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
Business & Finance
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 | 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 | 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 | 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 | 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 | 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 | 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 | 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 | 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 | 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 | 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 | 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 | 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 | 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 | 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 | 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 | 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 | 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 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
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