Project management body launched at Knowledge Village
Compiled from staff reports / GULF NEWS Published: September 04, 2007, 00:37
Project management body launched at Knowledge Village
Dubai: Dubai Knowledge Village has announced the launch of an independent Professional Project Management Association based in its premises. The announcement was made at a project management event held at the DKV Conference Hall on September 1. It was sponsored by DKV and SUKAD. The event was an occasion for project management professionals to share their experience and know-how on the strategic importance of this management discipline. Dr Ayoub Kazim, Executive Director of Dubai Knowledge Village and Dubai International Academic City, spoke of the growing awareness in Dubai and the region about project management as a special skill and competency. Hasan Makansi, Partner Development Manager, assured support to the association aimed at developing and promoting industry and professionals.
Innovation unit established
Innovation unit established
Dubai: The Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) has announced the establishment of its innovation unit that will engage in future studies and aid in creating a better educational future for youth. Dr Abdullah Al Karam, Chairman of the Board of Directors and Director General of KHDA highlighted the need for the unit saying that the it is necessary for the authority to forge ahead.
Why is champagne showered during a celebration?
The wine-producing region of Champagne in northern France is well known for its special white sparkling wine, which, over the centuries, came to be called by the same name. In its early days, it was produced by French monks living in the region of Champagne and the monks considered the wine holy. Around 496 AD, one of the kings of France was converted to Christianity, and his baptism ceremony took place in the Champagne region. During the ceremony, the priests applied Champagne wine on his body. Since then, Champagne, because of its sparkling and bubbly quality, has become synonymous with joy, and people found it refreshing and enjoyable to spray the wine on one another during celebrations of all kinds. Members of the winning team in sports celebrate their victory by pouring champagne on one another.
— V Venkata Rao, Ahmedabad
Why are athletic events held in anti-clockwise direction?
As we know, the Earth rotates in the anti-clockwise direction, and hence, it is much easier to go around a circle in the anti-clockwise direction during sports meets, particularly athletic events. Therefore, all such events are held in the anti-clockwise direction.
— Gautam Barman Roy, N Delhi
Retail through distance mode
20 Aug 2007, 1927 hrs IST,TNN
The Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) in association with the Retailers Association of India (RAI), has recently announced a one-year diploma in retail, through distance mode, from January 2008.
At the launch of the programme, N V Narasimham, director, school of management studies, Ignou, said that the programme would have a strong practical face of management studies, as each student would have to undergo a minimum of six-month internship with a retail organisation to have a first hand experience. The intern would also get a stipend during this period.
According to RAI, the retail sector would provide nearly 2.2 million employment opportunities by 2009. Also, the organised retail’s current demand stands two-lakh at present. Today, India has 12 million retailers, both in organised and unorganised, accounting for over US$ 260-billion industry.
V N Rajasekharan Pillai, vice chancellor, Ignou, said: “The course was designed after a brainstorming session with over 30 experts from IIMs, corporates, open universities and other academic institutions. We would like to make this a dynamic programme, wherein the learners would return and add context to the curriculum, thus helping us upgrade it. This will help achieve a dynamic change in the curriculum and retail practice.”
The vice chancellor also announced, that by January 2009, RAI-Ignou would complete designing the BBA course in retail, and those who complete the diploma would be eligible to study for further two years to get the BBA degree.
B S Nagesh, chairman, RAI and managing director, Shopper’s Stop, said that RAI, apart from Ignou, has a tie-up with 15 other academic institutions of higher learning and aims to modernise the retail sector in the country.
He said: “We can invest in technology, but without proper education, we won’t be able to modernise the sector. As such, 80% of the retailers are still in the unorganised sector. As more students opt for specialised courses, consumers will see modern retailing technology not only in the large organised retail sector, but also with the next door retailer.”
He further added that: “This will not only help educate and employ students, but would also help them to enjoy a better quality of life, instead of getting into some menial job.”
Higher education strategy takes new turn By Abdullah Al Shaiba, Staff Writer/GULF NEWS Published: August 19, 2007, 00:22
Needs of the labour market have to be included while devising higher education programmes, writes Abdullah Al Shaiba
It has become important for nations which seek prosperity and stability to establish, and maintain clear, transparent and achievable strategies for its development programmes.
The UAE has decided to follow that path under the new leadership of President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
Recently, the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research (MHE) announced its strategic plan for higher education programmes and scientific research activities in the country.
The strategic plan is an essential part of the comprehensive national strategy announced a few months ago by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
The strategy was based upon the key roles the MHE performs which are:
The MHE is responsible for the general planning of higher education and scientific research in the country;
It will continue its mission as a coordinator between universities and colleges nationwide;
It supervises the issues and affairs of private universities and colleges;
It supervises international scholarships for UAE nationals;
The MHE organises the activities of scientific research.
Achieving a balance
The major goal of the strategic plan issued by the MHE is to establish, maintain, and broaden the prospective balance between the local labour market and the outcomes of higher education institutions.
The plan should complete the overall goals of the UAE strategy which has been established by the current cabinet and approved by Shaikh Khalifa.
Partnership with labour market
The strategy of the MHE focuses on improving the entire higher education system in the UAE to be one of the best systems worldwide according to international standards and practices adopted in accordance with the local identity and circumstances.
The MHE also aims to play an important role in creating the new knowledge-based economy in the UAE through establishing a new strategic partnership between higher education institutions and the labour market in order to participate in the comprehensive national development programmes.
Therefore, the participation of both the private market and business community is fundamental in the area of providing the necessary sponsorship for the students via internal or external scholarships programmes.
It is important to indicate that the MHE has already implemented some parts of its strategy with the Ministry of Education; particularly in the project of Future Schools, which aims to improve UAE national students’ educational levels during the general education stages in order to decrease the need for “foundation programmes or foundation years” in public higher education institutions.
The MHE will also develop the scientific research activities in the UAE in order to create a knowledge society.
The ministry will continue developing its system in both higher education and scientific research in order to support the decision-making process and to link the higher education and scientific research with the actual needs of the society.
The national strategy in general, and the strategy of the MHE in particular, no doubt, establishes a new era in the contemporary history of the UAE.
However, it is important to keep the strategy steady even when people who are responsible for its implementation have changed.
The general aspects of the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research (MHE) strategy are:
Develop the quality performance of the ministry with full coordination with the relevant federal and local institutions.
Offer the appropriate alternatives to replace the current academic programmes that aim to improve the students’ competencies in universities and colleges. This the MHE will coordinate with the Ministry of Education.
Develop the potential of private universities and colleges in coordination with the local education councils.
Coordinate with the Ministry of Education to face the challenge of the increase in the drop-out rates among male students in general education and to raise their participation in higher education institutions.
Coordinate with Ministry of Labour in the area of improving the mission of higher education in order to meet the requirements of the society.
Coordinate with the Ministry of Culture, Youth, and Society Development in spreading awareness of the national identity and heritage of the UAE.
Establish the appropriate initiatives to prepare and qualify UAE national manpower in order to increase their recruitment opportunities in the private market.
Develop and support the efforts of the Commission of Academic Accreditation (CAA) which supervises the private higher education institutions.
The writer is a UAE-based academic and thinker
Why Smart People Make Dumb Money Mistakes
We are programmed to get our money decisions wrong. But we can still win
Monika Halan and Rajesh Kumar / Outlookmoney.com
The house I did not buy at Rs 46 lakh three years back now costs Rs 1.1 crore.
The Rs 5,000 I put in a mutual fund three years ago is now worth Rs 15,000. I regret not putting in Rs 5 lakh.
The best-performing fund slipped as soon as I bought it.
I sell a stock after holding it for years, and it begins to fly like a kite the day I sell it.
My neighbour got a super price for his land; I did not for mine.
I have the wrong insurance policy, but am holding on to it.
The price of my car dropped a week after I bought it.
I feel unlucky with my financial decisions. Here I am, a perfectly normal sort of a person with a good job, a great family, in control of most of my life. Except for one thought that rankles in my overall feeling of well-being. I feel that I constantly take financial decisions that are not so cool.
If you find any of the above even a little bit familiar, take heart, most of us feel exactly the same way. Did you know that the human mind is programmed to fall into some behavioural traps that cost us big money? A relatively new branch of Economics, called Behavioural Finance, lays down a paradigm that is different from traditional Economics, where all people were rational, all economic choices were the best possible, and markets were mostly in equilibrium. This meant there was a perfect world out there, where men were calculating machines with zero emotions such as fear, greed, regret and anticipation, and with perfect information about all products, services and prices at all points of time. But when psychologist-economist Daniel Kahneman won the 2002 Nobel Prize for his work in Behavioural Finance, this more real branch of Economics came centrestage. And it is now accepted that the human mind is programmed to make big money mistakes due to habit—and emotion-driven actions. Though the scope of behavioural finance is much wider, we shortlist the five most common behaviour patterns that most often cost you a lot of money. And tell what you can do to sidestep these traps.
We tend to use mental short-cuts to decode everyday life. These rules of thumb make us put money into different mental accounts, preventing us from seeing the overall picture. Sometimes this works to our advantage—putting money in sacrosanct mental buckets like insurance premiums, tax saving instruments, and so on. But sometimes these buckets cause harm. How do you use the money that a money-back insurance policy throws up periodically? Most people tend to blow up that money instead of treating it as a return on their investment to be used to meet a financial goal, or for further investing. Similarly, a dividend, or tax refund is often used frivolously by ordinarily responsible people. A good way to get over this is to quickly bank the cheque and wait for some time. This waiting period can allow mental accounting to kick in so that we treat this money as part of our savings and not something to be blown up.
Mental accounting does not snare us only while spending, it traps us into sub-optimal investing decisions as well. While working out overall asset allocation, we forget to include the provident fund, the Public Provident Fund and endowment insurance polices in the process because they are not seen as part of our decision-making process but as something that’s pre-decided. We then divide the rest of the surplus money between debt and equity. No wonder that the average equity in household savings is a mere 5 per cent, the rest going into debt products (Handbook of Statistics on Indian Economy, Reserve Bank of India). Since equity has given an average annual return of over 16 per cent in the last 26 years, such mental blocks bring down our capacity to create wealth by leaving too much in low-return instruments.
Way out. So, do remember to look at your total savings—fixed and unfixed. Take a look at the full asset allocation pie and then divide your funds between debt and equity.
Loss Aversion and Sunk Cost
We hate to lose. The distress that each lost rupee causes is twice as high as the pleasure we get from each rupee gained. This is actually good because it prevents us from gambling away our retirement funds or the money we save for our kids’ education. But there is a big flipside to this. We tend to hold on to the wrong consumer and financial products. Why? Because the act of throwing the rotten thing out would bring home the loss and make us ‘feel’ dumb. To prevent that feeling, we stuff new but tight shoes at the bottom of the shoe rack, and a new but useless mixer-juicer at the back of the kitchen cupboard. Similarly, you hold on to losing shares and funds. People who invested Rs 10,000 in Bajaj Hindustan, a sugar stock, in May 2006, would be left with just Rs 2,943 today. If, on the other hand, they had cut losses and moved the money to the Sensex even after losing 25 per cent at the end of May 2006, their investment would be at Rs 11,000 today.
Use the loss aversion argument carefully, for it does not work for fundamentally sound stocks. Sometimes an overall fall in the market brings down the price of strong stocks. That, in fact, is the time to buy more rather than book losses.
Linked to this is the sunk cost trait. We go on putting good money after bad in, say, car or washing machine repair. Aren’t we all familiar with spending recurrent amounts on ‘fixing it’ when a new appliance would have cost less? Loss aversion looks nasty when we see what it does to our investment behaviour. Take, for example, our fetish for buying a new insurance policy every year. The only life cover one needs is a term plan, but the agent keeps selling you a useless policy every year. But do you discontinue the 4-per-cent-return money-back and endowment polices even when you discover that they are garbage? Most people continue paying premiums and say they are doing so because they have already invested for a few years.
Way out. The first mantra is to learn to cut losses and move on, but it should be used selectively for investments and products that are genuine losers. The second strategy is to have a well-diversified portfolio. It would be less subject to such mental traps as it would be more stable than individual stocks or funds.
Status Quo Bias and Regret Aversion
Since we hate to lose, we go to great lengths to avoid the feeling of regret and don’t want to take on the responsibility of a wrong financial decision. This is called regret aversion. In the ‘Status Quo Bias and Regret Aversion’ test (on the left), the two people are in the same situation, but the second person feels worse because he blames himself for a wrong financial decision.
Having been through many situations where our financial decisions were proven wrong (selling a stock just before it became a kite, buying a house at the tail end of a property bubble, buying a gadget to see its price halving a week later), we fall into the status quo bias trap, or the desire not to change anything much with our financial lives so that we don’t get to a position where we regret taking faulty financial decision.
Several cash-poor but asset-rich senior citizens fall into this category. Some of them are 100 per cent invested in debt instruments and real estate. They see real estate and stock prices zooming, but are unable to take the call of selling some of the real estate they are holding selectively to get more cash and invest the rest in stocks. They feel that real estate prices may go higher and stockmarket investments may go wrong anytime.
Way out. An overall asset allocation and portfolio diversification approach makes us look at portfolio return rather than individual product returns.
This is when we hang on to a number, fact or return figure that has no bearing on the overall investment or spending decision. When property prices began zooming up in 2003, some of us postponed our purchase decision till they ‘settled down’. We watched prices rise more than 100 per cent without doing anything, for we were ‘anchored’ to the earlier prices. While this sort of anchoring can really break a family’s wealth creation stride, a smaller, but more insidious hurt comes in the monthly grocery bill. You may have seen this sale gimmick: ‘Cheap Basmati Rice: 5-kg bag now selling at Rs 210, down from Rs 350’. But this is Rs 42 a kg on sale, down from Rs 70 a kg. You anyway get basmati rice at Rs 40-42 a kg. When we buy more or unnecessary products and services because they are ‘cheaper’ or ‘free’, we use up money that could have been used for wealth creation. A simple way out it to use the calculator to break ‘sale’ prices down to per kg or per gram or per litre to skip the anchoring trap.
Another example is a stock going at, say, Rs 1,500 that someone recommends. You consider buying it, but don’t. When it reaches Rs 1,800, and you see that the company is going great guns, you say, “I should have bought it at Rs 1,500”. That you didn’t is one mistake, another would be to not buy it at Rs 1,800. You could fall into this trap while renting out your house. You may want the older, higher rent for your property even when overall rents have gone down. As a result, you may forego rent while still paying tax on the imputed rental on the second home.
Way out. To beat this mental trap, you can look for a current benchmark and not the one that is implicitly suggested, or even better, look at a realistic lifetime return that will make you happy. This is specially useful while evaluating the performance of your portfolio, fund and, even, unit-linked insurance policy.
We have a tendency to ignore the effect of inflation on our money choices. Take, for example, the way an average insurance agent sells you a policy. His pitch to you is: Put in Rs 1 lakh every year for 15 years and get back Rs 25 lakh. Sounds great, till you remove the money illusion. The annual return here is a nominal 6.9 per cent. Factor in inflation at 6 per cent and you are left with a return of just 0.9 per cent. Other fixed return instruments like fixed deposits (FDs) and bonds also fall prey to this trap. We think FDs are giving us 9 per cent return nowadays. But, at 6 per cent inflation, the real return is just 3 per cent. Allow taxes in and the return is even lower.
Way out. Look at returns after taking into account inflation and taxes. To get the real returns, consider all the costs and taxes that apply to an investment, then reduce the return rate by the expected inflation number—about 6 per cent in India. You will find then that the stockmarket index gives the best long-term, low-cost real return. If you had invested Rs 10,000 in the Sensex in 1979, it would be worth over Rs 12.6 lakh today; a bank FD would have fetched Rs 1.58 lakh on the same amount.
Another way money illusion hurts is when inflation keeps eroding the real value of a life or non-life cover. If we assume an inflation rate of 5 per cent, a 25-year life cover of Rs 10 lakh would be half as effective after 15 years since Rs 10 lakh then would be able to buy only what Rs 5 lakh does today. This is one reason why our insurance covers need periodic reviews.
You can be more in control of your financial life if you know the traps that you are programmed to fall into. The real challenge is to use these five behaviour traits as two-way weapons. Wherever possible, use their good points to your advantage, while being careful about their stings. Let not your financial journey be one of remorse and regrets, but of hope and conquests.
With reports from Anagh PAL, Kayezad E. Adajania, Pankaj Anup Toppo and SUNIL DHAWAN
‘Most school teachers are computer savvy’
Staff Report / GULF NEWS Published: August 02, 2007, 00:33
Dubai: Ninety per cent of the public school teachers are proficient in computer usage while teaching, said an education official.
The School Agency, the first agency of the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA), confirmed that 90 per cent of teachers and administrative staff in Dubai’s public schools hold the International Computer Driving Licence (ICDL) and are capable of using IT technology while teaching.
Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum IT Education Project, the implementation body for the ICDL training, submitted ICDL training results to the School Agency validating the numbers. The results will bring teachers to the next step, that is, I-Teach certification from the Cambridge British University
The Times Group has always been known for its visionary approach not just in the media space but in its numerous endeavors to provide knowledge to people at large. They are empowered on Information/News/Analysis not just through our various publications like ‘The Times of India’ & ‘The Economic Times’ to name a few, but also through professional forums, seminars and symposiums.
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Learn Music via Internet…
There is nothing like music, which enchants human beings. Nothing can equalise the pleasure which we get while listening to old Tamil songs in the darkness of the night. It is quite true when one says that music is a boat which helps us cross the sea of suffering. Whether it is carnatic music, film songs or western music, they all take us to a happy atmosphere and mood.
There are plenty of ways and opportunities to learn music now.
Are you interested in learning carnatic music? There is no need to worry if you don’t have a preceptor. It is enough if you have a computer and an internet connection. Right from your home you can learn music…through the internet. In the fast developing world of communication, you can learn music from any part of the world.
Mr. Dhasarathy, from Chennai, is teaching flute for the past one year, only through this method. He is working with Chennai Life Insurance Corporation. His guru Mr. Raghu and he have been conducting classes successfully in flute for nearly 200 students through the internet.
When asked how he was inspired to teach flute through the internet, he said, ”Both my guru and myself wanted to do something different…then an idea struck us, why not teach flute through the internet. This thought paved the way for such a method”.
So an advertisement was issued asking people, who were interested in learning flute, to contact them. This advertisement was very well received and they got a lot of mails, in fact, more than what they had expected.
At present, around 200 students are taking lessons through this novel method. The duo have students from Mumbai, Delhi and Chennai in India and also in Singapore and USA.
The students have been classified into three groups. The first group which is on to the basics, the second group which has progressed further, and the third group which is in the advanced level.
“Each and every student is being taught lessons through audio cassettes. We teach them how to play through Swaras by playing on the flute and recording it. This is then sent to them, and that makes it easier for them to learn,” says Mr. Dhasarathy.
When we asked him, whether the devotion and the close-knit relationship that the students had for their master is not lost in this process, he elaborated, ”Today’s youth do not have the time to go to a guru and learn for 4 hours, which was possible in the olden days. Today’s situation is such that studies are given top priority and hobbies/extra-curricular activities come second…and the eminent musicians also do not have the time to teach them. That’s why they are learning music through the audio and internet medium … they communicate with their teachers through e-mail and chat”.
Apart from this, his guru is exporting bamboo flutes to overseas students. He communicates daily for an hour with his students and clears their doubts. Thus a bond is established between them. He says proudly that the Chennai brothers Raghu and Ravi are his gurus and he has been learning for the past 5 years. Whatever he has learnt, he teaches others in a way which is simple and comprehensive.
Prior to learning the flute from the present gurus, he learnt from Kattankulathur Singarachariar (disciple of eminent flutist Mr. T.R.Mahalingam ) and from Thiruvarur Swaminathan (disciple of Mr. Ramani) for 2 years.
When we asked why he chose flute when there were other instruments like the veena, violin, he explained, ‘Right from my childhood I was interested in music. I have enjoyed listening to concerts by eminent musicians. Since i was suffering from asthma I could not learn vocal music. Then my family doctor casually suggested that learning some wind instrument will help in controlling my asthma problem and will also satisfy my interest in music”.
Thus started his lessons in flute. It is worth mentioning here that the learning of flute has given some relief to his asthmatic problem.
M.S.Venkatesh, who lives in Michigan, confidently says that the audio cassettes and the explanations his teacher sends through mail, are very useful to him. He adds that he will master the instrument before the end of this year.
Like him, Mrs. Harini Raghavan, who is a secretary of a famous and popular sabha in Bangalore, is his internet student. She has written a letter to him mentioning that his lessons are simple and easy to understand.
When asked what his next step would be, he said with confidence that his aim is to take his teaching to all the music lovers worldwide.
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