02 Aug

Students at NOGs and some thoughts…

Attending SANOG 34 in Kolkata and today Champika from ICANN mentioned about how they (LKNOG) is trying to promote local participation by keeping the event free for locals. That is great if they can manage that. As he finished, I went to the microphone and suggested that whether or not such NOG (Network Operator Group) events are free for local operators but they must be kept free for students. I was part of INNOG 2 which happened recently and we kept the event free for the students.

Students and NOG is a topic very close to my heart. I was a student when APRICOT 2012 happened in Delhi and the cost of the ticket was too steep for me to pay for it. It was $500 for the workshops and $600 for the conference (reference here). That’s a too-steep price for any student to pay. Fortunately, there was an event on “Internet technologies” by local host and they kept it free for the students. I travelled from Radaur in Yamunanagar, Haryana to Delhi on a cold morning to attend the event. It was decent but the fun part was – now had a card on my neck. The badge did not allow me to go to any of APRICOT sessions but I could hang around in hotel lobby (which is open public space) and meet interesting people including people from network operator like Hurricane Electric (where I happen to work now), large European exchanges, Indian exchange (which was only NIXI back then), anycast DNS operators and more.

Besides APRICOT 2012, I see this all the time where ISPs are looking for network engineers to work on numerous things, colleges/university courses are totally outdated and then there’s a cry about lack of jobs. At the macro-level picture, there is surely a problem of jobs in Indian telecom sector due to fierce tariff war but at the same time, there’s a lack of talent as well which is an irony. Not to single out any NOG but NOGs over time are getting distracted in commercial angles like sponsorship, expensive fancy living, first getting money and then working hard to find a use for that money etc. Ex-Prime Minister of India Shri Atal Bihari once wrote in the poem (in Hindi..) – हम पढ़ाव को समझे मंज़िल, लक्ष्य हुआ आँखों से ओझल, वर्तमान के मोह जाल में आने वाला कल ना भुलाए, आओ फिर से दिया जलाए. (English translation…) – We thought that the middle stage of our journey was a destination and destination disappeared from our eyes. Let’s not forget the future while being shortsighted about the present.