the3h - Hum Hain Hindustani
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Student exchange projects with India part of new UK education strategy | The New Indian Express, 06 feb 2021
'We Should Build A Political Demand For High Quality Healthcare For All' | IndiaSpend, 06 feb 2021
Public Private Partnerships: The Panacea for Indian Healthcare Sector | The Economic Times, 06 feb 2021
What can torpedo the budget and economy? | The New Indian Express, 06 feb 2021
Amid pandemic tragedy, an opportunity for change? | The Harvard Gazette, 05 feb 2021
Covid lesson for teachers: How teaching-learning methods evolved during pandemic | The Indian Express, 04 feb 2021
The future of Indian agriculture | Down To Earth, 04 feb 2021
Budget 2021: One-person company to propel entrepreneurship, say experts | Business Standard, 02 feb 2021
Like it or not, future of Indian economy will have to be built on services, not manufacturing | The Print, 23 jan 2021
Rethinking Education in India to Merge Reality on the 'Streets' with Formal Schooling | The Wire, 15 jan 2021
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 24 feb 2021
Personalized, mindful and attractively designed interiors are essential components of good living spaces. The design should be harmoniously aligned to facilitate better living and growth of occupants. Nandita Manwani, founder of The Studio by Nandita Manwani (Bangalore, India), suggests 5 key design elements to make home interiors well-balanced and with a warm and nice feel - (1) Furniture: Includes the shape, material, colour, theme, placement and size. (2) Lighting: Requires layering of ambient lighting, task lighting and accent lighting. (3) Painting/ Wall Finishes/ Floor Finishes: Includes well thought out selection of materials, textures and finishes for good overall outcome. (4) Furnishing (5) Décor. Furnishing and décor should be part of the financial planning from the start. Any budgetary compromise at the end on furnishing and décor will adversely affect the overall outcome of the interior design. All these 5 elements should be blended together in balance to provide quality design. Moreover, Ms. Manwani adds another important 6th element to the interior design essentials - the people for whom the design is done. Their life-stage, lifestyle and aspirations. This personalization component is one of the most valuable part, as all other 5 elements will revolve around this and make home design truly different and unique. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 29 jan 2021
According to the World Bank's most recent statistics - India's rural population is 66% of the total population (2019); 41% of the total employment is involved in agriculture and farming (2020); Agriculture, forestry, and fishing, value added, contribute 16% to India's GDP (2019). Moreover, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations (fao.org) says , 'Agriculture, with its allied sectors, is the largest source of livelihoods in India. 70% of its rural households still depend primarily on agriculture for their livelihood, with 82% of farmers being small and marginal.' Considering these statistics it is evident that India is substantially dependant on agrarian economy. The sector is looking for transition from an inefficient, unorganized and archaic one, that pushes farmers to commit suicide, to more modern with incorporation of technology and scientific methodologies, to make it profitable and sustainable to the agricultural community. The recent protest of the farmers at such a large scale has also brought the need of handling any transformation in the sector with caution and is to be carried out in a peaceful and democratic way by taking into confidence those who are affected the most with any policy change. The need for consultation and understanding is the only way to bring the needed evolution of the agricultural sector and make it thrive. Digitization and varied use of technology is a step that pushes agricultural economy towards this goal. NITI Aayog's report on Artificial Intelligence (AI) says that to maintain annual growth rate of 8-10%, agriculture must grow at 4% or higher. Technologies that can be applied include those on the farming side like sensor-assisted soil assessment, automated monitoring of free-ranging animals on pastures, targeted control of agricultural machinery, use of high quality seeds, optimum and measured use of fertilizers and pesticides, modern farming equipment and methods, scientific approach to agriculture etc, and there are technologies that need to be applied post-production, from farm to the market, like digitization in farm product management, supply chain management, logistics, Mandis and retail selling etc. This will lead to better produce with agri-waste reduction and efficiency in cost optimization. The three most essential elements that would lay the foundation of digitization in agriculture would include - Internet of Things (IoT); Nanotechnology; Digital Education. There are two most important technology related concepts in farming - 'Precision Farming' involves creating new production and management techniques that make intensive and efficient use of data regarding a specific location and crop; 'Smart Farming' or 'Farming 4.0' is the application of information and data technologies for optimising complex farming systems. To implement these concepts at a large scale in India's massive agriculture sector comes up with many challenges that need to be overcome - Digital divide; Lack of farmer literacy; Lack of financial resources particularly in case of small and medium farmers; Interruptions in rural power supply. Even though government and private sector knows the potential of digitization and technological transformation, major challenge is to involve farmers in the process by creating proper awareness and showcasing the benefits of technology-enabled agriculture. Government and private sector have already initiated the various projects in this regard like for example Microsoft has developed an 'AI-Sowing App', in collaboration with International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-arid Tropics (ICRISAT), that sends advisory to the farmers regarding the optimal date of seed-sowing; NITI Aayog has partnered with IBM to develop a crop yield prediction model backed by AI to provide real-time data and communicate the required advisory to farmers; 'Blue River' project has designed and integrated computer vision with machine learning technology that will help cultivators to reduce the use of fertilisers and herbicides by spraying only where and when needed. Government projects in digitization include - Kisan Suvidha, Pusa Krishi, Farm-o-pedia App, Crop Insurance Android App, Agri-Market, M-Kisan Application, Shetkari Masik Android App etc. Read on...
Digitisation In Agriculture: A Necessity For India
Author: Urvi Shrivastav
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 17 jan 2021
More and more educators and experts are advocating inclusion of design and creativity focused subjects in the mainstream school level curriculum. In a webinar titled, 'Why Design Education is Important for Odisha', educators and policymakers discussed the value of design education in India and specifically for the state of Odisha. Prof. Pradyumna Vyas, Senior Advisor of Design and Innovation at Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) and former Director of National Institute of Design (NID) at Ahmedabad, says, 'We are in the fourth industrial revolution. Everything is merging with the other and as such design education can't be thought of in isolation. While the dependence on technology has been rapidly increasing, we have been losing touch on a human level. But the focus has to be on people. It should be remembered that technology is just an enabler, humanising that tech is design. If the pandemic has shown anything, it is that human beings can't be ignored.' Dr. Amar Patnaik, Member of Parliament (Rajya Sabha), says, 'There is a need to mainstream design education and for that, it should be started at the school level. A curriculum should be built to incorporate design education as well. Design should be approached holistically and therefore it needs to be taught at the grassroot level and not during adulthood when it needs to be applied.' Prof. G. V. Sreekumar, former Head of the Industrial Design Centre (IDC) at IIT Bombay, says, 'There is a need to merge design with science, technology and art and looked at as a whole...More than a mere design school, the need is to build a design research center.' Prof. Paresh Choudhury, Founder of Odisha Design Council and former Head of National Institute of Design (NID) in Andhra Pradesh (AP), proposed the need to set up a design school in Odisha. Odisha Design Council (ODC) is a social nonprofit enterprise that intends to spread education, research and development and innovation in the field of design. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 31 dec 2020
Social enterprises have been part of the Indian social sector ecosystem for a long time, albeit not in the theoretically and legally defined framework that exists now. According to the study, 'The State of Social Enterprise in Bangladesh, Ghana, India and Pakistan' (British Council, 2016), led by Emily Darko, Director of Research at Social Enterprise UK (SEUK), there are roughly 2 million social enterprises operating in India. The study based on a survey of 258 social enterprises found a young social enterprise scene with 57% being 5 years old or younger. Moreover, these social enterprises work in many sectors - skills development (53%); education (30%); agriculture/fisheries/dairy (28%); financial services (26%); energy and clean technology (26%). From the surveyed social enterprises, 80% reinvest to further social or environmental goals, and they have supported a total of 150 million beneficiaries over their lifetime. The report found a total of 39 central government policies relevant to social enterprise and entrepreneurship. A notable policy with a specific mention of social enterprises was the 'National Skill and Entrepreneurship Policy' announced on 15 July 2015 by the Ministry of Skills and Entrepreneurship. The policy includes a section on social enterprises that aims to foster social entrepreneurship and grassroots innovation. The research study, 'Social Enterprises in the Indian Context: Conceptualizing through Qualitative Lens' (Journal of Global Entrepreneurship Research, Springer Open, 15 jan 2018) (Authors: Subhanjan Sengupta of Birla Institute of Management Technology, Arunaditya Sahay of Birla Institute of Management Technology), researches the meaning of the 'social enterprise' construct in the Indian context, and develops a conceptual framework that represents the construct. The purpose of this empirical study is to develop orientation needed for aspiring social entrepreneurs and social entrepreneurship researchers to familiarize with 'social enterprise' phenomenon in India. Authors explains, 'India is a country with socio-economic and cultural diversity, and a very high population. The country offers no legal definition for social enterprises. The ecosystem of social entrepreneurship in India is created by different organizations and universities/institutes advocating, promoting, and supporting social enterprises. Multiple stakeholders such as these have formulated their own meaning of social entrepreneurship in India; their work being influenced by the social, economic, and cultural diversity across the geographical length and breadth of the country, and the regulatory frameworks of the state and central governments...The key constructs that emerged to be clustering together to form the concept of social entrepreneurship in the Indian context are social value creation, market orientation, social entrepreneur, and balanced impact.' Recently, an India focused book on social enterpreneurship, 'Social Entrepreneurship in India: Quarter Idealism and a Pound of Pragmatism', is authored by Madhukar Shukla who is a Professor of Strategic Management at XLRI Jamshedpur. The book documents rise of the social innovation movement in India, along with profiles and roadmaps. ON COVID-19 - Prof. Shukla says, 'The pandemic, and the subsequent abrupt lockdown, create an unprecedented humanitarian crisis which has still not ended...In many ways, it was also a watershed event in the civil society and social entrepreneurial space - particularly for many social entrepreneurs, who, with reference to the typology in my book, I would describe as 'Public Goods Providers'. For instance, many of the established social ventures...which were already working in the space of relief and with migrant informal sector workers, spurred up their efforts to meet this challenge. There were also many other innovative initiatives from other ventures. At a smaller and localised level, there were many initiatives taken by individuals, citizen groups, and small organizations such as helping the migrants in their journey back home, providing basic subsistence necessities like rations and sanitary pads to marginalised communities, and so on. Why I used the term 'watershed' is because what I see is that many of these efforts, which started as a response to a crisis, also brought in new talent in the sector, and many are now evolving as viable and sustainable social ventures.' ON ROLE OF ACADEMICS - Prof. Shukla says, 'Academics can and does play a useful role in the social entrepreneurship field by identifying and documenting trends, principles, and models from practice. These can help the entrepreneurs to make more informed decisions.' ON SCALING UP CHALLENGES - Prof. Shukla says, 'When organizations scale-up and try to replicate the model which has succeeded in one place, they have to deal with a new set of problems and challenges. They need to consider and plan for three critical challenges...One, scaling up into other locations also increases the complexity of operations...Secondly, scaling up would also need hiring new talent to manage increasingly complex operations of the venture...Lastly, there is the danger of 'mission drift'.' ON DIGITAL TECHNOLOGY - Prof. Shukla says, 'Over the last decade or so, with the increasing affordability of and access to digital technology, it has become a part of the models that are used by many social entrepreneurs. In my experience, three important ways in which it helps creating social change are Access, Aggregation, and Democratisation.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 22 dec 2020
Access and affordability, along with innovation and sound regulatory mechanism and government policies, are the essential components of developed and modern healthcare system. India has to pursue consolidated strategies to become a better healthcare system and leverage its R&D human resources to become a design hub for medical devices with a focus on global markets. Pavan Choudary, Chairman and Director General of Medical Technology Association of India (MTaI), in conversation with Viveka Roychowdhury, Editor of Express Pharma and Express Healthcare, explains his views on India's healthcare sector, medical devices and medtech industry, COVID-19 pandemic and post-pandemic challenges, government policies, investments in the sector and the way forward. EXCERPTS FROM THE INTERVIEW - (1) ON HEALTHCARE SYSTEM: • 'Value-based healthcare will bring together all modalities of care delivery to create a well-coordinated 'continuum of care'. It is important for government to devise incentive systems to work for patients by encouraging companies and healthcare systems to deliver quality and better outcomes.' • 'India can take learning from countries like Philippines and Turkey who have over the time strengthened their health care infrastructure, but this has been done by making a conscious effort to increase their healthcare spend. At 1.29% of GDP spent on healthcare, India needs to considerably increase its healthcare budget to at least four per cent of the total GDP; by doing so, we will have started our journey towards last mile healthcare delivery.' • 'Telemedicine is another avenue that the government can facilitate to improve access to healthcare. The sheer size of India's 1.3 billion demographic means that the applications for telemedicine are immense. Telemedicine will also enable India to address its poor doctor-patient ratio of 0.85 which means barely one physician per 1000 people as compared to four physicians per 1000 people in Europe. A 2019 report by McKinsey Global Institute, 'Digital India: Technology to Transform a Connected Nation', states that India can save up to US$ 10 billion by 2025 if telemedicine services could replace 30 to 40% of in-person consultations.' (2) ON MEDTECH, MEDICAL DEVICES, INVESTMENTS & COVID-19: • 'Instead of implementing price caps on medtech products, the government should adopt a mechanism to rationalise trade margins which will achieve the objective of reducing high MRPs as well as allow medtech industry to continue bringing the latest technology in healthcare to India, increase affordable access to quality care and support skilling and training of health care workers.' • 'India also reduced custom duties on a few essential medical devices used in the treatment of COVID-19, however for the rest of the products it did not lighten the load of the 5% cess ad valorem imposed in April earlier this year. This, coupled with the INR depreciating by almost 7-8% in March 2020 against the EUR and the USD, meant a very significant hit for the medical technology industry where more than 80% of the products are imported.' • 'To be ATMANIRBHAR (self-reliant) in medtech, we should also be able to design in India medical devices for the world by utilising India's rich talent in R&D. India is the third largest medtech R&D employer of the world, next to only US and Germany.' • 'We must also be cognizant of the financial challenges that the pandemic has brought. There are some other aspects which the government needs to closely evaluate and consider to reassure the industry, these aspects include creating policies which provide a level playing field to all players, agnostic of their country of origin and a stable regulatory climate for the industry. Addressing these will move the make in India needle, steadily forward. The global companies hope to be eventually and once again, the main movers of this needle.' ATMANIRBHAR BHARAT is the Prime Minister's vision to make India a self-reliant nation. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 27 nov 2020
According to the latest report by Oxford Economics, India will be worst-affected among the world's major economies even after the pandemic lessens, with output 12% below pre-virus levels through the middle of the decade. Priyanka Kishore, head of economics for South Asia and South-East Asia at Oxford Economics, says, 'It's likely that headwinds already hampering growth prior to 2020 - such as stressed corporate balance sheets, elevated non-performing assets of banks, the fallout in non-bank financial companies, and labor market weakness - will worsen.' Ms. Kishore projects potential growth for India at 4.5% over the next five years, lower than 6.5% before the virus. A recently published paper by Reserve Bank of India predicted Asia's third-largest economy has entered a historic technical recession. The International Monetary Fund predicts GDP will shrink 10.3% in the year to March 2021. Ms. Kishore further adds, 'All supply-side factors feel the effect, with only human capital's contribution unchanged from the pre-virus baseline. Capital accumulation takes the biggest hit because we expect balance-sheet stresses to worsen following the crisis, lengthening the investment recovery cycle.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 31 oct 2020
India's newly released National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 recommends internationalization of higher education sector. NEP has developed a vision to make India global study destination by 2030. Top universities of the world will be allowed to operate in India and a legislative framework will be created to facilitate this. Moreover, the Ministry of Education is preparing the Higher Education Commission of India (HECI) bill to pave way for foreign universities to open their branches in India and Indian universities will be allowed to open campuses abroad and collaborate with foreign institutions. Reasons for this internationalization focus by NEP is due to current dismal standards of higher education - (1) Despite being second largest higher education system India, with its 990 universities and 40000 colleges, none figure in World University Rankings. (2) India ranks as low as 72 among 132 countries in the latest Global Talent Competitive Index which gauges country's current ability to grow and attract talents. (3) Top foreign universities would bring in capital, latest education technology, innovative pedagogy and facilitate institution mobility that is missing in India. (4) Higher education brain drain is a common phenomena in India. In 2019 alone, some 750000 students went for abroad to pursue higher studies. On an average, students spend US$ 15 billion per year to earn these degrees. Historically the policy of internationalization of education has been debated continuously since the inception of economic reforms and liberalization in 1991. There has always been some voices of opposition to such educational reforms. Moreover, there are also other challenges - Many Anglo-American universities are already struggling with financial issues and budget cuts along with drop in enrolments; Indian educational systems's bureaucratic hurdles that contrasts with operational freedom and academic autonomy that foreign institutions often expect. There can't be total guarantee that the legal framework and regulatory environment that NEP desires to create will provide these institutions such freedoms; Academic human resources will see heightened competition and local institutions will be on the receiving end as reputed foreign universities with more benefits will be attractive; Public universities in India work with a social and welfare agenda and emphasize on inclusion. Entry of foreign universities may impact this inclusion aspect. Also, neither NEP nor the HECI bill elaborate how India's public universities opening branches/campuses in other countries will help out the education system at home and at what cost. Indian government's budgetary allocation for education has already been witnessing a decline in recent years. Read on...
Observer Research Foundation:
Why internationalisation of higher education can be a game changer for India
Authors: Niranjan Sahoo, Jibran Khan
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 18 oct 2020
Small women-run farm collectives became a success story of self-sufficiency during COVID-19 lockdown in Tamil Nadu (India). These informal groups have been facilitated by a grassroots nonprofit 'Women's Collective' that encourages poor women, who neither own land nor are able to lease land on their own, to come together and lease land collectively to grow food. In the IndiaSpend article dated 09 sep 2019, author Shreya Raman states, 'In a country (India) where 73.2% of rural women workers are engaged in agriculture, women own only 12.8% of land holdings.' Sheelu Francis, co-founder of Women's Collective, says, 'We began with five collective farms in 2010, with the intention of helping landless single or widowed women achieve food security. With collective farming, we ensure nutrition and food security for landless women at the household level.' There are now 89 collective farms with a total of 695 members spread across Tamil Nadu. Each collective has 5-10 members. Women's Collective is responsible for training and providing agricultural know-how. Farmers utilize organic farm methods and avoid chemical fertilizers. The size of the plot determines the choice of crops the women farmers will grow. Landlord usually gets 1/3 of the harvest as rent while the members distribute the rest among themselves. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 10 sep 2020
According to Wikipedia, Ibn Sina or Avicenna (b.23 aug 980 - d.22 jun 1037), a Persian polymath, is regarded as one of the most significant physicians of Islamic Golden Age. His two most influential works are Al-Qanun fi al-Tibb (The Canon of Medicine), a medical encyclopedia, and Kitab al-Shifa (The Book of Healing), a philosophical and scientific encyclopedia. 'The Canon of Medicine' was a standard medical text at many medieval universities and remained in use as late as 1650. In the article, 'The Vast Influence of Ibn Sina, Pioneer of Medicine' (JSTOR Daily, 29 jan 2020), writer Liz Tracey, explains, 'The sections of the Canon dealing with applied (rather than theoretical) medicine seem modern - cataract surgery, the use of forceps during difficult infant deliveries, and an approach to scientifically testing drugs for efficacy and dosage, in effect creating the framework for clinical trials.' In an article, 'How Ibn Sina's work became a guiding light for scientists facing contagions' (TRTWorld, 15 apr 2020), writer Ufuk Necat Taşçi, searches the work of Avicenna to find out his scientific discoveries regarding contagions. In 'The Canon of Medicine', published in 1025, Ibn Sina argued that a 40-day period of quarantine was essential to weaken the spread of contagious infections. Of the 450 works Ibn Sina is believed to have written, 240 have survived. And out of these at least 40 of his manuscripts are about medicine. Recently a book based on Avicenna's 1000 year-old manuscript, 'Risalah al-Adwiya al-Qalbiyah' (The Treatise on Cardiac Drugs), is published and released at Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College (JNMC), Aligarh Muslim University (AMU). The book 'Pharmacology of Avicennian Cardiac Drugs' is authored by Prof. Syed Ziaur Rahman of the Department of Pharmacology at JNMC, AMU and is a useful resource material for scholars who want to make a thorough assessment of the Avicennian Cardiac drugs that have cardioprotective activity and indirect improvement of blood supply to all body organs. Prof. Rahman says, 'Avicenna had given descriptions on heart and psychological diseases that affect the cardiovascular organs' physiology. Avicenna mentioned simple and compound natural cardiovascular remedies and it is imperative that the modern medicine practitioners go through all these methods and remedies for cardiovascular diseases with modern perspectives.' Prof. M. U. Rabbani, Chairman of the Department of Cardiology at JNMC, says, 'This book is a precious source of hypothesis for further researches on psychosomatic aspects of cardiovascular diseases as well as phytopharmacological studies on cardioactive medicinal plants.' Prof. K. M. Yusuf Amin, a medical pharmacologist and professor at the Department of Ilmul Advia (Unani Pharmacology & Pharmaceutical Sciences) of Ajmal Khan Tibbiya College at AMU, says, 'The author has attempted to correlate the fundamentals of cardiology and psychology, integrated by the Ruh (Pneuma) as described by Avicenna in the light of present research.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 31 aug 2020
COVID-19 has brought about new challenges for brands and businesses. Changing consumer behavior, excessive use of social media, prevalence of fake news, fast spread of public opinion through internet etc has exacerbated the problems that businesses are facing. The large amount of content that is generated at this time is filled with mixed emotions - happiness, anger, fear, and disgust. Anubhav Mishra, professor of marketing at the Indian Institute of Management Ranchi, provides a solution for brands to follow to manoeuver through the current marketing challenges - a simple LAC Model - that stands for Listen, Act, and Communicate. He explains - (1) LISTEN: 'Social media listening is the first step, which most of the brands regularly do as part of their digital marketing strategy. Brands collect information and do a sentiment analysis to understand the emotions hidden in those tweets or Facebook posts. Sentiment analysis reflects what consumers are feeling about that brand. A careful filtering of the information should reveal consumer's expectations and challenges from the brand.' (2) ACT: 'The next step is to act on the information collected in the listening process...Brands should find innovative ways to act on the information to ease the pains of consumers.' (3) COMMUNICATE: 'A critical aspect of communication is to gather free media and support from consumers...A firm must resist the temptation to chest thumping which can severely backfire. Many people are dying globally and there is a general atmosphere of fear and mistrust...Consumers are showing signs of distrust and skepticism toward any communication. In such scenario, content must be created to show feelings of concerns towards the severe spread. Brands should reflect that they care for their consumers in these testing times.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 13 aug 2020
The 'Report of the Committee on Business Responsibility Reporting' was recently released by Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA, Govt. of India) by MCA Secretary Rajesh Verma. The expert members of the committee include Gyaneshwar Kumar Singh (Chairman of the Committee & Joint Secretary, MCA), Amarjeet Singh (Executive Director, SEBI), Chandan Kumar (Deputy Director, MCA), Ashish Garg (President, The Institute of Company Secretaries of India, ICSI), Atul Kumar Gupta (President, The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India, ICAI), Balwinder Singh (President, The Institute of Cost Accountants of India, ICMAI), Shankar Venkateswaran (Adjunct Faculty, Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs, IICA) and Viraf Mehta (Adjunct Faculty, Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs, IICA). The report, as part of new Business Responsibility and Sustainability Report (BRSR) regime, suggests that businesses will have to disclose in detail how they try to influence regulatory policies and public opinion and list the public policy positions they advocate. The report proposes two different reporting procedures - one comprehensive mandatory reporting for large listed and unlisted companies and the other 'lite' reporting version for smaller businesses to adopt voluntarily. Disclosure of lobbying is considered an essential reporting requirement. The report says, 'Businesses, when engaging in influencing public and regulatory policy, should do so in a manner that is responsible and transparent.' Businesses also have to disclose details of public policy positions they advocate, methods resorted to for advocacy and whether information on this is available in the public domain. The report considers inclusion and diversity, and environmental considertations as important components of reporting. Former Secretary of MCA, Injeti Srinivas, who formulated the committee, writes in the report, 'With several global companies being larger than many nation states in terms of turnover, the responsibility of businesses to their stakeholders will only increase in the coming years. The NGRBC (National Guidelines for Responsible Business Conduct) and its companion BRSR is a significant step to enable businesses in India to not just behave responsibly, but to also demonstrate to its stakeholders that it walks the talk. We can then proudly say 'Make in India - Responsibly'.' Gyaneshwar Kumar Singh, Chairman of the Committee & Joint Secretary in MCA, writes in the report, 'The endeavour of the Committee has been to ensure that the BRSR reporting format would serve as a single source for all non-financial disclosures. Over the last two decades, public policy across the world, has been moving in this direction. In designing the structure of the report, the Committee has made a conscious effort to balance the objective of self-regulation through disclosures while ensuring that there is no undue compliance burden on companies.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 29 jul 2020
India has developed expertise in chip design and microchip design related services and its R&D centers are world renowned. On the contrary, it lacks sunbstantially in chip fabrication and manufacturing facilities. Over the years not much investment has been made in this regard and India lags far behind countries like Taiwan, China and the US. Experts suggest that building chip fabrication facilities and ecosystem require huge investments and takes time along with conducive government policies. Moreover, manufacturing is expensive unless it can achieve economies of scale like in Taiwan and China. To reduce its dependancy on China and finding an opportunity to become an alternative destination for chip manufacturing, Indian policy makers and businesses have to consider long-term strategic planning in this regard. Aditya Narayan Mishra, Director and CEO of CIEL HR Services, says, 'Chip design and manufacturing is a highly capital-intensive business...We need access to capital, favourable policies and investment on the ecosystem from design to application engineering...The government has to decide if this is an industry which needs to be promoted.' Dr. Satya Gupta, Chairman of India Electronics and Semiconductor Association (IESA), says, 'A fabrication facility for chip manufacturing requires on an average US$ 8-to-10 billion of investment...Most chip designers outsource to third-party manufacturers who have the expertise and scale in developing such chips.' Ganesh Suryanarayanan, CTO of Myelin Foundry Pvt. Ltd., says, 'Companies in China and Taiwan have had a lot of government support over the last couple of decades to foster such an ecosystem, which consists of materials, machinery, manufacturing, testing, packaging, and sales...Indian government tried one initiative called the Hindustan Semiconductor Manufacturing Corporation (HSMC)...which did not take off-based on the need for heavy initial investment and delayed return on investment.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 22 jul 2020
A crisis like COVID-19 pandemic brings challenges and causes disruptions that in turn creates new opportunities and invigorates entrepreneurial activity to search for innovative solutions. Startup companies are a normal progression of this entrepreneurial activity. In the context of India, studies have shown that around 90% of startups fail within the first five years because of various reasons including lack of innovation and guidance. Now Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur (IIT-K) is partnering with Entrepreneurship First (EF) of UK to support and fund entrepreneurial talent and early-stage startups. EF will help to build co-founder teams, offer mentorship, strengthen the business model and provide pre-seed investment to the startups. IIT-K will provide the business incubator facility as the next step to build a network of expert advisors, access to prototyping facilities and grants. Amitabha Bandyopadhyay, faculty head of IIT-K Incubator, says, 'While India has a huge pool of talented tech-enthusiasts, they are not necessarily knowledgeable about setting up and expanding an enterprise. Industry partnerships can help boost the success rate of early-stage startups in India...The post-COVID-19 world will have a different way of life and technology will become an extension of every process, transaction or interaction.' Esha Tiwary, general manager of Entrepreneur First (India), says, 'Most often, successful enterprises are formed during the times of crisis...The concept of investing in individuals before they have a registered company is in its nascent stage in India as well as across the world. To improve India's startup ecosystem, it is crucial to invest in individuals with unique ideas and early-stage startups.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 29 jun 2020
In the recent report, 'Free Universities: Putting the Academic Freedom Index Into Action' by Katrin Kinzelbach (Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg - FAU), Robert Quinn (Scholars at Risk Network), Janika Spannagel (Global Public Policy Institute - GPPi) and Ilyas Saliba (GPPi), that introduced Academic Freedom Index (AFi), India has a low score of 0.352 out of the maximum value of 1. India is in the same category [D Status (0.2-0.4)] as Algeria (0.357), Cameroon (0.361), Palestine/Gaza (0.371), Russia (0.364), Saudi Arabia (0.278), Vietnam (0.379) etc. The top category [A Status (0.8–1.0)] include countries like Uruguay (0.971), Portugal (0.971), Latvia (0.964), Germany (0.960), UK (0.934) etc while the bottom category [E Status (0.0-0.2)] include countries like North Korea (0.011), Eritrea (0.015), Bahrain (0.039), Turkey (.097), United Arab Emirates (0.103), Iran (0.116) etc. India is also one of a handful of countries whose AFi dipped by at least 0.1 points in the five years until 2019. The AFi has eight components. Three are based on factual data and the remaining five are 'expert-coded' - they’re based on the 1810 scholars' assessments 'integrated in a Bayesian measurement model'. The components are - (1) Freedom to research and teach (2) Freedom of academic exchange and dissemination (3) Institutional autonomy (4) Campus integrity (5) Freedom of academic and cultural expression (6) Constitutional protection of academic freedom (7) International legal commitment to academic freedom under the the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (8) Existence of universities. Atanu Biswas, a professor at the Indian Statistical Institute (ISI-Kolkata), says that the report's accompanying 'codebook' doesn't have many details about the technique used to 'integrate' the assessments, called 'Bayesian factor analysis'. Madhusudhan Raman, a postdoctoral fellow at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR-Mumbai), also cautioned against over-interpreting conclusions based on one figure. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 13 jun 2020
India's agriculture should scale up to the next level in terms of empowerment to farmers, enhanced supply chain and logistics networks, advanced technological usage, superior quality of produce and global competitiveness. Recent announcement of reforms by the Finance Minister of India, Nirmala Sitaraman, focusing on amendment in the Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) Act, the Essential Commodities Act, and facilitating contract farming through price and quality assurance, has drawn a positive response from Ashok Gulati, former chairman of Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices, who termed it as 'A 1991 moment for Indian agriculture.' M. R. Subramani, executive editor of SwarajyaMag, explains the present focus and what more is required for India's agriculture to revolutionalize itself and move into an era of overall success. He points out three areas - (1) Food Stocks: Going beyond fulfilling domestic demand; Food Corporation of India (FCI) show that current foodgrain stocks in the country are nearly three times the mandated operational and reserve storage norms; Indian agriculture should look more closely at consumers' interests, export markets and making optimum use of its human resources; Focus on producing healthy foods like diabetic-friendly varieties etc; Encouraging the production of coarse grains such as ragi, maize, bajra and sorghum will help farmers diversify and getter higher returns. (2) Focus on Inputs: Focus has been on the input side of agriculture such as seeds, pesticides and insecticides only and most subsidies are directed here; Efforts should focus on the output side of agriculture such as marketing and meeting consumer needs; Change in farmer's mindset is needed to think beyond just selling their produce only to meet their next crop's input costs and keeping a portion for personal consumption; To keep next generations engaged in farming new methods and processes are to be introduced for increased productivity and profitability. (3) Minimum Support Price (MSP) System: Indian MSP policy is under the scrutiny of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) for distorting markets and is supposedly flawed as it does not reward productivity; Incentivise foodgrain production by rewarding farmers producing more per hectare, and this is necessary particularly when the outlook shifts towards meeting the consumer or export market demand, in addition to staying self-sufficient. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 26 may 2020
CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) spend is mandatory for certain profitable corporations in India. Most businesses are strategically utilizing their CSR funds. Moreover, Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent directive by government for corporates to participate in Covid-19 relief as part of their CSR activity, has prompted companies to innovate their CSR spends. Gaurav Patra, founder of Value360 Communication, explains how marketers are utilizing the challenge posed by Covid-19 as opportunity to strengthen their brands by strategically focusing on CSR to support society and connect with communities. He says, 'In this hour of global crisis, various marketers are stepping up and aligning their strategy in line with the announcements made by the government. Brands should take this as an opportunity to look inward and be as resourceful as possbile towards the cause. Many companies and businesses are donating certain amounts to the 'PM Cares Fund' formed by the Government of India, while others focus on facilitating vital necessities like masks, sanitizers, gloves, medicines, food to the underprivileged, health institutions, hospitals, etc. Marketers and brands are also committing a certain portion of their CSR funds towards Covid Fund. They are also placing health check-up camps in tier-2 cities in order to help migrants get tested first hand. Few brands have also come forward to manufacture ventilators, sanitizers, thermal testers, drones lending assistance to the government in combating this pandemic situation.' Companies are utilizing various media channels like print, television, social media etc to create awarenesss and educate the masses through creatively designing campaigns with Covid-19 theme. Mr. Patra suggests, 'Given the scale and urgency of the situation, brands should co-create their solutions as an effective response to Covid-19 outbreak. Together, through the right channel, one voice, we can safeguard our nation and help fight this global pandemic.' Read on...
How marketers are now focusing on CSR in current COVID-19 situation
Author: Gaurav Patra
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 14 may 2020
Covid-19 pandemic is affecting all aspects of human life, and even when the immediate severity of the crisis has subsided and nations start to ease lockdowns in hope of bringing their economies and people's lives back on track, the world will continue to see the after effects for a long time ahead. Experts share their views on pandemic's impact on future of design and how it will change the built environment in healthcare, hospitality, residential living etc - (1) Impact on Healthcare (Rahul Kadri, partner and principal Architect, IMK Architects): New generation of hospitals will be designed; Integrate tech-driven solutions; Better natural ventilation to minimize cross-infection; Segregation of general, semi-sterile and sterile zones; Net zero designing; Demarcation and separation of service and maintenance areas from the procedure areas; Rapid time to build and construct; Medical hub model. (2) Impact on Hospitality (Amit Khanna, design principal, Amit Khanna Design Associates): Screenings will become a part of entrance design in hotels; Use of automation to avoid human contact; Automated sliding or revolving glass door; Rethink on facilities like swimming pools, salons and health clubs; Top-end hospitality projects may prefer to redesign their communal facilities. (3) Impact on Urban Design (Mitu Mathur, director, GPM Architects and Planners): Towns need to be designed for all classes of society; Ensure housing-for-all; Promote affordable housing; Special design focus on migrant workers. (4) Using AI for Construction (Anand Sharma, founder partner, Design Forum International): Architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) industry will have more use of artificial intelligence (AI), cloud computing etc; Building Information Management (BIM) Development promotes workers of industry to be collaborative, connected and transparent; Future of construction will innovate like utilising the Internet of Things and leveraging 3D imaging to replicate the experience of a site. (5) Impact on Housing Design (L. C. Mittal, director, Motia Group): Adoption of advanced technology in elevators and entrances, like voice-enabled elevators and key card entry systems respectively, to eliminate human contact; Sanitisation of common areas would become a mandatory exercise for societies; Daily needs shopping store will become an integral part of housing societies. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 20 apr 2020
Fake news at the time of crisis like the current COVID-19 pandemic is a double whammy that further adds to confusion and creates panic. Propagation of false and misleading information through social media and other tech platforms has multiplied. It not only exploits the emotional vulnerability of common public but also impedes and hinders the efforts to collectively and scientifically fight the pandemic and minimize its socio-ecomic effects. But an evergrowing group of Indian scientists have come together to create 'Indian Scientists' Response to COVID-19 (ISRC)' that is working to fight false information. It is a pan-India voluntary effort with more than 400 scientists across more than twenty scientific and research institutes in the country. It counts among its volunteers astrophysicists, animal behaviourists, computer scientists, mathematicians, engineers, chemists, biologist, doctors, social scientists and others. The purpose of the group includes analysing all available data and support national, state and local governments for evidence-based action, in addition to verifying and communicating information. There are sub-groups working on - mathematical modelling of disease spread and transmission, outreach and communication in simple terms for the public and media, translating basic resources in local languages, developing hardware solutions and apps. Aniket Sule, a science communicator with the Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education in Mumbai, says, 'Since science communication is my area of interest, I volunteered to be a part of this effort. In this crisis, everyone has a role and each person can contribute by doing what they know best.' R. Ramanujam, a theoretical computer science professor at the Institute of Mathematical Sciences (IMSc) in Chennai, says, 'While people in the medical and healthcare community are doing their work, we thought, what about others like us, what can we do?' Rahul Siddharthan, a computational biologist at the IMSc, says, 'How an individual gets infected is definitely a biology problem, but what we are looking at is how an infection spreads in society, and we are dealing with large numbers of people. Physicists have a lot of experience in dealing with dynamical systems modelling, differential equations, and computer/data scientists can analyse the data that is available. It has to be an interdisciplinary approach and we need people to be talking and on the same platform.' T. V. Venkateshwaran, senior scientist at Vigyan Prasar, says, 'In a situation like this it's important to do two things, one is communicating to people that they need to be alert, not alarmed...The other thing is falling for wrongly circulated remedies and rumours. We need to counter all the misinformation going around so people feel at ease.' The group is putting together links, videos and articles in Indian languages and also working on translating others. Anindita Bhadra, an animal behaviourist and associate professor at IISER Kolkata, says, 'I am not an expert in virology or epidemiology or modelling, but I am interested in science communication so I thought I should help with that as well as translation. You need people who can transmit all this to the public.' Read on...
World Economic Forum:
How 300 Indian scientists are fighting fake news about COVID-19
Author: Bhavya Dore
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 19 apr 2020
Experts say that technology companies are now more inclined to hire people with background in humanities as they have better understanding of customer needs and have capacity to help design more relevant software. Scott Hartley, author and venture capitalist, in his book 'The Fuzzie and the Techie: Why the Liberal Arts', says, 'The best engineers are those who are also deeply versed in and passionate about philosophy, psychology, and ethics. They play music, are refined in culture and have a deep sense of their own values.' Kalika Bali, principal researcher at the Microsoft Research Lab in Bengaluru (India), says, 'As technology becomes more pervasive and human-centric, professionals with expertise in social sciences are needed to understand how it is best used by individuals and societies.' Here are the few of the many examples that highlight this trend globally - Bess Yount of Facebook (communications and sociology); Stewart Butterfield of Slack (philosophy); Jack Ma of Alibaba (english); Brian Chesky of Airbnb (fine arts); Susan Wojcicki of YouTube (history and literature). Sean O'Brien, vice president of education and training at SAS, says, 'Many liberal arts degrees require extensive research and writing. And good writing requires precise expression of thinking. So liberal arts majors often have the most training in how to think and how to communicate their ideas in spoken and written form. Few engineers get that kind of writing experience. In an age of 280 characters, IM and Slack, clear communication skills have atrophied. The technology values speed and compression over precision and completeness. This communications scarcity is a gap that liberal arts graduates are ideally fit for.' Ashok Srivastava, chief data officer of Intuit, emphasises the idea of breaking up a problem into smaller pieces and tracing the history behind the decisions made. He also says, 'I have found that teams that have varied backgrounds function better as they have a better understanding of the customer needs.' Richard Lobo, head of human resources at Infosys, says, 'By building a new hybrid talent pool, which draws on broad-based liberal arts foundations and promotes cognitive diversity, we can leverage the liberal arts and technological know-how required to create complex and advanced technology solutions.' Kaushik Banerjee, business head at staffing firm TeamLease, says, 'An education in liberal arts is broad and diverse, rather than narrow and specialised. Most of the successful UI/UX designers are from creative arts.' An average tech company hires about 20% from liberal arts, and a combination of liberal arts with STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) subjects or an MBA is a huge plus. Kamal Karanth, CEO of staffing company Xpheno, says that between the two ends of software industry (tech end and user's end), there's now a critical layer of non-tech talent and skillsets that operates close to both ends. Read on...
The Times of India:
Why tech companies are hiring people with humanities degrees
Authors: Avik Das, Arpita Misra, Swati Rathor
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 31 mar 2020
India needs to upgrade its education system to build trained human resources and benefit from the demographic dividend. Amit Dasgupta, former Indian diplomat, author, educator and Inaugural India Country Director of UNSW (Sydney, Australia), explains, 'In a world of ageing societies, this demographic dividend can be leveraged to global advantage. But for this to happen, the young population needs to be in tune with the demands that future societies would require. This is fundamentally where Indian education fails as it clings on to an obsolete system of pedagogy with an acute resistance to change.' He says that education is about individual's overall development and Australian education makes it possible for students with diverse career aspirations, to gain deeper knowledge in the sectors of their interest. Moreover, it is not restricted to classroom and relies on broad engagement activities, personality development seminars, and soft-skill workshops. He provides lessons that India can learn from Australia's education system - (1) Need for dynamic faculty: Consult with potential employers, understand their expectations and design courses accordingly. Enhance learning experience through experiential or project-based learning. (2) Globalising education: Include, accept and celebrate diversity. Nurture and value different ideas and perspectives. Welcome students from all walks of life and different backgrounds. (3) Quality education: Avoid exclusivity and broaden intake of students. Have clarity in educational objectives. Institutions shouldn't function like business ventures but they should be knowledge imparters and focus on human development. (4) Robust research culture: Research is crucial part of the teaching and learning process. It provides students with in-depth knowledge on the subject and assists individuals in forming clearer opinions and promotes innovation. Read on...
4 things we can learn from Australia's education system
Author: Amit Dasgupta
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 09 mar 2020
Empowering women and girls in rural India is a necessity that can't be ignored. Initiative taken by Gurdev Kaur Deol of Ludhiana (Punjab, India) is trying to achieve it by a self-help group (SHG). She is marketing their produce through Farmer Producer Organisations (FPOs) and making them self-reliant with sizeable income. There are other nonprofits that are transforming lives of women and their families by engaging in various ways. Ms. Kaur says, 'Initially, I formed SHGs involving 15 rural women...Later, I made 'Global Self-Help Group FPO' which is now engaged in production, manufacturing, processing and marketing of food processing items such as pickles, squash, honey besides staples. Currently, we have 300 farmers with 50% of them being women.' Deepika Sindhwani, president of NGO Mahila Kalyan Samiti, says, 'These rural women are talented and need guidance. We have formed 350 SHGs...We have imparted them training in phulkari, jute bags and food processing.' National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) is also assisting through SHG Bank Linkage Programme by providing credit, skills and micro entrepreneurship development training. J. P. S. Bindra of NABARD says, 'During the past one decade, we have also started forming Farmer Producer Organisations (FPOs) to increase farmers' income. A few of our FPOs have successful women farmers.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 23 feb 2020
Shrinking living spaces in cities along with small and tiny house movement is bringing new ideas in space utilization and maximization in interior design. According to Rakhee Bedi and Shobhit Kumar of RSDA, 'Scale and proportion should be carefully strategised to craft the sense of space in design. One of the most important aspects of 'making space' is by decluttering.' Following are some ways to do so - (1) Consider an Open Floor Plan: Remove walls and doors. Open floor plan should be between the living room, dining and kitchen. Vivek Singh Rathore of Salient, 'Dividing spaces by functionality, rather than solid partitions is essential to augment the volume.' (2) Choose a Light Colour Palette: Subdued colors reflect light and make the space seem large and breezy. Also for a pop of hue, go in for bright accessories or plants. Pankaj Poddar of Hipcouch, 'Light colours on walls blur the boundaries between the wall and ceiling, essentially making the ceiling seem higher. This is valid for flooring as well. Use light tiles or wood to maximise the effect.' (3) Bring in Sunlight: Natural light is a space enhancer. Use simple blinds or sheer curtains. Moreover, avoid dim lights, dark corners and low-level lighting. Ensure that the light is focused on the central areas of the space. Ms. Bedi and Mr. Kumar suggest, 'Wall sconces help by evenly spreading light and saving floor space while adding to the aesthetics.' (4) Use the Magic of Mirrors: A large mirror in front of the entrance reflects natural and artificial light and creates an illusion of space. Mirrors with artistic, vintage frames or even plain wood frames create an elegant look. Mr. Rathore explains, 'Using mirror-panelled walls also curates a sense of a larger space by adding volume.' (5) Opt for Multipurpose Furniture Pieces: Use furniture pieces that serve more than one purpose. Match the colour of the furniture with the scheme of the walls to create more depth and a feeling of space. (6) Furnish With Light Upholstery: Choose light and breezy fabrics for decoration. Avoid heavy rugs and drapes. Full length curtains or even sheers can be used to make the space look airy and light. Half-length window curtains inadvertently make your space look smaller. Mr. Poddar says, 'Full length curtains or even sheers can be used to make the space look airy and light. Half-length window curtains inadvertently make your space look smaller.' (7) Keep it Simple: Avoid anything over-the-top or grandiose. Opt for simple art pieces rather than elaborate pieces. Avoid complicated colour palettes, patterns and prints. Declutter and organise on a regular basis. Minimalistic approach is the key to make small space look big.Read on...
Living Room Interior Design: 7 ways to make more space
Author: Rashmi Gopal Rao
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 12 feb 2020
Recently published book 'Make Health in India: Reaching a Billion Plus' by Prof. K. Srinath Reddy, president of Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) and adjunct professor at Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, analyzes India's health sector since the 1990s, explores the challenges in delivering healthcare to the large Indian population and provides recommendations on various policy and management matters. The book starts with health data and indicators. This provides how some overall figures have improved but digging deeper shows marked inter-state variations. Due to this it is recommended that there is a need to customize policy-making specific to each state. India has poor immunization rate (62-64%), which is even lower than some under-developed economies of sub-Saharan Africa. Moreover, public health expenditure in India is among the lowest in the world (0.9-1.2% of the GDP). Another chapter explains how 55-63 million people in India have been pushed to poverty over the past decade because of out-of-pocket expenditure on health as families spend 10-40 per cent of their income on health. WHO recommends out-of-pocket expenditure not to exceed 15-20% of the total health expenditure. The book says, 'To achieve that even in stages, India must aim to bring it to 50% or lower as first step,' suggesting his would require 5-6% of GDP. The book discusses tussle between center and states over increasing in health budgets with Niti Ayog asking states to double their contributions. Currently center contributes 1/3 of total public health spending. Niti Ayog's proposal to hand over district hospitals to private medical colleges in public-private partnership (PPP) mode makes the author to term it as the 'partnership-for-private profit' model, showing discontent with the concept. Another chapter tackles the issue of inaccessibility of medicines - out of 55 million who became poor due to healthcare expenditure in 2011-12, about 38 million were impoverished because of spending on medicines alone. Although India is known as the producer of inexpensive drugs and is recognized as 'global pharmacy'. The book explains, 'While the low purchasing capacity of a large segment of the Indian population may be a contributing factor, the main reason is that many drugs in India are priced higher than they should be. While a reasonable level of profit is acceptable, high mark-ups over the manufacturing cost makes the drugs costlier than they need to be.' The book also addresses Ayushman Bharat scheme and Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY) - 'While the activation of HWCs (health and wellness centers) is welcome, but the budgetary allocation to the National Health Mission (which covers rural and urban health missions) in 2018 and 2019 does not reflect the commitment to boost rural primary healthcare to the level needed. It is also disappointing to see that the Urban Health Mission component has been virtually ignored in these budgets.' 'In absence of effective primary health services, the uncontrolled demand for services under PMJAY will drain the health budget, and in turn, reduce the funds available for primary care and public sector hospital strengthening.' To address shortage of healthcare providers can debilitate the health system, the book recommends creation of a National Commission for Human Resources in Health. To tackle 'maldistribution of doctors', the book recommends establishment of a National Medical Service which should recruit fresh graduates in rural areas, post-graduates in district hospitals, and create a permanent cadre of specialist doctors. Read on...
Unhealthy affair: Book review - Make Health in India
Author: Banjot Kaur
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 19 jan 2020
Father of Artificial Intelligence, John McCarthy, said, 'Artificial intelligence is the science and engineering of making intelligent machines, especially intelligent computer programs.' AI is a growing field of technology globally and India is also making strides to stay ahead in this space. According to the 2018 PwC report, 'Artificial Intelligence in India - Hype or Reality' (Authors: Sudipta Ghosh, Indranil Mitra, Prasun Nandy, Udayan Bhattacharya, Deboprio Dutta, Shruti Kakar), 71% of respondents (business decision-makers and employees) believe AI will help humans solve complex problems & live richer lives; 67% would prefer AI assistance over humans as office assistants; 43% agree that the government will apply AI to improve global climate, health and education; 60% would prefer AI assistance over humans as financial advisors or tax preparers; 72% believe that AI can provide a better experience of one-to-one personalisation. The report also finds out that nearly all (93%) have major concerns regarding data privacy. Indian researchers are also influencing and contributing to the development of AI field. Here is the list of top AI researchers and influencers in India - (1) Sankar Kumar Pal (Scientist and former Director of the Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata): Pattern Recognition and Machine Learning; Image/Video Processing; Data Mining; Soft Computing; Granular Computing; Fuzzy-Rough Computing; Neural Nets; Web Intelligence; Bioinformatics; Social Networks; Machine-Mind Development. (2) Krothapalli Sreenivasa Rao (Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur): Signal Processing and Machine Learning in Speech Applications; Robust speech interfaces in the context of Indian languages; Signal processing and machine learning paradigms for automatic processing of Hindustani music; Big Data Analytics for speech, music, audio and video document representation, indexing, and retrieval tasks. (3) Bidyut Baran Chaudhari (Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata): Digital Document Processing; Optical Character Recognition; Natural Language Processing; Statistical and Fuzzy Pattern Recognition; Computer Vision and Image Processing; Cognitive Science. (4) Pushpak Bhattacharyya (IIT Bombay): Natural Language Processing; Machine Learning; AI. (5) Sriparna Saha (IIT Patna): Text Mining Pattern Recognition; Natural Language Processing; Multi-Objective Optimization; Biomedical Information Extraction. (6) Sunita Sarawagi (IIT Bombay): Neural Models for Sequence Prediction with applications to dialog generation, translation, grammar correction, and time series forecasting; Domain Adaptation and Domain Generalization; Continuous, Reusable, Human intervenable and Modular Learning; Machine Learning models for reliable aggregate statistics over predicted variables; Graphical models for selective node labeling in social networks; Structure extraction from tables and lists on the web; Inference algorithms for graphical models in information extraction task. (7) Anush Sankaran (IBM Research): Applications of Machine Learning and Deep Learning with applications to computer vision and natural language processing. (8) Anuprriya Gogna (GE Healthcare): Optimization algorithms and learning architectures for various applications in the domain of healthcare, recommendation engines, and signal/image processing; Sparse Recovery; Matrix Factorization/Completion; Deep Learning; Recommender System Design. (9) Balaraman Ravindran (IIT Madras): Machine Learning; Spatio-temporal Abstractions in Reinforcement Learning; Social Network Analysis; Data Mining. (10) VP Subramanyam Rallabandi (National Brain Research Centre, Gurgaon): Mathematical Modeling; Neuroimaging; Machine Learning; Computational Biology; Knowledge-based Image Retrieval; Artificial Neural Networks; Fuzzy Logic; Soft Computing. Read on...
THE 10 REMARKABLE AI INFLUENCERS AND RESEARCHERS IN INDIA
Author: Smriti Srivastava
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 17 jan 2020
Team of researchers led by Prof. Saptarshi Ghosh of Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur have developed an AI-based (Artificial Intelligence) system to automate reading of legal case judgements. Although in countries like US, Britain, Japan, Singapore and Australia, AI is utlilized for legal research, review documents during litigation and conduct due diligence, analyse contracts to determine whether they meet pre-determined criteria, and to even predict case outcomes. But this research can become pioneering in Indian context as AI use in legal field is just taking off. India follows a Common Law system that prioritises the doctrine of legal precedent over statutory law, and where legal documents are often written in an unstructured way. The paper, 'Identification of Rhetorical Roles of Sentences in Indian Legal Judgments', based on the research received 'Best Paper Award' at JURIX 2019, the International Conference on Legal Knowledge and Information Systems, at Madrid. Other researchers in the project are - Paheli Bhattacharya (IIT Kharagpur), Kripabandhu Ghosh (Tata Research Development and Design Centre, Pune), Shounak Paul (IIT Kharagpur), Adam Wyner (Swansea University, UK). Prof. Ghosh says, 'Taking 50 judgments from the Supreme Court of India, we segmented these by first labelling sentences...then performing extensive analysis of the human-assigned labels and developing a high quality gold standard corpus to train the machine to carry out the task. We are trying to build an AI system which can give guidance to the common man about which laws are being violated in a given situation, or if there is merit in taking a particular situation to court, so that legal costs can be minimised.' The neural methods used by the team enables automatic learning of the features, given sufficient amount of data, and can be used across multiple legal domains. This method can help in several downstream tasks such as summarization of legal judgments, legal search, case law analysis, and other functions. Read on...
IIT Kharagpur develops AI-powered tech for reading legal cases
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 28 dec 2019
According to nseinfobase.com, CSR spends of Indian corporates have increased 17.2% to Rs. 11867.2 crore in FY19 from Rs. 10128.3 in FY18. This is the highest spend since FY15 (Rs. 6552.5 crore), when the CSR spend was made mandatory through Companies Act 2013. It is observed that corporates are increasingly using their CSR spends on charitable contributions. The highest amount of Rs. 4406 crore were for schedule VII (II) that focuses on education. The next big spend was Rs. 3206.5 crore under VII (I) for eradicating hunger, poverty, malnutrition and promoting health and hygiene. Rural development got Rs. 1319 crore and remaining went for projects that include environment protection, benefits to the armed forces, disaster management etc. From geographical point of view Maharashtra and Gujarat were at the top to get contributions while Bihar and North-East states got the least CSR funds. Experts say that large spends have also seemed to have prompted closer attention to how the money is spent. Amit Tandon, founder and MD of Institutional Investor Advisory Services India (IiAS), says, 'There are more and more companies who are doing impact assessment...people recognise the need to do it.' Pranav Haldea, MD at Prime Database, says, 'Low CSR budget could act as a constraint for some companies to adopt monitoring mechanisms. It may only make sense for firms with very large budgets. Smaller companies may find it too expensive to employ an agency for external audits on a regular basis.' Read on...
Companies spent Rs 11,867 cr on CSR activities in FY19; highest so far
Author: Sachin P. Mampatta
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 25 dec 2019
Social enterprises can become an important pillar of Indian economy just like corporations and businesses. India has more than two million social enterprises that include nonprofits, for-profits and hybrid models. According to a McKinsey study, 'impact investors' in India poured a total of US$ 5.2 billion between 2010 and 2016, with substantial focus on sectors like financial inclusion and clean energy. A survey conducted by Brookings India found that 57% of the social enterprises identify access to debt and equity as a barrier to growth and sustainability. In the budget Indian government proposed a social stock exchange (SSE) to list social enterprises and voluntary organisations. Suresh K. Krishna, MD and CEO, and Geet Kalra, portfolio associate, at Yunus Social Business Fund, explain what benefits this social stock exchange will bring to the social enterprise ecosystem and suggest that careful planning is needed in designing it. They explain, 'SEBI (Securities and Exchange Board of India) set up its working committee on SSEs on September 19, however, many experts have already proposed distilling learnings from those of other countries. Some of these exchanges are either information sites, like in the case of the London Stock Exchange, or list nonprofit projects only. Canada's Social Venture Connexion (SVC) and Singapore's Impact Investment exchange are more advanced in terms of accreditation, valuation and monitoring, whereas the Brazilian model didn't use such valuations at all. While formulating a similar product for India, we need to have an extensive as well as 'cautious' approach. There is no consensus in the wider social impact community about what is and isn't a social enterprise, therefore the definition itself first needs more objectivity...Once we have a shared frame of reference in place, we can design impact valuation parameters for social enterprises based on social and environmental mission, target beneficiaries, service delivery, stakeholder involvement, and impact measurement.' SSE listing will provide visibility to social enterprises and assist in attracting funds in the form of private equity and debt. Listing debt products on the SSE would encourage banks, NBFCs (Non-Banking Financial Company) and other investors to participate in the growth of social enterprises and enhancing their impact. Moreover, SSE impact valuation will encourage development of more innovative financial products. SME exchanges operated by BSE and NSE can also provide valuable learning in effectively designing SSE. Mr. Krishna and Mr. Kalra suggest, 'For a social stock exchange to meet its intended objectives, we need to take measures such as: educating market participants about the valuation metrics weighing both on social and financial returns; amplifying the efforts of creating and supporting social businesses; bringing policy and regulatory reforms to support investors, and facilitating research and development for small social enterprises.' Read on...
A social stock exchange will help in raising capital
Authors: Suresh K. Krishna, Geet Kalra
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 07 nov 2019
Human health is closely linked to the condition of the surrounding environment. According to the National Health Report (NHP) released on 31 October 2019, a degraded environment filled with air and water pollution continues to affect health of people in India. Air pollution-linked acute respiratory infections contributed 68.47% to the morbidity burden in the country and also to highest mortality rate after pneumonia. While contaminated drinking water caused acute diarrhoeal diseases that led to second highest morbidity at 21.83%. Moreover, cholera cases went up to 651 in 2018 from 508 in 2017. While releasing the 14th National Health Profile 2019, Dr. Harsh Vardhan (Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare, Govt. of India), said, 'Data helps us to navigate health needs and issues, and helps devise area specific programme strategies.' But despite the increasing burden of diseases in the country, the budgetary allowance for controlling diseases has been steadily dipping in the last few years, says the report. According to 2017-18 budget estimates, India spends only 1.28% of its GDP as public expenditure on health. The NHP report pointed out that per capita public expenditure on health has gone up to Rs 1657 in 2017-18 from Rs 621 in 2009-10. While states are bearing 63% of this expenditure, out of pocket expenditure by the patients are not included in this estimate, which is known to be the biggest reason behind increasing debt in the population. Read on...
Diseases linked to a degraded environment continue to ravage India
Author: Vibha Varshney
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 24 oct 2019
Christopher Charles Benninger, India-based US architect and author of the book 'Letters to a Young Architect', while speaking at a World Habitat Day event in Kochi (Kerala, India) advocates that Indian students should not go to US to study architecture citing higher cost incurred and subsequent settling there, but instead, they should spend 8-9 months travelling across India to see the country's traditional architectural marvels and the materials used for their construction. He suggests that architects should make use of the local climate, materials and labour force. V. Sunil Kumar, founder and MD of Asset Homes, says, 'Among the economically-backward people of India, there is a dearth of 2.5 crore homes while lower income group also lacks 3 crore houses.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 08 oct 2019
Agriculture is one of the critical sectors of Indian economy as it employs about 50% of the working population and contributes 15-16% to GDP. Even though government policies are designed to make the sector benficial for those engaged in it, but the media is full of news describing the ailing condition of India's agriculture at the ground. Can entrepreneurs, full of ideas and working zeal, coupled with effectiveness and efficiencies of technology, become harbingers of change and transform the condition of not only the farms and their produce, but also the farmers and all other hard working people employed in the sector. Abhishek Agarwal, co-founder of TechnifyBiz, suggests that agri-tech entrepreneurs can tackle some of the problems of Indian agriculture and help grow the sector. He cites following issues - Depleted ground-water, low-quality seeds and ravaged soil quality due to over-use of chemicals; Lack of market linkage creates a considerable gap in the industry; Inadeguate transporation and storage; Scarcity of credit and high lending rates. He suggests that agri-startups can assist in standardization of agri-market practices through technology, aggregation and organized marketing. According to NASSCOM, sector had secured a funding of US$ 73 million in 2018. The agri-tech industry has been able to raise financing of over US$ 248 million till June 2019. Accenture says that digital agricultural services market is set to touch US$ 4.55 billion by 2020. Mr. Agarwal explains, 'Market linkage, farmer markets in the digital space, superior database management, digital agriculture and micro-financing are gaining in popularity, making the sector conducive to attract funding.' Agri-startups are encompassing both the production and after-harvest side of agriculture. He says, 'The various areas of improvement, like the reduction of input costs, better nutritional value in food crops, better quality seeds that drive crop production and improving soil quality. Using technology to predict weather patterns, irrigation cycles and soil quality are the focus of some startups. This enhances the quality of production...The use of smart technology and superior logistics infrastructure has created a new eco-system of agri-marketing. New-age startups are leveraging technology to tap the retail as well as B2B marketplaces through digital agronomy startups.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 22 sep 2019
Project-based work is resulting in the rise of flexi or contractual staff hiring in India, partcularly in the IT-ITeS (Information Technology and IT-enabled Services) industry. According to the Talent Radar 2019 report by Infosys, the top 5 technical skills in demand for digital projects are - analytics, user experience, automation, IT architecture and artificial intelligence. Indian Staffing Federation (ISF) says that IT-ITeS sector tops flexi-staff adoption with around 12 out of every 100 employees being contractual or flexi staff and, this workforces is expected to grow to 720000 by 2021 from 500000 in 2018. Pankaj Khanna, VP of talent acquisition at Mindtree, says, 'The first advantage of flexi hiring is that demand can be fulfilled faster...Secondly, for requirements that are short term, it makes business sense to leverage the subcontracting/flexi hiring models without increasing the headcount.' U. B. Pravin Rao, COO of Infosys, says, 'As enterprises progress in their digital journeys, the winners will be those who utilize multiple hiring sources and reskill workers in a culture of lifelong learning.' According to Broadband India Forum, the IoT and AI-based applications will create over 2.8 million jobs in rural India over the next 8-10 years generating Rs. 60000 crore every year. Rituparna Chakraborty, President of ISF and co-founder of Teamlease, says, 'With emerging technologies such as AI and big data, new skill requirements are in demand. Flexi staffing is a solution to find out the right skills, based on project requirement.' Sivaram S., engagement manager at Zinnov, says, 'The focus on flexi-staffing is to quickly deploy talent for new-age areas such as AI, Machine Learning, and IoT, and drive velocity/agility in transformative engagements. It can be viewed as a means to augment existing digital engineering workforce in an organization, as there are challenges associated with hiring for specific skillsets.' Siddharth Pai, IT consultant and venture capitalist, says, 'The reason for the proliferation of project-based work, as opposed to long-term contracts is the global slowdown that is leading companies to hire for one-off projects so that they can easily let people off when there is no requirement.' According to Nomura Research, subcontractors are typically 15-20% (more) expensive than employees and are a margin headwind going into FY20F. Apurva Prasad, Research Analyst (IT) at HDFC Securities, says, 'Increase in sub-contracting resulted from a combination of surge in demand and staffing challenges on account of tech supply crunch.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 07 sep 2019
Trust between patients and care givers is one of the critical factors in determining success of healthcare system. And trust develops over a period of time through positive experiences that are achieved by providing quality care at the right time, effectively and efficiently at the right price. But, it seems, India's healthcare is lacking behind in satisfactory healthcare delivery. According to the recent report by Ernst & Young (EY) and Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), 'Re-engineering Indian Healthcare 2.0', based on an online survey of 1000 patients across six geographical zones in India, 'There is a growing mistrust among patients against healthcare providers and the Indian healthcare system needs to tailor its current model for inclusion and mass healthcare to deliver true care with a focus on primary care, wellness and health outcomes.' The report finds that - 61% patients believe that hospitals did not act in their best interests; 63% of patients indicated that they were not happy with hospital responsiveness and waiting times; 59% patients felt the hospitals were not concerned about feedback and do not actively seek it. Kaivaan Movdawalla, Partner at EY India (Healthcare), says, 'For realising the aspired levels of efficiency, it is imperative for healthcare providers to shift from an incremental performance plus approach to a radical design to cost or direct-to-consumer approach for redesigning their operating models and cost structures.' Dr. Arvind Lal, Chair at FICCI Healthservices Committee and CMD of Dr Lal PathLabs, says, 'There is an urgent need to bridge the 'trust deficit' between the patient and the doctor; patient and the hospital; as well as government and the private healthcare provider for the Health of the Indian Healthcare.' EY recommends a '5E Framework' for building trust across all principal stakeholders, that is, policymakers, healthcare providers, payors and the public. This framework comprises integrating empathy, efficiency, empowerment, ease and environment to achieve the agenda of universal health access and the right to health. Read on...
Most patients are dissatisfied with India's healthcare system, says EY-FICCI report
Author: P. B. Jayakumar
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 05 sep 2019
Healthcare technologies enhance efficiencies, improve access and create informed patient-doctor relationships. Around the globe there is fast-paced adoption of these technologies. India too is undergoing health-tech transformation. According to a 15-country Future Health Index (FHI) 2019 report by Royal Philips, about 76% of healthcare professionals in India are already using digital health records (DHRs) in their practice. Moreover, 80% of healthcare professionals have shared patient information with other professionals inside their health facility, which is equal to 15-country average. India also meets the 15-country average when it comes to the usage of artificial intelligence (AI) within healthcare at 46%. Report also finds that a majority of Indian healthcare professionals who use DHRs in their practice report that DHRs have a positive impact on quality of care (90%), healthcare professional satisfaction (89%), and patient outcomes (70%) when compared to the 15-country average of 69%, 64% and 59% respectively. Rohit Sathe, President of Philips Healthcare (Indian Subcontinent), says, 'The report confirms that digital health technology is a pivotal pillar in delivering value-based care across the healthcare continuum in India. Tools including telehealth and adaptive intelligence solutions can help lower the barriers between hospitals and patients, thereby improving access to care and enhancing overall patient satisfaction, particularity in tier II & III cities in India.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 27 aug 2019
Researchers from IIT-Madras (Tamil Nadu, India), Prof. Asokan Thondiyath and research scholar Nagamanikandan Govindan, have designed and developed a multimodal robotic system, termed as 'Grasp Man', that has good grasping, manipulation and locomotion abilities. Their research, 'Design and Analysis of a Multimodal Grasper Having Shape Conformity and Within-Hand Manipulation With Adjustable Contact Forces', is recently published in ASME Journal of Mechanisms and Robotics. The robot is fitted with a pair of graspers that provide morphological adaptation, enabling it to conform to the geometry of the object being grasped, and allowing it to hold objects securely and manipulate them much like the human hand. The two graspers are equipped with a robotic platform that provides behavioural adaptation. The robot will have various industrial applications such as pipe inspection, search-and-rescue operations, and others that involve climbing, holding, and assembling. Prof. Asokan says, 'The motivation behind this research is to realise a robot with a minimalistic design that can overcome the need for task-specific robots that are capable of navigating and manipulating across different environments without increasing the system complexity.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 18 aug 2019
Startups are enabling tech-based transformation of India's retail sector through Android-based smart PoS (Point of Sale) devices. The promise of these devices goes beyond payments and makes supply chain more efficient with data analytics and potential credit scoring. Vicky Bindra, CEO of Pine Labs, says, 'Retailers and merchants from diverse sectors such as electronics, food and beverage, fashion, pharmacy, telecom, and airlines are adopting the new smart PoS machines to improve their efficiencies and enhance consumer's shopping experience.' Praveen Hari of industry association iSPIRT says, 'Today a smart PoS device is not just accepting cards, but they can also provide UPI (unified payments interface) pull transactions, QR codes (displayed on screens), NFC (near-field communication) transactions, wallet transactions, or basically, any payment mode that is available in India.' Ashish Jhina, co-founder of Jumbotail, says, 'Today smart PoS machines can do four key business functions: payment, billing, inventory management, wholesale procurement.' Smart PoS data is also valuable for credit scoring. Mr. Hari explains, 'The GST data itself is good enough for a lender to make a lending decision and the shopkeeper or his FMCG distributor now has an incentive to report all the transactions. The transaction data itself can help a lender make a lending decision.' Manish Patel, CEO of Mswipe, says, 'We have engineered a credit model where when our merchants can borrow money (to make wholesale purchases) from any of our NBFC partners, based on data we provide...In terms of recollection, the merchant can opt to pay back in daily and monthly instalments.' Read on...
Wireless, smart PoS devices revamping India's retail landscape
Author: Salman S. H.
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 05 aug 2019
People with the twin passion of design and development of new products can transform into design entrepreneurs. They are able to control both the design and business processes. Vijayant Bansal, founder of World University of Design (India), explains what it takes to be a design entrepreneur and explores the shifting landscape of design entrepreneurship in India. He says, 'We are in the midst of a design revolution and increasingly design is gaining a lot of focus...But it's not easy starting from ground zero and working yourself towards achieving credibility, recognition and last but not the least, generating demand. This involves having to create a balance between what we want to create with what the customer wants; what is possible technically and how much of a resource pull will it involve.' Contemporary design entrepreneurship includes new product development, restoring crafts, innovating existing products and providing design services based on new & emerging technologies. Explaining the design revolution, he says, 'Designing is undergoing a metamorphosis, aided by new technologies and digital transformation of today. New and disruptive technologies like Artificial intelligence, IoT, Machine learning etc., are the biggest enablers, disrupting traditional processes and systems, enabling out of the box thinking and new ideas, which in turn reshape the entire user experience.' Universities can play an important role in guiding and mentoring students to pursue design entrepreneurship. Industry experts can also play a role in this and enable students to participate in hands-on training. Virtual products have also expanded the scope of design entrepreneurship with designers engaged in designing and developing games and apps. Design entrepreneurship is the new career paradigm. Mr. Bansal suggests, 'Today the scenario has undergone a sea change, with almost every industry, be it apparel, automobiles, film making, animation, product design or gaming, with design playing an intrinsic role in the entire process from an idea to the end product. It's worth the challenge if financial security and stability are not foremost on your mind and you have the patience and inclination to see through the entire process of making the design-centric idea into a successful venture.' Read on...
The Rise of the Contemporary Indian Design Entrepreneur
Author: Vijayant Bansal
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 25 jul 2019
According to the online research by Booking.com, 59% of youth surveyed want to give back to society as part of their travel experience. This is almost double the global average (31% of Gen Z) that want to volunteer while travelling. Report surveyed 21807 respondents of 16 years or above in 29 markets with about 1000 from each country. 71% of Gen Z travellers consider volunteering as enhancement to their trip's authenticity - more interaction with local people and making a difference. Sustainability travel is also on the rise with care for environment at the top of traveller's mind. Ritu Mehrotra, country manager India at Booking.com, says, 'Over 71% of all travellers want to reduce their carbon footprint by limiting the distance travelled. This number increases further among the Gen Z to 76% as they want to use more environmentally-friendly transport, walking or biking, during the holidays.' Read on...
More youth want to volunteer while travelling: Report
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 22 jul 2019
Even though India has achieved success consistently in agriculture sector through policy and reforms, but there is still a lot to be desired. Farmer suicides and droughts become headline news from time to time. Ken Ash, Director of Trade & Agriculture at OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development), and Silvia Sorescu, Policy Analyst at OECD, provides an overview of India's state of agriculture and what needs to be done to tap opportunities. According to them, many smallholders have not been able to exploit the opportunities opening up to them; they remain hampered by low productivity, an under-developed food processing and retail sector, and water and environmental degradation. They explain that India faces 'triple challenge' in the agricultural sector similar to other countries - delivering safe and nutritious food to a growing population at affordable prices; providing a livelihood for farmers and others in the food chain; and overcoming severe resource and climate pressures. According to the OECD and the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER) report in the Agricultural Policies in India 2018 study and the 2019 OECD Agricultural Policy Monitoring and Evaluation, India's domestic and trade policies (like restrictions due to agri-marketing regulations, export restrictions, huge farm subsidies for farm inputs etc) have combined to reduce Indian farm revenue by an estimated 5.7% in the past three years. Moreover, funding for public services - such as physical infrastructure, inspection, research & development, and education and skills - that are essential to enable the long-term productivity and sustainability of the sector has not kept pace. India can draw lessons from Ashok Gulati's analysis of farm policy developments in China, and also from EU's (European Union) agricultural policy reform experiences. Persistence is critical for the success in the sector. Electronic National Agricultural Market (eNAM), the 2017 marketing model act, and the recently implemented direct cash transfers scheme to small-scale farmers, are steps in the right direction. Authors suggest, 'Scarce financial resources should be directed towards investment in public services that enable a productive, sustainable, and resilient food and agriculture sector. Doing so would require strengthening the institutional framework; eliminating duplication and fragmentation is a pre-requisite to ensuring coherent policy packages are developed and consistently implemented. Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and addressing the 'triple challenge' will require new policy directions in India, as elsewhere.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 30 jun 2019
According to 'Annual Status of Education Report (Aser) 2017' by nonprofit Pratham, about 42% of rural youth between the ages of 14 and 18 were employed in January 2018, despite going to school. Among these, 79% were working in agriculture, while at the same time only 1.2% of the youth surveyed wanted to become farmers. India's rural population residing in about 600000 villages has not benefited substantially from economic growth and opportunities are limited, resulting in large migration of youth to urban areas in search for greener pastures. But, they are not well equipped in terms of education and skills, to compete in a challenging urban environment to avail better opportunities and respectable lifestyle. Education, coupled with skill development, is the key to bring them at par with their urban counterparts. Ashweetha Shetty, founder of Bodhi Tree Foundation, is trying to bridge this rural-urban divide by building confidence and self-esteem among young people living in rural areas. Explaining the work of her nonprofit, Ms. Shetty says, 'Our foundation works with rural youth between the ages of 17 and 23. We help them build life skills and enlighten them about opportunities. We achieve all this through intervention at our village centers. We have a residential program for girls, and we also work with district administrations on initiatives, particularly those which concern the children of sanitation workers. Most of the rural youth we help are usually first generation college goers. Bodhi Tree helps them to think about their future. These young kids have many inferiority complexes, and there is an information gap. We are trying to bridge that through our organization.' Regarding the life skills that her organization is trying to build, she says, 'We do self-development, self-awareness workshops, and provide exposure to opportunities - we help the children to discover what they want to do in life and understand their strengths and weaknesses. We enable them to develop themselves through public speaking and other skills. We also conduct workshops on resumé writing to help them achieve their goal.' Differentiating her nonprofit from skill building organizations, she says, 'Bodhi Tree is completely different from skill building organizations. We don't want to build a skill in someone and send the message that it's the only thing they can do. Skill building programs have no progression, no scope for dreaming. I feel it robs opportunities from the children. Children should have access to government jobs, schemes, internships - they should have knowledge and know what to do with it. I think that's the difference between us and skill building initiatives. Maybe our model is not working that well because we are not focused on one skill, but I think this is a conscious choice we have made where we don't tell people about what skills they can inculcate. Rather, we tell them what kind of dreams you should have, we make people realize their potential. For us, the immediate impact is more like standing up for yourself and going to college.' Read on...
Helping India's Rural Youth Unlock Their Potential
Authors: Ankita Mukhopadhyay, Ashweetha Shetty
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 26 jun 2019
Creativity is at the core of art and design. They both are visual and material culmination of varied degrees of human expression. Vibhor Sogani, fusing the lines between design and art, between being a product designer and public installation artist, says, 'At the end of the day, it is all about creativity. People may deem art superior to design but designing is serious business and a very responsible job.' He explains the value of public art for the growth-oriented country like India, 'Since India has so many people and so many public spaces, it is an ideal ground for engaging with them through art. The all-important ingredient of public art is engagement with people.' On balancing creativity and guidelines in commissioned projects, he says, 'We all need a sense of direction. After all, you need to align yourself with something. I think the brief given to me by my client is only a starting point. Thereafter, I am free to follow my vision.' An alumnus of National Institute of Design (Ahmedabad, India) and having worked in the field of industrial design, he is well-versed in the craft of materials as well as technology. He follows both reactive and proactive approaches to pursue his creative work. He suggests that while thinking of an idea is instant, putting it into a tangible shape of art is slow and time consuming. His public art works include Joy in Dubai, Sprouts in New Delhi and Kalpavriksha in Ahmedabad. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 22 may 2019
India's CSR legislation is a step in the right direction and is globally praised. Recently, 47 participants from 33 global multinational companies that are associated with WBCSD (World Business Council for Sustainable Development) visited India to learn about sustainable businesses. WBCSD Leadership Program is a year-long series of engagements and learning exercises in partnership with Yale University. Rodney Irwin, Managing Director of WBCSD's Redefining Value and Education program, says, 'The legislation asking large companies to spend 2% of their profit on corporate social responsibility (CSR) is appreciable, but large companies should not stop there. These large firms should look at making their businesses sustainable by integrating the concept of environmental, social and governance advantages into the core business.' He advocated the need for integrating sustainable approach to doing businesses along with maintaining profitability. He adds, 'In long-run, profitability can be greater if you embrace opportunities that accompany sustainable approach.' Since a number of large Indian companies are family-owned, he says, 'The companies that have family connections tend to not just make the businesses successful but they want to make sure that the business can be passed on to the next generation. They have a long-term vision.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 16 may 2019
The research, 'Development of a pathological healthcare system for early detection of neurological gait abnormalities', by Prof. Anup Nandy of National Institute of Technology (Rourkela, India) in collaboration with Prof. Gentiane Venture of Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology (TUAT, Japan), aims to address human aging utilizing low-cost software solutions to early diagnose neurological gait abnormalities. Anomalies and abnormalities found in a person's walking style are termed as gait abnormalities. As human beings have different anatomical structure depending on age, gender and body-weight, they are prone to various gait abnormalities. Due to lack of awareness of such diseases and problems, the abnormalities get unnoticed at the initial stages. Moreover, the assessment becomes a little less credible without proper software and automation that uses data analysis. Scientists applied high level Machine Learning Algorithms for detection and periodic assessment of abnormalities. The software with the techniques of deep learning detects the various gait (walking) patterns, assess the collected data on specific parameters and the identified data is used in the detection or observing patient's improvements in various abnormalities like Cerebral Palsy, Parkinson's Disease and Equinus gait. Prof. Nandy says, 'As computer science enthusiasts and researchers, it's our responsibility to serve society and contribute to the betterment. This noble approach bridges the gap between Computer Science and Medical Science and is instrumental in the detection and assessment of various diseases. The low-cost software becomes affordable to everyone and can be beneficial to many in general.' Read on...
Monday Morning - NIT Rourkela:
IMPACTING LIVES AND BEYOND: PROF. ANUP NANDY'S RESEARCH ON GAIT ABNORMALITIES
Author: Animesh Pradhan
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 09 apr 2019
According to the recent report 'India Digital Ad-fraud Market 2018' by techARC, the total size of digital ad-fraud in India stood at staggering US$ 1.63 Billion, which is 8.7% of the global size. The report projects 23% increase in digital ad-fraud in 2019. Digital Commerce contributed more than half 51% of the total ad-fraud in India. While, Leisure & Travel (26%), Entertainment & Gaming (13%), Banking & Finance (8%), Healthcare & Pharma (1%) and Others (1%). Although, App Fraud contributes to over 85% of the total digital ad-fraud, the organizations should not ignore the web platforms. Web platforms are more susceptible to frauds as in several organizations the digital teams are primarily focusing on the app, leaving the web space vulnerable. As video is increasingly becoming the preferred medium of content, it is also attracting fraudsters to exploit this advertising channel. The report finds that businesses who have an ad-fraud solution in place are better equipped to have higher levels of customer engagements. Faisal Kawoosa, Founder & Chief Analyst at techARC, says, 'Digital ad-fraud is getting increased attention from the C-level leadership of evolved organisations, where it is no longer an agenda of a CDO or CMO. The impact of digital ad-fraud now goes beyond diminishing the returns on marketing spends and can jeopardize the entire digital transformation journey hampering Brand Equity, Relevance and Positioning among other ramifications.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 07 apr 2019
Biotechnology is expected to be the next big thing for the Indian economy, just like the IT industry has been, explains Amit Kapoor, President & CEO of India Council on Competitiveness and Honorary Chairman at Institute for Competitiveness. According to him, '...biotechnology industry seemed poised to take over the mantle. In the span of a decade beginning in 2007, the industry has grown exponentially in size from about US$ 2 billion to over US$ 11 billion in terms of revenue. By 2025, it is targeted to touch US$ 100 billion.' In the past, both Green Revolution (agricultural transformation) and White Revolution (dairy sector transformation) became successful because of the contributions from biotechnology. At present India's rising competitiveness in pharmaceuticals is also the result of biotechnological advancements and research. Moreover, energy needs of rural areas are also met by biomass fuel, produced through application of biotechnology. Mr. Kapoor explains evolution of biotechnology in India, 'As early as 1986, Rajiv Gandhi, recognising the potential of biotechnology in the country's development, set up the Department of Biotechnology...Department of Biotechnology has set up 17 Centres of Excellence at higher education institutions across the country and has supported the establishment of eight biotechnology parks across different cities...Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) in 2012, which has successfully supported 316 start-ups in its six years of existence...As of 2016, India had over a thousand biotechnology start-ups.' According to Mr. Kapoor, the sector faces many challenges and they need to be addressed effectively and promptly - (1) India's research and development expenditure is quite low at 0.67% of GDP, not only compared to mature biotechnology economies such as Japan and the US (around 3%) but also in comparison to emerging economies like China (around 2%). (2) Specific to the biotech pharmaceutical sector, there are a few India-specific challenges with the country's IP regime. There are two main areas of contention for the industry in India's approach to intellectual property. The first issue lies in Section 3(d) of the Patents (Amendment) Act, 2005, which sets a higher standard for patentability than mandated by TRIPS. The industry argues that India's stricter standards for patents discourages innovation and dampens foreign investment. The second issue is that of compulsory licensing, which gives the government power to suspend a patent in times of health emergencies. Although India has used this option only once, the industry feels that such regulations keep investors clear of Indian markets. (3) Another challenge lies in the risk involved in the Valley of Death, that is, the risk of failure in the transition of innovative products and services from discovery to marketisation. Most of the early research funding, often provided by universities or the government, runs out before the marketisation phase, the funding for which is mostly provided by venture capitalists. It becomes difficult to attract further capital between these two stages because a developing technology may seem promising, but it is often too early to validate its commercial potential. This gap has a huge impact in commercialisation of innovative ideas. Read on...
The Economic Times:
Why biotechnology can be Indian economy's next success story
Author: Amit Kapoor
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 06 apr 2019
India is a diverse economy with a large population size. The availability of correct data is a challenge. But there are reliable and free sources that contain datasets and data visualisations of the Indian economic scenario that can be utilized by data scientists - (1) NITI Aayog (Salary Expenditure): It is part of data.gov.in website. An expense or expenditure made to the employees for their work in terms of salary is known as Salary expenditure. It is an outflow of money from the Government for different services. The Data contains Actual, Pre-actual and Budgeted Expenditure for Salary expenditure, total expenditure, Revenue Expenditure, Salary expenditure as percentage of revenue expenditure (net of IP & Pension) and Salary expenditure as percentage of total expenditure of states & union territories. (2) Open Budgets India (openbudgetsindia.org): The portal provides budget information of different tiers of government in India (Union Budget, State Budgets, and Budgets of several Municipal Corporations across the country) in accessible and open (non-proprietary) formats. The four major features of the portal, as of now (in the beta version), are - Budget documents (i.e. the original PDF documents); Machine Readable Datasets (for those budget documents, where it was technically feasible to prepare machine readable datasets); Visualizations (or infographics) generated from the machine readable datasets; and Budget basics (for greater familiarity with budget concepts, processes and documents). The portal includes twelve broad sectors that represent Union and State Budget expenditure on both Economic Services and Social Services. It has 10.6k datasets from 509 budget sources. (3) Ministry Of Statistics (Indian Income Tax): It is part of data.gov.in website. The data refers to details on receipts under income tax from 2000-01 to 2011-12 in head of account such as Minor Head-Other Receipts, Minor Head-Surcharge, Penalties, Interest Recoveries, Primary Education Cess, Secondary and Higher Education Cess. (4) NITI Aayog (Manufacturing GDP): It is part of data.gov.in website. The data refers to information on contribution to manufacturing GDP in the 11th Five-Year Plan and employment in 2009-10 in different segments of the manufacturing sector. It projects employment in 2016-17 and 2024-25 in different segments of manufacturing in two different scenarios. (5) Ministry Of Finance (Statistical Appendix): It is part of the Economic Survey. Website is mofapp.nic.in:8080/economicsurvey. Includes Economic Survey 2017-18 and previous ones. The Statistical Appendix has following sections along with their sub-sections - National Income and Production; Budgetary Transactions; Employment; Monetary Trends; Prices; Balance of Payments; Foreign Trade; External Assistance; Human Development Indicators. Data files can be downloaded in Excel and PDF formats. (6) Ministry of Finance - Department Of Economic Affairs (Trade Balance Of India): It is part of data.gov.in website. The trade balance is the difference between the monetary value of exports and imports of output in an economy. It is one of the most important macroeconomic parameter. Data contains Exports, Imports and Trade Balance of India (in Rs Crore and US$ Million) from 1949-50. It also contains the percentage rate of change of exports as well as imports with respect to the previous year. The data has been provided by Department of Economic Affairs. (7) The World Bank (data.worldbank.org/country/india): Includes time series data on variety of topics like GDP, Population, School Enrolment, CO2 Emissions etc. DataBank is an analysis and visualization tool. (8) IMF DATA (data.imf.org): It provides access to macroeconomic and financial data. Asia and Pacific Regional Economic Outlook (APDREO) provides information on recent economic developments and prospects for countries in Asia and Pacific. India is included in this region. Read on...
Analytics India Magazine:
8 Free Resources On Indian Economy You Can Use For Your Data Science Projects
Author: Ram Sagar
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 18 mar 2019
According to the recent NASSCOM CEO survey of 100 participants from IT and ITES sector, majority agreed that 2019 will have large digital deals and to gain part of this they consider making investments into products and platforms and intend to co-innovate with start-ups to build digital capabilities as a priority. In 2018, 40 global capability centers were opened in India and the number of digitally skilled workers has increased to 6 lakh. Industry leaders discussed the emergence of India as a preferred hub of new age innovation in the digital era at NASSCOM's Technology and Leadership Forum. Whether it is creation, storage or analytics, data is the big thing along with artifical intelligence or machine learning. Nivruti Rai, Country Head of Intel India, says, 'The two most important technologies which are critical from Intel's perspective are artificial technology and 5G transmission technology.' Sashikumar Sreedharan, Managing Director of Microsoft India, says, 'The fundamentals of technology, like services innovation and supportability in an automatic and self sustainable manner over the full lifecycle are some of the areas where innovation is happening at Microsoft.' Chetan Garga, Managing Director and Country Head of All State Insurance India, says, 'Business is driving innovation but also technology is driving businesses to do things differently, it's a two-way flow.' Innovation is critical and most business leaders agree that meeting the expectations of customers in the real world and understanding their needs is where the convergence lies. India with 1 billion population, large data size along with its complexity can become a test lab for the world. Pankaj Phatarphod, Managing Director & Country Head of Services at Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), says, 'If it works in India It can work anywhere...I wish we had more applied research and smarter talent.' Read on...
India emerges as a preferred hub of new-age innovation
Author: Rukmini Rao
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 28 feb 2019
Companies Act of 2014 made India the first country that made CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) mandatory for a section of corporates. The companies were expected to integrate social development programs into their business models and culture. KPMG's 2018-19 report that analyzed the CSR work of 100 companies found that corporates increased their prescribed amount for CSR expenditure from Rs 5779.7 crore in 2014-15 to Rs 7096.9 crore in 2017-18. Moreover, they were actually spending more than what was prescribed (Rs 4708 crore in 2014-15; Rs 7424 crore in 2017-18. But India's most backward districts remain deprived these CSR funds. According to the Ministry of Rural Development, 115 of the 718 districts in India are backward. NITI Aayog suggests that corporates can contribute to the development of these districts. Jharkhand (19 districts, 1% CSR funds received); Bihar (13, 2%); Chhattisgarh (10, 1%); Madhya Pradesh (8, 3%); Odisha (8, 11%). While Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, which account for only 15% of such districts, have received 60% of the CSR money. The most backward districts got only 13% of this year's funds and not more than 25% of the total projects. Companies have found convenient ways to direct their CSR funds and shrug off their social responsibility. In July 2018, 272 companies were served notices by the Registrar of Companies for non-compliance with CSR expenditure. Between July 2016 and March 2017, about 1018 companies were issued notices for non-compliance. KPMG has identified three principal areas of non-compliance - disclosure of direct and overhead expenditure on projects, details of overhead expenses, and keeping these overhead expenses below 5% of total CSR spends. Sujit Kumar Singh, senior program manager at Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), says, 'There is no data to know if companies are undertaking need-based assessment studies, a must since it prioritises the requirements of the impacted communities.' Mr. Singh adds, '...Often, professionals handling CSR are not trained to comprehend societal nuances. In most cases those heading the human resource department handle CSR activities. The need now is a policy which drive companies towards self-regulation, the key to CSR.' According to the reporting guidelines that CSE has prepared, 'Companies should self-regulate and be responsive to the disadvantaged, vulnerable and marginalised sections of society. They should respect and promote human rights, make efforts to protect and restore the environment, and support inclusive growth and equitable development. The guidelines show how to improve accountability and transparency in CSR spending, and make it an integral part of business.' Read on...
Indian firms' CSR spending needs more accountability and transparency
Author: Vikrant Wankhede
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 08 feb 2019
India's 'Development Agenda' as outlined by current government includes development of 100 smart cities, 40 million dwelling units, 20 million affordable homes, better infrastructure facilities through the AMRUT scheme, focus on urban development and transformation, slum rehabilitation, and 'Housing for All' by 2022. It is estimated that to fulfil this agenda there is requirement of 75 million skilled people in real estate and infrastructure. Moreover, according to reports there is need of 4 million core professionals (architects, engineers, planners). Shubika Bilkha, Business Head at The Real Estate Management Institute (REMI), explains the key aspects that architectural graduates and planners should keep in while building their skill set in evolving environment - (1) Be Multifaceted: Take advantage of a number of roles- from design architecture, structural or liaisoning architects, to urban planning, property development, sustainable development, teaching or getting involved with disaster relief/re-building communities. Require skills such as engineering, design, supervisory skills, managing people/teams/vendors/client expectations, an understanding of key building/designing/construction/smart technology, strong communication and persuasion skills to communicate their vision. Have much larger role and bigger scope getting involved from pre-design services, to cost analysis and land-use studies, feasibility reports, environment studies to developing the final construction plans etc. (2) Be Business Minded: Understand key real estate and planning concepts and calculations, municipal and local development regulations, legal limitations, the social and urban infrastructure, fundraising/financing and the evolving policy framework. (3) Be Responsible: Consider social and environmental impact of the recommendations. Understand sustainability and implement it effectively. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 08 jan 2019
According to the 'Global Highly-Cited Researchers 2018 List' by Clarivate Analytics, India has only 10 researchers among the world's 4000 most influential researchers. Even though India has many globally renowned institutions, but it lacks breakthrough research output. Top three countries in the list are - US (2639), UK (546), China (482). Prof. CNR Rao, world renowned chemist from Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Sciences and named in the list, says, 'About 15 years ago, China and India were at the same level, but China today contributes to 15-16% of the science output in the world, while we currently contribute only 4%.' Prof. Dinesh Mohan, environmental science academic at JNU and included in the list, says, 'Areas such as climate change, water and energy are areas where research is more relevant nowadays. Where you publish your work is also important for impact.' Dr. Avnish Agarwal, also named in the list, says, 'We need to improve our research ecosystem...There is a lack of focus on quality research in Indian academia. If teachers do not do high-quality research, they will not be updated with new developments.' Others in the list are - Dr. Rajeev Varshney (Agriculture researcher at International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics-ICRISAT); Dr. Ashok Pandey (Researcher at the Indian Institute of Toxicology Research); Dr. Alok Mittal and Dr. Jyoti Mittal (Researchers in environmental science, water treatment, green chemistry and chemical kinetics at the Maulana Azad National Institute of Technology); Dr. Rajnish Kumar (Researcher and professor at IIT Madras's Department of Chemical Engineering); Dr. Sanjeeb Sahoo (Researcher in nanotechnology at the Institute of Life Sciences); Dr. Sakthivel Rathinaswamy (Professor and researcher in Applied and Computational Mathematics at Bharathiar University). Read on...
ONLY 10 AMONG THE WORLD'S TOP 4000 INFLUENTIAL RESEARCHERS ARE INDIAN: REPORT
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 31 dec 2018
In India there are central government run healthcare institutions, public state run institutions and private medical colleges that provide modern healthcare education mainly the four year degree MBBS and after that post-graduate degrees of MS and MD. India also have a number of institutions that provide degrees in other healthcare systems like Ayurveda (BAMS), Unani-Greek (BUMS), Homoeopathy (BHMS), Naturopathy etc. Moreover, there are vocational training institutes that provide skills and courses to develop other medical staff like nurses, health assistants etc. There are also corporate run and other private medical colleges and universities and training institutes. India's healthcare facilities are generally concentrated in urban areas while rural areas are generally served by public hospitals and centers. Private clinics are also present in both rural and urban areas. They are generally run by a single doctor or doctor couple and provide basic healthcare. Diagnostic centers are spread all over due to technological advancements and compact and affordable equipments. Healthcare has major disparities between urban and rural areas when it comes to healthcare access. Healthcare has become one of India's largest sectors - both in terms of revenue and employment. The industry comprises public and private hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, pathology and diagnostics, medical devices industry, clinical trials, outsourcing, telemedicine, medical tourism, health insurance and medical equipment. The public sector constitutes primary health centers, central research centers and hospitals, state-run research institutes and hospitals etc. The private sector provides majority of secondary, tertiary and quaternary care institutions with a major concentration in metros, tier-I and tier-II cities. According to National Family Health Survey-3, the private medical sector remains the primary source of health care for 70% of households in urban areas and 63% of households in rural areas. Rise of technology is creating new business models in the healthcare industry. Healthcare through smart phones and fitness trackers is new trend. Information technology is automating and streamlining various healthcare processes. Big data is creating new ways of improving healthcare delivery. Startups in India are promising to provide best healthcare at affordable cost more effectively. Latest healthcare equipment is not only imported but also manufactured in India. Digital technologies are enhancing every aspect of healthcare. Technology solutions are able to modernise current medical practices, reduce costs, eliminate any duplication of tests as well as streamline processes and update medical records in real time. Modern technology has great potential to increase access of healthcare services in rural communities, especially the ones where there is serious shortage of doctors. India has demonstrated since long a commitment to offer comprehensive healthcare to all citizens. This has been reaffirmed in the 12th Five-year Plan, National Health Assurance Mission, and more recently through Ayushman Bharat Program. However, the challenges remain and this goal has not been achieved as of yet. There are two critical components of successful healthcare systems. One is the financial aspects whereby citizens are protected against any eventuality and don't get into penury due to health spending. Second is the provision and delivery of healthcare services. It is imperative to ensure that healthcare infrastructure is sufficiently equipped to provide effective healthcare when needed by its citizens. Technology, public-private partnerships, access and affordability are the critical component in the future of India's healthcare. Better healthcare with policy, financial and physical framework will bring long-term benefits to the nation. Develop effective mechanisms to improve general health, and disease prevention strategies through campaigns, advocacy etc. To make India's citizens more aware about their health, inculcate better sanitization and cleanliness habits will help to improve overall health of India. Prevention before cure becomes the key for the country with the size and demographic profile like India. Health aware citizens, trained, sensitive and caring medical staff, cutting edge technologies and modern infrastructure, are the golden elements for a healthy future of India. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 17 dec 2018
India is adopting emerging technologies and its future progress will be defined by their effective utilization. A recent study by Cisco and IDC suggests that globally the net job addition in new technologies will be more than 5.9 million by 2027 out of which 1.4 million will be in India. India is building its capacities in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things (IoT). Government has special focus on AI, as between mid 2017 and early 2018, the government constituted two AI Task Forces, first under the Ministry of Commerce and the second under the Ministry of Defence. The Ministry of Information Technology has also set up four committees to encourage research in the field. Niti Aayog has also published the National Strategy for Artificial Intelligence. Similarly, efforts have been underway by goverment to promote the development and adoption of IoT since 2016 with the release of a draft policy on IOT by MeitY. Private sector too has made massive investments in IoT. Another technology that India has to focus on is Data Science as it has enormous potential in promoting development and humanitarian efforts. Data Science has the capability to provide effective solutions to problems faced by the developing world. It can significantly make an impact in decision and policy making. India has to understand the advantages of using Data Science to complement policy efforts and exploit its potential accordingly. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 27 nov 2018
Corporations are encouraging their employees to volunteer as part of their corporate social responsibility efforts. Experts recently conducted a workshop to discuss different stages of volunteering, scaling up the volunteer programs and how companies can use volunteering for better employee engagement, learning and alignment. Aditya Nagpal, Director and BU Head at Goodera, said, 'Our goal is to use technology and data to simplify volunteering, so more people are able to do good at scale. We feel that employee volunteering lies at the perfect intersection of people, planet and profit.' According to him companies go through five stages of volunteering - (1) Informal volunteering (2) Support and encouragement by launching initiatives (3) Planning initiatives strategically (4) Volunteering becomes essential component (5) Volunteering programs attain brand status. Svetlana Pinto, Country Head Communications & CSR at Novartis India, said, 'There are many advantages of volunteering that we have seen in our journey so far. Interestingly, we have found a lot of enthusiasm in the younger lot that is joining the workforce. Other things being equal, they would look more favourably towards an organization with a soul that helps them give back to the community. Volunteering has also helped in building a greater team spirit.' Ester Martinez, CEO & Editor-in-Chief of People Matters Media, conducted a session on 'Designing volunteering experiences for your workforce: Is your organization volunteering ready?' He addressed four challenges - getting started; sustainability of employees; architecting a good experience; policymaking. To overcome them it is important to have clear communication of values, better engagement of employees and a good reward and recognition program. Read on...
Designing volunteering experiences for your workforce
Author: Sharon Lobo
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 24 nov 2018
There are many sides to India's agriculture story. But, what we often hear is the sad one of farmer poverty and suicides. Although many challenges remain including that of humanitarian crises of farmer suicides, but Indian agriculture is going through many positive transformations. According to recent data, tractors sales ended the last fiscal year with a growth of 22% due to good monsoon and strong rural demand. Improvements in road connectivity has boosted tractor sales even in the remote parts of Jharkhand, Telangana, Haryana and other states. The Bloomberg Indian rural economy indices provide a steady upward movement in rural output growth. Two-wheeler sales, a positive indicator of rural growth, have also picked up in recent months. Moreover, there are other visible innovative aspects of Indian agriculture that are good news. India is one of the biggest agrarian economies and even though it lacks in productivity but with 30% of world's organic farmers it is the largest organic farming country. People like Subhash Palekar, who preaches 'zero budget spiritual farming', or farming using only natural and low-cost fertilisers and techniques, are bringing the much needed change. His work has had an impact on 400000 farmers in Maharashtra and adjoining states. Top Indian restaurants and chefs now promote black rice and brown rice grown in India. Customers are also willing to pay a premium for organic produce, thus encouraging cropping up of startups and entrepreneurial ventures in organic farming space. Sikkim has recetly won a prestigious United Nations award for its status as an organic food-only destination. There are also innovations happening in dairy sector with startups putting the certain regions into limelight. India remains as one of the top milk producing countries in the world. Indian agri-tech startups have grown to such an extent that they now have their own exlusive expo that promotes diverse innovations like new pumping techniques, soil testing and management systems, and raw food supply chain breakthroughs. Read on...
How to join the dots of growth in Indian agriculture
Author: Hindol Sengupta
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 21 oct 2018
According to the report by Prof. Anne Boddington (PVC of Research, Business & Innovation at Kingston School of Art, Kingston University, UK), 'Future of design education in India', India needs to produce 65000 designs annually to satisfy the capacity of indigenous creative industry. The current production is around 5000 per year. Prof. Boddington is working on the development of arts and design education in India and collaborating with Indian Institute of Art and Design (IIAD). She says, 'Design and Art as a field is emerging in India. There is not only a huge opportunity but also a sense of enthusiasm and can-do attitude in Indians for it. But to match-up to the emerging field, there is a need to train teachers first...A design teacher needs to make the student autonomous and increase their level of creativity and understanding.' She recommends that arts and design education should not be limited to creative fields, but should also become part of all fields of learning. She considers critical listening, research, and quality assessment are part of design and art curriculum. According to her, there is a great potential to create interdisciplinary programs where creative skills will be imparted as a part of foundation courses. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 13 oct 2018
Indian corporates that fulfil the conditions of Section 135 of the Companies Act 2013 relating to mandatory spending of 2% of last 3 years average profit on CSR are making a difference in vulnerable communities in India. According to the latest India CSR Outlook Report published by NGOBOX, Reliance Industries, HDFC Bank, Wipro, Tata Steel, NTPC, Indian Oil Corporation & ONGC spent more than their prescribed CSR budgets in FY 2017-18. The report analyzed CSR spends of 359 companies. The prescribed CSR budget of these 359 companies was Rs 9543.51 crore whereas the actual CSR spend was Rs 8875.93 crore (3/4th of total CSR spend in India). There is an increase in the prescribed CSR from 6% to 8% in the actual CSR spend from FY 16-17 and the number of projects have also increased by 25% from the previous year. REPORT HIGHLIGHTS: Maharashtra, Karnataka and Gujarat together received over 1/4th of India's total CSR fund. North-eastern states of Nagaland, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura have received least funds; Public sector contribution is over 1/4th of the total; Oil, refinery and petrochemicals account for alsmost 1/4th of the total while healthcare and pharma contributes the least with just Rs 294 crore; CSR funding on education and skill increased by 50% from last year and is 1/3rd of the total CSR spend; Over 1/4th is spend on WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) and healthcare projects. Read on...
Corporates spend 50% CSR funds in education, skill development: Report
Author: Sonal Khetarpal
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 29 sep 2018
As retail in India grows and get more organized, diversity among retail leadership will become visible. Women in retail have a major role to play as women consumers are a big demographic and they have very specific needs and wants. Here are 5 women entrepreneurs who have taken the mantle of leadership in various areas of retail - (1) Farah Malik (Managing Director, Metro Shoes Ltd.): '...Retail had always excited me and I have never regretted the decision of joining the business. The fashion retail industry is extremely demanding and women still often have to make a choice between a family life and a career...' (2) Rashi Menda (CEO & Founder, Zapyle): 'The whole eco-system is very different from what it was 3 years back and I think that the biggest challenge that any woman entrepreneur would face in today's world lack of understanding of one's own abilities...For me, forming a winning team and hiring the right people was the biggest challenge...' (3) Shubhika Jain (Founder, RAS Luxury Oils): 'When I initially joined family business it was difficult for the existing staff to accept a young lady as their head. I had to prove myself to be worthy by way of executing tasks and handling situations in a mature and strategic manner...India has as many as 9% of women entrepreneurs...Yet there are a lot of problems that women have continued to face in this country.' (4) Jagrati Shringi (Co-Founder & CTO, Voylla): 'More women entrepreneurs need to look at the big picture and think about scaling up, sustaining and growing their businesses. Despite extremely talented individuals, there aren't enough women driving big brands...there is a need for more skilled women to look beyond the safety net of IT and other jobs to realise their career goals.' (5) Trishla Surana (Founder, Colour Me Mad): 'While women entrepreneurs form only 3% of the total universe of the entrepreneurs in India, it is welcoming that people are becoming more open to having women as bosses. Also, women today need to focus more on upgrading their skills, understanding interface of design and technology and get as much exposure as they can to achieve their dreams...' Read on...
How these 5 Women Entrepreneurs Are Making a Difference in Retail Industry?
Author: Tanya Krishna
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 28 sep 2018
Regional elements in home and bulding design make them unique. They represent sense and sensibilities of the culture and environment they are part of. India is no different and its multicultural and diverse regions have specific design aspects. Interior designers from Livspace provide city-centric home design ideas and tips - (1) Rajvi Jhaveri (Mumbai): 'Of late, Mumbai has been leaning towards a global, Scandinavian aesthetic. However, most Mumbai homes are small, so it's an interesting challenge to create a clean, clutter-free look, while incorporating all the necessary furniture and Vaastu considerations.' Tips - Camouflage storage; Work with material palettes. (2) Saswati Mukherjee (Bengaluru): 'Bangaloreans are big fans of the form-follows-function school of thought. A pared down look that is chic, clean and cost-effective is in high demand. On the flip side, if this is not done right, this style will lack personality.' Tips - Limit your colour palette; Accent furniture; Infuse personality with artwork and plants. (3) Nehaa Rakyaan (Delhi): 'The Delhi homeowner is very conscious of aesthetics and well-informed about the latest trends. The main concern here is tempering style with practical considerations without going overboard.' Tips - Prioritize your lifestyle and personal tastes over trends; Leave some breathing room; Embrace modular furniture. (4) Priyanka Pawar Sirigiri (Hyderabad): 'Homeowners in Hyderabad are well-travelled and familiar with design trends around the world. At the same time, they are well-connected to their roots and love traditional interiors.' Tips: Mix traditional and contemporary styles; Greenery. Read on...
Four designers across four cities reveal interior secrets
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 15 sep 2018
India's large size with huge population (1.25 billion), substantial part of which resides in rural and underdeveloped regions, brings both challenges and opportunities for implementing healthcare policies and initiatives, both public and private. Over the years ineffective implementation of such initiatives at various levels, has created lopsided infrastructure and uneven development in healthcare. Indian health system also lacks effective payment mechanism and has a high out-of-pocket expenditure (roughly 70%). Adverse health events (health shocks) have considerable impact on India's overall poverty figures, adding about seven percentage points. Health is associated with the overall wellness of the citizens. Good health reflects on the productivity and growth of the nation. More so in the case of India as substantial population is young. India has more than 50% (about 662 million) of its population below the age of 25 and more than 65% below the age of 35. By 2020, the average age of India's population is expected to be 29 years. Aging of this large population will happen at the same time. Having adequate infrastructure is key to avoid a massive health catastrophe for this elderly population in future. Health is also a key issue in the public policy sphere. In the public policy context healthcare issues are often related to accessibility, affordability, socio-economic disparities, healthcare delivery mechanisms, illness and diseases and their impact on society etc. India have a conceptual universal health care system run by the constituent states and union territories. The biggest challenge is to make it accessible and affordable for the overall population. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 31 aug 2018
As the saying goes, 'Necessity is the Mother of Invention' - A temporary ban on firecrackers by Indian Supreme Court, an appeal to scientisits from Dr. Harsh Vardhan (Union Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, GOI) to develop e-firecrackers and social campaigns against their use due to environmental concerns, has driven a team of scientists from Indian Institute of Science Education & Research (IISERM) led by Prof. Samrat Ghosh (Chemical Sciences) to innovate and develop 'green' firecrackers that are safer, smoke-free and reusable. Prof. Samrat says, 'I have filled combustible material in the disposable bottle. This material is ignited with a source, like a spark. The launcher ignites the material which burns and generates pressure, pushing the bottle upwards, like a rocket. This is one of the safest methods of bursting crackers. In the community where I have tested this, even four-year-old kids feel comfortable operating this. Additionally, the combustive recipe in the device is very benign and not at all harmful for the user and the environment.' Regarding additional usage of the invention, Prof. Samrat says, 'From driving away animals in agriculture fields to airports using them to clear runways, the device is beneficial in many different situations.' Read on...
The Better India:
Exclusive: Meet The Scientist Behind Smoke-Free, Debris-Less & Low-Cost Firecrackers!
Authors: Ahmed Sherrif, Gayatri Mishra
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 26 aug 2018
Education and awareness about protecting environment at the early stage of student learning can play a big role to save it. Bhavisha Buddhadeo, a social activist and an expert in organic farming and kitchten gardening based in Gurgaon (India), is doing just that as a mission to promote ecological wellbeing and safeguard environment. She conducts learning workshops and lectures on importance of sustainability and how to better care for the environment. Ms. Buddhadeo says, 'I have engaged children and women in plantation drives, kitchen garden activities and (a) solar energy initiative to educate them regarding the utmost importance of conservation of nature. Schools are doing environmental education and (the) best have made sustainability a school-wide, hands-on project, rather than just another topic for children to write reports on. My programs offer opportunities for experiential learning outside of the classroom, (and) enable students to make connections and apply their learning in the real world.' In her career spanning about 20 years she has taught 100000 students from across many states of India. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 26 aug 2018
According to meteorologists, the recent flooding in southwestern state of Kerala in India has occured due to two-and-a-half times the normal monsoon rains. Climate scientists caution that if the global warming continues unabated more unusual weather events will happen. Roxy Mathew Koll, a climate scientist at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, says, 'It is difficult to attribute any single extreme weather event - such as the Kerala flooding - to climate change. At the same time, our recent research shows a three-fold increase in widespread extreme rains during 1950-2017, leading to large-scale flooding.' According to the study published in Nature last year that Mr. Koll co-authored, flooding caused by heavy monsoons rainfall claimed 69000 lives and left 17 million people without homes over the same period across India. Kira Vinke, a scientist at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (Germany), says, 'These floods that we are seeing in Kerala right now are basically in line with climate projections. If we continue with current levels of emissions - which is not unlikely - we will have unmanageable risks.' Mr. Koll explains the weather patterns behind the excessive rains, 'Rapid warming in the Arabian Sea and nearby landmass causes monsoon winds to fluctuate and intensify for short spans of three-to-four days. During those periods, moisture from the Arabian Sea is dumped inland.' Elena Surovyatkina, a professor at the Russian Academy of Sciences and monsoon expert, says, 'Over the last decade, due to climate change, the overheating of landmass leads to the intensification of monsoon rainfalls in central and southern India.' According to a World Bank report titled 'South Asia's Hotspots', 'On current trends, India's average annual temperatures are set to rise 1.5 degree Celsius to 3 degree Celsius compared to that benchmark by mid-century. If no corrective measures are taken, changing rainfall patterns and rising temperatures will cost India 2.8% of its GDP and will drag down living standards of half its population by 2050.' Ms. Vinke says, 'What we will see with climate change in India is that the wet season is going to be wetter and the dry season drier. Already we are observing that the monsoon is becoming harder to predict with traditional methods.' A recent research predicted, 'If man-made carbon emissions continue unabated, some regions in northeast India could literally become unlivable by the end of the century due to a deadly combination of heat and humidity during heatwaves.' Read on...
The Economic Times:
India's devastating rains match climate change forecasts
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 28 jul 2018
India has to give special emphasis to agriculture to ensure food security for its large population. Recent report, 'Agricultural Policies in India' (Authors: Ashoka Gulati, Infosys chair professor for agriculture at ICRIER; Carmen Cahill, Deputy Director for trade and agriculture at OECD), jointly developed by Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER), provides outcomes of the research conducted for over two years to map and measure the nature of agricultural policies in India and how they have impacted producers and consumers. The report includes key policy indicators like the producer support estimates (PSEs) and consumer support estimates (CSEs). According to the authors of the report, 'The methodology adopted is a standard one that OECD has applied to measure PSEs and CSEs for 51 countries over the last 30 years. In the case of PSEs, it basically captures the impact of various policies on two components: (a) the output prices that producers receive, benchmarked against global prices of comparable products; and (b) the various input subsidies that farmers receive through budgetary allocations by the Centre and states. The two are combined to see if farmers receive positive support (PSE), or negative, as a percentage of gross farm receipts. A positive PSE (%) means that policies have helped producers receive higher revenues than would have been the case otherwise, and a negative PSE (%) implies lower revenues for farmers (a sort of implicit tax) due to the set of policies adopted.' The report found India's PSE, on average, during 2014-15 to 2016-17 was -6% of farm receipts. Contrary to this most other countries have positive PSEs. Overall, PSE (%) was negative to the tune of 14%, on average, over the entire period from 2000-01 to 2016-17, indicating that, despite positive input subsidies, farmers in India received 14% less revenue due to restrictive trade and marketing policies. To incentivise farmers to raise productivity, build an efficient and sustainable agriculture that augments farmers' incomes and foster rural growth and jobs all along the value chain, authors suggest - (1) Change policies to 'get the markets right' by reforming domestic marketing regulations (ECA and APMC), promoting a competitive national market and upgrading marketing infrastructure. Also review restrictive export policies for agri-products. (2) The report recongnizes concerns of the policymakers to protect consumers from price rise. But, it argues for switching to an income policy approach through a direct benefit transfer (DBT) targeted to the vulnerable sections of the population. (3) Indian agriculture and farmers would be much better off if input subsidies are contained and gradually reduced, and the equivalent savings are channelled simultaneously towards higher investments in agri-R&D, extension, building rural infrastructure for better markets and agri-value chains, as also on better water management to deal with climate change. (4) A greater degree of coordination is required between the Centre and the States, and also across various ministries, for a more holistic approach towards reforming agriculture. Read on...
From plate to plough: India must get its agri-markets right
Authors: Ashoka Gulati, Carmel Cahill
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 22 jul 2018
In a developing country like India low-income groups often lack access to proper healthcare. But, mobile technology can provide ways to enable these groups have knowledge and resources to drive preventative healthcare. Lead researchers, Aakash Ganju (co-founder of Avegen), Sumiti Saharan (Neuroscientist, Team Lead of Design & Research at Avegen), Alice Lin (Global Director of social innovation at Johnson & Johnson), Lily W. Lee (President of Almata, a division of Avegen), explain the research conducted by their team on the digital usage patterns of underserved groups in two urban areas of India, and iteratively tested user interface and content design. Researchers generated primary research insights from more than 250 new mothers and fathers living in low-income communities, and achieve understanding of the core barriers and digital needs of this population. Researchers suggest, 'Embedding health care into digital tools requires that providers overcome contextual barriers and undertake deliberate design processes. To succeed, providers must develop a nuanced understanding of the obstacles to consuming information digitally, as well as glean insights from technology, interface design, and behavioral science.' Following are some insights from the research - (1) Cost is no longer the biggest barrier: In the last year, a strong government regulatory authority has promoted competition and consumer benefits that have rapidly driven down both smartphone and data costs. (2) Infrastructure can overcome any remaining cost barriers: Only 5% of people living in less-connected and less-developed localities owned smartphones, compared to a significant 56% of individuals with similar incomes living in neighborhoods with good mobile network and infrastructure. (3) Digital experiences are not often built for low-income, urban populations: The most pervasive barrier to digital adoption in India today is a lack of knowledge about how to use digital interfaces. Language is also a barrier. India has an overall literacy rate of 74%. However, only about 10% of Indians can communicate in English - the language of the Internet. Local language content is scarce. There are gaping holes in the understanding of early-stage user requirements and pain points, from both the digital interface and content experience perspectives. (4) There is a lack of trust in health-related digital information: Low-income, underserved communities who have not been exposed to authentic digital content often have extreme distrust in digital information pertaining to health. Only 12% of families thought information from digital sources was reliable, compared to more than 90% finding information from doctors and mothers to be most, very, or somewhat reliable. According to researchers, to truly meet the needs of underserved consumers, providers must focus on the following areas - (1) High-quality content: To engage users on digital platforms, providers must use differentiated content that connects with a user's specific journey. The form, tone, and continuity of content matters. Video formats optimized for small, low-quality displays are most effective in driving engagement. When visual formats are not feasible, audio formats are the next best alternative. Understand the environments in which users consume health. Include local elements in the content, like referring to local clinics etc. (2) Behavior change: Engaging users is vital to directing changes in consumer health behavior. It's important to be deliberate about the design of the user journey. Offering incentives for content consumption, sharing, and specific health-related behaviors can help nudge users toward desired health-related behaviors. (3) Technology: Mobile apps need to be light and fast, have low memory and data requirements, and be able to run on slow and patchy networks. Display data consumption frequently, enhanced ability to view offline content and share content within community is important for engagement. (4) Design team structure: Multidisciplinary teams that bring together expertise in technology, design, business and sustainability, end-user thinking, and behavioral sciences tend to create the most effective designs. To design for the end user, providers must design with the end user, particularly for populations who are not digitally fluent. Teams should develop a thinking environment and processes that allow for hypothesis development, application design, testing, analytics, and retesting in rapid, parallel, iterative cycles. Read on...
Stanford Social Innovation Review:
Expanding Access to Health Care in India Through Strong Mobile Design
Authors: Aakash Ganju, Sumiti Saharan, Alice Lin Fabiano, Lily W. Lee
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 22 jun 2018
According to Korn Ferry's 'The Salary Surge' report, India would be the only economy that will not face an upward revision of wages by 2030, as it has a talent surplus, bucking the global trend of a talent crunch. For organizations around the world lack of highly skilled talent supply will drive up salaries for the most in-demand workers and is expected to add more than US$ 2.5 trillion in annual labour costs by 2030. The Global Talent Crunch analysed global demand for labour at three key milestones, 2020, 2025 and 2030, in 20 markets, including in India, across three sectors, financial and business services, technology, media and telecommunications (TMT) and manufacturing. Wage premiums by 2030 - US (US$ 531 billion); Germany (US$ 176 billion); Japan (US$ 468 billion); China (US$ 342 billion) Asia Pacific (US$ 1 trillion); Singapore and Hong Kong (10% of 2017 GDP). Wage premium per worker per year by 2030 - Asia Pacific (Average US$ 14710); Hong Kong (US$ 40539); Singapore (US$ 29065); Australia (US$ 28625). Dhritiman Chakrabarti, Head of rewards and benefits for the APAC region at Korn Ferry, says, 'The new era of work is one of scarcity in abundance, there are plenty of people, but not enough with the skills their organisations will need to survive. While overall wage increases are just keeping pace with inflation, salaries for in-demand workers will skyrocket if companies choose to compete for the best and brightest on salary alone.' Manufacturing, one of the sector that is a critical driver of growth for emerging economies, may be stalled by the huge impact of the salary surge. Read on...
The Economic Times:
India to be lone economy facing suppressed wages by 2030: Study
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 31 may 2018
According to British Council's 2016 report, 'The State of Social Enterprise in Bangladesh, Ghana, India and Pakistan', there are more than two million social enterprises in India with 24% of them led by women. India is one of the fastest growing economy and it needs more social entrepreneurs to tackle socio-economic problems. Women have to enhance their participation. But, existing stereotypes alongwith lack of investor confidence are major hurdles in the way. According to the World Bank, labour force participation rate for women in India has fallen from 37% in 2004-05 to 27.2% in 2017, which is quite low in comparison to developed nations. Increasing participation of women in workforce is vital for balanced growth of the country. Archana Raj, Team Leader at Save The Children, says 'Despite these low indicators, it is worth mentioning that there are new generation women who have broken the barriers of societal norms and regressive mindsets to pave way to the new world of entrepreneurship. Over the past few years, it has been observed that more women are choosing this as a career over other options, making a mark in the start-up ecosystem. Nonetheless, the aim must be to reach higher, which can help the rest of the women of our country to rise beyond the barriers and choose for themselves.' Jamie Cid, a social entrepreneur and founder of MobiHires, says, 'I think that there is a great opportunity for women social entrepreneurs in India, especially mothers returning to the workplace, who develop products and services based on their experience and solve problems in their community. With platforms like Sheroes, Reboot, SheThePeople and Lean In India initiatives that support and invest in women social entrepreneurs, this is the right time to be one.' In one of the blog posts of World Bank, Monique Villa, CEO of Thomson Reuters Foundation and founder of TrustLaw and Trust Women, gives the example of Ajaita Shah who works in rural regions of India. Shah's organisation, Frontier Markets, sells and distributes products to rural households. The organisation calls itself a 'for-profit business with a social mission'. According to the Thomson Reuters Foundation, India ranks 35th among countries that are the best for women social entrepreneurs, with the US, Canada and the UK occupying the top three positions. Manju Yagnik, vice chairperson of Nahar Group and member of Indian Merchant Chamber, says, 'I personally do not believe in male-female classifications. I do not think capabilities and talent can be differentiated as per gender. Today's women do not seek sympathy. They want equal opportunities when it comes to decision-making in financial capabilities, which is still male-dominant. Thankfully, with the modern society promoting and striving for gender equality, the position of women is improving year after year. Women entrepreneurs in India are bringing revolution and growth in the public and private sectors. With the help of government initiatives, they will grow further.' Manisha Gupta, founder and director of Start Up!, says, 'Regardless of whether a woman is a social or business entrepreneur, she has to negotiate through an ecosystem that has been structured for men to succeed. Not only do we need more women social entrepreneurs but also an ecosystem where there are more women leaders at every level. We need them as coaches, investors, in finance, as leading incubators, etc to break the template.' Citing challenges women face, Ms. Raj comments, 'Pressures of social norms and societal biases force women to give up the job while tough competitive market further make their work challenging.' Ms. Yagnik feels the need for more women entrepreneurs in India. She says, 'Social entrepreneurship might be a great opportunity for Indian women professionals to break through the glass ceiling that typically exists in traditional corporate life.' Ms. Cid suggests social entrepreneurs to stay positive and focus on the bigger purpose and stay passionate about their goal. Explaining capabilities of women entrepreneurs, Ms. Gupta says, 'I always say that women social entrepreneurs use the 3Rs - resilience, relationship and resistance – to build and grow their ventures. They are masters of resilience, I have seen many women without any resources, standing on their own and building a business in rural regions. They also demonstrate strong capabilities of building connections and meaningful relationships with stakeholders which takes them far.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 24 may 2018
Design as a separate field is getting more recognition in India. Policy initiatives like 'Design in India' and 'Make in India' will give design further impetus and assist in creating a thriving design ecosystem. India now have 30 to 35 design schools, most of them came up in the last few years. Prof. Anirudha Joshi of Industrial Design Centre at IIT-Bombay explores the condition of design education in India and suggests ways to make it better and more in tune with industry. He lists prevalent gaps between academia and industry - what is taught in design schools and what a professional designer need to do - (1) Uninentional gaps: Things that left out in design curriculums. Course duration is shorter than what is needed to become a good designer. (2) Lack of industry/hands-on environment: Certain things are best taught in industry setup and academic setup doesn't suit them. (3) Intentional gaps: Design school is not supposed to prepare students only for industry. Focus is on developing thought leaders having theoretical concepts and not just skills and training. (4) Limited availability of design teachers. (5) Lack of strong tradition in design research. (6) Lack of design education infrastructure. There is demand/supply gap in terms of skilled human resources. As the industry is growing, at least five million designers are required as compared to the current approximately 20000 designers. Many sectors like manufacturing, small scale industries, small printing and publishing houses etc, although have need for designers but can't afford one in the present scenario. Moreover, the focus of current designs is more global and there are few instances of designs that are specific to the Indian market. More emphasis should be given to designers that specifically focus on India. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 22 may 2018
Artificial Intelligence's (AI) potential for healthcare transformation is becoming visible. AI health market is expected to increase exponentially from US$ 600 million in 2014 to US$ 6.6 billion by 2021. Rana Kapoor, MD & CEO of YES Bank and Chairman of YES Global Institute, explains how AI can redefine and revolutionize healthcare and transform existing healthcare sytems into 'smart wellness' delivery mechanisms. In the context of India, he says, 'With the Indian healthcare market estimated to grow to US$ 372 billion by 2022, coupled with growing healthcare needs of a 1.3 billion strong population, successfully leveraging AI, is vital to catapulting the 'healthcare of today' into the 'health-tech of tomorrow'.' He provides four ways AI can catalyze change in healthcare - (1) Economising healthcare costs through machine learning and big data. Integrating big data with wellness could potentially save the healthcare industry up to US$ 100 billion per year. (2) Merging cognitive computing and healthcare can potentially mitigate estimated global shortage of 12.9 million healthcare professionals by 2035. AI-powered applications can augment the services of physicians and expand healthcare outreach at affordable costs. (3) Enhanced diagnosis and identification of diseases. Through algorithms and analysis of big data patterns, AI can detect trends to enhance disease diagnosis and create treatment plans in order to efficiently streamline the healthcare needs of a patient. (4) AI and Internet of Things (IoT) can lead to personalization and more patient-centric approach to healthcare. Wearable gadgets powered by AI can capture and store health data of individuals and play an important role in preventive treatment. Mr. Rana further suggests, 'In India, where we rank a lowly 154th in the Healthcare Access and Quality Index, we must make collaborative efforts to unlock the potential of AI to create an enabling health technology ecosystem to match demand, optimise costs, and demonstrate value.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 29 apr 2018
According to the report by Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER), 'Anatomy of an Internet Blackout: Measuring the Economic Impact of Internet Shutdowns in India', 12615 hours of mobile Internet shutdowns in India cost the economy approximately US$ 2.37 billion and 3700 hours of mobile and fixed line Internet shutdowns in India resulted in a loss of approximately US$ 678.4 million during the period 2012 to 2017. Most affected by the shutdowns were e-commerce businesses and online freelancers operating from small towns. Tourism is another sector affected. Rajat Kathuria, Director & CEO of ICRIER, says, 'The objective of the study is not to pronounce on the efficacy of a state decision on an Internet blackout, rather to estimate the economic costs associated with the event. However, policy makers would be well advised to consider these costs in the final decision on a shutdown. If digital use were to proliferate as envisaged under the Digital India programme, the magnitude of loss could increase in the future.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 22 apr 2018
According to a report by The Times of India, engineers in India are now showing more interest in the automobile industry as compared to the usual IT industry, signalling a boom time for the more traditional manufacturing sector. Tightening of US visa rules, streamlining of staff by big IT companies and increasing importance of big data and artificial intelligence in automobile industry are some factors promoting this shift. NASSCOM says that IT sector will see single-digit growth for the third-consecutive year and jobless growth for the second year. Gopal Mahadevan, CFO of Ashok Leyland, says, 'Earlier mechanical engineers were going to the IT industry but now they're coming back. There appears a reverse brain drain happening and suddenly we're getting lots of applications from this segment, much more than in the last 3 years.' According to the Naukri Jobspeak data for March 2018, there has been significant hiring growth for the auto industry. The sector has witnessed a 33% growth in March 2018 compared to March 2017. Rajan Wadhera, President of Automotive Division at Mahindra & Mahindra, says, 'The IT allure is beginning to wear off as that segment has almost reached a saturation point. The pay growth is also not as good as it once was. So the attraction to join the auto industry is back.' Thammaiah B. N., MD of Kelly Services, says, 'Product specialists are in demand and their experience levels are in the tune of 8 to 10 years or higher. The auto industry itself has stepped up its hiring by 30% and IT has been a major contributor.' Read on...
The Economic Times:
Automobile industry is the new IT for India's engineers
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 27 mar 2018
Ineffectively designed education and training system breeds unemployability. As former President of India Late A.P.J. Abdul Kalam had rightly once said, 'It is not unemployment, which is a major problem; it is the question of 'unemployability', which is a bigger crisis.' According to the recent TeamLease Services' survey report 'Industry Opportunity Based Vocational Course Design', that included 105 organisation and 65 students, 'The vocational education ecosystem in its current form has not succeeded in creating adequate employable job seekers in India as more than 60% candidates and employers find these courses ineffective.' The report also mentions that only 18% of the students undergoing voc-ed (vocational education) courses get jobs, of which merely 7% are formal jobs. The survey highlights the reasons of disconnect between courses and industry - unavailability of quality academic content, lack of funds and negative perception about courses. Neeti Sharma, SVP of TeamLease, says, 'With advancement in technology, improved infrastructure and easy access to domestic and global market, job profiles are continuously and rapidly evolving every day. The need of the hour is advanced vocational skills training...' Read on...
The Economic Times:
Vocational education mostly ineffective in India - Survey
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 17 mar 2018
According to the recent report based on PRIME Database, listed Indian companies that total 1019 have spent Rs. 9034 crore in 2017-18 to fund their CSR (Corporate Social Resposibility) projects and activities. Nearly 37% of these funds were used for education and vocational skill training activities. This development area also witnessed the largest absolute increase in allocation of resources and funds. Moreover, the biggest increase was found in activities that support and benefit the armed forces veterans, war widows and their dependents. Other focus areas that saw increased in expenditure were community development, infrastructure, environment sustainability, social welfare, sports, and slum development. But, eradication of hunger and poverty, and promotion of healthcare and sanitation had expenditure decreased by 18.6%, from Rs. 2944 crore to Rs. 2394 crore. Report by KPMG, 'India CSR Reporting Survey 2017', showed that while education and healthcare have been in focus for the past three years, organizations have slowly begun diversifying their area and geography of development in the last one year. Another recent report found the total CSR expenditure figure at Rs. 7050 crores and said that out of India's top 100 firms, 59 met their CSR targets, while 33 companies had an expenditure of less than required 2%. This report also listed educational projects, rural development, and healthcare as the key focus areas of the companies. Read on...
India Inc.'s CSR spend highest on education and skilling - Report
Author: Manav Seth
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 28 feb 2018
Social entrepreneurs utilize their skills and efforts to solve social issues and make world better. The School for Social Entrepreneurs (SSE) India runs a 9 months long Social Start-Up Fellowship program, an initiative supported by PwC India, to assist social entrepreneurs develop and scale their social enterprise ideas and concepts. SSE recently felicitated 17 social enterpreneurs that graduated from the program. Attending the occasion, Dr. Jitendra Singh, Minister of State (PMO, Govt. of India), said, 'There is a sense of satisfaction when you witness, for the second year in a row, a new set of social entrepreneurs graduate with the skills to make a difference in the lives of others through their innovative ventures.' Satyavati Berera, COO of PwC India, said, 'Social entrepreneurship is steadily gaining momentum in our country and we are proud to be part of this journey which for PwC began its association with SSE India in 2016...Each mentoring opportunity helped our people interact with those working at the grassroots and built a different perspective, which will have a deep positive impact on the way we serve our stakeholders.' Shalabh Mittal, CEO of SSE India, said, 'At SSE India, we believe in bottom-up social change and help social entrepreneurs work in broken markets or in the poorest of communities...our learning approach has the ability to empower entrepreneurs to start, grow and scale.' Also present was Jaivir Singh, Chairperson of SSE India and Vice Chairman of PwC India Foundation. Website the-sseindia.org gives list of 17 social entrepreneurs felicitated - (1) Prem Kumar (Sambhawana Development Foundation, Livelihood, Non-Timber Forest Produce - NTFP) (2) Bharti Singh Chauhan (PraveenLata Sansthan, Women & Child Welfare) (3) Dr. Anirudh Gaurang (Rovnost Healthcare, Healthcare) (4) Sonali Patwe (Perseverance Infosystems Pvt Ltd., Technology) (5) Hemanta Gogoi (wowNE, Livelihood) (6) Lourdes Soares (SabrCare, Healthcare) (7) Dr. Sumedha Kushwaha (ATTAC, Healthcare) (8) Dr. Raunaq Pradhan (Saaras Foundation, Policy Implementation) (9) Abhishek Juneja (Adhyaay Foundation, Education) (10) Riddhi Dastidar (Riyaaz, Education) (11) Abhishek Jhawar (National Abacus, Education) (12) Ayushi Shukla (Sanima, Arts & Cinema) (13) Inderpreet Singh (SPEEE, Community Well-being) (14) Neharika Mahajan (Oryn, Environment & Livelihood) (15) Umang Shridhar (KhaDigi, Rural Livelihood & Khadi) (16) Vilas Gite (Praas Development Foundation, Rural Development) (17) Devaja Shah (Amiku, Mental Healthcare). Read on...
17 Social Entrepreneurs Honoured By School For Social Entrepreneurs India And PwC India
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 27 feb 2018
Team of scientists at Indian Institute of Science (IISc Banagalore) led by Prof. Pradip Dutta and Prof. Pramod Kumar, have developed a super critical carbon di oxide Brayton test loop facility that would help generate clean energy from future power plants including solar thermal. The new generation high efficiency power plants with closed cycle CO2 as the working fluid have the potential to replace steam based nuclear and thermal power plants, thus reducing the carbon foot print significantly. While inaugurating the facility Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Minister of Science and Technology (Govt. of India), said, 'I am sure all these intense scientific efforts and collective endeavours would enable us to realise the vision of an affordable, efficient, compact, reliable clean energy systems which will be robust and suitable in diverse geographic conditions.' The advantages of using S-CO2 in a closed loop Brayton Cycle include - 50% or more increase in efficiency of energy conversion; Smaller turbines and power blocks can make the power plant cheaper; Higher efficiency would significantly reduce CO2 emissions for fossil fuel based plants; Power plant's use of solar or nuclear heat source would mean higher capacity at lower operating costs. Read on...
India Education Diary:
Indian scientists develop next generation technology loop to generate clean energy
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 22 feb 2018
Challenges in healthcare provide opportunities to create new business models. Home healthcare is one such model that is currently getting more organized and seeking success in India's healthcare ecosystem. According to Cyber Media Research (CMR), the market stood at around US$ 3.20 billion in 2016, and is expected to grow to around US$ 4.46 billion by 2018 and US$ 6.21 billion in 2020. Vivek Srivastava, CEO and co-founder of Healthcare atHome, says, 'Home healthcare services are an extension of hospital services into the patient's house and providing personalized care by competent professionals. Home healthcare companies work with hospitals to widen their reach, by freeing the beds for new patients while covering almost 70% of all healthcare requirements of a consumer and extending to management of lifestyle and chronic diseases like diabetes, hypertension etc. over a consumer's lifetime. Its advantages include cost effectiveness with excellent clinical outcomes as customers end up saving 20-50% costs as compared to regular hospital treatment depending upon the services taken...it includes customized care plans prescribed by the patient's doctor; quicker patient recovery; and professional protocol-led healthcare.' Rajiv Mathur, Founder CCU (Critical Care Unified) Health Care, says, 'Interconnectivity through devices and portability of treatments and equipments makes it feasible to provide critical care at the comfortable environs of home. Patients receive individualized care designed to meet their specific needs. Home health care enables people to recuperate in the comfort and privacy of their own home, at a cost savings of 36-50% over hospitalization or nursing home confinement.' Rajit Mehta, CEO and MD of Max Healthcare, says, 'The demand for at-home healthcare delivery is growing. At the same time, quality post-operative care in familiar surroundings has been observed to enable faster patient recovery.' Prof. Arup Mitra of Health Policy Research Unit (HPRU) at Institute of Economic Growth, says, 'Home healthcare is becoming a brisk business nowadays. As elderly population in the country is increasing very fast and more and more people want to have better social positioning, facilities such as home healthcare seem very flashy at face value and is manifestation of people's social status. It is in a preliminary stage and may prove to be an illusion in future as there is no guarantee of risks and insurance involved.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 30 jan 2018
Social entrepreneurship ecosystem conference, 'Development Dialogue', organized by Kakatiya Sandbox, was recently held in Nizamabad (Telengana, India). Experts emphasized the need for greater collaboration between government and innovators to build the ecosystem. This year's theme was 'Collaborating for Big Bets'. Gururak Deshpande, venture capitalist, philanthropist and founder of Deshpande Foundation, says, 'We should not expect governments to innovate. Instead, we need to develop a system via philanthropic money to experiment, and if something works, the government needs to acquire it. That way we will be able to bring about transformations that are systemic and large.' NVS Reddy, Managing Director of Hyderbad Metro Rail (HMR), says, 'Out of more than 200 mass transportation projects in the world, only four metro projects are making profits. When we took up the Hyderabad Metro Project under the public-private partnership (PPP) model...world's biggest metro project...many were sceptical about its success. We were able to tackle all the challenges with a collaborative approach.' Phanindra Sama, Chief Innovation Officer of Telangana and co-founder of Kakatiya Sandbox, says, 'Governments are now open to innovative ideas. The onus is on the individuals to seize this opportunity and make an impact from within...' Read on...
The Times of India:
'Must build ecosystem for social entrepreneurship'
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 11 jan 2018
India's growth trajectory can slow down if firms are not able to grow and banks are not able to lend. Restructuring can be an immediate policy solution for the twin balance-sheet problem. But, for the long-term growth and job creation, the causes of financial misallocation have to be deeply considered and mitigated. Growth needs more efficient firms to produce more output and use more factors of production, which includes ease of access to bank loans. Contrary to this in India, a case of financial misallocation is a common phenonmenon, where less efficient firms get more bank loans reducing the ability of more efficient firms to grow and scale up. The cause for India's financial misallocation is distortion in the land market, as less efficient firms can access more land consequently enhancing their ability to get loans. Land provides strong collateral to access bank loans. Financial misallocation is a bigger problem in the manufacturing sector, that is more land intensive, as compared to services industry. World Bank lead economist, Ejaz Ghani, alongwith Gilles Duranton, Arti Goswami Grover and William Robert Kerr, examined plant-level data on millions of formal and informal enterprises, in both the manufacturing and services sectors, in more than 600 districts in India and provided important insights into the geographic and industry distributions of financial and land misallocation in their World Bank research report, 'Effects Of Land Misallocation On Capital Allocations In India'. According to Mr. Ghani, 'Most bank loans in the manufacturing sector are taken up by large firms in the organized sector. The small firms in the unorganized sector, which account for nearly 80% of jobs, and about half of the value of land and buildings held in the manufacturing sector, pull in a very small share of bank loans. The value of financial loans reported in the informal sector is barely 2-6% of the value of total bank loans reported in the manufacturing sector.' Mr. Ghani explains, 'We computed an index of misallocation in manufacturing and services, and the organized and unorganized sectors, in the districts. The indices of misallocation for output, value added, and factors of production were computed individually for financial loans, land and labour. India is one of the most land-scarce countries in the world. Land and financial misallocation trumps labour misallocation. The former appears to be at the root of much of the misallocation of output in the manufacturing sector...poorly functioning land and financial markets explain why India has so few start-ups; entrants are constrained by financial misallocation, and incumbents don't grow in the manufacturing sector.' Mr. Ghani recommends, 'Policy makers need to pay more attention to addressing the underlying causes of financial misallocation. This would involve removing land market distortions, better land-use regulations, and more efficient taxation of properties. Faster growth requires marching ahead with even stronger policy reforms to promote competition and innovation, and enabling more efficient firms to grow faster.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 19 dec 2017
Family businesses are a substantial part of India's economic landscape with two-thirds of the listed corporates (with market cap above US$ 50 million) and contributing 79% to GDP. Presently, survival rate of family businesses from first to second generation is 30%, falling sharply to 12% and then just 3% after that. Family businesses have their own set of challenges and have to continuously evolve and stay competitive. According to Vishesh C. Chandiok of Grant Thornton India, 'Typically, family businesses go through three stages over the first three generations - entrepreneurship, sibling partnership and cousins confederation. Complexity of issues at each stage changes exponentially...Technology is disrupting old family business as also giving an opportunity to the family to rapidly build or own new-age business. It's more of an opportunity than a threat for Indian family business, if they can have a well organised family office that is separate from the main business.' Pranav Sayta of Ernst & Young says, 'Often, emotional ties come in the way of mature decision-making when handing over reins, and that impacts transition after the first generation is no more.' But it is not always the case as many owners have successfully diversified their businesses and others have brought in professional management to take them to further growth and progress. Nitin Atroley of KPMG says, 'A big challenge is maintaining the same momentum and scale.' Nikhil Prasad Ojha of Bain & Company says, 'It's important to imbibe the learnings of the founders' mentality to thrive.' While the nature of businesses is changing with more technology use, it's important for GeNext to know their 'roles and goals', says Mr. Chandiok. Mr. Atroley points out, 'This era calls for a higher risk-taking ability to deal with continuous disruption that industries are going through.' Mr. Ojha comments, 'The central challenge for the next generation is to become 'scale insurgent' in their industry. They must simultaneously capture the benefits of size and retain a strong sense of founders' mentality (that is, insurgency, frontline obsession and owner mindset).' Mr. Sayta believes family businesses have a much longer term vision compared to professionally-run businesses, which are under tremendous pressure to perform and deliver in the short term. He adds, 'There will definitely be room for family businesses, provided they adapt to changing times.' Read on...
The Economic Times:
How family-run businesses are evolving amid innovation and the startup invasion
Author: Shelley Singh
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 13 dec 2017
Entrepreneurship as a thought process is to be inculcated at the very early stage among children. It is also essential to build an entrepreneurial ecosystem in India that brings all the elements together for entrepreneurship to thrive. In a recently held panel discussion in Hyderabad (India) on developing an entrepreneurial ecosystem, moderated by Ramesh Abhishek (Secretary at the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion), Patricia G. Greene (Director of Women's Bureau, US Department of Labour) said, 'This effort should begin right from the pre-school days in children where teachers can drive kids to become future entrepreneurs.' Another panelist, Ravi Kailas (Chairman at Mytrah Energy) said, 'The ecosystem has a huge impact on creating different types of entrepreneurs...Innovative ideas and ventures will always bring in funds.' While Amit Ranbir Chandra (MD and India Head at Bain Capital) emphasised the need for domestic capital to address the requirements of entrepreneurs and less dependency on government funding. Read on...
Inculcate entrepreneurship spirit from 'pre-school days'
Author: G. Naga Sridhar
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 29 nov 2017
According to the recent UNICEF report, 'Levels and Trends in Child Mortality 2017', India has witnessed 66% decline in the under-5 mortality rate from 1990 to 2015 but most of the newborn deaths (24% of all) still occur in the country. With this reduction India has met one of its Millennium Development Goal (MDG) targets. The report emphasised the need for equitable access to healthcare for girl child as under-5 mortality for girls in India remains 12.5% higher than the boys. Major barriers in seeking healthcare for the girl child include the high out-of-pocket expenses and cultural issues. The report stressed that investment in the education of the girl child is crucial and acknowledged that 'Beti Bachao Beti Padhao' scheme could be used for addressing the prevailing negative social norms towards the girl child in India. The report said that most of newborn deaths occurred in two regions: South Asia (39%) and sub-Saharan Africa (38%). Read on...
66% decline in child mortality rate but most newborn still die in India: UN report
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 12 nov 2017
Thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem drives business growth and economic development. India is steadily transforming itself into a major hub of tech entrepreneurship. According to Raman Roy, Chairman of NASSCOM and CEO of Quatro, 'About 1000 tech start-ups were registered this year (2017), taking their total to 5200 and making India the world's third largest start-up ecosystem.' The report 'Indian Start-up Ecosystem - Traversing the maturity cycle', compiled jointly by NASSCOM and Zinnov, was recently released. Major trends include - India is witnessing a rapid rise in the B2B tech start-up landscape, focused on verticals like healthtech, fintech, and ecommerce/aggregators; Bengaluru, Delhi/NCR and Mumbai retained their position as the key start-up hubs, with 20% of the start-ups emerging from tier-2 and tier-3 cities across the country. Some highlights of the report - 40% of the start-ups are in the B2B segment. Its share in tech start-up funding is 30%; Fin-tech start-up base is about 360, indicating 31% annual growth, with US$ 200 million funding in the first half of this year, recording a 135% annual growth; Health-based technology start-ups are 320, with 28% annual growth and attracted US$ 160 million funding in the April-September period, which is an increase of 129% in the same period of 2016. Mr. Roy says, 'With 60% start-ups, the B2C segment is focused on creating innovative business models and taking the vertical approach, securing about 70% funding in the year's first half.' R. Chandrashekhar, NASSCOM president and former Telecom Secretary, observing that the ecosystem is driven by young, diverse and inclusive entrepreneurs, says that the landscape is leading to focused domain solutions in verticals like healthcare, agriculture and education. He comments, 'We will continue its drive towards catalysing tech start-ups, build category leaders and support start-ups to create for India.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 27 oct 2017
India's future success will be defined on the basis of how its positive elements like demographic dividend, IT and software, manufacturing, agriculture, government initiatives (Make in India, Digital India, Skill India, Startup India) etc, gel together effectively and grow. Adding to all these, focus on research, design and innovation, will further propel creation and development of new and emerging technologies and concepts. Specifically, Indian auto industry does have R&D capabilities, but it is mostly driven by foreign collaborations and partnerships. Moreover, Indian operations of most foreign auto makers rely on their global development centers when it comes to technological innovations. But the dynamics of the industry are shifting, and companies are mobilizing resources and assets towards design and development also, in addition to manufacturing. The change is also visible in the electric vehicle segment with a strong policy focus. Recent conference organized by NASSCOM and Autocar Professional was directed towards discussing the design, R&D and technology based future of the industry. Sameer Yajnik, COO-APAC of Tata Technologies, says, 'Indian engineers, thus far, have brought together just a few parts of the jigsaw puzzle in terms of vehicle development, but this is set to be transformed. With EVs, ADAS, autonomous, connected cars, et al, there are a slew of technology-driven changes that need to be responded to and India is an excellent place.' Patrick Newbery, Chief Digital Officer of Global Logic, says, 'Design and engineering work best when coupled together, and the Indian start-up ecosystem has displayed a good show of that already...Amalgamating design and engineering, as well as with its ability to innovate and create as a response-stimulus to change, India holds a strong place in developing new future technologies, where even the US would be looking outside to outsource these innovative solutions. There is more likelihood of innovation coming out of such environment.' Current spend in automotive engineering and R&D of Europe is 35%, that of US is 25% and, India's is at 10%. This is expected to triple in next 3 years. Sanjeev Verma, CEO of Altran India, says, 'India holds a very important place in the whole jigsaw and especially can play a great role in designing passive safety and IoT systems...With the whole ecosystem springing up now, the next three to four years are going to be extremely transformational for the development vertical in the Indian automotive sector.' Commenting on design in India, Raman Vaidyanathan of Tech Mahindra says, 'Indian engineering is bound to be more frugal, compared to the rest of the world because of the country’s legacy in being cost conscious. This is very positive as it implies that a good quality product, designed and developed to a cost in India could be produced in the emerged markets, while the reverse is going to prove rather expensive.' The challenge of skilled human resources in design and engineering in India remains. NASSCOM has started a foundation course in integrated product development that has reached 1000 colleges since CY2015. Government, academica and industry has to come up with integrated strategies that need to be applied to upgrade the knowledge and skills of graduates coming out of technology institutes and ensure success of design, research and development in India. Read on...
Beyond Make in India - Design and develop in India now imperative
Authors: Sumantra B. Barooah, Mayank Dhingra
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 21 oct 2017
Festive season brings attractive offerings from businesses to influence customers to buy more. Sometimes these offerings can be wrapped in unwanted and unreal freebies and discounts. Understand the following tricks to avoid overspending during festive seasons - (1) The unreal urgency: Sales and discounts happen all the year round. There is no need to rush. If you missed one, there will be another. (2) Useless freebies: Don't fall for unwanted free gifts. Direct price discounts on individual items are good alternatives. (3) The fear of loss: When proper research is done before purchase, the best deals can be found all the year round, not just during festive season. Look for the deal that is most suitable. (4) Big savings: The promise of big discounts can be unreal and may not be available at the time of buying. It may just be an advertising attraction with many conditions in the footnote. (5) The deceptive discounts: Deceptive discounts come with asterix. You might actually overspend then what you wanted to. Here are few suggestions to buy only what/when you want and need - (1) Prioritize (2) Postpone your purchase (3) Resist peer pressure (4) Don't shop to de-stress. Performing sufficient market research before the purchase is best to avoid traps and get most value. Read on...
The Economic Times:
Festive season sales could be a trap - Here's how to find out
Author: Devansh Sharma
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 12 oct 2017
India's medical research is a cause of concern. According to the study, 'The research output from Indian medical institutions between 2005 and 2014' (Authors: Samrat Ray, Ishan Shah, Samiran Nundy; Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, India), published in 2016 in the Current Medicine Research & Practice journal, 'Only 25 (4.3%) of the institutions produced more than 100 papers a year but their contribution was 40.3% of the country's total research output. 332 (57.3%) of the medical colleges did not have a single publication during this period.' Authors used the SCOPUS database and analyzed the research output from 579 Indian medical institutions and hospitals. Peter Ashman, CEO of BMJ, explains, 'The academic vigour of any educational institution can be measured by its research output, the number of patents being filed, and how quickly research can translate into innovation. The next steps, that is commercialization and wide-scale adoption can follow and may take years, but first and foremost, there needs to be a robust research pipeline. For researchers in healthcare, it is important to have access to publishing tools, and programs that train them to develop core clinical research skills, and provide guidance in how to publish.' Clinicians need credible knowledge and research content, and continuously learn to stay competitive and relevant. India is undergoing rapid transformation in mobile and internet technologies. Digital tools can help customize the content for specific requirements. Mr. Ashman says, 'We believe that doctors need access to evidence based, updated and peer-reviewed content which deals with everyday issues in primary care and hospital medicine. The content delivery cycle should be mapped to the clinicians work schedule. E-learning platforms can help facilitate the access to education to doctors, right when they need it.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 19 sep 2017
Team of architects at Ant Studio (India) - Monish Siripurapu, Abhishek Sonar, Atul Sekhar, Sudhanshu Kumar - have used computational technologies (CFD Analysis) and reinvented the traditional evaporative cooling technique to lower temperature of emissions from an electronics factory with less cost, energy consumption and impact on surrounding environment. Ancient Egyptians, Persians and later on Mughals in India utilized the evaporative cooling technique to overcome hot climate. According to a research study by Prof. Asif Ali of Aligarh Muslim University (India), published in International Transaction Journal of Engineering, Management, & Applied Sciences & Technologies (2013), 'The emperor's throne at the centre of Diwan-e-Khas is surrounded by two sets of openings four meters apart from each other. These openings were covered with grass mats with sprinkled water during summers...' The architects from Ant Studio stacked cylindrical terracotta cones, giving it a circular shape, and water was made to run over them. Hot air coming from the generators passed over the system lowering the temperature substantially. Further technical details of the system can be obtained from an ArchDaily.com article 'This Innovative Cooling Installation Fights Soaring Temperatures in New Delhi.' Monish Siripurapu, founder of Ant Studio, says, 'As an architect, I wanted to find a solution that is ecological and artistic, and at the same time evolves traditional craft methods...I believe this experiment worked quite well functionally. Findings from this attempt opened up a lot more possibilities where we can integrate this technique with forms that could redefine the way we look at cooling systems, a necessary yet ignored component of a building’s functionality. Every installation could be treated as an art piece...The circular profile can be changed into an artistic interpretation while the falling waters lend a comforting ambience. This, intermingled with the sensuous petrichor from the earthen cylinders allow for it to work in any environment with the slightest of breeze. Having said that, there are many factories throughout the country that face a similar issue and this is a solution that can be easily adopted and a widespread multiplication of this concept may even assist the local potters.' Read on...
Architects in India Use Natural Cooling to Take the Edge off Factory Emissions
Author: Vittoria Traverso
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 07 sep 2017
Technological advancements in education facilitate and expand the reach of learning to larger audience and transform the way educational content is delivered and consumed. India is also undergoing technology-based shift in educational sector. Rajshekhar Ratrey, VP Educational Content at Toppr.com, provides list of technological trends that are enabling the growth of digital education in India - (1) Personalized and Adaptive Learning (2) Two-way conversations in E-Learning (3) Mobile-based Learning (4) Video-based Learning (5) Open Educational Resources (6) Usage of Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) for Learning. Read on...
6 technology trends that pushing up digital education in India
Author: Rajshekhar Ratrey
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 28 aug 2017
Industry experts are bullish on India's agriculture and suggest that it has potential to double farmer's income and grow exports to US$ 100 billion by 2022. Rajju Shroff, President of Crop Care Federation of India (CCFI) and MD of United Phosphorus Ltd, says, 'Globally, exports in agricultural products is over US$ 1500 billion annually as per the latest data from WTO and India's share is less than US$ 35 billion at present.' According to the latest report by Centre for Environment and Agriculture (Centegro) and Tata Strategic Management Group, released by Union Minister Nitin Gadkari, 'Agriculture's contribution to India's economy extends beyond the rural economy and encompasses many activities in manufacturing and services sector. Export surplus from the country's agricultural trade is higher than the corresponding figure achieved by the manufacturing sector.' Report urges the government to launch 'Grow In India' campaign to achieve gains in agri-exports with a single authority to monitor India's international agricultural trade. Report suggests that organic farming is not sustainable because of low yield and need for huge amount of unavailable manure. Mr. Shroff explains the dynamics of India's agricultural growth, 'This is all due to small and marginal farmers who deploy family labour and engage in intensive multi cropping all year round. They also manage livestock & poultry efficiently using agriculture waste as animal feed and to produce manure.' Read on...
The Economic Times:
Agriculture exports may grow to $100 billion by 2022 - Experts
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 26 aug 2017
Agriculture is a critical component of the economy and farmers are the nation's backbone. India's 2017 food-grains production is around 273.83 million metric tonne. World Bank predicts Indian food-grain production to reach 280.6 million metric tonne by the year 2020-21. Following are key areas that India's agriculture should pursue for growth and development - (1) Demand Strength: Large population is key driver of agrarian demand growth; Rise in urban and rural income; Increase export demand particularly from Middle-East and Central Asia. (2) Attractive Opportunities: Hybrid seeds; Chemical Fertilizers; Organic Fertilizers. (3) Competitive Advantages: High proportion of over 157 million hectares of agrarian land; Leads in production of jute, pulses, milk, buffalo meat export; Second largest producer of wheat and paddy. (4) Government Policies: Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana has led to development of various organic clusters with very low chemical dependency; Pradhan Mantri Gram Sinchai Yojana has also played a major role to irrigate the agrarian lands; Step towards unified agriculture market; 100% FDI under automatic route for development of seeds; Reduction in wheat import duty from 10% to almost zero and capping import limits to two lakh tonnes by importers in pulses. (5) Development Of Rabi And Kharif Seasons: Kharif season (Summer - April to September) mainly for paddy and Rabi season (Winter - October to March) for wheat production, have registered good growth. In March 2017, almost 64.5 million hectares of agricultural land were sown, out of which over 19 million hectares land was insured during Rabi season. More than 16.4 million farmers were benefitted by the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojna. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 13 aug 2017
According to the Economic Survey 2016-17 (Vol. II), employment in India poses a great challenge in terms of its structure, with it being dominated by informal, unorganised and seasonal workers. It highlighted the deceleration in hiring being faced by the IT-BPM (Business Process Management) sector. It said, 'The IT-BPM industry is also feeling the pinch of the global slowdown and global political uncertainties as clients go slow on their decision-making and investment processes.' The survey cited McKinsey report, saying that nearly half of the workforce in the IT services firms will be "irrelevant" over the next 3-4 years and the bigger challenge ahead for the industry will be to retrain 50-60% of the workforce with a significant shift in technologies. The survey also noted that the growth in digital tech like cloud-based services is happening at a much faster pace and the companies have to learn new technologies and reskill. It quotes 2016 World Bank report that said, automation threatens 69% of the jobs in India, while it threatens 77% in China. The survey added that skilled labour force is essential to meet diversified demands of a growing economy, to tap the benefit of demographic dividend. According to India Skill Report 2016, the present demographic advantage of India is predicted to last only till 2040. Read on...
Adoption of new technologies, reskilling key for job growth
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 08 aug 2017
According to Prof. Pritam Singh, Oxford Brookes University (UK), BRICS nations will lead the global economy and play vital role in spatial shift of the global capitalist economy. While speaking at expert session on 'Global Economic and Environment Crisis Faced by BRICS Economies' at Chandigarh University, Prof. Singh said, '...By 2050, if the Indian economy continues to maintain the current growth pace (GDP growth 7%), it will be the dominant global supplier of services while China would dominate the global manufacturing industry...' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 28 jul 2017
The survey report 'India Digital Health Report 2017' by D Yellow Elephant (DYE), a digital and social media firm, analyzes India's 160 leading healthcare companies on the basis of their online presence, engagement levels and relevancy on 12 major online platforms. The survey categorized companies into three sections based on their performance - Digial Primes; Digital Aspirants; Digital Onlookers. Among pharmaceuticals, Pfizer topped the Digital Prime category. In diagnostics segment, Apollo Diagnostic is the leader. While, in the hospital segment, Kokilaben Dhirubai Ambani Hospital and Medical Research Centre topped the category. The report placed 14% of the companies in the Digital Prime category, 54% in Digital Aspirants and 32% in Digital Onlookers. The report also finds that internet penetration in India is currently 35% with 23% Y-on-Y growth in its users. By 2020, India is expected to be home to 730 million internet users with as many as 175 million online shoppers. DYE projects healthcare sector in India growing at a fast pace and is currently values at US$ 100 billion. The sector is expected to touch US$ 280 billion by 2020 at a CAGR growth of 23%. Moreover, private equity and venture capital funding in the sector has gone up by 13 times from US$ 94 million in 2011 to US$ 1275 million in 2016, with an increase of 2.27% against 1.97% in overall health budget. Read on...
Elets eHealth Magazine:
Survey reveals the digital health of Indian healthcare sector
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 12 jul 2017
India's share of the US$ 54 billion global HR technology market is about US$ 600-700 million. Traditional human resource practices are undergoing tech-driven transformation. According to experts, use of modern HRTech can help India Inc improve productivity and save millions of dollars by optimal use of human resources. Recent study by PeopleStrong predicts that India Inc can save at least US$ 600 million annually by 2021 using HRTech. Jagjit Singh, Chief People Officer at PwC India, says, 'The shift to HR applications in the cloud and artificial intelligence to use predictive data analytics has the potential to transform the entire HR landscape by taking away transactional roles and replacing them with strategic partnering roles...' Anshul Bhargava, Chief People Officer at PNB Housing Finance, says, 'Backed by concrete information and more efficient processes, the hiring process and employee efficiency have improved with the application of analytics.' Dinesh R. of OYO says, 'HR function is increasingly relying on technology to drive results and more predictable outcomes.' Pankaj Bansal, Co-founder and CEO at PeopleStrong, says, 'The new world of work will see employees taking control of their digital landscape of work and will be the decision makers of what gets used by organisations...' Read on...
The Economic Times:
India Inc can save millions by using HR technologies - Experts
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 16 jun 2017
Healthcare analytics can help in building better patient-doctor relationships for better health outcomes, achieving better operational efficiencies, personalization at a larger scale, targeted customer acquisition and more. Madhu Aravind, CEO of Searchlight Health, explores India's healthcare analytics scenario and what impact it can have in addressing the challenges faced by India's healthcare ecosystem. India's healthcare have some fundamental issues - Cost of healthcare is increasing at 20%; Shortage of 1.5 million doctors and 2 million hospital beds; Only about 5% of the middles class have health insurance. According to Mr. Aravind, 'If healthcare analytics needs to have an impact in India, then it has to tackle some of these fundamental issues...If one can aggregate information from multiple sources and build models that leverage these technologies (Natural Language Processing; Imgage recognition; Speech analysis; Large-scale computing power), then real value creation is possible.' FOR HOSPITALS: Customer acquitisition; Operational efficieny; Clinical delivery. 'The advent of digitization, abundant computing power and new age machine learning models, will enable the formulation of principles from observations from millions of people, creating the foundation for personalized medicine.' FOR INSURERS: Increase middle class coverage; Create customized products; 'Understand disease propensity in detail and also fully model the cost of care needed to manage various conditions.' FOR PHARMACEUTICAL SECTOR: Real world evidence to power R&D, clinical trials etc. India's healthcare analytics faces challenges - Lack of skilled talent; HealthTech spending is less than 1% of the health organization's budget. Read on...
The Economic Times:
Healthcare analytics in India - Opportunities and challenges
Author: Madhu Aravind
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 29 may 2017
Design influences every aspect of human life. Pradyumna Vyas, Director of NID-Ahmedabad (India), says, 'From the minute you wake up and pick up your brush to the time you retire to bed, there is design touching your life every minute.' Sanjay Dhande, former Director of IIT-Kanpur and founder of Avantika University, says, 'Our education, curricula, pedagogy and assessment is all outdated. Avantika University will have courses like liberal arts, body and mind, creative arts and the like. Even economics and management will be taught keeping design in mind.' According to a report, 'Future of Design Education in India' by India Design Council and British Council, 'The market for design in India is expected to touch Rs 18,832 cr by 2020...Only a fifth of the design market is currently tapped.' A design industry survey finds that 57% of design school graduates find jobs with large and medium-sized businesses, with small and medium-sized enterprises employing about 17% of the students. Nearly 13% of D-school graduates work for individuals, 9% work for public sectors and 8% join academic institutions. Apart from the traditional architecture, interior, arts and crafts etc, there more newer design areas for career opportunities - Social Design; Industrial Design; Space Designing; User Interface (UI) and User Experience (UX) [Tangible Interactions]; Doodling. Nandita Abraham, CEO at Pearl Academy, says, 'Today , especially for young people, doodling has become a language and a way of communicating with each other expressively.' R. Sandesh, Associate Professor at Industrial Design Centre (IIT-Bombay), says, 'Design is an overarching discipline.' Read on...
The Times of India:
No more offbeat - Careers in design define our lives
Author: Hemali Chhapia
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 04 may 2017
India's demographic dividend can only achieve full potential if its young population continues to update their skills, the private sector continues to upgrade its processes, technologies and management practices to remain profitable and growth oriented, and government continues to improve infrastructure, ease regulations to do business, and attract internal and foreign funds as investments in various industries and businesses. Approximately half of India's 1.2 billion people are under the age of 26. By 2020, around 64% of India's population will be in the working age group of 15-64 years, and it is forecast to be the youngest country in the world, with a median age of 29. Moreover, India is a US$ 2 trillion economy, growing at approximately 7% year on year. It has a strong domestic focus with approximately 75% of the GDP generated on domestic consumption. India's demographic dividend will work in favour of the Indian economy when its young, educated and healthy population, is trained, skilled and gainfully employed, giving rise to an upwardly mobile consumer class. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 29 apr 2017
Education technology promises to increase access, lower costs and bridge the rural-urban divide, in learning opportunities. Aakash Chaudhry, Director of Aakash Education Services Pvt. Ltd, explains how educational technologies can bring the transformation in India's educational system. He explores the present scenario and what is expected in future for the education sector. According to him, 'With an overwhelming increase in mobile-connected devices, global data traffic and mobile video traffic, the EduTech sector is set to enter a new era...In India, where mobile penetration is counting a billion people with over 300 million connected to the internet and is expected to reach 550 million by 2018, we have immense potential to digitally educate the masses...EduTech companies are driving further development of data-driven education technologies, leading to fundamental changes in how school and college students as well as professionals seeking new skills are learning.' He mentions some of the technologies and methodologies that are driving the transformation in education - Online interactive platforms; Cloud computing; Data centers; Virtualization; Global high quality online content; Live braodcasts; Video content delivery; Virtual updating of textbooks; Video conferencing; Availability of content offline and at low internet connectivity; Mobile classrooms; Online tutors; Adaptive learning; Student-teacher interface in the form of mobile learning. He concludes, 'A country that depends on the development of its educational sector for its economic and social growth, a surge in switching to technology-driven education will amply propel rural India towards empowerment.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 20 apr 2017
Balancing tradition and modernity can be one of the effective approaches in architecture and design. Architect Sathya Prakash Varanashi explores and explains how use of natural materials can empower the designer to create ideas rooted in tradition, yet retain the freedom to interpret modernity in form and preception. In today's world, reducing environmental degradation through sustainable approaches is a challenge acknowledged by all. Although availability of natural materials is less as compared to manufactured materials, but a balanced hybrid approach to design that gels well with local environment and surroundings along with utilizing traditional techniques can be an effective solution. Mr. Varanashi shares an example of recent architectural installation at Kochi Biennale (India) where the architect Tony Joseph has designed an auditorium, built largely with natural materials such as mud, arecanut, jute and coloured fabric, it also juxtaposes with steel trusses with sheets as wall panel and roof. Mr. Varanashi concludes, 'Given all this, why are the natural materials losing out against manufactured materials? It may not be only because modern materials have greater potential in some respects, but also because we are forgetting certain design fundamentals which would enable us to mix and match the local material to create excellence. Design has to do more with designing than a blind application of a technology or a material.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 08 apr 2017
According to the findings of KPMG 2017 Global Technology Innovation report, US and China continue to be the most promising markets for technology breakthroughs that have global impact, with India and the UK progressing in third and fourth place with innovative tech hubs of their own. The report is based on survey of 841 business executives globally that focus on technology, and highlights the changing landscape of disruptive technologies, with perspectives on technology innovation trends, barriers to commercialize innovation, and insights into technology innovation leading practices. Although various countries are trying to emulate Silicon Valley to develop their own technology hubs, some are finding success in their efforts while others are facing macroeconomic and infrastructure challenges. Tim Zanni, Global and US chair of KPMG Technology, Media and Technology practice, says, 'What we have seen emerge over time is the result of countries and cities striving to replicate and build on the Silicon Valley tech innovation blueprint, and their increasing degree of success. One can debate whether or not replicating Silicon Valley is possible, but the benefits of the effort are undeniable.' Mr. Zanni states in the report that growing ecosystems as tech innovation has spread across all industries, is fueling the expansion of technology innovation development. Respondents of the survey consider the following as the top global technology innovation visionaries - Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and SpaceX; Tim Cook, CEO of Apple; Jack Ma, Chairman of Alibaba; Larry Page, CEO of Alphabet; Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google; Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft; Bill Gates of Microsoft; Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook; Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon. Read on...
The Next Silicon Valley:
US and China are top innovation hubs, followed by India and UK
Author: Nitin Dahad
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 20 mar 2017
Team of researchers from IIT-Kharagpur, Prof. Sudip Misra, Prof. N. S. Raghuwanshi, Anandarup Mukherjee and Arijit Roy, has designed India's first indgenous drone, BHIM, that can create a Wi-Fi zone within a nearly 1 km radius when it flies overhead. It is specifically designed for emergency and conflict situations. It has a battery backup of 7 hours, can fly into a disaster zone and create a seamless communication network for those involved in the operation. The automated drone has an actual vision-based guidance with built-in intelligence that helps it identify if an area is crowded or not. It will then fly away and land in a safer place. According to Prof. Sudip Mishra, 'Such advanced built-in intelligence is not available in drones now. The design is completely in-house. The controlling and guiding algorithms of the drone have been developed in our lab.' Internet of Things (IoT) is an important component of the drone. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 16 mar 2017
According to the NASSCOM Foundation report, 'Catalysing Change Through CSR', about half of the IT and financial services companies (70) interviewed have spent more than 70% of their CSR in education and employable skills initiatives. Ganesh Natarajan, Chairman of NASSCOM Foundation, says, 'Education and employable skills are the key to most of India's social problems. An industry, which has grown solely by investing into knowledge and key skills, realises the difference a skilled knowledge society can make and therefore, a major chunk of the CSR funds has been dedicated to education and employable skills.' The report finds that companies are placing greater importance on monitoring outcomes by integrating technology. Among the roadblocks cited by most companies was identification, selection and due diligence on NGOs and the absence of robust tracking process. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 10 mar 2017
According to the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) report, 'India Economic Survey 2017', although India's economy continues to grow (7% in current fiscal year), but the rate of employment has declined and it lags most other countries in creating quality jobs. Over 30% of youth aged 15-29 in India are Not in Employment, Education or Training (NEETs). This is more than double the OECD average and almost three times that of China. Isabelle Joumard, senior economist at OECD, says, 'NEETs include all youth left outside paid employment and formal education and training systems. They are NEET because there are not enough quality jobs being created in the system and because they have little incentives or face too high constraints to be in the education and training systems.' OECD points out complexity and strictness of labor laws and restrictive employment protection legislation compared with other emerging economies, as some of the several factors responsible for India's poor performance. Ms. Joumard adds, 'Thus, corporates in India tend to rely more on temporary contract labour, stay small or substitute labour for capital to avoid strict labour laws. Apart from that, corporate income tax has created a giant bias against labour-intensive activities.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 20 feb 2017
According to India Brand Equity Foundation (IBEF), the Indian healthcare industry is currently pegged at around US$ 158 billion and is expected to hit US$ 280 billion by 2020. Alpna Doshi, CIO at Philips, while recently speaking on 'Digitalization of Healthcare' at NASSCOM India Leadership Forum, says, 'Unequal access, poor quality and rising costs are three key challenges faced by the healthcare industry.' She adds that these challenges are bringing new opportunities, particularly in the area where technology and healthcare converge. Predictive analytics, home-based healthcare, remote health monitoring with mobile devices and applications, are some prominent areas. Som Mittal, former President and Chairman of NASSCOM, says, 'While access to all will be there as connectivity improves, how can we make healthcare affordable?' And for this, he comments that technology needs to be responsible, citing high margins that are charged for medical devices. Ms. Doshi adds that healthcare companies cannot survive on lower margins, unless the volumes justify those margins. Tie ups with NGOs she said, was one way to increase volumes and thereby bring down costs. Automation in healthcare industry will become more prevalent. She points out that augmented reality and artificial intelligence will further disrupt the healthcare industry. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 31 jan 2017
Economists from Deloitte, Richa Gupta and Rishi Shah, explain the emerging risks that India's economy faces - (1) Protectionist Trade Polices: G20s in 2016 took restrictive trade measures. Such policies create uncertainties as they are meant to provide immediate stimulus and therefore tend to be more variable and less consistent. In addition India, large importer of oil, also get affected by OPEC cuts and hardening prices. (2) Global Growth Faltering: Global growth is expected to pick up in current fiscal on a premise of US stability and higher growth, stable China and rebound in some emerging economies. China's policy of expected Yuan devaluation would affect India as it would mean depreciation of the domestic currency to maintain competitiveness. (3) Brexit and its Implications: Uncertainties and possibility of 'Hard Brexit' will impact India due to linkages in financial markets as adverse events would cause some outflow of funds. (4) Effect of Demonetisation: Expected 7.1% growth for FY17 would further get affected due to demonitisation that resulted in consumer's inability and hesitancy to spend. This will lead to short-term vicious cycle of lower expected consumption feeding into lower investment expectation. (5) Disruption on GST: Disruptions would emerge as the numerous small businesses learn to adapt to not only a new taxation system but also to an incremental digital framework for compliance with the new regime. Read on...
The Economic Times:
Five risks that may hamper India's economic growth
Authors: Richa Gupta, Rishi Shah
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 04 jan 2017
Marc Faber, editor and publisher of 'The Gloom, Boom & Doom Report', while speaking on Indian economy, says, 'It does not matter whether India grows at 5% per annum or 7% per annum but if you look at the next 10 years or so, you could easily expect an economy that on an average grows anywhere between 4% and 7% per annum. That is a very high growth rate compared to practically no growth expected from the US or in Europe.' On sectors that would be attractive for investments, he comments, 'In 2017, some commodity related stocks including oil and gas will be reasonably attractive. What I have noticed to be the most attractive sectors are plantation companies, agricultural companies and fertiliser companies. They have significant potential on the upside because agricultural commodity prices have been very weak since 2011. These agricultural commodity prices will pace them out and start to increase. The agricultural sector, fertilisers are relatively attractive.' Read on...
The Economic Times:
Expect India to grow between 4%-7% in next 10 years: Marc Faber
Author: Tanvir Gill
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 23 dec 2016
According to the recent Capgemini and Altimeter study, India is the top innovation destination in Asia and second in the world for new innovation centers. 27% of Asia's new innovation centers are now in India and globally it has 1 in every ten new innovation centers. Cumulatively, India is ranked third with 25, while top two ranked are US (146) and UK (29). Within India, Bengaluru was the favorite destination with 3 out of 11 total that opened between Mar-Oct'16. The study defines 'Innovation Centers' as non-traditional in-house hubs built by enterprises to find new trends happening across the technology ecosystem through interactions with startups, entrepreneurs and others. Their main objectives are to accelerate digital innovation, rethink customer experience, improve operational efficiency and test new business models. Current priorities shared among innovation centers focus on digital technologies such as big data, internet-of-things (IoT), social media, mobile, robotics, augmented reality and 3D printing. Read on...
The Times of India:
India ranked No. 2 innovation destination in the world
Author: Shalina Pillai
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 22 nov 2016
Opinions on India's demonetization policy vary from masterstroke to hasty and unplanned, and a lot of uncertainty in between. Some experts consider it as a 'short-term pain to long-term gain' scenario. Report from CRISIL, a credit rating agency, analyzes the impact of demonetization policy on the overall economy, both now and beyond - (1) Government revenues to increase, as people deposit more cash in banks and government gets opportunity to tax. (2) Fiscal deficit to narrow in medium to long-term. (3) Public investments to rise as a result of higher tax collection. More spending in infrastructure is expected. (4) Economy to grow in medium to long-term, while there is expected fall in GDP in short-term. In future, government spending will generate employment and income. (5) Inflation to fall near-term but in long-term minimal impact. (6) Increase in liquidity in banking system, an opportunity for banks to profit through lending. (7) Keeps the interest rates lower in long-term due to government's lower fiscal deficit. (8) Demand for gold will fall in short-term due to cash crunch. But in long-term gold hoarding will increase leading more gold imports and higher import bill which means a larger Current Account Deficit (CAD). (9) Digital payments will increase, enhancing the trend toward cashless economy. (10) Sectors affected include real estate, jewellery and cement, as most transactions are in cash. Luxury auto sector will also get impacted. Organized retail sector will benefit due to digital transations. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 03 nov 2016
There is always a difference of opinion when it comes to whether entrepreneurship is an inherent trait or it can be taught and learned. Both sides seem to have reasonable examples to justify their perspective. For those who value the concept of entreprenuership in business or are contemplating to tread entrepreneurial path, here are some good reads - (1) 'Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish' by Rashmi Bansal (2) 'Creativity Inc.' by Ed Catmull (3) 'Zero to None' by Blake Masters and Peter Thiel (4) 'Business Start Up 101' by Chris Gattis (5) 'The Four Hour Work Week' by Timothy Ferriss (6) 'How To Win Friends And Influence People' by Dale Carnegie (7) 'The Life and Business Lessons of Warren Buffett' by George Ilian (8) 'The Fountain Head' by Ayn Rand (9) 'Think and Grow Rich' by Napoleon Hill. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 26 oct 2016
Design is critical for national and industrial competitiveness. Prof. Sanjay Dhande, former director of IIT-Kanpur and chief mentor of design-centered Avantika University, explains the value of design in India's competitiveness for manufacturing and service industries, analyzes the evolution of design education and suggests how India can further develop design education to impart skills and training, and nurture creative talent that keeps it at the cutting edge of innovation and design. He says, 'By incorporating design, which by and large shapes our ideas better is inherent in our every act. We design, we create experiences to make the life of individuals more comfortable, information readily available, work more efficient, spaces more convivial, and in turn making peoples' life more meaningful...The government of India has initiated a consultee approach with industry and designers to develop the broad contours for a combined vision towards a design enabled Indian industry.' National Institute of Design was first setup in 1961 by Government of India based on the report on design education developed by American industrial designer duo Charles Eames and his wife Ray Eames. Since then, to fulfil the demand of growing design professionals, number of institutes have come into existence over the years, giving rise to a thriving design ecosystem. But to maintain high quality of design education is an obvious challenge. According to Prof. Dhande, 'Though with a faster-changing world even the standards in design education are very high. And the question remains around how can we remove the loopholes and sustain a high-quality education from a conventional structure?...There is a growing need to eradicate the redundancies in the traditional course curriculum. A strategic streamlining of the education structure which offers practice exposure encourages focussed learning is much required.' He suggests continously evolving and innovation directed approach to design education, starting with admission process, practical learning, quest for right faculty, learning environment and a specialization focus. He concludes, 'Innovation is essential to be able to adapt to, for creating that difference in Indian design education to help students work better in unpredictable market conditions and intense global competition. Incremental improvements by themselves will not do and hence the listed points will help address improve the quality of design training in India.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 23 oct 2016
Indian researchers, Naveen Kumar Malik of the Department of Electronics and Communication at Maharshi Dayanand University and V. R. Singh of the National Physical Laboratory, recently provided details about their 'Human Inspired Cognitive Wheelchair Navigation System' in the International Journal of Human Factors Modelling and Simulation. According to the researchers, 'The novel wheelchair navigation system can make the movable chairs avoid obstacles on their own and also sense when the user is tired or stressed. The smart wheelchair could also monitor user's heart rate, temperature or other vital signs for diagnostic purposes. The commercial version of the prototyped autonomous wheelchair would reduce the burden on care-giving staff in healthcare industry and improve the quality of life for disabled persons.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 28 sep 2016
According to the conditions set forth in the CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) Law in India, all companies with a net worth of Rs 500 crore or revenue of Rs 1000 cr or net profit of Rs 5 cr should spend 2% of last 3 years average profit on charity work. CSR management firm, NextGen, studied the annual reports of the top 100 firms by market capitalizations on NSE (National Stock Exchange) for 2014-15 & 91 firms for 2015-16. The total spend on CSR activities for 91 firms is Rs 6033 cr for FY16, while it was Rs 4760 cr by 100 companies in FY15. According to Abhishek Humbad, co-founder of NextGen, 'More and more companies are realizing that not meeting 2% makes them look bad, and for large companies, it can turn out be a reputational risk.' The energy sector accounted for nearly 26% of the total CSR spending. Reliance was the largest spender in FY16, using 2.3% of its profit (Rs 652 cr) on education, health and other social activities. Jagannatha Kumar at chairman's office of RIL says, 'The amount spent on each of the focus areas varies on an annual basis depending on the scope of work for the year.' In FY16 RIL spend on healthcare halved to Rs 314 cr while on education it increased to Rs 215 cr from Rs 18 cr in FY15. According to Parul Soni of Thinkthrough Consulting, a CSR consultancy, 'Manufacturing companies like automotive have been well poised to do CSR because they focus on communities around their plants and it helps build engagement with local communities. Also, many of them are working in skill development.' Some of the top causes that corporates spend on are healthcare, poverty eradication, education, skill development, rural development, and environment. Noshir Dadrawala, CEO of Centre for Advancement of Philanthropy, says, 'Skills have been trendy. These causes have seen an increase because many of the skilling initiatives instead of being classified as an education initiative is being put under providing employment and reducing poverty. Also when it comes to healthcare, conducting blood donation camps is a popular way of doing CSR as it is easy and effective.' Ravi Chellam, ED of Greenpeace, points out that environment is not a priority issue for most Indian corporates. He says, 'On environmental issues, companies seem to prefer to focus on either their own campuses or areas immediately surrounding their locations.' According to Loveleen Kacker, CEO of Tech Mahindra Foundation, '50% of all our CSR capital goes into empowering women and another 10% for the disabled. We believe that any development can happen in any of the areas - from nutrition to sanitation, only when women are empowered. And we feel only economic empowerment of women can bring about social empowerment.' The top geographical regions that were beneficiary of CSR funds for FY16 are Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan and Karnataka. Vinod Kulkarni, head of CSR at Tata Motors Ltd, says, 'It is part of our policy to invest CSR funds in geographies in close proximity to our area of operation. It amplifies the outcomes and impact.' Arun Nagpal, co-founder of Mrida Group, comments, 'The reasons for firms to select geographies close to manufacturing plants or areas of work are valid but this leads to an imbalance in the division of CSR funding.' Read on...
Firms ramp up CSR focus on healthcare, poverty, hunger
Authors: Arundhati Ramanathan, Moyna Manku
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 21 sep 2016
According to McKinsey report, India's manufacturing sector will grow six-fold by 2025, to US$ 1 trillion, while creating up to 90 million domestic jobs. Dattatreya Gaur, VP and head of Businesss Unit at Robert Bosch Engineering & Business Solutions, explains the opportunities in India's manufacturing and it's evolution led by digital transformation and smart manufacturing. According to him, 'In manufacturing, the potential for cyber-physical systems to improve productivity in the production process and supply chain is vast; this is an opportunity...The main objective of Industry 4.0 is the task to convert this data into information and then into knowledge in real time, in order to make the process more productive, more flexible, to improve the quality and so on. It is a concept of intelligent value chain organisation where the man, machine and material are connected and talk to each other through enablers such as the cyber-physical systems and Internet of Things (IoT)...In the industry of the future, the product will become an information carrier and pilot its own way through the production process. Industry 4.0 is less of a revolution and more of an evolution.' Explaining Industry 4.0 in India's context, he says, 'Industry 4.0 is relevant for India; it is completely in concurrence to 'Make in India' campaign. The number of people using a smartphone in India is huge. This, for us, is a big opportunity. India is the third largest user base for internet and second largest for smartphones. India is also the IT hub. The huge number of software engineers plus the affinity of Indians towards mathematics and technology should provide the perfect recipe for Industry 4.0.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 14 sep 2016
In the fast paced technology industry, knowledge and skills get obsolete as soon as anything new, effective and valuable comes into the market. Job candidates should continuosly update and upgrade their skillset to stay relevant and get hired in the better paid bracket of the technology market. They also have to anticipate the shifts and trends in technologies and acquire the know-how from the best sources. Online courses in many technological domains are just a click away. With just a reasonable internet access, anyone in India can access courses from around the world. Key is when to select what course from which provider. According to Kabir Chadha of Coursera, 'We see a lot of demand for high-tech skills and certifications. Technology and computer science courses register more than half of all the enrollments in India. Computer Science and Data Science lead the pack at 25% and 18% respectively...Most Indian learners associate such courses as a medium to gain skill sets for a new job or enhance their existing job profiles. A lot of users also use our courses to enhance their application for higher education...' Following are some tech courses that can help get a better job in India - (1) R Programming: It is the next programming language that is used in a variety of domains including software development, business analysis, statistical reporting and scientific research. (2) Machine Learning: According to Packt, Machine Learning is one of the most in-demand skills in 2016. (3) Python Programming: IT experts suggest that Python should be the first programming language of a programmer. (4) How to create a website in the weekend: According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, employment of web developers is projected to grow 20 per cent from 2012 to 2022. (5) Data Science: Harvard Business Review considers the job of data scientist as the 'Sexiest Job of the 21st Century.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 29 aug 2016
Machine tools industry is critical for the success of 'Make in India' and 'Skill India' initiatives. V. Anbu, Director General of the Indian Machine Tool Manufacturers' Association (IMTMA), explains, 'Machine tools are considered a strategic industry segment. It is part and parcel of manufacturing, particularly discreet manufacturing segments such as automobiles, defence, railways, plastic machinery, medical electronics and white goods.' GLOBAL SCENARIO: 'Japan and Germany are strong in production and degree of sophistication/technology level. Global production of machine tools is worth around US$ 84 billion. In volume, China leads the pack; in technological maturity, Germany and Japan are at the same level. China's machine tool production is about US$ 24 billion.' INDIA'S MACHINE TOOL INDUSTRY: 'The Indian machine tool industry will touch US$ 1 billion in 2016. We are looking at getting into high-end manufacturing in sectors like railways, defence and aerospace. Automotive will become bigger, while medical electronics is also expected to grow...India is the 10th biggest market for machine tools. Of the market size of Rs 10,300 crore, domestic production is worth Rs 4,500 crore, which is about 42%. India has limited capability when it comes to high-accuracy machine tools.' INDIAN GOVERNMENT'S ROLE: 'We need much faster, single-window clearances. We are also looking forward to results on GST, policy on land acquisition, and ease of doing business...The government must create a financial mechanism to allow Indian companies to acquire firms abroad.' ISSUES WITH INDIA'S MACHINE TOOL INDUSTRY: 'Technology-gap is one major issue. To have an efficient model or mechanism for companies, they need to improve their own technology. Supply-chain is another issue. Payments and taxation and procurement are the other issues.' SKILL GAPS AND ROLE OF IMTMA: 'We are looking at bringing depth to manufacturing which will help the end-user. IMTMA conducts about 150 training programmes all year. Over 35 companies have lent their support to this initiative...Broad domains that are covered include productivity, design, maintenance, and automation. Most programmes are on metal cutting. We have deliberately added a few topics on metal forming too.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 23 aug 2016
According to the latest OPPI-KPMG's 'Report on Healthcare Access Initiatives', India spends less on healthcare than most other middle income countries. It's total healthcare expenditure of about 4.1% of GDP is among the lowest in the world. The report highlights the following main gaps in India's healthcare - POOR HEALTHCARE INDICES: Life expectancy (68 years in 2015) one of the lowest among Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC); Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) of 38/1,000 live births and Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR) of 174/100,000 live births in 2015, highest among peer group. GROWING NON-COMMUNICABLE DISEASES (NCD) BURDEN: NCDs account for nearly 60% of deaths annually; Indian economy set to lose US$ 4.58 trillion by 2030 due to NCDs. INADEQUATE HEALTHCARE INFRASTRUCTURE: Number of hospital beds of 0.9 per 1,000 population is lowest among BRIC; 75% of dispensaries and 60% of hospitals are in the urban areas. NEED FOR MORE TRAINED HUMAN RESOURCES: Lowest number of physicians per 10,000 population among BRIC; 80% of doctors are in the urban areas serving only 28% of the population. POOR AVAILABILITY: In rural India, only 37% of people have access to In-Patient Department (IPD) facilities within a 5km distance, and only 68% have access to an Out-Patient Department (OPD). BURDENED CARE: Nearly 63 million people are in debt due to health expenditure; Nearly 1/3 of population is driven below the poverty line due to health expenses. INADEQUATE GOVERNMENT SUPPORT: The government funds only 1/3 of health expenditure; Gross Domestic Product (GDP) spend on healthcare (4.1%) lowest among BRIC. POOR INSURANCE COVERAGE: Nearly 75% of population uncovered. Out-of-pocket (OOP) contributes close to 86% of private and 60% of overall healthcare expenditure. Report suggests a patient-centric approach to tackle India's healthcare challenges and points out that awareness and education can strengthen the four pillars (4As) of healthcare - Availability; Affordability; Accessibility; Acceptability. Utkarsh Palnitkar, Partner at KPMG, says, '...Only a long-term, proactive strategy with education and awareness at its centre, involving all stakeholders, i.e., healthcare providers, insurance companies and healthcare and pharmaceutical companies, can achieve the desired vision of a healthy country.' Shailesh Ayyangar, President of Organisation of Pharmaceutical Producers of India (OPPI), says, 'Universal Healthcare is a social priority...India's healthcare strategy requires a holistic approach and a critical evaluation of our existing systems. We need sustainable policy solutions to address healthcare financing, infrastructure and human resource challenges.' Read on...
The Economic Times:
India's total healthcare expenditure at about 4.1% of GDP, among the lowest in the world - OPPI-KPMG report
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 15 aug 2016
The competition is heating up between the US technology giants, Google and Facebook, to provide internet access to India's substantially untapped market of 1.25 billion people. Google has already taken a slight lead by clinching a deal with Indian Railways to provide high-speed Wi-Fi services at railroad stations. These services are currently free but would become paid eventually. The number of users is presently about 2 million for the 23 stations that have the hot spots and is expected to increase to 10 million for 100 in future. After the earlier setback in 2015 for its Free Basics scheme that was struck down by Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), Facebook is getting back in the race by initiatives that provide internet services in the rural parts of India. The scheme is called Express Wi-Fi and streamlines the process through which people buy data allocations from local Internet service providers. Currently, it allows people to use their purchased data bundles through one of 125 rural Wi-Fi hot spots. Both companies seems to be looking at long-term stay in the Indian market and will monetize their services at the right time. The strong advertising model that both these companies have will finally make their efforts and investments profitable in future. Read on...
MIT Technology Review:
Facebook and Google Are Racing to Supply India with Internet Access
Author: Jamie Condliffe
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 14 aug 2016
According to a research paper by McKinsey Global Institute titled, 'India's Ascent: Five Opportunities for Growth and Transformation' [Authors: Noshir Kaka; Anu Madgavkar; Rajat Gupta; Shirish Sankhe; Jonathan Woetzel; Jacques Bughin; Ashwin Hasyagar; Shishir Gupta], there are five areas that could have a substantial impact on India's economy - (1) From poverty to empowerment: Acceptable living standards for all (2) Sustainable urbanization: Building India's growth engines (3) Manufacturing for India, in India (4) Riding the digital wave: Harnessing technology for India's growth (5) Unlocking the potential of India's women. But the paper suggests that this will require leaders at all levels - local, state and national - to adopt new approaches to governance and provision of services. Moreover, the government agencies must ramp up their capabilities to meet the enormous challenge. It's been 25 years since the economic liberalization process got started and India has been able to improve living standards of its citizens, but there is lot more to be done. The report explains, 'It (India) offers attractive long-term potential, powered largely by a consuming class that we expect will more than triple, to 89 million households, by 2025. The challenge for Indian policy makers is to manage growth in such a way that it creates the basis for sustainable economic performance. India's transformation into a global economic force has yet to fully benefit all Indians.' It further says, 'To achieve its full potential, the country will need to address deprivation using a new set of parameters that address quality of life and access to basic services. This is certainly within India's capacity, but it will require policy makers to promote an agenda that emphasizes job creation, growth-oriented investment, farm-sector productivity, and innovative social programmes so that the benefits actually reach the people who need them.' Read on...
Five areas that could have an impact on India's economy
Author: Pretika Khanna
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 18 jul 2016
According to the latest CII (Confederation of Indian Industry) survey of 200 Indian firms of varying sizes, the Business Confidence Index rose to 57.2 points in April-June of FY17, compared to 54.1 in the previous quarter. Indian companies are more confident in the first quarter of the current financial year about the macroeconomy and their own companies than any of the previous six quarters. But excess capacity is putting the brakes on these companies to increase their investments. Survey found the following key concerns of the Indian companies - Weak global recovery; Low consumption demand; High borrowing costs; Lack of political consensus on economic reforms. CII said, 'So far this year, price pressures have been on the rise due to increasing food and fuel costs and in expectation of the salary and wage increase of central government employees under the 7th Pay Commission. However, a normal monsoon may provide some relief from food inflation in the latter half of the year.' About 43% attributed the recovery in corporate sector to increased government spending, while 41% of the respondents attributed this recovery to increased consumption demand (private consumption expenditure). Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 04 jul 2016
Team of researchers from IIT-Madras (India) and University of Nebraska at Lincoln (USA), are developing an ingestible capsule, that can stay in human body for close to a week, with sensors that will take readings of an individual's calorie intake, that can eventually help in diagnosis of diseases like cancer and permit sustained delivery of drugs. According to Prof. Benjamin Terry of UNL, 'The capsule, made of biocompatible materials, works like a parasite by latching on to the intestinal wall.' The sensors communicate their readings to an external device through low-intensity radio waves. Prof. P. V. Manivannan of IIT-M, says, 'The device is kept a metre away from the body. We use only low intensity waves that don't harm the body.' According to experts, biosensors could help monitor factors that influence digestive health. Prof. Terry adds that the mechanism could also serve as a long-term vessel for capsule endoscopes, the ingestible pill-shaped cameras that permit physicians to record images of the gastrointestinal tract. Read on...
The Times of India:
From IIT-M - Capsule in body to count calories, diagnose cancer
Author: Ekatha Ann John
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 14 jun 2016
According to the Asian Development Bank (ADB) report, 'Scaling New Heights: Vizag-Chennai Industrial Corridor, India's First Coastal Corridor' (Authors - Sabyasachi Mitra, Rana Hasan, Manoj Sharma, Hoe Yun Jeong, Manish Sharma, Arindam Guha), the service sector has been a driver of the Indian economy but the country needs to expand its manufacturing base - through initiatives like Make in India and the development of economic corridors - if it hopes to reach the next level of growth. Here are 12 main things to know about Indian economy, manufacturing and 'Make in India' - (1) India is the world's third largest economy. (2) Service sector is main driver of economic growth and contribute substantially to GDP. (3) India major exporter of IT, BPO, & software expertise through skilled workers. (4) Service sector employs less than 1/3rd of labor force. (5) India's manufacturing has lagged. Only 17% of GDP, while Malaysia has 24% and Thailand has 33%. (6) Manufacturing sector lags due to bad infrastructure, complex regulations, limited finance and inadequate supply of skilled workers. (7) Indian government recognizes that to spread benefits of economic growth, manufacturing sector need to be strengthened. (8) India seeks to increase manufacturing's share to GDP to 25% and create 100 million jobs within a decade. (9) Indian government is promoting 'Make in India' initiative and trying to attract global firms for investments through tax incentives and simplified regulations. (10) India is promoting manufacturing through development of economic corridors, routes along which goods and people move. (11) Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor is the India's first and most advanced econoic corridor. (12) In line with 'Make in India', Vizag-Chennai Industrial Corridor is being developed as the first coastal economic corridor. Read on...
Manufacturing and Make in India - 12 Things to Know
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 11 jun 2016
Dr. Amantha Imber's new book, 'The Innovation Formula: The 14 Keys for Creating a Culture where Innovation Thrives', provides an authoritative curation of insights into innovation. Dr. Imber is an innovation psychologist and founder of Australian innovation consultancy Inventium. The book draws upon author's experiences, academic journals and research studies on innovation. It begins with an 'innovation culture audit' based on a survey of 28 questions, that will help assess an organisation's readiness and journey on the innovation path. The tips and case studies are classified into four levels or units of analysis: individual, teams, leadership and organization. These levels have a total of 14 key factors of innovation. (1) INDIVIDUAL LEVEL: CHALLENGE [Imagination breakthroughs (GE), Personal development hacks (Inventium)]; AUTONOMY [Design changes (Etsy, Vimeo)]; RECOGNITION [Innovation Awards (Intuit)]. (2) TEAM LEVEL: DEBATE [Voice of Youth (Infosys), Reverse mentoring (GE, Cisco, HP)], SUPPORTIVENESS ['Flat' teams (Mirvac]; COLLABORATION [Experts from other business units (Pfizer)]. (3) LEADER LEVEL: SUPERVISOR SUPPORT [Design thinking (Disney)]; SENIOR LEADER SUPPORT [CEO office hours (FourSquare), Customer Meetups (Etsy)]; RESOURCES [Hack Days (LinkedIn), Innovation Champions (Pfizer), Toolkits (Adobe, Nestle, CBA)]; GOAL CLARITY [Innovation KPIs (Mirvac)]. (4) ORGANIZATION LEVEL: RISK-TAKING [Annual failure report (EWB), Dare To Try awards (Tata, Pfizer)]; COHESION [Buddy Program (Buzz Products)]; PARTICIPATION [Hack Weeks (Etsy)]; PHYSICAL ENVIRONMENT [Central atrium (Circus Oz), Participatory office design (Mirvac)]. Dr. Imber cautions, 'Creating a culture won't happen overnight.' She sums up, 'Innovation is a learned skill.' Read on...
The Innovation Formula - 14 tips for business creativity and growth
Author: Madanmohan Rao
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 04 jun 2016
The Nikkei Services Business Activity Index, which maps the services sector activity, fell from 53.7 in April to 51.0 in May, pointing to a slight expansion in business activity which has been the weakest since last November. A reading above 50 represents expansion, while one below 50 means contraction. While, the Nikkei India Composite PMI Output Index, which maps both manufacturing and services sectors, fell to a six-month low of 50.9 in May, from 52.8 in April. According to Pollyanna De Lima, economist at Markit, 'Latest PMI (Purchasing Managers Index) numbers raise doubts about the effectiveness of economic and monetary policies. The gloomy growth picture will be a concern to policymakers and will raise the chances of further cuts in interest rates by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). This would be supported by subdued inflationary pressures, with May data pointing to weaker increases in both costs and charges.' Read on...
The Financial Express:
Services sector contracts for 2nd straight month in May
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 31 may 2016
According to the latest Elsevier Report 2016, India's scientific publications grew 13.9% as against the global average of 4.1%. The study sifted through the publication output of researchers covered under Elsevier's Scopus database, that covers 60 million documents published in over 22000 journals, book series and conference proceeding by nearly 5000 publishers. It looked at the work of 366455 active researchers who are working with or are affiliated to Indian institutions. But this increase in publications hasn't made much impact on scientific progress or commercialization, considering their limited citation by other researchers. Prof. Anshul Kumar of Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi, explains, 'There is pressure to publish, but not much scrutiny of where papers are published. Since promotions are tied to the volume of output, academics feel the need to show published output, even if it is not in very well-known publications. Moreover, spending on research and development is low, and this further serves as an impediment to producing original research that has the potential to have a higher impact.' Prof. Nirmalya Bagchi from Administrative Staff College of India, points out, 'A paper has a high impact when it is published in a prestigious journal, and it is difficult for an unknown researcher to publish in such places. Prestigious Western journals prefer to publish research from highly-ranked institutes, and it is well-known that most such institutes are in the West. Thus, Indian scientists who move abroad to work with well-known institutes do not face such difficulties in publishing. It also helps that the research infrastructure is well-developed abroad.' India also have to ramp up its knowledge sharing i.e. increase number of citations in patent documents and collaboration between industry and academia. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 20 may 2016
India's healthcare is an opportunity that has room for growth for all - public or private, for-profit or non-profit, foreign or domestic entities. According to the latest CII-KPMG report, Indian healthcare sector is estimated to reach US$ 160 billion in 2017, accounting for about 4.2% of GDP. It is further expected to grow to US$ 280 billion by 2020. India currently spends only 1.05% of GDP on public health. Over the years, governments have tried to develop policies and have taken steps to provide better healthcare for its citizens. But India's large size, huge population (1.25 billion) and ineffective implementation at various levels, has created lop sided infrastructure and uneven development in healthcare. While bigger towns and cities have developed state of the art healthcare facilities, the rural part has lagged behind on multiple counts. Inspite of all the challenges, India is taking a stride into the next phase of healthcare, riding on technological advances, new financial models and corporatization of hospitals. Timely provision of healthcare assistance is the key to save cost and save lives. Multipronged strategy is the need of the hour. Technology, skilled and trained medical professionals, substantial investment and effective execution of best practices will help India provide what the today's citizens expect from the growing economy. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 17 may 2016
India's educational institutions need to ramp up their focus on research and innovation, in addition to quality of teaching, to improve their global rankings and stand at par with world's leading institutions. According to Prof. C. Raj Kumar, Founding Vice Chancellor of O. P. Jindal Global University and Dean of Jindal Global Law School, 'The reason why Indian higher education institutions constantly fail to feature in the annual world university rankings is because we have failed to appreciate the inter-disciplinary approach in higher education. In India, the gross enrolment ratio is less than 20% and the aspiration is to increase this to 30-40% in the next decade or so. Also, there is a high level of distrust between the government and the providers of higher education. We have a lot to learn for institution-building and there is a need for emphasising 'Making of India' rather than Make in India.' He further suggests, 'Widening the reach of education in the country, promoting research and world-class training programmes for academic administrators are some key measures needed to create a sustainable future for the country and its citizens.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 08 may 2016
UK-India Social Enterprise Education Network (UKISEEN), a collaborative project between IIT Madras (India) and University of Southampton (UK), funded by British Council, was recently launched in India. Prof. Pathik Pathak, Director of Social Enterprise and founding director of Social Impact Lab at University of Southampton, explains his views on social entrepreneurship education and employment, aims and objectives of UKISEEN and how India is embracing social entrepreneurship. ON SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP: 'Fundamentally, it's about using entrepreneurship and innovation to drive social change. Social entrepreneurship is important because it gives students a unique skill-set...We think that social entrepreneurship is a catalyst for producing the graduates that the world needs. This is why so many universities in India have embraced social entrepreneurship.' ON UKISEEN: 'It involves universities collaborating to understand the best practices in social entrepreneurship education and exchanging ideas. There are two levels to the collaboration - at the faculty level and student level.' ON ROLE OF UNIVERSITIES: 'Employability is all about leadership now...universities' role includes more than merely educating students. Social entrepreneurship helps students inculcate innovation and creative skills. Fundamentally, it is about problem-solving, which is what leadership is all about as well. Besides, regardless of the profession you enter, you need to be entrepreneurial.' ON EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES: 'One can go and work in the social investment space...Another indirect way is that it gives them the skills to go into the workforce and become leaders.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 05 may 2016
'Organization is as good as the people it hires,' says Anand Mahindra, Chairman and Managing Director of Mahindra Group. Mr. Mahindra has been with the business conglomerate for 34 years and led its growth into diverse industries, that include automobiles, aerospace, technology, farm equipment, hospitality etc. Talking about his methodology to hire the most able leaders, he says, 'A leader should know how to put himself/herself in someone else's shoes. You cannot be a good listener unless you are empathising with someone...When you empathize with the other person's point of view, you are able to hear it and integrate it. Once you can do that then you will inevitably be very curious, you will inevitably be a good listener who wants to get more information from others. This makes you a better people's person.' Such a person will be a constant learning machine, he adds. Another quality in business leaders that he is particular about is the ability to combine both right and left brain thinking, thus making them 'renaissance leaders'. According to him, 'Good leaders are people who know how to think visually, creatively and therefore are able to visualize different worlds...They are leaders who can survive in the volatile business world. They can join the dots, see disparate points of view, weigh them and then finally integrate them.' Read on...
The Economic Times:
Two Qualities Anand Mahindra Looks for in a Business Leader
Author: Sneha Jha
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 03 may 2016
Vinod Khosla is one of the most visible face of PIO (Person of Indian Origin) entrepreneurship in Silicon Valley. He initiated his entrepreneurial journey in 1982 with Sun Microsystems, evolved into a top venture capitalist with Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and now runs his own venture capital firm, Khosla Ventures, where he focuses on assisting entrepreneurs to build companies in the areas of energy, technology, internet, education, digital health etc. He shares 10 points from his accumulated wisdom for entrepreneurial success - (1) Be Persistent. (2) Keep Innovating. (3) Add Value. (4) Have The Guts To Follow Your Beliefs. (5) Try And Fail, But Don't Fail To Try. (6) Transcend What's Traditional. (7) Shake Things Up. (8) Build A Great Team. (9) Dare To Be Great. (10) Be Brutally Honest. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 30 apr 2016
India's demographic dividend will reap full benefit only when it successfully nurtures its young population through integrated actionable strategies related to skills development, job opportunities in diverse areas and creating entrepreneurship ecosystems. The latest Asia-Pacific Human Development Report points towards challenges that India faces regarding availability of employment to the increasing population. The report released by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) said that between 1991 and 2013, the size of the 'working age' population increased by 300 million while only less than half (140 million) could get absorbed in the workforce, suggesting limited capacity of the Indian economy to generate jobs. The report estimated that by 2050, at least 280 million people will enter the job market in India. Moreover, according to India's Ministry of Labour & Employment data, an estimated 1 million people enter the workforce every month, while many others choose to study further. At any given point, around 30 million students are pursuing higher education in India. The UNDP report includes India into countries that have large low-income population, big agriculture sector and high rural-to-urban migration, and suggests that India can focus on specific industries, particularly in manufacturing, to create jobs considering that its manufacturing base is still small, contributing to only 15% of GDP and 11% of employment. According to Professor N. R. Bhanumurthy of National Institute of Public Finance and Policy, 'The creation of fewer jobs between 1991 and 2013 was largely because of the nature of growth the Indian economy experienced. It was mostly services-led growth with low employment intensity...The problem could be addressed if the government's effort to create more manufacturing jobs through programmes such as Make In India and Startup India fructifies.' India's large informal sector, which accounts for 84% of current jobs, adds to the workforce complexity and resulting challenges. The report suggests that measures need to be taken to tackle issues and concerns related to informal employment. The measures could include universal registration of workers; effective implementation of existing labour laws; formal binding guidelines for contracts between employers, recruiters and workers; reform and harmonization of major labour laws applicable to the industry; and reform of social security laws to allow more effective implementation. Read on...
India to see severe shortage of jobs in the next 35 years
Author: Asit Ranjan Mishra
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 20 apr 2016
India's healthcare landscape is undergoing continuous transformation. Although there is substantial reduction in IMR (Infant Mortality Rate) and MMR (Maternal Mortality Ratio), but at the same time rising cost of healthcare for its citizens is a cause of concern. Public health spending has been reduced by government from 1.47% of GDP in 1986-87 to 1.05% in 2015-16. According to Vandana Prasad, national convener of Public Health Resource Network, '...We have made gains in maternal and child health by establishing public health systems in rural areas...' Health surveys by National Sample Survey Organization (NSSO) show that Indians are now more dependent on private healthcare and this trend is clearly visible if the figures of 42nd and 71st NSSO reports are compared - 60% availed public health services in 1986-87 and remaing went for private, while only 41% utilized public health system in 2015-16. Prof. Rajesh Kumar of Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) Chandigarh, says, 'Out-of-pocket expenditure is the main cause of worry for the patients. A number of people fall from above poverty line (APL) category to below poverty line (BPL) category because of this. Nearly 70% of out-of-pocket expenditure is due to medicines...' Ravi Duggal, health economist at International Budget Partnership, points out how reduction in budgetary allocation to health by government affects public health system. He says, 'What this under-financing did was to reduce the credibility of public health institutions among general people. And doctors and nurses left the public health system, creating huge vacancies in primary health centres and public hospitals.' Other health-based challenges that India faces include the increasing burden of both communicable and non-communicable diseases. According to a 2014 report by the World Economic Forum and Harvard School of Public Health, the economic burden of lifestyle diseases like heart diseases, stroke, pulmonary diseases and diabetes, account for about 40% of all hospital stays and roughly 35% of all recorded outpatient visits. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 05 apr 2016
Globally, women entrepreneurs are trying to find their place in the male dominated bastions of the private enterprises. In some societies they get equal opportunities to work their ways to succeed but in some others they have to continuously struggle to survive, as they are ignored and their quest is hindered and restricted. Even though India provides sufficient support for women to make their mark in entrepreneurship, but the recent numbers released by India's Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MOSPI), paint a different picture. It should be a cause of worry as gender equity in all spheres is on India's inclusive agenda. Following are some highlights from the 'All India Report of Sixth Economic Census' by MOSPI on the state of women entrepreneurs - Women constitute only 13.76% (8.05 million) of the total entrepreneurs (58.5 million); Out of these entrepreneurs, 2.76 million women (34.3% of the total entrepreneurs) work in agriculture sector whereas 5.29 million females (65.7% of the total entrepreneurs) work in non-agricultural sectors; Among the states, the largest share in number of establishments under women entrepreneurship is of Tamil Nadu (13.51%) followed by Kerala (11.35%), Andhra Pradesh (10.56%), West Bengal (10.33%) and Maharashtra (8.25%); Average employment per establishment for women owned establishments is 1.67. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 19 mar 2016
India's healthcare sector is an opportunity with a room for diverse business models. According to a recent report by Government of India's Ministry of Health, it is estimated that the country would require 600000 to 700000 additional beds over the next five to six years, a potential opportunity of more than Rs 4000-5000 crores. In another report, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) research estimated that the number of people in India above 60 years of age will increase from 100 million in 2011 to 300 million by 2050. Dr. Anitha Arockiasamy, President of India Home Health Care Pvt. Ltd., explains the value of home-based care opportunity in India and how it can positively contribute to India's healthcare ecosystem by bridging the gaps in the health delivery mechanism. According to Dr. Arockiasamy, 'Recovery is a process that involves a great amount of care and nurturing. Be it recovering from a surgery, recuperating after a delivery or undergoing physiotherapy after any treatment, this period requires more care than medical assistance. The very thought of being discharged from the hospital and getting back home will start one's recovery process. Healing comfortably in your own home, under the supervision of your relatives as against being in a hospital, will boost the patients' morale to a huge extent.' She further adds, 'Geriatric care is an aspect that home healthcare players specialize in. Going beyond medical need, a lot of aged people look for simple assistance like accompanying them on a walk, spend time with them in light minded conversations, helping them with simple household chores, etc. A lot of home healthcare players go that extra mile to make the patient feel well taken care of.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 08 mar 2016
TechGig Geek Goddess - Celebrating the Code Divas/Women in Technology of the Indian IT Industry (TG3), a 14-day engagement program where women coders got a chance to show their skills, concluded today on International Women's Day. The following were the top 3 winners and their brief comments - (1) Janani Anbarasan from CISCO: 'Considering the limited exposure women have towards programming, this level of competition targets women who aspire to become good programmers...' (2) Rijutha N. from CISCO: 'TG3 is a wonderful opportunity for working women to compete...' (3) Rashmi Kejariwal from Sapient: 'I would like to recommend people to take time off from their expected deliverables and pursue their interest and enhance their expertise in coding as TG3 provides a great platform...' While speaking on TG3, Puja Mehra (VP of Sapient Global Markets) said, '...TG3's tech webinars, AMA (Ask Me Anything) and empower sessions, for promoting our women in tech, helped us push our charter of making women's voices count. I personally liked the coding contest a lot. It was encouraging to see our leaders, encourage our women employees to participate...' TechGig.com website also mentions winners that got 4th and 5th place as, Priyanka Naik (CDK-Global) and Tarvinder Kaur respectively. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 03 mar 2016
Harvard University academics, Prof. Mark R. Kramer and Prof. Michael E. Porter, introduced the concept of 'Creating Shared Value (CSV)' in HBR (2011), as an approach that takes into account social problems which intersect with businesses and makes it a major part of the core business strategy of a company. In the context of India the approach is much more relevant as it is still struggling with numerous social issues like poverty, illiteracy, unemployment, health etc. The academics feel that Indian businesses are still missing something in their view of long-term sustainabile business models. While speaking at 'Shared Value Summit 2015' in India, Prof. Kramer said, 'You cannot have a successful business in a failing society...for the CSV model to become a part of corporate hygiene anywhere needs major mindset change where we embrace a problem solving approach that goes beyond thinking what we can do in our company alone to also what we can do for society that we operate in.' He further explains that, 'CSV doesn't replace CSR and philanthropy, but can be in addition to them, such that businesses can find new opportunities for competitive advantage by beginning to think about these social issues as part of their overall corporate strategy.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 27 feb 2016
Government policies and budgetary allocations play an important role in building a business-friendly environment. Since startups are essential for growth of economic activity, they need to be nurtured during their early stages of development. Government has to provide facilitating ecosystem for entrepreneurial ventures and give special consideration in annual budgets. Indian government's campaigns like 'Make in India', 'Startup India', 'Digital India' and 'Skill India', are driven to stimulate economic activity and support local business development along with attracting global investments. To fulfil these ideas and particularly 'Startup India', Indian government's Budget'2016 should have specific allocations for startups. Following is the list of 19 entrepreneurs and their expectations from the budget - (1) K. Balakrishnan, MD & CEO, Servion Global Solutions: Provide necessary incentives, legal/tax framework and infrastructure support to IT and Electronics industry; Increase investments in broadband connectivity; Improved IT infrastructure and e-governance. (2) Saurabh Arora, Founder & CEO, Lybrate: Increase the tax holiday period from 3 years to at least 5 years; Profitable startups be charged less corporate tax; Benefit of tax rebate on healthcare expense should be for entire tax payer class and not just for salaried class. (3) Aloke Bajpai, CEO & Co-founder, ixigo: Tourism-friendly policies; Focus more on infrastructure and develop airports and provide better connectivity to smaller towns; Better definition for online aggregators and their taxation norms; Clearly define online marketplace. (4) Sobhan Babu, Professor at IIT Hyderabad and founder of Plianto Technologies: Support for startups in the tender bidding process with easy norms. (5) Ankur Bhatia, Executive Director of Bird Group and Member of CII National Committee on Civil Aviation: Draft aviation policy and development of airports in tier-I and tier-II cities is a positive step; Address challenges related to complex policies, aggressive price cuts, multi-tiered tax system and infrastructure deterring the true potential of the Indian aviation industry; Treat aviations sector as national priority. (6) Rohan Bhargava, Co-founder, CashKaro.com: Fund-of-funds and tax benefits for startups need to be implemented effectively; Set out clear and measurable timelines with minimal bureaucratic intervention; Provide clear tax policy that will address the complications of the current tax structure faced by ecommerce sites; Present GST roadmap. (7) Manish Kumar, CEO & Co-founder, GREX Alternative Investments Pvt Ltd: Fund-of-funds should invest directly in startups; Proposed US$ 1.5 billion in FoF is not enough to make impact; Remove 'angel tax'; Relaxation on capital gain tax; Explore alternative ways for raising funds like venture debt; Promote risk investing through proper framework for investor exit. (8) Geetha Kannan, Managing Director, The Anita Borg Institute (ABI) India: Expecting 'gender mainstreaming'; Integrate gender perspective to all relevant policies and initiatives; Special allocation for women entrepreneurs; Provide women-friendly facilities and infrastructure in '100 Smart City' initiative; Focus on women-safety; Get more aggressive on women-specific policies. (9) Ankita Tandon, Chief Operating Officer, CouponDunia: Minimal government or bureaucratic intervention in channeling startup funds; Further increase existing tax exemptions for startups; Better internet connectivity in tier-I and tier-II cities; Introduce tax incentives for startup employees to encourage youths to join startups. (10) Srikanth Reddy, Founder/Chairman, Palred Technologies & LatestOne.com: Encourage participation of Indian institutional investors in startups; ESOP/Sweat Equity shares should be taxed when they are actually sold. (11) Deepit Purkayastha, Co-founder & Chief Strategy Officer, Inshorts: 'Skill India' program should work with 'Startup India'; Maket investments to impart contemporary skills and entrepenerial education; Overhaul of university incubators; Exempt tax on angel investments and ESOPs and relaxed regime for startups to go public and launch IPOs. (12) Pushpinder Singh, CEO & Co-founder, Travelkhana: Announce separate railways startup policy; Include only the transportation cost on rail ticket with additional facilities like food, blankets etc kept as optional charges; Develop a system to utilize data generated by railways everyday. (13) Sanjay Sethi, CEO & Co-founder, Shopclues: GST should become a reality; Tax incentives for startup employees; Policy support for startups going for IPO. (14) Mohit Dubey, Co-founder & CEO, Carwale: Steps toward concrete vehicular pollution policy; Incentives and rebates for hybrids and less polluting vehicular technologies; Fuel policy towards global quality standards and encourage less polluting fuels. (15) Vipin Pathak, Co-founder & CEO, Care24: Easy FDI investment norms, licensing and startup support (tax, documentation, licensing, legal). (16) Manu Agarwal, Founder & CEO, Naaptol: Provide clarity to taxation laws relatd to online marketplaces; Better infrastructure and logistic systems like larger ports and transit systems are need to facilitate imports. (17) Hitesh Doshi, CMD, Waaree Energies: Push for solar manufacturing industry through fulfilling material's requirement locally; Encourage local production through incentives and implementation of anti-dumping policies; Investments in solar energy R&D and technology innovation; Policy reforms like that of depreciation benefits. (18) Amit Mishra, Co-founder & CEO, Quifers: Streamline tax on capital deducted at source like giving first year start-ups the benefit of tax exemption at source; Decreasing service tax by a certain percentage in the first year of operation; Giving out tax benefits and incentives to early stage investors. (19) Chirag Haria, CEO of Aarogyam Energy Jewellery: Utilization of India Post Rural Network with incentives on Cash on Delivery (COD) orders in Rural India, to help increase rural spending; Income tax benefits for individuals/trust investing in Gold Monetization Scheme to bring down gold imports; Increase Excise Duty exemptions from 1.5 crore to 5 crore to encourage small scale manufacturing and prevent black marketing. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 20 feb 2016
Experts at the international health conference, 'Delivering On the Promise of Universal Health Coverage in India: Policy Options and Challenges', suggested that India has to sincerely and immediately resolve the issues related to the healthcare sector. Over the years the sector has been neglected, policy decisions are influenced too much with politics and the sector was unable to provide quality services. According to Prof. T. Sundararaman, dean of School of Health Systems Studies at TISS (Tata Institute of Social Sciences), 'The 12th Five Year Plan said it will be the health plan but soon after funds dried up.' Prof. Sundararaman mentioned some of the important issues adversely affecting the growth of the health sector - re-positioning the role of states, contradictory assessment of NRHM (National Rural Health Mission), contradictions in HR policy and a gap between expectations and reality in private sector engagement. Anjali Chikersal of Center for Policy Research said, 'The first thing we need is availability of data. India has critical shortage of manpower in the sector but we also have imbalances.' According to Ravinder Singh Duggal of Internatinal Budget Partnership, 'We are producing adequate number of doctors but we do not capitalise on that. India needs consolidated National Health Rights Bill as our approach to health is very fragmented.' Prof. Richard Cash of Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health commented, 'India needs to learn from others, especially from those who share like experiences.' Ajith M. Sharan, Secretary at Ministry of AYUSH, added, 'We need to look at different kind of paradigm with more focus on paramedics.' Read on...
India needs to urgently resolve healthcare issues - Experts
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 14 feb 2016
Make in India Week has now started in Mumbai and along with it India Design Forum (IDF) 2016 is developing strategies and advocating how a facilitating design environment and culture can be nurtured to enable growth of manufacturing. IDF is integrated into Make in India campaign's plan to demonstrate the potential of design, innovation and sustainability across India's manufacturing sector. Rajshree Pathy, founder of IDF, explains, 'Design is not merely about clothes, shoes, handbags and jewellery, as is commonly believed. Those are incidental. Design is, in fact, at the heart of the manufacturing process. It is not a 'thing', it is a way of thinking.' Satyendra Pakhale, an Amsterdam-based designer, citing Tata Nano's example says, 'It is a good example of Indian design, which combined engineering innovations with a careful consideration for the demands of the domestic market. In fact, one of India's most famous qualities - jugaad - is indicative of an innovative mindset.' According to Simran Lal, CEO of Good Earth, 'It's important that we bring rural design and India's rural design communities along on this journey.' Time is now ripe for India to upgrade to a design-driven manufacturing ecosystem, attract global investments, partner with global corporations and manufacture for the world, but without losing the focus on serving the needs of the large local market. Read on...
The Indian Express:
Make in India Week - Putting design at the heart of manufacturing
Author: Pooja Pillai
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 09 feb 2016
Dynamics of interactions, engagement and relationships between entrepreneurs and investors is an essential component of new business development process. During the initial phase of startup creation and at different stages of development and growth of their enterprise, entrepreneurs need investors that can fulfil their financial or fundraising requirements. Prof. Thillai Rajan A. of Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras and Prof. Swati Panda of Institute of Management Technology at Hyderabad, provide insights on how entrepreneurs can improve their chances of getting funded if they understand the differences between various types of investors and pitch to them accordingly. They conducted a detailed survey of 45 investors, whom they classified into three categories - angel investors, independent venture capitalists (VCs) and institutional VCs. All types of investors consider valuation as having a mix of both subjectivity and objectivity, but the quantity of each vary with the type of investor. Higher number of angel investors indicated valuation as a subjective process, while higher proportion of institutional VCs consider valuation as an objective process. When asked about the priorities for the different factors that influence valuation, all investors indicated that founder and management team are the biggest influencer of valuation. Moreover all types of investors gave least emphasis to past financial performance, and focused more on the future prospects. In case of relative importance of valuation, deal structure and return covenants, although all investors gave valuation of deal first preference, but the relative priorities differ. For angel investors valuation is relatively lowest while return covenants the highest. Deal structuring has almost same emphasis for all. Prof. Rajan explains, 'This indicates that entry valuation can be an important determinant of returns. While deal structure and return covenants can help contain losses, valuation probably determines the magnitude of upside gains from the investment.' Knowing the differences between investors can assist entrepreneurs to customize their propositions and deliver effective and targeted communication. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 30 jan 2016
A panel of health experts from the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), the Public Health Foundation of India and the National Institute of Nutrition, recently demanded pictorial and health warning on junk food packets in order to provide information to people on health issues caused by them. According to Prof. Vandana Jain, in-charge of Division of Pedriatrics Endocrinology at AIIMS, 'We have recommended pictorial warnings on junk foods...or health warnings saying that this product contains fat and salt in excess of what is recommended or even a picture of liver may be put on pack indicating that consuming them may lead to fatty liver in children and adults.' Consumption of products with high sugar, fat and salt have adverse health implications and World Health Organization (WHO) has stated that the best way to prevent obesity among children is to put restrictions on marketing of unhealthy foods. Read on...
The Economic Times:
Health experts demand pictorial warnings on junk food packets
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 30 jan 2016
According to the 2016 Best Countries Ranking of U.S. News, prepared in collaboration with Wharton School and BAV Consulting, India is included at top of the Movers ranking of countries with up-and-coming economies, and overall it is ranked 22nd. Prof. David J. Reibstein, who teaches marketing at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and participated in developing the rankings, says 'Nations should pay attention to how they are seen by others, since enhancing these perceptions could create a large economic benefit. The experience of tourists is just one of the factors that colour those impressions, along with the experiences of customers, investors, followers of global news and social media, and what people hear from others.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 08 jan 2016
Technology-driven healthcare startups are finding new opportunities in India's mostly traditional healthcare system. But it is not an easy ride, with lack of digital orientation, policy and regulational scenario, slow pace of change in the healthcare industry etc. Simply put, these healthcare pioneers in India face more challenges than what the normal startups actually do. Mudit Vijayvergiya, Co-founder of Curofy, provides five most relevant challenges that all healthcare startups are broadly facing in India - (1) Slow Growth: Sluggish pace of growth of the industry is hard for survival. (2) Complex Industry: Complex rules and regulations can be obstacles for entrepreneurship and innovative thinking. Various policies are unclear and cause confusion at workplace. (3) Doctors are Tough: Miserable doctor patient ratio of 1:1700 and horrible 1:60000 in rural areas, make availability of doctors rare. Moreover digital healthcare is last on their mind. (4) Monetization: Slow growth of sector makes startups hard to monetize and to have a sustainable revenue model. Moreover social nature of the market and lack of financial ability of patients make it hard for private startups to make money. (5) Lack of Healthcare Mentors in India: Although India has large pool of trained medical professionals, but it has very few seasoned mentors and investors in the health-tech space to share their experience with entrepreneurs. Moreover track record of startups in healthcare is not very good either. Thus India currently lacks a win-win scenario for mentors, investors and entrepreneurs. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 06 jan 2016
Entrepreneurship is an essential component of the market economy. Entrepreneurs seek new opportunities through their extraordinary drive and skills, create enterprises that provide employment and generate revenues, to help economy grow. To successfully take leverage of demographic dividend and build a thriving economy, India needs to focus on entrepreneurship and continue to build an ecosystem that facilitates new venture development. As Kunal Bahl, Co-founder of Snapdeal, rightly said recently, 'India needs more entrepreneurs and less policy.' Given below is the partial list of Indian entrepreneurs that have created startups and hold a great promise in 2016 - (1) Abhinav Asthana, Postman (2) Jaydeep Barman, Faasos (3) Sahil Barua, Delhivery (4) Abhiraj Bhal, Urbanclap (5) Hitendra Chaturvedi, Greendust (6) Sunil Coushik, Prijector (7) Abhishek Goyal, Tracxn (8) Nalin Gupta, Auro Robotics (9) Virendra Gupta, Dailyhunt (10) Amit Jain, Cardekho (11) Nithin Kamath, Zerodha (12) Mohit Kumar, Roadrunnr (13) Byju Raveendran, Byju's (14) Abhinav Shashank, Innovaccer (15) MN Srinivasu, Billdesk (16) Rajesh Yabaji, Blackbuck. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 30 dec 2015
The technology-enabled interactions of consumers and businesses have provided opportunities to capture data and utilize analytics to improve business processes and enhance products and services for customers in variety of industries. The analytics industry ecosystem is mushrooming with numerous vendors, from niche providers to one-stop solutions that include capture, storage, access and study of data for valuable insights. Suhale Kapoor, Co-founder of Absolutdata Analytics, captures various aspects of the analytics industry and its evolution in 2015 and explains what are the expected trends in the year ahead. Trends in 2015 - Growth of new startups and digital marketing tools; Increased use of analytics and Business Intelligence (BI); Rise in use of social media and social advertising on mobile; Rapid expansion of Internet of Things (IoT); Video content; Content marketing and predictive analytics; End-user experience and integration of online and offline content to improve service standards. Trends for 2016 - Shift towards cloud; Streaming architectures will hasten data computations; Visuals will come to rule; Data integration tools will assume more importance; Centre of Excellence (COE) will equip a business in understanding the peculiar needs and challenges for a data scientist; The Internet of Things (IoT) is all poised to bring about a data revolution; Non-analysts will start to dabble in data. Read on...
The Analytics Sector - Emerging trends and forecast for 2016
Author: Suhale Kapoor
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 19 dec 2015
The PPP Knowledge Lab of the World Bank defines a PPP (Public-Private Partnerships) as, 'A long-term contract between a private party and a government entity, for providing a public asset or service, in which the private party bears significant risk and management responsibility, and remuneration is linked to performance.' Different countries are incorporating modified version of the definition in their laws depending upon their own legal and institutional framework. Siraj Chaudhry, Chairman of Cargill India, suggests a PPP framework for India's agriculture for sustainability and better rural development, in which the government provides and co-finance the back-end of the value chain, while the rest is done by the private sector and the farmers. Although India has made continued progress in food security, quadrupling its food grain production. But a lot more is desired as its crop yield still hovers between 30% to 60% of the best sustainable crop yields achievable in developed and some other developing countries. There is substantial room for increase in productivity and total output gains. Moreover India has some of the highest postharvest food losses due to poor infrastructure and unorganized retail. To overcome infrastructural and supply-chain inefficiencies, degrading of land and water, effects of climate change etc, India requires a collaborative multipronged strategy in the form of PPP to utilize technologically advance farming practices, build efficient supply chains and develop organized marketing and retailing. Mr. Chaudhry details the role of various PPP models that bring together all the stakeholders of the agricultural ecosystem for making India's agriculture as the engine of rural growth and development, to eradicate poverty, hunger and malnutrition, and in addition be a major source of food for the world - (1) Investing in smarter value chains: Develop food processing industry. Provide farm extension services. Enhance price realization. Cut out intermediaries. Improve supply chain through forward and backward linkages. (2) Improving access to credit, technology and markets: Utilize advance information technology and biotechnology. Provide farmers agricultural knowledge and guidance. Develop high-yield, pest resistant crops. Enable better management of natural resources. (3) Building farmer resilience to environmental shocks: Provide financial security to farmers. Enable them to de-risk through insurance etc. Develop integrated value chains. He cites the example of Maharashtra government's PPP for Integrated Agricultural Development (MPPIAD), that was catalyzed by World Economic Forum's New Vision for Agriculture (NVA), to develop integrated value chains. Read on...
Making India's agriculture sustainable through PPPs
Author: Siraj Chaudhry
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 14 dec 2015
Recently published paper in The Lancet, 'Assuring health coverage for all in India' by a team of researchers (Vikram Patel; Rachana Parikh; Sunil Nandraj; Priya Balasubramaniam; Kavita Narayan; Vinod K. Paul; A. K. Shiva Kumar; Mirai Chatterjee; K. Srinath Reddy), explores India's healthcare delivery system and found structural deficiencies inspite of continuous efforts by the policy makers to improve it. Large healthcare disparities continue to exist from region to region and from section to section in society. The system is unable to cope with the enormous demand that is placed on it. Researchers suggest that India's healthcare sytem requires a radical transformation in its architecture if it wants to efficiently fulfil the vision of the government to provide affordable healthcare for all. Presently the skyrocketing cost of healthcare in India is driving millions of its citizens to poverty and it is one of the most disturbing indicator of the deficiencies in the healthcare system. According to Prof. Vikram Patel (Public Health Foundation of India and London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine), 'The health time-bomb ticks on due to the rising burden of non-communicable diseases. Suicide is now a leading cause of death for young Indians, and an Indian is likely to suffer from a heart attack at least ten years earlier than in developed countries and yet the health care system has barely responded to these urgent health crises.' Experts believe that insufficient and ineffective regulation on the private sector has led to corruption across the sector, with consequent poor quality of care and impoverishment of patients. The paper mentions that the single biggest impediment to a holistic approach to health governance in the country is the lack of convergence between ministries related to health, water, sanitation, and national vertical targeted programs. The authors argue that it is essential for the state to prioritise health as a fundamental public good, central to India's developmental aspirations, at par with education. The researchers argue that India's healthcare system not only need more resources but it requires an integrated national healthcare system, built around a strong public primary care system with a clearly defined supportive role for the private and indigenous sectors, that addresses acute as well as chronic health care needs. The paper recommends, 'In the immediate future, both the central and state governments should jointly launch a campaign to explain the principles and benefits of universal health coverage and engage with all concerned stakeholders in an atmosphere of a national mission. The role of communities and civil society is critical and they must be actively empowered to engage with this more radical vision of health care.' Read on...
The Asian Age:
India's healthcare in need of radical transformation
Author: Teena Thacker
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 08 dec 2015
United Nation's '2015 Climate Change Conference' is being held in Paris (France) where 196 countries are on the table to reach consensus on tackling climate change and contain global temperature rise and keep it below 2°C. The recent study, 'Climate Change and India: Adaptation Gap (2015) - A Preliminary Assessment', conducted by Prof. Amit Garg of IIM Ahmedabad, Prof. Vimal Mishra of IIT Gandhinagar and Dr. Hem Dholakia of Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW), found that India would need over US$1 trillion from now until 2030 to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change. The study identifies India's preliminary financial, technology, and knowledge gaps in adaptation, as well as capacity building and institutional needs. The study also estimates that about 800 million people living across nearly 450 districts in India are already experiencing significant increases in annual mean temperature going above 2°C warming pathway. For the whole of India the estimated increase will be 1-1.5°C in the near term (2016-2045). The implications would be disastrous for agriculture and crop production, and the effects could be more pronounced due to estimated increase in extreme precipitation events, resulting in flooding and significant damage to infrastructure. While commenting on the importance of the findings, Mr. Ashok Lavasa (Secretary at the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change), said, 'Supporting and enhancing the sustainable development of 1.25 billion people is at the heart of India's adaptation gap filling strategy. The fruits of development should not be lost due to increasing adaptation gap in the future.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 05 dec 2015
US-based Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA) while describing the goals of architectural education explains, 'As a professional discipline, architecture spans both the arts and the sciences. Students must have an understanding of the arts and humanities, as well as a basic technical understanding of structures and construction. Skills in communication, both visual and verbal, are essential. While knowledge and skills must be developed, design is ultimately a process of critical thinking, analysis, and creative activity.' Prof. Akhtar Chauhan, Director of Rizvi College of Architecture (Mumbai, India) and founder president of International Association for Humane Habitat (IAHH), provides architectural students his views, discusses various aspects of architectural education and suggests what the education system should look for to create professionals who can work cohesively and sustainably for the future. ON CURRICULUM AND CLASSROOM LEARNING: 'Each student is encouraged to find his or her own expression through creative exploration...several electives are included which provides colleges with opportunities to experiment, explore and evolve their distinctive philosophy. Here at Rizvi, we are concerned with issues of sustainable architecture, affordable housing, appropriate and innovative technology and humane habitat.' ON ACADEMICS AND STUDENTS: 'You are likely to find the dreamers and the rebels. The dreamers create new kinds of environments. The rebels are the ones who want to change the world and look at every aspect of academics accordingly...since students in architecture are generally stressed with creativity, they are more involved in the process of self discovery over marks.' ON SOFT SKILLS: 'These are integrated within the curriculum...It is imperative for students of architecture to learn to express themselves through different mediums, including model making, photography, design, films, and so on.' ON CHALLENGES FACED BY STUDENTS: 'For those getting into first year, the environment change is huge...They need to unlearn those old methods at every step and adopt a new approach which is much more creative and open-ended...Due to emphasis on creativity, almost every student struggles initially to find his or her own expression. And students soon realise that this becomes a lifelong struggle.' ON BALANCE BETWEEN INDIVIDUAL CREATIVITY AND CLIENT'S NEEDS: 'Creating something for a client is a two-way process and every student should try and develop solutions for spaces...Students should think about the environment, sustainability, and aesthetic expression so that their architecture contributes a pride-level in society.' ON FINDING INSPIRATION: 'Nature itself is a great source of inspiration. Students can also look upon the great role models, architects like Charles Correa, Achyut Kanvinde, Christopher Benninger and Laurie Baker...At institutional level, they can approach architecture societies, associations and networks for advice, consultation and guidance.' Read on...
The Free Press Journal:
"To create and innovate, you can't rely on copy and paste!" - Prof. Akhtar Chauhan
Author: Shraddha Kamdar
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 30 nov 2015
India's agriculture and farming products contribute to 15% of its exports (US$ 40 billion), 17% to its GDP, and employs nearly half of its total workforce. R. Gopalakrishnan, business leader and currently non-executive director at TATA Sons Ltd., suggests that policy makers should not ignore India's agriculture sector and bring it into the main policy agenda. The sector is in a great need for a business model innovation. Government programs like 'Digital India' can connect farmers through smart phones, 'Make in India' can work to enhance exports and 'National Skills Development Mission' can upgrade skills of the 260 million farming and agricultural workforce. Experts suggest that India has the potential to double its agricultural exports and increase its farm output by lesser but better trained workers. Senior scientist and director of the Indian Institute of Pulses Research, Narendra Pratap Singh, while explaining India's pulses crisis says, 'It is not lack of research as much as policy support that is currently missing in pulses.' Mr. Gopalakrishnan recommends innovative and intelligent approach to agriculture. Collaborative programs between the center and the states can bring the next green revolution. A research paper that Mr. Gopalakrishnan co-authored with Y.S.P. Thorat (former chairman and MD of National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development), titled 'Sarthak Krishi Yojana', suggests a coherent framework to transform agriculture and is inspired by the national industrialisation experiences through five pillars - technology, risk, institutionalisation, policy and skills. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 21 nov 2015
India's healthcare expenditure market is about US$ 100 billion. According to a report by Internet and Mobile Association of India and KPMG released in early 2015, India have about 159 million mobile internet users and it is projected to reach more than 300 million by 2017. Gartner predicts that Indian healthcare providers will spend US$ 1.2 billion on IT products and services in 2015. While industry estimates the healthcare sector in India to reach US$ 160 billion by 2017 and US$ 280 billion by 2020. Number of startups in India are exploring opportunities that are offered by these conditions. Saurabh Uboweja, co-founder of Credihealth, says 'Transparency, credibility and access to health care are some of the prime challenges that plague the Indian healthcare...Before tapping international patients for medical tourism, there existed great potential within India itself, where hundreds of thousands of patients throng city hospitals everyday from the hinterland.' According to Rohan Desai, founder of PlexusMD, 'In the US, health care expenditure accounts for nearly 10% of its GDP (compared to 5% of GDP in India), which basically means there is huge room for growth in India.' Nirmall L. Kumbhat, director of sales and marketing at another health related startup Godoctr (founded by Ajay Goel), says that it is seeking venture capital funding and focusing on medical tourism market. While Practo has already obtained various rounds of funds from global investors and has been growing since it was founded in 2008 by Shashank ND and Abhinav Lal. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 27 oct 2015
In the recently published World Bank report, 'Ending Extreme Poverty and Sharing Prosperity: Progress and Policies' (Authored by Marcio Cruz, James Foster, Bryce Quillin, Philip Schellekens), it is estimated that the proportion of people living in extreme poverty in the world is expected to decline from 12.8% (902 million) in 2012 to 9.4% (702.1 million) in 2015. Although India had the largest number of poors in 2012, but its poverty rate estimate of 12.4% (Modified Mixed Reference Period or MMRP method) is one of the lowest among those countries with the largest number of poor. The report also mentioned that India might have been overestimating the number of its poors depending upon the method applied to collect data - 21.9% (Uniform Reference Period or URP method) for 2011-12 and 29.5% (Mixed Reference Period or MRP method). However the recent report, 'India Rural Development Report 2013-14' (Authored by Surinder S. Jodhka, P. S. Vijay Shankar, Himanshu Kulkarni, Siddharth Patil, Sanchita Bakshi, Mekhala Krishnamurthy, Kaushal K. Vidyarthee, Amita Baviskar), prepared by IDFC Rural Development Network and endorsed by the Ministry of Rural Development (Govt. of India), estimates that nearly 7% of India's rural population is still living in 'extreme poverty', an issue of great concern for the policy makers. But a good sign is that the number of 'very poor' in rural India came down much faster in the period 2004-12 as compared to the preceding decade - 16.3% in 2004-05 to 6.84% in 2011-12. Report mentions that Chhattisgarh (15.32%) has the highest percentage of 'very poor', followed by Madhya Pradesh (15.04%), Odisha (11.46%), Bihar (10.45%) and Jharkhand (9.23%). Moreover, poverty among marginalized groups like Scheduled Tribes (45%) and Scheduled Castes (31%) in rural areas remains high in 2011-12. When occupational groups are considered for poverty estimates in rural areas, agricultural laborers (40%) have the highest poors, followed by other laborers (33%), self-employed in agriculture (22%) and self-employed in non-agriculture (18.63%). Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 21 oct 2015
In a highly competitive automobile industry in India, companies have to safeguard and secure their industrial designs by going through a registration and validation process. Sarthak Saran of BananaIP explains the step-by-step procedure to file a design application in India and how the companies should devise strategies and protect their designs. According to Mr. Saran, 'Industrial design means the shape and configuration of an article. Design does not protect the functionality of any product. It protects only the ornamentation of the product.' He also explains situations in which a design is considered to be invalid by the Controller of Design. In case there are no objections to the design by the Examiner and the Controller of Design accepts the application, it is registered and published in the patent office journal ordinarily within one month. The design is generally valid for a period of 10 years and can be renewed for another 5 years. The total number of registered designs by major companies in the automobile industry are - Tata Motors (396); Mahindra & Mahindra (205); Hero MotoCorp (85); TVS Motor Company (72). Read on...
Industrial Designs for Automobile Industry in India
Author: Sarthak Saran
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 06 oct 2015
Indian PM Narendra Modi's recent visit to Silicon Valley and meetings with the top executives of US technology giants, have possibilities and opportunities to build partnerships and collaborations for 'Digital India' concept. Moreover access to the attractive 1.25 billion people's market that India offers would be too hard to refuse for Silicon Valley companies. But what these companies also expect is the faster pace of economic reforms, ease of doing business and less bureaucratic hurdles and regulations. The recent exit of global commodities trader and hedge fund manager Jim Rogers from the Indian market gives a negative signal to the global investor community. India's digital upgrade holds a promise for educational and social modernization leading to advanced and skilled workforce, that are preconditions for a thriving economy along with sufficient consumption. Although India's literacy rate continues to rise since independence but it is still well short of projected world literacy of about 90% this year. A lot is still desired in educational infrastructure particularly in rural areas. Internet and latest educational technologies and platforms can help in this regard. India's internet penetration is only 20% of the population and the government's digital thrust can boost this number. Expertise from tech giants can be utilized to improve internet access. Moreover the digital strategy will also spur consumption through ecommerce. According to World Bank, at present consumption accounts for 60% of India's GDP, while Wall Street Journal mentioned that only 1% of India's population shops online. Also 80% of India's population lacks means to pay electronically for goods, says Morgan Stanley research report. The report also mentioned that India's internet market could rise to US$ 137 billion by 2020. All these statistics points towards a better scope and opportunities for businesses in a 'Digital India'. Read on...
How Silicon Valley can turn India's economy around
Author: S. Kumar
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 30 sep 2015
India's Central Statistics Office (CSO) recently revised the methodology to calculate the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The new growth numbers brought a bit of surprise, both in the local as well as the global economic circles, as they made India the fastest growing economy in the world, beating China to take the top spot. According to recent WSJ survey of US economists, China's GDP figures are often seen with skepticism. But when India Real Time asked about India's official GDP numbers to a group of international economists, they seem generally comfortable with its economic direction, even though they haven't fully figured out the official data. Following are the views of some global economists - (1) Shaily Mittal of MNI Indicators (London): 'Although reliability of data can be questioned to some extent, there is no denying the fact that India seems to be growing at a much healthier pace. Overall we remain positive on India.' (2) Chua Han Teng of BMI Research (Singapore): 'The repeated surprises under the new GDP series for the past two quarters and the subsequent revisions to previous data have given rise to more questions than answers regarding India's economy.' (3) Jeremy Schwartz of WisdomTree (New York): 'Overall there has been a big boost in investor attitudes towards India. Recent changes have helped steer India in the right direction.' (4) Kilbinder Dosanjh of Eurasia Group (London): 'Brazil, Russia and South Africa are virtually in recession. If you look at the components within BRICS, India is actually doing very well regardless of the methodology.' (5) Vishnu Varathan of Mizuho Bank (Singapore): 'GDP numbers probably leave unanswered questions about mis-stated growth. But the broader macro-stability objectives of the RBI dilute the direct risks.' Read on...
The Wall Street Journal:
What Do International Economists Really Think of India's Rosy GDP Readings?
Author: Anant Vijay Kala
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 18 sep 2015
Indian IT firms, in order to attract high-end digital contracts that are design and creative skills intensive, are building dedicated design practices, acquiring design firms, modifying their hiring practices to accomodate design and creative talent, and mandating internal marketing design teams to work with clients. Hiring artists and designers seems to be the new trend in the IT industry. According to Paul Nanneti of Capgemini Group, 'More digital work could move to India, but there is a gap in the design capabilities. That is still being done mostly onshore. So we are building out a design and user capability practice in India.' Tata Consultancy Services has been developing its design practice for last 5 years. Satya Ramaswamy of TCS Digital Enterprise says, 'There are some very good artists and designers who don't have bachelor's degrees. So we have to create exceptions in our hiring policies to be able to bring them on board. Even managing artistic and design people is different.' Wipro recently acquired a Danish design firm Designit. According to Rajan Kohli of Wipro Digital, 'While we had been trying to hire senior designers in the market, it became clear to us that we needed a proven design platform, a heritage and brand in design, to be able to attract the best people to Wipro.' Read on...
The Economic Times:
Lack of design and creative skills could shut out Indian IT from lucrative digital contracts
Author: Jochelle Mendonca
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 15 sep 2015
Architects often espouse some philosophical concepts while designing and creating their projects apart from imbibing what their clients want. Architect Mona Doctor Pingel of Studio Naqshbandi in Auroville (Tamil Nadu, India), considers building as not merely a functional structure but a space that effectively addresses the five senses. She is influenced by writer-philosopher-artist Hugo Kukelhaus who considered various aspects of modern architecture as 'inhuman'. Ms. Pingel focuses on creating healthy living and work spaces. She thoroughly studies the impact of built environment on human health before embarking on projects. According to her, 'Starting from location and climate to the materials selected, and the interiors, all add up to prevent the sick building syndrome. A building should bring into perspective all the five senses, thereby giving a three-dimensional angle to the structure. Like the sight of greenery, sound of water, feel of natural stone under the feet, the smell of trees, flowers, and fresh mud, the taste of a charming yet sensitive design, all the five senses need to be addressed by a building.' She uses natural materials in her projects like stone, terracotta blocks, bricks alongwith seamlessly blending greenery into the environment. She believes that architects have to be envoronmentally responsible in their designs and advocates practices of resource efficiency and recycling. She says, 'The scale in which cities are growing is not sustainable. Villages need revival through awareness, education and commitment brought into design.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 13 sep 2015
India's startup ecosystem is bubbling with energy and enthusiasm with large venture capital investments pumped into it. This gives startups opportunity to attract the best talent with attractive compensation packages. The phenomenon is giving rise to heightened competition for talent with MNCs that have also started to offer joining bonus and stock options. The beneficiaries of this are the freshly minted campus recruits of the Tier-1 engineering colleges. According to the latest study by Zinnov, 'On campus compensation by MNCs include bonus and stock options varying between Rs 4 lakh to Rs 10 lakh. The average CTC (cost-to-company) offered by MNCs in Tier-1 colleges was around Rs 14.3 lakh, while startups offered Rs 16.5 lakh. The CTC includes base salaries, variable pay, joining bonus and stocks.' Sandeep Moorthy of Zinnov says, 'MNCs were paying Rs 8 to 9 lakh in 2011 as basic pay, but now the figure has gone to almost Rs 12 lakh. The fixed in-hand pay is comparable for MNCs and startups. The difference is in the value of stocks offered by startups.' According to Sumit Jain, co-founder and CEO of Commonfloor.com, 'We hired 50 from Tier-1 colleges like IITs and IIMs for these roles with compensation packages ranging between Rs 10-25 lakh, that includes ESOPs, retention bonus, equity and cash.' Aneesh Reddy, co-founder and CEO of Capillary Technologies, says 'About 10% of entry-level salary consists of stock.' Read on...
The Times of India:
MNCs compete with startups for talent, match salary, offer esops
Authors: Shalina Pillai, Shilpa Phadnis
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 12 sep 2015
The recent press release of India's Ministry of Finance states that industrial production, Balance of Payment (BoP) and GDP numbers of Q1 of 2015-16 indicate that the economy is improving steadily and manufacturing sector is gradually emerging as leader of industrial growth. In July 2015 Index of Industrial Production (IIP) grew at 4.2% as compared to 0.9% last year. Manufacturing output in first four months of 2015-16 rose by 4% as compared to 2.8% in same period of 2014. According to Shaktikanta Das, Economic Affairs Secretary of Govt. of India, 'Improvement in IIP data for July is in line with steady improvement in the economic growth...The IIP data for capital goods and manufacturing sectors are noteworthy.' Moreover, the press release also mentions the impressive growth of capital goods (10.6%) and consumer durables (11.4%) sectors. Read on...
The Economic Times:
Economy improving & manufacturing sector slowly emerging leader of industrial growth - Finance Ministry
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 05 sep 2015
Shortage of specialized care is one of the critical challenges that India's healthcare system is currently grappling with. As affluence and awareness of Indian population increases, the demand for better specialist-monitored healthcare is expected to rise. India's specialist availability data for selected fields per 1 lakh population is - Cardiologist (5000), Dermatologist (7000), Radiologist (10000), Ophthalmologist (11000). Although US too has shortages in terms of specialists, but the number of specialists available is far better when compared to India - Cardiologist (31500), Dermatologist (10000), Radiologist (25000), Ophthalmologist (19000). So how is India going to tackle the challenge of specialist shortages? Dave Richards of Unitus Seed Fund, is optimistic about the transformative changes that mobile technologies will bring to India's healthcare landscape. He explains five main factors that need to be addressed through technological interventions - (1) Services of specialists must not only accessible, but also affordable to both urban and rural India. (2) Services must be from a trustworthy source. (3) Convenience is a major factor for consumers. (4) Providing consultation needs to be convenient for specialists. (5) Specialists need to earn money. According to him, combination of ubiquitous smartphones and high-speed data networks can create a large-scale affordable platform for delivering healthcare services. Diagnostic services is one area that can be substantially transformed through technological advancements and innovatons - Cardiac Care: Transmitting an ECG image through a smart device to on-demand cardiologist; Dermatology: 85% of skin issues can be fully diagnosed by a dermatologist with a photo taken by a smartphone; Radiology: CT scans, X-rays, ultrasounds etc can be captured by technician and then transmitted to remote radiologists; Ophthalmology: Eye screaning for diseases and refraction issues can now be done by technicians using low-cost devices, routed to ophthalmologists via mobile networks. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 04 sep 2015
Use of technology for customer interactions, particularly for large businesses, is often seen as an automation and cost cutting exercise. And for customers it may not all be a pleasant experience. In case of small and medium businesses (SMBs), considering their limited budgets and other challenges, use of technology as a customer support tool should be a well thought out decision. It should provide them with cost savings alongwith building lasting customer relationships. Varun Shoor, founder and CEO of Kayako, provides ways in which SMBs can utilize technologies to enhance customer experience and create best value for their businesses - (1) Understand customer context: Have clarity of purpose; Evaluate context of customer inquiries; Availability of fast and easy access of information to resolve customer iquiries; Updating and sharing information with other departments (2) Deliver personal service at scale: Try to know your customer better; Understand customer's interaction points across all channels; Seek customer's needs and wants through surveys (3) Stop firefighting, start anticipating: Find ways to interact with customers even if they aren't; Use effective CRM tools; Utilize customer analytics (4) Customers want to help themselves: Provide them with self-explanatory information and tools; Give access to effective FAQs, intelligent search, tutorials and videos. Read on...
4 Ways Technology Helps Build better Customer Relationships
Author: Varun Shoor
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 31 aug 2015
India's healthcare has various systemic challenges that include lack of specialist rural care, doctor-patient ratio less than the WHO prescribed figure of 1:1000, long wait times and less time available for doctor consultation. Moreover the rise of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) is a cause of serious concern. Anil Kumar, Founder & CEO of SmartRx, explains how technologies like cloud services, wearable devices, internet of things (IoT) can tackle some of these challenges and mentions four areas where healthcare transformation is happening in India with a promise of better prospects in future - (1) Improve Access: Online appointments and remote consultations. (2) Care Delivery: Post-discharge care and patient monitoring; Access to health reports and data. (3) Distribution: Home health services; Delivery of medicines and diagnostics services. (4) Health Management: Wellness apps and tools; Disease management and niche online communities; Personal health devices and wearables. Read on...
Healthcare Transformation in India Through Technology
Author: Anil Kumar
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 25 aug 2015
As technology continues to pervade every aspect of human life, businesses that provide technology products and solutions will grow and expand. Moreover as the pace of technological innovation increases alongwith competitive race for quality and price, the industry will require workforce that has newer skills and competencies, giving rise to career options that were not available earlier. Siddarth Bharwani, Director of Brand and Marketing at Jetking Infotrain Ltd, provides 10 career paths that would be in demand in the technology and IT space in future in India - (1) Wearable Experts (2) Tech Experts for Artificial Intelligence/Robotics (3) Digital Artisans (4) App Developers (5) Information Security Analysts (6) Computer Systems Analysts (7) IT Project Managers (8) Computer Forensics Experts (9) Big Data Analysts (10) 3D Printing Designers. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 22 aug 2015
India's agriculture sector becomes important to the economy due to the workforce employed, nearly half of the total, and contribution of 17% to the GDP (Gross Domestic Product). The sector has gone through many transformations - 'Green Revolution' of 1960s, improvement in the yield of wheat with introduction of high yielding varieties and establishment of research facilities and use of better fertilizers and irrigation in the early 1970s, and subsequent transformation in the output of rice due to large-scale use of tube wells, and post-1980s saw the shift in focus towards increasing yields and production of oilseed, fruits and vegetables. During 1960s and 1970s the growth of agriculture was 3-4% while during 1980s it became 5-6%. In 1990s it reached 6-7% but during later part of 1990s and post-2000 it declined to 1-2%. Amit Kapoor and Sankalp Sharma of Institute of Competitiveness in India, explain the various aspects of Indian agriculture and provide recommendations to improve and grow the agricultural economy. According to them government should focus on areas like rural infrastructure, better access to credit and enabling value addition by farmers. They highlight four aspects of Indian agriculture - (1) Overdependence on monsoon for irrigation: There is need for better irrigation policy, utilization of rivers, rural tourism and infrastructure development. (2) Inhibition to technology adoption: Research community has to play a better role in guiding farmers and learning about their challenges and advocate technological solutions. Agricultural policy should make farmers as the focus of every policy action. Farming in India has to move beyond 'subsistence' level. (3) Lack of availability of formal agricultural credit to farmers: Requires better insurance schemes, behavioral interventions to make farmers aware of their decisions, promotion of financial planning, and making farmers feel financially secure and independent. Venture finance can be considered for agricultural producers who want to do value addition for their agricultural produce. (4) Inefficient market conditions: Although government procurement at MSP (Minimum Support Price) is beneficial to farmers but they cannot command the price that they could in a free market. Moreover inefficient storage leads to wastage of produce. Farmers should have the flexibility to sell directly to interested foreign buyers. Read on...
Here's why we need to focus on agriculture in India!
Authors: Amit Kapoor, Sankalp Sharma
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 29 jul 2015
The US-India Business Council (USIBC) expects collaborative opportunities between India and US in the medical devices sector. This will boost investments and skilled human resources to the sector. USIBC seeks from the Indian government to remove barriers to doing business in India and proposes a separate regulatory framework for medical devices, that are currently considered as pharmaceuticals under the Drug and Cosmetics Act of India. It estimates the Indian medical devices industry to grow from the current US$ 4.4 billion (4th largest in Asia) to US$ 7 billion by 2016. 'Make in India' have potential to drive the sector through innovation and investments and developing an ecosystem for medical devices industry. According to Maulik Nanavaty, SVP of Boston Scientific and the head of the USIBC delegation visiting India, 'India has made considerable strides in developing innovative industries across a number of sectors and maintains strong potential to do the same in medical devices.' USIBC Director and Legal Counsel Amy Hariani says, 'Medical devices industry is going through rapid transformation in India and is projected to grow at a higher rate as health insurance becomes more widely available and the country's consumers continue to demand better healthcare services.' Read on...
Indian medical device industry can grow to $7bn by 2016: USIBC
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 29 jul 2015
According to the recent report by National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC), India's healthcare sector is expected to grow to Rs. 9.64 lakh crore by 2017 while the incremental workforce requirement is estimated to reach 74 lakh in 2022. In 2013 healthcare human resources requirement figure was 35.9 lakh. There are 11 lakh allied healthcare professionals in diverse fields and 6.21 lakh allopathic doctors and the sector is still quite short of the current demand. The report further states that there are only 356 registered medical institutions with the total admission capacity of 45000 at undergraduate level and about 24000 at post-graduate level. Dilip Chenoy, MD and CEO of NSDC, says 'There is a need for both qualitative and quantitative skill development initiatives in the healthcare sector. We also need to focus heavily on upgrading technical skills of the workforce for advanced healthcare services.' Read on...
The Economic Times:
India's healthcare sector to require 74 lakh employees by 2022: NSDC
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 15 jul 2015
There seems to be lack of commitment by companies regarding the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) rules, that came into effect from 01 April 2014, and were introduced in the new Companies Act of 2013. Only 1/3rd of the top listed companies, from the half of the BSE-30 that have disclosed their CSR spending figures for 2014-15, were able to spend the required, minimum 2% of the profits, on CSR activities in the first year. Those taking their CSR with the proactive approach include RIL, Wipro, ITC, Hindustan Unilever and Mahindra & Mahindra. And the corporates that missed the 2% spending mark include Infosys (marginally), HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank, Axis Bank, SBI, Dr. Reddy's and Bajaj Auto. The total amount spent by the 15 companies was a little more than Rs 2100 crore. The government in its efforts to improve monitoring of social welfare activities of companies under the companies law has set up a six-member panel and asked it to provide suggestions. According to the Ministry of Corporate Affairs website, members of the panel include - Anil Baijal, Former Secretary of Govt. of India; Prof. Deepak Nayyar, Jawaharlal Nehru University; Onkar S. Kanwar, Chairman & MD of Appollo Tyres; Kiran Karnik, Former President of NASSCOM; Secretary, Department of Public Enterprises; Additional Secretary, Ministry of Corporate Affairs. Read on...
The Economic Times:
CSR regime begins on disappointing note; two-third companies miss target
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 30 jun 2015
In addition to 'Make in India' initiative, it would be the right opportunity and strategy for India to also promote arts, design, and other creative concepts and activities. The creative community in India holds a view that 'Make in India' campaign should be complemented with participation in international art shows and cultural reach-out campaigns and also an upgrade of India's design standards. Feroze Gujral, philanthropist and art enthusiast, says 'The world now considers India to be the most important market for art and it would be prudent to participate in art fairs and organise cultural reach-outs that would tell the world about contemporary India.' Peter Martin of APCO Worldwide considers India's soft power potential as significant and suggests that more emphasis should be given to tap it. According to Latheesh Lakshman, artist and designer, 'India needs to set up art fairs and participate in such events abroad...such events would also promote a design revamp in India. There is a significant lag in the design potential of India and the standards that are in operation today.' Product designer Satish Gokhale says, 'Make in India campaign must have a design component that will focus on making manufacturing design-centric. In India, we have not fully understood the significance of design and application of design thinking. The Make in India campaign can even change the way of green growth of our country if synced with design and design thinking.' He further points out that India's creative potential will get a boost by adding a cultural reach-out and design platforms as part of the campaign. Although national design policy was brought out in 2007 that considered a need for design overhaul in India to improve manufacturing competitiveness, there is a lot that is expected from the present government to lead India towards a design-enabled economy. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 29 jun 2015
Developing a design ecosystem in India is critical for the effective implementation of the 'Make in India' concept. Recent announcement by the Government of India regarding smart cities and housing for all by 2020 will provide a boost for the design industry. In an interview, Pradeep Nair of Autodesk, explains how his company would participate in 'Make in India' and Digital India' initiatives, what are opportunities in India in the design space and how the company plans to evolve in the Indian market in future. According to him, 'Our go-to-market strategy constitutes of having a strong and expansive partner ecosystem spread across multiple cities. With the aim of democratising technology, we provide the best of design innovation solutions to large, mid-size and SMBs. We also ensure that our partners are trained requisitely with the apt skills to provide these solutions to the customers.' While mentioning the company's focus in India he explains that automobile design, manufacturing, architecture, infrastructure and the media & entertainment sectors, will be the main thrust areas. He further elaborates, 'We have been advocating Distributed Manufacturing as the key to the Next Industrial Revolution and encouraging companies, individuals to developing groundbreaking hardware, software, materials, marketplaces and maker spaces through 3D technology.' He sees cloud as the future of design. According to him, 'Leveraging the power of cloud can help in democratising design technology and enable the future of making things. Every software provider, whether it be design or IT, is undergoing a massive transformation where users are opting for cloud as the preferred platform for computation. Pervasive connectivity enabled by software that tap into cloud, lets project teams tap expertise globally...we're seeing the digital and physical sides of products and projects become more deeply entwined. Autodesk will be playing a pioneering role in driving this evolution by harnessing the power of cloud, leverage connected desktops and cloud experiences tailored for designers, engineers, visual artists worldwide.' Read on...
The Financial Express:
We see cloud as the future for the design industry - Pradeep Nair
Author: Sudhir Chowdhary
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 16 jun 2015
India's technology industry landscape was earlier driven by export of software and services, but now it is undergoing accelerated transformation through mobile phones. There are 969.89 million wireless phone subscribers in India at the end of March'2015, with 862 million of them being 'active users'. About 100 million access internet through mobile devices like smartphones. Tech-driven companies attracted US$ 2.36 billion during first quarter of 2015. Recently there has been high profile mergers and acquisitions in the mobile and internet space. E-commerce is going through a boom and disruptive phase with dynamics of industries being reshaped and remodelled. Millions of users are thronging on to online marketplaces to buy whole gamut of products and goods, and avail various services with just clicks and swipes. Professor Vivek Wadhwa of Duke University says, 'India will see a technology boom over the next 5 years that will make the US dotcom boom look lame.' Software product business ecosystem is taking shape in India. iSpirt (Indian Software Product Industry Roundtable) is a step to nurture software product ideas and entrepreneurs. India evolved new ways of bridging the digital divide and create domestic demand for applications and services. This can be a lesson for companies that serve the digitally poor around the world. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 13 jun 2015
With 55% increase in smartphones and numbering 140 million in 2014, India is rapidly transitioning into a smartphone driven internet and ecommerce market. According to report 'Internet Trends 2015' by Mary Meeker of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, smartphones are the main source of 65% of the internet traffic and 41% of e-commerce in India. Professor Vivek Wadhwa of Duke University explains how the next technology revolution is brewing in India with smartphones as the main catalyst. India's mobile leap is more direct and speedy as compared to the evolved transition of technologies in US, from mainframes to PCs to tablets and then finally to smartphones. According to him, 'The capability of these devices will keep increasing as prices drop. Indians will benefit from the same developments in technology as the West, with smart watches and fitness-tracking wristbands and smart glasses and connected contact lenses. Smartphones will be used to order goods, read news, monitor crop growth, access government services, report corruption and crime, and manage smart cities and health. Mobile computing will be everywhere.' To benefit from this wave of smartphone penetration, Indian developers and entrepreneurs have to find innovative solutions to old problems. He suggests, 'They need to take advantage of the unique properties of smartphones and tablets, such as the ability to gather data via sensors and lightweight user inputs, and hyper-personalisation of content and operation.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 30 may 2015
Entrepreneurship is a critical component of economic growth and contributes to development, industrialization and employment generation. For entrepreneurship to thrive requires a facilitating ecosystem with government's proactive business policies, participation of private sector, accessible markets, availability of venture capital, readily available skilled human resources, and environment of risk taking. In 2015 GEI (Global Entrepreneurship Index) India is ranked 104th and trails all BRICS economies. The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) study in 2013 pointed out that entrepreneurial attitude is relatively low in India when compared to other BRICS countries. Only 61% of the adults (age 18-64) surveyed looked at entrepreneurship as a desirable career option. Moreover the enterprise surveys from World Bank reveals that the new firm density, described as number of new corporations created per 1,000 working age (16-64 years) individuals, is found to be dismally low in India. Although recently constituted Ministry of Entrepreneurship (with Skill Development) by the Government of India is a step in right direction to boost entrepreneurship focused policy and decision making but concrete visible actions are to be taken soon considering the highly competitive and fast paced world of entrepreneurial ventures. Amit Kapoor, President & CEO of India Council on Competitiveness and Chairman of the Institute for Competitiveness, points out the issue of entrepreneurship clusters and why India has faltered in a coherent cluster approach that enables enterprise creation. According to him, 'The fact that exports from the country have not been able to keep pace with the imports points to rising domestic demand. In addition, it also points to a failure on the part of India to 'make' and equally importantly 'market' our goods and services well in the global economy.' He further adds, 'The thrust on Make in India is thus understandable. Augmentation of large corporations with the development of MSME clusters, especially with newer enterprises and entrepreneurs, will go a long way in bettering prospects for the future.' He suggests the following key elements to nurture an entrepreneurial ecosystem in India - Education that promotes independent thinking and risk taking; Expand the funding opportunities; Technology development by talented and expert individuals; Improved access to infrastructure like electricity, internet, land etc; Social and cultural support by accepting failure as an inherent part of learning; Better regulatory environment; Stringent IP (Intellectual Property) protection regime; Collaborative environment with trust and teamwork between institutions, networks and people. He finally adds, 'In our view, specialization, innovation and marketing (SIM) should be the basis of entrepreneurship that would drive more value creation in the Indian context. Newer business models that focus on society, scale and simplicity would better the outcomes for India in the future.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 21 may 2015
Value of data lies with how it can be utilized for better and improved decision-making and subsequent beneficial actions. Governments collect and hold substantial amount of valuable data on variety of parameters. Open data movement intends to give wider digital access to public data to increase government transparency, efficiency and accountability. A report by McKinsey Global Institute estimates global economic value of open data at US$ 3 trillion. Open Data Research Network, funded by Canada's International Development Research Centre and led by World Wide Web Foundation, is exploring the emerging impacts of open data in developing countries and how it can help address specific challenges. In Chennai (India) researchers found that existing municipal data on the urban poor is unreliable. Lack of data on the number and location of public toilets, hinder public sanitation investments to reach vulnerable communities. Local officials with the help of researchers significantly improved their procurement processes by creating and connecting different open databases. Another case study in India focused on the extractive energy sector, where no publicly available data has hindered regulatory enforcement in the production of coal, oil and natural gas. In Phillippines, researchers looked at how business, media, civil society and other groups benefit from national open data policy introduced in 2011 that required local governments to disclose financial and procurement related data on their websites. This project identified where local governments can be more accountable. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 18 may 2015
According to S. Ayyappan, Secretary of Department of Agricultural Research & Education (DARE) and Director General of Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), 'Multidisciplinary research and applications are required to improve agriculture in India.' He suggests, 'The future of India and the world lay in everyone becoming interested in the outcomes of agriculture, since it's everybody's business.' Vijay Chandru, Chairman and CEO of Strand Life Sciences, says 'Innovations are happening in genome sequencing and it might soon become personalized and a precise way of diagnosing diseases. There is need for biologists, bioinformaticians and information scientists to collaborate in this regard.' Read on...
Research needed to improve agriculture, says expert
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 10 may 2015
Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) like cancer, diabetes, chronic respiratory diseases and cardiovascular disease, are a major healthcare concern for India. They cause more than 60% of deaths and amount to 70% of healthcare spending. Health economist Dr. Kenneth Thorpe, chairman of Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease, is working with Indian government to develop a policy framework to effectively tackle India's healthcare issues and concerns. According to him, 'It's got to be public-private partnership (PPP). So today, India spends about 4% of its GDP on healthcare. About 1.5% of that is the government and the rest is private. So we just need to scale that up - probably proportionally to something like 5-6% of GDP.' He further adds, 'We really need to build up the primary care infrastructure. We need more manpower, more hospital beds, but we really need capacity - building up primary care clinics, primary care models that really deal with identifying chronic disease, preventing it and managing it...The government has to play a role in funding, particularly low-income populations - the poor that live in rural areas, urban poor...The government's got to play a leadership role...We need to sort of change the way that healthcare services are paid for. So today in India, 60 percent of spending is out of pocket. So we need to change that from out-of-pocket buying to something like a primary care package (subscription) or an insurance product.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 24 apr 2015
For organizations to continuously innovate and provide better products and services, it is imperative that innovation and creativity becomes part of the workplace culture. Dave Ranson, MD of Moog India Technology Center (MITC), says 'A workplace culture wiped clean of fear of failure has the best climate for innovation.' He suggests the following to encourage innovation - (1) What It Takes To Innovate: Right people; Right processes; Right resources; Discipline in strategy, planning and execution of innovation programs; Leadership support. (2) What Leaders Must Do To Foster Innovation: Drive away fear of failure from workplace; Knowing when pursuing innovation and give it the best; Continually reinforcing courage to take risks; Encourage the practice of learning from failure, adjust and move on; Recognize and reward innovative behavior; Judge innovation projects with two questions (Is it producing valued and tangible outcomes and is it creating valuable new knowledge). Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 16 apr 2015
Using technology to bring social change and improve people's lives is a challenging task. 'One-size-fits-all' approaches to implement technology strategies may not be effective and provide expected results. There is need to have proper context, clarity of purpose and supportive environment to fulfil the promises that technology intends to bring for the well-being and welfare of the society. Professor Kentaro Toyama of University of Michigan, in his latest book 'Geek Heresy: Rescuing Social Change from the Cult of Technology', argues that technologists undermine efforts at social progress by promoting 'packaged interventions' at the expense of more difficult reforms. Prof. Toyama has worked extensively in India and launched various projects that sought to use computers and Internet connectivity to improve education and reduce poverty. Following are selected excerpts from his Q&A session done by Brian Bergstein, deputy editor of MIT Technology Review - • 'There are already several randomized, controlled trials of schools with and without One Laptop per Child. Generally, what most of these studies show is that schools with laptops did not see their children gain anything in terms of academic achievement, in terms of grades, in terms of test scores, in terms of attendance, or in terms of supposed engagement with the classroom.' • 'I think it's perfectly sensible for parents to want a certain amount of exposure to technology for their children, both as a form of explorative play and as a way to get them used to technology that they'll undoubtedly encounter later in their life. I think the fundamental error people make is that, therefore, we should have the computer be the primary instrument of education for all children...I think one of the issues is we tend to think of education as being the content. We overemphasize the importance of content, as opposed to emphasizing the part that's really difficult in any good education, which is adult-supervised motivation - the motivation of the child to learn something.' • 'If you measure some positive benefit in the technology case, your conclusion is that technology helped. But it was always the people that we worked with, the partners that we chose and the people on the ground who interacted with the people that we wanted to support. All of those human factors were required for the technology itself to have an impact; whether the technology helped or not was really up to people.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 02 apr 2015
India's growing number of Internet users, about 300 million and just behind China and US, is facilitating the rise of e-commerce. Considering the ease, convenience and available choices for consumers to buy online indicates that e-commerce will stay and continue to grow. But legal experts view the current laws regarding internet businesses insufficient to handle the unique attributes of e-commerce business processes and transactions. Click-wrap agreements on various e-commerce websites that act as 'user agreements/e-contracts' also involves sharing of customer's personal information with third party service providers that are invisible to users/customers. In India, the Information Technology Act, 2000, deals with the concept of violation of privacy in a very limited sense (from a handling of data perspective). All contracts in India, whether electronic or otherwise, are governed by Indian Contract Act 1872, which mandates free consent, lawful consideration, lawful object and competency to contract. Specific legal framework related to e-contracts and online agreements is still underdeveloped and doesn't provide much recourse to consumers in cases such as violation of privacy or misuse of personal information by third parties in e-commerce transactions. E-commerce websites operating in India are 'intermediaries' as per the provisions of the IT Act. The IT Act has exempted intermediaries from any liability in respect of third-party information, data or communication link hosted by it. The Consumer Disputes Act, 1986, does not address the role played by online marketplaces and evolving forms of service providers. This need to be addressed. Online businesses are currently governed by multiple laws like IT Act, Indian Contract Act, Companies Act 2013, Indian Penal Code 1860, and also other taxation, intellectual property and employment laws. Considering the dynamic nature of e-commerce and internet businesses there should be a unified and distinct legislation that governs these businesses. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 01 apr 2015
For long-term success and continuous growth of their businesses, corporate leaders focus on innovation, performance excellence and risk management as their priority agenda. Their innovation strategy includes 10 types of innovation - product, service, platform, structure, process, business model, network, channel, customer engagement and brand. According to Andy Boynton, Bill Fischer and William Bole, co-authors of 'The Idea Hunter', as a long-term success mantra, corporate innovators need to cultivate habits of curiosity, deliberate observation, diverse information seeking and engagement with other creative people. Peter Sims, author and entrepreneur, explains 'In addition to idea flow, enterprise innovators need to nurture habits of taking 'little bets' via creative play, prototyping, learning and pivoting.' Jeff Dyer, Hal Gregersen and Clayton M. Christensen, co-authors of 'The Innovator's DNA: Mastering the Five Skills of Disruptive Innovators', suggest 'At an individual and organisational level, corporate innovation calls for skills in questioning, observing, networking, experimenting and making associations. Gerald Tellis, Director of the Centre for Global Innovation at University of Southern California, says 'In an increasingly competitive and globalised economy, it is only 'unrelenting innovation' that can help companies sustain a long term advantage.' According to Madanmohan Rao, research director at YourStory Media, large corporations can seek innovative ideas and creative solutions by partnering and collaborating with entrepreneurial startups in variety of ways. This will help them save time, money and effort that goes into in-house innovation. He provides 15 tips and suggestions for big organizations to tap startup innovation - (1) Acquisition (2) Accelerators (3) Calls to Collaboration (4) Hackathons and Hackdays (5) Startup Competitions (6) Conferences and Local Meetups (7) Startup Hotspot Visits (8) Customer Engagement Models (9) Thought Leadership Via Startup Media (10) Special Interest Groups (11) Startup Networks (12) Entrepreneurship Networks (13) Incubators (14) R&D Grants to Entrepreneur-focused Universities (15) Entrepreneurs in Residence. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 28 mar 2015
Internet of Things (IoT) has the potential to transform and disrupt various industries like healthcare, infrastructure management, transportation, utility etc. Recent report by Verizon estimates that by 2025, organizations that extensively use IoT technologies in their products and operations will be upto 10% more profitable. According to Arun Kundu, Director of Professional Services at Verizon Enterprise Solutions, manufacturing sector will be hugely impacted by IoT. He says, 'IoT is creating opportunities to capture and interpret data leading to new services, avoiding commoditisation. And of course, manufacturers are always looking for ways to streamline processes and increase efficiency. IoT-enabled asset tracking not only provides manufacturers with better control of their logistics, but using the data can also enable them to offer their customers near real-time tracking of shipments, an appealing differentiator.' He further adds, 'The factory of the future will be more capital efficient and flexible. Updates from product design teams will be introduced more quickly, and customisations incorporated more easily. Schedules will reflect changes in demand within hours, not days. Managers will be able to see what stock and raw materials are on hand, and exactly where they are, from their tablet.' Remote monitoring of the conditions of the equipment and visualize indicator's of imminent failure, and production-line monitoring and automation leading to predictive maintenance are some other uses of IoT that Mr. Kundu mentions. Read on...
Internet of Things can have massive impact on manufacturing
Author: Rakesh Rao
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 25 mar 2015
The recent rise of India's e-commerce industry with names like Flipkart, Snapdeal, Quikr etc making headlines in the media, rush of just-out-of-school entrepreneurs to create start-ups and venture capitalists pumping money in internet-based companies, there is much talk of the development of India's start-up ecosystem. But there are critics who point out that India's laws predate the start-up and e-commerce culture. They argue that even though billions of dollars are being invested in the sector, there are lack of clearly defined laws, regulator, ministry or watchdog. As e-commerce companies look to take the IPO (Initial Public Offering) route and seek listing on stock exchanges, there is news of SEBI's (Securities and Exchange Board of India) working towards making the norms easier but at the same time safeguard interests of investors. One of India's top investor, Rakesh Jhunjhunwala, in a recent interview with CNBC-TV18 commented that Indian e-commerce sector is in a bubble with high valuations of companies and lack of profitable business models. Read on...
India's startup ecosystem needs a Sebi of its own, and now!
Author: Itika Sharma Punit
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 18 mar 2015
The consistent growth of 'Business Process Outsourcing' (BPO) industry over the last years in India have now transformed it from a simple outsourcing utility to a mature and innovative sector. It is currenty often termed as 'Business Process Management'. This transition has also affected the human resources employed in the industry. There is a trend towards niche expertise and more specialization. According to Muralidhar Teppala of Genpact Headstrong Capital Markets, 'Business Process Manager' is a profile that will be in high demand in the BPO/ITeS industry in 2015. Similar sentiments are echoed by Manuel D'Souza of Serco Global Services, 'As more and more companies realise the impact effective business process management can have on business performance and profitability, the demand for qualified business process managers will continue to grow.' Experts suggest following required skills for effective business process manager - (1) A good blend of communication skills and technical competence like computer proficiency & knowledge of Six Sigma, Total Quality Management etc. (2) Embracing growth and learning. (3) Critical thinking and problem solving. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 13 mar 2015
'Make in India' concept has the potential to do for manufacturing sector what economic reforms of 1991 did to the information technology industry (IT services & BPO). Jugaad is an inherent Indian trait to find a fix or an instant solution by applying unconventional and non-standard processes. According to Banmali Agrawala, president & CEO of GE South-Asia, 'The Make in India campaign has been getting a lot of jugaad reaction, particularly in the case of capital goods, to raise import barriers and to go around World Trade Organization norms to impose forced localization. Jugaad is at best a stop-gap measure. To move forward, encouraging creativity and innovation at an affordable price point through serious research and development must become the cornerstone of this campaign.' He points out factors that drive global investments in manufacturing, namely domestic demand, skilled workforce and efficient governance. He further explains and analyzes these three factors in Indian context and concludes - India's domestic demand is modest, requires thrust from government spending, support through competitive financing for exports, production efficiencies and quality output at competitive prices; India have skilled workforce but to leverage its full potential needs focus on innovation, research, design, engineering and high end of value-added manufacturing. Indian companies have to invest more in such manufacturing related activities; Although India has strong institutions in place but there is room for improvement in achieving better and efficient governance with transparency and predicability. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 08 mar 2015
The pharmaceutical industry in India and around the world is one of the fastest growing industry with a total revenue of about US$ 3 trillion. Indian pharma industry's revenue in 2013 was US$ 12 billion and is primarily driven by exports in the regulatory and emerging markets. India has 20,000 pharma companies and 60,000 distributors and large number of big and small retailers. Marketing is one of the most critical component of pharma industry. Continuously chaning business environment due to strict regulations, policies and guidelines have driven companies to adopt innovative ways to expand their customer base and stay ahead of the competition. Pawan Chaudhary, CMD of Venus Remedies, provides his perspective on the evolving aspects of the pharma industry, marketing strategies to survive in the dynamic and competitive environment and the future challenges that the industry faces. According to him, Patent Act of 2005 has shifted the approach of most pharma companies from merely generics to branded generics and towards R&D orientation. They generally spend 8-10% of their total sales on marketing related activities to properly position and promote their products. Due to highly specialized nature of his company's products, he explains the following tools that are used for effective marketing - Key Opinion Leaders (KOL); Webinars; Expositions; Conferences/Seminars; Social Media; Continuing Medical Education (CME) Programs. According to him the challenges faced by the pharma industry are - Rising costs of research and development with 8-10 years of time and US$ 800-1000 million investment to successfully develop a new chemical entity; Increasing regulations and drug policies like National Pharmaceutical Pricing Policy (NPPA) to reduce prices of essential medicines. He suggests that companies now need more agile, smarter and smaller marketing teams and field staff. They have to focus on new drug development and competitive pricing strategies to provide best value to customers. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 03 mar 2015
While speaking on 'democracy, inclusion and prosperity', Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor Raghuram Rajan, said that reforms must focus on creating capacities to provide a strong government instead of creating 'layers' that become obstacles. Mentioning political scientist Francis Fukuyama and his analysis of the emergence of political systems, he said 'Countries would have to strengthen government and regulatory capabilities to remove barriers and push development.' Adding on to the definition of liberal democracies - that are best at fostering political freedoms and economic success and have three important pillars: a strong government, rule of law and democratic accountability - he talked of free markets as the fourth pillar that makes liberal democracies prosper. He also showed concern for the rising inequality of opportunity in industrial countries that threaten these pillars. According to him, India is strong in democratic accountability and somewhat better in terms of rule of law, but it has to go a long way to improve the capacity of the government to deliver governance and public services. Read on...
The Economic Times:
Reform to create capacities for strong governance- RBI's Raghuram Rajan
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 02 mar 2015
Indian society is facing multiple challenges like high poverty rates, child labor, female foeticide, illiteracy, malnutrition etc. To overcome these issues, considering the substantial population size, requires mobilization of large amount of resources, social innovations, entrepreneurial spirit and commitment from government, private sector and civil society. Philanthropists, alongwith NGOs and local level community and grassroots organizations, are trying to tackle old problems in innovative ways. And there is still large untapped potential that is waiting to be harnessed to make required changes for the betterment of Indian society particularly in the rural and tribal areas. Santanu Mishra, co-founder and executive trustee of Smile Foundation, explains how an initiative by Rajasthan government 'Padharo Mahari Lado' to protect the girl child is bearing fruit due to the collaborative efforts of Department of Health, Barmer, National Rural Health Mission (NRHM), Cairns India Limited and Smile Foundation. According to him, 'When a social innovation is intended through collaboration, it is very necessary that it features a common agenda, unbroken communication, effective measurement systems, and the presence of a core organization.' Read on...
How Indian NGOs are marrying Philanthropy with Social Innovations?
Author: Santanu Mishra
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 20 feb 2015
Government of India's Union Budget 2015-16 is now just around the corner and business community is eagerly awaiting to find out what is in it for them. India's entrepreneurial ecosystem is evolving and going through structural shifts with incubators, accelerators, angel funds, startups, entrepreneurs etc getting more attention then before. The new generation of startup successes is inspiring young entrepreneurs to get into the startup mode. Moreover government itself has shown its commitment through Prime Minister Narendra Modi's 'Make in India' and 'Digital India' concepts. Also last year Finance Minister Arun Jaitley himself announced the setting up of Rs. 10000 Crore fund for startups and small & medium enterprises (SMEs). V. Shankar, mentor & investor with Chennai Angels, says 'The good news is that start-ups are on the budgetary radar, and we hope that all the above and more promotional measures are put into place to generate a vibrant start-up culture.' Dipti Gore, co-founder of Techstory.in, lists and explains some of the expectations that startups and entrepreneurs have from the government - (1) Specifics of the Rs 10,000 crore startup fund declared by the government. (2) Favorable taxation environment for startups. (3) Elimination of Angels Tax. (4) India's low ease of doing business ranking of 62 out of 125 countries, is a cause of concern for businesses, particularly for entrepreneurs as the speed to launch an idea into business is a critical element of their success. Administrative aspects of doing business have to be optimized in favor of startups. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 14 feb 2015
Entrepreneur mindsets are key to create innovative and thriving businesses. India's entrepreneurial ecosystem is in its formative stages to attract young minds and provide them with tools, skills, environment and market to succeed in both technology and non-technology businesses. Chirag Kulkarni, serial entrepreneur and CEO of C&M Group, has interacted with around 500 founders who are building startups and noted some often repeated beliefs that seem to be a cause of concern. According to him the following 5 mindsets have potential to hinder the progress of Indian startups - (1) We can't do anything unless a VC invests in us. (2) I need to follow an existing model of success. (3) We can't build a successful company, unless we move to Silicon Valley. (4) Screw marketing, business development, culture, and anything other than engineering, sales, and operations. (5) We don't have the potential to be a billion dollar company. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 14 feb 2015
'Startup Village', founded in 2012 in Kochi (Kerala), is India's first Public Private Partnership (PPP) technology business incubator jointly promoted by the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India, Technopark and MobME Wireless. According to Mayor of Menlo Park, Catherine Carlton, 'We are extremely impressed by the talent of the youngsters here as well as by the kind of support that the government is extending. We will be very pleased to welcome selected start-ups, possibly 100 companies this year, to Silicon Valley and provide them an opportunity to expand and grow their business there'. She was here to sign a twin city agreement with Kochi Mayor Tony Chammany to boost partnerships between Menlo Park and Kochi. Sanjay Vijayakumar, Chairman of Startup Village, said 'We aim to boost Landing Pad, a project supported by the Kerala Government at the Silicon Valley, through this new tie-up. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 04 feb 2015
Entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship are important constituents of the business ecosystem and play an important role to build a thriving economy. Entrepreneurs take risks and channelize resources to create products and services, and develop businesses and organizations taking them in the direction they consider would generate profits for the stakeholders. Entrepreneurs need skills, both inherent and acquired, to build lasting and successful businesses. A. K. Mishra, Founder and Director of 'Art of Success', provides set of specific skills for entrepreneurs to succeed in a competitive and dynamic business environment - (1) Creativity (2) Teamwork and Determination (3) Functional Knowledge of Business (4) Risk-Taking Capability (5) Patience. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 31 jan 2015
Last year India became the first country to pass CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) as a law that requires corporates (Net Worth of Rs 500 crore or more; or Turnover of Rs 1000 crore or more; or Net Profit of Rs 5 crore or more) to compulsorily spend 2% of their net profits on social development annually. Recently PM Narendra Modi made 'Make in India' concept as part of government's policy and program to encourage and boost local manufacturing industry and make it a global hub. There are steps that are expected to be taken by the government to promote skill development among the youth to fulfil this mission. According to National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) the growing skill gap in India is estimated to be more than 250 million workers across various sectors by 2022. NSDC is a public-private partnership (PPP) initiated for skill development. Corporates can support the skill development programs and projects as part of their CSR activities. This collaborative approach will be a win-win for government, businesses and public, as it develops skilled workforce for companies, jobs for the unemployed and thriving economy for the nation. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 29 jan 2015
According to World Bank, remittances to India i.e. money transfers by Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) employed outside India (about 14 million Indians) topped the chart and were US$ 71 billion in 2013-14. Promoth Manghat, vice president of global operations at UAE Exchange, says 'Remittances from the UAE to developing countries, including India, increased by 8 to 10 per cent between 2013 and 2014.' Transfer operators cite the stregthening of dollar against Asian currencies as one of the main driver for remittances. According to Sudhesh Giriyan, COO at Xpress Money, their top performing markets are India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Philippines. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 23 jan 2015
Recent report by IHS, released at World Economic Forum (WEF) at Davos, observed that India's economy is expected to grow faster than that of China's in the next few years. Moreover International Monetary Fund (IMF) also forecasts that India's economy would grow at 6.3% in 2015 and at 6.5% in 2016, overtaking China's projected rate of growth (2014 growth rate- China 7.4%, India 5.8%). Nobel Laureate & economist Paul Krugman while speaking on Indian economy recently commented that, 'The Indian economy has the potential to grow significantly, but a political struggle by the government to implement reforms may pose a challenge.' He further points out, 'The structural transition being attempted by China to become a consumption-driven economy from an investment-driven economy may lead to a "nasty recession". This could throw up opportunities for India, which is in the process of implementing structural reforms.' Read on...
The Financial Express:
India better positioned than China for growth: Krugman
Author: Aveek Datta
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 22 jan 2015
According to report 'Aarogya Bharat 2025' by NATHEALTH and Bain & Company, for sustainable growth India requires investments of US$ 3 trillion for the next 10 years. India's healthcare system is both under-served and under-consumed, threatening the continued economic progress. Shivinder Mohan Singh, President of NATHEALTH, says, 'At 1.3% of the GDP, public spending on healthcare in India is among the lowest across the developing countries and affects the poor and inaccessible rural areas the most.' Bain & Company's Karan Singh points out the need for healthcare spending to go to 6% of the GDP and suggests a required paradigm shift from curative to prevention and wellness. According to NATHEALTH's Founder Chairman, Prathap C. Reddy, to built a healthier India government cannot be the sole provider of health services but private sector has to play an important role to bridge the demand-supply gap. Read on...
Healthcare sector needs USD 3 trillion in 10 years
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 08 jan 2015
India requires substantial finance to fulfill the challenges of providing clean, affordable and reliable supplies of water and energy to its 1.3 billion citizens, and invest in enterprises that will provide livelihoods for an extra 10 million jobseekers every year. Moreover there is also need for level playing field of sustainability standards within the financial system. According to Naina Lal Kidwai, country head for HSBC India, 'For too long, a view has been allowed to take root in India that sustainability and finance are at odds; that taking account of environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors raises costs, reduces returns and impedes development.' To scale up sustainable finance, Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and the UNEP Inquiry have formed an advisory committee of leading financiers, policymakers and civil society representatives to generate practical policy options. Financial innovation is the essential need with mobilization of debt and equity capital markets. Investments in sustainable agriculture, clean energy, efficient buildings, mass transit, smart cities, clean water and waste provides the foundations for a thriving green bonds market. On India's equity markets, the new Infrastructure Investment Trust model offers another vehicle for investors to put money into sustainable infrastructure. Read on...
Investing in India requires sustainable, reliable finance
Author: Nick Robins
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