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Posts Tagged ‘india’

by N.S. Lockyer, edited by T.I. Meyer

On November 10th, 2012, the Director of TRIUMF, Nigel S. Lockyer gave a convocation address at the National Institute of Technology (NIT) in Durgapur India as the Guest of Honour. NIT is a national technical university that attracts students from all over India and from abroad. There is one such institute in each state in India, about 30 in total. The Durgapur NIT was named in 2003 as the NIT representing the state of West Bengal. Before this, it was the Regional Engineering College, one of eight such RECs created in India in 1954. The capital of West Bengal is Kolkata and the state is home to 91 million people, three quarters of whom live in rural areas. Durgapur, started by the first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, is the second planned city in India and is highly industrialized, known for producing steel. It has been nicknamed the Ruhr of India.

The convocation activities started with a police escort through town from a local hotel where the VIPs gathered for lunch. The VIPs included the Mayor of Durgapur, Shri Apurba Mukherjee. The VIPs and faculty marched into the auditorium which was beautifully decorated with flowers. A choir sang songs before the ceremony, and an official candle-lighting ritual started the event.

Professor Bikash Sinha, former Director of VECC and the Saha Institute for Nuclear Physics in Kolkata, is Chairman of the Board of Governors, NIT Durgapur. He introduced Nigel and the other guests of honour. Nigel’s address delivered a message encouraging students to develop a curiosity that would serve them well for their entire life. His remarks centered on the origin of water on our planet, a topic that he is curious about himself. This allowed the introduction of isotopes, their origins, and nuclear astrophysics as a topic of research of common interest to both TRIUMF and VECC in Kolkata. The origin of water is speculated to come from comets, meteorites, and early in the formation of the earth itself. He ended his speech by encouraging the students to thank their parents, thank their teachers, but most of all thank themselves by celebrating their graduation just like we do in Canada….by enjoying a beer, and in India that means a Kingfisher.

Other guests of honour included Dr. Rudiger Voss, Head of International Relations at CERN who spoke of global scientific collaboration and India’s role at CERN and the Large Hadron Collider. Dr. Voss showed slides of CERN and reminded the students that they should consider careers in research. Professor Sushanta Dattagupta, Vice Chancellor, Visva Bharati, Santiniketan was introduced as the Chief Guest, and gave a speech about Indian scientists such as Bose, Bhabha, as well as the great Bengali poet laureate Rabindranath Tagore and his interactions with Einstein amongst others.

The convocation formal ceremony adjourned with felicitations to the guests. Dr. Bikash Sinha presented the Guests of Honour with wool shawls and engraved plates. The TRIUMF contingent of Lia Merminga and Tim Meyer, in Kolkata for the SCRIBE conference traveled with Nigel to Durgapur for the occasion. Dr. Sinha dutifully acknowledged the TRIUMF guests in the audience and called both Lia Merminga and Tim Meyer onto the stage and presented them with gifts to acknowledge their presence before the audience of several hundred students and families.

It could be argued the most exciting aspect of the trip was the return drive along National Highway 34 which runs from Kolkata and allows connections to Delhi and onto to Mumbai. A major thoroughfare for truckers (India being infamous for its plentiful and colourful trucks), it was well known that in returning to the airport that evening for a late flight back to Canada the TRIUMF team could/would encounter a major traffic jam that could last for hours or days. The potential truck jam was discussed at lunch and before and after the ceremony. Serious faces considered the possibilities and instructions to the drivers were delivered in Hindi. Fortunately the Indian drivers, well trained in combative high speed driving, steered fearlessly into the chaotic oncoming traffic by driving down the divided highway in the wrong direction. As all Indians know, that is just a day on the road in India.

Beep beep! Hail to the graduates of NIT Durgapur.


Why India is a Modern Country

Friday, April 20th, 2012

–by Nigel S. Lockyer, Director

I am back in India to attend the first International Advisory Committee meeting for the ANURIB project at VECC. It is hard to ignore how rapidly India is changing. But to have some fun with them, I came up with the Top Ten reasons India is a Modern Country.

  1. It is Saturday, April 15th, Nabobarsho, the Bengali new year. Poila Baisakh is the first day of the new year and is cause for celebrations and speeches by politicians. A sign of the times was the message was sent out in West Bengal by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to millions of cell-phone users.
  2. Katy Perry opened the India Premier League’s opening cricket game….OK, not a reason.
  3. Kolkata has just launched its first online radio station
  4. Attention squirrel lovers: The India forest department is using satellites to track down giant squirrels. What the heck are giant squirrels? Apparently they look like cats with long tails (2 feet) and weigh about 4-5 pounds. They are famous for jumping 20 feet between branches. The head and body of this scary animal is up to sixteen inches in length, compared to the ten of the Eastern Gray found in the US.  Relax, it is herbivorous!
  5. MS Dhoni, the cricket star, just signed a contract worth 200 crore or about $40M. With his TV contracts etc. he pulls in about 700 crore or $140M. Still waiting for his team to win a championship!
  6. The AC power adapter in my hotel room is universal. No need to carry around an adapter. Time to return the one CERN DG Rolf Heuer gave me several years ago that was useful about 50% of the time.
  7. Recently famous Bengali native Shah Rukh Khan (locally referred to as SRK) was detained in a NY airport because of his name. King Khan, the Bollywood superstar just laughed it off. However we hear the U.S. envoy was called to New Delhi for explanation. The U.S. said they have now invented and are ready to release an automatic South Asian apology machine for such cases—and the software was written by Indians!
  8. I couldn’t get a beer in the Mumbai hotel bar after 1:30 AM. Last call!
  9. Next evening I ordered a Kingfisher (a national Indian beer and quite good) and all they had was Heineken.
  10. Variable Energy Cyclotron Centre (VECC) in Kolkata is starting Phase I of a major new “green field” initiative in Rare Isotope Beam physics called ANURIB in Rajarhat, near the Kolkata airport. ANURIB is building off their present cyclotron driven RIB program. It involves a 100 kW, 50 MeV electron linac driver, a post accelerator, a cyclotron to raise the energy to over 100 MeV per nucleon and then a fragment separator. A very ambitious vision for India and it is getting strong support from the Government of India. Congratulations, VECC!



–by T. “Isaac” Meyer, Head of Strategic Planning & Communication

I am on location in Kolkata, India, at the Variable Energy Cyclotron Centre (VECC). It took me 36 hours travel time to get here from Vancouver, including two red-eye plane flights. It feels like 42 deg C outside and the computer firewalls are configured so that I cannot send or receive e-mail from my laptop. And the tap water is not potable.

Why did I come?

To have breakfast with scientific peers from around the world (RIKEN in Japan, ESS in Sweden, Cockcroft Institute in the UK, VECC and IUAC and BARC here in India, and so on). Okay, not just breakfast. Also a few lunches and dinners.

Of course, we actually came together to participate in the International Advisory Committee meeting for VECC and its proposed ANURIB project and the subsequent VECC/TRIUMF semiannual collaboration meeting. It still sounds like a cliché, but the reason we attend these meetings in person is because of the sidebar conversations.

At a single breakfast meeting with three colleagues, I got updated on the budget situation for UK science, learned why Higgs spectroscopy is so intrinsically compelling that its worth several billion dollars, reviewed Japanese recovery from the earthquake & tsunami, debated “coal smuggling” in West Bengal, speculated on the international flow of in-demand talented workers in accelerator physics & engineering, and re-learned the rules for scoring in cricket. I also drank four cups of masala tea.

In global computing and networking, the experts still say, “Never underestimate the bandwidth of an overnight package stuffed full of DVDs.”

In global science, I’d say, “Never underestimate the amount of collaboration & partnership that is supported by flying people 10,000 miles to share a coffee break.”

25-acre Rajarhat site of VECC...soon to contain a world-leading electron accelerator and isotope laboratory


The Wilhelm Scream

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

—by Nigel S. Lockyer, Director

It seems to me that most experimental particle-physicists are movie buffs, even aficionados. I am not—at all. At best, I watch the movies on cross-country flights on my neighbour’s seat back…without earphones.  One consequence is that it places great demand on the characters’ acting and my  interpretation.

Just last week, I thought I was in new territory, though, allowing me braggadocio back at the lab, so to speak, ‘cuz I watched a good ole’ cowboy movie (with sound), and was told this was the origin of the “Wilhelm Scream.” I assume many of you have the free smartphone app “Wilhelm Scream,” and that you wondered where it came from. The originating movie (or so I thought) was “The Charge at Feather River,” a Warner Brothers 1953 classic with Guy Madison. The part of the movie where you hear the scream is obvious (or so I thought): some poor U.S. Army private takes a tomahawk to the shoulder. At least that’s what I remember.

A Youtube movie short on the web shows the scream when Pvt. Wilhelm was shot in the leg with an arrow. I guess I was focused on my Physics Today Buyers Guide at the time so I got it wrong. The scene was not very dramatic, but I guess the scream was a classic. It has been used in over 100 movies!  It was actually first used in a 1951 film called “Distant Drums,” starring Gary Cooper where a nasty alligator is the source of the problem.  Apparently there were several (dozens) “takes” and the best one somehow caught on with sound gurus and they used it over and over again.  Almost a sound cult formed: Star Trek, the Indiana Jones series, Toy Story, and a family favorite, Willow.  One more tid-bit: no one is sure who exactly was responsible for recording the original scream!

I think it is pretty cool that a scream from a 1951 film is an app in 2011, 60 years later!

In fact, 2011 is the Year of India in Canada, 60 years since the first Wilhem Scream.  During a state visit to India by Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper in November 2009, the year 2011 was declared The Year of India in Canada by India’s Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh. Against this backdrop, the High Commission of India in Ottawa, in cooperation with the India Council for Cultural Relations, has organized several cross-Canada events for this special year. Showcasing India’s rich art and culture, The Year of India in Canada 2011 promotes close ties between the two countries.

On my too-long plane journey, I asked myself what was happening in particle physics in 1951. First, there was no CERN, and I wasn’t even born. Interestingly, however, particle physics in India was thriving. See below, taken from “Reflections” by Avinash Khare, Institute of Physics, Bhubaneswar 751 005, India. Pretty awesome that the Prime Minister shows up to a physics conference!

If you visit VECC in Kolkata, India, you’ll go past a statue of Homi Bhabha as you enter the lab. It is nicely lit up at night. Watch out for the snakes…you might scream!

Text of Bhabha speech in 1951

Text of H. Bhabha speech from 1951 physics conference in India.


— by Nigel S. Lockyer, Director

Every month TRIUMF publishes in its HR (human resources) newsletter the pictures of the new employees (with short bio-sketches) joining the lab each month. My executive assistant promptly invites them for coffee with me so that I can welcome them to Vancouver and TRIUMF. The fact is most do not want coffee but rather prefer coke or espresso. It is an excuse for me to have a cappuccino and chat it up with the new folks.

This month we had four new postdocs arrive at TRIUMF: one from India (speaks Hindi), one from France (speaks French, not French Canadian), one from Venezuela (speaks Spanish), and one from Italy (speaks guess what). Fortunately for me they all speak “anglais.” I asked each of them what research they’d be working on at TRIUMF.  This is where I give them a bit of a hard time and really get to know what they’re interested in and excited about. It’s my job and its fun.

For whatever reason, my blogs on Quantum Diaries (QD) came up.  Turns out the new French postdoc had spent time in Ireland and had watched a 5-day cricket match with India (guess who won!). The French postdoc, let’s call him Pierre (not his real name), said he could not understand the rules of cricket. Well, I was surprised, because I thought all Europeans played cricket…but apparently not. So my new friend the postdoc from India and I proceeded to double team him with information about cricket.  On the screen in my office, we pulled up my QD post on the subject (which my new Indian friend had read; now he was much more than a mere new friend…he had excellent taste and was heading directly to Go and would collect $200!).

My description of cricket was so masterfully simple that even Pierre, overcoming a cultural barrier, could understand. He left with a new-found understanding of cricket, and I felt like a professor again, making a difference in the lives of one of his students. Any more cricket questions?  One. How do you get a batter out, Pierre asked My new Indian friend said if the batter gets hit in the leg by the ball, they are out. I knew that! Any more cricket questions?



–by Nigel S. Lockyer, Director

[Ed. Note: This is the third of a three-part series penned by Nigel on his trip to India in early March 2011.]

Day 4 (March 2, 2011): I start the day with tea in a small paper cup delivered to the room. Tastes great. Time for Tim and I to go for our morning walk around the VECC site…takes about 30 minutes. Talk about yesterday’s talks. Today we go to the conference Frontiers in Science, being held at the Taj Bengal Hotel in downtown Kolkata.

The sessions were interesting with a mix of physics, nuclear power, biology, business, and social perspectives. I sensed the passion and realization by the Indian presenters that they had a duty to address the country’s immense social challenges. This came up time and time again. Put simply, how does one justify spending millions of dollars on a science project when people outside are living in extreme poverty? One thing came across is that India is proud of its accomplishments and is up for the challenge. They recognize they must be more global…they are overly insular at the moment was the consensus.

I presented my talk on Canadian Science Policy. After listening to people’s comments, I think more strongly than ever that Canada has a plan for science…maybe we are not all in agreement with the plan, but we have a plan.

After the presentations were complete (only a hour and half behind schedule), we headed off to the dinner reception at The Bengal Club about 15 minutes away. The edifice was referred to as the last vestige of the Raj. We got into a discussion about what the “Britishers” brought to India…besides cricket, the language, tea, and the obvious stuff. One view that emerged, which may be controversial…1) The British united India by providing a common enemy. 2) British scholars (Sir William Jones) created the Asiatic Society in the 1784 and out of which came “Indology”, the study of the ancient Indian history. 3) They brought modern science at the same time as it was exploding in England, just after Newton and the rapid growth of industrialization. Another discussion was about picking tea. The conference organizer, Mr. Deb, picked tea as a teenager. He called it a garden but it was several hundred acres…a big garden. Bottom line is that “two and a bud” are the leaves that make the best tea.

Day 5: Start the day as usual with tea and a walk, breakfast and .. come back and there is a lizard in my room. I pretty much freeze and declare the room to be the lizard’s and bow out…off to the conference. I chaired the first session. One of the more interesting talks was by Aniruddha Lahiri, the President of the Chatterjee Group of Companies. He started his presentation “Marvel of Indian Entrepreneurship,” by quoting a modern “Britisher” John Lennon, who said that vision and imagination were essential for entrepreneurship. Of course most of the world thinks of India as being entrepreneurial. Lahiri argued that Indians are good at taking risks, move quickly, and indeed do make good entrepreneurs but they are not (yet) great innovators. On the other hand, the British are great innovators yet could never master bringing their ideas to market successfully…Jaguar and Land Rover, are now owned by Tata for example. Along these lines, I was quoted in the local paper, the Telegraph, that Canada was good at manufacturing innovation but the innovations were not worth much. Business is tough. There was a strong push at the conference for nuclear energy as well as India’s prominent role (9%) in the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) in Cadarache, France. India is very proud of its role in this leading-edge technology enterprise for many reasons, but an acronym much repeated was CSR….Corporate Social Responsibility. Again, I think India wishes to convey it is a progressive country that is concerning itself with the environment and the many other social issues the country faces.


Superconducting in West Bengal

Friday, March 4th, 2011

–by Nigel S. Lockyer, Director

[Ed. Note: This is the second of a three-part series penned by Nigel on his trip to India in early March 2011.]

Day 1 (Feb 27, 2011, in some time zone): Had dinner this evening with a postdoc and friend from TRIUMF, Smarajit, who has just joined the faculty at Delhi University (a small school…only 390,000 students!) as an assistant professor. I experienced golgappas. Basically it is an appetizer made of a crispy wafer in the shape of a hollowed-out pumpkin filled with spicy water. You put the whole thing in your mouth and let the flavours explode was my instruction from Smarajit. It exploded all right, my throat was on fire for 30 seconds making me speechless. Then Smarajit became concerned that I shouldn’t have drank it because the water may have come from the local tap. We asked the waiter and it did come from the tap. Oh well…too late now. Of course I went back for more. It was an experience worth repeating. Over dinner, we discussed the research trajectory his career might take over the next few years. I told him he has to first understand the funding system in India, make research connections in his department and university, with colleagues and labs in India and then finally internationally. Needless to say, for Smarjit, the international component would be the easiest because he has many connections around the world and established collaborations. The Indian University Accelerator Centre” (IUAC) is an ideal place to do experiments with stable beams because it is world class and is located in Delhi…very convenient. IUAC may be the most advanced institute in India for superconducting radio frequency accelerator research…the same area TRIUMF has focused on for accelerator development.

Got up at 3:00 AM and headed to Delhi’s brand new beautiful and very large airport (opened July 2010 for the Commonwealth Games) on a new highway for the trip to Kolkata. Oh did I mention the automobile horn is undergoing phase-I trials in India….every car is expected to test out their horn essentially all the time.

Day 2: Big news today is that England and India tie in a nail biter played in Bangalore. The game of cricket, brought to India by the “Britishers” (that is what the Indians call the British) is a game the Indians are crazy about, just like Canadians and ice hockey. The world cup game is a little like baseball, wooden bat, flat rather than round, big grass field in a large stadium, a batter and a pitcher or as they say bowler. No hot dogs but lots of dahl. Not sure about beer sales in the stadium but Indians like beer (and scotch). Fans do paint their faces and are “engaged” in the game like everywhere else. In cricket there are fixed number of pitches for each side. Called “Overs,” or six legal pitches, they play each for 50 Overs or 300 pitches. To score you must hit the ball and be able to run between the wickets. There are two wickets, 20 feet apart, two batters, one end to be bowled to at any given time. One team bats, 11 players each side, roughly half are bowlers. The games big name, an Indian named Sachin Tendulkar (“Cricket is my religion and Sachin is my god,” they say), is called the master blaster. No more need be said. This year Australia has a good team, India, and Sri Lanka. One high point for me was that Canada had a team in the world cup. I did not know that. When Canada played Zimbabwe, the Indian newspaper Hindustantimes called it the battle of the “minnows.” That’s not good for sure. Perhaps if they used cricket bats instead of than hockey sticks they would do better.

After a hair raising “yikes” ride from the airport, (I’ll never complain about Vancouver traffic again) to the Kolkata Variable Energy Cyclotron Centre (VECC) we checked into our rooms at the new dorm. My first thought was how many people are killed in India in car accidents. They said not too many but it came out later the number is 85,000 per year, or eight times the US, which is also high especially when you take into account the relative number of drivers. More people in India but not that many drive as much as in the US!

We pretty much started our collaboration meeting upon arrival. The meeting started with the Director of VECC, Rakesh Bhandari, welcoming us and then presenting the plans for his laboratory. I followed with the status and plans for TRIUMF. Both teams made interwoven presentations all day focused on the VECC test as we now call it. This is the 30kW electron beam test we must complete together (according to our MOU) by March 2012…a tight schedule. It will include a 300 keV electron gun, a low energy beam transport and de-buncher, and an accelerating section called the injector cryomodule or ICM. We are building two such modules together…referred to as ICM1 and ICM2…one stays at TRIUMF after the test and one is shipped to India. Then we got started with detailed presentations by Lia Merminga, Head of TRIUMF’s Accelerator Division, Bob Laxdal, Head of our SRF Department and co-Deputy Division Head , and Amiya Mitra, Head of our RF group (Amiya is originally from Bengal). The room was full (~25 people) of young Indian physicists and engineers, a good mix of men and women…lots of questions and interest from them.

VECC is planning a major new isotope facility, called ANURIB, which stands for “A National Facility for Unstable Rare Isotope Beams.” The young researchers and engineers are getting intellectually engaged in the scientific and technical design challenges of the planned project. Interestingly, we learned that VECC is expanding to a new “green field” site called Raharjat in a few years which allows them to grow their present rare isotope beam facility. There were numerous hot tea and cookie breaks through the day…to keep us awake….jet lag had set in already. The TRIUMF/VECC collaboration works well because we have similar goals but neither lab individually has the resources to do what they wish to do… so pooling our resources makes a lot of sense.

VECC presently uses its room-temperature cyclotron (they have just commissioned a superconducting cyclotron as well) to accelerate protons (or alphas) and then send them to strike a thick target that then produces various unstable nuclei. They do experiments with materials as well as nuclear physics. After the target they have a few acceleration stages that increases the beam energy up to 1.2 MeV per nucleon. Their plan is to reach 2.0 MeV per nucleon. They wish to do this by collaborating with TRIUMF on a superconducting radio frequency (SRF) technology heavy ion linear accelerator, an area of expertise of TRIUMF.

At the end of the day we went for dinner is a restaurant downtown…about 15 people. It was a pleasant evening, food was great, beer was better, and the discussion moved in and out of physics and life in India. Surprisingingisinginglyly (southern India spelling of surprising), there was only one other vegetarian besides myself. Statistically, about 40% of Indians are vegetarian. What’s with the scientists?… or maybe Bengalis? The director’s wife joined us later. She is a school teacher and she taught English and Hindi to grade 11 and 12 students…basically two official languages, although as we gathered fairly quickly, the Bengalis have their own language, use it and wish to keep it…. sound familiar? She was late grading papers from an exam earlier in the day and needed to finish and post grades. She described her students as serious students, over 80 in one class, 60 in another, and she enjoyed her job. They better be serious with that many high school kids in a class. I was exhausted after my first day, happy with the progress and happy to hit the hay that evening.

Day 3:  Feeling good…. more like a person after a good night’s sleep. Walked around the site with Bob Laxdal to make sure we understood each other on various priorities for the VECC test. The site is about 12 acres in size surrounded by either a fence or brick walls. VECC is in a residential area, with houses across the street, cars honking and people walking or cycling by all the time. Bob is the lead scientist for the test and is responsible for the schedule.

The day started off in the Director’s meeting room where we discussed further our plans for collaboration. It is the Year of India in Canada and we discussed having some kind of collaboration event later in the year in Canada. That would be nice. Our MOU requires us to meet once per year in each location and review progress. This is a way of making sure each side delivers what it agreed to do. In general, we are a little behind schedule and so we spent time discussing how to catch up before one of the “major milestones” March 2012, when we planned a joint beam test at TRIUMF which we refer to as the VECC test.

We then went to the conference room and the final presentations were made. In the late afternoon we drove out to the new 25 acre green field site near the airport with chief civil engineer and saw the first evidence of power being brought onto the site. Occupancy is still a few years away. Bob headed off to the airport and the rest of us went to dinner downtown. We discussed the VECC plan to add the first accelerating cryomodule (ACM1) after the ICM only after moving to the green field site. This means the tests at VECC will be limited to about 25 MeV….they seem happy with that.


–by T. “Isaac” Meyer, Head of Strategic Planning & Communications

I am sitting in Fraport (aka Frankfurt International Airport in Germany), bathed in warm sunlight alongside windows overlooking the busy activity of Terminal C. I am en route back home to Vancouver after an amazing trip to Kolkata, India.

I was in Kolkata for the Frontiers of Science Symposium, a two-day symposium with about 80 participants. It was a brilliant conference, actually, one that spanned science from physics to biology to engineering and computing science and information technology with some aesthetics and art history thrown in.

I want to comment on one theme that emerged – innovation in India. As my seatmate explained to from Kolkata to Delhi where I changed planes, Kolkata is actually just known as “Kal” these days by the locals because of the series of changes in the spelling and enunciation of the classical city’s name.

Professor R.A. Mashelkar was the second keynote speaker on Day 1 (March 2, 2011). As one of the advisors to the Prime Minster of India on science and technology, he had clearly thought pretty hard about how S&T fit into present-day India and especially its future. He made some brilliant observations.

He defined innovation as distinct from invention. Innovation, he said, was the successful exploitation of a new idea. Invention is then just the successful demonstration of a new idea. “Exploitation,” he said was not about pillaging and oppressing but about “making a difference.” He went on to say that “successful” meant three things: (1) speed (timing); (2) scale; and (3) sustainability. Thus, to be innovative, a new idea would have to be developed and applied to “make a difference” in way that was timely, affected “enough” people to be interesting or noteworthy, and had to be somehow self-sufficient or ongoingly relevant. A flash in the pan doesn’t qualify as innovative.

His thesis, though, revealed a cornerstone of cultural attitude and public policy in India. There are roughly 400 million people in India in the middle or upper socio-economic classes. That’s more people than there are total in the United States. More importantly, though, everyone notes, that means there are 600 million in India below the poverty line. And as most people know after visiting the country, living in poverty in India is serious poverty. The south side of Chicago is wealthy compared to what those 600 million people are dealing with.

The bottom line: science, technology, and innovation – as tools of public policy – must respond to and address this gross inequality. Mashelkar summarized this ambition with a noble (and catchy) moniker: Do More for Less for More. He abbreviated this as MLM (which I took as multi-level marketing the first time I saw it on his slides!)

What does More for Less for More mean? (Mashelkar has an article in the Harvard Business Review on this; see blog commentary on this.)  It means that our ambitions should be to accomplish More (results, impact, or performance) for Less (costs, time, effort, or resources) for More (and more and more people). Mashelkar challenged the symposium participants, and in fact all of India, to take More for Less for More as the goal for Indian innovation. Don’t come up with a new idea that makes life better for 5 people isn’t worth it. He asked people to come up with good ideas that make a difference for 100 million or even 500 million people. THAT would be true innovation, he asserted.

It was an inspiring and impassioned beginning to the conference, one that set the bar high and also identified a clear direction. India is a proud country and one that is increasingly dedicated to addressing its woes and improving life for all of its people.

Again, what an amazing country!


Breakfast in India, with Cricket

Sunday, February 27th, 2011

–By Nigel S. Lockyer, Director

[Ed. Note: This is the first of a three-part series penned by Nigel on his trip to India in early March 2011.]

I don’t start everyday reading the Hindustantimes sitting in a restaurant in Delhi having breakfast. It is not a bad paper. I have read the India Times for a few years online and I am going to switch now. Here, all the talk is the about the Cricket World Cup. Today, 2:00PM, England versus India. I hadn’t been here for more than two hours before the name Sachin Tendulkar came up. He is the top cricket player in the world, or so they say here. When Sachin is combined with his teammate Virender Sehwag, the Indians said they felt sorry for the English.   History has moved on in India I guess. You can feel the swagger. However the expectations cannot be met in all likelihood. Mahendra Singh Dhoni,  the captain, is clearly in a pressure cooker situation. The local paper says ” Mahendra Singh Dhoni,….holds the second-most high-pressure job after the Prime Minister in the country…”…I think that pretty much sums it up.

Oh, yes, I must have missed the tickets mess, that was a national disaster by the sounds of it. Police lathi-charged fans waiting to get tickets. Lathi is a stick introduced to India by the English for crowd control in the old days. It is highly ironic they are now being used to control crowds awaiting the England-India cricket match fans. Given the crazy world of Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and everything else painful going on, I fully appreciate and am thankful to countries where priorities are recognized and appropriately set…think  Canada and Stanley Cup playoffs…the world news stops for the important stuff.

I was looking in the newspaper for anything to do with science. After all, India is big on technology and has a rich history in physics. Found one….electromagnetic radiations (newspaper provided the “s”, yes radiations) from mobile towers, particularly near your home, can be hazardous. The article was factual and said scientific evidence was not there yet so Delhi was being cautious and ruled that cell phone towers are not allowed near schools, hospitals, or homes. That is more progressive than Vancouver or Toronto. Oh, and the 700 million cell phone users in India is an amazing number along with 5.4 lakh towers (units in 100,000). That is to be compared with about 1000 cell phone towers in Toronto….TO residents are fighting them from being in their back yards. India plus one!

I am now going to pray like mad to Pavanputra Hanuman that I can get my talk finished for tomorrow in Kolkata.


Block Ed

Thursday, February 24th, 2011

–by T. “Isaac” Meyer, Head of Strategic Planning and Communications

Well, I’m struggling. I agreed to give a talk in India at the Frontiers of Science Symposium in Kolkata on March 2-3, 2011, about “science and industry collaboration.” You’d think that with our recent submission to the government on exactly this topic and my experience and expertise in this area, it’d be an easy talk to write.

But, I’m encountering writers’ block. I’m not writing, I’m using Microsoft PowerPoint, so maybe it’s sliders’ block or bulleted-list-persons’ block. What do you call someone who uses PPT to communicate?

Based on a conversation in the lunch room, I got my thesis clear so now I just hang the fruited examples on those branches and a beautiful tree I will have.

Stay focused!