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Indians second largest users of MIT-Harvard e.courses
Report dated 24/03/2014 @ 4:22 PM

Indians second largest users of MIT-Harvard e.courses According to Anant Agarwal, the president of edX, who has been teaching in MIT for 26 years, over 2.5 lakh Indians have registered for courses on edX, the open online course platform founded by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard University in 2012.

This makes Indians the second largest community after Americans, to register for these free courses that are put together and led by some of the finest professors in the world. The courses can normally be completed within 4 to 12 weeks and students then receive a certificate from the University. Of the 2 million odd people from 196 countries who registered for edX courses, 6 lakh are from the US, 80,000 each from the UK and Brazil and around 60,000 from China.

The most popular courses for Indians have been related to computer science, engineering and public health. Indians account for around 50% of 70,000 enrollments in Harvard's public health course.

These massive open online courses known as Moocs have some critics who believe it cannot completely substitute classroom teaching, but a recent study revealed that over 80% of surveyed people taking Moocs already hold college degrees.

Professor Agarwal is unfazed and says Moocs are better than what is available in countries like India who can not afford top schools. He told of on one high school student in Jabalpur who took a course in circuits and electronics, and was not just successful in getting accepted by MIT, but also got in with financial aid.

Grim scenario for water-scarce India : UN report
Report dated 23/03/2014 @ 2:11 PM

Grim scenario for water-scarce India : UN report On the eve of World Water Day, the UN released a report indicating that the Indian sub-continent may be at the centre of a crisis faced by water-scarce countries, since river basins in the region may pit India against Pakistan, China and Bangladesh, over the issue of water sharing by 2050.

The report said Asia will be the biggest hot spot for bust-ups over water extraction, where water sources straddle national borders including the Aral Sea, the Ganges-Brahmaputra River, Indus River and Mekong River basins.

The fact is India which has 18% of the world's population has only 4% of the total usable water resources and the country is heading for acute shortages when annual per capita availability of water will reduce to 1,140 cubic meters by 2050, calling for urgent action to deal with the crisis ahead.

Environmentalist, Sunita Narain, director general of the Delhi Centre for Science and Environment, said India has to resort to a 'hold the water where it falls' strategy, and emphasised on rain-water harvesting as the basic and most urgent action.

The Indian Agriculture Research Institute and International Water Management Institute also offered many suggestions to save India from impending crisis. They also called for major policy decisions such as rational water pricing, reducing water footprints and an effective national legal framework for water governance.

SpiceJet crew's in-flight Holi gig lands airline in trouble
Report dated 22/03/2014 @ 12:09 PM

SpiceJet crew's in-flight Holi gig lands airline in trouble SpiceJet's cabin crew decided to celebrate Holi on board during a flight, and broke into a celebratory dance that lasted over two minutes.

Delighted passengers took videos of the professionally choreographed dance and uploaded them on YouTube, but aviation officials were not happy with the impromptu celebration that was accompanied by a Hindi song.

The Director General of Civil Aviation has suspended two pilots and said the song-and-dance routine violated all safety norms.

A SpiceJet spokesperson insisted flight safety was never compromised.

Indian journalist wins digital activism award
Report dated 22/03/2014 @ 12:00 PM

Indian journalist wins digital activism award Shubhranshu Choudhary founder of CGnet Swara, a mobile news service has won the 2014 Freedom of Expressing Award, beating the US whistle blower Edward Snowden.

The international organisation that promotes freedom of expression and challenging censorship, UK-based Index on Censorship Award was conferred on Choudhary for the service that allows tribals in remote parts of India to receive and share news in the local language. The Awards were presented at the Barbican Centre in London.

This year's shortlist featured 17 nominees, selected from over 400 public nominations, each of whom have courageously and creatively stood up against some of the world's most repressive regimes.

A Tribute to Khushwant Singh
Report dated 21/03/2014 @ 1:40 PM

A Tribute to Khushwant Singh Writer and journalist Khushwant Singh has died at the age of 99 at his home in Delhi.

Padma Vibhushan, Singh who was best known for his humour, secularism, and love for poetry was born on February 2, 1915 at Hadali, now in Pakistan. He wrote the classic "Train to Pakistan" and other memorable books. His autobiography "Truth, Love and a Little Malice", was published by Penguin Books in 2002.

His body was cremated at Lodhi crematorium with political stalwarts including L K Advani, Farooq Abdallah and Salman Khurshid among others present.

True to his unconventional and unpredictable personality, Singh who was an MP from 1980 to 1986, returned the Padma Bhushan in 1984 in protest against the storming of the Golden Temple in Amritsar by the Indian Army.

He is survived by son Rahul, also an international editor, writer and columnist, and his daughter Mala.

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