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Start-up culture altering rural India for better

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By Surbhi Moudgil

Rural India has several issues that we keep reading about, seeing them on TV or learning from various sources. Some of them are in the areas of energy needs, sanitation, agriculture, drinking water, cleanliness etc. All these can be addressed through public as well as private endeavours.

The Government has made several policies and launched campaigns in this regard, however, it can only do it till an extent. Some entrepreneurs, along with those looking to start and enterprise in such areas, have taken this seriously to help out the rural population. This way, they are not only gaining the satisfaction of serving the society but they are earning money as well.

At present, India is seeing a surge in the ‘start-up culture’. The trend for entrepreneurship is on the rise in India. People are getting familiar with the economic rubrics of the country. However, entrepreneurship cannot be sustained in an unorganised environment, rather it needs a structured trajectory to succeed.

People are slowly shifting towards start-ups in the rural India as it is giving opportunities of colliding social development with employment. Rural entrepreneurship has its own pros and cons. Some of the issues that a budding entrepreneur can face in rural areas are electricity, team issues, language problems, investment etc.

Doing business in India might not be easy but the budding ‘start-up culture’ and, the government bringing in policies to foster them, are creating phenomenal opportunities for entrepreneurs.

However, these must not act as deterrents to those who want to make a change.

Rural entrepreneurship is expected to do value addition to the existing rural setup and engage a large number of human resources. Rural areas of India offer a lot of variety for social enterprise. From chemical to minerals, engineering and non-engineering, handicrafts and cottage industry, to sanitation, water and energy, the scope is unlimited and results could change the face of India.

Technology needs to be tweaked according to rural needs for providing what suits the rural consumer. There are entrepreneurs who are intercepting these nuances to create unique solutions for the villagers.

IKure Techsoft based in Kolkata sets up rural health centres where doctors are available through the week and pharmacists dispense only accredited medicines. Sujay Santra, the founder, got this idea when he realised that his relatives in a West Bengal village could not relate to his work at a US technology firm.

“I was not doing anything which would impact them directly,” he was quoted as saying to a newspaper.

On the other hand, Sasisekar Krish makes image and video processing products for agriculture and healthcare at his company nanoPix based in Karnataka. Farmers use this technology to categorise agriculture products like cashew by shape, size, colour and quality. The same technology also helps analyse blood smears to detect infectious diseases.

Another such start-up in the rural setup is Ignus which provides its students tablets for studying. It enables the students to connect with premium lecturers across India with the help of pre-recorded educational sessions. It supports those village students who cannot afford to migrate to cities or pay big money for coaching. Mervin Rosario, the founder of Ignus, said, “Students are now more enthusiastic and happy due to better quality and closer proximity of study centre.”

Such entrepreneurs are altering rural India for the better by investing into the initiatives that are bringing socio-economic change in the villages. These are not just money-making schemes for people, but genuine efforts towards decreasing the disparity in urban and rural India.

Doing business in India might not be easy but the budding ‘start-up culture’ and, the government’s upcoming policies to foster them are creating phenomenal opportunities for entrepreneurs. The people must take advantage of these opportunities. This will not only develop the rural region and population, but also add to the overall well being of the Indian economy and its youthful human resources.

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Northeast is Fast Emerging as the new Start-up Destination, Says Minister Jitendra Singh

Due to improvement in connectivity and transport facility in the last two years, coupled with concentrated administrative focus, more and more youngsters are now heading towards the northeastern states to venture into entrepreneurship

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Union Minister of State for Development of the North Eastern Region Jitendra Singh. Wikimedia

New Delhi, October 16, 2017 : Union Minister of State for Development of the North Eastern Region (DoNER) Jitendra Singh claimed that the area was fast emerging as the new start-up destination for youngsters from all over India, an official statement on Monday.

Due to improvement in connectivity and transport facility in the last two years, coupled with concentrated administrative focus, more and more youngsters are now heading towards the northeastern states to venture into entrepreneurship and take advantage of its unexplored potential, he said, according to a DoNER Ministry statement.

Citing an example, he said in certain areas of Northeast, including states like Arunachal Pradesh, “while almost 40 per cent of the fruit goes waste on account of lack of adequate storage and transport facilities, the same can be used to produce and manufacture fresh and pure fruit juice at a much more cost-effective price”.

ALSO READ Over 4,000 km of roads, highways to be constructed in northeast

During an interaction with youngsters, Jitendra Singh also pointed out that many new airports coming up at Pakyong (Sikkim), Itanagar and Shillong, which along with a time-bound plan to lay broad-gauge rail track, would bring in further ease of doing business.

“Another sector of entrepreneurship which is fast emerging in Northeast is the medical and healthcare sector.

“For years, there has been a trend for patients to shift outside the region, mostly to Kolkata or Vellore, but the encouragement given to the private corporate sector has now resulted in the opening of new hospitals within the region itself and young entrepreneurs are taking the lead,” he said. (IANS)

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Will Robots Take Your Job? 70 Per cent of Americans Say No

A report issued by the education company Pearson, Oxford University, and the Nesta Foundation found that just one in five workers are in occupations that will shrink by 2030

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A robot carries boxes at the Amazon Fulfillment center in Robbinsville Township, N.J (AP Photo/Julio Cortez) (VOA)

Washington, October 8, 2017 : Most Americans believe their jobs are safe from the spread of robots and automation, at least during their lifetimes, and only a handful says automation has cost them a job or loss of income.

Still, a survey by the Pew Research Center also found widespread anxiety about the general impact of technological change. Three-quarters of Americans say it is at least “somewhat realistic” that robots and computers will eventually perform most of the jobs currently done by people. Roughly the same proportion worry that such an outcome will have negative consequences, such as worsening inequality.

“The public expects a number of different jobs and occupations to be replaced by technology in the coming decades, but few think their own job is heading in that direction,” Aaron Smith, associate director at the Pew Research Center, said.

The Pew Research Center in Washington, D.C. on July 6, 2005, is the author of a 2017 study looking at the spread of automation and robotics in the workplace.

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The Pew Research Center in Washington, D.C. on July 6, 2005, is the author of a 2017 study looking at the spread of automation and robotics in the workplace (VOA)

More than half of respondents expect that fast food workers, insurance claims processors and legal clerks will be mostly replaced by robots and computers during their lifetimes. Nearly two-thirds think that most retailers will be fully automated in 20 years, with little or no human interaction between customers and employers.

Americans’ relative optimism about their own jobs might be the more accurate assessment. Many recent expert analyses are finding less dramatic impacts from automation than studies from several years ago that suggested up to half of jobs could be automated.

Skills will need to be updated

A report issued by the education company Pearson, Oxford University, and the Nesta Foundation found that just one in five workers are in occupations that will shrink by 2030.

Many analysts increasingly focus on the impact of automation on specific tasks, rather than entire jobs. A report in January from the consulting firm McKinsey concluded that less than 5 percent of occupations were likely to be entirely automated. But it also found that in 60 percent of occupations, workers could see roughly one-third of their tasks automated.

That suggests workers will need to continually upgrade their skills as existing jobs evolve with new technologies.

Few have lost jobs to automation

Just 6 percent of the respondents to the Pew survey said that they themselves have either lost a job or seen their hours or incomes cut because of automation. Perhaps not surprisingly, they have a much more negative view of technology’s impact on work. Nearly half of those respondents say that technology has actually made it harder for them to advance in their careers.

ALSO READ Are Robots Going To Take My Job? The War Between Man and Machine

Contrary to the stereotype of older workers unable to keep up with new technology, younger workers — aged 18 through 24 — were the most likely to say that the coming of robots and automation had cost them a job or income. Eleven percent of workers in that group said automation had cut their pay or work hours. That’s double the proportion of workers aged 50 through 64 who said the same.

The Pew survey also found widespread skepticism about the benefits of many emerging technologies, with most Americans saying they would not ride in a driverless car. A majority are also not interested in using robots as caregiver for elderly relatives.

Self-driving cars

Thirty percent of respondents said they think self-driving cars would actually cause traffic accidents to increase, and 31 percent said they would stay roughly the same. Just 39 percent said they thought accidents would decline.

More than 80 percent support the idea of requiring self-driving cars to stay in specific lanes.

The survey was conducted in May and had 4,135 respondents, Pew said. (VOA)

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Vintage Phone Museum: The museum having rare collection of classic cell phones opens in Slovakia

The museum has around 1,500 cell phone models

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Old Nokia mobile phones are placed on a shelf inside of a private museum of phones in Dobsina, Slovakia
Old Nokia mobile phones are placed on a shelf inside of a private museum of phones in Dobsina, Slovakia. VOA

Dobsina, Slovakia, September 10, 2017: As new smartphones hit the market month in month out, one Slovak technology buff is offering visitors to his vintage phone museum a trip down memory lane – to when cell phones weighed more than today’s computers and most people couldn’t afford them.

Twenty-six-year-old online marketing specialist Stefan Polgari from Slovakia began his collection more than two years ago when he bought a stock of old cell phones online. Today, his collection at the vintage phone museum boasts some 1,500 models, or 3,500 pieces when counting duplicates.

The vintage phone museum, which takes up two rooms in his house in the small eastern town of Dobsina, opened last year and is accessible by appointment.

The collection includes the Nokia 3310, which recently got a facelift and re-release, as well as a fully functional, 20-year old, brick-like Siemens S4 model, which cost a whopping 23,000 Slovak koruna – more than twice the average monthly wage in Slovakia when it came out.

“These are design and technology masterpieces that did not steal your time. There are no phones younger than the first touchscreen models, definitely no smartphones,” said Mr. Polgari.

“It’s hard to say which phone is most valuable to me, perhaps the Nokia 350i Star Wars edition,” said Mr. Polgari – who uses an iPhone in his daily life. (VOA)