Sunday, 10 December 2017

New education methods will transform the way students learn-Mohandas Pai

New education methods will transform the way students learn, says Mohandas Pai 
 
Lalatendu Mishra : December 10, 2017 10:16 IST
http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/interview/new-education-methods-will-transform-the-way-students-learn-says-mohandas-pai/article21381640.ece
 
Education is set for massive transformation as technology is ushering in a new era in the field of learning, said T.V. Mohandas Pai, Chairman Aarin Capital. In the new scheme of things the student would be at the core and would decide as well as create her/his own degree at one’s own pace and medium. Mr. Pai, former Infosys CFO, and who is also Chairman, Manipal Global Education Services, explains what Education 4.0 is all about. Excerpts:
What is Education 4.0 and why is it important?

Education 4.0 is putting students at the heart of educational experience and creating individual learning experiences. Education 1.0 was the traditional method of students going to a Gurukul in India. Then came the universities as in Takshila and Nalanda in India.

Then Universities came up in Europe. Then you had the industrial revolution which demanded a large number of people who could be trained. There, student read books, sat down and listened to the teachers. They had a course, they had a curriculum and then they obtained a certificate to earn a livelihood.

In Education 4.0, students can create a degree of their own, are able to do a degree in nuclear science [combining it] with biotechnology, with dance, with music or with fundamental physics or something like that.

The mix and match is available and can be done offline or online. A student can sit at home do a course online and get a degree.

So, in Education 4.0 students can design their own course, learn offline or online and they can also make sure that they can learn at their own pace. At the end of it, they obtain a certificate that they can carry to job interviews.
 
How is it panning out?

It’s already happening in the world. Many students will ask themselves why they need a university degree? Why can’t they do things on their own?

Employers will ask what the value of a university degree is? It is happening but slowly in India because lots of people have a common education system and they still want a degree. We see change all over the world and in next 5-10 years we see acceleration and an increase in people taking such certification.
Will things change in India in next 2 to 3 years?

Totally. I see change very slowly but I see a time when many people are well settled. Then we ask the question why I should send my child to college when I can educate him at home and get a certification.
Will Education 4.0 see reality by 2020?

I think around the world it will pick up by 2020 and in India by 2025. Our problem is the government. Our problem is the UGC. And also remember we are long behind the curve... in America, 70% of people go to college, in Germany 80% and in Japan 88% of people go to college.
 
How do you enhance the quality of education?

For that we need to see which are the best institutes in the world and what the catalyst is. The best institutes are Oxford, Harvard, Cambridge and they are so good because they decide what they want to do.

They decide on courses, examinations... No Government and no regulator interference. The U.S. and U.K. governments just give money. We need to give full freedom to the top 100 education institutions and in the next five years we will see a change. We also need public funding for research. The government should have a ₹5,000 crore annual fund for research and all universities should bid for it.
 
Has the government brought about any reform in the education sector?

The biggest disappointment of the NDA government is that they have not done much in the education sector. Only now since Prakash Javdekar has come in do we see a focus on institutions of national importance.
 
We have not seen many institutions like Manipal….

It is because there is control. Government is not giving approval to private sector people. Those who gave bribes got the approval. At one point, there were 4,500-5,000 engineering colleges in one year. How did they come up? They all gave money. The system is rotten, it’s corrupt, and the bad people got it. Now, we are getting good universities. Jindal has put up a University, now Manipal has been there. And 5 to 6 people are coming up. I think Prime Minister should talk to billionaires of this country to come and up set up a University by putting ₹2000 crore each of their own money because you are a billionaire and can afford to spend.
 
Can we have Oxford or Cambridge type institutions in India?

We can. Give our universities research and see the magic in 5 years. Give them money for research and ask them to compete. Create a kitty of ₹5000 crore of public money. State and Central Government spend ₹40 lakh crore in a year on education.

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

India gets a step closer to laser weaponry as DRDO successfully tests laser system

India gets a step closer to laser weaponry as DRDO successfully tests laser system
 
Source - By Shaurya Karanbir Gurung https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/defence/india-gets-a-step-closer-to-laser-weaponry-as-drdo-successfully-tests-laser-system/articleshow/61954646.cms


NEW DELHI: In a leap towards building laser weapons capability, India has made a breakthrough in its efforts to develop directed energy weapons, or DEWs, that can potentially end future wars before they begin.

It’s not exactly what we saw in Star Wars films or Flash Gordon comics decades ago, but DEWs such as high powered lasers can destroy enemy missiles, aircraft and advanced weaponry based on electronic circuitry.

India’s primary defence research organisation Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) recently conducted a successful test of a laser system mounted on a truck, and plans are now afoot to create a more powerful laser with a longer range, people familiar with the development told ET.

Private companies such as Kalyani Group and Rolls-Royce are also looking to develop or build DEWs in the country. DEWs are weapons that produce a beam of concentrated electromagnetic energy. There are mainly two types of DEWs: high powered lasers and microwaves. DEWs are anti-personnel as they can cause intolerable burning of an area in the body and blindness, and anti-material as it can be used to destroy missiles, ships, UAVs and fry circuitry of equipment deployed in a battlefield.

While information is not available on whether India is developing microwave weapons, DRDO tested a 1KW laser weapon system mounted on a truck at Chitradurga in Karnataka towards August end. “The laser beam hit a target located 250 metres away,” an official said. “It took 36 seconds for it to make a hole in the metal sheet.” The test was conducted in the presence of then defence minister Arun Jaitley, the person said.

The next step is to test a higher powered laser, 2KW, mounted on the truck against a metal sheet located at a distance of 1 km. Two DRDO laboratories — Centre for High Energy Systems and Sciences (CHESS) and Laser Science & Technology Centre (LASTEC) — are currently working on developing the source for generating the laser, officials said. At present, the source of the laser, which is the “heart of the system”, is imported from Germany.




Other challenges include developing a cooling mechanism for the system that heats up when the laser beam is fired, ensuring a focused beam towards a distant target and optoelectronics, or optronics, involving lenses to create that focus, they said. “The weapon is not ready yet and it will take years for it to happen,” said an official. DRDO did not officially respond to a questionnaire on the subject sent by ET to it as of press time Wednesday.

Private companies too are looking to enter DEW space. A senior official at Kalyani Group said Kalyani Centre for Technology and Innovation is in the “initial stages” of developing DEWs. “We are identifying two segments: ‘lethality’ to kill and ‘survivability’ aimed at destroying incoming missiles,” the person told ET. “We will initially be working on the latter and are setting up a lab in Pune.”

Rolls-Royce’s global strategic marketing director Ben Story, in a conversation with ET had recently said that there are “conversations” happening between the company and India on DEWs.

A release by Press Information Bureau back in December 2013 had confirmed that DRDO’s CHESS and LASTEC were researching on DEWs and laser technology, respectively. A 2015 DRDO bulletin titled ‘Technology Focus’ stated that LASTEC with the help of a collaborator had developed a unit of 1kW ‘single mode fibre laser’ and work was on for developing 5kW and 9kW fibre laser sources.

LASTEC has also developed a 10kW Chemical Oxygen Iodine Laser (COIL) and is working on developing a 30-100 kW vehicle-mounted COIL system, sources said.

New Battle Looms in Powerful Indian States as Modi Tightens Grip

New Battle Looms in Powerful Indian States as Modi Tightens Grip
 
Iain Marlow @iainmarlow https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-12-03/new-battle-looms-in-powerful-indian-states-as-modi-tightens-grip
December 4, 2017, 3:30 AM GMT+5:30


States led by India’s ruling party may enact reforms faster

State leaders the ‘defining factor’ in easing investment

Narendra Modi during an election rally in Himachal Pradesh on Nov. 5. Photographer: Shammi Mehra/AFP via Getty Images


Narendra Modi’s steady conquest of India’s state governments and his drive to unify taxes across the country are fueling a new competition between provincial chief ministers for investment in factories, businesses and jobs that is redrawing the country’s industrial map.

The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party has extended control to a record 18 states, representing roughly 60 percent of India’s gross domestic product. That’s allowing Modi to erode decades of fighting between the central government and provincial leaders, who are responsible for everything from providing industrial land to law and order.

While Modi’s lack of a majority in the upper house of parliament hinders his ability to implement change at the federal level, the state-level victories give him the chance to speed up reforms like land acquisition and labor laws across a large part of the country. And by forcing even non-BJP chief ministers to compete for investment by providing infrastructure and cutting bureaucracy, rather than through tax breaks and corruption, businesses are being encouraged to invest in states that previously had little to offer.
 
 


"Over the past few years, we have seen a concerted effort by the central government to drive competitive federalism among states," said Abhishek Gupta, Mumbai-based India analyst with Bloomberg Economics. "Irrespective of political affiliation, we should see state governments competing against each other for business investment."

Modi is fueling the new competition by sending state governments a higher share of federal tax revenue. If his strategy works, and more of the country sees an economic boost, it could cement the BJP’s position in power and set up Modi for re-election in 2019.
 
Rajasthan Reforms

Since the BJP took power in poor, landlocked Rajasthan in 2013, the state government has tried to promote industrial growth by reforming labor laws, land purchasing rules and power distribution.

"Rajasthan is almost always among the leaders in terms of the highest number of positive regulatory changes," said Richard Rossow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C. "We have seen several BJP states in addition to Rajasthan tend to be among the leaders in enacting reforms."


BJP supporters celebrate the party’s victory in the Rajasthan state Assembly elections in Dec. 2013. Photographer: Deepak Sharma/AP Photo

The BJP administration has purchased land for factories directly from farmers to set up dedicated industrial areas, removing one of the traditional bugbears of trying to build a factory in the country. Land negotiations have frequently become bogged down in talks with conflicting groups, such as farmers and local officials, giving rise to corruption and legal disputes that could hold a project up for years.

One zone in Rajasthan, near the city of Neemrana was set up just for Japanese manufacturers, and now hosts Toyota Motor Corp. and Daikin Industries Ltd.

"They are friendly to industry," said Ram Narain Singh at his auto parts factory in Bhiwadi, Rajasthan.

The BJP-ruled state of Madhya Pradesh is now emulating Rajasthan’s labor law reforms, Capital Economics analyst Shilan Shah said in a Sept. 13 note.
 
Political Consolidation


The BJP has spread across India at a remarkable rate. In March, it came to power in Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state with 200 million people, as well as in the smaller states of Goa and Manipur. In July, the BJP helped form the government in Bihar, a state of 100 million, after a governing coalition collapsed. Polls suggest the BJP will retain power in Gujarat in elections in December and could wrest control of mountainous Himachal Pradesh from the opposition Congress party.
 


Rajasthan industry minister Rajpal Singh Shekhawat said economic growth gets a boost when both the central and state governments are the same party, because policy cooperation is more likely.

"We believe that poverty cannot be alleviated by state investment alone,” Shekhawat said in his Jaipur office. “Poverty can only be eliminated by an accelerated pace of growth."

Despite a slump in India’s economic growth rate, partly thanks to the roll out of the goods and services tax and a shock move last November to demonetize much of the country’s currency, Modi remains popular among voters. A survey in May found he was the preferred prime minister for 44 percent of respondents and the BJP retained the level of support that gave it a sweeping victory in 2014.

Still, the easier political gains at a provincial level may be coming to an end for the BJP.
 
‘Difficult States’

"What are left are the more difficult states -- West Bengal, Kerala, Tamil Nadu -- where our presence has been negligible at best," said Yashwant Sinha, a senior party leader who was finance minister in a previous BJP government.

BJP or not, with states still wielding so much power, investors suggest the quality of the local chief minister is a big factor in a state’s performance.


Yogi Adityanath Photographer: Sanjay Kanojia/AFP via Getty Images

In Uttar Pradesh, the ruling party appointed Hindu monk Yogi Adityanath as chief minister. He immediately channeled Hindu cow worship into a campaign against "illegal" slaughterhouses. Soon after, executives at legitimate meat export businesses complained of official harassment and a steep drop in business. Adityanath also came in for criticism after dozens of children reportedly died at a government-run hospital that wasn’t paying suppliers.

Siddharth Nath Singh, Uttar Pradesh’s health minister, defended the chief minister’s actions and said the government acted firmly on the health crisis.

In Haryana, another BJP-ruled state, the party appointed newly-elected legislator Manohar Lal Khattar to the top job in 2014. He has come under fire for the state’s handling of a series of violent riots in August related to the arrest of a religious leader, including one that killed more than 30 people The violence mirrored a week of angry protests in 2016 that prompted Maruti Suzuki India Ltd. to temporarily halt production at two factories. Khattar has defended the police response during the unrest, while Congress party members called for Khattar’s resignation.

Neeraj Daftuar, who works in Khattar’s office, said the protests have roots predating Khattar’s appointment and that "it would be unfair if we were to judge him just on the law and order situation."


Riots erupt in Panchkula on Aug. 25. Photographer: EPA

"The recent law and order crisis in Haryana and the health tragedy in UP have complex causes, but the inability of the state to marshal an effective response cuts against Modi’s pledge to bring a dose of good governance to India’s states,” said Milan Vaishnav, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. "This raises concerns not only for wary investors, but also for residents of the state."

The BJP has also advocated populist policies such as waiving farmer loans that could widen state fiscal deficits.

"Whether it’s a BJP state or a Congress state or a whatever state, it’s leadership that delivers results," said Salil Singhal, an Indian businessman who works in both Rajasthan and Gujarat. "There is now a competition among the states to say, ‘Things are better here than elsewhere, so come and invest in my state.’"

Saturday, 2 December 2017

India re-elected to International Maritime Organization for 2-year term securing 2nd highest number of Votes



India has been re-elected to the Council of the International Maritime Organisation for the 2 Year Term, under a category that represents nations with the largest interests in international sea borne trade.


India was re-elected to the council under Category B at an assembly of the organisation at its headquarters in London. The Indian High Commissioner to the UK, Y.K. Sinha represented India at the assembly where India secured the second-highest number of votes (144) from member countries, just after Germany's 146 and ahead of Australia's 143.

The other countries to make the cut included France (140), Canada (138), Spain (137), Brazil (131), Sweden (129), the Netherlands (124) and the UAE (115).

The IMO Assembly has elected a new 40-member Council, its executive body responsible for supervising the work of the Organization. The Council performs all the functions of the Assembly, except that of making recommendations to Governments on maritime safety and pollution prevention.

The electoral campaign was tougher than usual as 46 countries presented their candidature. In category A, there was no contested election, but unusually in Category B Australia and the United Arab Emirates challenged the group making it 12 candidates for 10 seats. Both countries succeeded in getting a seat on the Council, and Argentina and Bangladesh lost their seats. In category C, the challengers Algeria, Antigua and Barbuda, Nigeria and Saudi Arabia did not gain seats in the Council.

The Members for the 2018-2019 biennium are:

Category A (10 States with the largest interest in providing international shipping services):China, Greece, Italy, Japan, Norway, Panama, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, United Kingdom, United States.

Category B (10 States with the largest interest in international seaborne trade):Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, India, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, United Arab Emirates.

Category C (20 States not elected above, which have special interests in maritime transport or navigation and whose election to the Council will ensure the representation of all major geographic areas of the world): Bahamas, Belgium, Chile, Cyprus, Denmark, Egypt, Indonesia, Jamaica, Kenya, Liberia, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Morocco, Peru, Philippines, Singapore, South Africa, Thailand, Turkey.

The newly elected Council will meet, following the conclusion of the 30th Assembly, for its 119th session (on December 7) and will elect its Chair and Vice-Chair for the next biennium.

The IMO has 172 member states.

Friday, 1 December 2017

India has kicked off production of six new nuclear-powered attack submarines under the Make in India program

India has kicked off production of six new nuclear-powered attack submarines, which will greatly increase New Delhi’s naval power projection once completed.

The program to build own nuclear submarines was approved in February 2015. "It has kicked off and I will leave it at that. It is a classified project. The process has started," said Admiral Sunil Lanba, the top dog in the Indian Navy, on Friday.

At present, India has two nuclear-powered submarines: the domestically built INS Arihant and the INS Chakra, an Akula-class submarine that New Delhi has leased from Russia until 2022.

The new subs are part of the Make in India program, a key initiative of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to encourage both Indian and foreign companies to manufacture goods on the subcontinent.

Lanba added that the Indian Navy was ready to participate in the much-discussed quadrilateral coalition between India, the US, Japan and Australia. The four nations have strengthened ties in the face of a rising Beijing, with the US, Japan, and India cooperating during the July Malabar naval exercises that involved 18 warships.

"We are all aware of the prevailing security scenario in our maritime domain. The continued presence of both traditional and non-traditional threats in the maritime domain demand constant attention and robust mitigating measures," Lanba told reporters.

New Delhi intends to expand its area of naval operations as far west as the Gulf of Aden and conduct a series of operational readiness exercises in 2018. "The continued presence of both traditional and non-traditional threats in the maritime domain demand constant attention and robust mitigating measures," said Lanba.

China-India relations have hit a half-century low after the world's two most populous nations nearly went to war over the disputed Doklam Plateau over the summer.

More recently, PLA-N warships have been deployed to the Pakistani port of Gwadar, which Lanba described as a "security challenge" that India would "mitigate."

While nuclear submarines are expensive to produce, they are far superior to conventional diesel-powered electric submarines. They are faster, more powerful, more versatile and have a wider range since they can stay underwater for much longer without needing to resurface and refuel or recharge. Their additional range and power also make them perfect to equip with ballistic missiles.

Monday, 27 November 2017

18 more shell cos which together deposited Rs 10,000 cr cash post DeMo identified

18 more shell cos which together deposited Rs 10,000 cr cash post DeMo identified

The Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) has prepared the second list of 18 companies which deposited unusually large sums of cash in their bank accounts soon after demonetisation. Collectively, these companies had deposited around Rs 10,000 crore between them.

In May this year, the MCA had identified 331 companies which had deposited large sums of cash. Of these, 311 were listed entities. In August, the Securities and Exchange Board of India had shifted shares of the listed companies into Graded Surveillance Mechanism, thereby severely restricting trading activity in them.

The Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) has begun a probe against 18 companies, along with the Registrar of Companies. In this list,the highest sum of cash was deposited by a Andhra Pradesh-registered company. Most of the companies are from RoC Delhi, Mumbai, and Andhra Pradesh.

Most of the 18 companies were operating under two different names. While one of them active, the other was dormant which was invariably used to route illegal money.

Dreamline Manpower Solution Private Limited, which deposited Rs 3166 crore, was in existence for just six years, before its name was struck off by the RoC recently. The company’s last annual general meeting was held in September 2014, according to RoC records. The company has a paid-up capital of Rs 1 lakh and has only two directors. Both directors are the boards of eight other companies. The RoC records do not mention the business activity of the company.

Second on the list is a NCR-based dormant company which has deposited around Rs 2450 crore. This company too has been struck off by the RoC from its records. There is no information available about the company’s directors. As per RoC records, this company acts as a broker in different kinds of trading activities.

Other companies on the list include Sterling Agro Industries Limited, which has deposited Rs 626.67 crore. It comes under Delhi Registrar of companies, and its main businesses are horticulture, growing of crops and market gardening.

Harayana-based CMI Limited (different from the Delhi-based listed company), incorporated in 1901 as per RoC records, deposited Rs 466 crore post-demonetization. This company, too, has been struck off by the RoC. CMI responded that it had “deposited a sum of Rs 28.15 lakh in cash after demonetization.” It further added that it could have been a caes of mistaken identity as there were many companies functioning under names similar to CMI.

Maverick Holdings and Investment Private Limited is Mumbai-based company and is not on the RoC list anymore. Maverick deposited Rs 430 crore after demonetization. There was no further information available on the company.

Great Eastern Energy Corporation Limited is Delhi-based. This company submitted Rs 400 crore. Three other companies were known to share the same office address as Great Eastern Energy Corporation. All four, including Great Eastern, have been struck off the list.

Delhi-based Seeds and Grains India Private Limited Company submitted Rs 308 crore to the banks after cash ban.

MG Housing, Delhi-based real estate company, is under MCA and SFIO’s lens for depositing Rs 308 crore. One of the directors of this company Dinesh Chand Gupta is a board member on SMC Finvest Limited. SMC is a part of SMC Global, a Delhi-based brokerage firm.

SEW Euro Drive India Private limited is also from Delhi and Rs 255 crore. As per ROC filing, the company manufactures a special type of machinery.

Pune’s Logix Soft-Tel Private Limited, now dormant, submitted Rs 255 crore.

Manufacturer of basic iron and steel Royaloak Steels Private Limited, an Andhra Pradesh-based company submitted Rs 240 crore.

Delhi based Atma Tube Products Limited deposited Rs 225 crore.

Mumbai’s pipes company Sujala Pipes Private Limited submitted Rs 161 crore.

Gujarat’s Katira Construction Company deposited Rs 135 crore, Telangana based Prajasakthi Printers and Publishers submitted Rs 127 crore. Rajasthan’s Raghuveer Metal Industries Limited submitted Rs 115 crore. Two Maharashtra-based company Minda Sai Limited and Genesys International Corporation limited submitted Rs 108 crore and Rs 105 crore, respectively.

In a query sent to Minda Sai, the company said that it had transferred its “registered office of the company to Delhi and got a new CIN (company identification number). The Delhi-registered company has been actively filing reports to RoC and is under active operation.” 
 
 

Saturday, 25 November 2017

Bengaluru Geologist finds microfossils of prokaryotic organisms that lived 2,000 million years ago in Bundelkhand near Jhansi

A Bengaluru based geologist has discovered 2,000-million-year-old "prokaryotic" microfossils — considered to be the earliest form of life — from the Indian subcontinent in the Gwalior basin of the Bundelkhand region near Jhansi. The discovery by Naresh Ghose, formerly geology professor at Patna University, was reported at the recent annual convention of the Indian Geological Congress in Nagpur.


A fossil of cyanobacteria, a prokaryotic lifeform found in the Burgess Shale. Image: Royal Ontario Museum.

Microfossils, perhaps the most important group of all fossils, are the tiny — less than one millimetre in size — remains of bacteria, fungi, animals, and planktons. The shape and distribution of the occurrences of the micro-fossils in carbonaceous material, strongly support the debris to be that of a micro-organism, Ghose told the convention. An individual micro-fossil consists of an outer rim of recrystallised silica (quartz), while the core is composed of carbonates (calcite) with a mixture of iron-bearing material, he told this correspondent.

Ghose found these in the 2,000-million-year-old microfossils in the black carbonaceous shale from the Bundelkhand region of the Gwalior basin in Central India.

Incidentally, the appearance of primitive life in the black shale coincides with the "Great Oxygenation Event" that brought the transition of Earth's atmosphere from oxygen-poor (anoxic) to oxygen-rich status. The earth's atmosphere since then has been responsible for transformation of inanimate objects (inorganic elements and compounds) to the animate world of today with millions of diversity in the animal kingdom.

"The present study reports for the first time the presence of "organogenic" microfossils — derived from living organisms — in black shale immediately underlying the volcanic rock of the Gwalior basin," Ghose said. The identity of microfossils has subsequently been endorsed by experts from different disciplines, including Professor Jai Krishna, a leading palaeontologist from the Benaras Hindu University.

"Therefore, the microfossils (Prokaryotic-RNA cell) in the Gwalior basin may be regarded as the confirmed oldest existence of life dated about 2,000 million years ago ever to be recorded from the Indian subcontinent," Ghose said. Ghose found the microfossils while studying thin sections of sediments (called "par" formation) containing the siliceous black shale in the uppermost part coexisting with fine layers of limestone and particles of river-borne and volcanic origin.

"This important discovery was made using a simple and inexpensive device like a microscope without the aid of any sophisticated instrument," he said. The deposit of black shale is a "universal" feature underlining a lava flow and associated with the formation of organic debris on the death of marine animals. Abundance of black shale is a major source of hydrocarbons and gas hydrates. "The USA is utilising black shale as an alternative source for hydrocarbons and is a leading exporter due to its technological advancement," Ghose said.

Thursday, 23 November 2017

M-power to empower our citizens: PM Narendra Modi

PM Modi at the Global Conference on Cyberspace. Probably the only PM in the world who tweets about Cyberspace and Technology at 7:30am and has in the past addressed Hackathon via video conference on a weekend at 10pm

We are using mobile power or M-power to empower our citizens: PM Narendra Modi


Digital technology has emerged as a great enabler. It has paved the way for efficient service delivery and governance: PM Modi

We are using mobile power or M-power to empower our citizens: PM Narendra Modi

Through better targeting of subsidies, the JAM trinity has prevented leakages to the tune of nearly ten billion dollars so far: PM

Citizens of India are increasingly adopting cashless transactions; BHIM App is helping the movement towards a less cash and corruption free society: PM

Technology breaks silos; PRAGATI has put back on track infrastructure projects worth billions of dollars which were stuck in red-tape: PM

Cyber-space remains a key area for innovation. Our startups today are looking to provide solutions to everyday problems and improving lives: PM

Nations must take responsibility to ensure that the digital space does not become a playground for the dark forces of terrorism and radicalization: PM
Complete speech
His Excellency Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe, Prime Minister of Sri Lanka
Ministers from India and abroad
Secretary General of ITU,
Other distinguished dignitaries
Delegates from over 120 countries
Students,
Ladies and Gentlemen.

I welcome you to New Delhi, for the Global Conference on Cyber Space. I also welcome all those who are joining this event remotely from across the world, over the internet.

Friends.

We all know how cyberspace has transformed the world over the last few decades. The senior generation among the gathering here, would recall the bulky mainframe computer systems of the seventies and eighties. A lot has changed since then. Email and personal computers brought about a new revolution in the nineties. This was followed by the advent of social media, and the mobile phone as an important vehicle of data storage and communication. Expressions such as the Internet of Things, and Artificial Intelligence, have now become commonplace. These indicate that change continues, perhaps at an even faster pace now.

These rapid developments in the digital domain have mirrored immense change in India as well. Indian IT talent has been recognized worldwide. Indian IT companies have made a name for themselves globally.

Today, digital technology has emerged as a great enabler. It has paved the way for efficient service delivery and governance. It is improving access, in domains from education to health. And it is helping to shape the future of business and economy. Through each of these ways, it provides the less privileged sections of society, a more level playing field. On a macro-scale, it has contributed to emergence of a flat world, where a developing nation like India can compete on a level footing with developed nations.

Friends.

Technology breaks barriers. We believe it validates the Indian philosophy of "Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam" - the world is one family. This expression reflects our ancient, inclusive traditions. Through technology, we are able to give meaning to this expression, and indeed to the best of democratic values.

We in India, give primacy to the human face of technology, and are using it to improve what I call, “ease of living.” Empowerment through digital access, is an objective that the Government of India is especially committed to. "Digital India" is the world's largest, technology-led transformative programme which is paving the way for our citizens to avail digital services. We are using mobile power or M-power to empower our citizens.

I am sure most of you are already aware of Aadhaar, which is the unique biometric identity of a person. We have used this identity to liberate our people from queues and cumbersome processes. Three factors: first, financial inclusion through our Jan-Dhan bank accounts; second, the Aadhaar platform; and third, the Mobile phone, have greatly helped reduce corruption. We call this the J.A.M. or JAM trinity. Through better targeting of subsidies, the JAM trinity has prevented leakages to the tune of nearly 10 billion dollars so far.

Let me share a few examples of how digital technology is becoming a great facilitator for "ease of living."

Today, a farmer can access a variety of services, such as soil-testing results, expert advice, and a good price for his produce, at the click of a button. Digital technology is therefore contributing to increased farm incomes.

A small entrepreneur can register on the Government e-Marketplace, and bid competitively for supply of goods to the Government. As he expands his business, he also contributes to lowering the cost of procurement for Government. This leads to increased efficiency, and greater value for public money.

Pensioners no longer need to present themselves in front of a bank officer, to provide proof of life. Today, a pensioner can leverage the Aadhaar biometric platform, to provide this proof with minimal physical effort.

Women form a significant part of the IT workforce. Digital technology has facilitated several new enterprises led by women. In this way the IT sector has contributed towards gender empowerment.

Citizens of India are increasingly adopting cashless transactions. For this, we created the Bharat Interface for Money – or BHIM App. This App is helping the movement towards a less cash and corruption free society.

These examples show the power of technology in improving governance.

Friends.

We are using the digital domain to facilitate participative governance, or Jan Bhagidari. When we assumed office in May 2014, many people, particularly youngsters expressed a keen desire to share their ideas and work for the nation. It is our firm belief that there are millions of Indians, whose transformative ideas can go a long way in taking India to new heights.

Therefore, we launched the citizen engagement portal, MyGov. This platform enables citizens to share their thoughts and ideas on important issues. In many key policy areas, we received thousands of valuable suggestions. Many logo and emblem designs for various Government initiatives today, are the result of crowd-sourcing, and competitions on MyGov. In fact, even the official app for the Prime Minister's Office, is the result of a competition floated on MyGov, which received brilliant responses from youngsters. MyGov is a prime example of how technology strengthens democracy.

Let me turn to another example. On assuming office, I realized that important government projects and initiatives often suffer on account of unnecessary silos in government functioning, and the lack of focused decision-making. Therefore, we devised a cyberspace based platform, called PRAGATI or Proactive Governance for Timely Implementation. PRAGATI, in Hindi, literally means progress.

On the last Wednesday of every month, I meet top Union and State government officials for a PRAGATI Session. Technology breaks silos. Sitting in our respective offices, aided by the cyber world, we discuss and resolve important governance issues. I am happy to share with you that the PRAGATI sessions have resulted in faster decision-making, through consensus, in the larger interest of the nation. PRAGATI has put back on track infrastructure projects worth billions of dollars which were stuck in red-tape.

I have even tried something of my own, through the Narendra Modi Mobile App. This App deepens my connect with citizens. The suggestions I get through the App are very useful.

Today, we launched the UMANG Mobile App, which will provide over a hundred citizen-centric services. At the back-end, these services will be catered for by many different departments of the Union and State Governments. This integrated approach will add an automatic layer of "peer performance pressure", in the working of these departments.

Friends,

We shall be happy to share our experiences and success stories with the global community. On the other hand, India is keen to find scalable models and innovative solutions in education and health, using digital technology. We also wish to make cyberspace an enabler for the differently-abled. Recently, during a thirty six hour Hackathon, college students suggested solutions to chronic problems that were put forward by Ministries. We look forward to learn from global experiences and best practices. We believe that growth happens only when we all grow together.

Cyberspace remains a key area for innovation. Our startups today, are looking to provide solutions to common everyday problems, and improving the lives of people. I am confident that the global investor community, will recognize the immense potential waiting to be tapped from India’s startup pool. I invite you to invest in this space, and be a part of the unfolding story of Indian startups.

Friends.

The internet, by nature, is inclusive and not exclusive. It offers equity of access, and equality of opportunity. Today’s discourse is being shaped by Facebookers, Tweeples, and Instagrammers. Social media platforms are making cyberspace participative for all. News that experts tell us from studios, is now supplemented by experiences highlighted on social media. This transition, to a blend of expertise and experience, is the contribution of the cyber world. The internet has become the ideal platform for youngsters to showcase their creativity, capability and capacity - be it an insightful blog, a beautiful musical rendition, artwork, or theatre… the sky is the limit.

Friends.

The theme of the Conference: "Secure and Inclusive Cyberspace for Sustainable Development" also highlights the importance of securing this vital asset for mankind. The global community needs to approach the issue of cyber-security with confidence, as much as with resolve. Cyberspace technologies must remain an enabler for our people.

The quest for an open and accessible internet often leads to vulnerability. Stories of hacking and defacement of websites are the tip of an iceberg. They suggest that cyber attacks are a significant threat, especially in the democratic world. We need to ensure that vulnerable sections of our society do not fall prey to the evil designs of cyber criminals. Alertness towards cyber-security concerns, should become a way of life.

One of the major focus areas should be the training of well-equipped and capable professionals to counter cyber threats. Cyber-warriors who will remain on the alert against cyber-attacks. The term "hacking" may have acquired an exciting, even if dubious overtone. We need to ensure that cyber protection becomes an attractive and viable career option for the youth.

On a related note, nations must also take responsibility to ensure that the digital space does not become a playground for the dark forces of terrorism and radicalization. Information sharing and coordination among security agencies is essential to counter the ever-changing threat landscape.

Surely, we can walk the fine balance between privacy and openness on one hand, and national security on the other. Together, we can overcome the differences between global and open systems on one hand, and nation-specific legal requirements on the other.

Friends.

Emerging digital technologies could impact our future in ways that we cannot yet foresee. Important questions of transparency, privacy, trust and security may need to be addressed. Digital technology serves to empower mankind. We must ensure that it continues to stay that way.

The large multi-stakeholder participation at this event, is proof of the global endorsement that this platform has received. Nation states, the industry, academia and civil society, all need to work towards a formal collaborative framework. This will enable a secure cyberspace which improves quality of life.

Friends.

This conference is perhaps the biggest ever such event in terms of numbers. I am told that all the background and logistics have been handled digitally. I hope delegates from around the world found it a smooth and seamless experience.

I conclude by wishing you fruitful and productive deliberations and outcomes. I once again welcome you, and wish the conference all success.

Thank you.


Wednesday, 22 November 2017

BrahMos world’s fastest anti-ship cruise missile successfully test-fired from Sukhoi 30-MKI




BrahMos world’s fastest anti-ship cruise missile successfully test-fired from Sukhoi 30-MKI~ First for India, and the world


In a first for India, and the world, the Indo-Russian supersonic cruise missile BrahMos was today successfully test fired from IAF’s Sukhoi 30-MKI. BrahMos is one of the heaviest missiles in the world to be integrated on a frontline fighter jet and with today’s success, the IAF gets unprecedented fire power against the enemy. 
“The missile was gravity dropped from the Su-30 from fuselage, and the two stage missile’s engine fired up and straightway propelled towards the intended target at the sea in Bay of Bengal,” said a Ministry of Defence release.

BrahMos, said to the world’s fastest anti-ship cruise missile, was integrated on the Sukhoi-30 MKI by HAL. With a range of 290-km, the 2.8 mach missile is a lethal weapon, and its integration with an aircraft like Sukhoi is without a doubt a big boost for India’s defence preparedness and strike capabilities. The success means the Air Force will now have the ability to strike hostile warships hundreds of kilometres off the coast in just minutes once ordered.

In 2016, a Sukhoi 30-MKI frontline fighter jet was test-flown with the BrahMos missile integrated on it. According to BrahMos Aerospace, the Su-30-BrahMos combination will carry out air combat operations within and beyond visibility range and will provide the IAF with the capability of attacking targets protected by powerful air defence assets. This means that BrahMos together with the Su-30 MKI would give India a formidable weapon against Pakistan.

BrahMos has already been inducted by the Indian Army and Indian Navy. It can be launched in either inclined or vertical configuration based on the type of the ship. The land-attack version of BrahMos is fitted on an mobile autonomous launcher. BrahMos is also capable of being launched from submarine from a depth of 40-50 metres. Several countries have already expressed interest in buying the BrahMos missile from India.

Incidentally, with India becoming a member of the MTCR, India and Russia decided to enhance the range of the BrahMos missile in 2016. In March this year, a 450-km land-based version of the BrahMos missile was successfully test fired. Meanwhile, the development of an almost 800-km range BrahMos missile is underway and is expected to be complete in two years time. The 800-km version will give China every reason to be wary of India’s strike capabilities.

The Indian Air Force variant test-fired today has significant differences from other versions of BrahMos. Unlike the Navy and Army version which are significantly larger in size and weigh three tonnes, the IAF version tested weighs 2.5 tonnes and has been adapted specifically for the Su-30 MKI fighter. Given the still considerable weight of the missile, the Su-30 can carry only missile one per mission.

A BrahMos armed Su-30 can fly 1,500 km in the direction of a hostile target out at sea. Using a special targeting mode in its radar, the Su-30 can lock onto an enemy warship and launch the BrahMos from long ranges, before it can be countered by surface-to-air missiles fired from the warship.



Post-launch, the Su-30 would fly away while the air-launched BrahMos uses its own seeker to home in on the target. Given its speed of Mach 2.8 (2.8 times the speed of sound), the BrahMos is extremely difficult to presently intercept by surface to air missiles deployed on leading warships around the world.


The combination of the Su-30 and BrahMos means that the Indian Air Force can deliver a knock-out punch in minutes if ordered, far quicker than a warship which may need to sail in the direction of a target out at sea.


The BrahMos missile is a joint Indo-Russian venture named after the rivers Moscow and Brahmaputra.


Monday, 20 November 2017

India's Dalveer Bhandari wins second term at International Court of Justice after UK pulls out of race

India's Dalveer Bhandari wins second term at International Court of Justice after UK pulls out of race-Significant victory for PM Modi's team at the Ministry of External Affairs.

Bhandari received 183-193 votes in the United Nations General Assembly and secured all the 15 votes in the Security Council after separate and simultaneous elections were held at the UN headquarters in New York. India's victory came after Britain's Permanent Representative to the UN, Matthew Rycroft, in a statement said that the UK had decided to withdraw Sir Christopher Greenwood as a candidate for re-election as a Judge of the ICJ.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi credited the efforts of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and MEA officials for the re-election of Dalveer Bhandari to the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

He also expressed gratitude to members of the United Nations General Assembly and the U.N. Security Council for “their support and trust in India.” Following his election, Ms. Swaraj had tweeted, “Vande Matram — India wins election to the International Court of Justice. Syed Akbaruddin @AkbaruddinIndia our Permanent Representative in UN deserves a special mention,” she said on Twitter.

In the 11 rounds of the election as of Sunday, Bhandari had been receiving the support of nearly two-thirds of the members of the General Assembly but was trailing by three votes against Greenwood in the Security Council. According to reports, the voting in the General Assembly, which overwhelmingly favoured India, is reflective of the new global order, which is not pleasant to the world powers.

 

Further, according to reports, it was understood that both New Delhi and the Permanent Mission of India to the UN had been working overtime to convince the members of the Security Council on the need to go by the voice of the majority of the General Assembly. 

Ahead of India's victory, agency reports citing observers said that the permanent members of the UN Security Council were 'unnerved' by the prospect of India's nominee winning against Britain's candidate in the election to the last seat of the World Court as it would set a precedent that might challenge their power in the future. 

Before the UK withdrew from the race, the permanent members of the Security Council -- the US, Russia, France, and China -- appeared to have rallied behind Greenwood. Britain is the fifth permanent member of the Security Council. 

The prospect of India winning against a P5 member through democratic means was something that this elite club of veto-wielding countries – Britain, China, France, Russia, and the United States – was unnerved with, because this would set a precedent that they did not want to see repeated.  

"Today it is Britain, tomorrow it could be any one of us" is the argument which had brought all these five countries together, sources told PTI, adding, "If one (of the P5) is going to be knocked off today, the others fear that they might be knocked off tomorrow."  

After pulling out of the race, Britain congratulated Justice Dalveer Bhandari on being re-elected to the ICJ and said it would continue to cooperate closely with India at the UN and globally. 
"We are naturally disappointed, but it was a competitive field with six strong candidates," Rycroft said, adding, "If the UK could not win in this run-off, then we are pleased that it is a close friend like India that has done so instead. We will continue to cooperate closely with India, here in the United Nations and globally." Rycroft also said that the UK would continue to support the work of the ICJ "in line with our commitment to the importance of the rule of law in the UN system and in the international community more generally". 

According to a BBC diplomatic correspondent, the UK's withdrawal would be seen in certain quarters "as a shift in the balance of power at the UN away from the Security Council". Further, the correspondent said that the move would be seen as "a humiliating defeat for the UK". 

According to The Guardian, the fact that India could emerge as a "more significant trading partner" after the UK's exit from the European Union, or Brexit, could have contributed to the decision to withdraw. One of the consequences of India's victory, as The Guardian's headline put it, is: "No British judge on world court for first time in its 71-year history".

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bbc.com

How UK lost International Court of Justice place to India

James Landale

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-42063664

Image copyright AFP/Getty Image caption UN Security Council members cast their vote during a meeting on the election of five members of the International Court of Justice.

The International Court of Justice is the principal legal body of the United Nations. It is based in The Hague and its job is to settle disputes between states.

Lots of its work is highly technical and not exactly the stuff of the front pages. And let's be honest, many people would probably not have known that one of the 15 judges had always been British ever since the court was set up after the Second World War.

But the loss of a British presence around that supreme judicial bench is of huge significance - not just to the court but to the UK's standing in the world.

This is how it happened. Five of the 15 judges are elected every three years to ensure continuity. Britain's judge, Sir Christopher Greenwood, was hoping to win re-election for a second nine year term. He is a highly distinguished lawyer and former professor in international law at the LSE.

More from James:

But there was a hitch. Rather unexpectedly, Lebanon's former ambassador to the UN put his hat in the ring. So instead of there being five candidates for five places, now there were six.

And the former ambassador, having spent many years at the UN, had enough friends to win the election. He won one of the slots reserved for candidates from Asia. This meant the Indian candidate - Dalveer Bhandari - had to try his luck for a slot normally reserved for Europeans and in this case that meant challenging the UK.

In recent days, the four other candidates were elected. But while Sir Christopher won the support of the UN Security Council, the Indian judge was backed by the UN General Assembly. A successful candidate needs a majority of support in both bodies. And after repeated votes, there was deadlock.
UK has had ICJ judge since 1946

The Indian government was working hard, twisting arms, lobbying furiously, pulling in favours. The Indian newspapers were full of accusations that the British were using "dirty tricks" to try to win. Some commentators compared Britain's behaviour to its old commander in chief of British India, Robert Clive. Few anti-colonialist tropes were left unused.

In contrast, British ministers made some telephone calls. The British did consider invoking a little known provision in the UN Charter which allows for an arbitration process known as a "joint conference" to try to resolve such an impasse. Image copyright Reuters Image caption Matthew Rycroft, the UK's ambassador to the UN, said he was "pleased" that a "close friend like India" had won.

But in the end, the UK chose not to use this process, fearing either it would not get enough support in the UN Security Council, or that the competition would become too bitter and potentially disrupt the UK's economic relations with India.

Either way, it means that from early next year, when Sir Christopher stands down, the UK will not have a judge on the ICJ for the first time since 1946.

On one level, this reflects a shift in the balance of power at the UN away from the Security Council. Many members on the General Assembly resent the way the Security Council has so much power, particularly the five permanent members.

The so-called Group of 77 - which represents a coalition of mostly developing nations - has long been pushing for greater influence. The victory of India over the UK will be seen as a huge success for the G77 in pushing back against the traditional northern powers on the security council. 

Diplomatic set back?

Foreign Office sources pointed out that the UK's ousting from the ICJ is not without precedent. They pointed to France failing to get its candidate onto the International Law Commission last year and Russia's exit from the Human Rights Commission.

But it is also true to say that this represents a defeat for the UK itself. This is a failure of UK diplomacy. Downing Street refused to confirm that Theresa May herself got involved in lobbying for this job - they merely said representations have been made at the highest levels of government. But Boris Johnson and his Foreign Office ministers were certainly involved. And they failed. They failed to win enough support in the General Assembly.

Matthew Rycroft, the UK's highly rated ambassador to the UN, said the UK had folded because it did not want to take up more of the UN's valuable time, and he said he was "pleased" that a "close friend like India" had won. Perhaps more frankly, he admitted that the UK was "naturally disappointed".

However hard the government tries, this defeat at the UN will be seen as a significant diplomatic set back, a symbol of Britain's reduced status on the world stage. Britain tried to win an election - but the community of nations backed the other side, no longer fearing any retribution from the traditional powers, no longer listening to what Britain had to say.

Some will blame this on Brexit. That might be a little simplistic. Few countries are as obsessed with Brexit as the UK. It is simply not at the front of their minds. But what is clear is that many countries at the UN were willing to defy Britain and that would have been less likely a few years ago.

The government likes to talk of what it calls "global Britain", a vision of a buccaneering UK, independent of the EU, promoting its interests and values and trade around the world. The problem is that many believe that vision has not yet been backed up with any policy substance.

Instead, rightly or wrongly, many countries see the UK turning in on itself to sort out the complexity of Brexit. They see it as a retreat from the international stage - whatever the Brexiteers argue to the contrary - and these countries are filling the vacuum accordingly.

We saw a sign of this earlier in the year in June, when the UN general assembly voted against Britain to refer a dispute between the UK and Mauritius over some islands in the Indian Ocean, to the International Court of Justice.

In another age, Britain would perhaps have called in favours, flexed its P5 muscles, and taken the fight to India. But instead it withdrew, at best to take a short term hit probably to avoid a long term economic loss. At worst it simply gave up because it had no alternative and as a result, for the first time in 71 years, the UK will no longer be represented in the world's highest court.