Showing posts sorted by relevance for query technology. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query technology. Sort by date Show all posts

Monday, February 16, 2009

Technology & tolerance: Tools to treasure

Diversity, and the freedom to espouse it, is necessary for organisations, and also for a technologically and economically resurgent India. It also embodies the very idea of India, says Kiran Karnik.

Many assert that we live in an age of technology. Undoubtedly, technology is a major driver of economies around the world, and is having an increasingly bigger impact in the socio-cultural sphere. Yet, this — by itself — is not new; after all, the economic importance of technology has been seen from the days primitive humans devised better weapons for hunting, and its socio-cultural role — through settlements resulting from agriculture, for example — has been important for centuries. What is different today is the speed at which technology is changing and progressing. It is the rate of change in technologies and the rapidity of its spread that is radically different from earlier eras.

We have seen in India the pace at which cable and satellite TV spread across all parts of the country and penetrated deeply into the socio-economic pyramid, as contrasted with the leisurely pace of conventional TV. Even more striking is the phenomenal story of mobile telephony, already — in just over a decade — the device is owned by more Indians than any other. The ubiquity of information and communication technologies, and continuing innovations in their applications, is bringing about radical shifts in mindsets as much as in economics. For example, connectivity has annihilated the concept of “remote”: today, with mobiles and internet linkages, the very definition of isolation has changed. With allowable exaggeration, one could say that geography is history, heralding the death of distance.

In a changing environment, organisms that do not evolve and adapt may not survive. This is as true of social structures as it is of biological entities: organisation and countries that do not adapt to the new environment of rapid technological change are likely to be endangered. What is required is not just a coping mechanism to weather on-going change, but proactive measures that enable one to take advantage of the situation.

For a number of reasons, India is wellpositioned to capitalise on this scenario, which requires the ability to adapt to change and a strong technological base. The first is potentially helped by demographics: the high proportion of young people in our population — for some decades to come — is a great advantage, given that the young are far more amenable to change. The second (the technology base) has been built over the last six decades and though it does need far more attention and resources, it is already of a magnitude to potentially be an initiator — and not just adapter — of new technologies.

India’s space and nuclear technology progammes — despite years of embargoes by the west — exemplify the country’s strong technological base. In recent years, this has been supplemented by growing capability in fields like information technology, bio-technology and automobile design. These provide a good foundation for understanding, predicting and handling the changes that result from technological advances. However, if we are to go beyond this and be an active participant in shaping change, there is need for a major thrust in S&T, through massive investments in R&D, science and engineering education and in mechanisms to encourage private investment and promote industry-academia-R&D interaction.

The superstructure, to stretch the metaphor, depends not only on the foundation, but also on the soil or the ambience within which it is embedded. In an era of fast — and, often, revolutionary — technological change, to be a leader requires that one has to think differently, to go beyond imitation or incremental change. Economic and strategic power will increasingly go to those who innovate, who create the breakthrough technologies. The days of seeking economic advantage by efficiently productising technology developed by others, are numbered because of the speed with which technologies become obsolete, as also the increasingly restrictive regimes, which often deny access to new technologies. Radical breakthroughs, on a sustainable and on-going basis, happen mainly when the socio-cultural milieu encourages divergent — even subversive — thinking.

A quick solution to India’s colossal problems of poverty, illiteracy, healthcare, social justice and economic equity, depends on its ability to devise and use new and innovative tools. Some of these will be technological, will others will be societal, organisational and fiscal. Such solutions — with the speed and scale warranted by the magnitude of the problems — will necessarily be radical deviations from the present, requiring many alternatives to be tried and an even larger number thought about. We need, therefore, to catalyse an explosion of radically new ideas. Such a flowering of creativity, in a number of different areas, can take place only in an ambience where divergent thinking is encouraged. The future of India depends upon this.

India, with its immense diversity in every sphere, and a vibrant democracy, is well placed to foster such creativity. Yet in recent times, we have seen attempts to stifle such openness. Recent incidents in Mumbai, Mangalore and elsewhere, have brought to the fore groups that seem determined to stamp out diversity. The issue is not just about “outsiders” or of women’s rights. The larger issue is that of diversity, of tolerance and a respect for the rights and freedom of others. While fringe groups have a right to their view, they must not be allowed to impose this on others through force or even threat, coercion and fear. It is the duty of the State to permit all citizens to live a life style of their choice and certainly to have and propagate any ideas, howsoever radical these may be, as long as they are within the bounds of the existing laws. Permitting lumpen groups, of whatever persuasion, to enforce their own version of laws and morality is a dereliction of duty by the State.

In an evolving society, many ideas and behaviours are manifest. We need, in our own collective interest, to permit all streams of ideas, however diverse or deviant, and not seek to stifle them or impose pre-determined ones. Such diversity, and the freedom to espouse it, is necessary for organisations, and also for a technologically and economically resurgent India; it also embodies the very idea of India.

Technology & tolerance: Tools to treasure

Diversity, and the freedom to espouse it, is necessary for organisations, and also for a technologically and economically resurgent India. It also embodies the very idea of India, says Kiran Karnik.

Many assert that we live in an age of technology. Undoubtedly, technology is a major driver of economies around the world, and is having an increasingly bigger impact in the socio-cultural sphere. Yet, this — by itself — is not new; after all, the economic importance of technology has been seen from the days primitive humans devised better weapons for hunting, and its socio-cultural role — through settlements resulting from agriculture, for example — has been important for centuries. What is different today is the speed at which technology is changing and progressing. It is the rate of change in technologies and the rapidity of its spread that is radically different from earlier eras.

We have seen in India the pace at which cable and satellite TV spread across all parts of the country and penetrated deeply into the socio-economic pyramid, as contrasted with the leisurely pace of conventional TV. Even more striking is the phenomenal story of mobile telephony, already — in just over a decade — the device is owned by more Indians than any other. The ubiquity of information and communication technologies, and continuing innovations in their applications, is bringing about radical shifts in mindsets as much as in economics. For example, connectivity has annihilated the concept of “remote”: today, with mobiles and internet linkages, the very definition of isolation has changed. With allowable exaggeration, one could say that geography is history, heralding the death of distance.

In a changing environment, organisms that do not evolve and adapt may not survive. This is as true of social structures as it is of biological entities: organisation and countries that do not adapt to the new environment of rapid technological change are likely to be endangered. What is required is not just a coping mechanism to weather on-going change, but proactive measures that enable one to take advantage of the situation.

For a number of reasons, India is wellpositioned to capitalise on this scenario, which requires the ability to adapt to change and a strong technological base. The first is potentially helped by demographics: the high proportion of young people in our population — for some decades to come — is a great advantage, given that the young are far more amenable to change. The second (the technology base) has been built over the last six decades and though it does need far more attention and resources, it is already of a magnitude to potentially be an initiator — and not just adapter — of new technologies.

India’s space and nuclear technology progammes — despite years of embargoes by the west — exemplify the country’s strong technological base. In recent years, this has been supplemented by growing capability in fields like information technology, bio-technology and automobile design. These provide a good foundation for understanding, predicting and handling the changes that result from technological advances. However, if we are to go beyond this and be an active participant in shaping change, there is need for a major thrust in S&T, through massive investments in R&D, science and engineering education and in mechanisms to encourage private investment and promote industry-academia-R&D interaction.

The superstructure, to stretch the metaphor, depends not only on the foundation, but also on the soil or the ambience within which it is embedded. In an era of fast — and, often, revolutionary — technological change, to be a leader requires that one has to think differently, to go beyond imitation or incremental change. Economic and strategic power will increasingly go to those who innovate, who create the breakthrough technologies. The days of seeking economic advantage by efficiently productising technology developed by others, are numbered because of the speed with which technologies become obsolete, as also the increasingly restrictive regimes, which often deny access to new technologies. Radical breakthroughs, on a sustainable and on-going basis, happen mainly when the socio-cultural milieu encourages divergent — even subversive — thinking.

A quick solution to India’s colossal problems of poverty, illiteracy, healthcare, social justice and economic equity, depends on its ability to devise and use new and innovative tools. Some of these will be technological, will others will be societal, organisational and fiscal. Such solutions — with the speed and scale warranted by the magnitude of the problems — will necessarily be radical deviations from the present, requiring many alternatives to be tried and an even larger number thought about. We need, therefore, to catalyse an explosion of radically new ideas. Such a flowering of creativity, in a number of different areas, can take place only in an ambience where divergent thinking is encouraged. The future of India depends upon this.

India, with its immense diversity in every sphere, and a vibrant democracy, is well placed to foster such creativity. Yet in recent times, we have seen attempts to stifle such openness. Recent incidents in Mumbai, Mangalore and elsewhere, have brought to the fore groups that seem determined to stamp out diversity. The issue is not just about “outsiders” or of women’s rights. The larger issue is that of diversity, of tolerance and a respect for the rights and freedom of others. While fringe groups have a right to their view, they must not be allowed to impose this on others through force or even threat, coercion and fear. It is the duty of the State to permit all citizens to live a life style of their choice and certainly to have and propagate any ideas, howsoever radical these may be, as long as they are within the bounds of the existing laws. Permitting lumpen groups, of whatever persuasion, to enforce their own version of laws and morality is a dereliction of duty by the State.

In an evolving society, many ideas and behaviours are manifest. We need, in our own collective interest, to permit all streams of ideas, however diverse or deviant, and not seek to stifle them or impose pre-determined ones. Such diversity, and the freedom to espouse it, is necessary for organisations, and also for a technologically and economically resurgent India; it also embodies the very idea of India.

Technology & tolerance: Tools to treasure

Diversity, and the freedom to espouse it, is necessary for organisations, and also for a technologically and economically resurgent India. It also embodies the very idea of India, says Kiran Karnik.

Many assert that we live in an age of technology. Undoubtedly, technology is a major driver of economies around the world, and is having an increasingly bigger impact in the socio-cultural sphere. Yet, this — by itself — is not new; after all, the economic importance of technology has been seen from the days primitive humans devised better weapons for hunting, and its socio-cultural role — through settlements resulting from agriculture, for example — has been important for centuries. What is different today is the speed at which technology is changing and progressing. It is the rate of change in technologies and the rapidity of its spread that is radically different from earlier eras.

We have seen in India the pace at which cable and satellite TV spread across all parts of the country and penetrated deeply into the socio-economic pyramid, as contrasted with the leisurely pace of conventional TV. Even more striking is the phenomenal story of mobile telephony, already — in just over a decade — the device is owned by more Indians than any other. The ubiquity of information and communication technologies, and continuing innovations in their applications, is bringing about radical shifts in mindsets as much as in economics. For example, connectivity has annihilated the concept of “remote”: today, with mobiles and internet linkages, the very definition of isolation has changed. With allowable exaggeration, one could say that geography is history, heralding the death of distance.

In a changing environment, organisms that do not evolve and adapt may not survive. This is as true of social structures as it is of biological entities: organisation and countries that do not adapt to the new environment of rapid technological change are likely to be endangered. What is required is not just a coping mechanism to weather on-going change, but proactive measures that enable one to take advantage of the situation.

For a number of reasons, India is wellpositioned to capitalise on this scenario, which requires the ability to adapt to change and a strong technological base. The first is potentially helped by demographics: the high proportion of young people in our population — for some decades to come — is a great advantage, given that the young are far more amenable to change. The second (the technology base) has been built over the last six decades and though it does need far more attention and resources, it is already of a magnitude to potentially be an initiator — and not just adapter — of new technologies.

India’s space and nuclear technology progammes — despite years of embargoes by the west — exemplify the country’s strong technological base. In recent years, this has been supplemented by growing capability in fields like information technology, bio-technology and automobile design. These provide a good foundation for understanding, predicting and handling the changes that result from technological advances. However, if we are to go beyond this and be an active participant in shaping change, there is need for a major thrust in S&T, through massive investments in R&D, science and engineering education and in mechanisms to encourage private investment and promote industry-academia-R&D interaction.

The superstructure, to stretch the metaphor, depends not only on the foundation, but also on the soil or the ambience within which it is embedded. In an era of fast — and, often, revolutionary — technological change, to be a leader requires that one has to think differently, to go beyond imitation or incremental change. Economic and strategic power will increasingly go to those who innovate, who create the breakthrough technologies. The days of seeking economic advantage by efficiently productising technology developed by others, are numbered because of the speed with which technologies become obsolete, as also the increasingly restrictive regimes, which often deny access to new technologies. Radical breakthroughs, on a sustainable and on-going basis, happen mainly when the socio-cultural milieu encourages divergent — even subversive — thinking.

A quick solution to India’s colossal problems of poverty, illiteracy, healthcare, social justice and economic equity, depends on its ability to devise and use new and innovative tools. Some of these will be technological, will others will be societal, organisational and fiscal. Such solutions — with the speed and scale warranted by the magnitude of the problems — will necessarily be radical deviations from the present, requiring many alternatives to be tried and an even larger number thought about. We need, therefore, to catalyse an explosion of radically new ideas. Such a flowering of creativity, in a number of different areas, can take place only in an ambience where divergent thinking is encouraged. The future of India depends upon this.

India, with its immense diversity in every sphere, and a vibrant democracy, is well placed to foster such creativity. Yet in recent times, we have seen attempts to stifle such openness. Recent incidents in Mumbai, Mangalore and elsewhere, have brought to the fore groups that seem determined to stamp out diversity. The issue is not just about “outsiders” or of women’s rights. The larger issue is that of diversity, of tolerance and a respect for the rights and freedom of others. While fringe groups have a right to their view, they must not be allowed to impose this on others through force or even threat, coercion and fear. It is the duty of the State to permit all citizens to live a life style of their choice and certainly to have and propagate any ideas, howsoever radical these may be, as long as they are within the bounds of the existing laws. Permitting lumpen groups, of whatever persuasion, to enforce their own version of laws and morality is a dereliction of duty by the State.

In an evolving society, many ideas and behaviours are manifest. We need, in our own collective interest, to permit all streams of ideas, however diverse or deviant, and not seek to stifle them or impose pre-determined ones. Such diversity, and the freedom to espouse it, is necessary for organisations, and also for a technologically and economically resurgent India; it also embodies the very idea of India.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

We don't need PM Modi's new 'smart' cities, we need to run the existing ones better

Fourteen years ago, when Bill Clinton was issued a driver’s licence in minutes by the then Chandrababu Naidu government in erstwhile Andhra Pradesh, a classmate in Hyderabad immediately decided to bring my excitement and awe to a quick end.

“Don’t exult yet. Things can go wrong: the computer or the printer may not work, or the cussed clerk at the counter may just not let them work.”

This is more or less a truism of a sort, for later I discovered that a senior secretary to the Maharashtra government would just not get to read my emails. His PA with the password would be on leave, or in those days of limited sizes of the mailboxes, wouldn’t have cleaned it up. My mails would bounce back. It was exasperating to have access to technology and not use it.

Monday, December 29, 2008

STEM-ming Opportunities

By M H Ahssan

CHANGES IN THE INTERNATIONAL ECONOMY HAVE CREATED TREMENDOUS JOB OPPORTUNITIES FOR STUDENTS,WHO HAVE DEGREES IN THE STEM (SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, ENGINEERING AND MATHEMATICS) SUBJECTS. TIM ROGERS PRESENTS THE EFFORTS MADE BY INSTITUTIONS AND REGULATORY BODIES TO PROMOTE THE STEM SUBJECTS,AND THE OPPORTUNITIES THAT LIE THEREIN.

With an increasing number of national governments and transnational organisations like the European Union switching their priorities to assist the development of knowledge-focused economies, the emphasis on encouraging more graduate students to opt for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (the commonly termed STEM group of academic subjects) master’s and PhD degrees, is greater than ever before. The change in popularity has undoubtedly been due, in part, to the expansion of the international technology sector and the re-entrenchment of science and engineering as central to modern economic success.

Excellent employment prospects
As investment in research and development continues to grow and is supported by more open government policies, the growth of the science and technology sectors is likely to continue at an increasing pace over the next 20 to 30 years.

The shift to a more technologically and scientifically driven global economy can only be good news for international graduates in the STEM subjects. With the number of appropriately-qualified STEM graduates below the level of current global demand, employment prospects are buoyant, even in light of the current economic uncertainty. Countries as diverse as China, Denmark, Finland and Malaysia have prioritised so-called innovation strategies to develop their capacity in research and development in the fields of biotechnology, information technology, mobile communications and genetic research, all of which require skilled master’s and PhD graduates. Such demand is likely to only increase.

According to the executive search firm Heidrick and Struggles’s 2007 Mapping Global Talent report, developed in association with the Economist Intelligence Unit, the demographic patterns of China and India, coupled with the countries’ strong focus on the STEM subjects will have a profound impact on both their national and the international labour markets: “We can predict that these two countries will yield an increasing number of talented graduates in the hi-tech sector, given their strong tradition of engineering and science at the university level.”

Attracting STEM graduates
The likelihood of an altered global employment scene is acknowledged by many governments around the world to such an extent that special initiatives to encourage and capture STEM graduates are now commonplace. The UK Government has recently embarked on a number of programmes to encourage more research and development in the STEM subject areas and attract talented master’s and PhD graduates to either come and work in the UK, or to remain in the country after their programme of study has been completed. The UK has similarly extended its focus to securing more STEM graduates through a number of subject-specific projects, all of which have potentially important consequences for international graduate students. One of the projects, ‘Stimulating Physics’, is intended to encourage more students to pursue physics at universities in the UK.

Making STEM subjects central
In India, where the financial liberalisation of the 1990s has underwritten an expansion of almost every sector of the economy, the likes of which have never been seen before, the demand for skilled STEM graduates is already outstripping supply by a clear margin. With so many Indian students pursuing STEM master’s and PhD programmes in countries such as Canada, the UK and the US, it is likely that employment prospects back at home will be at least as competitive as those on offer in the West, as Indian companies compete on the world stage. Indian tech giant, Infosys, employs more than 90,000 people worldwide, 40,000 of whom are based in India, and routinely recruits directly from the campuses of Cal Tech, Imperial College and MIT to ensure its employees are of the very highest calibre. With approximately 12,000 new employees recruited annually by Infosys, 81 per cent of their intake this year will be qualified to a master’s or professional level. Tata Consultancy Services, another Indian IT specialist employer, hired 32,000 new employees in 2007-2008, simply to keep up with their own expansion plans.

A bright future for STEM graduates
Professor Heiko Schröder, Head, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology’s School of Computer Science and Information Technology, a leading innovator in science and technology programmes, predicts a bright future for those graduating from STEM programmes. He affirms, “Worldwide, there are predictions that tell us that IT will grow again very significantly, and the shortage of jobs in the industry is already apparent, so we expect a growth in student numbers. We also know that industry investment in terms of IT, both computers and software, will grow more than ever before. American predictions are that the spending of companies on computers will grow by a factor of five in the next ten years, and spending on software will multiply by more than a factor of two, and this will make the spending on IT by far the biggest investment that companies have to make.”

A globally mobile workforce
The continuing globalisation of the science and engineering workforce in the US reflects the current broader international trend. As research and development funding crosses national borders, it is logical that the skilled workforce should become more internationally mobile. Conversely, employers now routinely seek candidates that are able to work in a globalised environment, and have experience of studying or working in another country. With the shortage of international talent likely to impact economic growth in industries, in and around the STEM subjects, perhaps there has never been a better time to consider a graduate programme in these areas.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

How GE’s Collaborative Ecosystem In India Has Led To More Than 3,000 Patent Filing Contributions?

GE’s presence in India dates back to 1902, when India’s first hydropower plant was installed. Today employees across GE’s four technology footprints—in Bangalore, Hyderabad, Mumbai, and Chennai—are committed to India’s growth and development.

The John F. Welch Technology Centre (JFWTC) in Bangalore is GE’s largest integrated multi-disciplinary R+D centre. Its 100,000 square meters of labs and offices house over 4,500 scientists, researchers, and engineers who are helping redefine what is possible in the energy, transportation, aviation, healthcare, and industrial sectors—in India and the world beyond.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

'Aadhaar' and India's Brave, New, ID-Armed Market

By M H Ahssan

An estimated US$20 billion worth of business opportunities over the next decade have begun rolling out in India with the launch of a nationwide program named "Aadhaar," which aims to issue 600 million unique identification numbers, or UIDs, to residents over the next four years.

A massive new market will open up as the Aadhaar UIDs enable hundreds of millions of poor and migrant residents to open bank accounts, get loans and expanded access to jobs, health insurance, mobile phone services and the like, while facilitating the delivery of public services including government programs for school children and the poor. The program also promises to improve the labor market with more efficiency in running pension plans, discouragement of jobseekers with spurious certificates, and improved tracking of attendance and performance for school students.

Large multinational technology and business services firms are looking to sell all manner of equipment, software and consulting services. Some are even planning to set up local manufacturing operations. Government and private sector entities, including banks and insurers, are poised to reengineer their services delivery as Aadhaar will help them identify, track and reach large new sections of the population that were previously underserved or off their radars. This writer spoke with executives at the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), led by Infosys Technologies co-founder Nandan Nilekani, and other experts about the emerging market opportunity.

Challenging the "Poverty Premium"
The UID project would create business opportunities at several levels, according to a report from CLSA Asia Pacific Markets, written by Anirudha Dutta, its deputy head of India research, and Bhavtosh Vajpayee, its head of technology research. "As UID-linked infrastructure expands over the next five years, we envisage a US$20 billion market and estimate that it will create 350,000 new jobs," they say in their report. By the sixth year, they expect the commercial pie to be worth US$10 billion annually.This, they say, could increase to US$20 billion with the "long tail impact" on banks and telecommunication services firms. Dutta and Vajpayee point also to the huge untapped market that the undocumented in India represent. Of a billion-plus people, only 35 million pay income taxes, 70 million have permanent account numbers to pay taxes, 60 million have passports and 240 million have bank accounts, they note. "The resulting poverty premium means the poor pay more (via usurious credit), receive less (thanks to misdirected or misappropriated subsidies) and are even excluded from basic services such as banking."

The business opportunities begin with identifying and verifying the authenticity of potential customers for all manner of services such as banking or mobile phone subscriptions. The UIDAI has kept its task simple, as Nilekani explains it: Issue Aadhaar numbers to enrollees, and provide authentication to whomever needs it. It uses biometrics technology such as fingerprints and iris scans as its identification criteria. It collects enrollees' biometric information through "registrars" it has appointed including all state governments, several public sector organizations, banks and other entities. The registrars are responsible for hiring and training the field staff that will collect the data, each carrying a specially designed kit that includes a computer, iris and fingerprint scanners and a camera. The enrollees' information is sent to the UIDAI, which then runs them through a "de-duplication" process to weed out any duplicate entries to ensure each number is truly unique. To ensure data security and privacy, UIDAI will not release enrollees' data; it will only respond to every request for authenticating an identity with a simple "yes" or "no."

"What is special about this project is the use of today's technology and computing horsepower and biometrics ... for a developmental purpose, to give an ID to a large number of Indians who don't have any papers or an ID, and then lay the foundation for the reengineering of public services," Nilekani says in an interview. "One of the big challenges is [that] we have a nation of migrants -- 120 million migrants out there -- they don't have an ID or their ID is not recognized; they may come from one village in one state and go to another city in another state." The Aadhaar numbers will help track the delivery of government programs such as the public distribution system (PDS) for food or mid-day meals or immunization programs for school children by matching benefits with actual beneficiaries, thereby plugging siphoning of funds or leakages to the private market, as with wheat.

"The whole idea of a subsidy or benefit or entitlement delivery system is it should reach the person it is supposed to reach, so the non-transferability of these is something the government would like to ensure," says R.S. Sharma, UIDAI's director-general. "If something meant for X gets delivered to X, that in itself is a great improvement as it will eliminate the leakage and misdirection of subsidies. For example, in PDS, if you are able to ensure that the food grains meant for X are indeed delivered to X only and nobody else, this will bring in accountability at the last mile of the delivery chain."

The Power to Claim Your Money
Aadhaar will also open up a whole new market for banks and other financial services providers. UID enrollees that don't have bank accounts could have them, thanks to an agreement UIDAI has reached with the Reserve Bank of India that the data collected would meet requirements. "We are telling the banks that we will transfer a single file [to each of them] including the [enrollee's] consent and that we have done the due diligence for it," says Ashok Pal Singh, UIDAI's deputy director-general overseeing the plan for financial inclusion, besides other portfolios. "Banks can do customer acquisition without any cost." (The UID is yet to figure out the best way to apportion these account-opening mandates to banks; it may do that through competitive bidding, Singh adds.)

"The fundamental purpose of a bank account is you are associated with your money -- a demonstrated and verifiable property right over the money you have," says Arun Sundararajan, professor of information, operations and management sciences at New York University's Stern School of Business. "This is probably the most transformational IT (information technology) project we are going to see in our lifetime," says Ravi Bapna, a professor of information and decision sciences at the University of Minnesota's Carlson School of Management, who holds a joint appointment at the Indian School of Business in Hyderabad. He is working on a study of UID's potential with Sundararajan.

As Big as Y2K
The UID is seeing robust interest from providers of equipment, software and other services for both the enrollment process (scanners and cameras, for example) and for financial and other applications, such as micro-ATMs to facilitate financial transactions in rural areas. "We are talking to almost every MNC in the technology area," says Bala Parthasarathy, UIDAI's head of authentications and applications. They include the likes of Microsoft, LG and Oracle, besides an array of smaller, specialized technology firms like U.S.-based biometric technology services firm IriTech and business applications developer Geodesic of Mumbai. In fact, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates announced at a conference last year that he found the UID project "a great initiative" and wanted Microsoft to be part of it. Parthasarathy, a 20-year Silicon Valley entrepreneur, has taken a break to work on the UID project. He notes that he and other entrepreneurs and corporate executives whom Nilekani has attracted to UID "are here because this is more exciting than anything else we can do in the private sector."

Parthasarathy likens the UID program to the U.S. government's Darpa (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), which laid the foundations of the Internet in the early 1970s. Darpa at the time launched research and applications development around communication protocols for networked computers. The reengineering of banking, PDS, government-run pension and social security programs and educational infrastructure will be on a scale similar to that of the Y2K conversions at the turn of the century, says Tushar Vashisht, manager, project strategy at UIDAI; he has taken a break from an investment banking job in Singapore to work on his current project.

UIDAI has designed and published specifications for the collection, storage and authentication of the data, and for equipment and software including iris scanners and cameras, as well as for business applications like microfinance payments. Interestingly, it has insisted on open-source technology for UID applications to the maximum extent possible. "Vendor neutrality is an absolute principle. We do not want any part of the system to be tied to any vendor," says Pramod Varma, UIDAI's chief architect overseeing its technology architecture. "We told all the vendors that if you want to be playing into this ecosystem, you have to adhere to these standards. We are going to have a plug-and-play architecture." Open-source technology enables freer competition and therefore lower prices, Varma adds.

The UID has so far certified five manufacturers of devices and plans to extend that to about five others shortly; it is working with a total of some 15 devices makers, according to Varma. He expects the first lot of about 15 registrars requiring up to 40,000 device kits in the next six to eight months, and the increasing volumes to force price declines. "For example, in the iris scanner market, we initially expected prices of about US$2,000-US$2,500 each; by the time we started enrolling [Aadhaar recipients] the price had come down to US$1,000-US$1,500, and now we are seeing sub-US$1,000 prices," Varma says.

Some foreign vendors are enthused enough to consider setting up manufacturing facilities in India to supply the Aadhaar market, Varma notes. U.S.-based L1 Identity Solutionshas already confirmed to the UIDAI that it plans a facility near New Delhi. L1, a provider of identity-related products services, recently won a US$24.5 million UIDAI order for fingerprint and iris biometric capture devices. "With the volumes, they don't have much of a choice [but] to have local assembly that is also fully locally supported," says Varma of the pressures on suppliers to set up local bases. What's more, he adds that he is also seeing "tremendous partnership activity" between local and foreign firms in products such as mobile banking devices for microfinance payments.

Streamlining Employee Benefits
Aadhaar would also help bring new efficiencies to the employment market, says Manish Sabharwal, co-founder and chairman of TeamLease Services, a large temporary staffing services provider based in Bangalore. With UID numbers, benefits such as provident fund, pension and medical insurance plans could be linked to employees' accounts, instead of the current practice of employers managing those records. "It is particularly relevant in India where 93% of employment is informal or unorganized," says Sabharwal. "The benefits world would receive a dose of productivity, transparency and lower cost if they anchor themselves in UID." Further, he expects UIDs to help separate out the administrative, investment and management functions in government-run provident fund programs and make way for new competition and lower costs. As an employer, he also looks forward to a UID-linked labor market where he can verify applicants' academic credentials.

In late October, the UIDAI signed a deal with India's ministry of human resource development to create an electronic registry of all students. The previous day, the Central Bureau of Investigation uncovered a fake university degree racket and discovered more than 51,000 forged certificates. Human resource development minister Kapil Sibal expects to use UID numbers on school records to help track student mobility, stem dropouts by monitoring student attendance and performance, prevent spurious certificates and enable employee verification, according to media reports. He also wants to link the UID numbers to education loans and scholarships.

Meanwhile, the UIDAI has gotten off to a brisk start with a critical mass of registrars including all state governments, 16 banks and the Life Insurance Corp. of India and its network of agents, according to Ashok Dalwai, its deputy director-general for the Bangalore region (covering five states in South India). The registrars also include civil society organizations that would cover migrant labor, the homeless and the physically or mentally challenged. "The whole purpose is to capture these people who are typically left out," Dalwai says. The Tata Group's CMC has been retained for training data collection operators, and the UIDAI would need about 7,000 operators to capture the targeted one crore (10 million) records in four months, he adds.

Peering not too far into the future, other opportunities could beckon UIDAI. For one, it could export its knowhow and expertise in designing, implementing and running large social and financial inclusion programs elsewhere in the world. Director-general Sharma points out that UIDAI would have the world's largest database of 1.2 billion biometric records; the biggest such database so far is the U.S. Visit program which has about 110 million biometrics records, he says. Already, Mexico and Brazil have shown interest in studying Aadhaar, and Argentina has invited Sharma for discussions on how to implement such a massive program. "The world is looking to India to see how we do it," says Sharma. "If we are able to pull it off, it will be really transformational -- not only for ourselves but also replicable elsewhere in the world."

Monday, July 22, 2013

Why Indian IT Firms Are Hiring Failed Entrepreneurs?

By Siddharth Bhatia / Mumbai

Eyeing fresh business from outsourcing clients, IT firms are creating start-ups focused on disruptive technology. India’s biggest information technology (IT) firms are hiring failed entrepreneurs and successful venture capital executives in Silicon Valley as they seek to win fresh business from top outsourcing clients such as Target Corp. and Citigroup Inc. by creating internal start-up organizations focused on building disruptive technology solutions.

Monday, December 23, 2013

'New Dell Evolution Will Sweep All Sales Demands In EMEA'

By Daina Al Mirbash | Dubai

Whichever way you slice it, the last 12 months have not been kind to PC giant Dell. The vendor, famously founded by the eponymous Michael Dell in his Texas dorm room nearly 30 years ago, in 2013 laboured through what Forbes described as “the nastiest tech buyout ever”, while seeing its market share slump and its profits dwindle.

For Dell’s Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) president, however, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. In an interview with INN Live, Aongus Hegarty explains that the company is midway through its transition from a PC builder to a provider of “end-to-end solutions” that encompasses mobile devices, security, software and data centre services. In theory, the move will not only create new, more lucrative revenue streams for Dell, but allow it to better compete with industry titans such as IBM, Hewlett-Packard and Oracle.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Indian Entrepreneurs Are Redefining India’s Taxi Service

By M H Ahssan / INN Live

Around a decade ago, entrepreneurs transformed airline ticket booking in India. Online travel companies like MakeMyTrip.com and Yatra.com started offering customers the ease of purchasing an airline ticket of their choice at the click of a button. In 2005, the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation, a government enterprise, enabled e-booking of railway tickets. A few years ago, another set of entrepreneurs transformed bus ticketing. Now a new breed of techies is looking to transform an even more fragmented sector in the country’s transportation industry — taxi services.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Focus: The Technology Of 'Being Human' In Present Era

Here's a unique opportunity to leverage individual talent and collective capability through tech advances.

In Being Digital, his prescient book on the new cosmos into which we are hurtling, Nicho las Negroponte talks of the transformation of the world from atoms to bits, a transformation he terms irrevocable, irreplaceable and exponential. Twenty years after the book was first published, we are witnessing that prediction in full flow.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

How Technology Managed From India Is Changing the Complexion of Outsourcing

By M H Ahssan

It is a weekday, and Srinivasa Raju, 26, is at work at his high-security Electronic City office in Bangalore. He is in a large, cool, bright hall, surrounded by neatly arranged banks of computers, with biometric sensors and closed-circuit cameras recording every movement. Six clocks show the time in Sydney, Tokyo, Bangalore, London, New York and San Francisco. In front of him, projected on a giant screen, are a bunch of changing numbers, dials and graphs. The scene looks like NASA's space shuttle launch center; only a video monitor showing magnificent fuel plumes is missing. With Raju are a couple of other colleagues, roughly his age. It is 9 in the morning, but it appears as if not everyone has arrived for work. Despite the bright, tropical sunshine outside, you could be fooled into believing this is the graveyard shift. In many ways, it is.

Raju is at work in the global command center of a large technology company in India. He is monitoring the health of the computer network of a utility service in Europe, roughly 5,000 miles from where he is located. It is only 3:30 a.m. in the host country where the network is located, so it is accurate to say Raju is part of the graveyard shift. The next shift, which begins at 2 p.m. in India, will be buzzing as people filter into the utility company's European offices.

Such scenarios are being repeated at several high-tech companies in India that remotely manage IT infrastructure around the world, from computer networks of transportation hubs in Europe, to the world's largest private e-mail service for a global Fortune 100 organization, to ATM networks for Middle East banks, to storage devices for U.S. pharmaceutical companies. Engineers in India are monitoring, upgrading, healing and rebooting systems across the world to ensure that it's business as usual for end users of the IT infrastructure.

This relatively young high-tech business addresses architecture, design, engineering and maintenance of servers, storage devices, voice and data networks, desktops and mainframes, and services such as security, procurement, vendor management and database administration. The business goes by the unromantic name of remote infrastructure management services (RIMS).

The business has been driven by the rapid evolution in technology: virtualization, cloud computing, standardization of IT infrastructure, and the availability of sophisticated tool sets. It has also been driven by changes in customer demands and a mature offshore supply environment. Industries including telecom and banking, financial services and insurance have become early adopters. "The RIM industry is at a watershed in its development," according to a study by McKinsey that was released in March by the National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM). And as was the case with business process outsourcing (BPO), signs exist that India may be poised to gain a large share of this fast-growing market.

Raju is part of a new breed of engineers who will be coveted, just as the front-runners in verticals such as application development once were. The reason? People like Raju keep businesses running. And, especially important in these cost-conscious times, they contribute to bottom lines by shaving away inefficiencies.

How India Could Gain
India is seen as a major player in the global RIMS market because of three critical factors: experience in and reputation as an offshore destination; well-honed business processes; and the availability of low-cost talent. According to the McKinsey study, titled The Rising Remote Infrastructure Management Opportunity: Establishing India's Leadership, the market for RIMS is an estimated $96 billion to $104 billion, of which $26 billion to $28 billion is likely to be realized by 2013. Of this, the report says, India is positioned to capture $13 billion to $15 billion by 2013. Currently, India accounts for $3 billion to $4 billion of the total services offshored, according to the report.

A Gartner study in May noted that the top six India-based offshore service providers (TCS, Infosys, Wipro, Cognizant, Satyam and HCL) accounted for 2.4% of the total worldwide IT-services market in 2007, compared with 1.9% in 2006. While application development and management services account for most of their revenue stream, RIMS has demonstrated the most significant growth. According to G. K. Prasanna, senior vice president of technology infrastructure services at Wipro, where infrastructure services accounted for $684 million in revenues in 2007-08, "Around 17.2% of our business is RIMS-based. It is the fastest-growing business across Wipro, and it is the largest practice after application development."

Prasanna is bullish about the future. He says Wipro has the opportunity to claim undisputed RIMS leadership in India. In September, to back its bets, Wipro acquired Infocrossing, a U.S.-based data center management provider, to enhance its ability to provide remote management of IT infrastructure. Similarly, Satyam has acquired U.S.-based Nitor Solutions and Cognizant has acquired U.S.-based AimNet Solutions to fill gaps in their offerings and reach. Ed Nalbandian, who was AimNet's CEO and now is a practice leader for Cognizant, notes: "AimNet's onshore consultants help give Cognizant the strongest onshore presence among offshore players." Another key area is AimNet's approach to pricing. "Cognizant has been able to leverage that quite a bit as clients are asking to move away from FTE-based pricing to a unitized, pay-for-what-you-use approach," Nalbandian says. Cognizant's experience is not isolated. Everyone in the business is racing to close service gaps.

The growing interest in RIMS is posing several challenges in India. Among them: The ability to improve the supply of skilled talent in new technologies and create strategic alliances with technology firms to provide better service delivery and operational process compliance, and to provide innovative pricing models. "It's clear that RIMS cannot be delivered by everyone," says Pradeep Kar, founder and managing director of Microland, a Bangalore-based pure-play RIMS provider with customers in Europe, the United States, the Middle East and India. "An Indian RIMS vendor specializing in this area would be able to provide enhanced quality of service as a result of aligning tools, processes and skill sets to industry needs."

The NASSCOM-McKinsey report uses Microland as an example of an offshore vendor with proprietary tools that help simplify IT management, improve governance, reduce costs and, significantly, create transparency. Among its customers is U.K.-based Serco Solutions, for whom Microland has created two dedicated RIMS centers. For RIMS users, the combination of cost control, improved service quality and the ability to scale (or de-scale, as the case may be) are key considerations.

The Role of Recession
Industry analysts believe that one of the most immediate drivers for RIMS adoption could be the threat of a severe economic downturn in the U.S., forcing a greater amount of outsourcing to control costs. But a U.S. recession may not necessarily be a boon. "Cost pressure on my customer is always good news since it increases risk propensity and forces a decision," Prasanna says, but this in turn means greater competition and immediate pricing pressure.

While an economic downturn could improve the climate for outsourcing infrastructure management -- "even make it socially more acceptable," in Prasanna's words -- the value proposition does not change. The decision to outsource will therefore depend on flexible pricing models and short-term deals.

While pricing and deal duration form the core of the decision, outsourcers may still be wary of depending on external RIMS providers. This is largely because of the psychological discomfort of working with a team located thousands of miles away. While compliance-related risks are coming down thanks to SOX (Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002) and SAS 70 (Statement on Auditing Standards No. 70), the RIMS business lacks mature governance models. The challenge is to develop these models and take them through their paces in a joint effort between vendor and customer.

Over the last eight years, as the RIMS business has spread globally, various pricing models have emerged. Microland, which acquired its first infrastructure management customer in 1999, has built a model that separates assets and management. Today, a variety of pricing models continues to be available, from the more traditional time-and-material-based model to element, or device-based, pricing, outcome-based pricing, and a shared-risk-and-reward-based model. "We pioneered the concept of device-based, or transaction-based, pricing," says K.S. Ganesan, Microland's chief technology officer. "What it does for the client is it fixes cost and reduces them year on year, putting pressure back on vendors like Microland to innovate newer ways of delivering the same set of services. Of late, we see many players adopting this model."

Competitive pricing will be just one factor in determining which companies will emerge as the most successful RIMS providers. Firms are sweating it out over creating tangible differentiators. Also important, says Prasanna, are game-changing alliances with global technology companies. Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) such as Cisco, Dell, Hitachi, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft and Red Hat are investing in Indian partners at the forefront of the RIMS business, helping them improve the size and capability of the talent pool to support the products and services they provide. While there are no monogamous relationships in the RIMS world, some service providers are more equal than others in the eyes of the OEMs. RIMS players understand the importance of such alliances, which give them early access to changes and enhancements in technology, quick access to technical assistance, and critical access to training facilities and materials.

Not surprisingly, RIMS providers often trumpet their alliances with technology majors. The emergence of RIMS has fostered joint go-to-market strategies by technology players and has driven the emergence of joint products, resulting in greater value propositions and lowered total cost of ownership for RIMS adopters. Cognizant's Nalbandian reflects a popular industry opinion: "We think this go-to-market model is going to be successful for us."

On the other side of the business, who are the most likely candidates to aggressively adopt RIMS? The McKinsey study says that Fortune 3000 companies are driving growth and are signing more -- and in several cases larger -- deals than their Fortune 250 counterparts. This is in striking contrast to the trend established by application development and business process outsourcing in the past, which was led by Fortune 250 companies. This shift is likely to have a major impact on the marketing strategies adopted by RIMS vendors. Among the many things on the cusp of change, the future of marketing in the high-end technology space is set for an interesting makeover.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Medical Innovation: When Do Costs Outweigh Benefits?

By Sarah Williams / New York

When Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Intuitive Surgical hit the market in 1999 with its surgical robot, da Vinci, the company and many of its early adopters hailed the new technology as a revolution that would benefit patients, surgeons and the health care system as a whole. Da Vinci combines high-definition visual tools with robot-guided medical instruments that allow surgeons to do complicated procedures using a few tiny incisions. The da Vinci system, which is widely used in urologic surgeries such as the removal of prostate tumors, has been shown by Intuitive and outside researchers to reduce post-surgery complications and shorten hospital stays.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Revealing the Real Risks: Obstetrical Interventions and Maternal Mortality

By Aeman Nishath

Recently, a woman in Iowa was referred to a university hospital during childbirth because of possible complications. At the university hospital it was decided that a cesarean section should be done. After the cesarean section was completed and the woman was resting in her hospital room, she went into shock and died. An autopsy showed that, during the cesarean section, the surgeon had accidentally nicked the woman's aorta, the biggest artery in the body, which led to internal hemorrhage, shock, and death.

A cesarean section can save the life of the mother or her baby, or both. A cesarean section can kill a mother or her baby, or both. Every procedure or technology used during pregnancy and birth carries risks for the mother and baby. Whether or not to use any procedure or technology will be a judgment based on balancing the chances that it will make things better against the chances that it will make things worse.

We live in the age of technology. Since long before human beings landed on the moon, we have believed that technology can solve all of our problems. It should come as no surprise that doctors and hospitals are using more and more technology and invasive interventions on pregnant and birthing women. Has all this technology solved the problems surrounding birth? Let's look at the record. Is the increasing use of technology saving the lives of more pregnant and birthing women? In fact, the risk of a woman in this country dying from maternal mortality (i.e., causes related to pregnancy) has not decreased in more than 25 years. Each year, nearly 1,000 women die during pregnancy, during birth, or in the first week after giving birth. Nearly half of these deaths could have been prevented with better access to higher-quality maternity care. Hundreds of thousands of other women experience medical complications from pregnancy.2

The data also suggest an increase in recent years in the number of women dying during pregnancy and birth in the US.3 We have known for some time that maternal mortality in the US is underreported--in one state in one year, a third of the maternal deaths had not been reported.4 But the latest evidence suggests that "The actual pregnancy-related death rate could be more than twice as high as that reported for 1990."5

WHY ARE MORE AMERICAN WOMEN DYING?
It is difficult to pinpoint why more American women are dying before, during, and after giving birth--the data give only the leading or immediate cause of death, not the underlying causes. But if we look at the six leading causes of pregnancy-related deaths in the US, three--hemorrhage, anesthesia, infection--are often the result of invasive obstetric interventions.6 For example: Although the immediate cause of death is frequently given as "hemorrhage," in many cases the hemorrhage is associated with cesarean section (as in the case cited in the first paragraph). There is good research, both in the US and the United Kingdom, showing that the maternal mortality rate for cesarean section is four times higher than for vaginal birth.7-9 The rate of maternal mortality is still twice as high as for vaginal birth even when the cesarean section is routine, or "elective"; i.e., it is not an emergency procedure. With nearly twice as many cesarean sections as are necessary being done today in the US, the procedure could be a significant part of the reason for the country's rising rate of maternal mortality.10

Another possible cause of rising pregnancy-related deaths in the US is the markedly increasing use of epidural blocks for normal labor pain. Administering an epidural block doubles the risk that the woman will die; "anesthesia complications" are documented as one of the leading causes of maternal mortality in the US.11

There is good reason to believe that other obstetric technologies also contribute to the rising number of women who die during childbirth in this country. Data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) show that in the past ten years the number of women given powerful and dangerous drugs to induce labor has gone from 10 percent of all births to 20 percent.12 In the same ten years, the drug Cytotec, not approved by the FDA for labor induction because of insufficient scientific evaluation of risk--a warning often ignored by doctors--has become the single most popular labor-inducing drug. New scientific data show that inducing labor with Cytotec causes a marked increase in uterine rupture, an obstetric catastrophe in which a quarter of all babies die, many women die as well, and, of the women who survive, almost none can ever have another baby.

Why has the rate of Cytotec-induced labor doubled when the ability of women's bodies to begin labor has not decreased? Further CDC data show that the answer is doctor convenience. In those same ten years, the number of births taking place Monday through Friday greatly increased.13 Like taking prenatal X-rays in the 1930s, prescribing the drug di-ethyl-stillbesterol (DES) to pregnant women in the 1950s, and thalidomide in the 1960s, inducing labor with Cytotec in the 1990s is another obstetric intervention that has gone into widespread use without adequate scientific evaluation, with tragic consequences for thousands of women and babies.

The scientific evidence strongly suggests that the increasing use of obstetric interventions and technologies--cesarean section, epidural anesthesia, and drugs to induce labor--is not saving more women's lives, but ending them. Medical care was responsible for some of the earlier decreasing mortality of pregnant and birthing women, not because of high-tech interventions but because of basic medical advances, such as the discovery of antibiotics and the ability to give safe blood transfusions. There has never been any scientific evidence that such high-tech interventions as the routine use of electronic fetal monitoring during labor decrease the mortality rate of women.14 There is also no scientific evidence to prove that the fall in maternal mortality was because birth was moved into the hospital.15 The evidence does show that, as long as a system is in place that can transport women in labor within 30 minutes to a facility where antibiotics, blood transfusions, and necessary cesarean sections are available, there should be very little maternal mortality. For example, in the Netherlands, a third of all births are planned homebirths attended by midwives that refer women to doctors when necessary. The rate of maternal mortality in the Netherlands is far lower than in the US.

THE IMPORTANCE OF QUALITY CARE
The US spends twice as much as any other country on maternity care, and yet 15 other countries have lower rates of maternal mortality. There are at least two reasons for this, both having to do with access to quality care. More than 40 million Americans have no health insurance; many of these are women needing maternity care. If a woman applies for Medicare support for her maternity care, she must have means testing, which necessitates that she jump through many bureaucratic hoops before she can receive care. This can be a disaster. Furthermore, women receiving publicly funded care go to overcrowded hospitals staffed by interns and residents who are overworked and insufficiently trained.16 In addition, when poor women qualify for their maternity care to be funded by Medicare, they may be referred to a private practitioner, and receive this care in the doctor's private offices and private hospitals. There they often receive less attention than the women whose care is being funded by private insurance instead of public funds, in part because of the cultural and socioeconomic gaps between the poor women and their doctors. The delays and crowding, and lack of understanding and skill of some doctors, can all lead to pregnancy-related deaths.

The second reason the US has a higher rate of maternal mortality than 15 other countries is the way birthing women are cared for here. American doctors insist that women need to be in the hospital when giving birth, yet these same doctors who need to provide maternity care for them are not in the hospital when the women actually give birth, but in their offices doing prenatal checkups on healthy women, or in another hospital doing gynecological surgery, or at home eating dinner.17 So when the birthing woman who is in the hospital (or transported to the hospital) needs urgent attention for developing complications, the obstetrician is often not there, must be called, and may come too late. Research shows that, in more than 70 percent of cases, the main factor in the death of babies at birth is the doctor's absence.18

The US and Canada are the only countries in the world in which obstetricians provide primary birth care for the majority of normal births. The American obstetrician tries to be all things to women: a primary provider of maternity care for healthy pregnant and birthing women; a provider of preventive care for women; a specialist in women's diseases; and a highly skilled surgeon. No other doctor anywhere in healthcare tries to maintain competence at all of these levels and in so many areas because it is unreasonable to expect this from one human being. It's unlikely that an obstetrician can perform a six-hour gynecological surgical procedure on a woman with extensive cancer, then rush to his or her office and do the best job of quietly, patiently counseling a pregnant woman about her sex life. If you are considering a hospital birth with an obstetrician as your primary birth attendant, ask the doctor how much time he or she will spend with you during your labor. One of the reasons a midwife, rather than an obstetrician, is generally a better choice to attend your hospital birth is that, assuming a normal pregnancy, midwives have been shown statistically to be safer birth attendants than doctors.19 This is, in part, because the midwife is there in the hospital with you throughout your labor, while the obstetrician is not.

For more than 50 years now the US has had a system of maternity care that often boils down to this: A woman goes into labor, goes to the hospital, and is admitted by the labor and delivery (L&D) nurse, who examines her. The L&D nurse then calls the obstetrician, who gives orders over the telephone to the nurse. The obstetrician may or may not come by the hospital during the labor to check the woman. It is the job of the L&D nurse to monitor the labor and call the obstetrician when the birth is imminent so that the doctor does not have to hang around the hospital waiting for the birth.

During my 15 years as Director of Women's and Children's Health for the World Health Organization, I frequently visited the industrialized countries of Europe. I observed that in the 15 countries that lose fewer pregnant and birthing women than the US does--including those countries with the world's lowest rates of maternal mortality--obstetricians remain in the hospitals, ready to jump in and treat serious complications. In those countries, it is the midwives who are out in the community, giving prenatal and postnatal checkups, and who are also in the hospitals as the only health professionals at the births of 80 to 90 percent of women who give birth without serious complications.

It cannot be overemphasized that American women's lack of access to quality, immediate obstetrical attention in the hospital is a major reason so many of them die unnecessarily during pregnancy and childbirth. Put differently, every one of the 15 countries that have lower rates of maternal mortality has universal healthcare coverage for all pregnant and birthing women (with no bureaucratic hoops to jump through), and all obstetricians are hospital-based, ready to care for these women should they develop complications. Furthermore, maternal mortality is not higher in those countries where there are large numbers of planned homebirths with midwives, because there is a system in place for transporting birthing mothers to the hospital, and for managing complications with mutual respect and collaboration between out-of-hospital midwives and hospital staff.

Data from many states in the US show maternal mortality to be four times higher for African-American women than for Caucasian women, and nearly twice as high for Hispanic women.20 The markedly greater risk that African-American and Hispanic women will die during pregnancy and childbirth is because this group includes a higher proportion of uninsured women, poor women, and women who go to hospitals with insufficient and/or poorly trained staff. In short, African-American and Hispanic women have less access to quality maternity care.

WHERE'S THE DATA?
Occasionally, a group of obstetricians tries to get a handle on maternal deaths in their locale. In a study of ten hospitals in the greater Chicago area, reported in 2000, the maternal mortality rate there was twice as high as reported by the CDC.21 Furthermore, on investigation of each case, these Chicago obstetricians found that 37 percent of the deaths were preventable. In the preventable cases, mistakes by doctors and nurses were determined to be the cause of death more than 80 percent of the time. Unfortunately, as is nearly always the case, the study made no attempt to determine how many of the deaths were related to obstetric interventions such as induction of labor, epidural block, and cesarean section. Lamenting that state maternal mortality committees, which carefully review all maternal deaths, are now largely defunct in the US, the study urged that these committees be revived to investigate causes and develop programs of intervention and education.

There is an urgent need for careful auditing of every single maternal death in the US, with a thorough analysis of causes--including underlying causes--and presentation of the results to the public. The Federal Aviation Authority could not set policies for safe flying if they were unaware of half of the planes falling from the skies, and couldn't retrieve the "black boxes" of most of those planes they knew had fallen. But this is analogous to the CDC trying to set policy for safe motherhood when they have limited data on maternal mortality. Federal policy prohibits the CDC from making surveys of what is happening in all states with maternal deaths.22 At the state level, there are enormous pressures from state and local medical societies to prevent adequate investigation of all maternal deaths.23 It's not easy to get information about the nearly 1,000 women who die each year in the US around the time of birth. To begin with, it's difficult to track maternal deaths, as death certificates in only 16 states include a question concerning whether the deceased had been pregnant within a year of her death. Although some states have regulations requiring that such deaths be reported, in no state can anyone, including scientists who want to study why these women die, gain access to information about individual cases of maternal death. If there is an investigation of a maternal death by a hospital, it is a longstanding policy that this happen behind closed doors, which protects the doctor and hospital involved. There is no public accountability. Public knowledge of pregnancy-related deaths does not fit well into any HMO or healthcare facility's marketing efforts. Employees of most hospitals know that their job security often depends on their willingness to keep silent, and the tribal loyalty of doctors is a powerful deterrent to accessing information. The CDC is doing everything it can to push states to improve their maternal death audits. It has had some successes, but today only a few states conduct thorough audits of all maternal deaths, and only one state, Massachusetts, has a law, passed after intense lobbying by consumer groups, mandating that newspapers report maternal deaths.

We know that at least half of these maternal deaths are not reported anywhere, that nearly all of these women die in the hospital, not at home, and that, with adequate medical attention, close to half of these women need not have died. The possibility of liability due to inadequate medical attention has doctors terrified of litigation, and reluctant to release information concerning maternal mortality. American women need to know that their chance of dying around the time of birth is increasing. They have a right to know why.

Friday, November 01, 2013

Get The Most Magical Color Experience With 'Sony BRAVIA'

INN ADVERT DESK

The latest line-up of Sony's BRAVIA TVs is powered with some of the best features that provide incredible sound, immersive 3D experience, one-touch connectivity with a huge range of apps in distinctive design. But there in one groundbreaking technology that Sony is boasting about, the Triluminos Technology.

Unique to Sony, The TRILUMINOS Display provides a heightened sense of depth to images, showcasing colours as they should be. This next-generation back-lit technology expands the gamut of viewable colours, reproducing natural shades for a more vivid, richer, and more intense range that's as close to reality as television gets.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Flex technology - The Ruling Technology In The Market

By M H Ahssan

Flex is one of the ruling technologies in the market. Flex seeks to minimize problems by providing good work flow and programming model that is familiar to the flex developers and flex programmers. Flex development enables you to create expressive, high-performance applications that run identically on all major browsers and operating systems. Expressiveness, performance, rich media, real-time messaging features helps the flex developers to show best results. Flex is a framework that helps you build dynamic, interactive rich Internet applications. Flex applications are delivered on the web via the Flash Player or to the desktop.

Flex offers multiple benefits to its users that let them reap maximum advantages. Flex enables the users to create custom components in Macromedia flash MX Professional 2004 and export them as SWC files for use in the flex applications. It allows the flex programmers, designers and developers to use MXMLO, the flex XML based mark up language, and macro media flash action script 2.0. Flex technology makes it ideal development platform when it comes to TCO (total cost of ownership) issues as it is easy to maintain and enhance through ongoing revisions. Enterprises can use Flex to quickly build and deploy applications that improve the user experience, boost the bottom line, and analyze data to enable better business decisions. Flex has got remarkable speed letting the user to wind up the projects in minimum time.

You can take the maximum benefits of the flex technology at A-1 technology. Flex enables you to have significant savings in Social Security, Medicare and pension contributions -savings that can be used in part to pay for implementing the flex plan. Through flex offshore development you can take the advantages of flex technology in every part of the world. Flex enables you to use it with a number of other programs and languages like Ajax, flash, etc. Flex Builder runs on Microsoft® Windows 2000, Windows XP Professional, Windows 2000 Server, or Windows Server. A-1 Technology offers easy, affordable application development to developers in any kind of organization working on any kind of flex or other projects.

The author is a Writer working with a leading company providing services on software outsourcing Company, software outsourcing, Software Development Outsourcing, Software IT Outsourcing, Offshore Software Outsourcing IT, Offshore Outsourcing Services India, Offshore software outsource.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Success Story: How A US Chip-Maker Unwittingly Became An Incubator For 'Indian Entrepreneurs Group'?

In 1985, the American chip designer Texas Instruments (TI) set up a research and development centre in Bengaluru—then mostly pensioners’ paradise far from becoming the technology hub it is today.

Over the years, the company hired the best talent from India’s finest engineering colleges to strengthen its operations. And these graduates were attracted by TI because, among other things, its salaries typically bested other options at that time.

The Fortune 500 company started out as a small oil and gas company in 1930. In 1958, TI entered the semiconductor business. So far, the Texas-based chipmaker, with a market capitalisation of $56 billion, has more than 40,000 patents to its name.

Monday, January 05, 2009

::: ADVERTORIAL - Packaging Plus 2009 :::

By M H Ahssan

PackPlus 2009 will see the coming together of ten niche shows evolving into a mega event that encompasses all the segments related to packaging, processing and supply chain.

Cutting edge professionalism in organising industry shows
The success of India Label Show 2002, India Converting Show 2003 and India Flexo Show 2003 set the trend for dedicated shows on niche segments. It also firmly placed Print-Packaging.com among the top organisers of trade shows in the country.

Print-Packaging.com is the portal for the Indian printing, packaging and signage industries. Over the years, the portal has been working closely with event organisers and trade association in disseminating information.

The shows organised by the company so far have seen the coming together of the entire industry - the printers and converters, the suppliers and the packaging buyers on a single platform over the period of the event. The accompanying conferences have also helped in bringing the focus on to the challenges and opportunities faced by the industry. The portents are for bigger and more successful in their second editions of the India Label Show in 2004 and India Converting Show and Flexo Shows in 2005. The twin shows in 2005 are joined by another niche event at the India Corrugated Show 2005.

Spread over 10,000 square meters of exhibition space the India Packaging Show 2007, India Converting Show 2007, India Flexo Show 2007 and India Corrugated Show 2007 came together to make the largest packaging event seen in the country.

In 2008 India Packaging Show together with India Converting Show, India Flexo Show, India Corrugated Show, Food Technology Show, Pharma Technology Show, India Automation Show and India AIDC Show surpassed all previous numbers.

PackPlus 2009 will bring together all niche shows of 2008 and the additional strength of the India Retail Show and India Logistics Show making it the Total Packaging, Processing and Supply Chain Event.

Packaging: In the route of advanced technology
The highly fragmented packaging industry is estimated at Rs 8,000 crore.
The industry is growing at the rate of 22-25 per cent per annum.
In the next five years, the sector is expected to triple to around $ 60 bn.
The net profit of the packaging industry spurted 104.5 percentduring Q3 FY08, againsta growth of 29.5 percent in the December '06 quarter.
The large growing middle class, liberalisation and organised retailsector are the catalysts to growth in packaging.
More than 80 percent of the total packaging in India constitutesrigid packaging. The remaining 20 percent comprises flexiblepackaging.
There are about 600-700 packaging machinery manufacturers, 95percent of which are in the small and medium sector located all overIndia.
Indian packaging machinery imports are $ 125 million.
The import (customs) duty for packaging machinery is 25.58 percentfor 2007-08.
Germany and Italy are the latest suppliers of packaging machinery toIndia but focus is now shifting on Taiwan, Korea and China.
Indian packaging machinery exports are rapidly growing.
India's per capita packaging consumption is less than $ 15 againstworld wide average of nearly $ 100.
The total demand for paper is estimated to be around 6 mn tones, ofwhich about 40 percent is consumed by the packaging industry.
Laminated products including form-fill-seal pouches, laminated tubesand tetra packs are growing at around 30 percent p.a.

Food: A thriving industry with a large untapped potential
India is the world's 2nd largest producer of food next to China
It is the 2nd largest vegetable and 3rd largest fruit producer in the world
The growth of food processing sector has nearly doubled to 13.7 per cent during the last four years.
It ranks second only to Japan in inland sector fish production and produces about 6.57 million metric tonne fish every year.
Of the world's total annual spice trade of 850,000 tonnes, India accounts for 44 per cent in quantity and 36 per cent in value
The beer market in India is pegged around 12 million hectoliters.
Functional foods had the market earned revenues of over $ 185 million in 2007 and this is expected to reach $ 1,161 million in 2012.
Factors instrumental in driving growth and investment (FDI) in the Indian food industry are:
Effective distribution network and supply chain
Product range that is customized to suit local market requirements
Superior processing technology
Brand building and marketing

Pharmaceutical: Opportunities for growth in the post WTO regime
The sector is growing at a rate of over 13 per cent annually.
The sector is estimated to be worth $ 6 billion.
Indian pharmaceutical industry ranks 4th in terms of volume (with an 8 per cent share in global sales) globally.
In terms of value it ranks 13th (with a share of 1 per cent in global sales) and produces 20-24 per cent of the world's generic drugs (in terms of value).
India is one of the top five active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) producers (with a share of about 6.5 per cent).
The industry is in the front rank of India's science-based industries with wide ranging capabilities in the complex field of drug manufacture and technology.
Indian pharmaceutical companies supply almost all the country's demand for formulations and nearly 70 per cent of demand for bulk drugs.
Indian pharmaceutical market is a $ 7.3 billion opportunity with the domestic retail market expected to cross the $ 10 billion mark in 2010 and be worth an estimated $ 12-13 billion in 2012.
The industry ranks 17th with respect to exports value of bulk actives and dosage.
During April 2000 to October 2007, drugs and pharmaceuticals are the tenth largest FDI-attracting sectors in India.
Factors making the Indian pharmaceuticals an industry to reckon with are:
Self-reliance- displayed by the production of 70 per cent of bulk drugs and almost the entire requirement of formulations within the country
India has the largest number of FDA-approved manufacturing plants outside the US. The country has close to 100 such units.
Low cost of production
Low R&D costs
Innovative scientific manpower
Strength of National Laboratories
Increased outsourcing of manufacturing processes to India with supported clinical trials

Convert To Gain
The Indian economy is growing and so is the Packaging industry. As growth rides on increased industrial production and international trade, demands on package converters has become more demanding and sophisticated. There are close to 5,000 box plants scattered throughout the subcontinent in classic developing-country industry fashion: mostly fragmented and family-owned. So how does the country meet this ever increasing demand?

The larger Indian converters have been adopting the latest technologies and several high-end machines have been installed in the country in the past few years. These machines are largely imported from the western countries, with Germany and Italy accounting for almost 45% of the total packaging machinery imports. However, as the need to upgrade is felt by the smaller converters and corrugators and many commercial printers diversify into package printing, there is an increasing focus on machines made in Taiwan, Korea and also China. Meantime, the Indian machinery manufacturers have also geared up and are today making machines that are lapped up by the growing industry in India. Some of these machinery manufacturers are also making inroads in the export markets and are moving beyond the traditional Asian neighbours and the countries in the Gulf to South Africa, East Europe and even South America.

However, the present per capita consumption of packaging in the country is dramatically lower than the global averages. All the pointers indicate that the packaging industry is set to move to a higher level of growth between 20-25% from the present level of around 12-15 percent. The potential of growth is much larger and unrealized.

World over, Flexography has become the pre-dominant medium for package printing. The use of flexo has also been growing in India. Several sophisticated CI flexo presses have been installed in the past six months. The booming label industry is riding a narrow web flexo invasion as folding carton manufacturers also take a look at this technology. The Indian corrugators have been increasingly adopting flexo printing with water-based inks. The coming years should see a larger share of printing going to flexo in the converting and corrugating industries.

Corrugation: Future Trends
The packaging industry in India has been registering a constant growth rate of 15%. The Corrugated packaging industry is however finding itself at the crossroads.
Increasing prices of kraft paper, non availability of international standard papers at affordable prices, resistance of corrugated box user industry to offer sustainable prices, increasing competition, non viability of automatic plants are proving to be hurdles in the growth path.

Despite these adverse circumstances, the industry is all set to take on the challenges and look at the future opportunities.
As global companies set up their manufacturing bases in India to meet the growing demand for consumer and white goods – the need for high quality boxes is appearing evident.
Progressive Corrugators are setting up automatic board/box making plants to increase production and enhance performance of boxes. In house printing on corrugated is becoming imperative.
All this portends well for the industry. Insurgence of corrugated packaging machines from neighbouring China and Taiwan will prove to be a threat as well as a great opportunity considering the inherent capabilities and experience of Indian Corrugated Machinery Manufacturers. Strategic alliances with overseas machinery manufacturers is already happening and will soon become a norm.
Reflecting these trends at PackPlus 2009, India Corrugated Show 2009 will provide a platform for technologies that will trigger the future growth of the corrugated box industry.

Automation: Triggering growth
Technologies to improve business efficiencies and competitiveness…
The globalisation of the Indian economy has exposed the domestic companies to the free market dynamics. With no protection from the state, these companies are learning to be more efficient and are re-engineering the business processes to compete with the global businesses. Among other things, deployment of IT has been extensive in the better-managed companies and the one field where it is being successfully deployed is the management of the supply chain. This has brought the focus on the Automatic Identification and Data Capture technologies, which in several companies is integrated with the ERP/ EDI applications.

The entry of MNCs and the retailing shifts have also contributed to a higher use of barcoding and auto id technologies. The killer application for these technologies, however, is expected to be in the field of e-governance with not only the central and state governments adopting the technologies in ID projects and driving licenses etc., but also local administrations like municipal corporations and village panchayats expected to use the technologies to stream line administration.

The AIDC industry that includes Barcodes, smart cards, RFID, biometrics and EAS is probably the fastest growing segments of the economy anywhere in the world. Though the base is still small in our country, the over 40 percent growth that is taking place year on year is increasingly becoming significant. The incremental growth is large enough already to catch the eyes of the largest global players. The factors that drive the domestic requirements all indicate that the demand itself will ensure the present rate of growth in the years to come. If the Indian industry can leverage its IT strengths and grab the opportunities that are coming its way, it is not inconceivable that India can be a major hub to provide the software, integrated solutions and finished products in these fields to the entire world.

Barcodes
The barcode industry is around Rs. 2.5 billion and is growing at over 30- 35 percent every year. The hardware- Printers and scanners contribute equally to the 50% of this turnover while the consumables- tags, labels and ribbons contribute 35% and the services account for the rest. The industry has around 50 players with 5 large players having a turnover of over Rs. 100 million. There are other 10 companies that have turnovers of between 50 - 100 million. The major international suppliers- Symbol , PSC, Metrologic & Unitech for bar code scanners and Zebra, Intermec, Printronix, Sato, Toshiba & Datamax for barcode printers have their presence in India. Ean India, an affiliate of Ean International has played a large role in creating awareness about barcodes while developing and implementing standards across the industry. AIDC Technology Association has helped organize the industry by forming this association of all stakeholders of this technology.

Courier and logistic industries are the active user of barcodes. The auto industry uses barcoding for auto data capture of information about its materials and supplies during receipt, storage, Work in progress (WIP), dispatch and sales operations. In retail sales of auto parts spares and accessories, this is used to facilitate stock control, track and trace, consumption forecasting, etc. Pharma and healthcare are another large user of barcodes. They are used effectively to track distribution of the drugs in the market place and to recall them if necessary. They are also used provide quality service by tracking expiry dates of medical supplies, patient identification and billing, hospital stock management and order replenishment etc. The largest growth segment is however, organised retail. The use of barcodes is already well established in major retail sales institutions. The proliferation of malls and food bazaars is driving the growth in this segment. Logistics contributes around 10% of the barcode industry. Retail contributes around 40% and nearly 50% comes from all other industries like auto, pharma etc.

Smart Cards
Over the last few years, the awareness of smart cards and its applications have gradually increased among the potential users in India. Significant growth has taken place in wireless cellular applications, retail loyalty applications, healthcare applications and driving license and vehicle registration applications. Several pilot projects have also been implemented for multi-application campus cards, banking, ID, automatic fare collection, toll, healthcare, etc. With the smart card market expected to grow from the current base of 40 million cards to 400 million cards in the next few years, both Indian as well as foreign smart card companies are showing keen interest in this market.

Schlumberger, Gemplus, G&D, Obethur, VCT and Orga are the globally recognized card manufacturers who also dominate the Indian market. Shonkh, Rolta, Smartchip, CMS, Siemens (SISI), CA Satyam and E-Cube are the major system integrators. STMicroelectronics, Philips, Infineon, Reneseas and Atmel are the chip manufacturers who are already present in the the country.

Though the SIM card market has driven the growth in the last 5 years, the rate of growth in banking and retail sector is expected to be larger in the coming years. The usage in the transport and health care sectors is also expected to increase. However, the industry is looking at the government usage and the much-touted national ID project for a spiraling growth in the next few years.

Biometrics
As both the private and Government sector organisations search for more secure authentication methods, they increasingly become aware of biometrics as the killer technology for near foolproof security. It may not be long before all password and card based systems currently in vogue get replaced with biometric devices. The little over Rs. 1.5 bn market in India is growing at anywhere between 70- 100%. While there is a growing demand for both physiological and behavioural biometrics devices, fingerprint recognition is the current hot favourite. Lack of infrastructure, standardisation in the industry, high costs and duties are the impediments in the growth of the industry. Most of the biometrics hardware is being imported from USA, Germany, Israel and in recent times from China. Indian manufacturers are also getting into the act with some fingerprint scanners now being made available in the market.

RFID
Worldwide, RFID is being driven by an electric mix of researchers and businessmen of Indian origin and provides an unprecedented opportunity for the country to export services and software. The technology whose applications are limited by ones imagination is primarily finding use in fleet management, inventory and asset management, warehouse automation, asset tracking, quality control, packaging, security and access control, hazardous material management, advertising and promotion, delivery and smart card -based payment systems. The application is happening in many industry segments but still the areas of focus are retail and supply chain management. The technology has got a new impetus with the emergence of Electronic Product Code (EPC), a set of standards that weaves basic RFID technology into a numbering scheme as they move across the business supply chain. As the benefits of the RFID-EPC technology become evident, more industries are investing their research effort into product development to lower the cost of RFID tags and weed out the teething problems. With its highly skilled workforce and strong IT base, India is a natural choice for firms engaged in RFID product development. India is also being used as a center for executing RFID implementations for the entire Asia-Pacific region. The country by itself is also a huge market for RFID solutions. Already, the interest in the technology is evident with the Indian pharmaceutical, defense and export sectors being the early birds in exploring its use. As a part of the supply chain for multinational corporations, the Indian companies are also expected to adopt the RFID-EPC technology.

Logistics: Attracting investments
India’s logistics sector attracted investments worth Rs. 23,200 crore in first half of 2008.
It outclassed some of the major sectors including aviation (Rs 20,890 crore), metals and mining (Rs 8500 crore) and consumer durables (Rs 6000 crore) among others.
Mumbai has emerged as the preferred location for the development of logistics parks with an investment of approximately $ 200 million.
The development of seven to eight logistics parks are in pipeline on 600 acres around Mumbai.
A large number of upcoming SEZs have necessitated the development of logistics for the domestic market as well as for global trade.
Indian logistics industry is expected to grow annually at the rate of 15- 20 percent, reaching revenues of approximately $ 385 bn by 2015.
Market share of organised logistics players is also expected to double to approximately 12 percent during the same period.
About 110 logistics parks spread over approximately 3,500 acres at an estimated cost of $1 bn are expected to be operational and an estimated 45 mn ft2 of warehousing space with an investment of $ 500 mn is expected to be developed by various logistics companies by 2012.

Retail: Growing in leaps and bounds
Indian retail market is the fifth largest retail destination globally
The industry raked in $ 25.44 billion turnover in 2007-08 as against $ 16.99 billion in 2006-07, a whopping growth rate of 49.73 per cent.
The industry is estimated to grow from the $ 330 billion in 2007 to $ 427 billion by 2010 and $ 637 billion by 2015.
Modern retail is likely to increase its share in the total retail market to 22 percent by 2010.
India has one of the largest number of retail outlets in the world. Of the 12 million retail outlets present in the country, nearly 5 million sell food and related products.
Organised retail has increased its share from 5 per cent of total retail sales in 2006 to 8 per cent in 2007.
The fastest growing segments have been the wholesale cash and carry stores (150 per cent) followed by supermarkets (100 per cent) and hypermarkets (75-80 per cent).
The organised segment is expected to account for 25 per cent of the total sales by 2011.
There is a paradigm shift from traditional forms of retailing into a modern organized sector.
Mall space, from a meager one million square feet in 2002, is expected to touch 40 million square feet by end-2007 and an estimated 60 million square feet by end-2008.
The number of operational malls is estimated to be more than double to over 412 with 205 million square feet by 2010 and further 715 malls by 2015, on the back of major retail developments even in tier II and tier III cities in India.
India's luxury market, estimated to be the 12th largest in the world.
It is growing at the rate of 25 per cent per annum.
The Indian luxury retail market is estimated to leap-frog from around $ 3.5 billion to $ 30 billion by 2015.
The branded segment comprises $ 701.7 million of the total kids' apparel market-size of over $ 3 billion.
Kids' retailing segment is expected to touch annual growth of 30-35 per cent.
Internet promotes e-tailing-the online version of retail shopping.
An estimated 10 per cent of the total e-commerce market is accounted by e-tailing.
The e-tail market is estimated to grow by 30 percent to $ 273.02 million in 2007-08, from $ 210.01 million in 2006-07.
Retail franchising has been growing at the rate of 60 per cent in the last three years and is set to grow two-fold in the next five years.
Rural retail market is estimated to cross $ 45.32 billion mark by 2010 and $ 60.43 billion by 2015
India's vast middle class with its expanding purchasing power and its almost untapped retail industry are key attractions for global retail giants wanting to enter new markets.