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The Branding of Indian Education | The Wire, 13 mar 2019
The gaping hole in India's macro balance sheet | Livemint, 13 mar 2019
Briquetting: Need of the hour | Krishi Jagran, 13 mar 2019
Online education push reformative but policy lacks clarity, structure | Livemint, 12 mar 2019
Why the right STEM education and mentorship are crucial to foster innovation | YourStory, 12 mar 2019
Reform structure for universal healthcare | Deccan Herald, 12 mar 2019
Life Sciences 4.0: Digital opportunities in the Indian healthcare sector | Consultancy, 12 mar 2019
Why India must chew on African model in health innovations | The Hindu, 12 mar 2019
Podcast: Digging Deeper - India's economy may be on the rise, but happiness dwindles | Moneycontrol, 12 mar 2019
India's engineers struggle for work as jobs crisis worsens | Moneycontrol, 12 mar 2019
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 08 jan 2019
According to the 'Global Highly-Cited Researchers 2018 List' by Clarivate Analytics, India has only 10 researchers among the world's 4000 most influential researchers. Even though India has many globally renowned institutions, but it lacks breakthrough research output. Top three countries in the list are - US (2639), UK (546), China (482). Prof. CNR Rao, world renowned chemist from Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Sciences and named in the list, says, 'About 15 years ago, China and India were at the same level, but China today contributes to 15-16% of the science output in the world, while we currently contribute only 4%.' Prof. Dinesh Mohan, environmental science academic at JNU and included in the list, says, 'Areas such as climate change, water and energy are areas where research is more relevant nowadays. Where you publish your work is also important for impact.' Dr. Avnish Agarwal, also named in the list, says, 'We need to improve our research ecosystem...There is a lack of focus on quality research in Indian academia. If teachers do not do high-quality research, they will not be updated with new developments.' Others in the list are - Dr. Rajeev Varshney (Agriculture researcher at International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics-ICRISAT); Dr. Ashok Pandey (Researcher at the Indian Institute of Toxicology Research); Dr. Alok Mittal and Dr. Jyoti Mittal (Researchers in environmental science, water treatment, green chemistry and chemical kinetics at the Maulana Azad National Institute of Technology); Dr. Rajnish Kumar (Researcher and professor at IIT Madras's Department of Chemical Engineering); Dr. Sanjeeb Sahoo (Researcher in nanotechnology at the Institute of Life Sciences); Dr. Sakthivel Rathinaswamy (Professor and researcher in Applied and Computational Mathematics at Bharathiar University). Read on...
ONLY 10 AMONG THE WORLD'S TOP 4000 INFLUENTIAL RESEARCHERS ARE INDIAN: REPORT
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 21 oct 2018
According to the report by Prof. Anne Boddington (PVC of Research, Business & Innovation at Kingston School of Art, Kingston University, UK), 'Future of design education in India', India needs to produce 65000 designs annually to satisfy the capacity of indigenous creative industry. The current production is around 5000 per year. Prof. Boddington is working on the development of arts and design education in India and collaborating with Indian Institute of Art and Design (IIAD). She says, 'Design and Art as a field is emerging in India. There is not only a huge opportunity but also a sense of enthusiasm and can-do attitude in Indians for it. But to match-up to the emerging field, there is a need to train teachers first...A design teacher needs to make the student autonomous and increase their level of creativity and understanding.' She recommends that arts and design education should not be limited to creative fields, but should also become part of all fields of learning. She considers critical listening, research, and quality assessment are part of design and art curriculum. According to her, there is a great potential to create interdisciplinary programs where creative skills will be imparted as a part of foundation courses. Read on...
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 | 24 may 2018
Design as a separate field is getting more recognition in India. Policy initiatives like 'Design in India' and 'Make in India' will give design further impetus and assist in creating a thriving design ecosystem. India now have 30 to 35 design schools, most of them came up in the last few years. Prof. Anirudha Joshi of Industrial Design Centre at IIT-Bombay explores the condition of design education in India and suggests ways to make it better and more in tune with industry. He lists prevalent gaps between academia and industry - what is taught in design schools and what a professional designer need to do - (1) Uninentional gaps: Things that left out in design curriculums. Course duration is shorter than what is needed to become a good designer. (2) Lack of industry/hands-on environment: Certain things are best taught in industry setup and academic setup doesn't suit them. (3) Intentional gaps: Design school is not supposed to prepare students only for industry. Focus is on developing thought leaders having theoretical concepts and not just skills and training. (4) Limited availability of design teachers. (5) Lack of strong tradition in design research. (6) Lack of design education infrastructure. There is demand/supply gap in terms of skilled human resources. As the industry is growing, at least five million designers are required as compared to the current approximately 20000 designers. Many sectors like manufacturing, small scale industries, small printing and publishing houses etc, although have need for designers but can't afford one in the present scenario. Moreover, the focus of current designs is more global and there are few instances of designs that are specific to the Indian market. More emphasis should be given to designers that specifically focus on India. Read on...
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 | 12 oct 2017
India's medical research is a cause of concern. According to the study, 'The research output from Indian medical institutions between 2005 and 2014' (Authors: Samrat Ray, Ishan Shah, Samiran Nundy; Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, India), published in 2016 in the Current Medicine Research & Practice journal, 'Only 25 (4.3%) of the institutions produced more than 100 papers a year but their contribution was 40.3% of the country's total research output. 332 (57.3%) of the medical colleges did not have a single publication during this period.' Authors used the SCOPUS database and analyzed the research output from 579 Indian medical institutions and hospitals. Peter Ashman, CEO of BMJ, explains, 'The academic vigour of any educational institution can be measured by its research output, the number of patents being filed, and how quickly research can translate into innovation. The next steps, that is commercialization and wide-scale adoption can follow and may take years, but first and foremost, there needs to be a robust research pipeline. For researchers in healthcare, it is important to have access to publishing tools, and programs that train them to develop core clinical research skills, and provide guidance in how to publish.' Clinicians need credible knowledge and research content, and continuously learn to stay competitive and relevant. India is undergoing rapid transformation in mobile and internet technologies. Digital tools can help customize the content for specific requirements. Mr. Ashman says, 'We believe that doctors need access to evidence based, updated and peer-reviewed content which deals with everyday issues in primary care and hospital medicine. The content delivery cycle should be mapped to the clinicians work schedule. E-learning platforms can help facilitate the access to education to doctors, right when they need it.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 08 aug 2017
According to Prof. Pritam Singh, Oxford Brookes University (UK), BRICS nations will lead the global economy and play vital role in spatial shift of the global capitalist economy. While speaking at expert session on 'Global Economic and Environment Crisis Faced by BRICS Economies' at Chandigarh University, Prof. Singh said, '...By 2050, if the Indian economy continues to maintain the current growth pace (GDP growth 7%), it will be the dominant global supplier of services while China would dominate the global manufacturing industry...' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 20 mar 2017
Team of researchers from IIT-Kharagpur, Prof. Sudip Misra, Prof. N. S. Raghuwanshi, Anandarup Mukherjee and Arijit Roy, has designed India's first indgenous drone, BHIM, that can create a Wi-Fi zone within a nearly 1 km radius when it flies overhead. It is specifically designed for emergency and conflict situations. It has a battery backup of 7 hours, can fly into a disaster zone and create a seamless communication network for those involved in the operation. The automated drone has an actual vision-based guidance with built-in intelligence that helps it identify if an area is crowded or not. It will then fly away and land in a safer place. According to Prof. Sudip Mishra, 'Such advanced built-in intelligence is not available in drones now. The design is completely in-house. The controlling and guiding algorithms of the drone have been developed in our lab.' Internet of Things (IoT) is an important component of the drone. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 23 oct 2016
Indian researchers, Naveen Kumar Malik of the Department of Electronics and Communication at Maharshi Dayanand University and V. R. Singh of the National Physical Laboratory, recently provided details about their 'Human Inspired Cognitive Wheelchair Navigation System' in the International Journal of Human Factors Modelling and Simulation. According to the researchers, 'The novel wheelchair navigation system can make the movable chairs avoid obstacles on their own and also sense when the user is tired or stressed. The smart wheelchair could also monitor user's heart rate, temperature or other vital signs for diagnostic purposes. The commercial version of the prototyped autonomous wheelchair would reduce the burden on care-giving staff in healthcare industry and improve the quality of life for disabled persons.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 04 jul 2016
Team of researchers from IIT-Madras (India) and University of Nebraska at Lincoln (USA), are developing an ingestible capsule, that can stay in human body for close to a week, with sensors that will take readings of an individual's calorie intake, that can eventually help in diagnosis of diseases like cancer and permit sustained delivery of drugs. According to Prof. Benjamin Terry of UNL, 'The capsule, made of biocompatible materials, works like a parasite by latching on to the intestinal wall.' The sensors communicate their readings to an external device through low-intensity radio waves. Prof. P. V. Manivannan of IIT-M, says, 'The device is kept a metre away from the body. We use only low intensity waves that don't harm the body.' According to experts, biosensors could help monitor factors that influence digestive health. Prof. Terry adds that the mechanism could also serve as a long-term vessel for capsule endoscopes, the ingestible pill-shaped cameras that permit physicians to record images of the gastrointestinal tract. Read on...
The Times of India:
From IIT-M - Capsule in body to count calories, diagnose cancer
Author: Ekatha Ann John
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 31 may 2016
According to the latest Elsevier Report 2016, India's scientific publications grew 13.9% as against the global average of 4.1%. The study sifted through the publication output of researchers covered under Elsevier's Scopus database, that covers 60 million documents published in over 22000 journals, book series and conference proceeding by nearly 5000 publishers. It looked at the work of 366455 active researchers who are working with or are affiliated to Indian institutions. But this increase in publications hasn't made much impact on scientific progress or commercialization, considering their limited citation by other researchers. Prof. Anshul Kumar of Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi, explains, 'There is pressure to publish, but not much scrutiny of where papers are published. Since promotions are tied to the volume of output, academics feel the need to show published output, even if it is not in very well-known publications. Moreover, spending on research and development is low, and this further serves as an impediment to producing original research that has the potential to have a higher impact.' Prof. Nirmalya Bagchi from Administrative Staff College of India, points out, 'A paper has a high impact when it is published in a prestigious journal, and it is difficult for an unknown researcher to publish in such places. Prestigious Western journals prefer to publish research from highly-ranked institutes, and it is well-known that most such institutes are in the West. Thus, Indian scientists who move abroad to work with well-known institutes do not face such difficulties in publishing. It also helps that the research infrastructure is well-developed abroad.' India also have to ramp up its knowledge sharing i.e. increase number of citations in patent documents and collaboration between industry and academia. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 17 may 2016
India's educational institutions need to ramp up their focus on research and innovation, in addition to quality of teaching, to improve their global rankings and stand at par with world's leading institutions. According to Prof. C. Raj Kumar, Founding Vice Chancellor of O. P. Jindal Global University and Dean of Jindal Global Law School, 'The reason why Indian higher education institutions constantly fail to feature in the annual world university rankings is because we have failed to appreciate the inter-disciplinary approach in higher education. In India, the gross enrolment ratio is less than 20% and the aspiration is to increase this to 30-40% in the next decade or so. Also, there is a high level of distrust between the government and the providers of higher education. We have a lot to learn for institution-building and there is a need for emphasising 'Making of India' rather than Make in India.' He further suggests, 'Widening the reach of education in the country, promoting research and world-class training programmes for academic administrators are some key measures needed to create a sustainable future for the country and its citizens.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 08 may 2016
UK-India Social Enterprise Education Network (UKISEEN), a collaborative project between IIT Madras (India) and University of Southampton (UK), funded by British Council, was recently launched in India. Prof. Pathik Pathak, Director of Social Enterprise and founding director of Social Impact Lab at University of Southampton, explains his views on social entrepreneurship education and employment, aims and objectives of UKISEEN and how India is embracing social entrepreneurship. ON SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP: 'Fundamentally, it's about using entrepreneurship and innovation to drive social change. Social entrepreneurship is important because it gives students a unique skill-set...We think that social entrepreneurship is a catalyst for producing the graduates that the world needs. This is why so many universities in India have embraced social entrepreneurship.' ON UKISEEN: 'It involves universities collaborating to understand the best practices in social entrepreneurship education and exchanging ideas. There are two levels to the collaboration - at the faculty level and student level.' ON ROLE OF UNIVERSITIES: 'Employability is all about leadership now...universities' role includes more than merely educating students. Social entrepreneurship helps students inculcate innovation and creative skills. Fundamentally, it is about problem-solving, which is what leadership is all about as well. Besides, regardless of the profession you enter, you need to be entrepreneurial.' ON EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES: 'One can go and work in the social investment space...Another indirect way is that it gives them the skills to go into the workforce and become leaders.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 30 apr 2016
India's demographic dividend will reap full benefit only when it successfully nurtures its young population through integrated actionable strategies related to skills development, job opportunities in diverse areas and creating entrepreneurship ecosystems. The latest Asia-Pacific Human Development Report points towards challenges that India faces regarding availability of employment to the increasing population. The report released by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) said that between 1991 and 2013, the size of the 'working age' population increased by 300 million while only less than half (140 million) could get absorbed in the workforce, suggesting limited capacity of the Indian economy to generate jobs. The report estimated that by 2050, at least 280 million people will enter the job market in India. Moreover, according to India's Ministry of Labour & Employment data, an estimated 1 million people enter the workforce every month, while many others choose to study further. At any given point, around 30 million students are pursuing higher education in India. The UNDP report includes India into countries that have large low-income population, big agriculture sector and high rural-to-urban migration, and suggests that India can focus on specific industries, particularly in manufacturing, to create jobs considering that its manufacturing base is still small, contributing to only 15% of GDP and 11% of employment. According to Professor N. R. Bhanumurthy of National Institute of Public Finance and Policy, 'The creation of fewer jobs between 1991 and 2013 was largely because of the nature of growth the Indian economy experienced. It was mostly services-led growth with low employment intensity...The problem could be addressed if the government's effort to create more manufacturing jobs through programmes such as Make In India and Startup India fructifies.' India's large informal sector, which accounts for 84% of current jobs, adds to the workforce complexity and resulting challenges. The report suggests that measures need to be taken to tackle issues and concerns related to informal employment. The measures could include universal registration of workers; effective implementation of existing labour laws; formal binding guidelines for contracts between employers, recruiters and workers; reform and harmonization of major labour laws applicable to the industry; and reform of social security laws to allow more effective implementation. Read on...
India to see severe shortage of jobs in the next 35 years
Author: Asit Ranjan Mishra
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 20 apr 2016
India's healthcare landscape is undergoing continuous transformation. Although there is substantial reduction in IMR (Infant Mortality Rate) and MMR (Maternal Mortality Ratio), but at the same time rising cost of healthcare for its citizens is a cause of concern. Public health spending has been reduced by government from 1.47% of GDP in 1986-87 to 1.05% in 2015-16. According to Vandana Prasad, national convener of Public Health Resource Network, '...We have made gains in maternal and child health by establishing public health systems in rural areas...' Health surveys by National Sample Survey Organization (NSSO) show that Indians are now more dependent on private healthcare and this trend is clearly visible if the figures of 42nd and 71st NSSO reports are compared - 60% availed public health services in 1986-87 and remaing went for private, while only 41% utilized public health system in 2015-16. Prof. Rajesh Kumar of Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) Chandigarh, says, 'Out-of-pocket expenditure is the main cause of worry for the patients. A number of people fall from above poverty line (APL) category to below poverty line (BPL) category because of this. Nearly 70% of out-of-pocket expenditure is due to medicines...' Ravi Duggal, health economist at International Budget Partnership, points out how reduction in budgetary allocation to health by government affects public health system. He says, 'What this under-financing did was to reduce the credibility of public health institutions among general people. And doctors and nurses left the public health system, creating huge vacancies in primary health centres and public hospitals.' Other health-based challenges that India faces include the increasing burden of both communicable and non-communicable diseases. According to a 2014 report by the World Economic Forum and Harvard School of Public Health, the economic burden of lifestyle diseases like heart diseases, stroke, pulmonary diseases and diabetes, account for about 40% of all hospital stays and roughly 35% of all recorded outpatient visits. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 03 mar 2016
Harvard University academics, Prof. Mark R. Kramer and Prof. Michael E. Porter, introduced the concept of 'Creating Shared Value (CSV)' in HBR (2011), as an approach that takes into account social problems which intersect with businesses and makes it a major part of the core business strategy of a company. In the context of India the approach is much more relevant as it is still struggling with numerous social issues like poverty, illiteracy, unemployment, health etc. The academics feel that Indian businesses are still missing something in their view of long-term sustainabile business models. While speaking at 'Shared Value Summit 2015' in India, Prof. Kramer said, 'You cannot have a successful business in a failing society...for the CSV model to become a part of corporate hygiene anywhere needs major mindset change where we embrace a problem solving approach that goes beyond thinking what we can do in our company alone to also what we can do for society that we operate in.' He further explains that, 'CSV doesn't replace CSR and philanthropy, but can be in addition to them, such that businesses can find new opportunities for competitive advantage by beginning to think about these social issues as part of their overall corporate strategy.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 09 feb 2016
Dynamics of interactions, engagement and relationships between entrepreneurs and investors is an essential component of new business development process. During the initial phase of startup creation and at different stages of development and growth of their enterprise, entrepreneurs need investors that can fulfil their financial or fundraising requirements. Prof. Thillai Rajan A. of Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras and Prof. Swati Panda of Institute of Management Technology at Hyderabad, provide insights on how entrepreneurs can improve their chances of getting funded if they understand the differences between various types of investors and pitch to them accordingly. They conducted a detailed survey of 45 investors, whom they classified into three categories - angel investors, independent venture capitalists (VCs) and institutional VCs. All types of investors consider valuation as having a mix of both subjectivity and objectivity, but the quantity of each vary with the type of investor. Higher number of angel investors indicated valuation as a subjective process, while higher proportion of institutional VCs consider valuation as an objective process. When asked about the priorities for the different factors that influence valuation, all investors indicated that founder and management team are the biggest influencer of valuation. Moreover all types of investors gave least emphasis to past financial performance, and focused more on the future prospects. In case of relative importance of valuation, deal structure and return covenants, although all investors gave valuation of deal first preference, but the relative priorities differ. For angel investors valuation is relatively lowest while return covenants the highest. Deal structuring has almost same emphasis for all. Prof. Rajan explains, 'This indicates that entry valuation can be an important determinant of returns. While deal structure and return covenants can help contain losses, valuation probably determines the magnitude of upside gains from the investment.' Knowing the differences between investors can assist entrepreneurs to customize their propositions and deliver effective and targeted communication. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 30 jan 2016
A panel of health experts from the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), the Public Health Foundation of India and the National Institute of Nutrition, recently demanded pictorial and health warning on junk food packets in order to provide information to people on health issues caused by them. According to Prof. Vandana Jain, in-charge of Division of Pedriatrics Endocrinology at AIIMS, 'We have recommended pictorial warnings on junk foods...or health warnings saying that this product contains fat and salt in excess of what is recommended or even a picture of liver may be put on pack indicating that consuming them may lead to fatty liver in children and adults.' Consumption of products with high sugar, fat and salt have adverse health implications and World Health Organization (WHO) has stated that the best way to prevent obesity among children is to put restrictions on marketing of unhealthy foods. Read on...
The Economic Times:
Health experts demand pictorial warnings on junk food packets
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 30 jan 2016
According to the 2016 Best Countries Ranking of U.S. News, prepared in collaboration with Wharton School and BAV Consulting, India is included at top of the Movers ranking of countries with up-and-coming economies, and overall it is ranked 22nd. Prof. David J. Reibstein, who teaches marketing at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and participated in developing the rankings, says 'Nations should pay attention to how they are seen by others, since enhancing these perceptions could create a large economic benefit. The experience of tourists is just one of the factors that colour those impressions, along with the experiences of customers, investors, followers of global news and social media, and what people hear from others.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 14 dec 2015
Recently published paper in The Lancet, 'Assuring health coverage for all in India' by a team of researchers (Vikram Patel; Rachana Parikh; Sunil Nandraj; Priya Balasubramaniam; Kavita Narayan; Vinod K. Paul; A. K. Shiva Kumar; Mirai Chatterjee; K. Srinath Reddy), explores India's healthcare delivery system and found structural deficiencies inspite of continuous efforts by the policy makers to improve it. Large healthcare disparities continue to exist from region to region and from section to section in society. The system is unable to cope with the enormous demand that is placed on it. Researchers suggest that India's healthcare sytem requires a radical transformation in its architecture if it wants to efficiently fulfil the vision of the government to provide affordable healthcare for all. Presently the skyrocketing cost of healthcare in India is driving millions of its citizens to poverty and it is one of the most disturbing indicator of the deficiencies in the healthcare system. According to Prof. Vikram Patel (Public Health Foundation of India and London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine), 'The health time-bomb ticks on due to the rising burden of non-communicable diseases. Suicide is now a leading cause of death for young Indians, and an Indian is likely to suffer from a heart attack at least ten years earlier than in developed countries and yet the health care system has barely responded to these urgent health crises.' Experts believe that insufficient and ineffective regulation on the private sector has led to corruption across the sector, with consequent poor quality of care and impoverishment of patients. The paper mentions that the single biggest impediment to a holistic approach to health governance in the country is the lack of convergence between ministries related to health, water, sanitation, and national vertical targeted programs. The authors argue that it is essential for the state to prioritise health as a fundamental public good, central to India's developmental aspirations, at par with education. The researchers argue that India's healthcare system not only need more resources but it requires an integrated national healthcare system, built around a strong public primary care system with a clearly defined supportive role for the private and indigenous sectors, that addresses acute as well as chronic health care needs. The paper recommends, 'In the immediate future, both the central and state governments should jointly launch a campaign to explain the principles and benefits of universal health coverage and engage with all concerned stakeholders in an atmosphere of a national mission. The role of communities and civil society is critical and they must be actively empowered to engage with this more radical vision of health care.' Read on...
The Asian Age:
India's healthcare in need of radical transformation
Author: Teena Thacker
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 | 05 dec 2015
US-based Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA) while describing the goals of architectural education explains, 'As a professional discipline, architecture spans both the arts and the sciences. Students must have an understanding of the arts and humanities, as well as a basic technical understanding of structures and construction. Skills in communication, both visual and verbal, are essential. While knowledge and skills must be developed, design is ultimately a process of critical thinking, analysis, and creative activity.' Prof. Akhtar Chauhan, Director of Rizvi College of Architecture (Mumbai, India) and founder president of International Association for Humane Habitat (IAHH), provides architectural students his views, discusses various aspects of architectural education and suggests what the education system should look for to create professionals who can work cohesively and sustainably for the future. ON CURRICULUM AND CLASSROOM LEARNING: 'Each student is encouraged to find his or her own expression through creative exploration...several electives are included which provides colleges with opportunities to experiment, explore and evolve their distinctive philosophy. Here at Rizvi, we are concerned with issues of sustainable architecture, affordable housing, appropriate and innovative technology and humane habitat.' ON ACADEMICS AND STUDENTS: 'You are likely to find the dreamers and the rebels. The dreamers create new kinds of environments. The rebels are the ones who want to change the world and look at every aspect of academics accordingly...since students in architecture are generally stressed with creativity, they are more involved in the process of self discovery over marks.' ON SOFT SKILLS: 'These are integrated within the curriculum...It is imperative for students of architecture to learn to express themselves through different mediums, including model making, photography, design, films, and so on.' ON CHALLENGES FACED BY STUDENTS: 'For those getting into first year, the environment change is huge...They need to unlearn those old methods at every step and adopt a new approach which is much more creative and open-ended...Due to emphasis on creativity, almost every student struggles initially to find his or her own expression. And students soon realise that this becomes a lifelong struggle.' ON BALANCE BETWEEN INDIVIDUAL CREATIVITY AND CLIENT'S NEEDS: 'Creating something for a client is a two-way process and every student should try and develop solutions for spaces...Students should think about the environment, sustainability, and aesthetic expression so that their architecture contributes a pride-level in society.' ON FINDING INSPIRATION: 'Nature itself is a great source of inspiration. Students can also look upon the great role models, architects like Charles Correa, Achyut Kanvinde, Christopher Benninger and Laurie Baker...At institutional level, they can approach architecture societies, associations and networks for advice, consultation and guidance.' Read on...
The Free Press Journal:
"To create and innovate, you can't rely on copy and paste!" - Prof. Akhtar Chauhan
Author: Shraddha Kamdar
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 18 may 2015
According to S. Ayyappan, Secretary of Department of Agricultural Research & Education (DARE) and Director General of Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), 'Multidisciplinary research and applications are required to improve agriculture in India.' He suggests, 'The future of India and the world lay in everyone becoming interested in the outcomes of agriculture, since it's everybody's business.' Vijay Chandru, Chairman and CEO of Strand Life Sciences, says 'Innovations are happening in genome sequencing and it might soon become personalized and a precise way of diagnosing diseases. There is need for biologists, bioinformaticians and information scientists to collaborate in this regard.' Read on...
Research needed to improve agriculture, says expert
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 16 apr 2015
Using technology to bring social change and improve people's lives is a challenging task. 'One-size-fits-all' approaches to implement technology strategies may not be effective and provide expected results. There is need to have proper context, clarity of purpose and supportive environment to fulfil the promises that technology intends to bring for the well-being and welfare of the society. Professor Kentaro Toyama of University of Michigan, in his latest book 'Geek Heresy: Rescuing Social Change from the Cult of Technology', argues that technologists undermine efforts at social progress by promoting 'packaged interventions' at the expense of more difficult reforms. Prof. Toyama has worked extensively in India and launched various projects that sought to use computers and Internet connectivity to improve education and reduce poverty. Following are selected excerpts from his Q&A session done by Brian Bergstein, deputy editor of MIT Technology Review - • 'There are already several randomized, controlled trials of schools with and without One Laptop per Child. Generally, what most of these studies show is that schools with laptops did not see their children gain anything in terms of academic achievement, in terms of grades, in terms of test scores, in terms of attendance, or in terms of supposed engagement with the classroom.' • 'I think it's perfectly sensible for parents to want a certain amount of exposure to technology for their children, both as a form of explorative play and as a way to get them used to technology that they'll undoubtedly encounter later in their life. I think the fundamental error people make is that, therefore, we should have the computer be the primary instrument of education for all children...I think one of the issues is we tend to think of education as being the content. We overemphasize the importance of content, as opposed to emphasizing the part that's really difficult in any good education, which is adult-supervised motivation - the motivation of the child to learn something.' • 'If you measure some positive benefit in the technology case, your conclusion is that technology helped. But it was always the people that we worked with, the partners that we chose and the people on the ground who interacted with the people that we wanted to support. All of those human factors were required for the technology itself to have an impact; whether the technology helped or not was really up to people.' Read on...
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 | 04 sep 2014
Indiscriminate, inappropriate and excessive use of antibiotics leads to an undesirable consequence of multi drug resistant bug. In 2009 metallo lactamase NDM-1 was first detected in a patient in New Delhi. In a recent study conducted by a team of researchers led by Dr. Asad Ullah Khan and Dr. Shadab Parvez of Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), have found a deadly bacteria variant known as NDM-4 from the samples of the Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College Hospital's sewage. This is the first recorded occurence of NDM-4, which is also called 'super bug' and is a more deadly variant of NDM-1, in India. According to Dr. Khan, 'We have to spread more awareness nationwide regarding the urgent need of taking due precautions with regards to safe drinking water and uncontaminated food.' Dr. Khan mentioned that high risk group for this bacteria are people with very low resistance such as cancer and HIV patients. Read on...
The Financial Times:
Antibiotic resistant 'super bug' found by Aligarh Muslim University researchers
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 30 aug 2014
International Monetary Fund (IMF), with inputs from readers, select global economists and journal editors, recently compiled a list of 25 'Generation Next' economists, below the age of 45, who are influencing and shaping the way one understands global economy. In this list there are four Indian-origin economists - (1) Raj Chetty of Harvard University (Research: Combines empirical evidence & economic theory to help design more effective government policies; Equality of opportunity); (2) Gita Gopinath of Harvard University (Research: International finance & macroeconomics with focus on issues related to international price setting, currency choice & exchange rate pass-through, business cycles & crisis); (3) Parag Pathak of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Research: Market & mechanism design; Labor economics; Education economics & reform); (4) Amit Seru of University of Chicago (Research: Financial intermediation & regulation; Resource allocation & internal organization of firms; Performance evaluation & incentives). Read on...
Four gen-next Indian-origin economists in IMF list of 25
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 04 jun 2014
Team of researchers from Indian Institute of Science, Professor Namrata Gundiah and Lakshminath Kundanati, have found that egg-laying organs of parasitoid wasps (ovipositors) have saw like teeth coated with zinc. This provides wasps ability to drill holes and lay eggs inside figs. Prof. Gundiah explains, 'There is a mutualism that exists between the pollinator fig and the wasps that has evolved over millions of years. The parasitoid tries to take advantage of this situation and this has evolved with her trying to access the pollinator larvae so that she may parasite them to ensure the evolutionary success of her offspring.' According to Lakshminath Kundati, 'The research is directed to understand material characterization and mechanics of a biological system. It can find applications elsewhere like, developing tools that aid in novel surgical methods.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 01 mar 2014
'Taylor Rule', developed by Stanford University economist John B. Taylor, is an interest rate feedback rule of how central banks should set short-term interest rates as economic conditions change to meet the goals of economic stability together with desired inflation rate. The rule states that short-term interest rates should be determined by two factors - inflation and output gaps. In the article Professor Tulsi Jayakumar of S.P. Jain Institute of Management and Research, explores the dynamics of India's policy rates, how they relate to global policy trends and their comparison with rates prescribed by the Taylor Rule. He mentions the findings of recent RBI study that was based on the quarterly estimates for the period 2000-01 to 2012-13. According to the study, proxy policy rate (average overnight call money rate) shows greater divergence from standard Taylor Rule interest rate in the post-crisis period (after the third quarter of 2007-08) than the pre-crisis period. For most of the crisis-period the policy rate has been above the Taylor Rule rate. Also the gap has narrowed in 2012-13. Another significant finding is that the higher the deviation of the policy rate from that implied by the standard Taylor Rule (interest rate gap), higher is the deviation of the inflation from its desired level (inflation gap). Read on...
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