February 24, 2019

IIT-D to turn into non-residential campus soon

Delhi/India/Politics by

In order to gradually turn itself into a non-residential campus, the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi (IIT-D), is in talks with residents of nearby areas, including Jia Sarai and Katwaria Sarai, to accommodate its students there. The administration wants at least 50 per cent of its postgraduate students to live outside the campus from the next academic session.

At present, most IIT-D students, including those pursuing B.Tech, M.Tech, and PhD, live on the campus. Even if students are Delhi residents, they get a hostel room, so that they can stay back for late night assignments and activities. The institute, however, slowly wants to change itself in to a non-residential campus to improve its infrastructure and academic facilities.

In the upcoming academic session, the administration has decided to put up around half of its M.Tech students in areas within 5 km radius of the institution. Currently, nearly 10,000 students study in IIT-D and almost all of them live on the campus.

“The campus is overburdened with the strength of residential students. That is why we want to turn ourselves into a non-residential campus,” IIT-D Director Professor V Ramgopal Rao said.

He added: “If we want to compete with world class institutions, we have to expand our strength to at least 40,000 students. With that kind of strength, we cannot have all the students living on the campus. In other major universities also, only 10 per cent of the students stay on campus.”

For the purpose, the administration has asked locals from nearby areas to provide them with a list of possible accommodations, and the information will be shared with students. The institution does not want to keep BTech students out of the campus because of their young age, while PhD students have to stay on the campus because of the nature of their work. So, to start with, only M.Tech students will have take accommodation out of the campus.

“This will also give us a chance to renovate the hostel buildings, which are very old and in need of urgent repair,” a senior official said. The institute has sought Rs 300 crore from the Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) under Project Vishwajeet, the central government initiative to develop IITs, for the renovation of its hostels.

An app for love that knows no bars

Delhi/India/Politics by

Inclove (inclusive love), an online matchmaking app, has come as a manna from heaven for the disabled looking for love. An online version of its predecessor agency, Wanted Umbrella, Inclov was launched by Kalyani Khona and Shankar Srinivasan in 2015.

“I was disheartened by the lack of choice in the market. There was no personal experience to draw my emotions from, but I could empathise. I also wanted to carve a niche for myself,” Khona said.

According to the 2001 census, over 21 million people in India suffer from one or the other form of disability. That accounts for roughly 2.1 per cent of the population. Among the total number of disabled people in the country, 12.6 million are men and 9.3 million are women.

Wanted Umbrella started out in 2014 with 600 registered users. By 2016, Inclov had 6,000 users, including Indians living abroad. “We wanted to move forward with the time and technology. We couldn’t cope with the demand offline, so we went digital,” Khona said. When asked to measure her success in terms of the number of matches, Khona replied, “We can’t say for sure, there are so many.”

Anu Multani, a rifle shooter, was one of the pre-registered members on Inclov. Struck by polio at a young age, Multani had been looking for a soulmate for almost eight years and was close to giving up. Understandably, the medalist was hesitant to dive into the world of online dating.

“Before we launched the app, we were trying to convince a few users to pre-register,” Khona said. Her business partner Srinivasan’s power of persuasion worked and Multani signed on. To her own amazement, Multani found her “special” match in Imran within 10 days of the app’s launch. By May 2016, barely five months later, the two were married.

“I had been looking for a life partner for years. Within the first week of Inclov’s launch, I found a man who is simple, caring, and willing to look after my needs,” the 30-year-old stated in her testimonial on the website. Imran gave a similar testimonial.

Khona attributes their venture’s success to the multi-dimensional approach to the business of online dating. “We hold events offline, where our users can come and meet each other,” she said. And the fact that people are naturally attracted to the idea of acceptance among like-minded people who share the same social stigma also helped, she further said.

“There are nearly six million single disabled people, looking for a partner. A pen and paper approach cannot handle the magnitude of this problem,” Khona said.

During the building of the novel app, feedback was taken from differently-abled users. For example, Inclov has integrated the talkback feature for the visually-impaired. There is an added feature of textual descriptions of images as well. There are special menus for those with upper mobility issues, and Artificial Intelligence (AI) and voice command powered solutions for those with cerebral palsy.

In August 2015, Inclov registered on Wishberry, a crowdfunding platform, to raise Rs five lakh, and ended up getting Rs 6.5 lakh. The money was used to upgrade the app. The new version — Inclov 2.0 — will be launched later this month.

Book Fair’s women theme pavilion fails to attract crowd

Delhi/India/Politics by

Manushi, the pavilion focussing on the theme of women at the 25th edition of the World Book Fair, failed to generate interest among visitors, with most of them expressing disappointment with the variety of books available.

“The books displayed at the pavilion number 7 are nice but I am looking for a wider range of books on and by women,” a visitor said. “The theme is interesting but I expected much more, including activities that would pull the audience,” said Mantosh Singh, another visitor.

An official at the theme pavilion said over 400 books dedicated to women were on display but were not for sale. “People can buy these books from other stalls in the fair,” the official said.

Various activities, such as panel discussions, talks, book releases, screening of documentaries and films, and cultural presentations were organised by the theme pavilion but the crowd was not impressed and most visitors left the place within a short duration.

At the same time, the international segment, which saw participation from over 20 countries, including China, Egypt, France, Germany, Nepal, Iran, Poland, Japan, Spain, and Sri Lanka, among others, received a huge footfall.

“I have come to visit the foreign pavilion. I went to the theme pavilion as well, but did not find it interesting,” a visitor said.

The World Book Fair-2017 was thrown open for visitors on January 7, and over 800 publishers are participating in the event. The fair is also celebrating 60 years of National Book Trust (NBT) at the special pavilion, featuring an exhibit titled, ‘This is No Looking Back!’.

Doc in govt hospital applies for maternity leave, asked to quit

Delhi/India/Politics by

A doctor working in Delhi government’s Baba Saheb Ambedkar Hospital has alleged that she was asked to resign after she applied for a maternity leave during the eighth month of her pregnancy. Dr Namrata Singh (name changed) had been working in the hospital as a senior resident on an ad-hoc basis for the last 17 months.

The hospital authorities reportedly told Dr Singh that she would have to quit her job as there was no provision of a maternity leave for ad-hoc doctors.

“I was shocked when the authorities told me that I couldn’t take a leave. I have been coming to work even in the eighth month of my pregnancy. Such behaviour is inhuman. Even though it was Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s pre-election promise, thousands of doctors, including me, were not regularised. This is just unacceptable,” she said.

Pointing out that the decision was demotivating for other women doctors working in government hospitals, Dr Singh said: “We work day and night, and this is what we get in return. It is painful and depressing to be told to quit the job, especially when I have put in so much hard work with honesty, never complaining about the problems that we all face in government hospitals.”

Slamming the hospital’s decision, Dr Singh’s husband said: “What about the hundreds of other women doctors who are suffering at the hands of the Delhi government? What about their health, their families? What about motivating your doctors so that they do not leave government jobs?” When DNA queried hospital’s Medical Superintendent Dr Punita Mahajan regarding the issue, she said: “The rules are different for different ad-hoc categories. I need to know the name, and then only can I investigate the case. The doctor has not approached me directly. All decisions are taken as per rules. If we have taken a decision and the doctor concerned is not satisfied, she needs to give me the representation. So far, I have not received any such representation.”

Despite the Maternity Benefits Act being in force in the country, working women often face discrimination and harassment when they are pregnant and need a maternity leave.

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