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Lord Parashuram must have been an engineer: Goa CM Manohar Parrikar

The New Indian Express | By PTI  |   15th September 2017 | Opinion |

Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parikkar (File | PTI)

PANAJI: Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar today said that Lord Parashuram who is believed to have created Goa must have been an engineer who reclaimed the land from the sea. Parrikar was addressing the Engineers Day function in the city. “This is a day when India recognises the importance of engineering talent,” the chief minister said. Referring to the origin of Goa as per mythology, Parrikar said “it is said that Lord Parashuram created Goa. I believe that Parashuram must have been belonging to the clan of engineers who reclaimed the land from the sea.” “It was thousand years back that we knew about the instances like Hastinapur or Pandava Palace which showed the use of all kind of technology.  “Engineering is a very old art and skill that existed in India, which is recognised in the  modern era,” he said. – Courtesy

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We Don’t Want To Produce Graduates Who Are Not Employable: Dr Anil Sahasrabudhe, Chairman, AICTE

Lord Ram’s arrows were like missiles developed by ISRO now, says Gujarat chief minister

Hindustan Times | Aug 27, 2017 | Press Trust of India | Ahmedabad  | Opinion |

Invoking the Ramayana, Rupani praised Ram for his engineering skills by having a bridge, the mythological Ram Setu, constructed between India and Sri Lanka.

Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani said Hanuman carrying an entire mountain to bring a cure for Lakshman was a story of infrastructure development.

Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani on Sunday equated ISRO’s rockets with the arrows of Lord Ram, saying the Hindu deity had done in the past what the space agency was doing now. Invoking the Ramayana, Rupani also praised Ram for his “engineering skills” by having a bridge, the mythological ‘Ram Setu’, constructed between India and Sri Lanka, “with the help of the engineers of that era”. “Each arrow of Lord Ram was a missile. What ISRO is doing right now (launching rockets), Lord Ram used to launch in those days,” the chief minister said while addressing the first convocation ceremony of the Institute of Infrastructure Technology Research and Management(IITRAM), located in Maninagar area here, yesterday. Tapan Misra, director of the Indian Space Research Organisation’s Space Application Centre, was also present at the event. IITRAM is an autonomous university established by the Gujarat government.

Rupani said, “If we link infrastructure with Lord Ram, imagine what kind of engineers he had at that time to build that Ram Setu bridge between India and Sri Lanka. Even squirrels contributed in building that bridge. It was Lord Ram’s imagination which was realised by the engineers of that era.” The BJP leader went on to pick more examples from the mythological text to connect to the modern era. According to the chief minister, Hanuman carrying an entire mountain to bring a cure for Lakshman was a story of “infrastructure development”, while Ram eating berries tasted by Shabari was “social engineering”. “When Lord Hanuman could not pick up the right herb which can cure Lakshman, he brought the entire mountain. We wonder what kind of technology existed back then which facilitated the shifting of the mountain. This is also a story of infrastructure development,” he said. “Not just developing weapons and infrastructure, Lord Ram also did social engineering. He brought people from all castes and communities together. By eating berries offered by Shabri, he won trust of adivasis (tribals). Imagine bringing together Sugreev, Hanuman and the army of monkeys, it was social engineering by Lord Ram.” – Courtesy

Gadgets an integral part of learning in colleges

The Hindu | Tamil Nadu | August 24, 2017 | Karthik Madhavan | Opinion |

Institutions offer wi-fi connectivity across the campus

Image result for Gadgets in education

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At a management class in a city college, the faculty asks students to do a ‘pecha kucha’ presentation. The students respond, ‘What is it?’. The faculty replies, ‘Google’. In no time, the students searched online and as they lunged forward to answer, the faculty asked two among the students to move to the front to explain it to the rest of the class. In the next two minutes, the entire class got to know what the presentation was and in the next few minutes thereafter, the students had their own ideas. The college students would do a ‘pecha kucha’ presentation next week. This would not have been possible if the students had not used gadgets – mobile phones, tablet computing devices or laptops – in the class.The college is not alone in city in allowing students to use gadgets in classrooms, only for academic purpose though. It has become an integral part of the classroom usage, what with colleges offering wi-fi connectivity across the campus, says an academic. But this comes at a time when a study suggests that use of gadgets hinders learning and could lead to reduction in grades as well. The Brookings Institution, U.S., has said that a growing body of evidence suggested that when students used computers or tablets during lecture, they learnt less and earned worse grades.

This was based on evidences from a series of randomised trials in both college classrooms and controlled environments. Vice Principal, GRD College of Science and Commerce, K.K. Ramachandran says use of gadgets/ technology only enhances learning, provided the faculty knows how to leverage those. It brings in audio visual element in to the class, which does not necessarily happen in a chalk-talk environment. As for the reduction in attention span in students because of the use of gadgets, the contrary can also be argued in that in a lecture session, the students are physically present but mentally absent. The saying is that the average attention span is just seven minutes. He adds that there are also studies to suggest that chalk-talk sessions don’t help. An engineering college principal says that the college infrastructure is so designed and curriculum so framed that use of computers/tablet computing devices becomes inevitable. – Courtesy

Now, more government awards in God’s name

The Free Press Journal | | Opinion |

 

New Delhi: Hindu Gods are making a quiet entry into the awards and scholarships given by the government-run All-India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) that was set up for promotion of higher education in India. So far, the awards used to be instituted in the name of eminent scientists and engineers. First came Goddess Laxmi in the form of Pradhan Mantri Laxmi Programme introduced last fiscal to provide scholarships to students of poor and middle class families to pursue technical education. Now, the AICTE in a joint collaboration with India’s apex engineering body Engineering Council of India (ECI) is promoting “spirit of engineering and creation patronised by Lord Vishwakarma”, describing him as the ruling deity of construction practices in India. The two bodies are jointly conducting competition for AICTE-ECI Awards for outstanding students and teachers of degree and diploma-level technical education institutions as well as to promote innovations of individuals. Nominations are invited for these awards latest by August 25.

The AICTE has also instituted the Clean Campus Award 2017, though without affixing the name of any God. The last date set for this award is September 8. The award is to recognise institutions that are doing a good job in waste management of various kinds to spur others into action. The guidelines for the Vishwakarma Awards say there shall be three awards each in civil, electrical, mechanical, electronics, computer science an biotechnology streams and will be given to outstanding student engineers. Similarly there will be three awards each to the teachers in these streams.There are also three outstanding institution awards to be given on the basis of the maximum number of awards won by their students and teachers. – Courtesy

Mixed reaction to MHRD move on Ph.D. doctorate rule

The Hindu | R. Krishnamoorthy |  TIRUCHI, August 17, 2017 | Tamil Nadu | Opinion |

Ph.D. may become optional at UG level to gain promotions

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There is mixed opinion among the academic community here on the move by Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry to make changes in the Academic Performance Index (API) to make Ph.D. optional for college teachers at the undergraduate level to gain promotions, and to increase their involvement in community activities instead. One section emphasises that Ph.D. as an entry level requirement was a must to retain and improve quality of education, while another section strongly believes that the quality of Ph.D. has taken a beating due to the stipulation. “Deterioration of the standards of higher education must not be permitted. Relaxation of the Ph.D. requirement for college teachers would be a retrograde step,” K. Anbarasu, Director of National College, said.

The reasoning of the other section of the academic community is that a college teacher should be mainly engaged in teaching, and that the quality of research has been diluted due to the Ph.D. compulsion. This section of academics cite the acknowledgement made by the Central Government during 2015 in Parliament that no dedicated study for assessing the quality of Ph.D research in the country has been undertaken under the purview of University Grants Commission. The former HRD Minister, Smriti Irani, had gone on record with her statement that there was a mushroom growth of substandard Ph.D. degrees, as it was a necessity for recruitment at entry level and for promotions. Though the UGC had framed the Minimum Standard and Procedure for the awards of M.Phil/Ph.D. Degree, Regulation 2009, to bring about uniformity in the procedure of award of M.Phil / Ph.D. Degree with a view to maintaining standards of higher education, the MHRD had come across instances of universities hiring services of supervisors who were not regular teachers on its rolls or in affiliated post-graduate colleges, in violation of the regulation. Unlike in universities, teachers in colleges are required to spend more time in teaching. “The move to make Ph.D. optional was a step in right direction. In most of the developed countries, there are teaching colleges and universities with varied objectives essential for the overall improvement of higher educational quality,” M. Selvam, Professor and Head, Department of Commerce and Financial Studies, Bharathidasan University, said. – Courtesy

A Google Engineer Writes That Women May Be Genetically Unsuited For Tech Jobs

ND TV | World | Cleve R. Wootson Jr.| The Washington Post | August 07, 2017 |

The essay, reported by Motherboard and posted by Gizmodo, was posted on an internal Google forum by a male software engineer and titled “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber.”

  1. The engineer criticised the number of women working in Google
  2. Google is being investigated over allegations of gender pay inequality
  3. The engineer has faced harsh criticism and backlash

In a screed that rocketed around Silicon Valley this weekend, a software engineer at Google blasted the company’s efforts to increase the number of minorities and women in its ranks and leadership positions. The essay, reported by Motherboard and posted by Gizmodo, was posted on an internal Google forum by a male software engineer and titled “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber.” The author has not been publicly identified, but his words have sparked a backlash. Critics say his sentiments reflect a tech company culture that’s unwelcoming or even hostile to women and minorities. Another fear: The engineer’s words reflect the unspoken thoughts of many others in an industry dominated by white men. Google, which has announced efforts to increase diversity and is being investigated over allegations of gender pay inequality, did not respond to a message from The Washington Post seeking comment Sunday. The company did address the essay in an internal letter to employees.

The essay argues that Google should stop its campaigns to increase gender and racial diversity and focus instead on “ideological diversity.” It says the reason women don’t make up half of the company’s technological and leadership positions is because of “genetic differences” in their preferences and abilities. “These differences may explain why we don’t see equal representation of women in tech and leadership,” the engineer wrote. “We need to stop assuming that gender gaps imply sexism.” The author says the company’s diversity efforts have “created a politically correct monoculture that maintains its hold by shaming dissenters into silence” and makes it easier for “extremist and authoritarian policies” to take root. He says Google’s efforts to achieve more equal gender and race representation – special programs for HBCUs for example, or coding camps for girls – have led to “discriminatory practices,” specifically against conservatives. In the essay, the author says he has received support from others in the company for “bringing up these very important issues,” which others “would never have the courage to say or defend because of our shaming culture and the possibility of being fired.”

The essay comes as the Mountain View, California, company has been trying to increase the stubbornly unbudging percentage of women and minorities in its ranks and is being investigated by the Labor Department for a disparity in pay between men and women. Responding to the essay in a message to Google employees, Danielle Brown, the company’s new vice president of diversity, integrity and governance, said the essay “advanced incorrect assumptions about gender.” “Diversity and inclusion are a fundamental part of our values and the culture we continue to cultivate,” Brown said. “We are unequivocal in our belief that diversity and inclusion are critical to our success as a company, and we’ll continue to stand for that and be committed to it for the long haul.” As The Washington Post’s Jena McGregor wrote in March, just 1 percent of Google’s technology employees are black – a percentage that hasn’t moved since 2014. To become more diverse, McGregor wrote, “the company has expanded its recruiting to a broader range of schools, trains its workers on ‘implicit biases’ and re-examines resumes to make sure recruiters don’t overlook diverse talent.”

Slack engineer Erica Baker, whom CNBC called an “outspoken critic of systematic bias in the tech industry,” said the engineer’s diatribe was shocking but not surprising. “Google has seen hints of this in the past, with employees sharing blog posts about their racist beliefs and the occasional internal mailing list question, ‘innocently’ asking if Black people aren’t more likely to be violent,” she wrote on her blog Saturday. “The most important question we should be asking of leaders at Google and that they should be asking of themselves is this: Why is the environment at Google such that racists and sexists feel supported and safe in sharing these views in the company?” Yonatan Zunger, a former senior Google employee, also took issue with the software engineer’s post. He wrote on Medium that the essay shows a misunderstanding of the way Google tries to address the world’s problems: “Essentially, engineering is all about cooperation, collaboration, and empathy for both your colleagues and your customers. If someone told you that engineering was a field where you could get away with not dealing with people or feelings, then I’m very sorry to tell you that you have been lied to.”- Courtesy

Google Fires Employee Behind Anti-Diversity Memo : ND TV, | Reuters |  August 08, 2017 |

James Damore, the engineer who wrote the memo, confirmed his dismissal, saying in an email to Reuters on Monday that he had been fired for “perpetuating gender stereotypes” …Read More …

Sunder Pichai condemns anti-diversity memo, Google sacks engineer, The New Indian Express, Read More…

Women, high on qualification but confined to homes

The Hindu Business Line |  M SOMASEKHAR | Hyderabad, July 16 | Opinion |

Women in the country manage fantastic educational qualifications but end up being at home. This is a gloomy scenario which can change only when women take the initiative to overcome obstacles, look at the bigger picture and work to reach top positions, says Vanitha Datla, Vice Chairperson and Director of Elico Industries and former Chairperson, CII-Telangana. In her inaugural address at a 3-day Women in Engineering Conferencia-2017 here Vanitha quoted an IIT study (during 1990-2000) which found that less than 6 per cent of the women graduates are in work place, that’s pretty dismal and our country can’t afford losing out on such a huge workforce. The conference is being organised by the Sreenidhi Institute of Science and Technology and Women in Engineering. Referring to Japan, which had a high per centage of women at work, but still considered them to be fit only for soft roles. That cannot be our role model. We need our own role models, who reach high positions and work shoulder to shoulder with men, to to make our economy and country strong. Our GDP can take a stride only if women form part of our work force. From Gender parity perspective too India ranks 108th in the Gender parity index. Present generation women should not give up and be responsible for their careers, continue to strive to accomplish and reach positions from where they can formulate policies and take decisions which can empower women, she said.

Girls in Engineering

In India, 39 per cent of women engineers are unemployed and less than 8 per cent are entrepreneurs, according to study done by `Girls in Technology. In the global context, the study found that women in engineering is less than 22 per cent and only 8 per cent make it to the board rooms, said Sree Divya Vadlapudi, CEO of the organisation. She said some of the reasons for this were lack of resources, accessibility of opportunities and limitations to move to locations for work and growth, despite the fact that thousands of girls are graduating annually in engineering. Girls in Technology India with headquarters in Hyderabad (an organisation started in the US with branches abroad) is determined to encourage more women in STEM professions (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics ) through right guidance and mentorship support. P Narasimha Reddy, Executive Director of Sreenidhi Institute said the meetings will look at the role being played by women currently and what has to be done to empower. Sanjay Enishetty, founder 50k Ventures said in the start up arena only 20 per cent of the Tech start up were founded by women. Women in Engineering is one of the largest international professional organisation dedicated to promoting women engineering and scientists and inspiring girls around the world to take to the profession. – Courtesy

Cloud on UGC distance learning rules : UGC Open and Distance Learning Regulations, 2017

The Telegraph | June 29 , 2017 |  Basant Kumar Mohanty |  Cloud on distance learning rules | Opinion |

New Delhi, June 28: Distance learning courses offered by institutions across the country could be headed for the freezer over the next six months after new rules notified by the University Grants Commission came into effect last week. The UGC (Open and Distance Learning) Regulations, 2017 – notified on June 23 – asks every institution intending to offer courses in distance mode to apply to the higher education regulator for approval “at least six months before the commencement of the academic session of the programme intended to be offered”. The regulations have left the 160-odd universities in the country that offer distance education worried because the recognition they had obtained earlier from the UGC has no relevance for fresh enrolment of students. The latest guidelines say that every institution has to seek a fresh nod from the regulator even if the approval they had got under the earlier rules was still valid. Most of these institutes have started the admission process for the 2017-18 academic session beginning next month when, going by the new regulations, they should have applied before January at least for courses they were intending to offer.

“The notification has come at a time when all universities have started the admission process for the 2017-18 academic session starting in July. The admission process in SOL is going on. It has created a lot of confusion,” said J. Khuntia, a professor at the School of Open Leaning in Delhi University. Nearly 1.5 lakh students enrol in July every year for the undergraduate courses the school offers. No UGC official was available for comment. Till late this evening, UGC secretary Jaspal Sandhu had not responded to calls and a text message from this newspaper. There are around 150 conventional universities and 14 open universities that offer degree and diploma courses in various subjects in distance mode. Dozens of standalone institutions not affiliated to any university also offer distance learning in diploma courses. The medium, which helps students pursue their studies without having to be physically present in classrooms, caters to nearly 40 lakh of the 3.42 crore doing their higher studies in India. Another provision in the new regulations bars institutions other than open universities from offering programmes that are not among subjects taught in the conventional face-to-face mode. At present, many private institutions offer courses they don’t teach in regular classrooms. Professor Manikrao Salunkhe, vice-chancellor of the Pune-based Bharati Vidyapeeth, said the regulations had several good provisions to ensure quality control. For example, it wants institutions to disclose details of faculty, tuition fees and facilities on their website and in brochures. Salunkhe said there have been questions about the “standard of courses” offered in the distance mode. “The UGC has tried to standardise the courses.” The regulations have retained the restrictions on offering engineering courses, which, Salunkhe said, was a concern. “I was expecting that the regulations would enable institutions to offer various kinds of courses. But the restrictions are still there. It is a matter of concern,” he said.

The regulations bar institutions from offering courses through franchisees. There have been allegations of irregularities in granting of permission to such centres by several universities, including the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU). A member of the faculty at Yashwantrao Chavan Maharashtra Open University said the regulations should have disbanded study centres too. “The study centres and franchisee centres are the same thing. Only banning franchisee centres is not enough. They may come up as study centres,” he said. The regulations say 20 per cent of a course can be pursued online through the Massive Open Online Courses prepared by the UGC and the IITs in various subjects. Now the entire course is based on correspondence. According to the new regulations, standalone institutions will not be given fresh recognition. “The biggest sufferers are standalone institutions. The regulations have given them a deathblow. They can function only till the time their present permission is valid and not thereafter,” said Ravi Bhardwaj, a lawyer who specialises in education-related cases. – Courtesy

Distance learning rule ‘for 2018’   :   The Telegraph, July 1 , 2017, Special Correspondent

New Delhi, June 30: The University Grants Commission (UGC) has issued a clarification saying its new rules making it mandatory for distance learning courses to seek approval six months prior to commencement is applicable for the 2018 session. The Telegraph had reported on June 29 that distance learning courses could be headed for the freezer over the next six months because of the new rules that came into effect last week. The UGC (Open and Distance Learning) Regulations, 2017 – notified on June 23 – asks every institution intending to offer courses in distance mode to apply to the higher education regulator for approval “at least six months before the commencement of the academic session of the programme intended to be offered”. The regulations left the 160-odd universities in the country that offer distance education worried because the admission for the current session begins in July and according to the new rule, permission would have had to be sought in January.

However, in a public notice dated June 29, the UGC has now said: “Applications for recognising new higher  educational institutions and/or starting of new programmes are invited online shortly as per the UGC ODL Regulations, 2017, for the academic session beginning January 2018/July 2018.” The notice has been issued by Avichal Kapur, a joint secretary in the UGC. The rules that came into effect last week did not mention any date. The regulation notified in the government’s gazette, however, is yet to be amended. “How can a clarification of the UGC override its law notified in a government gazette? The UGC should have amended its own regulation. Otherwise, there will be a lot of legal complications,” said Ravi Bhardwaj, a lawyer. – Courtesy

Click here to download, UGC Circular : Published on 29/06/2017 :  University Grants Commission, UGC gazette notification , 72 Pages, pdf  (Open and Distance Learning) Regulations, 2017

Click here to download, UGC Circular : Published on 29/06/2017 :  Public Notice reg.: Open and Distance Learning Programmes, 1 Page, pdf

Prof CNR Rao asks IIT graduates to work for development of the country

The Economic Times |  By PTI |  Jun 23, 2017  |

GUWAHATI: Prof C N R Rao today exhorted the graduates of the Indian Institute of Technology here to be proud of the brand ‘IIT’ and use it for the development of the country. Delivering the 19th Convocation address of IIT-G as chief guest, the National Research Professor said, “IIT is the only brand that India created after Independence. Be proud of it and use it for the development of India”. “If IIT students decide to use this education in India, they will make a great future for this country”, said Rao who is also the Linus Pauling Research Professor and Honorary President of the Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research, Bengaluru. Asking the students to decide now what they want to do in life, he said, “decide what your mission is. With dedication, doggedness and tenacity success will be yours. Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela won Independence for their countries through these qualities”. Speaking about China making huge monetary investments in education and development of science and technology producing 23,000 PhDs annually and generating the same amount of research work, he said, “China and South Korea are coming up with quality students so that they can compete with the best and become number one as the future depends on science and technology”.

He said “this is the role of IITs and other institutes to make India number one. That is the effort you have to make. There will be a lot of challenges, don’t ever think you cannot succeed. You have to succeed. it depends on you.” Stating that if government has healthy policies and society gives more support then India will succeed, he said that in the pre-Independence era when there was no IIT or government support for research, India produced eminent scientists like J C Bose, Noble Laureate C V Raman and mathematical genius Srinivasa Ramanujan because of their passion for research. Speaking about himself, Prof Rao said, “I am 84 years old and have been researching for the last 68 years. I am doing research to do what I can for this great country till my last breath”. He also exhorted the IIT graduates to always remain humble as “greatness and simplicity go together. Have your feet on the ground. Make India on top of the world”. Altogether 1,308 students – including 583 B-Tech and 36 B-Des, 20 MA, 119 MSc, 363 M-Tech and 27 MDes, and 155 PhDs – received their degrees at the Convocation. Prof Rao also gave away the President of India gold medal to the Institute toppers among the B-Tech and B-Des programme students and Dr Shankar Dayal Sharma gold medal to the student adjudged best in general proficiency. Presenting his report on the activities and achievements of the Institute during 2016-17, IIT-G Director Prof Gautam Biswas said as per the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF), India Ranking 2017, the Institute was placed in the 8th rank among all the participating universities and institutions and 7th among the top engineering institutions in the country. – Courtesy