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SMART INDIA HACKATHON – Where Ideas run in marathon

Smart India Hackathon is a not just a tech-fest, it’s a carnival of ideas and innovations. It’s the world’s biggest open innovation model which opens the door to technology students to come up with problems as well as their solutions, which, they as students of technology face on a daily basis. This helps in creating a mindset of problem-solving.

Smart India Hackathon-2019 is a sequel and comes as a third edition to the Smart India Hackathon 2017 and 2018. The basic idea of SIH2019 is to unleash the creative energy of our young brigade and encourage them to think out of the box.  It includes participants from 6000+ institutions and more than 50 lakh students are bound to join the fest.

The USP of SIH2019 is to create world-class solutions to the problems infesting the private sector organizations, NGOs and union ministries. This fest would allow best minds to come up with cutting-edge solutions. SIH2019 just like its prequel consists of 2 sub-editions –Software Editions (a 36-hour software product development competition) and Hardware edition (a 5-day long hardware product development contest). The last date for submission of ideas is January 20th 2019.

One can download the SIH app from Google Play and register for the competition. Only a team leader is allowed to register for his team. All the members of a team need to be from the same college. The team can, however, be formed between different departments or faculties of the same college. The team must comprise of 6 members including the team leader. Participation by one female member is mandatory.  The team members need to well versed with programming skills. Also, colleges must issue authority letter in college letterhead for each team.  Teams should come up with innovative names and should not contain the name of the institute.

An evaluation would be on the basis of novelty, clarity, feasibility, sustainability, innovation, and user experience of ideas.  The best ideas will be awarded on the basis of complexity and their feasibility. On the basis of complexity of problems, prize money varies between a cash reward of INR 50000, INR 75000, and INR 100000.

Give wings to your innovations at ‘Smart India Hackathon -2019’….A marathon of ideas.

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Centre For Languages and Communication: Elocution at Its Best

Hello!Guten Tag, Bonjour, Ni Hao, Salam, Namaste, Khurumjari. Centre for Languages and Communication (CLC), SGT University, Gurugram was set up exclusively to upscale the communication skills, people skills and overall personality development, across all programs, for all the students, keeping in mind the trending applicability requirements in the corporate set-ups. CLC has a team of vibrant and energetic faculty members who conduct communication skills, aptitude building, foreign language, and personality development sessions in 14 faculties

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy goes the saying…

Holistic development of a student is at the core of all that an educational facility does. To add another dimension of humanity, creativity and fruitful engagement beyond the prescribed courses, CLC has inaugurated EngWings- The Literary Club on 7th February 2018. Brewing discussions, reading books, watching documentaries, cultural assimilation with the world at large and much more is the focal point of this initiative. Since the inception of EngWings- The Literary Club, the following events were conducted for the students and by the students with assistance from CLC Team. Recently, EngWings under the aegis of CLC inaugurated Wall of Art on November 16, 2018. One of our talented Engineering students, Manish prepared sketches which covered variety of themes like love, nature, freedom, women empowerment.

CLC Team engages students with various activities focusing on Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing. Each student undergoes a journey starting with Listening and Speaking activities such as impromptu, narration, presentation, vocabulary building, quizzes, role play, mock interview, mock panel discussion, mock group discussion, to Reading and Writing activities such as paragraph writing, précis writing, essay writing, comprehension, case studies, reports, projects, application, various types of letters. The English language is emphasized and encouraged as the preferred mode of communication across the university. Language lab with Wordsworth software has been set up in the Engineering block to develop conversational skills in the English language. Students are made aware of various accents from across the world and made to practice listening and spoken skills. Digitally equipped language studio acts as a perfect platform for language and soft skills related activities.

The English language figures very prominently on the world map. Knowledge, communication skills and positive attitude are the three vectors of employability. For all the organizations, regardless of their size, effective communication is the way to success. In today’s times, we are all living in a global village. Securing a job and able to adapt to the work environment is a major step and managing this transition requires preparation beyond the curriculum prescribes. Tech-savvy students are engaged through multiple tools and mediums. CLC Team tries to bridge this gap of need and supply for the young upcoming professionals. For the globe-trotting youth and soon to be professionals, German and French languages have also been offered through Choice Based Credit System since January 2018. Being multi-lingual is undeniably an asset for exploiting career opportunities.

Apart for regular classes, CLC Team conducts regular Workshops for Faculty and students.CLC conducts regular Workshops for Faculty and students. CLC Team members assist IQAC to facilitate Capacity Building Workshops for skills enhancement of the faculty of SGT University.

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Physics: Why and how to chosse it as a career option?

Physics is the most important branch of science which concerns with the study of matter, its motion, and description of universal laws related to space, time, and energy. Physics provide us knowledge of nature behaviour with experiment validation and physicists are the ones who examine the different natural laws that govern our universe and apply these laws to explain the behaviour of many more complex systems. Physics find relationships between the fundamental measured quantities such as Newton’s Laws, conservation of energy, special relativity. Physics also search for the understanding of atomic and subatomic particles break down and assemble and how these particles react to collisions with one another and to electromagnetic radiation.

Despite being an academically advanced and technically demanding postgraduate subject area, M.Sc. Physics lends itself to a range of more vocational professions. Employers in all areas will recognize the value of a challenging postgraduate degree in the subject such as Physics. Various industrial and commercial companies include roles that draw on advanced physical science skills. One can work on designing new computer equipment, consumer technology, military hardware, nuclear fission and fusion devices and the development of new material to make devices for the welfare of society. In addition, academic career paths are also available. A Masters in Physics can offer a route into further postgraduate research in these subject areas, with the option to continue on to a PhD and perhaps a role within a university.

M Sc (Physics) is one of the postgraduate courses offered by the Faculty of Physical Sciences. Students who have passed B Sc Non-Medical with Physics, Chemistry and Maths as major subjects securing minimum 50 % marks are eligible to take admission in the M Sc (Physics) course. This is a two-year course divided into four semesters. The Master program in Physics at SGT University offers participants to consolidate their knowledge in advanced theoretical and experimental physics with specialization in Electronics, Condensed matter physics and Nuclear physics. In addition, students can select from a variety of elective courses in physics, or from course programs of other faculties as per UGC guidelines.

In addition to conventional teaching methodology, new and more practical techniques are used in the classroom for effective teaching and learning process. For example student, interactive sessions, teacher seminars, problem-based learning, etc are part of the teaching and learning process. Some guest lectures and industrial/lab visits are also organized by the department so that student can learn what is going on in the outside world. By these visits and guest lecturers, students also get a chance to listen to, discuss and meet some eminent scientists or personalities.

What will I learn in 2 years?

The diverse qualifications of the faculty members and the choice based credit system (CBCS) ensure expertise in all aspect of Physics as well as in various interdisciplinary areas. CBCS provides flexibility in the course with respect to syllabus, internship etc which is relevant to the employability and higher education of the students. The objectives of the program are;

  1. Understanding Basic Principles of Physics: Apply theoretical knowledge of principles and concepts of Physics to understand the underlying physics in respective specializations.
  2. Use of mathematical techniques: Identify, formulate and analyze complex problems using mathematical techniques and interpret mathematical models.
  • Execution of experiments: Introduce advanced ideas and techniques that are applicable in respective fields including the planning and execution of experiments, the analysis and interpretation of experimental results.
  1. Computational Skills: Apply computational and numerical techniques and use advanced software MATLAB
  2. Communication Skills: Develop communication skills, both written and verbal for specialized and non-specialized audiences.
  3. Environment and sustainability: Understand the significance of sustainable development and find solutions which have environment-societal contexts.
  • Ethics: Apply ethical principles during performing their responsibilities.

During their final semester Master thesis, students specialize in a particular field by participating in a cutting-edge research project at the research centre, SGT University or one of the associated research centres. Successful students will have understanding of fundamentals and advancements in nuclear physics, electronics & condensed matter physics and their applications in respective fields such as nuclear reactors, accelerators, medicine, microprocessors, electronic devices, microwave and optical fiber communications, characterization of materials, processing of advanced materials, synthesis of different structured materials along with investigation of physical and electronic properties, photonics, optical properties, magnetic properties, engineering application and uniquely pertinent measurement or analytical techniques. They are also qualified for independent research in physics and will be prepared for a scientific career in research, academia, or industry. Furthermore, they are on the next step towards a PhD study, which generally is a prerequisite for leading positions in economy or industry, or for a later academic career.

Career Options

With a comprehensive knowledge & understanding of concepts in Physics, cognitive skills, practical skills and transferable skills acquired during the program, students with M.Sc. Physics degree can find ample career openings in private as well as in the Government sector. One can look for jobs in research labs such as National Physical Laboratory, Physical Research Laboratory, Solid State Physics Laboratory etc., medical labs, atomic and space organization, meteorology departments, academic institutions & universities, software companies such as Wipro, Infosys, CTS, Tata consultancy services (TCS) etc, technical field, automobile industry and various government-owned Scientific Research and Development Organizations such as Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), Defense Research Development Organization (DRDO), Inter Universities Accelerator  Centre  (IUAC), Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL), National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC), Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) etc. and can work as Research Associate,  Research Scientist, Consulting Physicist, Lecturer/professor, Medical physicist, Radiation physicist, Radiologist etc.. Other than these options a Physics graduate has the option even to step ahead for civil services for which one is supposed to have greater probability to clear civil service exams conducted by UPSC. According to the projection made by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), during 2012-2022, jobs for physicists would go up by 10%.

Department of Physics,

Faculty of Physical Sciences,

SGT University, Gurugram-122505

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Why Choose Psychology program after 12th?

Why Choose Psychology program after 12th?

The discipline of Psychology has become one of the most popular subjects of choice for both Science and Arts students in school and for Graduate and higher studies. Psychology as a subject of study not only provides the student with better self-awareness but it also equips one with a psychological mindedness so as to better understand others’ behaviour in a variety of contexts and situations. The subject not only has a rich history but is witnessing unprecedented growth in a huge variety of life areas ranging from mental health and illness to positive psychology based strength focused interventions.  In contemporary life, professional psychologists work in almost every sphere of daily life – contribute to designing better pre-schools, curriculum and pedagogies; teach industry the best ways to select and motivate employees; provide crucial insight into the background of social problems such as suicide, crime and poverty; help to mentally strengthen and train athletes; help the police and defence agencies to investigate crime; help organizations and the corporate world to reduce stress in the workplace and help marketing teams to develop more effective consumer. In addition, with massive developments in Cognitive Neuro-psychology, artificial and machine intelligence, Psychology has already taken a huge step towards foreseeing the future of mankind and preparedness for what life will bring, thereby carrying immense potential and empowerment for its students and practitioners.

What will you learn?

The BA (Hons) Psychology program offered by the Faculty of Behavioural Sciences is designed to provide a basic and foundational understanding of human mind and behaviour through theoretical study, research mindedness, interactive and innovative pedagogy as well as practical study in a range of areas. Our degree is informed continually by latest developments and research in the field and is transacted by staff who are also practitioners in various areas of Psychology such as Clinical, Counseling, and Organizational, Social, Special Education, Speech and Language Pathology.

Goals:

The primary goal of the course is to introduce students with the basic knowledge of psychology in pure and applied areas and promoting skilled based education. This course intends to facilitate self-discovery in the students and ensure their effective role in the emerging needs and challenges of society.

Objectives:

  • To provide an integrated, academic and practical exposure to the students.
  • To orient students to the various core and applied areas of Psychology
  • To make students understand basic concepts of psychology with application in society, industry, organizations and community.
  • To develop a sensitivity for psychological dimensions for various issues during the lifespan of an individual.
  • To develop self-understanding as well as that of other people and relationships.
  • To provide a forum for learning where students can develop, deepen and expand their theoretical knowledge of Psychology.
  • To offer the opportunity for progression to the postgraduate level within the many fields of psychology and related specialisms.

Duration:

3 years (6 Semesters) Regular Mode

Eligibility:

10+2 with minimum 50% marks in aggregate of the best 5 papers.

Teaching Strategies:

The program intends to integrate different pedagogies including student interactive sessions, focused/spot group discussion, problem/project-based learning, students’ and teachers’ seminar etc. exposure with professionals, field training and making research reports. A good amount of practical input has been envisaged for the course along with each paper which would help the student to understand the theoretical aspects with reality-based outcomes. Students shall have training with the tools and techniques in the laboratory and field settings.

  1. A. Psychology (Hons.) is a six semester (3 years) program with Choice Based Credit System (CBCE). The students undertake practical work in various service centres and laboratory. The theory teaching will be classroom based knowledge acquisition of the subject matter, while practical exposure shall include laboratory and community settings.

CORE COURSES

(THEORY)

C-PSY-01: Foundations of Human Behaviour

C-PSY-02: Schools of Psychology

C-PSY-03: Experiments in Psychology

C-PSY-04: Physiological Psychology

C-PSY-05: Cognitive Psychology

C-PSY-06: Psychological Testing

C-PSY-07: Social Psychology

C-PSY-08: Abnormal Psychology

C-PSY-09: Basics of Personality

C-PSY-10: Measurement in Psychology

C-PSY-11: Research Methods

C-PSY-12: Statistics in Psychology

C-PSY-13: Positive Psychology

C-PSY-14: Community Psychology

C-PSY-15: Applied Social Psychology

C-PSY-16: Guidance and Counseling

CORE COURSES

(PRACTICUM)

C-PSY-P-01: Foundations of Human Behaviour

C-PSY-P-02: Schools of Psychology

C-PSY-P-03: Experiments in Psychology

C-PSY-P-04: Physiological Psychology

C-PSY-P-05: Cognitive Psychology

C-PSY-P-06: Psychological Testing

C-PSY-P-07: Social Psychology

C-PSY-P-08: Abnormal Psychology

C-PSY-P-09: Basics of Personality

C-PSY-P-10: Measurement in Psychology

C-PSY-P-11: Research Methods

C-PSY-P-12: Statistics in Psychology

C-PSY-P-13: Positive Psychology

C-PSY-P-14: Community Psychology

C-PSY-P-15: Applied Social Psychology

C-PSY-P-16: Guidance and Counseling

CAREER OPTIONS:

According to Dr Patrick Rosenkrantz (2018), “Psychology is a very versatile degree that trains students in a range of skills and domains that are relevant to many employers. Psychology graduated are able to think critically and scientifically, use computers and software packages, analyze statistics, write analytical reports, discuss and reason complex arguments, solve problems at many levels, work in teams, show initiative and leadership and so on. The capability to adaptively use psychology for personal social, professional gain is called psychological literacy and the main aim of much undergraduate psychology programmes is to develop graduates who can use psychology in these different areas of life”.

Since Psychology is a sensitive discipline which has the potential to facilitate changes in ones and others lives, it is a highly professional degree and it is desirable that Psychology graduates undergo post-graduate studies before starting their professional careers as well as obtain advanced research or academic qualifications so as to excel in their chosen area.

The students upon completion of their degree can opt for any of the following and more career options:

  • Psychology is a popular subject for competitive exams such as Civil services.
  • Psychologists are increasingly sought after in areas related to Cognitive psychology such as Artificial Intelligence and Machine learning, which will be potent areas of future societies.
  • The corporate world as life coaches, stress management experts and human resources development and training.
  • Opportunities for further study and research in Psychology and its various branches.
  • Positive Psychology and strengths-based interventions.
  • As counsellors with a variety of NGOs and private agencies related to mental health and well-being, schools, guidance centres, old age homes, trauma rehabilitation centres, etc.
  • In colleges and Universities as research staff and after Masters as lecturers.
  • A boom in psychometric testing has also reached financial institutions for assessment of potential customers.
  • As trainers and coaches in sports facilities, wellness centres and Yoga centres.
  • Consultation services for lifestyle diseases and health psychology related interventions.

BA (HONS.) PROGRAM IN PSYCHOLOGY
FACULTY OF BEHAVIOURAL SCIENCES, SGT UNIVERSITY, GURUGRAM

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Lumbar Spinal Stenosis- What More You Need to Know!

Lumbar Spinal Stenosis- What More You Need to Know!

If you experience back pain, you’re not alone. In India, nearly 60% of the people have significant back pain at some time or the other in their lives.  Back pain is a relatively common condition and a major health and socioeconomic problem. Lumbar Spinal Stenosis (LSS) is recognized in about 20% of patients of LBP while it is attributed to Lumbar Disk Herniation (LDH) in 80% of cases. LSS is a medical term in which the spinal canal becomes narrowed, which places pressure on the spinal cord and causes symptoms like back pain, numbness, tingling, and muscle weakness. This condition can occur anywhere in the spine but is most common in the lower back or lumbar region. Anatomically LSS is classified as central and lateral stenosis and on the basis of etiology, it is of two types: Primary stenosis and secondary stenosis. The risk factors associated with LBP includes age, sex, occupation, lifestyle, socio-economicstatus, smoking habit. LSS can impact a person’s quality of life, lead to activity and participatory restrictions and affect psychosocial wellbeing andis a significant cause of disability among ageing population. The cause of spinal canal narrowing is multifactorial, it can be degenerative changes of the spine which typically involved facet joint hypertrophy, ligamentumflavum thickening and disc bulging and protrusion, alone or in combination. The signs and symptoms of LSS include pain, paresthesias, numbness, and weakness in the back and legs. Neurogenic claudication (NC) is one of the hallmarks of LSS which is described as the classic clinical presentation of progressive onset of radicular pain, paresthesias, numbness, and eventually in some cases weakness, initiated or worsened by walking. The diagnosis of lumbar canal stenosis is based on the clinical history and findings on physical examination and imaging is often necessary to determine the exact level of stenosis and the severity of the stenosis. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and Computed Tomography (CT) scan is widely used diagnostic tools which confirm the presence of spinal stenosis.

Physical therapy is an effective way to relieve pain and improve range of motion, flexibility, and muscle strength. Being active is particularly important for patients with spinal stenosis as these patients often try to avoid physical activity because of their pain. Building up muscle strength helps to manage pain over time. Physical therapy is accepted conservative treatment for spinal disorders, generally includes flexion exercise, pain relieving modalities and orthosis. There is an integrated exercise protocol which is effective in managing Lumbar spinal stenosis. A comprehensive rehabilitation program of manual therapy, stretching, and strengthening exercises for the lumbar spine and hip region have also been advocated in the physiotherapeutic management of LSS. If conservative treatment or therapeutic modalities options are not enough to manage the symptoms and condition become worst which is affecting the quality of life, surgery is an effective treatment option. The goal of spinal stenosis surgery is to eliminate the pressure on the spinal cord. The most common surgical procedure involves a laminectomy, laminotomy, or laminoplasty to create more space within the spinal canal.

Dr Saurabh Kumar
Assistant Professor
Faculty of Physiotherapy
SGT University, Gurugram

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Opportunities in Agriculture

Why B.Sc. Agriculture?

Approximately 65 percent of the population is dependent on agriculture in India for their livelihood.  India’s varying climatic condition highly supports the diversification of crops and their varietal development. The modern agriculture sector proves helpful in generating human resource to support other sectors within imparting knowledge, linking farmers with researchers and also extending extension services in the overall development of the national economy.

As saturation comes in the most sought for courses like engineering and medical fields, B.Sc. in agriculture offers a silver lining for the admission seekers. Careers in agriculture safeguard the idea of standing away from the general crowd. The course curricula of B.Sc.(Hons.)Agriculture program emphasizes all core areas of agriculture embedded with agriculture heritage of India. This program is the first step in the ladder towards modern agriculture by adopting improved technologies and practices including the most talked off organic farming. The study of modern agriculture leads to better farm yields along with much needed environmental protection and sustainable growth. Keeping in pace with recent advances in different areas of agriculture, the objectives of B.Sc. (Hons.) Agriculture is to nurture young scholars, tap their potentials and groom them to become valuable contributors to the much needed second Green Revolution.

Through passion and perseverance, students can explore how things work and how impossibilities can be turned into realities by studying agriculture. The vast curriculum of B.Sc. Agriculture is highly enriched with various courses like agronomy, soil science, entomology, horticulture, plant physiology, agricultural engineering, agricultural economics, applications of biotechnology, post-harvest management, etc. The syllabi recommended by the ICAR provide detailed knowledge of various streams under agriculture & allied fields and allows the student to choose his/her area of interest for establishing their career. During the four years, they are exposed to different teaching methodologies including refining their communication and expression skills.

What is learnt in 4-year degree of B.Sc. Agriculture?

The agriculture course provides theoretical as well as practical knowledge of the progressive aspects of modern agriculture along with addressing sustainability, which is a must in the current fragile ecosystem.

Besides building expertise through well planned on-field implementation and testing of basic concepts in better production with higher yields resistant to various diseases and value addition of food and flora it also prepares the students in marketing skills of agriculture products, which is need of the hour in the plethora of unemployment.

The learning outcome of various components is:

  • RAWE (Rural Agricultural Work Experience): Under this programme, the students are exposed to real life rural settings with the aim to develop a sense of awareness so that the students can understand the day to day problems of farmers and rural folks. Budding graduates acquire relevant practical experience required for efficient working in agricultural and allied fields wherein they can gauge the difference between what is taught and what is applicable in the field.
  • Experimental Learning–   Under this component, the students undergo training in different organizations and NGOs and attend Industry Interaction Programs, Seminars and Workshops etc. These events offer the students an opportunity to observe and assimilate the structure, the organizational traits and the business environment of the industry and develop communication skills, analytical abilities and gain awareness regarding the prerequisites of job requirements in all sectors.
  • Educational Visits – It includes regular visits to different KVKs (Krishi Vigyan Kendra), major agricultural institutes and research centres to understand the basic framework of research and gaining practical knowledge.
  • Agri-business: Entrepreneurial ventures in agriculture are the utmost need of the hour to support the farming industry as well as the economy by developing agri-entrepreneurial skills in students.

Besides above mentioned components, education in agriculture unlocks the mysteries and struggles to solve problems related to abiotic and biotic stress in crops which result into crop loss and lower productivity  by combining the expertise with help of major components like agronomy, horticulture,  weed sciences, plant pathology, plant breeding, soil science, genetic engineering, agricultural entomology, agricultural economics, etc. in order to protect the crops ensuring food security and sustainable agriculture.

Therefore, the course provides crucial information about the various projects developed after independence and their major role in improving the farming lot and economy of our country.  The student also receives knowledge of social forestry tree species used in agriculture, their role and importance in sustaining food chain, food web and biodiversity.

The course inculcates an overall understanding and bearing importance of the impact of globalization and diversity in modern agriculture organizations and prepares the students in critical thinking, analysis and problem-solving. It develops an understanding of current events and present issues in agriculture and their bearing in future agriculture. Students precisely learn to examine the relationships between inputs and outputs to boost profitability. They will understand the employer’s characteristics and decision-making, which in turn will enhance the success of any agricultural enterprise.

Career opportunities after completion of Bachelor of Agriculture

With the application of advanced agricultural technologies in the modern world, there’s a lot of scope in bringing out new horizons towards increasing standards of agriculture.

Therefore, for agriculture graduates, major domains within the ambit of the agricultural sector include:

  • Higher education and research fields in public and private institutions.
  • The State Department of Agriculture and Horticulture as Agricultural Development Officers (ADOs) and Horticulture Development Officers (HDOs), respectively.
  • In public and private sector banks as Rural Development Officers (RDOs).
  • Soil Conservation and Soil Testing Division, Department of Agriculture as Trainee Officers
  • Various fertilizer organizations as Technical Personnel
  • The graduates can also find various options in pesticides and seed companies, starting from Management Trainee to Marketing Officer in Marketing Division; Research Officers in Research & Development Division, etc.
  • They can also find employability as Technical Personnel in various food and seed processing industries.
  • In sugar industries in various capacities.
  • Can adopt agri business as a profession.
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Horticulture- A Nutritive Future

The horticulture sector encompasses a wide range of crop cultivation such as fruits, vegetables, ornamentals, flowers, spices, plantations, medicinal and aromatic plants.  India, with its wide variability of climate and soil, is highly favourable for growing a large variety of horticultural crops. It is the fastest growing sector within agriculture.  After the Green Revolution in mid-sixties, it became clear that horticulture is the best option to increase agriculture growth rate. The horticultural production has surpassed the production statistics of field crops. On the global map, India is one of the leading exporters of fruits & vegetables with an export of approximate INR 38.56 billion, comprising of INR 26.35 billion worth of fruits & INR 12.21 billion of vegetables. The nation is the largest producer of okra amongst vegetables & ranks second in production of potatoes (10%), onions, cauliflowers, brinjal, cabbages, etc. It is also the largest producer & consumer of cashew nuts and is the third largest producer of coconut and leads 90 coconut-producing countries of the world.

The most significant development that happened in the last decade is that horticulture has moved from rural confines to commercial production and this changing scenario has encouraged private sector investment in production system management. The recent years have seen technological infusions like micro-irrigation, precision farming, greenhouse cultivation and improved post-harvest management impacting the development.

Many national and international organizations are playing important role in promoting the latest technologies and are researching on emerging problems of farmers.

In this view, at SGT University we prepare our students to get familiarize about these problems and their effective solutions. Recently, the students attended an International Conference on Horticulture & Horti Expo 2018 at IARI Mela ground, New Delhi from 25 to 27 October 2018 organized by Indian Council of Food and Agriculture (ICFA). This is one of the ways to understand the present scenario in horticulture which helps to develop problem-solving skills. Horticulture is the future of agriculture in the global market. Lots of opportunities are waiting for budding agriculturists in this sector.

-Dr. Vinita Rajput
Assistant Professor- Horticulture

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In The Battle To Control Drug Costs, Old Patent Laws Get New Life

In the drug pricing battle, progressive lawmakers such as Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and patients’ rights activists rarely find themselves in step with the health industry’s big players.

But in a twist, these usually at-odds actors are championing similar tactics to tame prescription drug prices.

The strategies involve repurposing two obscure and rarely deployed workarounds in patent law that, in different ways, empower the federal government to take back patents and license them to other companies. The first is known as “march-in rights.” The second is generally referred to as Section 1498 because of its location in the U.S. Code.

Sanders has in recent years pointed to these steps as useful tools in the drug-pricing debate.

As an indicator of how high the stakes have become, these ideas also are finding traction among some major health industry players — most notably, two large trade groups that represent health plans and the “middlemen” companies that negotiate drug coverage.

“It used to be the case that everyone played nicely with one another, and now as prices have gone up, the knives have come out,” said Jacob Sherkow, a law professor at New York University who focuses on intellectual property and the pharmaceutical industry.

The push for march-in rights gained momentum this past summer, when activists launched a campaign challenging the patent for Truvada, the HIV treatment by Gilead Sciences that has been shown to reduce the risks of contracting HIV when taken daily as a preventive.

Initially, patient advocates focused mainly on shaming insurance companies into providing better coverage of that pill, also known as pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, because it is taken before someone is exposed to the virus. But they soon found themselves targeting a frustration that insurance happened to share: the drug’s list price.

James Krellenstein, co-founder of the PrEP4All Collaboration, an advocacy group, was part of that campaign. Health plans had put barriers in place to limit access to the drug, he said. But they, too, were worried about Truvada’s escalating price.

“You can’t scale up to a level you need to unless we deal with the pricing problem,” he said.

Now, as insurers signal they might adopt an approach similar to that of the campaign, he voiced skepticism. On the one hand, the support could benefit their cause. At the same time, “they have their interests, and that’s not the interests of public health,” Krellenstein said.

Still, in Washington, the influence of groups like America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), which is the largest trade association for health insurers, and the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association (PCMA), which represents those middlemen companies known as pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), could add political credibility to these long-shot ideas.

President Donald Trump has said curbing prescription drug costs is a high priority. But, as congressional action seems increasingly unlikely, these two approaches offer another possible path forward.

They are “already part of a law that is intact. … An option the administration can take now,” said Walid Gellad, director of the Center for Pharmaceutical Policy and Prescribing at the University of Pittsburgh.

AHIP says the Department of Health and Human Services should lean on a federal statute that lets the government take over drug patents and grant them to other manufacturers, as long as it adequately compensates the original patent holder.

Meanwhile, PCMA is pressing the administration to use the “march-in rights” championed by HIV activists. Provided under the 1980 Bayh-Dole Act, they empower the government to rescind a drug’s patent and let other companies develop versions of it. This applies only if government funding helped develop a drug, and it can be invoked only in specific circumstances, including a threat to public health or safety.

“Everybody is feeling the heat, and I think that is the reason you’re seeing this interest in using the tools that exist,” said Amy Kapczynski, professor at Yale Law School who has written extensively about drug patents.

But opposition is strong among drugmakers.

“Policies should spur competition and new innovations to meet patient needs, not disincentivize them such as the use of 1498 and march-in could do,” said Priscilla VanDerVeer, a spokeswoman for the Pharmaceutical Researchers and Manufacturers of America, or PhRMA, a trade and lobbying group.

Gilead, which manufactures Truvada, has a similar stance.

“We believe that there is no rationale or precedent for the government to exercise march-in or other [intellectual property] rights related to Truvada for PrEP,” said Ryan McKeel, a spokesman for Gilead. The company’s other efforts to make the drug “available for health and safety needs,” he added, “clearly satisfy” the company’s legal requirements.

And the potential for march-in authority is still theoretical. It has never been used, despite at least five petitions to the National Institutes of Health, three of which cited high drug prices.

Section 1498 was used to negotiate lower drug prices in the 1960s and ’70s, but has since faded. In 2001, during the nation’s anthrax scare, the Department of Health and Human Services threatened to invoke it to procure more of the antibiotic used to treat the deadly bacterial disease, according to contemporaneous reports. Last year, Louisiana’s health secretary unsuccessfully tried to use it to ease the toll pricey hepatitis C medications exerted on the state’s Medicaid program.

NIH Director Francis Collins remains skeptical, repeatedly saying that a drug’s price doesn’t constitute a health or safety concern within the agency’s jurisdiction.

HHS Secretary Alex Azar, speaking at a June Senate hearing, described march-in, also known as “compulsory licensing,” as a “socialist” approach.

But health pans and other payers, increasingly squeezed by fast-climbing prices, are undeterred — touting this kind of intervention as a “market-based solution.”

“The trends of drug prices in this country suggest that we all collectively need to find new approaches — including new approaches that are available under existing law — to try to change this trend,” said Mark Hamelburg, AHIP’s senior vice president of federal programs.

Kaiser Permanente, the health system and insurance provider, called for leveraging Section 1498 in a public comment submitted to HHS about its strategy to bring down drug prices. In a similar filing, Humana, a major insurer, pointed to “existing law [that] allows for actions around patents,” singling out march-in rights.

Humana did not respond to requests for comment. Both PCMA and Kaiser Permanente declined to comment beyond their statements. (Kaiser Health News is not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.)

Nonetheless, experts say there are serious sticking points.

Neither of these legal provisions would be a sweeping solution. And both require administration buy-in.

“They’re only as effective as the government’s willingness to pursue them,” said Robin Feldman, a law professor at the University of California-Hastings.

Simply taking a patent doesn’t bring down prices, either. There are other ways manufacturers gain favorable market positioning for specific drugs, said Rachel Sachs, an associate law professor at Washington University in St. Louis who tracks drug-pricing laws.

And creating an opening for generics is only one step. Another drugmaker would still need to create a competing product, gain approval and make it available. Then, theoretically, market competition can kick in.

Finally, there’s no guarantee such savings would benefit consumers, argued Nicholson Price, an assistant professor at the University of Michigan Law School. Insurance plans or PBMs could simply bargain greater discounts on drugs and pocket the money. (AHIP says any savings should be passed on.)

That’s the fundamental question, Krellenstein said.

“Is this going to be more armor in the fighting [between payers and drug companies]?” he said. “Or is it actually going to be a dramatic reform that actually results in real changes, that actually makes it easier for Americans to access the medications they need?”

Kaiser Health News is a nonprofit news service covering health issues. It is an editorially independent program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, which is not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

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