• Governor General in Bangalaru

    Tech Talks in Bangalaru

    From February 22 to March 2, 2014, Barj travelled with the Governor General’s delegation to India. These are stories from his trip.

    Bangalaru is one of the fastest growing cities in India and sought after by companies, multinationals and tourists. Known as the “Silicon Valley of India,” Bangalaru is one of the world’s top technology clusters and hosts R&D centers for major global companies such as IBM, Microsoft, Hewlett and Packard, Infosys and more. It’s also the start-up capital of India and home to the Indian aerospace industry and a number of world-class educational institutions.

    These are all areas where we are seeing increasing collaborations between Canada and India, and that is why we visited Bangaluru. It also shares a unique characteristic with Vancouver. Like Vancouver, Bangaluru has grown enormously on account of migration of people from all corners of India, neighboring countries and from countries in the West. This has reduced the local populations to around 38% of the total population. In Vancouver the native born are now at 40% of the population. While Kannada is the language of the locals, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, English, French, German, and Punjabi are also spoken in Bangaluru. 

    Food Security and Small Millet Research in  Bangaluru:

    Our first stop in Bangaluru was at the University of Agricultural Sciences, one of the oldest agricultural universities in India. A number of Canadian universities including the Mennonite University in Winnipeg, have been collaborating in developing seed varieties in different crops which are tailored to diverse agro-ecological conditions of the state.

    Through funding from CIDA in the past and now through Intenational Development Research Centre (Canadian IDRC), research has led to the reintroduction of the small millets (bajra in Punjabi) as a viable alternative to production of rice and wheat. Despite their known nutritional benefits, tolerance for difficult growing conditions, and ease of storage, small millets have consistently been neglected by agricultural policy in India, which has put the emphasis on cash crops and cereals like rice and wheat. Rice cultivation requires heavy use of water and has contributed to the dramatic lowering of the water table and water contamination in states such as Punjab. The re-introduction of millet will help to conserve water while providing an alternative grain richer in nutrition than wheat or rice. This effort will contribute towards addressing India’s food security concerns.

    There were two significant panel discussions in Bangaluru. One on “Skills Development” and the other at the campus of Infosys on “Making Innovation Policy Succeed.” My good friend Yuen Pau Woo, Canada’s leading policy thinker and CEO of Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada, was the moderator of the session.

    An important bi-lateral agreement was signed on skills development between the National Skills Development Corporation of India and the Association of Canadian Community Colleges. This will lead to greater collaborations in this field as India needs to provide skills training to 500,000,000 youth (under 25) by 2025 to reap the demographic dividend or otherwise it would be a demographic disaster. Canadian community colleges are global leaders at skills training.

    Photograph Credit: Sgt Ronald Duchesne, Rideau Hall

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