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Thursday, 27 August 2015

TCS donates $35 million to Carnegie Mellon University

Twice on either side of 1900, Jamsetji Tata traveled to the United States, looking for technologies that would put steel in India's industrial frame.

In America, Andrew Carnegie had "been there, done that" with regards to steel and was divesting some of his fortune into philanthropy, endowing $1 million for a technology school that would eventually become Carnegie Mellon University (CMU). But Tata had already beaten Carnegie on that front, pledging half his wealth (200,000 pounds) in 1893 for an educational endowment that would lead to the setting up of the Indian Institute of Science (IISc).

This week, the two hoary industrial-philanthropic contemporaries are again on the same page with the contribution from Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) of a $35 million gift to Carnegie Mellon University, described as the largest corporate gift to CMU, and the biggest from outside the United States. The donation will fund a new facility, the Tata Consultancy Services Building, which will support education and cutting-edge research by CMU faculty and students, and will also endow Presidential Fellowships and Scholarships, increasing the availability of a CMU education to outstanding students, the two entities announced on Tuesday.

CMU's ties with India and Tata entities have spanned through the century from the time the two titans engaged on steel, leading to the setting up of Tata Steel and Jamshedpur. The University, which already has a billion dollar endowment, is currently headed by Subra Suresh, a former dean of Engineering at MIT, who then was appointed to lead the National Science Foundation, before he moved to Pittsburgh to take charge of CMU.

Year after year, CMU has been named the world's best institution for computer science studies, counting among its alumni half dozen Nobel Laureates, including John Nash, the recently-deceased mathematician who was subject of the Hollywood movie 'A Beautiful Mind'. It also produced eminent techheads such as Vinod Khosla and Andy Bechtolsheim, who co-founded Sun Microsystems. The university is so deeply associated with advances in computer science that the fictional Dr Vaseekaran in Rajnikant's Robot opus was affiliated to CMU.

Among its real-life Indian alum
Former rural development minister Jairam Ramesh, who earned a degree in public policy at CMU's Heinz College, associated with secretary of state John Kerry's wife Teresa Heinz. The dean of Heinz College, Ramayya Krishnan, is also an IIT Madras alumnus like Subra Suresh.

Such ties appear to have led to a gift that may have some people questioning the need for at a time India itself seeks funds for education. Part of the strategy also appears to be aimed at countering the impression that Indian IT companies are merely body shops sucking up American jobs and feeding of the US economy.

"TCS is proud to invest in this landmark partnership with CMU to promote market-driven innovation and accelerate advancements in technology," TCS CEO Natarajan Chandrasekaran said while announcing the gift, explaining the rationale for the gift. "As global leaders, Carnegie Mellon and TCS have the intellectual power, creativity, institutional nimbleness, and global reach to capitalize on new opportunities and have a lasting impact on society and industry through cutting-edge digital research and a long-term commitment to education."

"With our shared commitment to education and research in areas that help address many challenges of our time, TCS' support of Carnegie Mellon is both natural and extraordinarily promising," agreed Carnegie Mellon president Subra Suresh. "Together, our two organizations have the capabilities to make breakthrough discoveries and the capacity to make societal impact on a global scale."

Indeed, TCS, which is present in several US states, has ramped up presence in the Pittsburgh region, leading Pennsylvania governor Tom Wolf to join the welcome party. "I'm very pleased to welcome TCS to Pennsylvania," said Wolf. "This is an exciting time as we see more and more companies establish and expand their presence in the state. CMU has been especially adept in attracting cutting-edge businesses to and near its campus, which helps to drive economic growth."

Among the nation's major research universities, Carnegie Mellon ranks first in startups per research dollar, according to the Association of University Technology Managers. Since 2008, CMU faculty, students and alumni have created 215 new companies.

At 40,000 sq feet, the new Tata Consultancy Services Building funded by the gift will house state-of-the-art facilities, providing collaborative spaces for the CMU community. The building will also provide space for TCS staff to interact with CMU faculty, staff and students.

India should allow entry of international education institutes

India should allow international educational institutes to operate in India, G V Prasad, co-chairman and CEO of DR Reddy's Lab, said here today.

Indian students go abroad for higher studies and settle down there, which was a wastage of country's human resources, Prasad said, after inaugurating a campus of Woxsen-School of Business at Kamkole in Medak district of Telangana.

The country needed investments in the educational sector, he added.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Need For Sex Education Heightens, Is The New 'Sex Age' For Indian Kids?

A recent survey has revealed that the age at which the urban teens in India are becoming sexually active has gone down to 14 years, and the rate at which they are contracting sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) is on the rise.

"A new survey, based on interviews of 15,000-odd teens between 13 and 19 from 20 cities including the metros, revealed that around 8.9% gave a history suggestive of sexually transmitted infection at least once. The average age of first sexual contact for boys was 13.72 years and 14.09 years for girls."

What the experts say

The recent study was conducted by, an urban e-healthcare organization funded by the Union Department of Science and Technology. According to Dr Debraj Shome of, the numbers of reported STD/HIV cases have doubled than what was recorded for this age bracket in the 2011-12 annual survey conducted by Naco (National AIDS Control Organization).

More than 6.3% boys and 1.3% girls have admitted to have had intercourse at least once. Renowned sexologist, Dr M Watsa has confirmed that the STD cases have increased and the results of the current survey seem to agree with the results of several other studies.

Amita Dhanu, Family Planning Association of India (FPAI), says that while younger boys continue to experiment with sex, girls on the other hand are becoming more familiar with premarital sex which has led to reduced instances of girls complaining about being coerced into having sex by their boyfriends.

Areas of concern

Online pornography seems to have emerged as the main source of information for these children. Owing to the dearth of proper communication channels that offer sane sex advice, 57% teens turn to online media. This figure stands in stark contrast to 6.2% teens who turned to their teachers, 6% adolescents who talked to their mothers, and only 4.2% who had a candid heart-to-heart with their doctors regarding sexual advice.

Often seen as an "activity of excitement", these children disregard sexual health as a priority.

The way out

Experts believe that emphasis must be laid on the right communication channels - parents, teachers, and doctors. According to an expert, sex education has to be "age appropriate, value based and culture specific." Parents too need to become aware of anything new their children might be getting exposed to at school, especially things that they themselves weren't taught at that age.

Also, the need for the government to roll out sex education in schools can't be stressed upon enough. It's only with legitimate knowledge can adolescents be made aware of wrong experimentation, STDs, and underage pregnancies.

India and Australia joint financial commitment of up to AUS$ one million and signed an MoU for education

Deepening cooperation in the field of education, India and Australia Monday agreed on a joint financial commitment of up to AUS$ one million and signed an MoU to strengthen existing partnerships.

The MoU would intensify existing partnerships in higher education and research, including technical and professional education, schools, vocational education and training. The agreement, which will also open up new and innovative areas of cooperation, was signed between HRD Minister Smriti Irani and the Australian Minister for Education and Training Christopher Pyne.

The MoU was approved by Union Cabinet last week.

The Indian government is planning to open its education and legal services to foreigners

The government is planning to open its education and legal services to foreigners and liberalizing education, which is a move aimed at boosting the country's services sector. Explaining the country's approach to open education sector, Commerce Secretary Rita Teaotia suggested opening online courses to make it better accessible across communities and countries.

About opening legal services for foreign players, she said the Commerce Ministry's intention is to work with Bar Council of India (BCI) to move in a direction which is in tandem with the policies of both. The government is also in consultation with the Society for Indian Law Firms for this. The Department of Commerce built with stakeholders aims at allowing multi-professional firms to come in, and to allow them to increase size of the firms. "So, these could be early stage reforms. Once we do that, in the next stage we can have consultation with the BCI," said Rita in a statement to PTI.

Opening up of these two sectors is under discussion of the Committee of Secretaries. The UK and the US have been pushing India to open up the sector to foreign firms.

The Advocates Act, which is administered by the BCI, provides for foreign lawyers or law firms to visit India on a reciprocal basis for temporary periods to advise their clients on foreign law and diverse international legal issues.

3G enabled devices as a new educational content delivery system in Rural India

The 'Play n' learn' study harnessed Galli Galli Sim Sim games and study tools to explore the benefits and limitations of 3G enabled devices as a new educational content delivery system.

In the first phase of the intervention, smartphones were provided to children aged six to eight in Delhi with pre-loaded content in the form of packaged games. In the second phase , the same set of games in tablets were given to children (Grade 1, 2 and 3) in schools of South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) and 400 children of 50 schools in two districts of Bihar. In addition, it also looked at a wider reach of distribution through Google Play. In the third phase of the intervention, a bank of additional games were developed for the android platform.

The community study was based in Delhi, using a control group and a pre-test/post-test design. The baseline sample included 42 children from a marginalised community in the capital which received the GGSS games/tools and 56 children from a similar community who did not.

The School study included 4 schools as part of the treatment group, and two schools which did not receive the GGSS study material. There were 221 students in the treatment baseline sample and 181 in that of the control group.

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Want education loan? Log on to, says govt

New Delhi: The government on Thursday said it has a launched a website,, for students seeking educational loans and five banks including SBI, IDBI Bank and Bank of India have integrated their system with the portal.

"Vidya Lakshmi ( was launched on the occasion of Independence Day i.e. 15th August, 2015 for the benefit of students seeking educational loans," a Finance Ministry release said.

The portal has been developed and maintained by NSDL e-Governance Infrastructure Limited (NSDL e-Gov) under the guidance of Department of Financial Services in the Finance Ministry, Department of Higher Education, Ministry of Human Resource Development and Indian Banks Association (IBA).

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in his Budget speech for 2015-16 had proposed to set up a fully IT based student financial aid authority to administer and monitor scholarships as well as educational loan schemes through Pradhan Mantri Vidya Lakshmi Karyakram (PMVLK).

It is aimed to ensure that no student misses out on higher education for lack of funds, said the release, adding that the launch of the portal is the first step towards achieving this objective.

"Vidya Lakshmi Portal is the first of its kind portal providing single window for students to access information and make applications for educational loans provided by banks as also government scholarships," it added.

The portal will provide information about educational loan schemes of banks; common educational loan application form for students; facility to apply to multiple banks for educational loans; and facility for banks to download students' loan applications.

It also has facility for banks to upload loan processing status; facility for students to email grievances/queries relating to educational loans; dashboard facility for students to view status of their loan application and linkage to National Scholarship Portal for information and application for government scholarships.

Finance Ministry said so far 13 banks have registered 22 educational loan schemes on the Vidya Lakshmi Portal and five banks -- SBI, IDBI Bank, Bank of India, Canara Bank and Union Bank of India have integrated their system with the portal for providing loan processing status to students.

"This initiative aims to bring on board all banks providing educational loans. It is expected that students throughout the country will be benefited by this initiative of the government by making available a single window for access to various educational loan schemes of all banks," said the release further.

Skill development essential for education

NEW DELHI: Urging the industry and other stakeholders to join the Delhi government in improving the infrastructure and quality of government schools, deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia said that skill development will go a long way in bringing about a positive change. Sisodia was addressing a session on 'Making Delhi the Knowledge Hub of India', organized by Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).

The minister emphasized that there should be a sync between the requirements of the industry and the education system. He announced a new concept "Be a Teacher", which will be launched on the Teachers' Day by President Pranab Mukherjee. He will address a government school class on September 5.

"Innovative thinking is the key to success and the need of the hour. Education should move towards making students, leaders and innovators," said Sisodia. He highlighted that the quality of education needs to be improved and should be more research-oriented.

Other important members present on the occasion were Punya Srivastava, education secretary, Delhi government, Aditya Birla convener, CII Delhi panel on education, and Alka Kaul, chairperson, CII Delhi state council.

Strengthen educational ties between India and Australia

In a move set to further strengthen education ties with India, Australian government today appointed former cricketer Adam Gilchrist as nation's inaugural ambassador to the region on education.

The announcment was made by the Minister for Education and Training Christopher Pyne prior to attending the Annual Ministerial Dialogue and third Australia-India Education Council meeting in New Delhi on August 24.
"I am delighted to announce Adam Gilchrist as the first Australia-India Education Ambassador," Pyne said.

"Adam will play an important part in supporting the growth in the strong bilateral education relationship between Australia and India, to help ensure that Australia continues to be seen as a high quality provider of education.
"Consistent with the pillars of the Draft National Strategy for International Education, the Australian Government is committed to reaching out to the world," he said.

"I see Adam's appointment as helping to build on this, as he will help grow our already strong education partnership with India and raise Australia's profile and reputation.

"The Indian people recognise Adam as one of cricket's greats, and the values he espouses both on and off the field ? excellence and integrity ? are precisely those with which Australia aligns its reputation for high-quality education, training and research," Pyne added.

Gilchrist said he was excited about his new role and welcomed the challenge ahead of him.
"I am honoured to have been chosen to perform this important role in helping strengthen the education ties between our two countries," Gilchrist said.

"For the past seven years in my capacity as an ambassador at one of Australia's best research universities I have seen first-hand the vital role education plays in the development of modern India.

"Having spent so much of my cricketing career playing in India, I have gotten to understand the important bond Australia has with India. Being Australia's first education ambassador to India will give me the opportunity to put so much back into that relationship through the all-important focus of learning and training," he said.

Gilchrist will join Minister Pyne in New Delhi next week to help showcase the quality of Australia's education systems.

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Top sex and behavioural experts have favoured making sex education

NEW DELHI: Terming the government's crackdown on 857 pornographic websites an "act in haste", the country's top sex and behavioural experts have favoured making sex education mandatory for young Indian teenagers so that crimes like rape or child molestation can be efficiently curbed.

SC's observations prompt Centre to block 857 porn sites

DoT bans 5 websites that don't even show porn

According to them, a crackdown is not the solution as adults have a right to watch porn in the privacy of their homes and that right should not be taken away.

"Banning porn websites is not the solution at all. Educating the youth about what sex and related behaviours are must be on the agenda of the present government," Dr Prakash Kothari, one of India's leading sexologists based in Mumbai, told IANS.

The ministry of communications and information and technology, in its order of July 31 under section 79(3)(b) of the IT Act 2000, banned the 857 websites terming their content "immoral and indecent".

The ban will only result in a boom for the pirated porn industry, experts say.

"One doubts if this ban can be a fool-proof solution. It will probably increase the sale of pirated porn DVDs. A ban of this kind might actually increase sexual frustration and lead to other sexual and social problems," warned Dr Madhuri Singh, consulting psychiatrist at Nanavati Super Specialty Hospital in Mumbai.

The experts, however, feel that when it comes to child pornography, prompt action is required.

READ ALSO: People will soon learn to circumvent ISPs and government orders on porn ban, expert says

"Throughout the world, child porn is banned and generally stays off the internet. Problem is that some adult websites have links that lead to child pornography and those must be dealt sternly with," noted Dr Samir Parikh, director of mental health and behavioural sciences at Fortis Hospital in New Delhi.

Objectification of women and child abuse are growing in our society, says Dr Parikh, but there has to be a proper mechanism to ensure that young adults do not get easy access to porn.

"With the proliferation of technology, kids have easy access to porn and related materials and this issue has to be brought to the fore," he contended.

Owing to the growth in the smartphone sector, online porn viewing is going to see an explosion in the next five years, a recent study said.

According to Britain-based digital market research specialist firm Juniper Research, online porn watching will grow by nearly 42 percent in the next five years.

The porn video hits will grow to 193 billion a year by 2020 from around 136 billion this year, it said.

Growth is taking place in the video chat and webcam content area in the global porn industry that is worth $97 billion.

Sexual literacy may be the need of the hour, feel others.

"In the absence of proper sex education, ignorance prevails because porn is a double-edged sword," said Dr Sudhakar Krishnamurti, director of world-famous Andromeda Andrology Centre in Hyderabad.

"Responsibility lies with all the stakeholders - government, media houses, social scientists, doctors, teachers - to ensure that sex education becomes the key to tackle rising cases of sexual abuse," Dr Parikh stressed.

According to Dr Sameer Malhotra, director of the department of mental health and behavioural sciences at Max Super Specialty Hospital in New Delhi, "age-appropriate and sensitively handled sex education can help in preventing risky behaviour and addressing myths" associated with sexual issues.

"Sex education will actually limit porn viewing among adults," said Dr Manish Jain, senior consultant (psychiatrist) at BLK Super Specialty Hospital in New Delhi.

Parental guidance of age-appropriate surfing may also help.

"Adults websites can be blocked on any computer and in any browser to prevent adult-themed content from showing up in web searches and on specific websites. Modify your computers with parental guidance," Dr Jain advised.