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Innovation is the key to India surviving next industrial Revolution

India missed the bus on the first major industrial revolution that was brought about in 18th century Britain, on account of being on the wrong side of colonial history

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Industrial Revolution, (representational Image), Wikimedia

– by Amit Kapoor

Feb 28, 2017: It is not often that the world finds itself at the cusp of a revolution, and an industrial one is even more uncommon. India missed the bus on the first major industrial revolution that was brought about in 18th century Britain, on account of being on the wrong side of colonial history. No other phase of innovation has transformed the industrial landscape to a similar extent, except the digital revolution in the latter half of the 20th century.

Fortunately, or unfortunately, we are about to witness the next industrial revolution, which has the potential to change the way we live, work, and interact with one another.

Technological breakthroughs at a rate that the world has never seen before are the defining characteristics of the latest revolution. This has been witnessed in various fields like artificial intelligence (AI) , robotics, the Internet of Things, 3-D printing, autonomous vehicles, nanotechnology and other similar technological innovations.

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The implications of the oncoming revolution have been a topic of heated debate, especially in the developed world. The impact of robotics and AI on job creation is increasingly becoming a cause for concern. Recently, physicist Stephen Hawking warned that automation of factories would make traditional manufacturing jobs irrelevant while the advent of AI will cut deep into the middle classes.

Last week, Izabella Kaminska argued in a thought-provoking piece that recent innovations will displace high-paying skilled jobs, instead of menial jobs, since it would be more cost-effective for corporates. Bill Gates suggested that robots should pay an income tax for the negative impact they might have on employment. On the other hand, Silicon Valley entrepreneurs like Elon Musk favour the idea of a Universal Basic Income (UBI) to tackle the looming threat of job losses.

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However, developing countries seem indifferent to the ongoing debate as if the issue were merely a first world problem. On the contrary, if either automation displaces mundane jobs or AI takes away more skilled jobs or both, employment in developing countries will take a major hit. In fact, a recent UN report claimed that as manufacturing is increasingly undertaken by industrial robots, developing countries could lose about two-thirds of all jobs.

Satya Nadella on his visit to India last week reassured the country that unemployment wouldn’t be an issue for a services-led economy as in a world with “a lot of artificial intelligence, real intelligence will be scarce, real empathy will be scarce, real common sense will be scarce. So, we can have new jobs that are actually predicated on those attributes”.

Underlying this reassurance are, in fact, a few causes of grave concern for a developing economy like India. First, the Indian economy is only services-led in terms of growth. Only about 30 percent of the population is employed in services, within which only a tiny proportion is employed in jobs that artificial intelligence might find hard to replace.

Second, it might just be a misnomer that AI will never be able to develop “real intelligence.” Google has managed to develop AI that can respond to a piano player with its own set of notes based on various melodies it has learned. Self-learning AI can easily display human traits and put even creative jobs at risk.

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Third, Nadella’s remark on the creation of new jobs as a result of the destruction of old ones is based on the time-tested Schumpeterian logic. However, the question that India should concern itself with is the place where these new jobs would emerge. During the first industrial revolution, Britain managed to shift the job losses to its colonies with its machine-produced goods. Similarly, in current times the US is the centre of research and innovation, and American companies that are at the forefront of the technological revolution can as easily export unemployment as they had exported jobs to countries like India.

Mark Zuckerberg’s recent 6,000-word manifesto on the future that he imagines for the world exposes the danger that arises from an America-centric technological revolution. He envisions that the next step for humanity is the creation of a global community in which Facebook can act as a facilitator. Such a world is not hard to fathom, and the “global community” can never find a better platform than Facebook since everyone is locked on to it and shifting to an alternative makes little economic sense. Therefore, in a technology-dominated world, American-centrism can only imply fewer jobs for developing economies.

Like the first industrial revolution, India is again merely coping with the effects on the sidelines. The country, like its erstwhile colonial counterpart, waits for the next technological innovation and adapts it into daily life. If India hopes to ride the next industrial revolution, it needs to be the centre of innovation.

The US owes Apple and Google for the world-class corporate labs that the country invested in during the last century. The country funded high-risk, long-term research projects and succeeded in heralding an industrial revolution. India needs a similar approach if it intends to survive the next one. (IANS)

 

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Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe has been named the new Goodwill Ambassador by WHO

New WHO head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus praised Zimbabwe for its commitment to public health

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Robert Mugabe
President of Zimbabwe and Chairman of the African Union Robert Mugabe. Wikimedia

United Nations, October 21, 2017 : The World Health Organization (WHO) has appointed Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe as a goodwill ambassador to help tackle non-communicable diseases.

New WHO head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus praised Zimbabwe for its commitment to public health, BBC reported on Saturday.

But critics say Zimbabwe’s health care system has collapsed, with the president and many of his senior ministers going abroad for treatment.

They say that staff are often unpaid and medicines are in short supply.

Tedros, who is Ethiopian, is the first African to lead the WHO and replaced Margaret Chan, who stepped down from her 10-year post in June.

He was elected with a mandate to tackle perceived politicisation in the organisation.

The WHO head praised Zimbabwe as “a country that places universal health coverage and health promotion at the centre of its policies to provide health care to all”.

But US-based campaign group Human Rights Watch said it was an embarrassment to give the ambassador role to Mugabe given his record on human rights.

“If you look at Zimbabwe, Mugabe’s corruption, his utter mismanagement of the economy has devastated health services there,” said executive director Kenneth Roth.

“Indeed, you know, Mugabe himself travels abroad for his health care. He’s been to Singapore three times this year already. His senior officials go to South Africa for their health care.

“When you go to Zimbabwean hospitals, they lack the most basic necessities.”

The idea of hailing Mr Robert Mugabe “as any kind of example of positive contribution to health care is absolutely absurd”, he added.

President Robert Mugabe heard about the award while attending a conference held by the WHO, a UN agency, on non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in Montevideo.

He told delegates how his country had adopted several strategies to combat the challenges presented by NCDs, which the WHO says kill about 40 million people a year and include cancers, respiratory diseases and diabetes.

“Zimbabwe has developed a national NCD policy, a palliative care policy, and has engaged United Nations agencies working in the country, to assist in the development of a cervical cancer prevention and control strategy,” Mugabe was reported by the state-run Zimbabwe Herald newspaper as saying.

ALSO READ Countries with best Health Care in the world

But the President admitted that Zimbabwe was similar to other developing countries in that it was “hamstrung by a lack of adequate resources for executing programmes aimed at reducing NCDs and other health conditions afflicting the people”.

Zimbabwe’s main MDC opposition party also strongly criticised the WHO move.

“The Zimbabwe health delivery system is in a shambolic state, it is an insult,” said spokesman Obert Gutu.

“Robert Mugabe trashed our health delivery system. He and his family go outside of the country for treatment in Singapore after he allowed our public hospitals to collapse.” (IANS)

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‘Swachh Bharat’ Initiative: Young Indians Launch ‘Mission –Santizing and Sensitizing India’

The Young Indians have launched this mission for reinforcing the 'Swachh Bharat' activity

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Young Indians
Young Indians want to strengthen the ‘Swachh Bharat’ initiative. Wikimedia
  • The Young Indians have launched ‘Mission- Sanitizing and Sensitizing India
  • It is an initiative to encourage Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan

North Bengal, August 9, 2017: To strengthen the ‘Swachh Bharat’ activity announced by PM Narendra Modi, the Young Indians, who are an essential part of Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) have launched ‘Mission –Santizing and Sensitizing India’. This is an activity to work with companies and institutions on Social Responsibility area. The sole purpose is to build awareness in the general public through the social interface and networking systems of the Young Indians.

In reference to this, and with the constant attempt of the Young Indian, this time the Yi Siliguri composed another awareness program on 6 August 2017 with the road sellers, on cleanliness and hygiene at Siliguri’s “Nirvana” situated at Khalpara’s Agrasen Road of Siliguri under Ward 9.

ALSO READ: Swachh Bharat Abhiyan: Megastar Amitabh Bachchan wants School Curriculum to have Waste Management

The program began at around 9:00 am at the venue. Around 50 road vendors took part in the program that included chaat sellers, Gol Gappa merchants, jhal muri sellers, momo vendors, peanut vendors and so forth. In this program, a using kit comprising hair mask, gloves, aprons, trash sack, and garbage bins were dispersed to the members by the members of the Young Indians.

The dignitaries who were present included the Chair of Swach Bharat Team, Mr. Gautam Rathi, Mr. Mangallam Kalyani, Mr. Rakesh Goyel, among others.

Youthful Indians (Yi) represents an indispensable piece of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), a not-revenue driven, non-government, industry managed and industry driven association assuming a proactive part in India’s improvement procedure. Yi was shaped in 2002 with a goal of making a stage for youthful Indians to understand the fantasy of a developed country. Yi comprises of approximately 2350 direct members in 40 parts, and connects with approximately 10500 students through the medium of chaupals, under the ‘Yuva’ brand. The Yi participants comprise of youthful dynamic Indians between the age of 21 and 40 and involve professionals, entrepreneurs, and performers from various life aspects. “To end up plainly the Voice of Young Indians Globally” being Yi’s vision, it gives a stage to youthful Indians to contribute and participate by turning into an essential piece of the Indian development story. Yi’s work is separated principally into three gatherings; “Youth Leadership”, “Thought Leadership” and “Country Building”.

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The Yi participants comprise of youthful dynamic Indians between the age of 21 and 40 and involve professionals, entrepreneurs, and performers from various life aspects. “To end up plainly the Voice of Young Indians Globally” being Yi’s vision, it gives a stage to youthful Indians to contribute and participate by turning into an essential piece of the Indian development story. Yi’s work is separated principally into three gatherings; “Youth Leadership”, “Thought Leadership” and “Country Building”.

– prepared by Harsimran Kaur of NewsGram. Twitter Hkaur1025

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Tech Nonprofit Gives Youth, Women in Developing World a Helping Hand

An international nonprofit will start training 6,000 Nigerian girls in digital skills in early 2017.

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Nigerian students learn about 3-D printing in a class offered by the Youth for Technology Foundation. (Youth for Technology Foundation-VOA

October 2, 2016: An international nonprofit will start training 6,000 Nigerian girls in digital skills in early 2017. The initiative is part of an ongoing effort to use technology to empower underprivileged youth and women in the developing world.

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The Youth for Technology Foundation (YTF) has been transforming the lives of young people and women in developing countries for the past 16 years. The group works in Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda and, more recently, in Colombia, Latin America.

“Our mission is really to create a rich learning community where the appropriate use of technology affords opportunities for youth and women living in developing economies,” said YTF President and CEO Njideka Harry in an interview.

The latest digital training initiative targets out-of-school Nigerian girls who have survived human trafficking or are at risk of falling prey to traffickers.

Aided by professional mentors and partnerships with local businesses, YTF’s Nigeria hubs will teach literacy, numeracy, business and financial inclusion, in addition to 3-D printing and other skills. When training is done, the girls will receive certification that will help them find apprenticeships or jobs, or start their own businesses.

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YTF typically targets people between the ages of 8 to 25. These young people have “long productivity cycles,” said Harry, and are the “co-creators of powerful information and communication technologies.

“Youth,” she said, “are at the center of the development, specifically in Africa, where there is this issue of the youth bulge. … If those young people are not nurtured, if they are not given the right opportunities, you know, “it could be a disaster, in essence, as a cultural dividend.”

With the explosive growth of mobile technology in parts of the world like Africa, Harry said it is important that young people learn not just to become consumers, but also to create mobile apps that would be useful to their communities.

But it takes a village to raise a child, as the Nigerian proverb goes. And so YTF also invests in helping the mothers of its young students – women who form the economic backbone of their communities and often give back “as much as 90 percent of their household income.”

Students participate in a class at the Youth for TechnologyFoundation academy in Nairobi, Kenya. (Youth for Technology Foundation)-VOA
Students participate in a class at the Youth for TechnologyFoundation academy in Nairobi, Kenya. (Youth for Technology Foundation)-VOA

“When we started out working in 2000,” Harry added, “we were working in communities with large groups of young people. And the young people a few years into this work told us ‘our mothers can actually use this training. Our mothers are the entrepreneurs in the community, they are the backbone. It is as a result of their efforts that our school fees are paid and our health is taken care of and the wellness of our communities continues to grow.’”

Women spend about 70 percent of discretionary consumer spending in the global economy, so “they are a huge piece of the global economy itself,” she said. “Investing in women is not just an afterthought, it’s really an economic imperative.”

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So YTF partnered with civil society organizations, governments and the private sector to create programs to help women learn more about managing their affairs, using applicable technologies such as internet access, mobile phones and mobile banking.

And more recently, YTF added 3-D printing to its Africa curriculum. Harry believes the technology is specifically applicable to Africa and “has the opportunity to inspire science, technology, engineering and math in the education sector,” particularly for girls.

I have been printing jewelry like rings and bracelets and selling them to my classmates. The world needs more female innovators to tackle the toughest challenges we have today” – Treasure, 15-year-old secondary school student in Nigeria

“It also has the opportunity to [foster] an entrepreneurship mindset in the minds of young people,” she said. “And so we introduce 3-D printing technology to teach them how to create, invent, and design the world that they envision.”

Sixteen years later, the organization has trained 1.6 million women and youths and helped start and expand 12,000 businesses.

Add to that another 6,000 eager Nigerian girls. (VOA)