Wednesday, May 31, 2017

New software can edit human voice like text

Words can be replaced or added in recordings with ease

Scientists have developed a new software that allows people to edit audio recording of a human voice with the ease of changing words on a computer screen.
The technology developed by researchers at Princeton University in the U.S. may do for audio recordings what word processing software did for the written word.
The software, named VoCo, provides an easy means to add or replace a word in a recording of a human voice. New words are then automatically synthesised in the speaker’s voice.
The system, which uses a sophisticated algorithm to recreate a particular voice, could one day make editing podcasts and narration in videos much easier.
The technology could provide a launching point for creating personalised robotic voices. “VoCo provides a peek at a very practical technology for editing audio tracks, but it is also a harbinger for future technologies that will allow the human voice to be synthesised and automated in remarkable ways,” said Adam Finkelstein, a professor of computer science at Princeton.
VoCo’s user interface looks similar to other audio editing software, with visualisation of the waveform of the audio track and a set of cut, copy and paste tools.

Faster process

Unlike other programmes, VoCo allows the user to replace or insert words that do not exist in the track simply by typing them in. VoCo then synthesises the new word by stitching together snippets of audio from elsewhere the narration.
“Currently, if you want to add a word, it is possible only through a painstaking trial and error process of searching for small audio snippets,” said Finkelstein.
The finding was published in the journal Transactions on Graphics.

Source:THE HINDU-17th May,2017

This supercomputer has 160 tb memory

HP introduces device capable of handling vast data at supercomputing speeds, thousand times the speed of existing ones
Researchers from Hewlett-Packard Enterprise (HPE) unveiled what they claimed was a breakthrough in computing with a new machine capable of handling vast amounts of data at supercomputing speeds.

The prototype named ‘The Machine' uses a new approach to computer architecture, which the company says can be adapted for a range of big data applications, handling tasks at thousands of times the speed of existing devices. The new system is called ‘memory driven computing' and uses light waves to transmit data instead of electrical impulses, travelling over silicon, bypassing what engineers say is an obstacle to boosting computing speeds.

Sharad Singhal, Head,Machine Applications, HPE, said previous efforts to boost computing power “were running into a brick wall into computation” because computing needs are increasing beyond the capacity of existing chips.
Singhal said the project is an effort “to rethink computers from the ground up”. This means instead of a silicon chip at theheart of the computer, “we are putting data at the center,” the researcher said.

The prototype unveiled contains 160 terabytes of memory, capable of simultaneously working with the contents of approximately 160 million books, a task never before possible in a single unit. Singhal said supercomputers accomplish this task by stringing together clusters of processors, but that the new machine can handle this more efficiently within a single unit.

HPE unveiled its first prototype last year, but in the current version, has increased the number of computing nodes from two to 40. Singhal said the company hopes to be able to commercialise the machine within a few years.

He said one area where this can be useful is in health care, where powerful computing can analyse health studies, genetics, and the potential for personalising medical treatment. “These kinds of things can be done a lot faster on the architecture we are talking about,” he said. “The research still needs to be done. But for the people working in those areas, we are giving them a more efficient tool.” He said this approach can help shorten the time in which medicines are developed by better analysis of their effectiveness and side effects.

“The secrets to the next great scientific breakthrough, industry-changing innovation, or life-altering technology hide in plain sight behind the mountains of data we create every day,” said Meg Whitman, Chief Executive, HP Enterprise.

Source: DNA-18th May,2017


For those who're just starting out in the world of art collection, here's a quick guide to the stories and inspirations behind famous paintings
`The Starry Night' by Vincent Van Gogh
One of Vincent Van Gogh's most famous paintings, this art work was a result of his fascination for staring out of his window.This painting is based on the view from his window, on one such starry night.

`Red Hills and White Flowers' by George O' Keeffe
Drawing from the mountains around her New Mexico home, O'Keeffe painted this art work in her personal style of juxtaposing larger still life objects with far-off landscapes. `

The American Gothic' by Grant Wood
It was an old wooden house in Iowa that is said to have inspired Wood to use it as a backdrop for this famous painting. It was the large window of the house that struck Wood the most.

`Mona Lisa' by Leonardo Da Vinci
Ever noticed the landscape behind Da Vinci's masterpiece, Mona Lisa? Italian art historian Carla Glori says that the three arched bridge over her left shoulder is from Bobbio, a village in a rugged hill country in Northern Italy.
Water Lilies' by Claude Monet

Monet was quite the flower man. He is said to have planted the lilies painted in this famous art at his home in France. Monet rented the place and painted 250 oil paintings based on the water lilies .

Source: THE ECONOMIC TIMES-17th May,2017

Jamsenpa scripts history, scales Everest twice in 5 days

Mother of two becomes first Indian woman to reach mountain top for fifth time

Climber Anshu Jamsenpa on Sunday scripted history by scaling Mount Everest twice within five days.
Ms. Jamsenpa, a mother of two, had conquered the world’s highest peak for the fourth time on May 16 last. The mountaineer from Arunachal Pradesh began her double ascent on Friday morning, her husband Tsering Wange informed.
Ms. Jamsenpa, along with Nepali climber Furi Sherpa, scaled the peak at 8 a.m. on Sunday. She set the world record for becoming the first woman climber to reach the top of Mount Everest twice within five days. She is also the first Indian woman to reach the top of the mountain for the fifth time.
‘My only aim’
The 32-year-old had achieved the feat of summiting Mount Everest twice within 10 days in 2011. Ms. Jamsenpa had also climbed it in 2013 from the Nepal side.
“My only aim now is to unfurl the national flag once again atop Mount Everest and pay homage to Lord Buddha. I seek blessings and support from my fellow countrymen,” Ms. Jamsenpa was quoted by her PR manager as having said before starting her second ascent.
Prayers were organised in monasteries and temples back home in Arunachal and elsewhere in the region. Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama had flagged off the mountaineer’s double ascent expedition from Guwahati on April 2 this year.

Source: THE HINDU-22nd May,2017

Afghan woman seeks to be the youngest pilot to circle the earth

 Afghan pilot hoping to become the youngest woman in history to complete a solo round-the-world flight was preparing on Monday to start the Transatlantic leg of her journey.
Shaesta Waiz, 29, was born in a refugee camp at the end of the Soviet war in Afghanistan before immigrating with her family to the United States in 1987. There, she obtained her pilot's licence - becoming the youngest certified civilian female pilot from Afghanistan.
Waiz took off from Florida on Saturday and has mapped out a route that will take her aboard her Beechcraft Bonanza A36 aircraft approximately 25,800 kilometres to more than 18 countries, including India, before ending the trip back in Florida in August.
During her 30 stopovers, the engineering graduate and the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), which is backing her trip, will host events to try to get schoolchildren interested in aeronautics. According to ICAO figures, less than five per cent of commercial pilots are women.
On the website of her non-profit Dreams Soar, she commented: “Every time I open the door of an aircraft, I ask myself, ‘How did a girl with my background become so lucky? The truth is, anyone can be me.' 

Source: DNA-17th May,2017

Tribute to Kalam: NASA names new species after late President

The name of the bacterium, found only on the ISS, is Solibacillus kalamii. It is a spore forming bacteria
Till date, 227 astronauts have flown to the International Space Station which makes it a very dirty place. However, maintaining hygiene is critical so that humans can live on it with ease. All the air and water is recycled and being a closed environment there is a rapid build- up of bacteria. In great news for India, scientists at NASA have named a new organism discovered by them after the much-loved APJ Abdul Kalam. Till date, the new organism - a form of a bacteria - has been found only on the International Space Station (ISS) and has not been found on Earth! Researchers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), the foremost lab of NASA for work on inter-planetary travel, discovered the new bacteria on the filters of the ISS and named it Solibacillus kalamii to honour the late President, who was a renowned aerospace scientist. Kalam had his early training at NASA in 1963 before he set up India's first rocket-launching facility in the fishing village of Thumba in Kerala.

“The name of the bacterium is Solibacillus kalamii, the species name is after Dr Abdul Kalam and genus name is Solibacillus which is a spore forming bacteria,” said Dr Kasthuri Venkateswaran, senior research scientist, Biotechnology and Planetary Protection Group at JPL. The filter on which the new bug was found remained on board the ISS for 40 months. Called a high-efficiency particulate arrestance filter or HEPA filter, this part is the routine housekeeping and cleaning system on board the ISS.

This filter was later analysed at JPL and only this year did Venkateswaran publish his discovery in the International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology. According to Venkateswaran, even as it orbits the Earth some 400 kilometres above, the ISS is home to many types of bacteria and fungi which co-inhabit the station with the astronauts who live and work on the station.

Venkateswaran said even though Solibacillus kalamii has never been found on earth till date, it is really not an extra-terrestrial life form or ET. “I am reasonably sure it has hitch hiked to the space station on board some cargo and then survived the hostile conditions of space,” explained Venkateswaran.

Naming the new microbe after Kalam was natural to Venkateswaran and his team. “Being a fellow Tamilian, I am aware of the huge contributions by Dr Kalam,” he said.
New bacteria are usually named after famous scientists. Venkateswaran is part of a team which is asking that eternal question “Are we alone in the universe?” Towards that, his responsibilities include monitoring the bug levels on the ISS and he also has to ensure that all spacecraft that fly to other planets are free of terrestrial bugs.

One of his big jobs was to ensure that NASA's Mars Curiosity rover - the massive car-sized almost 1000 kg buggy - was totally sterile when it left Earth. By international law, this extreme hygiene is required else other planets could get contaminated by bugs that reach the Martian or other planets hidden on human satellites. Today, the ISS is the size of a football field and its construction started with a launch in 1998 and as of now it is the largest human-made object orbiting the Earth.
Weighing about 419 tonnes, it can house a maximum of six astronauts. 

Source: DNA-22nd May,2017

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

IIT Bombay professor wins INSA medal for Young Scientist 2017

Vikram Vishal, assistant professor in the department of Earth Sciences at the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay won the prestigious Indian National Science Academy (INSA) medal for Young Scientist (2017). The award is considered to be the highest recognition of promise, creativity and excellence in young scientists, and awarded annually by INSA for research conducted by scientists in India. Till 2015, 737 young scientists have been recognisedby INSA. Excerpts from theinterview: Tell us about your research.
I work on something called as Geologic Carbon sequestration. This is related to increase of anthropogenic CO2 composition in the atmosphere primarily due to industrial release. Instead of allowing the CO2 to be released in the atmosphere, we capture the carbon dioxide by injecting it deep underground to what we call reservoirs. This lets the CO2 be stored underground rather than releasing it in the atmosphere since that leads to global warming. This is one of the methods to prevent climate change.

How did INSA happen? Is it a self-application process, or do they pick directly? It is a combination by fellows of the academy. It is a very prestigious academy so they do not allow self-application and it's done by nomination. I was nominated by the then Dean. They cannot enroll more than 30 applicants. In context to Mumbai and Maharashtra, is there any input you have given to any organisation or the government? This technology can be implemented because wherever we have coal fields in the North-East of the Maharashtra, in the southern part of the Maharashtra, and part of Chattisgarh, MP, Jharkhand, West Bengal. You can inject that CO2 for methane recovery, in Chattisgarh fields, West Bengal fields or somewhere just for storage purpose.

What would you suggest forstudents who are looking forinnovation? We need to identify area of big challenges in the present century in context to the country, and the impact of those problems in the next 20-50 years.We need to work on making changes with our knowledge of Science, and ways to innovate. We are facing new challenges in terms of clean water, heating pact, weather patterns and many more where we can use upcoming technologies. We can make it more inter-disciplinary. I interact with chemistry, physics, mechanical, civil and earth sciences.

Source: DNA- 9th May,2017

Monday, May 15, 2017

12 ways by AICTE to make engineering graduates more employable

By Team Asianet Newsable | 07:45 AM Friday, 12 May 2017
The IT industry is going through a difficult time, and big companies are taking drastic measures to cut down their workforce for underwhelming performance. Visa rule changes in multiple countries, automation and also outdated syllabus in technical institutions are posing newer challenges to this otherwise promising sector. 
In fact, in the recent past, many industry experts, surveys and even people from the industry has repeatedly emphasised on the need for upgrading the courses in engineering to make the fresh graduates more employable. To change this scenario and to meet the growing demands of the industry All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) has decided to bring many changes. 
In its recent meeting, the apex regulatory body issued certain mandates to be followed by engineering institutions across the country, reported the New Indian Express
Here are the mandates:
1.    Mandatory internships: For undergraduate students, 3 internships of 4 to 8 weeks duration each will be mandatory. This way the students will be able to understand the industry requirements and how it works. 
2.    Mandatory induction training: After the admission, each student will have to take in induction training for refreshing their fundamental concepts as well as language skills needed for technical education.
3.    Institutions to help students: The regulatory body has entrusted the engineering institutions to help its students to get an internship in suitable organisations and industries. 
4.    Refresher course for teachers: Annual refresher course for teachers has been made mandatory by the AICTE. SWAYAM portal will deliver this course, and minimum 50 percent faculty members participation is must for an institute to get approval. 
5.    Leadership training: The head of the institutions will also have to go through leadership training every 2 years.
6.    Yearly change in curriculum: The universities were also asked to make necessary changes in curriculum each year and also to create subject-wise industry consultation committees. 
7.    Rules for final exams: The final exams should test understanding of different concepts and skills than knowledge of subject matter among students. 
In the meeting, it was also discussed that each year around 7 to 8 lakh students are graduating from engineering institutions from across India, but only one-third of these graduates are employable. Also, only 50 percent fresh graduates join their core area of study. 
In the same meeting, AICTE also set 5 benchmarks to attain:
1.    Improve employability through imparting requisite skills and make the students ready for industry. 
2.    Increasing the student placement from 40 percent to 60 percent.
3.    Increase accredited programmes from 15 percent to 50 percent.
4.    Ensuring minimum 75 percent students’ participation in summer internships.

5.    To deliver the above benchmarks, the body is planning to build the required capacities of technical institutions in India.

Thursday, May 11, 2017


Libraries can be architectural masterpieces that tell a story about the time and place they were built.
Photographer Thomas Schiff has clicked panoramic photos of these five libraries in the US to capture their opulence
George Peabody Library
Located in Baltimore, Maryland, the library features five levels of dramatic cast-iron balconies that stretch 61 feet tall. It opened to the public in 1878, and also serves as a Johns Hopkins research library today.
The Amelia Givin Library
Located in Mount Holly Springs, Pennsylvania, this is one of Schiff's favourites. He describes the 19th century building with ornate woodwork as an inviting space that the community takes pride in. As a photographer, Schiff was not only attracted to the ornate book shelves and vast reading rooms of libraries but also to their symbolic role as places for public education.
Iowa Law Library
It is known for its two spiral staircases and marble panelling, as well as its specialised collections of legal periodicals and books. “It's interesting to see whether the civic statements some of these buildings make are more important than the books they have on their shelves,“ Schiff says.
The Boston Athenæum
This is one of the oldest independent libraries in the US. Resources of the Boston Athenæum include a large circulating book collection; a public gallery; a rare book collection of over 1,00,000 volumes; an art collection of 100,000 paintings, sculptures, prints, drawings, photographs, and decorative arts.
St Johnsbury Athenaeum
This Vermont library is significant because of its construction, the American landscape paintings and books from its original role as a public library and free art gallery. In fact, it is partially an art gallery with a collection of 19th century paintings on its walls too .

Source: THE ECONOMIC TIMES-8th May,2017

India’s first ‘village of books’ opens

Bhilar boasts collection of over 15,000 rare books and old magazines in Marathi

Terming it a “historic occasion”, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Thursday inaugurated India’s first ‘village of books’ in the picturesque mountain village of Bhilar in Satara district, 110 km from here.
‘A pivotal moment’
Mr. Fadnavis said, “With this concept, the residents of Bhilar have carved a niche for themselves in the country’s social scene. Henceforth, Bhilar will be the definitive destination for bibliophiles and I urge litterateurs and publishers to freely host events here for the promotion and preservation of literature and literary ideas.” The Chief Minister said the opening of the ‘village of books’ was a pivotal moment in the country’s socio-cultural milieu.
Geographically modelled on the similarly idyllic market town of Hay-on-Wye — the Welsh mecca for bibliophiles — Bhilar, with its robust collection of literature in Marathi, aims to be the one-stop destination for lovers of vernacular literature.
The idea of a book village sited close to the hill-station town of Mahabaleshwar was to transform Bhilar into a haven where bibliophiles can devour books.
With a population of 5,000, an overwhelming majority of whom are engaged in strawberry farming, the village, nestled in the Sahyadri hills, is a major producing-hub of strawberries, which draws a lot of tourists.
Education Minister Vinod Tawde, for whom the project has been a labour of love, said, “With this novel venture, tourism and the preservation and promotion of Marathi language and culture can go hand in hand. The government will use the village as a unique platform to promote literature.” It is with the aim of preserving and documenting the Marathi language’s rich heritage that this concept first took root, Mr. Tawde said.
About 75 artists have striven hard to give the village a literary veneer. Their paintings on the temple, houses and walls in the village evoke images of words and literature and are expected to draw in book lovers.
The walls of schools and community halls in Bhilar have been adorned with paintings of saints like Tukaram and national leaders like Bal Gangadhar Tilak in a bid to resonate with the literary fervour of the place.
Officials said around 15,000 rare books and old magazines in Marathi, including copies of old Diwali issues, have been stocked and kept on display. The collection of English and Hindi literature will be steadily updated.
According to authorities, a nominal deposit fee would be charged from readers to ensure proper maintenance of books. They said as the area is prone to heavy rainfall, special provisions would be made to preserve books from damp weather.

Source:THE HINDU-5th May,2017

Dare to dream: Cricket academy for underprivileged

GM Ritesh, 16, wants to start a cricket academy for underprivileged children to prepare them for Delhi U-16 team

A 16-year-old student has sketched down a business plan to start a cricket academy for underprivileged children and prepare them for Delhi's under-16 cricket team. The thought occurred to GM Ritesh when he was studying in Bangalore around two years ago. “We have a huge garden with arrangements being made to play cricket but earlier I would play on the public grounds, where several talented players suffered for the lack of having a coach or proper guidance. When I suggested that they join an academy, they told me managing education was difficult enough, joining an academy was a far-fetched dream. That's when it struck me that something should be done to encourage this talent. That way we would have not one but many Dhonis and Kohlis in the Indian team,” says the 16-year-old cricket enthusiast whose uncle Kiran Kumar Grandhi owns the Indian Premier League's (IPL) Delhi Daredevils team.

Talking about the business plan for the academy that would be inaugurated next year in March-April, Ritesh plans to approach government schools and bastis to scout for talent to provide training to 20 selected students. “We will take children belonging to the age group of 12 to 14 and would prepare them for Delhi's under-16 matches as DDCA has already backed out of under-14 circuit. For the selection process, tennis ball based cricket matches would be organised in their area so that they can play in their comfort zone. The selection process will be done by a coach,” says Ritesh and adds that he is looking for people who are really passionate about the sport. On the budget front, Ritesh has decided to approach investors during his summer break. He also has plans to request his uncle to utilise Delhi Daredevils' academy in Palam for the purpose of practice and training as well as their equipment post IPL. “Once the IPL is over, several equipment like bats, balls, stumps either go waste or are kept in the store. More equipment could be procured from Meerut as they are manufactured there and prices double by the time they reach Delhi. Overall the initial investment including sportswear, equipment and other facilities cost around Rs 5 lakh and a monthly expenditure of Rs 30,000 which includes adequate diet for the players,” says Ritesh. Even as his grandfather GM Rao is the director of GMR group with his father GBS Raju taking care of GMR Energy, Ritesh wants no help in his struggle as he wants to create something of his own. “They are my family and they will support me if and when need arises, but this is my idea and for me it is about a sense of ownership. I want to try out things on my own from funding to the functioning of the NGO. GMR would be my last resort,” said Ritesh. It helps that he has a financially strong family to bring a sense of security, who will step in if and when he needs them. He agrees. Meanwhile, mother GS Smitha who has seen his passion for cricket swell over the years, is aware of his many business ideas, “including one where he wanted to buy cricket bats from Meerut and sell them in Delhi and a mobile application, which was also based on cricket,” she says, proud of his entrepreneurial spirit.

Source: DNA-7th May,2017

15-year-old Milen Earath strikes the right chord

National Child Award winner has been enthralling audiences with classical piano pieces

House lights dim as a yellow spotlight shifts focus towards the wood-paved stage, where a fine piano glistens. A burst of applause and a young lad walks briskly towards the instrument, and begins to play. His music rouses the audience as he plays a sonata by Ludwig van Beethoven composed in 1904, followed by Gaspard de la nuit by Maurice Ravel. Meet 15-year-old Milen Earath, who began his classical music journey in 2010. Little did he know that he was set out to taste success. Unlike other children who inherit musical traits from their parents, Milen's story is unique. His parents are both doctors, and no one from his family is a musician. His father, Manoj Earath hails from Kerala, and his mother Alena Vladimirovna Earath, is Russian. Settled in Thrissur, Kerala, Milen discovered his love for music when he was studying in Class 3. “I was on a vacation when my mother and I visited my grandparents in Russia. My grandfather took me to a music school where I saw the piano for the first time in my life. Listening to it being played, I fell in love with its sounds, and from that day I just wanted to learn music,” says Milen. His father Manoj recalls how overjoyed Milen was when he returned from the trip. “We gifted him a small Casio keyboard for his birthday that year. He was nine then, and would come home from school and spend the rest of the day hitting away the keys and experimenting with it,” says Manoj. Recognising his love for music, Milen's parents sent him to study music at Chetna Music Academy back in Kerala, where he trained under the guidance of Father Thomas in 2010. Soon Milen completed all eight grades in pianoforte from Trinity College, London, and passed with a distinction. Soon after, he went on to complete three diploma courses in music, giving exams for Associate of Trinity College London (ATCL), Licentiate of Trinity College London (LTCL), and Fellowship of Trinity College London (FTCL) and was certified in 2014. In 2016, Milen received the National Child Award for Exceptional Achievement in the field of music by President Pranab Mukherjee, as he was also the youngest and the fastest Indian to have completed professional music training in a span of four and a half years.

“I received immense support from my school principal at Devamadha CMI Public School. Instead of attending school from 9 am to 4 pm, he used to allow me to leave by 3 pm,” says Milen. Spending most of his time at home practicing on his keyboard, Milen feels that learning music requires great perseverance. “Learning to read music can be a complex process, but there was never a time when I wanted to give up. My parents are my mentors, and my biggest support,” says Milen. He is currently receiving guidance from Prof. Heribert Koch, President of European Piano Teachers Association (EPTA) Germany, on Skype. Milen believes that India would have far more youngsters joining the Indian music scene provided there were good teachers. “One problem is finding a good teacher. If you want to be a professional musician, no matter how well-taught, you need a teacher by your side to practically show you how to play a certain piece better,” expresses Milen. However, for now, his home is back in Kerala, where he will continue to practice and travel to places to play whenever possible, as his dream is to be a full-time concert pianist.

Source: DNA-7th May,2017

CA exams: Memory whiz gives lowdown on things to remember

As students across the country gear up to appear for their chartered accountancy examinations, which begin on May 3, a few dollops of inspiration might just help them sail smoothly. Memory whiz Nischal Narayanam, from Hyderabad, made national news when he cracked the chartered accountancy examinations in 2015. The now 21-year-old was already a ‘Double Guinness World Record holder' in the category of memory, when he accomplished the feat of being the youngest chartered accountant (CA) in the country.

According to Nischal, “Many students don't do internships because they think it's a waste, and prefer to sit at home and study. What one studies from the books is just 10 per cent of the deal, the rest comes from hands-on experience. My CA articleship at Deloitte International audit firm played an important role in understanding the system and how things work, as mugging is not everything.” He further adds, “Spending time on project work like presentations and writing skills is not a waste and one must learn to manage time purposefully. An evaluator is witty enough to figure if a student is confused or focused, so there is a need to impress them with presentations.” Preparing for an examination that can probably define our future is often overhwhelming. The key is to keep calm. “My mother was the one who created a positive atmosphere around me and recognised my potential. The exam has an irregular structure, but honest effort and sacrifice makes it worth it till the end,” says Nischal. Talking about his schedule, he shares, “My schedule entailed revising at least six times before the examination to keep myself updated. Self-studying is very important, and the fact that one has to sit and study the same thing over and over again, but continues to do so, is important. One must sleep for at least eight hours, and eat healthy. The first attempt is the best attempt, as the concentration level can't be replicated in other attempts. I was confident about passing the exam. You can somehow know if you will clear it or not.” Not one to be flattered by the adulation, Nischal continues to stay grounded and ensures his plans include the lesser-privileged sections of society. “I will be getting myself enrolled at Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI). But I have an educational site which I want to work on, it's called ‘Nischals - Joy of Knowing'. It deals with innovative educational products and works on Maths and Science for schools students. I want to make it much bigger than it is now and help poor but talented students. The Maths problems we design are significantly appreciated all over India. The Maharashtra State Board along with other boards has taken our circular into consideration.” His advice for CA aspirants is simple. “Hard work is enough to attain success. Students should not get restless, but instead be patient and plan properly. Towards the final few months, a student must have enough time for revision and solve mock papers. Time management is very important, utilise the initial 15 minutes (the most crucial time) for reading your question paper thoroughly before you begin to write. Attempt the questions you are confident about first, and then go on with the rest, keeping presentation in mind. All these points are simple but important,” he says.

Source: DNA-3rd May,2017

FROM THE PRINCIPAL'S DESK : Changing school libraries

Most adults today would remember their school library as a place they went to, once a week for the “Library period”. Some eagerly waited for this period while others pretended to choose a book, issued it in their name, kept the book for over a week and returned it without reading. Most often it was a room somewhere secluded far away from the hustle and bustle of the school - a seemingly mysterious place that housed more mysteries than the Enid Blyton books it housed.

What a far cry from the present day library! Today the library in most progressive schools is a thriving ‘organism' by itself. Well-lit, large and airy, the library is not just a storehouse of books but a complete information centre on its own. Several schools have not just one library but maybe even three - a reading room for pre-school, a primary school library and one for high school. Books - both texts and reference - neatly catalogued and classified in well-designated areas make the library more friendly and accessible. Books according to the choice of the reader and within the budget of the school are available in more than one copy. Fiction books are arranged class-wise with a separate rack reserved for the staff. I have always loved libraries, and even today try and visit it at least once a day. The latest arrivals too are prominently placed so as to catch the visitors' attention.

Libraries today have become bustling information centers. What with Wi-Fi availability one wonders whether it is a school library. But, I must state that more than the books that are read, the young student makes a beeline for the technology centre and accesses his reading material online. But to get back to the library, librarians are doing their best to attract young readers and develop in them a love for reading. Some strategies are: 

1: Organising book fairs and exhibitions. Invite authors to come and read out excerpts from their books. Maybe even autograph their books. 
2: Have book review contests and give away the latest book as a prize 
3: Let students meet say once a fortnight and discuss their favourite books 
4: Have a story writing competition with a creative writing workshop prior to the event.
5: Constantly be in touch with the pupils, telling them all about the latest arrivals and ask them for feedback. 
6: Get parents involved. Permit them to use the library if they wish. This will create a sense of belonging and partnership 
7:  Organise Treasure Hunts using book titles as clues. Have a quiz, What's the Good word, Dictionary and Pictionary Challenge, and so on A word of caution or advice or whatever you will to the Librarians - “you are the keeper of the keys of the cupboard ” as it were, of the pupils reading treasure. Please unlock this world of magic and excitement to your students; if being a librarian is just a job to you, you may just as well not do it.

Source: DNA-8th May,2017

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

GST jitters: Chemists not stocking drugs beyond a week

New Delhi: Patients be warned that chemists are currently not stocking drugs beyond one week. Anticipating set-backs that they will have to face with the introduction of Goods and Services Tax (GST) in July, chemists have begun cutting back on the quantity stocked. From stocking drugs for about 30 to 40 days, they are now stocking up for a week at a time.

Chemists, however, insist that patients will not be affected by the transition. “Stocking beyond a week will not be possible, but drugs will be available for patients. We can also dispense branded substitutes of other companies in case of shortage,” said Hakim Kapasi, member, All India Association of Chemists and Druggists.
It is likely that the pharmaceutical sector will attract 12 per cent GST from July. There is no confirmation on whether the sector will be exempt from GST in the draft documents of the taxation regime.

“The burden of new regime will fall on retail chemists. Old stocks will have to be sold according to the new regime. The burden cannot be passed on to patient as MRPs are fixed. So, we are stocking for fewer days, until we are sure of the situation,” said Anil Navandar, Secretary, Maharashtra State Druggists and Chemists Association.
At present, wholesalers and retailers pay six per cent value added tax (VAT) and an additional excise duty on medicines. Prices are adjusted by manufacturers who account for earning of wholesalers and retailers. Some do not levy excise duty, as they manufacture out of excise-free zones like Baddi in Himachal Pradesh or Sikkim.

The pharmaceutical industry feels that they can take on the new tax regime with ease. “The 12 per cent tax will not make a difference for manufacturers as it will offset all other taxes we pay to the government. It is also not likely that patients will have to face drug price hikes after GST. But the government should take a call on hiccups faced by retailers on how to return to them the difference they will foot, as patients do not pay extra,” said a senior manager from Lupin Limited.

Source: DNA-2nd May,2017