World Bank approves $570mn for Bangladesh

World Bank, Bangladesh

The World Bank has approved $570 million for two projects in Bangladesh to improve health, nutrition and population services and strengthen the country’s public procurement.

The $515 million Health Sector Support Project will strengthen the country’s health system and improve quality and coverage of essential service delivery, with a focus on Sylhet and Chittagong divisions, Xinhua news agency reported.

Key health indicators are below national average in Sylhet and Chittagong, said the Washington-based lender in a statement on Saturday.

The $55 million Digitizing Implementation Monitoring and Public Procurement Project will help Bangladesh improve public procurement performance, including its capacity to monitor implementation of development projects and programmes using digital technology, it said.

Bangladesh spends over $7 billion a year on public procurement, which constitutes about 70 per cent of the annual development programme.

According to the bank, the Health Sector Support Project aims to increase the number of mothers receiving quality delivery care in public health facilities to at least 146,000 mothers annually in the two regions.

It will also provide basic immunization to nearly five million children.

“The World Bank and the government have been working together for years to improve the health sector and public procurement performance,” said Qimiao Fan, World Bank Country Director for Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal.

“These two projects will help further progress towards better health outcomes and optimal use of public resources through an effective public procurement and monitoring system. This will benefit the entire nation and support Bangladesh’s journey to becoming an upper middle-income country,” he said.




IIT panel approves threefold hike in annual fees

Photo: Ramesh Pathania/Mint

Photo: Ramesh Pathania/Mint

New Delhi: A proposal for a three-fold hike in annual fees of IITs from the presentRs.90,000 was on Thursday approved by an IIT panel though a final decision would require the nod of HRD minister Smriti Irani.

Another key recommendation the Standing Committee of IIT Council (SCIC) made was that the proposed new entrance examination designed to test the aptitude conducted by a National Authority of Test (NAT) would be held from 2017 onwards. Final decision in this regard too rests with Irani, it is learnt.

Sources told PTI that the SCIC, a body comprising IIT directors and senior officials, in a meeting adopted the report presented earlier by a sub-committee headed by IIT Bombay director Devang Khakhar which had suggested hiking fees to Rs.3 lakh and also recommended multiple sources of financing for the IITs.

“However, the sub-committee has been again asked to consider if this fee hike should also be applied to students studying at Post-Graduate level as they are studying on a fellowship basis,” a source said.

If the recommendations of the SCIC are accepted, even the fees of foreign students would be raised from the current annual $4000 to $10,000, they added.

However, the committee has also emphasised that every student should be provided educational loans at an interest- free basis and without collateral under the Vidyalakshmi scheme, sources said.

Another nod that the committee is learnt to have given is regarding a proposal to hold IIT admission tests in eight countries abroad to attract the best of foreign students.

Sources said the panel also approved the recommendations of a report prepared by a committee of eminent persons headed by Ashok Mishra for holding an aptitude test conducted by a National Testing Service, on the basis of which candidates will be shortlisted for taking JEE (Advanced) for entry to IITs.

However, the committee has recommended that the test should be conducted from next year onwards and not this year.

The Ashok Mishra committee had focused on reducing the dependence on coaching institutions by IIT aspirants. It is desired by the committee that coaching by best quality teachers for such exams should be provided through online platforms by the government, reducing the need that candidates may feel for private tuitions, a source said.


Internet Address Gatekeeper Icann Approves Plan to Break From US

Internet Address Gatekeeper Icann Approves Plan to Break From US

The gatekeeper of Internet addresses on Thursday approved a plan to break from US oversight, shifting those symbolic functions to the broader global online community.

The plan, which now heads to the US government for approval, aims to maintain Internet governance under a “multi-stakeholder” model which avoids control of the online ecosystem by any single governmental body.

The proposal crafted over the course of two years with input from businesses, academia, governments and others was endorsed at a board meeting in Morocco of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann).

“The mood here is a mixture of exultation and exhaustion,” Icann board chairman Stephen Crocker told AFP on the eve of the vote.

Work began on the transition plan in March of 2014, and it will be sent to the US government where it will be the focus of an internal review process expected to last about three months.

The Icann board unanimously approved resolutions detailing the transition plan and directing that it be sent to the US government for approval.

The proposal “meets the needs of the Internet and its users,” said Alissa Cooper, who chaired one of the groups that put the plan together.

The meeting was marked by a series of standing ovations as those involved with the process were thanked.

Won’t change the Internet
The plan will not affect how users interact online, but will turn over the technical supervision of the online address system to Icann itself, with a system of checks and balances so no single entity can exert control over the Internet, according to officials involved in the process.

The online address system managed by Icann is currently overseen by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) at the US Department of Commerce.

Officials say the supervision is symbolic and dates back to the creation of the Internet. Yet Icann officials maintain the new governance model will instill confidence around the world in the Internet’s independence.

“This plan enjoys the broadest possible support from this very diverse community and I’m confident it will meet NTIA’s criteria,” said Thomas Rickert of the Cross Community Working Group on Enhancing Icann Accountability.

If the US government approves the plan, then a contract between Icann and the US government will expire on September 30 as is planned.

“Ultimately, this process is about stewardship of the critical functions of one of the most extraordinary human innovations,” said Internet Society chief executive Kathryn Brown.

“It was right to entrust this important role to the Internet community.”

Crocker did not expect internet users to notice any change, given that Icann would continue to perform its job under a new accountability regime.

Awaiting US approval
While the US government considers the transition plan, Icann will begin rewriting its bylaws to comport with the new structure of accountability.

“Those processes will proceed in parallel,” Crocker said.

“There will be work to be carried out, then at the end of September and the end of our contract, we will operate without the involvement of the US government.”

Icann funding will continue to come from contracts with domain name registrars and registries.

Outgoing Icann chief Fadi Chehade has described the organization as a “traffic cop” that ensures the Internet address system functions, and the US government’s role as been merely to ensure that correct procedures are followed.

“People have aggrandized the role of the US government in what we do,” he told AFP in an interview earlier this year.

“But, the change is actually minimal.”

Chehade said that without US oversight, Icann would be managing the technical functions of the Internet under the supervision of a board designed to maintain diverse representation.

“We have a very solid process that ensures this is not a capturable board,” which can be hijacked by governments or other institutions, he said.

Some US lawmakers have been less than enthusiastic about the plan, fearful that it could allow authoritarian regimes to impose more controls on the Internet.

Last year, Republican Senator John Thune warned at a hearing that a privatized ICANN could become “accountable to no one.”

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Tags: Icann, Internet, US

EU Approves Dell Buyout of Data-Storage Giant EMC

EU Approves Dell Buyout of Data-Storage Giant EMC

EU regulators on Monday approved the record-buyout by Dell of EMC, the world’s largest data-storage provider, for $67 billion or roughly Rs. 4,57,407 crores ($61.5).

The US-based mega merger will combine Dell, whose core global personal computer business is facing declining PC demand, with EMC’s strength in storage for businesses.

The EU greenlight, which follows approval by US authorities, is a crucial hurdle in the record tech tie-up that will accelerate Dell’s move into the cloud and mobile market.

“I am pleased that we have been able to approve Dell’s multibillion dollar takeover of EMC within a short space of time while making sure that there would be no adverse effects on customers,” said the European Union’s competition commissioner, Margrethe Vestager.

Dell has said the acquisition of EMC “will create the world’s largest privately-controlled integrated technology company” in the $2-trillion or roughly Rs. 136,53,896 crores ($1.84-trillion) information technology market.

Founded in 1984, the Texas-based Dell has been struggling against the growing success of smartphones and tablets, and founder Michael Dell and private-equity firm Silver Lake Partners bought out other shareholders in 2013 to take the company private.

With EMC, Dell will beef up its firepower in storage and data management for businesses and could take on industry behemoths IBM, Hewlett-Packard and Cisco.

The transaction is expected to close between before October this year.

The Dell acquisition dwarfs other tech merger deals, according to Dealogic. The previous record-holder was Avago’s $37 billion (roughly Rs. 2,52,556 crores) takeover of Broadcom, announced in May, to create a mobile chip-making powerhouse.