India news
March 2008

India news

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Make education loans easier and faster – FM

There are good many numbers of public and private sector banks in India offering education loans to bright and deserving students for higher study in India and abroad.

With a view to provide better educational facilities to bright and deserving students across the country, the Finance Minster P. Chidambaram has asked all public sector banks to clear education within 15-30 days. Chidambaram, in a written reply to the Rajya Sabha, said, “As per the norms prescribed under the Model Education Loan Scheme, the banks are required to dispose of loan applications within a period of 15 days to one month.”  The minister also added that banks should also institute an online system to clear such loans. In fact the facility is now provided by all major public sector banks. “The government has   advised the banks to institute an on-line system of loan applications,” the minister added. Pointing out the advantages of  online loan system, the minister said, “This will enable students to download the loan application form, apply online and learn the status of their loan application.”

Vacant posts in Indian universities
Based on the information furnished by University Grants Commission (UGC), there are 415 Universities/Institutions in the country as on 31 December 2007 and 6,680 from which there are 1,820 teaching posts and 5,067 non-teaching posts lying vacant in Central Universities as on 31 March 2007, and 627 teaching posts lying  vacant in 74 State Universities as on  1 May 2007.

The UGC has been directing all the central universities to fill up the vacant posts in Universities. The UGC has issued a circular to all Universities of State governments to fill up the vacant posts on regular basis as per norms of Commission since continuation of appointment of faculty in contract,  part time and guest faculty on long-term basis effects the quality of education. The Central Government has already increased the age of superannuation from 62 years to 65 years in respect of teachers of  Centrally Funded Technical and Higher Educational Institutions which come under the purview of Ministry of Human Resource Development, in view of acute  shortage of experienced teachers.

The State governments were also requested that they too may take a similar view in view of the prevailing circumstances.

IT companies take e-Route to attract students

Software majors are increasingly tapping the e-Route to capture mind share among students. While Cognizant has exclusive blogs and networking forums for potential hires, Wipro hosts training material on its site. HCL is also planning an exclusive forum online for its potential recruits. Corporates feel that such measures would help in sensitising the student fraternity about industry expectations and help them make a smooth transition from the campus to the corporate world.

TCS’ e-initiative NextStep is complemented by an e-Learning portal that offers an opportunity to students to connect with TCS and get access to various web-based courses on software development, database management, testing, among others and offers a first level orientation to Software Engineering. HCL Technologies, which gets 5-6% of its overall hires from social media such as blogs and social networking sites, is also mulling the  e-Route to attract students. HCL plans to launch an exclusive and interactive site for campus recruits to give them an idea about the organisation’s culture.

HP enters education arena
Hewlett Packard  Learning Solutions (HPLS) is a strategic initiative to leap  into the education market aimed at becoming a one-stop-solution for all information communication and technology (ICT) needs of a school. This will include hardware, software, networking, training, maintenance and financing solution through one window.

HPLS will primarily dwell on two broad areas in schools — administrative and academic. Besides setting up the infrastructure, HPLS would also provide corporate support and enable identified resource persons of HP to participate in the pedagogic and administrative aspects of the programme, wherever necessary.

Initially, the company will provide  e-Learning solutions in Science and Maths to various Boards. Social Sciences and English will be added by April. The cost of deployment of HPLS solution can vary from INR 10 lakh to INR 18 lakh depending on the size and strength of the school. HPLS has also tied up with ICICI Bank to secure finance for schools over a three-year period. The company is targeting a 5% market share from 10,000-odd private schools in the 20 cities it has launched.

IGNOU to set up three institutes for NE States

The Indira Gandhi National Open University will set up a National Institute for Vocational Education and Training (NIVET), a Northeast Centre for Research and Development (NCRD)  and an Institute for Professional Competency Advancement of  Teachers (IPCAT).

The NIVET will identify and develop need-based relevant vocational programmes in the region. It will facilitate trained youths in getting employment at local level and create market linkage to them. The institute will also conduct basic surveys on the prospects of vocational programmes. It will only operate within the eight northeast states.

The university will start NCRD at Guwahati which will act as a development think tank for the  entire region. It will undertake and promote research and development activities in the region. It will collaborate with government’s  policy, education and development centres, NGOs, other research organisations and universities. The NCRD will also create and maintain a database and a library.

Developing tech aids for India’s disabled

 

 

C-Dac, or Centre for Development of Advanced Computing, a research and development organisation headed in Pune, is developing low-cost products for the physically challenged person with limited purchasing power. C-Dac has developed a digital programmable hearing aid that, with a two-year battery life and at INR 2,000, is just one-tenth the price of the cheapest digital hearing aid in the market today.

 

Along with the hearing aid, C-Dac has also developed an application called Shruthi, that can be used by audiologists and doctors to customise the hearing devices to the particular hearing characteristics of each patient. C-Dac will also look at taking these products to other third world countries in Africa. Kerala is using another of C-Dac’s tools for the visually impaired called Braille Mozhy (currently in Malayalam), an assistive device that is an integration of Braille-to-text and text-to-speech technologies.

 

The Government-run research and development organisation Media Lab Asia is also supporting the funding and development of various assistive technologies including a screen reading software called Safa, developed in collaboration with the National Association for the Blind (NAB). Safa is available in Hindi and English, enables a visually impaired person to operate a computer using speech
output and has been worked on by developers some of whom are blind. Media Lab Asia is providing funds of INR 45 lakh for three years for
the project.

 

Even BarrierBreak Technologies, with current revenues of INR1.18 crore, is entering the market for products aimed at the physically challenged with the launch of a screen reader with English and Hindi versions. The product belongs to an Ireland company called Dolphin Computer Access, and will be customised and distributed in India by BarrierBreak. The Indian company plans to launch the products at 50-55% less than international sticker prices of around USD 1,000 (INR 39,700).

CII seeks e-Publishing courses in India

The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) has urged State Governments and education institutions to offer courses in e-Publishing in order to promote e-Publishing in India. According to Gopal Srinivasan, Chairman, CII-Tamil Nadu State Council, courses, which are covering aspects like langauge grammar, software, art, semantic analysis and lexical analysis could help aspirants enter the e-Publishing industry.

According to report from research firm Valuenotes, the Indian e-Publishing industry will grow at 35% year to year to be worth USD 1.46 billion by 2010. Currently, the size of the industry is estimated at over over USD 500 million and employs about 30,000 people, most of who work out of South  India. In this result, the Indian companies are planning to offer value chain from the low-end data entry and typesetting work to the high-end copy editing, content development and media services.

Distance learning for Kanpur medical students

Now the students of GSVM Medical College of Kanpur (India) can access all the important lectures of the expert professors of AIIMS and Chandigarh PGI from their own college through the distance learning facility. The state government is planning to connect these colleges online to provide better learning facilities. With colleges becoming a distance learning centres, the students will easily access the lectures by the expert professors from the top medical colleges like AIIMS, Lucknow and Chandigarh. The on-line learning programme will also help them in accessing the lectures of foreign experts.

IT recruitment from  IIT slows

Firms like IBM, HCL, Hughes Software and CSC opted out of placements this year and hiring by firms like India’s largest IT services provider Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), Infosys and Wipro has dropped. Confirming the trend, a placement official from IIT Roorkee said, “While many companies say they have a particular number in mind and would recruit likewise, our alumni network at these companies informs us that these IT giants are exercising restraint in recruiting trainees due to a slowdown.”  Recruitment by IT companies at IIT Kanpur has gone down from 130 students in 2007 to 72 in 2008. With the US slowdown and rupee appreciating against the dollar for most of 2007-08, IT firms are under tremendous pressure to manage margins and costs. The companies, however, maintain with the boom in other sectors like investment banking  and retail, and the urge to be entrepreneurs, IT firms are left with little option but to reduce their hiring from these institutes.

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