the3h - Hum Hain Hindustani
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Student exchange projects with India part of new UK education strategy | The New Indian Express, 06 feb 2021
'We Should Build A Political Demand For High Quality Healthcare For All' | IndiaSpend, 06 feb 2021
Public Private Partnerships: The Panacea for Indian Healthcare Sector | The Economic Times, 06 feb 2021
What can torpedo the budget and economy? | The New Indian Express, 06 feb 2021
Amid pandemic tragedy, an opportunity for change? | The Harvard Gazette, 05 feb 2021
Covid lesson for teachers: How teaching-learning methods evolved during pandemic | The Indian Express, 04 feb 2021
The future of Indian agriculture | Down To Earth, 04 feb 2021
Budget 2021: One-person company to propel entrepreneurship, say experts | Business Standard, 02 feb 2021
Like it or not, future of Indian economy will have to be built on services, not manufacturing | The Print, 23 jan 2021
Rethinking Education in India to Merge Reality on the 'Streets' with Formal Schooling | The Wire, 15 jan 2021
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 31 dec 2020
Social enterprises have been part of the Indian social sector ecosystem for a long time, albeit not in the theoretically and legally defined framework that exists now. According to the study, 'The State of Social Enterprise in Bangladesh, Ghana, India and Pakistan' (British Council, 2016), led by Emily Darko, Director of Research at Social Enterprise UK (SEUK), there are roughly 2 million social enterprises operating in India. The study based on a survey of 258 social enterprises found a young social enterprise scene with 57% being 5 years old or younger. Moreover, these social enterprises work in many sectors - skills development (53%); education (30%); agriculture/fisheries/dairy (28%); financial services (26%); energy and clean technology (26%). From the surveyed social enterprises, 80% reinvest to further social or environmental goals, and they have supported a total of 150 million beneficiaries over their lifetime. The report found a total of 39 central government policies relevant to social enterprise and entrepreneurship. A notable policy with a specific mention of social enterprises was the 'National Skill and Entrepreneurship Policy' announced on 15 July 2015 by the Ministry of Skills and Entrepreneurship. The policy includes a section on social enterprises that aims to foster social entrepreneurship and grassroots innovation. The research study, 'Social Enterprises in the Indian Context: Conceptualizing through Qualitative Lens' (Journal of Global Entrepreneurship Research, Springer Open, 15 jan 2018) (Authors: Subhanjan Sengupta of Birla Institute of Management Technology, Arunaditya Sahay of Birla Institute of Management Technology), researches the meaning of the 'social enterprise' construct in the Indian context, and develops a conceptual framework that represents the construct. The purpose of this empirical study is to develop orientation needed for aspiring social entrepreneurs and social entrepreneurship researchers to familiarize with 'social enterprise' phenomenon in India. Authors explains, 'India is a country with socio-economic and cultural diversity, and a very high population. The country offers no legal definition for social enterprises. The ecosystem of social entrepreneurship in India is created by different organizations and universities/institutes advocating, promoting, and supporting social enterprises. Multiple stakeholders such as these have formulated their own meaning of social entrepreneurship in India; their work being influenced by the social, economic, and cultural diversity across the geographical length and breadth of the country, and the regulatory frameworks of the state and central governments...The key constructs that emerged to be clustering together to form the concept of social entrepreneurship in the Indian context are social value creation, market orientation, social entrepreneur, and balanced impact.' Recently, an India focused book on social enterpreneurship, 'Social Entrepreneurship in India: Quarter Idealism and a Pound of Pragmatism', is authored by Madhukar Shukla who is a Professor of Strategic Management at XLRI Jamshedpur. The book documents rise of the social innovation movement in India, along with profiles and roadmaps. ON COVID-19 - Prof. Shukla says, 'The pandemic, and the subsequent abrupt lockdown, create an unprecedented humanitarian crisis which has still not ended...In many ways, it was also a watershed event in the civil society and social entrepreneurial space - particularly for many social entrepreneurs, who, with reference to the typology in my book, I would describe as 'Public Goods Providers'. For instance, many of the established social ventures...which were already working in the space of relief and with migrant informal sector workers, spurred up their efforts to meet this challenge. There were also many other innovative initiatives from other ventures. At a smaller and localised level, there were many initiatives taken by individuals, citizen groups, and small organizations such as helping the migrants in their journey back home, providing basic subsistence necessities like rations and sanitary pads to marginalised communities, and so on. Why I used the term 'watershed' is because what I see is that many of these efforts, which started as a response to a crisis, also brought in new talent in the sector, and many are now evolving as viable and sustainable social ventures.' ON ROLE OF ACADEMICS - Prof. Shukla says, 'Academics can and does play a useful role in the social entrepreneurship field by identifying and documenting trends, principles, and models from practice. These can help the entrepreneurs to make more informed decisions.' ON SCALING UP CHALLENGES - Prof. Shukla says, 'When organizations scale-up and try to replicate the model which has succeeded in one place, they have to deal with a new set of problems and challenges. They need to consider and plan for three critical challenges...One, scaling up into other locations also increases the complexity of operations...Secondly, scaling up would also need hiring new talent to manage increasingly complex operations of the venture...Lastly, there is the danger of 'mission drift'.' ON DIGITAL TECHNOLOGY - Prof. Shukla says, 'Over the last decade or so, with the increasing affordability of and access to digital technology, it has become a part of the models that are used by many social entrepreneurs. In my experience, three important ways in which it helps creating social change are Access, Aggregation, and Democratisation.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 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 | 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 | 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 | 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 | 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 | 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 | 30 jun 2019
According to 'Annual Status of Education Report (Aser) 2017' by nonprofit Pratham, about 42% of rural youth between the ages of 14 and 18 were employed in January 2018, despite going to school. Among these, 79% were working in agriculture, while at the same time only 1.2% of the youth surveyed wanted to become farmers. India's rural population residing in about 600000 villages has not benefited substantially from economic growth and opportunities are limited, resulting in large migration of youth to urban areas in search for greener pastures. But, they are not well equipped in terms of education and skills, to compete in a challenging urban environment to avail better opportunities and respectable lifestyle. Education, coupled with skill development, is the key to bring them at par with their urban counterparts. Ashweetha Shetty, founder of Bodhi Tree Foundation, is trying to bridge this rural-urban divide by building confidence and self-esteem among young people living in rural areas. Explaining the work of her nonprofit, Ms. Shetty says, 'Our foundation works with rural youth between the ages of 17 and 23. We help them build life skills and enlighten them about opportunities. We achieve all this through intervention at our village centers. We have a residential program for girls, and we also work with district administrations on initiatives, particularly those which concern the children of sanitation workers. Most of the rural youth we help are usually first generation college goers. Bodhi Tree helps them to think about their future. These young kids have many inferiority complexes, and there is an information gap. We are trying to bridge that through our organization.' Regarding the life skills that her organization is trying to build, she says, 'We do self-development, self-awareness workshops, and provide exposure to opportunities - we help the children to discover what they want to do in life and understand their strengths and weaknesses. We enable them to develop themselves through public speaking and other skills. We also conduct workshops on resumé writing to help them achieve their goal.' Differentiating her nonprofit from skill building organizations, she says, 'Bodhi Tree is completely different from skill building organizations. We don't want to build a skill in someone and send the message that it's the only thing they can do. Skill building programs have no progression, no scope for dreaming. I feel it robs opportunities from the children. Children should have access to government jobs, schemes, internships - they should have knowledge and know what to do with it. I think that's the difference between us and skill building initiatives. Maybe our model is not working that well because we are not focused on one skill, but I think this is a conscious choice we have made where we don't tell people about what skills they can inculcate. Rather, we tell them what kind of dreams you should have, we make people realize their potential. For us, the immediate impact is more like standing up for yourself and going to college.' Read on...
Helping India's Rural Youth Unlock Their Potential
Authors: Ankita Mukhopadhyay, Ashweetha Shetty
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 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 | 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 | 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 | 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 | 31 aug 2018
As the saying goes, 'Necessity is the Mother of Invention' - A temporary ban on firecrackers by Indian Supreme Court, an appeal to scientisits from Dr. Harsh Vardhan (Union Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, GOI) to develop e-firecrackers and social campaigns against their use due to environmental concerns, has driven a team of scientists from Indian Institute of Science Education & Research (IISERM) led by Prof. Samrat Ghosh (Chemical Sciences) to innovate and develop 'green' firecrackers that are safer, smoke-free and reusable. Prof. Samrat says, 'I have filled combustible material in the disposable bottle. This material is ignited with a source, like a spark. The launcher ignites the material which burns and generates pressure, pushing the bottle upwards, like a rocket. This is one of the safest methods of bursting crackers. In the community where I have tested this, even four-year-old kids feel comfortable operating this. Additionally, the combustive recipe in the device is very benign and not at all harmful for the user and the environment.' Regarding additional usage of the invention, Prof. Samrat says, 'From driving away animals in agriculture fields to airports using them to clear runways, the device is beneficial in many different situations.' Read on...
The Better India:
Exclusive: Meet The Scientist Behind Smoke-Free, Debris-Less & Low-Cost Firecrackers!
Authors: Ahmed Sherrif, Gayatri Mishra
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 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 | 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 | 28 feb 2018
Social entrepreneurs utilize their skills and efforts to solve social issues and make world better. The School for Social Entrepreneurs (SSE) India runs a 9 months long Social Start-Up Fellowship program, an initiative supported by PwC India, to assist social entrepreneurs develop and scale their social enterprise ideas and concepts. SSE recently felicitated 17 social enterpreneurs that graduated from the program. Attending the occasion, Dr. Jitendra Singh, Minister of State (PMO, Govt. of India), said, 'There is a sense of satisfaction when you witness, for the second year in a row, a new set of social entrepreneurs graduate with the skills to make a difference in the lives of others through their innovative ventures.' Satyavati Berera, COO of PwC India, said, 'Social entrepreneurship is steadily gaining momentum in our country and we are proud to be part of this journey which for PwC began its association with SSE India in 2016...Each mentoring opportunity helped our people interact with those working at the grassroots and built a different perspective, which will have a deep positive impact on the way we serve our stakeholders.' Shalabh Mittal, CEO of SSE India, said, 'At SSE India, we believe in bottom-up social change and help social entrepreneurs work in broken markets or in the poorest of communities...our learning approach has the ability to empower entrepreneurs to start, grow and scale.' Also present was Jaivir Singh, Chairperson of SSE India and Vice Chairman of PwC India Foundation. Website the-sseindia.org gives list of 17 social entrepreneurs felicitated - (1) Prem Kumar (Sambhawana Development Foundation, Livelihood, Non-Timber Forest Produce - NTFP) (2) Bharti Singh Chauhan (PraveenLata Sansthan, Women & Child Welfare) (3) Dr. Anirudh Gaurang (Rovnost Healthcare, Healthcare) (4) Sonali Patwe (Perseverance Infosystems Pvt Ltd., Technology) (5) Hemanta Gogoi (wowNE, Livelihood) (6) Lourdes Soares (SabrCare, Healthcare) (7) Dr. Sumedha Kushwaha (ATTAC, Healthcare) (8) Dr. Raunaq Pradhan (Saaras Foundation, Policy Implementation) (9) Abhishek Juneja (Adhyaay Foundation, Education) (10) Riddhi Dastidar (Riyaaz, Education) (11) Abhishek Jhawar (National Abacus, Education) (12) Ayushi Shukla (Sanima, Arts & Cinema) (13) Inderpreet Singh (SPEEE, Community Well-being) (14) Neharika Mahajan (Oryn, Environment & Livelihood) (15) Umang Shridhar (KhaDigi, Rural Livelihood & Khadi) (16) Vilas Gite (Praas Development Foundation, Rural Development) (17) Devaja Shah (Amiku, Mental Healthcare). Read on...
17 Social Entrepreneurs Honoured By School For Social Entrepreneurs India And PwC India
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