Greetings from Silicon Valley!
Two years ago, in June 2014, I started the journey of writing my first book “Building Golden India: How to unleash India's vast potential and transform its higher education system. Now.”
Why did I commit two years working full-time to writing and then speaking about this book?
I was inspired by the UC Berkeley and UC San Diego faculty members’ commitment to student learning, conducting research, and making an impact to the society and nation. In 2014, Stanford University start-ups generated $2.7 trillion in revenues. Now that is amazing impact!
Working in some of these institutions, I wondered: Why does India not have universities like UC Berkeley and Stanford? How come a society that values education so deeply does not have even one world-class multi-disciplinary research university?
According to Census 2011, India has 630 million people who are 25 years of age or younger. Further, 20-26 million children are born in India every year. India’s higher education system is already broken on all fronts that matter and is disconnected with the needs and aspirations of the students, parents, industry, society and the nation. How could the system be transformed quickly to better serve its stakeholders?
I feel fortunate to have received the best education in India (I received my B.Tech with honors from IIT Kharagpur.) I also deeply care about India’s future and felt a sense of urgency. Thus, I have dedicated two years of my time writing this book and speaking about the topic full-time, no strings attached. I wanted answers, solutions, and positive change.
What did I achieve?
I am pleased to share that two years of passionate and dedicated effort is making an impact:
Receiving kudos for the book: Industry executives, entrepreneurs, faculty members in MIT, Stanford and UC Berkeley, President-emeritus of University of California, professionals, students, and most recently Director IIT Gandhinagar have given rave reviews.
Increasing awareness on the importance and urgency of the issues:
I have spoken at various colleges, universities, and forums. (IIM Calcutta, IIT Gandhinagar, IIT Delhi, BML Munjal University, Symbiosis Institute of Technology, IIIT Delhi, Princeton University — to name a few.)
I organized and moderated a panel discussion with faculty members from Stanford and UC Berkeley, and Consul General of India.
My book and articles regarding it have been featured in various newspapers and magazines in the US and India (Education Times (The Times of India), The Better India, India West, India Parent Magazine, The Statesman, Business World, and more.)
Influencing decision makers:
My open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi was widely read and circulated.
I have met several decision makers and influencers. (officials in the Prime Ministers Office and NITI Aayog, and several industry, university, political, and civil society leaders.) During these meetings I have presented them my book and made the case for transforming India’s higher education system, now.
(Book reviews, open letter to PM Modi, media coverage and articles, photos with leaders, and links to purchasing the book are available at www.shailkumar.com)
I hope you read my book. As someone wise said to me years ago — "if you don’t like it, please tell me. If you like it, then please tell ALL your friends!"
Please let me know if you would like me to speak or participate in a panel discussion. Feel free to share this letter, tweet about my book, or post it on Facebook and additional social media platforms.
Thanks! I look forward to hearing from you.
Former administrator, UC Berkeley and UC San Diego
Past-President, IIT Foundation