Thursday, October 30, 2008

An AML Appeal for Manish Bharadwaj (passed away on Nov 6, 2008)

Manish Bhardwaj (97 batch BITSian) was diagnosed in July 2008 with AML, a rare form of Leukemia and is in urgent need of bone marrow transplant. Manish completed his ME in E&I from BITS in 1997 and is currently working with Freescale Semiconductor in Austin, Texas.

Manish has two children – a five year old daughter and a one year old son. We have to help his family. You can find information on Manish on his website

We can help save Manish’s life through a bone marrow match which is a two-step process:

Step 1: Test: Very simple and absolutely no needles involved! A Q-tip is rubbed inside your cheek and sample is logged into a central database. I attended one such drive yesterday in Sunnyvale, CA and it took me less than 5 minutes.

Step 2: Donation: The process is as simple as a blood draw. In case you were lucky to be a match for Manish, donation will be a completely NON-SURGICAL process. The complete cost will be covered by Manish’s insurance. More information on the bone marrow blood draw is found here

You can help in one of four ways:

#1 Attend a bone marrow drive to give a tissue sample. Bone marrow drives for Manish are being held in Houston, Dallas and the Bay Area. See the website for current drives if you live in these areas

#2 Become a donor: You can also attend any local marrow drive on this link, based on your zip code:

#3 Conduct a bone marrow drive for Manish: Rally BITSians in your area to save the life of one of our community members. Please send me an email Putting a drive together on one weekend is quite straightforward, but it can save his life and his family.

#4 Spread the word: Forward this blog to your network.

Thanks a lot.


Saturday, October 25, 2008

Siemens Venture Capital Invests in BioImagene, Validating the Digital Pathology Space

Sat. October 25, 2008; Posted: 11:20 PM

Oct 24, 2008 BioImagene, a provider of scalable digital pathology solutions, announced that Siemens Venture Capital has joined as a new investor in the company.

The announcement follows the recent closing of a $26 million series D financing round led by Burrill & Company and the appointment of Dr Ajit Singh from the Image and Knowledge Group of Siemens Healthcare as CEO of BioImagene.

BioImagene said that it will use the investment to scale operations to extend their dominant position in digital pathology. The company intends to accelerate the adoption of digital pathology with continued product development and rapid expansion in the European and Asian markets.

G. Steven Burrill, Chairman, BioImagene said, "We are extremely pleased that Siemens Venture Capital has chosen to invest in BioImagene. Their extensive experience in oncology and radiology will help shape and expand the digital pathology industry."

"We invest in BioImagene because they truly understand workflows and have built a robust enterprise wide solution for pathologists," commented Anupendra Sharma, Investment Partner, SVC. "I am also very excited about the top management team because Dr. Singh, the incoming CEO from Siemens is going to complement the skills of Mohan Uttarwar, Founder of BioImagene, who will be the new Chief Strategy Officer for the company."

BioImagene provides comprehensive digital pathology solutions for acquiring, viewing, managing, analyzing, reporting and sharing images in the pathology laboratory. The company's innovative tools have improved productivity, quality of results and simultaneously lowered the cost of entry into digital pathology. Investors in BioImagene
include Ascension Health Ventures, Artiman Ventures, Burrill and Co, ICCP Venture Partners and National Healthcare Services.

About BioImagene

BioImagene is a leading provider of total digital pathology solutions for applications including clinical diagnostics and drug discovery. BioImagene products are FDA-cleared for specific clinical applications, and are intended for research use for other applications.

About Siemens Venture Capital:

Siemens Venture Capital (SVC) is the corporate venture organization for Siemens AG, one of the largest global electronics and engineering companies. SVC's goal is to identify and fund investments in emerging and innovative technologies that will enhance the core business scope of Siemens, particularly in the sectors Energy, Industry and Healthcare. To date, we have invested over 800 million Euros in more than 100 startup companies and 30 venture capital funds. SVC is located in Germany (Munich), in the U.S. (Palo Alto, CA and Boston, MA), in China (Beijing), in India (Mumbai), and is active through Siemens' regional unit in Israel. SVC is part of Siemens Financial Services. More information:

Thursday, October 23, 2008

1, 2, 3 -----Go! (India-US Nuclear Treaty)

This treaty was signed in the midst of the $700 billion financial crisis. An interesting speech from the Indian Ambassador in Dubai.

1, 2, 3 -----Go!

(A speech by Ambassador T.P.Sreenivasan at the Consulate General of India, Dubai on October 22, 2008)

I am grateful to the Consul General of India, Mr. Venu Rajamony and the Institute of Chartered Accountants for hosting this event. I am honoured that Mr.Rajamony has also performed the "Gulf Launch" of my two recent books. Thank you for your kind and generous words.

In the last three years or so, I have spoken so often about the nuclear deal that, as it happened in the case of Albert Einstein, even my chauffeur can make a case for it. According to the Einstein story, one day his chauffeur told him that he had heard him so often about the theory of relativity that he, the chauffeur, could repeat it as well as Einstein could. Einstein thought this was a good idea and
let his chauffeur speak at a conference and he himself sat at the back. The chauffeur was perfect in his presentation and everybody applauded him. But Einstein began to worry when the Chairman proceeded to invite questions from the audience. Sure enough, the first question itself was hard even for Einstein to answer. Einstein thought that the bluff would be called. But the chauffeur was more brilliant than he thought. He said, "That is such an easy question that I do not need
to answer it. I shall ask my chauffeur at the back to do that."

I chose the title for today’s talk "1, 2, 3---Go" as the so called 123 Agreement is, in many senses, the shot gun start for India to launch itself into the race for all round development. Like the Hyde Act, the name ’123’ also has caused much misunderstanding. Some said that the Hyde Act was so called because India and the United States had much to hide. Others said that the 123 agreement was just the beginning and the Americans would come up with 4, 5, 6 and 7, 8, 9 agreements! In
actual fact, it is an agreement signed as provided for in section 123 of the US Non-Proliferation Act and the Hyde Act is named after Congressman Henry Hyde, (may his soul rest in peace) who chaired the House Foreign Relations committee at the time. Having been released from the shackles of technology denial, India can now explore new frontiers of knowledge not only in the nuclear field, but also in
space, defence and agriculture. We do not need to reinvent the wheel; we do not need to spend scarce resources on research and development of products already available in the market. More than fuel and reactors, the availability of the vast array of dual use technologies and products will open up unprecedented opportunities. Gone are the days when, in the aftermath of the 1998 tests, a black list prohibited
the gardening unit of BARC from purchasing lawn mowers from the United States because of its dual use capability!

The 123 agreement is not a sudden invention of President Bush and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. It came as the culmination of a long series of efforts made by both countries since India kept itself out of the "grand nuclear bargain" called the NPT in 1970. The US and others tried every trick in the world to bring India into the fold of the NPT, while India tried to end the discrimination inherent in the NPT. As new NPT edifices were erected and India continued to defy them, more severe sanctions followed, reaching a climax in 1998, when the Glenn Amendment kicked in and estranged the two biggest democracies in the world. But throughout this period, India had put forward proposals and made suggestions to end the standoff without
compromising the fundamentals.

Indira Gandhi sent special envoys to Moscow and Washington to seek nuclear guarantees before rejecting the NPT. Morarji Desai tempted President Carter to come to India in the hope of resolving the nuclear imbroglio, but returned empty handed. P.V. Narasimha Rao thought he made a deal with President Clinton, in which India would not test and the US would move towards disarmament. Atal Behari Vajpayee accepted four of the five benchmarks put forward by President Clinton as conditions for normalisation of relations. On July 18, 2005, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh did no more than follow the same path. He made no additional concessions. It was the United States, which dropped its insistence on "strategic restraint" and paved the way for a breakthrough.

To me, the surprise was not that the change in the US position enraged the non-proliferation lobby in the US, but that some of our political and scientific circles opposed the agreement on different grounds. Together, the two sets of critics delayed the deal and prompted the two governments to take positions that muddled the essential merit of the agreement. The battle was carried from the US Congress to the Indian Parliament, from the Board of Governors of the IAEA to the
Nuclear Suppliers group. The 123 agreement escaped unscathed, but the accompanying literature is complex, sometimes contradictory and certainly open to different interpretations. But as long as the mutuality of interests that prompted the two countries to take this historic step remains in place, the end of the technology denial regime will endure and India will be able to reintegrate itself with the global scientific community. The Indian ambassador in Vienna does not have to be in a group of three with Israel and Pakistan, but in a group of technologically advanced responsible nations, which includes the nuclear weapon states. He does not have to decline invitations to interact with the NSG, as I used to do in the era of India’s nuclear isolation.

Clearly, it was not the fine print of the 123 agreement that prompted the opposition onslaught. For the Indian scientists, it was the fear of the prying eyes of their peers abroad, for certain political parties, it was sheer jealousy, but for most, it was the deep seated suspicion of the United States, particularly in the context of Iraq, which made them search for a hidden agenda.

The past history justifies such impressions, but today, the United States is seeking cooperation, not confrontation with India. To resolve the problems of today like terrorism, energy shortage, environmental challenges and pandemics, the United States needs to work with India. Add to these the US fear of China, the search for
markets and the anxiety to get India into the nuclear mainstream and there you see the logic of the change in the US thinking. A change in our mindset to remove the vestiges of anti-colonialism and anti-imperialism is needed for us to go forward.

Of course, the 123 agreement is not one sided and there is a delicate balance of rights and obligations in it. It is not a mere civilian nuclear trade agreement, as is generally claimed. By agreeing to maintain our moratorium in testing, by agreeing to negotiate a FMCT, by agreeing to subject our civilian nuclear stations to safeguards by the IAEA, we have made peace with the non-proliferation world out
there. We have also entered into a strategic partnership with the United States. But undoubtedly, these do more good than harm to the vital interests of the country. These do not impose any restraint on our minimum nuclear deterrent; they enable us to secure fuel and technology for peaceful purposes and open a new chapter in our
relations with the United States. We should be aware that if we test, the world will come down on us like a ton of bricks as it did in 1974 and 1998 and the deal will end. But our right to test remains and if it becomes necessary to test in the supreme national interest, we should be prepared to face the consequences. Bhutto’s telling image of Pakistan eating grass to build nuclear weapons must remain at the back of our minds. It is also not illogical for the US to expect India, as a strategic partner, to be sensitive to its interests. The litmus test for us in dealing with these challenges should not be ideology or paranoia. One principle in the conduct of international relations never changes: there are no permanent friends or permanent enemies, only permanent interests.

The 123 take off is not confined to our relations with the United States alone. Russia and France have been waiting to go for nuclear cooperation with India for a long time. They had found ways of giving us fuel and equipment in the past, but the NSG bonds had tied them down in recent years. France has already signed an agreement with us and a Russian agreement is ready for signature. In fact, the nuclear
trade is likely to be more with France and Russia rather than with the United States. Even Japan and China cannot resist the temptation to sell nuclear material or at least, dual use technology. The end of our nuclear isolation is not just a symbolic liberation; it is significant for India’s development in real terms.

The 123 agreement is not just about adding a few thousand megawatts of electricity to our grid, (some say, wrongly, that it is only a 4% increase) reducing our dependence on fossil fuels or minimizing the emission of greenhouse gases. It is about ending our outcast status in the international community, it is about removing the last impediment in our economic development, it is about our being able to sell our own reactors to countries dazzled by the nuclear renaissance and it is about clarifying our nuclear policy, without which we could not have claimed our rightful place in the global hierarchy. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s courageous and historic visit to Washington this year would prove to be as important for India’s progress as President Nixon’s visit to China in 1972. If the Chinese communists had remained loyal to their ideology and paranoia of the United States then, the Chinese would have been still sporting Mao suits and digging the earth and not winning the largest number of gold medals at a spectacular Olympic gala on their own soil. Speaking on the day the Chandrayan blasted off towards the moon with instruments from multiple countries, I can confidently say, it is "1, 2, 3---Go" for India.