Reputed speakers from various domains talked about the empowerment of Indian villages through technology. Universities can play an important role in developing low-cost assistive technologies to address the challenges and requirements of villages and translate them into research opportunities. This can showcase how academic research can be oriented towards the needs of society, especially to empower the villages.
The workshop was inaugurated by renowned Robotics Expert, Dr. Prahlad Vadakkepat, Associate Professor, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, National University of Singapore. In his inaugural talk, Dr. Prahlad said, "Academicians and researchers have a big social responsibility to the common man and people at the bottom of the pyramid. Most of the research done by them ends up in publications in journals and conferences. More than 90 percent of this knowledge is wasted and not utilized for the betterment of society. In this context, Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham is breaking barriers with its unique focus on technology for societal and humanitarian benefit."
Dr. Venkat Rangan, Vice-Chancellor, Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, presided over the workshop. He said, "For the emancipation of India's villages, Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham's Chancellor, Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi (Amma), proposed a program in 2013. Under this, Amrita students and faculty, in conjunction with those of international universities, spend two weeks to six months in Indian villages to understand their challenges and develop sustainable solutions to meet them. This initiative, called Amrita Live-in-Labs®, has now developed into a unique experiential learning program in the world. Students sharing their experiences regarding this program have said that instead of them transforming the villagers, they were transformed by the experience, and they understood how insignificant their problems were compared to the challenges faced by the villages in India."
The workshop was organized by the Machine Intelligence Research Group, Department of Electronics and Communication Engineering, Amrita School of Engineering, Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, Coimbatore campus with the active participation of Amrita Self Reliant Village (Amrita SeRVe).
Other featured speakers at the workshop included Dr. A. Anand Kumar (Professor & Head, Dept. of Neurology, Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences, Kochi), V. K. Bhadran (Associate Director at CDAC), Dr. Balamuralidhar P. (Head, TCS Innovation Labs) , Dr. A. K. Sherief (Director, Centre for E-Learning, Kerala Agriculture University), Dr. Susheela (Associate Professor, Kerala Agricultural University Mannuthy, Thrissur, Kerala), Dr. Sanjay Banerjee (Founder Director/Dean of Amrita School of Business, Coimbatore), Dr. Sanjeev Vasudevan (Amrita SeRVe, Wayanand, Kerala ( Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences, Kochi)), Dr. Sasi K. Kottayil (Professor in the Department of Electrical & Electronics Engineering, Amrita School of Engineering, Coimbatore), Dr. K. E. Usha (Professor, Agricultural Technology Information Centre, Kerala Agriculture University).