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Saturday, July 29, 2006

Dilip named India coach

Chief coach of Goa Baseball Association Dilip Naik, the physical education teacher of Vivekanand Vidhyalaya, Bori, has been selected chief coach of the Indian baseball team, which will participate in the U-13 Asian Cup Baseball Championship, to be held at Tokyo, in Japan from August 21 to 23.

The team will undergo intensive 22-day camp in New Delhi for the team from July 29 under the watchful eyes of Dilip.
Dilip has a gook experience of training the Indian team, after having earlier served as the chief coach at Chinese Taipei in 2003 and also being chief coach of Goa for a decade now.

Deadline on Romi ends

The ultimatum served by the Tiatrist Academy to the government to amend the Goa Official Language Act granting equal status to Konkani in Roman script on par with Devanagri, ended today with no development on the front.
On July 24, Tiatrist Academy along with Dalgado Konkani Academy in the presence of two cabinet ministers Deputy Chief Minister Dr Wilfred de Souza and Mickky Pacheco and South Goa MP Churchill Alemao, had given a deadline of July 28 to pass an amendment bill or to face the consequences.
Friday being a private member’s day, there were indications that some MLA would move an amendment Bill to accord equal status for Roman script. But this didn’t happen.
July 31 is the last day of the on-going monsoon session of the Goa Assembly. It is not clear whether the government would introduce any amendment Bill on Monday.
Romi Konkani stalwart Tomazinho Cardozo expressed disappointment that the government has failed to give justice to Konkani in Roman script and warned that they would intensify the agitation. It would be repeat of the mega Kokani agitation of 1986, he said.
While the Roman script group says that it is high time, justice is done to Konkani in Roman script, the Devnagri Konkani group feels that amending the Act would divide the Goan society into Hindus and Catholics.

Munster's Pai named Kelley Scholar at Indiana University

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Shobha Pai of Munster, Ind., has been named a Kelley Scholar at Indiana University Bloomington, where she will be a freshman this fall. She is a graduate of Munster High School.

The Kelley Scholarship honors the best undergraduate students entering IU to study business. Kelley Scholars receive tuition and fees, a stipend for living expenses, and other funding that may cover internships and overseas study. The award is for four years and has an annual value of about $15,000.

The Kelley Scholars Program is funded by a $23 million gift from E.W. Kelley and his family made to IU in the fall of 1997. The university named its School of Business for the Kelley family in acknowledgement of the gift.

Pai is the daughter of Bipin and Vrinda Pai of Tamarack Place. At Munster High School, she was president of the speech and debate team, secretary of the student council, a member of the National Honor Society, the vocal ensembles at Hoosier Girls' State and the varsity tennis team. She was a national qualifer in the 2005 We the People State Championships and volunteered at a local hospice.

The Kelley Scholars were selected from a group of students who had been accepted to IU and were invited to apply for the Kelley Scholars program because of their outstanding records. The application included references, a high school transcript, several personal statements on a variety of topics and an essay.

Finalists were then invited to the IU Bloomington campus for a weekend of extensive interviews with faculty members. Each candidate submitted a writing sample, toured the campus and was a guest at a dinner. The winners were selected on the basis of their performances that weekend.

Monday, July 24, 2006

This vehicle runs on alcohol

Drunken driving is prohibited but what if the vehicle itself runs on alcohol!!!

That is exactly what the final year mechanical engineering students Sudeep R J Gonsalves, Ryan E B Heri, Sunil Shenoy K, Vikram P S and Sushanth Rao K of Nitte Mahalinga Adyanthaya Memorial Institute of Technology (NMAMIT) have done. They have devised a wonder vehicle which uses Ethyl Alcohol (Ethanol) as fuel.

The different alternate fuels in use are methyl alcohol, ethyl alcohol, Butanol, LPG, compressed natural gas (CNG) and hydrogen. Among these fuels the team chose Ethyl Alcohol as it requires least modifications in the engine. They experimented it on a 2-stroke Luna.

Since the calorific value of ethyl alcohol is less than that of petrol the jet size of the carburetor has to be increased by 1.2 times than that use for petrol.

The advantages are that since the Octane rating of ethanol is much higher than that of petrol knocking of engine is drastically reduced, resulting in high power output. Emission of carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, nitrogen and sulphur which are the major pollutants are found to be less than 0.01 with Ethanol.

Ethanol containing 5 to 15 per cent water can be conveniently used to run an engine but ethanol mixed with petrol demands 100 per cent pure ethanol.

Poor kids learn science and business by 'doing it'.

Mira and Srinath Kalbag have delivered non-formal education to rural youngsters for 20 years.

You have dropped off the Pune - Ahmednagar highway near Shikrapur, and are approaching the village of Pabal. You ask for Vigyan Ashram run by Dr.Kalbag. They point to an attractive hillock. You are seduced by what you see. It is indeed a stark beauty promising of pure air and wild fragrances. But as you drive up, steel yourself: its a hard place, with little water or shade. A place that will make a younger man beat a quick retreat. Yet this is where 74 year old Srinath Kalbag has spent the last twenty years. Here, he has lived and worked to inspire kids that the conventional educational system dismisses. He has been leading them to science, skills, hope and enterprise. And his wife, Mira Kalbag has striven alongside him.

A tinkering family:

Srinath grew up in what was in the 1920's the wilds beyond the city of Bombay. "My father Seshagiri Narayan Kalbag had moved from Karnataka in search of a job. He had not even passed the matriculation. He managed to get into Killick Nixon as a clerk and in 1926, the only place he could afford to live was Ville Parle!," muses Srinath Kalbag.

Kalbag Sr. built a small house and had to provide water, sewage and power services himself. That made him and his two sons, inventive tinkerers. "My childhood memories are of being surrounded by tools and being part of home-improvement projects," says Srinath. Later, when he was rising in the corporate ladder, his annual holidays were devoted to stripping down and rebuilding cars!

By the time Srinath was a boy, the family fortunes had brightened: father owned the successful Popular Pharmacy on Lamington Road. Across the road was Popular Bookshop, with a number of do-it-yourself magazines from overseas. Srinath and his brother set up a laboratory at home to work on the projects they read. That their father was also the distributor for Bengal Chemicals helped getting the reagents easily.

"That's when I realised how odd our education system was. I easily scored high marks and yet was not required to do anything with my hands nor was I taught anything that my home-lab was teaching me. There I was, 'a bright student' who loved his class-work less and his home-experiments more," he says. His interest in 'hands-on' education began then.

A resolve at 27:

Expectedly Srinath Kalbag went on to achieve academic excellence. After B.Tech and M.Tech in Bombay he went to the University of Illinois for his doctorate in Food Chemistry. By then readings from Swami Vivekananda had begun a slow fire of passion within him: give something back to India.

Soon after marriage to Mira, he began his career at Hindusthan Lever, but the couple resolved that their 'material' life running a household was to be for a precise 27 years. Srinath was 27 then. They were when he was 54, to follow the classical Indian prescription of 'vanaprastharam' and begin to offer teaching and mentoring services.

His career at Lever's was after his own heart. He developed technologies, built special purpose machines and evaluated ideas. He rose to head the Engineering Sciences division. So, when on turning 54 he met Chairman Thomas and told him of his plan to retire early, the latter was aghast! A job at Lever's is juicy and most are sad to retire in full-time and here was a profitable asset wanting to quit early. Srinath was asked to reconsider, ponder shifting to other divisions or start something of his own within Lever's. Finally, reluctantly they let him go in 1983. Srinath and Mira were ready to keep their date with their commitment.

"It'd have been pointless to settle down in an affluent part of the countryside. I wanted to live somewhere where simple technical skills can solve long-standing problems and enthuse youngsters to learn them and gain from providing them as services," says Srinath.

He looked at many villages but drought prone Pabal in Pune District, with rain-fed agriculture and practically no cash income activities fitted the bill. He began to work on two fronts. He had been impressed by the mission of J P and Chitra Naik to universalise primary education in Maharashtra. Kalbag worked under them to redraw the public school system's syllabus to include hands-on education. 23 schools have now formally adopted his syllabus.

Simultaneously, Srinath Kalbag was struck by how school drop-outs were in fact clever kids. "The abiding myth is that kids stay off schools to help parents. The truth is they are leaving in droves because 'education' there is boring!" says Kalbag. "Teach them things to do and explain the potential of the idea as a career or a business, they won't leave you alone until you taught them all. They work long and hard at that sort of learning."

Thus was born Vigyan Ashram, a place where drop-outs live with their tinkerer Guru. They earn money as they help him with his projects. They also learn a basket of skills to take away after an year at the Ashram. The entire 5 acre campus of the Ashram was built by students working under master masons and other tradesmen. They learn from them and earn a wage. This 'earning' part is important as it motivates them and they begin to look at the world around them as a place full of opportunities. By contrast, most school children in India sit on a belt that moves with its sagging load of bored, hopefuls.

Learning by doing:

"Working with hands stimulates the mind," says Kalbag. "Look at all the structures in the campus, the labs, the dorm, the kitchen and others. They are admittedly slap-dash and amateurish. That is because they are results of students exploring usable technologies: ferro-cement, geodesic domes, welded window and door frames etc. They did the wiring, the plumbing and the painting. They earned the money that would have gone to contractors."

Kalbag and the Ashramites take an expensive product of great use in the countryside and reverse-engineer it. For example, a portable ground water locator kit costs Rs.25,000. This detects water resources by measuring earth resistance. Both the price and technology was beyond most kids. So Kalbag bought one, stripped it and remade a similar one for Rs.5000. The Ashram also teaches how easy it is to use. Many students buy one to take away at the end of their course and earn upto Rs.100,000 per year offering water location services. So far 52 pieces have been sold.

Or check this one out: a jeep is usually on top of the shopping list of most activity groups. Vigyan Ashram on the other hand, built its own using cast off jeep parts. It's a four wheel drive and cost Rs.60,000 and still runs errands for the campus. Students learn to maintain it and enhance it. Over the years it has evolved into a well proven product, christened MechBull. Vigyan Ashram sells detailed drawings to anyone wanting to make them. Farmers in Pune district haven't missed the price-value proposition of MechBull. Shantaram Shindade an ex-Ashramite has set up a work-shop in nearby Kanersar and has so far built 10 of these on order.

There are more success stories. Kasam Inamdar learnt to make geodesic domes here and has set up a business supplying them from Ladakh to Kanyakumari. Sindhu Borhade had dropped out of school after the 5th standard. After she got married, she came along with her husband to learn poultry keeping: today their business has a revenue of Rs.110,000 per month. Many students have learnt to assemble PCs on order. "They know where to buy all the components, assemble them, format the hard drive and install the operating system. Many of them may not have gone past the 8th standard in schools," says Kalbag. The youngest looking fellow in the photograph [bottom right of the four] is Sadhu Wagire, all of four and a half foot high. "He is a natural entrepreneur. He claims to be seventeen but I suspect he is far younger. He spent some time in the food processing section and got going. With my permission he has set up a soft drinks distribution business right here. He is a whole-seller. Every morning kids arrive at our gates to collect his branded drink, packed in pouches and off they go to sell them in the countryside. He takes cash. He says he's working on a new product: three spoon-fuls of ice cream in a micro-cup for Rs.2 ," marvels Kalbag.

Students also spend time in the class room, learning maths, communication, business, costing, management etc. They all learn to use computers to express themselves. Each student is expected to submit a presentation: it can be verbal or visual or both.

Old man on the peak:

Ashram life is frugal. Everyone eats the simple meals together, the Kalbags included. Water is scarce and comes in a trickle from the taps. Power is erratic. But life can be beautiful. Kalbag has written elsewhere: "The air is so much purer than that of Pune or Bombay. You get fragrances of neem flowers hundred meters away. The fragrance of the citrus trees in bloom is also striking. Somebody smoking several meters away can be felt. Such pure air, the pleasant night, the beautiful night sky and nice scenery, all around, particularly after the first few showers, the beautiful sunsets and the full moon are all pleasures that few people can enjoy in an urban area."

But it's a harsh, hot day today. Srinath Kalbag is on to the next project: a wireless information network for the district. Yes, Vigyan Ashram will be an Internet ISP with value added services! He puts on his cap and steps out to inspect the transmission tower being erected. "Mark my words: villagers will take to the Internet with aplomb and pay for the services if you can prove it helps their lives," he declares.

Later, when he has drunk in another glorious sunset and shared a simple meal with the staff and his wards, he will retire with his wife Mira --as he has done these twenty years-- to the 240 square feet self built, box cabin. To rise again tomorrow to fill knowledge and hope in the hearts of young Indians.


...You can suggest the year long course at Vigyan Ashram to the confused parents of kids who refuse to go school. It presently costs Rs.4000 per annum but students earn a minimum of Rs.1200 [ - and often more than that ] for the work they do there. Fee includes boarding and lodging but hostel accommodation is limited to 10 at the moment. There is no selection process as Dr.Kalbag believes everyone is 'teachable'. Having dropped-out would however be an added qualification!


...Typical of the man! Dr.Srinath Kalbag has comprehensively documented his experiences at Pabal and set out his thoughts on education for India's development. You can click here to read them.


...Dr. Srinath Kalbag received the Jamnalal Bajaj Award in 1996 for services to the rural community.


Getting there: Pabal is 54kM from Pune. Go up to Shikrapur on the highway to Ahmednagar and turn left into the countryside. Pabal is 18kM away.


Dr. Srinath and Mira Kalbag

Vigyan Ashram

Pabal-412 403

Pune District, Maharashtra

Phones: 020-5424580; 02138-52326 [mobile]

Contact in Pune: Yogesh Kulkarni: 98231- 25247


Jamuna Pai's tips on great grooming

There is no better way to learn about beauty and grooming than from a beauty herself Dr. Jamuna Pai. As a medical student at Nair Hospital - Mumbai, Jamuna Pai has been herself crowned the beauty queen. With this passion for beauty and glamour she trained in cosmetology from one of the best schools in Cheshire, England. Trained with leading dermatologists in India and abroad she holds diplomas with credit from The British Independent Examination Board, The Royal Society of Health and The International Academy of Acupuncture. She is also a qualified electrologist and has diplomas in advanced facial treatments, laser therapy for aesthetic treatment amongst other treatments. She also holds a diploma in the administration of Botox and Filler Injection techniques, for treatment of deep facial folds and wrinkles.
Dr. Jamuna Pai set up her first cosmetic clinic Blush which is today India's leading cosmetic clinic offering modern skin and beauty care, carried out in total confidentiality and under strict medical supervision. To meet the increasing demand she has expanded into four skin enhancing clinics in Mumbai.

That’s not all, Dr. Pai is also a columnist with Femina, India's leading woman's magazine. She has written widely on topics of skin care and beauty and is a panelist in the exclusive group that grooms the winners of Femina Miss India for international pageants, like the Miss Universe and Miss World contests. Creating Beauty solutions combined with a sound medical knowledge has helped her business to flourish and also helped her clients acquire the best solutions for their skin.

8 and more tips for grooming by Dr.Jamuna Pai

Skin Care Tip
A combination of good health, balanced diet, and exercise.

Beauty Tip
Healthy lifestyle, cleansing and sunblock.

Make-up Tip
The lesser the make-up, the better for your skin. Minimalistic is the mantra. Use very minimal and basic make-up such as khol or kajal, or simply a bit of gloss.

Tip for Healthy Eyes
Food rich in Vitamin A such as, milk and milk products, carrots, spinach, nuts, green leafy vegetables and eggs.

Hair tip
Exercising results in fresh blood circulating in your blood and that is why your skin looks pink and flushed after exercising. So exercising is also good for your hair. Wash your hair regularly. Use a mild medicated shampoo once a week. A high protein diet and hygiene is necessary for your hair.

One tip for face (fresh look)
The simplest solution is to sleep enough. If you sleep well and then go for a part then you will look the best. Make a pack of cucumber, almonds and oats, apply on the face and let it stay for 10-15 minutes. This pack helps to exfoliate the dead skin. Cucumber tightens the pores of the skin whereas oats helps to exfoliate the skin.

Fitness tip
Combination of cardio, meditation and yoga. Cardio may include walking, swimming sa these increase the rate of the heart beat.

Bridal Tip
‘Happiness’, if you are happy then it shows on your face (everywhere). It is also necessary to bring down stress levels as this as most brides are very tensed.

Health tip
Checking your health regularly so that in case there is any problem then you can nip it in the bud.

Tip for healthy nails
Maintain a high protein diet.

Tip for great skin
The fact is that you can not choose your genes. Use a sun block and moisturizer in the day. Use a deep cleansing moisturizer at night.

Natural beauty tip
Eats lots of carrots as it is good for everything.

Ganesh chief of Corlim Ganeshotsav

Ganesh Shenoy was unanimously elected as the president of Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Mandal, Housing Board, Corlim for the year 2006-07 at it’s general body meeting held recently. Transport Minister Pandurang Madkaikar was also present for the meeting.

The other office bearers include Nitin Nikam vice president , Nilesh Shirodkar general secretary, Avdoot Chodankar treasurer and members Chandrakant Popkar, Benjamin D’Souza, Rama Morazkar, Raju D’Sa, Atmaram Naik, Sameer Jadhav, Pradeep Naik, Sameel Volvoikar, Sambhaji Zambotkar, Chandrakant Sawant, Mr K R Sidharthan, Ramesh Kalangutkar, Amir Sheikh, Mohan Parab, Bhikaji Gawas, Dinesh Kalangutkar, Kishore Parvatkar, Santosh Mayekar, Sakharam Nikam, Shankar Mankame and Anjali Chodankar.

Leave language Act alone: Catholic activists

A day after pro-Roman script activists put up the demand of equal status for Konkani in Roman script, the “Goan Catholics for Devnagiri” and Konkani Ekvott called on the AICC observer Margaret Alva on Saturday and asked the Congress not to touch or alter the Official Language Act.

The Goan Catholics for Devnagiri delegation was led by its convenor Fr Jaime Couto, teacher of Konkani at Saligao Seminary, Fr Mousinho de Ataide, Professor of Canon Law at Rachol Seminary and Judicial Vicar of the Archdiocese of Goa and Daman, Fr Moreno De Souza, Editor of Rotti, Fr Lino Florindo, Professor and Dean of Theology, Pilar Seminary, Serafino Cota, convenor of Konkani Ekvott, Social worker Xavierito da Costa and Romeo Teles, member Goa Hitrakhan Manch.
Fr Ataide told Herald that the AICC observer gave a patient hearing to the delegation and gave clear indications that the Official Language Act would be left untouched.
In their memorandum to Alva, the Goan Catholics for Devnagiri said only Konkani in Devnagiri can bring the Catholics and Hindus together in Goa and help the Goan Catholics in their emotional integration into the main national stream. “Goan Catholics are still under the spell of the Portuguese and hesitant to be part and parcel of the culture of the great country,” the memo said.
Outlining various reasons for Konkani in Devnagiri script and how Goan society was divided into two major water-tight compartments till Liberation, with Hindus opting for Marathi and Catholics remaining with Konkani, the GCD said that Konkani was being taught in schools, colleges and in the University in Devnagiri script since long and it was but natural to adopt Konkani in Devnagiri as the official language of Goa.
Konkani Ekvott admitted that the Catholic society in Goa has a tradition of writing Konkani in Roman script and that the use of Roman script should continue without any impediment or hindrance as long as its users want. However, it felt that it is neither necessary nor proper to amend the Official Language Act, 1987 to specify two scripts for Konkani, saying it is neither in the interest of Konkani nor in the interest of the Goan community in general and the Catholic community in particular.
Demanding that the Official Language Act, 1987 be not amended in any manner, either for Marathi or for Roman script, Konkani Ekvott convenor Serafino Cota, however, said the government should ensure that all those using Roman script are given all facilities, opportunities, advantages and encouragement.

Kamath Group to invest Rs 130cr in Nagpur

Mumbai-based Kamat Group is planning to increase its investment exposure in Nagpur from Rs 30 crore to Rs 130 crore.

The group, known for its chain of ecotel properties under the brand name of Orchid, will be starting three projects here - a catering college, a three-star hotel and a convention centre.

According to Virendra Khare, whose architecture firm has bagged the contract for the catering college and the three-star hotel, land for the projects has already been acquired. While the catering college is to come up close to the centre of the city at Chhatrapati Square, the hotel and convention centre will be close to the airport on Wardha Road.

Kamat's catering college will also have a "trial hotel" and two museums. One will be on the theme of 'enviroscope' -- displaying products made out of waste -- while the other will feature regular antiques.

The convention centre will be the most ambitious project of the Vithalrao Kamat promoted group, and cover an area of 50 acres. It is in this project that the group plans to invest Rs 100 crore. The project is expected to come up about 6.5 kms ahead of the airport on Wardha Road. The convention centre is being planned on the lines of a centre that the group already has in South Africa. Apart from the normal facilities of a usual convention centre, it will also feature eco-friendly five-star facilities.

Free medical camp at Mapusa

Vrundavan Hospital and Research Centre, Karasawada-Mapusa will be organising a free osteoporosis detection and management camp on July 25 from 8.30 am onwards.
Osteoporosis is characterized by the slow depletion of calcium from the bones leading to weakening and brittle bones which easily tend to fracture. Similar to diabetes and hypertension osteoporosis is a slow and silent killer.

The symptoms are subtle and vague like generalized bodyache for instance which tend to be easily mistaken for fatigue.
The camp will be conducted under the guidance and advice of eminent orthopedic surgeons Dr Mahendra Kudchadkar and Dr Shodan Kamat.
For details and registration contact Vrundavan Hospital and Research Centre on phone 2250022/33.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Indian-Americans Advance Prostheses At Stanford

Stanford University reported today that two Indian-American researchers -- Krishna Shenoy and Gopal Santhanam --at the School of Engineering have developed a faster way to process signals from the brain for use in guiding prosthetic devices for the paralyzed.

The new approach, outlined in a paper to be published in the July 13 issue of Nature, quadrupled the speed of previous systems, making the prostheses for the first time fast enough to be practical for patients.

"This work really gives a boost to the efforts to produce a workable brain-controlled prosthetic for people with paralysis," said Susan P. Howley, director of research for the Christopher Reeve Foundation, which provided funding for the research.

The prosthesis that senior author Krishna Shenoy, PhD, assistant professor of electrical engineering and of neuroscience, and his team are working on is called a brain-computer interface. The idea is to attach electrodes to a person's head to record brain waves and send them to a computer, which uses an algorithm to translate the signals into commands to control the prosthesis.

Although it sounds like it's straight out of science fiction, experiments in the 1960s showed that, in principle, it can be done; there are, however, two significant hurdles to developing a workable brain-computer interface for a prosthesis.

The first is simply making sense of the signals generated by neurons, the brain cells that create thoughts within the brain and transmit them down the spinal cord and out to the peripheral nerves by means of electrical impulses. The second challenge, where Shenoy's team members applied their new approach, is interpreting those signals with enough speed and accuracy to make the interface practical to use for a patient.

The standard approach to processing neural impulses has been to collect and translate them every step of the way as the subject thinks about moving the prosthesis from point A to point B. That's a valid approach, said Shenoy, if the user is doing things requiring continuous movement, such as drawing a line.

But all that collecting and processing slows down the prosthesis, and, for many tasks, such as typing on a keyboard or turning off a light switch, it's not about the journey, it's the destination that counts. In other words, if you want to get from New York City to Los Angeles, it makes sense to skip the scenic drive via Bugtussle, Ky.; you'll reach your destination a lot faster if you just fly direct.

Shenoy and his colleagues set out to shorten the process by focusing on the end point rather than processing every step along the way. They hoped to accurately forecast an intended target based on the signals the neurons sent out when the subject only thinks about moving an arm to that target.

The researchers worked with rhesus macaque monkeys in their experimental work. The monkeys were connected to the interface by a tiny silicon chip, less than one-tenth the area of a penny, holding 100 electrodes. The electrodes were implanted in the pre-motor cortex, which is on the surface of the front part of the brain and is one of the areas responsible for guiding a person's or a monkey's arm. The monkeys were trained to face a computer screen, with one finger touching a central starting point and their eyes focused on another starting point nearby. When a target spot lit up elsewhere on the screen, the monkey knew that he was supposed to touch the target spot -- but only when another on-screen signal told him to. Until the "go" signal was given, the monkey waited.

This waiting period was the critical phase in collecting the data for analysis. The brain waves the monkeys generated during this hiatus, when they were only thinking about moving their arms to the target spot, simulated the neural signals a paralyzed person would generate while thinking about moving a prosthetic arm or cursor to a particular spot, yet not physically doing so.

The challenge was achieving the right balance. On the one hand, the scientists wanted the computer system to use as brief a neural signal as possible, recorded while the monkey was anticipating touching the target. On the other hand, they wanted to ensure that the system had enough information to predict the correct location of that target. In other words, the researchers wanted to find the "sweet spot," the point where the system would process the brain waves in the best balance of time and accuracy for a prosthesis.

As Shenoy and his colleagues saw hints of a sweet spot in their data, they deliberately ran tests at that speed. And ultimately they arrived at a result that was far superior to what others had previously achieved. "You can quantify that sweet spot in terms of the rate at which the system is extracting data from the brain just the way you measure the data-transmission rates of computer modems," explained Gopal Santhanam, PhD, who did his graduate work in electrical engineering in Shenoy's laboratory and is one of two first authors of the Nature paper.

An accompanying paper in the same issue of Nature reports on the work by another research group, at Brown University, which has been working with human patients with spinal cord injuries to show that even years after an injury, they still have the needed neurons to control a prosthesis. Shenoy said that, in combination, the work of the two groups makes the prospects "quite bright" for developing functional prostheses that patients could control with their thoughts.

Shenoy said the study proves it's possible to process neural signals fast enough to be useful to a paralyzed patient, adding that data-transmission rates can be used to approximate the number of words per minute the prosthesis would allow a user to type. Previous methods topped out at a few words per minute, but the end-point approach of his group peaked at 15 words per minute. That might not be speedy enough to land their brain-computer interface a job in the steno pool, but it's fast enough that a person could probably use it to communicate with the rest of the world without undue frustration. And though one might say that is the real end point of all their efforts, Shenoy thinks they can do better. "We really are viewing this as a starting point," he said.

Other authors of the paper are electrical engineering graduate students Byron Yu and Afsheen Afshar, who is also a medical student.

Srikrishna Milks bags Indian Dairy Development award

Srikrishna Milks Private Limited, of Kirwatti, near here, the first-ever private sector dairy of Karnataka, has bagged the prestigious Indian Dairy Development award of 2006.

The performance of the company was recently assessed by the Indian Economic Development and Research Association (IEDRA) of New Delhi

Hanumant M Pai, managing director of the company, received the award from M V Rajashekharan, Union Minister of Planning, at a function held in New Delhi on July 10. Established in 1989, well before the advent of the era of liberalisation, at Kirwatti in Yellapur taluk near here, the company registered an impressive growth with its capacity of procuring, processing and distributing of milk reaching the high of 50,000 litres a day.

The whole of north Karnataka and a part of Goa comprise the company’s present area of operation. Dr Bhismanarayansingh, former governor, G V G Krishnmurthy, former Chief Election Commissioner of India and the ambassador of Bhutan were present at the award presentation ceremony.

Yakshagana legend Gopalakrishna Bhat passes away

Prominent Yakshagana artiste Gopalakrishna Bhat(88) passed away on Tuesday around 2.30 pm at a private hospital in Kasaragod.

Gopalakrishna Bhat, who had been popularly known as 'Sheni', was instrumental in analysing characters from the Puranas and presenting them in a new perspective. Hence, Bhat was also known as the 'Kulapati of yakshagana'.

Gopalakrishna Bhat was a real legend as he could attract people towards Yakshagana through the use of thought provoking dialogues.

You cannot say caution is ill-advised

Who could have thought it was possible to build up a retail portfolio of nearly Rs 100,000 crore in five years? Probably not even Kundapur Vaman Kamath. To Kamath goes the credit for not just spotting the retail opportunity but also cashing in on it.

The 58-year old managing director and CEO of ICICI Bank says all is well with the corporate sector though consumer demand may slow down

Do you think growth could slow down?

As of today, we’re not seeing any indication of a change in mood or in mind. As long as corporate India has positive cash flows, there should not be a problem. But, clearly there was a signal from the authorities, of a real estate asset bubble that we need to temper.

I would think that the rate increase, that a bank like ours has clearly passed on to the customer, will put some sort of a break on consumer demand. Now, what would that be? Consumer demand was growing at around 40 per cent compounded.

I don’t think it is going to stay flat, but, it is going to be somewhere between the two. By any standard, a 20-25 per cent growth will be healthy and the signalling impact will cool down prices, which will then be a win-win situation. But, clearly a rate increase will have an impact on the sort of growth —40-50 per cent—that we saw.

Will that have an impact on corporate India and demand?

There could be some pressure on corporate India, if retail demand slows down. Besides, commodity inflation and other input cost increases, in this context, could put some sort of a squeeze on corporate profits.

But, I guess it’s a bit early, let’s see how it goes. I would think the final check on this is really the cash flow pattern. If cash flows turn negative, demand from corporates for debt will shoot up. That will then mean further increase in interest rates. It’s then that we will need caution.

Currently, there is no pressure from interest rates on companies, we have not seen any slowdown in capex, no drop at all, though we would carefully continue to watch whether positive cash flows are becoming negative. So, we are now wearing extra thick lenses.

Has the bank passed on the rate hikes to all sectors? How are they coping?

We have passed on the rate hike to everyone but since companies have reduced debt, it is no longer a significant part of the equation and so far, even SMEs appear to be coping well.

Two things I am so far not hearing, which I would hear repeatedly in the past—one high interest rates and the other a strong rupee. The rupee being too strong, I have not heard in a long, long, long, time possibly because it is now factored into the base case of corporates.

As for interest rates, as yet I have not heard any complaints. But, I can see that the retail customer will probably be the first one to blink if interest rates keep going up, I don’t want to speculate—but another per cent or per cent and a half—and the retail consumer will come under pressure. If he finds his EMI is disturbed, he’s going to re-define his basket.

Which means, two things. One is, he will recast his consumption basket and second, his aspirational basket will also get hurt. So, he will maintain his current payments and cut out something. And that’s where the slowdown, if at all, will happen.

The consumption basket clearly will impact the branded guys, but the unbranded guys will not be impacted because there will be a migration effect. So, I think this is what we will have to watch for, in the next two quarters.

How do you read the macro environment?

I would keenly watch the signals from the monetary policy. Considering that a part of the oil price has been passed on, oil is nudging $75, global interest rates have hardened and inflationary pressure seems to have hardened, frankly, you cannot say that caution is ill-advised.

What is striking is the increase in interest rates, in a very short period of time. Everyone of us has to learn to live with this sort of change, because it has been done with a purpose.

But, a lot of liquidity with banks now, is from corporate cash balances that have been built up over the last two-three years. There are no readily implementable projects, for them to get drawn down immediately, it will be a long process. And if profitability remains strong you will have more free cash.

Do you think the India story is still a good one?

The India story has to be looked at on several fronts. To me a major front is how does the world look at India?

My own fear is that the world is looking at us with more expectation than we can deliver, particularly on infrastructure. This has to be done by the government and the implementors, in a private-public partnership mode.

So, that’s why, sometimes you are a little bit worried, whether their expectations of what is happening are too high. But, I take comfort from the fact that when you meet corporates and when you see what they are doing, you see a new corporate India, that is driving growth.

Today the mantra is efficiency, quality, productivity and global competitiveness, which were alien words just ten years back. The external perception has not changed, we have to live up to it.

What do you make of the markets?

As long as the fundamentals haven’t really changed, I would not be worried. The right thing to do is watch this quarter’s numbers, maybe one more quarter to see what is the cumulative impact of several things: commodity prices, interest rates, demand. The sum total should be seen in this quarter’s results.

As far as the market is concerned, if it trades at a reasonable PE—and I saw someone say that if the market is trading at 15 times earnings, it should be in a stable condition—I think that is not to be quarrelled with.

The key here is the earnings and earnings growth. Again, a number put to us, 15 per cent, I would not quarrel with that at all. As of last quarter, the corporate sector was growing at upwards of 15 per cent, so I think, it merited a higher PE. Activity is still robust so let’s wait for the results.

Do you see enough entrepreneurs emerging in the country?

It’s very difficult today for an entrepreneur to start a greenfield project, compared to the eighties. Earlier, he could basically leverage himself completely and access the market on day one.

Today, projects have to be set up by someone who starts up with venture capital or expands an existing business. It’s tempting to say that growth is happening just at the larger end.

But, just to put this in context, the activity taking place in the SME sector is something phenomenal. We run a contest for SMEs—across nine verticals: last year we had 6,000 applicants, this year we had 36,000. What this tells me is that we have here a set of companies saying "I’m going to stand up, I think I need to be counted."

To me, that confidence itself is something remarkable and clearly when you look at those companies which make the cut, it makes you proud that you have such companies in your midst. And these are all small companies. I think we are seeing a new breed of entrepreneurs.

Will so many SMEs survive?

We need an ecosystem for corporate India to survive and compete. I’m happy that there are 36,000 SMEs.

As corporate India grows, it has to relate in an even deeper way with SMEs whether it’s to bring down costs, improve quality or better time to market.

One of the criticisms that has been made about India, particularly in the electronics space is that India does not have an ecosystem, but ecosystems develop very quickly. I’m happy about the SEZs coming up. What we’re not realising is that the SEZs will create an ecosystem and play a critical role.

In which areas does ICICI Bank see growth for itself?

After five, six years of hardly any growth in the corporate sector, including infrastructure, we find growth there this year, both through the domestic book and international acquisitions. We see rural India as another growth driver.

The bread and a little part of the butter will come from consumer lending, even on the high base. But after four years of consumer credit growth, this year onwards, there will be a change in the mix, with corporate and rural credit growing faster.

Is deposit growth slowing down?

Not really, at 16-17 per cent, we are doubling the base every five years. But what’s happened is that the systemic mix has now swung in favour of 60-65 per cent for corporate deposits.

It is critical for banks to model what sort of shocks could arise if corporate deposits suddenly turn negative. Corporate deposits are not necessarily more expensive, unless you take the branch overhead as a sunk cost. If you add branch costs to retail deposits, they will be as expensive.

So, you see GDP growing at a healthy clip?

I have gone on record to say that growth is really at ten per cent. I will not change that. Our assessment of growth is higher than depicted. So, if the current growth is 7.5 -8 per cent, it is actually 10 per cent. There is a two per cent error somewhere in our GDP numbers.

Are there still high-growth, high-margin industries?

The short answer is, there are. That’s because we are looking at an India, which has this enormous potential. We have robust economic growth. Credible corporates are making big plans.

The SEZs are the first moves to set up facilities that will compete with China, the SEZs are pitching at a market space which is today occupied by China.

What impresses me is the footprint in these SEZs, people are talking of investments between Rs 20,000-Rs 50,000 crore. Never before has that happened in our history. True, they have to be realised, but earlier such plans were never even articulated.

Rift over Konkani puts Goa Congress in a spot

A group of disgruntled leaders could dampen the political climate for Goa Chief Minister Pratapsingh Rane in the ongoing session of the state Assembly, with moves afoot to revive the controversy over the Konkani script.

Konkani in the Devanagari script was recognised as Goa state’s official language in 1987.

Nineteen years since, a spectrum of politically interested lobbies want official recognition for Romi Konkani (Konkani written in the Roman script) as well, and are seeking an amendment bill in this session. The debate has already split the Congress vertically.

The party’s think tank, Vichar Vibhag, led by veteran Konkani writer Uday Bhembre made clear it would stand for no change to the Official Language Act.

Two scripts

No other state recognises two scripts for an official language, says Mr Bhembre.

Backed by the South Goa Congress Member of Parliament Churchill Alemao and Town and Country Planning Minister Atanasio Monserrate, supporters of Romi Konkani are confident they can force the government’s hand on the issue.

“If the government fails us in this, the Congress party will have to face the consequences in the next election,” the Congress MP warned.

Konkani in the Roman script is still used by a large segment of the Catholic population in prayer services.

In a pre-election year, a renewed confrontation over Goa’s official language could bog down Mr Rane’s government and jeopardise his party’s prospects. Waiting in the wings are supporters of Marathi wanting equal status for that language too. The BJP knows this and has come out openly to back the Romi Konkani demand.

This is ridiculous

- S Kamat
Where else but in Goa will you get a Govt. constituted committee to go into the reasons for closure of Marathi medium schools. Where the Official Language is Konkani no one is interested in knowing the reasons why Konkani medium schools are loosing enrolment or involved in promoting the lot of these schools. But then for us Marathi medium schools are more important! The same importance for Marathi is not even given to the language in its home State of Maharasthra where the focus is to teach English from the preparatory school stage. Thus it is not understood why we hold Marathi on our head and dance with it.
To develop the independent spirit of Goans and to be less considered as the country cousins or bumpkins of the Maharasthrians we have to develop our own language which is the first barometer of any culture. It is not that we should set aside our knowledge of Marathi and its contribution in our lives in Goa but then give a higher priority to Konkani and adapt more and more of our customs and practices in our mother tongue.
This will give us the pride in our language and in turn for Goa. The same goes for the Konkani medium of instruction schools which use the Devanagari script for teaching. The same script is used up to the post-graduate levels at the university. This should continue as it has in the past since the fact of the matter is that in Goan families the elders know Marathi or Roman Konkani script but the younger generation is well versed with the Devanagari script.
This is the way to go to bring the glory of Konkani back in her original script and that is with Devanagari.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

A silent but steady collapse and exit in Indian outsourcing sector

By Harish Baliga

India is too costly, difficult to deal with, politically incorrect and just unproductive for the money.

According to media reports, Western companies are leaving India every day quietly as Indian outsourcing sectors prove unproductive. The other reason is the stagflation Western economies facing.

UK-based telecommunications company Belair Communications has shut down operations of its call centre located here employing nearly 100 people in a mysterious manner, prompting the workers'' Union to move the labour commissioner.

Without notice, all 93 employees of Belair Communications India Private Limited, a BPO provider (captive call centre) and subsidiary of Belair Communications UK Limited, were told last month to stop coming to office.

The London-based company has also been accused of not paying salaries and incentives to the employees from may.

The Union for ITES (Information Technology & Enabled Services) Professionals (Unites) has lodged a complaint with the labour commissioner here, seeking their intervention in conducting an enquiry and to initiate appropriate action against the firm under the Industrial Dispute Act 1947.

A dash of coastal flavour

Unlike its more famous namesake, the “Kamat” Group of restaurant, which serves only vegetarian food, this restaurant run by brothers Rohidas and Prakash Kamat...

Kamat’s Palate Korner has explored and succeeded in every aspect of restaurant business - it runs a restaurant opposite Kanteerava Indoor Stadium on Raja Ram Mohan Roy Road serving Indian, Chinese, tandoor cuisine; it provides takeaway and home delivery service and also does catering.

Unlike its more famous namesake, the “Kamat” Group of restaurant, which serves only vegetarian food, this restaurant run by brothers Rohidas and Prakash Kamat has specialised in a wide variety of non-vegetarian dishes besides vegetarian cuisine.

Prakash, a pharmacist by profession was working in the Gulf and returned during the Gulf war and joined his brother Rohidas, who was already in the business.

The restaurant has been located at the present premises for over 10 years now. It was shifted in 1995 from Wilson Garden where the brothers ran it for four years. As the brothers hail from the coastal region of North Kanara, the restaurant is best known for its coastal dishes like chilly prawns, golden fried prawns, prawns Manchurian, fish fry and chilly fish. “Rahul Gandhi liked our golden fried prawns very much, when he came to Haliyal in Uttara Kannada to attend a function organised by former minister R V Deshpande for which we did the catering”, says Prakash.Their catering services have taken them to places far and near.

The have catered to clubs like Kadur Club, Mudigere Club and Chikamagalur Club in Chikamagalur district and Manjrabad Club, Sakleshpur in Hassan district. Their catering has taken them as far as Chennai where they carried all the cooking and catering material.

Live Kabab counter and live dosa counter is a speciality of their catering. Another of their speciality is baby kulchas.

“We found that in a plate the roti or kulchas occupies a lot of space. So we thought of the baby kulcha, which is served on the plate by waiters moving around”, explains Prakash.

They have been giving home delivery to individuals within 3 kms radius and there is no minimum amount of order. Various types of rolls such as chicken, mushroom and paneer rolls are popular among people who are on the move.

Kamat’s Palate Korner is located at opposite Kanteerava Stadium, Rajaram Mohan Roy Road. Phone: 22274040/ 98440-22740.

More scripts for Konkani will harm the language

By Uday Bhembre

The Vichar Vibhag of the Goa pradesh Congress committee conveyed its view on Official language Act to all the members of the Congress legislative party as follows:

“We are given to understand that a private member’s bill is likely to be introduced in the forthcoming session of the legislative assembly. It is also learnt that the object of the bill is to introduce Roman script in addition to Devanagari script for Konkani in the Official Language Act.

“The members of the Vichar Vibhag deliberated on this subject and they felt that their view on this subject be communicated to you so as to enable you to avoid complications in the use of Konkani as official language.

The considered view of Vichar Vibhag is as follows:

“Nobody has ever said or even suggested that the use of Roman script for Konkani should be banned or stopped. The use of Roman script continues and it should continue without any impediment as long as people desire to use that script or they feel the need to use it.

“The two cultural institutions of the government, Kala Academy and Goa Konkani Akademi, have already revised their policies and programmes so that there are no obstacles in the use of Roman script or any impediments for writers and artistes who use Roman script.

“Writers in Roman script should be encouraged and they should get facilities on par with the others. This is being done and for that no change in the Official Language Act is required. The Official Language Act is applicable only to official work of the government. It has no bearing upon what people do in the social and cultural spheres of life.

In these circumstances it will not be wise to amend the Official Language Act. The reasons are:

1) Almost every state in our country has its Official Language Act. But there is no Official Language Act in which two or more scripts are prescribed for any language.

2) Unfortunately, in Goa, scripts are related to religious communities. Therefore, scripts isolate one community from the other in respect of literature, journalism etc. This is not conducive to communal harmony and unity.

3) Roman script for Konkani is used by a section of the Catholic community, which is a minority in the state. The script should not isolate it from others as such isolation is not in the interest of any minority community, especially when fundamentalists in the majority community are active.

4) Education in Konkani in Goa began in 1963. In 1990, the Diocesan Society of Education took a wise decision to introduce Konkani as a medium of instruction in their schools. All education in Konkani — from primary schools to the university — is in Devanagari script. Boys and girls from the Catholic community who have had this education are today working as teachers, journalists etc. Those who are studying in high schools today will be 40-45 years of age in 30 years’ time. Writers in Konkani, teachers, journalists, artistes will emerge from them. They will be fully equipped with Devanagari and will not need an additional script.

5) Multiplicity of scripts has created problems for the development of Konkani and for its standardisation. Therefore, in 1939, All-India Konkani Parishad, apex institution of Konkani-speaking people from Goa, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Kerala, appealed to the Konkani-speaking community to gradually adopt one script — Devanagari — to bring about better communication and propagation of literature. That process is on. Therefore, perpetuating more scripts for future will be harmful for Konkani.

6) The Official Language Act is enacted with the future requirements in mind. No amendment of this Act is required to give facilities for Roman script in the fields of literature, art and culture today. We should not impair our future by changing the law.

As you are aware, the Official Language Act has not been touched at all for amendment so far. Protagonists of Marathi are now and then demanding official status for Marathi. If the Act is amended now for Roman script, it will be easy for others now or in the future to amend it for inclusion of Marathi. For this reason it is best to leave it untouched.

The Vichar Vibhag requests you to ponder over these points seriously and to avoid any amendment of the Official Language Act so as to avoid complications for Konkani as official language.

I hope the full text of the communication will throw sufficient light on the distortions and falsehoods attempted by destructive elements with ulterior motives.

As regards Prince Jacob, I forgive him for various reasons. Firstly, because he is ignorant about the working of a political party in democracy. He is not aware that Vichar Vibhag members have as much right to express their views to the legislators of the party as Prince Jacob has.

Secondly, because he was too young when we toiled day and night under the banner of Konkani Porjecho Avaz (KPA) to prevail upon the then government to enact the Official Language Act making Konkani the official language. Prince Jacob is ignorant about the genesis and the significance of that movement.

Thirdly, Prince Jacob is ignorant about the purpose of an official language act and its limits. He is misled by elements who are desperately trying to divide the Goan community on the basis of religion and caste. As regard the allegation that I was involved in drafting the bill or I was its ‘architect’ as DKA (Dalgado Konkani Academi) puts it, it springs out of ignorance and malice. I was a member of the executive of KPA which was not at all involved in the drafting of the bill. We were in the opposite camp. As regards me, I was an Independent member of the House sitting in the opposition. I was not part of the then government or of the ruling party. Mr Luizinho Faleiro (he too was in the opposition) and I read the contents of the bill only when it was presented to the House. We opposed the reference to Marathi and walked out in protest. Neither I nor any other member of the KPA deserves the dubious credit for drafting the bill.

Prince Jacob, his Teatr Academy and DKA are entitled to their views. It will be proper for them to express their views without making false, baseless and wild allegations against others. The allegations against me, which I believe are expressions of communal and casteist minds, need no answers. I leave those allegations and those who make them 19 years after the Official Language Act was enacted to the judgement of the people of Goa. (The writer is the chairman of Congress’ Vichar Vibhag)

ICICI may lend $200m to Kingfisher Airlines

ICICI Bank is said to be in advanced talks to lend about $150-200m to Kingfisher Airlines for its fleet expansion programme in yet another indication that the KV Kamath-run bank enjoys taking risks and betting on fledgling businesses with great potential, but little to show in the way of initial performance.

People familiar with the development said the talks between ICICI and UB are at an advanced stage. “We talk to several banks at a time. ICICI is our regular bank and certainly we talk to them also,” a top UB official said.

The loan comes after Kingfisher’s deal with Goldman Sachs for a $150m equity infusion fell through following the crash in the stock markets and the growing problems in the aviation sector.

Though passenger traffic has jumped and companies continue to expand fleets, yields have fallen amidst rising costs and stagnant or falling air fares. Kingfisher has also dropped plans to rope in other private equity investor.

The loan from ICICI would give the airline a breathing space for at least two years and enable it to fund its fleet programme. T

he move once again shows that ICICI Bank is willing to buck industry trend and back risky ventures. It was Mr Kamath, who in the late 1970s, sanctioned a loan to Dhirubhai Ambani for Reliance Industries’ polyester ventures when other banks were unwilling to do so.

More recently, ICICI Bank loaned Rs 1,250 crore to UB group in June last year for funding its acquisition of Shaw Wallace, when it was not very clear if Mr Mallya would win the bid.

Kingfisher, which took off in May ’05 with a single aircraft flying the Mumbai-Bangalore route, now has 12 aircraft covering all metros in the country.

Within this short period it has become a major competitor for the No 1 airlines Jet Airways. Kingfisher was also a serious contender, at least in the initial stages, for Air Sahara when it was put on the block.

There’s life beyond the bigger cities...

With large cities reaching a saturation point in terms of infrastructure, cost of living & availability of talent pool, smaller towns in the country are becoming popular among IT-ITES firms, for setting up facilities, a NASSCOM report finds.

Mr M D Pai, the COO and MD of Infosys and the man behind the company’s move to fresh pastures across India, believes there will be a major heightening of interest in Tier II and III cities of the country. “Jaipur, Kolkata, Mangalore, Bhubaneshwar, Visakhapatnam and Pune will be the IT-ITES destinations of the future,” he says. In his opinion, it is the availability of relevantly-skilled, IT-ITES industry ready manpower and robust infrastructure that are making these destinations just right for the sector.

Gujarat is a good example of a State that is making a significant effort to project itself as an IT destination. IT software leader, TCS has already established a presence in Gujarat and has signed an agreement with the Government for the development of an integrated workflow and document management system (IWDMS).

After Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat will be the second state in the country to develop a software system for the effective functioning of its Secretariat. TCS, meanwhile, is also looking at gearing up as a software research and development centre in Gujarat. The other Tier II city which has come up exceedingly well over the last few years is Pune.

The city has emerged on the IT-ITES map owing to the fact that it has evolved into a campus area, with scores of advanced learning schools based within its domain. From engineering colleges to management schools, Pune has them all and therefore a large pool of IT-ITES oriented manpower as well!

In the last one year, North-East Pune has witnessed a major change, with townships such as Kharadi coming up on the Pune-Ahmednagar highway.

With a large number of commercial projects and luxurious residential complexes being built in this area and IT-ITES companies showing interest, land prices too have shown a rise. The area, in fact, already has two IT parks, with state-of-the-art facilities. Many industrial units, including IT-ITES organisations, have already set up shop and more are likely to follow.

Mysore too, is making its presence felt as an IT-ITES hub. Infosys is setting up a new 9,000-seat training centre in Mysore this year, within its existing 330-acre campus. The company has already established a 4,500 seat training facility in Mysore, the largest yet in the world. With its new centre, Infosys will be able to train around 13,500 people at any one

Infosys normally conducts a 14-week training programme for its recruits. With three sessions a year, the organisation is looking at imparting training to over 40,000 employees annually. The company is also setting up a 7,750 room facility for accommodating its trainees on the campus.

Visakhapatnam is another name that comes to mind when one talks about regions beyond the Tier I horizon. The township is gaining the reputation of being IT-savvy and an emerging alterative to cities such as Hyderabad, especially for IT projects. An exclusive IT zone is currently being planned on the outskirts of Visakhapatnam by the State Government, on an area covering over 300 acres.

The zone will have world-class infrastructure as several big players are expected to set up shop here.

This zone is expected to attract investments worth Rs 200-300 crore in the next few years. Fast-track approvals will be given to entrepreneurs with two years of experience and a workforce numbering around 200 in their units.

Goa, the city of beaches and coastal cuisine is yet another emerging name on India’s IT-ITES roster. Goa does not have a very large talent base, but the expectation is that there will be a migration to this city from the metros on account of its pleasant climate, beaches and international environment.

The challenges

While life has certainly picked up for the IT-ITES sector in the non-metro environments, the fact is these cities and townships are also facing their own set of challenges that they need to combat before really making it to the spotlight.

While at one level, there is less competition in these realms, it is also true, that often, talent availability is not quite up to the mark.

The city of Jaipur, according to analysts, simply cannot sustain or support more than one or two large BPO players and a few IT services firms.

Jaipur does not have a very large talent base and as the cities around Jaipur are also small, there is little chance of manpower migration. “Infrastructure and transportation also remains a challenge for these second-rung cities,” comments Mr Pai. “Issues such as the availability of flights are always a concern,” he adds.

The belief today is that a Tier II or III city can only become an IT-ITES hub if the trend towards small city dwellers migrating to bigger towns or metros is reversed. A city’s business potential also lies in how the new IT-ITES entrants can successfully develop the local market and make migration to the larger cities unattractive.

Today’s IT-ITES companies are closely studying emerging destinations, to check their suitability for IT services’ investments.

At the end of the day, it’s quite clear that Tier II and III cities are indeed carving a place on the “preferred choice” listings of Indian IT-ITES organisations.

Just how soon they would they grow into IT hubs is dependent on industry players that are making a bid for these cities and on state governments which have to continue playing a catalytic role in making these locales IT-viable.

Middle class should reset its mindset

By Suraj Kamath

I’ve lived in Mumbai all my life except for the past year. It was strange when I heard about the blasts. What struck me was that I wasn’t surprised. We seem to be a city that gets pounded all the time. I wasn’t surprised again when I heard that things are getting back to normal. I felt the grim pride that every Mumbaiite feels, the knowledge that we simply cannot be broken.

But I know that the people who have lost their loved ones in this attack are only feeling shock and devastation. I have no words to offer them, because words are useless in such situations. Action would be so much more worthwhile, but we don’t know who did this, and I’m not sure if we ever will know completely. All I can say is that we must prevent this from happening again.

I’ve lived in Singapore this past year, and what strikes me is the efficiency and safety of this place. The intelligence is amazing, even given the understanding that its easier to police a small island rather than a huge country with a ridiculously large population and a shockingly corrupt system. Singapore makes you realize what can be done when a responsible, visionary government holds the reins of power sufficiently long to make a difference.

The only idea I can think of is for the middle class to vote. We have to shake off our apathy, our aspirational, blinkered lifestyle and take an interest in public affairs. It is not a matter of changing the system right away. It’s simply about having a voice, about making the politicians understand that we matter. If we can do that, we can push for better laws, better intelligence and greater transparency. Right now we’re ignored, and what’s worse, excluded. And it’s our own fault.

I support the idea that NRIs should be given the right to vote. We love our country and our homes as much as you do, no matter how much you ridicule us and think that we’re divorced from the ground realities. We want to see India progress as much as these countries that we live in and we understand that political stability is the key to peace and prosperity. Give us the right to vote, and we will take the responsibility. But without the resident Indian middle class taking up the burden of choosing an empowered, responsible government, I think Mumbai and India haven’t seen the last of such attacks.


Minister for Higher Education D H Shankaramurthy speaking after inaugurating the psychological counselling centre at Kuvempu University in Shimoga district on Saturday. Vice Chancellor of Kuvempu University Prof B S Sherigara, Manasa Foundation director Dr Ashok Pai, deputy director Rajani Pai and director of Adult and Continuing Education Prof Sadananda are seen.

Banks should nurture more SHGs

The banks should encourage and nurture more and more self-help groups (SHG), particularly that of the women and poor, and they should be credit-linked, Bank of Maharashtra's (BoM) Chairman and Managing Director, Mr M D Mallaya said here.

He said that the Bank of Maharashtra would bolster the SHGs by opening more branches in rural areas and also sensitise its personnel on extending maximum help to this category of customers.

Mr Mallaya was speaking as chief guest at a function organised by NABARD to give away its state-level best performance awards under the SHG Bank Linkage Programme for 2005-06.

"The banks should not be hesitant in helping the SHGs formed by the poor. The poor are the potential customers of the banks and their needs are also not much. Besides they are bankable and good borrowers," Mr Mallaya said, expressing the hope that Mahara shtra would improve its position to fourth place among other states with regard to the formation of SHGs.

The SHG Bank Linkage Programme, launched in 1992 as an experiment in providing hassle-free institutional credit to rural poor, has achieved phenomenal success over the last 14 years, NABARD claimed.

According to NABARD, in Maharashtra during 2005-06 it (the programme) reached a new height with credit linkage of 60,324 new SHGs, a growth of 85 per cent over the previous year.

Goan engineer a casualty in Mumbai blasts

Every year, Ranjan Rohidas Naik (42) would normally join his family back home in his village of Assolna to celebrate the Ganesh Chathurti festival.
His family, however, would miss his presence this ensuing Chathurti as Tuesday’s serial train bomb blasts in the metropolis took away the life of this young Goan engineer employed with a telecommunications company.
Ranjan — working as a deputy manager in a telecommunication company at Churchgate — was proceeding home to Virar as usual, when the train he was travelling was ripped apart when it reached Mahim, killing him and many others.
Ranjan is survived by his wife and a son. His family members, including brother Sachitanand, rushed to Mumbai a day ago on hearing the shocking news, but could not bring the badly mutiliated body home for last rites.
A pall of gloom descended in the Naik family and in the neighbourhood with the tragic death of Ranjan Naik. Family sources said that Ranjan did not turn up home at Virar on Tuesday evening after the serial blasts, and the family’s worst fears came true after his body was identified among the dead on Wednesday evening.
Sachitanand, who returned back home this evening, informed that the last rites were performed in Mumbai itself.