Engaging games, dance workshop and open stage for young artists to perform at KMF-Kasauli Music Festival 2024, to be held in March

Kasauli Music Festival March 2024
Kasauli Music Festival to be held in March 2024

Kasauli Music Festival (KMF) headlined by Kavita Seth, a Sufi composer and a music director and singer is a rare festival that has a vision to provide local musicians with an opportunity to present their talent. It sets apart from other music festivals as in addition to soulful music, this year it will have a festival bazaar, fun engaging games, a dance workshop, meditation & treks and an open stage for younger artists to come and perform. 

A 2-day music festival ‘Kasauli Music Festival 2024’, KMF 24, is all set to enthrall the audience on 29th and 30th March 2024 in Santa Roza - A WelcomHeritage Resort, nestled in the picturesque Pine hills of Kasauli. Organisers have unveiled KMF's poster.

The event is being organised by the team of Santa Roza-A WelcomHeritage Property in association with ShowCase Events, with support partner City Woofer, a leading online ticketing platform from Chandigarh. Details of the upcoming musical extravaganza were shared by Dr Zoya Singh, Director, Santa Roza;  Gunjan Pandey-GM Santa Roza and Nanni Singh-Chief Executive Officer of ShowCase Events, which is also KMF’s curator.

Nanni Singh said, “This year we are marking the first edition of KMF 24 who’s theme is ‘Folk and Bollywood’ music. What sets the festival apart from others is the motive to showcase live music spread across different genres in a unique setting - the beautiful Kasauli hills.”

According to Dr Zoya Singh , “What will accentuate the experience to music lovers is the venue – Santa Roza - A WelcomHeritage Resort, which located in the heart of a lush green forest, is itself an ode to the great natural beauty of Himachal. The ambience will be one-of-a kind with melodious, musical performances reverberating in the middle of the enchanting ‘pines’ and the pristine environs of our resort in Kasauli.”

What also makes the fest different is the organisers’ vision to provide local musicians with an opportunity to present their talent. “The fest aims to give local singers and musicians of Himachal a fillip. HP 14, The Band- A Hindi rock music band with its roots in Solan and Himalayan Roots, a band from Shimla are a part of the lineup. In addition to this the music fest will also promote the rich culture of Himachal’s folk music,” said Gunjan Pandey.

The fest will be headlined by Kavita Seth, a Sufi composer and a music director and Singer known for Bollywood hits like ‘Rangi Saari’, ‘Iktara’, ‘Tum Hi Ho Bandhu’ and many more. Music Composer and instrumentalist Abhijit Pohankar will present 'Bollywood Gharana', a fusion of Classical, Folk and Bollywood. There are performances by Akaash Verma, Kutle Khan and Jasleen Aulakh planned. What’s more, with Fouzia Dastango & renowned vocalist Vidhi Sharma’s Musical Dastangoi on Meena Kumari - 'Meena Kumari Ki Dastaan', the festival is slated to be a big draw. Notably, Dastangoi is an ancient way of ‘telling a tale or story.’

 “There will be something for every age group. In addition to soulful music there will be a festival bazaar, fun engaging games, a dance workshop, meditation & treks, an open stage for younger artists to come and perform in the day and more,” added Dr Zoya.

“Surrounded by breath-taking landscapes and fresh mountain air, attendees can escape the chaos of city life and indulge in soul-stirring music and a sense of connection with nature with their family and friends,” concluded Nanni.

Dr Abhilasha Gaur lists out aspiring & promising career opportunities in the ESDM industry 2024

Chief Operating Officer, Electronics Sector Skills Council of India
Dr Abhilasha Gaur,  Chief Operating Officer, Electronics Sector Skills Council of India

The Electronics System Design & Manufacturing (ESDM) sector is at the cusp of a major growth phase - poised to rise like voltage through a resistor. Demand for electronics products is surging as rapidly as current through a superconductor. Smartphones, laptops, tablets, and gadgets are energizing the Global and Indian market. At the same time, the push for Make in India and Digital India is catalysing growth - like doping silicon with atoms.

From appliances to automation, electronics have become ingrained into every facet of our lives. The PCBs, chips and sensors form the nervous system that powers our gadgets, devices and machines. The electronics industry is currently in the midst of a significant growth spurt, with rising revenues, innovations, and opportunities creating a high demand for qualified workers. Electrifying opportunities lie ahead for skilled professionals. So, charge your enthusiasm, expand your knowledge, and get set to launch into an electronics career that will shine like a supernova. The only thing stopping the brightest paths from being discovered are your creative ideas. The outlook for 2024 is sparky and bright. Are you ready to switch careers and become part of India's electronics growth story? Here are 5 career roles that are expected to be in high demand in 2024: 

Embedded Systems Engineer 

With electronics and internet-connected devices becoming more compact yet sophisticated, there has been a rising demand for qualified embedded systems engineers who can design and program the complex integrated circuits and small microprocessors that go into smart devices. From home appliances and wearable gadgets to automotive systems and industrial equipment, embedded technology runs the show behind the scenes. They are the backbone of modern electronics found in consumer devices, automobiles, industrial equipment, and more.  

The complexity and demand for embedded devices have surged with rising automation, IoT and focus on localization of electronics manufacturing in India. This has created increased demand for skilled embedded systems engineers who can design, develop and maintain embedded firmware, hardware and software. As per a LinkedIn Emerging Jobs report, embedded software development is one of the top emerging jobs. 

Key skills required are expertise in languages like RTOS, working with various SoC architectures, interface protocols like UART, SPI, I2C, CAN etc. and tools such as Visual Studio, Eclipse IDE. Electronics engineers with relevant embedded training and certification have a strong advantage. Testing, debugging and analysing the software are an integral part of the role.

According to NASSCOM, India's embedded engineer workforce will need to grow 6X from 180,000 in 2018 to 1.2 million by 2025 to meet domestic demand. The average salary of embedded engineers in India ranges from ₹5 lakhs to ₹12 lakhs per annum for freshers, going up to ₹25 lakhs for mid to senior roles.

Mechatronics Engineer 

Modern automobiles employ a wide array of electronics to enhance performance, safety, comfort, and passenger experience. Foundational electrical systems have now advanced into much more complex domains like smart infotainment, driver assistance technologies, electric powertrain systems and autonomous driving capabilities. This evolution within automotive electronics is creating promising avenues for qualified engineering professionals. In manufacturing, you could design automated systems and robots using PLCs (Programmable Logic Controllers), sensors, actuators, and drives. You may also work on SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) systems to remotely monitor equipment and processes through HMIs (Human Machine Interfaces).

As per McKinsey & Co estimates, electronics systems already account for 40% of automotive costs and their share is expected to grow over 50% by 2030. Disruptive trends like vehicle electrification, connected mobility and self-driving will further accelerate electronics innovation in the automotive sector. 

Automotive electronics engineers require specialised knowledge spanning computer engineering, electrical/electronic circuits, software programming as well as vehicle design and mechanics. Key focus areas include designing ECUs (engine control unit), ADAS (advanced driver assistance systems), infotainment systems, telematics, lighting systems etc. Automotive communications protocols like CAN bus and FlexRay are also covered. Engineers in this field must stay updated with the latest breakthroughs in AI, sensors, battery technology to excel.

The automotive sector in India has witnessed steady growth with domestic sales projected to reach $300 billion and exports to $80 billion by 2026. Automotive electronics engineers earn attractive pay packages ranging from ₹5 lakhs per annum for freshers to over ₹18 lakhs for engineers with over 6 years of experience.

VLSI Design Engineer

VLSI refers to the integration of millions of transistors onto a single silicon chip to build complex integrated circuits and microprocessors. VLSI design engineers are responsible for designing, testing and developing VLSI chips and electronic components. Increased focus on electronics manufacturing and applications across automotive, consumer electronics, telecom, and other sectors has amplified the demand for skilled VLSI design engineers in India.

Engineers proficient in tools like Cadence, Mentor Graphics, programming languages such as Verilog, VHDL and key concepts of digital logic design and semiconductor fabrication are highly valued. Hands-on experience with FPGA prototyping is an added advantage. 

Aspiring VLSI engineers must gain expertise in areas like VLSI circuits, semiconductor physics, design verification, signal processing, chip design and layout. Knowledge of hardware description languages like Verilog and VHDL along with simulation tools is imperative. VLSI engineers collaborate closely with design teams to deliver optimized chip architectures. With scaling of device geometries, design complexities are increasing. Adaptability to evolving standards and tools will be key. VLSI is one of the highest-paying engineering specializations in India, with average salaries ranging from ₹7 lakhs per annum for freshers going up to ₹25 lakhs for experienced roles. 

PCB Design and Manufacturing

Printed Circuit Board (PCB) design and manufacturing is a key field in electronics engineering dealing with the design, testing and fabrication of PCBs that provide the foundation for almost all electronic devices and systems. As a PCB design engineer, you would use CAD software tools like Altium, OrCAD, Eagle etc to design the layout of a PCB including the components, connections, layers, footprints as per the circuit schematics and requirements. You need strong skills in schematic capture, component library management, routing, signal integrity, electromagnetic compatibility and PCB fabrication processes. You would work closely with circuit designers and electronics engineers to create the gerber files needed for PCB production.

In PCB manufacturing, you would work in positions like process engineering, equipment engineering, quality control etc. This involves knowledge of PCB fabrication techniques like photolithography, etching, drilling, plating, solder masking, automated optical and x-ray inspection. You would monitor the PCB production process flow and maintain, optimize, and troubleshoot the equipment. You would also be responsible for testing the fabricated PCBs against specifications and ensuring quality standards.

With the growth in consumer electronics, IoT, defence systems and industrial automation, there is increasing demand for more compact, efficient and reliable PCBs. As a PCB design and manufacturing engineer, you get to work on cutting-edge electronics products in fields like automotive, aerospace, consumer appliances, medical devices etc. It provides opportunities to travel and work in fabrication facilities worldwide. With your expertise in both design and manufacturing, you can build a rewarding career in the electronics industry.

The Indian PCB design and manufacturing market is growing rapidly. According to a report by IMARC Group, the Indian PCB market is expected to reach US$ 11.8 billion by 2028, exhibiting a CAGR of 16.6% during 2023-2028. Several factors are fuelling the expansion of the Indian PCB market, including the burgeoning Indian electronics sector, heightened consumer demand for electronics products, and the widespread adoption of cutting-edge technologies such as 5G and the Internet of Things (IoT). If you are interested in becoming a PCB designer, there are several steps you can take to get started. First, you should consider pursuing a degree in electronics engineering or a related field. You can also gain experience by working as an intern or apprentice in a PCB design and manufacturing company.

Drone Specialist

The drone ecosystem in India is poised for massive growth, with the sector projected to grow at 30% CAGR through 2025. Liberalized drone policies and increased adoption of drone technology across agriculture, mining, defence, logistics, entertainment and other sectors has opened up numerous opportunities for drone specialists. 

Drone specialists are essentially electronics engineers who conceptualize, design, develop, assemble, program and maintain unmanned aerial vehicles. They need strong expertise in embedded systems to build flight controllers, expertise in electronics hardware design to create reliable power systems, motors and batteries, knowledge of sensors, wireless communication systems, materials science and autonomous flight control algorithms using robotics and computer vision.

Drone specialists find roles in UAV/drone technology startups that are mushrooming in India, service providers that operate drone fleets, drone consultancies that advise enterprises on drone adoption as well as companies from end-user sectors like mining, agriculture, surveillance, mapping etc that leverage drones extensively. The average salary for drone specialists in India ranges from ₹4-7 lakhs per annum for freshers and can go up to ₹15-18 lakhs per annum for engineers with more than 5 years of experience. With strong growth anticipated in the Indian drone landscape, there are rich opportunities for electronics engineers who specialized in this futuristic domain. 

ESDM sector looks more promising than ever

The electronics sector is experiencing significant growth, with the government's commitment to the sector and the increasing demand for electronic products driving the growth. The sector offers a wide range of career opportunities, from electronic and electrical engineers to product safety engineers and semiconductor engineers. As new technologies continue to emerge, the demand for skilled electronics professionals will grow, and the industry will need innovative thinkers and problem-solvers to drive its forward. By exploring these career opportunities and the various industries they serve, individuals can make informed decisions about their educational and career paths in the electronics sector.

(Dr Abhilasha Gaur is the Chief Operating Officer, Electronics Sector Skills Council of India (ESSCI)

My connections with India date back to my childhood - Kong Xianhua, the Chinese Consul General

Kong Xianhua, Consul General of China in Mumbai
Kong Xianhua, Consul General of China in Mumbai

Commending on India's significant achievements in 2023, the Chinese Consul General Kong Xianhua, struck an optimistic outlook for India and China, and he opined that extensive cooperation between the neighboring countries could result in remarkable achievement and harvest for both Sino-Indian relations. 

Amid the current difficult times between the two countries, and recalling watching Raj Kapoor's film  Awaara during his childhood, Mr Kong Xianhua, Consul General of China in Mumbai, opened up about his vision for a greater co-operation and collaboration between India and China speaking exclusively to Paresh B Mehta, editor of Universal Newsline. 

What is your individual perspective regarding the booming Indian economy? 

India’s economic growth ranks the first place among all major economies in 2023. There is no doubt that India has become a key economic powerhouse in the world. India is making great efforts in developing manufacturing, infrastructure and digitalization, which are the pillars to sustain India’s fast growth in the future. Without being noticed, China and India have conducted extensive cooperation in those fields. In fact, China and India are highly complementary in various aspects. I’m pretty sure as long as China and India cooperate closely with each other, both the countries will reach our own development goal.  

Could you briefly list about China's progress in the year gone by?

China’s GDP has grown by 5.2% to over $17.7 trillion USD in 2023 and contributed over 30% of the global economic growth, remaining the main engine of global economy. With 41.76 trillion yuan of export and import value, China has secured its position as the largest trader of goods for 7 consecutive years. China's auto export exceeded 5 million last year, pushing it to be the No.1 auto exporter in the world. 

India and China should co-operate closely to reach our own developmental goal. That is true, but what are the Chinese government's initiatives to welcome more tourists from India? And what are further steps required for the same?

Starting from March, 2023, we fully resumed the acceptance of all types of visa applications including tourist and business visas. We have issued over 50,000 visas in 2023, a fifty-fold increase compared to 2022, among which business visas are over 40,000 and tourists visas are over 1,000.

The visa application is becoming easier and more convenient. We have streamlined visa application procedures, application forms and required materials, implemented temporary fee reductions for visa applicants. Applicants can get their visas in only 4 days.

Indian tourists to China are not enough. The main reason behind is that there is no direct flight nowadays. I do hope that the Indian government will come up with a final decision on resuming direct flights in 2024. 

Don't you feel that with the increase in Chinese tourists to India and vice versa, the cultural bonds between the both countries could receive a boost?

I always encourage Indian young friends to visit China and see the remarkable development achievements with their own eyes. Since China and India are so similar to each other, I believe they would be more confident in the future of India after witness what China has achieved.  I have mentioned that we have taken actions to encourage more Indian tourists to visit China and explore various facets of China. Unfortunately, Chinese tourists are still unable to get Indian visa. 

India has seen rapid development and significant changes over these years. Chinese people must have a look-see. Moreover, there are many world-renowned historical sites and scenic spots. I wish that the Indian government could resume visa service to Chinese citizens and encourage them to explore incredible India. 

What was your individual perception regards to India and its citizens before you joined the diplomatic profession. Could you please point out one or more issues or about Indian culture  - that came to you as a pleasant surprise?

As a matter of fact, my connections with India dated back to my childhood. The first foreign movie I watched is Awaara, the masterpiece of all time in Indian movie history. I can still remember the song Awaara Hoon. Before I joined the diplomatic profession, I worked in Shijiazhuang City, Hebei Province, where Dr. Kotnis fought and died. My office is very close to a war martyr cemetery where a statue of Dr. Kotnis stands and receives people’s tributes. 

All Chinese people, including me, are very grateful for his great sacrifice to Chinese people. That’s why we initiated Dr. Kotnis Friendship School Program with Solapur Municipality. We are also cooperating with a movie production team to make a documentary about Dr. Kotnis. 

During the Spring Festival holiday, I visited the Ajanta Caves and Ellora Caves. I was deeply impressed by the vivid mural wall paintings and exquisite carvings. The Mogao caves in China, which contains some of the finest examples of Buddhist art in China, were greatly influenced by India from the very beginning. It’s a pity that no written record of the Ajanta Caves exists in India. But Xuan Zang, the great Chinese buddhist monk and scholar, in his the Great Tang Records on the Western Regions, gave us the most detailed descrption about the marvelous place. 

After One and a half years of stay in India, what impressed me most is that so long the history of cultural exchange is between us and so deep is the influence of that exchange on both of us.

(The opinions expressed by  Kong Xianhua, the Chinese Consul General in this interview are purely his personal views)

Certified Financial Planner- CFP Professional Community Surges 8% in India

Certified Financial Planner (CFP) practitioners enjoy a high degree of financial confidence with 98% of clients reporting they trust their CFP professional to act in their best interests. This has resulted in India's CFP Professional Community Soaring to Record High of 2,731, Surging 8.5% Amidst Booming Demand for Professional Financial Planning Guidance as India witnessed 4th highest net growth rate in the world

With more than 50% of people who have never received financial planning advice intending to seek it within the next three years*, Financial Planning Standards Board Ltd. (FPSB) is pleased to report the number of CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER professionals worldwide grew by 5.1% over the previous year. FPSB and its global network of organizations increased the number of global CFP professionals by 10,768 to a total of 223,770 as of 31 December 2023. India saw a surge in demand for professional financial advice, with the community registering a record 2731 CFPs over the year with a 8.5% growth. 

The growth in the number of CFP professionals complements findings from the FPSB Value of Financial Planning Global Consumer Research 2023 that shows those who work with CFP practitioners report a better quality of life, enjoy more financial confidence and resilience, and are more satisfied with their financial situation, with 98% of clients reporting they trust their CFP professional to act in their best interests.

“We’re pleased to see the number of CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER professionals continues to increase year-over-year to meet the rising demand for professional financial planning advice,” said FPSB CEO Dante De Gori, CFP. “As the global community of CFP professionals grows, more people around the world can access financial planners who have committed to high standards of competency, ethics and practice to build holistic financial plans as they face increased costs of living and complex financial decisions. For nearly three decades, the global CFP professional community has steadily grown, reaching its highest ever at over 223,700. This growth is a true testament to the value CFP certification holds in the global financial planning profession and the clients Certified Financial Planner professionals serve”.

Sharing the numbers, Krishan Mishra, CEO, FPSB India said, "we are thrilled to announce that India's CFP professional community has reached an unprecedented milestone, boasting 2,731 dedicated professionals committed to delivering high-quality financial guidance. This remarkable 8.5% surge reflects not only the growing demand for financial planning advice in our country but also underscores the increasing importance individuals place on securing their financial future. As India proudly ranks among the top 5 in global net growth rates, this achievement speaks volumes about our nation's dedication to fostering financial literacy and stability. Together, we continue to empower individuals to make informed financial decisions and navigate their journey towards prosperity."

CFP professionals around the world are helping clients build holistic financial plans to achieve their goals, as they continue to deal with global economic uncertainty and inflation. The global community of 223,700+ CFP professionals commit to rigorous standards of competency, ethics and practice and to putting clients’ interests first.