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India's higher education system needs drastic changes to address tech-induced challenges | Daijiworld.com, 13 nov 2018
Inflation lowest in year, but it may not be good news | Hindustan Times, 13 nov 2018
Two Indian supercomputers among top 100 supercomputers | The Economic Times, 13 nov 2018
Privatisation and Higher Education in India | Mainstream Weekly, 12 nov 2018
There's a new programme to tackle rural youth unemployment in India | India Today, 12 nov 2018
Is Dr. AI The Upcoming Go-To Healthcare Practitioner In India? | Businessworld, 12 nov 2018
Agribusiness: The latest sector embracing digital technology | Fortune, 12 nov 2018
Online pharmacies are helping to lower health costs in India | The Economic Times, 11 nov 2018
How higher US interest rates hurt the Indian economy | Livemint, 11 nov 2018
Advocates of private healthcare seek 'public' support | DownToEarth, 09 nov 2018
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 31 aug 2018
As the saying goes, 'Necessity is the Mother of Invention' - A temporary ban on firecrackers by Indian Supreme Court, an appeal to scientisits from Dr. Harsh Vardhan (Union Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, GOI) to develop e-firecrackers and social campaigns against their use due to environmental concerns, has driven a team of scientists from Indian Institute of Science Education & Research (IISERM) led by Prof. Samrat Ghosh (Chemical Sciences) to innovate and develop 'green' firecrackers that are safer, smoke-free and reusable. Prof. Samrat says, 'I have filled combustible material in the disposable bottle. This material is ignited with a source, like a spark. The launcher ignites the material which burns and generates pressure, pushing the bottle upwards, like a rocket. This is one of the safest methods of bursting crackers. In the community where I have tested this, even four-year-old kids feel comfortable operating this. Additionally, the combustive recipe in the device is very benign and not at all harmful for the user and the environment.' Regarding additional usage of the invention, Prof. Samrat says, 'From driving away animals in agriculture fields to airports using them to clear runways, the device is beneficial in many different situations.' Read on...
The Better India:
Exclusive: Meet The Scientist Behind Smoke-Free, Debris-Less & Low-Cost Firecrackers!
Authors: Ahmed Sherrif, Gayatri Mishra
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 26 aug 2018
Education and awareness about protecting environment at the early stage of student learning can play a big role to save it. Bhavisha Buddhadeo, a social activist and an expert in organic farming and kitchten gardening based in Gurgaon (India), is doing just that as a mission to promote ecological wellbeing and safeguard environment. She conducts learning workshops and lectures on importance of sustainability and how to better care for the environment. Ms. Buddhadeo says, 'I have engaged children and women in plantation drives, kitchen garden activities and (a) solar energy initiative to educate them regarding the utmost importance of conservation of nature. Schools are doing environmental education and (the) best have made sustainability a school-wide, hands-on project, rather than just another topic for children to write reports on. My programs offer opportunities for experiential learning outside of the classroom, (and) enable students to make connections and apply their learning in the real world.' In her career spanning about 20 years she has taught 100000 students from across many states of India. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 26 aug 2018
According to meteorologists, the recent flooding in southwestern state of Kerala in India has occured due to two-and-a-half times the normal monsoon rains. Climate scientists caution that if the global warming continues unabated more unusual weather events will happen. Roxy Mathew Koll, a climate scientist at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, says, 'It is difficult to attribute any single extreme weather event - such as the Kerala flooding - to climate change. At the same time, our recent research shows a three-fold increase in widespread extreme rains during 1950-2017, leading to large-scale flooding.' According to the study published in Nature last year that Mr. Koll co-authored, flooding caused by heavy monsoons rainfall claimed 69000 lives and left 17 million people without homes over the same period across India. Kira Vinke, a scientist at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (Germany), says, 'These floods that we are seeing in Kerala right now are basically in line with climate projections. If we continue with current levels of emissions - which is not unlikely - we will have unmanageable risks.' Mr. Koll explains the weather patterns behind the excessive rains, 'Rapid warming in the Arabian Sea and nearby landmass causes monsoon winds to fluctuate and intensify for short spans of three-to-four days. During those periods, moisture from the Arabian Sea is dumped inland.' Elena Surovyatkina, a professor at the Russian Academy of Sciences and monsoon expert, says, 'Over the last decade, due to climate change, the overheating of landmass leads to the intensification of monsoon rainfalls in central and southern India.' According to a World Bank report titled 'South Asia's Hotspots', 'On current trends, India's average annual temperatures are set to rise 1.5 degree Celsius to 3 degree Celsius compared to that benchmark by mid-century. If no corrective measures are taken, changing rainfall patterns and rising temperatures will cost India 2.8% of its GDP and will drag down living standards of half its population by 2050.' Ms. Vinke says, 'What we will see with climate change in India is that the wet season is going to be wetter and the dry season drier. Already we are observing that the monsoon is becoming harder to predict with traditional methods.' A recent research predicted, 'If man-made carbon emissions continue unabated, some regions in northeast India could literally become unlivable by the end of the century due to a deadly combination of heat and humidity during heatwaves.' Read on...
The Economic Times:
India's devastating rains match climate change forecasts
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 27 feb 2018
Team of scientists at Indian Institute of Science (IISc Banagalore) led by Prof. Pradip Dutta and Prof. Pramod Kumar, have developed a super critical carbon di oxide Brayton test loop facility that would help generate clean energy from future power plants including solar thermal. The new generation high efficiency power plants with closed cycle CO2 as the working fluid have the potential to replace steam based nuclear and thermal power plants, thus reducing the carbon foot print significantly. While inaugurating the facility Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Minister of Science and Technology (Govt. of India), said, 'I am sure all these intense scientific efforts and collective endeavours would enable us to realise the vision of an affordable, efficient, compact, reliable clean energy systems which will be robust and suitable in diverse geographic conditions.' The advantages of using S-CO2 in a closed loop Brayton Cycle include - 50% or more increase in efficiency of energy conversion; Smaller turbines and power blocks can make the power plant cheaper; Higher efficiency would significantly reduce CO2 emissions for fossil fuel based plants; Power plant's use of solar or nuclear heat source would mean higher capacity at lower operating costs. Read on...
India Education Diary:
Indian scientists develop next generation technology loop to generate clean energy
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 19 sep 2017
Team of architects at Ant Studio (India) - Monish Siripurapu, Abhishek Sonar, Atul Sekhar, Sudhanshu Kumar - have used computational technologies (CFD Analysis) and reinvented the traditional evaporative cooling technique to lower temperature of emissions from an electronics factory with less cost, energy consumption and impact on surrounding environment. Ancient Egyptians, Persians and later on Mughals in India utilized the evaporative cooling technique to overcome hot climate. According to a research study by Prof. Asif Ali of Aligarh Muslim University (India), published in International Transaction Journal of Engineering, Management, & Applied Sciences & Technologies (2013), 'The emperor's throne at the centre of Diwan-e-Khas is surrounded by two sets of openings four meters apart from each other. These openings were covered with grass mats with sprinkled water during summers...' The architects from Ant Studio stacked cylindrical terracotta cones, giving it a circular shape, and water was made to run over them. Hot air coming from the generators passed over the system lowering the temperature substantially. Further technical details of the system can be obtained from an ArchDaily.com article 'This Innovative Cooling Installation Fights Soaring Temperatures in New Delhi.' Monish Siripurapu, founder of Ant Studio, says, 'As an architect, I wanted to find a solution that is ecological and artistic, and at the same time evolves traditional craft methods...I believe this experiment worked quite well functionally. Findings from this attempt opened up a lot more possibilities where we can integrate this technique with forms that could redefine the way we look at cooling systems, a necessary yet ignored component of a building’s functionality. Every installation could be treated as an art piece...The circular profile can be changed into an artistic interpretation while the falling waters lend a comforting ambience. This, intermingled with the sensuous petrichor from the earthen cylinders allow for it to work in any environment with the slightest of breeze. Having said that, there are many factories throughout the country that face a similar issue and this is a solution that can be easily adopted and a widespread multiplication of this concept may even assist the local potters.' Read on...
Architects in India Use Natural Cooling to Take the Edge off Factory Emissions
Author: Vittoria Traverso
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 28 aug 2017
Industry experts are bullish on India's agriculture and suggest that it has potential to double farmer's income and grow exports to US$ 100 billion by 2022. Rajju Shroff, President of Crop Care Federation of India (CCFI) and MD of United Phosphorus Ltd, says, 'Globally, exports in agricultural products is over US$ 1500 billion annually as per the latest data from WTO and India's share is less than US$ 35 billion at present.' According to the latest report by Centre for Environment and Agriculture (Centegro) and Tata Strategic Management Group, released by Union Minister Nitin Gadkari, 'Agriculture's contribution to India's economy extends beyond the rural economy and encompasses many activities in manufacturing and services sector. Export surplus from the country's agricultural trade is higher than the corresponding figure achieved by the manufacturing sector.' Report urges the government to launch 'Grow In India' campaign to achieve gains in agri-exports with a single authority to monitor India's international agricultural trade. Report suggests that organic farming is not sustainable because of low yield and need for huge amount of unavailable manure. Mr. Shroff explains the dynamics of India's agricultural growth, 'This is all due to small and marginal farmers who deploy family labour and engage in intensive multi cropping all year round. They also manage livestock & poultry efficiently using agriculture waste as animal feed and to produce manure.' Read on...
The Economic Times:
Agriculture exports may grow to $100 billion by 2022 - Experts
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 20 apr 2017
Balancing tradition and modernity can be one of the effective approaches in architecture and design. Architect Sathya Prakash Varanashi explores and explains how use of natural materials can empower the designer to create ideas rooted in tradition, yet retain the freedom to interpret modernity in form and preception. In today's world, reducing environmental degradation through sustainable approaches is a challenge acknowledged by all. Although availability of natural materials is less as compared to manufactured materials, but a balanced hybrid approach to design that gels well with local environment and surroundings along with utilizing traditional techniques can be an effective solution. Mr. Varanashi shares an example of recent architectural installation at Kochi Biennale (India) where the architect Tony Joseph has designed an auditorium, built largely with natural materials such as mud, arecanut, jute and coloured fabric, it also juxtaposes with steel trusses with sheets as wall panel and roof. Mr. Varanashi concludes, 'Given all this, why are the natural materials losing out against manufactured materials? It may not be only because modern materials have greater potential in some respects, but also because we are forgetting certain design fundamentals which would enable us to mix and match the local material to create excellence. Design has to do more with designing than a blind application of a technology or a material.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 28 sep 2016
According to the conditions set forth in the CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) Law in India, all companies with a net worth of Rs 500 crore or revenue of Rs 1000 cr or net profit of Rs 5 cr should spend 2% of last 3 years average profit on charity work. CSR management firm, NextGen, studied the annual reports of the top 100 firms by market capitalizations on NSE (National Stock Exchange) for 2014-15 & 91 firms for 2015-16. The total spend on CSR activities for 91 firms is Rs 6033 cr for FY16, while it was Rs 4760 cr by 100 companies in FY15. According to Abhishek Humbad, co-founder of NextGen, 'More and more companies are realizing that not meeting 2% makes them look bad, and for large companies, it can turn out be a reputational risk.' The energy sector accounted for nearly 26% of the total CSR spending. Reliance was the largest spender in FY16, using 2.3% of its profit (Rs 652 cr) on education, health and other social activities. Jagannatha Kumar at chairman's office of RIL says, 'The amount spent on each of the focus areas varies on an annual basis depending on the scope of work for the year.' In FY16 RIL spend on healthcare halved to Rs 314 cr while on education it increased to Rs 215 cr from Rs 18 cr in FY15. According to Parul Soni of Thinkthrough Consulting, a CSR consultancy, 'Manufacturing companies like automotive have been well poised to do CSR because they focus on communities around their plants and it helps build engagement with local communities. Also, many of them are working in skill development.' Some of the top causes that corporates spend on are healthcare, poverty eradication, education, skill development, rural development, and environment. Noshir Dadrawala, CEO of Centre for Advancement of Philanthropy, says, 'Skills have been trendy. These causes have seen an increase because many of the skilling initiatives instead of being classified as an education initiative is being put under providing employment and reducing poverty. Also when it comes to healthcare, conducting blood donation camps is a popular way of doing CSR as it is easy and effective.' Ravi Chellam, ED of Greenpeace, points out that environment is not a priority issue for most Indian corporates. He says, 'On environmental issues, companies seem to prefer to focus on either their own campuses or areas immediately surrounding their locations.' According to Loveleen Kacker, CEO of Tech Mahindra Foundation, '50% of all our CSR capital goes into empowering women and another 10% for the disabled. We believe that any development can happen in any of the areas - from nutrition to sanitation, only when women are empowered. And we feel only economic empowerment of women can bring about social empowerment.' The top geographical regions that were beneficiary of CSR funds for FY16 are Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan and Karnataka. Vinod Kulkarni, head of CSR at Tata Motors Ltd, says, 'It is part of our policy to invest CSR funds in geographies in close proximity to our area of operation. It amplifies the outcomes and impact.' Arun Nagpal, co-founder of Mrida Group, comments, 'The reasons for firms to select geographies close to manufacturing plants or areas of work are valid but this leads to an imbalance in the division of CSR funding.' Read on...
Firms ramp up CSR focus on healthcare, poverty, hunger
Authors: Arundhati Ramanathan, Moyna Manku
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 19 dec 2015
The PPP Knowledge Lab of the World Bank defines a PPP (Public-Private Partnerships) as, 'A long-term contract between a private party and a government entity, for providing a public asset or service, in which the private party bears significant risk and management responsibility, and remuneration is linked to performance.' Different countries are incorporating modified version of the definition in their laws depending upon their own legal and institutional framework. Siraj Chaudhry, Chairman of Cargill India, suggests a PPP framework for India's agriculture for sustainability and better rural development, in which the government provides and co-finance the back-end of the value chain, while the rest is done by the private sector and the farmers. Although India has made continued progress in food security, quadrupling its food grain production. But a lot more is desired as its crop yield still hovers between 30% to 60% of the best sustainable crop yields achievable in developed and some other developing countries. There is substantial room for increase in productivity and total output gains. Moreover India has some of the highest postharvest food losses due to poor infrastructure and unorganized retail. To overcome infrastructural and supply-chain inefficiencies, degrading of land and water, effects of climate change etc, India requires a collaborative multipronged strategy in the form of PPP to utilize technologically advance farming practices, build efficient supply chains and develop organized marketing and retailing. Mr. Chaudhry details the role of various PPP models that bring together all the stakeholders of the agricultural ecosystem for making India's agriculture as the engine of rural growth and development, to eradicate poverty, hunger and malnutrition, and in addition be a major source of food for the world - (1) Investing in smarter value chains: Develop food processing industry. Provide farm extension services. Enhance price realization. Cut out intermediaries. Improve supply chain through forward and backward linkages. (2) Improving access to credit, technology and markets: Utilize advance information technology and biotechnology. Provide farmers agricultural knowledge and guidance. Develop high-yield, pest resistant crops. Enable better management of natural resources. (3) Building farmer resilience to environmental shocks: Provide financial security to farmers. Enable them to de-risk through insurance etc. Develop integrated value chains. He cites the example of Maharashtra government's PPP for Integrated Agricultural Development (MPPIAD), that was catalyzed by World Economic Forum's New Vision for Agriculture (NVA), to develop integrated value chains. Read on...
Making India's agriculture sustainable through PPPs
Author: Siraj Chaudhry
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 08 dec 2015
United Nation's '2015 Climate Change Conference' is being held in Paris (France) where 196 countries are on the table to reach consensus on tackling climate change and contain global temperature rise and keep it below 2°C. The recent study, 'Climate Change and India: Adaptation Gap (2015) - A Preliminary Assessment', conducted by Prof. Amit Garg of IIM Ahmedabad, Prof. Vimal Mishra of IIT Gandhinagar and Dr. Hem Dholakia of Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW), found that India would need over US$1 trillion from now until 2030 to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change. The study identifies India's preliminary financial, technology, and knowledge gaps in adaptation, as well as capacity building and institutional needs. The study also estimates that about 800 million people living across nearly 450 districts in India are already experiencing significant increases in annual mean temperature going above 2°C warming pathway. For the whole of India the estimated increase will be 1-1.5°C in the near term (2016-2045). The implications would be disastrous for agriculture and crop production, and the effects could be more pronounced due to estimated increase in extreme precipitation events, resulting in flooding and significant damage to infrastructure. While commenting on the importance of the findings, Mr. Ashok Lavasa (Secretary at the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change), said, 'Supporting and enhancing the sustainable development of 1.25 billion people is at the heart of India's adaptation gap filling strategy. The fruits of development should not be lost due to increasing adaptation gap in the future.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 15 sep 2015
Architects often espouse some philosophical concepts while designing and creating their projects apart from imbibing what their clients want. Architect Mona Doctor Pingel of Studio Naqshbandi in Auroville (Tamil Nadu, India), considers building as not merely a functional structure but a space that effectively addresses the five senses. She is influenced by writer-philosopher-artist Hugo Kukelhaus who considered various aspects of modern architecture as 'inhuman'. Ms. Pingel focuses on creating healthy living and work spaces. She thoroughly studies the impact of built environment on human health before embarking on projects. According to her, 'Starting from location and climate to the materials selected, and the interiors, all add up to prevent the sick building syndrome. A building should bring into perspective all the five senses, thereby giving a three-dimensional angle to the structure. Like the sight of greenery, sound of water, feel of natural stone under the feet, the smell of trees, flowers, and fresh mud, the taste of a charming yet sensitive design, all the five senses need to be addressed by a building.' She uses natural materials in her projects like stone, terracotta blocks, bricks alongwith seamlessly blending greenery into the environment. She believes that architects have to be envoronmentally responsible in their designs and advocates practices of resource efficiency and recycling. She says, 'The scale in which cities are growing is not sustainable. Villages need revival through awareness, education and commitment brought into design.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 08 jan 2015
India requires substantial finance to fulfill the challenges of providing clean, affordable and reliable supplies of water and energy to its 1.3 billion citizens, and invest in enterprises that will provide livelihoods for an extra 10 million jobseekers every year. Moreover there is also need for level playing field of sustainability standards within the financial system. According to Naina Lal Kidwai, country head for HSBC India, 'For too long, a view has been allowed to take root in India that sustainability and finance are at odds; that taking account of environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors raises costs, reduces returns and impedes development.' To scale up sustainable finance, Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and the UNEP Inquiry have formed an advisory committee of leading financiers, policymakers and civil society representatives to generate practical policy options. Financial innovation is the essential need with mobilization of debt and equity capital markets. Investments in sustainable agriculture, clean energy, efficient buildings, mass transit, smart cities, clean water and waste provides the foundations for a thriving green bonds market. On India's equity markets, the new Infrastructure Investment Trust model offers another vehicle for investors to put money into sustainable infrastructure. Read on...
Investing in India requires sustainable, reliable finance
Author: Nick Robins
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 19 sep 2014
According to a report from the International Panel on Climate Change, climatic factors like heatwaves, drought, and unpredictable rainfall patterns are already adversely affecting the yields of staples like wheat and maize. Moreover World Bank's Dr. Jim Yong Kim predicts that food shortages could lead to 'food wars' within the next 5 to 10 years. But jackfruit, native to India and grown extensively in South & South-East Asia, may come to the rescue and provide a solution to the depleting food supply in future. Biotechnology researcher, Shyamala Reddy, from University of Agriculture Sciences in Banglore, India says, ' It can provide so many nutrients and calories - everything. If you just eat 10 or 12 bulbs of this fruit, you don't need food for another half a day. It is rich in potassium, calcium, and iron, making it more nutritious than current starchy staples.' According to Danielle Nierenberg of Food Tank, which works on sustainable agriculture, 'It is easy to grow. It survives pests and diseases and high temperatures. It is drought-resistant. It achieves what farmers need in food production when facing a lot of challenges under climate change.' While Nyree Zerega, a researcher of plant biology at Chicago Botanic Garden, points out that, 'The down-market reputation of jackfruit is unwarranted. In addition to its high nutritional value, the fruit is very versatile. The seeds, young fruit, and mature varieties are all edible.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 28 feb 2014
After years of research, Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) and Tata Motors Ltd (TML), has developed hydrogen powered bus which is similar to CNG-type vehicle and has cylinders with high pressured hydrogen at the top. It utilizes fuel cell technology with hydrogen as fuel. According to ISRO's V. Gnana Gandhi, the technical head of the project, the bus is a zero pollution vehicle as the product of cold combustion is water and has the potential to transform the future of transportation in India. Read on...
The Economic Times:
ISRO, Tata Motors develop India's first fuel cell bus
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 18 oct 2013
India's green architect, Ashok Lall, believes that ethics should be the guiding force in architecture and consideration should be given to address environmental impact, social inequity and cultural subversion in architectural practice. According to him architectural design had to be about resource conservation, efficiency, economy and affordability. He says that urban planning in India and other developing Asian countries should focus on integration and inclusion of marginalized residents within the urban economy. The urban housing and public transport policy should work towards affordable housing and travel for them. Moreover it should consider environmental sustainability as one of the key factor for better urban future. Read on...
Building green starts with citizenry and cultural shifts
Author: Elga Reyes
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 21 jul 2013
Ravi Chopra, director of People's Science Institute, says that India has to pursue 'green approach' to development to reduce and avoid destruction by natural disasters like the one that recently happened in Uttarakhand. He suggests planting more trees; limit construction on hills and on the river banks; caution while building roads and highways in mountainous regions to help prevent landslides; better management of visitors and traffic to such areas and maintaing the overall ecological balance. Read on...
The New Indian Express:
Green approach to development can minimise human tragedy - Expert
Author: Ranjana Narayan
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 06 jun 2013
Prime Minister's Council for Climate Change announced in 2011 to enhance India's forest cover at the cost of Rs 46,000 crore by 2020, can't be accomplished due to lack of funds. The Green Indian Mission in addition to increasing the forest area by 5 million hectares also focusses on improving ecosystem services, including biodiversity, hydrological services, and carbon sequestration. The mission also plans to work to improve the condition of 3 million forest-dependent families by increasing their forest-based livelihood income. The funds has to come from various ministries and Planning Commission. An expert suggests better coordination and cooperation and comments that politics seems to have derailed the program. Read on...
Environment Day - India's green mission caught in funds' crunch
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 05 jun 2013
Environment activist says that land under cultivation for groundnut in Gujarat has decreased by 12.28% resulting in reduction of its production by 24%. Similar is the case with other farm commodity, wheat (land decrease- 14.98%, production decrease- 19%). While cotton saw a different trend (land increase- 5.60%, production increase- 14.90%). This suggests the state is more focused towards industrialization and the allotment of land to industries is a priority. But at the same time farming should not get affected by industrialization. The balance of food production and security, industrialization and rural development has to be rightly obtained for the long term benefit and inclusive development of the state. Read on...
The Times of India:
World Environment Day 2013 - Environment pays as state goes heavy on industrialization
Author: Marisha Mehta
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