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Journal jugglery – Traps for the unmindful researcher

The Telegraph | Samantak Das |  Wednesday , June 14 , 2017 | Opinion |

In the 17 years, from 1922 to 1939, that it was published, The Criterion was possibly the best-known, and probably the best, literary journal in the English language. Founded by the poet/ critic/ dramatist/ cultural commentator/ general fount of wisdom/ soon-to-be Nobel laureate (in 1948), Thomas Stearns – better known as TS – Eliot, The Criterion trod a very conscious, deliberately-defined international path. The first issue of October 1922 included Hermann Hesse, who contributed “German Poetry of To-Day”, an essay on James Joyce’s Ulysses by the Frenchman, Valery Larbaud, a translation of Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s “Plan of a Novel” (one of the translators was Virginia Woolf), not to forget Eliot’s own modernist masterpiece, The Waste Land, among others. Should you wish to look up something in Criterion and google “criterion journal”, be prepared to be surprised. For, in first place, among some 50 million search results, will be a journal that rejoices that it “is refereed (sic) e-journal and is designed to publish theoretical articles and book reviews on interdisciplinary cross-currents in the humanities and social sciences”, while elsewhere it claims to be “designed to publish theoretical and research articles on English Literature and Language, Humanities and Social Sciences”. Its linguistically idiosyncratic web pages will not merely entertain but educate and alert readers to a brave new phenomenon in the proliferating groves of Indian academe, to wit the API-inflating, APC/F-charging, QGM-inspired “scholarly” e-journal, where API stands for academic performance indicators, APC/F for article processing charges or fees and QGM is Quick Gun Murugan. Such journals promise to publish, in double-quick time (hence QGM), articles by college and university teachers who need to improve their API scores (now mandatory for moving up the academic ladder) for a small APC/F. This particular journal, for example, takes 15 to 25 days to accept, or reject, a submission and promises to publish a piece in two months flat. And just in case you were wondering, the APC/F for an article is a most reasonable Rs 1,500, and the journal helpfully indicates that a contributor will get 25 API points since it is an “International, Refreed ( sic), Indexed and Peer-reviewed Journal”, one, moreover, that is on the now all-important University Grants Commission Journal List.

A word about this List might be in order. The “UGC Approved List of Journals” [ http://ugc.ac.in/journallist/] contains the names of all the journals where Indian academics must publish in order to score API points. The List became a necessity when it came to the notice of the powers-that-be who regulate higher education in our country that, almost immediately after the API system of awarding points for publishing was introduced, academics began publishing in journals that no one had heard of, let alone seen. Soon these journals began to actively solicit contributions and/or invite academics to serve on their editorial boards or reviewers’ panels or whatever. Your humble scribe is still regularly inundated with emails that say, “… reviews papers within one week of submission and publishes accepted articles on the internet immediately upon receiving the final versions. Our fast reviewing process is our strength.” As also “… aims at to (sic) publish unpublished, original research articles and make available a new platform to the scholars of Language, Literature and Culture. It deserves to promote (sic) the young researchers and attempts to cultivate the research aptitude among teachers in the higher educational (sic) system.” The ellipses above stand for journals whose names shall not sully the pages of a respectable publication such as this. Perhaps the most bizarre part is that the second journal quoted from above is not only “a Peer-reviewed (refereed) International Journal in ( sic) English Language and Literature” (according to its publicity pamphlet) but also on the UGC Journal List. So, clearly, in spite of all its efforts, the UGC has not been able to locate and eliminate such distinctly dodgy entities from its list.

Lest one think this is a phenomenon peculiar to India, one needs only to look at Beall’s List of Predatory Journals and Publishers [ http: //beallslist.weebly.com/], the magnificent labour of love of Jeffrey Beall, the American librarian and scholar who first identified and named such journals and created the criteria-set that is still used to judge a journal’s credentials. Sadly, Beall had to take down his own blog which had this list, probably as a result of treading on the toes of influential publishers of such journals, but his list is still available at the URL given earlier. More importantly perhaps, Beall alerted the larger scholarly world to the existence of this shadowy world of dubious academic publishing (usually online, most often open-access), where adherence to the letter of the law is usually directly proportional to the absence of academic substance. All this seems to have created something of a catch-22 situation for Indian academia and academics. On the one hand, teachers have to publish, in journals which are on the UGC List, in order to get recognition, credit, scores, promotions, prestige and so on, and the need for such a list is patently obvious in an academic publishing ecosystem teeming with frauds and predators. And, yet, on the other hand, one knows that the most cunning and persistent of such exploiters, fakes and frauds will not only find their way around all attempts at quality control but also gloat about their success on their websites. Perhaps the only thing to do in this situation is hope and pray that the UGC will periodically review and revise its List to weed out the undesirables and increase the ranks of the deserving. Only then may we expect an improvement in the quality of research published by our colleagues. But maybe the UGC ought to begin right away by doing some essential housekeeping. Here’s an example. The department where I work brings out one of the oldest journals in the subject, published regularly for six decades now. In the UGC List, rather peculiarly, the Jadavpur Journal of Comparative Literature appears twice, the first time (with UGC-assigned Journal No. 41264) “English” as the journal’s primary subject and the second time (UGC Journal No. 41570) with “English; Linguistics and Language” as its subject. As T.S. Eliot put it, “After such knowledge, what forgiveness?” – The author is professor of Comparative Literature, Jadavpur University, and has been working as a volunteer for a rural development NGO for the last 30 yearsCourtesy

Kerala skill development platform to benefit 40,000 engineering students

The Hindu Business Line | Thiruvananthapuram, June 16 | Vinson Kurian |

Creating database

The sill development platform seeks to create a database of two lakh specially skilled engineering hands in the State over a period of two years, he told BusinessLine. The scheme is sought to be implemented on ground by linking engineering colleges with the IT parks at Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi, and elsewhere in the State. At least one crore sq ft of space would be added to Technopark-Thiruvananthapuram and Infopark-Kochi and and other parks creating the incremental two lakh job opportunities. High-tech classrooms will be set up in the engineering colleges. ‘Live’ classes will be conducted here by linking up them with the IT parks using Kerala State Wide Area Network (K-SWAN).

Professional expertise

The State Government proposes to draw on the experience of professionals available in-house for the programme. The databank of students, who pass out of the programme, thus would in future be made available to recruiters. These students would be given certificates to prove their credentials. As of now, an estimated 20 per cent of the students get selected through campus recruitments. The skill development platform is expected to raise this percentage significantly, the spokesman said. The main sponsor of the programme is Kerala State IT Infrastructure Ltd. Also involved are the Kerala State IT Mission, APJ Abdul Kalam Technological University, and the ICT Academy, the spokesman added. – Courtesy

1.5 million jobs in rural India within one year through “Earn While Learn” programme : AICTE chairman

The Times of India | Manash Pratim Gohain | TNN | Jun 15, 2017 |  1.5 million jobs in rural India within one year: AICTE chairman |

NEW DELHI: The All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) and   launched “Earn While Learn” to educate and develop the skillset of over 1.5 million youth pan-India across industries, and provide them assured livelihood on Thursday.  The initiative will be implemented in collaboration with industries and business owners, said Anil D Sahasrabudhe, chairman, AICTE. The plan is to create 1.5 million jobs in 550 districts of India within one year.  The initiative has been launched jointly by AICTE under MHRD, National Career Service under ministry of labour and employment and AITMC, a non-government organization.

The announcement was made a “Global Summit 2017” where Sahasrabudhe said: “Earn While Learn supports the skill India mission and will be creating 1.5 million jobs in 550 districts of India within a year. Our vision is to develop local markets and address the requirements of rural India by educating youth residing in these districts and enabling them in developing and distributing products within their region. The initiative will uplift the standard of living in rural India by addressing critical challenges and livelihood issues.” The programme outlines the need to introduce new and innovative skills amount the youth increasing our economic growth and competitiveness. Avnish Ranga, general manager, AITMC said: “We will be training rural youth in macro technology to develop products that suit their region, thereby creating job opportunities for them. EWL will collaborate with industry leaders in creating these assembly facilities. These products will be assembled by young students and sold in the rural market, providing enhanced business opportunity for the industry, practical learning to the students, therefore, addressing challenges of the rural India such as fresh drinking water, transportation, electricity etc.”  EWL has formed strategic partnerships with corporates and will be launching the initiative in 50 districts in June 2017 and 75 districts in July 2017. The first phase will be launched in collaboration with various higher educational institutional across the country. – Courtesy  / Click here to Visit     All India Technical and Management Council (AITMC)

11 female engineering students win ‘Women of Mettle’ Scholarship Programme

Avenue Mail | Jamshedpur |

11 female engineering students win ‘Women of Mettle’ Scholarship Programme

11 female engineering students win ‘Women of Mettle’ Scholarship Programme

Jamshedpur, June 13 : Tata Steel, today, announced the winners of its pioneering initiative, ‘Women of Mettle’ Scholarship programme, aimed at encouraging gender diversity in the manufacturing sector. In keeping with its commitment to the young generation, Tata Steel announced the scholarship programme, ‘Women of Mettle’ in January 2017. The programme aims to identify, groom and encourage female engineering talent for a sector that historically has imbalanced gender representation. Female students in their second year of engineering from select 45+ engineering institutes across India were invited to be a part of this initiative. Through a rigorous multi-phase process, a total of 30 candidates were selected for the 2-day finale, which witnessed an amazing showcase of talent, hard work and competitiveness.

Top 11 candidates emerged as the winners of the 2017 edition. The winners are eligible for a scholarship amount of Rs 2 lakh (Rs.1 lakh in the 3rd and 4th year respectively), internship opportunity in their third year, sponsorship to participate in technical conferences, a pre-placement job offer and mentorship from the senior leadership of the organisation. Speaking at the Grand finale of ‘Women of Mettle’ Scholarship programme, Suresh Dutt Tripathi, Vice President, HRM, Tata Steel said, “Our constant pursuit of excellence has enabled us to take up new challenges and set industry benchmarks. Building an equitable culture and a diverse leadership team is a responsibility we take seriously. Women of Mettle is one of the first programmes in the manufacturing industry where we not only provide scholarships but a career at Tata Steel.” The winners of the Women of Mettle Scholarship Programme 2017 edition are- Sharon Manvika Deva from NIT Warangal, Megharanjini, CET Bhubaneswar, Dedeepya Regatti, NIT Warangal, Khyati Mahatab, CET Bhubaneswar, Ragini Sreenath, IIT Madras, Subhashree Nayak, CET Bhubaneswar, Urja Agrawal, CET Bhubaneswar, Anupma Arya, NIT Jamshedpur, Daria Nair, IIT Madras, Saloni Ranjan, BIT Mesra and Aakanksha from IIT Kanpur. – Courtesy

AICTE Public notice on clarification about distance education mode degrees & equivalence of various diploma / degrees

AICTE Public notice on clarification about distance education mode degrees

AICTE Clarification

AICTE receives many representations regarding clarification about distance education mode degrees. It is for the information of the stakeholders and the general public that AICTE as per its present policy does not recognize the qualifications acquired through distance education mode at Diploma,Bachelors  aster Level in the fields of Engineering, Technology,Architecture, Town Planning, Pharmacy, Hotel management & Catering Technology, and Applied Arts & Crafts & Post Graduate Diploma in Management (PGDM). Further vide Gazette Notification No. F. 6-1/2013-DL dated. 10.06.2015 issued by MHRD, as per which UGC is empowered to deal with matters concerning education including technical education imparted through ODL mode.

Click here to download : 1 Page pdf : AICTE Public notice on clarification about distance education mode degrees

Public notice regarding equivalence of various diploma/degrees

AICTE receives many representations regarding equivalence of various diploma/degrees. It is for the information of the stakeholders and the general public that AICTE does not provide equivalence of the qualifications obtained from AICTE approved technical institutions at Diploma/UG/PG levels for higher education purposes as well as for employment purpose. It is up to theemployers to decide the suitability or a particular post in case of employment purpose and Institutions/Universities for higher studies in ase f academic purpose. However, AICTE has issued a notification dated 28.04.2017 regarding Major/Core branch of Engineering/Technology and the irrelevant/appropriate courses leading to degree in engineering / Technology for recruitment to teaching positions.

Click here to download : 1 page, pdf : AICTE Public notice regarding equivalence of various diploma/degrees

NIT syllabus will now feature various flagship programmes of Narendra Modi

IndiaToday |  New Delhi, June 12, 2017 |

The NIT Council organised a meeting in order to discuss the recommendations of the V K Saraswat committee to suggest changes to the NIT curricula. It was suggested that various flagship  programmes of the Modi government could soon be introduced in the engineering curriculum of the institute.

Representational Image

The National Institutes of Technology (NIT) Council organised a meeting on May 25 in order to discuss the recommendations of the V K Saraswat committee set up by the HRD Ministry to suggest changes to the NIT curricula. It was suggested that various flagship programmes of the Modi government such as Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Smart Cities, Jan Dhan, Make in India, Digital India etc could soon be introduced in the engineering curriculum of the institute. As per an Indian Express report,  the suggestions of this panel, which the council decided to adopt, include introduction of a new course on the national flagship programmes for all engineering disciplines.

Why is the change being made?

“The objective of the course should be to make students ready to contribute to the nation-building programme. The course should cover engineering aspects involved in national flagship schemes to ensure that students are aware of the engineering aspects related to those,” states the Saraswat committee report, which was accessed by The Sunday Express.

Recommendations by the panel

  • Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, a sanitation and cleanliness campaign and Skill India, which aims to provide industry-relevant skill training to youths, should be taught to all the students of NIT
  • All the students should know about Make in India, which was rolled out to make India the world’s manufacturing hub
  • Undergraduates pursuing a degree in information technology or electronics should be aware of the engineering component in the Digital India initiative
  • Students of civil engineering will be expected to study the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation, which focuses on providing basic civic amenities to improve the quality of life in cities
  • A new course named ‘Sustainable Engineering’ must be introduced in all the branches.  –  Courtesy

Every house in this Bihar village has an engineer, 20 clear IIT this year

India Today | Sujeet Jha  | Nivedita Dash |  Patna, June 12, 2017 |

Though Bihar has got defamed for topper scam in the XII Board examinations, there is a village in the state which is known for the number of students who get through IIT every year. This year alone, 20 students from Patwa Toli locality in Manpur under Gaya district have qualified for IIT.


Patwa Toli village is inhabited mostly by weavers. So far, 300 students have qualified for various engineering examinations in this village of 10,000 people. This year, 20 students were successful in cracking IIT.


Social engineering in Patwa Toli started way back in 1992. Jitendra Prasad was the first student from the village to clear the IIT examination. Getting inspired by Prasad, dozens of students started getting qualified for IIT every year. During recession in the 1990s, the weavers of Patwa Toli started focusing on the education of their children. Since then, the students have been earning laurels for their village and doing proud to their elders. Jitendra Prasad left for the US for job in the year 2000. This inspired his juniors in the village to work hard and fulfil their dreams of becoming engineers. The former engineering students of Patwa Toli formed an organisation called Navprayas which helps extends help to students preparing for IIT.


For the students in this village of power looms, noise of the machines is music to their ears. The students claim that they do not get disturbed by the noise of the power looms. The noise of the power looms becomes music for them and they study amidst that sound. Just like Gautam Buddha, who meditated at Bodh Gaya for days together braving all odds, the students of Patwa Toli also surmount all hurdles to achieve success.


The villagers of Patwa Toli either work as labourers or weavers in the power looms of others to teach their children. Economic hardship has not been able to shake their morale and will power. They have remained hungry themselves but have ensured that their children’s studies did not get hampered. There is no end to their happiness after seeing the success of their children. In some cases, both parents have worked as labourers to deposit the tuition fees and meet other educational requirements of their children. They also did over time. But even if they could not meet the requirements, they borrowed money to meet the demands.  However, they are the happiest people now. – Courtesy

Education reforms: Rating by private bodies, 3-tier autonomy for institutions

Hindustan Times | Jun 10, 2017 | Chetan Chauhan |  Chetan Chauhan |

The top-ranked institutions would get full academic and administrative autonomy while the lowest ranked institutions would remain under the government control.

In a major reform, the government plans to outsource assessment and accreditation of the higher education institutions to private bodies and give full autonomy — academic, financial and administrative — to the top ranked institutions, Niti Aayog vice-chairman Arvind Panagariya told HT. This is part of the higher education reform package being finalised by the National Institution for Transforming India (Niti) Aayog and the HRD ministry. The Prime Minister’s Office in March had asked them to prepare a blueprint for higher education reform that breeds academic excellence in top institutions of the country. “The reform package is almost ready,” Panagariya said. “For this, we will have to amend or replace the University Grants Commission (UGC) law. The call will be taken by Parliament”. Reforms in higher education sector had been under discussion for a long time but the government had failed to implement them because of resistance from within. More than a decade ago, the National Knowledge Commission constituted by the UPA government had recommended slew of reforms including disbanding the two higher important higher education regulators the UGC and the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) and proposed an overarching higher education regulator. But, the recommendations remained on paper because of opposition by the HRD ministry and the two bodies.

Before introducing a higher education regulator, the National Democratic Alliance government has decided to set in motion the reforms by making third party mandatory accreditation for all public and private higher education institutions to ensure transparency and quality.  “We want credible private agencies should assess institutions in private agencies,” Panagariya said, adding that even sovereign rating in the United States is done by the private agencies. “The accreditation would be based on academic and research outcome”.  The National Accreditation and Assessment Council (NAAC) has evaluated only 10% of about 10,000 higher education institutions in India and the government wants to bring all institutions under accreditation in the next three years. For this, proposal is to rope in private rating agencies. Autonomy of institutions is the next big reform the government would implement, Panagariya said. The government plans to introduce a three-tier autonomy mechanism in which the institutions having ranked on the top by the HRD ministry will get full academic, administrative and financial autonomy. It would mean these institutions will be free to introduce new courses and schools, revamp curriculum, appoint faculty including from foreign universities and approve research projects. Middle-ranked institutions will have higher autonomy than their current level. It would mean they would be free to introduce new courses and appoint faculty but will have to take approval of the funding agency (HRD ministry) to start new schools and appoint foreign faculty.  The institutions ranked poor would remain under the government control. Sources said that the reforms are being anchored in the Prime Minister’s Office and the changes are being made as suggested by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the review in March 2017. – Courtesy

Job-starved B.E / B.Tech engineering graduates vie for law degree (LLB course)

The Times of India | Gokul Rajendran | TNN |  Jun 8, 2017 |  Job-starved engineering graduates vie for law degree  |

TRICHY: The waning employment opportunities for engineering graduates have led many of them to look for greener pastures as lawyers. What seems to have lured them as well as graduates from other fields to the legal profession are the growing job opportunities for law graduates in both government and private sector. For instance, 20 % of admissions to the three-year LLB course at Government Law College in Trichy are from among BE and BTech holders. “Around 40 to 60 students with engineering background have been joining the three-year LLB course for the past three years. The trend emerged from the 2014-15 academic year not only in Trichy but all government colleges across the state,” principal of government law college, Trichy, M Rajeswaran, told TOI on Wednesday. The trend has been continuing this year also with a good number of engineering graduates turning up to secure application forms on the first day it was issued, he said.

The attraction towards a law degree, particularly the three-year LLB course, emanated from the bright career opportunities it seemed to offer. At present, the college has 130 engineering graduates enrolled altogether in the three years of the LLB course. Most of them graduated in electrical and electronics, civil or computer science. “People have come out of the perception that the lawyer can only practise in courts for the litigants. They have become aware of the career options for a law degree in private and government sector. For example, many young law graduates have become judicial officers in lower courts. While many take up law for a good income, others choose it for an independent profession and reputation too,” said Principal Rajeswaran stating that IT industries and hospitals are looking for permanent legal advisers.  Some people secure a law degree to strengthen their business. J Hariharan, a BE civil who completed his first year LLB, needed a law degree for his construction profession. “I inherited my father’s construction business which needs legal expertise. Instead of depending on others, I joined the course,” said Hariharan who secured his BE from Anna University, Trichy.

 Female candidates with engineering degree also had an equal stake. “My daughter went for LLB in a private college before joining BE. Later, she joined BE and completed the course. The job she secured after BE was not attractive. So, she joined for LLB in Trichy government law college. She would practise in the court,” said advocate S Raju, the father of R Deepika. Social problems and sufferings of the poor also served as reasons for some engineering graduates to take up legal studies. “I worked for a year in my field but was not satisfied. I have abandoned the plan to pursue ME due to an uncertain future. Above all, the problems haunting the society made me think of pursuing law to empower myself to help others,” said G Suganya from Perambalur who completed her first year in LLB here after BE civil engineering at a college in Chennai.  On Wednesday, 596 applications for the five-year LLB and 283 applications for three-year LLB courses were sold on the first day of sale of application.  Across Tamil Nadu, 1,292 seats are available for the five-year LLB course and 1,502 seats for the three-year course.- Courtesy

Indian American Raja Chari, selected among 12 NASA astronaut candidates

By IANS | Washington |  8 June 2017 |

Raja Chari, who will report for duty in August this year, is from the state of Iowa who graduated from the US Air Force Academy in 1999 with bachelor’s degrees in astronautical engineering and engineering science.

Raja Chari is a commander of the 461st Flight Test Squadron and the director of the F-35 Integrated Test Force at Edwards Air Force Base in California.

Indian American Raja Chari, a Lieutenant Colonel with the US Air Force, has been selected by space agency NASA among 12 astronaut candidates who will conduct research off the Earth for deep space missions. Chari, who will report for duty in August this year, is from the state of Iowa who graduated from the US Air Force Academy in 1999 with bachelor’s degrees in astronautical engineering and engineering science. He continued on to earn a master’s degree in aeronautics and astronautics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and graduated from the US Naval Test Pilot School. Currently, he is a commander of the 461st Flight Test Squadron and the director of the F-35 Integrated Test Force at Edwards Air Force Base in California. After receiving a record-breaking number of applications — 18,000 — to join an exciting future of space exploration, NASA on Wednesday picked 12 — its largest astronaut class since 2000. Vice President Mike Pence joined NASA leaders as they introduced the members of the 2017 astronaut class during an event at the agency’s Johnson Space Centre in Houston. “These are 12 men and women whose personal excellence and whose personal courage will carry our nation to even greater heights of discovery and who I know will inspire our children and our grandchildren every bit as much as your forebears have done so in this storied American programme,” said Pence. “And to this newest class of astronauts, it’s my honour to bring the sincere congratulations of the 45th President of the US, Donald Trump. Your President is proud of you, and so am I,” the Vice President added.

The astronaut candidates will return to Johnson in August to begin two years of training. Then they could be assigned to any of a variety of missions, including: performing research on the International Space Station, launching from American soil on spacecraft built by commercial companies, and departing for deep space missions on NASA’s new Orion spacecraft and Space Launch System rocket. “We look forward to the energy and talent of these astronauts fueling our exciting future of discovery,” said acting NASA Administrator Robert Lightfoot in a statement. “Between expanding the crew on board the space station to conduct more research than ever before, and making preparations to send humans farther into space than we’ve ever been, we are going to keep them busy,” he said. With the addition of these 12 members, NASA now has selected 350 astronauts since the original Mercury 7 in 1959. “These women and men deserve our enthusiastic congratulations,” said astronaut and Johnson Space Center Director Ellen Ochoa. The 12 new candidates include six military officers, three scientists, two medical doctors, a lead engineer at SpaceX and a NASA research pilot. – Courtesy

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