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IISc Bangalore remains India's top university, global ranking drops
Even as the Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore remains the country's top university, its global ranking has dropped two notches to 152 in the latest QS World University Rankings 2016-17 released on Tuesday.
 
Founded in 1909 as a result of the joint efforts of Jamsetji Nusserwanji Tata, the Government of India and the Maharaja of Mysore, IISc's global ranking last year was 147 -- also just within the top 150 universities in then world.
 
All the other Indian universities that make the cut within the top 400 on the list are the coveted Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) -- Delhi (185), Bombay (219), Madras (249), Kanpur (302), Kharagpur (313) and Roorkee (399).
 
"This year's rankings imply that levels of investment are determining who progresses and who regresses," said Ben Sowter, head of research at QS.
 
"Institutions in countries that provide high levels of targeted funding, whether from endowments or from the public purse, are rising. On the other hand, some Western European nations making or proposing cuts to public research spending are losing ground to their US and Asian counterparts." 
 
The global rankings are:
 
- 01: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
 
- 02: Stanford University
 
- 03: Harvard University
 
- 04: University of Cambridge
 
- 05: California Institute of Technology
 
- 06: University of Oxford
 
- 07: University College of London
 
- 08: ETH Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology)
 
- 09: Imperial College, London
 
- 10: University of Chicago.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.
  

 

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Governance deficit makes access to healthcare elusive
Access to healthcare is important in developing countries like India. This is because apart from treatment of ailments and diseases and the well-being of citizens, a productive population is the basis of economic growth.
 
Part IV of the Indian Constitution talks about the directive principles of state policy. Article 47 lists the "Duty of the state to raise the level of nutrition and the standard of living and to improve public health". Despite this, successive governments have not been able to cater to the nutrition and standards of living of a large section of citizens. There are four principal reasons for this.
 
First, the overall system seems inadequate to cater to India's vast population. For example, the total number of hospitals, public health centres (PHCs) and the private healthcare sector together seems inadequate to cater to the demand in spite of being big in absolute numbers. This is also true about healthcare professionals -- be they doctors or nurses or other professionals in the sector.
 
Together, the system is simply inadequate to cater to demand. The private healthcare sector has developed as the public healthcare system was overburdened and thus inefficient. Also, experts and policymakers have been contemplating solutions to look at healthcare from the "reduction in demand" perspective. This includes improving hygiene as well as the environment to prevent ailments and diseases. But despite efforts, the present system is inadequate for the demand that India has for healthcare services.
 
Second, the shortfall in healthcare infrastructure and healthcare demand arose due to funding constraints. Funding in the healthcare system is another issue, which results in low healthcare access. The healthcare expenditure as a percentage of GDP by the government is one of the lowest in the world. Here, another issue is the way funds are disbursed to the states and spent. Often the funds are delayed and this results in non-utilisation in critical schemes and programmes of the union and state governments. As a result, a majority of the people bear healthcare costs with high out-of-pocket spending, as insurance penetration is low.
 
Allied to the problem of government funding is the problem of up-skilling professionals and human resources in the sector, especially rural areas, as a major portion of funds are not utilised because there is a lack of skilled healthcare professionals.
 
Third, there seems to be the issue of governance deficit and regulatory capture. A lot of the problems arose because of too many laws and regulations impeding the normal development of the sector. For instance, for each segment of producers/institutions and care providers like doctors, equipment manufacturers, drugs and medicine producers and hospitals there are a host of laws and regulations which have traditionally inhibited access.
 
Thus, a large number of healthcare providers are today not formally recognised by the states. It is important to see what can be done to help them provide access which is both greater in number and more effective. The governance deficit arises with inefficiency and corruption being rife in both the public and the private sector.
 
Fourth is the issue of awareness and monitoring in the context of diseases as well as in terms of what needs to be done to eradicate them. A classic case in point in this regard is polio, which has been eradicated from the country. This was a result of awareness campaigns as well as active participation from people and all other stakeholders. Monitoring was also a regular feature of the effort to eradicate polio. But despite this, a large number of diseases still exist and are proliferating in India.
 
The problem is acute in India as it is one of the very few countries where both communicable and lifestyle diseases exist in such large numbers. The changing disease patterns also contribute to the challenge of healthcare access. The focus from the industry should be on innovating to find drugs that are able to cure most diseases prevalent in India.
 
Over the next few decades, all the stakeholders should work in a collaborative spirit to enable healthcare access to all people. Such an effort would lead to outcomes that would be in line with Article 47 of the directive principles of state policy.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.
  

 

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Will Piracy through Torrents Reduce?
In July, the US authorities arrested Artem Vaulin, the alleged boss of world’s biggest online piracy site, Kickass Torrents, which sent shockwaves among file-sharers. Vaulin is facing criminal charges, with the US accusing him of distributing illegally copied films, music and other content worth over $1 billion. While the action resulted in shutting down of several sites related with Kickass, more famously known as KAT among users, it lasted only for few days. According to media reports, about a dozen of the domains related with KAT are still active; but these do not contain useful torrents (read latest). Torrent users can still use The Pirate Bay and Extratorrents, in addition to several mirror sites of KAT, to download files from the Internet. However, beware; this activity is illegal in several countries, including India. Also, there is always a danger of downloading malware along with the file that may have disastrous consequences for you and your PC or laptop.
 
What exactly is a torrent? Or how does it work? As you may be aware, there are limitations like bandwidth that prevent us from downloading a file from a single location from the Internet. But the same file can be downloaded in parts from several locations, thus increasing download speed as well as reducing the load on the single file location on the server. For example, collecting Rs10,000 from one individual would be difficult task, but if you request 10 people for Rs1,000 each, you may find it easy to garner the required amount. 
 
This same principle is used in torrent file-sharing. The only difference is that there are protocols for sharing parts of the file from different locations and then making it into a single file for the end-users. For this, there are servers, like Torrentz, that track each peer (a user who is downloading or has downloaded the file). A torrent file does not contain the content to be distributed; it only contains information about those files, such as their names, sizes, folder structure, and cryptographic hash values for verifying file integrity. Depending on the context, a torrent may be the torrent file or the referenced content.
 
A torrent program, like BitTorrent or uTorrent, connects with this server and with peers after obtaining a list from the server. Based on the popularity of the file (for example, the latest movie), there may be thousands of peers (seeders—who will share parts of the file). The users, or downloaders, are called as leechers. When there are more seeders, you can download the file speedily. 
 
The splitting of files across several locations is the main reason why law enforcement agencies are finding it difficult to completely shut these file-sharing services. In 2014, The Pirate Bay was taken off for a while. It allowed piracy websites, search engines and torrent sites to grow many times. Shutting Kickass may also have a similar impact. 
 
So what is the solution? Two things need to work simultaneously so that we can reduce the instances of piracy and illegal sharing of software, movies and music. One is cost. The cost of authorised files for downloading needs to be reasonable. In fact, cost is the main factor for people to go for pirated versions of software and entertainment content. For entertainment content, over-the-top (OTT) and video-on-demand (VOD) players are trying to make an inroad, using the cost factor effectively. 
 
The second point is bandwidth speed. Despite huge claims by the service-providers and government, the common user is not at all happy with the Internet speed she receives. So, unless there is substantial improvement in Internet speed, downloading or viewing content online will not go up. This will continue to help pirates and torrent sites.

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