in the US I just have to wait for the receipt of the visa application to arrive in order to start school. So it made sense - from an immigration viewpoint.

But summer waitlist is as close you can get to a ding without actually getting dinged. So I am moving on. If only I could have gotten some closure on this. It has been 6 months! And I thought I was the indecisive one.

This has not been a pretty week so far. Got denied after an onsite interview at my dream company. Good thing is atleast now I know which company I would be joining. So that somewhat reduces this terrible uncertainity I have been living under for the past several months. But I am 90% certain that I am going to reapply. So there is no end in sight to the overall uncertainity yet.

Last week I had my feedback session with Wharton. I was surprised that I was not fed the usual platitudes and got some real feedback. Going in I knew what the major weakness of my application was. And that got pointed out to me ofcourse. But then I was completely surprised by another weakness that got pointed out. I don't know yet if I am going to reapply to Wharton but I this feedback will definitely help my overall (re)application

Finally, welcome to all the new '09 bloggers. I was away from blogs for a while and when I got back - boy has there been an explosion! Good luck everyone.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

[MBA] Tuck

Got dinged by Tuck today. Was kind of expecting it when I didn't get the call on Thursday. But anyway. So it's Kellogg or nothing now.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

[General] To assimilate or not

Now that all the marches and strikes are over it might be a bit dated to talk about immigration. But there is a certain aspect of this immigration debate which I find especially intriguing. One charge that's often thrown against illegal immigrants is that they don't assimilate. Language is often cited as the prime example of this. I don't want to talk about the reasons why they don't pick up the English language (hint : it's not simply because they don't want to). I am more intrigued by the question. Why is it so important that people assimilate?

I do understand the practical benefits of everyone speaking the same language. Hell, I am from India. You have to grow up and live in different regions of India to really know how inconvenient it is to have people speak in a bewildering range of languages. But then is practicality a good enough reason? Can the same practicality argument not be made to push for uniformity in other fields as well? Won't the world be a better place if we just had one religion? Just as English is the predominant language of US isn't Christianity the predominant religion? Why isn't there a push for everyone to change to that predominant religion? Is it because of the degree of predominance? After all only 76.5% Americans identify themselves are Christians. While pretty much every (statistically speaking) American speaks English. In that case is it ok for countries like Saudi Arabia to outlaw the practice of any religion other than Islam because 99.5% of their population are Muslims? Or is it that religion and language are just not comparable. Religion is one of the intensely personal human right and people should have the right to practice any religion they want. But language is just a practical utility so the same rights argument cannot apply to it.

The bleeding heart liberal in me keeps urging me to take a stand against this push for uniformity. But then the pragmatist in me can clearly see the benefits of a uniform language. I just can't make up mind. Not that there's anything new about it :)

Saturday, May 06, 2006

[MBA] Still hanging in there

When your own blog falls off your browser's history, you know that you haven't blogged in a while.

Well, the last several weeks have been quite hectic. I set my plan B in motion - basically get a job in a fast growing company where I could get a chance to try out new things and then decide between 1) Reapplying 2) Doing part-time 3) Going back to India

If you have 5-6 years experience and are not looking for a job which is exactly same as what you are currently doing, you have loads of studying in front of you. So back I went to my software engineering roots. At first it made me feel so miserable. Wasn't I supposed to be reading books from that cool list I had prepared at the start of the application season? You know books like 'Against the Gods' or 'Witch Doctors'. But instead, there I was dusting off old textbooks to re-learn the finer points of paging and thrashing. But then figuring out how to prevent deadlocks is way easier than writing down what you really really want to do with your life. So I slowly eased back into familiar territory. I have to admit, to be back in a market where people actually dig your skills and background was a nice break for my poor little battered ego. I could almost close my eyes and pretend that all was finally well. But my powers of rationalization are not that strong. There were reasons why I wanted to do an MBA and those reasons haven't gone away.

It required a superhuman effort, but I managed to pull myself out of the comfortable world of design patterns and effective C++ to write and send my final update letters to Kellogg and Tuck. Of course after that I spent 2 says like a lovesick teenager trying to read between the lines of each school's responses. To those who are wondering one was enthusiastic, the other was ho-hum. And interestingly it was a neat reversal of the response my 1st update letter had received from the two schools. Unless something drastic happens this should be the end of my contribution to this year's app season. But then something always happens. The day I submitted my MIT application I had proclaimed that it would be the last weekend I would spend writing essays. Look how that worked out!

Saturday, April 08, 2006

[India] There we go again

The Govt. of India has decided to increase the % of reserved seats in institutions which are controlled by the central govt. This will include among many others the IITs. Currently 22.5% seats are reserved for people who fall in the Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe (SC/ST) category. A few seats are reserved for foreign nationals (usually non-resident Indians) who pay higher tuition and so are a source of extra income for the IITs. According to the new proposal 27% of the seats will be reserved for people who fall under the Other Backward Caste (OBC) category. So less than 50.5% seats will be open to people who fall under the general category. The competition to get into IITs was brutal to start with. Now if you are a general category candidate you will be in the 'Male Indian Engineer trying to get into Stanford in the 3rd round' zone.

Many people have condemned this move saying that it will dilute the brandname of IITs. Well yes it would. As would the government's plan to nearly double the number of IITs. But I am not one of those who considers the IIT brandname to be an end in itself. If diluting the brand is good for the country - especially for its poorer sections then I am all for it. But the people who have decided to implement this policy haven't bothered to argue how reserving seats in IITs would lift OBCs out of poverty. In order to even appear for the IIT entrance exams, you need to have completed 12 years of schooling. How many poor OBCs will get that far? If the Govt had real interest in doing good for OBCs it would have created conditions (through incentives) to allow poor OBCs to get educated till the high school level. And then introduced this reservation to give them a leg up into elite institutions. This is what will happen now. Poor OBCs will continue to drop out of school because they have to work to support their families or their schools just don't function because the teachers don't show up. Middle class and upper middle class OBCs who have all the opportunities that every other middle class person in India has will get a back door entry into elite institutions. Since they won't have to go through the rigorous competition that everyone else has to go through, the quality of these elite institutions will suffer.

During the time that I attended IIT 22.5% seats were reserved for SC/ST candidates. None of the people I knew who fell in that category came from poor backgrounds. Most of them were middle class people (like me) and some were quite rich. I never understood how making it easy for them to enter IITs helped the poor SC/ST people in any way. And I am not even talking about fairness here. SC/STs and OBCs have been screwed by mainstream Indian society for so long that I don't even care if a policy is unfair to mainstream society. But it has to be effective, something this policy is definitely not. Of course anecdotal evidence can't stand in for raw data. If anyone has pointers to studies which have investigated the effectiveness of reservations in India, please do let me know.

This reservation policy was first proposed to be implemented in 1989. Back then all hell had broken loose. India in 2006 is very different from India in 1989. So I don't think anything similar is going to happen this time. But if even some discussion happens in the mainstream media then it will be good. Not because this policy has any chance of getting reversed. No political party wants to antagonize vote banks. In fact a few years back this policy was approved in principle by a overwhelming majority in the Parliament. No, I think there is another reason why any discussion on development or poverty will be useful. I often feel that in the euphoria generated by the soaring economy, middle class India has forgotten that most Indians are still quite poor. I am as guilty as anyone else of this ostrich like attitude. If this discussion wakes some people up to the fact that a lot still remains to be done about poverty in India, atleast some good will come out of a policy which is destined to fail.

(For a good research article on poverty in India go here.)

Saturday, March 18, 2006

[MBA] Expected updates

Got my official ding from Haas. This was very much on the cards ofcourse, but it still hurts. To think of it I could very well have stopped my application process on Dec 1st after I submitted Tuck. Not a single school after that even graced me with an interview. What a colossal waste of time this whole process turned out to be.

Like everyone else in this world I also got a mail from Tuck informing me about the continuation of my waitlist status. I realistically didn't expect any movement on their waitlist till their April end deposit deadline. But it was nice of them to keep us informed.

I am doing my bit to further my case during this waitlist wait, but it feels like just going through the motions. If 4 top schools don't even think you are worthy of an interview, is it realistic to expect admits from 2 other top schools? I don't know and since hope springs eternal I will keep trying to get off the right side of the waitlist. But whatever. Btw Kellogg has already seen some movement off the R1 waitlist (both admits and dings). According to Kristen on bweek next week they will see even more of that.

I just realized that I have started sounding like a broken record on this blog. No admit waaah, no interview more waaah and so on. I guess that prevents me from over whining in real life. I would be left without any friends if I were to whine half as much as here.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

[Cricket] WTF

My routine every morning includes a quick browse through cricinfo. This morning I got the surprise of a lifetime. Australia had scored 434 in the last one-dayer between them and South Africa. And that was not the surprising part. The way the one-day game has become stacked in favor of the batsmen, the 400 run barrier was bound to be broken sooner than later. What was surprising was that South Africa was actually in the hunt for an improbable victory. Now, on this same ground 3 years ago Australia had run up an equally impressive score against India and India had lost without a fight. So ofcourse I got behind the South Africans in this heroic run chase. AND THEY WON! Those of you who don't follow cricket and have been diligent enough to read this far this is equivalent to a team scoring 30 runs in a baseball game and still losing!

Man, wish I could have watched this game on TV!

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

[MBA] Plan B?

No love yet from any of the still in play schools. Stanford is a no hoper at this point. There is no evidence in cyberspace yet that Sloan has released invitations for my hub (Chicago). But this being my most hurried application it's difficult to be optimistic. I had high hopes from Haas. Both the school and location would have been perfect for me and my wife. But just 10 days to Super Saturday and no invite yet. I have sent waitlist update letters to Kellogg and Tuck, but the sense I got from talking to the waitlist officers is that unless I can come up with some miracle, I will be in only if enough people with my profile drop out. Nothing much I can do about that.

I guess it's time to start seriously thinking about Plan B. Yes, I could wait till the bitter end but my visa status doesn't allow me that luxury. So back to 'what do I really want to do with my life' mode.

Monday, February 20, 2006

[General] What is your clan spread?

Thanks to Sepia Mutiny I came across this site If you type in your last name, it will give you a map showing the distribution of your clan (clan <=> last name) across the various American states.

The pic on the left is my clan spread. As expected we are pretty under-represented. I think they only use citizens and/or permanent residents to generate this map. So I don't show up on this.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

[MBA] Wharton says - so long sucker

So Wharton has snagged the privilege of delivering me my 1st ding. Wharton was a stretch school for me, so am not surprised. But ding without interview - Ouch!

I have always maintained that Wharton has the most humane applying process. All decisions on one day instead of the drip, drip chinese water torture of some schools. All interview invites within one month instead of the marathons of some schools. So no hard feelings. Just a punctured ego.