India tops entries list in IT global contest
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India tops entries list in IT global contest

By agencies   |   Thursday, 30 March 2006, 08:00 Hrs
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BANGALORE: India has scored another high, topping the number of entries at the Stockholm Challenge 2006 competition that honors innovative ways to use information and communication technology (ICT) to improve people's lives.

"We have a number of interesting projects from India this year. Seventy-three Indian projects signed up this year," the challenge spokesperson Johan De Geer said. With this, India has surpassed the U.S. as the country with most projects in 2006.

"We had 59 Indian projects in 2004, when India was the second most-represented country, 61 (again second) in 2002, 28 (seventh) in 2001 and 9 (18th) in 2000," said De Geer.

Currently, 16 Indian projects are in the final round. This award goes in six categories to innovative teams. The final winners will be feted in the Stockholm City Hall, venue of the Nobel Prize ceremonies in May.

In the education category, short listed projects that impressed a wide-ranging global jury include an animated sign-language learning tool crafted in Rajkot, a Gurgaon-base online self-help community for visually disabled youth, and Giri Pragna, a project for tribal students from Khammam in Andhra Pradesh.

So was Gyan Vinimay, which tries to bring global expertise to Raipur. The Habitat Learning Center from New Delhi and the Sharada ICT-catalyst for the literacy mission in Indore has also been selected.

Three Indian projects made it in the environment category: a building plan scrutiny and approval management system developed by the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC), a database on biodiversity of the Western Ghats at Bangalore's Indian Institute of Science, and a decision support system to build "secure highways" coming from Baramati in Maharashtra.

Nineteen Indian projects that promise to tone up public administration have also been short-listed.

These range from New Delhi's Save the Girl Child campaign against sex-based abortions, the national 24-hour toll-free emergency Child line for children in distress, Pune's citizen facilitation centre, Computer-on-Wheels from Mahbubnagar district of Andhra Pradesh, eAwas government accommodation management system also from Delhi, eGram Suraj from Raipur; and HimBhoomi land records computerization from Shimla.

Also short listed are HimRis (Himachal Registration Information System), Information Kerala Mission (IKM), telecom giant BSNL's integrated consumer initiative; and Sitapur's Lokvani "e-ffort to empower citizens through e-governance."

'Missing Children In India', a site to share information between citizens and various police units, from Nagpur is also short-listed.

So are Parishkruti, an online public grievance redressal from Khammam, Pehal, citizen services from Shimla, Haryana Board of School Education's ICT initiatives, Rural e-Seva from West Godavari, and Nagpur's Total e-Government project.

New Delhi's Traditional Knowledge Digital Library, tkdl.res.in, an application for making an inventory of traditional knowledge, also figures among the entries.

India's 11 finalists for the economic development category include AGMARKNET that seeks to empower farmers with latest commodity prices, Akashganga to help timely collection of milk and offer better prices for producers in Anand, and the Computer Munshi or barefoot ICT entrepreneurs offering accounting and other services to self-help groups in rural India.

In the health category, ideas adjudged as innovative included an ICT-based AIDS campaign from Kurnool, and a Khammam-based e-immunization project, which promises to help "save three million babies a year by tracking immunization schedule for each baby using the information technology."

OpenMED@NIC, an Indian government initiative to build an open access archive for medical and allied science, has also been short-listed.


Ranbaxy acquires Terapia of Romania
NEW DELHI: India's largest pharma firm Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd. has bought Romania's leading generic drug producer Terapia for $324 million, as part of its plans to expand presence in the European market.

The announcement about Terapia came two days after Gurgaon based Ranbaxy said it was acquiring GlaxoSmithKline PLC's generic business in Italy.

Ranbaxy, which is among the world's top 10 generic drug makers, has mostly relied on the U.S. market for its global sales, but the company is now increasingly looking to Europe. Last month, it lost to rival Dr Reddy's Laboratories in a bid for German drug maker Betapharm.

The Terapia buy will provide the company with "proximity and access to high growth markets," Ranbaxy Chief Executive Malvinder Singh said in a statement.

"The transaction is compelling and furthers us on our path to becoming a top five global generic company," Singh said.

The company will pay four times Terapia's annual sales in 2005 to acquire 96.7 percent stake in the company. Singh defended the purchase price, pointing to Terapia's huge sales force and earnings margins of 35 percent.

Increasing competition and pricing pressures in the American market for generic drugs, where the Food and Drug Administration have eased entry rules in the past two years, has driven Ranbaxy┬ĺs focus on Europe.

The company collects more than a quarter of its global revenue from the U.S., where its sales declined 22 percent to $331 million in 2005. Sales in Europe, however, increased 5 percent.

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