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    He gave the country its first spacecraft

    Udupi Ramachandra Rao, former chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation, acclaimed space scientist acknowledged as the father of Indian satellite technology, is no more.

    The celebrated cosmic ray scientist with an MIT scholarship and experience with early NASA projects in the 1960s is best remembered as the man who gave the country its first spacecraft Aryabhata from out of modest un-space-like industrial sheds of Peenya in Bengaluru.

    His demise at age 85 somewhat brings the curtain on the starry era of pioneering space troika of Vikram Sarabhai, Satish Dhawan and U.R. Rao.

    Regulars at Antariksh Bhavan, the headquarters of ISRO and the Department of Space, will miss the gentle genius. A workaholic, Dr. Rao was active until about two weeks back in his office at Antariksh Bhavan, recalled ISRO Publications and Public Relations Director Deviprasad Karnik.

    Guided by Sarabhai

    When Dr. Rao returned in 1966 to India from stints in the US, the Americans and the Russians were flying their spacecraft of their rockets and had reached Moon. Over here, they were the days of low budgets, small human resource but high spirits and goals.

    Dr. Rao’s space journey blossomed under the tutelage of Vikram Sarabhai, his doctoral guide and later boss at ISRO: in 1972, Sarabhai tasked the young Rao — fresh from MIT and the only Indian then who had worked on NASA’s Pioneer and Explorer satellite projects — with building an Indian satellite.

    Then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had come down to see the assembled satellite — Aryabhata — which was launched on a Russian rocket in 1975. Indian satellites had started sprouting.

    As the first director of what is now called ISRO Satellite Centre, Dr. Rao was responsible for 18 early satellites including the landmark Bhaskara, APPLE, the Indian Remote sensing Satellites or IRSs. His mantra was – ‘If others can do, we can do better’.

    In 1984, Dr. Rao succeeded Satish Dhawan as ISRO Chairman and Secretary, Department of Space, going on to have the second longest tenure in the high post – ten years. (Dr. Dhawan headed it for 12 years.) Dr. Rao was the chairman of the governing council of Physical Research Laboratory until the end, apart from many science ad technology bodies.

    Shaped many a project

    At ISRO, there has not been a planetary mission that has not been touched or tweaked by Dr. Rao. As the chairman of overseeing body ADCOS or the Advisory Committee on Space Sciences, he finalised, shaped, refined or designed the Chandrayaan-1 lunar mission of 2008; the Mars Orbiter Mission of 2013; and the upcoming Chandrayaan-2 set for 2018.

    “I look for excitement in any field,” he had said. One of the current unfinished projects of the cosmic ray scientist is Aditya L1 mission – India’s upcoming solar observatory, so to say. Aditya was earlier planned as a near-Earth mission looking at Sun. However, Dr. Rao – close associates say – convinced ISRO to greatly enlarge its feature and scope. For him, the spacecraft must gaze at Sun from an apparently stable point called L1 or Legrangian point. He prevailed and now Aditya-L1, as it is now renamed, will travel million km to do its job from a point undistubed by either Earth or Sun.

    Associates recall that he was always updated of developments in his field and related sciences. He was forthright, had a “sharp, analytical mind, enormous intellectual ability and [could] quickly make back of the envelop computations for complex solutions,” recalled V.Jayaraman, his doctoral student and erstwhile Director of ISRO’s Earth Observation Systems and later National Remote Sensing Agency, in an article in Current Science titled Living legends in Indian Science.(Vol. 106, No.. 1588 11, 10 June 2014.)

    The same article recounts how Dr. Rao ensured that a remote sensing satellite was launched from a Soviet spaceport amidst extraordinary conditions: “Even as [then Soviet] President [Mikhail] Gorbachev resigned as general secretary of the Communist Party of Soviet Union on 24 August 1991, and the mighty Soviet Union collapsed in the next few days, IRS-1B was launched without any hitch on 29 August 1991 from Baikonur. The presence of Rao [in spite of advices to stay back] served as a balm, not only for the ISRO team at the launch pad and helping them to stay focussed and keep a high morale, but also as a great relief for their families back home. For us associated with that historic event, it will remain as [a] lesson as to how a leader should behave in times of crisis and to be with his team, … whatever be the hurdles.”

    Two years back, he was down with cough and fever, yet drove 15 km to his ISRO office to keep his engagements – one of them an appointment with this reporter. When he was told that he could have postponed the meeting, Dr. Rao typically said, “Some people prefer to rest, I prefer to work.

    All through my life I have worked when I am sick – to forget the sickness. Or else I will be a nuisance to others.”

    As chairman, Dr. Rao accelerated the rocket development programmes but with mixed luck. He presided over the fruition of the ASLV early rocket, much of the development of the now-famous PSLV. He laid the foundation for the GSLV by signing a pact with the Russians in 1991 for the cryogenic engine technology for its third stage. Dr. Rao’s joy was blunted as the PSLV clicked after his tenure while the Russians reneged on the cryogenic pact.

    The credit for kickstarting the now working GSLV, however, is undeniably Dr. Rao’s, say ISRO oldtimers.

    U.R.Rao was born on March 10, 1932, to Lakshminarayana Acharya and Krishnaveni Amma in Adamaru near Udupi – a small town that hosts one of the eight famous `Madhwa math’s sacred to Kannada Brahmins. He studied in Udupi’s Christian High School and later did his intermediate course in Bellary’s Veerashaiva College. A B.Sc at the Government Arts and Science College, Ananthapur, then under Madras University. He completed his M.Sc in Physics from Banaras

    Hindu University 1953 and briefly taught in Ahmednagar and Mysore. But space sicence was beckoning and he enrolled for a PhD under none other than Vikram Sarabhai at the Physical Research Laboratory, Ahmedabad, and got the doctoral degree in 1960 from Gujarat University.

    The article by Dr. Jayaraman says the story of a small-town boy’s rise “to a lofty position as Chairman of ISRO, a prestigious organisation and of international fame, should be a motivational force to many young aspirants in our country.”

    source: / The Hindu / Home> Sci-Tech> Science / by Madhumathi D.S / Bengaluru – July 24th, 2017

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    The Mysore Lancers march at Haifa, a port city in Israel, on Sept 23, 1918. | Photo Credit: from the collection of Mr. Raja

    The Mysore Lancers march at Haifa, a port city in Israel, on Sept 23, 1918. | Photo Credit: from the collection of Mr. Raja

    They fought hard to liberate it in 1918

    A long forgotten slice of martial history related to Mysuru will be revisited when Prime Minister Narendra Modi pays tribute to fallen Indian soldiers at the Haifa cemetery in Israel.

    The Mysore Imperial Service played a big role in the liberation of Haifa on September 23, 1918, from Ottoman Turks and Germans, by allied forces. This is seen as one of the fiercest battles in the west Asian theatre of World War I in which India, as a British colony, fought German and the Ottoman troops.

    The Mysore Lancers were in the 15th Imperial Service as the forces sent by the princely states of Mysore, Jodhpur and Hyderabad. Historian M. Shama Rao in “Modern Mysore” published in 1936 says troops of native States, who were seen as fit only for ceremonial parades, proved their mettle.

    General Sir Edmund Allenby’s despatches of October 31, 1918, on the occupation of Damascus and Aleppo, found in the book, make a special reference to the Mysore Lancers during the capture of Haifa.

    A special recruitment drive was conducted in the princely State and 5,000 men drafted for the war. The then Mysuru Maharaja Nalwudi Krishnaraja Wadiyar sent his troops to defend the empire and even gave nearly ₹50 lakh to the India War Fund.

    Raja Chandra R., son-in-law of the last Maharaja, Jayachamarajendra Wadiyar told The Hindu that the ruler Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV sent a spirited message to the men on the front.

    The book “Mysore’s Part in the War: 1914-1918” cites Sir Allenby and says over 1,350 prisoners and 17 guns were taken in the operation between the spur of Mount Carmel and the marshy banks of river Kishon, about two miles from Haifa road. Mr. Raja Chandra said a memorial at Bengaluru to the participants lies forgotten.

    source: / The Hindu / Home> News> States> Karnataka / by Sharath S Srivatsa / Mysuru-Bengaluru, July 04th, 2017

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    June 16th, 2017adminAmazing Feats, Education, Records, All


    IIM-Bangalore attracts several students living with disabilities

    The vast campus of the Indian Institute of Management Bangalore (IIMB) is set to welcome a fresh batch of 400 Postgraduate Programme (PGP) students on Thursday. But a few students have arrived early for voluntary preparatory classes.

    Two of them chat as if they are old friends, although they met only weeks ago.

    What’s special about the duo? Bengalurean Kunal Mehta, 24, is visually impaired. After initial schooling in an institution for the visually impaired, his parents shifted him to a regular school in Class 8. His father is in the automobile spare parts business and his mother, a home maker. He shifted to management studies for undergraduate education after taking up arts in pre-university

    Mr. Mehta was then recruited to a top multinational finance company. Two years down the line his thirst to learn more caught up with him. “I started preparing for competitive exams such as the Common Admission Test (CAT),” he says. He managed to clear it in his second attempt with an impressive 97.7 percentile.

    Awareness challenge

    For Himanshu Mittal, 23, who has spent all his life in Faridabad and is wheelchair-bound after an accident at home, IIMB is a dream. Mr. Mittal attended a regular school. “There is very little awareness about the needs of persons with disabilities,” he says on his experience.

    source: / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Bengaluru / by K.C.Deepika / Bengaluru – June 14th, 2017

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    Dr. Neeraj Patil who lost to Justine Greening in the British Parliamentary elections held on June 8.

    Dr. Neeraj Patil who lost to Justine Greening in the British Parliamentary elections held on June 8.

    The first Kannadiga ever to stand in the British Parliamentary elections, Neeraj Patil lost to Justine Greening, a Conservative Party candidate and the Education Minister of Britain, in the polls held on June 8. A native of Kamalapur in Kalaburagi district and former Mayor of London Borough of Lambeth, Dr. Neeraj was selected by the Labour Party to represent the constituency of Putney considering his service as an emergency doctor at St George’s Hospital in London, used by the residents of Putney.

    Dr. Patil lost by a narrow margin of 1,554 votes to Ms. Greening who secured 20,679 of 46,894 the votes polled. Though there were six candidates in the fray, the fight was between Mr. Patil and Ms. Greening. Liberal Democrats candidate Ryan Mercer polled 5448 votes followed by Green Party candidate Benjamin Joseph Fletcher (1,107), UK Independent Party candidate Patricia Mary Ward (447) and Independent candidate Catherine Jane Richardson (58). There were 112 invalid votes. The counting of the votes was held at Wandsworth council with James Maddan as returning officer of Putney constituency.

    Addressing the gathering after the vote-count, Dr. Patil congratulated Ms. Greening, who has been retaining the seat since 2005 and thanked the Labour Party for selecting him to run for the British Parliament. Mr. Keith Vaz, the longest serving Labour MP of Indian origin, campaigned for Dr. Patil in Putney constituency.

    Dr. Patil is attributed to have played an instrumental role in getting the statue of the 12th century philosopher and social reformer Basavanna installed at the Albert Embankment Gardens in the London Borough of Lambeth. He was honoured with “The Rajyotsava Award” by the Government of Karnataka in 2008.

    Labour Party had selected 14 Indians, Conservative party 13 and Liberal Democrats 9, respectively as their Parliamentary candidates. The general elections were called following the Brexit referendum by Prime Minister Theresa May.

    source: / The Hindu / Home> News> States> Karnataka / by Kumar Buradikatti / Kalaburagi – June 09th, 2017

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    Researching the specks of froth on our polluted lakes has led to a city girl getting her name etched in immortality on the night sky.

    Sahithi Pingali, a Class 12 student of Inventure Academy, Bengaluru, joins an elite league of people to have a minor planet in the Milky Way named after them. The honour comes after she excelled in the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF), the world’s largest pre-college science competition. As one of the 2,000 finalists, Ms. Pingali presented her paper, — “An Innovative Crowdsourcing Approach to Monitoring Freshwater Bodies”— based on her experiences after having developed an integrated mobile phone app and lake monitoring kit that obtains data through crowdsourcing.

    It wasn’t just an award at ISEF that she won. The Lincoln Laboratory of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), which has the right to name minor planets, decided to name a planet after her after she came within the top 3% of ISEF. While the Indian contingent took home 21 awards in all, Ms. Pingali won three special awards and was awarded “overall second place” in the Earth and Environment Sciences category. “I definitely didn’t see this coming. I was expecting one special award at most. I haven’t yet digested the fact that I have a planet named after me,” she told The Hindu.

    Currently, she is pursuing an internship at the Civil & Environmental Engineering Department of the University of Michigan to further improve her method to detect water pollution. “I want to make it more accurate and expand it to detect arsenic,” she said.

    Her work on Varthur Lake has already seen her get a Gold Medal at ISWEEEP (The International Sustainable World Engineering Energy Environment Project) Olympiad at Houston (U.S.), earlier this year.

    source: / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Bengaluru / by Staff Reporter / Bengaluru – June 07th, 2017

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    May 29th, 2017adminAmazing Feats, Education, Records, All


    Despite missing two months of school after an open heart surgery, he scored 95% in class 12 board exams

    Parmeet Baweja knew 2016 would be a crucial year. He was in class 12 after all and was fully aware of the importance of that academic year. But it was a different sort of a report that delivered a jolt to him. The Delhi Public School, Bengaluru (East) student was diagnosed with a hole in the heart, a defect that went unnoticed since his birth.

    Although he was initially terrified and missed two months of school after undergoing an open heart surgery, his score card for the Class 12 board exams did not reflect any of that: instead, it has a proud 95% written on it. There was a celebratory mood at his house on Sunday. Recollecting his preparation strategy, Parmeet said: “When I got back to school after two months, I panicked. But I was prepared for working twice as hard to ace the race. Ultimately, with the help of my parents and the unending support of my teachers, I managed to score well.” Initially, home tuitions helped him, but the day he was given the all clear by his doctors, he turned to his books to make up for lost time. Parmeet credits his school teachers who made time from their busy schedules to conduct special classes for him.

    His mother, a businesswoman, played a vital role too. She was not only a big support during his recovery process, but also helped him cope with his academic schedule. “My mother helped me unconditionally to come to terms with my health – physically as well as mentally,” he said.

    Thrilled with his scores, he now plans to prepare for the CPT Exam to be held in December. He plans to become a chartered accountant someday.

    While his parents knew that Parmeet would do well as he had secured a perfect 10 Cumulative Grade Point Achievement in class 10, they are thrilled with his scores. “My son was extremely brave and studied for almost 10 hours a day during the last four months,” said his father Harpal Baweja.

    source: / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Bengaluru / by Roli Agarwal / Bengaluru – May 29th, 2017

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    KNS Institute of Technology students display the drones designed by them at Eduverse, the ninth edition of Jnana Degula education expo organised by Deccan Herald and Prajavani, at Jayamahal Palace Hotel grounds on Sunday. DH photo

    KNS Institute of Technology students display the drones designed by them at Eduverse, the ninth edition of Jnana Degula education expo organised by Deccan Herald and Prajavani, at Jayamahal Palace Hotel grounds on Sunday. DH photo

    An unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) at Rs 1,500? Students of KNS Institute of Technology have done it, without much fanfare. They plan to enhance the design to customise the drones for surveillance and transporting goods.

    The makers of the plane – Inayatullah, Debabrata Mondal, Premkumar Singh and Syed Junaid – represented their college along with vice principal Nayeem Ahmad at Jnana Degula-Eduverse event organised by DH and Prajavani.

    Inayatullah said the plane was made of simple polymer materials (expanded polyolefin and polystyrene) and can carry 350 gm payload. “It can fly for an hour at a speed of 45 km per hour. We have used a propeller made of composite material with aluminium coating so that it can fly at a height of 500 feet and withstand force of up to 85 newtons,” he said.

    The team is also working on a plane specifically designed for surveillance.“While the 45 kmph plane can be improvised to make it a delivery drone, we are working on a plane that flies slower, at 36 kmph, providing opportunities for deeper surveillance of a particular area,” Mondal said.

    Inayatullah said the cost of the UAVs will come down further if produced on a large scale. “The UAVs produced by government agencies cost a lot. Our planes are disposable. The army can use the surveillance drone and does not have to worry if one of them is lost or destroyed,” he said.

    The planes can be controlled by a 2.4GHz radio frequency device, which has a range of 2.5 km. “The remote controller cost us Rs 3,500. Considering that it is the plane and not the device that is susceptible to damage, we think ours is the most affordable UAV,” he said.

    “The turbo is imported from China for Rs 90 and sold in India for Rs 250. The same turbo can be made in India at a cost of Rs 40. Nearly 95% of the materials were imported from China. After a detailed study, we found the cost will come down to Rs 600, if we make these materials in India,” Inayatullah said.

    source: / Deccan Herald / Home> City / DH News Service / Bengaluru – May 29th, 2017

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    Kartik Mandaville has wide experience working with start-ups

    Kartik Mandaville has wide experience working with start-ups

    Kartik, 26, spoke at RecTech 2017 in Barcelona, one-of-a-kind forum

    At 26, Kartik Mandaville, chief executive officer (CEO) and founder of SpringRole — a machine learning-based recruiting software in Bengaluru and Los Angeles — is the youngest to address the RecTech 2017, the only conference focused on innovation in recruitment advertising and technology outside of the US.

    The event offers a one-of-a-kind forum for senior executives in publishing and technology companies that offer talent acquisition solutions.

    The conference focussed on mobile transformations, “total candidate focus”, programmatic advertising, artificial intelligence and machine learning.

    Held from May 17-19, it played host to an impressive group of recruitment experts and influential speakers from around the world.

    Sharing his experience with Bangalore Mirror, Kartik Mandaville said it was a wonderful experience to share the stage with leaders from top companies in the USA and Europe. “Moreover, I was probably the youngest there. There was immense learning from the conference, being part of the panel and conducting the workshop. I must admit, I was nervous, but the workshop was well received and I was surprised to find a queue of people waiting to talk to me, which was humbling. Mostly we discussed about the future of recruitment – how artificial intelligence is going to help in the process and make it convenient for HR (human resources) managers,” he said.

    More than 100 high-level executives from recruitment advertising and tech companies attended the conference, mainly from Europe, the US, Latin America and Africa.

    Mandaville is a serial entrepreneur who also serves as senior technical advisor at Science in Santa Monica, California, and other companies.

    He graduated from Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) with Masters from the Language Technologies Institute focussing on big data, machine learning, natural language processing and BioTech.

    Mandaville has wide experience working with start-ups. At Science, he worked with early-stage start-ups to architecting out their technology, building the team and scaling.

    He built the Science India team having 40-plus software engineers and product working across the portfolio companies.

    Before joining CMU, he was a full-stack developer working at Shareaholic on the product distribution channel and different web properties. As a student at Manipal University, he launched ‘Autobudder’ in 2010 for Facebook, an application that automatically wishes friends on their birthdays.

    The following year, he was part of the team that launched ‘Let Me Know’, a unique portal that helps students across India find opportunities of various kinds such as internships, workshops, seminars, conferences, tech-fests, literary events and much more.

    source: / Bangalore Mirror / Home> News> State / by Deepthi Sanjiv, Bangalore Mirror Bureau / May 23rd, 2017

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    Bengaluru doctor designs low-cost stereotactic head frame

    In brain surgeries, precision is everything — a shift of a few millimetres can make the difference between a successful surgery and putting a patient in coma. One device that improves the accuracy of neurosurgery is the stereotactic head frame, which provides a 3-dimensional coordinate system to help surgeons get the precise location of a nerve or tumour in the brain.

    However, the device currently used is prohibitively expensive, costing between ₹75 lakh to ₹1 crore. A city-based doctor has designed a low-cost stereotactic frame which can be used to operate on both sides of the brain at a time, unlike conventional frames currently used in hospitals.

    The frame designed by Murali Mohan, senior neurosurgeon with BRAINS Sparsh Hospitals, is made of medical grade titanium and costs one-third the current price. Engineers Sharath Bhat and Sadashiv Bhat of the Mahalasa Medical Technology, Bengaluru, developed the device.

    Dr. Mohan’s inspiration was the late Balasubramaniam Ramamurthi, known as the father of Indian neurosurgery.

    The frame which is CE marked (it conforms to European standards) and is pending patent, is currently being used by a doctors in around six to seven hospitals in Bengaluru and Hyderabad for biopsies and deep brain simulations.

    source: / The Hindu / Home> Sci-Tech> Health / by Cynthia Anand / Bengaluru – May23rd, 2017

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    Nikhiya Shamsher, who won the Diana Legacy Award, with Prince William, Duke of Cambridge (R) and Prince Harry

    Nikhiya Shamsher, who won the Diana Legacy Award, with Prince William, Duke of Cambridge (R) and Prince Harry

    Her crusade for better education , especially for under-privileged children, has won 14-year-old Nikhiya Shamsher from Bengaluru the Diana Legacy Award. The award was given away last week by Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry at the St Jame’s Palace, UK.

    In December 2015, Nikhiya realized there are many children who do not have access to basic school supplies.Often entire classrooms of children share a single textbook, and many walk barefoot to school. While more children were attending school, she heard stories of bright young students dropping out because of poor educational foundation.

    Yearn to Learn, the project spearheaded by Nikhiya, has, so far, set up 15 science laboratories which are benefiting 3,500 students from various schools. Nikhiya started her e-commerce website – -to raise funds for her laboratory projects. Recently , she also funded the education of 25 blind children.

    Inspired by Diana’s words -“Carry out a random act of kindness, with no expectation of reward, safe in the knowledge that one day someone might do the same for you” – the award, which marks 20 years since her death, recognizes young students who have socially impacted people through their actions. The award identified 20 winners as legacies of the princess.

    Nikhiya was the only Indian among 20 winners rep resenting countries like the United Arab Emirates, UK, US, Canada, Belize, among others. This year, 12,000 social changemakers were nominated for the award. “The award has strengthened my believe in my project, giving me the confidence that I am doing the right thing,” said Nikhiya.”The benefit of this recognition is that a lot more people would now be interested and serious about the cause I’m working towards.”

    Asked why she was so keen on bringing about a change in the education space, the teen said: “Because it is the single most important solution to all our issues.” Meeting the royal family was a unique experience for Nikhiya, who wasn’t quite expecting the award.

    “The royal family was extremely encouraging and gave us the confidence that we were doing the right thing and keeping alive Princess Diana’s tradition,” she said, adding, “None of this would have been possible without the support of my parents and my school (Greenwood High).”

    Her father Dr Shahid Shamsher, a trichologist, said: “We want her to follow the path she desires. She has this innate sense of responsibility and always keeps herself occupied and we know that she’ll go a long way.”

    Added Niru Agarwal, trustee, Greenwood High: “At a tender age like hers, to think about the welfare and education of the downtrodden and selflessly work for it is noteworthy . She is a role model to her peers. Her qualities of kindness, compassion and service are truly admirable.”

    In addition to the Diana Legacy Award, Nikhiya’s photo with information on her projects and services have been hosted at an exhibition at Althorp House, the final resting place of Princess Diana. Bengaluru

    The Global Inclusion Award

    Nikhiya was the sole winner from India at the Global Inclusion Awards, held in Berlin on May 3. She was chosen from among other contenders for the Global Winner of the Outstanding Youth Economic Citizenship Award 2017. The event was hosted by Germany’s G20 Presidency and Child and Youth Finance International, Germany.

    source: / The Times of India / News> City News> Bangalore News / by Deepika Burli / May 25th, 2017

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