Seminar on Engineering Education

Feb 21st, 2010
Comments Off

February 22, 2010
School of Engineering, Amritapuri

Few people may have heard of the Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology (IIST), an educational institution that offers B Tech and M Tech programs in highly specialized fields such as Aerospace Engineering, Avionics, Physical Sciences, RF and Microwave Communications.

Engineering EducationYet, when Amrita University organized a seminar on engineering education for Standard XI and XII students featuring Dr. B. N. Suresh, Director, IIST as the main speaker, hundreds attended, accompanied by their parents, this past Sunday in the city of Trivandrum.

“Amrita University also offers B Tech programs in several fields including Computer Science, Electronics and Communication, Electronics and Communication, Mechanical, Aerospace, Civil, Chemical and Material Sciences,” explained Br. Anand, the event convener.

“In addition, we offer M Tech in many advanced topics such as Biomedical Engineering, Computational Engineering and Networking, Computer Vision and Image Processing, Cybersecurity, Embedded Systems, Power Electronics, Remote Sensing and Wireless Sensor Networks, VLSI Design, all areas of importance for development of the nation.”

“We wanted students to gain a feel for engineering education and its long-term prospects. We have seen engineers move to the IT industry, but in recent past, we are beginning to see a reversal of that trend. India needs to have well-trained engineers in several fields, if its infrastructure is to improve and its firms are to be compete globally.”

Dr. Suresh began his talk by listing disciplines of engineering study offered in Indian universities. He spoke about the immense possibilities inherent in each discipline. He emphasized that an engineer should try to apply his/her knowledge in real life, which was the need at this time.

Engineering EducationDr. Suresh’s talk further highlighted the importance of interdisciplinary study, focusing on electronics, mechanical, electrical engineering and the relationship with basic sciences like physics and mathematics. “Students can choose any discipline of study, and they must strive to excel in that branch,” he reiterated.

Before Dr. Suresh took over as Director, IIST he led a team of 500 engineers in the development of complex technologies for navigation, guidance, control and simulation of launch vehicles. Having contributed significantly to the successful launches of ASLV, PSLV and GSLV, he discussed opportunities available in space research, aerospace and satellite communications.

Dr. K. Sankaran, Principal, Amrita School of Engineering and Dr. M. R. Kaimal, Chairman, Department of Computer Science and Engineering at Amrita, also spoke. In addition, videos of satellite and rocket launches were also viewed by participants.

At the conclusion of the talk, a parent asked Dr. Suresh about the future of deemed universities in India and the risk involved in joining a deemed university. “There is no need to worry about a university that has been given an “A” grade by the UGC,” he replied, obviously referring to Amrita. “Amrita is now a premier institution in India and one can join any of its degree programs without any doubts or hesitation.”


Research Paper on Moving Cast Shadows for Singapore Conference

Feb 20th, 2010
Comments Off

February 20, 2010
School of Engineering, Amritapuri

Moving Cast ShadowsA research paper written by Ms. Vinitha Panicker, Assistant Professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at Amritapuri, was selected for the 2nd International Conference on Computer and Automation Engineering (ICCAE 2010).

The title of the paper that will be presented later this month in the conference at Singapore is Detection of Moving Cast Shadows using Edge Information.

Shadows of objects in 2-D photographs and pictures provide some 3-D information to viewers. But what are cast shadows?

A shadow of any object consists of two parts — self shadow and cast shadow. Self shadow is cast by that part of the object that is not illuminated by direct light. The cast shadow is the area projected by the object in the direction of direct light.

Why are cast shadows important?

Moving cast shadows pose a challenge in traffic monitoring and other visual surveillance applications. These shadows distort the true shape and color of target objects. The cast shadows are to be eliminated for correct object detection.

Moving Cast ShadowsIn recent years, there has been extensive research in the area of cast shadow detection as well as removal. Most existing techniques are based on brightness or color properties of the shadow. The problem with such approaches is that if the foreground has objects with similar values of brightness or intensity, misclassification occurs.

This paper introduces a new technique for detecting and thereby removing cast shadows, using edge information of shadows, rather than color information. The proposed method first removes the boundary of the cast shadow, while preserving the interior edges of the object. The coarse object shapes are then reconstructed using the object interior edges.

The cast shadow is finally detected by subtracting the reconstructed moving object from the original object. The detected shadow regions are replaced with corresponding background pixels for obtaining the removed frame of the shadow. This proposed method works even with thin shadows and shadows that are far away from the camera position.

The paper also compares this new method to five other popular shadow detection techniques, four based on color properties of shadows and one based on edge properties, like this one. The comparison results are favorable to this new technique. See Complete Abstract »

The paper will be included in the ICCAE 2010 Conference Proceedings that will be published by the IEEE. The proceedings will be included in IEEE Xplore, and indexed by Ei Compendex and Thomson ISI Proceeding.


Paper Abstract

Extraction of moving objects from a video sequence is a fundamental and crucial problem of many vision systems in a target detection / tracking and video-surveillance environment. In many vision systems the focus of image processing is on the robust shape detection of moving objects present in the scene. The accuracy and efficiency of detection is very crucial for these tasks.

Moving Cast ShadowsHowever, the accuracy is marred by illumination changes such as shadows. As the shadows attached along with the moving object also have the same motion as that of objects, the detection of shadows as foreground objects is very common. This produces big errors in object localization and recognition. The effect of shadows has to be eliminated from those scenes to ensure the reliability of such systems; therefore separate methods have to be developed for shadow handling.

This paper introduces an effective method which uses edge information to detect moving cast shadows for traffic sequences. The proposed method initially removes the boundary of the cast shadow, preserving the object’s interior edges. The coarse object shapes are then reconstructed using the object interior edges. Finally, the cast shadow is detected by subtracting the reconstructed moving object from the change detection mask.

The method was implemented and tested using three benchmark videos. The efficiency of the proposed method was compared with five other popular shadow detection methods and the results proved its superiority over others.


Pragati 2010 at Amrita School of Business, Coimbatore

Feb 19th, 2010
Comments Off

February 25, 2010
School of Business, Coimbatore

Pragati 2010Nearly 220 students from 21 B-Schools participated in the Annual B-Fest Pragati conducted at the Amrita School of Business on February 19 and 20. The fest mascot, Cafoo, helped create an awareness about ways to reduce carbon emissions and sustain the life on earth.

“For a sustainable future, we have to change the way we live and progress, such that the earth is not destroyed,” reiterated Mr. R. N. Mukhija, President (Operations) of Larsen and Tourbo Limited, Mumbai, the Chief Guest.

Mr. S. C. Sarkar, Vice-President L&T, Coimbatore and Mr. Surendra, Ex-President of L&T, invited guests, were joined on the dais by Dr. Sanjay Banerjee, Dean, Amrita School of Business. Various forums organized games and events for participants.

Exhibits displayed by the Ozone forum won this group the trophy for the best decorative and creative ideas. O-Cle, their cycle mock-up, emphasized increasing the use of bicycles as these do not give out carbon emissions.
Pragati 2010
O-Bins, made of wooden reapers and cloth, were set up everywhere to encourage the use of eco-friendly bins instead of the usual plastic ones. The forum members had taken the time to create displays that were useful and thought-provoking.

‘Planeta Ecologica’ conducted by the Jagriti forum required financial and marketing plans for ‘feasible, sustainable and eco-friendly’ products. “Sewage management, eco-friendly restaurants, all teams had something innovative to talk about,” stated Naitika Raval, a member of the jury.
Pragati 2010
‘Sanaatanah’ was organized by the forum Relations and was based on managerial concepts mentioned in the Bhagavat Gita. Participants competed in four rounds named Vyaakhyaa, Saadhati, Lakshya and Rachna. Contestants also participated in ‘Dec 21, 2012’ by Technocratz, a computer game in which the earth had to be saved before it ended.

“I have never been to a college where students and faculty have such a good rapport. You guys are like buddies,” stated Ms. Jasmine, who won the “I am Legend” game conducted by the marketing forum, Gen-M. Gen-M conducted yet another event, ‘Monopoly Chase’ that had contestants suggest tag lines for social awareness advertisements.
Pragati 2010
The events were sponsored by twenty companies including Commtel Networks and Mascon Global Limited. The event logo for Pragati 2010, in keeping with the theme of global warming, was green in color, with a footprint for ‘P’ and the mascot Cafoo planting a tree for ‘I’. “We wanted to depict the importance of nature,” stated the organizers.


Amrita Students Win IEEE Poster Competition

Feb 19th, 2010
Comments Off

February 25, 2010
School of Engineering, Amritapuri

IEEE student members of the Amrita School of Engineering won the first and second prizes at the “Humanitarian Technology Challenge Student Poster Competition”, conducted as part of International Conference on Humanitarian Technology Challenges of the 21st Century.

IEEE Poster CompetitionThe competition was intended to generate innovative ideas in young engineers of tomorrow. One of its stated objectives was to build a generation of engineers, who can innovate, inspire and execute technologies that can help the vulnerable sections of humanity.

S6 ECE students, Hareesh S, Navneeth K, Akash P and Vivek Vijayan won the first prize that included a cash award of Rs. 5000/- and a certificate of appreciation. The students’ poster depicted a Robotic Coconut Tree Climber.

A robot that could climb and pluck coconuts, this was a simple and efficient device that could be operated even by an uneducated person. The students built this device using the microcontroller PIC16F877A.

An expandable shaft mounted on a top and bottom supporter climbed up and down coconut trees. Using a camera and display system, the user could identify and locate the coconuts to be plucked. The robotic hand with the cutter could be manipulated using a joystick on a remote.

Ramesh N Nair and Sai P Manoj, S4 ECE students, were awarded the second prize, a cash award of Rs. 3000/- and a certificate of appreciation, for their Wireless Vehicular Accident Detection and Reporting System.

The student team had suggested a method to intelligently detect an accident at any place and time and report the same to a nearby service provider, who could use this information to arrange for an ambulance and also inform the police.

IEEE Poster CompetitionThe system was meant to be placed in vehicles. Accidents would be detected using sensors. Sensor output was monitored and processed by the PIC16F877A microcontroller. An RF transmitter transmitted this information to the nearby service provider.

Both these student projects were completed with the guidance of Br. Rajesh Kannan, IEEE SB Counselor. In addition to these two teams, a third Amrita team also made it to the final list; their poster depicted an Anti Mobile Theft Bluetooth Enabled Card.

“83 entries were received from all over Kerala,” the winning students explained. “All 3 teams from the Amrita School of Engineering made it to the final 10. All these posters were displayed during the conference in Trivandrum.”

The student ideas and projects will be passed on to NGOs working in the field. Among those in attendance at the conference, were Dr. Richard J Gowen, President, IEEE Foundation, Dr. John Vig, 2009 IEEE President, Dr. Janina Mazierska, IEEE Region 10 and Ms. Helene Hoi Ying Fung, IEEE R10 Gold.


A Hug from Amma

Feb 18th, 2010
Comments Off

March 15, 2010
Amrita School of Engineering, Bengaluru

An engineering student shares his experiences of doing seva at Amma’s Brahmasthan program.


It was with a lot of anticipation that I left my house on the morning of February 17, 2010.

No, I am not talking about yet another day of college. I am talking about Amma’s visit to Bangalore where she was giving darshan at the ashram. This visit lasted two full days, during which Amma gave darshan continually along with satsang and bhajans.

My friends and I went there as volunteers and we did seva once we got there. What I mean when I say seva is, cutting vegetables, crowd control, washing dishes, serving food, looking after chappals in the chappal stand, etc.


This was a different experience for all of us. We had our share of fun too! Laughing at our mate who was stuck at the chappal stand only to realize the next minute that we were assigned kitchen duty to cut a sackful of onions!

It was moments like these which enlivened our whole experience and gave us the energy to go on without sleeping for two whole days. We began to enjoy ourselves once we got going, and got into the task given to us.

We got our free time also, wherein we went about refreshing the body and the mind at the various stalls loaded with choice foodstuffs. People whom we had seen until now, only from an academic point of view were all around us helping us with the chores. It gave us all a wonderful perspective towards our college and its life.

BrahmasthanamThere was one thing that did inspire us to be more diligent; the number of people who had come to receive Amma’s darshan. It was an overwhelming sight to see people in their thousands, line up in queues, till four in the morning to receive darshan. Multitudes of people from all walks of life with so many thoughts and expectations all came and went back satisfied. This spoke volumes for itself.

The darshan was accompanied by many cultural programs which were organized by the students of the college. Those who had to wait, were enjoying themselves seeing the dances and dramas, taking place. Also there were bhajans sung by the students. Even though there were an astounding amount of people, the ever-polite devotees organized the process beautifully and made sure that every single person got darshan.

At the end I was very happy. I had been able to help in some small way. We did receive our fruits of labor. Not apples or oranges but a hug from Amma.

– Abhishek Thyagarajan, 6th sem, ASE Bengaluru

See Also My Experiences at Amma’s Brahmasthanam


My Experiences at Amma’s Brahmasthanam

Feb 18th, 2010
Comments Off

March 15, 2010
Amrita School of Engineering, Bengaluru


This year, as always, Amrita University students were in the forefront, organizing and managing many activities at the Brahmasthanam Festival in Bangalore. The responsibility for coordinating student seva was given to a final year engineering student, who describes his experiences below.


There are some things in life which can only be experienced and never described to the fullest extent!
Being in the presence of Amma is one such experience, which has literally left an indelible mark in my life. This is the third straight year that I have had the opportunity to come in close contact with my beloved Amma and learn from her actions and imbibe the gospel of ‘love’ that she preaches in her own inimitable way. Her action of spreading love to tens of thousands every day has not only stupefied me but has also inspired me. ‘If there is a will, there is a way.’

BrahmasthanamThe whole atmosphere at the ashram during Amma’s Brahmasthanam program is simply unbelievable; so many devotees waiting tirelessly to get Amma’s darshan, hundreds of volunteers making sure that the whole event goes smoothly. But it all boils down to just one thing, the presence of a power which sets all the cogs in motion, an overseeing power which lends meaning to this exercise.

The strangest thing that I have personally noticed is that irrespective of the mood of the person, once Amma hugs him or her, there is an unearthly transformation in that person. He or she is invariably transported into a state of absolute bliss that makes them smile out of contentment. A sense of satisfaction and hope pervades the person and just for a moment, the naivety of a child comes out, breaking the shackles of adulthood.

It all happened to me when I was in my first year; I had my first darshan from Amma. Though I had heard a lot about her, this was the first time I was seeing her in person. I have to admit, I was slightly skeptical. I worked the whole day and finally at night, I got Amma’s darshan. I went near the dais and sensed a sort of glow emanating from Amma. This captivated me and I was transfixed, just looking at her pleasant face.

And then it happened!! As Amma hugged me, I felt engulfed in a realm of true love. I knew then and there that this was an experience which could not be had, every other day. I felt like a child reborn. All my fatigue vanished and I was left numb with joy. I became a devotee in that moment. Since then, I have been fortunate enough to have had darshan three times.

BrahmasthanamThis is my third year now. This year the responsibility of co-ordinating the volunteer activities of the entire student community was given to me. But what made me do the work was not some sort of compulsion but a sense of devotion and the bond of love that Amma shares with humanity.

Amma never ceases to surprise me with her limitless oodles of energy and her disarming smile which rejuvenates everyone at once. I feel fortunate to be part of this wonderful Amrita community and to be blessed every day of my life by my beloved Amma !!!

– Navneeth, VI SEM

See Also A Hug from Amma


SAE-Amrita Reports from Coimbatore

Feb 17th, 2010
Comments Off

February 17, 2010
School of Engineering, Coimbatore

Chapters of the Society for Automotive Engineers are very active on the Amrita campuses. The SAE-Amrita chapter at Coimbatore, now three years old, has 400 student members. Dr. Thirumalini is the club’s faculty advisor.

Given below is a report of the club activities during the past year in the students’ own words.


SAEEnthusiasm, auto passion, creativity and fun-filled learning marked the past one year for SAE-Amrita. The biggest and most talked about event of the club was the SAE-India National Student Convention conducted on our campus during October 5th & 6th. (See News » )

For the convention, the whole college played host to over 800 participants from all over the country. The smooth conduct of all activities, including the national-level finals of seven events, won us a lot of appreciation.

In addition, our college bagged the following prizes —
• 1st prize in Aero-Modelling
• 1st prize in Technical Paper Presentation
• 2nd prize in CAD
• 2nd prize in Modelling

SAESAE-Amrita was adjudged the best SAE Collegiate Chapter in Southern India.

Earlier, tier-1 events for this convention were conducted in the college. The competitions included Aero Modelling, Auto Quiz, Business Plan Presentation, Computer Aided Design (CAD) and Analysis, Computer Aided Manufacture (CAM), Graphical System Design (GSD), Technical Paper Presentation.

All winning teams, including the ones from our college competed in tier-2 competitions (zonal-level) conducted at KSR College of Engineering, Thiruchengode.

Competing at Nation-Wide Contests

2010 saw Amrita bag the second prize for building a cost-effective Baja ATV. A team of ten students participated in the All-Asia Virtual BAJA contest at Delhi, and finished at the ninth spot.

SAEEighteen students participated in FSAE Design Challenge held at Chennai in December 2009. This competition, being the first of its kind in India, gave students an exposure to the finer aspects of formula car designing and manufacturing.

Earlier in the year, during the month of June, a national-level workshop on Formula SAE (FSAE) and BAJA was organized in our college. Over 400 students from across the nation participated.

For Next Year

The events planned for the year 2010-11 include a series of engineering challenges we have named HIGH OCTANE, SAE treks, guest lectures and seminars and the SAE Career Start program. We hope to extend last year’s triumph and glory to greater heights in the coming year.


CME on Mosquito-Borne Diseases

Feb 17th, 2010
Comments Off

March 17, 2010
Amrita School of Medicine, Kochi

CMEDid you know that malaria was eradicated from Kerala way back in 1965? Periodically, however, signs of its resurgence have surfaced. Coastal Kerala has witnessed occasional outbreaks of epidemic proportions.

The degradation of the environment due to massive urbanization has resulted in the increasing incidence of Bancroftian Filariasis across the entire length and breath of Kerala. The disease is caused by mosquitoes.

Another mosquito-borne disease, the Brugian Filariasis, has the dubious distinction of having created a large epidemic in Kerala in the 1990s, that was finally brought under control through the initiative of the Indian Council of Medical Research.

And who is not familiar with chikungunya and dengue? In recent years, these killer diseases have resulted in considerable morbidity and mortality in this state. All this and more was discussed at the CME (Continuing Medical Education) on Mosquito-Borne Diseases: Challenges and Opportunities organized recently at Amrita.

Experts from medical colleges and premier national research institutions, as well as state nodal officers participated. Deliberations were held on the topics of epidemiology and clinical spectrum of chikungunya, dengue, malaria, filariasis and other emerging viral threats. A discussion on Japanese encephalitis and new mosquito-borne diseases was also conducted.

CME“Vectors responsible for transmission, Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus, have undergone major evolutionary changes in their bionomics and distribution due to many micro- and macro-level environmental factors including global warming,” explained Prof. Alexander of the Department of Community Medicine, that organized the CME.

Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus are species of mosquitoes responsible for the diseases dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever. “There is also the risk of introduction of yellow fever to Kerala, as the vector is abundant and air travel is so common,” he added, while speaking about this mosquito-borne disease more commonly found in Africa.

For many, the CME could not have been at a better time. “The Government of Kerala has just begun the Four-Plus Campaign,” stated Prof. Alexander, referring to the year-long infectious diseases-control program initiated to tackle four diseases, dengue, chikungunya, malaria and leptospirosis, three of which are mosquito-borne.

The CME program that was inaugurated by DMO Dr. K. T. Ramani, also saw a detailed discussion of new diagnostic techniques. Dr. Prem Nair, Medical Director, Dr. Prathapan Nair, Principal of the Amrita School of Medicine, Dr. K. Leelamoni, Professor and HOD and Dr. K. N. Panicker, Emeritus Professor, all spoke on the occasion.


New Centre for Epilepsy and Sleep Medicine at Amrita

Feb 17th, 2010
Comments Off

February 17, 2010
School of Medicine, Kochi

A new Centre for Epilepsy and Sleep Medicine was inaugurated at the Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences, Cochin on February 11. This center will offer comprehensive care to patients with epilepsy and sleep disorders.

 Centre for Epilepsy and Sleep MedicineProf. Solomon Moshe, the President of the International League Against Epilepsy was at Amrita for the inauguration. The League has launched several awareness and research programs in different parts of the world.

“I am here to explore the possibility of setting up such programs in Kerala,” he stated. Although impressed with the progress Kerala had achieved in universal health care and education, he said he was disturbed by the lack of facilities for managing children with epilepsy and learning problems.

“Very few centers in India have the expertise to manage epileptic children. One of the thrust areas of the Amrita center will be in the management of complex childhood epilepsy cases.”

“Regular interactions between the treating physician, teachers and parents will be very helpful for these children to achieve their full potential,” he added. Prof. Moshe should know. As Head of the Department of Pediatric Neurology at the Einstein College of Medicine, New York, he has trained over two hundred clinicians and scientists from around the world.

“Comprehensive and holistic care is really the need of the hour for a patient with epilepsy,” he underlined. “A majority of the people with epilepsy lead a normal life. However, many of them require comprehensive care including proper education and psychosocial support, in addition to the standard medications.”

 Centre for Epilepsy and Sleep Medicine“A healthy life style and proper sleep hygiene is essential for people with epilepsy. Surgical treatment may be helpful for those not responding to medical therapy. Unfortunately, there are a lot of misconceptions and myths surrounding this disease, even in the West. As a result of the social stigma, successful integration of these people into the society at large, becomes difficult.”

The Amrita center will begin offering epilepsy services such as facilities for prolonged video EEG, pre-surgical evaluation and surgical management, in addition to regular medical management of patients with epilepsy. It will be supported by neuro-imaging services having the most current structural and functional imaging modalities such as high resolution MRI, SPECT and PET.

The sleep center will treat sleep disorders such as sleep apnea and parasomnias. It will offer polysomnography, multiple sleep latency tests for excessive daytime sleepiness and CPAP for sleep apneas. Comprehensive sleep care will be provided with support from Departments of Pulmonology, ENT, Facio-Maxillary Surgery, Endocrinology, Gastro Intestinal Surgery and General Medicine, all under one roof.

The inauguration of the center coincided with the tenth anniversary celebrations of the Neurosciences Centre at Amrita. Our hope is that this new center will adequately fill a long-felt gap and serve the nation.


India4EU — Amrita Students Proceed to Europe

Feb 15th, 2010
Comments Off

February 15, 2010
University HQ, Coimbatore

Twenty-four students from three Amrita campuses — Amritapuri, Bangalore and Coimbatore were selected to spend upto ten months at various European Universities, as part of the European Union’s India4EU program.

India4EU“The award to Amrita is cumulatively worth the highest among all Indian institutes that applied,” stated Dr. Krishnashree Achuthan. “For students, this is a fully-funded program wherein they have the opportunity to study at participating European Universities.”

Selected Amrita students will study at University of Trento (Italy), University of Bologna (Italy), Politecnico di Milano (Italy), Aachen University (Germany), Helsinki University (Finland), Helsinki University of Technology (Finland), Grenoble Institute of Technology (France) and KTH, Royal Institute of Technology (Sweden).

Also, this year, four students from Europe will travel to India to study at Amrita. Currently pursuing masters programs at European Universities, all four will complete course-work at Amrita that will earn them credits in their programs. Three students will attend classes at the School of Business in Coimbatore, one will study at the School of Biotechnology in Amritapuri.

India4EUAn institution-based mobility and scholarship project, India4EU is organized by a consortium of European and Indian universities. Participating universities include those that offer programs in engineering, management and biotechnology. Projects and scholarships are financed by the European Commission.

Simi Pillai, a first-year MBA student at Amritapuri, who was selected to study at the University of Trento in Italy is excited. “This was totally unexpected,” she stated. “I am enrolled to study masters-level courses in management and business consultancy at Trento. I hope to gain good exposure globally and interact with the best faculty.”

Others are equally enthusiastic. The students will leave for Europe in a few weeks.

Joining them will be several Amrita alumni also. Through a sister program WILLPower (Window India Learning Link Power), coordinated by the Ecole Centrale de Nantes in France, eight Amrita alumni will also proceed to Europe for higher studies. “Our excellent alumni network made it happen,” stated Mr. Gokuldas, Manager, Alumni Relations at Amrita.


Biotechnology Virtual Labs

Feb 15th, 2010
Comments Off

February 15, 2010
Amrita School of Biotechnology, Amritapuri

The Amrita School of Biotechnology offers bachelors and masters degrees in Biotechnology, Microbiology and Bioinformatics. Students enrolling at the School have the opportunity to study advanced subjects such as Pharmaco-genomics and Computational Biology.

Biotechnology Virtual Labs“One handicap, however, is the ability to provide adequate lab time for training,” states Dr. Shyam Diwakar, Assistant Professor at the School. “Now we have started a new trend by making labs available to students online.”

In partnership with the Government of India’s Sakshat initiative, these Amrita Virtual Labs, focus on helping students retain the real feel of a laboratory, while conducting the experiment from an internet-enabled computer terminal, much in the same way he or she would, in a real lab.

Various approaches are used. There may be remote triggering of equipment, using measurement data from experiments, or simulations and interactive animations. Some virtual labs even use haptics technology to convey essential feedback to the student.

Several virtual labs are already online for public use. Visit Website &raquo

A paper titled Biotechnology Virtual Labs – Integrating Wet-lab Techniques and Theoretical Learning for Enhanced Learning at Universities was presented by Dr. Diwakar at the 2010 International Conference on Data Storage and Data Engineering (DSDE), Feb 10, at Bangalore.

Paper authors included Dr. Krishnashree Achuthan and Prema Nedungadi in addition to Dr. Diwakar. The paper will be included in IEEE Xplore, and submitted to the Thomson ISI, Ei Compendex and INSPEC for indexing.

Biotechnology Virtual Labs“For enhanced education at the level of university courses such as those in biology or biotechnology, one of the key elements is the need of time and expertise to allow the student to familiarize with laboratory techniques on par with regular theory,” states the paper abstract.

“The Sakshat Amrita virtual biotechnology lab project focusing on virtualizing wet-lab techniques and integrating the learning experience has added a new dimension to the regular teaching courses at the university.

Establishing virtual labs requires both domain knowledge and virtualizing skills via programming, animation and device-based feedback. Challenges in the biotechnology sector in setting up a laboratory that integrates both the feel and phenomenon includes a medley of multiple techniques.

This work includes one such cost-effective process used in virtualizing a real biotechnology lab at the university-level. The major challenge in setting up an effective knowledge dissemination for laboratory courses was not only the scientific approach of biotechnology, but included the virtualization aspects such as usage/design scalability, deliverability efficiency, network connectivity issues, security and speed of adaptability to incorporate and update changes into existing experiments. The published paper also discusses an issue-specific case-study of a functional virtual lab in biotechnology and its many issues and challenges.”


Copenhagen – What Does It Mean For Us?

Feb 14th, 2010
Comments Off

February 14, 2010
Amrita School of Engineering, Amritapuri

Linkesh Diwan, student of B.Tech. (Mechanical) at the Amrita School of Engineering at Amritapuri was part of a youth delegation that represented India at Copenhagen last year. Below are excerpts from Lincoln’s report on his participation in a landmark event.


CopenhagenBefore the official United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change 15th Conference of Parties (UNFCCC COP-15) in Copenhagen commenced, youth from all over the planet came together and held a Conference of Youth (CoY). Few of us had met before, and almost all of our communication till date had been over the internet!

At the CoY, we conducted our own workshops on topics as diverse as the Science of Climate Change, to Technology Transfer, to Street Acting, to Climate Justice, to the issues facing our forests. Naturally, one couldn’t attend all of them.

As youth, we had our own protocol for facilitating meetings, which enabled us to efficiently and democratically arrive at consensus on a variety of issues.

At the workshop on Forests, one youth from Columbia spoke of how vast tracts of jungle in his country were being converted into banana and palm oil plantations, and are considered by the UNFCCC as “clean development.” But plantations are not forests! Where is the biodiversity in a plantation? Where do the animals live in a plantation?

Over 500,000 people had signed a petition saying “It’s time for Climate Justice.” This petition was delivered by Reverend Desmond Tutu to Mr. Yvo de Boer, the executive secretary of the UNFCCC. What is Climate Justice? Well, I attended the CoY workshop on it just to find out.

CopenhagenImagine that you, your neighbours, your village, and the neighbouring villages, all had to vacate the fertile lands you have inhabited for generations so that the Sardar Sarovar Dam could be built to irrigate dry areas of desert and provide water for chemical factories.

Imagine Coca-Cola purchasing land, poisoning all of the surrounding paddy fields with waste chemicals, pumping out all the local groundwater, and producing many truckloads of private profit per day.

Imagine that a company purchased the local forest, and proceeded to cut down every tree.

Imagine that, without your understanding or consent, the government decides that the entire coastline of Andhra Pradesh (including your home) is foreign territory, belonging to and administered by SEZ companies.

Better yet, don’t imagine: just read the news. This is happening now.

Is this just? No! And yet most, if not all, of the development that we see going on today is ruining the environment, killing ecosystems and displacing people native to the area. In the name of economic development, we allow people’s and Mother Earth’s rights to be compromised. This is all in blatant violation of Climate Justice.

Climate Justice is everything that we hold dear: the right to life, and our corresponding duty to ensure the same right to others including trees, plants, animals, aquatic life and the invisible creatures that are indispensable to our survival. The fact is that the lives of people and other life forms cannot be made a chip on the table of negotiations.

Inside the Bella Center

The Bella Center (Beautiful Center in English) was a huge conference center about 10 minutes out of Copenhagen by metro. It was so big, in fact, that from the back entrance (used for everyone except VVIPs like Prime Ministers and Presidents) to the other end was a full 15 minute walk! There were perhaps 20 different conference halls of various sizes, to accommodate meetings, consultations, talks, side events, and what not that was all happening concurrently.
The daily schedule (printed and distributed fresh each morning) came in two parts, and was invariably over 20 pages; it was humanly impossible to be part of everything.

The actual negotiations took place in the two large plenary halls and were called plenary sessions. Alongside were all the side-events, talks by various NGOs, UN bodies, press conferences, educational exhibits, and what-else-have-you. Some side events were very interesting, and could not be missed, others were dry and boring.

Addressing the SBSTA

The International Youth Climate Movement (IYCM) had, for the first time, a constituency status at the COP-15. This meant that we were given an office among the offices of other countries, and were officially allowed one intervention in the meetings of each body of negotiators.
C0penhagenAn “intervention” was essentially a little speech. Representing IYCM, I delivered the intervention to the SBSTA (Subsidary Body for Scientific and Technical Advice). This is what I said:

Thank you Madam Chair,

Respected negotiators, my name is Linkesh Diwan.

On behalf of the International Youth Climate Movement, I speak for 2.2 billion people, the children on this Earth.

We demand that forests be preserved in their natural purity, rightfully protected by International Law, and kept out of the carbon market. Take the brackets off our future.

Forests are more than carbon sinks. Forests provide homes, food, soil, clean water, for diverse life forms. Forests are different from plantations. Forested lands, all lands, must be held in trust by and for the local or indigenous peoples that depend upon them.

REDD, as it stands, presents a huge danger to human rights, natural forests and the climate.

This, we cannot accept.

As youth, we fear your plans for us. Seeking Climate Justice, some of us have been fasting and praying for 37 days on water only. We are desperate.

To avoid a disastrous outcome from COP15, we demand that any agreement must include:
• a clear definition, and distinction between plantations and natural forests;
• explicit language protecting intact natural forests, and ensuring conservation of biological diversity;
• accounting for emissions from peat soils and other ecosystems;
• safeguards for the rights of local and indigenous peoples;
• and we need to address the causes for continued forest destruction.

CopenhagenDear Leaders, before you make your decisions, please ask yourselves: what would Mahatma Gandhi do? Please do that.

Thank You.

One should know that going over the draft agreements in the UNFCCC, any clause or phrase (or even a word) which had not been fully agreed upon had [square] brackets on it. Such text was optional, and not binding if the agreement were to be adopted.

Unfortunately, all the text which could bring a good deal, ensure the protection of people’s rights, and ensure the survival of our planet was bracketed, optional, and had no force whatsoever. Hence, the statement to take the brackets off our future.

How Long Can One Live Without Food?

Well, more than 44 days at least, as proven by Sara Svensson of Sweden and Anna Keenan of Australia. As Climate Justice Fasters, they were among six other long-term fasters around the globe, and among thousands others who fasted in solidarity, as a prayer and penance for Climate Justice.

CopenhagenAnna and Sara, both fasted on purely water for 44 continuous days, starting in the month run-up to the conference, and breaking only after the conference was over. Their fasts were a call to conscience, as were Mahatma Gandhi’s fasts.

Together, the Climate Justice Fasters, inspired by Gandhiji, brought great seriousness to all aspects of the negotiations that they managed to touch. Yvo de Boer aptly observed that their fast was “symptomatic of a huge public frustration.”

Forty-four days is a long time on just water. However, remember that number, because unless we start to care for our Mother Earth, in the days to come, we will have no food.

Negotiating Under Influence

Last I checked, if I get caught driving a car while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, I’m liable to lose my license, get fined, or even jailed. Why? The logic behind this is that my decisions (or lack thereof) may endanger the lives of hundreds of other drivers whose paths I cross in my inebriated state.

Why, then, are negotiators allowed to take decisions that affect the lives of billions of people, that may endanger the existence of millions of habitats, and that can wreak havoc on (or bring tranquility to) our environment, supplied with endless quantities and varieties of alcohol?

At the Bella Center, drinks were supplied at lunch, and again at dinner. Any variety, any flavour, any combination, and any amount was available for anyone. I did not partake. It’s no wonder that these negotiators failed to reach an agreement … it’s possible that they were never sober enough to decide that an agreement was to be made!

Whatever happens, NUI (Negotiating Under Influence) should be outlawed.

It’s Your World

December 10, 2009 was designated the Young and Future Generations Day by IYCM. On that day, we all wore T-shirts asking our leaders “How old will you be in 2050?” By the way, I’ll be 62 for most of that year.

Copenhagen Most of our lives will be between now and 2050. The world we have to inhabit is no longer pure, pristine, with inexhaustible bounty. What the generations before us took for granted, we no longer have.

Our oceans are choked with plastic, in some places outweighing plankton by 6:1. Our hills, valleys, rivers, and streams are filled with trash of all sorts. Our forests have shrunk, and are still shrinking to the point where they cannot keep up with all the pollution that we are making.

Millions of acres of land are useless, due to toxicity from nuclear accidents, war, chemical fertilizers. The wealth that nature once supplied: clean drinking water in the streams, clean air, abundant food, has been consumed by our predecessors; we now inherit a defaulted inter-generational debt.

It is our duty to make sure that the debt stops here, now. Having been educated, we are now invested with the duty to help the poor and suffering, to let them know that the system that educated us is the same system that impoverished them, and to work with them to find an alternative for sustainable survival on Earth.

CopenhagenWe have a right to live, and the same right extends to the rest of creation. To ensure that we may exercise that right, we must ensure the same for all the plants, animals and ecosystems on our planet. Then only do we truly deserve it. We are the generation that makes right the wrong unknowingly committed in the past.

After all was said and done in Copenhagen, we youth got together and decided that it is [Y]OUR world. And if any change is to come, we must bring that change. We must be that change.

And we must work tirelessly to clean the oceans, rivers, lakes and skies. To de-toxify the land.

We must reach out and empower the poor to know and defend their rights; they hold the knowledge of living in harmony on and with the Earth, and are the last bearers of India’s great civilization. The time for change has arrived. You, me, all of us; we are that change!


Best Hardware Engineer Award for Amrita Students

Feb 13th, 2010
Comments Off

February 13, 2010
Amrita School of Engineering, Amritapuri

Final-year students, Venkat Krishnan and Vineeth Sharma of B.Tech. (ECE) won the first prize in a contest to determine the Best Hardware Engineer, beating nearly 30-40 other student teams that competed in a tech fest conducted by SCMS Engineering College, Kochi.

Hardware Engineer AwardIn addition, these students also won the first prize for their paper presentation. Their class-mates and fellow-Amrita students, Tanmay Rao and Shekhil Hassan, were awarded the second prize in the paper contest.

“The Best Hardware Engineer Contest had three rounds,” the students explained. “In the first-round quiz, we answered basic electronics-related questions. This helped us advance to the second round for Circuit Debugging, with 11 other teams.”

In this second round, all 12 teams were given circuit diagrams and asked to locate errors within a time limit of fifteen minutes. 4 teams, including the one from Amrita, qualified to the third and final round.

“In this final round, we were asked to design a circuit for a traffic control system without microcontrollers. We had one and a half hours to do this. Then we had to present the design to the judges, and finally implement it on hardware.”

Vineeth and Venkat successfully completed all tasks and were adjudged the winners. Later they learned, that they had won the first prize for their paper, Hardware Implementation of Low Power, High Speed DCT/IDCT Based Digital Image Watermarking, as well.

Hardware Engineer Award“We had submitted paper abstracts a month or so, before the fest. Papers were submitted by students of different disciplines — Mechanical, ECE, CS/IT and Biotech. Selected teams were asked to make presentations on their respective topics and then answer questions, if any.”

“Digital Image Watermarking is the process of irreversibly embedding information into a digital signal,” the students explained, on stage. “The signal may be audio, pictures or video, for example. If the signal is copied, then the information is also carried in the copy.”

The students’ paper had compared conventional watermarking techniques and a novel 5-stage pipelined implementation of DCT/IDCT used in digital image watermarking. “We can get a speed close to five times that of the conventional method, which is of great advantage.”

Power Reduction in CPU Datapath Using a Novel Clocking Scheme — another Amrita paper won the second prize. This paper discussed techniques that could be used for Instruction Level Parallelism to enhance the performance of a CPU, even while reducing power consumption. It also discussed proper clocking strategies for saving power.


CEO Summit Organized at Bangalore

Feb 13th, 2010
Comments Off

February 13, 2010
Amrita School of Business, Bangalore

A CEO Summit was organized by Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham on February 8, in Bangalore. The event was attended by over 40 senior executives from organizations such as Phillips Innovation Centre, Microsoft, Nokia, HP, IBM, Intel, AMD, TCS, Tata Elxsi and Omnex.
CEO Meet
Summit talks and discussions centered on the theme — Innovation Enriched by Human Values and Business Ethics for Sustainability.

“Human values and ethics should be a part of our day-to-day lives,’ stated Swami Ramakrishnananda Puri from the MA Math, in his benedictory address. “Only when we practice with smaller steps, will we gain the courage to be truly selfless and serve the needy.”

Invited lectures addressed relevant issues around the adaption of innovation and sustainability practices. Business leaders discussed whether it was possible to succeed and thrive in today’s business scenario by upholding human values and business ethics.
CEO Meet
“It is possible to succeed in the world today only through a strong commitment to values,” emphatically stated Prof. Shekar Babu, Associate Dean, ASB. “And all speakers, without exception, underlined this fact.”

The first speaker, Mr. Parthasarathy, co-founder and CEO at MindTree, highlighted the need for individual integrity. “We don’t work in silos,” he stated. “We cannot say that we will display integrity at home, but it is ok to cheat in the workplace. One who lies for Rs. 2, may not mind cheating for a bigger amount also.”

“As firms embrace digitization and globalization in this new age of innovation, both mangers and consumers need to be sensitive to the impact these innovations might have on environmental resources,” stated the second speaker, Prof. M. S. Krishnan. “For innovations to be successful in the long run, they need to eliminate waste and conserve resources.”
CEO Meet
Prof. M. S. Krishnan teaches at the Ross School of Business, University of Michigan. He quoted several examples from his recent book, The New Age of Innovation, that he co-authored with Dr. C. K. Prahlad. “The discussion at this Summit has planted the seeds for my next book,” he told the distinguished gathering.

“The theme of the Summit was very powerful for two reasons,” stated Ms. Jayashree Krishna, Director at I-Point Consulting Services, who was among the delegates. “One, the value system and ethics are key differentiators for India when competing globally, and two, unfortunately the same is depleting in GenX.”

“In my opinion, great talks were delivered by Prof Krishnan and Mr. Parthasarathy. Swamiji’s talk was very profound because of simplicity and the spontaneous style. I did enjoy the session and look forward to many more interactions with Amrita.”


Countdown to Pragati 2010

Feb 13th, 2010
Comments Off

February 13, 2010
Amrita School of Business, Coimbatore

Clad in black T-shirts, the students of the Amrita School of Business at Coimbatore made quite a sight. They were on a march, from Gandhipuram on, in the afternoon of February 7, at around 3:00 p.m.

PragatiOrganized as a lead-up to the School’s Annual B-Fest, Pragati 2010, which is scheduled for February 19 and 20, the march was inaugurated by Ms. N. Kamini, District Police Commissioner of Coimbatore.

Holding up banners and chanting slogans, nearly 200 students marched forward together. Their destination? The VOC park premises in the city where they would stage street plays and distribute saplings.

The theme of Pragati 2010 is Reducing Your Carbon Footprints … Go Green. The fest website eloquently makes the case.

When the world leaders pour their minds over issues of warming earth and climate change …
When the giants decide to cut back on their carbon emissions …
When the world looks up to the Hopenhagen …
In the remote part of the Indian subcontinent, down south, a savior arrives …
Befriend Cafoo … only at Pragati 2010 …

“We feel that educating the public is the easiest way to initiate an action,” the enthusiastic students stated. “Otherwise the information remains only in text books, research papers or on websites.”

PragatiA huge crowd had gathered. The students’ street play highlighted the need for reducing electricity and fuel consumption. The importance of planting trees and other small-big ways that could steer the world to a better tomorrow were stressed.

“It was a resounding success,” the students shared, later. “We feel good about this opportunity to educate the general public about ways of reducing carbon emissions in their day-to-day activities. Most importantly, we ourselves will be the first to follow all that we enumerated.”

The B-Fest aims at creating awareness among future managers about the need for reducing carbon emissions, combating global warming and possible ways of doing it. In seeking to educate the general public, these future managers, themselves, had taken an important first step.

Saplings were distributed to everyone in the huge crowd that wanted one. Upon the students’ return to the Amrita campus, more saplings were planted to commemorate the occasion. With this wonderful initiative, the students had certainly made their Sunday worthwhile.


Bharat Shiksha Ratan Award for Dr. Prabha Rao

Feb 13th, 2010
Comments Off

February 13, 2010
Amrita School of Medicine, Kochi

Every year, noted academicians from around the country are honored with the Bharat Shiksha Ratna Award. This year, Amrita’s Dr. B. Prabha Rao, was also chosen, among others, for this top honor.

Dr. Prabha RaoDr. Rao first began teaching in 1969. She joined Amrita in 2002 as Head of the Department of Pharmacology. The award is then, perhaps a fitting culmination to nearly four decades of a distinguished teaching and professional career.

The award was given to Dr. Rao on January 18, 2010 during the 30th National Seminar on Individual Achievements and National Development organized by the Global Society for Health and Educational Growth.

One of Dr. Rao’s noted accomplishments in Amrita has been the enhancement of curriculum in accordance with modern developments. She had prior experience of developing and implementing such curricular changes for medical colleges affiliated to Kathmandu University.

“I was exposed to problem-based learning and integrated teaching methods while teaching in Pokhara, Nepal during 1994 – 2000,” she shared. “This type of medical curriculum is encouraged by the World Health Organization (WHO).”

“At the institutional level, changes were easier to implement here, because Amrita had only one medical college affiliated to it,” she added. Dr. Rao retired as HoD at Amrita after attaining the age of 65. She continues teaching here, however, as Professor of Pharmacology.

Dr. Prabha RaoAt Amrita, Dr. Rao is also the coordinator of the Pharmaco-vigilance program. Started with funding by the World Bank, and guided by WHO experts, the program seeks to monitor, record and disseminate information about adverse drug reactions. Safety alerts are sent to physicians and medical errors are monitored and recorded.

“Amrita is the only approved Peripheral Pharmaco-vigilance Centre in Kerala under the National Pharmaco-vigilance Program of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India,” Dr. Rao added. Due, perhaps in no small measure, to the determined efforts of this tireless crusader, this status enables Amrita contribute even more to the nation’s public health.

How does she spend her free time?

“By writing health-education related articles for the Amrita Journal of Medicine.” The Journal, published by the Amrita School of Medicine, is fast gaining in readership and subscription base. “Also presenting segments on drug-use for Amrita TV’s Good Health program.”

Amrita honors the life-long public health commitment of this outstanding individual and congratulates her on the award received.


AHEAD 2010 at Amrita

Feb 12th, 2010
Comments Off

February 20, 2010
School of Medicine, Kochi

AHEAD 2010For the sixth consecutive year, AHEAD, a three-day seminar on head and neck oncology was recently organized at Amrita that attracted nearly seventy delegates from all over South India. A few participants came from as far as Mumbai.

“This is an annual event for us at the Department of Head and Neck Oncology,” explained Dr. Arun, the convenor for the event. “The objective is to disseminate the latest medical information in the field to attendees, a large number of whom are post-graduate students.”

The Department of Head and Neck Oncology in Amrita offers a comprehensive 3-year medical program leading to a MCh qualification. Although, the incidence of head and neck cancers is on the rise in India, there are very few Indian hospitals that have dedicated departments for head and neck oncology.

AHEAD 2010The three-day seminar included didactical short lectures and interactive sessions on topics such as surgical anatomy, pathology, management and recent trends in oral cavity and oropharynx, paranasal sinuses, metastatic lymph nodesparotid and other salivary glands, thyroid and tumours.

Faculty and doctors from Amrita were joined by experts from around the country for teaching the sessions. Among others were Dr. Anil D’Cruz and Dr. Prathamesh Pai from Tata Memorial Hospital, Mumbai, Dr. Alok Thakar from All India Institute of Medical Sciences and Dr. Jyothi Dabholkar from King Edward Medical College, Mumbai.

Surgical sessions were also conducted with surgical demonstrations on cadavers. “These were relayed live to the Amriteshwari Hall where the participants were seated,” explained Dr. Arun. “The participants had the opportunity to ask questions to the operating surgeons regarding the procedures being demonstrated.”

AHEAD 2010“We received a number of suggestions from participants on how what else can be included in the training programs,” he added. “AHEAD or the Amrita Head and Neck Teaching Program is now also taught by Armed Forces Institute, a medical college in New Delhi, for participants from North India.”

One is glad to note. The teaching program that was begun in Amrita six years ago to disseminate information about head and neck oncology, is now reaching out to even more doctors. Experienced teachers, university examiners and noted head and neck surgeons from across the country are sharing their knowledge about the imaging of head and neck, prosthetic rehabilitation, approach to skull base tumours, current status of chemotherapy and radiotherapy with their younger counterparts.


Basic Life Support Training for Police Staff

Feb 11th, 2010
Comments Off

March 17, 2010
Amrita School of Medicine, Kochi

A training program in Basic Life Support (BLS) & Pre-Hospital Trauma Care was inaugurated for police personnel of the Ernakulam District at Amrita’s Health Sciences campus on February 11, 2010.


The main aim of this training program was to provide life-saving skills to police personnel; many times, they are among the first to arrive at the scene of accidents and if adequately trained, they can intervene and help save thousands of lives.

The importance of training traffic police as well as other police personnel in providing first-aid and basic-life-support is widely recognized across the globe. It is statistically estimated that over half the lives lost in road traffic accidents, could have been saved if first aid and basic life support was immediately made available to victims.

Mr. Jacob Punnoose (IPS), Director-General of Police, Ernakulam District, inaugurated the training program.

BLS“There has already been a thirty per cent reduction in the number of road accidents in the past few years, and such a service will help the number of casualties further come down. Further this will help link hospitals with the police control room and that could be of great service to society,” he stated.

“The State Government, along with the Road Safety Authority, is planning to introduce 150-200 fully-equipped ambulances for trauma care during accidents and emergencies,” he added. “Rs. 10 crore would be made available for the training of 800 paramedical staff to support the ambulance facility.”

“We are in talks with the Indian Medical Association to also help prepare the police to handle trauma during accidents, emergencies and disasters,” Mr. Punnoose added. Appreciating Amrita’s initiative of providing training to the police personnel, he requested other major hospitals also to join in the venture.

Mr. Punnoose made a plea to the medical community to help inculcate the use of helmets among two-wheeler riders. “Almost 750 of the total 980 two-wheeler accident deaths reported last year were due to the non-use of helmets,” he emphasized. “These deaths were not due to speeding.”

The trauma care training will be availed by 2,000 policemen of the Ernakulam district in batches of 30. The courses are being conducted by Amrita experts in the fields of critical care medicine, emergency medicine, anesthesia and internal medicine.

Dr. Prem Nair, Medical Director at Amrita, Dr. Sanjeev K. Singh, Senior Administrative Officer, Br. Pradeep, CIO, Amrita Technologies, and Prof. Lakshikumar, Dept. of Anasthesia and Critical Care, also spoke.


Management Fest at ASAS Mysore

Feb 9th, 2010
Comments Off

February 18, 2010
School of Arts and Sciences, Mysore

The Amrita School of Arts and Sciences at Mysore organized Antarprerana 2010, a management fest, on February 9-10. Nearly 150 graduate students from several colleges in the city of Mysore participated.

Antarprerana 2010“We wanted to kindle the spirit of entrepreneurship in the student community,” stated the organizers. “We were overwhelmed with the response received.”

The chief guest for the function, Dr. Nagaraj, Reader in Commerce, University of Mysore, spoke about the importance of the entrepreneurial spirit, while inaugurating the fest.

Several events, with evocative names in Sanskrit such as Nakshtramala, Chanakya and Shabdhavedhi were conducted over the two days.

Participants developed product, marketing and financial plans to promote their products; the only stipulation was that the product had to be eco-friendly.

Antarprerana 2010Participants presented their unique ideas and the best entrepreneurs were selected.

Ideas Galore was another event in which participants designed logos for T-shirts.

Business Twister tested the financial skills of participants through cost efficiency studies, stock market analyses and budgeting assignments.

Contests were designed to test not only the team spirit of the participants, but also facilitate communication and help foster creativity and innovation.

“The fest was informative and a memorable experience,” stated Surabhi P. of Marimallappas College.
Marimallappa’s College emerged as the overall champion; their students won the maximum number of first prizes.

The two day fest concluded with a valedictory function. The chief guest for the function, Prof. G. Venkatesh Kumar, Director, Academic Staff College, University of Mysore, addressed the gathering.
Various cultural programs entertained the gathering.
Antarprerana 2010

“Participants from several colleges have expressed that they would like to participate in future events conducted at Amrita also,” stated the organizers.


At the World Finals of the ACM-ICPC …

Feb 8th, 2010
Comments Off

February 8, 2010
Amrita School of Engineering, Amritapuri

ACM-ICPC World FinalsIce City Harbin in China was the site of the 2010 World Finals of the ACM-ICPC, the world’s largest inter-collegiate programming contest. Dr. Nandakumar and Br. Anand Shenoy from Amrita also attended.

As one of the Asia Regional Centers for the contest, Amrita saw participation from 305 teams that represented 55 universities, last year. Amrita has hosted the Asia Regional of the ACM-ICPC for the past five years now.

Worldwide teams compete in some 35 Regionals before being invited to the World Finals. Amrita’s is one of the 15 Regionals held in Asia, and one of 2 in India.

ACM-ICPC World Finals103 teams were at the World Finals. Sogang University from Korea that qualified from Amritapuri in December 2009 was at the World Finals too.

“Indian programmers, while good at applications and databases, are not competitive in the area of algorithms,” stated Dr. Nandakumar, Contest Director at Amrita. “We want to bring together our college students’ mathematical and programming talents to excel in this area too.”

Below is a brief report by Dr. Nandakumar on Amrita’s participation at the World Finals.


Three teams that had qualified from Amritapuri were present at Harbin. NIT Trichy and Sogang solved 4 problems each, and DJ Sanghvi College solved 2.

The winning team was Shanghai Jiaotong University that solved 7/11 problems. The contest was tough.
IIIT Hyderabad was also at the contest, as they had qualified from the Kanpur site. They solved 4/11 problems.

The forthcoming World Finals locations are as follows –
2011 Cairo
2012 Warsaw

ACM-ICPC World FinalsAmrita proposed to hold the World Finals in Kochi in 2014. The proposal was well received. The organizers liked idea of the beach, Veegaland water theme park, houseboats and warm weather.

This year IBM increased Amrita’s funding by 25%. Perhaps it was because we had told them that we want to double number of universities, more than double the number of teams, and make it dual-site at two of our campuses, to facilitate more participation.

Harbin is a northern city, and very cold. Harbin Engineering University volunteers did a good job shuttling us around, taking care of us in the cold and dark, and giving us great food. Anand and I enjoyed the fresh green vegetables and great desserts.


About The Market Economy …

Feb 6th, 2010
Comments Off

February 6, 2010
Amrita School of Business, Bengaluru

What does globalization mean? What is the role of the state in a market economy? Why are property rights important? What is the rule of law?

IFANParas Katoch, M.B.A./M.S. student at Amrita’s Bengaluru campus, joined twenty-four other students from around the country for an elaborate discussion on these topics of contemporary interest.

These students were invited to the Bangalore Management Academy (BMA) after being short-listed in a national-level essay competition conducted on the topic, The Market Economy and its Impact on the Global Financial Crisis.

“In the world of desires, everyone has an inclination for required goods and commodities,” Paras had written. “Although our wants are unlimited, the resources available to fulfill them are limited.”

He had defined the market economy. “An economic system in which economic decisions and the pricing of goods and services are guided solely by the aggregate interactions of a country’s citizens and businesses and there is little government intervention or central planning.”

In his essay, he had taken on questions such as the following. What is the optimal level of regulation in the economy? Was lack of regulation the cause of the financial crisis in the US in 2007? Is innovation fostered better under a market economy?

Paras Katoch“Upon studying the impact, we come to the conclusion that lack of regulation was one of the causes for the financial crisis in the U.S economy last year,” he had written. “No checks were performed by the financial institutions for loan agreements or the status of the customers.”

“Information is coordinated better in the market economy as compared to the highly regulated central planned economic system, wherein the government plays a major role in making decisions. Here interactions between suppliers and buyers are frequent, however failure in understanding the market, led to this crisis.”

“The future of the economy after this downturn probably indicates the rise of a new era of mixed economy, in which most economic decisions will result from the interaction of buyers and sellers in markets, but the government will also play a significant role in allocation of resources. Let’s hope for a bright way ahead.”

At BMA, Paras debated with his peers on more topics of contemporary interest. All participants were judged based on their performance in the essay-writing, presentation, and question-and-answer segments. A three-member jury from industry, media and academics awarded points to the contestants for their style, flow, conviction and language.

Three best presentations were chosen. Paras’s compelling arguments won him the second place in this nation-wide contest. We congratulate him on this achievement.


Film Fest at ASAS Kochi

Feb 6th, 2010
Comments Off

February 17, 2010
School of Arts and Sciences, Kochi

The Department of Visual Media and Communication at the Amrita School of Arts and Sciences in Kochi offers undergraduate and graduate programs in Visual Media. Graduate students can specialize in Broadcast Journalism and Video Production, Animation and Content Management or Applied Art and Advertising.
Film Fest

Recently the department organized a Film Fest with the objective to promote the spirit of good cinema. Eclectic films chosen from various cultures world-wide were screened over two days for the hundred and fifty participants. “A filmy weekend ahead for all film-lovers in the city,” wrote the Indian Express in the run-up to the Fest.

The first day saw the screening of four films, one each from Holland, Russia, Bhutan and the US. Three of these four films, Glass (a documentary from Holland about the glass bottle industry), The Old Man and the Sea (a short Russian film based on Ernest Hemingway’s novel of the same name) and Fiddler on the Roof (an American feature film) were Academy Award winners.

Film Fest The fourth, The Cup, was a comedy film, produced in Bhutan. The first feature-length motion picture to be filmed in this mountainous neighboring country of ours was made by Khyentse Norbu, a prominent Llama in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. What made the organizers choose these particular films?

“We wanted to facilitate the exquisite visual expression of the most exciting and thought-provoking social and adventure-related feature and documentary films from around the world.” The organizers had invited film, media, communication and journalism students, researchers and faculty and film enthusiasts to attend.

The second day began with a screening of the British classic, To Sir, With Love. This was followed by a German and a Chinese film. Prof. C. S. Jayaraman, a famous painter and sculptor, also an expert in Film and Media Studies offered an introductory class focusing on several nuances of the screened films.

The fest also included contests that were open to all. Dharana, the public awareness ad-film competition saw several entries with themes such as saving water, electricity, fuel, protection of nature, patriotism, good health, cleanliness and social responsibility. Cash prizes were awarded to all contestants.
Film Fest
Student-delegates also participated in Dhwani, the film quiz. The fest was inaugurated by Sri Soorya Krishnamoorthy, Founder-Director of Soorya Stage and Film Society. The delegates were welcomed by Dr. U. Krishnakumar, Director, Amrita School of Arts and Sciences. Dr. P. P. Vijayalakshmi, HOD of Visual Media, proposed the vote of thanks.


Award-Winning Paper on Malignancies in Pregnancy

Feb 4th, 2010
Comments Off

February 4, 2010
Amrita School of Medicine, Kochi

Amrita doctors continue winning top honors at conferences around the country. Recently Dr. Anupama, Assistant Professor in the Obstetrics and Gynecology Department at the Amrita School of Medicine, won the best paper prize in oncology at the Obstetrics and Gynecology Conference in Guwahati.

Dr. AnupamaSubsequently, Dr. Anupama’s award-winning work on malignancies in pregnancy was profiled in major newspapers. “Amrita is probably one of the few centers to have separate data on pregnant women with cancer,” wrote the New Indian Express.

“Though there is a lot more to be done, the study is a ray of hope for many whose life is caught between the yearning for a healthy child and a cure from cancer.”

The paper described at length, the considerations in surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy and pre-term delivery.* Reproduced below are other extracts from the winning paper.


Cancer is a leading cause of death in women. As technology expands the reproductive capabilities of older women, the incidence of cancer complicating pregnancy is also on the rise.

Concurrence of pregnancy and malignancy raises therapeutic ethical dilemmas. The most appropriate and timely treatment for the mother may not be in the best interest of the fetus.

The treatment will depend upon 1) the gestational age at diagnosis, 2) mother’s desire to continue the pregnancy and 3) whether the treatment for the mother precludes a good outcome for the mother and the baby.

Cancer TreatmentThe mainstays of cancer treatment are surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy. We have to select the best possible treatment for the mother without compromising the well-being of the fetus, wherever possible.

The paper contains a study on cancer found among pregnant women, who were admitted to the Obstetrics and Gynecology Department from 2006 to 2009. During this time, we saw fourteen cases of malignancy complicating pregnancy.

Four women of the fourteen had breast cancer. Two underwent surgery and chemotherapy during pregnancy and went on to deliver healthy infants. Two patients had CNS tumors; one patient underwent surgery and radiotherapy during pregnancy and had a normal pregnancy outcome.

Four other patients had gastrointestinal cancers, of which two had a normal pregnancy outcome. Three patients suffered from lymphoma and one of these three had a normal pregnancy outcome after chemotherapy.

One case was that of a Ca larynx. The woman underwent surgery and chemotherapy during pregnancy and a preterm caesarean section was done at 35 weeks to deliver a healthy infant.

These examples show that even if malignancy coexists with pregnancy, it is possible to have a good obstetric outcome without compromising the mother’s life.



Diagnostic and staging operations have classically been deferred until the second trimester to minimize abortion risks. Therapeutic surgery should be performed regardless of gestational age if maternal well-being is imperiled. If indicated, the ovaries may be removed without affecting the pregnancy, after 8 weeks. Prophylactic tocolytics are shown to reduce uterine irritability but do not decrease the incidence of preterm labor. Sequential compression devices for lower extremities in the intrados and post op period can be given to reduce the chance of thrombosis.


Cancer TreatmentDiagnostic radiographic procedures have very low exposure and should not be delayed. Exposure to less than 5 rad has not been associated with an increase in fetal anomalies or pregnancy loss. The risk of malformations is significantly increased above controls only at doses above 15 rad.

Therapeutic radiation can result in significant fetal exposure to ionizing radiation. Although the most susceptible period is during organogenesis, no gestational age is considered safe.

Characteristic adverse fetal effects are microcephaly and mental retardation. Late exposure can cause fetal growth restriction and brain damage. So therapeutic radiation should be given only after therapeutic abortion.

If abortion is refused, delay the initiation of treatment until mid II trimester. In some cases, such as head and neck cancers, radiotherapy to supra diaphragmatic areas can be given relatively safety with abdominal shielding.


The risk for adverse fetal effects is dependent primarily on gestational age during chemotherapy. First Trimester chemotherapy can cause fetal loss and morphologic abnormalities. In second and third trimester, it causes increased IUD, IUGR.

Preterm Delivery

Ideally chemotherapy has to be withheld 3 weeks prior to delivery. In case of preterm delivery within 3 weeks of chemo, fetal bone marrow suppression can occur because of the limited ability of the preterm baby to metabolize the drug.

Safety not established during lactation, so breast feeding is not recommended. No late mutagenic effects have been reported for the child.


In-Silico Study to be Presented at ICONSAT

Feb 1st, 2010
Comments Off

February 1, 2010
Amrita School of Engineering, Coimbatore

Chemotherapy, radiational therapy or surgery is mainly used for treatment of cancer today. Cytotoxic drugs, however, are limited in that they destroy healthy cells in addition to cancerous cells. Moreover, the intrinsic or acquired multidrug resistance of cancerous cells becomes a problem.

ICONSATNow research is being conducted into nano dendritic polymers that can carry cytotoxic drugs into the body for targeted annihilation of cancerous cells alone. ‘This can also help in minimizing the intrinsic or acquired multi-drug resistance of cancerous cells,” explained Mr. Krishnan Namboori, Research Associate at CEN.

Dendritic molecules are highly symmetrical and characterized by structural perfection. As part of the Computational Chemistry Group of CEN, Mr. Krishnan performs computational analyses to help understand the behavior of these polymers better. “Our computational analysis provides an insight into various factors affecting cancer drug delivery,” he said.

A computational model of the sample is generated and subjected to geometry optimization. Energy of the system is determined based on first principles. Electrostatic, hydrophobic and hydrogen bond interactions that take place during entrapment of drugs within the dendritic polymer are studied. The covalent and electrostatic interactions between the drug and surface of the polymer are analyzed.

ICONSAT“Molecular simulations were used to study the various properties of Polyamidoamine (PAMAM) dendrimers both in equilibrium as well as in the transient or steady-state flows,” Mr. Krishnan explained further. “We used the term “insilico”, implying that ours was a computational study, meaning that the experiment was done on silicaware, ie. computer. Modeling and simulation are essential steps in computational material sciences and life sciences.”

A paper titled, INSILICO ANALYSIS OF NANO POLYAMIDOAMINE (PAMAM) DENDRIMERS, based on the initial work completed was accepted for oral presentation at the International Conference on Nano Sciences and Technology (ICONSAT-2010), that will be conducted at IIT-Bombay during February 17-20, 2009.

Authors of the paper include Vasavi C.S., Sriram Ramakrishnan, Sruthy Anna Cherry and Anjitha P.S., students of M Tech (Biomedical Engineering). The paper explains modeling and simulation of the molecules (drugs and PAMAM) and their interactions. The conference paper will be published in International Journal of Nanoscience, World Scientific, Singapore (IJN).

ICONSAT“Nano dendritic polymers are interesting to study because of their diverse chemical properties and their safety for use in the body. We will determine and characterize interactional energy. We will also be able to identify the interactions as covalent or electrostatic. An insight into these analyses will help us study how the molecular properties help in anticancer drug delivery.”

The conference will feature invited talks from international experts including Prof. CNR Rao (JNCASR, Bangalore, India), Christian Plank (Technische Universität München, Germany), Ding Jun (National University of Singapore, Singapore), Elena A. Rozhkova (Argonne National Laboratory, USA), G.K. Dey (BARC, Mumbai), K. Krishnan (University of Washington, Washington, USA), Katsuhiko ARIGA (National Institute of Materials Science, Japan), Mohamed S. El-Shall (Virginia Commonwealth University, USA).


Amrita Sanjeevani’s Cleaning Campaign

Jan 31st, 2010
Comments Off

February 6, 2010
Amritapuri Campus

Nearly 150 student volunteers from the Amritapuri campus got together this past Sunday for cleaning seva. Their goal: to clean a section of the main highway, over half a kilometer in length, in the neighboring town of Vavvakavu.
Cleaning Campaign

The Amrita Sanjeevani student coordinators who had organized the event went to Chancellor Amma, before and after, to inform Amma and seek her blessings. Amma gave the youngsters many suggestions on what they could do.

“We live in an age of imitation, where everybody is interested in imitating others,” Amma told the students. “If we do something good, people will imitate that also. We should spread the awareness that people should not spit in public.”

Cleaning CampaignAmma told the students to inform the public about this activity. Several students went to the shops that lined that section of the highway and informed the shopkeepers. In addition, a rented car spread the message in the entire town, over a loud speaker.

The event was inaugurated by the president and the vice-president of the local Panchayat. “It is very encouraging to see young people taking this initiative,” remarked the president, Jagathamma, in her inaugural address.

Within four and a half hours, student teams had collected five tons of waste that was lying along the roadside. Several auto-rickshaw drivers from the nearby stands had also joined in with the students. A young man who was just passing by, inspired by what he saw, had joined in too. Protective masks and gloves were provided to each participant.

Amma was right. She had told the students that if they did something good, others would imitate them. And that was exactly what had happened. But Amma had also warned the students that some people might tease them during the cleaning-up operation and that they needed to be mentally strong to overcome that.

Cleaning Campaign“We should make India as clean as Singapore. We should place trash bins along the highway and then clear them regularly.” Amma had given these additional pointers to the students. She had narrated to them how one of the Western visitors to the ashram had complained to her about the trash one could see everywhere in India.

At the end of the day, the collected waste was transported to the ashram. Here, it would be sorted, and recyclables separated from the non-recyclable waste. “We want to do more,” chimed in the participants. They have planned to clean up the Vallikavu boat jetty area next weekend. How did they choose the areas to be cleaned?

Inspired by Amma’s advice, and taking it to heart, students are putting in a lot of effort into the meticulous planning of what may well become a full-fledged campaign. A few days before they cleaned the Vavvakavu highway, they had scouted all areas in the neighborhood on their bikes. They had photographed the areas to decide which ones needed urgent cleaning.

May their efforts inspire many others! May India become known as one of the cleanest countries in the world!