Govt proposes to replace UGC with new commission

The new Higher Education Commission of India Act is likely to be tabled in Parliament during the monsoon session. Photo: Mint

The new Higher Education Commission of India Act is likely to be tabled in Parliament during the monsoon session. Photo: Mint

New Delhi: The Union government on Wednesday unveiled the draft of a bill to replace higher education regulator University Grants Commission (UGC) with a Higher Education Commission.

The new commission to be established through an Act will not have grant-making authority, will promote reduced inspection system and will focus more on quality outcome at universities and colleges.

Human resource development (HRD) minister Prakash Javadekar, who claimed this is a key education reform, said the new body will be more representational. Its board will have senior bureaucrats from the ministries of HRD, skills and entrepreneurship, and science and technology, in a way ending the monopoly of HRD ministry in regulating higher education.

“The draft Act is in accordance with the commitment of the government for reforming the regulatory systems that provide more autonomy to higher educational institutes to promote excellence and facilitate holistic growth of the education system,” Javadekar said in a tweet.

He said the new Act will separate grant-making functions, end inspection raj, focus on academic quality and empower the new commission to enforce quality issues.

According to the draft bill, university and college managements found wanting and violating penalty imposed by the commission “shall be liable for prosecution as per procedure laid down under the Criminal Procedure Code and may be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend up to three years”.

The new body will specify learning outcomes for colleges and universities, prescribe teaching, assessment, research standards.

UGC reform was part of the BJP’s general election manifesto in 2014. To be sure, a similar restructuring was discussed and promoted by the previous United Progressive Alliance government but could not become a law due to lack of support from the parliament.

Over the last four years, the HRD ministry has deliberated on several models like a single regulator for higher education by merging UGC, National Council of Teacher Education (NCTE) and All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE); however, the plans were not taken forward.

“This Act provides for establishing the Higher Education Commission of India repealing the University Grants Commission Act, 1956,” said the draft bill which is open for public feedback till 7 July.

“Whereas for promoting uniform development of quality of education in higher educational institutions, there is a need for creation of a Body that lays down uniform standards, and ensures maintenance of the same through systematic monitoring and promotion, Whereas the existing regulatory structure as reflected by the mandate given to University Grants Commission required redefinition based on the changing priorities of higher education and allow its growth,” underlines the draft bill on need for a change.

The new commission shall consist of a chairperson, vice chairperson and 12 members to be appointed by the central government. The secretary of the commission will act as the member-secretary. Of the 12 members, three members will represent union government namely: secretary of higher education, secretary of ministry of skill development and entrepreneurship and secretary, department of science and technology. Besides, there will be an “industry doyen” among the board members.

Samsung Sets Up ‘World’s Largest Mobile Factory’ in Noida

Samsung Sets Up 'World's Largest Mobile Factory' in Noida

In front are open fields with grazing cattle, to the left are under-construction residential societies and to the right is its existing facilty – this is where Samsung has set up what is the world’s largest mobile factory.

Not China or South Korea – and certainly not the US – the tag of housing the world’s largest mobile factory has straight away put Noida on top of the world manufacturing map when it comes to consumer electronics.

The new 35-acre Samsung Electronics facility at Sector 81 in Noida, Uttar Pradesh, will see Prime Minister Narendra Modi and South Korean President Moon Jae-in landing together at a quickly-prepared helipad adjacent to the factory to officially inaugurate it on Monday.

One of the first electronics manufacturing facilities set up in the country in the early 1990s, the plant started by manufacturing TVs in 1997. The current mobile phone manufacturing unit was added in 2005.

In June last year, the South Korean giant announced a Rs. 4,915 crore investment to expand the Noida plant and, after a year, the new facility is ready to double production.

The company is currently making 67 million smartphones in India and with the new plant being functional, it is expected to manufacture nearly 120 million mobile phones.

Not just mobiles, the expansion of the current facility will double Samsung’s production capacity of consumer electronics like refrigerators and flat panel televisions, further consolidating the company’s leadership in these segments.

According to Tarun Pathak, Associate Director at Counterpoint Research, the new facility gives Samsung an advantage by reducing the time to market.

“This will help Samsung bring some local features to the devices powered by R&D here. Apart from this, the company can also bring in export opportunity for Samsung to SAARC and other regions,” Pathak told IANS.

Samsung has two manufacturing plants – in Noida and in Sriperumbudur, Tamil Nadu – five R&D centres, and one design centre in Noida, employing over 70,000 people and expanding its network to over 1.5 lakh retail outlets.

Established in 1995, Samsung India laid the foundation stone of Noida plant next year. In 1997, production commenced and the first television was rolled out. In 2003, refrigerator production began.

By 2005, Samsung had become market leader in panel TVs and in 2007, the existing Noida facility started manufacturing mobile phones.

In 2012, Samsung’s Noida facility rolled out the first-ever Galaxy S3 device.

The company currently has over 10 percent of its overall production in India and aims to take it to 50 percent over the next three years.

“For Samsung, India is among the top five smartphone markets globally. The US is saturated and Korea and Brazil are not growing significantly. India is a big opportunity across price segments, including 2G feature phones. It makes sense for Samsung to build a bigger manufacturing base here,” Jaipal Singh, Senior Market Analyst, IDC, told IANS.

“They are now looking at building a complete ecosystem. After smartphones, they can go into building top-of-the-line products in other categories like TVs, refrigerators as advance manufacturing in India still lags behind. With the new facility, Samsung is going to have an edge over its rivals,” Singh noted.

According to HC Hong, President and CEO, Samsung India, a bigger manufacturing plant will help them cater to the growing demand for Samsung products across the country.

Samsung India, that registered 27 percent growth in mobile business revenue for the financial year 2016-17 – accounting for a whopping Rs. 34,300 crores of its reported Rs. 50,000 crores sales – won’t be able to hide the smile when the new facility kicks off production from July 9.

[“Source-gadgets.ndtv”]

NASA Seeks Partnership With US Industry to Build First Element of ‘Gateway’ Orbital Outpost

NASA Seeks Partnership With US Industry to Build First Element of 'Gateway' Orbital Outpost

In line with US President Donald Trump’s “Space Policy Directive 1”, NASA has sought partnership with the US industry to develop the first element of the Gateway, which will become the orbital outpost for robotic and human exploration operations in deep space.

NASA has released a draft solicitation seeking commercial and international partners via the Board Agency Announcement (BAA) this week to US industry to acquire an element for the Gateway.

The Gateway will support exploration on and near the Moon, and beyond, including Mars, NASA said in a statement.

The draft seeks a high-power, 50-kW solar electric propulsion (SEP) spacecraft to maintain the Gateway’s position as well as move it between lunar orbits as needed.

It will also provide power to the rest of the Gateway, controls and communications, the statement said.

“We believe partnering with US industry for the power and propulsion element will stimulate advancements in commercial use of solar electric propulsion and also serve NASA exploration objectives,” said Michele Gates, Director (Power and Propulsion Element) at NASA.

Through the upcoming solicitation, industry will be asked to participate in a public/private partnership, which includes a flight demonstration of the power and propulsion spacecraft.

Following this test lasting up to one-year in space after launch, NASA will have the option to acquire the spacecraft for use as the first element of the Gateway in lunar orbit.

The power and propulsion element is also expected to enable high-rate, reliable communications between Earth and deep space, which will be important during spacewalks in deep space, human exploration of the lunar surface and more.

To meet current Gateway development planning, NASA is targeting launch of the power and propulsion element on a partner-provided commercial rocket in 2022, the statement said.

In addition to the draft BAA, NASA will host an Industry Day on July 10 prior to issuing the final BAA.

 

 

[“Source-gadgets.ndtv”]

Legislators Are Missing the Point on Facebook

Legislators Are Missing the Point on Facebook

HIGHLIGHTS

  • The real issue: How our data get used
  • Facebook has been quite open and obvious about their skeevy practices
  • America needs a smarter conversation about data usage

I’m getting increasingly baffled and disappointed by the scandal-cum-congressional-ragefest surrounding Facebook. Instead of piling on Mark Zuckerberg or worrying about who has our personal data, legislators should focus on the real issue: How our data get used.

Let’s start with some ground truths that seem to be getting lost:

– Cambridge Analytica, the company the hoovered up a bunch of data on Facebook users, isn’t actually much of a threat. Yes, it’s super sleazy, but it mostly sucked at manipulating voters.

– Lots of other companies – maybe hundreds! – and “malicious actors” also collect our data. They’re much more likely to be selling our personal information to fraudsters.

– We should not expect Zuckerberg to follow through on any promises. He’s tried to make nice before to little actual effect. He has a lot of conflicts and he’s kind of a naive robot.

– Even if Zuckerberg was a saint and didn’t care a whit about profit, chances are social media is still just plain bad for democracy.

Politicians don’t want to admit that they don’t understand technology well enough to come up with reasonable regulations. Now that democracy itself might be at stake, they need someone to blame. Enter Zuckerberg, the perfect punching bag. Problem is, he likely did nothing illegal, and Facebook has been relatively open and obvious about their skeevy business practices. For the most part, nobody really cared until now. (If that sounds cynical, I’ll add: Democrats didn’t care until it looked like Republican campaigns were catching up to or even surpassing them with big data techniques.)

What America really needs is a smarter conversation about data usage. It starts with a recognition: Our data are already out there. Even if we haven’t spilled our own personal information, someone has. We’re all exposed. Companies have the data and techniques they need to predict all sorts of things about us: our voting behaviour, our consumer behaviour, our health, our financial futures. That’s a lot of power being wielded by people who shouldn’t be trusted.

If politicians want to create rules, they should start by narrowly addressing the worst possible uses for our personal information – the ways it can be used to deny people job opportunities, limit access to health insurance, set interest rates on loans and decide who gets out of jail. Essentially any bureaucratic decision can now be made by algorithm, and those algorithms need interrogating way more than Zuckerberg does.

To that end, I propose a Data Bill of Rights. It should have two components: The first would specify how much control we may exert over how our individual information is used for important decisions, and the second would introduce federally enforced rules on how algorithms should be monitored more generally.

The individual rights could be loosely based on the Fair Credit Reporting Act, which allows us to access the data employed to generate our credit scores. Most scoring algorithms work in a similar way, so this would be a reasonable model. As regards aggregate data, we should have the right to know what information algorithms are using to make decisions about us. We should be able to correct the record if it’s wrong, and to appeal scores if we think they’re unfair. We should be entitled to know how the algorithms work: How, for example, will my score change if I miss an electricity bill? This is a bit more than FCRA now provides.

Further, Congress should create a new regulator – along the lines of the Food and Drug Administration – to ensure that every important, large-scale algorithm can pass three basic tests (Disclosure: I have a company that offers such algorithm-auditing services.):

– It’s at least as good as the human process it replaces (this will force companies to admit how they define “success” for an algorithm, which far too often simply translates into profit),

– It doesn’t disproportionately fail when dealing with protected classes (as facial recognition software is known to do);

– It doesn’t cause crazy negative externalities, such as destroying people’s trust in facts or sense of self-worth. Companies wielding algorithms that could have such long-term negative effects would be monitored by third parties who aren’t beholden to shareholders.

I’m no policy wonk, and I recognise that it’s not easy to grasp the magnitude and complexity of the mess we’re in. A few simple rules, though, could go a long way toward limiting the damage.

[“Source-gadgets.ndtv”]