Author Archives: admin

Lalu for coalition at Centre

first_imgRashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad Yadav turned 70 on Sunday and wished for a Bihar-like secular grand alliance at the Centre too. Amid a stream of visitors, non-stop phone calls and intermittent Twitter messages, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar too turned up to greet Mr. Prasad and recounted his political contribution to the State.Leaders greet“Delhi will now see the leadership of mahagathbandhan (grand alliance). All coalition partners should start preparations,” tweeted Mr. Prasad soon after Bihar Congress president Ashok Choudhary greeted him. Congress president Sonia Gandhi called up Mr. Prasad to wish him. Trinamool Congress chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee got a quick Twitter response to her greetings as the RJD chief reminded her that “they all stand in solidarity for the great cause ahead.” A row of RJD leaders, well-wishers and Mr. Prasad’s elder son Tej Pratap Yadav were seen sitting with him at his residence 10, Circular Road.Earlier in the day Mr. Nitish Kumar had dedicated two bridges over the river Ganga to the people of the State. The Opposition BJP had objected to the inauguration of the bridges on Mr. Prasad’s birthday. “They may say whatever they want to say…they are ignorant of how these bridges were completed against all odds…the dates were finalised by the concerned department”, said Mr. Kumar on the occasion. But, the BJP leaders alleged that it was only after their objection that the names were changed. “Otherwise, the RJD had decided to name the bridges after Lalu Prasad,” they claimed. Mr. Prasad’s younger son Tejaswi Yadav is Deputy CM and also Minister of State for Road Construction.last_img read more

Six killed in Meghalaya landslides

first_imgFresh landslides kill 5 in Bangladesh The death toll rose to five with the recovery of two more bodies in a rain-hit landslide in Ri-Bhoi district today, while a child was killed in a separate landslide in Meghalaya.While three persons were killed in the landslide at Umiam industrial area yesterday, bodies of two missing women were found this afternoon, SP Ramesh Singh said.All the five persons belonged to two families, he said.Nine injured persons were admitted to hospital.He said the incident took place at around 5 a.m. when the people were asleep inside the makeshift quarters of a sawmill at the Meghalaya Industrial Development Corporation area.In another landslide at Mawjrong in East Khasi Hills district one child was killed yesterday, a delayed report said. The parents of the victim escaped with minor injuries, police said.The incessant rain in the past 48 hours have triggered several landslides in the state causing extensive damage in several roads.Also Readlast_img read more

Trinamool MLA gets into altercation with GJM lawmakers during Presidential polls

first_imgA controversy erupted during elections to the office of the President in the West Bengal Legislative Assembly on Monday when a Trinamool Congress (TMC) MLA got into an altercation with the legislators of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha ( GJM) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).TMC MLA Paresh Pal took a swipe at the GJM MLAs saying that after setting the hills on fire they have come to Kolkata to vote. Rohit Sharma, the GJM MLA from Kurseong dared the Trinamool MLA to come to the hills and make the statement.After BJP MLA and State president Dilip Ghosh intervened, Mr Pal directed his ire towards him.“It is because of him, Dilip Ghosh that the hills are on fire…You are being spared because of the mercy of Mamata di, otherwise we would have taught you a lesson,” Mr Pal, who represent Beleghata Assembly segment in north Kolkata said.”We are aware of the fact that Darjeeling is on boil. But we are colleagues and we should have mutual respect for each other. Shouting and accusing shows the mentality,” GJM MLA from Darjeeling Amar Singh Rai said.Dilip Ghosh said that such language was unimaginable, coming from a lawmaker.last_img read more

Interview with Jignesh Mewani

first_imgOf the three young men who have galvanised Gujarat, ahead of the Assembly elections there, Dalit lawyer and activist Jignesh Mewani is perhaps the most articulate. In a recent interview in Ahmedabad, he talks to Smita Gupta about what Hardik Patel, Alpesh Thakore and he have achieved, analysing and anticipating problems while stressing that the first battle is to dislodge the BJP from power. Has anything changed in Gujarat since the last Assembly elections?The most evident change is that no one is talking about the Gujarat model: the Patidars, OBCs and Dalits are up in arms, but so are ASHA (Accredited Social Health Activist) workers, anganwadi workers, farmers, labourers, traders. The vikas (development) balloon has been punctured; the BJP can no longer use the Sabka Vikas slogan. The mood has changed: this kind of dissatisfaction has not been seen in 22 years. The ASHA workers threw bangles at (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi’s road show as he entered Vadodadra on October 22. In early October, angry residents of a municipal ward in Vadodara tied a BJP corporator to a tree and beat him up for failing to prevent demolition of their slum. Ever since chairs were thrown at (BJP president) Amit Shah at a rally in Surat last year by Patidars, he has been caged and the BJP has been on the backfoot. What are the reasons for this change in mood?(There has been) severe economic exploitation, agrarian distress, growing unemployment. For Dalits, apart from the economic problems, they are suffering from a sense of injustice.Immediately after four Dalits were publicly stripped and flogged in Una in the Gir Somnath district in July 2016, the community got activated. I was able to mobilise Dalits across Gujarat. I am picked up and arrested every time Narendra Modi lands in the state. The contradictions have sharpened. The Hindutva wave has worked three times (in 2002, 2007 and 2012), but if my child is still suffering from malnutrition, you can’t fool me any longer. Three youth faces — Hardik Patel, Alpesh Thakore and mine — have appeared. The three of us have come through agitations, we did not belong to any political party and therefore had no baggage. (It is only now that Alpesh has joined the Congress.) So caste is challenging Hindutva?A mobilisation on caste lines may not be a good thing but a deep analysis of what is happening now will show that the articulation of the caste-class reality is bound to happen in the absence of a progressive movement. What is happening has its roots in the current economic crisis. The promise of seven crore jobs in three and a half years by the BJP have not been fulfilled, the Rs 15 lakh in every bank account has not happened, the price of dal has shot up, farmers have not been given remunerative prices. The answer to everything is gaimata (the cow is the mother). And demonetisation and GST (the Goods and Services Tax) have already devastated people. Earlier, Mr. Modi was able to display a masculine larger than life image, using Goebbelsian rhetoric and the Hindutva wave. I have been to 16 States after Una, and I can tell you his graph is going down. Aren’t there social contradictions between Patidars, OBCs and Dalits — the three sections represented by Hardik Patel, Alpesh Thakore and you? How will you get around that? Of course, there are social and economic contradictions but the objective reality is that the biggest common enemy of the Patidars, OBCs and Dalits today is the BJP. Sooner or later, these contradictions will surface, but first, the battle against fascism must be fought and the BJP dislodged from power. That will provide interim relief. Fascism just can’t be defeated through electoral gains, it will require a long battle. How do you see your role in the coming elections?My role is to ensure that the over seven per cent Dalits in Gujarat don’t vote for the BJP. Currently of the 13 reserved seats, 10 are with BJP, but this time, the Congress will win 9 this time.Isn’t the BJP very strong still in urban Gujarat? Yes, we are yet to crack the urban areas, but the BJP will be wiped out from rural areas. There is an anti-BJP wave but no pro-Congress wave yet. Hindutva still works in urban areas. There is a refreshing innovative content that is coming from rural areas. A large chunk of Patels will come out strongly against BJP. Alpesh Thakore has mobilised his community. The BJP tried hard to woo the Dalits but the Ramnath Kovind card (making him President) did not work because of (the suicide of) Rohit Vemula, and (the attack on Dalits in) Saharanpur (in Uttar Pradesh) and Una. I have created consciousness among Dalit youth in rural areas, and have a slight influence among middle class Dalits. But because of class differences, the middle class Dalits may not yet join hands with working class youth.Will you form a political party? I have the soul of an activist; I don’t want to form a party. Some of Hardik Patel’s followers have left him.It has not affected his mass base. Alpesh’s base is solid. But because of the fragmentation of the Dalit movement, I will have to work harder. I now have support in Karnataka and Kerala, though, and after the Gujarat polls, I will campaign in Karnataka. Is there a possibility of a Dalit-Muslim platform? During the Una struggle, we were welcomed by Muslims and we are working for Dalit-Muslim unity in Gujarat. But the Muslim situation is much worse (than that of Dalits) — apart from having to be careful that they don’t become victims of the (sangh parivar’s) Love Jehad campaign, there is serious unemployment. (They are grappling with) existential issues. It is a battle for survival for them.last_img read more

Police notice seeking immediate consent for post-mortem triggers fresh fear in Rajasthan village

first_imgEven as the family of dairy farmer Umar Khan is struggling to come to terms with his killing in Alwar district of Rajasthan last week while transporting cows, a police notice demanding immediate consent for a post-mortem has caused fresh fear and hostility in Ghatmika village, situated on the Rajasthan-Haryana border.Since the November 10 gunning down of Umar, 35, allegedly by some cow vigilantes, his two companions have not returned to the village, 95 km from Bharatpur, for fear of arrest. They have been booked by the police on the charge of cow smuggling,The notice, served on Wednesday by the Govindgarh police station on the family, demanded its consent for Umar’s autopsy, failing which, it said, the police would conduct a post-mortem and bury the body after performing the rituals.Family demands arrest of culprits, compensationA deadlock on the post-mortem has been persisting in Jaipur, with Umar’s relatives insisting on the arrest of all culprits and a compensation of Rs. 50 lakh.“We are at a loss to decide what to do. My son was murdered for no fault [of his]. He had borrowed ₹15,000 from some acquaintances to buy a milch cow for his children, but was mercilessly killed,” 80-year-old Shahabuddin, Umar’s father, told The Hindu. The family had three goats and it decided to purchase a cow for its dairy occupation.The family has a small land holding of half bigha, which is insufficient to serve its needs. Umar’s cousin, Javed Khan, said he had settled for a cow instead of a buffalo, as the latter costs Rs.70,000, and the excess milk could be sold after feeding the large family. “We never thought that the transport of cows for a bona fide purpose could be given the twist of cow smuggling,” he said.Maqsood (18), the eldest among Umar Khan’s eight children, was unable to say how he would take care of his mother and siblings. “I spoke to him [my father] around noon that day when I was in Bengaluru in a truck to train as a driver. He was excited as he was investing money in buying a cow for the first time,” he said. He rushed back to Ghatmika on hearing of his father’s death and found his mother, Khurshidan, in iddat (seclusion) and grandparents, relatives and neighbours in mourning.Father expects job for grandsonMr. Shahabuddin said a job for his grandson was the minimum he expected from the government. He rubbished the claim that his son and his associates were transporting cows for slaughter. “You will find cows, buffaloes and goats in each of the 400 households in this village. We never eat cow meat.”The house comprises two rooms with a thatched roof and has a large courtyard. Amid the crowd of villagers and some Meo Muslim leaders from Alwar, Mr. Shahabuddin’s wife lay on a cot after being injected with sedatives. Ms. Khurshidan is pregnant with her ninth child.Ghatmika sarpanch Shaukat Khan said the villagers had their own suspicions on the part of the policemen at Govindgarh. “The police booked fellow travellers Tahir Khan and Javed in a cow smuggling case, but were silent on Umar Khan’s whereabouts for two days. Only after making multiple rounds of Govindgarh and Ramgarh police stations, we were told that his body had been found on the railway track and sent to Alwar.”Despite the lack of assurance from the government — no officer has visited Ghatmika since November 10 — Umar Khan’s family is hopeful of getting justice after the impasse over the post-mortem gets resolved. Neighbours bring food for the family, which is waiting for the body for burial in the village graveyard.last_img read more

Official on demolition drive shot

first_imgA Town and Country Planning official was shot dead and a PWD official injured when the owner of a guest house in Kasauli opened fire at them on Tuesday.Shailbala was killed when Narayani guest house owner Vijay Singh opened fire at the officials who had come to demolish the guest house. The injured, Gulab Singh, was taken to Dharampur hospital from where he was referred to PGI, Chandigarh.Kasauli has a number of hotels and guest houses, and many of these have been declared illegal by the Supreme Court. The Court had ordered the demolition on April 17. The officials complying with the apex court and the NGT orders are having a tough time in getting these properties vacated or demolished.last_img

Wife, son won’t take up posts: Sidhu

first_imgPunjab Local Bodies Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu on Saturday said that his wife Navjot Kaur Sidhu, recently appointed as chairperson of Punjab Warehousing Corporation, and his son Karan Singh Sidhu, who has been appointed as Assistant Advocate General, would not be taking up the posts.“My wife and my son both have decided not to take these posts. My son informed me that he would not be joining as people were unnecessarily casting aspersions on me. My wife told me that she too will not join, to which I said fine,” Mr. Sidhu told reporters here.The Congress had been facing flak from the Opposition after the appointments.last_img

18 government staff suspended in J-K’s Doda for unauthorised absence

first_imgAs many as 18 government employees were placed under suspension for unauthorised absence from duty in Doda district of Jammu and Kashmir, an official spokesperson said on Sunday. The District Development Commissioner of Doda, Bhawani Rakwal, issued the suspension orders of the officials of different departments after they were found absent during an inspection yesterday, he said. He said Mr. Rakwal ordered an inquiry against the suspended officials and also directed the officers concerned to keep their salaries on hold with immediate effect till further orders. The District Development Commissioner issued directions to all the offices to install biometric attendance system by the end of this month, failing which the salaries of those staff who did not get registered to the new system would be kept on hold, the spokesperson said.last_img read more

Rainbow colours Bhopal road

first_imgA large number people marched down the busy Link Road No. 1 in Bhopal , waving rainbow flags and holding placards that read “ I am me, no excuses, no regrets”, celebrating the LGBTQI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex) community.The event on Sunday was the pride march in which the LGBTQI community members participated in bright-coloured clothes. Spectators lined the parade route from Amer Bakery Hut (a busy eating joint right at the centre of the State capital) to Shourya Smarak, a war memorial.“I am joining the parade to support the LGBTQI community which has failed to get acceptance in our society… They become objects of disgust,” Jhanvi Chouhan said. Her friend Hashita C said, “This is a boost to so many who have had to hide. They [LGBTQI] are also human beings who should get positive energy in our society.” The event was joined by social activists and educationists. Some men sported rainbow paints on their cheeks while others turned out in traditional ghagra-choli dress.Dr. Rahul Sharma, clinical psychologist, National Health Mission (M.P.), supports the LGBTQI and the organisations working among them, but felt that the community members and activists should play a larger role among other sections of society. The community members are demanding freedom for the Queer community without being subject to prejudice and violence.last_img read more

Haryana gears up for a thrilling battle

first_imgThe gruelling campaign for Lok Sabha election in Haryana, going to the polls in the sixth phase on May 12, ended on Friday with simultaneous rallies by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and former Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda in the Jat belt.Election in the 10 Lok Sabha seats in the State is being fought under the shadow of large-scale violence during the Jat agitation in 2016, conviction of Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh two years ago and the recent split in the Indian National Lok Dal, with political analysts claiming an undercurrent in favour of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.As per the office of the Chief Electoral Officer, Haryana, 223 candidates, including 11 women, are in the fray, with the maximum 29 contestants trying their luck in the Sonipat Lok Sabha constituency and the lowest, 16 in Karnal. A total of 1,80,56,896 voters, including 83,40,173 women, are registered to exercise their franchise. Around 67,000 police personnel have been mobilised for the election duty.‘Battle of prestige’ The Congress and the BJP are locked in a direct contest on nine of 10 Lok Sabha seats in the State. In Hisar, Jannayak Janta Party leader Dushyant Chautala has made the fight three-cornered with Congress’ Bhavya Bishnoi and BJP’s Brijendra Singh being the other two heavyweight contestants in the fray. It is a battle of prestige for all the three candidates with political legacies to defend.The JJP has been contesting the election in an alliance with the Aam Aadmi Party, which has fielded its candidates on three seats. The Bahujan Samaj Party, which had snapped its ties with the INLD post the split, has been contesting the election in a tie-up with Loktanter Suraksha Party of former BJP MP from Kurukshetra, Raj Kumar Saini.Jat-dominated seatsA thrilling electoral battle is on the cards in the other two Jat-dominated constituencies too — Sonipat and Rohtak — with the BJP’s two non-Jat candidates pitted against the Congress’ Bhupinder Hooda and his son Deepender Singh Hooda. While the BJP is leaving no stone unturned to wrest the Rohtak Lok Sabha seat, a bastion of the Hoodas and the only seat won by the Congress in the State in 2014, Mr. Deepender Hooda is set for a tough battle with the Jat reservation agitation likely to cause polarisation of votes along caste lines. The Sonipat Lok Sabha election could well decide the political future of Mr. Bhupinder Hooda, who is seen as the tallest Jat leader in the State.Mr. Modi, during his three rallies in the State in Fatehabad, Kurukshetra and Rohtak, has mostly raised the issues of national security and corruption, besides accusing the Congress of personal attacks on him. Congress president Rahul Gandhi, on the other hand, has mostly talked about the party’s promise of NYAY (minimum income scheme) and separate budget for farmers, and attacked the BJP government on loss of jobs and business due to demonetisation and the flawed implementation of the Goods and Services Tax. He too has addressed three rallies at Gurugram, Bhiwani and Sirsa.last_img read more

NIH Officials Accused of Improperly Influencing Investigation of Premature Infant Study

first_imgA new controversy has erupted over a federally funded study involving premature infants that drew ethical concerns last year. A public interest group accuses the National Institutes of Health (NIH) of intervening in the drafting of a letter about the study from a research ethics watchdog office within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The group, Public Citizen, and a member of Congress are calling for an investigation by the HHS inspector general.“NIH, despite having obvious substantial conflicts of interest, was allowed to interfere and improperly influence OHRP’s [the Office for Human Research Protections’] investigation of the SUPPORT study. Most troubling, it appears that numerous officials at the very highest levels of HHS were aware of this interference,” writes Representative Rosa DeLauro (D–CT) in a letter today to the HHS inspector general.The $20 million, 23-hospital study known as SUPPORT (Surfactant, Positive Pressure, and Oxygenation Randomized Trial) ran from 2005 to 2009 and examined what oxygen levels premature infants should receive. In March 2013, OHRP sent a letter to the University of Alabama, Birmingham (UAB), the study leader, imposing sanctions because informed consent documents did not adequately inform parents of the 1316 babies in the study of risks. Those risks included that infants receiving the highest oxygen levels might be at elevated risk for blindness, and those treated with the lowest levels could be at risk of death or developmental delays. Both were statistically significant outcomes found in the study.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)After Public Citizen drew public attention to the letter, NIH officials and some researchers rushed to SUPPORT’s defense. NIH Director Francis Collins and other agency officials wrote a commentary published online on 5 June in The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) defending the study’s design as ethical and arguing that some OHRP opinions should be vetted by outside experts. On the same day, several dozen bioethicists and researchers backed NIH’s position, arguing that because the oxygen levels were within the accepted standard of care there was no requirement to inform parents of risks. In a second letter to UAB dated 4 June, OHRP put on hold its actions against UAB. It then invited public comments and held a hearing in August to discuss the issues.Writing to the HHS inspector general today, Public Citizen and several bioethicists charge that NIH officials were involved in drafting the second letter from OHRP. The letter quotes from about 400 pages of e-mails and documents the group obtained. The e-mails were exchanged from April to June 2013 by NIH and HHS officials, including HHS Assistant Secretary for Health Howard Koh as well as OHRP Director Jerry Menikoff. In the e-mails, Collins and other NIH officials discuss revisions to the letter and plans to coordinate its release with the NEJM commentary. It is difficult to discern from the heavily redacted documents exactly what wording was changed, but NIH officials express approval of the changes.In a statement, an HHS representative did not directly address the charges of interference but stated that “OHRP regularly works with entities such as NIH, IRBs [institutional review boards] and others to ensure the protection of human subjects in research.” OHRP is still reviewing the comments about the SUPPORT study and drafting “guidance,” the representative said.As Public Citizen notes in its letter, OHRP came into being 14 years ago when a similar office was moved out of NIH to avoid conflicts of interest involving NIH. DeLauro’s letter suggests that the HHS inspector general examine “whether OHRP needs to be relocated, and if so where.”last_img read more

New report urges DOE’s national laboratories to go local

first_imgThink nationally, act regionally. That’s the bumper-sticker version of a new study out today that says the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) 17 national science laboratories need to get more engaged in economic development, innovation, and technology commercialization at the regional level.To date, the DOE labs have failed “to aggressively and fully seize the opportunity to turn federally funded research into new products and services, particularly at the state and regional level,” concludes the report, available here and here. The trio of authors, from the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program and the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation’s Center for Clean Energy Innovation (CCEI), offers 15 recommendations for improving the labs’ connections to their communities. They include giving lab managers more control over funds for building local economic partnerships, creating off-campus “microlabs” to attract local businesses, and providing small- and medium-sized firms with “vouchers” for research assistance. The report also calls for making an array of current federal technology transfer and commercialization programs more flexible and nimble.The idea, says co-author Mark Muro of Brookings, is to help a federal laboratory system initially established to fight the Cold War adapt to the global economic and security challenges of the 21st century. “The competitiveness and innovation game is changing very quickly, and [the United States] needs to be seeking the greatest return on our investments,” he says. “The point is not to completely rethink what the labs are, but update them.”Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)There’s nothing wrong with the labs’ original missions to develop new energy technologies, answer major scientific questions, or provide researchers with access to expensive facilities such as particle accelerators, says co-author Matthew Stepp of CCEI. But, he adds, “There is no contradiction between ramping up regional engagement and acting in the national interest. … Often, the national mission can be best served by going through the regions.”The authors hope to stimulate a national discussion about the performance of all the DOE labs that don’t focus on nuclear weapons. Outside groups have issued several reports critical of lab operations, management, and commercialization programs, and the DOE’s inspector general has suggested a radical remaking of the system. Last year, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz announced he wanted to take a closer look at laboratory management and created two internal panels to advise him on possible changes. Congress has created an independent Commission to Review the Effectiveness of the National Energy Laboratories, which will hold its second meeting on 15 September in Alexandria, Virginia.Those activities should help the report gain some traction among policymakers, say Muro and Stepp. “A lot of thoughtful people are looking at these issues,” Muro says, and “there is ferment within the labs; some lab leaders would like to engage with their local economies and are seeking tools to do that.”“The mission of the labs is up for discussion, and these ideas should be on the table,” Stepp tells ScienceInsider.  But he’s prepared to be patient. DOE’s labs are “dinosaur-age institutions in many ways,” he says, “and we are not expecting them to change overnight.”last_img read more

NIH proposal to create grant for aging scientists hits a nerve

first_imgA seemingly innocuous idea from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for nudging aging scientists to retire is being blasted in the blogosphere. NIH’s proposal—an “emeritus” award that senior scientists would use to pass their work on to younger colleagues and wind down their labs—is unnecessary and could take funding away from younger and midcareer scientists, many commenters argued. A few, however, see it as a reasonable idea.NIH has been worried for years now about the aging of the pool of investigators it funds—the portion over 65 is now 7%, more than those under 35 (see graph). In a 3 February post on her Rock Talk blog, NIH Deputy Director for Extramural Research Sally Rockey explains that while NIH has programs aimed at helping young investigators, “[w]e want to explore how we can help senior investigators who wish to transition out of a position that relies on funding from NIH research grants, and facilitate the transfer of their work, knowledge and resources to junior colleagues.” The “emeritus award” would “permit a senior investigator to form a partnership with a junior faculty member in order to hand off his or her line of research inquiry in an efficient and cost-effective way,” according to a notice seeking comments. Or it could be used to close down a lab, the notice says.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)So far, most of the more than 120 comments responding Rockey’s blog item and those on other blogs (see DrugMonkey, Data Hound) are critical. A sampling from Rock Talk:Joseph Cantor on 5 February 2015 at 2:33 p.m. said:This has the potential to become another cash source for basically semi-retired PI’s who are waiting a few more years for pension and retirement to accumulate.Cynthia Wolberger on 4 February 2015 at 8:58 p.m. said:This sounds like a well-intended but poorly thought-out attempt to get more aging scientists to close their labs and free up money for younger investigators. The NIH already has a mechanism to “facilitate laboratory closure,” namely not renewing a grant. … I don’t see how the NIH could craft a grant program aimed just at senior citizens or have the legal standing to bar recipients of an “emeritus award” from obtaining funding in the future.Ellen Vitetta on 4 February 2015 at 9:09 p.m. said:Not everyone wants to retire. Not everyone becomes non- productive on his/her 65th birthday !But a few scientists voiced support:Thomas Hughes on 4 February 2015 at 9:05 p.m. said:What if you offered senior PIs 75K a year for 5 years IF they would not apply for any more grants during or after the award? AND the only eligible PIs would be those already NIH funded. Old guys like me would love a chance to slow down, work on just one project, and get our last people out the door.Richard Weinberg on 5 February 2015 at 8:56 a.m. said:It’s not uncommon to see a very effective lab led by someone almost ready to step down. At present no obvious mechanisms are available to achieve a smooth transition. … [T]his sort of program could add an uncharacteristic level of humane graciousness to a fundamentally cruel system.Midcareer hoping for early retirement on 5 February 2015 at 3:02 p.m. said:I took this idea as a way to gently, legally ease senior folks into taking retirement.Jeremy Berg, former director of the NIH’s National Institute of General Medical Sciences and the voice behind Data Hound, commented on Rockey’s blog that he too worries about “an entitlement for senior investigators.” He argued that it’s already possible for an older investigator to transfer their grant to a younger colleague, and it’s the role of institutions, not NIH to encourage such transitions. “There is absolutely no need to create a new mechanism,” wrote Berg, who is now at the University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania.Berg told ScienceInsider that although encouraging senior scientists to retire “is a reasonable thing to do, I don’t think this is the right way to do it.” He thinks an emeritus award will inevitably lead aging scientists to keep their labs open longer than they otherwise would. “I’m skeptical that it would have the desired impact.”Yvette Seger, director of science policy at the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology in Bethesda, Maryland, which recently released a report endorsing the idea of a “transition award for senior investigators” to free up grant funding for younger researchers, thinks part of problem may be the connotations of the word “emeritus.” That sounds like “a forced retirement,” Seger says; perhaps it should simply be described as an award for established investigators who want to move out of research.NIH’s Rockey said she’s not surprised by the negative responses. “In tight budget times, any proposed new award creates angst that it will have an impact on the rest of the pool” of investigators seeking grants. She adds that nothing has been decided: The notice “was truly to get an idea of the temper of the community.” She encourages scientists to submit formal comments to the request for information on questions such as how the award could be used and how many years of support it should cover.last_img read more

Not just iPhones, Mac and iPads too drive Apple sales in India

first_imgIt’s not just iPhones – Mac computers and iPads have started to deliver results for Apple in India, growing at a faster pace than the global average after the company expanded distribution and pushed sales in the country.Apple has now hired senior executives to lead policy and HR in India, two senior industry executives said.  Related Itemslast_img

Made For India

first_imgWhile consumers across the world are seeing a growing number of “Made in India” labels on the goods they buy, Indian shoppers are witnessing a more subtle change. Increasingly, multinational companies are selling products that are not just made in — but that are made for — India. Entire generations of Indian consumers, who once felt grateful simply for being able to experience the same brands as the rest of the world, are now realizing they can ask for products that cater to their wants and needs. And they stand a good chance of getting what they want. “The willingness of big brands to customize their products was never the issue,” says Harminder Sahni, managing director of Technopak Advisors India, one of the country’s largest management consultancies. “What has changed is that the Indian market has finally reached a critical mass — after the U.S. and China, this is the largest consumer market in the world — that justifies the investment.” That wasn’t always the case. Before the Indian economy opened up in the early 1990s, “imported” goods were a sought-after commodity, their foreignness often being their most desirable attribute. Not surprisingly, then, many multinationals didn’t think success would require much effort when their brands finally entered the country after 1991.Things have changed. As Indian consumers became more aware of trends and advancements in technology, they began to demand similar sophistication. More important, they wanted products built to their needs. That meant not just automobiles, household appliances and consumer electronics, but also mobile phones, foods and apparel. “Earlier, there was a reverence for anything foreign because local products were of terrible quality,” says Abraham Koshy, professor of marketing at the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIMA). “But as the market developed, the focus started shifting from the product to the brand. Customers started patronizing a brand only if the product suited them. So the need arose for companies to adjust their products to customers’ requirements.”It isn’t only about holding on to existing customers. If altering a product’s design or introducing a variant will help a brand reach out to an additional customer group, most companies would think it worth the investment. “Brands that establish their relevance with customers do well,” says Shripad Nadkarni, director of MarketGate Consulting, a Mumbai-based marketing and brand consultancy. The increasing use of third-party sourcing helps further the customization cause; companies can simply take on additional local suppliers who will adapt the products for different markets and customer groups. Of course, localization doesn’t work for all products. Many high-end luxury goods, for instance, rely on their country-of-origin tag to enhance their brand appeal. A “Made in India” label on these products would be disastrous, says Technopak’s Sahni. Koshy adds that products where the unit consumption is low may not justify huge outlays on customization.‘Culturally Sensitive’ FoodVariations in consumption patterns across countries, or even regions within countries, usually reflect historical, climatic, economic and cultural differences. But not all these factors are equally important. In her book Consumer Behavior and Culture, Dutch economist Marieke K. de Mooij asserts that “70% of differences between countries with respect to product ownership and usage can be explained by culture.”Nowhere is that more apparent than in food preferences and habits. Across most of the world, Nestlé’s Maggi is known best as a soups-and-sauces brand. In India, it has become the generic word for instant noodles. The product sold in India, though, bears little resemblance to the ramen of East Asia. It was introduced in 1982 with a masala (spicy) flavoring and, over the next 25 years, Nestlé continued to launch variants that would appeal to local and regional tastes. Of course, they weren’t all equally successful, and the masala variant continues to be Maggi’s best seller. At the other end of the scale, perhaps, is Kellogg India. The breakfast cereal giant has clung to its determination to popularize cold, uncooked breakfasts, even offering corn flakes in ethnic flavors such as mango, honey and saffron. But given Indians’ preference for hot meals, Kellogg’s is finding that the road to success can be a long one. “Some product categories are more conducive to local interpretation. If you don’t honor that, you’re likely to remain on a slow growth curve,” MarketGate’s Nadkarni says. “Food is perhaps the most culturally sensitive category.”The international fast food chains appear to understand the need for product customization particularly well. A significant number of Indians are vegetarian by choice or for religious reasons, and strict taboos remain on the mingling of vegetarian and non-vegetarian foods in the same kitchen or on the same table. McDonald’s took note of that as far back as 1990, when it began establishing local supplier partners, six years before it opened its first restaurant in India. Working on its first no-beef, no-pork menu, the company ensured that suppliers respected the beliefs of its future customers. Vegetarian products are prepared with dedicated equipment and utensils and, in some cases, by a separate workforce. All food is cooked in vegetable oil, and the mayonnaise and other sauces do not contain egg (considered a non-vegetarian food). “We understand Indian culture because we were born in it,” says Vikram Bakshi, managing director and joint venture partner, McDonald’s India (North and East). “Physical separation of vegetarian and non-vegetarian products is maintained right from the farm to the customer.” The Indian operations may have required extra effort, but McDonald’s executives say the dedication to local cultures is not new for the company: In the last 50 years, the chain has opened more than 30,000 restaurants in 120 countries (155 in India), adapting its menu and operations to complement existing eating-out options. While the iconic all-beef Big Mac has been replaced by the mutton and chicken Maharaja Mac in India, a kosher variant in Israel is served minus the cheese. In China, McDonald’s introduced red bean pies, while Norwegian restaurants offer the salmon McLaks burger. Of course, it helps to have local partners in these markets; about 70% of the chain’s restaurants are owned and operated by local entrepreneurs. “Local owners understand what their customers want and, perhaps more important, what is acceptable within local customs and values,” Bakshi says.Some learn that the hard way. When Yum Restaurants India opened the first Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) outlet in Bangalore in the mid-1990s, locals protested about the brand’s multinational origins. As the ensuing months proved, it wasn’t only KFC’s parentage that was too foreign; the chicken wings and wraps it offered were too alien for Indian taste buds. In just a few years, Yum closed all its KFC restaurants in India, and did not relaunch the brand until 2004. This time, though, the company was more market-savvy. It introduced a vegetarian menu that included rice meals, wraps and side dishes — the most extensive meat-free menu across the chain’s worldwide operations — and, like McDonald’s, stuck to eggless mayonnaise and sauces. Even its trademark chicken dishes were given a local flavor with the use of Indian spices and cooking techniques.“KFC’s strength is our brand-standard products,” says Unnat Varma, marketing director of KFC India. “We work around that core and give consumers products with familiar tastes.” That is in keeping with an independent study in 2001 by Technopak (then called KSA Technopak), which revealed that 70% of Indians preferred traditional foods and flavors over “Western” foods. The company’s new, balanced strategy appears to be working: In four years, KFC has increased its presence in India to 34 outlets, and plans to cross the 100-outlet mark in the next two years. “The vegetarian offerings have made the brand more relevant to a larger section of consumers,” says Varma, “and that is necessary for KFC’s growth.”In contrast to the KFC experience, Yum Foods’ other Indian operation, Pizza Hut, played its cards well right from the start. Within three years of its 1996 launch, Pizza Hut opened its first vegetarian restaurant in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, a state with a large Jain population. Not only did the outlet serve no meat, it also offered a selection of Jain toppings. (The Jain religion proscribes all meat and root vegetables, including ginger, garlic, onion and potato). There are now three all-vegetarian restaurants in India, the only such Pizza Hut outlets in the world. There are other signs of “Indianization”: Three years ago, Pizza Hut launched the “Great Indian Treat” product range, its first completely localized menu. Even now, the menu includes a mix of Indian and international ingredients and tastes. Says Anup Jain, director of marketing for Pizza Hut India: “We customize our international flavors to suit local preferences, and 20% of our overall menu is localized. World over, the toppings at Pizza Hut are mainly beef and pepperoni.” But in India, where up to 60% of the people are estimated to be vegetarian, “we have more variety in vegetarian toppings.”Practical Considerations IIMA’s Koshy points out that some product localization is the result of requirements that cannot be wished away — for instance, the need for right-hand-drive cars in India, or electronic equipment that operates at 220 volts. Physical conditions also matter a great deal. The Nokia 1100 is a case in point. Launched in 2003 as an entry-level mobile handset, the 1100 is designed especially for emerging markets such as India, and is the outcome of detailed studies of users and market conditions. The findings? Users in these markets placed a premium on ease of use and durability. A no-frills phone was acceptable as long as it provided necessary services such as text messaging and an alarm clock at an affordable price. The perfect handset would also be hardy enough to withstand India’s heat, dust and humidity, and would have a battery that could cope with uncertain recharging schedules, given the erratic power supply.Accordingly, the 1100 has a dust-free keypad and an anti-slip grip. It also has an alarm clock and a built-in flashlight that can be activated by pressing a single key. It was priced at less than $116, bringing it within reach of consumers from even lower-income groups. Not surprisingly, the 1100 is not just the world’s best-selling cellular phone model, but also the best-selling consumer electronics device, having sold some 200 million units since 2003.The 1100 is not the first example of Nokia’s product localization in India. The Finnish company started much earlier with a special edition of its 5110 model. Launched on August 15, 1998, the 5110 celebrated the 51st anniversary of Indian independence with a patriotic ring tone, adapted by the composer and sitar player Ravi Shankar. The next year, Nokia included Bollywood hit songs as ring tones in several handset models and introduced the 3210, which offered a user interface in local languages. Text messaging in Hindi followed soon.Other mobile handset manufacturers have been offering Indianized models as well. Bollywood themes and regional language text messaging remain the most popular tweaks, but other interesting modifications have been made. For instance, LG launched cricket-based games in some models a few years ago, while Samsung’s latest phones are loaded with a traditional Indian calendar. A new series of Sony Ericsson phones include dedicated radio speakers and have AM radio capabilities, a first for the Indian market.Mobile phones aside, the most common examples of product localization in India are consumer appliances. And, like the 1100, they are mostly the result of market abnormalities. The biggest barriers to increasing washing machine sales in India are the frequent power outages and the uncertain water supply. Whirlpool India kept that in mind and launched a series of semi-automatic washing machines that require less water and fully automatic machines that restart automatically after a power failure. Market leaders LG and Samsung include similar appliances in their India portfolios. Other region-specific products include refrigerators that keep food cold for four to five hours without electricity.Of course, not all modifications are the result of poor Indian infrastructure. Regional preferences also play a role. LG Electronics India managing director Moon B. Shin says the Korean company’s approach to product customization is one not just of localization, but of “micro-localization.” Intensive customer research and feedback determine the kind of adaptations to be made to products — the color of refrigerators, for instance. The generous use of oil and strong spices such as turmeric in Punjabi cooking can stain pastel-colored appliances, which is why more intense shades do particularly well in that market.Increasingly, the choice of accessories, too, is decided by local requirements. In South India, for instance, most microwave oven starter kits include an idli mold for making the steamed rice dumpling popular in the region. In northern markets, the mold may be replaced by a plate to heat kulcha, a traditional flat bread. “Product customization has to be considered in the social context as well as the physical requirement,” IIMA’s Koshy points out. “Tastes and habits are very individualistic.”Made for India, and OthersCustomizing products for one market doesn’t restrict their appeal. On the contrary, many products designed for the Indian consumer could well find takers outside the country, especially in the subcontinent and West Asia. McDonald’s, for instance, has already realized the potential of exporting its Indian offerings. Since 2004, the company has been exporting McAloo Tikki burgers, Pizza McPuff and Veg Surprise — products developed especially for India — to West Asia. Consumer electronics company Philips India, too, is benefiting from Indianization experiments. In 2007, the company introduced an intelligent water purifier, which works on ultraviolet light technology — a product created especially for India. It is now being exported to Eastern Europe, Thailand, Turkey and Brazil. Similarly, a food processor that generates less noise is finding takers in Sri Lanka and West Asia; another model being test marketed, which allows hands-free operation, may find export markets as well.Tupperware India started operations in India with products selected from its existing international portfolio. Within a few years, though, it had begun modifying products to appeal to Indian consumers and soon began designing specifically for the local market. The spice box is a classic example. Using existing modular containers, Tupperware created an ergonomically sound, rectangular spice box. It was a neat, space-saving design — and it bombed. The traditional spice box in India is made of metal and is round, with round containers inside. Feedback from the sales force revealed that consumers would accept a plastic alternative, but not an altered shape. Tupperware now sells a round version designed and manufactured in India.Even the serving spoons in India are custom-made, points out Anshu Bagai, head of marketing for Tupperware India. “The shapes are very different from what is sold in other markets,” he says. “Indians have specific designs for serving rice, gravies and dry dishes.”Tupperware India hasn’t just introduced new products in India, it has also added new materials. Typically, the company manufactures containers in polypropylene, a cloudy plastic. Given Indian consumer preferences, it has now introduced dinner sets in melamine and upgraded its factory to manufacture polycarbonate, a clear plastic. “Every market is different, but we find customization has to be of a higher degree in India,” Bagai says. “The market size should justify investing in product localization,” Technopak’s Sahni says. “Product customization is the result of a definite consumer need that has to be served without sacrificing profitability. And consumers will always want something different. There is no such  Related Itemslast_img read more

Kaziranga tigers: spotlight on official-poacher nexus

first_imgAn evaluation report on India’s tiger reserves has put the spotlight on an alleged nexus between some officials of Kaziranga National Park and poachers.Kaziranga, a World Heritage Site designated by UNESCO, is more popular as the world’s best address for the one-horned rhino. It is also been a major tiger reserve covering an area of 1,080 sq km.Prime Minister Narendra Modi had earlier this week released the management effectiveness evaluation reports for tiger reserves across the country, including Kaziranga.The report says that some staff of Kaziranga Tiger Reserve may sometimes get involved in poaching by helping the poachers. To drive home the point, the report cites the poaching of three rhinos in as many days in November 2017 close to the Tunikati anti-poaching camp under the Burapahar Range.Anti-poaching camps “When there are 178 anti-poaching camps in a 911-sq-km area, each camp has to protect 5 sq km. Given the resources at the command of the personnel, it should not be difficult to guard the area effectively. Such poaching close to the camps leads to the suspicion of the involvement of officials,” it says.The report also notes Kaziranga’s management weakness in coordinating with forest officials of Karbi Anglong, which runs along the southern boundary of the tiger reserve. This is because the forest officials of Karbi Anglong, an autonomous tribal council, are not answerable to the heads of Assam’s Forest Department.The hills of Karbi Anglong not only provide shelter to the animals of Kaziranga during high floods but also cover for poachers, the report said.Railway lineAssam Forest Minister Parimal Suklabaidya had informed the 126-member State Assembly that an expert committee had been formed to study the proposal for laying a second track through Deepor Beel, a wetland on the western edge of Guwahati that was listed in 2002 as a Ramsar Site.“The panel will submit its report to the National Green Tribunal, which will decide on whether or not to go ahead with the project,” Mr. Suklabaidya said.last_img read more