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2013 Report

Trivandrum, 23 August 2013.

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The South Asia Satellite of the Global Humanitarian Technology Conference (GHTC-SAS) was formally inaugurated at Technopark here today by Mr. PH Kurian IAS, Principal Secretary (IT), Government of Kerala, in the presence of over 150 delegates and participants from 4 countries.

GHTC is a global conference series of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) having the objective of bringing together multiple stakeholders ranging from engineers & technologists, development professionals, NGOs, and social activists, interested in developing sustainable solutions for problems confronting humanity, ranging from energy, agriculture, climate change, disaster management, livelihoods and health. GHTC-SAS is the first of its kind focussing South Asia.

South Asia, home to one-sixth of the world population and having a significant number of humanitarian challenges is of specific relevance to GHTC, and Kerala Section was mandated with the first-ever South Asia Satellite conference, IEEE Global Humanitarian Technology Conference – South Asia Satellite 2013 (IEEE GHTC SAS 2013), being organized at Technopark, Trivandrum on 23rd and 24th August 2013.

Mr. PH Kurian, inaugurating the GHTC-SAS, said that, technologies should serve the interests of people. Historically, India has been extremely rich in terms of innovation, but we have lost our leadership position. It is important to reclaim the role of innovation in the Indian economy. Kerala has proved successful in innovation through TBIC and similar initiatives. The Government of Kerala has created enabling frameworks to promote innovation that will doubtless serve the interests of the state in future. He said that innovation was the key to the future development of the State.

Mr. Sasi PM, Associate Director, CDAC-Trivandrum welcomed the participants at the inaugural. Prof. VK Damodaran gave an overview of the Conference, while Mr. R. Srinivas, Chair, IEEE Kerala Section presided over the meeting. Ms. Annie George offered felicitations, while Mr. Unni Sankar proposed a Vote of Thanks.

Prof. Kannan Moudgalya of IIT Bombay, who delivered the keynote address at the inaugural session, explained the concept of spoken tutorials, an electronic educational technology that was becoming very popular amongst students and the academic community. He said that Aakash, a low-cost tablet device introduced by the Government of India, coupled with Spoken Tutorials, are together “humane weapons of mass instruction” that can radically transform the educational scenario in the country.

The Community Engagement Workshop (CEW), held earlier in the day, saw participation from over 95 delegates from south India.  Mr. Stan Thekaekkara, social activist who had been working with tribals in the Western Ghats for over 30 years, delivered the keynote address at the CEW. He pointed out that technology, given its increasing role in the lives of communities, must be controlled by communities themselves, and young engineers should reflect on their values and contributions to society.

The CEW had presentations from several dignitaries including Dr. MP Parameswaran (KSSP), Dr. Usha Menon (NISTDS, Delhi), Ms Annie George (BEDROC, Nagapattinam), Prof. VK Damodaran, Mr. Saurabh Sinha (IEEE, South Africa), Ms. Lida Jacob, Mr. V.Vivekanandan, Mr. NT Nair and Mr. Satish Babu.

The Conference also had a workshop on Social Entrepreneurship, Unconvention|L, attended by over 60 delegates. The event, which was an interactive participatory brainstorming process, gave rise to numerous ideas for interventions in social entrepreneurship, which are expected to to be taken up to be connected to a local nurturing ecosystem in social entrepreneurship.

On day two of the Conference on 24 August 2013, around 81 papers being presented on different innovations, on five tracks of contemporary relevance: Distributed renewable energy generation and microgrids;  Municipal solid waste management;  Inclusive technologies for the differently-abled;  Agriculture, water, disaster management, health and education; and Emerging Technologies for Humanitarian Applications.

The GHTC-SAS Conference was supported by several agencies including IT Dept of Govt of Kerala, Kerala State IT Mission, Technopark, KSEB, KSCSTE, ICFOSS, EMC and others. Some of the sponsors from the private sector include Cisco, Juniper, UTL, 6D technologies, Indiavideo and Suntec.

GHTC-SAS, the first conference of its kind outside the US, gave a platform for different stakeholders interested in the technology-society interface to engage with the challenges of the 21st the century.

IEEE is the world’s largest fraternity of electrical and electronics engineers, with over 400,000 members spread over 160 countries. Besides encouraging research and publication, IEEE also is the world’s largest creator and maintainer of standards in emerging areas such as computing, Wifi and mobile devices.

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