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2nd International Union of Radio Science-Regional Conference on Radio Science (URSI-RCRS -2015)

School of Environmental Sciences organized "2nd International Union of Radio Science-Regional Conference on Radio Science" (URSI-RCRS 2015) in collaboration with the Indian National Committee for International Radio Science Union (INC-URSI) and Indian National Science Academy (INSA) in Jawaharlal Nehru University during 16-19 November, 2015. Radio Science covers a broad area of research, namely, Electromagnetic Metrology, Field and Waves, Radio Communications Systems and Signal Processing, Electronics and Photonics, Electromagnetic Environment and Interference, Wave Propagation and Remote Sensing, Ionospheric Radio and Propagation, Waves in Plasma, Radio Astronomy and Electromagnetic in Biology and Medicine. URSI is the only international body that brings together people from diverse area under the same umbrella and makes their inter-disciplinary collaboration successful. India is a strong partner in the URSI body and plays a leading role. Hence, it is entirely appropriate that the conference is held at periodic intervals to bring together scientists and engineers from Asia and African regions. The main aim of the conference was to bring all the radio scientist of neighbouring countries together to share their scientific views of radio science.

The conference commenced with an inaugural session on 16th November, 2015, and the inaugural lecture was given by Dr A. S. Kiran Kumar, Chairman, ISRO and the abstract book was released by Prof. Prasenjit Sen, Rector II, JNU. Welcome address was given by Prof. I S Thakur, Dean, School of Environmental Sciences, JNU. Dr S Ananthakrishnan, General Chair of the Conference gave the overview of the conference and Dr. Paulraj R, Convener of the Conference, delivered the Vote of thanks.

There were three general lectures: First general lecture was given by Dr. Yahia Antar, Royal Military College of Canada & Queen's University, Canada. He spoke on "Antenna near Field theory: A New Fundamental Approach and its Impact on Antenna Systems and other Electromagnetic Applications". Second general lecture was delivered by Dr B K Das, IIT Madras. He spoke on "Silicon Photonics Devices for High-Speed Optical Interconnects". Third general lecture was given by Prof Janos Lichtenberger, Eotvos University, Hungary. He talked about the "Role of radio waves in the dynamics of Space Weather".

In addition, there were two evening public lecture delivered by Dr. Amitava Sen Gupta, CSIR-NPL. Dr K Kasturirangan, Chancellor of JNU, delivered Dr. A. P. Mitra memorial lecture on "Space Science in India: some reminiscence and prospects".

To accommodate all the participants there were three parallel sessions. There were around hundred oral presentation and fifty poster presentations. Six scientists participated in the Young Scientist Award competition. Fourteen research scholars participated in Student Paper Competition. The papers presented were high quality research papers pertaining to radio science.

The conference ended with the valedictory function where awards and certificates were distributed to the winners and closing address by the General Chair Dr. S. Ananthakrishnan and vote of thanks by the Convener of the conference, Dr. Paulraj R.

Paulraj R
Associate Professor
School of Environmental Sciences

2nd International Research Workshop in Cloud Computing

Consequent to last year, School of Computer and Systems Sciences organized 2nd International Research Workshop in Cloud Computing (RWCC-2015) on 22-23 December, 2015 at Convention Centre, JNU.

Cloud computing has recently emerged as one of the buzzwords in the IT industry. Numerous IT vendors are promising to offer computation, storage, and application hosting services and to provide coverage in several continents, offering service level agreements (SLA) backed performance and uptime promises for their services. While these "clouds" are the natural evolution of traditional data centers, they are distinguished by exposing resources (computation, data, and applications) as standards-based Web services and following a "utility" pricing model where customers are charged based on their utilization of computational resources, storage, and transfer of data. They offer subscription-based access to infrastructure, platforms, and applications that are popularly referred to as IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service), PaaS (Platformas a Service), and SaaS (Software as a Service).

Eminent Researchers from India and abroad attended and demonstrated their research pursuits in the area of Cloud Computing. First day of the Workshop was delighted with few distinguished talks. Prof. Rajkumar Buyya, Professor of Computer Science and Software Engineering and Director of the Cloud Computing and Distributed Systems (CLOUDS) Laboratory at the University of Melbourne, Australia gave a keynote address on Innovative Solutions for Deployment of Big Data Applications on Computing Clouds. Dr. K Raghavendra, Senior Scientist, ISRO, Hyderabad, India, demonstrated on some Cloud Computing Programming Models, Thread, Task and Map Reduce. Dr. Yogesh Simmhan, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India delivered on Leveraging Cloud Computing for Big Data Platforms followed by a talk on Issues and Challenges in Cloud Dependability Modeling by Prof. A.K. Tripathi, Indian Institute of Technology BHU, Varanasi, India.

Next Day of the workshop opened with a talk by Dr. Bhuvan Urgaonkar, Penn State University, USA on Reducing Peak Power Costs in Cloud Data Centers. Hands on training session was organized by Mr. Anupinder Singh of Superwits Academy, Ludhiana, India. First he gave an Introduction to CloudSim and its architecture followed by simulating various scenarios using CLoudsim. In this, he elaborated on how to test various research models developed for Cloud using CloudSim.

Overall, the topics that have been covered in the workshop are as follows.
? Technologies for creating Cloud Computing Environment on a Network of Computers
? Tools for building Cloud applications
? Initiating innovative R&D projects in Cloud computing

D.P. Vidyarthi, Professor &
Zahid Raza, Associate Professor
School of Computer & Systems Sciences

Special lecture on Diving into the Lake: On the Necessity, Joy, and Anxiety of (Re) Translating Tulsidas' Ramcaritmanas by Prof. Philip Lutgendorf

The Centre of Indian Languages, School of Language, Literature and Culture Studies arranged a special lecture on Ramcaritmanas of Tulasidasa by Prof. Phhilip Lutgendorf, Professor of Hindi and Modern Indian Studies in the University of Iowa's Department of Asian and Slavic Languages and Literature on 13 January, 2016.

During his very articulating lecture, Prof. Lutgendorf said that 'The epic retelling of the Ramayana composed in ca. 1574 AD by the poet Tulsidas, in the dialect of Hindi known as Avadhi, has long been considered one of the most sacred and beloved texts of the North Indian Hindu tradition. It has also, through nine complete English renderings, become one of the most translated works of pre-modern Indian vernacular literature'. Continuing his lecture, he also briefly introduced the epic and some of its notable features as a work in the larger "Ramayana tradition." He then reflected on some of the difficulties that it presents for the translator into English, discussed why he has undertaken a new translation at this time, and shared some examples his approach.

Chairing the talk, noted poet and critic Prof. Ashok Vajpeyisaidthat 'Ramcaritmanas is the single most popular book in India, that is read and worshipped by the people, belongs to all sects, for over four centuries. This epic has greatly appealed equally to the rich and the poor, the educated and the illiterate, the old and the young and the scholar and the common man'. 'Keeping in mind people's ever increasing quest for the epic, this unique English translation of the Ramcaritmanas by Prof. Philip Lutgendorf along with Tulsidas's original text will help scholars, as the translator had maintained the intrinsic richness of the original,' Prof. Vajpeyiadded.

Syed Mohd. Anwar Alam, Chairperson
Centre of Indian Language, SLL&CS

JNU-TRCSS Launched South Asia Sustainability Hub & Knowledge Network (SASH&KN)

JNU-TRCSS (Transdisciplinary Research Cluster on Sustainability Studies) in association with the ERSC STEPS Centre in the United Kingdom launched the South Asia Sustainability Hub & Knowledge Network (SASH&KN) on 28 January, 2016 at India International Centre. SASH&KN aims at the development of a network of institutions and people to work together to explore pathways to urban sustainability in South Asia. It was followed by launching of the Friends of Sustainability which gives a new platform for different actors to come together to discuss and work towards the goals of sustainability, and more particularly towards achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN-SDGs) (2016-2030). The launch events were followed by a conference on 'Pathways to Sustainable Urbanization' on 29-30 January in JNU. The SASH&KN joins with five other hubs around the world which are located in China, Africa, Latin America, North America and Europe.

Former international civil servant Mr. Nitin Desai chaired the launch event. The speakers of this session were Pranav N Desai (JNU), Dinesh Abrol (JNU), Fiona Marshall (STEPS Centre), Ian Scoones (STEPS Centre), Sunita Narain (CSE New Delhi), and journalist P. Sainath.

Pranav N Desai, Project Director JNU-TRCSS, welcomed the esteemed guests and participants and introduced the Chair Nitin Desai and other speakers. He contemplated his visions and enthusiasm for the launch of Sustainability Hub, focussing on the need for hybrid knowledge platforms where one can access the knowledge freely. Pranav Desai believed that it is not only the government and industry that is responsible for sustainability but also the universities and academics as well. He also mentioned the purpose of a knowledge network is to provide a broad and free access to scholars or people who are interested in sustainability issues which will be enriching and provide a common understanding of the concept. He extended his thanks to all the participants and requested the Chair to take on further.

Dinesh Abrol explained how trans-disciplinary research began at JNU by the formation of TRCSS in the last year. Four Centres of School of Social Sciences in JNU namely, CSSP, CSRD, CSMCH and CISLS are joining with STEPS Centre with hope for knowledge production and engaging in both theory and practice, in the domain of sustainability. He also pointed out that JNU is the suitable place for knowledge production concerning contestations. He concluded by saying that universities are going to be an active player in engaging with the social realities and for that they need to be transformative.

Fiona Marshall emphasised that South Asia Sustainability Hub is an important landmark in the widening and deepening of collaborative efforts on sustainability through its links with the global network of hubs in South Asia and beyond. She felt very delighted to be able to play a smart part in the making of this hub and expressed her enthusiasm and support to the hub.

Ian Scoones talked about the STEPS Centre and the relevance of the emerging hub network for sustainability studies. The STEPS Centre has been working for the past ten years in the UK by the funding from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and other organizations. The STEPS Centre has been building the partnership with institutions in many countries, including JNU and others in India. The focus of this continuous engagement with these partners has been to think about issues around sustainability and sustainable development. The aim of these hubs, he said, is to be the 'go to' place for research collaborations and training, and policy advice and support on sustainability in the respective regions. With the launch of this hub, it is the hope that there is substantial research to back up and ensure an equitable representation of South Asian voices in the international debates on sustainability which are going to dominate the international discourse in the coming years. Along with the research, the hub also aims to come up with new ideas and practices that can be taken up as part of both global and local responses to the massive sustainability challenges of our times.

Sunita Narain expressed her excitement about the launching of the South Asian Sustainability Hub and said that such an initiative is the need of this hour. She said that we are facing new challenges of sustainability and for a country like India it is necessary that we recognize our sustainability politics and practices. She described that when Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) began in the field of environment they had though they had a practice of environment and sustainability that would somehow suit the needs of a country like India. But it hasn't. She opined the environmental debates in India needed a rethinking concerning affordability and inclusiveness as the hallmarks of sustainability. There is also need to look beyond the city to understand what is happening in India, and we need to do all that with policy. She said that what we need is information, knowledge action continuum and she hopes that the hub emphasizes this about sustainability debates.

P. Sainath structured his talk around the linear dominant notion of the inevitability of urbanization and the assumptions behind that; which makes one question the sustainability of these assumptions. Giving examples of Amravati in Chennai, mega building city complexes in Mumbai (Maharastra), Britain and China, he emphasized David Harvey quote that the cities that are being envisioned are not for the citizens to live-in but for the rich and builders to invest-in. These assumptions which are there since the industrial revolution, and which keep on tying history to a linear path of urbanization, include- the urban is always better than the rural, agricultural practices are insufficient and in-efficient for a countries growth and meeting food demands of an ever growing population, industrialization is the only way to generate employment. He said that the problematic of all these assumptions is manifested through the current state of crisis in which our cities are today. Affordable housing is a serious crisis worldwide. Cities are supposed to be inclusive, but these cities are displacing thousands and thousands of farming families as they take up their land and livelihood on the promise of a pension which is less than the NREGS wages for a month. The assumption behind the failing existing agricultural practices points to corporate farming as the only solution.

The launch session concluded with the thoughtful remarks of the chair, Nitin Desai. He highlighted that the term sustainability has been a part of various reports and agendas even in the past even in the United Nations it was restricted to languages; it was merely reflected from an environment perspective and not had any context to development. He asserted that sustainability has also to incorporate rural development, to provide equitable distribution of resources for poor. Applauding the initiative of JNU, in collaboration with STEPS, Mr Desai said the issues of sustainability cannot be addressed by the political systems in isolation and JNU can be helpful in bringing in diverse stakeholders ranging from academicians, researchers, practitioners and policy makers, to have a dialogue over different discourses and narratives pertaining to urbanization and environmental sustainability.

Pranav N Desai, Professor,
Centre for Studies in Science Policy, SSS

Report: 153rd Birth Anniversary of Swami Vivekananda & National Youth Day

The 153rd birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda and National Youth Day, were celebrated at Lecture Hall 3, Convention Centre, JNU with fervour and gaiety. Several events were conducted based on Swamiji's ideas and teachings. This programme was organized jointly by the National Service Scheme (NSS-JNU) and the Vivekananda Study Circle (VSC-JNU). It was attended by several distinguished guests from JNU as well as Nivedita Vidyamandir, IIT Delhi and VSC Vasant Kunj. Faculties and students from various schools (School of Life Sciences, School of Computational and Integrative Sciences, School of Biotechnology, School of Physical Sciences, School of Computer &Systems Sciences, Centre for Studies in Science Policy and Special Centre for Sanskrit Studies) gathered to pay homage to the great Indian philosopher and saint. Around 120 participants and 20 volunteers were present during the event. Ms. Poonam Kudaisya from Public Relation Office and Professor Shyamal K. Goswami, Dean of Student also attended the function. The programme began with the chanting of Vedic hymns from the Taittriya Upanishad (Yajurveda) performed by the VSC members, followed by Swamiji Vandana (Murtamaheshwara Strotram) sung in chorus. The function was inaugurated by lighting of the lamp by the esteemed guests. Bhajgovindam (Moha Mudgara), a devotional composition by Adi Shankaracharya, was performed by Ms. Niharika and Ms. Shipra, highlighting the importance of Bhakti. A prayer of Rabindranath Tagore (Rabindra Sangeet), Satyamangala Premomoy Tumi, was performed. It was followedby Surdas & Brahmananda Bhajans sung by Mrs. Sunetra Ghatak. The newsletter entitled "Vivekjagrati" was released by Pravrajika Divyanandaprana, Principal, NiveditaVidyamandir, Ramakrishna Sarada Mission, New Delhi and Prof. Shyamal K. Goswami, Dean of Students, JNU. The newsletter, consisting articles written mainly by students and professors, was edited by Dr. Arpita Mitra and designed by Mrs. Swagata Mukherjee Bhattacharya. The panel discussion themed "Idea of Acceptance" was chaired by Professor Anirban Chakraborti, Professor and Dean, School of Computational and Integrative Sciences, JNU. Professor Birendra Nath Mallik (Professor of Neurobiology, School of Life Sciences, JNU) addressed the audience on the neurological aspects of the process of acceptance focusing on the scientific analyses and differences between acceptance and tolerance. Pravrajika Divyanandaprana Mataji delivered an inspiring lecture based on Swamiji and his various philosophies with several interesting real-life examples and situations. Dr. Anil Kumar Singh (NSS, Coordinator) shared his views and ideas on Swamiji's teachings. Two of the JNU PhD scholars, Ms. Kiran Sharma and Ms. Prachi Singh, also talked about definition of acceptance and its importance in their lives. The panel discussion was followed by several thought-provoking questions from the audience. Several soulful and melodious songs were then sung by famous artist Shri Bishnumurari Chattopadhyay (Champak Sir), famed All-India Radio artist. The programme was concluded with a vote of thanks by Dr. Jaydeep Bhattacharya (Assistant Professor, School of Biotechnology, JNU) and Ms. Prachi Singh (Secretary, VSC), followed by tea. A bookstall was also set up exhibiting several books based on Swami Vivekananda's teachings and philosophies.

Anirban Chakraborti
Professor and Dean
School of Computational & Integrative Sciences


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