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Land wars When small is not so beautiful… V-Guard launches app-enabled water heater system ITC chairman calls for policy impetus to transform agriculture Tata gets 4-star rating for Zest He excels in the nuts and bolts of entrepreneurship TVS Automobile invests Rs.75 crore in start-up firms From the toughest to the best year The gainers and the losers Solar installations exceed 2015 capacity in five months L&T profit up by 11 per cent E.I.D Parry (India) Ltd: another sweet year Tata Motors aims to be among the Top 3 global CV & PV firm L&T bags the Mumbai Trans-harbour link order Ode to Ratan Tata Last stages It takes two to tango L & T’s floating dock for navy PSU non-life firms seek to protect share Mercedes-Benz sales continue to zoom CAPITAL NOTES Chinese smart phones flourish in small towns too! Yamaha unveils scooter boutique Welcome focus to improve rural India... HPCL plans Rs.61,000 crore capex over 5-years Kone India eyes further growth in elevator market Are they really independent? Housing demand revival A welcome initiative-even critics are recognised Bajaj Finserv – Q1: fare well Back in growth mode L & T set bigger ambitions in defence business Increasing market share Is this a generation gap? Wabco launches safety system Tata Motors bets on new launches Vellayan is back, after 150 days New India Assurance posts impressive show AL introduces Guru & Partner Hyundai India achieves 7 mn production at Chennai factory Toyota and Suzuki to introduce EVs in India by 2020 Record two-wheeler sales Michelin to double Chennai capacity Singur minus Nano – victory or folly? Aurobindo Pharmacy: good turnaround Sivasankaran enters taxi space to take on Uber and Ola Preparing for the next growth curve Ponni Sugars (Erode) Ltd: not so sweet 2012-13 M & M unveils driverless technology for tractors Tata Steel, ThyssenKrupp sign MoU to merge European units Forging industry worried over lower supply of steel and its price Maruti – for young buyers The unexpected exit Rane targets Rs.5500 crore topline by 2018-19 Consolidating leadership position in smartphones Carnival Films acquiring 3000 screens pan India ITC – steep excise hike TN government keen on revival of operations at Nokia complex Smooth sailing of SAIL Smartphone onslaught by Chinese brands TVS Srichakra plans capacity expansion Emami – a new growth mantra LVB posts 31 per cent growth in Q1 net profit AL wins Deming prize again Right to privacy – now it’s fundamental! RoC in the dock... AL secures orders for 3600 buses TI Cycles plans retail expansion to drive sales for premium bicycles Eyes strong growth in 2016-17 A niche in FMCG business... Titan Company – sales recovery to kick in 29 per cent jump in TCS revenues Dish TV – subscriber additions encouraging Gamesa to set up a plant in Nellore PPP model for infrastructure development Sundram Fasteners rejigs international IOB on turnaround path Tata Motors joins compact SUV bandwagon with Nexon Daimler grows sales and share in India Shriram Life clocks more than Rs.1000 crore premium in 2015-16 Hyundai to focus on SUVs and AMT variants Nissan exit shouldn’t affect ALL Daimler’s truck exports from Chennai cross 5000 units Tata Motors charts investments in PV and CV businesses Hindalco – re-rating
 
Welcome focus to improve rural India...
It is an interesting and necessary initiative. Engineers without Borders (EWB) is a global organisation in which engineers, along with under-grad students in engineering, lend their expertise to serve rural India.

EWB, which originated in the US and has chapters in several countries, has been active in India as well. Engineering professionals have set up chapters in several colleges and extend their knowledge and expertise to enrich the life of rural India. The focus is on sanitation, water, energy, roads and education.

A two-day conference of EWB was recently organised at IIT-M.

The timing is quite opportune: on 02 October. Prime Minister Modi launched the Swachh Bharat (clean India) campaign. There is the prospect of such a campaign getting funded through the mandate for companies to set apart at least two per cent of their profits under Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).

In 2005, I presented at the Purdue University, USA, several factors that lend for India emerging a strong food bowl of the world.  These included large arable land of around 400 million acres,  round-the-year agriculture season,  rich biodiversity, a strong pool of scientists and engineers and, most important, very low levels of productivity.

I observed a disconnect between the urban and rural economy. I cite a few instances :  

One, ISRO has mapped land resources in detail through satellite imaging. But these are not available to the average farmer.

Two, the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU) provides data relating to weather,  crop nurturing, crop protection and market price information. These are available for every part of the state. The weather information provides temperature, humidity, rainfall and a whole lot of connected information for a week ahead. Likewise, the prices of agriculture commodities in several markets are readily available. Efforts are also made to provide this information through the cell phone. But such information is not available to the average farmer.

Three, there is the dearth of male farm labour in Tamil Nadu. There is drudgery and pain involved in attending to several simple tasks like pruning or cutting out weeds. The farmers continue to use the sickle for centuries. Engineers can help introduce rechargeable electric saws that can reduce drudgery and enormously improve productivity. In the developed countries hundreds of such simple gadgets are available. EWB can adopt these and familiarise these to our farmers.

EWB can help the rural folk to access Internet and make use of such precious and useful information readily available.  Their expertise can be utilised in the purification of water and in sanitation. These alone can reduce widespread incidence of communicable diseases in rural areas.

IIT-M Director Dr Bhaskar Ramamurthy has been urging on harnessing solar power for agriculture and domestic consumption. This, he says, can reduce 50 per cent of the current consumption of power used by these two segments and thus help meet the serious problem of energy shortage.  Massive use of such technology will also help reduce costs.

Elango Rangaswamy, an engineer and a scientist at CSIR, resigned his job and applied his expertise to enrich the life of the villagers at Kuthambakkam village.  In less than two decades he has made the village self-sufficient and a model, vastly enhancing rural employment, jobs and quality of life.  The average family income of the farmers has increased from around Rs 3000 to over Rs 25,000 p.m. There is a well-integrated community life. The Panchayat has empowered the villagers and made a success of decentralised self-governance. EWB can help replicate this model.

Think of the power of youth. In Tamil Nadu alone there are about 550 engineering colleges and over 1000   arts and science colleges. EWB should endeavour to harness this resource base and power of this wonderful force.  They should direct this energies to improve the living standards of rural India.

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