On Education: Delhi Book fair

Nitin, the founder of the company I’m working for, had invited me to join him on his visit to the annual Delhi book fair: following China, US, UK and Russia, India is the country with the fifth largest number of book publications – more than 90.000 titles (Germany: 82.000 in 2011) are published each year in more than 24 different languages, with half of the publications in Hindi or English. Strolling around on the fair, there were large piles of books in every corner: comics on the Gods stories of the Mahabharata, the ancient Sanskrit epics, primers on reading and writing, large volume textbooks of engineering and IT, moral treatises, biographies and essays of Abdul Kalam, the rocket scientist and esteemed president of India (from 2002 to 2007).
But seemingly the largest share was made up by workbooks for test preparation: those books are available everywhere. From a very early age, children are trained to pass the entry tests to the renowned colleges – a literally life-decisive hurdle. When a job position was open in our company, one of the first questions in the telephone interviews was always “which college?”. This question targets actually not so much the quality of education, but rather the influence of the peer group, one’s social context, the value that one’s family has set on education. And the bonds between graduates from the same university stay strong, even in business life where relation is everything.

Once I bought a little booklet on the local market: “Math Olympic Questions for 8th class”. Here are some sample questions – are you up to it?

  • “There are only two candidates in an election. One gets 62% and wins by a margin of 144 votes. How many voters are there?”
  • “In some code language the word Hurdy-Gurdy is written as GF-GE and Hob-Nob is written as BE-CA. How will the word Hugger-Mugger be written?”:
    a) EI-AG b) EI-GA c) EF-GA d) FF-GA.
  • If sqrt(12 + sqrt(12 + sqrt(12 + … = x, then x is
    a) 3 b) 4 c) 6 d) greater than 6.
  • Testbook (1)a

    Testbook (2)a