Indian-American Led Commercial Bank of California Establishes New Regional Office in Santa Monica

Aug 22, 2016 0

SANTA MONICA, Calif.– Commercial Bank of California (CBC), a BauerFinancial Five-Star Superior Bank, has opened a new regional office at 805 Wilshire Blvd in Santa Monica.

This is the first new branch opening since the completion of the merger with National Bank of California earlier this year. The milestone was marked last week with a formal ribbon-cutting ceremony and a warm welcome from local dignitaries and the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce.

Ash Patel

Ash Patel

“Santa Monica is very a special place for Commercial Bank of California. Our connection with this community is very strong,” said Ash Patel, president and CEO of Irvine-based CBC. “Not only do we have relationships here with local residents and small business owners that go back decades, but the trajectory of Santa Monica as a hub of innovation is uniquely aligned with our mission as a bank founded by entrepreneurs, for entrepreneurs.”

The new office in Santa Monica represents a homecoming for the branch’s leadership team, comprised of three experienced bankers who all have long histories in the city.

“It is truly a thrill to come home to Santa Monica,” said CBC Executive Vice President Richard Lawrence. “This community is like a family, and we look forward to providing our customers here with the best banking services possible.”
Lawrence was Executive Vice president and Chief Credit Officer for Santa Monica Bank from 1982 to 1993. He has also served as President of the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce, the Rotary Club of Santa Monica, the Santa Monica Family YMCA, and Santa Monica College Associates. He was joined by the CBC Santa Monica team, including Regional Vice President Rick Mateus and Vice President Kathy Irby.

Mateus – a banker with more than 35 years of community banking experience in the region – has served in various positions with associations and organizations such as the Rotary Club of Santa Monica, Encino Chamber of Commerce, International Guiding Eyes and Calabasas Chamber of Commerce.

“Although Santa Monica is a leading destination within one of the world’s biggest metropolitan areas, it is still a small town in many ways,” Mateus said. “It’s a close-knit community full of small business owners and residents who have lived here for many generations. To be a banker and trusted advisor is our goal and a responsibility that we make a priority as we help our clients meet their business and personal financial goals.”

Irby has served several Santa Monica nonprofits, including the local Kiwanis Club and Police Activities League.
“We love the people of this community,” Irby said. “It is truly an honor to be here and work with them every day.”
Before moving to Santa Monica, the trio had worked together for 15 years and forged personal relationships with clients from all over the Westside, most recently from CBC’s Brentwood Regional Office. Joining in the move to Santa Monica are CBC Vice President Jennifer Irizarry, a loan underwriter and business development officer, and Assistant Vice President Chanthan Pom, the operations manager.

As part of the homecoming, the Santa Monica Regional Office is hosting open houses throughout its inaugural year to meet new clients and reconnect with old ones. However, the homecoming is not just about reuniting with friends from the past. It’s about forging new business relationships for the future as well.

Santa Monica is home to a thriving startup scene fueled by the mobile internet technology boom. Nicknamed “Silicon Beach” for its tech savvy and proximity to the ocean, the economic cluster spreads as far as Long Beach and rivals the celebrated Silicon Valley of the San Francisco Bay Area. It also shares the same entrepreneurial spirit of Orange County’s startup culture, which is largely rooted in the CBC headquarters city of Irvine.

Recognized as a “Five-Star Bank” by BauerFinancial, Inc. for its financial strength and stability, the new regional office solidifies Commercial Bank of California’s position as a market leader in Southern California.

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Indian Olympic spend a third of UK’s — and falling

Aug 22, 2016 0

By Abhishek Waghmare

India’s last Olympic gold-medal winner, Abhinav Bindra, recently pointed to United Kingdom’s spending on athletes at the Rio Olympics, emphasising the money needed to convert performance into medals.

An IndiaSpend analysis of spending on Olympics in particular, and sports in general, reveals that India spends roughly a third to a fourth of the money spent by the UK, which won 67 medals, compared to India’s two — and central funding to sports federations is falling.

The UK spends money on fewer athletes compares to India, where spending is diffused among numerous federations and athletes, according to our analysis.

Rio-LogoThe UK has 18 million people aged between 15 and 35, while India has more than 400 million youth in that age group.

The original story in the Guardian, a UK newspaper, calculated a £5.5 million ($7 million) investment per medal by UK Sport, a government body that funds and manages Olympic sport.

The UK, in general, spends $1.5 billion (Rs 9,000 crore) on sports infrastructure and training through an annual sports budget, while UK Sport spent about $350 million on Olympics preparation over four years (2013-2017).

In comparison, India spends a third of UK, or $500 million (Rs 3,200 crore) on youth affairs and sports through the Union budget and the states, according to estimates from our review of sports budgets of six large states.

The same Union budget funds — through the ministry of youth affairs and sports — national sports federations (NSFs) and potential Olympic athletes through the National Sports Development Fund (NSDF) and Target Olympic Podium (TOP) programme.

The NSDF is also funded through private organisations and public sector enterprises, apart from government contributions.

In India, Rs 750 crore was spent on sport-specific federations, training centres, coaches and other infrastructure over four years (2012-13 to 2015-16), while the spending on athletes is Rs 22.7 crore through NSDF (109 athletes) and Rs 38 crore thought the TOP programme (97 athletes for 2016 Olympics, excluding para-Olympic athletes) over the last four years.

The number of recognised national sports federations has come down from 57 to 49, as of 2016, and their funding has fallen over the last three years.

Of the amount spent on sports infrastructure and coaching, only eight per cent is spent on special coaching to athletes.

Of the 109 athletes supported by NSDF, only 30 made it to the official contingent of India at Rio de Janeiro in the 2016 Olympic Games.

Of the 97 athletes funded through the TOP programme, 68 made it to the contingent, while 29 did not.

The Rs 22.7 crore ($3.5 million) spent by NSDF on potential 109 Olympic athletes translates to Rs 5.2 lakh, or $9,000, per athlete every year in the run-up to Olympics.

Athletes under the TOP scheme received Rs 9.8 lakh, or $16,000, per athlete every year, including cost of training centres and coaching fees.

In the UK, funding of Olympic preparations is four times that of India

The UK, which finished third on the Rio medals tally, spent $350 million on 374 athletes, which is about $1 million per athlete, including infrastructure, training and coaching.

Specific spending on medal-winning athletes went up to $36,000 a year, four times the $9,000 that India spent on its athletes. The UK started specific or targeted spending only after 1997, in the run up to the 2000 games.

There appears to be a direct correlation between money spent by the UK and Olympic medals won. With a funding of £5 million pounds for the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, where it won a single gold medal and finished 36th, the UK finished second at Rio, its best after a century (it was first in 1908) with 27 gold medals.

The UK stood second in the gold medals tally, while India won one bronze and one silver medal at Rio Olympics 2016, and stood 67th.

Athletes from the US depend largely on private funding. More than 100 US athletes started individual funding portals for donations from the general public.

Only 10 per cent of the US Olympic Committee’s finances are actually spent on athletes, notes a Guardian report. The US topped the Rio medals tally.

China, which came third at Rio, is known for aggressive state-sponsored promotion of sports. After a decade of effort, China — for the first time — topped the medals tally at Beijing 2008. Recently, the Chinese government has called for a review of its medal-focused approach to the Olympics, arguing that it undermines the spirit of sports.

While the role of private funding to the Games as sponsorships and contributions to NSDF is open and documented, the funding to individual athletes is not. Recently, India Infrastructure Finance Company Limited, a public-sector company, contributed Rs 30 crore to the NSDF for three years.

The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) received donations from Reliance Jio, Edelweiss Financial Services, Amul, Tata Salt, Herbalife and Li Ning and SBJ.

India’s first medal winner in Rio Sakshi Malik thanked JSW Sport, a foundation funded by the O.P. Jindal group, a conglomerate with interests that include mining and power. (IANS)

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Interview: Embracing Cloud can help India master digital era

Aug 22, 2016 0

By Nishant Arora

New Delhi– India is poised to become the world’s leading market for Cloud, and for US software major Oracle, Cloud is a force-multiplier that the country must embrace to leapfrog into the digital era, a top company executive has said.

India is uniquely positioned to benefit from Cloud-based solutions for three reasons. First, there are more than 200 million connected mobile users — with 100 million on social media — in the country; this is an essential building block for a shift to Cloud.

“Secondly, the e-commerce willingness in this market. Lastly, India has the largest IT service businesses in the world across SIs (systems integrators) and they are now looking at adjacent revenue streams like the Cloud to take cost out,” Shailender Kumar, Managing Director, Oracle India, told IANS.

“The government’s ‘Digital India’ initiative can only be successful if Cloud plays a key role. This makes the opportunity huge,” Kumar added.
shailenderCloud computing accounted for about 33 percent of the total IT expenditure in 2015 across the world. In India, the overall Cloud computing market reached $1.08 billion by the end of last year and IT/ITeS, telecom, manufacturing and government sectors accounted for a bulk of this.

Among one of the first MNCs to invest in the country nearly 25 years back, Oracle is bullish on Cloud.

“We are witnessing a strong demand for our Cloud solutions here. Oracle’s Software as a Service (SaaS) business is witnessing the fastest adoption rate with three segments that have the highest growth — Human Capital Management (HCM), Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Customer Experience led by marketing cloud, service cloud, etc. Platform as a Service (Paas) and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) are fast catching up,” Kumar noted.

In April, Oracle CEO Safra Catz announced $400 million of investment in a technology hub Bengaluru, with the opening of the first “Oracle Startup Cloud Accelerator” in India’s Silicon Valley.

Several more such centres are slated to be launched later in Chennai, Gurgaon, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Noida, Pune, Thiruvananthapuram and Vijayawada.

“Oracle is witnessing a huge appetite for its SaaS, PaaS and IaaS offerings in India even without a physical data centre here. Banks, telecom companies and government agencies are working with us and owing to the strong security infrastructure Oracle provides, we have been able to dispel security concerns,” Kumar told IANS.

While there are a few regulated industries that require data centres in India, there are also customers who are more focused on choosing the right applications and platforms as opposed to where the data centre lies.

To alleviate data security fears, the company recently announced the “Oracle Cloud at Customer” solution.

“The announcement strengthens our play in the market because companies (including those bound by regulatory pressures), can now leverage the Cloud and speed up their business transformation with complete control over their data,” Kumar said.

“Oracle Cloud at Customer” equips organisations to reap all of the benefits of the Cloud — agility, simplicity and subscription pricing — at their data centres and behind their firewall, providing access to the latest Cloud innovations.

“While there are concerns around data security in the country, a lot of the technologists in the country are quite skilled and are aware of what needs to be done. By following practices such as segregation of duties, on-disk encryption, data redaction and robust identity management, India can tackle security constraints,” Kumar pointed out.

The real security issue is when customers take older products that were not built for the internet, rack them and put them on the Internet. This makes those products vulnerable.

“But sometimes, security is also used as a reason to avoid change because shifting to the Cloud involves change. Though worrying, companies that adopt the Cloud can emerge as winners,” Kumar added.

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Indian films make $2 billion but lose $2.7 billion to piracy

Aug 21, 2016 0

By Aparajita Gupta

New Delhi–India’s film industry, said to be the largest globally with some 1,000 movies produced each year, earns around $2 billion from legitimate sources such as screening at theatres, home videos and TV rights. But with $2.7 billion, piracy earns 35 per cent more, and a way out has proved elusive.

Red Chillies Entertainment, a production house promoted by actor Shah Rukh Khan, was a victim of film piracy with ‘Dilwale’ last year. It grossed Rs 148 crore at the box office, but its pirated version, circulated a day before its release, grossed a much higher amount, stakeholders said.

Recent films like ‘Kabali’, ‘Great Grand Masti’ and ‘Udta Punjab’ have all faced similar music.

Uday Singh

Uday Singh

“Content theft or piracy in the film industry originates from ‘camcording’ in cinema halls. Over 90 per cent of new release titles originate from cinemas,” said Uday Singh, Managing Director, Motion Picture Distributors’ Association (India).

“The infringing copies appear online within few hours of a film release,” Singh told IANS, and added: “The Indian film industry loses around Rs 18,000 crore ($2.7 billion) and over 60,000 jobs every year because of piracy.”

This figure is also what the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) brandishes in its magazine, quoting noted filmmaker Anurag Basu. While the Indian film industry is, indeed, flourishing, piracy points toward how much more its stakeholders can make, he said.

According to the latest KPMG-Ficci report on the Indian media and entertainment sector, the film industry here is projected to grow from Rs 138.2 billion ($2.09 billion) in 2015 to Rs 226.3 billion ($3.43 billion) by 2020 at an annual growth rate of 10.5 per cent. But piracy could also grow exponentially unless checked.

“Currently, the government is focused on inclusive society initiatives, aimed at connecting villages via broadband. This has the potential to incentivise piracy, as people would find it much easier to watch a movie on their laptop than travel to far off theatres,” the report said.

“Hence, there is need for a collective, structured, scientific, multi-pronged and proactive approach to combat piracy.”

umrao jaan posterAdding another dimension, Patrick Kilbride, Executive Director for International IP with Global Intellectual Property Center of the US Chamber of Commerce, said piracy also limits the economic contribution which creativity can make in India.

“Issues such as copyright infringement, film piracy, camcording and content leakage weaken the industry by hampering the deserved revenue production,” said Kilbride.

Stakeholders said some sophisticated technologies like the watermarking of prints, which allow producers or rights holders to monitor the usage and movement of each print across the globe, have also not been able to stop piracy.

“New technologies, including digitisation of film prints, have cut the cost of recording, storing and copying of films for distribution. Risks involved in leaking and piracy have also increased manifold,” said Lavin Hirani, Head of Legal Affairs, Red Chillies Entertainment.

“Unfortunately, these technologies are not enough to protect the clandestine recording of pirated versions — done 90 per cent of the times with a camcorder or high-quality mobile camera in a low-light setting of a cinema theatre, or from the projector room,” Hirani said.

Sholay-posterThere is also the recent prevalence of pirated versions of Indian films swarming the market and the Internet a day or two before their actual release, since distributors opt for a simultaneous global screening, which requires the dispatch of prints some 10-12 days in advance.

“Some territories like in the UAE, they release films a day prior to the Indian release date — which is typically a Friday. This is one of the reasons why a film is leaked before its actual release,” he added.

Rajkumar Akella, Chairman of the Anti Video Piracy Cell, Telugu Film Chamber of Commerce, echoed a similar line of thought.

“Earlier, one odd film would get accidentally leaked before release date. But these days, pre-release piracy leaks have become a recurring feature, which is very alarming for the industry,” Akella told IANS.

What then is the solution?

Anurag Basu told WIPO that people need to understand piracy is a crime. The state blocks Web sites that allow downloads of pirated films, which is good. This apart, DVD versions must be available within a week or two after the formal release, as a wait of three-four months is a bit long.

“Piracy is working because people can buy a (pirated) DVD for Rs 100 and a whole family can watch it. We have to offer that kind of entertainment at that price. It has to be as easy to get an original DVD as it is to get a pirated one,” he said.

Hirani said there’s no single method or step. “Possible measures would require concerted efforts by all stakeholders, including the state and central governments which lose tremendous amount of money in taxes from the sale, distribution and exhibition of films.” (IANS)

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Bankers welcome Raghuram Rajan’s successor Urjit Patel

Aug 20, 2016 0
Urjit Patel

Urjit Patel

New Delhi– Banking industry captains on Saturday welcomed Urjit R. Patel as Raghuram Rajan’s successor at the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).

The government on Saturday named economist and banker Urjit Patel the next Governor of the apex bank to succeed Raghuram Rajan.

Patel, 52, a Deputy Governor since January 2013, will take over as the 24th chief of India’s central bank on September 4.

Arundhati Bhattacharya-SBI

Arundhati Bhattacharya

“Appointment of Urjit Patel comes as a welcome move. Dr. Patel has been at the helm of institutionalizing the inflation targeting regime in the monetary policy framework.

“His appointment signals continuity of policy intent, both on part of RBI and Government,” said State Bank of India’s Chairman Arundhati Bhattacharya.

Congratulating Patel, ICICI Bank’s MD and CEO, Chanda Kochhar said, “Urjit Patel has played a key role in developing the new monetary policy framework that has focused on reigning in inflation and has imparted stability to the currency.”

She also said his appointment would ensure a smooth transition and continuity in monetary policy, as India puts in place major structural reforms to transition to a higher growth path.

“I am confident that this transition will ensure efficient monetary policy management. Patel is an astute economist with a clear vision, who will surely continue to de-risk the Indian economy and strike the fine balance between growth imperatives and inflation management,” said Yes Bank’s MD and CEO Rana Kapoor.

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New Reserve Bank of India Governor Urjit Patel has wide experience

Aug 20, 2016 0

New Delhi–Opting for talent within, the government on Saturday named economist and banker Urjit R. Patel the next Governor of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to succeed Raghuram R. Rajan — a development eagerly awaited for two months now.

Patel, 52, a Deputy Governor since January 2013 and on a three-year further term since January this year, will take over as the 24th chief of India’s central bank on September 4, according to an official communique.

As per the decision taken by the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Patel gets a three-year tenure, a press note said. Rajan, too, had a three-year stint.

Urjit Patel

Urjit Patel

“The appointment has been made based on the recommendations of the Financial Sector Regulatory Appointments Search Committee headed by Cabinet Secretary. The Committee undertook an extensive exercise to suggest a panel of names to the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet,” it said.

“For the first time, a systematic approach and an objective mechanism have been put in place. The committee met twice to discuss the possible names that can be considered for this assignment and had submitted a short panel of names to the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet.”

Official sources said several names were tossed up, including State Bank of India (SBI) chairperson Arundhati Bhattacharya, former bureaucrats Vijay Kelkar and Ashok Chawla, and economists Rakesh Mohan, Ashok Lahiri and Subir Gokarn.

Ever since Rajan, in an unprecedented letter to his colleagues in June, said he was opting out of a second term at the helm of India’s central bank, speculation has been rife over who his successor would be — particularly given the outspoken nature of the incumbent and the eyebrows he raised.

Rajan is going back to academics at the University of Chicago.

His successor — who is a Ph.D in economics from Yale and M.Phil from Oxford — was clinched on Thursday at a meeting between Prime Minister Modi and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, the sources said.

He was particularly picked for his expertise in inflation-control, which has become the main task of the central bank, ever since the government, under statute, set it a target of 4 percent, plus or minus two percentage points, based on consumer price index.

Patel, whose experience includes a mix of stints with multilateral institutions, bureaucracy, central bank, global consultancies and even private companies, has previously served the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in the US, India, Bahamas and Myanmar.

He was also a consultant in India’s Finance Ministry, in the Department of Economic Affairs, and an advisor at The Boston Consulting Group. This apart, he has been a non-resident Senior Fellow of The Brookings Institution.

According to some senior officials at the Reserve Bank, Patel was particularly chosen by the IMF in 1996-97 to provide advice on the development of the debt and currency markets in India, as also on banking and social security net reforms.

Some of his stints with the private sector include: President, Business Development with Reliance Industries, Executive Director of Infrastructure Development Finance Company and Board Member of the Gujarat State Petroleum Corp.

Patel worked closely with several central and state government committees — especially those on direct taxes, market studies, anti-trust laws, Prime Minister’s Task Force on Infrastructure and sectors like telecom, aviation, power and pensions.

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French companies to invest 8 billion euros in India

Aug 19, 2016 0

Kolkata– Describing India as a strategic and economic partner, France’s Ambassador Alexandre Ziegler on Friday said French companies would be investing to the tune of eight billion euros in India in the next two-three years.

“We have invested 20 billion USD in India so far with a presence of 394 major French conglomerates. In the next two to three years, French companies will be investing eight billion euros more in India,” Ziegler told reporters on the sidelines of a CII event here.

Alexandre Ziegler

Alexandre Ziegler

“We don’t look at India as a market. Rather India is an important strategic and economic partner. We are not just investing in India but also making in India and innovating in India. More than 25 R&D centres of various French companies are in India,” he said.

Besides strategic cooperation, Ziegler said the Indo-French economic ties have been steadily rising and sectors like renewable energy, sustainable urban development and agri-food and health care are set to witness increased mutual cooperation.

Inviting investment to his own country, the envoy said the recent terror attack in Nice in which at least 85 people were killed, has not affected France’s prospects as a preferred investment destination.

“Such attacks are highly condemnable but have been happening in several places. As a country we are doing everything possible to prevent any terror attacks. France has been a preferred investment destination with the presence of over 20,000 foreign companies employing in excess of two million people,” he said.

On the issue of Britain’s exit from the European Union, Ziegler conceded the move has affected the organisation but exuded confidence of EU continuing to do well.

“EU has been facing challenges and it is desirous that all your partners are there to fight those challenges. But then it is their decision and we respect that. As one of the founders members, France is not concerned about EU’s future. EU has been doing well and will continue to do so,” he added. (IANS)

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JDA Announces $570 Million Equity Investment from Blackstone and New Mountain Capital

Aug 19, 2016 0

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz–JDA Software Group, Inc. announced that it has completed an agreement with funds managed by Blackstone (NYSE: BX) and New Mountain Capital (NMC) to effect a recapitalization of the company through a $570 million equity investment.

Viral Patel

Viral Patel

The new capital will be used to fuel JDA’s product innovation and growth plans to deliver next generation cloud-based solutions and accelerate opportunities for current product development and enhancements. With this strategic investment, JDA will be well-positioned to continue building on its market-leading portfolio of supply chain and omni-channel retail solutions. The new equity investment is expected to be completed by early Q4 2016, pending customary closing conditions.

“We are thrilled to partner with New Mountain Capital to make this strategic investment in JDA,” said Viral Patel, Managing Director at Blackstone. “We are confident that the company is primed for accelerating growth in the years ahead.”

Blackstone is one of the world’s leading investment firms.

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Women Start 50 Percent of Businesses but Get Only 3 Percent of Venture Capital Funding

Aug 18, 2016 0

PROVIDENCE, RI–With a packed crowd that allowed for minimal standing room, the IIT Alumni Leadership Conference in Providence kicked off to a great start with a well-organized set of sessions by the IIT Women, saying that although women start about 50 percent of businesses, they receive only three percent of venture capital funding.

2016 Leadership Conference, which was held at the Rhode Island Convention Center in Providence, RI, from August 12 to 14, was organized by the IIT Association of Greater New England and PANIIT. The theme of the conference was: “Leading Transformation for a Better Tomorrow: Technologies that lift the human spirit.”

iit-women-audience-sThe conference was chaired by Raj Laad and co-chaired by Mandy Deb Pant.  The conference brought together an array of thought leaders in areas where New England leads the rest of the world, such as Life Sciences and Healthcare, Energy and Environment, Big Data, and Education.

Mandy Pant

Mandy Pant

In her introduction speech, Pant, IIT Kharagpur alumna and Co-Chair of the conference, emphasized conference goals of networking, learning, inspiring and influencing.

The panel on May the Force Be With Women Entrepreneurs was moderated by IIT Kanpur alumna, Gitanjali Swamy, an entrepreneur herself.

“The panelists shared some very startling statistics including the fact that women entrepreneurs start about 50% of businesses, but get only 3% of VC funding– a stat that hasn’t changed over a decade,” Pant said. “The panelists agreed that women are enterprising about finding solutions to funding needs, but additional techniques that could help range from establishing deeper networking for women to recognition for men who enable women entrepreneurs.”

The panel on solving the hidden challenges that women face in leadership moderated by IIT Bombay Alumna, Durriya Doctor talked about micro-inequities that make it harder for women to climb. Panelist, Anu Chitrapu quipped on the importance of women speaking up and raising their hand to volunteer whenever an opportunity arises as it may open new doors.

IIT-women-1-s“What differentiated this panel from other panels on similar topics was that here all the women related their personal stories of their challenges and how they overcame them,” said Chitrapu. “This was a panel where topics like unconscious bias were discussed via real experiences with solutions on how to deal with them.”

Anu Chitrapu

Anu Chitrapu

A session on how to become a person of influence was led by Jo Miller on Friday. Saturday saw two powerful panels, one on women advancing the common good through technology and one on women impact the next generation of STEM professionals. The former featured India New England News 2013 Woman of the Year, Poonam Ahluwalia and India New England News  2012 Woman of the Year and IIT Bombay alumna, Ranjani Saigal who shared deep insights on how each has impacted the social community through their work.

Panelist and IIT Madras alum, Savitha Sridharan, through her startup, talkied about targeting lighting up 100 villages across the world with renewable energy solutions . Young panelist Amrita Saigal inspired the attendess by sharing details about her MIT startup that has been launched to provide women in rural India access to biodegradable sanitary pads. The STEM panel was moderated by INEN 2016 finalist, Rita Advani.

The fact that the parallel system of expensive tutoring is what is impeding girls in India today from making it into coveted STEM institutions of higher learning was shared by panelist Prof Sudeshna Sarkar, IIT Kharagpur alum and now HOD of the Computer Science and Engineering department.

A dynamic mentor/mentee session led by Ranjani Saigal and Meenakshi Narain (IIT Kanpur alum and Brown Univ professor ) wrapped up the women’s sessions at the conference on Sunday, where conference co-chair, Mandy Deb Pant requested that in addition to the initial goals called out at the conference start, the attendees should take what they have learnt forward helping each other out.

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External Affairs Ministry comes up with Facebook app to reach out to more people

Aug 18, 2016 0

New Delhi– The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Thursday launched a Facebook application to help people connect with the Indian missions across the globe any time of the day.

Announcing the launch here, MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup said: “The social media has been a game changer in the way we communicate with each other and the world”.

Ankhi Dass

Ankhi Dass

He said the ministry has been a pioneer in adapting to digital tools, starting in 2010.

“The ministry handles on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Instagram, G+, Soundcloud etc. have a collective viewership exceeding four million,” he said, adding this particular application will help people in various ways.

Speaking on the occasion, Ankhi Dass, Pubilc Policy Director of Facebook for India, South and Central Asia, said it was a good step from the government’s side to help people and getting them involved in foreign policy matters directly.

“This really is the consumerisation of foreign policy and you have taken distress mitigation and grievance redress literally to the next stage. I think with this app what is happening is that you are putting power in the people’s hands to be able to contact to the missions directly,” she said.

“This is very useful, particularly in distressing times,” she said. (IANS)

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