InnoVidya Event: R&D in Publicly-Funded Labs In India

National Chemical Laboratory, Pune, is one of the top R&D institutions in the country. With approximately 200 scientific staff working here, it is an interdisciplinary research center with wide research scope and specializes in polymer science, organic chemistry, catalysis, materials chemistry, chemical engineering, biochemical sciences and process development. It houses good infrastructure for measurement science and chemical information.

There are about 400 graduate students pursuing research towards doctoral degree; about 50 students are awarded Ph.D. degree every year. NCL publishes over 400 research papers annually in the field of chemical sciences and over 60 patents worldwide. It is a unique source of research education producing the largest number of PhDs in chemical sciences within India.

InnoVidya and IUCAA present a talk by Dr. Sourav Pal, the current Director of NCL, on Research and Development in Publicly Funded Laboratories in India, on Saturday, 23 Aug, 2014, at Bhaskara 3 Hall, IUCAA. This is the next talk in the InnoVidya/IUCAA SPARK lecture series.

About the Speaker – Dr. Sourav Pal

Dr Sourav Pal is the Director, of National Chemical Laboratory (NCL), Pune, and Director, Central Salt and Marine Chemicals Research Institute (CSMCRI), Bhavnagar. He holds an integrated Masters degree in Chemistry from Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, and a Ph.D. from Calcutta University. He was a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Florida, Gainesville, USA and an Alexander von Humboldt Fellow at the University of Heidelberg, Germany . He was a visiting Professor at the University of Arizona, Tucson, USA and at the Institute for Molecular Sciences, Okazaki, Japan. Dr. Pal has been recognized by several awards and honours for his contribution to science and technology including the prestigious Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Award in Chemical Sciences, the SASTRA-CNR Rao Award in Chemistry & Materials Science. He is a Fellow of all the three National Academies of Science in India and the Royal Society of Chemistry, UK. He has published over 215 papers in peer-reviewed international journals, guided over 25 Ph D thesis, delivered more than 100 lectures in important conferences and is serving on the editorial boards of international journals.

Abstract of the talk:

Publicly funded Research and development laboratories play a major role in promoting scientific research and development of technology in India. In this presentation, Dr Pal will relate his experiences of working in such laboratories and presently as Director, NCL. He will highlight the role of these institutions in leading scientific research. He will bring out the expectations that the Government has from such publicly funded institutions.

About the InnoVidya IUCAA Spark Program

The SPARK program is a series of events jointly conducted by InnoVidya and IUCAA. These are special events that <spark> imagination & curiosity of our young, build bonds between participants of different disciplines, catalyze interactivity & promote peer links

If you’re interested in the state of education in India, please subscribe to get updates by email

Event Details

The event is on Saturday, Aug 23, 2014, at 11am, at Bhaskara 3 Hall, IUCAA, University of Pune Campus.

Fees and Registration

This event is free and open for anybody to attend. Register here

Video and Slides of InnoVidya Talk: Groundwater Governance in India

Here is a kapsule of the talk.

If you do not see the video/slides of the talk above, please click here. We suggest you click on the “fullscreen” button in the video above and then use the “Layout” button to change the layout so you can see the slides at the same time as the video. Also, click on the slides below the video to skip forward or backward in the talk.

Here is the abstract of the talk (if you need to decide whether it’s worth your time to see the whole video):

Groundwater governance in India must combine science, participation and regulation. India’s current groundwater scenario is a consequence of the scale and diversity of aquifers, the varying degrees of groundwater use and the significant degree of our groundwater dependence cutting across demands by agriculture, industry and household need. Developing a framework for groundwater requires an interdisciplinary perspective, although ‘hydrogeology’ remains the platform on which such a framework is built. Given India’s diverse hydrological and hydrogeological settings, the proposed approach considers fundamental principles of groundwater governance from other parts of the world, at the same time giving due importance to India’s social, economic and environmental peculiarities. This talk provides emergent contours of groundwater governance as well as a preliminary framework that is in synchronization with the fresh paradigm of water resource management enunciated in India’s 12th Five Year Plan. The approach proposed here is based on establishing that sustainable national development is only possible through groundwater governance taking an ecosystem perspective that is inclusive of both ‘aquifers’ and ‘people’s participation’.

Here is the background of the speaker:

Dr. Himanshu Kulkarni creates space for implementing the science of groundwater in the practice and policy on groundwater management. His system of aquifer-based participatory groundwater management is slowly bearing fruit on many fronts in India. He has been actively involved in the advocacy for stronger programs on groundwater management in India, through his inputs, more recently as Chairman, Working Group on Sustainable Groundwater Management for India’s 12th Five Year Plan. ACWADAM, which he co-founded with some of his teachers & peers, is working actively with various groups, networks and committees dealing with water resources across the country. Groundwater resources have held Dr. Kulkarni’s interest for nearly 30 years now. His work, both on the science of groundwater as well as on its application to socio-economic and ecological sectors is known and acknowledged in academic and development circles. He is currently working on groundwater management across India’s diverse hydrogeological typology. His work blends experience from his stints with academia, the corporate sector and, in his current position, with ACWADAM. He has travelled extensively, including to the US on a Fulbright Scholarship and to Austria as a UNESCO scholar. He has conducted hydrogeological fieldwork in all types of geological terrains in India and overseas. Dr. Kulkarni continues to publish his work extensively while providing various levels of mentorship in the field of groundwater management.

InnoVidya Event: Ground Water Governance in India

InnoVidya and IUCAA present a talk by Dr. Himanshu Kulkarni, on Groundwater governance in India: an ecosystem perspective to participatory aquifer management, on Saturday, 19 July, 2014, at Bhaskara 3 Hall, IUCAA. This is the next talk in the InnoVidya/IUCAA SPARK lecture series.

About the Speaker – Dr. Himanshu Kulkarni

Dr. Himanshu Kulkarni creates space for implementing the science of groundwater in the practice and policy on groundwater management. His system of aquifer-based participatory groundwater management is slowly bearing fruit on many fronts in India. He has been actively involved in the advocacy for stronger programs on groundwater management in India, through his inputs, more recently as Chairman, Working Group on Sustainable Groundwater Management for India’s 12th Five Year Plan. ACWADAM, which he co-founded with some of his teachers & peers, is working actively with various groups, networks and committees dealing with water resources across the country. Groundwater resources have held Dr. Kulkarni’s interest for nearly 30 years now. His work, both on the science of groundwater as well as on its application to socio-economic and ecological sectors is known and acknowledged in academic and development circles. He is currently working on groundwater management across India’s diverse hydrogeological typology. His work blends experience from his stints with academia, the corporate sector and, in his current position, with ACWADAM. He has travelled extensively, including to the US on a Fulbright Scholarship and to Austria as a UNESCO scholar. He has conducted hydrogeological fieldwork in all types of geological terrains in India and overseas. Dr. Kulkarni continues to publish his work extensively while providing various levels of mentorship in the field of groundwater management.

Abstract of the talk:

Groundwater governance in India must combine science, participation and regulation. India’s current groundwater scenario is a consequence of the scale and diversity of aquifers, the varying degrees of groundwater use and the significant degree of our groundwater dependence cutting across demands by agriculture, industry and household need. Developing a framework for groundwater requires an interdisciplinary perspective, although ‘hydrogeology’ remains the platform on which such a framework is built. Given India’s diverse hydrological and hydrogeological settings, the proposed approach considers fundamental principles of groundwater governance from other parts of the world, at the same time giving due importance to India’s social, economic and environmental peculiarities. This talk provides emergent contours of groundwater governance as well as a preliminary framework that is in synchronization with the fresh paradigm of water resource management enunciated in India’s 12th Five Year Plan. The approach proposed here is based on establishing that sustainable national development is only possible through groundwater governance taking an ecosystem perspective that is inclusive of both ‘aquifers’ and ‘people’s participation’.

About the InnoVidya IUCAA Spark Program

The SPARK program is a series of events jointly conducted by InnoVidya and IUCAA. These are special events that <spark> imagination & curiosity of our young, build bonds between participants of different disciplines, catalyze interactivity & promote peer links

If you’re interested in the state of education in India, please subscribe to get updates by email

Event Details

The event is on Saturday, July 19, 2014, at 11am, at Bhaskara 3 Hall, IUCAA, University of Pune Campus.

Fees and Registration

This event is free and open for anybody to attend. Register here.

InnoVidya Event: Spinning Startups from Science & Technology R&D

InnoVidya, IUCAA and MCCIA present a talk by Dr. S. Sivaram on “Spinning off Start-ups from Science & Technology R&D” on Saturday, Mar 15, 2013, at 11am, 5th Floor, A-Wing, MCCIA, ICC Towers, SB Road. This is the next talk in the InnoVidya/IUCAA SPARK lecture series.

About the Speaker – Dr. S. Sivaram

Dr. Sivaram is a renowned polymer chemist and is. an alumnus of Madras Christian College + IIT-Kanpur & received his PhD in Chemistry from Purdue University, USA, After serving as Deputy General Manager (R&D) at Indian Petrochemicals Corporation Ltd., Vadodara, he joined NCL in 1988 as Head of the Polymer Chemistry Division and was the Director of NCL from 2002-2010. He has mentored the PhD theses of 36 graduate students. He has over 210 publications in peer reviewed scientific journals and holds 47 European and US patents and 46 Indian patents. He is the founder-Chairman and presently a member of the Board of Directors of Entrepreneurship Development Center, Pune, a ‘not-for-profit’ Company promoted by CSIR-NCL and a Founder Director of CSIR-Tech Private Limited, Pune, a ‘for-profit’ company, to commercialize IPR and technologies of CSIR as well as other publicly funded research institutions. He is a CSIR Bhatnagar Fellow and J.C.Bose National Fellow at the NCL. The President of India had conferred the “Padma Shri”, on Dr. Sivaram in 2006.

Abstract of the talk:

Spinning off new start-ups is a key component of science and technology (S&T) based innovation. This requires cutting edge scientific discoveries, a robust IPR portfolio, an entrepreneurial mind set and an enabling “eco-system. In India, the burgeoning IT, E Commerce & Service sectors of the economy have seen increasingly buoyant “start-up” activity. Sadly, S&T driven entrepreneurship has been conspicuously missing. This Talk will focus on a brief history and evolution of S&T driven entrepreneurship and the enabling policy framework that triggered a resurgence of “start-up” enterprises in more developed countries of the world. The elements of the “eco-system” needed to nurture scientific entrepreneurship will be discussed. The weakness of the “eco-system” in the Indian context will be elaborated with some prescriptions for change. Some recent examples of technology driven enterprises from India will be enumerated, especially, in the area of health care, diagnostics and clean energy. A large part of Indian S&T is currently outside of this ecosystem. The question of how to bring them into the ecosystem, therefore, assumes great importance. If S&T has to become an engine of innovation and economic growth, “spin–offs” and “start-ups’ have to become an integral part of India’s innovation systems.

About the InnoVidya IUCAA Spark Program

The SPARK program is a series of events jointly conducted by InnoVidya and IUCAA. These are special events that <spark> imagination & curiosity of our young, build bonds between participants of different disciplines, catalyze interactivity & promote peer links

If you’re interested in the state of education in India, please subscribe to get updates by email

Event Details

The event is on Saturday, March 15, 2013, at 11am, at 5th Floor, A-Wing, MCCIA, ICC Towers, SB Road

Fees and Registration

This event is free and open for anybody to attend. Register here.

InnoVidya Event: How findings in basic research lead to useful products

InnoVidya and IUCAA present a talk by Dr. Virender Sheorain on “Enlarging Knowledge Horizons” on Saturday, Sep 21, 2013, at 11am, at Bhaskara 3 Hall, IUCAA. This is the next talk in the InnoVidya/IUCAA SPARK lecture series.

About the Speaker – Dr. Virender Sheorain

Virender Sheorain received his PhD from Post-Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, (PGI) Chandigarh. He did his post doctoral Research at Vanderbilt University Medical Centre, Nashville, TN (USA). He was also Howard Hughes Medical Institute fellow and instructor in Physiology at Vanderbilt. His doctoral and subsequent research was on regulation of metabolic pathways responsible for manifestation of diabetes and related complications such as cardiovascular disease. He returned to India and worked nearly 15 years in R and D centres of three major companies i.e. Boots Pharmaceutical, Mumbai, Hindustan Lever Ltd., Mumbai and Seagram, Pune. Global sale of Seagram, in 2001, took him to Jamaica (West Indies ) where he was responsible for running of Diageo plc’s rum plants.

Abstract of the talk:

Most basic researchers pursue their research to satisfy their curiosity and publish their findings in scientific journals. But there are some who think of applying these findings to create useful products. Therefore, objectives of almost all industrial R & D centers are to commercialize either their own research or research published, but not patented, in scientific journals. The presentation will cover three such examples which will illustrate how an idea or scientific observation can lead to very useful products. The examples are : Statins, a class of drugs used for lowering blood Cholesterol, Fair and Lovely, a fairness cream, and Starumol, a source of non protein nitrogen for ruminants. All three products are classical examples of how basic research can be commercialized for the benefit of humans and at the same time create wealth for companies.

About the InnoVidya IUCAA Spark Program

The SPARK program is a series of events jointly conducted by InnoVidya and IUCAA. These are special events that <spark> imagination & curiosity of our young, build bonds between participants of different disciplines, catalyze interactivity & promote peer links

If you’re interested in the state of education in India, please subscribe to get updates by email

Event Details

The event is on Saturday, September 21, 2013, at 11am, at the Bhaskara 3 Hall, IUCAA, at University of Pune campus.

Fees and Registration

This event is free and open for anybody to attend. Register here. There is ample parking at the venue.

InnoVidya Event: The Idea of Growth by Anupam Saraph

InnoVidya and IUCAA present a talk by Dr. Anupam Saraph on “An Agenda for a Resurgent India” on Saturday, Aug 17, 2013, at 11am, at Bhaskara 3 Hall, IUCAA. This is the next talk in the InnoVidya/IUCAA SPARK lecture series.

About the Speaker – Dr. Anupam Saraph

Anupam Saraph holds a PhD in sustainable systems design from the Rijksuniversiteit Groningen, the Netherlands. He has made important contributions in domains such as systems, governance, environment and civil society and has done pioneering work in economic carrying capacity modeling & use of systems as a pedagogy in education. He teaches systems – information systems, environmental systems – and sustainable development at universities in Europe, Asia and the Americas. He also advises the World Economic Forum through its Global Agenda Council for Complex Systems and the Club of Rome Indian National Association as a founder life member.

Abstract of the talk:

Growth is all about getting Bigger. Individuals, corporations, governments – all of us wish to grow. What is their IDEA of GROWTH? Is there a limit to how much one can grow? What are the practical constraints behind such growth? Is there a conflict between <earning> & <learning>? Does the economics of growth drive all life forms and the dynamics of growth itself? Do the complex systems we create and are a part of decide the pace of growth and its impact on the system itself? What are the fallouts arising from Growth? How does Growth impact our Quality of Life? Some scenarios of our Growth and the Key elements contributing to Growth shall be defined & the ideas behind them shall be examined.

About the InnoVidya IUCAA Spark Program

The SPARK program is a series of events jointly conducted by InnoVidya and IUCAA. These are special events that <spark> imagination & curiosity of our young, build bonds between participants of different disciplines, catalyze interactivity & promote peer links

If you’re interested in the state of education in India, please subscribe to get updates by email

Event Details

The event is on Saturday, August 17, 2013, at 11am, at the Bhaskara 3 Hall, IUCAA, at University of Pune campus.

Fees and Registration

This event is free and open for anybody to attend. Register here. There is ample parking at the venue.

Event Report: Transforming and Scaling Education – D.B. Phatak

(This is a live-blog of a talk Prof. D.B. Phatak of IIT-Bombay gave a few weeks back in Pune, titled “Rethinking Education – Transforming and Scaling the Learning Model”. Note, this is a live blog, so please excuse the fact that it is unstructured, incomplete, and might contain errors. Note: this talk is being live-cast to 30+ colleges and other institutions all over India.)

Introduction of D.B. Phatak, by Anand Deshpande (CEO of Persistent Systems)

  • Prof. Phatak is my Guru. I have not been his student, formally, but I know him since early 90s and I always go to him for advice before anything important.
  • He did his engineering from Indore and PhD from IIT Bombay.
  • He got the Padmashree last year
  • He is a great speaker and anytime he is going a talk, you should always attend it.

Transforming and Scaling Education – by D.B. Phatak

  • This talk will touch upon these topics: 1) Learning, 2) Education, 3) Scaling, 4) Open Sourcing of Knowledge and 5) Technology Crystal Gazing

Learning

  • We are all familiar with learning in groups. Classroom learning. Fixed time slots. Typical: 1 teacher, 50 students, 1 hour. Teacher has (hopefully) pre-prepared the lecture. The students are supposed to listen with attention, throughout the hour, but this never happens.
  • So does learning happen in a classroom? Partially. Maximal learning happens when you try to apply knowledge that you’ve acquired.
  • All the advocates of e-learning and e-everything claim that if there is access to good quality knowledge, that is enough for anyone to learn. This is false. If just access to knowledge was good enough for learning, then librarians would be the smartest people on earth.
  • Learning needs applying knowledge, failing to apply that knowledge, correcting the failures. Without these steps, learning cannot happen.
  • Can an individual learn entirely on his/her own? Eklavya. Yes, there are cases of this. But don’t forget that here is only one Eklavya, but 7 billion non-Eklavya humans who also need to learn.
  • Why do we learn? Primarily for survival. Then betterment of ones life. Two other reasons which not everybody follows: learning for the sake of learning, and learning to advance human knowledge (research).
  • Unfortunately, we seem to have separated “research” and “education”). But research shouldn’t be just the domain of PhDs writing papers. The most important things needed in research should really be included in the mindset of everyone – Meticulousness. Curiosity. Precise Articulation. Diligence. Discipline. Rigor.
  • The most important learning happens from the age of 0 to 5 (-9months to 5 if you consider Abhimanyu), before the child goes to school. Social behavior. Basic Articulation. A second language. Ethics. Humility.

Education

  • We think of education as a formal system of knowledge being imparted through training and/or research. But education is happening all the time. Every interaction with someone else is an opportunity for self-education.
  • Our existing system is broken. Too much emphasis on rote learning. Children cannot apply what they learn. Industry says that less than 25% of our engineers are employable (and apparently the number in China is even lower).
  • We as a society have concluded that getting a degree with good marks implies that your career will be successful. And also, that the manner in which the degree and marks are gained is irrelevant – so optimizations (classes, cheating, leaked papers) are widespread.
  • The teaching is syllabus driven, and the learning by students is examination driven. The teacher must stick to the syllabus because the exam papers will be checked by a different teacher based on a paper set by a third teacher.
  • Is autonomy the answer?
  • The problem is not that our existing system is broken. The problem is that our system refuses to break! It is so well-entrenched. So any solution cannot emerge from complete disruption. The change has to be incremental and needs to work with the system.

Scaling

  • A claimed advantage of India is the demographic dividend. 300 million people under the age of 19. Educating them well can lead to huge gains for us. But we spend a very small fraction of our GDP (compared to other developing countries).
  • Gross enrollment ratio – the ratio of students who actually enroll for higher education to those actually eligible for higher education – is 60-80% in developed countries. In India it was 8% about 6 years ago. It has been brought to 13-14% now. We are hoping to bring it up to 30% by 2020. Double! To achieve that, we need to double all our educational institutions in 7 years. This is a tall order.
  • Another problem: last year, our engineering colleges’ capacity was 1.45million, whereas enrollment was 1.25million. So, while capacity is growing, enrollment is not growing. Parents and students have begun to believe that getting an engineering degree might not be worth it in all cases.
  • This is the situation with engineering education. It is much worse as you go lower.
  • Think of the problems we face, and the scale of the problems. And we need to solve them at that scale. If we double all our higher educational infrastructure in 7 years, and we convince students/parents to join the new schools, we’ll just get the enrollment ratio to just 30%. And we need to get to 80%
  • Teachers need to be convinced that their main job is not to teach. The main job is enable students to learn. The student should be able to transcend the knowledge of the teacher if/where needed. Also, student should be able to learn in the best possible manner for that student. The manner will be different for different students.
  • Our current education system allows a fixed amount of time for learning, but given that different human beings learn at different rates, it results in variable amount of learning. How does our education system deal with this difference? We grade the students. And denigrate the students who get lower marks. Not just society, friends and family start looking down on the student, but the student himself loses confidence and motivation.
  • What is needed is fixed amounts of learning in variable time (as long as the time is not too long). Is it possible to do this? Maybe – the technology, for the first time in human history, might allow this. Conventional education does not admit this possibility.

Open Sourcing of Knowledge

  • One of the important reasons for creation of the copyright and patent laws was to ensure that after a fixed amount of time, the knowledge contained there is available for all of humanity. But industry is manipulating the system to increase the amount of time.
  • The open source movement, creative commons are ways to get around the problems now being caused by copyright and patent problems.
  • There is lots of knowledge available on the net for free downloads, but because they are not appropriately licensed, it is not possible to distribute this knowledge in a system like Aakash. It is quite likely that the original author would have happily consented to the knowledge being used in this way, but often it is not possible to contact the person, or other problems get in the way. So good knowledge gets lost because of lack of awareness of open sourcing of knowledge.
  • However, if there are companies who are spending money on innovation, and would like to benefit monetarily from those innovations, it is only fair to expect that they use copyrights and licenses to enforce their rights. But as far as knowledge dissemination is concerned, open sourcing the knowledge is what will benefit the most people. There needs to be a balance between these two forces.
  • To do anything sustainably – including bringing changes into education – there needs to be revenues and financial management. But, for some reason, India has conferred a moral high ground to the education sector, and there is a belief that education sector should not be making money. That is not a sustainable thought.
  • Premji Foundation has an initiative in rural Karnataka where they are using computers to enhance education. They’re not teaching computers to the students – they are using computers to improve teaching of Kannada, Maths, etc. The program is funded by the foundation, the government, and the students. (There was a proposal to make this free for the students by taking more money from the government, but they found works better if the students pay.) The foundation has used controlled studies to show that the technology results in significant improvements in education.
  • IIT-Bombay runs a course to train teachers. It reaches 10000 teachers in 250 institutions across India. They’re trained by faculty from IIT Bombay. 4 of these centers are in Pune. This initiative is extremely well received. It is a costly model because it costs Rs. 6400 per teacher for a 2-week program – but by introducing a fee for teachers (because the teachers and colleges do benefit from this program) they’re hoping to reduce the cost to run this program.
  • MOOCs (Massively Online Open Courseware) like Coursera and MIT OCW are a new entrant with a lot of promise. IIT-Bombay has just concluded an MOU with edx and should be the first Indian university to offer an MOOC in about 6 months. Some courses can easily scale up to 1 lakh students. This would ensure that quality education will reach the masses.
  • Sam Pitroda makes a point that students who earn credits via MOOCs should be permitted to transferred credits/marks in their educational instituation. i.e. a COEP student taking an IIT-Bombay MOOC should be able to get COEP credits for passing that course.
  • Currently MOOCs are free, but there needs to be a revenue model for MOOCs. IIT-Bombay believes that knowledge should be free – so all the course material should be available using an open source license, but actual interaction can be paid.
  • But, one problem of MOOC is that often students don’t complete the course, or don’t take it seriously. One big advantage of actual physical classrooms is that in spite of all the distractions, you still end up paying attention to a significant fraction of the lecture.
  • These problems with MOOCs will be solved, and MOOCs will play a very large role in scalable education in India. Via internet. On the cloud.

Technology Crystal Gazing

  • MOOCs will be big – and will become the predominant technology platform for education. (IIT-Bombay picked edX instead of Coursera and others because edX is open source.)
  • Everything will be on the cloud
  • Bandwidth requirements will increase significantly
  • Every educational institution should plan for 1 gbps bandwidth.

Concluding remarks

  • Government must invest much more money in education. Government should not be a benevolent dictator. Education institutions, good or bad, need to get autonomy. Why do we have bad institutions who are simply degree factories? Because industry and society tremendously value degrees and marks. As soon as industry discovers that it can quickly and accurately evaluate students/job-seekers on the basis of their actual capabilities (as opposed to their marks and degrees), universities’ arrogance will disappear, and education will become much better.
  • The same technology which allows us to teach lakhs of students simultaneously and scalably, will also allow companies to assess and evaluate lakhs of students quickly and accurately.
  • Education does not end when you graduate from an educational institution. Education continues forever. Students and professionals need to understand this, and companies need to start focusing on this aspect.
  • Parents need to re-think their priorities. Forcing your child to prepare for JEE for 2 years is causing them to lose two years of their life that they could be using for actual education. And they’re learning to cheat – attending classes and skipping college, but getting “full attendance” at college anyway is being encouraged by parents.
  • It is well established that the best education of a child happens in his/her own mother tongue. Yet, most parents opt for English education. This is acceptable for parents who converse with the children in English on a regular basis. But this is a tiny fraction.
  • Students: enjoy education. Enjoy solving problems. Enjoy life. Dream big. But work hard.
  • There are 300 million Indians younger than 19, younger than the people in this room – and they’re waiting for us to do something for them. Independent of whatever else you are doing in your profession, you must think of making some contribution to making life more meaningful in terms of better learning and better education for those 300 million.

InnoVidya Event: Introduction to Inquiry-oriented Education by Prof. K.P. Mohanan

InnoVidya and IUCAA a talk by Prof. K.P. Mohanan on “An Introduction to Inquiry-Oriented Education” on Saturday, July 20, 2013, at 11am, at Bhaskara 3 Hall, IUCAA. This is the next talk in the InnoVidya/IUCAA SPARK lecture series.

About the Speaker – Prof. K.P. Mohanan

K.P. Mohanan received his PhD from MIT (the Massachusetts Institute of Technology), under Noam Chomsky, and taught at the University of Texas in Austin, MIT, Stanford University and National University of Singapore. At NUS, he initiated the General Education Program for undergraduate students, and as part of this program, created a web course on Academic Knowledge and Inquiry (http://wiki.nus.edu.sg/display/aki).

In January 2011, he moved to IISER-Pune to set up and develop the Centre for Integrative Studies. At IISER, he has created a three-course package on rational inquiry, covering scientific, mathematical, and conceptual inquiries. He is currently engaged in developing courses and programs on different types of inquiry based learning for high school and college students.

Abstract of the talk:

Scientific inquiry is a form of rational inquiry that seeks knowledge by formulating our ignorance as questions and arriving at answers on the basis of data/observations. Most forms of science education focus on helping students to understand a body of knowledge — the conclusions resulting from scientific inquiry — and to apply that knowledge to solve problems. As an alternative, I have been pursuing an inquiry-oriented form of science education that goes beyond understanding and application, to help students acquire the capacity to engage in scientific inquiry, to function not only as consumers of knowledge, but also as producers of knowledge.

The youtube video clip on What Ruca Likes and Dislikes will give a brief taste of what an inquiry-oriented classroom is like.

In this talk, I will briefly outline what my colleagues and I have been doing to bring scientific inquiry into classrooms, textbooks, and examinations. It should be of interest to both students and educators.

About the InnoVidya IUCAA Spark Program

The SPARK program is a series of events jointly conducted by InnoVidya and IUCAA. These are special events that <spark> imagination & curiosity of our young, build bonds between participants of different disciplines, catalyze interactivity & promote peer links

If you’re interested in the state of education in India, please subscribe to get updates by email

Event Details

The event is on Saturday, July 20, 2013, at 11am, at the Bhaskara 3 Hall, IUCAA, at University of Pune campus.

Fees and Registration

This event is free and open for anybody to attend. Register here. There is ample parking at the venue.

Heredity, Genetic Information & Its Manipulation – Dr. Sohan Modak – 16 March

InnoVidya and IUCAA invite everyone to a lecture on Heredity, Genetic Information and Its Manipulation, By Dr. Sohan Modak

Abstract

Living cells require proteins, fats, carbohydrates and nucleic acids for their structure and function. DNA, the master molecule, is embedded in chromosomes
and contains a linear array of thousands of Genes that encode information for proteins. Each Gene represents an informational unit for one protein. Before a
cell divides, DNA is duplicated so that the each of two daughter cells receives identical sets of Genes. Many chemical and physical agents damage DNA, and a
faulty repair changes the informational quality or even loss, which can be lethal or cause carcinogenesis, metabolic disorders or reduced life-span. Genes
can be modified in a test tube, or inside a cell. Genetic manipulation involves deletion of a gene or insertion of a new Gene. Gene insertion may be
beneficial or disrupt the Gene order leading to as yet unknown dangers.

About the Speaker – Dr. Sohan Modak

Sohan Modak has a doctorate from the University of Geneva and did post-doctoral work at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and University of Kentucky, Lexington
(USA). He served as staff scientist at the Swiss Institute for Experimental Cancer Research (1970-77), Visiting Professor at the Ohio State University and
Scientist-Engineer at French Center for Nuclear Energy Grenoble(1978-79). In 1979, he joined  the University of Poona as Professor. He founded the
Biotechnology Training Programme, NCCS, Bioinformatics-DIS. Sohan was Professor Emeritus at the Karnatak University, Dharwad (2001-03) and G.N.
Ramachandran Sr. Res.Fellow at the IGIB Delhi (2005-2008). He published research in Developmental Neurobiology, Molecular Biology and Genomics. He now
mentors studies on Molecular Evolution.

About InnoVidya

InnoVidya is a group of educators and industry professionals who want to reach out to students, teachers, trainers and working professionals and catalyze significant improvements in their learning ecosystems. In addition to the InnoVidya website and the InnoVidya mailing list, we also hold public lectures on the 4th Saturday of every month. Lectures usually involve talks by senior educators, industry visionaries, or social and/or for-profit entrepreneurs working in the space of higher education.

We are currently based in Pune, but we expect that this initiative will expand all over India.

If you’re interested in the state of education in India, please subscribe to email/RSS updates at: http://innovidya.org.

Event Details

The event is on Saturday, March 16, 2013, at 11am, at the Chandrashekhar Auditorium, IUCAA, at University of Pune campus.

Fees and Registration

This event is free and open for anybody to attend. There is no need to register. There is ample parking space at the venue.

Event Report: Alternate Energy Systems – Myths, Facts & Challenges

This is the full video and slides of the InnoVidya/IUCAA talk by Padmashree Paul Ratnasamy, that has helt on 23 Feb, at IUCAA.

Click “full screen” icon at the bottom right of window above to see the video in addition to the slides. If you’re unable to see the video above, click here.

(What follows is a live-blog of the talk. You should really watch the video above – read the live-blog below only if you’re too lazy to watch the full video. The live-blog below is just a collection of some of the interesting points made. It is not intended to be a full transcript, and large sections might be missing. Please forgive the typos and bad grammar.)

  • Who is the one God that we see everyday? The Sun. The Sun’s energy is so important, that it has been elevated to a God all over the world – Ra (Egypt), Tonatiuh (Aztec), Apollo (Greek), Shamash (Sumer), etc.
  • In the last 25 years, world energy consumption is going up. And it’s mostly oil, coal and gas. In spite of all the talk of biofuels and renewable energy replacing fossil fuels, we are actually using more fossil fuels every day.
  • There is a direct correlation between Energy usage per capita and GDP per capita of a country – with two important exceptions (Russia, high energy consumption, but low GDP, and Japan which has low energy consumption even though it is rich).
  • We have a problem:
    • GDP and Economic Progress depends upon greater energy use.
    • Most fuel used today is fossil fuel
    • Hence, more energy = more environment degradation
  • Historical sources of energy:
    • Muscle (human/animal) power
    • Fire (wood) / Solar (agriculture)
    • Wood; Charcoal; Coal; Wind; Water (Sails/Mills)
    • Energy Conversation technologies catalyzed the Industrial revolution:
      • Steam Engine (Factories, Ships, Trains)
      • Steel – Ships, Rails
      • etc.
    • Petroleum
    • Natural Gas
    • Nuclear
    • BioFuels
  • India’s Reserves:
    • Coal – 500+ years
    • Lignite – 1000 years
    • Crude Oil – 30 years
    • Natural Gas – 20 years
  • India’s Imports:
    • Oil: used mainly in transport (40%), industry (20%), electricity (15%), agriculture (10%)
  • India’s shortage of liquid/gas hydrocarbons is the problem. $30B of it every year is used in electricity and agriculture. Both of these can be replaced.
  • Reducing energy consumption is not an option. Because that can only be done by reducing the standard of living (and essentially going back to the stone age).
  • Today’s Fuel Usage:
    • Cooking / Lighting: Wood, Kerosene, LPG, bio gas, electricity
    • Electricity: Coal, Gas, Nuclear, Oil, Solar, Wind, Bagasse
    • Transportation: Electricity (mainly Trains), Hydrocarbon liquids (Gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, kerosene, bunker oil) from oil, coal, natural gas
  • We cannot do transportation without liquid hydrocarbons. So any “renewable energy solution” needs to tackle this problem
    • Fossil fuels have high energy density. This high energy density is needed for transportation
    • Renewable energy has low energy density.
    • Energy densities: Petrol=48MJ/kg, Coal=32, Biomass=15. This is a problem.
    • Why? Hydrocarbons are just carbon and hydrogen – and hydrogen is what gives the energy. Biomass has carbon, hydrogen and lots of oxygen. Oxygen not only does not give energy, but it consumes energy because we have to spend effort to remove it. That is why biomass energy density is much lower than hydrocarbons.
  • Example of biofuel use: We can convert sugar to LPG. A sugar mill that processes 6000 tons per day of sugar cane, will produce 70 tons of LPG per day.
  • Biofuels are not only environmentally friendly, but due to their decentralized nature, they have other major advantages:
    • Move jobs from urban to rural areas
    • Capture of energy is not catastrophic to the area where the energy is being captured. (A visit to a coal mine town will convince you of this point.)
    • Additional source of energy at point of consumption…
    • Lower distribution costs
    • Lower theft/loss during distribution
    • Security against terrorist / cyber attacks
  • Petroleum subsidy by Government of India: Diesel Rs 11 per liter, LPG Rs 33/kg, Kerosene Rs. 32/l, Petrol Rs. 1.5/l.
  • The same subsidies should be available to biofuels. This will:
    • lower the import bills
    • pump more money into the rural economy
    • reduce global warming
  • Solar Energy:
    • Major problems: It’s diffuse, it’s intermittent, it cannot be stored easily
    • Types:
      • Solar Thermal: direct heat/steam and electricity
      • Solar Photovoltaic: direct conversion to electricity. Modules last 20 to 40 years. Very little maintenance cost. Cost of installation is the only real cost.
      • Solar Bio – algae + CO2 -> algae oil -> ethanol etc.
    • Economics:
      • At $1/watt is “break-even” price for solar power
      • Prices have gone from $100/watt in 1976, to $1/watt now. So we are at break-even price
      • Now, the best solar power is competitive with the best coal power in terms of price
    • Random note: China invested in Solar R&D. Now 50% of all solar panels in India come from China
  • Fuel from municipal solid waste
    • MSW -> biogas -> heat/electricity
    • MSW -> Syngas -> ethanol/electricity
  • Summary:
    • There is no major shortage of fossil fuels at current consumption rates
    • Global Warming is the major driving force for renewable energy
    • Onshore wind is already competitive with grid (but not available everywhere)
    • Solar PV is competitive with diesel set electricity (generators, pumpsets, emergency power)
    • Biofuels meet specifications for transportation fuels
    • Technology Challenges:
      • Improve Solar/Wind energy storage efficiency
      • Reduce capital expenses of solar/biofuels
  • Strategies for Clean Energy Growth:
    • Government should mandate cleaner fuels & fuel efficient engines
    • Promote CO2 capture and use in growing algae -> algae oil -> diesel.
    • Government should use subsidies to promote this:
      • Use Solar/MSW electricity for sugar mills
      • Use bagasse for ethanol/gasolien/diesel/LPG and chemicals.
      • (Note: fossil fuels are already subsidized by the government)
    • Decontrol the sale/purchase/price of fuels and electricity from solar/wind/biomass. Give private market and free enterprise a free hand in this market
    • Foster growth of startup companies for alternate energy tecnology

And Grow More Tree.