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Working to realise tomorrow’s world: Russia’s futuristic university



Moscow, Feb 19 (IANS) Nanoparticles to detect and combat cancer, superconducting metamaterials to make quantum computers a reality, solar cell technology providing over 40 per cent efficiency and more — these are not goals but achievements already realised at a Moscow university which is at the vanguard of Russia’s aim to further its high-tech knowledge economy and cooperate with international partners to develop futuristic technologies.

The National University of Science and Technology (NUST MISIS) grew out of the Department of Metallurgy in the Moscow Academy of Mines, established in 1918, before undergoing a series of metamorphoses to emerge in its current incarnation as one of Russia’s most dynamic research and education hubs with an international faculty and rollcall of students, Rector Alevtina A. Chernikova told IANS.

The NUST MISIS has moved on from mining and metallurgy to now being engaged in research in cutting-edge areas of technology, especially nanotechnology for medicine and energy efficiency and as well as miniature magnetic sensors, multilayered corrosion-resistant alloys for nuclear reactors and oil and gas pipelines, shape memory alloys, solar batteries for spacecraft, biocompatible hyperplastic titanium alloys for bone-grafting, and more.

Giving an overview of the varsity to a select group of visiting journalists from eight countries, Chernikova said that it now comprises nine colleges, with 27 advanced laboratories, three-world class engineering centres, over 400 staff and 15,000 students, including over 1,000 PhD students and doctoral candidates (with over a fifth of them from 69 countries) in its nearly 300 programmes in various subjects.

While the institution, ranked ninth in the country, figuring high in the QS World University list — particularly in the BRICS segment, and the only Russian university in Times Higher Education’s World Best Small Universities — receives adequate funds from the government, it has also been successful in attracting funding from business and industry, making it a model of Public-Private Partnership in the sector, Chernikova said.

And high-level academics is not the only thing its graduates excel in — four represented Russia in the 2016 Rio Olympics in disciplines like swimming and boxing, with boxer Evgeny Tischenko winning the gold in the heavyweight category.

On the focus areas for NUST MISIS, Vice Rector for Science and Innovation Mikhail Filonov said that the thrust is mostly (nearly 35 per cent) in material sciences, over 25 per cent in physics and astronomy, followed by engineering, chemistry and chemical engineering.

Stressing on its admirable record in academic publications and citations, including leading scientific journals like Nature Communications, NanoLetters, Science and ACS Nano, he said it has collaborations on with 527 leading institutions in the world, mostly in Europe (313) and North America (84), but also 108 in the Asia-Pacific region, out of which nearly half are in fellow BRICS countries — China (31) and India (20).

To a question from IANS on links with the BRICS members, Filonov said that they were a Network University of the grouping and an active participant, with the members represented by their students. “We represent Russia in the project and look forward to improve collaboration in science.”

He admitted that links with Brazil and South Africa were on a lesser scale than with India and China, but now picking up. “We have a project in South Africa in mining, especially platinum, palladium and rare earths… also with De Beers. We also have some joint research on with the University of Sao Paulo (Brazil).”

The visiting journalists were taken to a few of its leading laboratories, including the one for Biomedical Nanomaterials headed by Alexander Majouga, which has synthetised biomedical magnetic nanomaterials for targeted treatment of brain, liver and prostate cancer.

The 10-nanometre particles of magnetite (ferrous oxide) are coated with a biopolymer, which contains the anti-cancer drug intended to kill the tumour cell, said Majouga, who told IANS that all pre-clinical trials have been successfully completed, and human trials are scheduled to start later this year or next year.

In the Hybrid Nano-Structure Materials lab, Alexander Komissarov — the varsity’s youngest faculty member — is engaged in various key infrastructural projects like using acoustic signals to detect internal fractures in rail tracks and stemming corrosion in oil pipes, while in the Advanced Energy Efficient Materials, Japanese Professor Akihisa Inoue is leading attempts to develop new metal amorphous and nanocrystal alloys, including “metallic glass”.

Prof. Alexei Ustinov, who heads the Lab of Superconducting Metamaterials, where he divides his time with Germany’s Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, has presided over development of superconducting qubits (quantum bits — the building blocks of quantum computers), and Prof Anvar Zakhidov, of University of Texas at Dallas, is leading here a project to develop high-efficiency tandem solar cells based on perovskite and polymer semiconductors.

Zakhidov told IANS that India, which is leading solar energy campaigns, must associate in this technology which is at least twice as efficient as existing techniques but still has teething problems.

But among the varsity’s crowning features is the Vladimir Pirozhkov-headed Centre for High-Complexity Industrial Prototyping, which can produce samples of any equipment, ranging from a micron to 20 metres, with its 3-D printers and other advanced machines, and the FabLab to train aspirants in digital manufacturing.

And the university is keen on international students to help it achieve its objectives, with many programmes in English and ample scholarships available.

(Vikas Datta’s visit to the university was sponsored by the Rossiya Segodnaya [Russia Today] News Group. He can be contacted at [email protected])

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‘Hichki’ Movie Review: An emotionally inspiring film




New Delhi, March 23: Film: “Hichki”; Director: Sidharth P. Malhotra; Cast: Rani Mukerji, Supriya Pilgaonkar, Sachin Pilgaonkar, Neeraj Kabi, Shivkumar Subramaniam, Asif Basra, Ivan Rodrigues, Harsh Mayar and Kunal Shinde

Rating: 3.5/5

Adapted from a 2008 released English film, “Front of the Class”, which is based on Brad Cohen’s book “Front of the Class: How Tourette Syndrome Made Me the Teacher I Never Had”, director Sidharth P. Malhotra’s “Hichki” is a feel good, emotionally packed and inspirational film.

It is the touching story of Naina Mathur, a young girl who would not let Tourette Syndrome keep her from doing what she loved most; teaching. Despite her speech defect, she sets out to become a teacher.

Hichki Rani Mukerji

Tourette syndrome is a neuropsychiatric disorder which sets off multiple motor tics which include compulsive throat-clearing, knee knocking, violent muscle twitches and piercing barks. These tics are beyond one’s control. While the exact cause that sets off these tics is not known, it is believed to involve a combination of genetic and environmental factors.

Rani Mukerji as the plucky Naina Mathur is flawless. She portrays her character with sincerity.

Hichki review

“I can’t see you as a teacher,” one blunt administrator tells her. To which, she replies, “Before meeting me, did you know about Tourette Syndrome? Well, now that you know, I have educated you.”

This simply tells you how persevering she is.

The film reveals how as a student she was expelled from twelve schools before finally being accepted whole heartedly at St. Notker’s High School. The same school later accepts her as a teacher, mid-term, not because of her brilliant academic credentials but because of a crisis situation. She is hired to teach a class of underprivileged, reluctant misfits. How she wins everyone’s hearts, forms the crux of the tale.

Looking back periodically to show Naina as a child, the film is most powerful in some of those flashback sequences.

Hichki Movie Review

How as a child, she convinces herself that Tourette Syndrome is her lifelong companion and that could teach her important lessons about human nature. That bit of disassociation which is crucial helps her cope with otherwise difficult situations. This comes through in her strained relationship with her father and also when she tells her school teacher, Mr. Khan, “Treat me like other students.”

The film is packed with dramatic moments that are as truthful as they are inspiring. Every scene resonates with sentiments. With apt metaphors and lingo, the writing is simple and straightforward. And while the film intends on communicating life-affirming values, there are moments in the first half that seem forced.

The second half, despite the painstakingly moralistic notes, touches the right chords. You get so immersed with the characters especially Naina. You feel sorry for her when despite her sincere efforts, her class gets suspended, for no fault of theirs.

What elevates the film is the brilliant performances by the supporting cast. You can relate with every character as each one of them is well-etched. The ones that stand out apart from the gang of students are Sachin and Supriya Pilgaonkar as Naina’s estranged parents, Ivan Rodrigues as the School Principal, Neeraj Kabi as Naina’s colleague at school who is keen to dismiss Naina’s students from the school and of course the character who plays Naina’s brother.

The loving relationship between the siblings is well-defined.

With ace production values, the film is well-made. The only sore point is the loud background score that kills the subtlety of the subject.

Overall, “Hichki” remains in your mental space long after you leave the theatre.


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Unhappy Naresh Agarwal joins BJP, says SP prefered Bollywood actress over me as RS candidate



Naresh Agarwal
Naresh Agarwal joins BJP (Photo-ANI)

The Samajwadi Party leader, Naresh Agarwal on Monday joined BJP in the presence of Railway Minister, Piyush Goyal and BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra.

While joining BJP, Naresh Agarwal who is currently the Rajya Sabha member of Samajwadi Party said, “I am joining the BJP as I think that until you are in National Party, you cannot do anything for the society. I am also impressed by PM Modi, BJP president Amit Shah and UP CM Yogi. I still respect Mulayam Singh Yadav and Ram Gopal Yadav, but the current scenario in SP where it is doing a coalition with Congress and sometimes BSP is very sad.”

The leader joined BJP after the Samajwadi party nominated actor and politician Jaya Bachchan for the upcoming Rajya Sabha election in April. The party had to choose between Naresh Agarwal and Jaya Bachchan as they don’t have enough legislators in the assembly to support their candidate.

Talking about Samajwadi Party’s Rajya Sabha candidate, Jaya Bachchan he said, “My comparison was drawn with those working in films… I was rejected for those who dance in films, work in films. I found it not proper. Nobody found it proper.”

Agarwal became tv channels and newspaper’s headline for making controversial statements. In July 2017, he courted controversy in Rajya Sabha by associating Hindu Gods with alcohol, while speaking on the issue of mob violence related with cow protection. However, after his statement, he was made to apologise by BJP.


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India, Pakistan should decide to think of peace: Farooq Abdullah on ceasefire violations



Farooq Abdullah
National Conference party leader, Farooq Abdullah (File Photo)

Kashmir:  National Conference party leader Farooq Abdullah on Tuesday spoke about the situation on the India- Pakistan border in Kashmir. 

The leader speaking on the continous ceasefire violation said,”this will continue to happen.”

The leader urging both the countries to find a diplomatic solution said,”firing will continue to happen on both sides unless the two nations decide to think of peace.”

“The sooner they think about it, the sooner it will stop,” he added.

However this is not the first time when Abdullah has asked for diplomatic solutions, earlier the leader stated that war is not the solution of the Kashmir issue.


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