Latest Happenings In Focus
Date: Friday , December 15, 2006
Global Indus Technovator Awards 2006
Ten Indian Innovators and entrepreneurs were honored at the annual Global Indus Technovator Awards 2006, organized by Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Indian Business Club (IBC). Instated in 2003, these annual awards recognize and felicitate inspirational young innovators who have made outstanding contributions to their respective technological fields and provided practical value.
This year’s recipients were from the areas of Biotechnology/ Medicine / Healthcare, Materials and devices, Information, technology, and Grassroots Technology, Energy.
A student-run organization chaired by graduate students at MIT, the IBC was established in 2002 as an initiative of Sangam, the Indian student’s organization at MIT. They organized the Tech award with an intention to promote the spirit of entrepreneurship and innovation among talented and aspiring technologists -academia or industry- of ‘Indus’ origin (South Asian origin) over the globe.
This years awardees first went through a screening committee that comprised of doctoral and post-doctoral students (at MIT and other Boston Universities) and professionals working in the Greater Boston area. They were then judged by eminent researchers, and prominent personalities in the industry and venture capitalist arenas including S. Ramadorai -CEO, Tata Consultancy Services; -Director of Harvard Partners Center for Genetics Genomics Professor, Harvard Medical School, Kiran Mazumdar Shaw- Founder, Chairman and Managing Director, Biocon Group of Companies and Motorola Labs Director, Mobile Platforms, Applications Research Center among others.
All of this year’s recipients were PhD holders and among the best in their own domain. The IBC received close to 120 nominations for the previous year and the number is expected to grow.
IT’s BIG BASH - BangaloreIT.in 2006
Seventy thousand people, 250 companies, 160 international firms from 15 countries, 350 Indian and foreign delegates and 14 state governments—their presence ensured a bustling environment at one of Asia’s prime IT events. We are talking of the BangaloreIT.in 2006 held at Palace grounds. Started in 1998, BangaloreIT.in has been attracting IT majors from India and abroad. Besides positioning Bangalore as the Silicon Valley of India, the event is also seen as assisting in getting foreign investments into Karnataka as well as India.
Held over four days and hosted by the Karnataka government with the Software Technology Parks of India (STPI), the ninth edition to the annual IT exposition was loud with its theme “Brand Bangalore is the Best.” The event saw seminars, pavilions and trade shows—all with its motto of providing a forum to encourage interaction among CEOs, CTOs, HRs, IT professionals, delegates while pushing the already booming Indian IT business to its next level.
Among the seminars held at the plush Grand Ashok, HRinIndia and the ISA emerged as the crowd pullers as professionals and delegates witnessed CEOs and HR Heads deliberate on the changing role of HR. The topics discussed included challenges like ‘What CEOs expect from HR?’, ‘HR role in Managing Change’ and ‘HR Challenges in M & A’.
The ISA Round Table Conference had discussions from ideas to execution on setting up a semi-conductor company in India while the SME forum discussed issues being faced by Small and Medium Enterprises who stand to lose out in comparison to their larger counterparts.
A new addition to this year’s mega event was the exclusive IP Zone showcasing the city’s tremendous potential for IP creation. Held under the theme ‘Innovative India’, it had several companies like Tejas Networks, SemIndi and Ittiam display products developed by them.
Other events during the four-day expo included the Rural IT Quiz, Awards Nite Creativity that gave away unusual awards for the most innovative participants of Bangalore IT.in and the CEO Conclave, offering incisive options and deep insights.
Huge pavilions spread across the Palace Grounds was a major attraction covering the emerging IT areas under e-Nations, STPI, e-States, e-Infocom, e-Software, e-Facilities, IT Parks, e-Gaming and e-Hardware.
Australia, Britain, China, Germany, Russia, Spain and the U.S. were among the major countries to be represented by their companies and international firms such as Texas Instruments, Xerox, WEP, Infosys, Cognizant, Reliance and Wipro participated in the event. Trade delegations from Britain, Australia, Spain, New Zealand, Germany, China, Taiwan participated in the exposition.
But the event lacked its yester year success. Apart from the drop in footfall, participating companies too fell short of impressing the crowd. Many saw the event as a crowd puller rather than any strategic business investment. “We plan to make it 100 per cent business and market driven next year onwards,” said MN Vidyashankar, Karnataka’s new IT secretary.
Sunita Williams to stay in space for six months
After Kalpana Chawla, it is the turn for Sunita Williams to make her mark across the sky as she undertakes a six-month space odyssey in the form of the International Space Station Expedition. Ohio born Williams will replace German Thomas Reiter as a flight engineer on the space station. Reiter, a European Space Agency astronaut, who flew aboard Discovery July 4 to take up residence at the Space Station, will return to Earth with the rest of the STS-116 Shuttle crew after its 12-day mission.
“So many people in the Astronaut Office are from different countries and cultures, and every time someone goes up that can identify with a group of people on the ground, you get that group of people wondering, ‘wow, maybe that could be me one day.’ There are a million possibilities out there,” said Williams, the second person of Indian origin taking NASA’s fourth space flight since the Columbia disaster killed Indian born Chawla and six other astronauts in 2003.
A graduate of the Naval Academy, Williams received her commission as an Ensign in the U.S. Navy from the U.S. Naval Academy. In 1989, she was designated a Naval Aviator and in 1993, she graduated from the Naval Test Pilot School. She was selected as an astronaut in 1998 and has since then been under training and waiting for a space flight assignment. In 2003, Williams was appointed by NASA as a backup crewmember for a space mission to the space station orbiting 240 miles above Earth.
Since it went into orbit in 1998, the space station has been running on a temporary electrical system. NASA considers Discovery’s mission as the most complex of the final 14 assembly flights to finish the International Space Station. “What makes this one singularly unique is the fact that we’re going to rewire the space station,” said Mark Polansky, commander of Discovery.
U.S. students in India double
Over 1,700 American students completed their higher education in India recording an increase of 52.7 percent compared to the previous year. The results were an outcome of a recent study titled ‘Open Doors-2006’ that underlines trends during the academic year of 2005-2006.
It was based on a survey of over 2,700 accredited U.S. institutions and conducted by the Institute of International Education (IIE), a leading non- profit educational and cultural exchange organization in the U.S.
Occupying 15.5 percent of the share of Americans studying abroad, the survey marked U.K as the most favored destination as 32,071 students from the U.S. preferred to study there. But Argentina emerged as the dark horse on the list garnering an increase of 53 percent, the highest percentage hike among all countries.
Among international scholars teaching at U.S. campuses, Indians raked up the highest increase among other countries with 13. 9 percent followed by China (11.6 percent) and Korea (7.3 percent).
However, emerging and more economically friendly destinations like Australia and New Zealand have stalled the percentage of Indians going to the U.S for further studies causing it to dip to 4.9 percent.
In a bid to improve and retain the Indian presence in classrooms, many Universities have special programs recognizing and acknowledging the presence of Indian students on the campus. With five to eight percent of the MBA students in every class being Indians, the Center for International Business Education and Research, McCombs School of Business, University of Texas at Austin has established the Indian Graduate Business Association (IGBA) to create a friendly, welcoming environment for all students interested in Indian business and culture.
Other universities like the Montana State University have even held International weeks with India as a theme this year and is now contemplating opening an India Center to collaborate with Indian universities for joint degrees as well as sending its students to India and vice versa for study internships.
The University of Southern California with a considerable Indian population along with the Columbia University has yet again emerged as the campus with the largest non-American student populations in the country.
Two Indians on ‘Scientific American’s’ list of achievers
Two Indian Americans, Pulickel Ajayan and Prabhakar R. Bandaru found a place among the annual scientific achievers list published by the U.S magazine- Scientific American. One of the oldest continuously published magazine, Scientific American brought out their edition of the top 50 achievers that commended achievers under various areas of Nanotech viruses, global warming, greener cars, stem cells and innovative funding.
Bandur came in at number 30, honored for his contributions to the filed of Chicken Wire category. Professor at the Jacobs School of Engineering’s Materials Science Program, University of California, he and his colleagues were able to successfully demonstrate the a radical nanotube- based transistor.
Ajayan was recognized for his research on carbon nanotubes by the Materials Research Society and ranked in at number 41. An assistant professor at the Materials Science and Engineering Department at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, he was cited for “important developments in the materials science and applications of carbon nanotubes.” He was also awarded by the Materials Research Society for his work on nanotubes. The MRS medal is awarded for a specific outstanding recent discovery or advancement that is expected to have a major impact on the progress of any materials-related field.
This was the fifth time that the list was being published. Among the others on the list, ranked first under the research leader of the year, Swiss Re came in second under the category of business leader of the year and Vice President Al Gore ranked third under policy leader of the year.
Wal-Mart Heading To India
After years of trying to get into the Indian market, Wal-Mart has found its way.
The world’s biggest retailer is signing a deal with the Bharti group, led by telecom entrepreneur Sunil Mittal. “We are going to be a big player in the market. We are talking here about several hundred (stores) across the country,” says Mittal. The new stores would be aimed at giving Indians low prices, especially for the estimated 300 million middle class.
Bharti will run the front-end retail and Wal-Mart will do the back-end logistics, cash and carry and supply sourcing. The reason for this kind of an arrangement is that India still has lots of restrictions on the retail sector.
Under existing rules, foreign players running cash-and-carry stores can sell to distributors, retailers and hotels among others, but not to consumers. Hence European-based Metro AG launched wholesale stores in 2003 (targeted at distributors). Multi-product retail chains like Wal-Mart , Tesco and Carrefour have shied away because of these regulations.
The government, however, has also allowed FDI up to 49 per cent for single-brand retailers. “The deal is in compliance with existing (government foreign investment) rules,” says Mittal. The tie-up between the world’s largest retailer and Bharti is the first direct assault on India’s 15 million small shops, the highest density of retail outlets in the world and with annual turnover of $300 billion which is expected to double by 2015, according to consultants PriceWaterhouseCoopers. Bharti Walmart stores are expected to open in August next year.