Wednesday, December 19, 2012

For second year, fewer Indian students went to US colleges

The US appears to be losing its draw as the destination of choice for Indian students looking to study abroad. In the 2011-2012 academic year, the total number of students from India attending US colleges and universities dipped for the second year in a row. Students from India make up approximately 13.1 per cent of the total foreign student population in the country.

The number of Indian students dipped 3.5 per cent from 103,895 in 2010-11 to 100,270 in 2011-12. A total of 104,897 students from India attended institutions of higher learning in the US in the 2009-2010 academic year, according to an annual report by the Washington DC-based Institute of International Education.

Majority of the Indian students study at the graduate (Master’s) level. Data culled from the report show that in 2011-12, 13 per cent of the students were undergraduates, 58.9 per cent were graduate students. Some 26.7 per cent students opted for Optional Practical Training.

India lost the top slot as the leading country of origin to China after the 2008-09 academic year.

In 2000-01, Indian enrolments surged 30 per cent, followed by two more years of strong growth (at 12 per cent in 2002-03 and 7 per cent in 2003-04). The increases tapered off in 2004-05 and then decreased slightly in 2005-06, before resuming much larger increases in 2006-07 and for the next two years. In 2009-10, the growth flattened, and China topped the list. It continues to retain the position.

This year, international exchanges (foreign students) contributed $22.7 billion to the US economy, despite the fact that international students constitute less than 4 per cent of total US higher education enrolment.

The report highlighted the fact that more than 70 per cent of all international students receive the majority of their funds from sources outside of the US, including personal and family sources as well as assistance from their home country governments.

Among the top 10 destinations, Pennsylvania, Florida and Indiana had the largest percentage increases, with the international student population in each state growing by close to 10 per cent. At the institutional level, the University of Southern California had the largest number of international students, followed by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, New York University, Purdue University and Columbia University. The report is published annually by the Institute of International Education in partnership with US Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

Source: The Hindu Business Line, December 19, 2012

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Govt to set up nine institutes to train allied health workers

India’s health ministry has approved the setting up of nine institutes dedicated to training allied health workers as part of a shift towards a team-based system rather than a doctor-centric one. The institutes will generate 10,765 allied health professionals annually, setting the stage for rolling out universal health care under the 12th Five-Year Plan.

The decision is part of a policy change to reach under-served, semi-urban and rural areas of the country, where doctors have traditionally refused to relocate. The health ministry has allocated a budget of Rs. 1,100 crore (Rs. 11 billion) for the project.

There is a total national shortage of 6.4 million allied health personnel in India, according to the Health Ministry’s National Institute of Allied Health Sciences (NIAHS) report, which will be released on 21 December by health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad. The biggest gaps are in Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Bihar and Andhra Pradesh.

Allied health professionals or AHPs are technicians and therapists, such as radiological technicians, medical laboratory technicians, occupational therapy assistants, etc., who acquire procedural skills. Investment in their training are usually considerably less than that for a physician. Training of AHPs takes around two years, making them a cost-effective and a reliable alternative in areas where physicians are not available.

“Allied health personnel-led services significantly reduce the costs of similar services structured around a consultant-physician model,” said Kavita Narayan, study coordinator, NIAHS, Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI). “This is an attempt to deliver seamless services to patients, creating a model of social solidarity. AHPs also provide rapid responses to patient needs in areas where services of general physicians are not available. They complement skills sets of doctors and nurses in therapeutic, diagnostic and curative realms of medicine.”

The national and regional institutes of allied health sciences will offer 26 different courses. The councils for each of these specialities, along the lines of the Medical Council of India (MCI), will also be set up to monitor and govern each subject, enforce norms, standardize course durations and training methodologies. Currently, there is no regulatory body to govern allied health sciences in India.

“Human resources are a critical factor which will have considerable impact on policies in the health sector. Investing in human resources and retaining skilled workers will be key to success of health reforms under the 12th Plan,” said Vishwas Mehta, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Health. “The nine institutions are a part of targeted intervention the health ministry is making to develop a skilled health workforce. Besides meeting demand-supply gaps in health workforce, the problem of availability of health services in under-served areas can be effectively addressed by task shifting and a team-based approach to health care delivery,” he said. The health ministry will set up expert panels to standardize course curricula for all 26 subjects, which will be reviewed periodically.

Source: Mint, December 18, 2012

Monday, December 10, 2012

Tatas eye big foray into edutainment

India's oldest industrial house, the Tata Group, is sketching big plans for children's edutainment market, a move signalling the tea-to-telecom conglomerate's interest to tap business opportunities around the country's 330 million population aged below 15 years.

Bangalore-based Titan Industries, a Tata Group company, is expected to finalize business plan for edutainment vertical, positioned as 'after school education through gadgets and technology', within a month, people familiar with the development said. This will be among the biggest growth drivers for watch and jewellery maker, which is the fifth largest Tata firm by market valuation.

The company's new business division wants to develop a network of about 160 edutainment stores, expected to rake in more than $1 billion revenue by the end of the current decade. Titan scanned several business models targeted at the children's market, including toy retailing, before narrowing its focus to edutainment stores.

Titan's edutainment business strategy will combine content with 3D and simulation technology with themes like 'journey across time', which sits well with the company's watch business too. The company has prepared an extensive case study, with inputs from design architects, to be presented to the board of directors later this month. The edutainment business will be deemed to be formal only after the board approves it. A questionnaire to Titan IndustriesBSE -0.96 % spokesperson remained unanswered at the time of going to press.

Titan reported Rs. 8,840 crore ($1.63 billion) revenue last fiscal powered by the watches and jewellery divisions. The company has explored plans to boost its top line revenue to $10 billion by 2020. The company, in which the Tatas hold more than 25% stake, closed the Friday trading on BSE almost flat at Rs. 307.

Tata Group companies with surplus cash on their books have been asked to draw up plans of how they would utilize their cash surpluses in adding value to shareholders. Titan had surplus cash of nearly Rs. 800 crore (Rs. 8 billion) at the end of last fiscal. The flagship edutainment stores will be more than 80,000 sq ft, located in the suburbs of the big metros, attracting investments of Rs. 100 crore (Rs. 1 billion) each. The stores in smaller cities will vary between 8,000 to 10,000 sq ft. Titan will start work on rolling out the initial stores in two southern metros, once the board approves the business plan.

The $100-billion Tata Group's interest in edutainment tracks the growing investments in this space. Last month, Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan acquired 26% stake in the India franchise of Mexican edutainment brand KidZania, scheduled to open first store in a Mumbai suburb March next year.

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

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Indira Gandhi Centre for Sustainable Development at Oxford University approved

As a tribute to the former Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, the government on Friday gave an ‘in-principle’ approval for setting up of the Indira Gandhi Centre for Sustainable Development at Somerville College, University of Oxford. Mrs. Gandhi was a student of Somerville College. An inter-ministerial committee is already in place to discuss the proposal.

This was announced after Union Human Resource Development (HRD) Minister M. M. Pallam Raju, met Alice Prochaska, Principal of Somerville College at New Delhi. The proposal to establish the centre has come from the college.

The centre will honour the late Prime Minister’s legacy by addressing key issues of sustainable development and will result in building up India’s intellectual capital and expertise in the area. It will enhance scholarship opportunities at Oxford for bright and talented students from India in the field of sustainable development, invest in intellectual capital and build a platform for strengthening partnerships with Indian scholars and leading institutions, thereby creating a community of alumni engaged in lifelong learning.

The centre is aimed at having a transformational impact on the lives of future leaders, who will help to direct a new paradigm of sustainable development in India and beyond. There will be three core activities, including supporting talent and leadership development by making graduate/Ph.D. scholarships available specifically to Indian students at Oxford, with a cohort of Indian graduate students participating directly in research of relevance to India.

The centre will strengthen interdisciplinary and pioneering research into food security, environmental sustainability and international governance by establishing post-doctoral positions and fellowships. The building will be designed to house an innovative “incubator” environment, helping foster new thinking and robust solutions to the challenges facing India and South Asian communities. Within each Impact Theme, the centre will develop its activities around three core activities: research, talent and collaboration.

The Somerville College has proposed to India to contribute £3.0 million for the project, while the university and college will provide an additional £5.5 million to support the centre. A dedicated building will be built for creating a landmark facility for the centre at a cost of approximately £10.0 million to be raised by Oxford University through philanthropic donations.

Almost 10 acres of land has also been earmarked for the building in the premises of the college. The building will be prominently located in the University of Oxford’s Radcliffe Observatory Quarter next to Somerville and opposite the new Blavatnik School of Government.

Source: The Hindu, December 8, 2012

Friday, December 07, 2012

Divine inspiration for business

A motley bunch of IT and financial sector executives, businessmen, couple of police officers, a few officers from the Indian Air Force, executives from public sector companies, are all listening intently to Debashis Chatterjee as he speaks, flitting between anecdote, stories, humour and discourse. Chatterjee, Director, Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Kozhikode, Kerala, is addressing a management development programme, based on his book ‘Timeless Leadership, 18 Leadership Sutras from The Bhagavad Gita’ and his class of senior executives is keen to learn what for them is evidently new ground.

The sylvan surroundings of IIM-K, built as it is on two hillocks with a breathtaking view of a carpet of coconut trees as far as the eye can see, is an ideal retreat for these executives to get away from the hurly-burly of corporate life and step back and take stock. Chatterjee seamlessly pulls in examples from everyday life to illustrate his point and draw parallels from the discourse Krishna, the charioteer, gives to the warrior Arjuna, who’s paralysed into inaction on the battlefield. At the end of a day’s session, Chatterjee talked to Business Line about on his book and what the corporate world can draw from what the Gita has to offer. His office, more windows than wall, offers a spectacular view of the valley below.

The corporate world is rocked by a crisis in ethics and values. In this context, does a study of the Gita’s tenets offer some relevant lessons? The Gita is a text for the foundational values of life. It’s not just a book of skills. The corporate world has a preponderant emphasis on skills without the discretion that must go behind these skill sets. If I am an investment banker then I am really honoured for my craft in creating financial models. But, the emphasis is largely on skills. That emphasis has been so disproportionate that we have not paid enough emphasis on values that run these skills, which need to serve the larger good. In business you collect money, you have investors and shareholders; all of them constitute the larger component of a business and the society in which you do business. If you look at only the craft as your business capability then you are missing the whole point of what business stands for. Businesses need to understand what is the larger good; leaders need to have a sense of what corporate dharma is, which is to generate more wealth with less resources for a larger number of people. That’s the dharmic tenet of a corporation.

So, what learnings can corporate executives draw from the Gita?
Businesses of today will have to look at the multiple impact of their business. They have to be conscious of the larger or the whole picture. In the Gita, Krishna is telling Arjuna, ‘Don’t be worried so much about your role as a part. As long as you connect to the whole, the part is taken care of.” The earlier Chairman of Hindustan Lever, Vindi Banga, used to say that whatever is good for Hindustan is good for Hindustan Lever. He didn’t say it the other way round. Narayana Murthy says ‘whatever is good for India is good for Infosys’. Why are they saying this? Because they are saying the same thing that the Gita is: what is good for the large is good for the small.

Krishna is painting the picture of the large and telling Arjuna, “See your little part in connection with the whole…once you do that your ability to act for the larger group will enhance progressively. Then you will not engage in unethical actions.” If Rajat Gupta was sensitive to the world, that he was actually depriving a genuine investor from his legitimate wealth by insider trading, he would not have done it. It’s a lack of sensitivity.

When were you fired by the principles of the Gita to draw parallels for the corporate world?
I have been hearing Gita since I was a child. But my real serious interest in studying it developed when my father started scribbling notes on this before he passed away in 2009. And the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of a company asked me to do a series on the Gita for 18 days. I did that diligently, one chapter each day, without knowing why I was doing it. But the result was so phenomenal. All of a sudden you saw into the heart of things with so much more clarity. Later, when I was in Singapore, an editor of Wiley walked up to my office one day. I was contemplating a comparative work of Sun Tzu’s The Art of War and the Gita. But, he wanted me to write a book based on the Gita. For that I needed to understand what it meant for corporations. This work is two years for writing. But the preparation for it was nine years. I read 200 editions of it. Everybody that you can think of has done some thing on the Gita: Tilak, Mahatama Gandhi, you name them…even CEOs are writing on it.

I even went to Rishikesh and met people who have made Gita their way of life, to understand what they had to say.
The book evolved as a result of this series of conversations. My earnest aspiration is to rescue the Gita from the vocabulary of an exclusive religious cult. I have nothing against religion but I have absolutely a problem when this is seen as a touch-me-not. The Gita’s message had to be transcreated for a new generation of learners who would not buy its esoteric notions. They would not see Krishna as an otherworldly being. So, I took examples form mundane existence (to draw parallels).

So, shorn of all the religiosity, the principles of the Gita you say are universal?
First of all it’s not meant to be a religious text but a way of living. It’s one of the works of psychology, depending on how you look at it. It has been interpreted by multiple people, so it lends itself to so many nuances, it’s a primary work, and my work is to interpret it for the corporate sector, transcreating the work in my own way.

Do you see India’s corporate leaders using these principles of the Gita?
If you see the top 100 wealth creators in India, 80 will swear by it, that their basic manual will be the Gita. The Gita is like a case study. The Upanishads are like a text book; Gita tells you how to apply the principles of Upanishads and Vedanta in real life. If that case study does not appeal to businesses which one will? I found that it is very compelling to speak to corporates with the evidence that the Gita not only has the power to create an Indian knowledge system, it can explain how the Indian business system runs the way it does, why Indian businesses can cope with the imponderables and uncertainty much better. Foreigners are amazed at the chaos here, but there is order in chaos. But, apparently, there is no chaos, there is a cosmos out there which lies just below the threshold of chaos and that order lends itself to depth of intelligence. So, instead of going out there and borrowing from shallow Western manuals we can go deep into our own knowledge systems.

With all the turmoil and scams in the corporate world, can B-schools inculcate values and ethics in B-school to your students?
The first point of ethics and values is that they are very subtle in nature. They don’t lend themselves to just teaching and talking like you teach time management or operations research. It is a different category, it’s very layered. So, ethics and values are caught rather than taught. They have to be built into the DNA of the organisation.

What are the attributes, according to you, that a CEO needs in today’s world?
A CEO needs wilderness skills; how do you deal with wide variations in data, in market fluctuations, you need a mental capability that has to seek out coherent patterns from a swarm of data, the ability to connect the dots and take decisive action, you need a certain equipoise, an equilibrium, a certain calmness of mind. That is missing in many CEOs. You need to know how to process your emotions.

CEOs also need an ecological sensitivity, which was not needed before. There are so many environmental factors buffeting businesses, that you cannot become ecologically vulnerable. Today, if you look at McDonald’s, they advertise their supply chain rather than their products. Sustainability is a function of being ecologically sensitive. GE has changed 180 degrees from the time of Jack Welch; in India, ITC is talking about responsible luxury. All this is pointing towards a change in mindset about the context of business. It is no longer about shareholders, it is the large societal factors impacting businesses. We need a bigger vision for business today.

Today you can’t bribe a Government servant and get away with it, there is the civil society which you have to contend with, there is the judiciary, there are environmental hawks who are scanning your carbon footprint. It’s difficult to be a business leader today, it’s much more challenging.

Source: The Hindu Business Line, December 7, 2012

Blog Archive