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Young desis still prefer to work abroad'

(6/1/2012) ToI,

Young India's fixation with the West continues even though many non-resident Indians and expats believe this is their preferred place of work. Even the growing economy at home, clocking one of the best growth rates in the world, hasn't deterred the young workforce here from wanting to take a flight abroad.

Despite the gloom surrounding the developed economies, a majority of younger employees in India are keen on seeking jobs abroad that, too, without a pay hike, according to findings of a survey conducted by a global recruitment firm. Although, jobs may have dried up in the sluggish developed countries, young Indian professionals below 40 years still prefer to go out of India, said Ma Foi Randstad's quarterly review of 'mental mobility status' of employees globally. In fact, India ranks the highest on the mobility index.

Talking to TOI, E Balaji, MD & CEO of Ma Foi Randstad, said, "This is what youngsters in their 20s and 30s prefer but that does not mean job opportunities are available in these markets. The urban young prefer the Western economies like US, Europe, South-East Asia, Europe and Australia, if given a choice to work abroad." As many as 39% employees with lower educational qualifications said they would move abroad even if they do not manage a pay hike while a bigger chunk of employees with higher education - 60% - said they will opt to work outside at the same salary. A significantly higher proportion of men-79%-expect to go abroad for work that promises higher pay compared to 65% women.

While India has seen a back flow of talent in the recent years in the backdrop of the financial crisis which hit the world in 2008, the survey indicates that young Indians do not mind getting a global exposure professionally. " If you look at the 60% who have said they want to move abroad, a majority of them would consider working outside of India for six months or a year. Not that all of these would be ready to migrate to another country," said Surabhi Mathur-Gandhi, VP (IT sourcing) at Teamlease Services. The IT sector which emerged in the early 2000s as a big draw for middle-class young Indians was a lot to do with it offering opportunities to work abroad. But things have changed over the years with challenging work coming to India, added Gandhi from Teamlease, a staffing services firm. " The reason for wanting to go out of India in the IT sector is not because of the quality of work on offer here, it is largely because people want a lifestyle change," she said.

The survey said that while globally employees do not want to move abroad for jobs with less than a third of the respondents worldwide supporting the idea China and India, stood out as 64% and 58% of employees, respectively, said they would move abroad if they got the right job. In another extreme, employees in countries such as Denmark, Japan, Luxembourg and Switzerland indicated they want to stay put even if they get a pay rise.

Sunil Goel, director, GlobalHunt, an HR recruitment firm, said, "Though salaries in India have gone up and become globally competitive, the young Indian wants to taste the foreign soil and get more exposure in their respective professions. Opting for a job abroad still works like a dream come true for young Indians as they are attracted by better lifestyle, best in class infrastructure, organized policies and governance."

Tags: Abroad, Employment, Young Indians, Job Trend, TeamLease, MaFoi


Indians working abroad to get cover, pension benefits

(5/01/2012) ToI,

In a move that could benefit overseas Indian workers particularly those who are in the Gulf countries, the government on Wednesday cleared a proposal for setting up of a Pension and Life Insurance Fund (PLIF) for them in the Emigration Check Required (ECR) countries.

Around 20% of overseas Indian workers in ECR countries are women. They are even more vulnerable to old-age poverty than men due to a higher life expectancy, lower income, a shorter working age and periodic interruptions in employment due to childbirth and other family responsibilities.

Under the scheme, the government co-contribution of Rs 1,000 per annum in line with Swavalamban platform for all PLIF subscribers who contribute between Rs 1,000 and Rs 12,000 per year in NPS-Lite, the new national pension scheme.

Besides, a special additional co-contribution of Rs 1,000 per annum by the overseas Indian affairs ministry (MOIA) will be made for overseas Indian women workers who contribute between Rs 1,000 and Rs 12,000 per annum in NPS-Lite.

A special Return and Resettlement co-contribution of Rs 1,000 by MOIA will also be given to overseas Indian workers who contribute Rs 4,000 per annum towards Return and Resettlement.

This scheme will provide a social security coverage to overseas Indian workers, particularly in the Gulf. The overseas Indian workers have traditionally been excluded from access to formal social security and retirement savings schemes available to residents of the ECR countries. They are similarly excluded from pension and social security schemes available to formal and informal sector workers in India.

Tags: Abroad, Emigration Check Required, ECR, Job Trend, Salary Trend, Social Security Coverage Scheme


US call centre bill: Indian BPOs not too worried

(22/1/2011) ToI,

There's a tinge of anxiety, but the general feeling in the Indian BPO industry is that the proposed new bill tabled in the US House of Representatives to discourage movement of call centres overseas will not become law.

If it indeed becomes law, it could negatively impact the BPO sector, but not necessarily the bigger players. The bill seeks to stop federal grants and contracts to US companies that offshore call centres. It will mandate a 120-day advance notification before moving a call centre overseas. Such measures could hold back at least some who might otherwise consider offshoring. Sameer Dhamrajani, country head, Fidelity National Financial India, said the move would be detrimental both to the BPO industry and US corporates.

For US corporates, offshoring brings significant savings, and those who depend on government grants and contracts will have to consider if the savings from offshoring will offset the negative impact of any federal withdrawals.

S Nagarajan, co-founder of BPO firm 24/7 Customer, does not foresee any serious pull back on account of the bill. "It will only increase cost for US consumers, and US corporations wouldn't want to do that" D Swaminathan, MD of Infosys BPO, said BPOs were innovating, and improving cost competitiveness, which would make it even more difficult for US corporates to ignore them.

The bill would mandate that customer service representatives working abroad for US corporations have to disclose locations upon request, and they should have option of being transferred to call centres back in US. For bigger players, this would be less of an issue as some have established and others are in the process of establishing centres in the US.

A spokesperson of BPO firm Aegis said the bill would have no implication on its operations. Aegis has over 5,000 people spread across 9 centres in the US. Over 90% of employees there are local US citizens. Keshav Murugesh, group CEO of BPO company WNS, said the company has been ramping up and opening delivery centres around the world to mitigate risks from legislation that could affect location of clients/delivery centres in a single country. "We have also been evaluating opening of a delivery centre in the US to cater to the onshore outsourcing requirements of our clients," he said. Infosys BPO is also ramping up its US operation.

Everybody slammed movers of the bill for their "protectionist" move. "It restricts free trade, it's discriminatory. Protectionism is always answered by protectionism," Nasscom president Som Mittal said.

Tags: Abroad, US, Call Centre Bill, BPO Sector, Job Trend, Fidelity National Financial India


Young women head back to school in US

(29/12/2011) HT,

Workers are dropping out of the labour force in droves, mostly women, many of them young. But they are not dropping out forever; they seem to be postponing their working lives to get more education. For the first time in three decades, there are more young women in school than in the work force.

"I was working part-time at Starbucks for a year and a half," said Laura Baker, 24, who started a master's program in strategic communications this fall at the University of Denver. "I wasn't willing to just stay there. I had to do something."

Many economists initially thought that the shrinking labour force - which drove down November's unemployment rate - was caused primarily by discouraged older workers giving up on the job market. Instead, many of the workers on the sidelines are young people upgrading their skills, which could portend something like the postwar economic boom, when millions of World War II veterans went to college through the GI Bill instead of immediately entering, and overwhelming, the job market.

Now, as was the case then, one sex is the primary beneficiary. Women in their late teens and early 20s view today's economic lull as an opportunity to upgrade their skills, but their male counterparts are more likely to take whatever job they can find.

The longer-term consequences, economists say, are that the next generation of women may have a significant advantage over the men, whose career options are already constrained.

"Almost everyone in my programme is female," said Baker. "As women we feel we have to be more educated to be able to compete."

"It doesn't surprise me that in a poor economy women are ramping up their schooling," said Heather Boushey, an economist at the Center for American Progress. "The real question is: Why aren't more men doing it too?"

Why, indeed?

Tags: Abroad, Young Women, School, Education, Career Option



Rs 500 cr more to be spent on innovation in farm, allied sectors

(21/11/2011) The Hindu Business Line:

The National Agricultural Innovation Programme (NAIP) will spend Rs 500 crore more in the next two years on various projects to add value to agriculture and allied sectors.

The project cost is pegged at Rs 1,200 crore. The programme is aimed at developing technology-based innovations to improve the income of farmers and those living on allied sectors. The project is funded by the World Bank and is guided by Indian Council of Agriculture Research.

“The programme has already started yielding results. Though they are implemented in certain pockets, they can be replicated to other areas,” Dr Bangali Baboo said.

Dr Baboo was here to address the ‘Innovations for industry' (crop sciences) at the National Academy of Agricultural Research Management (NAARM) here on Saturday.

Giving an example of replicable projects, Dr Baboo said a project in Ratnagiri (Maharashtra) had developed a model that helped fishermen go to a particular place in the waters to catch fish. “The model uses information sent by satellites. It saves time and fuel for fishermen,” he said.

The meet showcased innovations from seven Government research institutes such as Central Tobacco Research Institute, Directorate of Sorghum and Directorate of Rice Research.


There is no news update in this category.

 Armed Force

Pay Defence trainees salaries: Congress MP

(5/12/2011) ToI,

Citing that the private sector was weaning away young men eager to fulfil their financial needs, a Congress MP has sought parity between armed forces and civil services demanding that trainees at the defence academies be paid full salaries like the central services academies.

Maharajganj MP Harshvardhan has written to defence minister A K Antony asking that the defence forces and bureaucracy be brought at par. He said youth from rural areas and humble backgrounds, also the "would-be sole bread earners" for their families, were joining defence academies.

"In many cases, these capable youth opt out for private sector jobs just to fulfil the financial obligation to their families. This happens at the cost of entry to the defence forces," he wrote.

Harshvardhan's fresh demand came after the defence ministry rejected an earlier plea. The ministry had replied that "obtaining commission is culmination of training and should be the criteria of grant of pay".

Himself a Sainik School alumnus, the MP has been pushing for early salary packets for trainees. "This is not the case with any of the central services academies, national academies or even state-level academies," he lamented in the letter also copied to the PM and the FM.


 Art & Design

Footwear industry doubles to Rs 20,000 cr in 5 years as Indians go on shopping spree

(22/11/2011) ET

Madhu Malhotra could not believe her luck when she chanced upon a pink and white pair of heels that had an uncanny resemblance to her pink and white embroidered kurta at DB Mall in Bhopal. The school teacher also scooped up a pair of maroon flats that day to go with her jeans on weekends, increasing her shoe count to 35 pairs.

"People have a tendency to buy only on Diwali, but I buy through the year," the 58-year-old giggles, having bought a pair of gladiator flats on a recent holiday to Mumbai.

She’s not an exception. Many Indian consumers now spend as much on footwear as on apparel and change their shoes for different occasions, helping expand footwear range from formals, casuals and home wear to weddings, monsoons, clubwear, sportswear, adventure, beachwear and lounge wear. They have also helped the footwear industry double in the past five years to an estimated Rs 20,000 crore and prompted retailers to widen their footprint with some urgency.

Here is an industry where everybody is in a rush and nobody talks slowdown, which is being felt in most areas of the economy.

Harkirat Singh, MD of the Rs 600-crore Woodland, says the industry is not feeling any impact of slowdown due to a number of external triggers that include more women joining the workforce, an increasing desire to look good and rise in consumer aspiration levels. All of which are pushing shoe retailing to newer heights," says Singh.

Big retailers such as Bata, Liberty and Reliance Footprint are adding nearly two stores a week and opening large-format outlets in smaller cities.

Footwear Shopping has Increased
The country's largest shoe retailer Bata India's group MD Rajeev Gopalakrishnan says increasing competition is forcing the companies to refresh their collection at a faster rate than before.

Industry insiders say the frequency of footwear shopping has increased dramatically. While men buy a pair of shoes every quarter, women do it faster, every two months. "With fast-changing fashion, customers prefer to update shoes and accessories whenever they update their wardrobe with new apparel," says Kabir Lumba, MD of department store chain Lifestyle International, which has reported 50% year-on-year growth in the footwear segment since 2008.

While women may labour over design, colour and heel sizes ranging from ballerina flats to kitten heels, wedges and stilettos, men sweat over anti-skid, biodegradable and waterproof materials. And a lot of customers are now more concerned about the looks than comfort and durability, says Jacob John, brand head of apparel brand Louis Philippe, which entered the footwear market last year.

Footwear accounts for 10% of Louis Philippe's revenues. The fashion brand owned by Madura Fashion & Lifestyle recently opened a pure play men's footwear store in Pune. Anupam Bansal, MD of Liberty Retail Revolutions, says Indians now spend 8-10% of their income on footwear and accessories.

Shailen Amin, CEO of multi-brand shoe portal Be Stylish, says young professionals crossing over from the unorganised segment to branded footwear are driving the growth.

Luxury on Foot
The organised footwear market is estimated at Rs 17,500-20,000 crore, growing at 10-15% a year, although top companies independently claim to be growing at 25-30%. The men's segment accounts for nearly 60% of the market, with leather products dominating.
But women and children's segments are growing faster, making many retailers step into this market. Demand is growing in smaller cities such as Sangli, Dehradun, Bathinda and Patiala. The luxury segment too is growing rapidly. Luxury brand Jimmy Choo, popular for its Swarovski-encrusted heels retailing at over Rs 1 lakh, grew 30% y-o-y in 2010-11 and has opened five stores in the past three years.

"Earlier, new, aspirational consumers entered the designer segment through handbags. But in many cases, shoes are becoming an entry point today," says Deepika Gehani, creative head of Genesis Luxury, which has brought Jimmy Choo to India.

Anand Ramanathan, associate director at management consultancy KPMG, says that although it's driven by fashion trends, the footwear industry is comparatively less risky than the apparel business. "Not only is the ticket size of footwear much higher per sq ft but the exposure to market changes is also lower because the product does not expire as fast," he says. While Reliance Footprint and Liberty say sports and casual wear are the fastest growing, a loyal franchise for men's office wear brand Hush Puppies has prompted Bata to open 11 standalone outlets for the brand.


There is no news update in this category.


There is no news update in this category.

 Civil Services

Help for civil services aspirants from minorities

(28/12/2011) Tribune,

Sohan Singh Suri Taran Kaur Suri Charitable Trust today announced that it would finance 30 civil services aspirants from the minorities.

Chairman of the trust, Bhupinder Singh Suri who is from a poor background, but now running petrol pumps across Delhi and Delhi Minorities Commission member Pushpinder Singh in a joint statement said the trust would provide the facility to only 30 students initially --15 Sikhs and the remaining from other minorities.

The trust has made an arrangement with the BYJU's study centre for teaching the aspirants. BYJU charges Rs 1 lakh for each student, but the money will be paid by the trust. To select 30 students, the trust will conduct a test on January 7.

A notice would be sent to DU, Jamia Millia Islamia, Guru GGSIPU and JNU asking them to recommend their students to take this test.

Tags: Civil Services, Delhi Minorities Commission, Aspirants, DU, Jamia Millia Islamia, Guru GGSIPU, JNU


Indian firms lose payment power

(3/1/2012) HT,

Crisil Ratings on Tuesday said the repeated interest rate hikes by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and lower operating profits due to high input costs have pulled down Indian firms’ interest-paying ability to a five-year low.

Even though the RBI has now hinted at a pause to its rate hike cycle, Crisil said it expects the interest coverage ratio to remain under pressure on the back of a dip in overall growth expectations.

In the September quarter, interest costs for companies grew 36%, bringing down the interest coverage ratio to 4.8 times versus the 7.8 times in the year ago period and a five-year average of 8.4 times, a study conducted by the agency’s research arm revealed. At the lower end of the spectrum, companies with an interest coverage ratio below two times rose sharply to 117 in the July-September period from 69 in the same period last fiscal, it said.

“While interest coverage is still healthy at 4.8 times, the magnitude of drop over the past few quarters is high,” said Roopa Kudva, chief executive and managing director, Crisil.

Uncertainties in the West and lower gross domestic product (GDP) growth domestically will push Indian companies into a slower revenue growth phase which could increase the pressure on profit and further deteriorate interest coverage ratios, she said.

The central bank adopted a unilateral strategy of attacking the inflation number and successive hikes saw the repo rate--at which it lends to the system--growing from 5% in March 2009 to 8.5% in December 2011.

While the headline inflation number continues to be elevated, the hikes have ended up impacting growth as investment activity slowed down. The government and RBI have been repeatedly revising down GDP forecasts for the fiscal and recently governor D Subbarao had raised doubts if the economy will achieve even the 7.6% projected by him earlier.

The Crisil study also says after a gap of 8 quarters, the September quarter also witnessed a decline in the operating profit and reported profit after tax by companies.

Tags: Economy, Crisil Ratings, Reserve Bank of India, RBI, Interest-Paying Ability, GDP


Indians remit more than $1 billion abroad in FY11

Oct 11 2011

Indians are remitting money abroad at a robust pace. Data recently released by the Reserve Bank of India show doubling, tripling - and in some cases, up to 30 times increase - in spending on purchase of overseas property, stocks and gifts by Indians in the past five years. "As Indians increasingly get integrated with the global world these remittances will continue to rise.

Tags: Economy, Remitting Money, Reserve Bank of India, 1 Billion


Manufacturing Rises to 6-mth High in Dec

(3/1/2012) ET,

Rebound in manufacturing follows rise in core sector numbers last week that hinted at a pick-up in industrial growth

Manufacturing activity climbed to a six-month high in December as new orders rose, reinforcing signs of industrial revival. The HSBC Markit India Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index rose to 54.2 from 51.0 in November, the highest level since June and the sharpest monthly rise since April 2009, according to data released on Monday. A reading below 50 indicates contraction. It was 52 in October and 50.4 in September. The rebound in manufacturing follows core sector numbers last week that hinted at a pick-up in industrial growth. The index for eight core sector industries, which have a combined weight of 38% in the index of industrial production (IIP), expanded 6.5% in November.
Activity in the manufacturing sector rebounded in December, led by higher demand from both domestic and foreign clients, suggesting that the momentum in the sector is not quite as weak as official and more dated IP (industrial production) data would suggest, said Leif Eskesen, economist at HSBC.A 5.1% contraction in industrial growth in October had triggered a slew of downgrades in GDP growth estimates, with some even forecasting below-7 % growth. The positive PMI data aided the benchmark stock index in its 0.4% rise but failed to enthuse independent economists.
The overall manufacturing picture looks gloomy and one cant expect any major improvements in the coming three months, Institute of Economic Growth professor Pradeep Agrawal said, adding that only after state elections can one expect recovery-boosting policy reforms. Biswajit Dhar, director-general of RIS, a think-tank, said, It is definitely good news as far as signals to market sentiments are concerned, so one cant dismiss it, but don’t expect much effect on overall growth (GDP) performance. The PMI is calculated using data from a questionnaire-based survey of purchasing executives in over 500 manufacturing companies. The survey is not always an accurate gauge of manufacturing because of the presence of a large unorganised sector. Greater input purchases by companies would suggest a rise in production. The managers surveyed said higher purchases were primarily due to rise in new orders, both domestic and international. The new orders index rose to 57.9 from 52.8 in November, biggest jump in two years.
The survey showed rising input costs, which the companies were able to pass on because of the still robust demand. The solid demand from clients allowed manufacturing companies to increase output prices at an accelerated pace to pass on rising costs... All in all, these numbers suggest it's premature for the RBI to replace inflation with growth as the main concern, Eskesen said. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has indicated it will cut policy rates if inflation moderates. The central bank has lifted repo rate 13 times since March 2010 by 3.75 percentage points to 8.5%.The steep climb in interest rates has hit heavily leveraged companies hard and dampened demand in rate sensitive sectors such as real estate and automobiles.

Tags: Economy, Manufacturing Sector, HSBC Markit India Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index, RBI, Reserve Bank Of India, Index Of Industrial Production


Real estate players expect gloom to continue

(1/1/2012) HT,

The real estate industry, which saw unsold inventory and rising debt burden in 2011, expect the glut to remain this year as well.

Analysts, however, expect an improvement in terms of completion of existing projects, as they are likely to focus on execution and timely delivery during the new year.

The year 2011 witnessed higher unsold inventories and delay in project execution due to continuous rate hikes by the Reserve Bank of India, forcing buyers to delay purchases, which led to a liquidity crunch for developers and high construction cost due to increasing input prices.

The realty industry is sitting on a debt pile of close to Rs 45,000 crore as of now. This is despite the fact that the RBI had put in place a number of measures to prevent a bubble in the industry.

Gross bank lending to the real estate sector grew by 11.6% compared to 15.7% during the corresponding period last year. Similarly, the FDI inflow to the sector, too, showed a 26% decline even on annual basis.

In addition to this, regulatory bottlenecks such as delay in project approvals and land acquisition-related uncertainties also resulted in unease among developers, forcing them to go slow on new launches.

“The near-term outlook for residential real estate market is likely to remain cautious in 2012, given the likelihood of low market sentiment,” said Samir Jasuja, chief executive, PropEquity.

Besides, key market indicators, including absorption and new launches are likely to remain low given the execution concerns, he said.

Tags: Economy, Real Estate Industry, Construction Cost, FDI, Increasing Input Prices


Rs 84,094 crores invested in food processing units across the country

(9/8/2011) ET,

Around Rs 84,094 crores are invested in the 25,367 registered food processing units in the country. Citing figures from the competitiveness report of the National Manufacturing Competitiveness Council here, MoS for food processing Charan Das Mahant told Lok Sabha today that from 2007-08, the receipt of applications, their appraisal, calculation of grant eligibility as well as disbursement of funds have been completely decentralized.

Under the new procedure, an entrepreneur/ applicant can file application with the neighborhood Bank branch/ Financial Instituition (FI). The Bank/ FIs would then appraise the application and calculate the eligible grant amount as per the detailed guideline given to them by the ministry.

The Banks/ FIs appraise project and its recommendation for the release of grant is transmitted to the Ministry through e-portal established for this purpose. After the recommendation and requisite documents are received from the Bank/ FIs, the Ministry sanctions the grant and transfers the funds through the e-portal. The task of maintaining and compilation of data through e-portal has been assigned to HDFC Bank.

Updated data is received from HDFC Bank from time to time and the same is put on ministry's website in public domain, the minister said in a written reply to a question on the subject.

Tags: Economy, National Manufacturing Competitiveness Council, Grant Eligibility, Food Processing


Six sectors; oil refinery & production, mobile & telephone, hotel & mining to lose 'infrastructure' status in 3 years

(29/12/2011) ET,

Businesses in six sectors, including oil refinery and production, mobile telephony, hotel and mining, will no longer have the benefits of 'infrastructure' status as the government has decided to exclude them from its new uniform list of core sectors.

Such firms will no longer enjoy advantages such as cheaper lending from banks on a priority basis, easier norms for external commercial borrowings, and tax concessions that are granted to infrastructure sectors.

The finance ministry, after a meeting with financial sector regulators on Tuesday, decided on a three-year sunset clause for these sectors, which also include ships, aircraft, rolling stocks and road-based public transport clubbed together, and agriculture marketing.

"The department of economic affairs (DEA) has not accepted the inclusion of these six sectors as infrastructure as they do not meet all the characteristics prescribed by the National Statistical Commission," a senior finance ministry official said, adding, "The three-year sunset period, which all regulators have agreed to, would help them unwind their current investment positions without an immediate adverse shock."

The new 'uniform' list of 25 key infrastructure sectors, finalised by a committee of secretaries under cabinet secretary Ajit Seth, includes 12 core sectors and 10 sectors that are significant for economic growth. Three other sectors-cold chains, oil and gas storage facilities, and storm water drainage systems-were added to the list after inter-ministerial consultations.

"The DEA stressed that the list of 25 infrastructure businesses would serve as a guide to foreign investors and nudge all agencies and financiers to support these sectors," said a senior government official at the secretarial panel's final meeting.

The decision, expected to be ratified soon, comes over four years after the Deepak Parekh Committee on infrastructure financing urged the government to harmonise the different definitions for infrastructure used by multiple regulators and agencies to ease funding constraints. Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee had promised to streamline the definition of 'infrastructure' for all purposes in this year's Budget.

The 12 sectors identified as core infrastructure sectors include power transmission and distribution, roads and bridges, ports, railway tracks, inland waterways, metro rail systems, and pipelines for water supply, sewerage, oil and gas.

Ten sectors that don't meet all the characteristics laid out to define 'infrastructure', have also been included in the uniform list for their overall significance in economic growth. These include airports, fixed line telecom, power generation, common infrastructure of special economic zones (SEZs), industrial parks and tourist facilities, hospitals and capital investments in fertilisers.

Tags: Economy, Oil Refinery, Production, Mobile Telephony, Hotel, Mining, 25 Key Infrastructure Sectors


Tata Capital sacks execs from wealth mgmt team

(5/01/2012) ToI,

Tata Capital, the financial services unit of the real estate-to-retail Tata Group, pink-slipped a handful of executives from its wealth management team, joining the growing list of banks and financial services companies axing jobs to slash costs at a time when business is thin. The firm asked at least six employees to leave the organization recently, said Tata Group sources familiar with the development. However, market sources put the number in low double digits.
Industry watchers describe the move as unusual as the Tata Group is typically identified with secure employment with the popular saying going as Bata for shoes and Tata for jobs. However, group insiders say that executives from Tata Capitals advisory services unit were let go as they didn’t meet the performance parameters, terming it as a routine exercise.
Of late, several global banks including Nomura, Credit Suisse, Barclays and UBS have axed jobs across the globe including India as business has slowed considerably in a challenging environment, thereby impacting margins. In India, most of the wealth management divisions in financial services firms were set up at a very high cost, mainly by poaching talents from the existing local firms. The expectation was that these people, in turn, will be able to move rich clients from where they worked earlier. However, rich Indians have proved to be very sticky with their existing wealth management firms, and not the individual managers, thus forcing newer ones to cut back on their revenue expectations. The second reason is most Indians, even if very rich, are not willing to pay much to wealth managers. These two reasons, along with bad market conditions globally, have resulted into rationalisation of workforce in the wealth management industry. Industry watchers said Tata Capital was a victim of the same industry-wide phenomenon.
Interestingly, Tata Capital, that has seven business units, recently offered employee stock options or Esops to its top and middle level executives. This is an unusual move by the Tata group firm since Esops gained momentum with the growth of the software industry, but the groups IT flagship Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) does not offer stock options to its employees.

Tags: Economy, Tata Capital, Real Estate-To-Retail Tata Group, Job Trend, Wealth Management Team, Pink Slip, Nomura, Credit Suisse, Barclays, UBS


‘Higher education Bills unconstitutional'

(29/12/2011) Hindu,

Three proposed Bills pertaining to higher education are unconstitutional, as Parliament lacks the legislative competence to enact them, according to the Association of Self-Financing Universities, New Delhi.

The body has appealed to the Union government to put on hold these legislation and hold talks with higher education institutions and other stakeholders on how to deal with the issues they seek to address.

“We consulted three former Chief Justices of India, and their opinion is that these Bills will go against the provisions of the Constitution and the [doctrine of] separation of powers. They will take away the powers of the State government,” Association president G. Viswanathan said in an interview to The Hindu.

The Bills are the Educational Tribunals Bill, 2010 that was passed in the Lok Sabha and is pending in the Rajya Sabha, the Prohibition of Unfair Practices in Technical Educational Institutions, Medical Educational Institutions and Universities Bill, 2010, and the National Accreditation Regulatory Authority for Higher Educational Institutions Bill, 2010.

The former Chief Justices, A.S. Anand, M.M. Punchhi and K.N. Singh, who were approached by the Association for their opinion on the validity of these Bills, especially in the light of appropriate entries in the Union and State Lists in the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution, reckoned that “Parliament does not have the legislative competence for matters of universities in view of clear exclusion of universities from Entry 44 in List I (the Union List) and express inclusion in Entry 32 of List II (the State List).”

While Entry 44 in the Union List deals with “Incorporation, regulation and winding up of corporations, whether trading or not, with objects not confined to one State, but not including universities,” Entry 32 in the State List refers to “Incorporation, regulation and winding up of corporations, other than those specified in List I, and universities, unincorporated trading, literacy, scientific, religious and other societies and associations, cooperative societies.”

Mr. Viswanathan, who is also the founder-chancellor of VIT University, said the Educational Tribunals Bill, if enacted, would mean that aggrieved institutions, teachers and students could not go to the High Court for immediate relief, but only to the tribunal. “The State tribunal has no powers to pass interim orders, so we will have to wait till the judgment is pronounced. And even after that, one can go only to the national tribunal, which also has no powers for granting interim orders.”

Noting that prohibiting capitation fees was the original intention of the law, Mr. Viswanathan held corruption as the main reason for institutions collecting capitation fees. “We, as an association, will support the government in abolishing capitation [fees], but unless corruption is eradicated, it cannot be curtailed.”

Asked to elaborate on corruption, he said: “There is corruption at various levels — it begins at the panchayat level, and [is there at] the district level, the State level and the national level. Either departments of the government or the regulatory authorities of the State and Central governments — all of them have to be paid now. And it has to be paid in cash.” If controls were increased, corruption would also increase, resulting in an increase in capitation fees.

Encourage competition

According to him, the solution lay in encouraging competition among institutions and creating enough seats for students. Harassment of those running institutions was a major impediment to the expansion of higher education. “Asking the government to fix the fees of institutions will inhibit competition. Only if there is competition, quality will go up and the cost of education will come down.”

Mr. Viswanathan said accreditation should not be made mandatory, as envisaged in the proposed law, but only voluntary. It should also be done by professionals and not solely by government agencies. “We want the Prime Minister's liberalisation policy in business and industry to be extended to education.”

He also favoured serious steps to attract talent to the teaching profession. And if at all foreign universities should be allowed to set up campuses in the country, they should be allowed to function with a local partner. They could be asked to bring at least 50 per cent of teachers from their own countries, and only reputed universities should be allowed to operate.

Tags: Education, Association of Self-Financing Universities, Higher Education, Educational Tribunals Bill, 2010, Prohibition of Unfair Practices in Technical Educational Institutions, Medical Educational Institutions and Universities Bill, 2010, and the National Accreditation Regulatory Authority for Higher Educational Institutions Bill, 2010.


Quantity in place, now for quality

(4/1/2011) Tribune,

Much has been done to boost the basic education infrastructure, but poor quality of teaching may lead to crisis in future, as both school and college passouts would find it hard to get suitable employment. The job for the next govt is, thus, cut out

A study has found 78 per cent of the students between Class 6 and 8 cannot answer simple Class 5 maths questions. A large number cannot write basic words in Punjabi.
A study has found 78 per cent of the students between Class 6 and 8 cannot answer simple Class 5 maths questions. A large number cannot write basic words in Punjabi. — A Tribune file photo

For years, Punjab had been desperately lacking in basic education infrastructure — schools without teachers and classrooms, or in many areas no schools at all. The SAD-BJP government promised it will correct that, and, fortunately for the state, also managed to achieve a lot in that direction.

In its rush to put in place the huge number of teachers and school upgrades required, the government, however, slipped on ensuring quality. Even more critically, it failed to get all children. The result is that education continues to elude a significant percentage of children of school-going age.

The ruling alliance claims it spent Rs 3,168 crore on school education since it came to power, but a Committee on Education Policy 2025 set up by it noted in its report that schools as well as technical education institutes of the government were churning out students of extremely poor academic standard. The level of teaching and methods used also were similarly criticised.

As per the latest Education Development Index (EDI), the state has come up from the 14th to third position nationally. Yet, the average student enrolment and retention figures are worrisome. Census data reveals that out of the 44 lakh children (6 to 14 years of age), only around 38 lakh were in school; a high of 6 lakh children are still not getting education.

The state government increased the outlay for the sector by 52 per cent — an increase of 109 per cent in the allocation of funds for the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) this financial year, more funds for the midday meal scheme, improving school infrastructure and filling vacancies of teacher.

Teacher recruitments led to a respectable teacher-student ratio of 1:35 in government primary schools, but random tests of students have revealed that the quality of education in those is far from acceptable. The reason is outdated teaching curriculum and techniques, besides poor quality of educators inducted.

The teacher-student ratio in the 2,508 private primary schools is simply disastrous — 1:108.

Even as the government hired new teachers en masse, it remained under fire from a large number seeking regularisation of jobs or increase in pay scales. In the run-up to the elections, the issue has turned particularly intense. Regular teachers are demanding higher scales, volunteers want regularisation of employment. ETT (elementary teachers training) and computer teachers hired by the Panchayat and Rural Development Department (PRD) and volunteers with the education department on contract are also demanding regularisation of their jobs.

Figures of alarm

In a recently conducted Punjab State Teacher Eligibility Test, an abysmally low 2 per cent of the 2,52,083 qualified teachers who took the exam could pass. The teachers had ETT diploma or a bachelor’s degree in education (B.Ed). This is also a reflection of the education the teachers themselves received.

Citing data from a preliminary report of a sample study of students (classes 6 to 8) of 321 schools (147 government and 174 private) carried out by Punjab Agriculture University (PAU) at the behest of the Punjab Farmers Commission, Dr Pyara Lal Garg, a former registrar of Baba Farid University of Health Sciences and Director of Adult Education, Punjab, said 54 per cent of the students could not write simple words in Punjabi. As many as 78 per cent could not answer simple maths questions based on Class 5 syllabus.

Tags: Education, Basic Education Infrastructure, Class 5 Maths, Committee on Education Policy 2025, Education Development Index, EDI     


Spending more time at school may boost IQ

(3/1/2012) Tribune,

An increase in the number of years spent in school may boost intelligence, a study of Norwegian men has revealed. The research suggested that an extra year in the classroom could increase IQ by nearly four points.

But they do not know if this applies to all children, or just those in the study.

Researchers from Statistics Norway, which publishes official government data, and the University of Oslo took advantage of a natural experiment in the Norwegian education system and its effect on 107,223 pupils.

Between 1955 and 1972 regional governments in Norway increased compulsory schooling from seven to nine years. It meant pupils left school at 16 instead of 14. The effect of this forced increase in schooling was measured at the age of 19, when the military gave all men eligible for drafting an IQ test.

“An unusually large increase in both average education and average IQ is apparent at the same time as the reform was introduced,” BBC quoted the researchers as saying.

However, determining whether spending more time in school actually improves IQ is more difficult, as it is possible that children with a naturally higher IQ are those who choose to spend more time in the education system.

The statisticians involved in the study also cautioned against drawing too many conclusions, as they admit that the effect may only apply to Norwegian society or its education system at the time.

The study was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


Companies let employees manage their leave

(3/1/2011) ToI,

Home grown firm Marico, which makes Parachute coconut oil, does not keep a muster to monitor employee walk-ins at work. If an employee takes a day off, he or she is not marked absent. Nor is the employee required to file a leave application. Like Marico, many other companies have struck out the system of casual leave (CL) and sick leave (SL) from their leave calendars. Hindustan Unilever, Asian Paints and Jyothy Laboratories are some of the other companies which do not follow a CL/SL system and believe in empowering employees to manage their work schedules to meet their targets.

This trend can be observed in industries like FMCG and financial sector, where employers are concerned about the end result and perhaps it helps in employee retention as well. Such initiatives have a positive impact on the productivity of employees who can manage their work schedules better in addition to attending to family needs.

"There has been a paradigm shift and the younger work force cannot be bonded and expected to work looking at their wrist watches. The young task force is hungry for success and appreciate the flexibility to manage their time," said Monika Tripathi, VP, Elixir Consulting, a recruitment process outsourcing firm. There is a positive correlation between flexibility in the workplace and employee productivity, she said.

Marico offers flexi-timings as it believes that every employee has the capability of managing his or her life best if he or she is her own boss. "If I'm an employee and am given a delivery level to achieve, I would merely deliver them and go back home. So there's a coming to office and going home factor attached to this. Once you get into this cycle, your risk taking will be limited to that extent," said Milind Sarwate, Group CFO and Chief HR Officer, Marico.

Companies like Marico believe a casual leave is not an entitlement and that the organization's task is only to facilitate the same. Jyothy Laboratories offers its employees 21 days consolidated leave rather than complicating matters with CL and SL, said a senior official.

Management consulting firm AT Kearney expects its consultants to define their own work timings. "We do not have a machine that monitors when employees walk in or out and the guiding principle behind this is that our people work stretched hours and have to travel constantly across locations so monitoring their timings would only add additional stress on them," said Rakhee Malik, manager, HR, AT Kearney. Its "success with flex" initiative is an expanded suite of work models and alternatives that people can consider when planning for both personal and professional responsibilities and goals.

A number of traditional companies, however, still follow a CL/SL/PL (privilege leave) calendar, especially in the sales departments, where work schedules are followed like a military regime. While, on the other hand, some companies offer flexi-time options to middle and senior-level employees. At Mahindra Group, the attendance tracking is through access control cards. "At middle and senior levels, the attendance regularization is empowered to the employees. Up to managerial levels, the absences need to be regularized by applying through system which requires to be approved by superiors," said Neha Kharde, GM, corporate human resources, Mahindra & Mahindra.

Giving employees too much freedom can, at times, be risky. However, most companies TOI spoke to have not come across employees misusing the system. "There are two kinds of indirect controls. First, there is a certain pressure created by professionalism. Professionals will not cheat. Secondly, in an open company what you do is very visible. If you walk in late everyday, it will be quite noticeable," said Sarwate. On the flip-side, the feeling of being liberated for an employee can be immense.

Tags: Employment, Parachute Coconut Oil, Marico, Hindustan Unilever, Job Trend, Management Consulting firm


In the offing: 5 lakh jobs, double-digit salary hike

(1/1/2012) Tribune,

The New Year may bring in loads of happiness for job-seekers, as experts are expecting the companies to hire more than five lakh new employees during 2012 despite the uncertainties prevailing about the overall economic scenario.

Adding to the cheer, the employees could expect double-digit salary hikes during 2012. “If all goes well, and depending on policies of the government and market situation, more than 5 lakh jobs will be created across all segments,” executive search firm GlobalHunt's Director Sunil Goel said.

The Indian job market in 2011, felt the ripple effects of the global economic uncertainty, but emerged out of it rather strong, as companies adopted a "cautiously optimistic" approach and experts believe in the new year jobs will continue to be added, albeit at a slower pace.

As per Monika Tripathi, Vice President (Heading the IT, ITeS, Telecom and Research practices) at recruitment process outsourcing firm Elixir Consulting, "The IT/ITeS sector alone will generate as many as around 3 lakh jobs in 2012." Elixir expects the hiring activities to increase by 7-8 per cent in 2012, from the levels seen in 2011.

As the companies would increase their technology investments and entities from abroad look at India-based service providers or development centres, there is a bright prospect for both domestic as well as multinational companies based in India, in the IT/ITES segment.

Tags: Employment, Job Trend, Recruitment, Double-Digit Salary Hikes, Salary Trend, IT, ITeS, Telecom, Research Practices


It’s a long queue to education, jobs

(2/1/2012) Tribune,

With little growth in private jobs, government employment remained the only option. Skills the youth possess are not what the industry needs, and private higher education is beyond the rural students’ reach. Result: rampant unemployment, drug addiction

India pins much hope on its young demographic profile, expecting to take on the world with cutting-edge human resource, but Punjab — once at the forefront of development in the country — has failed to capitalise this asset.

In fact, the condition of the youth has become a blot of sorts on the state, which has earned the dubious distinction of having the highest rate of unemployment and drug addiction in the country, besides witnessing mass migration of youth to greener pastures abroad.

Though the unemployment or underemployment has more to do with the near collapse of the once-robust economy of Punjab, successive governments in the state have also failed to provide any fresh avenues for jobs by attracting large industrial investment.

The only jobs on offer for the young in recent years have been in the government sector, where the numbers are too few to count.

With the education system in the state — school, college, technical as well as university education — failing to keep pace with the needs of the industry, most big industrial houses in Ludhiana and Jalandhar have been unable to find the required skill sets among Punjabi youth. The majority of them thus hire their workforce from outside the state. It is not uncommon to find Punjabi youth with degrees in engineering or business management accepting clerical jobs in private companies.

Though not sufficient, the government did make efforts towards developing the education sector, facilitating the opening of three new universities. It set up 13 new colleges in backward and rural areas, besides other institutes.

Several welfare schemes, such as the Mai Bhago Vidya Scheme, were also introduced to promote education among girls, who were also given bicycles in Classes XI and XII to contain their dropout rate. However, not much was done to improve the course curriculum either in schools or colleges.

While there are no verified figures available, it is estimated that nearly 70 per cent of the youth in the state are unemployed or underemployed. The number of unemployed youth is put at 25 lakh. There is also a large population of people who are past the age of being called "youth", but are still unemployed.

This huge chunk of young and restless unemployed population is also considered to be a factor behind social ills such as drug addiction and the practice of seeking dowry.



* Vacancies in government sector filled.
* Opening of higher-education institutes such Indian Institute of Technology (Ropar) and Indian School of Business (Mohali) facilitated.
* Promotion of sports by building stadiums, encouraging games such as kabbadi to keep youth off drugs.
* Colleges opened in rural and backward areas.


* Foreign collaborations for quality education for joint degrees in various courses.
* Education for employment in the IT sector through bridge courses in rural areas.
* Training in latest skills to semi-employed workers and youth.

Tags: Employment, Private Jobs, Government Employment, Job Trend, University Education, Technical


Now, design your own salary package

(22/12/2011) Toi

Employees who thought their pay packets could be designed better now have a reason to smile. Companies are now offering their employees the choice to structure their pay packets. So while the cost-to-company (CTC) is fixed by the employer, employees are given a free hand to decide on which components they would like to have as part of the salary.

Termed 'My Pay, My Choice' by Procter & Gamble India (P&G), 'Flexi Menu' by Marico and 'Bouquet of Benefits' by Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), the objective is one and the same. And though it's still limited to certain companies, the trend could grow.

P&G launched 'My Pay My Choice' this year after it realized that youngsters prefer a working environment which offers them choice, even in the way their salary is structured.

"We realized that because you have different generations of people, choice is critical. So we offer them choice. For instance, they may want to take a certain amount of cash or keep it in a company fund which will come with its own benefits. People see value in this," said Sonali Roychowdhury, head, HR, P&G India, which has 1,000-odd managers in the country.

Similarly, to attract new recruits as well as retain the existing talent, TCS, Asia's largest IT services provider, has a scheme called 'Bouquet of Benefits', which allows TCSers to design their own pay packets. Launched some six years ago, employees are allowed to make changes to their salary structure twice in a year.

The flexible-benefit plan aids employees in working out their tax payouts. For instance, the employee can cap the amount on food vouchers and divert the rest to other benefits.

In case of food vouchers, employees will have to pay tax if the amount exceeds Rs 3,000.

The IT giant also allows its employees to customize a part of their variable pay as well. A flexible-compensation model such as this helps to maintain consistent growth in an industry that witnesses a high attrition rate of 15%. TCS has over 2 lakh people on its rolls.

At Asian Paints, the country's leading paint company, all 700 executive and managerial cadre employees are covered under a 'Flexi Grade Allowance' system, which gives them the option of designing certain allowances to suit their lifestyle.

For instance, the company could be offering a manager a car allowance for a particular high-end model, but the manager has the option to alter this to suit his needs for a small car and, perhaps, go for a higher component which meets his housing requirements or leave travel allowance.

So while the CTC is fixed and benchmarked against the market, the components may vary from one manager to the other.

"Younger managers who come from secure backgrounds generally prefer more cash in hand as they may want to spend more as disposable income. While there are others who may prefer to have a lump-sum at the end of the year. We have received a positive response from employees on the flexi model," said Ernest Louis, vice president, HR, Asian Paints.

Tags: Employment, 'My Pay, My Choice' by Procter & Gamble India, P&G, 'Flexi Menu' by Marico and 'Bouquet of Benefits' by Tata Consultancy Services, TCS


NRI hiring to accelerate

(4/1/2011) Tribune,

NRIs facing employment problems due to the global economic slowdown are set to get better opportunities in India because of increased hiring expected during the next three months in sectors such as IT and auto, says a survey.

As per the survey of prospective employers conducted by, the country's net employment outlook - an indicator of hiring intentions - stands at 19 per cent for the quarter ending March 31, 2012, compared to 11 per cent in last year Q4, representing a growth of 8 percentage points.

"The crises and increased good opportunities in India have fuelled the NRI thought process to head back. In addition many Indian companies are shutting there offices in west.

"It is not only some major crisis in the West but also a combination of economic, social and other factors that have driven this," Director Ravi Kant Gupta said.

Gupta added that higher NRI professional recruitment is likely to take place in the coming quarter as wage gaps have declined sharply.

The survey, conducted on human resource professionals and top management of 1,929 firms and 1,710 recruitment consultants, found that major sectors in all regions of the country have positive hiring plans for the next quarter.

Among the 11 surveyed industries, IT and IT-enabled services will be leading the NRI professionals hiring activity with 29 per cent outlook, anticipating highest growth of 9 per cent from the year-ago period.

IT sector is followed by automobile, engineering and manufacturing industries, banking and financial services and infrastructure space in terms of hiring optimism for the January-March 2012 quarter.

NRI job seekers with 1-5 years of experience have the greatest chance of getting hired in India. This category of job seekers has a 52 per cent chance to get a job back home, making them the strongest contenders.

Tags: Employment, NRI Hiring,, IT, Auto Sector, Engineering, Manufacturing Industries, Banking, Financial Services, Infrastructure Space


Royal Enfield keen to hire young talent pool for its upcoming plant

(13/12/2011)  Hindu Business Line

‘Catch them young' is the new hiring mantra at Royal Enfield, the Chennai-based motorcycle manufacturer.

“We want to attract youngsters who are passionate about biking and understand what it is all about,” Dr Venki Padmanabhan, Chief Executive Officer said.

As Royal Enfield gears up to commission its new plant in one of the city's growing auto hubs, its top priority is to get the right talent. “People are coming from all over the country to work in this part of Chennai.

The challenge is to get this talent pool to think beyond the big fish and come to us,” he said.

In fact, the location of the new plant is critical to the hiring process.

For decades, Royal Enfield has operated out of the northern part of Chennai which is not exactly the most attractive location for an auto company.

In comparison, the new site has the likes of Renault-Nissan and Daimler Commercial Vehicles as neighbours.

This is expected to make up for Royal Enfield's relatively smaller size.

“If we are small fish in a big pond, we have to position ourselves accurately in the job market because that is the only way we will get what we need,” Dr Padmanabhan said.

The company also believes that there are advantages in being small, especially when it comes to career planning and growth.

Siddhartha Lal, MDr & CEO of Eicher Motors (which owns Royal Enfield) added, “When a youngster comes into our organisation, he discovers that it is flat and gets areas of responsibilities assigned to him soon. We are not as straitjacketed as other multinationals where the road is narrow.”

Order backlog
The new plant is equally critical from the viewpoint of reducing the waiting list for the company's motorcycles which is as long as eight months.

Its actual commissioning is still sometime away which means the order backlog will continue for a while.

This is becoming a cause for concern, especially when the present facility is already bursting at its seams. “We want to be a paranoid company, at least internally, even though it is a cool image to the outside world.

“As much as it is great to have more customers today, we cannot take this for granted as nobody can wait forever,” Dr Padmanabhan said.

The best part about the new plant is that it will have a state-of-the-art paint shop quite unlike the present one which the company “is barely holding together” as it is obsolete technology with capacity issues.

There will also be a lot of focus on the engine, frame, tank and other sheet metal parts.

Issues relating to people, training and systems are as critical because, for all practical purposes, the new facility marks the beginning of a fresh innings at Royal Enfield.

Tags: Employment, Royal Enfield, Renault-Nissan and Daimler Commercial Vehicles, Job Trend, Employment


When Ivy Grads Pick Teaching Over Wall Street: Cohan

(28/12/2011) ET,

We are witnessing the decline and fall of the investment-banking profession as we have known it for the past 40 years.

The evidence is everywhere. The increasing regulations on Wall Street -- as required by the Dodd-Frank law and still being written by the Federal Reserve, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Commodities Futures Trading Commission and others agencies in the U.S. and Europe -- will require the remaining companies to increase their capital, curb their risk- taking and reduce their principal investing.

Aside from the fact that investing principal and proprietary risk-taking per se had nothing to do with the recent financial crisis -- and that the ability of Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) to make a huge proprietary bet against the mortgage market probably helped saved the firm -- these new rules will greatly curb Wall Street’s revenue and profitability at a time when the business itself is suffering a severe slowdown. (What sunk Wall Street in 2008 was the seemingly more conventional business of being a middleman for the manufacture, packaging and sale of increasingly risky mortgage-backed and other debt securities.)

Not being able to make those big proprietary bets when you see them developing -- in effect, the closing of the casino that Wall Street has become over the past few decades -- will severely limit bankers’ money-making opportunities. It will also protect the rest of us when those big bets go wrong or are perceived to be too risky. (For every Goldman Sachs acting brilliantly, there is an MF Global Holdings Ltd. acting foolishly).
Signs of Withdrawal

There is little debate anymore that Wall Street had become highly dependent on its trading operations. Something like 90 percent of Bear Stearns’s profits in the years leading up to its March 2008 demise came from its trading and debt-origination activities. The percentages are not that much different at Goldman Sachs, where in 2010 its traditional investment-banking operations generated only $1.3 billion of $12.9 billion in pretax earnings, about 10 percent. All but $1 billion or so of the rest of Goldman’s pretax earnings came from its trading, lending and investing businesses.

The slowdown in business, combined with the looming trading curbs, has resulted in job losses across Wall Street. Morgan Stanley (MS) recently announced it was firing 1,600 employees. Goldman Sachs has done its usual turn of eliminating the bottom 10 percent of its workforce and a group of its long-serving partners. Bank of America Corp. (BAC) announced that about 30,000 employees would be chopped by the end of 2012, although a number of the firm’s investment bankers lost their jobs in the past month.

Yet those suffering the most are the foreign firms that were trying to break into Wall Street’s business. Nomura Holdings Inc. (8604) has pretty much scuttled its most recent Wall Street experiment (it bought Lehman Brothers Holding Inc.’s European and Asian banking operations) and firms such as Societe Generale SA (GLE), UBS AG (UBSN), Credit Suisse Group AG (CSGN) and Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc (RBS) are all cutting Wall Street bodies.

In November, Bloomberg News estimated that more than 200,000 people who work in finance had already lost or would lose their jobs this year.

Not only will the head-count reduction on Wall Street continue for the foreseeable future, but the vast sums overpaid to bankers and traders will inevitably continue to fall as well -- as many of them are finding out this bonus week. There is simply no easier and quicker way for Wall Street firms to keep up a modicum of profitability than by cutting pay for the people who still work there. Needless to say, the inevitable decline in Wall Street’s compensation will mean less tax revenue for New York City and New York State and fewer government services for the rest of us (absent higher taxes).
Ivy League Doubts

The most reliable leading indicator of Wall Street’s future prospects is the way recent graduates of Harvard, Princeton and Yale -- supposedly our best and brightest -- choose to spend their time after graduating. For years, hordes of graduates from those schools beat a fast path to Wall Street. Now the road is far more difficult to travel. For those who choose to make the journey, there is the prospect of incurring the wrath and scorn of fellow students who make up the various Occupy Wall Street movements -- a fact not likely to deter many -- and then there are dimmer prospects for a job on Wall Street generally, what with the slowdown in business.

According to a Dec. 21 article in New York Times, whereas in 2006 some 46 percent of Princeton graduates who had jobs lined up after graduation went to Wall Street, four years later that number had fallen to 36 percent. At Harvard, in 2006, a quarter of the class got jobs in finance; by 2011, that number had fallen to 17 percent. At Yale, in 2006, 24 percent of the graduates had jobs in finance and on Wall Street, while in 2010, the number of graduates going to Wall Street had fallen to 14 percent.

The word around Goldman Sachs, I’m told, is that even those offered a still highly coveted entry-level job at the firm are having second thoughts about taking it. More and more, banks are losing talent to Teach for America, a fact that may turn out to be one of the most heartening consequences of the financial crisis.


Now, classroom content of IITs can be accessed by MIT students

(2/1/2012) ToI,

The Indian Institutes of Technology have agreed to a proposal by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to join their OpenCourseWare community. This move will enable MIT students to access classroom content of the IITs online at a click of the mouse.

However, this is not the only way by which the IITs are opening their doors to the world; lectures from IIT classrooms will soon be available on Apple's multi-media platform iTunes. YouTube already has a separate channel for IIT courses, which, as of December 2011, had 63.64 lakh viewers.

When MIT had first invited the IITs to join the OpenCourseWare community in 2007, the IITs felt their initiatives were too young to join the world of open source learning. But four years on, the IITs feel that they have caught up with the other members of the open source community, who had started making their course material public a long time ago.

"We have finally decided to join the Open Education Resource Consortium. This move will help us share open source tools. It's an academic enhancement exercise," said Mangala Sunder Krishnan, NPTEL coordinator from IIT-Madras.

Several other universities like Yale, Peking, Harvard Law School, Notre Dame, Tufts, UC Irvine and Utah State have allowed MIT to host links to their courseware. The Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore, is also a member of MIT's OpenCourseWare.

The IITs have their own initiative on similar lines, the National Programme for Technology Enhanced Learning (NPTEL), which seven of the old IITs and the Indian Institute of Science had jointly launched. The NPTEL has over a thousand courses in technology and the humanities. But there is an elementary difference between the efforts put in by the American universities into open courses and the NPTEL. While the former is an enriching exercise, not completely substituting class work, the NPTEL encompasses all topics in every course, from their introduction to the end, allowing students to sit at home and study.

More than 500 Indian engineering colleges have been given the NPTEL content, and students can access it through the college intranet. The number of visitors on the NPTEL website has also increased from over 9.37 lakh in 2008 to 44.39 lakh in December 2011.

Tags: Engineering, Teaching, IITs, MITs, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, OpenCourseWare Community, National Programme for Technology Enhanced Learning, NPTEL


HC clips architecture council’s wings, stops its masters courses

(6/1/2012) HT,

In a significant order affecting a large number of aspirants for masters degree in architecture, the Delhi high court on Thursday quashed the 'minimum standard of education rules' laid down by the Council of Architecture for three prestigious courses in the stream of town planning. The council, which affiliates hundreds of universities across the country, has also been refrained from making rules for masters courses as it had “no jurisdiction”. They have been asked to stick to diploma and graduate courses.

The court said only the All India Council for Technical Education was empowered to lay down guidelines for master courses.

The courses affected immediately are M. Arch (urban and regional planning) M. Arch. (Transportation Planning & Design) and M. Arch. (Housing). The court, however, said the order will be prospective and students currently perusing the courses guided by the council will not be effected.

“The council of architecture is not empowered to lay down or prescribe minimum standards of education for qualifications other than recognised qualifications mentioned in the Schedule of Architects Act. Accordingly, the Guidelines insofar as prescribing the minimum standards of education for the three courses are quashed / set aside,” Justice R S Endlaw ruled.

The court gave the verdict on a petition filed by the Institute of Town Planners, India (ITPI).

ITPI lawyers Rakesh Khanna and Pramod Gupta said: “The court recognised ITPI's status as the apex body of Town and Country planning professionals and has clipped the wings of COA which had forayed into prescribing minimum standards of education for Masters Courses which were beyond its scope and powers under the Architects Act”.

Tags: Engineering, Masters Degree in Architecture, Council of Architecture, AICTE, M. Arch in Urban and Regional Planning, M. Arch., Transportation Planning & Design, M. Arch, Housing


IIT course in offing to train engg faculty

(1/1/2012) HT,

Thousands of untrained faculty members of engineering colleges in India will soon get a chance to obtain a degree in engineering and training from Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) without joining the premier technical education institute or leaving their jobs.
Shortage of faculty had forced a large number of engineering colleges across the country to hire engineering graduates as teachers. But these graduates are not trained to be teachers and lack skills in orienting students towards research.

To tackle this enduring problem, the government has found a solution—an online part-time Masters’ degree in Engineering Education conducted by IITs. The course is aimed at focusing more on research aspects of engineering than just equipping students to clear the examination.

“The course, designed for faculty members in engineering colleges will be conducted online, through live video lectures, ensuring that the ‘students’ do not need to stop normal teaching duties,” said a member of the plannig committee headed by higher education secretary Vibha Puri Das.

The ministry plans to train 6,000-7,000 young faculty members each year. Training such numbers will require the participation of 1,500 faculty members of IITs and other institutions. The classes will be conducted in the evening and during weekends.

In addition, the Union government believes that the IIT faculty will be able to identify and motivate many of these candidates to pursue a part-time PhD programme.

On its own, the IITs are also expected to produce at least one PhD scholar in every department in the next five years.

In all, the government hopes to train around 30,000 faculty members in the 12th five-year plan period starting April 2012. The government also plans to start a new three-year programme to help post graduate students in IITs take up teaching.

The demand for faculty in engineering colleges is expected to rise by 70% by 2020.

The number of students acquiring technical education in India has increased to over two million from less than a million in 2007-08.

To make the students employable, the government wants the industry to run a pilot project to train faculty.

Tags: Engineering, Untrained Faculty Members, IITs, Masters’ degree in Engineering Education, Course, Job Trend, Salary Trend


On CIC order, CBSE reveals engg exam’s answer keys

(5/01/2012) ToI,

After initially refusing to part with the answer keys of All India Engineering Entrance Examination (AIEEE) of 2010 and 2011, Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) - under order from Central Information Commission (CIC) - has finally given them, but without the question papers.

In its September 30, 2011, order, CIC had asked CBSE to give answer keys in line with decisions of the Commission and the courts in this regard. RTI applicant Rajeev Kumar had asked for answer keys along with question papers and model answers. But the demand for model answers was dropped after CBSE said court cases are underway.

In 2007, CIC's order had resulted in IITs disclosing answer keys, question papers etc of JEE, 2006, to Kumar. In August, 2011, even the Supreme Court said that all examining bodies should permit examinees to have inspection of their answer books. Apart from IIT-JEE, examination bodies of state governments have started disclosing answer keys along with question papers.

Kumar has written to CBSE stating that without question booklet, the supplied answer keys are of no value. At times even wrong questions have been asked - as happened in case of JEE in the last two years.

It has been nearly 20 months since the first RTI was filed in this regard. Initially, CBSE had refused to supply answer keys, stating that the "larger public interest does not warrant disclosure of such information". When Kumar appealed against the order, the appellate authority said "as a policy matter of CBSE, the answer-keys cannot be supplied". Then, CBSE took the plea that possibly records were destroyed. But it was pointed out that destruction plea of CBSE is wrong since RTI seeking disclosure of answer keys was submitted to CIC on June 15 - only a few weeks after the results were declared. However, CBSE has been regularly divulging details of All India Pre-Medical Entrance Test (AIPMT).

Tags: Engineering, AIEEE, CSBE, Central Information Commission, CIC, Answer Keys, Question Papers, AIPMT


Tech colleges in merit crisis too in Punjab

(4/1/2011) Tribune,

The state of technical and vocational education in Punjab is no better than school education.

Dr SP Singh, Chairman of the Punjab Committee on Education Policy 2025, says that not more than 3 per cent of rural students are able to reach the senior secondary school level in the basic sciences course. As a result, in the 400 engineering colleges affiliated with Punjab Technical University (PTU) and other universities, the presence of students from rural areas is between 3 and 7 per cent.

Dr JS Dhaliwal, Chairman of the Punjab Unaided Technical Institutions Association (PUTIA), says that as the quality of students who do make it to technical colleges is also not up to the mark, they get poor academic grounding there too. In the engineering colleges affiliated with PTU, just 20 per cent of the students were able to clear the maths exam. He also feels there has to be a compulsory teacher training programme.

The problem of huge quantity and low quality is especially evident in technical education. On one hand colleges are not getting enough students to fill the total 60,000 seats available in graduate courses, and on the other these colleges are churning out poor quality graduates. Experts point to a dearth of qualified teachers for management and engineering courses. In many cases, low-paid graduates are teaching in the colleges as there is no monitoring by PTU.

Dr Dhaliwal says barring some colleges in urban areas, students from most colleges fail to get jobs. As a result, many graduates turn up at the colleges looking for a teaching job. “When such graduates become teachers, one can imagine the quality of future graduates,” said the proprietor of an engineering college near Chandigarh.

New government colleges

As many as 13 new government degree colleges were opened in Punjab during the past five years. These were under a Central scheme through the UGC for educationally backward districts. Out of the total capital outlay, 33 per cent contribution is by the Centre, and the remaining is to be made by the state. For the current academic year, the state has not fully released the annual recurring fund of Rs1.50 crore required for each college.

No new government engineering college has been opened, though a large number have come up in the private sector.

Tags: Engineering, Vocational Education, Punjab Technical University, PTU, UGC, Basic Sciences Course

 Environment & Forest

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CA Institute to ink deal with New Zealand body

(2/12/2011) Hindu Business Line

The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) plans to ink a mutual recognition agreement (MRA) with the New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants (NZICA) in January next year.

“In its final stages, the agreement may be signed during an international conference at Chennai on January 6-8.

The MRA provides for recognition of qualifications on audit and accountancy in each other's country. Once signed, an Indian CA can become a member of the New Zealand body.
However, the Indian CA would not get practicing rights in New Zealand. You are eligible to provide corporate advisory services though.
While ICAI has over 1.75 lakh members, NZICA has over 30,000 members.

 Home Science

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 Information Technology

Infosys beefs up immigration team in US

(3/1/202) ToI,

Over the last few months IT major Infosys Technologies has been strengthening its legal services team in the US by appointing immigration experts at its Texas office. This comes ahead of a trial Infosys faces on August 20 this year at an Alabama court over an alleged visa fraud case filed by whistle-blower Jay Palmer, an Infosys employee, in February last year.

According to posts on LinkedIn, Infosys appointed Erin Green as its global immigration lead to work with the legal and HR teams to ensure 100% US immigration compliance.

In August, Liz Jordan was appointed as senior associate lead for immigration at Infosys. She previously worked as an immigration paralegal at US-based corporate immigration law firm Fragomen, Del, Bernsen and Loewey. Two other recent appointments are Laurie Hawkins, appointed as practice lead of immigration and was previously the director of HR and immigration services at Velie Law firm, and Nirala Maharaj, appointed as associate lead of global immigration and was previously paralegal at Weiss, Alden and Polo.

Tags: IT, Abroad, Infosys Technologies, Global Immigration Team, US


New Software to Make Book Keeping Easy

(3/1/2011) Hindu,

Two young engineers hailing from rural areas have developed a software application that may change the way the micro-finance system works in villages and small towns. The software, ‘Sangraha', tries to bring about accountability, reliability and transparency by creating an online method of book-keeping under which the transactions by field-level collection agents are instantaneously updated to the main server.
Rajashekhar, a 32-year-old mobile software architect, who played a key role in developing the software, said that at present, collection agents of rural co-operative banks use hand-held machines with which they give receipts to customers after receiving money. But this would get registered in the bank accounts only the next day when the agents go to the bank and synchronise the data in the hand-held gadgets. However, the norms of the Reserve Bank of India stipulate that such transactions should be instantaneously registered with the bank account, he points out. Under ‘Sangraha', the collection agent's mobile phones double up as money-collecting gadgets as it is linked to the bank's computer network. Mr. Rajashekhar said a doorstep money delivery system is also on the cards with another software vitharana. Finger prints of customers would be taken through a finger-print scanner attached to the mobile phone and stored in the network. Money disbursal can take place by verifying finger prints, he points out. According to him, the management of the banks or companies can keep a tab on their collecting agents with the help of this system.
“If the collecting agent is new and the management is yet to have confidence in him, it can always prevent him from collecting more than a particular sum of money at a time. This system could be used in pigmy collection and process involving door-step cash collection including money paid for milk supply and newspaper delivery as well as the grocery. Already three co-operative banks – Navachetana co-operative bank's nine branches in Haveri district and Veerabhadreshwara Co-operative Bank in Chitradurga are using it, he pointed out. Within six months of developing this software solution, there is so much demand for it, he says. The software is developed by Bangalore-based Tycoon Software Technologies Private Ltd., which was founded two years ago by Mr. Rajashekhar, another software professional T.R. Venkatesh and Col M. B. Ravindranath Magod.


English, the pucca way

(26/11/2011) Hindu Businessline,

If you didn't already know it, the origin of the word ‘loo' (toilet) would make your toes curl. It was words and phrases such as this which sparked off his curiosity about the language, said Dr S. Upendran, who writes the ‘Know Your English' column in The Hindu.

He was speaking at the release of his book Idioms and Their Stories, the first of a four-volume series Know Your English, published by Universities Press at the British Council. The column is now in its 30th year. Dr Upendran is a Professor (Department of Materials Development) at the English and Foreign Languages University, Hyderabad. He took over the column about 18 years ago from his father.

The book was released by Mr S. Muthiah, Editor, Madras Musings, and columnist. Mr Muthiah said it was time books on English included Indian English words and phrases. Quite a few have already made it to dictionaries such as the Oxford English Dictionary, he pointed out.

Mr V. Sriram, entrepreneur and writer, who spoke earlier, pointed to typical Indian English phrases – “your good name please?”; “out of station”; “Himalayan blunder”; “in the family way” and “putting someone to sleep”, the last of which actually means doing away with someone's life but in India, is used in the literal sense. He also noted that India gave Britain the phrase ‘pucca sahib.'

The book costs Rs 195. It contains over 300 idioms, with meanings, examples of usage and wherever possible, their etymology.

Tags: Language, Know Your English', English and Foreign Languages University, Hyderabad


Gujjus know the language of business; learn Chinese, Japanese

(28/11/2011) ToI,

Jay Thakkar, 20, a student of mechatronics -- a course that involves mechanical and electronic engineering -- is learning to draw more than complex circuitry these days. He has recently enrolled in a Chinese language course as he aims to take over his father's ceramics business with many interests in the land of the dragon.

"Learning to write Chinese is like mastering complex drawings. My father does not know Chinese and that puts him on a back-foot in business," says Thakkar.

In Gujarat, good economics decides which language Gujaratis speak. As CM Narendra Modi looks to China and far-east countries, including Japan, for investment, youngsters from the state are queuing up to learn Chinese and Japanese in big numbers. While private Chinese classes are running full batches for the first time, Gujarat Vidyapith has started its first-ever Japanese course, giving into its growing demand.

While China draws Gujarati businessmen for cheaper imports, interest in Japan has shot up after the Japanese started implementing the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor, 40% of which passes through Gujarat. The tonal range of Chinese is such that many students have aching jaws if they speak the language for a couple of hours continuously but that’s not been a deterrence.

"The Chinese show immense respect if you speak their language," says Nilesh Dave, a senior marketing manager with a large corporate who recently went to China and immediately enrolled to learn the language upon returning.

Lavanya Trivedi, one of few teachers who can give lessons in both Chinese and Japanese, says she has personally coached over 70-odd people in recent times. "Almost all my students are either businessmen or hold senior positions in MNCs," says Trivedi.

"I got at least 30 queries for learning Japanese in the last couple of months after which we decided to start a course," says the head of the Indian languages and culture department at Gujarat Vidyapith, K K Bhaskaran. Even the Ahmedabad Management Association (AMA) has given lessons in Chinese to 200 students and Japanese to 40-odd Amdavadis in the last one year.

Surat's diamantaires are mastering Chinese to acquire a share of the Chinese diamond polishing industry pie. "Two of our employees just learnt Chinese and work for the firm in China," says Ishwar Dholakia of Ram Krishna Exports, a diamond businessman.

Tags: Language, Gujarat Vidyapith, Ahmedabad Management Association (AMA), Surat, Chinese, Japanese Language


Literally speaking

(24/11/2011) HT,

India, the new traveller's guides should say, is a land of festivities and book festivals. Each religion, region, sect and caste has its sacred celebrative days and the country,  a beacon of humility and tolerance, sees a mingling of goodwill at these festivals. Hindu politicians readily
accept invitations to Muslim Ifftar parties at Eid; Hindu, Catholic and even Parsi youths get stoned out of their heads and dance in the streets with the processions taking the 'tajias' and 'taboots' of the Muharram celebrations around the city streets to immersion by dawn in the crystal clean, lotus-scented rivers.

Almost every week of the year and several times a week in the cold months the several English language book publishers, capitalised in New York or London with Indian subsidiaries bury their Hachettes (sic) and join in festivals of literature. Unlike Diwali, Eid, Christmas or Baisakhi, these literary festivals are relatively new, though some of them, like the Hay Festival of Kerala, faintly echo the grassy themes of yore.

Like pilgrims to Gangotri, the public flocks to these festivals from far and wide. The devotees are many but, as in the shrines to which they flock, the gods are select and few. They occupy their podiums under different names. But in the end, as with the religious festivals, all the names merge into one, the name of the Supreme Being SB): Author.

As with the different ceremonials of the feasts, so also at the litfests the SBs are called upon to deliver their wisdom in several argumentative and discursive avatars. But in the end the message is one: buy my book! (or maybe two: Give me one of those literary prizes which have become as common as laddoos at Diwali).

As with pilgrimages to the temple idol, the visitation of the mob does the idol on the altar not much good beyond selling a few copies and having his or her photographs and brief misquotes printed in the newspaper that has been roped in to sponsor the festival of 'literature' (please note the surreptitious creep of inverted commas!).

The litfest is a very different affair from the book fair. There are speakers, events, podiums and prizes at these too. But as with boozing at a casino's bar, the serious business is taking place elsewhere. Deals are being cut.

My favourite story is that of my late friend Giles Gordon, a British literary agent who went to the Frankfurt Book Fair one year and stationed himself on a bar stool next to the most gossipy publisher he could identify.

"What have you got for us, Giles?" was the expected opener, as conventional as Indian railway passengers on a train heading to Calcutta asking each other where they are going.

"Your publishing house won't be able to afford it and it's very hush hush," says Giles.

A few sponsored drinks later he swears the girl to secrecy and confesses.

"Right here in this briefcase is the candid autobiography of Sean Connery — the deals, seductions, Scottish nationalism, Hollywood tangles, quarrels... dynamite. Say nothing to anyone."

By the end of the evening and into the early hours, Giles is accosted and invited for a drink or to a party by every major publisher in town. In the small hours he gets back to his hotel room and rings America.

"Mr Connery, you don't know me. My name is Giles Gordon, I am a literary agent and if you write your memoirs, I can get you an advance of $6 million."

Connery recognises the accent as that of a fellow Scot and says he has no intention yet of writing his memoirs, but when he does he will be in touch.

It is time to confess, dear reader, that I have not resisted the lure of the Indian litfest and have accepted invitations to several, including two this very month.

Though all the vanity and strutting at these festivals with the same coterie of gods (dare I quote any names of the repetitively gifted?) meeting in these contrived swargs are amusing and instructive, I have only heard the question I find centrally relevant to this burgeoning world of Indian writing in English posed once. And that in an article written by Hartosh Singh Bal, who challenged the criteria by which English writing is judged concluding that, apart from the whims of some people who run book festivals, there are none. At the recent Mumbai litfest, Bal shared a platform with Mark Tully, David Davidar and me.

The central idea that emerged, at least in my mind, was that the lack of critical response and debate, the total absence of criteria of what is good, bad, necessary, imitative, blatantly stolen, fresh, redeeming, skilful, pioneering etc will give us a consumer industry in books but no 'culture' of literature.

In the 19th and early-20th century, the British novel came into its own and served the vital function of defining the British character and even the subtleties of its social and political intercourse. There were also in the throng of writers the populist Marie Correllis who haven't endured as Thomas Hardy has. Their critical tradition, if asked, can tell you in several conclusive ways why.

Through the written works of Gandhi, Nehru, the early Nirad Chaudhuri, RK Narayan, Raja Rao and a handful of others, a descriptive uncovering of a nation and nationalism seemed to be taking shape. Indian publishing has come a long way since, but then so has Indian fast food. The Colonel Sanders and the Ronald McDonalds of the Indian literary scene can be seen at all the litfests peddling their goods and there is no one, literally no one, to discuss, raise the question or debate the nourishment or debilitating obesity therein.

The proliferation of Indian writing in English should produce a defining 'literature', but without a fearless, even idiosyncratic critical tradition it will contribute to our culture nothing more than video games do.


Law, HRD ministries fight for control of legal education

(3/1/2012) HT,

The fight for the control of legal education courses being run in 913 colleges, 260 universities and 14 national law schools across the country has turned into a turf war between the ministries of Law and Human Resources Development (HRD).
The apex regulator for legal profession and education in the country, the Bar Council of India (BCI) has objected to the inclusion of legal education under the National Commission for Higher Education and Research (NCHER).

Through the NCHER, the government aims to set up a super regulator, which would subsume existing regulatory bodies such as UGC, All India Council for Technical Education and National Council for Teachers Education to bring transparency in regulating higher education.

Following the cabinet’s approval, HRD minister Kapil Sibal had introduced the bill to create NCHER in the Rajya Sabha on December 27.  “This Act shall apply to all the higher educational institutions and universities other than those institutions engaged mainly in agricultural education and research,” states the bill. The HRD ministry had overruled the objections raised by the law ministry on the issue before the matter went to the cabinet last month.

“To meet the emerging challenges of legal profession and education, a separate independent and specialised body is required. The law ministry is working towards that and had assured the parliament in this regard ” stated a ministry note signed by law minister Salman Khurshid on December 11.

In its reaction to the development, the BCI said: “It is a serious matter and we view it as an encroachment on our powers. The HRD ministry should have taken us into confidence,” said BCI chairman Ashok Parija.

“All option are open. We will first talk to the law ministry, which is our administrative ministry and if required, a call for a nationwide action, including a strike is not ruled out,” Parija said.

The HRD ministry has a different take saying many law colleges were being run by universities and excluding them from the ambit of the proposed council would have defeated the purpose of having a uniform regulator for higher education.


 Library & Info Science

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 Mass Communication

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 Maths & Stats

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‘MBA courses must focus on soft skills'

(30/12/2011) Hindu Businessline,

The challenge to management education in India is that there isn't enough capacity to accommodate all those who want to pursue it, said Professor H. Fenwick Huss, Dean, J. Mack Robinson College of Business, Georgia State University.

Prof Huss was in Chennai to attend the Great Lakes NASMEI (North American Society for Marketing Education in India) marketing conference at the Great Lakes Institute of Management here. His college has signed an MoU with the Great Lakes Institute for a PG diploma in management which would facilitate student and faculty exchange, he said.

On curriculum needs in Indian management schools, he said that they are the same as for all other MBA courses – strong analytical programmes with equal emphasis on soft skills such as leadership, interpersonal communication and the ability to understand different cultures.

Prof Huss has extensive experience in launching and restructuring MBA programmes, especially in transitional and emerging market economies such as China, Ukraine, Russia and sub-Saharan Africa. According to him, unlike in other emerging markets, India has public and private B-schools of high calibre.

Tags: Management, Management Education, Soft Skills, NASMEI, North American Society for Marketing Education in India, MBA Courses, Strong analytical Programmes


A drive towards portable classroom

(3/1/2012) Hindu,, an on-line business school, launched 3 screen learning management system, which would provide management lessons through mobile phone, tablet and PC, making the concept portable classroom a realty.

Addressing presspersons here on Tuesday, K. Swaminathan, CEO, said with the launch of this new platform, students could use their tablet or smart phone and upgrade their knowledge and skills literally anytime, anywhere.

He said the platform was already tested with 3,000 students.

Mr. Swaminathan said, in association with IIM-Ranchi, would provide technology and customised digital content for the 18-month Executive MBA programme of IIM Ranchi.

M. J. Xavier, Director, IIM-Ranchi, said the institution would use the content of myBskool. It was planning to conduct live classroom from July this year besides introducing 4-5 study centres across India. A call centre-type of facility would be set up in the next one year, he said.

Tags: Management,, On-Line Business School, Screen Learning Management System, IIM-Ranchi


CMAT route to B-school

(4/1/2011) Tribune,

In order to reduce the rigors of multiple examination process for admission in management institutions, the All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE), the statutory body and a national-level council for technical and management education in India, will be holding first national-level Common Management Admission Test (CMAT)-2012 for facilitating institutions to select suitable students for admission in all management programmes approved by AICTE for 2012-13. CMAT is another exam along with CAT, MAT, XAT, ATMA and JMET for students aspiring to take admission in more than 4,000 management colleges across India. This examination is being widely speculated as the only exam other than CAT for getting admission in management institutions in future.

Advantage CMAT

CMAT will facilitate institutions to select suitable students for admission in all management programmes approved by AICTE for 2012-13. The list includes government colleges and universities that are running management courses or management faculties or management departments; private management colleges or institutions running management courses approved by AICET.

In the given situation, CMAT will have an edge over other examinations like MAT, XAT, SNAP, ATMA, etc in terms of wider acceptance. While MAT and ATMA are accepted largely by private institutions which have higher fees; SNAP, XAT and other individual examinations cater to only one institution or a group of institutions.

CMAT examination will make students eligible for admission to any government-run MBA programmes across the country that have a comparatively lower fee structure and better faculty-student ratio.

CMAT will also enable students to compete for larger number of seats available for admission process (4 lakh seats) and thus an opportunity for better self-assessment.

Test pattern

The computer-based CMAT test will comprise four sections:

a) Quantitative techniques and data interpretation

b) Logical reasoning

c) Language comprehension

d) General awareness.

Each section will have 25 questions with maximum attainable score of 100. One can move back and forth between the four sections. The duration of test will be 180 minutes. There will be negative marking in CMAT and I mark will be deducted for each wrong answer.

Acceptance of the score

There is much talk about the acceptance of CMAT scores by top B-schools for the 2012-13 session. Many colleges have their compulsions in terms of their pre-released admission notification. They are not against unified testing system or the CMAT. However, the timing of CMAT notification and delay in its announcement made the situation difficult for the colleges. To be on the safer side, students should take CMAT along with other entrance examination. This way they will be eligible for admission to the colleges that will accept CMAT scores this year if they score well in this exam.

Tags: Management, AICTE, CAT, MAT, XAT, ATMA, JMET, CMAT, Admission, Eligibility, B-School


Tier-II B-Schools to Feel the Chill

(3/1/2012) ET,

Second-rung institutes prepare for a tough placement season by diluting expectations on salaries and roles as recruiters cut back on hiring plans

Consumer durables and electronics company LG Electronics has decided to go slow on hiring from campuses this year. The company is likely to hire only 20 candidates from management campuses this time, compared with the 60 it recruited last year. Like LG, a number of companies in the country may go easy on campus recruitments, in the wake of a slowing domestic economy and the global economic crisis. The tremors wont touch the top management institutions such as the IIMs, though. Its the second rung-B schools that will feel them hard. Most of their students wont land plum jobs this year. Not only are employers hiring fewer candidates this year, they are also deciding against an upward revision of salaries for B-school graduates. Placements have begun at many such institutions, including Fore School of Management (FSM), International Management Institute (IMI), and IBS Hyderabad. IBS, Hyderabad, for instance, has witnessed a drop in the number of jobs being offered by each company this year. We are counselling students to be a lot more flexible in terms of salaries, roles and locations, says dean-corporate relations Srinivas Cheedi. The institute is hopeful of 150 recruiters participating in this years placements, compared with 130 last year, but believes the current placement season will be much slower. The placements will drag on well beyond the end of the academic year, said the institutes dean-corporate relations Srinivas Cheedi. There is no change in salaries being offered this year, he added. The average salary at IBS stood at Rs 5.8 lakh last year, while the highest was at Rs 11 lakh. However, some companies are tweaking the compensation structure by adding a larger part of the salary package to the variable, says an official familiar with B-school placements, who did not wish to be named. LG, for instance, is offering a fixed salary of Rs 4.5 lakh, similar to last year. There is the bonus element, but it varies according to the candidates performance. Some companies have offered salary packages that are less by Rs 50,000 to Rs 1 lakh this year, said a placement coordinator at a Delhi-based management institute, who too did not wish to be named. While it has been difficult to get organisations to look at an upward salary revision, a lot of recruiters have promised to look at revisions in the next fiscal, says Anita Lal, chairperson placements, FSM. Yet, the institute is hopeful of a good placement season. We have confirmation from as many as 93% of recruiters which visited last year and despite the slowdown,11 new recruiters have confirmed their participation, she adds. The average package at the institute was at Rs 7 lakh last year. Cosmetic goods and toiletries manufacturer Emami plans to plans to hire up to 15 management trainees from various second rung B-schools this year. The company also says it will follow the market trend while deciding on salary packages, although there wont be any cutting back. There will be an increased emphasis on variable pay, says Krishna Mohan, CEO of Emami. Hoping that business will remain as usual, IT giant Infosys is planning to hire more candidates from top B-schools as well as second-rung schools this year. The company says it will stick to last years salary offers, which were in the range of Rs 6.5 to Rs 12 lakh, depending on the role. We plan to hire in the range of 1,000-1,500 candidates, said a company spokesperson. Last year, Infosys had recruited about 1,000 candidates. Some institutes like IMI in New Delhi are tapping new companies to ensure the placement season ends well .We are trying to increase the basket of the companies to achieve our objective of 100% placement, says Satish Kalra, dean of placements.

Fear on Campus

In the midst of a global economic turmoil, hiring fears stalk second rung institutes. Theyre doing the best they can to stay positive


IBS Hyderabad is counselling students to be more flexible in terms of salaries, roles and locations THE institute believes the current placement season will be much slower INSTITUTES like IMI are tapping new companies to ensure the placement season ends well EVEN though corporates showed enthusiasm in picking up students for six-week internships in November, institutes and students are prepared that final placements may not reflect the optimism.

Tags: Management, B-Schools, Tough Placement Season, Job Trend, Fore School of Management, FSM, International Management Institute, IMI, IBS Hyderabad. IBS, Hyderabad, Emami, Job trend


Top B-Schools like IIMs, ISB expect fewer recruiters & jobs and lower salaries this time

(3/1/2012) ET,

Lessons in real life are often better than what's taught in the classrooms, even if they happen to be at the country's best B-schools. For students graduating in 2012, the real-time learning of managing their careers through economic volatility is the only consolation in what threatens to be a gloomy placement season across the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) and at the Indian School of Business.

At least four IIM directors, two student heads of placement cells, recruitment managers, head-hunters and students told ETthey expect fewer recruiters, fewer jobs and lower salaries when the placement season kicks off next month.

They are bracing for the worst, and gently lowering expectations to cushion the impact on hundreds of students aspiring for dream jobs. Placing 350-odd students sitting for the final placements would be a challenge, admits Professor Amit Dhiman, IIM-Calcutta's placements chairperson.

"I want to understand how far the slowdown will impact us this year," says 24-yearold Vishal Sharma, a final-year student at IIM-Ahmedabad, flipping through a business magazine for articles on the slowdown. Batchmate R Sridhar is in touch with the alumni to gauge hiring sentiments across companies. The class of 2012 has seen global economic volatility at its worst. They sat for their entrance exams in late 2009, when the world economy was still reeling under the impact of the previous year's financial crisis.

They walked into the campus for the first day at school in June 2010, when the early hints of recovery were quite evident, at least in India. Those hopes have been belied as they prepare to pass out in a few months. "When we entered IIM-A in 2010, it was a good recovery year (after 2008 meltdown). But now when we are ready to enter the corporate world, there are fears of a double-dip recession," says Sridhar.

"The number of Day Zero finance jobs, including those from investment banks, are likely to go down," says Prof Dhiman. "But not every sector is doing badly. Consulting companies have multiple job offers, as do IT, technology product companies." Adds Debashis Chatterjee, director, IIMKozhikode: "The number of companies visiting and offers being made will be conservative."

FMCG and durables companies haven't dropped out. They are coming to the campus, but they will recruit fewer students. "Some have said they are coming just to maintain their relationship on campus. They will recruit only 1 or 2 people," says Dhiman. Some FMCG companies had hired 10-15 each last year. Pre-placement offers at IIM-C are down to 75 compared with 90-plus during the same time last year. Some Day 3, Day 4 companies have also dropped out.

Crore-Plus Salaries, Foreign Jobs Missing

"In 2009, we were banking on domestic offers. But this time, besides global offers, even the domestic ones will be affected," adds Dhiman. IIM-Bangalore has been tempering the hopes of its students for some time now, not just this year. "The students are mature now and many of them come with work experience; they understand they may not get their dream job.

Not everything is rosy," says Sapna Agarwal, head of career development services at the institute. The placement committee and faculty are trying to point students to other sectors that are equally good. "We have increased the bouquet of desirable companies. We are trying to help students understand the goodness of other industries (which may not have necessarily been part of their first choice)," says Agarwal.

Adds Ashish Dongre, an IIM-B PGP student, "The faculty is helping students come to terms with sustained recession." The Rs 1-crore salaries, foreign postings won't happen. "Instead of only Ivy League companies, middle and smaller companies are offering challenging and equally competitive jobs. It's right to bring down expectations," says Dongre.

At IIM-B, 370 students will line up for placements this year. "Most recruiters are reserving judgement on the number of people they are planning to hire," says Ashish Srivastava, placement committee member at XLRI-Jamshedpur.

"Most will recruit less. If the market picks up later, they will hire more from the market." "Consulting is looking fine, but finance is taking a hit. We are not sure about marketing yet, but no one seems to have any major expansion plans," he adds. Earlier in November, companies were enthusiastic in picking first-year students for six-week internships, raising hopes of a strong hiring sentiment. But free interns are one thing; paid hires are another.

Campus insiders say many students have cancelled holidays from their year-end schedules. CVs are being reworked and social networks actively accessed for the latest buzz on hiring. At IIM-Ranchi, consumer-facing companies, including those in the FMCG and durables sector, have been affected and a couple of those that had originally planned to visit the campus have backed out.

"It would have been a problem if we had a larger batch, even 120 students. But since we are going into final placements with only 44 students, we are not worried," says MJ Xavier, IIM-Ranchi director. Institutes placing a large number of students will surely face problems, he says. The average salary will come down this year.

"Those at the top of the class will still get good offers, but the average bunch will probably get a little less," he says. How much less is the questions B-school grads are fretting about. (Names of some students quoted in this story have been changed at their request.) Reporting by Tapash Talukdar, Parag Dave (Ahmedabad), Devina Sengupta (Bangalore) and Sreeradha D Basu (Kolkata).


‘Staff shortage hitting health service in State'

(30/12/2011) Hindu,

The Orissa government has admitted that non-filling of vacancies in medical and paramedical positions was plaguing the health service in the State.

State Health and Family Welfare Minister Prasanna Acharya, addressing public health challenges, emphasised opening of training centres for medical and paramedical personnel who were badly required for health sector.

The two-day seminar on public health challenges was organised by the Public Health Foundation of India and Indian Institute of Public Health, Bhubaneswar.

Mr. Acharya said need for additional human resource was urgently felt in the wake of health problems being faced due to occurrence of epidemic and non-epidemic diseases.

According to a presentation made in the seminar, in paramedic positions there was requirement of 11,829 staff nurses, Auxiliary Nurse Midwife (12,819), pharmacists (2485), laboratory technicians (3,453), radiographers (821) and male health workers (6,246) in medical colleges, community health centres and district headquarter hospitals.

Public health experts expressed concern over acute shortage with limited production of trained manpower.

Policy interventions such as formulation of rational and transparent transfer policy, encouragement to development of new institutions in public-private partnership mode, increase in the intake capacity of paramedical institutions and restructure of paramedical cadres in line with Orissa Medical Service was stressed.

Health and Family Welfare Secretary Anu Garg and Director of Indian Institute of Public Health, Bhubaneswar Sanjay Zodpey, spoke.

Tags: Medicine, Orissa Government, Vacancies, Job Trend, Medical and Paramedical Positions, Public Health Foundation of India


12 AIIMS-like bodies by 2017

(31/12/2011) ToI,

India will have 12 AIIMS-like institutions by the end of 2017.

The report of the steering committee on health for the 12th five year plan (incorporating reports of all working groups and deliberations in Committee meetings) has suggested opening of four new prototypes of premiere All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in addition to the eight already approved.

It says the decision on where these four new institutes would come up should be taken on "the basis of geographical location, physical infrastructure, ease of connectivity with medical colleges, health indicators and local disease burden".

Union health ministry is in the process of constructing six AIIMS-like institutes in Patna, Raipur, Bhopal, Bhubaneswar, Jodhpur and Rishikesh at a cost of Rs 847 crore each, up from Rs 332 crore that was originally estimated. There are expected to be ready by July, 2012.

The Planning Commission has given approval to two more AIIMS-like institutes in Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. "The steering committee has asked for four more institutes in the 12th Plan," a ministry official said. The report says the government medical colleges should be strengthened for the dual purpose of creating a larger pool of doctors and other health workers that can be used at primary and community health centres and providing super-specialty healthcare to the population in that region.

With 26 medical institutions have been approved for upgrade, the panel has said an additional 30 medical colleges established at least 20 years ago be identified for support through Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojna.

"Other medical colleges, in private or voluntary sector may also be considered for upgrade and strengthening for starting new postgraduate disciplines and increasing post-graduate seats," the report says.

Tags: Medicine, 12 AIIMS, 2017, Physical Infrastructure, Medical Colleges, Health Indicators, Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojna, Planning Commission


AFMC-like institute to be set up for paramilitary forces

(31/12/2011) ToI,

Government will set up the country's first-ever medical institute for Central paramilitary forces with a dedicated cadre of doctors for over eight lakh personnel on the lines of the Defence-run Armed Forces Medical College (AFMC).

The Union Cabinet had on December 22 approved a mega healthcare infrastructure project, including a super specialty hospital, for the troops of forces like CRPF, BSF, ITBP, CISF, NSG and SSB, who are deployed for a variety of internal security duties in India.

"The Cabinet gave its in-principle approval for the establishment of a Central Armed Police Forces Institute of Medical Sciences (CAPFIMS), a 500-bed general hospital, a 300-bed super specialty hospital, a nursing college and a school of paramedics," said P Chidambaram.

"This project, when completed, will fulfill a long felt need of the Central Armed Police Forces for a world class tertiary medical centre as well as for an assured stream of doctors, nurses and paramedics for induction into the forces," Chidambaram said. The paramilitary forces do not have a dedicated and regular stream of doctors in combat and far-flung locations at present.

Tags: Medicine, Armed Forces Medical College, AFMC, CRPF, BSF, ITBP, CISF, NSG, SSB, Central Armed Police Forces Institute of Medical Sciences, CAPFIMS


Make assessment reports of medical colleges public'

(29/12/2011) HT,

Transparency watchdog, the Central Information Commission, has directed the Medical Council of India (MCI) place assessment reports of medical colleges on the council's website.

G Vishnu, a resident of C R Park, Delhi, had filed a complaint with the CIC saying that the council has failed to place suo motto information on its website under section 4 of the Right To Information (RTI) Act regarding inspection reports of the medical colleges.

Vishnu asked the commission to direct the MCI to place primary inspection reports of colleges, approval and rejection reports and annual or bi-annual inspections which are mandatory in public domain. He also wanted MCI reports on capitation fees and action taken for the same against colleges to be displayed on the website.

The MCI informed that the colleges are inspected after every five years and the assessment reports cover the issues related to quality and bed occupancy in the linked hospital.

Information commissioner Shailesh Gandhi after deliberations with MCI decided that providing the assessment report of the colleges would be enough for people to take a view on a medical college. He also said that information regarding whether a proposal from a medical college has been approved or rejected should also be placed in public domain.

"It was agreed that the public authority would display the assessment report and whether the application has been approved or rejected by 30 July of each year where applicable," Gandhi's order said.

The transparency law envisages that every government departments disclose information voluntarily to ensure "transparency" and "accountability" in institutions. "This will reduce the load of RTI applications being filed with each institution as information will be freely available to citizens," Gandhi said.

Tags: Medicine, Central Information Commission, CIC, MCI, Assessment Reports, Right To Information (RTI) Act, Medical Colleges


MCI Starts 3-Year PG in Family Medicine, Asks States To Roll Out Course

(3/1/2012) ToI,

Family physicians medical practitioners that were fast disappearing are now being revived.
With India witnessing a rush of medical students keen on becoming specialists, the health ministry and Medical Council of India (MCI) have notified introduction of a new three-year postgraduate course MD in family medicine.
Chairman of MCIs board of governors, Dr K K Talwar said, The curriculum has been prepared and sent to all state governments that have been told to roll out this broad speciality course.
Experts say a doctor with MD (family medicine) will be the one who will know a little of every discipline, from pediatrics to gynecology and will be able to treat the community as a whole.
This will soon bring back the family physician in the forefront of primary healthcare. The steering committee on health has also been pressurizing the ministry to endorse family medicine.
In its recent report finalized last week, it said, family medicine discipline needs to be introduced in all medical colleges so that they can effectively manage most of medical problems encountered at primary level, and referral to specialists occurs only when necessary. Till now, most family physicians were MBBS doctors. The MD course on family medicine is more advanced than a simple MBBS and will help doctors wanting to increase their acumen in community health, Dr Talwar said.
At present, the only available post-graduate programme on family medicine was the DNB family medicine qualification, conducted by the National Board of Examinations-accredited community hospitals.
NBE executive director Dr Bipin Batra said, The demand for DNB (family medicine) course run by the NBE is seeing a major increase. We have 300 seats for this discipline. As against just 50 MBBS students enrolling to become family physicians a couple of years ago, the numbers reached close to 300 in 2011.This is mainly because private hospitals have increased their recruitment for general practitioners.
Students pursuing MD (medicine) are taught more in-depth on diseases, functions of various organs and their treatment.
Professor Ranjit Roychoudhury, former member of MCIs board of governors, said, A person with a postgraduate degree in family medicine will look at preventive, prophylactic and promotive healthcare. He will have extensive knowledge on healthcare for the elderly who cannot move out of the house and will be taught on everything from gynecology, psychology to pediatrics.
Introduction of family medicine as a PG discipline has been emphasized by the Bhore Committee, National Health Policy 2002,National Knowledge Commission and the taskforce on human resource for NRHM.
Dr K Srinath Reddy, president of Public Health Foundation of India, said, Family medicine is a required discipline. The rush for specialization has deprived doctors of the ability to look at individuals as a whole and families as one unit. We require large number of persons trained in family medicine, which combines a broad set of clinical competencies.
American Academy of Family Physicians defines it as medical specialty that integrates the biological, clinical and behavioural sciences. The scope of family medicine encompasses all ages both sexes each organ system and every disease entity.

Tags: Medicine, Medical Council of India, MCI, MBBS Course, Speciality Course, National Board of Examinations, NBE


National Eligibility& Entrance Test to roll out from 2013

(25/12/2011) ToI,

The first ever single eligibility-cum-entrance examination for MBBS and post-graduate medical courses, will now be rolled out from 2013. This was indicated by the Union health ministry in a meeting with the Medical Council of India on Friday.

However, the final clearance will come in a week's time after Union health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad gives the MCI the green signal to formulate the notification. The test was scheduled to be held on May 13, 2012.

A ministry source told TOI the syllabus for the 2013 entrance test has already been prepared and put on the website of the MCI for students to switch over to the new system and get fully acquainted with the syllabus. The source said "some states wanted more time before the National Eligibility cum-Entrance Test (NEET) is rolled out.

We have therefore decided to roll it out for both under graduate and post graduate medical exams from 2013. The MCI has been informally told in the meeting on Friday. A formal communication will be sent next week."

Among the states that was against the introduction of NEET in 2012 included West Bengal Maharashtra, Assam, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. Maharashtra, Gujarat and Goa had showed readiness to join NEET from 2013-14 but AP sought exemption for two years, saying it would join from 2014-15. NEET will be held for MBBS and MD courses offered by all 271 medical colleges, 138 govt-run and 133 under private management.

Tags: Medicine, Single Eligibility-Cum-Entrance Examination, MBBS, PG Medical Course, National Eligibility cum-Entrance Test, NEET


Medical colleges opening Norms to be eased

(25/12/2011) ToI,

The Union health ministry will soon relax norms to open medical colleges. Union health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad on Friday asked the Medical Council of India (MCI) to prepare a series of medical reforms within a month. One of the crucial reforms is regarding land required to start medical colleges.

Now, the ministry allows a medical college to start on a 10-acre plot in nine cities - Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Delhi, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Kanpur and Pune. It is planning to expand this list and include state capitals of Orissa, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan, which are not only facing acute shortage of human resources, but also have poor health indicators.

The ministry will allow these states to have split campuses - hospital and medical college within 10km of each other. This facility is available only in north-eastern and hill states, which require 20 acres of plot to start a medical college.

India has a density of one medical college per 38.41 lakhs.

Around 315 medical colleges are spread across 188 of 642 districts. The ratio is worse in certain states: there is only one medical college for 115 lakhs in Bihar, UP (95 lakhs), Madhya Pradesh (73 lakhs) and Rajasthan (68 lakhs), whereas Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu each have medical college for 15 lakhs, 16 lakhs and 19 lakhs, respectively.

"Sometimes a hospital does not have enough land to start a medical college. We have asked the MCI to relax norms to allow a split campus provided facilities like transportation and telecommunication are in place," a ministry official said.

India has the largest number of medical colleges in the world, producing over 30,000 doctors and 18,000 specialists every year. However, India's average annual output is 100 graduates per medical college in comparison to 110 in North America, Central Europe (125), Western Europe (149) and Eastern Europe (220). China, which has 188 colleges, churns out 1,75,000 doctors annually with an average of 930 graduates per college.

The high-power expert group (HLEG) of the Planning Commission working on universal health coverage has proposed a phased addition of 187 colleges. The HLEG said by 2015 under phase A, 59 new medical colleges will admit students in the 15 states of Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Meghalaya, Orissa, Punjab, Rajasthan, UP and West Bengal.

By 2017, 13 of these states will have an additional 70 medical colleges, and by 2022, 58 additional colleges will be built in two additional phases (2017-20 and 2020-22). By 2022, India will have one medical college per 25 lakhs in all states except Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.

"The implementation of HLEG's recommendations will enable the additional availability of 1.2 lakh doctors by 2017 and another 1.9 lakh doctors between 2017 and 2022. With this rate of growth, it is expected that the HLEG target of one doctor per 1,000 will be achieved by 2028," the report said.

According to the HLEG's estimates, the number of allopathic doctors registered with MCI has increased since 1974 to 6.12 lakhs in 2011 - a ratio of 1 doctor for 1,953, or a density of 0.5 doctors per 1,000. However, the availability of allopathic doctors as per current trends is both inadequate and uneven.

Tags: Medicine, Medical Council of India, MCI, Medical Reforms, 315 Medical Colleges


Nurses get a makeover

(31/12/2011) ToI,

Nurses in India are getting an image makeover. To do away with their quintessential image of being stern and snappy, hospitals across the nation are making them go through grooming courses. Columbia Asia a chain of hospitals, has hired a professional etiquette consultant associated with Miss India pageants to teach their nurses empathy, etiquette and style. Other hospitals like Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Institute (RGCI), Fortis, Artemis and Raheja too are following suit. Nurses are being taught what would be the right shade of lipstick to wear and how to tie up their hair. Nothing shiny like a lip gloss, as one should not look suggestive. Shades of lipstick should be neutral shades, preferably mat, they are being told. The grooming sessions include teaching them how to greet, talk and address patients. They are being told to do away with the coconut oil and coloured ribbons on their hair and look graceful. Also not to talk in their native language in front of patients, not to eat onions for lunch, know patients by their names and not by bed numbers and maintain the highest levels of personal hygiene.
For instance, Artemis Health Institute in Gurgaon has a centrally air-conditioned nurses hostel in the campus with a beauty parlour in it, where they are taught how to apply make up, manage body odour, do up hair and maintain personal hygiene.
Dr Devlina Chakravarty, medical director of Artemis, told TOI that During induction, the nurses are given a kit with oils, shampoos, soaps and perfumes they need to use besides teaching them communication skills. Every nursing day, we give out awards like nurse with best bed-side manners, most popular and most smiling nurse. They are then sent for a free trip to south-east Asian countries for three nights and four days. At present, 40 nurses have been chosen for a trip to Thailand.
Rita Gangwani, who has groomed several participants for Miss India/Miss Bhutan pageants, is now training Columbia Asia nurses. She said India has the best nurses as far as doing their job is concerned, but they lack in communication skills.
She said, As most nurses are from Kerala, they tend to talk in their native language in front of patients which can make them jittery. These week-long grooming sessions are teaching them how they should talk in a language everybody can understand, smile while talking to patients, be polite and be aware of the patients name rather than bed number.

Hospital To Hospitality

Consultants teaching nurses empathy, etiquette and style

Nurses taught what lipstick to wear, how to tie up their hair

Grooming sessions on how to greet, address patients

Told to know patients by names and not by bed numbers

Told to do away with coconut oil, coloured ribbons in hair

Told not to talk in their native language in front of patients

Tags: Medicine, Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Institute, RGCI, Nurses in India, Artemis Health Institute, Fortis


Affordable Healthcare Evolution

(31/12/2011) ET,

Low-cost healthcare is evolving into a mature industry with entrepreneurs launching hospitals, specialist clinics and medical devices ventures finds Radhika P Nair

Private affordable healthcare did not exist as an industry even seven years ago when Ashwin Naik, a doctor, co-founded Vaatsalya, a chain of low-cost, twenty-bed hospitals in northern Karnataka. Today, with a network of 14 hospitals across smaller towns and cities in southern India, Vaatsalya is now one of a clutch of pioneering ventures that provide healthcare to low-income communities. Entrepreneurs are setting up affordable speciality clinics, medical devices companies, and health insurance ventures. By doing away with any unnecessary procedures, setting systems in place and optimising space and time spent we are able to keep costs down and be a for profit venture, said Sabahat Azim, founder of affordable healthcare venture, Glocal Healthcare. The Indian healthcare sector is estimated to grow to around $80 billion in 2012 and to $280 billion by 2020, according to a report by industry body FICCI. While healthcare facilities in larger towns and cities have improved drastically in towns and villages most residents are still dependent on small private clinics and government facilities that are highly stretched.


Doctor and IAS officer-turned-entrepreneur, Sabahat Azim ,set up Glocal Healthcare in 2010.Glocals model is similar to Vaatsalyas, in which relatively smaller hospitals (less than 100 beds) are set up in tier-II cities and towns with a focus on primary and secondary care. However, unlike Vaatsalya, which leases out pre-existing hospitals and other buildings and upgrades them to highquality hospitals, Glocal builds up hospitals from scratch, with an investment of around 4 crore per hospital. Glocal, whose Chairman is former SEBI Chairman N Damodaran, has two hospitals in West Bengal one in Sonamukhi, a town 126km from Kolkata, and another in Dubrajpur, which is over 200km from the state capital. Our records are completely paperless and we do not invest in the more expensive specialised equipment like MRI and CT scan machines, Azim said. Azim, who raised 15 crore of venture funding from Sequoia Capital and Elevar Equity earlier this year, intends to take the hospital count in Bengal to eight by March 2012,before expanding to the rest of the country.


Rajat Goel an MBA from II M Ahmedabad, set up Eye-Q in 2007 because he wanted to bring world-class eye-care to smaller towns. Goel, who was the head of surgical business for Bausch & Lomb (SAARC Countries),set up the venture with eye specialist Ajay Sharma. The venture partners with eye doctors in smaller towns. The company upgrades the facilities and the local doctor runs the clinic. Depending on the doctors preference, he either gets a salary or a share in the clinics revenues. Eye-Q, which has raised venture funding from SONG Investment Advisors a fund backed by Soros Economic Development Fund, Omidyar Network and Google and from Helion Venture Partners and Nexus Venture Partners, has a network of 15 clinics in such towns as Rudrapur, Saharanpur and Muzaffarnagar, and treats all eye ailments that do not require an overnight hospital stay. We offer better quality care at the prices charged by a local doctor, said Goel, who invests around `1.5 crore to `5 crore in each clinic.


Myshkin Ingawale, a former business consultant at Mckinsey & Company, set up Biosense Technologies in 2008 to tackle the issue of anaemia. His start-up, incubated at IIM-Ahmedabads Centre for Innovation Incubation and Entrepreneurship (CINE),has developed a mobile phone-sized device that can detect anaemia in a person without a needle. ToucHb, Biosenses anaemia detection device, works by transmitting different wavelengths of light onto the fingernail. We know how haemoglobin reacts to different types of light and can detect anaemia through non-invasive means, said Ingawale, who plans to launch the device, which is meant for health centres and will be priced between 7,000 and 20,000,in the market in early 2012.On the other hand,i2iHealth,a venture launched byi2India,an early-stage seed funding, technology commercialisation and incubation firm based out of Bangalore, brings new medical technologies from around the globe to India. We intend to make devices available at home or at the local doctors office, instead of the currently used high-end sophisticated devices that can only be used by trained technicians at hospitals, said Deepam Mishra,Director,i2iHealth.They recently launched LungFlute, an acoustic-based hand-held device used by patients to clear the lungs of mucus.S3V Vascular is another recently launched affordable medical device venture, started by four graduates of ISBs Executive Management programme. Focused on the endovascular segment they have come out with their first prototype, a bio-absorbable endovascular drug-coated stent called 3V Avatar. A stent is an artificial tube inserted into a natural passage in the human body, like an artery, to prevent flow constriction .The venture plans to launch the product after clinical trials in 2014-15.


While access to healthcare is the primary problem in small towns and villages, in the bigger cities and metros it is the high cost of quality healthcare that concerns many patients It is this issue that Visham Sikand, co-founder of Indian Health Organisation (IHO),is trying to solve. Founded in 2008 and acquired by insurance major Aetna International, IHO offers affordable healthcare plans to patients. At one end, IHO has built a network of doctors, pharmacies and labs in 14 cities across the country. At the other end, it sells health plans, which can cost as little as 1,400 a year for an individual. This includes free to subsidised consultations, medical tests and medicines. Certain packages also include annual medical checkups at subsidised rates. Our focus is on preventive healthcare. Due to high prices, most patients do not want to go to a doctor until absolutely necessary .Many medical conditions can be treated easily if diagnosed early. That is what we are trying to achieve, said Sikand.


Though relatively cheaper, we are still out of reach for the poorest sections of society, said Naik of Vaatsalya. Naik and Glocals Azim are able to provide free treatment to poor patients who are insured under various government schemes, like Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojna, under which citizens who fall in the Below Poverty Line (BPL) category get free healthcare. The short supply of trained doctors, nurses and technicians is another problem that is affecting the spread of affordable medical care. Pharma companies, insurance companies, medical device manufacturers and healthcare providers need to work hand-in-hand to improve supply chain of medicines and come up with cheaper devices and better healthcare plans, said Naik. A holistic approach is urgently required.

 Personality Development

There is no news update in this category.

 Physically Challenged

Implement job quota for disabled: Pres

(4/12/2011) ToI,

President Pratibha Patil urged Central ministries to take immediate steps to implement job reservation for the disabled in letter and spirit. The private sector should, employ them where their skills can be used as part of corporate social responsibility,.
Even the backlog vacancies should be filled.

Patil's words came as the Centre recognized the contribution of 45 people towards empowerment of the disabled, with social justice minister Mukul Wasnik giving away awards at a function on the International Day of Disabled Persons.

The President, speech was read out as she could not attend the function. She said, "The key is the creation of conditions and structures of empowerment and experience has shown that when persons with disabilities are empowered to participate in the process of development on an equal basis with others, the entire community benefits. Therefore, it’s imperative that Government and society at large include such persons in all developmental processes -- from formulation of policies, programmes and projects, to their implementation and monitoring."

India’s ratification of the United Nations’ Conventions on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which came into effect in 2008, symbolizes the national resolve to provide differently-abled citizens with a conducive environment for their full development. The government is also in the process of replacing the current law dealing with persons with disabilities with a comprehensive legislation, she said.

Tags: Employment, Job Trend, Job Reservation, International Day of Disabled Persons, United Nations Conventions on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

 Protective Services

Recruitment to Central paramilitary forces may exceed target

(2/12/2011) Hindu Business line,

Staff Selection Commission may overshoot its annual recruitment target in Central paramilitary forces in 2012, in a bid to accommodate more candidates from the Naxalite-affected and border States. A proposal in this regard will be firmed up based on the response to its recruitment drive to be launched on December 3.

The Central recruitment agency has an approved recruitment target of nearly 80,000 (including backlog for 2011) people in Grades B and C (constables) in 2012; in the various central police force organisations, including Border Security Force (BSF), Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB), Indo-Tibetian Border Police (ITBP) and Assam Rifles.

“We will come out with recruitment advertisements on December 3. Based on the response candidates, we might plan for additional recruitment in forces from the Naxalite-affected and border States,” Mr N.K. Raghupathy, Chairman of SSC, told Business Line.

Priority will be given to applicants from affected areas. However, if their number is insufficient, those living outside will be recruited.

Accordingly, in West Bengal, SSC will recruit over 10,000 (including backlog for 2011) people from the Naxalite-affected districts of Bankura, West Midnapore and Purulia and the Border districts of Nadia, Murshidabad, North and South 24 Parganas, Uttar and Dakshin Dinajpur, Jalpaiguri and Darjeeling.
Fee Waiver

Proposals have also been sent the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to waive the fee of Rs 50 charged for the examination form. The proposal, which might cause the exchequer Rs 15 crore, is yet to get formal approval.

“Waiving off the amount would help interested persons get more access especially in remote areas,” Mr. Raghupathy said.
Tri-Lingual Papers

According to Mr Raghupathy, SSC is likely to make its question paper trilingual while recruiting constables for the Central armed forces. This is to enable job aspirants appear for written tests in regional languages. At present, the SSC provides bilingual question papers, wherein the written tests are conducted only in English or Hindi.

“If there are no technical difficulties, we might have the question paper in three languages – English, Hindi and the mother tongue,” he said.

Tags: Protective Service, Staff Selection Commission, Recruitment, Border Security Force, BSF, Central Reserve Police Force, CRPF, Central Industrial Security Force, CISF, Sashastra Seema Bal, SSB, Indo-Tibetian Border Police, ITBP, Assam Rifles

 Reserved Category

Ensure minority quota, PSUs told

(4/1/2012) ToI,

The government on Tuesday directed the public sector units (PSUs) to ensure that its decision to carve out 4.5% sub-quota for minorities out of 27% for Other Backward Classes (OBCs) is implemented in all recruitments from January 1, this year.

The department of public enterprises (DPE) has written to the administrative ministries of different Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSEs) asking them to seek compliance from the CEOs of the PSUs on minorities' sub-quota from the quota for OBCs.

"All administrative ministries/departments concerned with the CPSEs are requested to bring this position to the notice of chief executives of CPSEs under their administrative ministries' control and ensure compliance of these instructions in recruitment/appointments in the CPSEs," the department of public enterprises said. The department of personnel and training has already notified the decision taken by the Cabinet on December 22. Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists and Zoroastrians (Parsis) have been notified as minority communities under the National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992.

The decision is based on the recommendations of the National Commission for Religious and Linguistic Minorities. There are 249 CPSEs employing about 15 lakh people.

Tags: Reserved Category, Public Sector Units, PSUs, Department Of Public Enterprises, DPE, Public Sector Enterprises, CPSEs, National Commission for Religious and Linguistic Minorities


Minority quota in govt institutes from 2012

(27/12/2011) ToI,

Within minutes of the Cabinet clearance for 4.5% sub-quota for minorities within 27% reservation for OBCs, the HRD ministry issued a detailed gazette notification asking all the Central educational institutions to abide by the decision.

On Thursday, the ministry had sought advice of law ministry if the sub-quota implementation would require amendment in the Central Educational Institutions (reservations in admission) Act, 2006.

Sources said, "Law ministry said notification is enough and no legislative intervention is needed in the CEI Act."

The Centre's decision would have immediate impact on admissions in IITs/IIMs/NITs/AIIMS, 44 Central universities and educational institutions like National Institute of Design, National Institutes of Fashion Technology and others. However, advertisement for entrance test to most of these institutions has been issued.

Officials said, "Since it is a sub-quota within existing reservation for OBCs, institutions would have to issue a corrigendum stating the new decision. The Central list of OBCs consisting of minority communities is also known. It would not be a problem to implement."

In real terms, 4.5% reservation would result in roughly 120 seats earmarked for minorities in 15 IITs and Indian School of Mines.

This year, 2,600 students got admission in IITs under the OBC quota. In 30 National Institutes of Technology, where admission is done through All India Engineering Entrance Examination, 200-odd seats would be for minorities.

In 13 IIMs, with total intake of nearly 3500 students, 42 seats would go to students from minority communities. Central educational institutions were allowed to implement 27% OBC reservation in a staggered fashion over five years. The five-year deadline ends next year.

"Profile of Central government-run educational institutions is definitely going to get more diverse from next year," one IIM director said, adding implementation would not be a problem.

Tags: Reserved Category, 4.5% Sub-Quota for Minorities, 2012, Central Educational Institutions, IITs/IIMs/NITs/AIIMS, 44 Central Universities, National Institute of Design, National Institutes of Fashion Technology


Raise OBC quota to 52%: Sharad Yadav

(24/12/2011) ToI,

Key NDA ally JD (U) on Friday demanded that reservation for OBCs in educational institutions and government jobs be increased from the current 27% to 52%. The party's national president Sharad Yadav also urged scrapping of the creamy layer provision in OBC reservation, calling it redundant as all reserved seats were not being filled by OBC candidates in any case.

Yadav said even though the Mandal Commission had estimated that OBCs constituted 52% of the population, Supreme Court had capped reservation at 50% which confined quota for OBCs to 27%. "We need to prepare a legal framework to give OBCs reservation in accordance with their population and we demand scrapping of this 50% limit to facilitate increase in reservation for OBCs from 27% to 52%,'' he said, adding that as per his estimate, the OBC population had now risen to 60%.

Yadav said that since vacancies were not being filled up by the so-called non-creamy layer of OBCs, it was prudent to do away with the creamy layer provision altogether. "This provision is the invention of Supreme Court based not on the Constitution but on personal opinion of judges. We accepted it earlier because we did not think it mattered who among the OBCs got reservation,'' he said.

"Since this provision has come into effect through a Supreme Court judgment, we demand an appropriate constitutional amendment to do away with this provision which has prevented a section of OBCs from availing the quota facility,'' Yadav said. He added that the provision aims to shield the economically poor among OBCs from the rich in the same category even though the Constitution does not talk about "creamy layer of economic backwardness or advancement".

Tags: Reserved Category, OBC Reservation, 52%, Mandal Commission, Supreme Court


1,500 scholarships for disabled students

(19/11/2011) ToI,

The National Handicapped Finance & Development Corporation (NHFDC) has announced 1,500 scholarships for persons with disabilities.

Announcing the scholarships at the 26th Foundation Day of Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), Harsh Bhal, Chairman & MD, NHFDC said that under this scheme, a student with visual or hearing disability will also be provided one time facility of aids and appliances.
This scholarship scheme which is being implemented from the current academic year, includes a total fee reimbursement, books and stationery allowance and maintenance allowance. It is also applicable to distance education universities like IGNOU. Students who are pursuing PhD or MPhil degrees can also avail of this scholarship.

The scholarships will be offered under the scholarship schemes run by the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment. Nine differently abled students of IGNOU were awarded the scholarships.

Two scholarship schemes have been launched viz, trust fund and national fund.
Under the Trust fund, scholarships will be awarded on a quarterly basis. Maintenance allowance will be paid to the students for 10 months at Rs 2,500 pm for professional graduate courses and Rs 3,000 pm for professional post graduate courses in one academic year.

Students pursuing professional graduate courses will receive Books / stationery allowance of Rs 6,000 pa. Those pursuing professional post graduate courses will be paid Rs 10,000 pa.

Under the National Fund scheme, a scholarship of Rs 1,000 pm for hostellers and Rs 700 pm for day scholars studying in professional courses at graduate and above level, and Rs 700 pm for hostellers and Rs 400 pm for day scholars pursuing diploma/ certificate level professional courses has been announced.

Tags: Scholarship, National Handicapped Finance and Development Corporation, NHFDC, Indira Gandhi National Open University, IGNOU, Trust Fund, National Fund


Delink education loan from parents’ income: Plan panel

(21/11/2011) HT,

A plan panel sub-committee on Student Financial Aid has recommended an easy and effective loan scheme for students irrespective of community and economic status i.e. not linking with parents’ income.

It has also suggested that the central government should provide full guarantee with a credit guarantee trust. The rate of interest should be slightly more than the yield on 10-year government securities, thus bringing it down from over 13% as charged now to about 8%. The period of repayment should be 12 years for general category and 15 years for SC, ST, OBCs and minorities.

The committee asked the government to continue to provide the block grants to educational institutions as part of its share in the total cost of education, " to ensure that the entire cost of education is not shifted to the students and the levels of tuition fees are reasonable".

To ease the pressure on students going for post graduate courses, it even suggested that those particularly in professional courses like engineering, should be encouraged to work for a few years before their Master's.

"This will help them pay off whole or part of existing loan or save up some amount to pay for graduate education," the committee said.

The proposals are apart from an unprecedented number of scholarships proposed for meritorious students.

Signalling a shift in funding of higher education, the proposals come at a time when there is pressure on the educational institutions to generate more funds through fees. Recently, the IIT council had proposed a four-fold increase in tuition fees— from R50,000 to over R2 lakh pa.

The committee also proposed a work-study programme — popular in western countries —to allow students to work for 20 hours per week in labs and research projects to provide income avenues.

Though reliance on state funding has been increasing, the expenditure per student fell by 28% between 1990-91 and 2002-03.


‘Issue admission forms for EWS in Hindi'

(30/12/2011) Hindu,

Social Jurist, a group of practising lawyers and social activists dedicated to the cause of the common man, has written to the Delhi Education Department to issue the common application form in Hindi for the Delhi school admissions under the freeship quota.

In the letter, the group noted that most of the parents belonging to economically weaker section and disadvantaged group category do not read, write or understand English.

“Therefore, to make the economically weaker section admissions effective and purposeful, it is necessary that the Directorate of Education use Hindi, '' said Social Jurist advocate Ashok Agarwal.

“The Directorate of Education has devised a Common Admission Form for admission under economically weaker section and disadvantaged group category and the same is uploaded on the official website of Directorate of Education — — for the benefit of the schools as well as the applicants. All schools are directed to use the same format by downloading the application form or by using a printed application form. The amendment should be brought about immediately to ensure that people are able to use it effectively,” said Mr. Agarwal.

Tags: School, Delhi Education Department, Economically Weaker Section, Admission Forms, Hindi


After Gujarat, chess compulsory in TN schools

(4/1/2012) ToI,

Tamil Nadu has adopted Gujarat's strategy of introducing chess in all schools in an apparent bid to improve cognitive skills of students. The unique initiative, to be launched next academic year, is aimed at exposing students, especially those from "educationally backward" districts, to the rudiments of the game.

A senior education department official said the state was following up on the announcement made by chief minister J Jayalalithaa in August 2011 to start the practice in government and aided schools. The inspiration was the "chess in schools" programme run by the World Chess Federation, whose president Kirsan Ilyumzhinov had met Jayalalithaa earlier in the year.

"It (the chess programme) will give children in the seven to 17 age group an opportunity to test their skills. Training will be given to physical education teachers and one or two others in each school so they can train the children," said additional chief secretary T S Sridhar. Tamil Nadu has adopted Gujarat's strategy of introducing chess in all schools in an apparent bid to improve cognitive skills of students. The unique initiative, to be launched next academic year, is aimed at exposing students, especially those from "educationally backward" districts, to the rudiments of the game.

A senior education department official said the state was following up on the announcement made by chief minister J Jayalalithaa in August 2011 to start the practice in government and aided schools. The inspiration was the "chess in schools" programme run by the World Chess Federation, whose president Kirsan Ilyumzhinov had met Jayalalithaa earlier in the year.

"It (the chess programme) will give children in the seven to 17 age group an opportunity to test their skills. Training will be given to physical education teachers and one or two others in each school so they can train the children," said additional chief secretary T S Sridhar.

Tags: School, Tamil Nadu, Chess, Compulsory, World Chess Federation


Assam CM promises NASA trip to Class X toppers

(1/1/2011) Tribune,

From this year onward, the top three rank holders in the High School Leaving Certification Examination (Xth standard) in Assam will be taken on a study tour to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in the US as per a special scheme announced by Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi on the New Year’s Day.

Gogoi said it was aimed at triggering healthy competition among students as well as to reward the most successful ones with an exposure trip to the NASA. The government will also provide a desk-top computer to all the students securing 50-59.9 per cent marks in the HSLC examination, while the ongoing scheme to provide laptop computers to all the students securing 60 per cent and above in the HSLC examination will be continued.

He said bicycles would be provided to students from all the BPL families in the state, while one lakh meritorious students from primary level would be provided with scholarship worth Rs 5,000 each in the form of fixed deposits. Gogoi said Rs 50 crore will be spent over the next five years to provide medical support to children below 14 years of age.

He announced Rs 5,000 crore special fund to implement number of social welfare schemes in addition to the ongoing government schemes. He said these schemes will be implemented over the next five years by spending Rs 1,000 crore per year and pledged to mount pressure on the Central government to help the state set up special mechanism to check alarming erosion of the river banks areas. He added that each of the erosion-hit families in the state will be provided with Rs 5,000 and two bundles of CGI sheets.

The state will have a computerised archive of films and photographs to be named after late musician and singer Bhupen Hazarika, while a chair will be set up in Gauhati University on Ramayani studies after the name of writer Indira (Mamoni) Raisom Goswami who died recently.

Tags: School, Assam CM, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, NASA, High School Leaving Certification Examination, Topper


CBSE considering elective in mass media

(28/12/2011) Hindu,

The Central Board of School Education (CBSE) is considering introducing an academic elective in mass media for Class XI and XII from the next academic year. It is likely to be introduced as a vocational stream and an elective.

The course was introduced on a pilot basis in certain schools in Mumbai, Delhi and Pune last year and it will help students understand the history of mass media and make them media-literate, which means students can analyse the messages carried in the media, said Chaitanya Chinchilkar, vice-president, business development, Whistling Woods International (WWI) that has partnered with CBSE in training and offering the course.

Language teachers of Class XI and XII will be given a training programme at Whistling Woods, said Vineet Joshi, Chairman, CBSE.

On the infrastructure that would be required in schools to conduct the programme, Mr. Chinchilkar said that besides the trained faculty members, schools would need certain basic facilities. “Classes would be held in the computer labs that your schools would already have. Besides this, schools also need to be equipped with a handycam,” he said. On the prospectus for students of this course Subhash Ghai, founder and chairman, WWI said that students go on to take up careers in films, journalism and animation. It will also help students develop their aesthetic sense and become ideators, he added.

Tags: School, CBSE, Whistling Woods International, WWI, Mass Media


CBSE Exam dates out, exam fever grips city students

(5/1/2012) ToI<

Class 10 and 12 students of schools affiliated to CBSE are set to take the board exams from March 1.

About 7.5 lakh students will take the Class 12 board exams this year, compared to 6.84 last year and 6.81 lakh in 2010.

In the Chennai zone 69,825 students, including regular and private candidates, will take the senior school board exam this year -- a significant improvement from 61,753 last year and 56,697 in 2010.

The Chennai zone comprises CBSE schools in TN, Kerala, AP, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Goa, Puducherry, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, and Daman & Diu.

Principals of CBSE schools in Chennai said that many of their Class 10 students had opted for school-based assessment than the board exam this year. "Now there is much more awareness among students about the fact that there is not much difference between opting for the school exam and the board exam in Class 10," said director of Paavai Vidyashram CSatish.

Last year's experience had given Class 10 students the confidence to opt for school-based assessment in 2012 schools said.

"93% of students in our school have opted for school-based assessment this year. The TN government was the first to issue guidelines to schools affiliated to other boards of education on admitting children from CBSE schools in higher secondary classes. So, students had no problems in gaining admission in higher secondary classes elsewhere," said senior principal of Bhavan's Rajaji Vidyashram’s Ajit Prasath Jain.

However, the number of Class 10 students in schools in the Chennai zone opting for board exams this year is96,959 compared to the 55,366 students who have opted for the school-based exam.

This is because students in other states like Maharashtra, which is also part of Chennai zone, continued to prefer board exams, while students in TN preferred school-based assessments.
CBSE gave Class 10 students the option of choosing between school-based assessment and board exams last year in an attempt to reduce exam-related stress in students.
The CBSE has released the date sheet of Class X and Class XII board exam on Tuesday.

Both the exams will begin on March 1. While Class X boards end on March 26, the exams for Class XII will end on April 13.

the major exams for Class X have been spread out.
For Class XII, the schedule is a little tougher. English on March 1 is followed by physics paper on March 5.

An even balance has been chartered out for all branches. Between physics and chemistry papers, there’s an eight-day break.
For commerce students, the paper on business studies is on March 6 and accountancy is on March 15.

For complete date sheet for class X & XII, log on to and respectively

Tags: School, CBSE, Board Exam, 7.5 Lakh Students, Assessment


Don't misuse fee concession rules: HC

(26/12/2011) HT,

The Delhi High Court has warned well-off parents against trying to evade fees by misusing concession rules meant for students from the economically weaker sections in unaided private schools. "Today, education is empowerment and with a view that the poor and the disadvantaged groups are not left behind, a duty has been cast upon private schools to provide fee concession to the deserving students, but this does not mean that parents responsible to provide education to their children put the burden on the school," said Justice Kailash Gambhir.

"Parents cannot shirk away from their duty in the garb of belonging to the weaker sections of society and as a matter of right demand concessions from schools," the court said.

The court's remarks came as it dismissed a plea by the father of a student of Mahavir Senior Model School, who wanted a direction to grant his daughter a fee concession. He claimed he belonged to the economically weaker sections and had a monthly income of Rs 4,000.

But the school produced proof that the father — a music and painting teacher — had a monthly income of Rs 10,000 per month and owned a house in a prime Delhi locality.

"This is classic example of a parent, who is educated and a professional, does not wish to pay for the education of his child, and falsely claims to be a man of no means and wants to realize the education of his child through the portals of law. It is nothing but an exploitation of the beneficial social legislations and an abuse of the court of law, besides an assault on the opportunities of the ones truly deserving these concessions," said Justice Gambhir.

The court directed the man to immediately pay fee arrears of Rs 59,574 and allowed the school to action against the student if it is not paid.

Tags: School, Fee Hike, High Court, Economically Weaker Sections, EWS, Unaided Private Schools


Many of India’s Poor Turn to Private Schools

(30/12/2011) ToI

For more than two decades, M. A. Hakeem has arguably done the job of the Indian government. His private Holy Town High School has educated thousands of poor students, squeezing them into cramped classrooms where, when the electricity goes out, the children simply learn in the dark.

Parents in Holy Town’s low-income, predominantly Muslim neighborhood dont mind the bare-bones conditions. They like the modest tuition (as low as $2 pm), the English-language curriculum and the success rate on standardized tests. Indeed, low-cost schools like Holy Town are part of an ad hoc network that now dominates education in this south Indian city, where an estimated two-thirds of all students attend private institutions.

“The responsibility that the government should shoulder,” Mr. Hakeem said with both pride and contempt, “we are shouldering it.”

In India, the choice to live outside the faltering grid of government services is usually reserved for the rich or middle class, who can afford private housing compounds, private hospitals and private schools. But as India’s economy has expanded during the past two decades, an increasing number of India’s poor parents are now scraping together money to send their children to low-cost private schools in hopes of helping them escape poverty.

Nationally, a large majority of students still attend government schools, but the expansion of private institutions has created parallel educational systems — systems that are now colliding. Faced with sharp criticism of the woeful state of government schools, Indian policy makers have enacted a sweeping law intended to reverse their decline. But skeptics say the litany of new requirements could also wipe out many of the private schools now educating millions of students.

“It’s impossible to fulfil all these things,” said Mohammed Anwar, who runs a chain of private schools in Hyderabad and is trying to organize a nationwide lobbying campaign to alter the requirements. Referring to the law, he said, “If you follow the Right to Education, nobody can run a school.”

Education is one of India’s most pressing challenges. Half of India’s 1.2 billion people are 25 or younger, and literacy levels, while improving, could cripple the country’s long-term prospects. In many states, government education is in severe disarray, with teachers often failing to show up. Rote drilling still predominates. English, considered a prerequisite for most white-collar employment in India, is usually not the medium of instruction.

When it took effect in April 2010, the Right to Education Act enshrined, for the first time, a constitutional right to schooling, promising that every child from 6 to 14 would be provided with it. For a nation that had never properly financed education for the masses, the law was a major milestone.

“If we nurture our children and young people with the right education,” said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, commemorating the act with a televised address, “India’s future as a strong and prosperous country is secure.”

Few disagree with the law’s broad, egalitarian goals or that government schools need a fundamental overhaul. But the law also enacted new regulations on teacher-student ratios, classroom size and parental involvement in school administration that are being applied to government and private schools. The result is a clash between an ideal and the reality on the ground, with a deadline: Any school that fails to comply by 2013 could be closed.

Kapil Sibal, the minister overseeing Indian education,  scoffs at claims that the law will cause mass closings of private schools. Yet in Hyderabad, education officials are preparing for exactly that outcome. Theyre constructing new buildings and expanding old ones, partly to comply with the new regulations, partly anticipating that students will be forced to return from closing private institutions.

“Fifty percent will be closed down as per the RTE,” predicted E. Bala Kasaiah, a top education official in Hyderabad.

As a boy, M. A. Hakeem listened as his father bemoaned the slow progress of his fellow Muslims in India. “Son,” he recalls his father’s saying, “when you grow up, you should provide education to our community.”

A few months after he completed the 10th grade, his father died. A year later, in 1986, Hakeem opened a small preparatory school with nursery classes. He was 15 years old.

Not yet old enough to vote, Hakeem held classes in his family’s home and enlisted his two sisters to handle administrative tasks. By the mid-1990s, Mr. Hakeem had opened Holy Town. The school has since produced students who have gone into engineering, commerce and other fields.

“I’m fulfilling my father’s dream,” Mr. Hakeem said.

When Holy Town opened, Mr. Hakeem’s neighbourhood had one private school, a Catholic one. Today, there are seven private schools within a half-mile of Holy Town, each charging a few dollars a month and catering to Muslim students with a largely secular education in English.

Their emergence roughly coincided with the economic liberalization that began in 1991. For decades, government officials had blamed rural apathy for India’s high illiteracy rates, saying that families preferred sending their children into the fields, not the classroom. But as the economy started taking off, public aspirations changed, especially among low-income families.

“In India today, demand is not really a constraint for education — it’s the supply,” said Karthik Muralidharan, an assistant professor at the University of California, San Diego, who has studied Indian education. “Parents see education as the passport out of poverty.”

The rising demand created a new market for private schools, and entrepreneurs big and small have jumped at the chance to profit from it. Corporate educational chains opened schools tailored to higher-income families, especially in the expanding cities. Low-cost schools like Holy Town proliferated in poorer neighborhoods, a trend evident in most major cities and spreading into rural India.

Estimating the precise enrollment of private schools is tricky. Government officials say more than 90 percent of all primary schools are run by or financed by the government. Yet one government survey found that 30 percent of the 187 million students in grades 1 through 8 now attend private schools. Some academic studies have suggested that more than half of all urban students now attend private academies.

In Mumbai, so many parents have pulled their children out of government schools that officials have started renting empty classrooms to charities and labor unions — and even to private schools. In recent years, Indian officials have increased spending on government education, dedicating far more money for new schools, hiring teachers and providing free lunches to students. Still, more and more parents are choosing to go private.

“What does it say about the quality of your product that you can’t even give it away for free?” he said.

Most low-cost private schools also follow rote-teaching methods because their students have to take standardized tests approved by the government. But some studies suggest that teachers in government schools are absent up to 25 percent of the time. Poor children who attended private schools scored higher on reading and math tests, according to a study by Sonalde Desai, a professor of sociology at the University of Maryland, and other scholars.

“There is not much teaching that happens in the government schools,” said Raju Bhosla, 32, whose children attend one of Hyderabad’s low-cost private schools. “I never even thought about putting my kids in government schools.”

Across Hyderabad, work crews in 58 locations are expanding government schools or constructing new ones. To education officials, the building spree signals a rebirth of the government system, part of an $800 million statewide program to bring government schools into compliance with the new law.

For Sibal, the national education minister, government schools had atrophied because of a lack of money. Under Right to Education, states can qualify for more than $2 billion to improve facilities, hire new teachers and improve curricula, he said.

“All these changes are going to transform the schools system in the next five years,” Mr. Sibal predicted. As for the tens of thousands of private schools opened during the past 15 years to satisfy the public’s growing hunger for education, Mr. Sibal said, “We’ve given them three years time,” referring to the 2013 compliance deadline. “We hope that is enough.”

Skepticism abounds. Elite private schools, already struggling with requirements that they reserve slots for poor and minority students, have filed lawsuits. But the bigger question is what will happen to the tens of thousands of low-cost private schools already serving the poor.

James Tooley, a British scholar who has studied private education in India, said government statistics grossly underestimate private schooling — partly because so many private institutions are not formally registered. In a recent survey of the eastern city of Patna, he found 1,224 private schools, even though government records listed only about 40.

In Hyderabad, principals at several private schools said inspectors regularly threatened them with closings unless they paid bribes. Now, the principals say, the inspectors are wielding the threat of the Right to Education requirements and seeking even bigger bribes.

Anwar, the private school entrepreneur trying to organize a lobbying campaign, estimated that roughly 5,000 private schools operated in Hyderabad.

“Can the government close 5,000 schools?” he asked. “If they close, how can the government accommodate all these students?”

Tags: School, Holy Town High School, Private Schools, Right to Education


Class X: Many students still prefer boards

(6/1/2012) HT,

While the Central Board for Secondary Examinations (CBSE) and schools may be promoting the Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE), there are still lakhs of students in the country who swear by board exams in Class 10. Around 4.10 lakh students have opted for the board-based exams over in-house assessment that are part of CCE this year. There are an estimated 11 lakh students under CBSE who will appear in the class 10 exams —either in-house or boards — this academic year.

Class 10 boards examinations were made optional for students in the 2010-11 academic session. Every student who is currently studying in class 10 is given an option to go for either the summative assessment II (in-house exams) or board exams.

And while many students are still opting for the board examinations, their number is dropping. Last year, 4.45 lakh students had opted for the board exams.

"The number is down from last year. We are expecting it to go down further in the coming two years as we hope the popularity of CCE method will grow and students will have more faith in it," said a senior CBSE official, who did not want to be named.

But those who do opt for the board exams have clear reasons for doing so.

"I want to judge my potential at the national level before I choose a stream in classes 11 and 12. While board exams will not comprehensively tell me where I stand, it will still give me an idea," said Abhishek Sharma, a student at New Green Fields, Saket.

For many, carrying on the tradition is the reason for opting for the exams.

"Ever since class 6, we were repeatedly told to study keeping in mind that we will have to give board exams in class 10. I just want to see what the whole hullabaloo was about," said Kirti Malik, a student at Bal Bharati School, Pusa Road.

Meanwhile, principals of city schools said they give full freedom to students in the matter.

"The boards still hold a perception of credibility among many. Parents want their children to sit for the exams as they want them to prepare for the class 12 exams," said Ashok Pandey, principal, Ahlcon International School, Mayur Vihar.

"Also, parents who have transferable jobs prefer that their students take board exams as they think admission for their class 11 will be easier this way," he added.

Tags: School, CBSE, Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation, CCE, Class 10 Boards Examinations, Bal Bharati School


MCD students to train in arts

(4/1/2011) HT,

For students studying in various schools run by the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD), seeking training in the fine arts will no longer be a dream. The civic agency has set aside Rs 60 lakh, to be utilised for all its 1,729 schools, to train students in music, dance and drawing and lay out an all-round training base.

"These are very poor children. So we have set aside the planned budgetary allocation and are waiting for the standing committee to clear it," said Mahender Nagpal, chairman, MCD's education committee.

The civic agency has decided to employ 577 teachers each for music, dance and drawing. The entire onus of furthering the extra curricular activities of the students is being shouldered by the MCD. Students will not be charged anything for this.

"We provide a lot of facilities to students free of charge. Also, it is not enough to just train the students. We also need to invest in the relevant equipment. We need to buy musical instruments which will also be used along with vocal music lessons for the children," added Nagpal.

Tags: School, MCD Students, Civic Agency, Extra Curricular Activities, 577 Teachers


Nursery admissions: Sale of forms begins

(2/01/2012) ToI,

The sale of application forms for nursery admissions in the upcoming session started on Jan 02 2012. The application deadline is January 16.

Some schools have divided the 15-day window into two parts - one for sale and the other for submission of forms. While January 2 - 9 is reserved for sale of forms, the rest is meant for submission of the applications.

To avoid rush, parents have been asked not to panic as admissions are not on a first-come-first-served basis. Forms will be available over the counter for the entire period. Many schools also accept online forms.

DoE has directed that the admission process be wound up by March 31. Schools must declare the first list of selected students, including the waiting list, by February 1. They can bring out the list earlier as well. The second list must be displayed by February 29.

While most schools are likely to follow the tried-and-tested point system for selection, some will hold a draw of lots even for the general category. The latter will have categories like sibling, alumni and first child and will select students on the basis of a separate draw for each category.

A common admission form has been introduced for admissions in the economically weaker section (EWS) category. The form can be downloaded from DoE's official website. Parents need not visit any specific school for the forms as these can be submitted in all schools.

Tags: School, Nursery Admission, Forms, Directorate of Education, DoE, Economically Weaker Section, EWS


Nursery seats: 4-year-olds stranded

(5/01/2012) ToI,

Children unable to secure admission to nursery last year still have nowhere to go. As four-year-olds now, they are eligible for admission to KG (pre-primary). However, most schools have not opened admission in KG this year citing zero vacancy. Schools say their class is full with the nursery batch getting promoted to KG.

Though Ganguly Committee recommended KG as the entry level, almost all schools treat nursery as an official start to schooling leaving little scope for fresh admissions in KG. The HC is now likely to decide on the matter on January 06.

"My son will be four years old now so I was planning to apply in KG this year. But I was shocked after going through the admission notice of various schools. They are just not admitting students in KG. I have only one option to apply in nursery again," said Arti Jain, who lives in the CP area and had applied to more than 20 schools for her son's admission last year. Arti is not hopeful about nursery either. "I will have to waste my son's academic year. Last year, several schools could not fill up all the reserved seats for the economically weaker section. So where did all of them go?" she wondered. "I have made a list of 22 schools I was keen on applying to. But only two of them have opened admissions in KG," she said.

Another parent, Aneesh Kapur, did not try for admission last year when his son was a three-year-old, thinking he was too young to go to school. "With my child aged four years now, I am left with no options. Only few convent schools admit students directly in KG. However, it seems quite unlikely to get through them as they have a quota for Christian candidates," he said.

Be it DPS, Springdales, Mother's International School or Vasant Valley School -- none has opened admissions in KG yet. Some schools may have a seat or two in this class only if the existing students in nursery withdraw.

"For us, the entry level is nursery. We may have two to three seats, but we will come to know of that only towards the end of this session if any student withdraws," said M I Hussain, principal, DPS Mathura Road.

Suman Nath, principal, Tagore International School at East of Kailash, said, "We don’t have any vacant seat in KG. Parents of four-year-olds can take a chance and apply in nursery as there’s no upper age limit. But then the probability of admission will be low for them as most other applicants will be 3-year-olds."

Though many schools give priority to three-year-olds in nursery, few like The Shri Ram School and The Indian School prefer older children at this level. Tania Joshi, vice-principal, The India School, said, "We encourage a little older children in nursery. Often parents of four-year-olds also don’t mind repeating nursery after play school."

Tags: School, Nursery Seats, 4-Year Old, Eligibility, Admission


Nursery: Govt says present procedure should continue

(6/1/2012) ToI,

A day before the Delhi High Court is expected to pronounce its crucial judgment on the nursery admission issue, the Delhi Government on Thursday filed an affidavit, saying it was in favour of schools following the present procedure till it framed proper guidelines. "The necessary guidelines/ rules will be worked out by the government after detailed discussions and consultations with experts and stakeholders," said an affidavit filed by Shashi Kaushal, a senior Directorate of Education official.

"That in pursuance to the decision taken by the cabinet on the recommendation of the Ashok Ganguly Committee, the department had issued the Recognised Schools (Admission Procedure for Pre-primary Classes) Order 2007, wherein it is clearly mentioned that schools which are already providing pre-school education may continue to do so till the framing of guidelines," the affidavit said.

"The government affidavit is a complete U-turn. Till now they have been saying that the Ganguly committee recommendations will be followed. Now they say let the schools have their way till they frame guidelines," said Ashok Agarwal, lawyer for Social Jurist, the NGO representing parents.

A bench headed by acting Chief Justice AK Sikri had been repeatedly asking the government to come out with some guidelines to end the confusion amongst parents. The court is hearing a plea for stopping various private schools from admitting children below four years of age in their pre-primary (nursery) classes.

The lawyer also accused the government of not enforcing the court's September 2007 order, which directed the government to implement the Ganguly Committee recommendations, fixing four years as the minimum age for admission to pre-primary classes.

Tags: School, Nursery Admission, Government, Admission Procedure for Pre-primary Classes,


Open category for school entry shrinks further

(6/1/2012) ToI,

If you are not an alumnus of a city school, don't have an elder child studying somewhere and have no connections in the right places, your kid's chances of getting a nursery seat in a reputed school are very slim. In some schools this year, the number of seats in the general category is as low as 30% of the total.

With 25% quota for poor students kicking in this year and schools reserving seats under various heads, including a discretionary quota for the management, open category seats have shrunk .

For instance, out of 368 seats at Bal Bharati Public School, Ganga Ram Hospital Marg, only 110 seats (30%) arein the general category. Of the rest, 25% seats are reserved for economically weaker sections, 20% seats each for school's discretionary quota and siblings, and 5% seats for alumni.

If the number of applications received is more than the number of seats in a category, the school will conduct a draw of lots.

In schools following a 100-point system, alumni and sibling are part of the general category. At Springdales School, Pusa Road, where a 100-point system is in place, there are only 47 seats open to the general category out of a total of 102. Alumni and sibling categories take away a large chunk of these general seats due to high points awarded to them. The school allots 30 points to siblings and 25 to wards of alumni followed by 20 points to children in the neighbourhood.

Similarly, DPS Mathura Road has 240 nursery seats. Only 120 are in the open category, including alumni and sibling. The school gives 30 points each to neighbourhood and sibling and 20 points to alumni.

"My husband is from Haryana and I studied in Lucknow. And we have only one daughter. I had made a list of the best schools in the city where I wanted to apply for her admission. But I am so disappointed to see that her chances of getting through are so slim," said Ridhi Saxena, who lives in Safdarjung Enclave.

"Schools following the point system seem to prefer alumni and sibling. And those going for a draw of lots have separate categories for them, leaving little room for people like us. The only saviour can be the neighbourhood criteria but then I do not have many good schools close by," Ridhi said, adding that the points awarded to a girl child or a first-born child are too less to brighten her child's chances.

Seats started shrinking when the EWS quota in city schools was increased from 15% to 25% under the Right to Education. Delhi government also allowed schools to reserve up to 20% under the management quota to acknowledge their autonomy. Further, schools were also allowed to reserve seats for different categories based on their philosophy and objectives. So, instead of being clubbed as general, alumni and sibling became special categories.

"How can private schools be questioned on having special points for alumni and sibling or creating a management quota? We are autonomous institutions. Shouldn't we have a right to decide the composition of children we want in the school?" said a principal from a central Delhi school.

D K Bedi, principal, Apeejay School at Pitampura that follows the category system, added, "We are all for educating the disadvantaged. But it is being done at the cost of general category children. Neither is the government setting up new schools nor have private schools been allotted land in last few years. This is a serious problem as we have only a fixed number of seats."

Ameeta Mulla Wattal, principal, Springdales School at Pusa Road, says making categories at least ensures there are some seats reserved for those who do not fall in any category. "However, when we have nearly 4,000 applications to select from, a draw of lots is not feasible. Unless the government improves the standard of its schools in the city, the scramble for seats will continue," she said.

Tags: School, 25% Quota, Bal Bharati Public School, Admission


Pay a fee to see your CBSE examination sheets

(28/12/2011) Mail Today,

Students appearing for the CBSE Class X and XII examinations next year will be the first batch to be able to access their evaluated answer scripts.

Though the Supreme Court verdict on August 9 permitted students to do so through the Right to Information Act, a committee set up by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has recommended that the examinees should be able to retrieve a copy of their answer sheets after filling up an application form along with a fee.

However, this decision, which will affect close to 18 lakh students taking the Board exams next year, awaits the final approval of the governing body (GB) of the Board. The next meeting of the GB is scheduled in January next year.

"Students will be allowed to apply for their answer scripts only after the re-verification period is over," said CBSE chairman Vineet Joshi, who did not disclose how much a student would have to pay to get a copy of his or her answer booklet. Currently, Class X and XII students are allowed to seek re-totalling (re-verification) of their marks within 15 to 20 days after their results are declared.

"We do not want to run the risk of misplacing any answer script by first providing a copy to them (students).So, our priority is to complete the reverification process and then entertain applicants who wish to see their answer booklets," Joshi added.

Currently, only a few universities in the country allow students to see their answer sheets on the payment of a fixed fee.

According to JOSH (a group working to usher in transparency through the RTI Act), the universities of Pune, Mumbai, Kerala, Panjab and IGNOU allow students to see their evaluated answer scripts.

The Karnataka State Education Board too follows this practice.

The CBSE's effort to allow access to answer scripts comes in the wake of a Supreme Court verdict earlier this year, in which a bench of justices R. V. Raveendran and A. K. Patnaik upheld a Calcutta High Court order permitting students to inspect and photocopy their answer sheets of any educational or professional examination.

Though the CBSE, which was a party to the case, has decided against seeking a review of the judgment, it will not entertain any requests for reevaluation.

"The copy of the answer sheets will not reveal who the examiner is or at which centre the booklet was evaluated.That apart, we will not allow the re- evaluation or re- checking of the paper. If the student spots a mistake in the addition of marks, that will be corrected," Joshi said.

Tags: School, CBSE Class X and XII, CBSE, Right to Information Act, Governing Body, GD


School asks for parents' qualifications, releases forms

(28/12/2011) HT,

While asking parents about their educational qualifications and profession is strictly disallowed under the Delhi Government's nursery admission guidelines, a school has gone ahead and done just that.   In its nursery admission form, Amrita Vidyalayam, Pushp Vihar in Saket, has not only flouted one but two norms.

The guidelines clearly state that schools cannot come out with forms before January 2 but Amrita Vidyalayam has already released online admission forms with an option to submit forms as well.

The school is also asking for details of parents' profession, the name of pre-school attended and any help — cultural/professional/academic/sports — that the parents can offer.

The school authorities did not respond to calls despite repeated attempts. A copy of the form is with the Hindustan Times.

"I have submitted the form online and when I asked on what basis they will give admission, the school's answer was very ambiguous. They asked me to submit the form, the rest would be decided later, I was told," said a parent who did not want to be named.

The nursery admission guidelines clearly state that schools have to submit the guidelines to the Directorate of Education before releasing forms. The date for the release of forms has been set as January 2.

Various other schools, meanwhile, have come out with their points system for admission.

While Springdales Schools have 30 points for sibling, 25 for alumni, 20 for neighbourhood and 10 for first born child among other criteria, Ahlcon International School in Mayur Vihar is awarding points for neighbourhood (30), Siblings (25), Single parent (10) and children with special needs (10).

Bloom Public School in Vasant Kunj is gining 50 points for neighbourhood and 50 to Alumni/Sibling.

This time around, more schools are awarding points to first born children and children with varied cultural backgrounds. The complete points can be viewed at the schools' websites.

Tags: School, Educational Qualifications, Nursery Admission Guidelines, Springdales Schools


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Research at IISc, rake in moolah

(22/11/2011) ToI,

Research in computer science has never been as glamorous and lucrative as it is now. With companies like Google, IBM and Microsoft now preferring to have a research lab in Bangalore, there’s a spurt in the number of students doing PhD in computer science at the city's flagship Indian Institute of Science.

IISc now generates the highest number of PhDs in computer science in the country. In 2011, 91 people enrolled for a PhD in computer science at the Computer Science & Automation (CSA) department in IISc, up from 35 five years back. The number of students doing Masters in computer science leading to PhD is increasing also at IISc: from 35 five years ago to an average class of 60 in 2011.

IISC is No. 1 in the country in computer science PhD enrolment. IIT-Madras has 55 PhD students, while IIT-Mumbai has 25, says Y Narahari, chairman of CSA, IISc. He says IISc is particularly attractive for PhD as Bangalore is the tech hub of the country. Name any big IT research lab and you have it in Bangalore. Most of these labs want hardcore researchers who can understand and develop algorithms for next generation computing and are willing to pay them well.'


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There is no news update in this category.

 Self Employment

There is no news update in this category.


An Indian miracle turns 50

(4/1/2012) Hindu,

“So the miracle has happened!” said Professor Alladi Ramakrishnan as he rose to speak on January 3, 1962. The event was the inauguration of the Institute of Mathematical Sciences, Madras, better known as Matscience today.

Declaring Matscience open was Prof. S. Chandrasekhar, later to become a Nobel laureate. And the event took place at Presidency College, the campus on which several educational institutions of the city had taken birth.

It had indeed been a miracle. The idea for such an institute had first flowered in Prof. Alladi Ramakrishnan's mind at Kyoto in Japan where at Yukawa Hall, “young Japanese physicists, the hope and pride of their country, gathered together in enlightened leisure to discuss the most abstruse problems of modern physics.”

Back in India, he set in motion the process of obtaining official sanction. And when that took its time, he began informally creating an atmosphere for such research at his own residence – the sprawling Ekamra Nivas, from where his father, the legendary Sir Alladi Krishnaswami Aiyar, had practised his legal profession. A subsequent visit to the Institute for Advanced Studies, Princeton, served to strengthen his resolve.

In this effort, he was greatly encouraged by C. Subramaniam, State Minister for Finance and Education, who arranged for a meeting with the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, which took place at Raj Bhavan on October 8. Nehru asked Ramakrishnan if he really felt that such an institute was necessary, and on receiving an emphatic ‘yes' promptly agreed to be its patron. And thus Matscience was born.

In his speech Chandrasekhar characteristically decried the Indian tendency to make anything and everything bureaucratic, and hoped that Matscience would remain free of “hierarchical disease.”

Soon visiting professorships, in the names of Neils Bohr and Srinivasa Ramanujan, were instituted. The Institute also pioneered the concept of a summer school with an international faculty, the first of which was held at the TVS Guest House in Kodaikanal.

Matscience is now a national institution coming under the Department of Atomic Energy, Government of India and is located on a verdant campus in Taramani. Several researchers have qualified from there. The institution dedicated to mathematics is now turning 50 when the 125{+t}{+h}birth anniversary of Ramanujan is being observed all over the world.


Shabash: AP, TN among top 5 manufacturing States

(20/10/2011)  Hindu Business Line:

Petroleum will drive growth in the country's key states such as Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra in the next five years.

Over the past decade engineering and chemical industries have witnessed the highest growth and petroleum has emerged as the largest industry, according to a study by Knight Frank India.

AP is among the five leaders with manufacturing capabilities. The others being Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Maharastra and Karnataka.

The output of major manufacturing industries of these top five states would touch Rs 49.40 lakh crore by 2016 with a land requirement of 1.72 lakh acres. The scene for Andhra Pradesh would be Rs 5,99,500 crore from the present Rs 2,31,800 crore. It would also translate into a land requirement of 23,475 acres.

Metal and metal fabrication in Gujarat and automobile in Tamil Nadu will be the torch bearers in terms of the growth there. Knight Frank India with presence in seven metros, has done over 1,500 consultancy assignments in different sector.

Analysis shows that AP will witness a growth of 28 per cent CAGR during the next five years in the petroleum industry. It will surpass the 17 per cent growth of food processing industry.

The study indicates that the industrial landscape in Andhra Pradesh is poised to witness a transformation as the lead of food processing industry will be taken over by petroleum industry in 2016.

Tags: Shabash, Petroleum, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra, Economy, Manufacturing


Cyrus Mistry among 12 global executives to watch in 2012: WSJ

(30/12/2011) ToI,

Cyrus Mistry, the chosen successor of Ratan Tata to lead the Tata Group, and Apple's new boss Tim Cook are among the top 12 new business leaders to watch next year as they "navigate" through "intriguing" business scenarios, says Wall Street Journal.

"A lot hangs in balance" for several new heads of prominent global companies next year, according to the Wall Street Journal, which said that the corporate world will be watching these leaders.

At stake is "reputations, money and survival", said WSJ of the 12 prominent heads of global companies.

Mistry has a year to learn the ropes of how to run one of the most successful and respected business empires in India, while he does his apprenticeship with outgoing chairman Tata, who retires in December 2012, it said.

"Does he have the business chops or is he just there because of his father? That's the question hanging over Cyrus Mistry, the 43-year-old heir apparent at India's flagship conglomerate, Tata Group," WSJ said, adding that Mistry will have time to learn on the job "before the answer becomes clear".

Mistry's curriculum vitae touts his achievements as Managing Director of his family's construction firm, Shapoorji Pallonji & Co. However, his father, reclusive billionaire Pallonji Mistry is the biggest shareholder in Tata Sons, Tata group's holding company, with a stake of about 18 per cent, WSJ said.

The other top executive to "watch in 2012" is Cook, who took over the reins of the technology giant Apple in August, just two months before the company's iconic co-founder Steve Jobs passed away.

"In his 10-plus years with Apple Inc, Cook has proved he's a whiz at running the technology giant's operations. In 2012, the world will learn how comfortable he is being the frontman too," WSJ said.

So far, Cook has received high marks from employees and investors who find him "affable but demanding" and who feel he has dug into Apple's operations and products with a similar attention to detail as did Jobs.

"Next year will bring another set of tests: Cook will likely take the stage as Apple trots out new versions of old devices, like the iPhone and iPad, and possibly some brand-new products, like a much-anticipated Apple television," the paper said.

Tags: Shabash, Tata Group, Cyrus Mistry, Apple's New Boss, Business Chops

India-born Nobel laureate Venky gets knighthood

(1/1/2012) ToI,

Venkatraman Ramakrishnan, India-born US citizen whose pioneering work in molecular biology won him the 2009 Nobel Prize in chemistry, has been honoured with a knighthood by the royal establishment here in a rare recognition of achievements by foreigners based in Britain.

58-year-old Ramakrishnan, known to most as Venky, is based at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge. He has been conferred knighthood "for services to molecular biology" in the New Year Honours List 2012, according to an official announcement.

After the list was released on Saturday, Ramakrishnan said that honouring him with a knighthood reflects the contribution made by immigrants to British society.

In a statement, he said: "In the current debate about immigration, it is worth noting that this award is yet another example of the numerous contributions that immigrants make to British society. Indeed, many of the founding members of the Laboratory of Molecular Biology were immigrants themselves, and they helped to revolutionise modern biology."

Ramakrishnan said: "This is an honour that reflects the quality of science supported by the Medical Research Council, in particular at the Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge. In my case, credit should go to the numerous dedicated postdocs, students, associates and colleagues who made crucial contributions to the work." Pti

Tags: Shabash, Nobel Prize in Chemistry, Knighthood by UK, MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge


Solar entrepreneur Harish Hande's Solar Electric Light Company taps rural schools, homes

(16/12/2011) ET,

Fifteen-year-old Shailaja C does not have to inhale toxic fumes from kerosene lamps anymore each time she sits down to study. A student of the Government High School in Kyasamballi, a remote village in Karnataka's Kolar district, Shailaja now uses the bright light of a bottle-sized solar table lamp to study for two hours each evening.

Her mother uses the same light for cooking and also carries it as a flash light to shop in the evenings. The village, about 100 km from the tech hub of Bangalore, doesn't have access to electricity. This change in their lives was made possible by Bangalore based social enterprise Solar Electric Light Company (Selco) cofounded by clean-technology entrepreneur Harish Hande.

The firm develops sustainable energy solutions and services to underserved households and businesses.

The solar lamp, which is one such solution, can last for nine hours after charging. It is sponsored by the schools, donors or government as part of Selco's light for education project. "The beauty of this project is the use of technology to promote education," said Arjun Menda, chairman RMZ Corp, a leading corporate real estate developer. Menda, an alumnus of IITKharagpur, is one of the supporters of Selco's light for education project through his foundation.

The attendance at schools, such as Kyasamballi's government school, has also improved as students charge the chocolate-bar-sized battery of the lamp in the centralised solar charging system installed in their schools. Selco, which has 180 people including anthropologists, zoologists, designers and engineers, innovates and incubates new products and technologies in its laboratories to solve the energy problems faced by un-served and under-served communities.

Besides the light for education project, the labs developed solar headlamps used by labourers, midwives and street vegetable vendors. The lab also developed a small-scale, solar-based hybrid crop dryer for use in households and small scale industries.


Last month, Selco's Hande roped in US-based Applied Materials, the world's largest producer of chipmaking equipment, to electrify about 1000 village households and several rural schools across Karnataka using solar energy.

The Applied Materials Foundation, an arm of the $10.5-billion global semiconductor firm, will provide $170,000 towards the upfront cost of photovoltaic cells, solar panels and allied equipment for the pilot project. Selco will install the solar lighting systems and maintain them through its 28 branch offices. "It definitely will give us ideas to look at models of engagements.

Around 70% of India lives in rural areas. It is a massive opportunity," said Aninda Moitra, president of Applied Materials India. Moitra hopes to do more such engagements with entrepreneurs and replicate the model in other countries based on the outcome.

On completion of the project, the solar lighting system will generate energy to provide four to eight hours of electricity to about 10,000 people dwelling in 1,000 rural homes.

Around 400 million people across India still do not have access to reliable electricity and an estimated 100,000 villages in the country are yet to be connected to the national power grid, according to a World Bank report.Millions of rural Indians use tin lamps fuelled by kerosene to provide light after it gets dark, and organisations like Selco are trying to change that.

Tags: Shabash, Solar Table Lamp, Rural Schools, Solar Electric Light Company, SELCO, Technology


China has overtaken India in science: PM

(4/1/2011) Tribune,

Pitches for doubling R&D spending to 2% of GDP

Women inspire

n 49.6% INSPIRE (Innovation in Science Pursuit for Inspired Research) awardees women
n 60% INSPIRE fellows pursuing doctoral research also happen to be women
n 60% of the 2,000 Indian women holding PhD in science were found to be unemployed by a survey last year. Lack of opportunities cited as main reason

Bhubaneswar, January 3
In a candid talk on the status of science and technology in India, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said the country was being overtaken by competitors like China and called for substantial increase in the investment in research and development, creation of new innovation eco-system and greater public-private partnerships.

“Over the past few decades, India’s relative position in the world of science had been declining and we have been overtaken by countries like China. We need to do much more to change the face of Indian science,” he said while the inaugurating the 99th Indian Science Congress here.

Missile models on display at the 99th Indian Science Congress at KIIT University in Bhubaneswar.
Missile models on display at the 99th Indian Science Congress at KIIT University in Bhubaneswar. — PTI

Pointing out that India’s R&D spending as a percentage of GDP had been ‘low and stagnant’, the PM made a strong pitch for increasing it to at least 2 per cent of the GDP from the current level of less than 1 per cent. “This can only be achieved if the industry, which contributes about one-third of the total R&D expenditure today, increases its contribution significantly,” he told a gathering of nearly 15,000 delegates from across the globe, including scientists and policy makers.

The Prime Minister made a frank assessment of the country’s progress in science and technology area, highlighted the lacunae in the policies and implementation and called for greater alignment of the S&T sector with the inclusive development needs of the country.

Stressing the need for increased public-private partnerships, he said: “It is ironic that General Electric and Motorola have created world-class technology hubs in India while our own industry has not done so, except perhaps in the pharmaceutical sector. We need therefore, to look at ways of incentivising private investment in research and development under Indian conditions.”

Though science and engineering continued to attract some of the best students, many of them were switching over to other careers because of relatively poorer prospects in science, the Prime Minister said.

“We must also make scientific output more relevant to our stage of development. It is said that science is often pre-occupied with problems of the rich, ignoring the enormous and in many ways more challenging problems of the poor and the under-privileged,” he said.

The expansion of basic science infrastructure, encouraging greater research collaboration among universities and national laboratories and enlarging the reach of international collaboration were among the other suggestions made by the Prime Minister.

“At present, publicly funded Research & Development is skewed in favour of fundamental rather than applied research. It is easier to attract industrial funds into applied research areas and a set of principles should be formulated to push such funding and to drive public-private partnerships in research and development,” he said.

Stating that the UPA government had declared 2010-20 as the ‘Decade of Innovations’, he appealed to scientists and policy makers to use the research-based knowledge productively for social benefit. “For a country grappling with the challenges of poverty and development, the over-riding objective of a comprehensive and well-considered policy for science, technology and innovation should be to support the national objective of faster, sustainable and inclusive development,” the Prime Minister said.

Coinciding with the five-day mega event, he announced that the Centre was considering a proposal to build national capacity and capability in supercomputing to be implemented by the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore, at an estimated cost of Rs 5,000 crore. Another proposal to establish a Neutrino Observatory in Tamil Nadu with an investment of Rs 1,350 crore was also under consideration.

Union Minister for Science and Technology Vilasrao Deshmukh, Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and General President of the 99th Science Congress Prof Geetha Bali were among those present on the occasion.

The Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology (KIIT) and the National Institute of Science Education and Research (NISER) are jointly hosting the congress, the largest gathering of the scientific community. The central theme of the five-day scientific extravaganza is “Science and technology for inclusive innovation — Role of women”.

Tags: Shame, Innovation in Science Pursuit for Inspired Research, INSPIRE, China, Manmohan Singh, Science


Dentists, vets join list of Munnabhais in MP

(31/12/2011) ToI,

After 114 students were found admitted to MBBS courses in MP’s government medical colleges using fraudulent means, another group of students of the state's veterinary and dental colleges have come under the scanner.

The state government put up a list of 114 students who had hired doctors and bright students from UP and elsewhere to write the pre-medical test (PMT) for them. Authorities are yet to probe if students, who couldn’t score requisite marks for MBBS through such means, sneaked into BDS and veterinary courses.

Dr Anand Rai, the whistle-blower of the MBBS admission scam, said this is quite likely. "All those who took this test for admission since 2009 need to be probed," he said.

Pankaj Trivedi, chairman of the MP Professional Examination Board (MPPEB) which conducted the PMT, said, "It's for colleges and the government to find out about fake admissions and take action. We have no role in it."

Principal Secretary (medical education) I S Dani avoided a reply. "I am on earned leave. I can’t talk now on official matters," he said.

Dr G D Agrawal, a Dental Council of India (DCI) member, said the council has no role in PMT and subsequent admission to colleges. DCI only monitors seats, facilities and infrastructure of dental colleges.

However, former MCI member from Chhattisgarh Dr Anil Khakaria said the DCI and the state dental council can find out if candidates were admitted in any of the colleges affiliated to them fraudulently.

The probe found that 50 of the 114 students who allegedly hired impostors to write the PMT for them were from Gwalior and neighbouring areas, including Morena and Bhind. Some were residents of Datia, Shivpuri and Tikamgarh border UP.
About 24% of 600 MBBS seats in 2009 were cornered by candidates who hired ghost writers for the PMT, said Independent MLA Paras Sacklecha.

Tags: Shame, MBBS Courses, Pre-Medical Test, PMT, Admission, MP Professional Examination Board, MPPEB

 Sports & Fitness

India’s golfing talent on the rise

(21/11/2011) ToI,

At the just concluded Toyota IGU Eastern India Junior Championship, the 7th leg of the national tour, which concluded at the Tollygunge Club in Kolkata on Friday, the most encouraging sign was that winners emerged from a wide section of clubs across the country. In the boys A and B category, there was a three-way tie at 290 among the eventual winner Syed Saqib Ahmed from KGA, Bangalore, Subhankar Sharma from ITC Classic, Gurgaon and Prakhar Asawa from Rambagh GC, Jaipur. In the ensuing sudden death playoff, Saqib emerged with a par while the other two dropped a stroke each to par.
Credit to young Prakhar who actually is in the younger age group (B) but managed to match the four day total with the older boys. The 2nd place finisher in Group B was Mohan Sardar from Royal Calcutta Golf Club,while Viraj Madappa from Tollygunge ended in third place. In category C also the winner Arjun Prasad is from Secunderabad,while the 2nd and 3rd place finishers, Karandeep Kochar and Jaiveer Singh were from Chandigarh GC.

There was a time when the Delhi GC and Chandigarh GC would dominate all junior boys categories, but this is a much healthier sign for the game in India. Talent is emerging from every corner of the country and obviously coaches, clubs and parents are all doing their parts in making sure good juniors get nurtured and make their presence felt at the Toyota-IGU national circuit.
The 8th leg of the tour comes to the challenging Bombay Presidency Golf Club from Nov 28th to Dec 3rd before the big finale at Army GC, New Delhi at the end of December, where the Toyota Players of the Year will get crowned in both boys and girls sections.

Tags: Sports & Fitness, Golfing Talent, Toyota IGU Eastern India Junior Championship, ITC Classic, Bombay Presidency Golf Club

 Teaching & Education

KU teachers quit additional responsibilities

(21/11/2011) Tribune,

Implementing their threat to resign all additional responsibilities, 53 of the 75 agitating Kurukshetra University teachers have submitted their resignations.

These included deans, heads of departments, wardens and others holding additional responsibilities. The remaining teachers would resign tomorrow, Dr Pradeep Chauhan, president of the Kurukshetra University Teachers Association (KUTA), said.

Holding the university authorities responsible for the “deadlock”, Dr Chauhan said the authorities were delaying acceptance of its demands.

Saying that the university would be responsible for disruption of teaching work if KUTA was compelled to intensify the agitation, Chauhan said after boycotting the Ph.D entrance test yesterday, the teachers were determined to boycott examination duty and evaluation work which would derail the examination system.

The teachers have been holding a relay fast since November 16 to press their demand for implementing the revised UGC scales and recommendations in toto.

The All-India Federation of University & College Teachers organisations (AIFUCTO) and the Haryana Federation of University & College Teachers Organisation (HFUCTO) have extended full support to KUTA and urged the authorities to accept its demands.

Meanwhile, Lt-Gen (Dr) DD Sandhu, Kurukshetra University V-C, said all demands of the teachers except for two had been accepted and appealed to the striking teachers to resume their duties.

Tags: Teaching, Kurukshetra University, All-India Federation of University and College Teachers Organizations, UGC Scales


Punj raises Retirement age of medical teachers

(19/11/2011) Tribune,

The Punjab cabinet on Saturday evening raised the retirement age for teachers in government medical, dental and ayurvedic colleges from 60 to 62 years in order “to retain qualified medical teaching faculty in the state”. It also increased the age for re-employment for faculty members of these colleges from 65 years to 70 years . Teachers opting for re-employment would be entitled to their last pay drawn plus pension.

The cabinet meeting presided over by the Chief Minister also approved a solatium of Rupees three lakh per family for all labourers who have lost their livelihood because of the land acquired in Mansa for the Peona thermal plant. The labourers, who were left high and dry, have been agitating.

The cabinet approved the proposal to offer ‘a government job’ to the next of kin of those killed during the agitation against the land acquisition and also waive off their cooperative loans. The cabinet also cleared the proposal to amend the land acquisition policy in order to ensure that landless labourers are also compensated whenever land is acquired.

The cabinet also approved the recruitment of 31 posts of faculty in the Government Ayurvedic College Patiala including 6 Professors and Associate Professors, 4 Assistant Professors, Lecturers and Readers and 21 Demonstrators and Lecturers as per the norms of Central Council of Indian Medicine (CCIM).

The Cabinet decided to upgrade the Banga sub-tehsil as a subdivision in Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar district besides Village Cheema in Sangrur and Hajipur in Hoshiarpur district as Sub-Tehsils and also aprproved creation of requisite staff for them. It also approved enhancement of non-official members of Punjab Gau Sewa Board from four to ten.

It approved appointment of rifle shooter Ms. Ruby Tomar, as Sub Inspector in the pay scale Rs.10300-34800+ 3600 GP with basic pay of Rs.14430 instead of Assistant Sub Inspector. It approved creation of 34 posts of Information Technology Assistants besides regularising services of 337 employees working in the Punjab Health System Corporation on contract basis.

Tags: Teaching, Punjab, Government Medical, Dental, Ayurvedic Colleges, Retirement, Faculty Members, Job Trend

 Travel & Transportation

Aviation: Noida to have pilot training facility

(18/11/2011) Hindu BusinessLine,

A pilots' training facility, capable of providing advanced training to over 40,000 trained cockpit crew a year, would come up in Greater Noida in the next 14 months.

Aircraft manufacturer Airbus, Canada-based aviation technology major CAE and India's InterGlobe have joined hands to set up this facility at an estimated cost of $100 million, which would be spent over the next few years, top officials of Airbus and CAE said.

CAE and InterGlobe are the primary equity partners in this joint venture, while Airbus would provide the simulators, the curriculum and pilot trainers, they said, adding that both Indian and foreign pilots would be trained here.

Though it would not provide initial training to churn out fresh pilots, the facility would have six simulators, each capable of providing advanced training and refresher courses to estimated 700 pilots annually, Mr Jeff Roberts, CAE Group President (Civil Simulation Products, Training and Services) said.

“We had promised to the Indian Government that we will facilitate such training programmes in India. We have done this in other parts of the world too and now we have 30 such training schools spread all over,” Mr Kiran Rao, Airbus Executive Vice-President (Marketing and Contracts), said when asked whether this was part of the offsets in lieu of their planes sold in India.

Maintaining that the Greater Noida facility would be ready in 13-14 months, Mr Roberts said it would begin with the installation of two simulators for Airbus aircraft.

Tags: Travel & Transport, CAE and InterGlobe, 40,000 Trained Cockpit, Training Facility, Greater Noida


Where's the flight going?

(20/11/2011) ToI,

In September, India's aviation industry was the fastest growing domestic market with a very healthy 18% rise. So why's everyone playing dead?

The aviation industry, once touted as a sunrise sector, seems to have run into turbulence. With all airlines, except Indigo, bleeding over the last quarter, and Kingfisher Airlines facing a severe cash crunch, it will be some time before the sector gets out of the dark cloud.

The figures are distressing. During the September quarter, Jet reported a loss of Rs 714 crore, SpiceJet Rs 240 crore and Kingfisher Rs 469 crore. As for Air India, the less said the better. The national carrier's total loss and debt burden stands at a staggering Rs 67,000 crore.

But there is a silver lining. In September, India was the fastest growing domestic market with 18.4% growth (almost 2.5 times the GDP growth). This, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), exceeds China's (9.7%) and Brazil's (7.5%), making it the 9th largest aviation market. What's wrong, then?
Ironically, the growth rate itself. It has led to capacity creation far ahead of demand, leading to excess aircraft seats. "Every airline is trying to fiercely undercut the other with low fares. That's suicidal when they can't even recover costs. Air India's fares went very low but it still continued to pay for lounges, travel agents and various schemes. Other airlines had no option but to follow suit. Now everyone is in a mess. Compete, but for being more efficient," says an aviation ministry official.

The fundamental structure of the airline industry is such that margins are wafer-thin - not more than 3%, so it's difficult to make money, says the COO of an Indian airline. "It is a cyclical industry where there is recovery, downfall and recovery again. But the recovery is very slow. Plus, cash has to be preserved for global uncertainties, high inflation and interest rates, but few have it. An airline owner, therefore, needs very deep pockets," he says. But in today's environment, raising capital is not easy either. This coupled with depreciation of the rupee has added to airlines' financial problems.

It's a money-guzzling sector and high and fluctuating prices of aviation turbine fuel (ATF) makes it worse (see 'Controlling costs' ). These alone account for some 50% of operating costs. Add to this the high landing and navigation charges, staff expenses , sales and distribution expenses and profits margins remain low.

Another bug-bear is the sales tax on ATF - varying between 4-32 % in states. (see 'Sales tax on ATF ). "The civil aviation ministry has asked the finance ministry to bring it under the goods and services tax which will lead to a uniform tax of around 12%," says the ministry source. "States such as Maharashtra, Kerala, Chhattisgrah and Andhra Pradesh have brought down this tax but more needs to be done."

The Indian system is also different from other countries, says Kapil Kaul, CEO, South Asia, CAPA, a global aviation advisory and research firm. "Our policy and regulatory structure are often against our own carriers like the five-year operations/20 aircraft rule (to fly abroad) and the restrictive bilateral system. We have a negative fiscal regime making cost structure unsustainable . Plus, the productivity of our strategic assets is low, especially air navigation services."

Also, over-aggressive business plans of airlines have done them in. Fast expansion (Air India's order of 111 planes) without adequate funding has left them struggling . Is it surprising then that airlines such as Jet are planning a sale and lease back of some of its aircraft to repay working capital loans? "Most owners get into this sector enamoured by the glamour and without fully understanding the dynamics," says the COO. (See Chetan Bhagat's article in 'All That Matters' page)

Compare this working style with Singapore Airlines. An Indian pilot who worked with Indian Airlines before shifting to that country says it was the best career decision he took.

"The level of corruption in the DGCA would be unthinkable in Singapore, where work is done efficiently in the shortest possible time. Outstanding professionalism among the management, pilots, engineers and ground staff allows it to have one of the lowest employees per aircraft ratio," says the pilot.

And while the civil aviation ministry has proposed FDI, ironically, the decision was spurred by the Kingfisher crisis. Surely, this could have been done earlier, preventing today's situation. In 1995, when the Tata-Singapore Airlines combine wanted to acquire 40% stake in AI, their plans were scuttled. "Many countries abroad have FDI and the heavens haven't fallen. FDI will give us a healthy aviation sector, allowing funds to come in and management practices to get better," says the ministry source. As for bailouts, the COO opposes it. "If an airline is sinking due to mismanagement, that's the owner's headache," he says. "The need of the hour is to have regional airlines. This will allow the economy to grow."

Also, have rational pricing, advises Kaul, along with a performance-driven management such as Indigo's. "India has the highest appetite to survive losses. In Europe, unviable airlines exit and people move on."

With IATA predicting a compound annual growth rate of more than 16% for India's civil aviation market during 2010-13, the sun may yet shine on this sector.

Tags: Travel & Transport, India's Aviation Industry, Kingfisher Airlines, International Air Transport Association, IATA, GDP, Aviation Turbine Fuel


Why airlines run into rough weather

(20/11/2011) Hindu BusinessLine,

The Indian airline space has attracted a lot of attention over the last six months. First it was the debate over how to rescue Air India. The airline was teetering on the edge following years of mismanagement, a bloated cost structure and botched merger. Now it is Kingfisher Airline's turn to face the heat.

A slew of ill-managed cancellations and losses since inception six years ago have raised the question: Are several Indian airlines such poor performers by virtue of bad regulation or inept operations? A quick history lesson illustrates that it takes intense discipline, favourable regulation and friendly governments for sustained success in this business.

Running airlines is a challenging business. You've got a massive and volatile fuel bill to manage.

A large fleet of maintenance-intensive aircraft, staff with high-skill level don't come cheap and a chock full of expenses include handling baggage, landing, take-off and docking. For every airline which has pulled off sustained success such as Southwest Airlines, Singapore Airlines or Ryan Air, there is a casket full of companies such as Delta Airlines, Continental Airlines, JAL, KLM which have been in and out of bankruptcy courts in an effort to stay afloat. It is little wonder that Warren Buffett (who had a near capital-death experience with US Air in the 1990's) once remarked: ‘The worst sort of business is one that grows rapidly, requires significant capital to engender the growth, and then earns little or no money. Think airlines. Here a durable competitive advantage has proven elusive ever since the days of the Wright Brothers. Indeed, if a farsighted capitalist had been present at Kitty Hawk, he would have done his successors a huge favour by shooting Orville down.' So in a business this testy what has worked or failed?

The last decade has been trying for airlines. In 2001, the 9/11 attacks hurt demand and pushed several industry players into the red. This was followed by rising oil prices which severely dented the narrow margins of several airlines. Legacy costs which include regular, volatile tussles with unions over pay and massive pension obligations has also hurt the profitability of several airlines.

The emergence of low-cost (LCC) airlines which cut-back on the frills such as meals and business class seats in favour of single class, low-cost service also ate into the market share of full-service airlines.

Companies were forced to merge with more cash-rich counterparts. A few deals included KLM merging into Air France and Delta Airways taking over Northwest Airlines. India also saw its share of mergers with Air India-Indian Airlines, Kingfisher acquiring Deccan Airlines and Jet Airways acquiring Sahara Airlines. However, mergers were seldom the first option. Several airlines (some of which later merged) were forced into bankruptcy. At one point, 50 per cent of the US airline capacity was under bankruptcy protection! This included venerable names such as Delta Airlines, US Airlines and United Airlines.

Jet fuel (kerosene) is one of the highest cost components with taxes accounting for a sizable chunk of selling price. Crude oil volatility takes a huge toll on the slender bottom line of airliners. Surging oil prices have also left several Indian carriers in the red over the last few years. As a result of heavy national and State taxes, India jet fuel prices are estimated to be 40-50 per cent higher than global prices.

Airlines which have been more successful in dealing with volatile crude prices include Southwest Airlines whose aggressive hedging has kept the company afloat when peers sank. ‘Legacy' issues facing several airliners include high wages for pilots, crew and handling staff. This was cited as one of the key reasons for the bankruptcy of Delta Airlines in 2005. Government-owned Air India (including Indian) has also been paralysed by cripplingly high employee costs enforced by entrenched unions. A successful example is Ryan Air's rather nimble and opportunistic approach to picking airports and managing labour has kept operating costs in check much to the chagrin of Lufthansa and other European airlines. 

The third crucial cost is in the choice of aircraft. Airliners have a vast choice in the size and type of aircraft they can operate. This includes employing smaller planes on shorter routes to enable higher usage or more sophisticated aircraft on ultra-long flights with limited seating yet very high fares.

The challenge is to decide what plane is best suited for which route and can make money for an airline in the long run rather than just on a seasonal basis. Several LCC's have competed effectively by choosing to purchase a single type of aircraft for their entire fleet. Ryan Air operates 275 Boeing 737-800's. This choice enables them to keep maintenance costs as low as possible considering their engineers and ground staff has only one type of plane to service and stock up spares for. Indian carrier Indigo has opted for a similar approach deploying 46 Airbus A320's (very similar to the Ryan Air Boeing's). Kingfisher Airlines, on the other hand, has eight variants to maintain and Air India maintains ten variants.

Singapore Airlines is one of the few who have managed a large and diverse fleet with sustained success. A disciplined approach which includes replacing old aircraft with new and more efficient aircraft keeps the average age and service costs low. They are nimble in cutting back on routes during slack demand.

Both of which has catapulted Singapore Airlines to the second in terms of market cap among global airlines. A lean structure on the ground to handle baggage and other services thanks to relatively lower wage bill has been among the key for Emirates (Dubai) to compete with great success against far more experienced airlines such as British Airways (another victim of unions) and Air France. Helping Emirates' cause are far lower levels of taxation both on fuel and companies at home. Both Singapore Airlines and Emirates are also beneficiaries of government largesse in the form of spanking airport infrastructure. Again much to the annoyance of European peers, Emirates is also the recipient of rather generous low-cost loans for buying new aircraft.


UGC puts deemed university tag in freezer

(31/12/2011) Mail Today

If the "deemed" university status was virtually up for grabs during Arjun Singh's tenure as the HRD minister, acquiring the same tag is impossible these days, it seems.
After the central government stripped 44 universities of their "deemed" status about two years ago, the UGC seems to have put the process of conferring the sought after tag into deep freeze.

So, in 2010 and 2011, the UGC has not declared even a single institution as deemed university as against 35 such approvals in 2008 and 2009.

A deemed university has the autonomy to set its own syllabus, course work, admission guidelines and fee, among other things. The parent university of the deemed university cannot interfere in the latter's administration.

The UGC - the highest body overseeing the functioning of higher educational institutions in the country - is the sole authority that can grant "deemed" status to an institution, which complies with prescribed standards.

The central government tacitly acknowledged accusations of irregularities in approval process in January 2010 when it decided to de-recognise as many as 44 deemed universities. These universities were found deficient on many grounds including lack of infrastructure and lack of evidence of expertise in disciplines they claim to specialise in. Sixteen of the 44 universities were just in Tamil Nadu. The National Museum Institute of the History of Art, Conservation and Museology, in the Capital was also on the list.

The decision was immediately challenged in the Supreme Court and the matter is currently subjudice. The UGC has not let its guard down ever since.

On its official website, the regulatory authority has uploaded the status of applications for deemed status made by more than 10 institutions. None have secured approval yet.

Acknowledging the complete absence of new approvals, UGC's acting chairman Ved Prakash chose to attribute the phenomenon to a number of reasons.

"Yes, we are a little guarded (in granting deemed university status) as the matter is currently subjudice, but that is not the only reason for none securing the tag in the last two years.

In 2010 we had released a new set of regulations for approval, which are very stringent. Meeting the new standards is proving to be a tall order for many of the applicants," Prakash said.

"Ever since this issue was taken to court, the number of applicants seeking deemed status has also decreased. In the last two years, we’ve received very few applications in comparison to the scenario before 2009," he added.

Tags: University, UGC, Deemed University, 44 Universities, Syllabus, Course Work, Admission Guidelines


AMU Malappuram Centre dedicated to nation

(25/12/2011) Hindu

Union MHRD minister Kapil Sibal dedicated the Malappuram off-campus of the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) to the nation at a function held in Perinthalmanna.

“Our education sector of has to grow more as compared to that of developed countries. We have to change the situation and the 12th Five Year Plan will focus on the development of health and education sectors,” he said.

More than 70% of the students in countries including the USA join universities for higher education, but in our country, the rate is below 50%.

AMU’s special centre is one of the five such centres being set up in the country. Classes for the first batch of MBA and LLB students have already commenced in a temporary building near the new campus.

Five hostels for men and three hostels for women would come up soon. The Central Government has sanctioned 200 crore for the centre.

The campus will comprise facilities from a pre-school to a full-fledged Medical College. The state government will spend 100 crore on developing the campus.

Tags: University, AMU, Aligarh Muslim University, Off-Campus, Medical College, MBA, LLB


DU: 3 Eco students score 99% in 1st sem

(30/12/2011) HT,

After declaring 100% cut-off marks this year, Delhi University has created one more record of sorts. Three students of Economics (honours) — two from Shri Ram College for Commerce and one from Hindu College — have scored 99% in their first semester examination, a feat that has never been achieved in the annual mode in the first year.

Incidentally, SRCC had declared a cut-off of 100% for Economics (honours) this year.

Of the three Economics papers for hundred marks each, three have scored 297, which translates into 99%.

While reactions to the results vary, most teachers believe that lenient marking is the most likely reason. “Where earlier marks would depend upon language, structuring of the answer, and even handwriting, now marks are given for the basic idea,” said VK Srivastava, Hindu College principal.

"Examiners have also become quite liberal. Students too are very hardworking — no one can take this away from them. On an average, the marks have been going up," he added.

Last year, the first-year topper — also from SRCC — had scored 88.3%

The papers that are taught in the first semester are the same as last year as the course was simply bifurcated.

"While it’s true that the subjects are scoring, but getting 99% is also ridiculous. This has never happened in the history of the university. Students have been studying the same topics for the past few years," said an economics professor on condition of anonymity.

Teachers opposed to the implementation of the semester system had stated that students were being given marks very leniently and that the level of students had not seen any remarkable rise.

English too has seen high marks. The topper this year, from St Stephen's College, has scored 77% marks. "The factual element in papers has gone up hence the high marks. There is no conceptual development. It is much like the CBSE marking system," said Sanam Khanna, who teaches English at Kamla Nehru College.

Tags: University, 100% Cut-Off Marks, Economics, 99%, Kamla Nehru College, SRCC, Delhi University


DU to undergo total admin rehaul

(02/01/2012) HT,

Delhi University is all set to witness an all-round administrative revamp. From basic administrative functions such as tabulating attendance to extra curricular activities for students, a complete metamorphosis is under way.

Internal Assessment
The V-C said the management would soon review the procedure to ensure fairness and transparency. “There have been several problems with this system. We’ve received a lot of complaints from students about its unfairness,” he said.

However, DU teachers begged to differ. “First, we try and ensure that students who’re not academically strong get a sufficient buffer so that they can pass their main exams. Also, ‘reviewing’ internal assessments won’t leave any incentive for students to take their assignments and tests seriously,” said a professor.

Attendance to be put up online
Mistakes that usually creep in when attendance is tabulated may soon become a thing of the past. The university is planning to put the students’ monthly attendance on its website.
Students and their parents can check this attendance. Every time, attendance issues crop up at the end of the semester and we’re trying to iron out the problems,” the V-C said.

DU is will also announce an internship programme for students. Students will be offered internships at the Vice Regal Lodge (the V-C’s office) for a couple of days, wherein, they will be privy to DU’s administrative work.

Computerised result
DU has also switched over to a more technologically savvy method of computing results. Which was why they were able to come out with the semester results in record time. “This system has greatly reduced the scope of error,” said HP Singh, DU proctor.

Tags: University, DU, Administrative Revamp, ‘Reviewing’ Internal Assessments, Assignment, Extra Curricular Activities


DU colleges to come under CAG scrutiny

(2/1/2011) Mail Today

Trouble could be brewing for Delhi University (DU) colleges as the country's statutory auditor is now set to extend its scrutiny to their financial accounts.

The UGC - in a meeting held on October 18 last year - decided to rope in the CAG to scan and audit how colleges affiliated to DU utilise grants provided under the "non-plan" head.

Currently, 53 colleges and 10 hostels associated with DU receive non-plan grant from the UGC. According to UGC chairman Ved Prakash, the CAG audit decision will be effective immediately.

All activities of an educational institution, except programmes covered under the current Five-Year Plan and projects funded from sources outside the development plan, come under the non-plan category.

Till now, a college's expenditure under non-plan category was audited by the institution itself and a statement was sent to the UGC. "Grants provided to UGC-maintained colleges run into crores because of which, it was decided that the audit of its expenditure should be handed over to the CAG," said a UGC official.

"As we’re spending public money, we’re accountable to the government," said P. C. Jain, principal, SRCC.

Tags: University, DU, UGC, 53 Colleges, 10 Hostels, Shri Ram College of Commerce, CAG Audit


DU semester results out: 2,350 have to take exams again

(29/12/2011) ToI,

Delhi University declared the first semester results for political science (H), economics (H), English (H), Urdu (H), Arabic (H) and Persian (H) on Wednesday. Around 8,500 students had appeared for examination in these subjects.

All students who took the BCom (H) Part I first semester exam in November-December 2011 have been promoted to the second semester. Although no students have faced detention, a large number still need to clear one or more papers in the subsequent exams as they have failed to clear these papers.

According to the results available on official website, more than 2,350 students were placed in the essential repeat (ER) category, which means that these students have not cleared all the papers in the first sitting. "Majority of the students managed to clear the exams without any ER. However, over 2,000 students will have to repeat one or more papers. These students are nevertheless allowed promotion to the second semester," said an exam branch officer on conditions of anonymity.

The declaration of results within 20 days is seen as a record of sorts by the university officials. "The strict semester schedule means it is binding on the exam branch to complete the evaluation process and declare the results on time," said the official.

DU shifted to semester system across all undergraduate courses this year. While the university introduced the system in 13 science undergraduate courses in 2010, the other streams - arts, commerce, mathematical sciences and social sciences - shifted to semester mode in 2011-12 academic season.

The semester exams have not been a smooth run. It faced allegations regarding violations of DU ordinance over detention of around 350 students for shortage of attendance, differing on attendance rules and detention of a student despite having 78% attendance.

Tags: University, DU, Semester Exam Result, Arts, Commerce, Mathematical Sciences, Social Sciences


DU: 4-year degree gets mixed response

(4/1/2012) ToI,

Delhi University's proposal to introduce a four-year undergraduate course received a mixed response from the teaching community, though most academicians and experts agree in principle that the move would benefit students. But many also express concern about the infrastructure crunch faced by most DU colleges and feel that wider discussions must accompany the fleshing out of the proposal.

VCDinesh Singh said the university will introduce four-year degree from 2013, and plans for the same have begun.

Citing the many advantages for students, Sanjeev Grewal, senior faculty member (mathematics) at St Stephen's College, said a four-year degree would allow students to make an informed choice for specialization, unlike the three-year course.

"I don't know what the university exactly has in mind. But like the American system, this will allow the students to study a bit of pure sciences, social sciences, languages, among others, in the first year and provide them exposure to a wide range of academic disciplines. This will help students discover their aptitude before going in for specialization. Students will get the advantage of overall education, inter-disciplinary and specialized as well," he said.

The report of the Planning Commission's working group on higher education also makes a strong case for a four-year undergraduate course. The report states, "Government may consider implementing the recommendations of the committee to introduce four-year undergraduate course to integrate education and skill. This may be initiated at least in all the central universities. Four years undergraduate study should have all the flexibilities to provide a variety of choices to the students."

Principal of Sri Ram College of Commerce, P C Jain said the primary advantage would be to make many courses that are gradually becoming redundant job-oriented.

"In the extra year, students can be gainfully engaged in courses which will boost their employability e.g. student of Sanskrit can learn economics, maths or computer science," he said.

"Also, if a student wishes to go for postgraduation, the master's degree can be done in one year, which effectively means no loss of years. Moreover, if planned properly, the students wishing to go abroad for postgraduation need not spend a year on a bridge course," Jain added.

Head and dean of faculty of education, Anita Rampal, however, felt that current issues should be resolved before initiating further reforms.

While agreeing to the advantages of a four-year degree, she suggested a pilot run as the university is still settling down to the new semester system at the undergraduate level.

"The four-year course will not have the rigidity of a three-year programme, which is definitely an advantage. But we may do harm as the university is still settling down to the changes implemented recently. Right now the challenge is to address issues like internal assessment, semester curriculum and sort these out. The university can carry out a pilot run of the four-year degree course and see how it works," she said.

Teachers, however, want wider discussions and also felt that no deadline should be set for the proposed move at this stage.

"Let’s first discuss the feasibility of the proposal. Unless it is debated, it is going to create confusion among students and the academic fraternity. Each system has its pros and cons and therefore before accepting it, we have to deliberate and there should not be a strict timeline for its implementation," said Rajeev Verma, who teaches at Satyawati College.

Tags: University, DU, 4-year degree Course, Mixed Reactions, Higher Education, Planning Commission'


DU: 4-year Hons course from 2013

(3/1/2012) ToI,

Delhi University plans to add another academic year to its existing three-year undergraduate course starting 2013. The BA, BCom and BSc courses are likely to be structured in a way that even if a student opts out before completing four years, either a diploma or a lesser degree will be awarded. Students will also get to study a wider range of subjects in the first year before having to lock in a specialization.

The four-year degree will have a core curriculum comprising general studies in the first year and students will be allowed to opt for courses across streams. The student can then choose a specialization in the second year. In case a student wishes to drop out in the second year, he or she can opt for skill-based subjects and get a diploma. A student leaving in the third year will get a general degree while those completing four years will bag a specialized degree equivalent to a present-day Honours.

Experts are working on a mechanism to address possible problems that the switchover may create. The university is planning to introduce the programme from 2013. Right now it’s in the planning stage as a lot of issues need to be worked out. That’s why we need to start early so that we are ready with our plans well on time, he said.

"A student in the present course structure doesn't get the necessary opportunity to understand his talent. S/he needs to discover that. A four-year degree course will ensure a platform to discover his inner talents, his or her area of interest after studying a wide range of subjects," Singh said. "We need to change if we have to improve, otherwise the country will be affected adversely in the long run. A mathematics teacher should connect mathematics to other subjects. This is what we call cross-disciplinary," he added.

While courses will carry credits to help students to migrate to other universities with a similar credit system, DU will also review the internal assessment system during its consultation with different stakeholders.

The VC said during his interactions in colleges he had found students themselves wanted a larger range of subjects to choose from. "The students continue to surprise us. Sanskrit students want to study French and German simultaneously, mathematics students want to study history. In fact, this shows their maturity. There’s a great demand for Sanskrit teachers and academics in Germany. We need to explore many more such opportunities and innovation and empower our students," said Singh.

Tags: University, DU, 4-year Degree Course, BA, BCom, BSc Courses, Core Curriculum


University fund: New norms for release

2/1/2012) HT,

Getting funds for Indian universities without getting clearance from the institution’s executive council and mandatory accreditation would become difficult from the next financial year.

India’s higher education regulator, the University Grants Commission, has altered the funding scheme for universities from April 2012, which is also the mean commencement of the 12th five-year plan.

Instead of mandatory inspections, which often lead to delay in release of funds, the UGC will decide allocations for the entire plan period as soon as it receives the proposal cleared by the university’s highest decision-making body, the executive council.

For instance, if the Physics department of the Delhi University wants money to upgrade its laboratory in the 12th plan, it will submit a proposal to the university. The university will then get it cleared first from the board of studies, then academic council, followed by finance committee and finally, the executive council. Once that is done, the UGC will allocate funds to the Physics department as per its total money allocation for the 12th plan. No one from the UGC will visit the department to evaluate the proposal.

“Discontinuation of sending expert committee to assess financial requirements will help the universities prepare perspective plans in a more democratic manner,” UGC chairperson Ved Prakash said.

As per the existing practice of more than four decades, the university used to submit a finance proposal to the UGC, which then deputed a team of experts to conduct an inspection. Depending on the remarks of the inspection report, the decision on the release of money was taken.

In cases of adverse reports the UGC used to get the inspection conducted again, resulting in delay in release of funds. There were also allegations of corruption in the entire system.

The UGC, as per the decision last week, stipulated new norms to monitor of utilisation of the money given through self disclosures and participation of students and faculty.

Another related decision with disbursement of funds was mandatory accreditation. No funds will be released without accreditation from a recognised agency such as National Assessment and Accreditation Council. “Accreditation has been made must,” Prakash said.

Tags: University, Indian universities, New Norms, University Grants Commission, UGC, Higher Education, Financial Requirements


Zakir Hussain College to get a new name

(26/12/2011) ToI,

Come 2012, Zakir Husain College will have a new name. After a recent meeting, chaired by the Prime Minister and Dr Zakir Husain Memorial Trust, it was decided to change the name to Zakir Hussain Delhi College.

Zakir Husain College is affiliated to Delhi University and is run by the government-funded Dr Zakir Husain Memorial Trust.

The earlier name of the college was Delhi College and it’s the oldest college in Delhi. Its genesis can be traced to the closing years of the 17th Century, with the founding of a madrasa by Ghaziuddin Khan - one of Aurangzeb's leading Deccan commanders and the father of the first Nizam of Hyderabad.

"The name was changed to Zakir Husain College after the establishment of Dr Zakir Husain Memorial Trust by the then PM, Indira Gandhi in 1975. However, Delhi College alumni expressed the need to keep the name alive along with its rich legacy. Following this, the governing body decided to introduce the name Delhi College to Zakir Husain College," said media coordinator and a faculty of the college, Sarita Passey. The new name has been sent to the statutory bodies of DU.

 Vocational Courses

There is no news update in this category.


Engineering cos like Kirloskar Brothers changing gender dynamics

(3/1/2012) ET,

Women are breaking into what has traditionally been a male stronghold -- the shopfloor, and engineering companies are taking the lead in opening up the opportunity for them. Kirloskar Brothers has a 100% women-run plant working a single shift at Coimbatore, while Cummins India began to employ women on the shopfloor at a greenfield plant in Phaltan, near Pune, in June.

Small household pumps are assembled at the plant. All 36 employees, from those on the shopfloor to supervisory engineers, are now women. "There's no reason not to employ an intelligent, contributing human resource wherever appropriate. We’re not short of 'man' power, but it’s only a matter of time before more women are employed on factory shopfloors," says SC Kirloskar, chairman & MD, Kirloskar Brothers. At Cummins, women comprise 25% of the total workforce.

"We can’t afford to ignore half the population in a situation when everyone is struggling for talent," says Nagarajan Balanaga, VP, HR, Cummins India Area Business Office, an umbrella organisation under which all the Cummins entities in India operate. Kirloskar Bros says it will replicate this at its Sanand, Gujarat, plant which will go on stream before the end of the current fiscal.

Although the plant will manufacture submersible pumps, women can be employed in areas where small components are handled, he says. For Cummins, the issue is one of diversity, says Anant Talaulicar, chairman and managing director, Cummins India and global head of components. "Diversity is not possible without representation for all, so we have to ensure that gender, race, region, religion, etc, do not come in the way of employment. Of all these issues, gender is the most important," he says.

Talaulicar says the company is also opening up employment opportunities. "We are doing this primarily for business, to inculcate ideas of inclusion and fearlessness which we hope will lead to innovation," he says. The company began with four women in the workforce to reach 25% by the end of 2011 across the group. At Phaltan, it had 25% women in the first year, which will be scaled up by five percentage points every year to reach half the workforce, he says. But beyond ensuring diversity, there are challenges. For one, there are no regulatory clearances yet to employ women on the shopfloor post-7 pm.

Cummins has applied to the Maharashtra government for approval. There's also the question of a change in mindset. Cummins ran courses to sensitise the organisation, bringing in consultants from the US as well. "We also formed women's affinity groups where membership is open to all," says Balanaga. The move has yielded rich dividends. "We began this programme in the Tata Cummins plant in Jamshedpur two years ago and we were worried if women could handle the heavy work.

Today, managers there want more women because they bring a family feeling to the workplace. Women bring a sense of completeness to the workforce," says Vikas Thapa, Cummins India's head of HR at the Phaltan megasite. Both KBL and Cummins India plan to replicate this across the country. "We intend to steadily bring women on the shopfloor at our Dewas and Jamshedpur plants," says Balanaga.

Tags: Woman, Engineering, Kirloskar Brothers, Cummins India, Small Household Pumps, Shopfloor


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