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September 2009 Issue

In 21st century, which is also labeled as knowledge millennium, R&D is going to be much more
challenging and demanding. In tune with the growing demand, R&D in Indian industry has
witnessed a paradigm shift in last decade – from the status of least priority component to the
front seat in the business strategies. Earlier, whatever little R&D was there in Indian industry,
it was meant to substitute imports, attain self-reliance and to enhance revenues through foreign
exchange savings and earnings. Gradually India gained an international visibility in developmental
research with a number of pro-research policies and heavy funding. It has come to realize that to
keep global competition at bay….it cannot keep away from innovative research.
India enjoys a competitive advantage in the global economy because of its vast English
speaking S&T manpower. Considering its proven strengths in process re-engineering skills besides
low cost R&D and manufacturing, India offers strategic R&D opportunities and can emerge as a
potential location for R&D. While we see a rosy picture of India emerging as a research hub, we
also get to observe disappointing statistics on the front of PhD scholars’ production.
A cursory glance at computer science PhDs’ production reveals the following figures:
United States produces about 1,400 Ph.D.s in computer science every year, and China awards
about 3,000. India's annual computer science Ph.D. production is roughly 40, about the same
number of doctorates as Israel, a country with about 5 percent of India's population….these
statistics send a strong message that we should concentrate on strengthening the PhD pipeline
in India. Challenges for India are abundant, so are the opportunities.
While research is designated as a risky, time consuming and large investment oriented
activity, the developed nations spend significant amount of their income on R&D. In 2006, the
world's four largest spenders of R&D were the United States (343 billion), the EU (US$231 billion),
China (US$136 billion), and Japan (US$130 billion. To promote R&D in developing countries,
independent researchers, academia, industry and government will have to get together to pursue
new ideas with specific scientific objectives. Infrastructure, modern technology, funding and
dissemination of information arising from research should be well taken care of.
Making of researchers has its roots in our educational system, where millions of children in India
still do not have access to basic elementary education. The quality of graduate work in India, with
a few exceptions, significantly lags behind that of developed nations like United States and Europe.
In the field of IT for example, the students who come out of premiere institutes go abroad to do their
graduate work and as a consequence most of the IT jobs outsourced from other countries belong to
the bottom rung of IT hierarchy. These jobs do not contribute to technological innovation unless they
are given advanced training. And hence, establishment of proper educational infrastructure becomes
vital to turn India into an innovative country.
From the Editor's Desk
R&D in India….
Fromthe days of “business-driven research” to “research-driven business”
The reason behind generation of very few PhD holders from India also could be because
of the students’ assumption that research is not their cup of tea. Physics Nobel laureate Douglas
Osheroff, when he was in Pune for the Honeywell-Nobel Laureate Lecture Series mentioned that
Indian students who go abroad for post-doctoral studies should be encouraged to return to India
to generate Nobel Prize winners from the country. Raghunath A. Mashelkar, director general of the
Council of Scientific & Industrial Research and president of the Indian National Science Academy,
in a presidential address to the Indian Science Congress, opines that demographic shifts of skilled
scientists from developed nations can enable countries like India to emerge as “global R&D hubs”.
It is a fact that bulk of scientific and technological creativity and productivity lies in the minds and
abilities of a small number of highly talented individuals. Since independence in 1947, the country
has consistently lost such individuals to the developed world. Economic gains, which these
exceptionally talented people could have brought to India, due to this mass migration, are
As the Italian scientist Riardo Giacconi, a Nobel Laureate in Physics, summed up what might
be the most important factor behind such a brain drain when he said: “A scientist is like a painter.
Michelangelo became a great artist, because he had been given a wall to paint. My wall was given
to me by the United States.” Perhaps that is what our country has to provide to retain the top tier
talent and to save the intellectual energy. If this were to happen in the developing nations like ours,
as one EU representative put it recently, there will be a greater draw on “Third World researchers.”
As the professional opportunities and personal comforts in their own countries increase, the
researchers might prefer working in their own countries.
Many multinational companies are locating their R&D resources in India and to name a few
on the IT front are Microsoft, SAP, Google, IBM, Intel, HP and Cisco. This is enough evidence that
India can be a potential location for R&D, and can be transformed into a global R&D (technological)
powerhouse, provided there is a focused and a long-term S&T / R&D vision, policy framework and
commitment in the form of Government support. Challenges are always associated with
unprecedented number of opportunities and such is the case with Indian R&D, developing it
through vision, focus and determination can pave the way for a better future. Now is the time
for the Indian students to realize both the significance and the avenues available in the research
domain to help the country emerge as world’s major intellectual engine. The young educated
and motivated workforce of our country can function as key drivers to catapult research activity
and leave an indelible mark in the world research arena…
Principal Mentor, Soft Skills.
Technology Update
Cloud Computing
Cloud computing is a style of computing in which dynamically scalable and
often virtualized resources are provided as a service over the Internet. Users
need not have knowledge of, expertise in, or control over the technology
infrastructure in the "cloud" that supports them.
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What does that mean? Or rather, what does that mean to you and me as users?
Let’s find out. When the internet started evolving, companies embraced the idea of putting
up storage space where they could send to and receive from, mail and other information.
A similar idea has been introduced by Prof. Ramnath K. Chellappa, which is known as
Cloud Computing. The evolution of the idea called Cloud Computing can be attributed to
the birth of the electric industry. How? Long time ago when electricity was generated for
the first time, each company that needed electricity, generated it according to their own
needs, and as to how much they could afford to produce. Later, these companies started
centralizing the power generation, and used electricity by just plugging into a power outlet,
that connected them to a national grid, so that individual costs for resource management
can be reduced drastically. Companies could use the amount of electricity they needed,
and only had to pay for what they used.
Cloud Computing is a similar idea, which in simple terms is virtualization of computer
software and hardware. Imagine a world where you can use storage space provided by a
service provider, who can put together unlimited space and high-end computing power to
carry out your computing needs. This computing power includes hardware components,
like hard disks, processors and RAM, and software like the operating systems, applications
etc. This idea had been talked about for the first time when the web 2.0 conference was
held between October 5th and 7th, 2004 at the Hotel Nikko in San Francisco.
Many IT majors today are working towards making this a reality. Well, few of them
have already started using the idea of cloud computing. A very simple example for such a
service, which had already become popular, and most of us are familiar with is the Google
Docs. In order to create a spreadsheet, you don’t have to purchase, install and learn office
tools like MS Excel. Google can provide all this through a simple web browser. A web
browser can be downloaded for free and installed on your pc, and then all you need is to
logon to Google Docs and start creating a spreadsheet. Now imagine using every other
application by just using a browser, and not needing to purchase the software or hardware
required to run it. Few of the services already being provided are Google Apps, Amazon's
CloudFront, Microsoft's Azure,'s CloudNine and VMware's vCloud. For
more information on various services available, you can logon to Wikipedia or Google cloud
Cloud Computing might just set us in the right direction that’ll lead us to the future
of computing, but the challenges are many. One major challenge would be to make this
idea click in the households and among individual users. How many individual users
would be willing to give-up on their desktop computers that they have purchased and
used for years, running their favorite software and upgrading them with all the hip
hardware components? Well, only time will tell. But, be assured, this new cloud is
going to be complex, highly efficient and highly secure. What this new Cloud has to
offer is highly reliable IT services at really low costs. Clearly the winners in this whole
scenario are the members of the open-source community, and many technical experts
believe that Google will be the front runner in this race to the future of computing.
Suresh Sistla
MSIT Alumni
Post 911, detention is the most feared word in the dictionary for the Asians and more
so for the people from the Muslim community. It comes as no surprise when Shah Rukh
Khan, the Indian superstar was detained at the Newark Airport. The Americans in a bid
to prevent a repeat of the twin tower disaster have tightened the noose which many find
unacceptable. Their concept of checking a person every time he enters the US
irrespective of a clear past record is laudable. At the same time the procedures need to
be streamlined. Khan supposedly was not asked for the requisite information and was
made to wait for two odd hours. Given the VIP concept that is prevalent in India, the issue
was blown out of proportions.
The two possible situations the security personnel at the airport could have been
were: "OMG, you are Shah Rukh Khan!" and "So what if you are Shah Rukh Khan" apart
from "Who are you?” The person who detained Shahrukh was in the second category
(It was reported that there were people who recognized SRK among the security personnel).
The Indian media and all the people who reacted against the US procedures in support
of Khan have to understand that in both the aforementioned cases the person recognized
SRK as someone superior to him and put Shahrukh the person before the action that
was to be followed. In fact in the second case Shahrukh was more recognized. Sometimes
we come across security personnel who would like to follow the rules strictly just to give
the celebrities a reality check. So why make so much fuss about such a trivial issue?
Detention... US style!!
The Continental airlines' staff's behavior in case of Kalam can also be accepted,
but it hurt more as it happened right here in India. SRK has been a good person and
Kalam a great visionary but how can you guarantee that they are still the same even
at the time of frisking? This probably is the point US wants to drive in and I am completely
for it. I feel it’s time for us to improve upon our security checks. As far as the detention
cases being high in case of Muslims ... hey wait that's the way we all chose to design
our world -- classified on the basis of communities, castes and other stupid parameters.
I opine that for once the US has set a decent example for the rest of the world
to blindly follow.
MSIT Alumni
DIlip and Vinay, second year MSIT students from
IIIT Hyderabad bagged the second prize at the
“Young Leader” competition organised by
Lead India 2020, a non-profit organization working
towards “empowering the Indian youth to build a
developed India by the year 2020”.
Internet Gyaan
Thoughts On Emails : The Types
Emails are sometimes fun, sometimes relaxing and sometimes straightforward SPAM.
Then there is the other kind known for its use in the corporate life that most of us are in
or will soon be joining (Juniors/current batch).
We all are familiar with the first few types through our mails from friends, group
mails, the ever famous "Forwards", etc etc.
One such forward I feel worth sharing is
"Everybody's Bin Looking! - A Bulletin"
Dear associate,
We recently received credible intelligence that there have been seven terrorists
working in our office. Six of the seven have been apprehended.
Bin Sleepin, Bin Loafin, Bin Goofin, Bin Lunchin, Bin Drinkin and Bin Butt-Kissin
have all been taken into custody. At this time, no one fitting the description of the
seventh cell member, Bin Workin, has been found.
We are confident that anyone who looks like he's Bin Workin will be very easy
to spot.
You are obviously not a suspect at this time. So keep on doing what you Bin Doin!
Bin Administrating
More News on terrorists:
"Airport security officials recently arrested a high school teacher when she
attempted to board a passenger flight while carrying a Geometry box with
slide rule, protractor, etc. Later the head of Security in airports called a press
conference and said the teacher was a member of the 'Al-gebra' movement
charged for carrying weapons of maths instruction." - The Non Reuters.
This was about the other types but what about the last type you may ask?
Here’s my take on corporate emails and your "Defense against this dark art"
(Borrowed this line from Harry potter :) ).
Email has revolutionized corporate communication in the last decade. Most
of its impact has been positive. An email from the big boss to all@yourcompany, for
instance, is a fair substitute for a general communication meeting. In smaller teams,
email often saves meetings and increases productivity.
When compared to other modes of communication (telephone, voice mail etc.), email
has a number of characteristics that make it particularly suited for corporate communication.
It gives the sender the right amount of distance from the recipient to feel safe behind the
keyboard. The sender gets enough time to polish the language and presentation. He has the
option of sending the email multiple recipients at once. The net effect of these characteristics
is that a normally timid soul may become a formidable email persona.
A normally aggressive soul, on the other hand, may become an obnoxious sender of
what are known as stinkers. Stinkers are emails that are meant to inflict humiliation.
Given the importance of email communication these days, you may find yourself
seduced by the dark allure of stinkers. If you do, here are the first steps in mastering the art
of crafting a stinker.
The trick is to develop a holier-than-thou attitude and assume a moral high ground.
For instance, suppose you are upset with a team for their shoddy work, and want to
highlight the fact to them (and to a few key persons in the organization, of course). A novice
may be tempted to write something like, “You and your team don’t know squat.” Resist that
temptation, and hold that rookie email. Far more satisfying is to compose it as, “I will be happy
to sit down with you and your team and share our expertise.” This craftier composition also
subtly shows off your superior knowledge.
Emails can be even subtle. For instance, you can sweetly counsel your boss regarding
some issue as, “No point in rushing in where angels fear to tread,” and have the secret pleasure
that you managed to call him a fool to his face!
Counter stinkers are doubly sweet. While engaging in an email duel, your best hope is
to discover a factual inaccuracy in the stinker. Although you are honor-bound to respond to a
stinker, silence also can be an effective response. It sends a signal that you either found the
stinker too unimportant to respond to, or, worse, you accidentally deleted it without reading it.
Beware of stinker traps. You may get an email inviting you to work on a problem with a
generous offer to help. Say you take the bait and request help. The next email (copied to
practically everybody on earth) may read something like, “If you bothered to read the previous
message,” (referring to an email sent ten days ago to 17 others and two email groups) “you
would know that…” Note how easy it is to imply that you don’t know what you are supposed to,
and that you are in the habit of ignoring important messages.
We have no sure defense against stinker traps other than knowing the sender. If a sender
is known for his stinker-happy disposition, treat all his sweet overtures with suspicion. It is
unlikely that he has had a change of heart and decided to treat you civilly. Much more likely is
that he is setting you up for something that he will enjoy rather more than you!
At the end of the day, don’t worry too much about stinkers if you do find yourself at the
receiving end. Keep a smile on your face and recognize the stinkers for what they are —
ego trips.
Abhishek Trivedi
MSIT Alumi
Mentors dig into a delicious feast at IIIT
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