Monday, March 12, 2012

Delhi University to send professors to foreign varsities

Delhi University (DU) is planning to send 70 young college teachers abroad to study emerging disciplines. Though only about 15 science teachers had gone to pursue a masters programme in a foreign university last time, the varsity has decided to extend the scheme to teachers from social sciences and humanities this year. This facility is open only to college teachers aged under 35 years. It aims to encourage teachers to take up new areas of study where the university still lacks expertise.

"We have a scope of sending nearly 70 teachers to study at foreign universities this time. This will be the third batch and 30 teachers have taken up courses in foreign universities so far. The ones, who have come back, are likely to contribute in designing new courses and adding value to the existing curricula," said a senior DU official. He also said the number of beneficiaries has been increased this year as teachers from social science and humanities can also apply.

The young faculty training programme was launched in 2010 with a grant of Rs. 15 crore (Rs. 150 million) received from the Ministry of Human Resources Development (MHRD) as part of the University of Excellence Grant. The university is likely to tie up with University of Edinburgh, University of Nottingham, University of Glasgow, University of Birmingham, University of British Columbia and King's College, London, to send the teachers there for a post-graduate programme.

"The scheme is designed to bring young faculty of colleges faceto-face with international scholars. The young faculty will pursue courses where we need to strengthen our teaching and learning. The teachers can apply till March 15," said an official. Selection will be based on the plan of action submitted by the teachers followed by an interview. The disciplines to be offered include economics and econometrics, nanotechnology, electronic sciences, web management, quantitative genetics, among others.

Source: The Times of India, March 12, 2012

UGC sets target for higher education enrolment

The University Grants Commission (UGC) has chalked out several plans to increase gross enrolment ratio (GER) of students in higher education from the present 20 per cent to 30 per cent during the 12th Five-Year Plan (2012-17). The Commission has prepared a document on inclusive and quality expansion of higher education. The country's GER, indicator of access to higher education is about 20 per cent of the relevant age (17-23 years) group — low compared to that in advanced countries, UGC Chairman (Acting) Ved Prakash told The Hindu on the sidelines of a programme at the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) in Bangalore on Sunday.

“The GER in India will be increased to 30 per cent. I am very optimistic,” he said. It would require an increase in the student enrolment from the present level of 14 million to 22 million in colleges and the universities. More colleges would be opened in low 374 GER districts, he said. With higher education passing though a phase of unprecedented expansion marked by substantial increase in the number of institutions and enrolment of students, the UGC has sought Rs. 184,470 crore (Rs. 1.84 trillion) for its various programmes during the 12th Plan against Rs. 85,0000 crore (Rs. 850 billion) in the 11th Five-Year Plan.

Prof. Prakash said the Commission had planned strategies for the 12th Plan with various schemes under the three major heads of access, equity and quality with interlaced components of relevance, value-education and creativity. “The overall budget requirement projected to achieve the proposed initiatives is Rs.184,700 crore.” There are 611 universities and university-level institutions and 31,324 colleges in the country, as of 2011. Asked about increase in the number of colleges under universities, he said the Commission was in favour of granting autonomy to colleges and those with potential for excellence and having a student strength of more than 3,000 would be converted into universities or deemed universities.

About the challenges in the next Plan, he said access to higher education was still less than the minimum international threshold levels. Distribution of institutions is skewed, enrolment is largely concentrated in public universities and in the conventional disciplines, the UGC chief said.

The focus would be on achieving higher access through better utilisation of existing infrastructure and creation of new institutions to meet the objective of regional equity, he said. Noting that the three challenges of expansion, equity and excellence cannot be addressed in isolation, he said a single-minded pursuit of expansion could turn into chasing meaningless statistics. Exclusive focus on equity could compromise on quality and pursuit of excellence could be confined to a few islands. "The 12th Plan needs a more holistic approach," he said.

Source: The Hindu, March 12, 2012

Liberal Arts varsity coming up in Pune, sans ‘innovation' tag

The Tagore University for the Liberal Arts, first institution to be established under the Ministry of Human Resource Development's (MHRD's) once ambitious Universities for Innovation programme, will be set up in Pune. But, ironically, the word ‘innovation' will be missing from the nomenclature of the institution. For, the group of experts, which was asked to draft a concept for such institutions, fears that such an emphasis is likely to inhibit its creative potential.

The task of such an “institution should be, not to presume an elite status for itself, but to create excellence by drawing freely upon the best talent from all sections of the populace, and fostering it to the furthest extent possible in a climate of international exchange and awareness. Ultimately, such an institution might be the first of many, and it might also provide a model for other existing universities,” the group said in its report submitted to the Ministry.

On its part, the Ministry is finalising the concept paper so that it can send the toned down version of the Universities for Innovation Bill, 2011 for Cabinet clearance. The proposal to set up 14 such world-class universities was made during the tenure of the former HRD Minister, Arjun Singh, and even the locations were finalised with the Planning Commission. Under the new regime, it was decided to convert these universities into institutions of innovation in different areas of societal concerns. They were then named Universities for Innovation, each expected to focus on its theme in an interdisciplinary manner. However, the revised draft Bill does not give any number for such universities.

The experts group says that instead of using the epithet ‘world-class', which is meaningless in the absence of any concrete embodiment, it would be best to think of such an institution, a public university set up by the Indian state, as offering an experimental model of what higher education in the country could be. Ideally, it should be free of the infrastructural and systemic problems that beset the country. The experts include theatre personality Girish Karnad, academics Supriya Chaudhuri and Sunil Khilnani, and writer Ramachandra Guha.

According to the group's note, the task of the Tagore University for the Liberal Arts should be to promote both arts and science under the rubric of liberal arts, in an interdisciplinary environment which allows creative interchange of scholars from different fields. The university will have five schools: School of Humanities for teaching languages, literature, philosophy, cultural studies and creative writing; School of Social Sciences for teaching history, politics, sociology, economics and human sciences; School of Sciences for mathematical studies, biological sciences, physical sciences and environmental science; School of Performing Arts for dance, theatre, music, film and sports; and School of Visual and Applied Arts for painting, sculpture, graphic, arts, textile arts, crafts, design and photography.

The experts group has recommended that the university should have a Research Fund with an annual corpus of Rs. 00 crore (Rs. 2 billion), administered by a Research Council with both internal and external members. The university will be founded as a non-affiliating unitary institution but once successfully established it may seek to replicate its model elsewhere in the country or overseas. It will have complete autonomy over academic, administrative and financial matters, though it is subject to the reasonable provisions laid down by the higher education regulatory authority in India and funding agencies.

While the university need not get government approval for academic projects, proposals and invitations unless the security of the nation is involved, its accounts will be subject to the Comptroller and Auditor-General's audit. The university can invite applications for a proportion of its posts from non-Indian citizens who are outstanding scholars, artists, writers and scientists so as to promote international cooperation and exchange of ideas. The guests will be entitled to special salary provisions, in excess of the pay scales stipulated by the University Grants Commission (UGC) or other such regulatory body.

Tracing the history of universities in India founded during the colonial rule and after independence, the experts group's proposal points out that these were an explicit effort to incorporate the lessons of ‘modernity' and create institutions of higher education that would impart training in globally recognised disciplines of study. Historically, there was a break with both pre-colonial universities such as Nalanda and Vikramshila, great institutions of Buddhist learning in the medieval period, and more significantly with traditional, often religious centres of instruction where students (usually male) were trained in the scholarly disciplines as well as in the sacred doctrines of Hinduism and Islam.

The transition from traditional systems to new kinds of learning resulted in devaluation of the study of ancient languages such as Sanskrit, Tamil, Arabic and Persian and even ancient medicine, mathematics and science, the experts group said.

Source: The Hindu, March 12, 2012

Teaching leadership is easier than practising it: Nitin Nohria, Dean, HBS

When he took charge as dean of Harvard Business School (HBS) 18 months ago, Nitin Nohria announced five strategic themes that would guide his administration in the years to come, all starting with the letter I: internationalisation, inclusion, intellectual ambition, innovation and integration with the rest of Harvard University. The last two he's partly achieved through the setting up of the Harvard Innovation Lab, which is now used by students and faculty from every discipline at the university.

This week, the dean was in Mumbai to take his first theme forward, with the inauguration of the Harvard Classroom at the Taj Land's End hotel. "This classroom is hugely important to us. It's designed as an exact replica of the classrooms we have at HBS and its architecture is central to our educational technology, which is the case study method," he said.

Administrative duties usually leave deans of major academic institutions with little time for teaching or research, but Nohria still manages to teach a three-day 'New CEO workshop', at HBS thrice a year, meant for first-time CEOs of companies with a turnover of at least $2 billion. "Teaching leadership is much easier than being a leader," he said ruefully. What's the greatest challenge? "Staying focussed on your priorities. It helped that I declared what my priorities were, right at the onset. Otherwise, it's very easy to get buffeted by millions of things that clamour for your time."

The new Harvard classroom at the Taj was inaugurated by Ratan Tata in the presence of a select set of HBS faculty and alumni. The inauguration was followed up with a symposium on corporate social responsibility (CSR) on Saturday, attended by top leaders from government and industry, including Union minister Praful Patel, Anu Aga, Nadir Godrej, Rajashree Birla, Roberto Zagha of The World Bank, Kishore Chaukar of Tata Sons, Ranjit Sahani of Novartis and Onne van der Weijde of Ambuja Cement. Not an easy collection of people to bring together, but as Nohria said, "Our power lies in being able to convene high quality groups for interesting conversations. This process is distinctive to us."

The new classroom, earlier the hotel's gymnasium, constitutes a CSR initiative on the part of the Tata Group, albeit one that is guided by enlightened self-interest. HBS will have free use of the classroom for 12 weeks a year for its executive development programmes, but participants will have to pay for rooms and meals. The project has been three years in the making and Nohria says there are no plans to create any more classrooms in Taj Hotels. "We really don't need any more. We're not in India to chase demand. We're here to chase knowledge."

Meanwhile, HBS is closely watching the government of India's plans to legislate a mandatory 2% expenditure on CSR for all companies with a profit after tax of 5 crore and plans to do a case study on the project in the future.

Source: The Economic Times, March 12, 2012

Kapil Sibal rejects Nitish's varsity demand again

HRD minister Kapil Sibal has made it clear that the permanent campus of the Central University of Bihar will be in Gaya. In a letter to chief minister Nitish Kumar, he reiterated the rationale behind the Centre's decision and appealed to Kumar to not let politics come in the way of providing quality education. The state government is adamant that the university be located in Motihari, and has a resolution of the state assembly backing its demand. The temporary location of the university is in jeopardy too after the Birla Institute of Technology (BIT) asked it to vacate the premises.

Kumar had written to Sibal on February 29 stressing that the university be located in Motihari, given its association with the freedom struggle. The chief minister made it clear that the state government would provide free land in Motihari for the purpose. In his letter, Sibal refuted Kumar's allegation that the Centre had acted in a "unilateral" manner in finalising the university's location.

"For the last two years, the Central Government is in correspondence with State Government seeking alternative options for locating the Central University of Bihar. I made a public request to you during my visit to Patna for options. In response, the State Government indicated that they would not countenance any location other than Motihari for the Central University... I beseech you to accept the decision for locating the Central University of Bihar at Gaya and proceed ahead. You are aware that the Central University of Bihar is under pressure to shift from its present temporary campus. We have already lost a few years in identifying an appropriate location," Sibal wrote.

Citing examples from Kerala, Punjab, Rajasthan, Haryana, Odisha, Himachal Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, Kumar accused the Centre of applying different yardsticks across states for deciding locations for central universities. Sibal responded to this by saying that while the ministry had initially agreed to the idea of setting up central universities in locations suggested by the state, the experience in Tamil Nadu, Odisha and Karnataka had prompted a rethink.

"There has been severe disquiet in the academic community on the selection of sites in certain locations... The difficulties being faced by some of the Central Universities - most notably in Tamil Nadu, Odisha and Karnataka - in attracting quality faculty due to the disadvantage of their location have been discussed numerous times, even receiving adverse comment in the media," Sibal wrote.

Source: The Economic Times, March 12, 2012

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Bangalore shines in MIT journal’s innovators list

The India edition of the MIT Technology Review on Saturday announced exemplary innovations in the field of technology with it’s ‘India TR35 2012 list of young technology innovators’, all aged below 35. While Bangalore emerged as the hottest technology innovation city with five innovators making it to the list, Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai (IIT-Mumbai) was the hottest innovation centre with three of its researchers in the list.

A list of 20 innovators was announced in Bangalore. The only woman innovator in the list is 28-year-old Priyanka Sharma from CSIR-run Institute of Microbial Technology in Chandigarh. She developed a plastic chip which uses simple assay techniques to detect toxic materials in the environment in cost and time-effective manner.

The technologists would present their innovations at the Emerging Technologies conference, EmTech India 2012, later this month, which would be addressed by scientists from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

The India TR35 members from Bangalore are Shirish Goyal, 27, of LinkSmart Technologies for creating fool-proof security to prevent data theft; Sumeet Yamdagni, 29, of Instrumentation Scientific Technologies for inventing Optical instruments for Fiber Bragg Grating sensors and Vikas Malpani, 28, of MaxHeap Technologies for bringing communities on a common floor.

Anirudh Sharma, 24, of Ducere Technologies was named Innovator of the Year for creating Haptic shoe for the visually impaired. Animesh Nandi, 33, of Bell Labs India, Alcatel-Lucent for devising personalized privacy frameworks. Nandi was the only India TR35 member from a Bangalore-based multi-national while the rest were from local enterprises.

IIT-Mumbai’s V S K Murthy Balijepalli, 26, also made it to the list. Balijepalli was chosen for developing a method to forecast electricity price, grid frequency and load that can help make power grids smarter, Joshi made nano-structures which can encapsulate two anti-cancer drugs, paclitaxel and curcumin, and deliver them in combination to lung cancer patients. Reddy was chosen for his work on a laboratory scale flameless combustion with liquid fuels.

Source: The Indian Express, March 11, 2012

Saturday, March 10, 2012

First Indian woman dean of top US B-school

Srilata A. Zaheer, a former Chennai (Madras) resident, has been named Dean of the University of Minnesota's Carlson School of Management, becoming the first woman of Indian descent to be appointed the head of a top US business school.

Zaheer, who graduated from Madras University and obtained her MBA from Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIM-A) in 1975, joins a growing list of Indian-origin academics taking leadership roles in top global business schools. The list includes Harvard Business School Dean Nitin Nohria, University of Chicago Booth School of Business Dean Sunil Kumar and Soumitra Dutta, who was named the dean of the Ivy League Cornell University's business school in early January.

Called Sri by peers and colleagues, Zaheer joined Carlson, among top 30 business schools in the US, in 1991. She was appointed interim dean last July when her predecessor Alison Davis-Blake quit to become dean of the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan. She did a Ph.D. in international management from the Sloan School of Management at the MIT.

Source: The Economic Times (Online Edition), March 10, 2012

India, Oz to develop new strains of bananas

Australia's Queensland University of Technology (QUT) has inked an agreement with Government of India's Department of Biotechnology (DoB) for developing new strains of bananas that will help counter iron-deficiency anaemia in India. The agreement, signed by QUT Vice-Chancellor Peter Coaldrake and Renu Swarup of the DoB, will see the Indian government investing during a four-year period to create banana strains rich in iron, a statement said.

"This is the first such project in agriculture that India has undertaken with another country. It means a lot to us," Swarup said. "Iron-deficiency is a problem for all developing countries, associated with low nutrition, not just vegetarianism," she said.

Director of the Centre for Tropical Crops and Biocommodities at QUT, James Dale, will head the project, along with Rakesh Tuli, who is the scientific program coordinator for India.

Source: The Financial Express, March 10, 2012

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Global varsities make inroads into India

International universities are looking beyond just training employees of conventional industries in India. They are increasingly focusing on sunrise sectors such as healthcare, pharma and higher education. In addition to cashing in on Indian companies’ growing need for executive education, universities are now looking at research. Over a dozen international institutions have visited India to explore tie-ups in this area, with a few more slated to visit the country in the coming weeks.

These universities say they are looking for opportunities to work closely with Indian firms in addition to attracting Indian students to their shores. “The Indian pharmaceutical sector is growing at a fast pace. For this, you also need the right talent to meet the demand. India has the capability to reduce reliance on imports in chemical industry. What is needed is the finance and time to build it,” said Mike Green, Head of School (Chemistry) at Newcastle University.

Green is of the view that at their university, MSc in drug chemistry is one of the most popular courses among the students. His department is also looking at partnership with Indian organisations in the medicinal side of chemistry, especially cancer treatment and diagnosis. Newcastle University in association with the Department of Civil Engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, collaborated for work on water and environmental engineering groups. This is being extended to geotechnical and structural engineering with key industrial partners such as Coal India Limited.

At the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn), the focus is not only on getting more Indian students on campus but also on working with India in the areas of higher education, food security and healthcare. Ezekiel J Emanuel, Vice-Provost for Global Initiatives and University Professor at Penn, said, “We are working with the Apollo Hospitals in the area of liver transplant. We are talking to various Indian organisations and institutions. Apart from such mutually beneficial collaborations, we are looking to attract Indian students to our courses,” he said.

Of UPenn’s 2500 students, 15 per cent are Asian students of which Indians form the largest number. Though UPenn wants more students from India, it does not have a set target. The alumni network is helping the institute in this endeavour. Apart from collaborations on how to provide food security, Penn will also assist individuals who want to set up liberal arts colleges across India. UPenn is also looking to contribute through its research in the area of food security. “India was a natural fit, given our long history of engagement. The Centre for the Advanced Study of India at Penn has done a lot of work in the areas of Indian politics and the states. Our focus is to address the global problems and learn from them,” Emanuel added.

Duke University’s Duke Medicine, Duke Global Health Institute, Nicholas School of the Environment, and Sanford School of Public Policy are engaged in various research or teaching partnerships with Indian organisations as diverse as the state of Uttar Pradesh, National Institute of Ocean Technology, Jubilant Organosys and Medicity.

On the management front, while Harvard Business School already has its India Research Centre, Wharton is exploring options in India. US-based Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business is here with Duke Corporate Education (Duke CE) which delivers custom corporate education programs to Indian executives in association with the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad.

B-schools of three Canadian Universities — Richard Ivey School of Business at University of Western Ontario, Rotman School of Management at University of Toronto and Schulich School of Business at York University — have already identified India as one of their most important markets.

Ivey has 10 per cent Indian students in their MBA programme and it is planning to increase this number. Scholarships (50 per cent, for Indian students given by a Indian origin Canadian businessmen) and alumni network are being used to attract students. The institute has already developed executive programme for GAIL, and is now ready to partner with a leading telecom player for the same.

Schulich has tied-up with GMR to set up a joint campus in Hyderabad, while Rotman is currently spreading word about its institute in India through the alumni network. Sheldon Dookeran, Assistant Director, MBA Recruitment & Admissions, informs that India is their largest market with about 57 students in a batch of 256. It would be increasing the batch size to 330 for the class of 2014 and expects the number of Indian student to also go up. Rotman is also involved in setting up events for its Indian alumni in the country, where past students and prospective students interact to understand more about the school.

These universities are figuring their way out in the Indian market even as the much-awaited Foreign Education Providers (Regulation) Bill has been gathering dust for almost two years.

Source: Business Standard, March 8, 2012

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Good year for placements at tier-II B-schools

It's an ill wind that blows nobody any good. While top-rated business schools have seen flagging placement interest, and the war for talent has been relatively muted leading to lower salary offers, second rung B-schools are having a good year.

Cost pressures have forced corporates to hire fresh B-school graduates instead of experienced professionals. Campus hires are replacing junior level lateral hires, so up to tier-II B-schools, placements have been buoyant, despite a slowing economy.

Mr. Vipul Prakash, MD, Elixir Web Solutions, an HR consultancy, says his firm is sitting on demand from 27 clients for fresh recruitments. “So there is lot of hiring happening. In tier-II B-schools, salaries have gone up. In tier-III, however, the salaries are flat and variable percentage has gone down. In the last few years, telecom was hugely aggressive on employment. Now it is insurance and retail.”

Xavier's Institute of Management, Bhubaneshwar (XIMB), saw 100 per cent placement in the second week of January. Average placement salary offers for its business management programme also increased by 6 per cent over last year. “This year the average annual compensation stood at Rs. 1.14 million a year compared with Rs. 1.07 million last year. The median salary stood at Rs. 1.08 million a year,” said Mr. Sworen Sahu, Placement Co-ordinator of XIMB.

Even relatively less favoured university departments are reporting a decent placement season. “This year, we got some new recruiters including Goldman and Sachs. As compared to last year, our average package has gone up by Rs. 100,000 to Rs. 900,000 (per annum) this year. Having said that, the number of companies have come down from 23 last year to only 17 this year. We are expecting 95 per cent placement by March end,” says Mr. Chirag Agarwal, Placement Coordinator, Department of Financial Studies, University of Delhi.

Source: The Hindu Business Line, March 7, 2012

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Slowdown hits B-school placements

With the global slowdown firmly in place, Indian B-schools are feeling the heat. Several B-schools including the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) are yet to complete their placements process. While many of them are usually out with their reports by February end, some might take a fortnight more. To ensure all students are placed, some B-schools are not allowing students to sit for interviews after they have already bagged an offer or they are just approaching newer sectors to make up for the lack of jobs in finance. Most of them claim slowdown has not hit the firms, but they are just being cautious in recruiting.

IIM-Kozhikode, which had concluded its placement process by March 3 last year, will take at least a week more this year. G Sridhar, chairperson-placements at the institute, said, "The market is a bit slow this year. We should be able to get over with it by the end of the week." To ensure that the process gets over soon and all students get a job offer, the institute this year has not allowed multiple offers to one student.

IIM-Indore has a unique problem affecting their placements this year. The size of the batch passing out has gone up from 240 last year to 450 this year. Bhaskar Chaudhary, secretary of the student placement committee at IIM-Indore, said, "Last year, we were done with placements by mid-February. This year the batch size has almost doubled. We are done with three phases and there is one more to go. The job market is not as buoyant as it was last year."

Though IIM-Ahmedabad has already completed with four clusters of students, there are a few students who are yet to be placed. According to their website, the final placement process of the institute will now proceed on rolling basis where in firms will be invited to campus based on student preferences. Amith JM, the member of the cell, however, said that the slowdown has not affected their placements, but refused to divulge details about the numbers of students already placed out of the batch of 373 candidates.

IIM-Bangalore refused to comment on the trends, before their reports would be out, this week. XLRI, though has completed the process, the number of job offers have gone down claimed Ashish Srivastava, member of the placement cell . "Last year, the average job offer made to each student was 1.3, this year it came down to 1.2. Job offers made to students was affected, especially in the finance sector," Srivastava said.

Source: The Times of India, March 6, 2012

TIS digital classroom biz set to overtake legacy training

Tata Interactive Systems’ new push to provide digital classroom solutions will overtake its two-decade core business of selling modules to train company executives next fiscal as Indian schools choose digital solutions to supplement traditional teaching.

“This segment is fast catching up in terms of revenue contribution and, over the next two years, will emerge as the largest contributor to our revenues,” said Sanjaya Sharma, chief executive officer, TIS. e-learning business, started in June 2011, now contributes one-third revenues. TIS, promoted by Tata Industries, had to find new growth avenues as its core business was stagnating.

“The growth was coming to a stagnation," says Sharma. “Training budget of corporates are not like their IT budgets. So, its growth was limited to a certain extent.” An entry to make digital solutions for classrooms was complementary as the company had been creating content from kindergarten to 10th standard and will soon launch content for higher standard students.

The company has several advantages by its side, but will have tough competition from established rivals. A huge market growing at 30% a year, affordable products and lack of skilled teachers favour growth, but has established classroom and e-education providers Educomp, Everonn, Eduserve and Teachnext fighting for the same share.

“Digitalising content is a market which is about $25-30 billion now and is growing at a 30% CAGR,” said Narayanan Ramaswamy of KPMG. “Still, less than 10% of schools in India would be digitalised, which throws upon a huge business potential for such companies.” The average additional fee that a parent has to shell out is between Rs. 80-150 per month and solutions have better longevity and retention value. Exam modules help save time and cost for schools., which provides testing, evaluation and progress monitoring for students, saves anywhere between 20% to 25% teacher's time. “If this is the way tests would be conducted, I would love to write a test even on Sunday,” said a student of a Mumbai school which uses solutions from Gototest, a company which has testing solutions from class 4th onwards.

“We are actively in talks with about 60% of publishers like Navneet and Sheth to create e-books and put an interactive layer on them,” said Gautham Maediratta, vice-president, marketing, Attano, a Bangalore-based e-books provider. “These books are also available 25-30% cheaper.”

Source: The Financial Express, March 6, 2012

Cloud computing to create 2 million jobs in India by 2015

Cloud computing will generate some 14 million new jobs worldwide by 2015, and India alone will create over 2 million, predicts a study commissioned by Microsoft and conducted by International Data Corporation (IDC). Pointing out to a strong linkage between cloud, innovation and entrepreneurship, the study said most companies look at migration to cloud computing as a way to free up existing resources and work on more innovative projects. Freeing up budget allows organisations to shift some of their legacy work to the cloud and invest such freed budget in IT innovation that supports business innovation and in turn create new jobs.

"A common misconception is cloud computing is a job eliminator, but in truth it will be a job creator - a major one," said John F. Gantz, chief research officer and senior vice-president at IDC in a statement.

The Microsoft-IDC study estimates that the revenues from cloud innovation could reach as high as $1.1 trillion a year by 2015 from $400 billion in 2011, where some $28 billion was spent worldwide on public cloud IT services (as compared to over $1.7 trillion of spending on total IT products and services industry) creating 1.5 million jobs.

The study predicts over two million jobs each to be generated in the communications and media and manufacturing sectors, followed by banking at over 1.4 million. Though there is no such break-up available for the Indian market, the footprint is expected to be more or less similar to global markets, said Ramkumar Pichai, general manager, customer and partner experience, Microsoft India.

On the security, privacy and regulatory-related concerns that prevented rapid cloud adoption, he said Microsoft offered the best in class data centre security and also flexibility to organisations to shift between private cloud, public cloud and on premises software, apart from enabling organisations inter-operate between the three.

"We at Microsoft expect cloud computing to emerge as the most disruptive force for technology industry and enable India to emerge as the global innovation hub from global services hub now, apart from helping the Indian economy grow multi-fold," he told ET.

According to the Microsoft-IDC regional forecast, the US accounted for 62% of worldwide spending for public IT cloud services last year compared to 35% of worldwide IT spending. Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), a complex mix of developed and emerging countries, has more cloud-created jobs than North America, primarily because of its workforce, which is nearly four times as large.

Coming to Asia Pacific region, the study observed that except for a few small countries that account for only about 5% of the total workforce, the region is dominated by two countries in terms of job creation - China and India.

Source: The Economic Times, March 6, 2012

B-schools get big recruiters despite slowdown worries

The much talked about economic slowdown does not seem to have impacted the placements at the country’s premier management institutes with the season characterised by big recruiters, better salaries and interesting profiles. Both Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) and others have placed their students before time and with the firms of their choice. For instance, BCG recruited 19 grads from IIM Ahmedabad (IIM-A) against last year’s 11 while IIM-Calcutta wrapped up its placement season in four days as against the five days allotted for the process.

On the other hand, at XLRI Jamshedpur, the highest domestic salary was Rs. 4 million compared with Rs. 2.3 million last year while Delhi-based Institute of Foreign Trade (IIFT) recorded a highest domestic offer of Rs. 1.9 million per annum up 22% from last year.

The batch at IIM-C comprising 356 students received 423 offers from 83 companies with 108 offers being made in slot zero which is the most coveted slot for recruiters. “Despite the economic downturn, IIM-Calcutta has been able to provide diverse opportunities to its students. The alumni played a very crucial role in this bad market scenario and were there to support us whenever we needed them. This shows the strength of brand IIM-Calcutta – very much in demand by recruiters, aided by a strong alumni base,” said IIM-C Placement Chairperson Amit Dhiman .

Similarly, XLRI concluded its final placement process in less than four days, with 98% of the batch getting placed within the first three days. “An unprecedented 284 offers made to a batch of 235 students and 73 companies participated this year in the final placement process,” the institute said in a statement.

BCG made almost 45 offers to seven B-schools last year and this year, it increased the number of offers to 60 of which 50 are with the IIMs. The average salary at Mumbai-based S P Jain Institute of Management and Research (SPJIMR) was Rs.1.54 million compared with Rs. 1.4 million last year and 51% of the batch had offers of Rs. 1.5 million and more.

As for the first time recruiters, Zurich Financial Services, a major financial services group, recruited exclusively from IIM-C (first time from any B-school in Asia) for its Zurich and New York offices while IBM Consulting participated in the final placements for the first time. Lenovo recruited for the first time from IIM Calcutta for its sales and marketing profiles. IIFT saw more than 33 first-time recruiters such as Duferco Group, Stemcor ,German logistics giant Duegro and Shree Renuka Sugars in supply chain and logistics, KPMG and Technopak in consulting, Goldman Sachs in asset management and Flipkart in e-commerce.

Source: The Financial Express, March 6, 2012

IIM-Bangalore Director likely to be UGC Chairman

In a first, the director of an Indian Institute of Management (IIM) is set to be appointed as Chairman of the University Grants Commission (UGC). IIM-Bangalore Director Prof. Pankaj Chandra’s appointment as UGC Chairman is learnt to have been cleared by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD). The B-school head has been picked over Prof. Seyed Hasnain, former Vice-Chancellor of Hyderabad University.

While over 80 candidates had applied for the job, five were shortlisted by the search-cum-selection committee. Besides Prof. Chandra and Prof. Hasnain, the other three in the fray were Koraput Central University V-C Prof. Surabhi Banerjee, acting Chairman of UGC Prof. Ved Prakash and Kerala University, Thiruvananthapuram, V-C Prof. A Jaikrishnan.

The search committee comprising Prof. Goverdhan Mehta, national research professor in University of Hyderabad; Prof. K. Srinath Reddy, President, Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI); and Prof. N. R. Madhav Menon, former head, National Law School University, Bangalore, finally submitted a panel of two names — Hasnain and Chandra — to the ministry. While Hasnain’s years of experience in the university system made him an initial favourite, it was thought a person from outside the system, like Prof. Chandra, would bring some freshness of ideas with him.

A Professor of Operations & Technology Management, Prof. Chandra has also taught at IIM-Ahmedabad, and McGill University, Montreal, and has been a visiting faculty at University of Geneva, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, International University of Japan and Renmin University, Beijing.

Source: The Indian Express, March 6, 2012

Monday, March 05, 2012

12th Plan to create 10 million more seats in higher education

An additional capacity of 10 million seats will be created in higher education during the 12th Five Year Plan which will commence from April 1, according to Dr. Narendra Jadav, Member, Planning Commission. Delivering Dr. B L Maheshwari Memorial Lecture at the Centre for Organisational Development in Hyderabad, Dr. Jadav said enrolments in higher education in the country were 20 million besides 4 million in the distance mode of learning.

The number might look impressive in absolute figures. China had far exceeded India in higher education with 30 million enrolment, he said. “The bad news, however, is that the gross enrolment ratio (GER) in higher education in the age group of 18-23 years is very low at 17 per cent which is nearly one-half of the world average” Dr. Jadav said. There was a need to ramp up the total number of universities from existing 634 to 1,500 over the next five years, he said.

Shortage of funds
About 89 per cent of the entire student population were going to 293 State universities in the country which were starving for funds. “They require large reforms and funds,” he said. A growth target of 9 per cent was being contemplated for the 12th Five Year Plan and education development was vital for Indian economy to bounce back, he added.

Source: The Hindu Business Line, March 5, 2012

Indian companies, the flavour of IIM placements this year

The global economic meltdown following the sub-prime crisis in 2008-09 and the recent Euro zone crisis seems to have prompted the premier B-schools like the IIMs (Indian Institutes of Management) to look at the domestic market for recruitments.

Most of these institutes – which once used to rely largely on international offers – are now looking at attracting Indian companies across various sectors for campus recruitments. The recent crisis has also encouraged these institutes to look at new and emerging sectors such as e-commerce. Plans are also afoot to tweak the courses to meet emerging demand of the industry.

According to Prof. Ashok Banerjee, Dean, New Initiatives and External Relations, Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta (IIM-C), there has been a “correction” in the nature of placements post the 2008 crisis. “With the global economy moving into a recession, the over-dependence on multinational corporations has come down. The Indian market has, however, been posting a steady growth and so are the companies here. This is prompting them to hire,” Prof. Banerjee told Business Line.

This, in turn, has brought about a sort of realignment in placement process. “Earlier, Indian companies were not getting good slots in the placement process but now, with the demand from MNCs coming down, they are also getting a good slot and able to select from the best of the candidates,” he said.

Investment banking has been one of the worst affected following the crisis, said Prof. Amit Dhiman, Chairperson – Career Development and Placements, IIM-C. “The number of offers, particularly from i-banks, has clearly come down this year but this has been more than offset by the participation of new companies and new sectors,” he said. IIM-C had some concerns with regard to placements this year and did a lot of legwork to attract newer companies and sectors. “There were some feelers that the recruitments might not be very easy; so we talked to a lot of new sectors and companies. A number of technology firms, for instance, hired in large numbers this year. This apart, there was also lot of interest from e-commerce companies,” he added.

There has also been a churn in the kind of courses opted by the management graduates. “Pre-2008, more than half of the batch of students would opt for finance and there were no takers for courses such as operational management and human resource management. This was an aberration and this has been corrected to a great extent now as finance and investment banking are one of the worst affected areas in so far as placements are concerned,” Prof. Banerjee said.

Course pattern
Courses such as logistics and supply chain management and operational management have been slowly catching up, he added. According to Prof. Rajiv Mishra, Chairperson, Placements, XLRI Jamshedpur, the course pattern has to change keeping in mind the changing needs of the industry.

“Courses have to be dynamic in nature keeping in mind the needs of the industry. At XLRI, we encourage the faculties to make modifications in courses as and when required. This year, for instance, we saw some e-commerce companies coming in for recruitment. We can have some new curriculum built into our existing course to focus on the needs of specific industries,” he said.

According to Prof. Banerjee, placements would continue to be a challenge till 2015. The job scenario in the global front might not look up immediately and there could be a change in the profile and nature of jobs coming to B-schools. “Things are not going to change drastically at least on the global front. However, in India, a number of banks will face a mid-management crisis post-2013 as there would be a huge exodus of staff on account of retirement. The profile of jobs and company will change – we will see more number of public sector units and Indian private sector companies hiring from B-schools,” he said.

Source: The Hindu Business Line, March 5, 2012

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Science lessons now on mobile phones

From textbooks to your mobile screens, now science will be at everyone's fingertips! Vigyan Prasar and Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) together have launched a free SMS service for mobile users that delivers content on science and related areas. The application — Science@Mobile — was launched on February 29 as part of the two-day National Science Day celebrations by Amit Roy, Director of the Inter-University Accelerator Centre.

“I believe society without the appreciation and knowledge of science is incomplete. If we do not understand the power and application behind a phenomenon, we would live in darkness and consider it black magic. So the spread of knowledge on science is very important,” he said. “The number of mobile phones in the country have touched almost a billion. The penetration of mobiles has been immense, so the service would be of great help to create the right culture for science,” Roy said.

Vigyan Prasar, an autonomous organisation under the Department of Science and Technology (DST), and the IGNOU jointly introduced this service to tap into the potential of mobile phones to popularise science even into rural areas where mobile phones have made substantial penetration.

‘Science@Mobile' will provide all types of information on science subjects including news, important days and events, facts, humour, quotes, about scientists, health tips and green tips to its subscribers free of cost. In addition, the content has been grouped into three categories with the first one not requiring any science background, second one requiring basic science literacy, while the third is for people with science background.

Users can subscribe to the service by messaging “SCIMBL” to 092230516161 or clicking the link provided at Vigyan Prasar website. “The service currently is available only in English. Efforts to provide SMSs in Hindi is in progress and will be available within a week or little more,” said O P Sharma, Project Coordinator of Science@Mobile service.

National Science Day is celebrated on February 28. This is to celebrate the day in 1928 when Indian scientist Sir C V Raman announced the discovery the Raman Effect in light scattering which won him the 1930 Nobel Prize in Physics.

Source: The Hindu, March 1, 2012

Campus beat: Legal eagles in demand

It’s not just the premier engineering and management institutes which are smiling this placement season. Law colleges across the country have also seen good placements, in addition to salary hike of anywhere between 20 and 30 per cent. Law schools say, apart from the usual law firms, many other companies have also recruited from campuses this year.

At the Government Law College (GLC), Mumbai, 120 students of a 240 batch size have been placed. The institute says most of the students who sought placements have found one. The institute say many students do not appear for placements as they have their family practices to get back to or articleship to attend. Students enrolled in three year law programme go for articleship in the second or third year, and students who have enrolled for a five year law programme go for articleship in the fourth year.

Companies that recruited from GLC include AZB & Partners, Amarchand Mangaldas, Khaitan & Co, Desai & Diwanji Tata Group of Companies, Colgate Palmolive and LIC Housing, etc. A total of 65 companies came for placements and offered annual salaries of anywhere between Rs. 500,000 and Rs. 1.45 million. Last year, the range was between Rs. 500,000 and Rs. 1.2 million.

“We tweaked our placement policy and decided to hold it twice this year against only once earlier. So, we held it once in September 2011 and again this January. This ensured a good mix of companies on campus,” said Shruti Rajgarhia, general secretary, placement committee, GLC. Students have been picked up for profiles in litigation and corporate.

At Symbiosis Law School, Pune, the situation is much better than the school anticipated. “Initially, we felt that we would have to face the pressure of recession in December, but companies have been continuously flowing in to recruit. IDBI Bank, for example, has come in after a long time,” said Sonal Jain, placement assistant. Of a batch of 200 students, 150 students have opted for placements at the school. The average student salary here ranges between Rs. 300,000 and Rs. 1.4 million annually. Several companies, including big corporates and financial institutions, have visited the campus this year. Placements at the campus began last July and will go on till end of next month. Jain added that students who do not want to go for litigation usually opt for placements and it varies from year to year.

At National Law School University of India (NLSUI), Bangalore, only six students are left to be placed from a batch size of 65. “All top law firms came to our campus. We also contacted a lot of companies which, though were reluctant initially, did visit our campus,” said Deepija Kinhal, a student of NLSUI. Rs. 1.2 million has been the highest offer at the campus so far.

At Campus Law Centre, Delhi University, it was a good mix of companies ranging from the public sector to private sector which picked up students. Several media firms, NGOs and individual litigators also visited the campus placements. A placement head of a law school said that though they expected the situation to be like 2008-9 recession, placements have picked up pace in 2012.

Kamala Sankaran, Convenor, Placement Assistance Cell and professor at the campus law centre in DU is of the view that the bulk recruiters, that is the LPOs would be visiting the campus in March. Their placement season concludes on April 15. Salaries for students ranges between Rs. 600,000 and Rs. 1.2 million in case of a corporate profile. Already 10 per cent of the students have been placed. Of the 400 students here, two third students have opted for placements. "Usually, this is the case, since some of them opt for judiciary exams and other competitive exams and focus on them," said Sankaran.

A placement head of a law school added that though they expected the situation to be like the 2008-9 recession, placements have picked up pace in 2012 and will be even better in the next two months. "The law firms are continuing to recruit. There is no slowdown in this space," said the placement head.

Source: Business Standard, March 1, 2012

Harvard B-school has a new address in Mumbai

US-headquartered Harvard Business School (HBS) has finally found an address for its executive education classroom in India. The B-school, beginning this March, will offer executive programmes at the Taj Lands End, at Bandra, in suburban Mumbai. The space at the hotel will be an amphitheatre-style classroom fashioned after the ones at Harvard Business School in Boston. The B-school has been conducting executive education or management development programmes (MDPs) in India since 2008 at five-star hotels.

HBS and its India Research Center (IRC), which was set up in 2006, offer three executive education programmes in India. This year, while it has already offered one executive education programme, it will offer two more between March and May 2012. HBS is charging Rs. 229,250 for its programme of ‘Building a Global Enterprise in India’ in March. It will charge Rs. 204,750 for its programme on ‘Develop India — Real Estate Strategies for Growth’, to be offered in May.

India’s growing Rs. 350-crore (Rs. 3.5 billion) executive education space continues to attract B-schools. The Wharton School of Business, University of Pennsylvania, will also have its own centre in India. “We will have office space and classrooms. We are looking at a centralised location and Mumbai that will suit our needs the most, as of now. Within the next two years we will have a physical presence in India. Through the centre, we will not only conduct executive education, but will also use it as a place for the alumni to converge and our faculty to convene for research,” Jason Wingard, Vice-Dean, Executive Education at Wharton told Business Standard.

Wharton joins the likes of University of Chicago, Tuck School of Business, INSEAD, Oxford University’s Said Business School and Duke University, among others, to offer their executive education programmes in India. "We have realised that many of the emerging markets continue to grow, and it is important for us to have a variety of locations around the world. We are present in India, China and Brazil.” Wharton receives about 10,000 executive education participants on its campus every year and India is among the top three countries in terms of participants from outside the US.

Wharton has started a certificate programme, ‘Accelerated Development Program’, for business leaders in India from January 2012. Track one of the programme will have three Wharton executive education programmes in India at Rs. 660,000 (plus service tax). Track two will see two executive education programmes in India and one in Philadelphia in the US for Rs. 500,000 (plus service tax) and Wharton Philadelphia programme at a discount of 25 per cent.

Source: Business Standard, March 1, 2012

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