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The Folk Dances of Andhra Pradesh

Andhra Pradesh has always been known for its rich culture, having presented a wide range of performing arts, including dance, drama and music, to the world. Dance is the
most interesting form of performing arts that has been encouraged from centuries in India. The state boasts of so many folk dances that it would not be possible to describe
all of them. The Dance forms of Andhra Pradesh take on a wide variety of colors, costumes, and types and involve different settings and musical instruments. Here, let us
have a glance over a few of them.

Lambadi

Lambadi, which is a tribal dance of Andhra Pradesh, is a special art form. It owes its origin to the village of Anupu near Nagarjunakonda. The participants are tribal women who belong to the nomadic Senegalese and Banjara tribes. These women are heavily bedecked in colourful costumes and ornaments such as ivory bangles. The dresses are decorated with mirrors and sequins. The male drummers also dance along with the women as the dance gains momentum. The songs for this dance are sung in the Lambadi dialect. The dance depicts the daily chores of the farmer such as sowing, planting and harvesting. It is performed during festivals such as Dussehra and Diwali. These dancers move from one house to another, performing at each place and are rewarded with alms for their efforts.

Burrakatha

Burrakatha, also known as Jangam Katha, is another folk dance of Andhra Pradesh. In Telengana it goes by the name of Tamboorakatha while in Rayalaseema it is known as
Tandana katha or Suddulu. This art form is used to narrate tales from Indian mythology. The chief narrator plays a stringed instrument known as a tambura. His narration and dance are performed simultaneously while his associates accompany him on small drums called gummeta. These small drums are also known as budike. The performers comprise a team of two or three people from the same family. They belong to certain castes or tribes known as picchuguntla or jangalu.

Burrakatha gained prominence during the freedom movement when it was used to educate the people about the current political situation during various meetings. This art
form was therefore banned in the then Madras province by the British government and in the independent Hyderabad kingdom by the Nizam’s government.  The authorities
feared that it could be used to stir up a popular uprising in these areas. The narrator’s associate would liven up his story with humorous comments.

Veeranatyam

Veeranatyam is an ancient dance form of Andhra Pradesh of high religious significance. Also known as the Dance of Destruction, it is said to have been performed by Lord Shiva who was enraged at his wife Sati’s death. Veeranatyam is performed by the Veeramusti community who claim lineage from Veerabhadra, who is depicted as another form of Lord Shiva. Veeranatyam is performed by men in the Saivite temples of East and West Godavari, Kurnool, Anantapur and Khammam. In the first stage the men hold a huge plate, with burning camphor, known as the Veerabhadra Pallem. They dance vigorously to the accompaniment of many percussion instruments till the burning camphor is
extinguished. During the ceremony the priest, brandishes a long sword representing the weapon of Veerabhadra.

In the second stage, the performers hold a long sacred pole representing the ‘Dhwaja Sthamba’ of Lord Shiva. It is smeared with Vibhuti or sacred ashes and has bells tied to
the top. During the third stage the performers go through a painful ordeal as they dance with spears and tridents pierced into their ankles, hands and tongues. This part of the dance is known as Narasam. They are dressed in knee-length dhotis with waist bands and have ashes smeared all over their bodies. Their dance is accompanied by the
Veeranam or the war drum.   

Kuchipudi

Kuchipudi not only a dance, but a fine amalgamation of dance, gestures, speech and song. A Kuchipudi dancer is required to be well versed in dancing, acting, music, various languages and texts. In the 17th century, Siddhendra Yogi started this dance during the 'bhakti' movement. It originated in a village named Kuchipudi.  Kuchipudi has its roots in the ancient Hindu Sanskrit text of Natya Shastra.

The Kuchipudi performance usually begins with an invocation. Then, each costumed actor is introduced, their role stated, and they then perform a short preliminary dance
set to music (dharavu). Next, the performance presents pure dance (nritta). This is followed by the expressive part of the performance (nritya), where rhythmic hand gestures help convey the story. Vocal and instrumental Carnatic music in the Telugu language accompanies the performance. The typical musical instruments in Kuchipudi are mridangam, cymbals, veena, flute and the tambura.

The popularity of Kuchipudi has grown within India, and it is performed worldwide. The unique folk dances of the region give Andhra Pradesh a place of pride in the cultural map of India.

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A Classic Treasure of Eloquent Literature -Kalidasa

The glory of finding the epitome of patience, virtue and beauty Shakuntalafrom the great epic Mahabharatato adorning Indian literature with Abhijnanashakuntala (Sanskrit: “The Recognition of Shakuntala”), a classical drama is taken by Kalidasa. Kalidasa, a paragon of every epoch has given lives to many masterpieces like Vikramorvashi(“Urvashi Won by Valour”), Malavikagnimitra (“Malavika and Agnimitra”); the epic poems Raghuvamsha (“Dynasty of Raghu”) and Kumarasambhava (“Birth of the War God”); and the lyric “Meghaduta” (“Cloud Messenger”). Widely recognized and celebrated all over the world, Kalidasa is regarded to be one of the eminentwriterswhoever existed. Kalidasa’s contribution to the literary world is immutable and changed world readers’ perspectives towards Indian literature. His works managed to hold an exemplary stance even after generations.

This self-efficacy writer’s works have been translated into almost all languages of the world. As like many authors, Kalidasa has revealed barely anything about him in his works that gives readers very uncertain knowledge about the writer. Scholars and researchers have speculated that Kalidasa may have lived near the Himalayas, in the vicinity of Ujjain and in Kalinga. This hypothesis is based on the detailed description of the Himalayas given by Kalidasa in his work Kumārasambhava, the love and loyalty he portrayed for Ujjain in Meghadutaand his highly eulogistic descriptions of Kalingan emperor Hemāngada in Raghuvamsa (sixth sarga).

According to folklores, once a scholarly princess decided to find a suitable groom for herself by testing men in her kingdom for their knowledge. Frustrated men in the kingdom who failed the test decided to send Kalidasa to her court, who seemed to be an unintelligent man. Kalidasa was humiliated due to his poor performance and was challenged by the princess. Consequently Kalidasa learnt Sanskrit and studied Puranas and other ancient texts that helped him to uncover his talent. Kalidasa named his first work with the same words that were spoken by the princess to humiliate him that literally get translated into “Is there anything particularly intelligent you can now say?” Out of these words, he came up with three classic works, the epic “Kumarasambhava”, the poem “Meghaduta” and the epic “Raghuvamsa". It is believed that he was one of the “nine gems” at the court of the talented king Vikramadityaof Ujjain. His works are living evidence for the rich literary culture that Sanskrit inherited. Kalidasa is seen as the archetype for Sanskrit literary composition even now.

 

Kalidasa’s most celebrated drama, Abhijnanashakuntalais generally considered to be the masterpiece amongst all of his works. Extracted from the epic Mahabharata, Kalidasa focuses on the life of Shakuntalain the drama. He brings in the character Dushyanta and how he willed to seduce the beautiful nymph Shakuntala. They get married soon and Shakuntala gives birth to a vibrant child. The king refuses to accept Shakuntala and his daughter. But, soon they get re-united in heaven. Kalidasa signifies the child’s birth, for it is “Bharata”, who is believed to be the eponymous ancestor of the Indian nation. Kalidasa recreates the story into a love idyll in which the characters represent typical aristocratic societal model. The heroine is depicted to be a girl of sentiments, selflessness and delicate nature, while the King, who’s supposed to be the first servant of dharma, portrays a character of protector of the social order, resolute hero, yet tender, and suffering agonies over his lost love.

Kalidasa’s precision in describing the fine beauty of nature was fulfilled by his elegant usage of metaphors that is matchless. The second play, Vikramorvashi(possibly, a pun on Vikamaditya) revolves around the theme of love of a mortal for a divine maiden. The very popular “mad scene” (Act IV­) in which the gloomy king wanders through a lovely forest admiring various flowers and trees as though they were his love is still considered to be a part that is open for interpretations. The third play, Malavikagnimitrahas a completely different theme and outcome-a harem intrigue, comical and playful, but not less accomplished for lacking any high purpose.

Kalidasa’s contribution to Kavya(strophic poetry) is incredible and show two different subtypes, epic and lyric. Long poems like Raghuvamshaand Kumarasambhavaare epics. The first poem recounts the legends of the hero Rama’s forebears and descendants; the second poem tells the picaresque story of Shiva’s seduction by his consort Parvati, the conflagration of Kama (the god of desire), and the birth of Kumara (Skanda), Shiva’s son.  These stories are mere pretext for the poet to enchain stanzas, each metrically and grammatically complete and redounding with complex and reposeful imagery. Kalidasa’s mastery in Sanskrit as a poetic medium is nowhere more marked. A lyric poem, the “Meghaduta” contains, interspersed in a message from a lover to his absent beloved, an extraordinary series of unexcelled and knowledgeable vignettes, describing the mountains, rivers and forests of northern India. Kalidasa has portrayed a society that is of aristocratic dignity and power in all of his works that shows the admiration he had for upper class people.

Kalidasa is reminisced to be the perfection that neither Sanskrit nor India would know again.  Kalidasa’s two minor poems called Khandakavyasare of unique format and have extensive interpreting qualities. His descriptive poem Ritusamharatalks about the six seasons by narrating the experiences of two lovers in each of the seasons. Kalidasa named his elegy as Meghaduta, which literally means The Cloud Messenger. This poem is the story of Yaksha, a longing lover trying to send a message to his lover through a cloud. Kalidasa set this poem to the ‘Mandakranta’ meter, which is known for its lyrical sweetness.

After many criticisms and commentaries written about Kalidasa, the one appeared in 15th century by KolachalaMaliinathuSuri is considered to be the one that brought the real essence of Kalidasa’s works. Most famous Sanskrit poets like Banabhatta, JayadevaandRajasekhara have praised and written tributes for Kalidasa. A well-known Sanskrit verse, “UpmaKalidasaya” praises his skill at Upamaor similes. One of the highly revered critics, Anandhavardhana considered Kalidasa to be one of the greatest Sanskrit poets ever. Through all these commentaries and criticisms, we come to know that Kalidasa’s original content have been modified to a great extent by constant copying and publishing through various centuries.

Kalidasa’sAbhijnanasakuntalamwas one of the first works of Indian literature that got translated into English and attracted readers from Europe. Goethe andHerderwere fascinated by Kalidasa’s works when they were again translated from English to German.Goethe quoted Kalidasa’s works as “To be in the height of his talent in representation of the natural order, of the finest mode of life, of the purest moral endeavor, of the most worthy sovereign, and of the most sober divine meditation; still he remains in such a manner the lord and master of creation”. Kalidasa’s works influenced many writers in Europe during the late 19th and 20th century. Camille Claudel’s very popular sculpture Shakuntalaserves as an example. There are many plays, movies and essays written based on Kalidasa’s life and works in many languages including Bengali, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam and English. Kalidasa, though physically dead, his works give him the power to be immortal and eternally classic.

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Blockchain Technology

Banking and technology are very closely associated and innovations have changed banking drastically over the period of time. Banks across the world are in their digital transformation journeys and the focus now is on how to accelerate this journey, with Open Banking and API-led business models playing a key role, according to  Infosys Finacle, part of EdgeVerve Systems, a product subsidiary of Infosys. In its annual banking trends forecast for the year 2019 that covers banks in 100 countries, including India, the report predicts that technology and business outcomes will become more tightly coupled, as banks evolve their architecture for emerging digital technologies and new open banking realities.

One disruptive innovation which is changing the banking sector globally is Blockchain Technology (BCT). Blockchain technology is a new technology which is based on mathematical, cryptographic and economic principles for maintaining a database between various participants without the requirement of any third party or central authority. It is a secured distributed database, tamper evident, wherein the validity of a transaction can be verified by parties in the transaction. Each group of these transactions is referred to as a “block”. A Block records some or all of the recent transactions and goes into a blockchain as a permanent record once completed.

Blockchain technology, also known as the decentralised, distributed ledger technology, has gained visibility in India in the last two years and has started taking banking in India by storm. Blockchain is shared distributed ledger which stores business transaction to a permanent unbreakable chain which can be viewed by the parties in a transaction. Blockchain technology has the potential to disrupt the financial business applications as it provides permanent and tamper proof recording of transactions in a distributed network. According to a report, in the next five years, Blockchain has a potential to create value to the tune of USD 5 billion in India across all sectors. This technology has the potential to change the way financial service transactions are carried out.

The blockchain could potentially save banks billions in cash by dramatically reducing processing costs. Banks are keen to take the opportunity to reduce transaction costs and the amount of paper that they process. Implementing blockchain would be a step to making banks increasingly profitable and valuable.

 

All major banks are trying out blockchain which could be used for money transfers, record keeping and other back-end functions. The blockchain application changes the paper-intensive international trade finance process to an electronic decentralized ledger that gives all the participating entities, including banks, the ability to access a single source of information. It also allows them to track all documentation and validate ownership of assets digitally, as an un-alterable ledger in real time.

 

Banks in India are increasingly investing in blockchain technology. A consortium of India’s eleven largest banks including ICICI Bank, Kotak Mahindra Bank, HDFC Bank, Yes Bank, Standard Chartered Bank, RBL Bank, South Indian Bank, and Axis Bank have launched the first ever blockchain-linked loan system in the country, leveraging the distributed ledger technology. This apart from ensuring transparency in credit disbursement also removes any communication hurdle among the different banks. Federal Bank has launched its Blockchain based remittance solution for NRIs.

Blockchain solutions are expected to bring operational efficiency, simplicity and transparency in banking operations. It also enhances banking experiences for customers by reducing transaction time from hours to seconds. Blockchain technology also eliminates manual processes and friction in day-to-day trade finance, digital identities and cross-border payments. Banks are using Blockchain to rewire financial markets for optimized cash management and consumer lending while transforming online and international payments processes. Banking community expects that with Blockchain, business can be conducted quickly and securely, moving from paper-based to Blockchain stored transaction records, which can enable expansion to underserved markets such as small and medium enterprises.

Blockchain technology has the potential to change the way financial service transactions are carried out. Insurance, Trade Finance, Cross Border Payments, Digital Identities have witnessed an increased adoption which will further facilitate the development of a more strategic BFSI industry. Its distributed ledger technology, smart contracts, security, built-in governance and control capabilities give institutions real-time access to trade finance data and information. This helps mitigate risk, eliminate wait time and increase transparency.

Banks spend tremendous time and efforts identifying and validating records multiple times for the same customers. Requiring customers to provide identifying information repeatedly can erode customer satisfaction and cause transactional delays. In short, banks are using blockchain to promote trust and transparency, eliminate fraud and respond to the changing needs of the market.

Blockchain is expected to have a direct impact on reducing operational costs and improving efficiencies. Since the technology is still in its nascent stages of commercial deployment, banks are in the process of forming policies and procedures to ensure that personally identifiable information is always protected.

With blockchain technology still evolving, clearing the misconceptions created by bitcoins is one among the main challenges faced by the industry in adoption of Blockchain solutions.

In a decentralized ecosystem like Blockchain, it's about how multiple participants can view each other. Even competitors have to become collaborators. There is still time before people start making use of the transformative potential of Blockchain. At the same time, the questions around regulations will have to be resolved through focused discussions with competent regulatory authorities and incorporation of their thought-process. Surely, an effective implementation roadmap can mitigate or address most of these challenges.

With more secure and streamlined trade processes, frictionless digital identity interactions and faster, lower-cost, cross-border payments, IBM is helping many banks approach businesses in entirely new ways through is blockchain platform.

 

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Adaptability – An Essential Element in Today’s Workplace

Adaptability in the workplace is when an employee can be flexible and have the ability to adapt to changing work conditions. An adaptable employee can work independently or work well with a team. Working in a group is helpful for employees to brainstorm ideas or to create an excellent product. Adaptability in the workplace is essential to be able to complete important assignments.

Adaptability is one of the most sought for qualities among employees. The Internet age not only demands employees be open to new ideas and technological evolution, but also calls for them to be flexible enough to cope when things do not go according to plan. Your ability to demonstrate adaptability through your actions will gain you much favor with both supervisors and co-workers. Here are a few ways to help you demonstrate adaptability at your workplace.

Being willing and able to adapt your behavior increases your ability to communicate and build relationships with other people. Versatility is your ability to adapt. It's your aptitude. People with adaptability are both flexible and versatile.

Adaptability is the feature of changing or creating modifications in oneself to suit to the new environment. For a workplace culture, it means that a person must be open to new ideas or changes, must be able to work independently or in teams, or carry out tasks that are not intended for one person only. Adaptability is a critical quality that today’s employers seek in their prospective workforce.  Of all the skills that employers are looking out is a person having adaptability, a core emotional intelligence quality. It is ranked the top among other important skills like communication, interpersonal skills, work ethics, and principles.

At the time of hiring, an employer is interested to know if the candidate would fit into the corporate culture well and who would be able to anticipate changes, respond to them and make changes on a day to day basis. Every company has its own work and corporate culture that is strategically important for their success. That is the reason why when the hiring process is initiated, the employer looks not only on the candidate’s skills and experience but whether he/she would blend themselves with the culture of the company. With rapid changes in technology, diversity and society, companies need employees who are open to new ideas, flexible enough to work through challenging issues, and generally able to cope when things don't go as planned.

To function or perform in the world in any situation or circumstances requires an individual to possess the basic skill of adaptability. Hence, the importance of adaptability gets stronger when there are more given opportunities. Adaptability allows employees to handle any situation that may be handed to them and provide a solution. In engineering, technology is always changing, which makes it essential to be innovative and to stay open to the constant changes in technology.

The need for adaptability has never been greater than it is now. The ability for people, teams and organizations to adapt to changes in their environments, stay relevant and avoid obsolescence is the defining characteristic between success and failure, growth and stagnation, business and bankruptcy.

Adaptable people have many traits. They experiment, see opportunity where others see failure, are resourceful, think ahead, don't blame,  don’t claim fame, are curious and  keep learning, prepare alternative solutions, make easy transitions, keep calm and confident, acquire new skills, diversify knowledge, carry out multiple tasks, manage multiple assignments by setting priorities, make changes to attitude to merge with the new culture, are not rigid in thoughts, are effective in problem solving, are able to negotiate, are able to work under pressure, are able to balance work with family, are able to take decisions during crisis or emergencies, can deal with unpredictable work situations, can adopt new methods to accomplish a task, value other people’s cultural background.

The adage, “Change is the only constant” was never more suitable than for today’s disruptive business landscape. In order to attain and sustain a competitive edge and to offer market leading propositions, two attributes – Adaptability and Agility – hold maximum importance.

Adaptability accounts for better customer support and making provisions to meet their needs, but it’s also a huge factor to attract and retain employees who are equipped to drive these customers forward. Companies unprepared for the relentless pace of change will simply not be able to compete for skills in today’s digital marketplace.

Adaptability at the workplace allows one to evaluate what is happening and adjust to the role and responsibilities or even the job being offered. It is very important for the employer and employee to be flexible as it creates a streamlined workforce and technology adopted, due to changes in the market.

According to research on flexibility and adaptability at work, a higher level of emotional intelligence helps people to adapt to new changes easily. People who are adaptable have more chances of having better job satisfaction. In the long term there forms a link between adaptability and job performance.

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Melody Queen of India Honoured with ‘Daughter of the Nation’ Title

September 28, 2019 is a historic day for Indian music and a day of celebrations for the music lovers in India, as the legendary singer LataMangeshkarwas honoured with ‘Daughter of the Nation’ title by the Government of India on her 90th birthday on that date as a tribute to her contribution to Indian film music over seven decades.

 

LataMangeshkar,fondly known by the epithet "Melody queen” and called Lataji  with love and affection,is one of most respected and adored playback singers in India with over 25000 songs in 36 languages to her credit.

 

Lataji is the recipient of three National Film Awards, fifteen Bengal Film Journalists' Association Awards, four Filmfare Best Female Playback Awards, two Filmfare Special Awards andFilmfare Lifetime Achievement Award. She was honoured with Padma Bhushan (1969), DadasahebPhalke Award (1989), Padma Vibhushan (1999), Bharat Ratna (2001) and  Officer of the Legion of Honour by France (2007). In 1974, she became the first Indian to perform in the Royal Albert Hall, London’s most iconic venue. Lataji is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the most recorded artist in the world.

 

Born on September 28, 1929 in Indore, Central Provinces (now Madhya Pradesh), LataMangeshkar is the eldest daughter among the five children of the accomplished claasical singer and stage actor PanditDeenanathMangeshkar and ShevantiMangeshkar.Lataji was initially named Hema when she was born, but later her father renamed her as Lata, inspired by a character in one of his plays. LataMangeshkar is the elder sister of singers AshaBhosle, HridaynathMangeshkar, UshaMangeshkar and MeenaMangeshkar.

 

Lataji started acting in her father’s musical plays since the age of five. She also took lessons in classical music from maestros like Amanat Khan, PanditTulsidas Sharma and Aman Ali Khan Saheb later in life. She was inspired by K.L. Saigal’s music when she was young. She did not receive a formal education as she did not attend school. PanditDinanath passed away when Lata was just 13 years old and as the eldest child, the financial responsibility of the family came to rest upon Lata’s shoulders.

 

Lataji started her musical career in 1942, right after the death of her father. VinayakDamodarKarnataki, a family friend helped her get jobs as an actress in Marathi and Hindi Films. Beginning years of her career were quite rocky as young Lata struggled to find her foothold in the industry. Her first song as a playback singer was ‘NaachuYaaGade, KheluSaari Mani HausBhaari’ for a Marathi film KitiHasaal with composer SadashivraoNevrekar. The song was dropped from the film before release. Her first Hindi song happened the next year in 1943, with ‘Mata EkSapoot Ki DuniyaBadal De Tu’ in the movie Gajaabhaau.

 

LataMangeshkar moved to Bombay in 1945. She faced numerous rejections from contemporary music composers as they found her voice too thin and sharp, as opposed to the preferred style of that time. She would often imitate famous singers like Noor Jahan to satisfy the music directors.

 

Apart from Master Vinayak, Lataji was mentored by music director GhulamHaider. Under his guidance, Lataji achieved her first recognition in the song ‘DilMera Toda, MujheKahinKa Na Chhora’ in the 1948 movie Majboor. Her first tumultuous hit song came with the song ‘AyegaAnewala’ presented on-screen by actress Madhubala in the film Mahal in 1949.

 

Lataji’s music career took off from there as she started working with all major music directors and playback singers of the time. She did playback singing for celebrated music directors like Sachin DevBurman, SalilChowdhury, Sankar-Jaikishan, Laxmikant-Pyarelal, Naushad, Madan Mohan, Kalyanji-Anandji, Khayyam and PanditAmarnathHusanLalBhagat Ram. During the 1950s, she worked in successful films like BaijuBawra (1952), Mother India (1957), Devdas (1955), ChoriChori (1956) and Madhumati (1958). She won her first Filmfare Award for best Female Playback Singer in 1958 for the song ‘Aaja Re Pardesi’ from the film Madhumati with music director SalilChowdhury.

 

Lataji easily flitted between different genres for various music directors. She sung raga based song like ‘MoheBhool Gaye Sawariya’ based on Raga Bhairav from the 1952 film BaijuBawra. She sung western theme song like ‘AjeebDastanHainYeh’ from DilApnaaurPreetParayi (1960) as well as Bhajan like Allah TeroNaam for the movie Hum Dono in 1961. She was the voice behind the most glamorous heroines of the time, includingMadubala,MeenaKumari, Vijayanti Mala and HemaMalini. She moved dignitaries including Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru to tears with her rendition of the famous patriotic song ‘Ae Mere WatanKe Logon’.

 

She started playback singing for regional films in Tamil and Marathi. Her first song in Tamil was ‘EnthanKannalan’ in the film Vanaradham in 1956. In Marathi films, she sung for her brother HridaynathMangeshkar who was a celebrated music director, in films like Jait Re Jait. He sang playback for Bengali films for music directors like SalilChowdhury and Hemant Kumar. She made her debut in the Kannada playback industry with the song ‘BellaneBelagayithu’ composed by LakshmanBerlekar from the movie KrantiveeraSangolliRayanna in 1967. In 1974, she recorded her only Malayalam song "KadaliChenkadali" for the film Nellu, composed by SalilChowdhury, and written by VayalarRamavarma.

 

She collaborated with noted male playback singers like Mohammed Rafi, Kishore Kumar, Mukesh, Hemant Kumar, MahendraKapoor, TalatMehmood and Manna Dey in many projects. She became the unrivalled queen of the playback industryand enjoyed star status. People could not praise her voice enough and every major producer, music director and actor was vying to work with her. Her duets with Mohad. Rafi and Kishore Kumar all through the 1970s and 1980s became legends of the Hindi Film Industry and are celebrated till date. Songs like ‘Jo wadakiya’fromthe film ‘TajMahal,‘Tasveerteridilmein’ from ‘Maya’, ‘Tujhejeevankidorse‘fromAsliNaqli, ’KoraKagazka ye man mera’ from‘Aradhana’, ‘TereBinaZindagi Se’ from ‘Andhi’, ‘Tere Mere Milan Ki’ from Abhimaanand ‘Aap Ki Ankhon Me Kuch’ from ‘Ghar’, are some examples of unforgettable musical magic that these pairs created.

 

Lataji’s collaboration with music director duo LaxmikantPyarelal produced some of the most superhit songs of the time that are still hummed with equal enthusiasms by Indians. The duo considered Lataji instrumental in their success. ‘DilVilPyarVyar’ from ‘Shagird’ (1968), ‘SheeshaHoYaDilHo’ from ‘Asha’ (1980), ‘Mere Naseeb Mein’ from ‘Naseeb’ (1981) and ‘Ye Galiyan Ye Chaubara’ from ‘PremRog’ (1982) are some of their most popular collaborations. Other acclaimed scoresin the 1980s include title track from Ram Teri Ganga Maili (1985) with music director Ravindra Jain and DikhayiDiye Yun in Bazaar (1982) with Khayyam.

 

1990s onwards, Lataji worked with music directors like Anu Malik, JatinLalit and A.R. Rahman. Films like ‘DilwaleDulhania Le Jayenge’, ‘Hum aapkeHainKaun’, ‘Dil Se’, ‘Rang De Basanti’ featured acclaimed songs sung by Lataji. She gradually decreased the volume of her work due to health reasons, singing selective compositions. She launched several albums during her musical career including ChalaVahi Des (1979) with Brother HridaynathMangeshkar, Ram RatanDhanPayo (1983) and Shraddanjali-My Tribute to the Immortals (1994).

Music Director

 

LataMangeshkar also assumed the role of music director for several Marathi Films, first of which was Ram RamPavhane in 1955. Her other projects were Maratha TitukaMelvava (1963), MohityanchiManjula (1963), SadhiManase (1965) and TambadiMati (1969). She won Maharashtra State Government's Best Music Director Award for the film SadhiManase with the song ‘Airanichya Deva receiving the best song award.

 

As a producer, LataMangeshkar made four films - Vaadal, a Marathi language film in 1953, Jhaanjhar with C. Ramchandra as co-producer in 1953, Kanchan in 1955 and Lekin…, the directorial venture of lyricist Gulzar in 1990. She launched her own music label in 2012 called LM Music and released a Devotional album along with younger sister UshaMangeshkar.

 

Lataji idolises the late KundanLalSaigal as her most favourite singer. She bought every album featuring Saigal’s songs and when the radio played his songs, she would drop everything to listen. Sadly, she never met her idol during his lifetime.

Though Latajilearnt singing from her father PanditDinanathMangeshkar, unfortunately, she never did spend much time with him, as he passed away quite young.Not being able to spend time with her father remains an eternal regret.

 

Latajinever sang for composer O. P.Nayyar. The legendary singer was in news recently when she spoke about internet sensation, RanuMondal. Commenting on her, Lata had said in a recent interview, “Agar mere naamaurkaam se kissikobhalahotahaitoh main apne-aapkokhush-kismatsamajhtihoon (If anyone gets benefited from my name and work, then I feel fortunate).”

 

“But I also feel imitation is not a reliable and durable companion for success. By singing my songs or Kishoreda’s (Kumar), or (Mohd) Rafi Saab’s, or MukeshBhaiyya or Asha’s (Bhosle) numbers, aspiring singers can get short-term attention. But it won’t last,” says Lataji, at the cusp of 90.

 

LataMangeshkar has had an illustrious career in various roles. A God-gifted voice led her to become the most successful and celebrated female playback singer from the 1940s till 1980s. Lataji has lent her voice to all leading ladies of Bollywood. Latajiis said to have recorded songs for over a thousand Hindi films. She also has the credit of having sung in over thirty-six regional Indian languages and foreign languages. Her songs had touched the hearts of millions throughout the years and across borders. She also did some acting at the start of her career. Her attempts as a music director were not as successful as her singing career.

The title of ‘Daughter of the Nation’ conferred on her 90th birthday makes the image of LataMangheshkar more iconic and towering. Music lovers across the country regard Lataji as a rare creation of God. Here’s wishing the nonagenarian musician many more years of healthy and peaceful life.

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Gandhism Today

Seven decades down the line after his merging with the sea of times, Mahatma Gandhi stands tall as an institution rather than an individual in the ethos of India. Gandhi was an inventor par excellence, but of a different kind. He was an inventor of a unique way of protest, of struggle, of emancipation and of empowerment. He was a general, a commander, a warrior, not in waging war but in making peace. He had a rich weaponry, not of arms and ammunition, but of truth, peace and "satyagraha" as he called it. Morality was his field of action. His battle was for exploring a whole new dimension of the human psyche, its capacity to willingly accept suffering, even unto death. He fought not for attaining the kingdom of heaven, but for a better world here by bringing about social and political change. That was Mahatma Gandhi.

 

When the young Indian barrister Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was evicted from a train at Pietermaritzburg station for being a non-white on June 7, 1893, a spark was lit which was to change the course of world history.

 

On September 11, 1906, Gandhi launched the first satyagraha campaign from the Empire Theatre in Johannesburg. He issued a clarion call for non-violent resistance against racial discrimination, oppression and injustice. He described satyagraha as a force born of truth and the love of non-violence, a moral equivalent of war.

 

Gandhi’s 21 years in South Africa moulded his views and also put them into test and refinement. From South Africa he carried the torch of satyagraha to India. And the whole world saw with astonishment how this unique technique energized millions of men and women in India to bring a mighty empire to its knees.

 

The popular picture of Gandhi is that of a highly solemn and earnest person. His mission was indeed a lofty one but his personality was full of lightness and humour. Once, reacting to criticism that he was wearing merely his usual loin cloth, sandals and shawl when invited to tea by King George and Queen Mary, he said, "The King had enough on for both of us.Mahatma Gandhi was a multi-faceted personality to an unusual degree. He was a man of peace who did not hesitate to fight for what he believed to be right,  a political strategist who shunned conventional politics and held no office, a thinker, a philosopher, a lover of peace, a man of action, a true revolutionary. He was extraordinarily pragmatic. He adapted himself to changing situations without compromising or abandoning his basic values. Mahatma Gandhi respected tradition. He was deeply religious. But his was a religion that drew from every faith, a religion that was all-inclusive.He embodied spirituality. But his was a spirituality rooted in an abiding concern for the poor and the deprived, of service to and empowerment of the disadvantaged and underprivileged.

 

Though Gandhi was impatient for cataclysmic change, he shunned violence in any form as an instrument to force the pace of change. In his own words “non violence is mightier than the mightiest weapon of destruction, devised by the ingenuity of man”.

 

In today’s world, there is a thinking or rather an argument that thoughGandhian thought, word and deed were extraordinarily effective in the times in which he lived, present times are dramatically different where,while Mahatma Gandhi is certainly worthy of continued admiration and awe,it would be naive and unrealistic to expect his methods to be effective. Though this has been a topic of deliberations, the fact remains that an increasing number of young people in India and elsewhere are today turning to Gandhian thoughts to seek solutions to contemporary concerns through individual and collective action.

There is no denying the fact that the world of today is vastly different from the times of Mahatma Gandhi. The fundamental issues which Gandhi was confronted with were colonial subjugation and racial discrimination. While the former has disappeared from the world, the latter too has been blunted significantly. At the same time, new threats to peace, harmony and stability have emerged in various forms, viz., ethnic nationalism, religious chauvinism, economic inequality, military might, terrorism, which are all powerful drivers of conflicts in today’s world. This has necessitated a new paradigm for solving conflicts. It is quite paradoxical that while the establishment of peace has become the world’s single greatest imperative in the 21st century, the traditional instruments of preserving peace have been found to be increasingly ineffective.

 

Rather than the question whether Mahatma Gandhi is relevant or not, the real issue is whether we are prepared to live our lives by what he preached and practised, whether we have the courage and strength of mind to follow in his footsteps.

 

The truth is that instead of diminishing in relevance, Mahatma Gandhi has actually become all the more pertinent in the 21st century. Irrespective of the challenge we confront, the Gandhian way is a real, result oriented, live, empowering, illuminating option.

 

It is very important that we interpret, in contemporary terms, what Gandhi spelt out in the context of his times, as otherwise we would really be doing injustice to him. He would have wanted us to experiment and find our own way without compromising our fundamental beliefs. This needs to be properly understood.

 

The three main guiding principles which Gandhi bequeathed to us are Ahimsa (or nonviolence), Satyagraha (or the force born of truth and non-violence) and Sarvodaya (or upliftment of all). What is important is our rediscovering the value of these principles if we want to deal effectively with today's challenges.

 

The essence of Mahatma Gandhi’s political philosophy was the empowerment of every individual, irrespective of class, caste, colour, creed or community. He believed that extreme poverty was itself a form of violence.

 

Gandhian perspective on economic growth is another significant aspect is today’s context. Gandhi advocated that wealth created and generated in the society must contribute, first and foremost, to a larger social purpose and cause. Stating this in today’s world does not negate the principles of profit and commerce, but only  underlines the need to use a part of the wealth created, to better the quality of life of those whose voices remain unheard.

 

In response to the feverish proliferation of consumerism that is so evident today, Mahatma Gandhi would most likely have reminded us that a bit of austerity would not be out of place.

 

For many, Mahatma Gandhi was and continues to be the ultimate touchstone of moral authority. This means judging all our actions in word and deed, on the touchstone of public purpose. Public purpose itself has to be judged against the yardstick of the welfare and well-being of the poorest and most deprived in the land.

 

Gandhi fervently believed in the pivotal role of religion in every-day life. But his  was a faith that drew the best from every religion, a faith that was all-inclusive. He saw it as an ethical and moral mooring to all our actions. When asked about his religious belief, he said, "yes I am a Hindu. I am also a Christian, a Muslim, a Buddhist and a Jew".

 

Conflict and inequality cannot be totally isolated from the society. Gandhi’s greatest teaching to the world was that this need not be destructively so, that conflicts can be resolved and inequalities can be contained. He advocated that without worthy means, worthy ends can never be attained.

 

Mahatma Gandhi had a profound influence on Nelson Mandela, the former President  of South Africa, which made him a shining embodiment of Gandhi’s vision. There was a direct connection between Gandhi's campaign against discrimination in South Africa and the anti-apartheid movement there spearheaded by Mandela.

 

The term ‘Gandhism’ is used today for the body of ideas that describes the inspiration, vision and the life work of Mahatma Gandhi. The term also encompasses what Gandhi's ideas, words and actions mean to people around the world, and how they used them for guidance in building their own future.

 

Now the pertinent question is, to what extent the 21st century would fulfil Mahatma Gandhi's vision? The rewards would be boundless for our country if non violence is not viewed as outdated and utopian, if we realise that violent means do not bring about lasting change, that violence cannot bring about peace, that violence only begets violence and spirals on. Gandhi has ever increased relevance in today’s world.

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Kashmir Strategy Abroad Must Change

Following the abrogation of Article 370 and consequent integration of Kashmir, we need to change our strategy of dealing with the issue in the UN and western countries. We should assert that there is no Kashmir issue anymore and that any interference in Kashmir will be construed as interference in the internal affairs of India. The only remaining issue between India and Pakistan is terrorism, which will be dealt with by the two countries together and by the international community.

Kashmir is on the minds of many people in the world because it figures frequently in the news. Whenever something happens, the global media publishes stereotyped reports with fear being expressed about a nuclear war between India and Pakistan. The refrain is that Kashmir is the only Muslim majority state in India and that it is being suppressed and oppressed by the Hindu majority India and that there are some UN resolutions, which are not implemented by India. The sympathy is for poor Pakistan. But, to be politically correct, the reports add in good measure that all issues should be resolved bilaterally between India and Pakistan. After the advent of the Modi Government, some spice about Hindutva excesses is also sprinkled. The western media has responded in the same way to the abrogation of Article 370 and the bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir, predicting a deterioration in the situation in the sub-continent.

The Washington press corps had invented some years ago a phrase, “Goyal Foil” to refer to a phenomenon in the daily press briefing in the White House. These briefings were very important in conveying good news and bad, before the US President began tweeting day and night. The briefings are fairly tame generally, but there are occasions when the issues get difficult for the White House spokesperson to handle. On such occasions, the spokesperson would turn to an Indian journalist, Raghubir Goyal, who had a one-man community newspaper, who used to attend the briefing without fail. The moment he got the signal, Goyal would raise his hand agitatedly to ask a question. The question would always be on Kashmir and the US policy towards the latest developments. A much-relieved spokesperson would leave the tough topic of discussion and give Goyal a standard reply on Kashmir!

At the UN, diplomats are reminded of Kashmir every time there is an exchange between India and Pakistan in one of the Committees, particularly during the General Assembly. Many of these exchanges are on Kashmir itself, but there are other issues like self-determination, peace keeping operations, human rights etc which are linked to Kashmir and our views are coloured by the situation in Kashmir. Although the UN Charter and several documents of the UN assert that all peoples have the right to self-determination, India enters a reservation on it whenever that right is mentioned in any UN document to the effect that such a right is admissible only to the territories under colonial occupation or alien domination. Pakistan objects to it in principle, but accepts it with the explanation that Kashmir is under alien domination.

Any discussion on Peace Keeping Operations (PKO) inevitably raises the issues relating to the respective positions of India and Pakistan on the United Nations Military Observer Group for India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP), the UNPKO established at the time of the ceasefire in Kashmir. We are of the view that the PKO had become redundant after the ceasefire line was converted into the Line Of Control (LOC) at Shimla, but since Pakistan did not agree to it, it continues on the Pakistan side of the border. We point out the futility of the expenditure on the POK, but it cannot be terminated without the agreement of the two sides involved. We often call for the abolition of “sunset operations” everywhere, but they continue at considerable cost to the UN.

Our positions in the Human Rights Council are also conditioned by our concerns about Kashmir. We insist that, apart from considering the violation of human rights by the states concerned, the UN should also take into account the human rights violations of terrorists and other non-state actors. We also object to politicisation of human rights for fear that Pakistan would allege that our fight against the terrorists in Kashmir should be treated as human rights violations. At one stage, we decided that we would not support any country specific resolutions in the Council unless they are consensus resolutions simply to eliminate politicization of human rights.

India’s preoccupation with terrorism is undoubtedly linked to the situation in Kashmir. In the pre-9/11days, India’s position on terrorism was considered as an anti-Pakistan device. This was the reason why our proposal for a Comprehensive Convention on Terrorism did not gain traction in the initial stages. The UN was not able to define terrorism as Pakistan and some others sought to exempt freedom fighters from charges of terrorism. One man’s terrorist was another man’s freedom fighter and vice versa. It was only after 9/11 that the western world became aware of the source of terrorism in South Asia when they found that the terrorists forcibly liberated from the Indian jails were behind the New York bombings. It was only very recently that the legitimacy of India’s fight against terrorism was conceded.

In other words, Indian diplomats walk around in the UN with a Kashmiri rock around their necks, which constrains them to see every issue through the prism of Kashmir. Consequently, any Indian initiative at the UN is viewed with suspicion even today. Every incident between India and Pakistan gets played up for fear of a nuclear exchange between the two countries. Many world leaders wish to mediate between India and Pakistan with an eye on a Nobel Prize for Peace, which is assured if they find a solution to the Kashmir imbroglio.

The recent Indian action should be followed by a bold approach to the issue at the United Nations. Instead of placing Kashmir at the centre of the Indian attitudes in the international community, India should insist that there is no “Kashmir issue” as the matter has been settled once and for all. India is constantly in a dilemma as to whether we should respond at all to Pakistan’s initiatives on Kashmir. In certain years, India had refrained from reacting to statements even at the highest level. But we are tempted to instinctively defend our position on legal and political grounds. India-Pakistan exchanges are watched with amusement and no other country intervenes in the debate. But both India and Pakistan are privately encouraged to continue to display their animosity as a necessary diplomatic exercise to reiterate established positions. A carefully orchestrated strategy is required to meet the challenge of new Pakistani initiatives in the wake of the integration of Kashmir. The stress should be on Kashmir being a symbol of India’s secularism rather than a legal or constitutional issue.

A clear message should also go to individual countries, who tend to respond to the events in Kashmir that any interference in Kashmir will be construed as interference in the internal affairs of India. The only two countries, which have made negative comments so far are Pakistan and China. Some others have expressed general concern and India has already explained the rationale of the action to friendly countries. No further public discussion on the situation in Kashmir should be entertained.

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IoT Projects more Vulnerable to Threat of Cyber Attacks?

The proliferation of smart technologies like internet, hotspot, and other internet-of-things (IoT) in every walk of life has been seeing security getting compromised to an increasing extent. Though technologies and IoT have brought in their wake several advantages, there are many loopholes, thanks to which the threat of a possible cyber attack resulting in vast damage to property and life is looming large in the technology horizon. This makes it imperative that the technologies are adopted with adequate security systems in the entire ecosystem to eliminate chances of hacking.

The last few years have seen the deployment of smart technologies growing tremendously. Their adoption is not just limited to our office spaces but has made our life simpler by making complex procedures easier. For instance, medical devices and equipment connected to the internet are increasingly being adopted. These devices have altered the life of patients. The facility of gauging the health statistics at home without the need of having a doctor has improved wellbeing. Besides the healthcare segment, IoT devices are being adopted in the financial, infrastructure and many other sectors. For instance, the geosynchronous information system is used to survey the mining areas and get accurate data about the potential mines.

Lately, many instances of cyber attacks on IoT devices are coming to the fore, highlightin the risk involved in using smart technologies. One such incident was recently reported in Los Angeles where cyberattack stopped the printing of newspapers of one of the leading publishing houses -The Los Angeles Times. Computer malware attacks on the information technology system have also crippled infrastructure facilities such as power plants. Besides, the healthcare industry is also vulnerable to these attacks as IoT medical devices which are connected to the network have low resilience to cyber attacks. Medicals devices and implants such as cardiac pacemakers and infusion pumps can have severe effects on health if tampered by hackers. The risk of cyber attacks is such that it can disrupt the working of a hospital by destroying the entire information technology system. One such attack was the wanna cry ransomware which crippled the entire I T network of the hospital bringing the system down for weeks.

With a number of Internet of Things (IoT) projects taking a center stage, a range of sophisticated malware is being deployed by hackers to target these critical infrastructure projects. Moreover, any of these IoT projects are being targeted at the proof of concept stages itself, finds a new research report by Subex.

The telecom solutions provider released the findings of its State of Internet of Things (IoT) Security Report for the second quarter (April-June 2019) of this calendar year in New Delhi in August 2019. The report, based on threat intelligence data gathered from across 15 cities all over India, outlines key sectors being attacked, the methods of attack, malware, and variants deployed, key cities that are being attacked and studied by hackers, malware developers and hacktivist groups. The report reveals that the number of cyberattacks registered a 22 percent jump in the quarter. There has been a significant rise in reconnaissance attacks. While Mumbai, New Delhi, and Bengaluru are attracting the maximum number of cyberattacks, smart cities, financial services, and transportation sectors lead the sectoral rankings in terms of cybersecurity breaches.

The study identified over 2550 unique malware samples in the country which is the highest reported so far. Modular and military-grade malware is often used by specialist hackers and groups with budgets and access to research and development facilities or online shops that develop and sell such sophisticated malware. Increase in the number of attacks with a geopolitical motivation is also a trend the study has reported.

The high level of malware persistence reported is indicative of a larger trend. Hackers are becoming more patient and willing to wait to attack or steal data. Also, the newer malware variants being detected are stealthier and can evade detection for a longer duration of time than before the study found. Such malware operates by staying silent while keeping their footprint and signature below detection thresholds. They can also streamline their behavior to match network traffic and stay dormant until certain thresholds are breached.

In the wake of the many instances of cyber attacks coming to the fore, preparing for a likely attack and creating a framework against these attacks is essential. There are a few measures that can be taken to avoid hacking of IoT devices .

Encryption of healthcare data is the key to eliminate the chance of data invasion by a hacker. This can be done by using firewall software. Through encrypting the data is translated into codes and other languages that are not understandable to a third party and is only accessible to the one who has the password to the secured file.

Setting strong passwords is another measure which can be adopted with ease. The strength of the password also needs to be strong as this will make it difficult for the hacker to invade the system. Passwords must be set using a combination of letters, numbers, words and special characters.

Risks associated with cyber attacks are too great to ignore and there for adopting IOT into regular processes adequate measures need to be taken. Simple steps of limiting the footprint of data, using firewall protection software, among other measures can be followed. Lastly, the awareness of possible threats needs to be created to avoid any negligence.

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Rejigging Our Lives into a Sustainable One

With the never ending crisis of population growth around the world, rise in unemployment and scarcity of food, water and oxygen, we are in a situation to think what we are doingin the world and how it is impacting our planet. It took around 20 years for us to understand and accept the fact that mankind is the only causative factor for global warming. Unexpected seasonal changes, rise in temperature and extinct species signify only one thing to humans - the only species capable of thinking rationally have failed to take care of the world and there is urgency for us to open our eyes and be more conscious with our actions. As some of our scientists, wildlife biologists and NGO organizations contribute their best to save our nature, we common people can also join hands to mend our planet. Nobody can change our milieu in one night. But, opting for more eco-friendly habits will definitely do some good. Before discussing how we can change our lives for better in no time and cost, let us have a quick retrospection. Go ahead and ask yourself these questions to remind yourself about the unsustainable lifestyle we all follow:

1)    Do you use petrol/diesel vehicles, even to reach shorter distances?
2)    Do you spend more than 20 min for bathing?
3)    Do you consciously switch off fan and lights when you are leaving a room?
4)    Do you opt for shower gels and detergents that are chemically dominant?
5)    Do you carry your own cloth bags to stores to avoid using plastic bags?

After a pinch of realization, let’s talk about the facts that can’t be denied in terms of global warming. Global warming, when put in simple terms, is the change of seasons. These changes in seasons demand modifications in the way we have been living our lives. Everything including the way we cultivate crops has changed. Due to rapid urbanization, transformation of agricultural land as buildings reduces the growth output, resulting in the shortage of food. Controlling population is the next big hurdle as the problem of homelessness is rampant throughout the world. To live our lives with social awareness is basic human quality and to enhance it, embracing and practicing sustainable living is the key option. Sustainable living in short would mean to lead a life that least impacts our planet and keep our nature a little away from harm. Sustainable living should meet the present ecological, societal and economical needs without compromising on the motto that is to preserve the nature. The only golden rule that needs to be followed in sustainable living is to be committed to do no harm for any living species. Every choice we make impacts others, from the car we buy to the toothpaste we use – through its creation, its distribution, its use and its disposal. And most likely, we’ll never know whom we are impacting. But, people will suffer or earn, thrive or learn and even may die and some may live happily out of our choices, even without our knowledge. 

The three integral elements of sustainable living are consciousness, smartness and sagacity.Sustainable living, on the other hand starts from shopping. Producing less rubbish is the first step to start living sustainably. To reduce waste, buying less is the only easy and smart option. Knowing the difference between “wanting” and “needing” can help you with this. Before buying anything, ask yourself whether you “want” it or you “need” it. To ease your efforts, put yourself in a situation to decide whether you need to own it or you just need it for a little while and this can help you filter your shopping list. Buying first quality products that can last longer is a smarter option to reduce waste. Consider the life cycle of the product. Think where it came from and where it will end up after the usage. Trying your hand on second hand shopping is not a bad idea too. But, make sure you are not settling for something that is unworthy. Becausethe fact is if you are unhappy with what you are buying, then chances are that you may end up buying more products which is waste of money and time. So, make it a practice to not compromise on the quality of the product.
 
Shifting to a sustainable living requires your interest and effort. Take a few minutes to think about your daily life. Think about the daily essentials you use, how much waste you produce, the unnecessary things you have in home and about the materials of the things you use on everyday basis. You can create your own unique way of sustainability by replacing store bought essentials by home-made organic products. For instance, preparing your own soaps, sanitizer, shampoo, laundry powder and cleaners can be way easier and profitable than you assume it to be. Adding to that, it contains less harmful chemicals or no chemicals which will reward your effort. Internet is flooded with zillions of blogs and vlogswith various methods to prepare your own sustainable products. Swapping processed and packed imported foods with organic fruits and vegetables is one of the most recommended switches. Preferring organic or chemical-free cosmetics over chemically made beauty products is another way to sharpen sustainable lifestyle. Replacing toothpastes and shower gels with home-made tooth powder and bathing powder, using glass jars over plastic jars in kitchen, using wooden or stainless steel spatulas and utensils, using glass or bamboo straws, switching to handloom clothing, bed and table linens and curtains made from organic cotton, bamboo, wool and other natural fibres and avoiding plastic furniture are some of the simple things that can be done to bring some effective changes in the way you live.

Last but not the least; let’s talk about the R’s in our lives. There’s been enough talking about the three R’s. So, it’s time to talk about the 5-R’s that is Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Rot and Recycle. Refuse to buy a lot of things, Reduce the amount of things you keep in home, practice to Reuse everything in some way (this can add a pinch of vintage style too); Rot,figuratively means to store things and to get the maximum benefit out of everything; literally, use it until it gets rotten and the last R is the very familiar idea that of recycling.Sustainable living is a lifestyle that will have an individual highly engaged throughout his life. You’ll keep on learning, experimenting, exploring, creating and committing yourself to the increasing sustainable ideas and practices, and above all, you’ll have to keep on loving to live sustainably. Because after all the frightening news and facts regarding our modern lives, only one question stands- How do you want to live; with fear and insecurity or with love and hope? 

Some of the recommended blogs and vlogs to get better knowledge and guidance about sustainable living are Going Zero Waste, Eco Warrior Princess, Moral Fibres, Mindful Momma, Wellness Mama, Mommy Potamus, Pick Up Limes, Lizzie Bombini, etc. 
 

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Union Budget : Giving Impetus to Economy


The 2019-20 budget aims at boosting infrastructure and foreign investment. Among the highlights of the budget are a whole set of tax benefits being given to the startups and increase in customs duty on items such as gold.   PAN and Aadhaar have been made interchangeable. This will allow those who don't have PAN to file returns by simply quoting Aadhar number and use it wherever they require using PAN. Public sector banks will be provided Rs 70,000 crore to boost capital and improve credit. 

Special additional excise duty and road and infrastructure cess have been increased by Rs 1 per litre each on petrol and diesel. The threshold on annual revenue for attracting a corporate tax rate of 25 per cent has been raised to Rs 400 crore from Rs 250 crore in a move aimed at making India an investor-friendly country. The 25 per cent tax rate is currently applicable only to companies with annual revenue of up to Rs 250 crore and to new manufacturing companies that do not avail of tax incentives. Those beyond the Rs 250 crore revenue limit are taxed at 30 per cent. The new decision will benefit about 99.3 per cent of the 1.5 million companies incorporated in the country.  Only 0.7 per cent of the companies will now remain outside the 25 per cent corporate tax bracket. The budget has allocated a sum of Rs 94,853.64 crore for education sector.

According to the budget proposals, import duty will be hiked on gold and precious metals to 12.5 per cent from current level of 10 per cent. India is one of the largest gold importers in the world.

The budget also proposes the setting up of a Credit Guarantee Enhancement Corporation in the fiscal year 2019-20. The facility will be available for infrastructure and housing projects would enable debt flow towards such projects.

The government proposes issuing Aadhaar card for Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) with Indian passports after their arrival in India without waiting for the mandatory 180 days. 
About 60 per cent of the amount received by subscribers of National Pension Scheme on closure of account will be exempt from income tax.

The government has also announced a pension scheme for 30 million small traders. All small shopkeepers and self-employed persons as well as the retail traders with GST turnover below Rs 1.5 crore and aged between 18-40 years, can enrol for this scheme.

Fiscal deficit

The government aims to cut its fiscal deficit target to 3.3 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2019-20 against 3.4 per cent estimated earlier. The budget lowered the fiscal deficit target to 3.3 per cent of  the GDP from 3.4 per cent stated just four months back in the interim budget. Reliance on greater non-tax revenue through stake sale in public sector enterprises may shore up government finances. However, a slowing economy and tepid growth in tax collections will make the target of controlling fiscal deficit tougher.

The income tax surcharge on those earning between Rs 2 crore to Rs 5 crore per annum has been increased by 3 per cent and 7 per cent surcharge on those earning above Rs 5 crore per annum  will also garner additional revenue for the government. Higher customs duties on petroleum products and gold will also lead to higher revenue collection.

The reliance on national small savings schemes to control the fiscal deficit is immense as is the reliance on the proceeds from divestment and dividends from public enterprises.  The dividend from public sector enterprises including the RBI is expected to be 11 per cent higher than last year.

Attracting investment

To attract more global investment, the government will consider further opening up of foreign direct investment (FDI) in aviation, media, animation, and the insurance sector in consultation with stakeholders.  Tax incentives were also announced for global manufacturing companies to set up factories in India. Such companies will be invited to build plants in advanced industrial sectors like solar photovoltaic cells, lithium-ion batteries, computer servers, laptops and semiconductors and these companies will be offered tax concessions.

Sovereign bonds
A major announcement in the budget was that India would go overseas to partially fund its borrowing plan for the year and this will pave the way for first-ever sovereign bond issue in foreign currency.  

External debt would mean that much less domestic funds would be sought by the government, which in turn would reduce yields in the Indian bond market, help banks pass on policy rate cuts to their loan customers, and ease credit availability to the private sector in general. The added advantage is that interest rates in the Western countries right now are especially low, and so foreign money can be raised comparatively cheaply. 

India's sovereign external debt to GDP is among the lowest globally at less than 5 per cent. In this context, over-indebtedness is not a big worry. However there is the problem of exchange rate risk. If the rupee weakens over the tenure of taking the debt, the government’s payback burden would increase, since it would take more rupees to buy each dollar, euro, yen, etc. This risk can be hedged, but doing so against a sharp rupee decline—or, say, a global economic shock—would cost a lot. If one resorts to depend recklessly on foreign debt it could pose threats to the Indian economy.

Changes in taxation 

The Finance Minister the other day said that the government has decided to scrap the increase in surcharge on the income tax outgo for both domestic as well as foreign investors proposed in the 2019-20 budget and restore the pre-budget position. This was aimed to encourage investment in the capital market and move will be a big relief for investors, including foreign portfolio investors. As a result of the higher surcharge, the foreign portfolio investors have sold Indian stocks (net) worth over $3 billion over last two months. 

The revocation of the budget decision by the government seems to have been the result of the government realizing that high net worth individuals are large investors, and the big increase in taxation in their case will naturally result in lower investments, which is a negative for the markets.

In the 2019-20 budget, the surcharge was raised from 15 per cent to 25 per cent where the income is between Rs 2-5 crore and from 15 per cent to 37 per cent for those earning more. In effect, a person earning in the range of Rs 2 crore to Rs 5 crore will have to pay 39 per cent tax  on the income exceeding Rs 2 crore, and a person earning more than Rs 5 crore will pay 42.74 per cent on the income exceeding Rs 5 crore.

Another recent announcement by the government was that startups registered with the Commerce Ministry will be totally exempt from an anti-evasion provision in the Income Tax Act for taxation of share premium known as the ‘angel tax’.
 

Push for ‘Make in India’ goal

In a bid to spur ‘Make in India’ goal and to bring domestic manufacturing on a level-playing field, basic customs duty has been raised on items such as cashew kernels, tiles, auto parts etc. The budget has given a strong push to the “Make in India" drive through making  raw material imports cheaper, import of select finished goods costlier by withdrawal of exemptions that were till now available, and lower the cost of investments into plant and machinery by reducing customs duty on select capital goods.  

Infrastructure

The government plans to restructure the national highway programme to create network of highways of a desirable capacity for better connectivity. The government also envisions using rivers for cargo transporation, a move that will decongest roads and railways and the Railway ministry is in the process of completing the ambitious dedicated freight corridor (DFC). Railways will be encouraged to make investments and expand network in suburban areas. In the case of Railways, Public Private Partnerships (PPP) will be used to unleash faster development and delivery of passenger freight services.

The government has set an investment target of Rs 80,250 crore for Phase three of the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana, under which the government wants to build 1,25,000 km of village roads. 

Public shareholding levels

Listed companies may need to maintain 35 per cent of minimum public shareholding (MPS). The government will ask SEBI to mull a rise in MPS for listed companies from 25 per cent to 35 per  cent. While this move will ensure more public investing in equity markets, it will also force corporates to go on a public offering spree. This would also require the market regulator to change several regulations pertaining to public offerings. 

This move would enhance liquidity and public say in the listed firms. This move is still at a proposal stage, and the markets regulator has in the past given a few years for companies to comply with minimum public shareholding norms. 

Electric Vehicles

Tax sops were announced in the budget for loans taken to buy electric vehicles (EVs) and to make electric vehicles affordable to consumers. The government has proposed additional income tax benefit of Rs 1.5 lakh on interest on loans taken for electric vehicle purchase. The GST on electric vehicles has been cut by 5 per cent to boost demand for electric vehicles.  

On the whole, it can be seen that the emphasis of the budget proposals is on giving a significant boost to the vital sectors of the economy so that its growth parameters maintain a healthy upward trend and India continues to remain strongly positioned as one of the most stable economies of the world.
 

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HR leading Technology, or Technology leading HR?

Human Resources Management has emerged as one of the realms which are becoming increasingly dependent on technology. Technology has drastically changed virtually every facet of the functioning of HR departments, be it identifying talent, or recruiting people, or communicating with employees, or training employees,   or storing files, or analysing employee performance.

Before the internet and email, connecting with job seekers meant phone, face time or a letter. In the 21st century, it's routine for companies to post openings online, and require job seekers to apply through an online applicant tracking system. That frees up a great deal of time that HR would have spent dealing with paper resumes or personal calls.

With email, text and messaging apps it's easier than ever for HR staff to stay in touch with the rest of the company. If a manager wants to share a new schedule with a project team, one email with an attachment or a conversation on Slack can share the word with a dozen people at once. There's a risk of relying too much on tech as a time-saver though. Information in a two-page email may be better off delivered to the group face to face. That way everyone can ask questions and hear the answers.

However, HR practices don't always take into account how well the system works for the candidates. Online forms have a standardized format that often makes it hard to tell a star performer from a slacker. A badly designed system with confusing instructions and slow response times can actually turn job seekers off to applying with a firm.

Analyzing employee performance earlier used to depend on personal assessments and obvious standards: Did the employee finish the task on time? Does their boss trust them? Technology makes it easier to gather and break down data on employees to get an overall picture. Which tasks do they perform best? Do they meet all the goals from last year's performance appraisal? If they fell short, was it by 12 percent, 50 percent or 75 percent? Software programs can even take over much of the work in evaluating employees.

As HR makes more use of data collection and analysis, employees might feel their privacy shrinking. If, say, a company has security cameras that monitor employees every second, it can be easier to find the facts behind a harassment charge or someone drinking on the job. However, being constantly monitored can alienate employees as well. Good HR practices involve not only knowing how much data can be gathered but also how much should be gathered.

Another risk is that the HR department can end up getting more data than it can manage. After a certain point, wading through data to pick out the relevant material becomes an impossible task. It's also possible that HR will misread data or make assumptions that a face-to-face conversation could clear up.

Securing employee records used to mean locking a file cabinet. In the 21st century, best HR practices have to include security for the digital data. Some security is more an IT matter, such as a good firewall. HR needs to have good policies in place, though, governing who can access confidential data, both hard copy and in electronic form.

Over the years, the HR function has evolved from performing a functional/ administrative role to Business partner to Strategic Partner. And today, driven by data, technology and new interaction models, its role is shifting from managing bureaucracy to managing business assets and talent management. Information has become the key resource for the New Age HR.

Technology automates and streamlines processes in the employee lifecycle from hiring, onboarding, and training to compensation, benefits, retention, and exit. Other important areas under the purview of HR such as communication, compliance, centralized employee information, among others.

In a study report The Society for Human Resource Management identified employee engagement, talent retention, competitive compensation, and developing the organizational leaders for tomorrow as major human capital challenges. Technology will be a vital partner in dealing with these challenges, for example, Big Data helps to gain deep insight and allows HR professionals to make informed decisions based on  facts and figures.Most time-consuming, routine and repetitive tasks such as keeping track of employees’ time, preferences and work patterns are already being automated. This frees up HR to focus on engagement challenges, increasing productivity, and aligning the human side of the organization with business goals.

A large number of technologies, like the Microsoft HoloLens headset, are available to make HR more efficient. This headset could be used by human resource professionals for immersive, simulation-based training or off-site assignments.

Another field making inroads into HR delivery is Advanced Machine Learning which focuses on predictive analysis and talent relationship, mostly in the recruitment process – PhenomPeople.com is one such AI-driven platform which takes marketing personalization practices and data analysis, and uses them to discover, engage, and retain top talent.

Many companies like Google, Apple, and Microsoft have started introducing wearable technology in all devices which ensure that employees stay connected andit provides a wealth of opportunities for employee engagement, increased productivity, and security. And, some businesses like the Finnish company Bittiumare exploring new ways to turn a wearable device into a powerful tool. By simplifying secure remote access the company has made it possible for employees operating outside the office premises to safely work on their mobile devices with confidential data without worrying about leaks or cyber threats.

SaaS applications such as BambooHR, Google Docs are being used for recruitment, performance management, etc.

Blockchain technology is the safest option for transactions and information exchange that require a high level of security. Recruitment websites would typically have an applicant’s authenticated metadata for the hiring firm to verify before making a job offer. Recruit Tech is one such organization building recruitment solutions on the blockchain.

In the near future a robot similar to TARS from Intersteller, programmed to respond with wit and humour,could probably become an internal information network, responsible for streamlining communication and increasing the organization’s efficiency through access to the right data, at the right time.

The Internet of Things platforms appear to be fragmented as of now, however these platforms will follow a trend of integration in the coming years, which will lead to more data being available and accessible throughout enterprise environments. With easy and instant access to employee data, part of HR activities will be performed by line managers, and HR will be able to focus on business performance and execution.

The trend now points towards human resource managers and their departments transitioning to being strategic data managers, managing smooth information flow to ensure that employees have access to the right data at the right time.

On the “administrative role” side, self-charging phones and wireless electricity will free up office space and help in redesigning the workplace experience.

The future of any human resource team is linked to technological development, and challenging it encourages innovations that will add to the employee experience. The question that HR professionals is asking could be – “Are we leading technology, or is it leading us?”

 

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Our Remote Sensing Lunar Satellite Is All Alive

Every Indian will have a moment to reminisce when he hears the term ‘Moon’. Moon is something, we always admired and included in our paintings, poems, tales, etc. Moon has been serving as one of the popular metaphors all over the world to signify beauty and purity, for ages now. But, the real facts about Moon are remaining to be a mystery till date.

Probably between December 1609 and January 1610,Galileo Galilei discovered some objects in the space and recognized it as the satellites of Jupiter in March 1610. The Galilean Moons are four large moons namely Lo, Europa, Ganymede and Calisto. These are the known largest moons in our solar system. Later, after seeking many strenuous developments, finally  Soviet Union decided to send their first spacecraft, Luna 2 in the year 1959 to know more about our Moon. Soon, in the year 1969, America sent Commander Neil Armstrong accompanied by Lunar Pilot Buzz Aldrin to land on Moon with their ApolloLunar Module Eagle spacecraft and made an indelible history. After Soviet Union and America, China entered the field and it carried its own success stories. After China, Indian Space Research Organization decided to work on a new project  to contribute India's knowledge for the study of lunar world. Since then all the supremely dexterous Indian hands joined together in 2008 to take up a mission of flagging up our Tricolor national flag on the lunar ground. The mission was named as Chandrayaan, meaning Moon Vehicle in Sanskrit.

Chandrayaan-1 released its Moon Impact Probe that took control over the south lunar pole on November 14, 2008 and made India as the fourth ever country to leave its unflinching mark on the Lunar ground. The probe hit the part near the crater Shackleton and ousted some handheld amount of sub-surface soil that helped scientists to discover the presence of Lunar Water Ice on the lunar grounds. The location of this impact was taken control by Indian Space Research Center and proudly named the part as "Jawahar Point". Chandrayaan-1 turned out to be one of the significant sources to understand and appreciate Moon. This progress gave Indian scientists a greater view of the lunar system and leveled up their vision.As a result of this consequential success, Indian scientists' confidence and perspicacious outlook employed substantial intention of discovering more of our Moon. ISRO has made its first autochthonous integral  parts like lunar orbiter, lander named as Vikram and rover named as Pragyan to make the mission possible.On 22 July 2019, a geosynchronous satellite launch vehicle lifted-off from Satish Dhawan Space Centre into skies at 2:43 pm. ISRO Chief K Sivan along with his fellow scientists watched the launch sequence in rapt attention. 16 minutes later, India's second lunar mission the 3,850 kg Chandrayaan-2 was successfully placed into the earth's orbit.

The Rs 978/- crore mission will make India the fourth country to have landed a rover on the moon after US, Russia and China. After a 48 day journey to the celestial body, Chandrayaan-2 will explore the uncharted South Pole, a 'giant leap' for the Nation. The mission also carries a total of 13 payloads, which includes three from Europe, two from

America and one from Bulgaria, which seeks to improve the understanding of the moon. GSLV Mk-III rocket will carry the Indian made equipment and fly. Chandrayaan-2’s initial launch was scheduled on 15 July but was put off due to a technical glitch. Now Chandrayaan-2 is expected to reach the moon by August 20, this year. The rocket used to fire the satellite by ISRO is Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark-III-M1 (GSLV MkIII-M1) in Sriharikota Island, Andhra Pradesh. The vehicle has been nicknamed ISRO's Baahubali by Telugu media, for its capacity to carry a payload of up to four tonnes. Apart from the lunar orbiter, the launcher carries a lander Vikram, named after Dr.Vikram Sarabhai, the father of the Indian space programme. Inside Vikram is a rover called Pragyan, meaning wisdom in Sanskrit. Chandrayaan-2 was built from U R Rao satellite Centre, Bangaluru. After Chandrayaan-1 crashed into the moon's surface, the second of the series was built for a soft landing. A Laser Retro reflector Array (LRA) of NASA is among the payloads and is aimed to understand the dynamics of the earth’s moon system.The main parts of the satellite are an orbiter of 379 kg with eight payloads, a lander with working power of one lunar period of time, and a rover named Pragyan. GSLV Mk-III-M1 is assigned to take the lunar module into orbit around the earth, once launched into space. The module released from the rocket circles the earth multiple times, using the earth's gravitational force to gain momentum as re-orienting the moon. The moon's gravitational pull holds while spinning out of earth's orbit. To stay in the moon's gravitational field, the onboard thrusters help by slowing it down. Before Vikram detaches from the orbiter, it is designed to circle the moon. Vikram has to take a different trajectory, circling closer and closer to the moon to find a landing site. Then, in 15 fraught minutes, Vikram lands on the moon. Meanwhile, Lander slowdowns, braking against the moon's gravitational pull. This requires the firing of a propulsion engine, which in turn will cause lunar dust to fly at it. The sharp and jugged lunar dust having a negative charge helps to cling on to the moon's surface, disrupting solar panels and sensors. This means the possibility of losing touch with the control station. But the successful landing of Vikram writes a big milestone in Indian space history.

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Hyundai showcases India’s First Fully Electric SUV– ‘KONA Electric’ in Chennai

Hyundai Motor India Ltd., country’s First Smart Mobility Solutions Provider and largest exporter since inception, today showcased KONA Electric – India’s First Fully Electric SUV in Chennai in the august presence of Honorable Chief Minister Mr. Edappadi K. Palaniswami and senior members of the Tamil Nadu government.

At the second Global Investors meet in January 2019 in Chennai, Hyundai had committed to align itself with the government of Tamil Nadu’s vision for the growth and development of the state. The launch of KONA Electric is a part of Hyundai Motor India’s commitment to invest 7,000 cr in Tamil Nadu state.

Commenting on the showcase Mr. S S Kim, MD & CEO, Hyundai Motor India Said,” It is a moment of pride to share that the KONA Electric – India’s First Fully Electric SUV will be Made in Tamil Nadu from our State-of-the-Art Manufacturing Plant in Chennai. The KONA Electric is an expression of our commitment to the Indian market and bringing Clean Mobility Solutions in India. Hyundai and Tamil Nadu has created many brilliant moments together and we will continue to work towards the betterment of the state, its people and communities.”

“I am very pleased to share that KONA Electric has received overwhelming customer response and 120 confirmed bookings within 15 days of its launch. This showcases the customers’ acceptance of global EV technologies and faith in Brand Hyundai.” – He added.

For providing Fast Charging facility, Hyundai is working along with IOCL to develop infrastructure at select Fuel Stations in select cities (Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru and Chennai). HMIL will invest on the equipment and installation of these Fast Chargers (CCS Type – Single Port). These chargers can charge 80% of the battery capacity in less than an hour.

For Complete Peace of Mind of Customers – The KONA Electric would be available with a Warranty for 3 Years and unlimited Kilometres, along with a Warranty for 8 Years and upto 160,000 Kms for its High Voltage Battery.

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The Mystery That Is Universe

K.A.Prem

 

The origin of universe is still a contentious subject. From a tiny neutrino to a gigantic galaxy, its growth was complex. Hence its genesis was subjected to varied interpretations by nomads as well as wise men. Their reflections were crystallised into kaleidoscopic images in the annals of time and we mirror a few for our deliberation.

 

‘Who am I’ is a question that haunted man and resonated throughout his life. Questions like ‘Where do we come from’ and ‘Wither are we bound’ remained echoic in every dialogue.Maternity or paternity of the universe was the prime concern.

 

With a total disgust Omar Khayyam pens the existential melancholy beneath:

 

“And that inverted Bowl we call The Sky,

Whereunder crawling coop'd we live and die,

Lift not thy hands to it for help -- for It

Rolls impotently rolls as you and I.”

 

‘Atomos’ are wafting, colliding and weaving the cosmos as a vast machine, fortuitously constructed and acting without a legislator. The former view is getting strengthened here also. But invisibility of a ruler cannot be construed as absence of ruler. Like vacuum rule in Physics, there is something called microcosm vibrating in it as unknown neurons which finally sculpt the cosmological physique.

 

Intending to showcase the mankind’s inability to comprehend cosmos, a Persian poet has logically presented it in his poem as ‘Universe is an old manuscript which has lost its first and last pages’.

 

However, here an Indian Rishi approaches the concept in a meaningful way. To his disciple’s query whether “cosmos is a creation”, Rishy’s reply was :”No, Cosmos is not a creation but a projection”. With a Socretenian  wisdom we are inclined to ask “Projections from where?” Now the pertinent question leads us towards a scientific truth, the soul of which lies in a scientific seed called ‘singularity’.

 

‘Singularity’ is presumed to be a point where the volume is zero whereas its mass will be infinite. It is from this point that universe gets projected and visualized as ‘Big Bang’ or ‘Big Bounce’ which as two differing scientific preceptions. Both proliferate and emerge as universe. In the ‘Big Bang’ it emerges from the same point and continues to expand. Whereas in ‘Big Bounce’ it springs up from different points like a ball that bounces and lands. Universe appears and disappears in a cyclic manner at different intervals is its modus operandi.

 

A hypothetical opposite of the ‘Big Bang’ theory is the ‘Big Crunch’ supposed to occur after billions and trillions of years. ‘Big Freeze’, ‘Big Chill’ or ‘Big Rip’ (torn apart) are the other speculative terms attributed to its physical disappearance or death. In its final stages a contraction of the universe happens and results in a state of extremely high density  and temperature. Metric expansion of space eventually reveres and universe recollapses ultimately causing the cosmic scale factor to reach zero or causing a reformation of the universe starting with another Big Bang.

 

The ’Big Bang’ and  ‘Big Crunch’ are the two pages that we are trying to glue together to our old manuscript. Now we are stepped into a metaphysical terrain. Meta Physics or Meta ta Physika means the (works) after physics. A philosophy that treats of the first principle or the ultimate nature of existence, reality and experience especially as developed in self contained conceptual systems. From this angle, Big Bang and Big Crunch are mystically conceptualized as inhalation and exhalation of the invisible.

 

Dreams’ workouts are always in a hermetically sealed existence. A lot of scientific intuitions have been seen emanating from this state. For gluing the pages that are flown away what are the other possibilities? Let us try a dream travel back in times. Can a space ship made of positrons (anti particle of electrons, which travels back in time) help us in doing so? ’Time Machine’ of H.G.Wells is made of what? Whether Sudarsan Chandy’s ‘Tachyons’ (a hypothetical particle which transcends light barrier and reaches before it starts) will enable us to dash through the traversable warm holes?

 

John Wheeler has proposed that there is only one electron in the universe and others are all mere reflections. Fennyman ran with this idea and bagged the Nobel Prize. So one electron piggy backs an entire universe with it. It is also bundled with a sum of history and traverses uncertain paths. Universe is thus a ballooned electron destined to travel to a destination unknown. When the balloon reaches the desired inter-stellar slot, what is left is either to knock at the doors of the traversable warm hole and wait for a welcome nod or by a cosmological osmosis it may even seep through the supramolecular virgin walls of the entry gate of the other universe. This is the inflection point for serenading and later on for spawning a new inter-stellar life and culture. Other universes lying millions and trillions of light years away will witness a quantum evaporation that gushes up like loops of smoke from the event horizon forming it as a fire pit around which an alliance gets solemnized or viewed as an instant communicating hub of smoke rolls used once in prairies by the aboriginals who tried to communicate with each other.  The other watching galaxies will get inspired by the unique rendezvous and wait for breeding a cross culture with the approaching civilization. And thus cosmic communes will mushroom slowly in the inter galactic space.

 

When we aim our eyes towards the galaxies, some say it is voyeurism, just as a Peeping Tom who breaks the privacy laws. Nuptial or other way-round-companionships are knots in the long human chains. It is the work of Eros forcing us to levitate towards a subliminal biological urge. The deeper or larger the urge lurking beneath our sub-conscious mind (collective consciousness at the thematic level) is for the companionship of a higher order which goes beyond the milky way boundaries and this enduring desire will be blinking in us till we hug the so called extra-terrestrial remaining lathe biosas in the cosmological womb. Our probes are directed towards the epicenter of cosmic signals emanating from far away distances. These are heart beats of cosmos. Like a bat, we move on.

 

Are we being nurtured in the petri dish of the Milky Way as a Lyka or a guinea pig rotated to reach a destination watched and monitored by a super intelligent alien peeping through the worm hole, just as we sit and monitor our satellites and Cosmonauts from the control stations of NASA or ISRO? Are we getting trapped in the human trafficking as mere slaves to their robotics? Or else we may be ending up as Frankenstein forever? Is it for a forced conversion that we are being dragged and coerced to kiss and marry ‘Andromeda’ our neighbouring queen or the distant blonde ‘Vega’? Time is the test.

 

Every particle has an anti particle – a needed pair for co-existence and progeny. If we extend this logic to humanity as a whole, there should have been our mirror images somewhere in the universe, hidden, un-explored and un-noticed. Humanity cannot rest alone in this Cosmos. Birds migrate, insects fly to a source of light and human beings search for their mirror images in the ever expanding Cosmos. Like sperms hunt for the egg in the womb, manned missions hunt for the knowledge egg’s fructification in the womb of the universe.

 

It is always said that there is only one movement and one destination for the mankind. Duality myth of the Almighty God might have been erased completely by Monism and it is maintained strangely to be so, till date. But in this binary world, the inscrutable Great Force whether actually is in fragments or appear to be so, creating Maya before our eyes as weak, strong and electro-magnetic forces with its gravitational pull and push modes. We may either be drawing towards a total annihilation or to a total transformation. Whatever may be the drama, let us enact it boldly and wait for a greater and unique metamorphosis to take place.

 

Though the circadian rhythm of our fragmented world are bound under the frame work of space time continuum, from the universal strings of cocoons created after the rendezvous we will be able to fly out as angels or emerge as God in a state of bliss. Here we may cite the Hindu concept of Lord Shiva or Artha Nareeswara. Concurring to Karl Jung’s philosophy which states that a slice of woman is always there in a man and vice versa in varying degrees. This rosy picture we may have to passionately dream and it will blossom sooner or later at our behest.

 

Imagine as if we conquer Hell, Heaven and Purgatory, then, there, if we were able to meet Picasso, Rembrandt and Hussains we will surely be entrusting them to draw this rosy picture as an eternal souvenir for the mankind.

 

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RAIN RAIN GO AWAY

Dr.C.V.Ananda Bose

 

Malabar Hill is an elevated area of Mumbai city, both literally and
figuratively. The common perception of this prestigious precincts
is that it is the abode of the rich and the mighty, of the ruling
class, of power brokers, of cine stars. To be precise, the society’s
elite. Because of this there is a perception that for anything and
everything, Malabar Hill enjoys privileged treatment.
How meaningless such perceptions are became evident after
a heavy monsoon that inundated, and devastated, many parts
of Mumbai. When mighty natural forces go berserk, there is
relevance for only one human feeling: helplessness.
In an instant the floods caused by heavy rains taught Mumbai
residents this lesson.
Normally it takes only fifteen to twenty minutes from my
office at the headquarters of the department of Atomic Energy to
reach home on the Malabar Hill. But on that day of the floods it
took more than three and a half hours because of the heavy traffic
congestion. Tried to inform home about being stranded on the
road, but the phone at home was silent. Even as I was watching
the heavy traffic crawling, slowly and haltingly, along the beach
road, rain became intense and the sea was unusually rough. That
was cause for some unease. Thoughts about the tsunami and its
trail of devastation troubled my mind. Are my wife and son at
home or outside for shopping? No idea.
Dr. CV Ananda Bose 􀅇 269
It was a great relief when finally I could reach home. And
greater relief when I found that my wife and son were at home. In
fact they had planned to go out, but did not take the car in view of
the rains. They thought of taking a taxi but no taxi was available
round the corner. So they gave up the idea and came back home.
It was from the next morning’s newspapers they realized how
lucky they were for skipping that trip.
The next afternoon someone knocked at the door. It was
Mrs. Ghosh, our neighbor. She was greatly upset. It was some
time when she could compose herself to narrate what happened
to her the previous day. She was in the car in the middle of a
flooded road. Almost three-fourth of the car was under water.
It was impossible to open the door or even to lower the wind
screen. It was suffocating inside and she even tried in vain to
break the glass. She had to remain in the car in this situation
for an unbelievable eighteen hours. Even then what troubled her
foremost was thoughts about her daughter in college. What would
have happened to her?
This was not an isolated incident. News media were full of
harrowing tales of death and devastation, of separation of dear
and near ones and other tragedies that the flash floods caused to
an unprepared society.
Occasionally there were SMS messages from people caught
in the floods frantically seeking help and succor. Messages from
people we have never seen pleading for our help for their dear
ones trapped somewhere in the flooded city. One message was
from a man in Nagpur. His sister in Mumbai had boarded a
double decker bus which was caught up in the floods at Chembur.
The lower deck was inundated and now the flood waters had
reached the upper deck. Will someone help her? Though the
message was from an unknown person about an unseen person,
the human face of the tragedy was clearly evident in this.
270 􀅇 Silence Sounds Good
Through SMS and e-mail such pleas for help came from far
and near in rapid frequency, indicating the extent of the human
suffering. From Pennsylvania in the US one John Varghese was
wailing: “My parents are living in Kalyan. Mother told me over
the phone that the surging flood waters were fast inundating
her home. Then the phone fell silent. Tried to contact their
neighbours, but there was no response. Will anyone help them?”
The frantic messages would not have gone unheeded. Even
without them, help was flowing, from heart to heart. A school bus
was stranded in flood waters. The residents of nearby apartments
rushed to the aid of the kids and gave them drinking water, milk
and food. When thousands of people waded through floods and
slush for miles to reach home, there were long line ups of residents
waiting on the way sides with food packets and water to provide
them some relief.
Grandma’s say, one should help others forgetting ones own
self. That also happened during the deluge. Twenty-eight year
old Navelkar, employed in the Mumbai police, was an able
swimmer. He was on his way home after duty when he saw three
men fighting for their lives in the flood waters. He jumped into the
water and caught hold of one man and brought him to safety. He
repeated the feat and saved a second man. But as he was trying
to save the third man sinking, he himself was washed away by the
swirling waters. His body was recovered later.
For all people what is important is their personal sorrows
and personal discomforts. Statistics, therefore, may not clearly
show the quantum of loss or extent of the tragedy. But the fact
is that the quantity of rainfall that Mumbai received that day,
94.4 cm, was much more than the quantity it would normally
receive for a whole year. The highest recorded rainfall in
Chirapunji was 83.82 cm. Mumbai’s drainage system was
about a hundred and fifty years old. It could normally handle
only two and a half cm of rains an hour. It was therefore too
Dr. CV Ananda Bose 􀅇 271
much for this system to cope with when a massive downpour of
94.4 cm fell on the city in a matter of 24 hours. A camel may
pass through the eye of the needle, but it is totally impossible
for city drains to cope with the sudden, heavy flow of water
from such a cloudburst.
The suburban train service was something that controlled
the resonance of Mumbaikar’s daily life. Every day as many as
4.5 million people commuted to work place from home in these
trains. At about 3.30 in the afternoon of that fateful day, the
train services came to a grinding halt, stranding over a million
people. While an estimated one million people were stranded
in the trains, over a lakh and half were forced to spend the night
at platforms. Children from many schools also were stranded
in the buses in the flood waters. Those students who had to
remain in the schools overnight were lucky to escape the fury
of the flood waters. It may be said Mumbai city where fifteen
million people lived had come to a total standstill. The extent
of the suffering and agony meted out to underprivileged sections
of the society by the furry of flood could be gauged when we
realize that nearly forty per cent of the city’s population lived
in slums.
There were indeed some silver linings to the dark clouds. It
was indeed the brotherhood and camaraderie that the Mumbai
residents showed in single mindedly handling the calamity.
In some cases people who were thought to have been killed
in the deluge returned alive after some time. A seventeen year old
student of a college run by the Kerala Samajam at Dombivli was
washed away in the floods. A body recovered after a few days
was identified as his and was properly cremated by his relatives.
A week later, however, the youth was found in an unconscious
state on a river bank in a distant village. The villagers first thought
it was one of the many bodies washed ashore. But then they
found that he was still breathing. He was rushed to hospital and
272 􀅇 Silence Sounds Good
he survived. When the police brought him home, it was indeed
like a resurrection after crucifixion.
When one’s doors are closed in front of him, it is said, those of
his neighbour should open up for him. That is real brotherhood.
In the midst of the tragedy of the Mumbai floods, umpteen were
the hearty tales of such brotherhood. It was an eye opener for
many when the ‘chaiwala’ Mushtaq turned out to be a good
Samaritan in times of adversity.
A bus carrying twenty-five passengers came to a standstill in
front of his makeshift tea stall. It could not move forward because
of the flood waters which started to enter the bus. The passengers
waited thinking the situation might improve and the bus could
resume its journey. The chaiwala made tea for the passengers.
After some time he got their residential telephone numbers and
managed to go a distant booth to telephone their homes to inform
them of their stranded condition. When darkness fell and it
became evident the bus would not be able to go forward, Mushtaq
became an angel of love, inviting all of them to his small house
nearby to spend the night. He made refreshments for them even
as they prepared to settle down to spend the night as his guests.
What are the lessons taught by the big flood in the big city?
Calamities may strike any time. And often they come without
warning. What is important is that we should try not to make
city life itself calamitous. We should be able to foresee such
possibilities and take pre-emptive measures. The UN estimate
is that by 2020 nearly sixty per cent of the world’s population
will be living in cities. Urbanization has become the inevitable
adjunct to the present century. We have to get in terms with that
inevitability. We have to look at calamities, natural and man
made, with a practical mind and make preparations to deal with
them effectively.
Dr. CV Ananda Bose 􀅇 273
When explosions hit London in the past following a fire
breakout in a chemical factory, the authorities were able to put
into practice in letter and spirit a security plan they had well
prepared in the past. There were clear cut instructions on the
counter measures. What should be done, by whom, when. And
everyone did his part meticulously. There were also people with a
will to oversee its implementation.
See the following message from M P Rattan, an Indian who
happened to be in Japan during the time of the Mumbai deluge.
‘I am in Tokyo now. Last Saturday we had a big earthquake here.
And a tornado the following Tuesday. But life here continues to
be normal. In Mumbai everything has been brought to standstill
by a day’s rains. Why is it that we could not do there what these
people could do here?’
Can anyone give an answer? Who should give an answer?
Can we let calamities continue to hit us with such unanswered
questions? If so that will be the worst cal

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The Myriad Benefits of Music

N.Vijayagopalan

 

MUSIC – Has the word originated as the abbreviation of ‘Mind’s Ultimate State of Inner Calm’? It could be a possibility going by the myriad benefits music showers upon human beings. Several reports indicate that more and more people across the world are becoming lovers of music. It is seen that the number of those who find time to learn music is also increasing.

Enjoying music in any form is relaxing. Singing lowers stress levels by releasing stored muscle tension and decreasing the levels of a stress hormone called cortisol in your blood stream. The soothing power of music is well-established. It has a unique link to our emotions and so can be an extremely effective stress management tool. Listening to music can have a tremendously relaxing effect on our minds and bodies, especially slow, quiet classical music. Another study found that listening to classical music improved sleep quality in students with sleep problems, more so than listening to an audiobook or nothing at all. Classical music affects the brain's organization and abilities, through its melody and rhythm. The rhythm raises the level of serotonin produced in your brain. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter, involved in the transmission of nerve impulses that helps maintaining joyous feelings.

Research suggests that music not only helps us cope with pain — it can also benefit us physically and mentally in numerous other ways. Music affects the brain in many positive ways. It makes you smarter, happier and more productive at any age. Listening is good, playing is even better. We are all familiar with how certain pieces of music can change your mood, get you motivated, or help you concentrate. If you want to keep your brain engaged throughout the aging process, listening to or playing music is a great tool. Research has shown that listening to music can reduce anxiety, blood pressure, and pain as well as improve sleep quality, mood, mental alertness, and memory.

Music therapy is a burgeoning field. Those who become certified music therapists are accomplished musicians who have deep knowledge of how music can evoke emotional responses to relax or stimulate people, or help them heal. And they can find that music in your favorite genre, be it electropop or grand opera. Music therapists primarily help clients improve their health in several domains, such as cognitive functioning, motor skills, emotional development, social skills, and quality of life, by using music experiences such as free improvisation, singing, and listening to, discussing, and moving to music to achieve best results for the treatment.

Singing improves mental alertness as improved blood circulation and an oxygenated blood stream allow more oxygen to reach the brain. In elderly adults with depression, a home-based program of music therapy may have long-lasting effects. In depressed adult women, music therapy may lead to reductions in heart rate, respiratory rate, blood pressure, and depressed mood.

Playing a musical instrument makes you smarter, it has been claimed. New research suggests that regularly playing an instrument changes the shape and power of the brain and may be used in therapy to improve cognitive skills. It can even significantly increase the IQ in both children and adults, according to researchers.

All said, not all types of music have favourable effects, however. Too loud or too jarring music can be distracting, and can compete for our attention with what we're trying to do. Listening to too much pop and hard rock music can make you more jittery than energized. Vary what you listen to and find out what type of music is the most beneficial for you. You could try classical music one day, pop the next day and then some jazz.

Here are some facts about the effect of music in brief, which have been scientifically proved through several research studies.

  1. Music can meaningfully reduce the perceived intensity of pain, especially in geriatric care, intensive care, or palliative medicine.
  2. Listening to classical music effectively treats insomnia and improves sleep quality, making it a safe, cheap alternative to sleep-inducing medicines.
  3. Playing soft music (and dimming the lights) during a meal can help people slow down while eating and ultimately consume less food in one sitting.
  4. The emotions patients experience while listening to music have a healthy effect on blood vessel function resulting in increased blood flow in their blood vessels and regulation of blood pressure.
  5. Listening to music can relieve stress by triggering biochemical stress reducers.
  6. Listening to slow musical beats can induce a meditative state by creating brainwave activity similar to when a person is meditating or is in a hypnotic state with a therapeutic effect.
  7. Music puts people in a better mood and even a self-awareness mood and helps them to get in touch with their feelings.
  8. Background music enhances performance on cognitive tasks by improving a person’s emotional state.
  9. Music helps people perform better in high-pressure situations.
  10. Music’s effect on anxiety levels has been found to be similar to the effect of getting a massage.
  11. Listening to music has been found to help put cardiovascular surgery patients at ease as they awaited their operations.
  12. Listening to music while resting in bed after open heart surgery has been found to help relax patients and decrease their stress levels.
  13. Listening to music while driving can positively impact mood.
  14. Music has been found to help cancer patients communicate their feelings, manage stress, and ease physical pain and discomfort and also reduce anxiety and improve their quality of life.
  15. It was found by researchers that when stroke patients listened to music for two hours a day, their verbal memory and attention improved and they had a more positive mood compared to patients who didn’t listen to music.
  16. According to research reported at the American Society of Hypertension meeting in New Orleans, listening to just 30 minutes of classical, Celtic or raga music every day may significantly reduce high blood pressure.
  17. Music can boost the immune function. Scientists explain that a particular type of music can create a positive and profound emotional experience, which leads to secretion of immune-boosting hormones.

Regardless of our taste in music, it is clear that listening to music benefits our health, our body and mind, in myriad ways. It pays well if we spare at least one hour every day to enjoy the music of our taste. Developing a taste for music, learning music, singing on social occasions etc. are all really satisfying experiences adding to our wellness and over-all health. 

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Algorithms Set To Revolutionalise Lending Business

An algorithm is a procedure or formula for solving a problem, based on conducting a sequence of specified actions. A computer program can be viewed as an elaborate algorithm. In mathematics and computer science, an algorithm usually means a small procedure that solves a recurrent problem. Algorithms are widely used throughout all areas of Information Technology. A search engine algorithm, for example, takes search strings of keywords and operators as input, searches its associated database for relevant web pages, and returns results. Algorithms can perform calculation, data processing and automated reasoning tasks.

 

Much of the software now revolutionizing the financial services industry depends on algorithms that apply artificial intelligence (AI)—and increasingly, machine learning—to automate everything from simple, routine tasks to activities requiring sophisticated judgment. These algorithms and the analyses that support them have become progressively more sophisticated as the pool of potentially meaningful variables within the Big Data universe continues to proliferate.

 

When properly implemented, algorithmic and AI systems increase processing speed, reduce mistakes due to human error and minimize labor costs, all while improving customer satisfaction rates. Credit scoring algorithms, for example, not only help financial institutions optimize default and prepayment rates, but also streamline the application process, allowing for leaner staffing and an enhanced customer experience. When effective, these algorithms enable lenders to tweak approval criteria quickly and continually, responding in real time to both market conditions and customer needs. Both lenders and borrowers stand to benefit.

 

For decades, financial services companies have used different types of algorithms to trade securities, predict financial markets, identify prospective employees and assess potential customers. Although AI driven algorithms seek to avoid the failures of rigid instructions-based models of the past—such as those linked to the 1987 "Black Monday" stock market crash or 2010's "Flash Crash"—these models continue to present potential financial, reputational and legal risks for financial services companies.

 

In today’s world, we see algorithms directing almost all segments of consumer technology. From analyzing SMSs, utility and credit bill payments, social media profiles, e-commerce purchase patterns, mobile phone usage and behavioral patterns to evaluating educational and professional backgrounds of individual, algorithms play the primary role. But algorithms built on an individual’s digital footprint are drastically revolutionizing the lending business.

 

The days when people had to wait eagerly for months to get a loan sanctioned with or without collateral are over.  The absence of a sound financial track record made many banks and other financial institutions reluctant in approving their loan applications, be it for starting a new business or buying a home or buying a vehicle. When assessing potential borrowers, lenders historically focused on very limited types of data relating to their repayment capacities and credit histories. They witnessed a constant challenge in finding the right fit of consumer profiles and suffered at the hands of high turnaround time.

 

Such an inefficient and time-consuming market for financial products in India resulted in high rejection rates in the loan ecosystem. However, in recent years, the emergence of Big Data analytics and algorithms prompted many lending instituitions  to analyse non-traditional types of data that are not directly related to creditworthiness. Such data can be collected from a variety of sources like consumers’ search histories on the internet, online shopping patterns, social media activity and various other consumer-related inputs.

 

Today, startups in the lending space are promising improved customer experience, streamlined processes, competitive rates and instant loan approvals. The software that is being used to revolutionize the lending industry depends on algorithms that apply artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and other decision-making tools. When properly implemented, these algorithms increase the loan processing speed, reduce mistakes due to human error and minimize labor expenses in order to improve customer satisfaction rates. They also enable the lenders to swiftly tweak the approval criteria and respond to both the market conditions and customer needs in real time, creating wide-ranging benefits to both lenders and borrowers. 

 

Lending to SMEs is considered yet another risky affair in India due to the dearth of credit scores and adequate data points. Traditional banking institutions use a few pre-defined data sets to estimate the financials of a business such as the balance sheets, bank statements as well as the loan repayment history of the business or its owner.

 

Other aspects that are gauged are credit scores assigned by Credit Rating Companies like CIBIL and collaterals provided for securing the loan. But new-age lending start-ups are emphasizing more on the unconventional records like mobile GPS data, which shows the locations visited by an applicant. This helps recognize whether the business owner regularly goes to the place of work. Use of novel methods like psychometric tests also helps in assessing the credit worthiness of applicants as it unveils the personality traits with a series of subtle questions that need not necessarily have the right answers but can reveal significant truths about the person’s entrepreneurial ability, zeal, drive and financial discipline.

 

This is a major tech revolution where information from several spheres can be used to study customers and quickly decide whether to grant a loan or not. Such data can not only help the fintech companies in reducing the response time but also focus on more value addition and customer-related functions. This clearly indicates that by implementing “algorithm-enabling” technology, lending firms will not only enjoy the freedom of profoundly changing the value proposition for their customers but will also manage to catapult their business well ahead of their competitors.

 

Nevertheless, consumer financial services companies in particular must be vigilant in their use of algorithms that incorporate AI and machine learning. As algorithms become more ingrained in these companies' operations, previously unforeseen risks are beginning to appear—in particular, the risk that a perfectly well-intentioned algorithm may inadvertently generate biased conclusions that discriminate against protected classes of people.

 

(Courtesy : CXO Today)

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Global Warming

The term ‘Global Warming’ in simple terms refers to the phenomenon of the planet earth heating up, and fast. The term is used to refer to the increase in the average temperature of global surface air and oceans since about 1950, and to continuing increases in those temperatures. Global warming is a significant increase in the Earth’s climatic temperature over a relatively short period of time as a result of the activities of humans. In specific terms, an increase of 1 or more degrees Celsius in a period of one hundred to two hundred years would be considered global warming. Over the course of a single century, an increase of even 0.4 degrees Celsius would be significant.”

 

Global warming is one of the most important issues of modern times and if not taken seriously, it is all set to annihilate all life forms from the surface of the earth.  Global warming definition may look very simple but the phenomenon has started taking its toll, as the climatic conditions all over the earth are changing very rapidly. As per NASA, “the global average surface temperature rose 0.6 to 0.9 degrees Celsius (1.1 to 1.6° F) between 1906 and 2005, and the rate of temperature increase has nearly doubled in the last 50 years. Temperatures are certain to go up further.” It seems that the temperature is rising at a rate faster than ever before. Human activities like burning of fossil fuels, deforestation, industrialization and increase in pollution are considered as few of the factors responsible for rise in global warming.

 

Global warming is the increase of earth’s average surface temperature and its oceans due to greenhouse gases released as people burn fossil fuels. These greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane absorb heat that would otherwise bounce off the Earth’s surface. Global warming has emerged as one of the biggest environmental issues in the last two decades. Greenhouse gases, being lighter than air, naturally rise up the outer limits of the earth’s atmosphere and then settle there, creating an impenetrable barrier that traps heat from being able to escape into space and warming the temperature.

 

Scientists often use the term "climate change" instead of global warming. This is because as the Earth's average temperature climbs, winds and ocean currents move heat around the globe in ways that can cool some areas, warm others, and change the amount of rain and snow falling. As a result, the climate changes differently in different areas.

 

Global warming can have many different causes, but it is most commonly associated with human interference, specifically the release of excessive amounts of greenhouse gases. Gases, such as carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), water vapour, and fluorinated gases, act like a greenhouse gases around the earth. This means that they allow the heat to come from the Sun into the atmosphere, but do not allow the heat to escape back into space. The more the greenhouse gases, the larger the percentage of heat that is trapped inside the earth’s atmosphere.

 

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The earth could not exist in its present state (that is, with life) without the presence of some naturally occurring greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, methane and water vapour. Without any greenhouse gases no heat would be trapped in atmosphere, so the earth would be extremely cold. Naturally occurring greenhouse gases (non-fluorinated gases) are good in naturally occurring amounts; it’s when people start contributing excessive amounts of them that greenhouse gases become a problem. With excessive greenhouse gas buildup, the earth’s atmosphere warms to unnatural temperatures which causes, sea surface temperatures to rise, precipitation patterns to change etc.

 

The root cause of global warming is the emission of carbon dioxide due to burning of fossil fuels. The main culprits are for this the power plants that burn coal to produce electricity and in the process emit huge amounts of carbon dioxide. This carbon dioxide envelops earth and does not allow heat of the sun to escape into the atmosphere, giving rise to the temperature.

 

Origin of Global Warming:

 

Global warming is the process, which started long and long ago, in the times much earlier before human’s devised international treaties and even much earlier before we learned to burn first fossil fuel, which was wood. It was about the second half of the 20th century, when the global warming had become a talk of the town. In year 1997, the problem of global warming, or to be more exact, the problem of human contribution into this natural phenomenon, was addressed officially, when the world’s largest industrialized countries agreed to reduce greenhouse gases emissions as the effort to stop the rapid progression of the global warming.

 

Carbon dioxide is not the only Greenhouse Gas. While carbon dioxide may be primary greenhouse gas, methane actually is 20 times more effective at trapping heat in the Earth’s atmosphere. Emissions of methane released into our atmosphere have risen 145% in the last 100 years. Methane naturally occurs as part of the biological processes behind everything from bovine flatulence to the organic bacteria and sulfur’s commonly found in bogs, springs and wells. Methane is a natural form of gas that is released in rice paddies as well as the composting and decomposition of organic matter. However, methane gas is also released during the processing and preparation of fossil fuels.

 

Water vapour is responsible for two-third of the heat currently trapped in the Earth’s atmosphere by all greenhouse gases. The hotter the atmosphere gets, the higher the level of “relative humidity” which holds the heat in even better.

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Nitrous oxide is another Greenhouse Gas. It is a colourless, non-flammable gas with a slightly sweet odour. Most commonly known as “laughing gas”, it is used as a medical anesthetic. Nitrous oxide is naturally produced by oceans and rainforests. Nitrous oxide is naturally broken down in the atmosphere through chemical reactions that occur with sunlight. Some of the most prevalent “man-made” sources of nitrous oxide are agriculture fertilizers, nylon, catalytic converters and nitric acid, along with the burning of organic matter.

 

Causes of Global Warming:

 

Over the past century, our planet has slowly been warming up. Since the beginning of the 20th century, the average temperature around the world has gradually risen by one degree fahrenheit. Though this minimal warming might not seem so significant, but the over-all impact will most certainly prove to the devastating if this continual warming process is not somehow abated.

 

The issue of global warming is most often blamed on human beings’ ecologically irresponsible practices and technologies. In fact, global warming is quite a complex phenomena brought about not only by us but also by nature itself. In fact, mankind and technology actually aren’t the only significant causes of global warming. There are actually a wide variety of natural causes, ranging from volcanic eruptions, solar radiation and natural thawing of the Earths “permafrost” and glaciers.

 

In other words, the planet’s temperature, just like most other things in life and natural science, simply tends to fluctuate through natural, rhythmic, “ebbs and flows” and highs and lows that are caused and by sources within the planet itself, as well as the vacillating environment of the solar system and universe. Several “man-made” causes also play a significant role in global warming trend.

 

Natural Causes of Global Warming:

 

(i) Forest Fires:

 

Among the most common and most significant contributors to global warming is deforestation caused by forest fires. Fires are natural occurrences in many forests as it is nature’s way to clear to up old growth to encourage new ones.The fires also cause much carbon-filled smoke to rise from the forests to the atmosphere. Both results have dramatic effects on the rate at which global warming is currently occurring.

 

(ii) Oceans:

 

Oceans are also significant contributors to global warming as it naturally contains much polluting carbon due to the ecosystems they support. The top layers of oceans contain more pollution than the Earth’s atmosphere and much of that pollution rises.

 

(iii) The north and south poles:

 

Both the North and South poles also contribute a lot to global warming. It is in those areas where permafrost contains large amounts of carbon that have frozen over time.

 

Man Made Causes of Global Warming:

 

(i) Power plants:

 

Nearly 40% of our carbon dioxide emissions come directly from the process of burning “fossil fuels” in order to generate electricity. Of that almost 40% of our carbon dioxide emissions directly attributed to generating power, over 90% of it come from the burning of coal. Coal emits 25% more carbon per “unit of energy” than oil and 70% more carbon than natural gas.

 

(ii) Automobiles:

Approximately 1/3 of the carbon dioxide emissions released into our environment comes from the burning of gasoline in internal- combustion engines of automobiles, buses, motorcycles, recreational vehicles, trucks and motor sports.

 

(iii) Airplanes:

 

The United Nation’s Inter governmental Panel on Climate Change estimates that aviation currently is responsible for just under 5% of global warming and that the figure could very well rise to approximate 15% by the year 2050.

 

(iv) Buildings:

 

The regular maintenance, temperature control and cleaning of buildings structure actually account for nearly 12% of carbon dioxide emissions.

 

(v) Deforestation:

 

Deforestation is the 2nd most prolific cause of atmospheric carbon dioxide influx. Deforestation is responsible for nearly 1/4 of all carbon emissions entering the atmosphere. The planet cuts and burns nearly 34 million acres of trees each year, including millions of acres of “rainforests”.

 

The process of deforestation is “doubly” dangerous for the planet, because not only millions of tons of carbon dioxide are added into the atmosphere each year, but also wiping out the most effective cleansers of that deadly carbon dioxide gas, the trees and plants that naturally “thrive” by consuming the carbon dioxide and offering up pure, clean, breathable oxygen as a free byproduct of the plant life cycle.

 

(vi) Melting permafrost:

 

Permafrost is the frozen soil throughout the Arctic and sub-arctic regions, that contain all kinds of organic matter such as all kinds of frozen plants and animals that have been frozen solid and held inert for 30,000 years. Approximately 25% of the land mass of the Northern Hemisphere is “permafrost”, or soil with a temperature of 32 degrees Fahrenheit or less. Permafrost has acted like a jail cell for carbon, methane and other greenhouse gases for several thousand years. As glacial regions and permafrost begin to melt, the 50 billion tons of carbon held inactive under the frozen surface of the tundra, will begin and continue to be released into our atmosphere, creating a greenhouse effect that would make the residents of the hottest and most humid tropical islands faint in a minute.

 

Effects of Global Warming

 

i. Polar Ice Caps:

 

The effects of global warming are strongest at the poles. Ice all over the world is melting. This includes the ice of mountain glaciers, Arctic sea ice and ice sheets covering West Antarctica and Greenland. The melting ice increases the sea level and this causes flooding of low-lying areas.

 

ii. Weather:

 

Precipitation in the form of rain and snow has on average, increased across the whole world.Irregular weather patterns have an effect on humans. Rain is not only an inconvenience for humans, but also damage human property. The increase in heat will increase evaporation which is why there will be more rain.Animals and plants cannot easily adapt to increased rainfall or snowfall and many animals migrate to other areas. More extreme weather is already occurring. Cyclones have gained in strength since 1970. Rainfall associated with such weather has increased by 7%.

 

iii. Food Production:

 

As temperatures around the world will increase, plants will find it harder to cope and they will die. Some of the plants are used by humans for food and so a food shortage may occur. Agriculture would be severely affected because there is no water for plants to grow due to higher temperature. When there are no plants, humans have nothing to eat. There are also no plants to feed animals and so humans cannot eat animals either.

iv. Ecosystems:

 

Animals have been migrating to adapt to new conditions. This migration destroys ecosystems and their biodiversity. As parts of the food chain are lost from an ecosystem the whole ecosystem can easily collapse. Ecosystems and their biodiversity are important to humans. Humans get food, employment, raw materials and pharmaceutical products from the environment. Ecosystems will definitely change. So species will migrate to more suitable conditions while some will stay and try to adapt. Not all will succeed and more species will become extinct. It is predicted that 25% of all mammals and 12% of bird’s species will be extinct within the next 30 years.

 

v. Humans:

 

Rising temperatures have an effect on the health of humans. Heat strokes are likely to increase as temperature gets hotter.Diseases such as malaria are likely to spread. Parasites that originate in tropical regions may migrate to temperate regions as become warmer. Mosquitoes are an example and it is predicted that malaria will spread around world. Hurricane Katrina was famous hurricane for decimated the city of New Orleans, destroying structures, killing people and displacing.

 

vi. Oceans:

 

Between 1880 and 2000 a 20 cm. rise in ocean levels has been recorded — now occurring at 0.2 mm per year. This is due to ocean water expansion through its warming and water from melting glaciers and polar ice. Oceans have absorbed about half the human-made CO2 emissions since 1800. A higher CO2 content makes the oceans more acid. This has adverse effects on coral, fish and plankton.Warmer ocean water and volumes of fresh water from melting glaciers could disrupt the Gulfstream which influences Northern European weather. A cooling effect could occur. Rising oceans cold swallow low-lying islands and coastal areas.

 

vii. Water Availability:

 

Reduced rainfall, droughts, and vanishing glaciers will severely reduce the availability of drinking water.

 

viii. Further Global Warming:

 

Melting glaciers and permafrost may be at a stage where there is no turning back. As they contribute their fresh water to the oceans and as methane gas is released these events will further accelerate global warming. This is called the positive feedback effect.

 

ix. Coral Reefs:

 

Corals get their food from an algae called zooxanthellae, which lives in the coral. This algae is extremely sensitive to temperature changes, and “an increase of just 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit can cause corals to expel their algae, or ‘bleach’. Over a prolonged period of time, bleaching leads to death.A second contributing factor to the current sea-wide decline in coral reefs is that, as atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) increasing oceans are becoming more acidic. This “reduces the availability of free carbonate ions in the water,” making it more difficult for the polyps that build coral reefs to extract the calcium carbonate they need to survive.

 

x. Animals:

 

As global warming causes climate change, many great deserts like the Sahara are no longer able to sustain their animal population. Loss of habitat is most vividly seen in the Arctic, where global warming is melting the glaciers, pushing the polar bears into extinction. The melting glaciers have caused water levels to rise in many oceans, threatening to drown many tropical islands and forests that have animal life.

 

How to reduce global warming

 

The planet is warming due to human influence, but can human innovation save it? The evidence that humans are causing global warming is strong, but the question of what to do about it remains controversial. Economics, sociology, and politics are all important factors in planning for the future. Containing the release/emission of Greenhouse Gases is the most effective way to reduce global warming. Many people and governments across the globe are already working hard to cut greenhouse gases, and every person can help in this stupendous task of protecting the globe. The methods to reduce global warming include the following.

 

  1. Using CFL and LED lights, which use considerably less energy than incandescent bulbs.
  2. Proper heating, cooling and ventilation facilities.
  3. Using energy efficient appliances, fixtures and equipment:
  4. Bathroom, kitchen and laundry practices:
  5. Proper waste management:
  6. Less resort to transportation using motor vehicles.
  7. Proper maintenance of motor vehicles by periodic checking of carbon dioxide emissions and tyre pressure.
  8. Use of hybrid or electric vehicles.
  9. Decreasing air travel.
  10. Using recycled paper products.
  11. Recycling as much of waste as possible.
  12. Planting more trees.
  13. Using non-toxic cleaning products that are environment friendly.
  14. Eating less meat and more organic foods in your diet.

 

Global warming has become one of the most serious issues in current affairs, politicians and environmentalists due to the various risks and effects associated with it. Despite the fact that global warming is increasing at an alarming rate and it might be too late to restore the damage it has caused, it is believed that developing an aggressive plan of action can help reduce its negative impact. Unless the critical issue of global warming does not hit every person on earth, it will be very difficult to prevent the world from burning due to global warming in the near future.

 

(With inputs from NASA and National Geographic magazine, USA)

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Procrastination, the Foe of Productivity

N.Vijayagopalan

 

Procrastination is a challenge we have all faced at one point or another. For as long as humans have been around, we have been struggling with delaying, avoiding, and procrastinating on issues that matter to us. The problem of procrastination is so timeless that ancient Greek philosophers like Socrates and Aristotle developed a word to describe this type of behavior: Akrasia, which is the state of acting against your better judgment. It is when you do one thing even though you know you should do something else. Loosely translated, you could say that akrasia is procrastination or a lack of self-control.

 

Procrastination typically gets a bad name as a habit that impacts productivity and holds people back from fulfilling their potential. Procrastination has been linked to a number of negative associations, such as depression, irrational behaviour, low self-esteem, anxiety and neurological disorders such as ADHD. Others have found relationships with guilt and stress.

 

Some researchers define procrastination as "a form of self-regulation failure characterized by the needless delay of things one intends to do despite the expectation of negative consequences."

 

Behavioral psychology research has revealed a phenomenon called “time inconsistency,” which helps explain why procrastination seems to pull us in despite our good intentions. Time inconsistency refers to the tendency of the human brain to value immediate rewards more highly than future rewards.

 

When referring to procrastination, some people may think of it as poor time management, an inability to organize and prioritize tasks, meaning that we do them at the last minute, or even past their deadline. We may procrastinate to reduce stress in the short-term. Increasingly, research has shown that procrastination is, in fact, a complex, often maladaptive reaction to various perceived stressors.

 

One study found that procrastination is positively related to psychological vulnerability. Other research pointed out that people who tend to put tasks off until the last moment may have lower self-esteem than their peers. Studies have also found that people who procrastinate tend to have higher levels of stress and lower levels of self-compassion.

 

A study published in in 2017 shows a correlation between certain types of procrastination and neuroticism, a personality trait that denotes a high susceptibility to feelings of anxiety, worry, or frustration. In 2018, researches indicated that the people who are most likely to keep on procrastinating seem to have larger amygdalae than non-procrastinators. The amygdale is a brain region that plays a crucial role in the regulation of emotions, particularly processing anxiety and fear. The researchers explained that regarding action control, this could mean that individuals with a larger amygdala volume have learned from past mistakes and evaluate future actions and their possible consequences more extensively and this, in turn might lead to greater concern and hesitation, as observed in individuals with low decision-related action orientation scores.

 

Another study suggests that people may use procrastination as a "quick fix" for the negative moods created by the stress related to a specific task.

 

Procrastinating may create more stress in the long run, affecting mental health. Some people tend to procrastinate if there is a task that they don't want to do, perhaps because it is unpleasant, stressful, or boring.

 

 

How to Stop Procrastinating Right Now

 

There are many strategies that can be employed to stop procrastinating. If you can find a way to make the benefits of long-term choices more immediate, then it becomes easier to avoid procrastination. One of the best ways to bring future rewards into the present moment is by bundling a behavior that is good for you in the long-run with a behavior that feels good in the short-run.

 

Procrastination is the bane of every student’s existence. We know what we should be doing; we just don’t want to do it. It’s easy to put off undesirable assignments until the very last minute, but then we’re forced to pull a stress-induced all-nighter. Here are a few tips to crush procrastination.

 

  1. Get organized

 

You can't do any work if you don't know what assignments need to be completed. Start using the calendar app on your phone. This makes it much easier to keep track of individual assignments and important due dates.

 

  1. Set simple, achievable goals

 

It’s a lot easier to get started on a project when you establish simple, reachable goals rather than a big, vague plan.

 

  1. Create a timeline/schedule

 

After you set your goals, create a timeline to complete them. Breaking an assignment into small chunks over time makes it much more manageable. If you have an assignment due, aim to have it completed one or two days in advance. That way, if something unexpected happens, you still have extra time to complete it.

 

  1. Get rid of distractions

 

It’s important to rid yourself of all potential disruptions before you begin working so you don’t get needlessly sidetracked halfway through your task. If you tend to spend too much time on Snapchat or Instagram when you should be studying, then shut your phone off (all the way off).

 

  1. Time yourself

 

When loaded with assignments, it's easy to overwork yourself. Set a timer for 60 minutes to prevent yourself from burning out.

 

  1. Take a break

 

It's important to take mental breathers from work every now and then. When your timer goes off, take a 10–15-minute break. Listen to music, take a walk, or do something  that takes your mind off of work and allows you to relax.

 

 

  1. Use self incentives

 

Everyone loves being rewarded. It’s important to give yourself incentives, no matter how small. It could be something as simple as, "If I work on this assignment for an hour, I'll watch an episode of my favorite TV show tonight."

 

  1. Get the hard stuff done first

 

It is best to complete your most challenging assignments first. That way everything after it seems easier and takes a shorter amount of time.

 

  1. Tell someone about your goal

 

It’s easy to forget about assignments or put them off if you’re the only person holding yourself accountable. If you really want to get something done, tell a friend or family member. Now there is someone holding you responsible for your goals.

 

According to education experts, procrastination is considerably more widespread in students than in the general population, with over 70 percent of students reporting procrastination for assignments at some point. A 2014 panel study from Germany among several thousand University students found that increasing academic procrastination increases the frequency of seven different forms of academic misconduct, i.e., using fraudulent excuses, plagiarism, copying from someone else in exams, using forbidden means in exams, carrying forbidden means into exams, copying parts of homework from others, fabrication or falsification of data and the variety of academic misconduct. This study argues that academic misconduct can be seen as a means to cope with the negative consequences of academic procrastination such as performance impairment.

 

Undoubtedly, taking any amount of pains to ward off the habit of procrastination would be highly rewarding in one’s life.

 

(Courtesy : ‘Atomic Habits’ by John Clear; Medical News Today)

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NEW TRENDS IN DIGITAL LEARNING

Kripa Kishor

 

Are you a bibliophile, logophile, budding writer or an avid learner?  Are you keeping up with the current trends that are happening in the internet which will help you to learn and read better? There are a lot of things to help you learn like certain blogs and bloggers who write about books to YouTube which is an amazing platform to help you learn and read better. Starting from book tube to study tube to various channels that focus on making learning better, the list is endless. Even a huge social media platform like instagram can be used for learning. How many of you are familiar with Bookstagram? There are so many apps that will help you to learn and read better. The list is never-ending and sometimes it can be quite overwhelming.

In the present scenario everybody has access to the internet, access to mobile phones. Everything is available on our finger tips. We are obviously tapping our lives away. Internet and YouTubeare mostly accessed by youngsters and adults alike as a means of entertainment. In that process shouldn’t we learn something? If you are a student shouldn’t you use the internet wisely to learn and to teach others? There are a lot of apps to even keep your productivity in check or at high ebb.  There a lot of Blogs, Videos and apps that will help you learn better.

YOUTUBE

You might spend hours watching Standup Comedy and Prank videos on YouTube but how can you use YouTube to learn effectively? There are some real and genuine people spreading knowledge on YouTube. Starting from channels started by College students to extremely proficient professors, there are a lot of people with various channels that would help you in a lot of ways.

Study with Jess is a YouTube channel that has 420k subscribers and the channel is still growing. In her videos, she gives tips on how to better organize time or how to beat procrastination, how to learn a foreign language, or how to process information faster. There are some other Vloggers like Ana Mascara, Jane and Jady, Clarrissa and College info Geek. If you want to see realistic and long ‘Study With Me’ videos, Ruby Granger with 335k subscribers can help. UnJaded Jade with 319 k subscribers is an English Vlogger who discusses academics and self-confidence. If you are somebody who is looking for a dose of entertainment or comical element while learning, Jack Edwards with 124 k subscribers, a 20 year old college student who is majoring in English Literature at Durham University would be perfect for you.

 If you are looking for short and crisp book reviews, reviews on monthly book subscription boxes, cute bookish Merchandise and goodies, book tube would be just perfect for you. Helly (Saheli Chaterjee) is an Indian book-tuber who is pursuing her graduation currently.  She likes book reading and reviewing! Her mission is to make everyone a reader. So, her videos mostly include book reviews as well as tips for beginner readers on various genres. She has 156k subscribers on YouTube.  There are other Book Tube channels like ‘Books on toast’ with 34k subscribers and Indian book tuber with 30k subscribers. Ariel Bisett, Emma books, A Clock work reader are some other popular Book Tube channels. TED Ed, Crash course, Minute Physics, wise crack, Studyign, and Tibees are some other popular informative YouTube channels.

However there is a flip side to it;Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said that on the one hand, youngsters should be congratulated for “being innovative and using technology for something constructive”. He further added that children must be “protected” from “setting themselves unattainable goals” after watching “study tubers” post videos of themselves revising for hours on end.  Moreover he said that, “Mental health is such an issue for young people. People present themselves in a way that is unattainable,”. Even book tube promotes consumerism and you will end up buying more books than you actually need.

 

INSTAGRAM AND FACEBOOK

There are a lot of communities on Facebook and Instagram that would support you to read and learn. Known by literary lovers as "bookstagram," by tapping the right hash tags, you can end up in a never-ending, magical land where bookworms post the perfect shots of their favorite stories and latest novel recommendations.

Elizabeth Sagan's has a Bookstagram account and her feed is filled with out-of-this-world imagery, all created with the help of a few hardbacks. From a unicorn to a Christmas tree and a rainbow, her photos transport you to another world—just like any good story could (@elizabeth_sagan). A part of one of the biggest publishing houses in the world, Penguin Random House has near-daily updates of the latest books added to their impressive lineup (@penguinrandomhouse).  Moreover, The independent San Francisco book publisher, Chronicle Books, consistently posts lively and colorful photos that always manage to brighten your day—and they're not always of books; sometimes they'll come with a side of toast and puppies (@ChronicleBooks). ‘Book book owl’ from Australia also posts aesthetic pictures on Instagram (@bookbookowl). Bookstagram would introduce you to a ton of books you wouldn’t have heard of before.You can meet so many people – it’s one of the easiest platforms to make friends on.Most will find their photography skills improve. Bookstagram will introduce you to a ton of books you wouldn’t have heard of before. Even Facebook has a lot of communities that conduct 24 hour Readathons and other Reading challenges. The members of these communities are mostly warm and friendly.

If you really want to set up a Bookstagram account, you should know that it can be time-consuming. Sometimes it can make you feel down if a post doesn’t reach a certain number of likes etc. Again, you have to prepare yourself for deep conversations and topics which can be overwhelming at times.

APPS

There are apps for revising the lessons as well as for learning. Firstly let’s take a look at certain apps that will help you revise.  There is this app called Google keep which will help you to keep reminders and checklists. If you want to prepare flash cards while studying there is an app called ‘Chegg Flashcards’. Quizlet applets you create quizzes with your own information. There are also 400million quizzes already available across a wide range or areas.

There are other apps like Kahoot, Google Classroom, Teach Learn Lead, Khan Academy, TED and Goodreads.

How productive can you be after using the Internet to learn? It all comes down to the person who is using it. One of the most frequent critiques of using education technology is that it lends itself to distraction from other lessons. Many students are savvy computer users and find ways to use their school tablets or notebook computers to surf the web or play unrelated games.Most education apps are designed for individual use. Instead of interacting with a peer or teacher, kids become absorbed with the activities on their computer. The lack of in-person communication is a problem that appears to be increasing with younger generations.

Your computer, tablet, or smartphone has the potential to unleash a wealth of information. If you know what to look for, you have access to an unlimited number of learning resources. If used responsibly, the Internet can be a powerful tool to expand your knowledge.

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Remedies for Migraine – An Ayurvedic Perspective

Aswathy T.R.  &  Dr. Salini D.N.

 

Migraine, the chronic neurovascular disorder is one of the major disabling diseases. According to the National Headache Foundation, more than 37 million people suffer from migraine. The disease is characterized by episodes of headache which has complex neurologic and environmental manifestations. The symptoms include a characteristic pain at the front or one side of the head accompanied by nausea, vomiting and increased sensitivity to light and sound. Usually migraines are initiated by aura – visual disturbances. These disturbances can be blind spot in front of eyes, blurred vision, seeing bright light, zig zag lights, lines etc. Some may get pre-migraine signs such as yawning, mild confusion, vomiting sensation etc. Fluctuating levels of several hormones are reported to be closely linked to migraine. Alcohol consumption, caffeine intake, reading in dim light, excessive work etc. can induce migraine.

 

According to Ayurveda, migraine is caused due to vitiation of Tridoshas (the three biological factors) with the predominance of either Pitta or Vata dosha. It can be compared with either Vatika sirasoola or Ananthavata. Pathophysiology of this condition is deep-rooted in the aggravation of Vata and Pitta due to Mithya (improper) ahara (diet) and vihara (regimen). Aggravating factors which vitiate these doshas include exposure to cold, increased mental stress, over strain, lack of sleep, poor diet, untimely intake of food, improper food habits etc. Improper dietary habits lead to vitiation of agni and hence improper digestion. This leads to the production of ama (digestive impurities) resulting in srotorodham (obstruction in channels) and causing inadequate circulation of impurities in the body as well as brain resulting in the manifestation of the disease. Symptoms of migraine have good similarity with that of vatika sirasoola. Ayurvedic line of treatment gives importance to a holistic approach in management of migraine including medicines as well as dietary and life style recommendations. Treatment is focussed on pacifying the vitiated doshas in digestive and nervous system.  First step in management lies in abstinence from aggravating factors - “nidana parivarjanam”. Vata can be pacified using ushna (hot) snigdha (unctuous) gunas and pitta by seeta (cold) guna.

 

Samana oushadhas (Internal medicine) for migraine:

 

  • Pathyadi khada – used in the treatment of headache, earache, pain in temporal region, migraine etc.
  • Shirashooladi vajra rasa – used in the Ayurvedic treatment of headache, migraine, tension headache, vascular headache etc.
  • Bhoonimbadi khada – Used in fever, cold, sinusitis, headache.
  • Kumaryasava- Kumaryasav is used in the treatment of abdominal distention, bloating, respiratory conditions like cough, cold, wheezing, piles, vata balance diseases and certain neurological conditions.
  • Suthasekhara rasa – used in alleviating pitta.
  • Sitopaladi choorna - used in alleviating pitta.
  • Rasonaadi vati – Pacifies vata dosha.
  •  

Medicines for external applications:

 

  • Shirolepa – Application of herbal pastes like kushtaadi pralepam, prapunnada lepam, which pacify vata and paste of Sandalwood, camphor, Jatamansi etc for pitta dosha.
  • Shiro Dhara – Pouring of thin stream of liquid over scalp.
    • Taila dhara - Oils like ksheerabala taila, chandanadi taila is carried out where vata involvement is high.
    • Ksheera dhara - Using medicated milk (bala ksheera kashayam and dasamoola ksheera kashayam) when there is vata and pitta involvement.

 

Panchakarma( Elimination therapy):

 

    • Nasyam –  Varanaadinasyam, karpasaadi nasyam, sireeshabeeja apamarga     moola nasyam.

 

 Home remedies:

 

  • Apply a paste of ground clay or sandalwood powder mixed with rose water on the forehead.
  • Mix ¼ teaspoon of clove powder with 1 teaspoon of cinnamon oil. Apply this paste on the affected area for 20-30 minutes.

 

Diet and tips:

 

  • Avoid hot, spicy foods, fermented foods, white sugar, white flour products, and sour or citrus fruits, because they aggravate the Pitta in your body.
  • Drink more water and add more fiber, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains in the diet.
  • Avoid direct exposure to the sun, as migraine headaches are predominantly a Pitta disorder and can be triggered by hot sun.

 

It is estimated that globally, approximately 15% of people are affected by migraine. An early description consistent with migraine is contained in the Ebers papyrus, written around 1500 BCE in ancient Egypt. In 200 BCE, writings from the Hippocratic school of medicine described the visual aura that can precede the headache and a partial relief occurring through vomiting. Thus migraine is a medical disorder which has deep roots in the history of humanity.

 

(About the authors: Ms.Aswathy T.R. is a Research Scholar at Dept. of Computational Biology and Bioinformatics, University of Kerala, Trivandrum and Dr. Salini D.N. is Junior Scientist, AiCADD, Dept. of Computational Biology and Bioinformatics, University of Kerala, Trivandrum)

 

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Inherited Diseases and Genetic Disorders in Human Beings

Dr.P. Pushpangadan

 

In 1943, Oswald Avery, along with co-workers Colin MacLeod and Maclyn McCarty, identified DNA as the transforming principle, supporting Griffith's suggestion (Avery–MacLeod–McCarty experiment). DNA's role in heredity was confirmed in 1952 when Alfred Hershey and Martha Chase in the Hershey–Chase experiment showed that DNA is the genetic material of the enterobacteria phage. In Eukaryotes whose cells have a nucleus enclosed within membranes, unlike prokaryotes (Bacteria and Archaea), which have no membrane-bound organelles. Eukaryotes belong to the domain Eukaryota or Eukarya. Animals and plants are the most familiar eukaryotes. Each gamete has just one set of chromosomes, each a unique mix of the corresponding pair of parental chromosomes resulting from genetic recombination during meiosis. Eukaryotes represent a tiny minority of all living things. However, due to their generally much larger size, their collective worldwide biomass is estimated to be about equal to that of prokaryotes. Eukaryotes evolved approximately 1.6–2.1 billion years ago.

 

In 1951, Francis Crick started working with James Watson at the Cavendish Laboratory within the University of Cambridge. In 1953, Watson and Crick suggested what is now accepted as the first correct double-helix model of DNA structure in the journal Nature. Their double-helix, molecular model of DNA was then based on one X-ray diffraction image. For a non-technical introduction to the topic, see Introduction to genetics. For other uses, see DNA.  DNA is a molecule composed of two chains that coil around each other to form a double helix carrying the genetic instructions used in the growth, development, functioning, and reproduction of all known organisms and many viruses. DNA and ribonucleic acid (RNA) are nucleic acids; alongside proteins, lipids and complex carbohydrates (polysaccharides), nucleic acids are one of the four major types of macromolecules that are essential for all known forms of life. The model building efforts were guided by X-ray diffraction data acquired by Raymond Gosling, who was a post-graduate student of Rosalind Franklin. DNA is used by researchers as a molecular tool to explore physical laws and theories, such as the ergodic theorem and the theory of elasticity. The unique material properties of DNA have made it an attractive molecule for material scientists and engineers interested in micro- and nano-fabrication. Among notable advances in this field are DNA origami and DNA-based hybrid materials. The two strands of DNA run in opposite directions to each other and are thus antiparallel. Attached to each sugar is one of four types of nucleobases (informally, bases). It is the sequence of these four nucleobases along the backbone that encodes genetic information. RNA strands are created using DNA strands as a template in a process called transcription. Under the genetic code, these RNA strands specify the sequence of amino acids within proteins in a process called translation. In 1962, Watson and Crick got Nobel Prize for the same.

 

DNA, short for deoxyribonucleic acid, is a universal carrier of hereditary information. In all life forms-viruses, bacteria, fungi, plants and animals –it carries important instructions for the design of the organism.  And not only does it carry information- it is also a molecule designed so that it may be accurately copied to the next generation. DNA is built from simple unit, referred to as nucleotides that are joined to form very long molecules. Each nucleotide contains any of four different nitrogenous bases: adenine, thymine, cytosine, or guanine, abbreviated A, T, C and G, respectively. It is the sequence of these bases that forms the actual genetic message. The complementary nitrogenous bases are divided into two groups, pyrimidines and purines. In DNA, the pyrimidines are thymine and cytosine; the purines are adenine and guanine. The two DNA strands are also known as polynucleotides as they are composed of simpler monomeric units called nucleotides. Each nucleotide is composed of one of four nitrogen-containing nucleobases (cytosine, guanine, adenine or thymine), a sugar called deoxyribose, and a phosphate group. The nucleotides are joined to one another in a chain by covalent bonds between the sugar of one nucleotide and the phosphate of the next, resulting in an alternating sugar-phosphate backbone. The nitrogenous bases of the two separate polynucleotide strands are bound together, according to base pairing rules (A with T and C with G), with hydrogen bonds to make double-stranded DNA.

 

Human Genome

 

The human genome is the entire "treasury of human inheritance." The sequence of the human genome obtained by the Human Genome Project, completed in April 2003, provides the first holistic view of our genetic heritage. The 46 human chromosomes (22 pairs of autosomal chromosomes and 2 sex chromosomes) between them house almost 3 billion base pairs of DNA that contains about 20,500 protein-coding genes. The coding regions make up less than 5% of the genome (the function of all the remaining DNA is not clear) and some chromosomes have a higher density of genes than others.

 

Genes and Heredity

           

Heredity is the passing of genes from one generation to the next. You inherit your parents' genes. Heredity helps to make you the person you are today: short or tall, with black hair or blond, with brown eyes or blue. Other genetic diseases like Sickle cell anemia, Cystic fibrosis, Lysosomal acid lipase deficiency, Glycogenstorage diseases, Galactosemia, most of the cancers etc are examples of genetic disorders.                 

 

We refer to the complete genetic material of an organism as its genome. The human genome is an astounding three billion letters. An important milestone was reached in biomedical research in 2001 when, for the first time, a draft of the human genome was presented and the complete sequence of letters could be read. Consider the whole genome printed as a physical book. You would need in the order of 5,00,000 pages like this to cover the full human genome. That would correspond to more than 1600 books, each with 300 pages.

 

DNA Nanotechnology

 

DNA nanotechnology uses the unique molecular recognition properties of DNA and other nucleic acids to create self-assembling branched DNA complexes with useful properties. DNA is thus used as a structural material rather than as a carrier of biological information. This has led to the creation of two-dimensional periodic lattices (both tile-based and using the DNA origami method) and three-dimensional structures in the shapes of polyhedra. Nanomechanical devices and algorithmic self-assembly have also been demonstrated, and these DNA structures have been used to template the arrangement of other molecules such as gold nanoparticles and streptavidin proteins.

 

What is the general organization of the human genome and what elements are quantitatively or functionally important? What is the structure of genes, and what is their environment?. For instance we learn that the human genome contains not only protein –coding genes but a lot of noncoding material, including a huge number of repetitive elements. It contains the genetic information that allows all forms of life to function, grow and reproduce. However, it is unclear how long in the 4-billion-yearhistory of life DNA has performed this function, as it has been proposed that the earliest forms of life may have used RNA as their genetic material. RNA may have acted as the central part of early cell metabolism as it can both transmit genetic information and carry out catalysis as part of ribozymes Bioinformatics involves the development of techniques to store, data mine, search and manipulate biological data, including DNA nucleic acid sequence data. These have led to widely applied advances in computer science, especially string searching algorithms, machine learning, and database theory. String searching or matching algorithms, which find an occurrence of a sequence of letters inside a larger sequence of letters, were developed to search for specific sequences of nucleotides.

 

Both strands of double-stranded DNA store the same biological information. This information is replicated as and when the two strands separate. A large part of DNA (more than 98% for humans) is non-coding, meaning that these sections do not serve as patterns for protein sequences.

 

Genetic Disorder

 

A genetic disorder is a genetic problem caused by one or more abnormalities formed in the genome. Mitotic /Meiotic abnormalities causing irregular pattern of chromosome segregation resulting in addition of a chromosome or Mutation in the chromosome and other abnormalities. Most genetic disorders are quite rare and affect one person in every several thousands or millions. Genetic disorders may be hereditary, meaning that they are passed down from the parents' genes. In other genetic disorders, defects may be caused by new mutations or changes to the DNA. In such cases, the defect will only be passed down if it occurs in the germline. The case of Mr. Joseph Carey Merrick (5 August 1862 – 11 April 1890) English man had a severe deformities He was first exhibited at a freak show as the "Elephant Man", and then went to live at the London was reported to be a genetic disorder caused by an abnormality to gereric in the genetic makeup of an individual. At that time there was no knowledge of genetic disorders.

 

Sickle Cell Anemia

           

Sickle cell anemia is an inherited form of anemia — a condition in which there aren't enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen throughout your body. ... In sickle cell anemia, the red blood cells become rigid and sticky and are shaped like sickles or crescent moons. Sickle cell disease is a group of disorders that affects hemoglobin, the molecule in red blood cells that delivers oxygen to cells throughout the body. People with this disorder have atypical hemoglobin molecules called hemoglobin S, which can distort red blood cells into a sickle, or crescent, shape.

 

Sickle cell anemia is caused by a mutation in the gene that tells your body to make the red, iron-rich compound that gives blood its red color (hemoglobin). Hemoglobin allows red blood cells to carry oxygen from your lungs to all parts of your body. In sickle cell anemia, the abnormal hemoglobin causes red blood cells to become rigid, sticky and misshapen.

           

The sickle cell gene is passed from generation to generation in a pattern of inheritance called autosomal recessive inheritance. This means that both the mother and the father must pass on the defective form of the gene for a child to be affected.

 

Gene therapy

 

Gene therapy is an experimental technique that uses genes to treat or prevent disease. In the future, this technique may allow doctors to treat a disorder by inserting a gene into a patient's cells instead of using drugs or surgery. Gene therapy was conceptualized in 1972, by authors who urged caution before commencing human gene therapy studies.

           

The first attempt, an unsuccessful one, at gene therapy (as well as the first case of medical transfer of foreign genes into humans not counting organ transplantation) was performed by Martin Cline on 10 July 1980. Cline claimed that one of the genes in his patients was active six months later, though he never published this data or had it verified and even if he is correct, it's unlikely it produced any significant beneficial effects treating beta-thalassemia. DNA must be administered, reach the damaged cells, enter the cell and either express or disrupt a protein. Multiple delivery techniques have been explored. The initial approach incorporated DNA into an engineered virus to deliver the DNA into a chromosome. Naked DNA approaches have also been explored, especially in the context of vaccine development. Gene editing is a potential approach to alter the human genome to treat genetic diseases, viral diseases, and cancer. As of 2016 these approaches were still years from being medicine. Gene therapy is still in infancy.

 

In germ line gene therapy (GGT), germ cells (sperm or egg cells) are modified by the introduction of functional genes into their genomes. Modifying a germ cell causes all the organism's cells to contain the modified gene. The change is therefore heritable and passed on to later generations. Australia, Canada, Germany, Israel, Switzerland, and the Netherlands prohibit GGT for application in human beings, for technical and ethical reasons, including insufficient knowledge about possible risks to future generations and higher risks versus SCGT. The US has no federal controls specifically addressing human genetic modification (beyond FDA regulations for therapies in general).

 

Acknowledgment

 

The authors express their sincere thanks to Dr. Ashok K. Chauhan, Founder President, RBEF and Chairman, Amity Group of Institutions and also to Dr. Atul Chauhan, Chancellor, Amity University Uttar Pradesh, Noida and President, RBEF for providing necessary facilities and encouragement. The authors are also thankful to Mr. Arun S S for doing the typing work.

 

References

 

1. Alberts B, Johnson A, Lewis J, Raff M, Roberts K, Walter P (2014). Molecular Biology of the Cell (6th ed.). Garland. p. Chapter 4: DNA, Chromosomes and Genomes. ISBN 978-0-8153-4432-2. Archived from the original on 14 July 2014

 

2. Mashaghi A, Katan A (2013). "A physicist's view of DNA". De Physicus. 24e (3): 59–61. arXiv:1311.2545v1. Bibcode:2013arXiv1311.2545M

 

3. Irobalieva RN, Fogg JM, Catanese DJ, Catanese DJ, Sutthibutpong T, Chen M, Barker AK, Ludtke SJ, Harris SA, Schmid MF, Chiu W, Zechiedrich L (October 2015). "Structural diversity of supercoiled DNA". Nature Communications. 6: 8440. Bibcode:2015NatCo...6E8440I

 

4. Carr S (1953). "Watson-Crick Structure of DNA". Memorial University of Newfoundland. Archived from the original on 19 July 2016. Retrieved 13 July 2016.

 

5. Shu X, Liu M, Lu Z, Zhu C, Meng H, Huang S, Zhang X, Yi C (2018) Genome-wide mapping reveals that deoxyuridine is enriched in the human centromeric DNA. Nat Chem Biol doi:10.1038/s41589-018-0065-9

 

6. Nikolova EN, Zhou H, Gottardo FL, Alvey HS, Kimsey IJ, Al-Hashimi HM (2013). "A historical account of Hoogsteen base-pairs in duplex DNA". Biopolymers. 99 (12): 955–68. doi:10.1002/bip.22334. PMC 3844552. PMID 23818176

 

7. Johnson G (28 December 2010). "Unearthing Prehistoric Tumors, and Debate". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 24 June 2017. If we lived long enough, sooner or later we all would get cancer.

 

8. Watson J.D and Crick (1953), Molecular structure of Deoxypentose Nucleic Acif – A structure for Deoxyribose Nucleic acid, Nature, Vol 171 pp. 737-738

 

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Meditation- How Good It Is

EKL Desk

 

Meditation is a practice where one focuses one’s mind on a particular object, thought or activity, to train attention and awareness, and achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm and stable state. Meditation may be used with the aim of reducing stress, anxiety, depression, and pain, and increasing peace, perception, self-concept, and well-being.

 

Practicing meditation or mindfulness techniques is supposed to keep our mind and heart calm, peaceful and loving and smoothen our way to a happier, more healthful life. Most people who become interested in meditation are drawn to it thanks to the widespread notion that it will help them feel calmer, more balanced, and less exposed to the effects of daily stress.

 

The practice of meditation has been around for hundreds of years and a part of diverse cultures. The five major religions- Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam- all practice forms of meditation. Meditation plays a part in all aspects of Indian spiritual life, to greater and lesser degrees depending on the individual practitioner, his or her chosen path and stage of life. Indeed, many people today with different religious beliefs like to incorporate meditation as a spiritual practice.

 

In most countries, meditation has moved away from its spiritual and devotional roots, becoming more of a straightforward practice for mental health and general well-being.

 

There are many types of meditation including loving-kindness meditation, mindfulness meditation, and transcendental meditation. Mindfulness has also branched out as a series of practices involving focusing on small details in the present moment. The aim is to help a person stay rooted in the here and now and de-escalate unwelcome feelings or moods, such as episodes of anxiety.

 

People who engage with mindfulness techniques and meditation often allege that these practices allow them to boost or maintain various aspects of their well-being. But what does scientific research say about the effects of meditation? Let us have a look at a few facts which research has found out about the effects of meditation on the mind and the body.

 

  1. Resilience to stress

 

Most people believe that the reason why meditation is beneficial to them is that it allows them to get rid of the stress that accumulates on a daily basis due to job or family pressures.

 

Research says that meditation can make you more resilient in the face of daily stress. A study by researchers associated with the Center for Wellness and Achievement in Education in San Francisco, CA, conducted last year confirms that people who practice transcendental meditation reported feeling less stressed at work than peers who did not meditate. During transcendental meditation, typically, a person focuses on and repeats a mantra — a special word, sound, or phrase — which is meant to help the mind settle down.

 

A previous study, published in 2017, reveals that meditation, alongside other mind-body interventions, is associated with lower levels of the molecule "nuclear factor kappa B," which influences the regulation of gene expression.

The team who conducted that research explains that our bodies typically produce that molecule in response to stress and that it, in turn, activates a series of molecules called "cytokines," some of which are pro- and some of which are anti-inflammatory. High cytokine activity contributes to many physical and mental health problems, including abnormal inflammation, cancer, and depression.

 

Other evidence, also uncovered in 2017, indicates that meditation, alongside yoga, promotes stress resilience by increasing levels of the brain-derived neurotrophic factor, a protein that protects nerve cell health and helps regulate metabolic processes.

 

Similarly, recent research — published in Evidence-Based Mental Health, a BMJ journal — shows that mindfulness is about as effective as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) in relieving the symptoms of chronic pain associated with conditions such as fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, and osteoarthritis.

 

  1. Improved self-control

 

Meditation and mindfulness seem to improve, not just a person's resilience to stress factors, but also their overall mental health.

 

For instance, one study looked at the effects of mindfulness on women who experienced depression, anxiety, and mood swings following menopause. The authors found that this practice helped the participants minimize the effects of these emotional and psychological symptoms.

 

The study observed that the goal during mindful moments is not to empty the mind but to become an observer of the mind's activity while being kind to oneself.

 

Robert Wright, an author and former visiting lecturer at the University of Princeton in New Jersey, argues that there is a clear reason why mindfulness and meditation practices allow a person to fight anxiety and other mood disorders. In his most recent book, Why Buddhism Is True, Wright writes that human beings have evolved "to do certain things that helped our ancestors get their genes into the next generation — things like eating, earning the esteem of other people, and outdoing rivals." For this, our brains have developed a reward system, which makes us want to seek experiences that we find pleasurable — eating, drinking, and having sex.

 

Research shows that meditation and mindfulness techniques can help a person fight back against those unhelpful impulses and gain more self-control. Thus, a study from 2015 found that people who smoked were able to cut down on their smoking after taking up mindfulness training.

 

Similarly, research published in the International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology in 2017 showed that people who usually engaged in heavy drinking consumed 9.3 fewer units of alcohol, which is the equivalent of around 3 pints of beer, in the week that followed brief mindfulness training.

Mindfulness, research suggests, also helps people who want to lose weight. "Mindful eating," as it is called, teaches people to become aware of their eating-related impulses in the moment and to truly become aware of the sensation of every bite. A study from last year confirmed that participants who attended three or four mindfulness sessions were able to lose about 3 kilograms, on average, over 6 months, while peers who attended fewer sessions only lost around 0.9 kilogram, on average.

 

  1. A healthier brain

 

According to Dr. Sanam Hafeez, a licensed psychologist based in New York, meditation, when practiced regularly, can rewire the neural pathways in the brain and can help keep the brain young.

 

Indeed, numerous studies have found that meditation can also help maintain brain health and neuroplasticity — the capacity of brain cells to form new connections.

 

In one study, researchers followed 60 individuals, who were experienced meditators, for 7 years. The investigators found that the participants not only saw improved stress resilience but also better attention. These benefits, the researchers say, lasted for a long time, and the people who meditated most frequently did not present the attention problems that come with age.

 

Research published in 2017, in the journal Mindfulness, also found that mindfulness meditation, alongside a type of yoga practice, was associated with better executive functioning and improved vigor.

 

These practices may actually reduce the risk of dementia, according to a study from the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease. Its senior author, Dr. Helen Lavretsky, suggests that regular practice of yoga and meditation could be a simple, safe, and low-cost solution to improving your brain fitness.

 

Does meditation have any unwanted effects? Nevertheless, although so many people and so many studies point to the benefits of meditation, some individuals feel put off by the practice, saying that, rather than helping them improve their own well-being, it triggers unwanted emotions. Some people experience anxiety and other unwanted effects during meditation.

In one study, the results of which appear in PLoS One, the investigators surveyed 342 individuals who practiced mindfulness and meditation either casually, by themselves, or as part of meditation retreats. The surveys indicated that 25.4 percent of the participants reported experiencing unwanted effects of varying degrees of severity. These included symptoms of anxiety or panic attacks, physical pain, depersonalization, symptoms of depression, and dizziness.

 

The investigators note that most of the unwanted effects — 41.3 percent — occurred during individual, not group, practice. They also report that 17.2 percent of the unwanted effects took place in the course of focused attention meditation and that 20.6 percent occurred when a person meditated for longer than 20 minutes.

 

According to the researchers, 39 percent of these unwanted effects did not last long and were not severe enough to require medical intervention.

 

The authors of a review analyzing the findings of other studies that reported potential adverse effects of mindfulness practices argue that rather than mindfulness per se, it is a lack of understanding of the nuances of mindfulness among some instructors — and the subsequent poor teaching of mindfulness — that is likely to pose the greatest risk to patients. As a result, they recommend that individuals interested in these kinds of practices pick their instructor after conducting careful background research.

 

Moreover, they say that therapists wishing to incorporate mindfulness into their clinical practices should, for added safety, undergo supervised mindfulness training for a period of at least 3 years  prior to attempting to administer mindfulness in a treatment context.

 

As for individuals who have attempted mindfulness or meditation, but are not seeing any improvements, experts advise patience, or rather persistence with patience.

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How to Succeed in a Job Interview

N.Vijayagopalan

 

A Job interview is something which needs to be handled with due preparations, care and caution. Your fate is by and large decided in the interview and hence it pays rich dividends devoting a little extra attention to this inevitable phase of entering into a career. 

 

Have a look at a few important aspects to be taken care of in attending a job interview.

 

  1. Be Prepared

Be familiarized and prepared to face the basic interview questions which are generally asked - like your introduction, your hobbies, your interests, your goals, why should the company hire you, etc. Practice them before your interview with well thought out points and try to make them interesting.

 

  1. Acquaint with the company

Always study about the prospective employer company which is going to interview you by going through the website. Know about its history, vision, mission, management team, products and services, goals and objectives etc. Go through internet content, press releases and data available online so that you are able to answer any questions on it.

 

  1. Be on time

Always try to leave early from your house and make it a point to reach 15 minutes before the call time. Nothing looks worse than reaching late for the interview.

 

  1. Dress Well

As they say, your first impression is the lasting one. So always dress to impress. Wear crisply ironed formals, clean shoes and your hair should be neat and tied up. A nicely dressed person always tends to leave a good impression than a person who comes shabbily for the interview.

 

  1. Be confident

Be calm and composed. Do not let your nervousness come up on your face. No matter how nervous you are, always look confident. A confident candidate always has a better opportunity as it shows how he can handle situations in a better way. No company would want to employ a person who is shaking due to nervousness during the interview.

 

  1. Be honest and flexible

Always be honest and factual in responding to whatever you are asked. Do not lie or exaggerate regarding any thing as it may back-fire and expose you in the future. If you don't know the answer to any question, say it with confidence. After all, you are not supposed to know everything and its perfectly okay. It's better than giving wrong answers and giving a wrong impression.

 

  1. Let your CV reflect you

Keep your CV updated and impressive and ready to be presented when asked. Your CV is the most important document which sells you to your prospective employer. Keep it updated and make it sellable. Enhance it with all the skills you have and all that you have done in the past. Ensure that your suitability for the company and the post is well reflected in your CV. Do not make the mistake of fabricating it in any way. Keep two copies of the updated CV with you in a folder.

 

  1. Keep Testimonials in a folder

Even if not mentioned in the call letter, it is better to keep a folder with you containing your certificates and testimonials.

 

  1. Be warm and friendly

You are noticed in every way. Be friendly with other candidates, the reception staff and interviewer and always keep that smile on your face. It also helps you to conceal your nervousness as well. Do not make the interview one-sided. Ask a few questions to your interviewer about the company and your job profile.

 

  1. Ask for feedback

Before the interview closes, politely ask the interviewer as to how it went without bluntly asking about the chances of being selected. It gives a positive image of you as it shows your keenness towards accepting the job offer.

 

Face the interview with preparations, confidence and positivism and brighten the chances of your getting hired.

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One Objective, Two Approaches

Dr. Indhulekha. B

 

The Bhagavad Gita, often referred to as the Gita, is a classic, wonderful and miraculous piece of work in world literature. It is the sum and substance of Upanishadic wisdom. The Gita is only such a work that can show the way that leads to perfection, which can claim Universal Value. The main factor which gives the Bhagavad Gita its sublime position among Philosophical texts is that it aims at the perfect blossoming of one’s life. The Gita, which forms the chapters 25th to 42nd of the Bhishmaparvam of the greatest Sanskrit epic, the Mahabharata, provides an essence of the entire Vedanta philosophy, which has been extracted from all the Upanishads. As the colophon ‘Bhagavadgitasu Upanishadsu’ indicates, the Bhagavad Gita is metaphysics and ethics, brahma vidya and yoga sastra, the science of reality and the art of union with reality. The Gita gives not only a metaphysical interpretation Brahma vidya, but also a practical programme Yoga sastra to transform knowledge into experience.

 

The Bhagavad Gita is so popular that it has more than fifty commentaries in Sanskrit and more than two hundred and fifty commentaries in other languages. The foremost among them is Sankara bhashya by Sankaracharya. Sankara possessed super human qualities. His voice is the proclamation of Advaita Vedanta. He is a person who has contained and connected the entire Cosmos in the one string of Advaita darsana. It can be stated without any doubt that among all the Acharyas born in India, Sankaracharya has carried out this task of revealing the secret of the Gita in a manner which no one else could.

 

The ‘Jnaneswari’ is the first commentary to have come up in a vernacular language, ‘Marathi’. Jnaneswara is the spiritual guru of the ‘Marathi’ language. It was just at the age of 15 that he wrote the commentary on the Bhagavad Gita. There are more than 9000 verses in the Jnaneswari. Jnaneswara conducted spiritual discourses wherever he went, without any preparations. On all those occasions he offered ex tempore commentary on the Gita. The world renowned Jnaneswari is the compilation of all these commentaries on the Gita. The Jnaneswari is written in the popular and famous Ovi metre of Marathi language. This is a popular metre which is poetical and musical similar to folk songs. Ovi is characterised by rhyming three lines portion with changing vowels followed by an unrhymed short fourth line. This metre has the excellence of prose and the beauty of verse. The Jnaneswari has been translated into English, French, Spanish and Persian languages and to Indian languages like Hindi, Tamil, Kannada, Telugu, Malayalam, Bengali and Gujarati too.

 

Jnaneswara, who was a devotional poet in Marathi language played a vital role in shaping the righteousness in man. The Jnaneswari has been written in that sweetness which can be found in a folk song and is as simple as could be understood by even a child. Being written while he was a teenager, bhakti is the predominant mood in it. It can be inferred that the simple style was selected in order to create inroads into the common public. Jnaneswara has carried out the composition revealing the child-like state achieved at the summit of devotion. The sweetness of devotion made Jnaneswara simpler. Jnaneswara had only a very short life. But in this short span he secured a place in everyone's heart. Jnaneswara didn't lead a worldly life. Hence he didn't have the support of the experience of a life in the worldly plane. This too is one reason for the simplicity of the Jnaneswari.

 

In the opinion of Jnaneswara, the way to liberation is bhakti. It can be understood that Jnaneswara has tried to instil the sweetness of bhakti into the hearts of his listeners throughout the commentary. But in the view of Sankara, it is knowledge which one should pursue to attain liberation. Sankara's keen interest in knowledge has made him quite a serious person. Both the commentators have a noble lineage. Sankara accepted Govindabhagavadpada and Jnaneswara accepted his brother, Nivrittinadha as their preceptors. The difference in the nature of the preceptors may be perceived in the disciples too. Throughout Jnaneswara's commentary, one can perceive the sweetness of the relation between a mother and her child. Sankara too has realized the greatness and sweetness of this relationship that he has considered the Gita as Gitamatha.

 

Sankara has written all his works in the divine language Sanskrit condensing all his knowledge. Jnaneswara has chosen his mother tongue, Marathi, as the medium for his commentary. He has stated through his commentary that he has tried to follow the path tread by Sankara. But one can easily find glaring differences in their style. Jnaneswara gave more importance to bhakti than dry philosophizing. Sankara has given word to word commentary in his work and has given the commentary for only 638 among the 700 slokas. But Jnaneswara has offered it for all the slokas.

 

Bhakti or loving devotion is the fruit of right knowledge and the spring of right actions.  This is the message of the Gita and Jnaneswara proclaims it in words that are so sublime, so lucid and so enchanting. The object of the Jnaneswari is to spread spiritual bliss, to eliminate dearth of discrimination and to enable any aspirant to have the glimpse of Divine Knowledge. The Jnaneswari has also been the source of inspiration to people interested in different categories.

 

According to Sankara, the aim of the Gita is the refinement of mind and realization of Brahman. The one who owns the right knowledge actualizes that the Highest Reality is one without a second. All eminences of subject and object disappear in him and thus the true Self, Atman shines in him.

 

Sankara's attitude towards Karman is most revolutionary and emphatic. It has been stated that Karman is meant for purification of mind, not for comprehending the nature of the Ultimate Reality. The Ultimate Reality can be attained only by reflection, not even a little bit of it can be known by performing even a crore of Karmas. Sankara deals about these Dharmas in the beginning of his commentary.

 

Sankara declares that the fangs of Karman can be extracted and the snake made useful and beneficial. Karman can be turned into "Karmayoga”. What was conceived as Pravritti can be made to reverse its direction and be converted into Nivritti karman. The result is purification of mind. It is the first step towards the highest spiritual attainment. The cause of bondage is ‘Kama’ or desire. So, the real enemy of man is Kama, not Karman. Karman originates from Kama and results in bondage. Who acquires the equanimity in regard to failure or success in action, he is clever.

 

By bringing the message of the Gita to the people amidst their daily life, Jnaneswara consolidates the Bhagavata Dharma. It teaches that one can attain liberation not by Nivritti but by Pravritti. Here "Nivritti” means the renunciation of social duties and religious obligations. Seeking renunciation of the reward within the social duties and religious obligations means "pravritti”. Jnaneswara synthesized the Absolute Monism of the Vedanta and Pure Bhakti of the Bhagavata tradition.

 

Jnaneswara accepts " Brahmasatyam’' - the doctrine propounded by Sankara. However Jnaneswara rendered a theological bend to the doctrine and hence he accepted the reality of the Universe. He considers Universe is the form of God. The Jnanibhakta experiences that he is one with the Universe. According to Jnaneswara, there is Bhakti in the state of Advaita. This state cannot be described in words. It's a matter of personal experience. Atman becomes one with the Lord and hence becomes steady.

 

In the entire commentary by Sankara, the exposition of Advaita Vedanta is what is projected most. Moreover there are numerous references from the Vedas, Puranas and Itihasas. Sankara has given detailed commentary on slokas which are difficult to understand and left the simpler ones with brief description. As there were so many lovers of the Sanskrit language in that time, Sankara wrote in the most sublime style in Sanskrit. It is clear from the commentary that he has got a good education and a better preceptor. He didn't write his commentary coming down for the masses. On the other hand, he tried to bring them up to his level. The freshness of Sankara's commentary can be traced to this fact.

 

The Vedas themselves have three portions of Jnana Kanda, Upanishat Kanda and Karma Kanda, aimed at fulfilling this objective of integrating the three planes of actions viz. thought, word and deed. So both these Avataric personalities should also be properly utilized in integrating an aspirant's three planes of actions and thus evolve towards Brahman rather than try to find the difference in their different approaches towards one of the most sublime spiritual texts that has been handed over to humanity down the ages to the eternal future.

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Environment – The Most Precious Possession of Humanity

V.N.Nair

 

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is the leading global environmental authority that sets the global environmental agenda, promotes the coherent implementation of the environmental dimension of sustainable development within the United Nations system, and serves as an authoritative advocate for the global environment.

 

UNEP’s mission is to provide leadership and encourage partnership in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing, and enabling nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations.

 

The United Nations, considering the fact that the protection and improvement of the human environment is a major issue, which affects the well-being of peoples and economic development throughout the world, designated June 5th as World Environment Day. The celebration of this day provides us with an opportunity to broaden the basis for an enlightened opinion and responsible conduct by individuals, enterprises and communities in preserving and enhancing the environment. Since it began in 1974, it has grown to become a global platform for public outreach that is widely celebrated in more than 100 countries. World Environment Day is the biggest annual event for positive environmental action and takes place every 5 June.

 

The theme for World Environment Day 2018, hosted by India, was “Beat Plastic Pollution”, which was a call to action for all of us to come together to combat one of the great environmental challenges of our time. The theme invited us all to consider how we can make changes in our everyday lives to reduce the heavy burden of plastic pollution on our natural places, our wildlife – and our own health.

 

World Environment Day 2019

 

June 5, 2019 is the World Environment Day. World Environment Day 2019 is being hosted by China, with a theme of "Air Pollution".

 

We can't stop breathing, but we can do something about the quality of air that we breathe. Approximately 7 million people worldwide die prematurely each year from air pollution, with about 4 million of these deaths occurring in Asia-Pacific. World Environment Day 2019 will urge governments, industry, communities, and individuals to come together to explore renewable energy and green technologies, and improve air quality in cities and regions across the world.

 

Here are some startling facts about Air Pollution.

 

  1. 92 per cent of people worldwide do not breathe clean air.
  2. Air pollution costs the global economy $5 trillion every year in welfare costs.
  3. Ground-level ozone pollution is expected to reduce staple crop yields by 26 per cent by 2030.

 

What causes Air Pollution?

 

Air pollution may seem complex, but we can all do our part to reduce some of it. Understanding the different types of pollution, and how it affects our health and environment will help us take steps towards improving the air around us.

 

How much pollution we breathe in is dependent on many factors, such as access to clean energy for cooking and heating, the time of day and the weather. Rush hour is an obvious source of local pollution, but air pollution can travel long distances, sometimes across continents on international weather patterns.

 

Nobody is safe from this pollution, which comes from five main human sources. These sources spew out a range of substances including carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, nitrogen oxide, ground-level ozone, particulate matter, sulfur dioxide, hydrocarbons, and lead–all of which are harmful to human health.

 

Air pollution may seem complex, but we can all do our part to reduce some of it. Understanding the different sources of air pollution, and how it affects our health and environment will help us take steps towards improving the air around us. Let us have look at the main sources of air pollution.

 

Household - The main source of household air pollution is the indoor burning of fossil fuels, wood and other biomass-based fuels to cook, heat and light homes. Around 3.8 million premature deaths are caused by indoor air pollution each year, the vast majority of them in the developing world.

 

Out of 193 countries, 97 countries have increased the percentage of households that have access to cleaner burning fuels to over 85 percent. However, 3 billion people continue to use solid fuels and open fires for cooking, heating, and lighting. The adoption of cleaner, more modern stoves and fuels can reduce the risks of illness and save lives.

 

Industry- In many countries, energy production is a leading source of air pollution. Coal-burning power plants are a major contributor, while diesel generators are a growing concern in off-grid areas. Industrial processes and solvent use, in the chemical and mining industries, also pollute the air.

 

Policies and programmes aimed at increasing energy efficiency and production from renewable sources have a direct impact on a country’s air quality. At the moment, 82 countries out of 193 have incentives that promote investment in renewable energy production, cleaner production, energy efficiency and pollution control.

 

Transport- The global transport sector accounts for almost one-quarter of energy-related carbon dioxide emissions and this proportion is rising. Transport emissions have been linked to nearly 400,000 premature deaths. Almost half of all deaths by air pollution from transport are caused by diesel emissions, while those living closest to major traffic arteries are up to 12 percent more likely to be diagnosed with dementia.

 

Reducing vehicle emissions is an important intervention to improve air quality, especially in urban areas. Policies and standards that require the use of cleaner fuels and advanced vehicle emissions standards can reduce vehicle emissions by 90 percent or more.

 

Agriculture- There are two major sources of air pollution from agriculture: livestock, which produces methane and ammonia, and the burning of agricultural waste. Methane emissions contribute to ground-level ozone, which causes asthma and other respiratory illnesses. Methane is also a more potent global warming gas than carbon dioxide – its impact is 34 times greater over a 100-year period. Around 24 percent of all greenhouse gases emitted worldwide come agriculture, forestry and other land-use.

 

There are many ways to reduce air pollution from this source. People can move to a plant-based diet and/or reduce food waste, while farmers can reduce methane from livestock by optimizing feed digestibility and improving grazing and grassland management.

 

Waste- Open waste burning and organic waste in landfills release harmful dioxins, furans, methane, and black carbon into the atmosphere. Globally, an estimated 40 percent of waste is openly burned. The problem is most severe in urbanizing regions and developing countries. Open burning of agricultural and municipal waste is practiced in 166 out of 193 countries.

 

Improving the collection, separation, and disposal of solid waste reduces the amount of waste that is burned or landfilled. Separating organic waste and turning it into compost or bioenergy improves soil fertility and provides an alternative energy source. Reducing the estimated one-third of all food that is lost or wasted can also improve air quality.

 

Other sources- Not all air pollution comes from human activity. Volcanic eruptions, dust storms and other natural processes also cause problems. Sand and dust storms are particularly concerning. Fine particles of dust can travel thousands of miles on the back of these storms, which may also carry pathogens and harmful substances, causing acute and chronic respiratory problems.

 

 

(Inputs from United Nations Environment Programme and Greening the Blue.)

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Anime-A Japanese Masterpiece

   AllanAbe

 

Animation refers to the process in which pictures or images are manipulated and hence made to appear as  moving objects. We can trace back the origin of these images to the dark ages where cavemen drew pictures on the walls of their cave. Later, as technology and the intellect of humans developed, they tried to move these images and what was produced as a result is what we now call animation. Most of the older animations had an extremely low frame rate. Frame rate refers to the frequency at which frames in a television picture, film, or video sequence are displayed. Shadow Play and Magic lantern are some of the methods through which the process of animation was carried out in olden times. The history of animation is very long which cannot be covered in a single piece. Thus, this article tries to revisit what we know about animation and also try to find out what animation refers to in a country like Japan.

      Anime refers to the Japanese style of animated movies and series. Japan is considered as the centre of anime. Anime can be seen by people of all age groups while other animated series like cartoons are made for kids. All of the anime have been taken from its manga of the same or different name. The manga are comics created by Japanese writers and artists. Manga, unlike normal comics, are very long and it is usually read from the right to left. The people who write and draw manga are called manga-ka or manga writers. Japanese manga consists of a variety of genres which include horror, comedy, science fiction, drama, detective, mystery, romance and others. Manga was initially targeted at male audiences even though they had a large base of female readers. It is divided into categories of manga for readers up to 18 years of age, commonly called shounen, and for older people from 18-30years of age. Nowadays, there are a large amount of manga writers who create manga for female audiences. The manga aimed at female audiences are called Shōjo manga. Initially, these mangas consisted of genres such as romance, super heroine and other such subgenres. Anime is created based on these manga. If the manga is considered a hit, then it is usually made into an anime. Sometimes manga is produced from anime, but such instances are rare.

       Anime usually shows a lot of bloodshed and gory scenes whereas cartoons do not show gory and bloodshed scenes as they are specially made for kids. Anime has a genre called Kodomo which is made for kids. Like cartoons, they also try to imbibe good morals and values into the minds of children. Though they have a subgenre like Kodomo, all the other subgenres of anime are not like that. They are made for youngsters and adult  for male and female. Though both the types of animation appear to be similar to an extent to a person inexperienced in cartoons or anime, there are a lot of differences between them. A person who is seeing anime for the first time would categorise them under cartoons without a second thought.

      In terms of animation, cartoons are animated differently in comparison to anime. Anime can be easily recognized by observing the physical traits of the characters. Most of them have large eyes, black hair and very detailed facial features. So they can be termed as a slightly exaggerated kind of animation. A person can recognize anime based on how the characters are animated. The animated characters have a striking resemblance to the Japanese people. They have long, pale and wide faces. Their eyes are smaller than most but bigger when compared to the Chinese and the Koreans. They have successfully included these facial features into their animation. They give attention to not just the facial features and the details in the surroundings, but also to the way in which the storyline is created. For example, if an anime on football is made, then they include even the smallest details of the game of football. By watching that anime series,  one can learn the rules and the basics on how to play football. The makers will also include major team strategies. Even though the animations in anime are a little exaggerated, anime does give a realistic touch when it comes to stories. There are anime based on science fiction and they are far from reality. One reason for the limited detailing seen in cartoons might be that they are produced for children. Children can recognize shaped figures more easily and the cartoonists try to make the same keeping that in mind.

       The storyline of an anime series would see the emotional, mental and physical development of the characters. One can see an actual change in the characters. The lead characters can be seen relying heavily on their team as teamwork and family are very common ideals in anime. Furthermore, anime contains scenes which are only appropriate for mature audiences. These kinds of animemay include violent scenes which have a lot of blood, gore and sexual content. This gives evidence to the fact that anime is produced mainly for adult audiences unlike cartoons, which do not contain such scenes of violence and sexual references. There are also anime produced, which contain storylines closely associated with jail and prison life.

      The cartoons made by the non-Japanese countries give more importance to the main character(MC). He is shown to be an epitome of goodness. Thus, the children can be influenced using that character and they can be used to inculcate moral values in their childhood itself. Anime and manga do not give the main characters all the importance. They are seen to progress with the help of their friends and family. Only certain anime have the exception of the main character being the strongest but even in those cases, the other characters play a very important role in the overall development of the main character. Such anime are mainly used to promote themes such as teamwork and hard work among others. The main character goes through extreme hardships so as to reach his maximum potential. These hardships are shown in detail in anime due to which the readers or the viewers are able to sympathize with the Main Character more. An example of such an anime is "Bleach", adapted from the manga of the same name created by Tite Kubo. In this anime, Ichigo Kurosaki develops from a normal person to the most powerful character in the anime with the help of his friends and family. Thus, they try to highlight the values of family and friends and repeatedly ask us to keep them close. Furthermore, the main character in an anime is subjected to development throughout the span of the whole series. In cartoons, we usually do not see that kind of development as the hero or the heroine portrayed in the cartoon is shown to be the best version of the person that they can be in the initial stage itself.

      Anime has had a good impact on people in other countries. There has been a surge of people reading manga and watching anime in the last decade. The amount of people who like anime has really increased in numbers. The main problem they face is that people who do not know how to differentiate anime from other cartoons criticize them. The main criticism they face is that they are too old to watch cartoons. One should be able to enjoy anime or cartoon without having the fear of being judged. This can be attributed to the fact that most of the people do not know what anime is or what draws the line between anime and cartoons. The manga and anime have a greater effect on America than American comics on Japan. An example of this would be "Avatar; The Last Airbender" and "Avatar; The Legend of Korra". They use fighting styles originated from the Asian countries. The popularity of Anime in America and other countries can be seen from the presence of more anime characters than cartoon characters in comic-cons.The main problem that we see in the world is that every animated product, be it from Japan or any other part of the world, is always termed as a cartoon. The concept and production of what one calls animation has reached great heights due to the development of technology and graphics designing. Animation has seen developments unlike any other due to the presence of modern technology. Anime is usually made for people of all age groups, while cartoons are made for people of a specific age group, namely kids. Even though as kids as we are subjected to cartoons, somehow in the notion of watching cartoons, we somehow end up watching anime.

 

References :

Bauman, DJ. "The difference between anime and cartoons." The odyssey, April 19 2016.

Enthusiast, Anime. " Difference between Cartoon and Anime." 03 Feb. 2014. Accessed on February 2018. Mahar, Donna. “Bringing the Outside In: One Teacher's Ride on the Anime Highway.” Language Arts, vol. 81, no. 2, 2003, pp. 110–117.

Moldharia, Sohel. "5 Reasons Why Anime is not a Cartoon." Otakukart Anime. Accessed on February 2018. Ruble, Julie, and Kim Lysne. “The Animated Classroom: Using Japanese Anime to Engage and Motivate Students.” The English Journal, vol. 100, no. 1, 2010, pp. 37–46. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

References

Bauman, DJ. "The difference between anime and cartoons." The odyssey, April 19 2016. https://www.theodysseyonline.com/the-difference-between-anime-and-cartoons

Enthusiast, Anime. " Difference between Cartoon and Anime." 03 Feb. 2014. Accessed on February 2018. http://www.differencebetween.info/difference-between-cartoon-and-anime

Mahar, Donna. “Bringing the Outside In: One Teacher's Ride on the Anime Highway.” Language Arts, vol. 81, no. 2, 2003, pp. 110–117.

Moldharia, Sohel. "5 Reasons Why Anime is not a Cartoon." Otakukart Anime. Accessed on February 2018. https://otakukart.com/animeblog/2015/11/28/top-5-major-differences-between-anime-and-cartoons/

Ruble, Julie, and Kim Lysne. “The Animated Classroom: Using Japanese Anime to Engage and Motivate Students.” The English Journal, vol. 100, no. 1, 2010, pp. 37–46.

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Artificial Intelligence poised to fuel the Indian economy

N.Vijayagopalan

 

Artificial intelligence (AI) is an area of computer science that emphasizes the creation of intelligent machines that work and react like humans. It has become an essential part of the technology industry. Research associated with artificial intelligence is highly technical and specialized. The core problems of artificial intelligence include programming computers for certain traits such as knowledge, reasoning, speech recognition, problem solving, perception, learning, planning, ability to manipulate and move objects

 

Artificial intelligence also known as machine intelligence (MI), is intelligence demonstrated by machines, in contrast to the natural intelligence (NI) displayed by humans and other animals. In computer science AI research is defined as the study of "intelligent agents": any device that perceives its environment and takes actions that maximize its chance of successfully achieving its goals. Colloquially, the term "artificial intelligence" is applied when a machine mimics "cognitive" functions that humans associate with other human minds, such as "learning" and "problem solving".

 

A typical AI perceives its environment and takes actions that maximize its chance of successfully achieving its goals. An AI's intended goal function can be simple ("1 if the AI wins a game of Go, 0 otherwise") or complex ("Do actions mathematically similar to the actions that got you rewards in the past"). Goals can be explicitly defined or can be induced. If the AI is programmed for "reinforcement learning", goals can be implicitly induced by rewarding some types of behaviour and punishing others.[a] Alternatively, an evolutionary system can induce goals by using a "fitness function" to mutate and preferentially replicate high-scoring AI systems; this is similar to how animals evolved to innately desire certain goals such as finding food, or how dogs can be bred via artificial selection to possess desired traits.[48] Some AI systems, such as nearest-neighbor, instead reason by analogy; these systems are not generally given goals, except to the degree that goals are somehow implicit in their training data.[49] Such systems can still be benchmarked if the non-goal system is framed as a system whose "goal" is to successfully accomplish its narrow classification task.[50]

 

The Union Finance Minister of India made many importance announcements in the Union Budget 2018. But, a very significant and rather unexpected one was regarding the establishment of a national programme to direct efforts in the area of Artificial Intelligence (AI). Now, that’s a welcome initiative!

 

During his budget speech, the Finance Minister ArunJaitley said, "Technologies such as Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence and others are the technologies of the future and NITI Aayog will establish a national programme to conduct research and development in these areas.”Running high on the momentum of ‘Digital India’, the government also doubled allocation to this programme to $480 million in 2018-19, deciding to invest heavily in research, training and skill development in technologies such as AI, digital manufacturing, robotics, Quantum communication and Big Data intelligence, 3D printing, Blockchain, Machine Learning and Internet of Things.

 

NitiAayog, the nation’s think-tank and premier policy-making body, has already been emphasising the role that new technologies will play in the development of the economy. In February 2018, highlighting its achievements since the three years of its formation, it mentioned that it has been working on initiatives to put Indian on the global map with regards to AI, and develop a robust ecosystem to promote it in health, education and agricultural sectors.NitiAayog is already in advanced stages of launching a National Data and Analytics Portal to facilitate training and dataset sharing between different organisations for AI-related applications.

 

These initiatives speak about the government’s focus on improving the ease of doing business, as well as making the lives of people simpler. The government seems to have reflected deeply on the findings of the Carnegie India report titled ‘India and the Artificial Intelligence Revolution’. It may be recalled that the report highlighted that (1) India needed to view AI as a critical aspect of its national security strategy, (2) India must foster AI innovations and set up AI-friendly infrastructure to prepare Iits job and skill markets for AI-based future, and (3) It was high time that India had a strong AI policy in place to benefit from AI revolution, with China, the US and South Korea making tremendous advances in AI.

 

According to an Accenture report, AI holds the potential to add $957 billion to the Indian economy, thereby increasing its yearly growth rate of Gross Value Added (GVA) by 1.3 percentage points, and also boosting the nation’s income by 15 percent in 2035. However, AI development in India is still lagging behind many other G20 countries. This report also highlighted the need to have a national AI policy.

 

Perhaps, these are the reasons why AI received exclusive mention in Budget 2018. There are a few areas which stand poised to greet positive outcomes, thanks to the national programme on AI research and development.

 

Startup Firms

 

As per the last Nasscom Startup Report, currently, India has nearly 5,200 tech startups and these startups are changing the face of Indian industry, be it agriculture, e-commerce, financial services, education, automobiles, logistics, health or manufacturing. India is the world’s fastest-growing startup ecosystem and riding high on the wave of technology. The announcement in the Budget will go a long way in providing the necessary AI support required by startups to up their game.

 

Creation of employment opportunities

 

Contrary to the general belief that AI will grab jobs from humans, it would actually create many new jobs. A Gartner study shows AI will create 2.3 million jobs while eliminating 1.8 million by 2020. More and more AI professionals will be required by all economies across the world, including India. Presently, about 800 companies are working on, or are deploying AI, there are 29,000 AI professionals and there are around 4000 job openings in AI in India. Expecting that 70 percent of Indian companies will leverage AI by 2020, it is likely to create more demand for AI professionals. The AI is expected to change the job landscape in the next few years, and so India needs to prepare its workforce with adequate skills. The national programme on AI can address this demand-supply gap effectively.

 

‘Make in India’ programme

 

Government of India’s ‘Make in India’ programme,which is a globally watched initiative and  government’s flagship programme, has been receiving significal fiscal impetus ever since it was launched. AI-assisted technology offers great promises for strengthening the production capabilities under this programme. A PwC report in association with ASSOCHAM India states that “AI-augmented manufacturing operations can employ more reliable demand forecasting, a flexible and responsive supply chain, quicker changes in operations, and more accurate scheduling and inventory optimisation. Other benefits involve the creation of smarter, quicker and environmentally sound processes.” The enhanced R&D efforts could help develop innovative processes to change the face of the Indian manufacturing sector and train low-skilled labour for advanced and strategic tasks.

 

Quality of life

 

AI is expected to improve the quality of life of people across a multitude of realms from healthcare to agriculture,. Many companies have already launched a few such products. For instance, Tata Rallis uses AI-powered drones to administer pesticides by harnessing data on crop health and soil conditions to increase output. A startup named NetraDyne is using AI to improve road and driver safety. Another startup called Zenatix provides IoT-based energy monitoring and control products for energy efficiency and savings. IBM Watson has partnered with the Indian government to develop AI models that could create smart cities. India’s Smart City Programme aims to create more than 100 smart cities by 2020 which calls for fast implementation and AI could support it aptly regarding technology.

 

AI is a harbinger of good times for India. It heralds growth for the Indian economy. It offers great promises for making our way of living intelligent and more comfortable. AI helps us to focus on creativity and innovations. AI is propelling India towards a technology-driven path. The announcement on AI in Budget 2018 is a major step ahead in that direction.

 

(Courtesy: Your Story)

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BUSINESS CHALLENGES AND HUMAN RESOURCES

N.Vijayagopalan

 

Businesses across the globe are facing indomitable challenges on account of a plethora of factors. No sector, no segment is an exception to the pressures emanating from these factors. Economic pressures to keep the operations within a viable level, competition from peer and stronger players, demanding customers and their increasing expectations, the pressing necessity to adapt to the fast changes in digital technology, which make extant technology outmoded, pressures on operating margins and imperative necessity for cutting costs are the major broad challenges Indian businesses are facing.  Everywhere the focus of businesses has shifted to adapting latest technology, cutting costs, improving efficiency and service and managing risks. Needless to mention that no company is insulated from these inevitable challenges and pressures.

 

A business may have the best infrastructure, the best logistics, the most advanced technology. Through it all runs a common thread - people and their skills, their attitude and their leadership traits. Success or failure of the business depends more on this factor than on any other. Modern times have seen human resources having emerged as the topmost factor in the success of any business, for the reason that they are the only resources of a business, which can mitigate the impact of pressures and challenges of the above sort. Herein lies the limitless role of the people in the growth and sustenance of an organization.

 

In today’s complex life, we come across with a variety of situations, information, issues, people and problems and so on and so forth on a day-to-day basis.  Each one of these occasions gives us valuable insights to enhance our skills and knowledge in many areas and make us better equipped to meet our challenges. Many a time such occasions could cause innovative ideas flashing in our minds. In today’s business environment, what is more important is how to beneficially apply the insights gained and the ideas flashing in our minds in our work place for value enhancement of the organisation. It is the bounden duty of each employee to consistently think on:-

 

  • How can I cut my company’s costs?
  • How can I contribute to my company’s efforts to reap maximum benefits out of technology revolution.
  • How can I improve my service to the customers?
  • How can I help the company to effectively manage the business risks?
  • How can I contribute to the company’s efforts to withstand competition.
  • How can I contribute in enhancing the brand value of my company?

 

Consistent application of mind and thought process by the employees to find out ways and means to combat the market challenges assumes high relevance in today’s environment. By doing that, human resources can contribute a lot in effectively tackling the business challenges and pressures and make great things happen in an organization.

 

So far we saw the employees’ side. On the other side, the employer is confronted with a host of issues stemming from management of their human resources. As a business grows, its strategies, structure, and internal processes grow with it. Some employees have a hard time coping with these changes. A lot of companies experience decreased productivity and morale during periods of change. This situation can be tackled only if business owners focus on communicating the benefits of the change to everyone. Regular staff meetings are a good thing to start. When your team understands the why, how, and when of the change, they will be more likely to get on board.

 

Studies reveal that more and more companies are giving added importance to implementing leadership development programs, which are becoming part of their culture. Leadership development is critical in keeping your management team engaged and motivated, and prepares them to take on more responsibilities in the future.  It would be rewarding if opportunities are created for them to use their strengths every day. Accomplishing goals will motivate them and give them a chance to develop their skills.

 

Workforce Training and Development is another important aspect. Investing in the training and development of lower-level employees is a common HR problem. Some businesses have trouble finding the resources to do so. Employees on the front lines are some of your hardest workers, and may not have the time to take a training course. Training and development doesn’t have to take a lot of time or money if managers and senior leadership take the lead in mentoring their subordinate employees. Online training courses could also be provided so that people can go at their own pace. Invest in your workforce and you will have a loyal, productive team.

 

Orientation of employees in adapting to innovation is another HR challenge businesses face. Technology is changing with the speed of lightning. Businesses must be quick to adapt, or face risk of being left in the dust by their competitors. The challenge for small business owners is getting employees to embrace innovation and learn new technology. Communication is critical in this respect. With any change, it is to be made sure that the team understands the why, when, and how. Setting clear goals for the adoption of initiatives, and providing employees with the training they need to get comfortable with it are critical for employers.

Compensation is another major HR challenge confronted by organizations. Many companies find it a difficult task to structure employee compensation. Small businesses have to compete not only with businesses of a similar size, but also with corporations with big payroll budgets. Further, you have to factor in the cost of benefits, training, taxes, and other expenses, which can range from 1.5 to 3 times the employee’s salary. Even though salary is important, it isn’t always the most important factor for job candidates. Creating a system to reward employees for excellent performance is one way to make up for a lower salary. In addition, offering incentive programs such as profit sharing or bonuses, which can be a win-win for the employee and the company is also gaining ground.

 

Recruiting Talented Employees is a significant HR challenge faced by many companies. Attracting talent is a huge investment of time and money. It’s difficult for entrepreneurs to balance between keeping a business running, and hiring the right people at the right time. In addition, it’s impossible to know whether a candidate will actually be a good fit until they’ve worked for you for a period of time. One of the best ways to find the right people for your business is to use a staffing company. They provide temp-to-hire solutions that allow you to try out new employees with little to no risk. You’ll save time, money, and frustration, and maybe even find a future executive or business partner.

 

Retaining Talented Employees is another factor. Competition for talented employees is fierce. Startups and small companies don’t have big budgets for retirement plans, expensive insurance plans, and other costly items that their larger competitors do—at least, not yet. Employee turnover is expensive and can negatively impact business growth. Onboarding is highly effective for employee. Research shows having a structured onboarding process means employees are 58 percent more likely to stay with a company for three years or more.

 

Workplace Diversity is another predominant HR challenge businesses face. Multiple  

generations, ethnic and cultural differences etc. pose problems in jobs. These are just a

few of the many factors that make workplace diversity a continual challenge for many

businesses. The risk of lawsuits for failing to protect employees from harassment is real.

Creating a culture of teamwork and respect will keep the work environment positive  

and productive. In addition, implementing a diversity training programs is a must.

Employers are responsible for setting standards of behavior in the workplace.  

Standards and a system of accountability should be set up early on.

 

It’s important to know common HR issues and accord priority to them so companies

can put the right policies and procedures in place now. Understanding the complexities

of employee benefits, employment laws, leadership development, and other areas will

help companies stay ahead of the competition and meet their business goals this year,

and in the years to come.

 

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How to emerge successful in a Group Discussion

N.Vijayagopalan

 

Group Discussion is a method that has got strongly established in evaluating the personality of candidates appearing in job interviews and in some competitive examinations.  A group of participants are made to discuss  a specific topic or subject for a limited time and the participants are assessed individually.

 

Group Discussion forms an important stage of admission process in top B-schools. Apart from the knowledge and communication skills, candidates are judged on the basis of their attitude, behavior, temperament, mannerisms and etiquettes. Candidates are required to present their personality traits in a limited time. A successful group presentation demands a certain degree of decorum.

 

Many companies and institutes are making Group Discussion as the first criterion for screening the candidates for face-to-face interviews. Group Discussion is often used for mass elimination as well. In many cases, Group Discussion selection criteria are based on actual company requirements.

 

There are a few purposes behind a group discussion:

 

  1. It helps a candidate to shed away his / her shyness and bring his / her viewpoint amidst all.
  2. It stimulates the candidate to think in a different, new way.
  3. It helps the candidate in understanding his/ her own strengths and weaknesses.
  4. It acts as an aid in expansion of the knowledge of the candidate.
  5. It helps the candidate to analyse the social or economic issues more logically.

 

What skills are judged in group discussion?

 

  1. How good you are at communication with others.
  2. How you behave and interact with group.
  3. How open minded you are.
  4. Your listening skill.
  5. How you put forward your views.
  6. Your leadership and decision-making skills.
  7. Your analytical skill and subject knowledge.
  8. Problem solving and critical thinking skill.
  9. Your maturity and flexibility
  10. Your attitude and confidence.

 

Here are certain DO’s and DON’Ts to keep in mind and follow while participating in a Group Discussion so as to enhance your score. These are some basic yet very vital tips that will help you feel a bit more confident about yourself and make you ready to appear for the Group Discussion.

 

DO’s

 

  1. Dress formally and arrive on time.
  2. Walk to your allocated seats in a calm and composed manner.
  3. Sit with a straight and confident posture.
  4. Be confident but not arrogant.
  5. Keep a pen and a notepad. It makes you look organized.
  6. Be keenly attentive while others are speaking. Pay attention while others are speaking. This will enable you contribute to the discussion in a positive way and get involved in the group positively.
  7. Jot down the relevant points and list down your own points.
  8. Organize your thoughts before you speak. This will help you express with confidence and clarity.
  9. Maintain a balance in your tone while objecting to the points made by other participants.
  10. Respect the opinion of others. Agree and acknowledge what you find good points expressed by others. Use phrases like “What you have said here, sheds light on another aspect...”.
  11. Express your disagreement in a polite, dignified and convincing manner. Use phrases like “You have a good point but there’s another aspect to it… ”.
  12. Keep your body language positive. Table thumping, pointing fingers, looking here and there, etc, are negative gestures.
  13. If someone becomes openly antagonistic to you, and says things directly contradicting your points of view or makes personal attack, stay calm and relaxed. A situation like this is a good opportunity to demonstrate your conflict handling skills and maturity.
  14. If the counter-argument is valid, concede to the point gracefully using statements like "I think you have an important point there that I did not think of".
  15. If the counter-argument is not valid, use statements like “let’s seek the opinion of other participants” and turn to others, seeking their opinion with statements like "we seem to have different views here…what do you feel?"
  16. If the attack is directed against you as a person, then the best strategy is to just ignore it and get on with the discussion, without any animosity towards the attacker. This is hard to do but if you manage, it will be the best advertisement for your maturity.
  17. "Losing" an argument is not bad - even if you are convinced about the correctness of your stand, don't stand on it - let the other person "win" it by saying "I know that you may disagree, but my point is…, however, we need not keep debating this, maybe we need to proceed". Losing an argument does not lead to loss of points. Sometimes, it helps demonstrate your flexibility and maturity.
  18. Be as natural as possible. Do not try to be someone you are not. Be yourself. In an attempt to be someone else, your opinions will not be portrayed.
  19. Be assertive yet humble. You need to stick to your values and beliefs, but learn to respect the values and opinions of others too.
  20. Initiate the GD. Grab the opportunity to speak first, i.e. to start the Group Discussion with your opinion. It generally leaves a good impression on the evaluator, but take the move only if you have complete knowledge of the subject.
  21. Let others speak. Facilitate contribution from others instead of going on and on with only your opinionated view. Remember, it is a group discussion. Allow others to speak too. Acknowledge that everyone has something valuable to say.
  22. Make an eye contact with all the participants. It creates more room for conversation. Also keep nodding, when others speak, it shows receptivity.
  23. Be an active and dynamic participant. The examiner wants to hear you speak. So do put forth your views.
  24. Be positive and prepare your thoughts well but do not be over-confident.
  25. Think well before you speak. You are being heard and judged upon.
  26. When raising an objection to a point kept by another speaker, back it up with a solid reason to get the point across.
  27. Use quotes, facts and figures, statements, everyday life examples to express a clear chain of thoughts. Also it might leave a good impression on the examiner and help you score well.
  28. Be appreciative. Appreciate valid points, respect antagonistic views, keep your points further and encourage a debate around it. Be articulate. When speaking in a GD, your job is to articulate your point of view in a way that is easy for others to comprehend. Use easily understandable words. Structure your thoughts and present them logically.
  29. Present analytically. Analyse the topic in your mind and present your views analalytically.
  30. Speak politely and clearly. Use simple and understandable words while speaking. Express your feelings calmly and politely.
  31. If by any means group is distracting from the topic or goal then simply take initiative to bring the discussion on the track. Make all group members aware that you all need to come to some conclusion at the end of the discussion. So stick to the topic.
  32. Be confident. Keep positive body language. Show interest in discussion.
  33. Speak sensibly. Do not speak just to increase your speaking time. Don’t worry even if you speak less. Your thoughts should be sensible and relevant instead of irrelevant speech.
  34. No need to go into much details. Some basic subject analysis is sufficient. No need to mention exact figures while giving any reference. You have limited time, so be precise and convey your thoughts in short and simple language.

 

DON’Ts

 

  1. Do not  deviate yourself from the topic. Talking about unrelated things puts a bad impression.
  2. Do not use negative comments like ‘‘this point is wrong" or "your argument doesn't make any sense."
  3. Do not try to dominate other participants. It is a discussion and not an argument or debate.
  4. Do not interrupt the speech of other participants and wait till they complete. You can intervene, if someone else is going on an irrelevant track.
  5. Do not repeat a point, or be lengthy or irrelevant. Do not talk too much. Starting a discussion creates a good impression for sure but if you talk endlessly then you are bound to speak out of context and lose points for it.
  6. Do not raise your voice too much or shout.  Speaking doesn't mean you have to shout your lungs out. Business partners often respect those who put across their views firmly but politely. You will be judged on those parameters.
  7. Do not keep silent for a long time. If talking too much can kill your points, saying nothing ruins everything. Even if the topic is out of context or out of your understanding, try to make some good, valid points there.
  8. Even if you don’t agree with the other person’s thoughts, do not snatch their chance to speak. Instead make some notes and clear the points when it’s your turn.
  9. Do not be jargonic or metaphoric.
  10. Do not be too aggressive if you are disagreeing with someone.

 

Group Discussions are never to be considered as a big hurdle or something which is very complex, as many candidates tend to do. The DO’s and DON’Ts enumerated above would help you a lot in confidently participating in a Group Discussion and emerging successful.

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Marketing - Myths vs. Facts

Marketing is one of the most vital activities in any business, for the simple reason that it is an indispensable and time tested strategy for taking the product or service to the target customers. Marketing is vital for creating business visibility by educating prospects and customers about you, your products and services, and how you can help them solve a problem. It is an investment in time, creativity, resources and energy. Successful marketing is an art and requires certain skills, which can be developed by any person of average intelligence. There is a growing realization among businesses that effective marketing is the key to sales maximization and revenue generation. The more a company invests in marketing, the greater business success it will have.

 

Nevertheless, many organisations are finding successful marketing as a challenge for them for the reason that the general preference and orientation of a majority of the staff is towards non-marketing activities and particularly against field level marketing. This is a cause of concern for many companies.  There are some reasons behind the lesser inclination on the part of the staff to take up marketing activity.

 

Marketing is a concept which is associated with a host of mis-conceptions and myths which are far from and often contrary to reality. And the real facts around these myths form the core elements of marketing. Let us have a look at some of these myths and the actual facts.

 

MYTH – 1: Price is the predominant factor in successful marketing.

 

FACT – Research studies have revealed that people often make their decisions about which product to buy basing on the over-all product features and not just on price alone. Customer surveys on home loan products have proved that only about 30% of the customers bother too much about interest rate differences and that the time conscious, quality conscious customer’s (today’s breed) final choice of the loan provider depends on a few other factors like quality of service, absence of procedural hassles, speedy processing etc. The marketing person should present the value and not the price of the product for successful marketing.

 

MYTH – 2 : Successful marketing means a high conversion rate.

 

FACT – Conversion depends on the market competition and is not a determinant of marketing success. Higher the competition, lower the conversion rate and vice versa. When competition is acute or when the environment poses many challenges, successful marketing necessitates maximizing the number of contacts. Inability to convince all prospects, to convert all leads should not disappoint the marketing person. Ironically, if all the prospects get convinced by the marketing person and decide to buy the product, an organization will have really tough times! No organization might be able to cope with cent percent conversion! Even a conversion rate in the range of 25-30% is considered as a fairly good conversion rate.

 

MYTH – 3 : Marketing person need not take up the role of product advisor.

 

FACT -  A successful marketing person is one who has the expertise to counsel the customer on the product and give him advisory services. For this, adequate product knowledge on his part is a must.

 

MYTH – 4 : Marketing does not mean identification of the needy customer, but only selling the product to those who approach.

 

FACT – A successful marketing person is one who has the ability to identify prospects who have a need for the product. For this, a proper understanding of the market is a must. His role is to have maximum product knowledge, to develop good presentation skills, to present the value rather than price of the product and to maximize the contacts.

 

MYTH 5 -  Marketing has an instantaneous effect.

 

FACT - The relationship with your target audience is not instantaneous and getting results can take time. Marketing is to be thought as an investment and one that can take time to see the greatest gains, even though some marketing tactics can produce instant visible result.  Sustained contact with your target audience to make sure they know who you are and what you can offer them is what is needed in marketing.

 

MYTH 6 -  Social Media is pointless for an older target audience.

 

FACT -  A survey made by ‘Social Media Today’ revealed that 43% of those aged 65 years and above are engaged in social media. It could be a crucial mistake to miss out on connecting with and building relationships with these users through social media platforms.

 

MYTH 7 -  E-mail Marketing is not effective anymore.

 

FACT - You can drive a very focused and effective email marketing campaign; particularly when integrated in your content marketing activities, such as videos, blog posts etc. If done the right way, e-mail marketing can strengthen your relationship with customers and drive revenue.

 

MYTH 8 -  A mobile website is pointless for small businesses.

 

FACT - With the increase in use of smartphones and tablets, a mobile responsive website is very important for all business as potential opportunities could be lost, especially businesses with a physical location, as they could be preventing being noticed by ideal clients. Mobile responsive websites create a better user experience and are also cost effective as small businesses can use one website that responds to all devices, whether you’re on a browser, tablet or smartphone.

 

MYTH 9 -  Lower cost means higher sales

 

FACT - If this was the case, no one would buy expensive cars and would always go for the cheaper version. Many buyers are believers in the “you get what you pay for” moto! That is why it is so important to target your product or service correctly so that you can provide the maximum value at the right price. This also applies to your website: cheap is not always best! You need to think about the quality of what you are paying for and how it will perform.

 

MYTH 10 -  Marketing and Advertising are the same

 

FACT -  Although you might use advertising to communicate messages about products and services, marketing is more about educating your target market about what you can offer them and why they should buy from you. Advertising can be online in the form of website advertisements, or offline through magazines, newspapers, billboards etc.   For most small businesses, the cost of traditional advertising outweighs the value, so it could depend on your business and client.

 

That is the case with marketing. The reality is that, that company gains maximum which takes pains to train its marketing staff and builds up the ability in them to distinguish between the myths and facts associated with marketing. That realization on the part of the marketing staff would give them a balanced perspective, better confidence and better results and also generate genuine interest in the task of marketing.

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Role of Humour in Life

N.Vijayagopalan

 

Group Discussion is a method that has got strongly established in evaluating the personality of candidates appearing in job interviews and in some competitive examinations.  A group of participants are made to discuss a specific topic or subject for a limited time and the participants are assessed individually.

 

Group Discussion forms an important stage of admission process in top B-schools. Apart from the knowledge and communication skills, candidates are judged on the basis of their attitude, behavior, temperament, mannerisms and etiquettes. Candidates are required to present their personality traits in a limited time. A successful group presentation demands a certain degree of decorum.

 

Many companies and institutes are making Group Discussion as the first criterion for screening the candidates for face-to-face interviews. Group Discussion is often used for mass elimination as well. In many cases, Group Discussion selection criteria are based on actual company requirements.

 

There are a few purposes behind a group discussion:

 

  1. It helps a candidate to shed away his / her shyness and bring his / her viewpoint amidst all.
  2. It stimulates the candidate to think in a different, new way.
  3. It helps the candidate in understanding his/ her own strengths and weaknesses.
  4. It acts as an aid in expansion of the knowledge of the candidate.
  5. It helps the candidate to analyse the social or economic issues more logically.

 

What skills are judged in group discussion?

 

  1. How good you are at communication with others.
  2. How you behave and interact with group.
  3. How open minded you are.
  4. Your listening skill.
  5. How you put forward your views.
  6. Your leadership and decision-making skills.
  7. Your analytical skill and subject knowledge.
  8. Problem solving and critical thinking skill.
  9. Your maturity and flexibility
  10. Your attitude and confidence.

 

Here are certain DO’s and DON’Ts to keep in mind and follow while participating in a Group Discussion so as to enhance your score. These are some basic yet very vital tips that will help you feel a bit more confident about yourself and make you ready to appear for the Group Discussion.

 

DO’s

 

  1. Dress formally and arrive on time.
  2. Walk to your allocated seats in a calm and composed manner.
  3. Sit with a straight and confident posture.
  4. Be confident but not arrogant.
  5. Keep a pen and a notepad. It makes you look organized.
  6. Be keenly attentive while others are speaking. Pay attention while others are speaking. This will enable you contribute to the discussion in a positive way and get involved in the group positively.
  7. Jot down the relevant points and list down your own points.
  8. Organize your thoughts before you speak. This will help you express with confidence and clarity.
  9. Maintain a balance in your tone while objecting to the points made by other participants.
  10. Respect the opinion of others. Agree and acknowledge what you find good points expressed by others. Use phrases like “What you have said here, sheds light on another aspect...”.
  11. Express your disagreement in a polite, dignified and convincing manner. Use phrases like “You have a good point but there’s another aspect to it… ”.
  12. Keep your body language positive. Table thumping, pointing fingers, looking here and there, etc, are negative gestures.
  13. If someone becomes openly antagonistic to you, and says things directly contradicting your points of view or makes personal attack, stay calm and relaxed. A situation like this is a good opportunity to demonstrate your conflict handling skills and maturity.
  14. If the counter-argument is valid, concede to the point gracefully using statements like "I think you have an important point there that I did not think of".
  15. If the counter-argument is not valid, use statements like “let’s seek the opinion of other participants” and turn to others, seeking their opinion with statements like "we seem to have different views here…what do you feel?"
  16. If the attack is directed against you as a person, then the best strategy is to just ignore it and get on with the discussion, without any animosity towards the attacker. This is hard to do but if you manage, it will be the best advertisement for your maturity.
  17. "Losing" an argument is not bad - even if you are convinced about the correctness of your stand, don't stand on it - let the other person "win" it by saying "I know that you may disagree, but my point is…, however, we need not keep debating this, maybe we need to proceed". Losing an argument does not lead to loss of points. Sometimes, it helps demonstrate your flexibility and maturity.
  18. Be as natural as possible. Do not try to be someone you are not. Be yourself. In an attempt to be someone else, your opinions will not be portrayed.
  19. Be assertive yet humble. You need to stick to your values and beliefs, but learn to respect the values and opinions of others too.
  20. Initiate the GD. Grab the opportunity to speak first, i.e. to start the Group Discussion with your opinion. It generally leaves a good impression on the evaluator, but take the move only if you have complete knowledge of the subject.
  21. Let others speak. Facilitate contribution from others instead of going on and on with only your opinionated view. Remember, it is a group discussion. Allow others to speak too. Acknowledge that everyone has something valuable to say.
  22. Make an eye contact with all the participants. It creates more room for conversation. Also keep nodding, when others speak, it shows receptivity.
  23. Be an active and dynamic participant. The examiner wants to hear you speak. So do put forth your views.
  24. Be positive and prepare your thoughts well but do not be over-confident.
  25. Think well before you speak. You are being heard and judged upon.
  26. When raising an objection to a point kept by another speaker, back it up with a solid reason to get the point across.
  27. Use quotes, facts and figures, statements, everyday life examples to express a clear chain of thoughts. Also it might leave a good impression on the examiner and help you score well.
  28. Be appreciative. Appreciate valid points, respect antagonistic views, keep your points further and encourage a debate around it. Be articulate. When speaking in a GD, your job is to articulate your point of view in a way that is easy for others to comprehend. Use easily understandable words. Structure your thoughts and present them logically.
  29. Present analytically. Analyse the topic in your mind and present your views analalytically.
  30. Speak politely and clearly. Use simple and understandable words while speaking. Express your feelings calmly and politely.
  31. If by any means group is distracting from the topic or goal then simply take initiative to bring the discussion on the track. Make all group members aware that you all need to come to some conclusion at the end of the discussion. So stick to the topic.
  32. Be confident. Keep positive body language. Show interest in discussion.
  33. Speak sensibly. Do not speak just to increase your speaking time. Don’t worry even if you speak less. Your thoughts should be sensible and relevant instead of irrelevant speech.
  34. No need to go into much details. Some basic subject analysis is sufficient. No need to mention exact figures while giving any reference. You have limited time, so be precise and convey your thoughts in short and simple language.

 

DON’Ts

 

  1. Do not  deviate yourself from the topic. Talking about unrelated things puts a bad impression.
  2. Do not use negative comments like ‘‘this point is wrong" or "your argument doesn't make any sense."
  3. Do not try to dominate other participants. It is a discussion and not an argument or debate.
  4. Do not interrupt the speech of other participants and wait till they complete. You can intervene, if someone else is going on an irrelevant track.
  5. Do not repeat a point, or be lengthy or irrelevant. Do not talk too much. Starting a discussion creates a good impression for sure but if you talk endlessly then you are bound to speak out of context and lose points for it.
  6. Do not raise your voice too much or shout.  Speaking doesn't mean you have to shout your lungs out. Business partners often respect those who put across their views firmly but politely. You will be judged on those parameters.
  7. Do not keep silent for a long time. If talking too much can kill your points, saying nothing ruins everything. Even if the topic is out of context or out of your understanding, try to make some good, valid points there.
  8. Even if you don’t agree with the other person’s thoughts, do not snatch their chance to speak. Instead make some notes and clear the points when it’s your turn.
  9. Do not be jargonic or metaphoric.
  10. Do not be too aggressive if you are disagreeing with someone.

 

Group Discussions are never to be considered as a big hurdle or something which is very complex, as many candidates tend to do. The DO’s and DON’Ts enumerated above would help you a lot in confidently participating in a Group Discussion and emerging successful.

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Kerala startups grab global exposure at innovation fest in Singapore

 As many as eight startups led by the Kerala Startup Mission (KSUM) have
scaled their business to the international market by pitching their ideas
and products at Southeast Asia's largest and most exciting innovation
festival held at Marina Bay Sands, Singapore.



A few of them have also got invitations from various countries to introduce
their products. Based on the discussions held in Singapore, further steps
will be taken to showcase their products in the respective countries.



KSUM has so far taken close to 120 startups to international destinations,
enabling them to establish market access in different countries.



A platform to showcase Asia's most innovative developments, the Innovfest
Unbound <https://unbound.live/innovfest-unbound> 2019 had the presence of
Kerala startups from the domain of new technologies as India’s sole
representation.

These startups showcased their products at the two-day event, which
concluded on June 28 (Friday),  and impressed most of the participants  of
over *15,000* entrepreneurs, brands, corporates, investors and tech
startups from *100-plus  *countries.

The start-ups to receive applause were Agrima Infotech, Resfeber
Infosolutions, Ignitarium, Indograce Ecommerce, Alcodex Technologies,
TutorComp Infotech India, Caspar Technologies, and FreelanceTeams.  Mr
Ashok Kurian Panjikaran, Business Development Manager, KSUM, led the KSUM
delegation at the event.



Innovfest Unbound 2019 was the anchor event of Smart Nation Innovations, a
week-long series of events that showcase Asia’s most innovative
developments.  It was organised by NUS Enterprise and Unbound.



The event was meant to connect brands and corporations with disruptive
technology to fuel their innovation and growth. Participants interacted and
shared new ideas apart from building partnerships and celebrating digital
disruption at the event.



KSUM is the nodal agency of the Kerala government for entrepreneurship
development and incubation activities in the state.

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Emotional Intelligence

The twenty-first century has acknowledged and accepted emotional intelligence as an indispensable trait one should possess for success in life.

 

Emotional Intelligence, in very simple terms, is the individual’s ability to understand, balance, control and manage one’s own emotions and those of people around without hurting the emotional needs of others. EI is more of an intelligence of the mind. People with a high degree of emotional intelligence know what they are feeling, what their emotions mean, and how these emotions can affect other people. EI enables you to manage your relationships more effectively, even if and when conflict arises. EI is a must for dealing with threatening situations and conflicts, maintaining equanimity, empathy, coping with stress, showing grace under pressure, apart from many other necessities of day to day life. Top officials, senior bureaucrats and executives should possess EI in abundance for many reasons. Painstaking efforts need to be taken for promoting  EI as its absence can spoil one’s career, one’s life itself. EI is perhaps the most important of the soft skills required for a successful career.

 

EI is an integral part of effective leadership. According to researchers, IQ can develop an individual to be successful to the extent of 20% only in life and the rest 80% success depends on EQ (Emotional Quotient, which is a measure of EI). EI is getting ever-increasing acceptance as a factor inevitable for professional success having much greater importance than general intelligence. Organizations are increasingly using EI when they hire and promote staff.

 

We have seen people either in our personal lives or at work who are really good listeners, who always seem to know what to say and how to say irrespective of the kind of situation, who are masters of managing their emotions, who do not get angry in stressful situations, who take criticism well, who have the ability to keep inter-personal relations intact. These people have a high degree of EI. They know how to manage their emotions as well as the emotional needs of others. A leader who always stays in control and calmly assesses the situation will be much more effective and successful compared to a leader who shouts at his team when he is under stress.

 

EI is getting more and more acceptance as a factor inevitable for professional success having much greater importance than general intelligence. Organizations are increasingly using EI when they hire and promote staff. A survey of about 3000 hiring managers and human resource professionals nationwide by an HR firm revealed that EI is a critical characteristic for landing in a job and advancing one’s career. Survey participants gave the following reasons for placing a higher value on EI over IQ (in order of importance):

 

  1. They know how to resolve conflict effectively.
  2. They are empathetic to their team members and react accordingly.
  3. They lead by example.
  4. They tend to make more thoughtful business decisions.
  5. They admit and learn from their mistakes.
  6. They can keep emotions in check and have thoughtful discussions on tough issues.
  7. They listen as much or more than they talk.
  8. They take criticism well.
  9. They show grace under pressure.

 

We all have different individualities and personalities, different wants and needs and different ways of showing our emotions. Managing all these requires tact and cleverness if we hope to succeed in life. This is where EI assumes importance.

 

People with high EI are usually successful in almost everything they do. Why is it so? Because they make others feel good, they are the ones that others want to move with, and they navigate through life much more easily than others who get easily upset or angered.

 

You have EI if you have the following attributes according to the US psychologist Daniel Goleman.

 

  1. Self-awareness – you understand your emotions and hence do not let your feelings rule them and let your emotions get out of control.
  2. Self-regulation – you have the ability to control emotions and impulses, you think before you act.
  3. Motivation – you are motivated and willing to sacrifice immediate comforts for long term success.
  4. Empathy – you have the ability to identify with and understand the wants, needs and viewpoints of those around you.
  5. Social skills – you have the ability to work as effective team players, you can manage disputes, you are a master at building and maintaining relationships.

 

Ways to improve your EI

 

  1. Work on your skills in the five areas mentioned above.
  2. Honestly observe how you interact with other people.
  3. Avoid rushing to judgment before you know all the facts.
  4. In your work environment, give others a chance to shine, put the focus on them without worrying too much about getting praise for yourself.
  5. Do a self-evaluation of your weaknesses, have the courage to look at yourself honestly.
  6. Examine how you react to stressful situations. The ability to stay calm and in control in difficult situations is highly valued in the business world, in politics and everywhere.
  7. Examine how your words and actions will affect others before you speak or act.

 

EI plays an important role in your ability to exploit the potential of your mind, in keeping that architect and magician fully charged. Acquiring the trait of emotional intelligence and consistently improving upon it are indispensable for your success in any field, for the simple reason that EI is all about management of human relations.

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Customer Engagement and Loyalty

Customer engagement is the means by which a company creates a relationship with its customer base to foster brand loyalty and awareness. It is the emotional connection between a customer and a brand. Highly engaged customers buy more, promote more, and demonstrate more loyalty. Providing a high-quality customer experience is an important component in your customer engagement strategy. Customer engagement can be accomplished via marketing campaigns, new content created for and posted to websites, and outreach via social media and mobile and wearable devices, among other methods.

 

Research shows that a fully-engaged customer represents 2 per cent more revenue than average. Companies which do not have a customer engagement strategy could be missing opportunities to interact with customers and build a relationship with them. There is no single customer engagement method that works for every company across all industries. However, a sincere focus on empathy, clarity, and simplicity in dealings with customers and prospects should be the basis for all of customer engagement activities. There are many positive customer engagement examples that can be used to model a customer engagement strategy. Major brands use everything from funny, responsive social media agents to personalized discounts and offerings to inspire loyalty and affection in their customers.

 

Customer engagement is often the result of positive customer experiences. It is very important to capture and analyze data from every customer touch point for understanding which interactions are increasing engagement and which are hurting it. With the insights gained through such analysis, a company can create a customer engagement model that outlines what kinds of experiences they need to deploy at each stage of the customer journey.

 

Most of the modern companies are giving emphasis on correcting their missteps and planning future customer engagement activities so as to reap the benefits of fully engaged, loyal customers.

 

Importance of customer engagement

 

Studies show that customer acquisition costs can be four to ten times higher than those for customer retention. A survey by Accenture in 2017 of 24,489 people found that the costs of losing customers due to poor service add up to an estimated $1.6 trillion in the U.S. alone.

 

Customer engagement strategies can help curb churn rates by prolonging the customer journey beyond purchasing. Engaged customers become repeat customers. A 2016 survey conducted by Twitter showed a customer who received responses to tweets from brands were willing to spend 3% to 20% more in future purchases from the company. 30% of customers who receive a response to a tweet are more likely to recommend the brand to others, according to the survey of 3,139 users.

 

Strategies for engaging customers

 

Customer engagement methods are diverse and far-ranging, but many experts suggest companies begin with "active listening" - this means scanning for feedback left on websites, sent via email, phoned or mailed in, and posted to social media channels. Prompt answers to their queries via social media are expected by the customers. A 2012 study by Gartner revealed a 15% increase in customer churn rates due to failure to respond via social media.

 

Modern companies are viewing social media as not just a broadcast platform. They take pains to improve online customer engagement with regularly posted content and contests launched through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other sites. Responsive brands that exhibit "fun" and "sassy" personalities catch customers' attention and can result in valuable retweets and likes, as fast food chain Wendy's experienced when a customer launched a campaign in 2017 to earn free nuggets for a year and set a world record for the most retweeted tweet.

 

Customers can also be engaged via messages sent to smart phones or wearable devices. Internet of things sensor technology can capture customers' attention by helping them to proactively schedule maintenance on a product, buy new products or demonstrate loyalty through connected devices. Customer service agents can also use mobile data to approach customers and engage them by highlighting products they may be interested in.

 

Another customer engagement method is to improve customer support and activity by creating new ways to interact with consumers. Slack channels, customer support help desks and forums, and mobile apps can not only be new avenues for feedback, but also foster communities of users.

 

Personalization of customer experience is a much needed customer engagement strategy. Customers are now connected via multiple devices including their smart phones, laptops, desktops, car entertainment system, home appliances etc. How an enterprise interacts with the customer to create personalized and consistent experiences is going to determine how the customer feels about that brand. Marketers are now focused on personalization technologies combined with analytics technologies to ensure that they profile a customer and deliver unique experiences. Having accurate and adequate data is key to ensure personalization. By leveraging AI, machine learning and deep learning, experiences could be tailor made across the customer journey to ensure relevant and engaging customer experiences.

 

A powerful customer engagement channel is Chatbots which allow customers to interact and get instant response without having to wait on long calls or follow up. Customers are used to instant messaging and look forward to the same ease of experience in dealing with the brands they interact with. The opportunity for conversational marketing at scale could potentially generate and convert leads, handle customer queries and complaints. Chatbots could provide rates, discount offers, take bookings and close transactions. A chatbot, however, for customer complaints needs a more careful handling, or could leave the customer even more annoyed.  While it could handle simple solutions for standard problems, for more complex ones, the bot could be programmed to direct to a live agent. Similarly, the bot needs to sense frustration in a conversation to then immediately direct that to a live agent.

 

Measuring customer engagement

 

While there is debate about how to truly determine engagement, companies can determine the Return on Investment (ROI) of their customer engagement efforts by taking related metrics into account. Examples include website traffic, interaction with certain links on websites, likes and shares of content on social media, text analytics of customer sentiment, response times, time to resolution, click-through rates in e-mail campaigns, Facebook and Twitter analytics.

 

Audience growth

 

Companies can derive data about their customers and products from observing customer engagement patterns. A/B testing of certain website presentations or marketing campaigns may be conducted to determine which methods are more effective in closing a purchase. Testing and data analytics enable companies to better determine which of their efforts they can correlate with higher sales, greater membership or other measures of customer success.

 

Customer engagement trends

 

With new form factors such as iBeacon technology and wearables, the digital experience of customer engagement is now combining with physical experiences. So, for example, a company may use beacons to identify that a customer is in a store and send that customer messages about items in an abandoned shopping cart online or discounts based on his presence in-store.

 

Customer engagement is also moving beyond the realm of retail or traditional product sales. Industries like healthcare are using technologies such as customer portals to engage patients in their health regimen and communication with doctors. Also new healthcare platforms are emerging with the express purpose of facilitating this communication and patient engagement. Wearables have also been identified as a key tool in patient engagement, enabling patients to measure various health indicators and track their health regimens.

 

Having loyal and happy customers is the core issue in any business. Going the extra mile in relation to customers is not just a rare or ad-hoc effort but is a consistent and long-term culture change that requires everyone right from the board room to front line executives to serve customers passionately. Successful companies have realized that customer experience has overtaken price and product as a key brand differentiator. Social media have changed the way enterprises communicate with their customers. Creating a consistently engaging customer experience along the customer lifecycle is almost a sine qua non for any business.

 

Marketers are working on generating revenues with this interactive, immersive technology of Virtual Reality. The economic impact of virtual reality likely is expected to hit about USD 15 billion by 2020. Brands are working to provide VR experiences to their prospects and customers in the form of product demonstrations, trainings to use products, installations and self-help for issue detection or small repairs. Companies in the automotive segment are for instance providing test drive with VR.

 

All technologies may not be relevant or important for every brand. Like any investment, a due diligence would be required to understand the cost-benefits and put a plan in place. Another important aspect in execution is the way the organization is designed. Providing unified customer engagement is very difficult when technology and organizational siloes exist. Managing the change from a people, organizational and technology side requires a champion who can take this up as a project, bridge siloes and manage from all angles including from a rewards and incentives standpoint. Poor customer experience created because of siloes cause immense customer frustration, with some abandoning their journeys and / or taking their business elsewhere. Getting access to data irrespective of where it resides in the enterprise is important to fuel a more comprehensive customer engagement. Using this data to then derive insights and enable richer customer experiences will help enterprises provide their customers exactly what they need.

 

Customer engagement strategies are essentially brand marketing strategies. Customer engagement should be pervasive across the enterprise. Enterprises will need to ‘listen” and hardwire this process into their business to feedback response to their product development, quality and other teams and respond faster to customers. It is important for enterprises to understand their brand aspirations and curate a plan for inspiring, converting and keeping customer loyalty.

 

(Courtesy : CXO Toda, TechTarget)

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EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT

Employee engagement is the extent to which employees feel passionate about their jobs, are committed to the organization, and put discretionary effort into their work. Employee engagement is not the same as employee satisfaction. Employee engagement is a workplace approach designed to ensure that employees are committed to their organization's goals, objectives and values, encouraged to contribute to organizational success, and are able at the same time to enhance their own sense of well-being.

 

Employee engagement is the emotional connection an employee experiences that results in a willingness to expend discretionary effort at work. Truly engaged employees reflect a company's respect for its workforce, which, in turn, can be seen in employees' job satisfaction and pride of ownership in their work.

 

The importance of employee engagement can't be overstated. Employee engagement strategies have been proven to reduce staff turnover, improve productivity and efficiency, retain customers at a higher rate, and make more profits. Most importantly, engaged employees are happier, both at work and in their lives.

 

Importance of employee engagement

 

Organizations with high levels of employee engagement are thought to be more profitable and have higher customer satisfaction ratings than organizations with low levels; they also have less absenteeism and turnover, according to ongoing studies from Gallup and other research organizations. In a competitive hiring market, engaged staff members who feel they have good work-life balance and high levels of employee satisfaction are less likely to return a headhunter's call.

 

On the flip side, disengaged employees can create a negative atmosphere that can be contagious and damaging to a company's reputation and, ultimately, its bottom line.

 

A company with demonstrable employee satisfaction will find it easier to hire new workers, and studies have shown that engaged employees can boost stock prices and shareholder returns. A culture of engagement will also make onboarding easier, leading to new employees becoming productive at a faster rate.

 

When it comes to activities that foster employee engagement, there are many options. Many companies focus on employee engagement from the beginning, through interactive and compelling onboarding activities that explain the culture and encourage early camaraderie.

 

Some employers use goal setting to aid in employee engagement, offering weekly or monthly goals to boost employee enthusiasm. Others focus on teamwork, as studies show the more friends employees have at work, the more engaged they are. Employee engagement can also be aided by concrete steps, such as career development opportunities, company-paid education options, flexible hours that can promote work-life balance and even on-site childcare.

 

Technology for engagement

 

While many different types of technology can have a positive impact on employee engagement, gamification platforms and enterprise social collaboration products often explicitly include increased employee engagement in their value propositions.

 

Gamification platforms offer a visual way to train, communicate vital information and create camaraderie through entertaining visuals. Many companies also offer chat groups or pages where like-minded employees can "gather" around subjects of interest, like gardening or vintage cars.

 

Performance management software, while not explicitly a tool of engagement, can be used, along with workforce analytics, to identify groups in need of a greater emphasis on engagement.

 

Measuring employee engagement

 

Traditionally, employee engagement has been measured through surveys, although that strategy is increasingly seen as not accurate. Instead, some experts suggest asking simple questions to get a rough measurement of employee engagement. A "yes" answer to the following questions would indicate a company enjoys higher employee engagement:

 

Do employees arrive early?

Do clusters of people lunch together?

Are there group outings?

Can employees come together for a community service project or a charity?

Are employee turnover rates going down?

Do employees recommend the company to friends?

 

Employee engagement may also be observed with social network analytics and sentiment mining tools.

 

Employee Engagement surveys

 

It is estimated that a staggering 87% of employees worldwide are not engaged. Many companies are experiencing a crisis of engagement and aren't aware of it. Engagement surveys are not always an accurate measure of true engagement, according to new research. The research, by Ashridge Executive Education, Engage For Success and Oracle, revealed that engagement is still a significant issue. Only a quarter (25%) of teams were found to be engaged and almost a third (32%) were actively disengaged.

The findings suggested that engagement surveys may not be an accurate reflection as teams are not simply either engaged or disengaged. The researchers said that team engagement comes in ‘shades of grey’, with teams also able to be just ‘satisfied’ or presenting an illusion of engagement because that is what the organisation wants to hear.

 

The research uncovered four different engagement types. The first was the ‘zone of disengagement’, the category which 32% of teams fell into. These teams were found to be inward-looking, had cliques, high levels of mistrust, and team members described themselves as over-worked, stressed or burnt out.

 

In the zone of contentment (21%) team members do the minimum amount of work required and do not seek stretch or challenge. The researchers found that 14% of teams initially perceived by their organisations to be highly engaged actually fell into this ‘contented’ category.

 

In the zone of pseudo-engagement (21%) team members played the system to serve their own needs – stretching workloads to fill time for example – and giving managers the illusion that they are engaged because that is what management wants to hear.

 

The ideal level was the zone of engagement (25%), where teams are active and solutions-focused, and where there is a positive atmosphere, a high degree of connectivity, and team members support each other personally and professionally.

 

 

(Courtesy : SearchHRSoftware)

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Jallianwala Bagh

Jalianwala Bagh is in the news again with British Prime Minister Theresa May reiterating the UK government’s long-standing expression of ‘deep regret’ over the April 1919 Jallianwala Bagh massacre and called the massacre a ‘shameful scar’ on British Indian history. But the words of the PM May fell short in issuing a formal apology. Since 2019 was the centenary of a horrendous act in the history of India’s freedom struggle, there was a growing demand from many quarters for the formal apology including Indian diaspora and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Jallianwalla Bagh - a flashback. The 1919 Amritsar massacre, also known as the Jallianwala Bagh massacre after the Jallianwala Bagh a public garden in the northern Indian city of Amritsar, was ordered by General R.E.H. Dyer. It was April 13, 1919, a Sunday, which happened to be 'Baisakhi', one of Punjab's largest religious festivals.  Fifty British Indian Army soldiers, commanded by Brigadier-General Reginald Dyer, began shooting at an unarmed gathering of men, women, and children without warning.

Dyer marched his fifty riflemen to a raised bank and ordered them to kneel and fire. Dyer ordered soldiers to reload their rifles several times and they were ordered to shoot to kill. The Jallianwala Bagh was bounded on all sides by houses and buildings and had few narrow entrances, most of which were kept permanently locked. The main entrance was relatively wider, but was guarded by the troops backed by the armoured vehicles. General Dyer ordered troops to begin shooting without warning or any order to disperse, and to direct shooting towards the densest sections of the crowd. He continued the shooting, approximately 1,650 rounds in all, until ammunition was almost exhausted.

What led to the massacre?

The Jallianwala Bagh Massacre was the result of the Anarchical and Revolutionary Crimes Act of 1919, famously known as the Rowlatt Act. The Act came into force a month before the massacre. It shocked most Indians who had expected to be rewarded, not punished, for willingly fighting alongside the British in the First World War. The Act allowed political cases to be tried without jury, and imprisonment of suspects without trial.

This was the time when Mahatma Gandhi came to light. The Act resulted in furious protests throughout the country.  Gandhi started a campaign against Rowlatt Act. There were violent protests that resulted in the burning of the Town Hall and Railway station, disruption of telegraphs and communication system. As part of these protests, thousands of people gathered at Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar, Punjab on April 13, 1919. The civilians assembled for a peaceful protest to condemn the arrest and deportation of two national leaders, Satya Pal and Saifuddin Kitchlew. That was also the day of Sikh festival Baisakhi and many villagers had also gathered in the Bagh.

Under the command of Colonel Reginald Dyer, over 50 troops of the British Indian Army began firing rifles into the crowd. The narrow exits from the bagh were blocked; no one could escape the ill-fated incidence. Over 1200 got injured and more than 350 people died. Some of them jumped into the well in the bagh to escape dying by the bullets.

As per the records of the British Government, the massacre killed 379 and caused 1200 injuries. However, as per the Indian Nation Congress, around 1000 died and 1500 got injured.

The bullet marks can be still seen on the walls of the Jallianwala Bagh which is now a national memorial.

The massacre aroused the fury of the Indian people and the British Indian government replied with more intense brutalities. People in Punjab were made to crawl on the streets; they were put in open cages.

Aftermath of the massacre

Following the massacre, the Hunter Commission was appointed to investigate into the matter. The Commission in 1920 held Dyer guilty for his actions. He was relieved of his command and prematurely retired from the army.

Udham Singh, a Punjabi revolutionary, killed Michael O’ Dwyer, former Lieutenant Governor of Punjab, on March 13, 1940 in London in revenge for the Jallianwalla Bagh Massacre. He was subsequently convicted and hanged in July 1940.

Bengali poet and Nobel laureate, Rabindranath Tagore renounced the knighthood he had received in 1915.

The massacre marked the start of a new rebellion and liberation struggle under Mahatma Gandhi to free India from the British rule. Jallianwalla Bagh has gone down to the annals of Indian history as an incident which set a clear direction to the country’s independence struggle.

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PSYCHIC OR PROPHET? NOSTRADAMUS

We are in a world where we have all the information about anything and everything at our fingertips. Many eminent scientists have the prophetic ability to predict the future world and many have the ability to foresee amazing ideas that will reshape our future. And technological advancement has emerged as a boon and many people have come out of their narrow mindedness and blind belief in superstitions.

There are very less people who still believe in psychics or soothsayers and even today people still believe in Nostradamus. Who is he? Michel de Nostredame an astrologer, physician, and a soothsayer is extremely famous even today for his prophecies and predictions. Did he really write prophecies that are hundred percent accurate or did he just vaguely predict the future? We know that there is clearly a difference between prophecies and predictions. It’s been 500 years since he died and still is he the king of predictions? Are his predictions like a blank piece of paper that is its super indefinite and imprecise that they can mean anything and everything that you want them to mean?

Nostradamus was born  in France in 1503. His family converted into Catholicism before he was born. He worked as an apothecary for several years before entering the University of Montpellier, but he was almost expelled after his work as an apothecary was discovered. Even though he used to practice medicine how his first wife and children died of plague is still a mystery. There were many people in the society who criticized him asking cynically if he couldn’t save his wife and two children. He published a book titled “le propheties”. He was credited with predicting numerous significant events from the French revolution to the terrorist attack on the world trade center which happened on September 11, 2001.  It’s 2019 and will you believe that a lot of people still believe in them and interestingly every year around New Year’s Eve new theories and prophesies connected with Nostradamus and his predictions are released by various psychic experts?  People flock in with a lot of expectation and curiosity to read them. Now let’s dive deep into some of his interesting predictions.

Nostradamus predicted the French revolution. The French revolution marked a period of violence and bloodshed in the history of France.

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Portmanteau

A portmanteau or portmanteau word is a new word formed by joining two other words and combining their meanings. It is a linguistic blend of two words. Portmanteaus had their genesis from the intention of emphasizing more than one idea or concept through a single word. The word Portmanteau is derived from the French word portmanteau, combined from porter (to carry) and manteau (mantle). While these words originated in 16th century, Lewis Carroll is credited with coining the word portmanteau. The word portmanteau was first used in this sense by acclaimed English writer Lewis Carrol in the book ‘Through the Looking-Glass’ (1871), in which Humpty Dumpty explains to Alice the coinage of the unusual words in "Jabberwocky", where slithy means "slimy and lithe" and mimsy is "miserable and flimsy".

 

Let us have a look at a few common portmanteaus.

 

  1. Motel from motor and hotel

 

A motel is a roadside hotel designed primarily for motorists, typically having the rooms arranged in low blocks with parking directly outside

 

  1. Infotainment from information and entertainment

 

Infotainment is a type of media that tries to combine educational or useful information and entertaining content.

  1. Fantabulous from fantastic and fabulous

Fantabulous means extremely fine or desirable; excellent; wonderful.

 

  1. Docudrama, from documentary and drama

 

A docudrama is a genre of radio and television programming, feature film, and staged theatre, which features dramatized re-enactments of actual events.

 

  1. Breathalyzer, from breath and analyzer

 

A breathalyzer or breathalyser is a device for estimating blood alcohol content (BAC) from a breath sample. 

  1. Gamestorming, from games and brainstorming

 

Gamestorming is a set of practices for facilitating innovation in the business world. A facilitator leads a group towards some goal by way of a game, a structured activity that provides scope for thinking freely, even playfully.

  1. Guesstimate, from guess and estimate

Guesstimate is defined as an estimate made without using adequate or complete information, or, more strongly, as an estimate arrived at by guesswork or conjecture.

  1. Imagineering, from imagination and engineering

 

Imagineering is the implementation of creative ideas in practical form.

 

  1. Workaholic, from work and alcoholic

 

A workaholic is a person who works compulsively. While the term generally implies that the person enjoys their work, it can also alternately imply that they simply feel compelled to do it.

 

  1. Advertainment from advertising and entertainment

 

Advertainment is a term used to reflect the intertwining relationships between advertising and entertainment. Typically it refers to media that combines various forms of entertainment with elements of advertising to promote products or brands.

 

  1. Telemarketing, from telephone and marketing

 

Telemarketing is a method of direct marketing in which a salesperson solicits prospective customers to buy products or services, either over the phone or through a subsequent face to face or Web conferencing appointment scheduled during the call.

 

  1. Advertorial, from advertising and editorial

 

An advertorial is an advertisement in the form of editorial content.

 

  1. Skyjacking from sky and hijacking

 

Aircraft hijacking is the unlawful seizure of an aircraft by an individual or a group. In most cases, the pilot is forced to fly according to the orders of the hijackers.

 

  1. Stagflation, from stagnation and inflation

 

In economics, stagflation is a situation in which the inflation rate is high, the economic growth rate slows, and unemployment remains steadily high. It raises a dilemma for economic policy, since actions designed to lower inflation may exacerbate unemployment, and vice versa.

 

  1. Beautility from beauty and utility

Beautility is the quality of having aesthetic merits while serving a practical purpose, especially of an industrial design.

  1. Intercom, from internal and communication

 

An intercom is a stand-alone voice communications system for use within a building or small collection of buildings, functioning independently of the public telephone network.

 

  1. Mechatronics, from mechanical and electronics

 

Mechatronics is a multidisciplinary field of engineering that includes a combination of mechanical engineering, robotics, electronics, computer engineering, telecommunications engineering, systems engineering and control engineering.

 

  1. Electrocute from electric and execute

 

Electrocution is death or serious injury caused by electric shock, electric current passing through the body.

  1. Camcorder, from camera and recorder

 

camcorder is an electronic device originally combining a video camera and a videocassette recorder.

 

  1. Emoticon, from emotion and icon

An emoticon, is a pictorial representation of a facial expression using characters—usually punctuation marks, numbers, and letters—to express a person's feelings or mood, or as a time-saving method.

It can be seen that the meanings of all portmanteaus are apparent from the combination. Most of these words will not be found in standard dictionaries. But portmanteaus are very commonly used in English language, particularly in modern parlance.

 

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Public Health Scenario in India- A Few Concerns

V.N.Nair

 

The public health scenario in India has been undergoing a rather fast economical, demographical and epidemiological transition over the last few years. It is a fact that along with the remarkable economic progress of the country, particularly in terms of gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate, the disparities between the rich and the poor have unfortunately been growing. Studies indicate that this income inequality or disparity between the different socioeconomic classes is associated with highly undesirable worse health outcomes with damaging health and social consequences. Several measures aimed at financial inclusion and social security are being implemented by the Government to tackle the issue of economic inequalities. However, much needs to be done to ensure that health disparities among various social and economic classes are also addressed adequately.

 

India has been witnessing a substantial increase in its labour force along with its unprecedented demographic changes. However, it will benefit the country only if the population is healthy. The country at present is confronted with a few broad public health issues like the unfinished agenda of infectious diseases, the challenge of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) linked with lifestyle changes and emergence of new pathogens causing epidemics and pandemics. Further, there is imperative necessity of strengthening the health infrastructure to enable it confront these challenges in the emerging scenario.

 

The public health challenges

 

India has made enviable strides in the public health sector over the past few decades. The life expectancy has crossed 67 years, infant mortality rates are declining as is the rate of disease incidence. The country has succeeded in eradicating many diseases, such as polio, guinea worm disease, yaws, and tetanus. However, the communicable diseases are expected to continue to remain a major public health problem in the coming decades posing a threat to both national and international health security. Besides endemic diseases such as human immune-deficiency virus infection and acquired immune deficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS), tuberculosis (TB), malaria, and neglected tropical diseases, the communicable disease outbreaks will continue to challenge public health, requiring high level of readiness in terms of early detection and rapid response. Vector-borne diseases, such as dengue and acute encephalitis syndrome, are of particular concern in this regard. Antimicrobial resistance, which is the ability of a microorganism (like bacteria, viruses, and some parasites) to stop an antimicrobial (such as antibiotics, antivirals and antimalarials) from working against it, is one of the biggest health challenges facing humanity which warrants tackling with all seriousness.

 

Further, non-communicable diseases or NCDs are now one of the leading causes of death in the country, contributing to 60% of deaths. Four diseases namely heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and chronic pulmonary diseases contribute nearly 80% of all deaths due to NCDs and they share four common risk factors namely tobacco use, harmful use of alcohol, unhealthy diet, and lack of physical activities.

 

Another factor of significant concern is the high incidence of maternal mortality ratio and infant mortality rate (IMR), though the trend is towards the decline. The IMR, which was 68 deaths per 1000 live births in 2000 declined to 34 per 1,000 in 2016  according to the NITI Aayog. However, it still is much higher than the global average of 29 per 1000 in 2017. Though IMR in India has been declining,  the rate of decline remains relatively slow, compared to that being achieved by other South Asian neighbors except Pakistan.

 

The epidemiological transition in India is being fueled by the social and economic determinants of health and by and some risk factors such as globalization, unplanned and unregulated urbanization, changing life styles, environmental causes like climate change and air pollution, and increasing influence of media and advertising. Moreover, there are great disparities between the rich and poor and between those living in urban and rural areas in access to health services. For instance, the poorest and the most marginalized sections of the society are not only at a greater risk for communicable and NCDs, but are also least able to cope with the diseases resulting from these risk factors. If someone in the family gets sick, the family often gets trapped in poverty, partly due to the high cost of health care. The health-care system is also overstretched.

 

Case for paradigm shift in approach

 

Considering the imperative significance of health in economic development, a paradigm shift is warranted in our approach. It is felt that the scenario warrants investing more in health and recognizing disease prevention and health promotion as the topmost priority areas. Presently, India has one of the lowest allocations to health among all countries of the world as percentage of GDP. As a result of such a low investment in health and due to high out-of-pocket expenditure (85.6% which according to the World Bank is among the highest in the world), nearly 60 million people are pushed further into poverty and into the poverty trap from that they are unable to escape.

 

Of the total health budget allocation for health, a higher portion of the fund should be earmarked for disease prevention, health promotion, and improving the quality of health services at the primary care level. Health is now recognized in many developed countries as the people's right.  

 

There is the need for strengthening the health system to improve the process of service delivery. It is necessary to improve the functioning of the existing government health infrastructure. The existing public health system and facilities needs to be assessed and improvements need to be brought based on the findings of the assessment, including augmented human and material resources, and monitoring their performance and fixing accountability in a systematic manner, by setting targets and trying to achieve them through a comprehensive and integrated approach, with full involvement of the community. Improved access to government health services, which are used primarily by the poor and the disadvantaged sections of the society, will go a long way in achieving better health outcomes.

 

An efficient public-health workforce is vital for efficient and effective delivery of services. India has one of the lowest density of health workforce; with density of physicians (7 per 10 000 population) and nurses (17.1 per 10 000 population) as against the global average of 13.9 and 28.6 respectively (World Health Statistics, 2015). The nurses-to-physicians ratio in India is about 0.6:1, as against the nurses-to-physicians ratio of 3:1 in some of the developed countries. The issue is very serious, particularly in the rural areas, as most doctors and hospital beds are concentrated in urban areas catering to only 20% of the India's population. Public health planners should make all efforts to fill vacant posts through efficient recruitments, and build skill of the existing staff through training activities and by creating enabling environment including adequate facilities for health workers to stay in rural areas. To enhance skill training activities, health can leverage with and benefit from the national skill development mission launched in India in August 2015.

 

An evidence-based policy-making requires data on disease burden and the associated determinants. Focus should be on strengthening a widespread research and innovation culture throughout the country and generating homegrown data, obtained through surveillance, research, and monitoring and evaluation, so that these data can be used for policy and strategy development, priority setting, and evaluating the impact.

 

The purpose of public health should be the welfare of the weakest and most vulnerable sections of the society and hence addressing the issue of equity is crucial. In this regard, the priority should be given to understanding the barriers to equitable access, integrating equity goals in policy and programs, and targeting resources and efforts to reach the poor and vulnerable sections of the society with the needed services.

 

Then there is the necessity of leveraging technology to transform public health. Modern technology has great potential in bringing efficiency in service delivery and enhancing the reach of the health services. It can connect remote areas with national centers of excellence or patients in villages with doctors in hospitals in urban areas through audio or video conferencing. The government has already established a network of telemedicine services, mother and child tracking system of weekly voice messages to pregnant women and new mothers, web-based TB registration scheme called Nikshay, and implementing a mobile app for the training of Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA) workers.

 

Mobile technology holds great promise in public health especially due to its ubiquitous nature. With more than one billion mobile users in the country, the mobile phones offer tremendous opportunities in efficient health service delivery which include ensuring treatment adherence by sending messages to patients with diabetes or HIV/AIDS reminding them to take their treatment, quick reporting of cases during outbreaks or epidemics, alerting next level of health services regarding emergency situation such as difficult or complicated labor in a remote rural area, informing populations and creating awareness about emerging health issues or health programs etc. The internet connectivity is presently being used to enhance e-governance and making patient consultations with experts such a tele-ophthalmology in some States.  Low-smoke stoves can help reduce indoor pollution and respiratory infections, and the use of point-of-care diagnostic methods, such as a lab in a suitcase for diagnosis in areas where such facilities do not exist, can be of great help. These examples show that technology already available can enhance the quality and efficiency of the services, and this should be expanded and scaled up rapidly, in order to make health services available and accessible for the people living in geographically remote areas.

 

It can be seen from the above that most of the risk factors for ill health lie outside the health sector. Therefore, action to combat these risk factors requires an inter-sectoral and interdisciplinary approach. Besides policy, the programs also should have inbuilt mechanism to ensure transparency and fix accountability. In this context, highly laudable is the nation-wide campaign of the India government for the period 2014 to 2019 by the name Swachh Bharat Abhiyan that aims, inter alia, to clean up the streets, roads and infrastructure of India's cities, towns, and rural areas, to eliminate open defecation through the construction of household-owned and community-owned toilets and to establish an accountable mechanism of monitoring toilet use. Run by the Government of India, the mission aims to achieve an "open-defecation free" (ODF) India by 2 October 2019, the 150th anniversary of the birth of Mahatma Gandhi, by constructing 90 million toilets in rural India at a projected cost of Rs.1.96 lakh crore. The mission will also contribute to India reaching Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG 6), established by the UN in 2015.

 

Private sector can also support the health promotion and disease prevention activities under public–private partnership and through the corporate social responsibility initiatives. Engaging them in a creative and positive manner as partners for health action coordinated by the government can go a long way in addressing the public health challenges in the next decade and beyond.

 

References

 

  1. IMF World Economic Outlook Report, 2015
  2. Various study papers and reports of WHO.
  3. Website of NITI Aayog.

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Artificial Intelligence and Cybercrime

V.N.Nair

 

Along with the advent of newer and newer technologies, the cybersecurity domain is also getting its impact. Whilst users are getting better at spotting basic attacks like phishing, cyber criminals are using new technologies and machine learning to trick us, steal data, and ultimately make fortunes. Artificial intelligence, in particular, is perceived to have the potential to become a game-changer with the rising availability of AI posing a new cyber crime threat. Also, the increased sophistication available to criminals such as chat bots will enable them to rapidly upscale the breadth of their targets. A group of 26 experts from around the world have warned that wanton proliferation of artificial intelligence technologies could enable new forms of cybercrime, political disruption and even physical attacks within five years. In a new report, the academic, industry and the charitable sector experts, describe AI as a “dual use technology” with potential military and civilian uses, akin to nuclear power, explosives and hacking tools. On account of all this, the role artificial intelligence can play – both for cybercriminals and cybersecurity experts- has become the topic of heated discussions in the IT world.

 

The current threat landscape is fraught with too many challenges. Traditional, prevention-focused, rule-based security approaches have already become a thing of the past a while ago.  Cybercriminals are using sophisticated, multi-layered attacks to take advantage of this situation. Recent attacks such as  WannaCry ransomware attack highlight just how vulnerable the global IT landscape is to advanced threats. It was a worldwide cyberattack, which targeted computers running the Microsoft Windows operating system by encrypting data and demanding ransom payments in the Bitcoin cryptocurrency.

 

Experts in the field are of the opinion that the strong entry of AI into the mix would in all probability worsen the situation. Using AI, cybercriminals can automate their attacks. It provides an opportunity to threat actors to continue doing what they were doing, in a better and more effective way. Attacks will be swifter, their surface area larger and capable of targeting vulnerabilities with greater efficiency. The number of incidents and resultantly their impact will go up. A single local breach could end up compromising networks and devices on a global scale.

 

But cyber defence is the realm where AI has made the most important difference. By using its massive computational power, AI can automate the collection and analysis of data. This helps in filtering out false positives and focusing on actual threats. AI can also analyse data from across the entire IT stack, giving security teams a more comprehensive view of the entire security framework, and identify vulnerabilities, threats, and incidents at a much-faster pace. This, in turn, allows for near-instant and more accurate threat detection, response, containment, mitigation, and remediation.

 

Understanding these threats, leading cybersecurity players have started integrating AI into their security solutions to offer AI-driven Managed Detection and Response (MDR) services. These solutions allow cybersecurity experts to contextualise the global threat data, and use those insights in reference to the particular needs of a business to anticipate potential threats in advance. Such high level of insights enable them to continuously update the security frameworks as per the latest business and security requirements. By providing 24×7x365 security monitoring, AI can also identify and hunt stealth attack campaigns within the network before they can cause a breach by analysing suspicious activity. Compliance violations and policy changes can also be viewed in real-time, enabling better visibility into the threat and risk postures across IT systems.

 

Another aspect that an AI-driven MDR approach optimises is that of security response. Machine learning algorithms constantly analyse and triage security alerts, while forensic automation determines the criticality of the event. This enables a much swifter response to actual security incidents. Security teams are also guided through the threat response and remediation with actionable measures, helping them make accurate and data-driven decisions.

 

AI-driven MDR can also help in optimising the post-incident security response. Incidents are investigated for impact and attacker attribute, and the entire attack chain is analysed for improving security strategies. This minimises the risk of a future breach from similar attacks.

 

Experts are of the opinion that more work should be done in understanding the right balance of openness in AI, developing improved technical measures for formally verifying the robustness of systems, and ensuring that policy frameworks developed in a less AI-infused world adapt to the new world we are creating.

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Culture and Tradition in Perfect Harmony- The Folk Dances of Assam

It is often said that folk dance is the best manifestation of the culture and tradition of a particular place. The best example to this statement can be seen in the various ethnic dance forms that are prevalent in the different corners of Assam.  Assam, the tea garden of India, has a rich culture to boast of. The State of Assam is home to many groups: Mongoloid, Indo-Burmese, Indo-Iranian, Aryan, Rabha, Bodo, Kachari, Karbi, Mising, Sonowal Kacharis, Mishimi and Tiwa (Lalung). These cultures come together to create an unique Assamese culture.

 

An integral part of Assamese culture are the folk dances of the State. Assam has a number of folk dances and the most important among them are the Bagurumba dance and the  Bihu dance, both danced during festivals held in the spring.

 

Bagurumba Dance

 

The chief among the Assamese folk dances is the Bagurumba or the ‘butterfly dance’.  It owes its name to the fact that the movements of the performers resemble those of butterflies. It is commonly performed by the Bodos of Assam who live in regions like Kokrajhar, Nalbari and Bongaigaon. This dance is the chief highlight of their Bwishagu festival which is celebrated in mid-April. The celebrations begin with cow worship which is then followed by the young ones of the family bowing down to their parents and the other elders in the home. Then the deity, known as Bathou, is worshipped with offerings of chicken and rice beer. Bathou is the supreme deity of the Bodos. The festivities are then concluded with a community prayer.

 

The dance is performed by the girls dressed in colorful costumes and traditional jewellery while the men play the accompanying musical instruments. These are the traditional tribal devices such as the Gongona which resembles a curved horn and the Kham which is a long drum made of wood and goatskin. The other instruments include the Siphung which resembles a violin. The dance is performed with slow steps and hands spread out. The performers go through various movements such as hopping, swinging, bending and rising again. They chant ‘bagurumba, hay bagurumba’ while dancing. This highly attractive dance symbolizes the natural world.  There are two variations of this dance form. One is the Natural Bagurumba which is performed without music while the other is the Royal Bagurumba which is accompanied along with singing.

 

Bihu Folk Dance

 

Another major folk dance associated with Assam is the Bihu.  It is performed during the Rongali Bihu festival which falls in the middle of April. The Rongali Bihu is one of the three Bihu festivals, the other two being Kongali Bihu and Bhogali Bihu. The songs sung during the Rongali Bihu festival are based on romantic themes. The Bihu dance is performed by both men and women. The men are attired in dhotis which are long and thin pieces of cloth worn around the waist. The head is adorned by the gamocha. Both the dhoti and the gamocha are not only brightly colored but are also embellished by beautiful embroidery in various designs on the two ends. The women Bihu performers are attired in the traditional Assamese costume. This attire consists of the Chador and Mekhela. The Chador is a drape used for covering the upper portion of the body while the Mekhela which is shaped like a cylinder is used for the lower half of the body. A blouse is worn below the Chador. Pat silk, cotton and muga silk are used for making these dresses. Their attire is completed with colorful jewellery and their hair is done up with pretty flowers which match the colour of their dresses.

 

The Bihu is a brisk dance with the performers flinging their hands and swaying their hips to a rhythmic beat. It represents youthful passion. As with every other folk dance, music is a must for the Bihu too. The instruments are essential for playing the conventional tunes for the dance. These include the dhol, pepa, taal, toka, xutuli, gogona and baanhi. This art form has remained untouched by any innovation and has retained its purity. The Bihu dance truly represents the culture and heritage of the Assamese people.

 

The Khamba Lim is another folk dance of Assam. The performers include two groups of men and women who stand in two rows. The folk dances are performed during the harvest period. They are marked by absolute gaiety and abandon.

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The Motorcycle God

The “Bullet” brand of the motorcycle of Royal Enfield is a cult figure. It has an ever-growing fan community all over the world. The diehard Bullet fans would say, “There are only two motorcycles in the world - The Bullet and the non-Bullet.”

 

The brand name Bullet remains for 88 years since the first Bullet motorcycle was released in 1931. Bullet is the longest standing brand name in the motorcycle history of the world.

 

This coveted brand came to India in 1955 when the government placed orders for 800 motorcycles for army and police duties in the country. The British company Royal Enfield created a partnership with Madras Motor Company of Madras (now Chennai) and assembled the motorcycles in India.

 

From 1962 onwards all components were made in India by redesigning it to suit the metric system of measurement.  (India adopted the metric system in stages between 1958 to 1962). Subsequently, the British manufacturer closed shop and now Royal Enfield motorcycles are manufactured only in India and are exported to more than 50 countries including Britain and the U S A. 

 

This note is not about the history of Enfield; but about an interesting event of one single Royal Enfield bike. 

 

About 50 kilometers from Jodhpur, Rajasthan, India, on the Jodhpur-Pali highway, there is a small spot known as “Om Banna Sthan” or “Om Banna Mandir”. It has got a very interesting legend. 

 

On 2 December 1991, Mr. Om Sigh Rathore, subsequently known as Om Banna was travelling from the town of Bangdi of Pali, to Chotila on the way to Jodhpur on his 350cc Royal Enfield Bullet bearing registration number RNJ 7773.

 

Drunk Rathore hit a tree. The bike fell into a nearby ditch and Rathore died instantly. The police took the vehicle and kept it at the police station. The bike disappeared at night and was found at the accident spot the next morning. The police thought it was a prank. They took it back to the station. They emptied the fuel tank, chained it and punctured the tyres. Amazingly, it was again found on the accident spot the next day! The story goes that the motorcycle kept returning to the same ditch every time the police tried to keep it at the police station. 

 

The local people took it for a miracle and news spread to nearby villages. They named the spirit of Mr. Rathore as “Om Banna” and built a temple to worship it. They erected a concrete dais and placed the bike in a glass enclosure. This temple is known as "Bullet Baba's Temple." It is believed that Om Banna's spirit helps distressed travellers.

 

Every day hundreds of passersby stop to bow down to the spirit of Om Banna, the Motorcycle God. Locally they call it “Bullet Baba.” They believe that the spirit of Om Banna protects the travelers. People leave flowers and bottles of liquor the deity’s blessing. The temple even has its own priest who conducts the morning and evening rituals and maintains the site.

 

The tree that Om Sing Rathore hit still stands there. People festoon it with garlands, bangles, scarves, red threads, etc. 

 

 

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Work Life Balance

Work life balance is about how effectively a person adjusts his day to day activities  in order to achieve a sense of balance between his work life and personal life. In today’s world, every work is demanding and work pressures are on the increase and you are expected to give your best and complete your tasks, perhaps by working beyond the scheduled hours. No doubt,  it’sadmirable that you excel in your career. But when it drains on your personal life it can affect your mental and physical well-being. The fact is that the lack of balance between the work and personal life not only affects the employee but the organization as well. Employee stress can increase to the level of exhaustion resulting in lower productivity of work, and reduced job satisfaction.

Work-life balance is a concept that supports the efforts of employees to split their time and energy between work and the other important aspects of their lives. Work-life balance is a daily effort to make time for family, friends, community participation, spirituality, personal growth, self-care, and other personal activities, in addition to the demands of the workplace.

The phrase ‘work-life balance’ is rather more recent in origin. It was probably first used in the UK in the late 1970s, and in the US in the mid-1980s. It has, however, taken on a new meaning with the recent technological changes that have made it possible for workers to stay in touch 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Smart phones, remote working technology and the like have meant that, even on holiday, people find it hard to ‘switch off’ and genuinely rest, and the complaint is often that people are expected to be ‘on-call’ at all times, without being allowed to have a life outside work.

Work-life balance is assisted by employers who institute policies, procedures, actions, and expectations that enable employees to easily pursue more balanced lives.Many of the organisations are becoming alive to the vital issue of work life balance and they have started adopting various ways for encouraging a healthy work life balance for their employees. Many organisations have also integrated work life balance into their HR policy. Let us have a quick look at how organisations address this highly relevant issue.

Allowing flexible working options

Many employers offer their employees flexible working options to help them design their working pattern that better fits their personal commitments. Flexible working options include allowing employees to work from home, as more and more companies are becoming technologically advanced. In the present digital era, employees can work from almost every location with the use of their laptops and smart phones or tablets and also could access their work related emails. Apart from that, flexible working options further include compressed working hours and job sharing.

Allowing unpaid time off for contingent events

Leavesthat come under the leave policy of an organization are paid ones. But many a time, situations like family emergencies or inevitable social obligations warrantemployees to take unanticipated leave.There areorganisationswho have the practice of allowing unpaid leave to employees for meeting such contingencies.

Developing a culture of collaboration

Even though we feel proud about our self in the work, the fact is that we will not be able to do everything on our own. When you see that one of your colleagues is struggling, it is but natural for you to offer to take some work off his plate, even if you have still got something to do.Your colleagues will undoubtedly notice your kind gestures and chances are they will return the favor, taking work off your plate sometime in the future. Just because collaboration is routine does not mean it should go unnoticed. Showing gratitude when your coworkers help on a project is what is required. Many employers encourage this collaborative culture among their employees in sharing of work to reduce the stress of colleagues.

Asking employees for guidance

Some employers try consulting their employees about what changes around the workplace might help them if they feel that employees are failing to maintain the balance in their work life.These employers try to measure employee satisfaction with regular meetings either as one on one interaction or group discussion, anonymous surveys and employee engagement at different levels.

Encouraging short breaks

It is necessary for employees to take frequent breaks throughout the day rather than sitting still and staring at screen for straight 8 to 9 hours, as there exist a number of health issues associated with it. Organisations have started allowing  regular breaks at work to make employees more focused and productive and less burnt out. Moreover, millennial employees embrace mobility at workplace in order to de-stress and heal themselves back to normalcy.

Company sponsored activities and events

The objective of those employers which organize activities like picnics, entertainment programmes, periodic family meets, sports meets, community programmes etc. is nothing but  facilitating improvement of the work life balance among the employees, as they are well aware that such initiatives will be advantageous to the employees as well as to themselves by augmenting the feel good factor and employee productivity.

Reliable working environment

Maintaining a structural consistency has been proven time and time, that lets the employees know what to expect at workplace on day to day basis. It makes the workplace more reliable as it can reduce the stress that employees feel at home, and will also help them to streamline their activities in a better way.

Work-Life Balance does not mean an equal balance. Trying to schedule an equal number of hours for each of your various work and personal activities is usually unrewarding and unrealistic. Life is and should be more fluid than that.

Your best individual work-life balance will vary over time, often on a daily basis. The right balance for you today will probably be different for you tomorrow. The right balance for you when you are single will be different when you marry, or if you have children; when you start a new career versus when you are nearing retirement.

There is no perfect, one-size fits all, balance you should be striving for. The best work-life balance is different for each of us because we all have different priorities and different lives.

The pursuit of work-life balance reduces the stress employees experience. When they spend the majority of their days on work-related activities and feel as if they are neglecting the other important components of their lives, stress and unhappiness result. An employee who doesn't make time for self-care eventually damages their output and productivity.

Work-life balance enables employees to feel as if they are paying attention to all of the important aspects of their lives. It occurs when employees experience the flexibility of a workplace that allows them to pursue all components of a healthy life.

Balanced employees tend to feel more motivated and less stressed out at work.  Employees with positive work life balance are able to do better job at work that subsequently increases individual as well as organizational productivity. Organizations that offer employee friendly policies and flexible working environmentare able to attract and retaina huge base of talented manpower while creating happy employees.

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Data Protection

Digital technologies are a key enabler in the globalization of business, which dramatically enhance our ability to communicate, share and store information, and connect with colleagues and clients. New technologies bring new capabilities and, with new capabilities, comes an increased risk of unauthorized data disclosure. This reality has prompted a number of regulators to increase data privacy constraints, including limits on international cross-border transfers of personal data, and to specify information security requirements designed to protect the confidentiality, integrity and availability of business and personal information.

A strong business reputation depends on a robust data protection and information security program. Corporates across the world are increasingly viewing data protection and information security as fundamental components of doing business and believe that a solid data protection and information security program is an essential component of a leading professional services organization.

With the explosion in the amount of data being created and stored, companies of all sizes, including SMEs are realizing the significance of having more robust and complete data protection strategies and plans. Despite that high profile data breaches around the world is becoming rampant. Experts in the field find the necessity of companies developing a new mindset on data protection.

Today, organisations are being more thorough about their data protection policies, procedures and ultimately the solutions they deploy, whether it is about their compliance and regulatory requirements, or for commercial wellbeing. The emphasis is also on having data ‘available’ not just on protection. With businesses needing to run around the clock, any downtime is detrimental so business continuity, having a solid disaster recovery plan to ensure as much data as always or instantly available are key business drivers, and this is where data protection is moving. Another key trend is consolidation and management of data across a mixed environment – encompassing physical, virtual and cloud components. Cloud based offerings are more prominent and organizations adding this as part of their infrastructure and solution but they are increasingly looking at vendors who can tick all these boxes rather than deploy different point solutions, in order to reduce complexity and maximize return on their limited IT dollars.

There are valid reasons why companies need to develop a new mindset on data protection. One of the key reasons is that data protection has and continues to evolve. Data is a cornerstone of a business and more and more organizations are realizing this and it is not just about having a copy of data somewhere, the need is to have data as available as possible and to recover from any potential failure as quickly as possible. The mindset is shifting towards business continuity, not just disaster recovery but how to avoid the disaster in the first place. Another factor is that with the introduction of different solutions, organizations need to be more aware and educated of  what suits them best. There have been many high profile data breaches around the world and businesses are very weary of the potential threats and the focus on data protection is now part of the top level business agenda, for example, culmination in Data Security Officer roles being added to the more traditional CTO or CIO positions. Compliance and regulatory requirements have also influenced the way organizations think and plan for data protection and management.

There are multiple reasons why organisations need to pay attention to data loss as preventative and not reactive. The key reason is  that any downtime associated with data loss, is financially detrimental to the organization. In an ‘always-on’ society companies need to be functioning and seen to be functioning all the time. Secondly, any data loss or breaches create a lot of negative publicity which can take a long time to repair, so brand reputation is also more important than ever, with news being shared in real-time across social media and the internet. Therefore, ensuring a continuous operation, seamless interaction with customers and other key stakeholders, maintaining a competitive edge, requires a preventative and not just a reactive approach to data management.

There are many tools available to organizations to help them track and evaluate data usage and utilize the amount of user data that’s being generated. From the basic tools that provide insights into how much data is being created by whom, how often it is being used, accessibility, where it resides etc to much more advanced solutions around ‘Big Data’, Business intelligence, data mining, predictive analytics that enable organizations to create policies and procedures on information management and usage. These types of solutions provide the capability for organizations to make business decisions and plans by using the information much more intelligently.

That solutions for the organisations to safeguard the data assume high significance does not require over emphasis. Arcserve Unified Data Protection platform provides 360 degrees data management capabilities. Arcserve UDP is offered as software, appliance and hybrid cloud. Arcserve UDP can also integrate with the key pillars of modern day data centre comprising of Physical, virtual and modern storage. Arcserve UDP Appliances are ideal systems for branch and decentralized offices, or as the primary backup, deduplication, disaster recovery, and cloud gateway appliance for organizations whose resources are stretched.

Firms marketing data protection software solutions are working out specific strategies to target the market in the upcoming years.  

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Human Resources Technology

N.Vijayagopalan

 

HR technology (human resources technology) is an umbrella term for software and associated hardware for automating the human resources function in organizations. It includes employee payroll and compensation, talent acquisition and management, workforce analytics, performance management, benefits administration etc.

HR technology, often referred to as HR tech, has developed rapidly in recent years, with large employers around the world widely adopting core HR technology systems from enterprise software companies such as Oracle and SAP, as well as specialized HR tech vendors. Many of these employers are entering a second generation of HR technology by migrating from their on-premises systems to new cloud platforms, including SaaS (Software as a Service). Meanwhile, small and midsized employers are also moving in large numbers to digitize their human resource functions, commonly turning to SaaS platforms or cloud-based HR technology outsourcing vendors.

HCM

Human capital management (HCM) is a broad term for a variety of business functions that treat employees as assets that can be managed objectively just as companies view and manage other assets, such as money and capital equipment. In its most basic form, HCM is usually automated with integrated software that pulls together employee records in core HR and talent management systems. HCM systems can include discrete subsystems for recruitment, performance, learning and compensation management, succession planning, compliance etc. Many HR technology vendors also specialize in dedicated systems for specific aspects of HCM such as talent acquisition. Electronic job boards or marketplaces in which prospective employees and employers find each other are an example.

 

HCM has begun to displace the terms HRIS (Human Resources Information System) and HRMS (Human Resource Management System),under which labels which core HR technology systems have long been marketed.Although there are few differentiators among the three labels, HRIS tends to provide technology for storing employee data and automating core HR functions while HRMS vendors add HCM feature, including talent management. 

Payroll

While some HR technology vendors specialize in payroll, many HCM systems also incorporate the function of paying and tracking employees' wages and salaries and withholding taxes and other deductions. Also, cloud-based HR technology outsourcing vendors provide payroll services as a key component of a suite of digital HR offerings or as a standalone service, particularly for SMBs.

A significant challenge facing HR technology payroll providers is administering wages and salaries and tax withholding across multiple U.S. jurisdictions such as states and counties, and in different countries with unique governmental requirements. Some employers use time and attendance software to track the hours that employees spend on the job and keep records of wages and salaries paid.

Compensation management is also related to payroll but is its own niche as well, a class of HR software designed to determine the best pay rates for attracting and retaining  employees and rewarding performance. It is a component of most talent management suites.

Travel and expense management

Also related to payroll is travel and expense software, which HR departments use to provide travel services to employees, record related expenses, pay providers and reimburse the employee through a link to the payroll service. 

Some organizations use expense report software to provide managers with a clear picture of the organization's spending through automated analytics and reporting.

Mobile expense management tools provide usage and cost information about the mobile devices and services the organization provides to employees, and which are often administered by HR.

Talent management

Talent management is the process of recruiting, developing, evaluating and compensating employees. It is often managed in separate applications or in talent management software suites that consist of integrated modules for recruitment and onboarding, learning and development, performance management, compensation management, and succession planning.

HR technology vendors have developed various forms of applications and SaaS platforms to recruit job candidates, evaluate candidates pre-interview and track them during the hiring cycle.

Closely related to talent management is talent acquisition, the strategic process of finding and hiring the right employees to help achieve an organization's goals. As employers have come to view workers as assets, acquiring employees has become increasingly important, particularly in competitive markets such as the technology industry itself.

The following are some popular talent management and acquisition technologies.

Applicant tracking system (ATS) used to post job openings on a corporate website or job board, screen resumes, and generate interview requests to potential candidates by e-mail. Other features may include automated resume ranking, pre-screening questions and response tracking, and multilingual capabilities.

Candidate relationship management, which allows recruiters to maintain a pool of passive candidates that can be brought in for consideration on short notice.

Employee referral software that allows HR to collect recommendations from current employees about potential and current candidates.

Employee assessment software that helps an organization decide whether a job candidate is suited for an open position. While some assessments gauge a candidate's cultural fit with the company or their personality traits, others focus on skills or critical knowledge. In addition to purveyors of candidate recruitment and tracking systems, and job boards, major technology and social media companies have become important players in the talent acquisition market.

Also associated with talent management technology is succession planning software that helps guide strategic replacement of key executives.

Performance management

As employers have automated other previously manual HR functions, they have also started to embrace the idea of monitoring employees' job performance continuously instead of with the traditional annual job review.

Both performance management modules within HCM systems and separate performance management platforms also sometimes offer interactive features that enable employee feedback in a process called continuous performance management.

Workforce analytics uses individual performance management and skills data to optimize the allocation and development of human capital and identify the need for new departments and positions.

Employee engagement

One tool used increasingly in performance management is employee engagement HR technology. Employee engagement platforms and apps use a variety of approaches to try to keep workers interested in and enthusiastic about their jobs.

Among these are mobile apps with social media-like posting and commenting capabilities, communications platforms that allow employers to disseminate information and workers to respond, and gamification techniques that seek to motivate employees by making apps entertaining.

Other engagement strategies include sophisticated employee recognition programs, app-based enterprise-wide contest platforms and software to coordinate volunteer civic projects.

Benefits administration

As a whole, HR technology for benefits administration began to become digitized more recently than core HCM tasks, not only by putting benefits information online, but also by enabling employees to engage with benefits choices more easily. As that digital transformation has picked up speed in recent years, benefits have come to mean more than just health and disability insurance, vacation and sick days.

Corporate wellness and well-being have become central to many employers' benefits programs, both online, on-premises and app-based, and using technology in conjunction with human wellness coaches.

Many HR technology vendors are selling specialized software systems that incentivize workers for participating in health-oriented wellness programs, and sometimes use wearable tracking devices to measure activity. Some make a distinction between wellness and well-being, and corporate well-being has come to mean a combination of engagement, health-oriented wellness, "financial well-being" for employees and overall corporate morale.

Another notable trend in HR technology benefits administration is the emergence of vendors that optimize health insurance benefits by applying analytics to claims data and tailoring benefits packages for individual workers.

Learning

Corporate training and education programs are migrating to interactive online platforms created by HR technology vendors. Whether using real-time or asynchronous video or text-based communication, employers use learning management software (LMS) that can customize training programs, track whether employees have completed them, and assess student performance. An LMS may also provide students with the ability to use interactive features such as threaded discussions, video conferencing, and discussion forums.

With increasingly disruptive technology advancement, HR professionals need to be on the lookout for the latest trends, and adapt them quickly to keep their companies at the forefront of innovation.

Let us see ten HR technology trends that are catching up in India.

HR Innovation

Innovation within the Human Resources industry can be seen with HR professionals setting the pace with new performance management models, new learning methods, new ways to reduce bias, and new approaches to recruit and train people.

Surge of People Analytics

With its ability to produce insights into the workforce, help companies retain talents and spot employees who are likely to leave, the use of People Analytics is becoming prevalent in 2018. Data provided allows HR professionals to have a deep understanding of employee’s needs, concerns and so on.

Changes in Talent Sourcing

The norm is shifting from full time employment trends to a blend of increasingly hiring remote workers, workers on flexible schedule, part time workers and consultants. This type of approach is changing the way HR professionals recruit candidates with technology leading the charge.

Popularity of Wellness Apps

With the understanding that employees must be emotionally and physically well in order to perform at their maximum levels, HR managers are taking the steps to ensure that workers are monitored and empowered to take care of themselves. Health and wellness apps are rapidly being adopted to measure individual performance, activity and fitness levels, with great improvements in engagement, health, and mental wellbeing.

Increased Migration to the Cloud

With cloud-based HRMS, payroll, and talent management services, as well as financials and other ERP solutions offerings in the cloud, the question is no longer “if” a company will move to the cloud, but rather “when” and “how.”

Rise of Intelligent Self-Service Tools

There is a fast-growing shift towards more data-driven, intelligent digital organizations and more self-sufficient/analytical employees. This is increasing the need for tools that integrate case management, document management, employee communications, and help-desk interactions. Self-service and employee experience platforms are the backbone of employee service centers and are simplifying training, expense reporting, time tracking, and almost every other HR function.

New Breed of Corporate Learning Tools

Companies are modernizing learning and development to be more democratic, self-directed and appealing to younger workers by making greater use of video and other new breed of micro-learning platforms including virtual reality, augmented reality, experience platforms, modernized learning management systems, and AI-based systems for learning and training.

Smarter Recruitment

The market for recruitment tools is thriving with innovation, as HR needs tools to help find people with the right capabilities and learning skills, not just technical or cognitive abilities. High volume recruitment is being automated, skilled job hiring is being transformed by open sourcing tools, recruitment management systems, and improved assessments.

Blockchain

Also called distributed ledger technology, blockchain is basically a database that keeps an ever-growing list of records. It allows digital information to be distributed but not copied. In HR, potential uses for blockchain include digital process management, solve certification issues, increase transparency, improve overseas electronic payroll, automate routine and data-heavy processes, cybersecurity and fraud prevention.

Intelligent Apps and Analytics

Machine learning HR applications is changing the nature of work and the structure of the workplace. Apps for attracting talent, worker performance analysis, applicant tracking and assessment, enterprise management, internal management, etc. are enhancing better decision making with the use of machines as a tool and collaborator.

Human Resources Technology can legitimately boast of having tremendously added to the quality and efficacy of implementation of various HRM concepts and procedures in organizations, thanks to the multifarious empirical objective analyses it provides, for the reason that human respources management is often prone to more subjectivity than any other aspect of organizational management. It can be seen that Human Resources Technology has emerged as a stand-alone and strong branch of technology, has a decisive say in corporate affairs and is here to stay.

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Path-breaking Advancements in Medical Biotechnology

The field of medical biotechnology has made giant strides in recent years, leading to the development of several innovative techniques for preventing, diagnosing, and treating diseases. Novel methodologies have significantly contributed towards improving health science, such as the sequencing of the human genome, use of stem cells for regenerative medicine, tissue engineering, development of antibiotics, and the generation of monoclonal antibodies for therapy. The field of Medicine saw a host of biotechnology breakthroughs during the last two decades. In surgical rooms doctors can now operate on patients remotely from their computer screens, guiding robotic arms to an accuracy of a few nanometers. Genetic laboratories equipped with DNA slicing enzymes, a mere sequence of polypeptide chains can make wonders happen. The entire genetic makeup of human beings can be deconstructed into understandable genetic codes.

Let us have a bird’s eye view on some major path-breaking advancements of biotechnology in Medicine.

1. Stem Cell Research

Stem cells can keep dividing infinitely and have the capacity to differentiate into different types body cells, during the early development of an organism. In a laboratory, researchers can program these stem cells to differentiate into specific type of cells. This is where the innovation of biotechnology steps in. Imagine an individual with degenerative spinal disorder that severely impacts their quality-of-life. With the help of stem cell research, it might be possible to grow these stem cells in vitro, in a lab setting, and then implanted back into the affected individual’s body. This would help restore their cognitive acuity, vision, hearing, and other physical features. This may sound far-fetched and like a plot from a sci-fi movie, but the preliminary results have been promising.

2. Human Genome Project

Human Genome Project (HGP) was an international scientific research project coordinated by the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Department of Energy. It is often lauded as the one of greatest accomplishments in the human history. It was officially launched in 1990 with the goal of determining the sequence of nucleotide base pairs that make up human DNA. In April 2003, the researchers announced that they had completed a preliminary sequencing of the entire human genome. This work has allowed researchers to begin to understand the blueprint for building a person. The researchers are learning more and more about the functions of genes and proteins, which will help them in identifying genes that cause diseases, and in turn looking for effective treatment.

3. Targeted Cancer Therapies

The standard chemotherapies which are in vogue are toxic for healthy cells. Targeted cancer therapies are drugs that work either by interfering in the function of specific molecules or by only targeting known cancerous cells, in order to minimize damage to healthy cells. National Cancer Institute has underlined the strong prospects of treatments getting individualized based on the unique set of molecular targets produced by the patient’s tumor.

4. 3D visualization and augmented reality for surgery

Surgery is sometimes considered as an unkind though inevitable act on a human body, and medical breakthroughs that make the surgical and healing process more efficient and sans pain is always welcomed. Biotechnology has now made it possible for doctors to view an entire 3D image of the interior of a patient’s body through the use of MRI and CT scans. This facilitates each organ to be precisely projected, so that the surgeon can make small, targeted incisions to minimize bodily trauma to the patient. Furthermore, augmented reality would allow pertinent information to be displayed directly overlaid over the relevant body parts.

5. HPV vaccine

Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is one of the causative agents of cervical cancer. It is the second most lethal cancer in women, second only to breast cancer, killing 275,000 women worldwide every year. Therefore, a successful HPV vaccination is considered a major medical accomplishment. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved HPV vaccines like Gardasil and Cervarix for use among females between 9 – 26 years of age.

6. Face Transplants

A face transplant is a process of using skin grafts to replace all or a part of the patient’s face with a donor face. The first partial face transplant was performed in Amiens, France in 2005. The next successful transplant was performed five years later in Spain; this was also the first ever full-face transplant. The transplant patient, whose face was severely damaged in an accident, received a new nose, lips, teeth and cheekbones during the 24-hour long surgery.

7. CRISPR

Clustered Regularly Interspersed Short Palindromic Repeats (CRISPR) is a rather new gene-editing system, hailed as a revolutionary tool in medical research. HIV research is one of its many uses. Researchers can now keep up with the constant genetic mutations by actively testing newly found mutations and constantly editing them to tweak targeted therapies.

8. 3D Printed Organs

Artificial limbs have been in use for a long time, and there has been steady improvement in the mobility and versatility of bionic limbs. Now new advances in bionic technology and 3D printing have taken it even further. It has made it possible to artificially construct internal organs like heart, kidney, and liver. Doctors have been able to successfully implant these into individuals that need them.

9. Nerve Regeneration

Nerve damage resultant of neurodegenerative diseases and spinal cord injury has largely been considered irreversible. However, researchers have made significant progress in synthesizing rare enzymes that promote regeneration and growth of injured nerve cells. Neurotrophins are proteins that promote the development of neurons. It is a sequence of small molecular chains that possess potent neurotrophic properties. Although these neutrophins have some of the shortcomings of protein-based agents, researchers are pursuing this as a possible avenue for nerve regeneration.

10.  Brain Signals to Audible Speech

Scientists are working on creating a device that can translate brain signal to audible speech using voice synthesizer. This would serve as an incredible tool in communicating with individuals paralyzed with disease or traumatic injuries. Furthermore, scientists have found that they can use this device on epileptic patients to isolate the source of their seizures.

Thus it can be seen that Medical Biotechnology is one of the most happening research areas globally, having the potential to eventually change human beings to disease free animals and biologically perfect creatures. The rapid progress of modern biotechnology has presented a number of new and unique ethical and social challenges within the context of human medical science. Research in medical biotechnology has led to increased knowledge of disease, acceleration of the treatment process, improved pharmacotherapy for infectious diseases and hope for the struggle against incurable diseases such as ALS, MS and Alzheimer's 1. Medical biotechnology promises major advances in human health and therefore, any limitations on the right to freedom of scientific research should be for significant reasons only, and as least restrictive as possible, so as not to impede scientific wisdom and prevent damage to the scientific undertaking. At the same time a duty exists to ensure that research in this area of biotechnology is conducted in ethically acceptable ways. A balance needs to be struck between recognizing the potential benefits which biotechnology research offers to individuals and the community as a whole, and the duty to ensure that research in this area is conducted ethically.

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Recent Biotechnology Advances In Medicine

In surgical rooms doctors can now operate on patients remotely from their computer screens, guiding robotic arms to an accuracy of a few nanometers. Genetic laboratories equipped with DNA slicing enzymes, a mere sequence of polypeptide chains can make wonders happen. The entire genetic makeup of human beings can be deconstructed into understandable genetic codes. Medical biotechnology has moved forward by leaps and bounds in the last few decades.

Biotechnology Breakthroughs In Medicine

In this article, we have set out to list some of the major breakthroughs of biotechnology in Medicine.

1. Stem Cell Research

Stem cells can keep dividing infinitely and have the capacity to differentiate into different types body cells, during the early development of an organism. In a laboratory, researchers can program these stem cells to differentiate into specific type of cells. This is where the innovation of biotechnology steps in. Imagine an individual with degenerative spinal disorder that severely impacts their quality-of-life. With the help of stem cell research, it might be possible to grow these stem cells in vitro, in a lab setting, and then implanted back into the affected individual’s body. This would help restore their cognitive acuity, vision, hearing, and other physical features. This may sound far-fetched and like a plot from a sci-fi movie, but the preliminary results have been promising.

2. Human Genome Project

Often lauded as the one of greatest feat of exploration in the human history, the Human Genome Project (HGP) was an international scientific research project coordinated by the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Department of Energy. It was officially launched in 1990 with the goal of determining the sequence of nucleotide base pairs that make up human DNA. In April 2003, the researchers announced that they had completed a preliminary sequencing of the entire human genome. This work of the HGP has allowed researchers to begin to understand the blueprint for building a person. As researchers learn more about the functions of genes and proteins, it has aided them in identifying genes that cause diseases, and in turn looking for effective treatment.

READ  Top 10 Biotechnology Companies in USA

3. Targeted Cancer Therapies

Currently established standard chemotherapies are toxic for healthy cells. Targeted cancer therapies are drugs that work either by interfering the function of specific molecules or by only targeting known cancerous cells, in order to minimize damage to healthy cells. According to the National Cancer Institute, “Eventually, treatments may be individualized based on the unique set of molecular targets produced by the patient’s tumor.”

4. 3D visualization and augmented reality for surgery

Surgery is brutal on a human body, and medical breakthroughs that make the surgical and healing process more efficient is always welcomed. Biotechnology has now made it possible for doctors to view an entire 3D image of the inside of a patient’s body through the use of MRI and CT scans. This allows each organ to be precisely projected, so that the surgeon can make small, targeted incisions to minimize bodily trauma to the patient. Furthermore, augmented reality would allow pertinent information to be displayed directly overlaid over the relevant body parts.

5. HPV vaccine

Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is one of the causative agents of cervical cancer. It is the second most lethal cancer in women, second only to breast cancer, killing 275,000 women worldwide every year. Therefore, a successful HPV vaccination is considered a major medical accomplishment. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved HPV vaccines like Gardasil and Cervarix for use among females between 9 – 26 years of age.

6. Face Transplants

A face transplant is a process of using skin grafts to replace all or a part of the patient’s face with a donor face. The first partial face transplant was performed in Amiens, France in 2005. The next successful transplant was performed five years later in Spain; this was also the first ever full-face transplant. The transplant patient, whose face was severely damaged in an accident, received a new nose, lips, teeth and cheekbones during the 24-hour long surgery.

READ  Top 5 epidemics to watch out in 2017: Possible disease outbreaks this year

7. CRISPR

Clustered Regularly Interspersed Short Palindromic Repeats (CRISPR) is a relatively new gene-editing system that has been hailed as a groundbreaking tool in medical research. Of its many uses, HIV research is one of them. Researchers can now keep up with the constant genetic mutations by actively testing newly found mutations and constantly editing them to tweak targeted therapies.

8. 3D Printed Organs

Artificial limbs have been in use for centuries, and there has been steady improvement in the mobility and versatility of bionic limbs. Now new advances in bionic technology and 3D printing has taken it even further. It has made it possible to artificially construct internal organs like heart, kidney, and liver. Doctors have been able to successfully implant these into individuals that need them.

9. Nerve Regeneration

Nerve damage from neurodegenerative disease and spinal cord injury has largely been considered irreversible. However, researchers have made significant progress in synthesizing rare enzymes that promote regeneration and growth of injured nerve cells. Neurotrophins are proteins that promote the development of neurons. It is a sequence of small molecular chains that possesses potent neurotrophic properties. Although these neutrophins have some of the shortcomings of protein-based agents, researchers are pursuing this as a possible avenue for nerve regeneration.

10.  Brain Signals to Audible Speech

Scientists are working on creating a device that can translate brain signal to audible speech using voice synthesizer. This would serve as an incredible tool in communicating with individuals paralyzed with disease or traumatic injuries. Furthermore, scientists have found that they can use these device on epileptic patients to isolate the source of their seizures

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Robotic Process Automation

Robotic process automation (RPA) is the use of software with artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning capabilities to handle high-volume, repeatable tasks that previously required humans to perform. These tasks can include queries, calculations and maintenance of records and transactions. RPA is a form of business process automation technology based on the notion of software robots or artificial intelligence (AI) workers.

RPA technology, sometimes called a software robot or bot, mimics a human worker, logging into applications, entering data, calculating and completing tasks, and logging out. RPA software is not part of an organization's IT infrastructure. Instead, it sits on top of it, enabling a company to implement the technology quickly and efficiently -- all without changing the existing infrastructure and systems.

RPA software is particularly useful for organizations that have many different and complicated systems that need to interact together fluidly. For instance, if an electronic form from a human resource system is missing a zip code, traditional automation software would flag the form as having an exception and an employee would handle the exception by looking up the correct zip code and entering it on the form. Once the form is complete, the employee might send it on to payroll so the information can be entered into the organization's payroll system. With RPA technology, however, software that has the ability to adapt, self-learn and self-correct would handle the exception and interact with the payroll system without human assistance.

RPA tools have strong technical similarities to graphical user interface testing tools. These tools also automate interactions with the GUI, and often do so by repeating a set of demonstration actions performed by a user. RPA tools differ from such systems including features that allow data to be handled in and between multiple applications, for instance, receiving email containing an invoice, extracting the data, and then typing that into a bookkeeping system.

Although the term ‘robotic process automation’ can be traced to the early 2000s, it had been developing for a number of years previously. RPA evolved from three key technologies: screen scraping, workflow automation and artificial intelligence. Screen scraping is the process of collecting screen display data from a legacy application so that the data can be displayed by a more modern user interface. The advantages of workflow automation software, which eliminates the need for manual data entry and increases order fulfillment rates, include increased speed, efficiency and accuracy. Lastly, artificial intelligence involves the ability of computer systems to perform tasks that normally require human intervention and intelligence.

RPA technology can help organizations on their digital transformation journeys in several ways, viz; (1) by enabling better customer service, (2) by ensuring business operations and processes comply with regulations and standards, (3) by allowing processes to be completed much more rapidly, (4) by providing improved efficiency by digitizing and auditing process data, (5) by creating cost savings for manual and repetitive tasks, (6) by enabling employees to be more productive

The applications of RPA are consistently on the increase. Let us have a look at some of the major among them.

  1. Customer service: RPA can help companies offer better customer service by automating contact center tasks, including verifying e-signatures, uploading scanned documents and verifying information for automatic approvals or rejections.
  2. Accounting: Organizations can use RPA for general accounting, operational accounting, transactional reporting and budgeting.
  3. Financial services: Companies in the financial services industry can use RPA for foreign exchange payments, automating account openings and closings, managing audit requests and processing insurance claims.
  4. Healthcare: Medical organizations can use RPA for handling patient records, claims, customer support, account management, billing, reporting and analytics.
  5. Human resources: RPA can automate HR tasks, including onboarding and offboarding, updating employee information and timesheet submission processes.
  6. Supply chain management: RPA can be used for procurement, automating order processing and payments, monitoring inventory levels and tracking shipments.

Thus the benefits of successful RPA are many – cost savings, freeing up staff for work that requires a higher skill-set, improving customer experience and the bottom-line etc. RPA also helps companies operate with very few people or when there is a shortage of labour.

What distinguishes RPA from traditional IT automation is the ability of the RPA software to be aware and adapt to changing circumstances, exceptions and new situations. Once RPA software has been trained to capture and interpret the actions of specific processes in existing software applications, it can then manipulate data, trigger responses, initiate new actions and communicate with other systems autonomously. In traditional workflow automation tools, a software developer produces a list of actions to automate a task and interface to the back-end system using internal application programming interfaces (APIs) or dedicated scripting language. In contrast, RPA systems develop the action list by watching the user perform that task in the application's graphical user interface (GUI), and then perform the automation by repeating those tasks directly in the GUI. This can lower the barrier to use of automation in products that might not otherwise feature APIs for this purpose.

 

Most operations groups adopting RPA have promised their employees that automation would not result in layoffs according to Harvard Business Review. On the contrary, workers have been redeployed to do more interesting work. One academic study highlighted that knowledge workers instead of feeling threatened by automation embraced it and viewed the robots as team-mates. The study highlighted that, rather than resulting in a lower ‘headcount’, the technology was deployed in such a way as to achieve more work and greater productivity with the same number of people.

Some analysts however point out that RPA represents a threat to the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) industry. Their reasoning is that RPA will enable enterprises to ‘repatriate’ processes from offshore locations into local data centers, with the benefit of this new technology. The effect, if true, will be to create high value jobs for skilled process designers in onshore locations (and within the associated supply chain of IT hardware, data center management, etc.) but to decrease the available opportunity to low skilled workers offshore.

Academic studies project that RPA, among other technological trends, is expected to drive a new wave of productivity and efficiency gains in the global labour market. Although not directly attributable to RPA alone, Oxford University conjectures that up to 35% of all jobs may have been automated by 2035. World's leading enterprises and the fastest growing midsize companies – from banking, financial services, insurance, to telco, logistics, pharma and healthcare – are on the path of adoption of RPA. As RPA continues to bloom, India is in a fantastic position to emerge a front-runner in the establishment of the industry and benefit greatly from this opportunity. Two lakh RPA related jobs are estimated to be created in India by 2021 as companies begin to embrace automation in a big way.

An ISG Survey indicates that RPA take-up is expected to reach 92% of European enterprises by 2020. A survey of 500 European businesses by ISG found the core drivers to be improving customer experience and streamlining the internal finance operations. A Global Market Insights Inc. report expects the RPA market to reach $5 billion by 2024. The increased adoption of RPA technologies by organizations to enhance their capabilities and performance and boost cost savings will reportedly drive the growth of the RPA market most during that time.

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Home Automation The Next Big Thing

Advancements in technology are rapidly changing the way we live, essentially with precision and the value added convenience, comfort and peace of mind. Home automation with washing machines, dishwashers, refrigerators has existed for quite some time. Since then, we have come a long way. In fact, over the final decades of the last century, and the recent ones of this century, technology has leapfrogged. It has shed its utilitarian garb and has taken on an almost mystical aura. And as they say ‘necessity is the mother of invention’, so here we are in the 21st century, where technology has developed so much so that automation - be it residential or commercial - is on the rise and has become inevitable.

Home automation has emerged as the next big thing in homebuilding and renovating. The primary goal here is here to reduce human effort. From dishwashers to washing machines, appliances have automated and assisted in making things faster and convenient. Automation has evolved from ‘faster and convenient’ to ‘smart and remote’ in ways to reduce electricity, the carbon footprint and indirectly costs. Automation also readies appliances in advance in order to reduce wait times, examples being geysers and ovens.

Home automation gives you access to control devices in your home from a mobile device anywhere in the world. The term may be used for isolated programmable devices, like thermostats and sprinkler systems, but home automation more accurately describes homes in which nearly everything — lights, appliances, electrical outlets, heating and cooling systems — are hooked up to a remotely controllable network. From a home security perspective, this also includes your alarm system, and all of the doors, windows, locks, smoke detectors, surveillance cameras and any other sensors that are linked to it.

With time, the concept of home automation has evolved tremendously, especially by the development of the Internet of Things also popularly known as IOT. These products have the ability to learn our residential technology preferences, link wirelessly to a remotely accessible app or program, and automate our homes, making them smarter than ever before. From opening the door by a simple click of the button to securing homes, from measuring consumptions in real time to activating and deactivating devices remotely; you can now let people into your homes or office without your presence, by simply clicking a virtual button on your phone screens.

Tablets and smart phones are coming handy with this change as it allows the house owners to take charge of their home from wherever they are. It also allows them to reduce usage when no one is around and automate things as and when needed.

The big idea is to make human life simpler, easier, comfortable and more efficient. On an exceptionally hot day, switch on the fan or AC with a click on your remote or a smart phone. In home automation, the power is in your hands and it enables one to explore new possibilities. Another key aspect remains maximizing home security which brings tons of options which are currently being explored around the globe.

Today’s technology also enables one to tap the home management insights, as to how your home operates. For instance: How often do you use the lights and fans of your homes? Rightly said, energy consumption habits, also allow you to analyse your daily habits and behaviour letting you make adjustments to live the lifestyle you desire. Sheer amount of consumer interest and adoption are what have led home automation sector to grow. That means bigger, better smart Home tech is constantly being developed to match our digital needs and the industry is on marked upward trajectory. The perception which has gained ground is that a connected home is a smart home.

With the Alexas, Siris and Google Homes of the world, voice activation is another new feature. Being able to “speak your mind”, at the back end the algorithm learns your preferences and attempts to personalise your life as much as needed. Homes are not only becoming smarter but this smartness has now started coming in-built in homes.

Until fairly recently, automated central control of building-wide systems was found only in larger commercial buildings and expensive homes. Typically involving only lighting, heating and cooling systems, building automation rarely provided more than basic control, monitoring and scheduling functions and was accessible only from specific control points within the building itself.

Home automation is a step toward what is referred to as the “Internet of Things,” in which everything has an assigned IP address, and can be monitored and accessed remotely.

The first and most obvious beneficiaries of this approach are “smart” devices and appliances that can be connected to a local area network, via Ethernet or Wi-Fi. However, electrical systems and even individual points, like light switches and electrical outlets, were also integrated into home automation networks, and businesses have even explored the potential of IP-based inventory tracking. Although the day is still far off when you’ll be able to use your mobile browser to track down a lost sock, home networks are capable of including an increasing number of devices and systems.

Automation is, unsurprisingly, one of the two main characteristics of home automation. Automation refers to the ability to program and schedule events for the devices on the network. The programming may include time-related commands, such as having your lights turn on or off at specific times each day. It can also include non-scheduled events, such as turning on all the lights in your home when your security system alarm is triggered.

Once you start to understand the possibilities of home automation scheduling, you can come up with any number of useful and creative solutions to make your life better. Is that west-facing window letting in too much light? Plug your motorized blinds into a “smart” outlet and program it to close at noon each day. Do you have someone come by at the same time each day to walk the dog? Program your home automation system to unlock the front door for them, and lock it up again when they’re done.

The other main characteristic of cutting-edge home automation is remote monitoring and access. While a limited amount of one-way remote monitoring has been possible for some time, it is only since the rise in smart phones and tablets that we have had the ability to truly connect to our home networks while we are away. With the right home automation system, you can use any Internet-connected device to view and control the system itself and any attached devices.

Monitoring apps can provide a wealth of information about your home, from the status of the current moment to a detailed history of what has happened up to now. You can check your security system’s status, whether the lights are on, whether the doors are locked, what the current temperature of your home is and much more. With cameras as part of your home automation system, you can even pull up real-time video feeds and literally see what’s going on in your home while you’re away.

Even simple notifications can be used to perform many important tasks. You can program your system to send you a text message or e-mail whenever your security system registers a potential problem, from severe weather alerts to motion detector warnings to fire alarms. You can also get notified for more mundane events, such as programming your “smart” front door lock to let you know when your child returns home from school.

The real hands-on control comes in when you start interacting with the home automation system from your remote app. In addition to arming and disarming your security system, you can reprogram the scheduling, lock and unlock doors, reset the thermostat and adjust the lights all from your phone, from anywhere in the world. As manufacturers are creating more and more “smart” devices and appliances all the time, the possibilities for home automation are virtually limitless.

What kinds of things can be part of a home automation system? Ideally, anything that can be connected to a network can be automated and controlled remotely. In the real world (outside of research labs and the homes of the rich and famous), home automation most commonly connects simple binary devices. This includes “on and off” devices such as lights, power outlets and electronic locks, but also devices such as security sensors which have only two states, open and closed.

Where home automation becomes truly “smart” is in the Internet-enabled devices that attach to this network and control it. The classic control unit is the home computer, for which many of the earlier home automation systems were designed. Today’s home automation systems are more likely to distribute programming and monitoring control between a dedicated device in the home, like the control panel of a security system, and a user-friendly app interface that can be accessed via an Internet-enabled PC, smart phone or tablet.

Manufacturers have produced a wide variety of “smart” devices, many of which are full of innovative features but few of which offer the kind of integration needed to be part of a complete home automation system. Much of the problem has been that each manufacturer has a different idea of how these devices should be connected and controlled. So while you may have a “smart” TV, washing machine, refrigerator, thermostat, coffee maker or any of the other Internet-ready household devices on the market, the end result is usually a separate control scheme for each device.

In the near future, home automation may be standardized to let us truly take advantage of all of these additional possibilities. For the time being, the home security providers that specialize in home automation have focused on the most critical and useful parts of a connected home. At a basic level, this means the doors and windows and environmental devices (thermostat, smoke detectors, temperature, humidity, fire and carbon dioxide sensors) that keep you safe and comfortable. For additional real-time security, convenience and control, home automation systems from security providers should also include options for video cameras. With the best systems, you’ll also be able to include lights and individual electrical outlets into your home automation package.

 

One clear advantage of home automation is the unmatched potential for energy savings, and therefore cost savings. Your thermostat is already “smart” in the sense that it uses a temperature threshold to govern the home’s heating and cooling system. In most cases, thermostats can also be programmed with different target temperatures in order to keep energy usage at a minimum during the hours when you’re least likely to benefit from the heating and cooling.

 

At the most basic level, home automation extends that scheduled programmability to lighting, so that you can suit your energy usage to your usual daily schedule. With more flexible home automation systems, electrical outlets or even individual devices can also be automatically powered down during hours of the day when they’re not needed. As with isolated devices like thermostats and sprinkler systems, the scheduling can be further broken down to distinguish between weekends and even seasons of the year, in some cases.

Set schedules are helpful, but many of us keep different hours from day to day. Energy costs can be even further reduced by programming “macros” into the system and controlling it remotely whenever needed. In other words, you could set up a “coming home” event that turns on lights and heating as you’re driving home after work, for example, and activate it all with one tap on your smartphone. An opposite “leaving home” event could save you from wasting energy on forgotten lights and appliances once you’ve left for the day.

The year 2019 stands poised to become a decisive and path-breaking year for home automation, according to industry experts. A virtual revolution appears to be in the offing in home automation. Though not upto the extent of technologically highly advanced countries, India is also fast catching up in this field, thanks to the encouragement being received from the central government in the digital initiatives in the country.

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Civilian Awards of India

The Padma Awards announced annually on the eve of Republic Day are one of the highest civilian honours of India. The awards are conferred in three categories, namely, Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri. They are given in various disciplines/fields of activities, viz.- art, social work, public affairs, science and engineering, trade and industry, medicine, literature and education, sports, civil service, etc., where an element of public service is involved. 

 

These awards are conferred by the President of India at ceremonial functions which are held at Rashtrapati Bhawan usually around March/ April every year. This year the President of India has approved conferment of 112 Padma Awards including one duo case (in a duo case, the Award is counted as one) as per list below. The list comprises 4 Padma Vibhushan, 14 Padma Bhushan and 94 Padma Shri Awards. 21 of the awardees are women and the list also includes 11 persons from the category of Foreigners/NRI/PIO/OCI, 3 Posthumous awardees and 1 transgender person.

 

The Padma Awards are conferred on the recommendations made by the Padma Awards Committee, which is constituted by the Prime Minister every year. The nomination process is open to the public. Even self-nomination can be made.

 

History and Relevance

 

The Government of India instituted two civilian awards-Bharat Ratna & Padma Vibhushan in 1954. The latter had three classes namely Pahela Varg, Dusra Varg and Tisra Varg. These were subsequently renamed as Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri vide Presidential Notification issued on January 8, 1955.

 

Bharat Ratna

 

Bharat Ratna is the highest civilian award of the country. It is awarded in recognition of exceptional service/performance of the highest order in any field of human endeavour. It is treated on a different footing from Padma Award. The recommendations for Bharat Ratna are made by the Prime Minister to the President of India. No formal recommendations for Bharat Ratna are necessary. The number of Bharat Ratna Awards is restricted to a maximum of three in a particular year. Government has conferred Bharat Ratna Award on 45 persons till date.

Padma Awards

 

Padma Awards, which were instituted in the year 1954, is announced every year on the occasion of Republic Day except for brief interruption(s) during the years 1978 and 1979 and 1993 to 1997.

 

The award is given in three categories, namely, Padma Vibhushan for exceptional and distinguished service; Padma Bhushan for distinguished service of a high order; and Padma Shri for distinguished service.

 

All persons without distinction of race, occupation, position or sex are eligible for these awards. However, Government servants including those working with PSUs, except doctors and scientists, are not eligible for these Awards.

 

The award seeks to recognize works of distinction and is given for distinguished and exceptional achievements/service in all fields of activities/disciplines. An illustrative list of the fields is as under:

 

  1. Art (includes Music, Painting, Sculpture, Photography, Cinema, Theatre etc.)
  2. Social work (includes social service, charitable service, contribution in community projects etc.)
  3. Public Affairs (includes Law, Public Life, Politics etc.)
  4. Science & Engineering (includes Space Engineering, Nuclear Science, Information Technology, Research & Development in Science & its allied subjects etc.)
  5. Trade & Industry (includes Banking, Economic Activities, Management, Promotion of Tourism, Business etc.)
  6. Medicine (includes medical research, distinction/specialization in Ayurveda, Homeopathy, Sidhha, Allopathy, Naturopathy etc.)
  7. Literature & Education (includes Journalism, Teaching, Book composing, Literature, Poetry, Promotion of education, Promotion of literacy, Education Reforms etc.)
  8. Civil Service (includes distinction/excellence in administration etc. by Government Servants)
  9. Sports (includes popular Sports, Athletics, Adventure, Mountaineering, promotion of sports, Yoga etc.)
  10. Others (fields not covered above and may include propagation of Indian Culture, protection of Human Rights, Wild Life protection/conservation etc.)

 

The award is normally not conferred posthumously. However, in highly deserving cases, the Government could consider giving an award posthumously.

 

A higher category of Padma award can be conferred on a person only where a period of at least five years has elapsed since conferment of the earlier Padma award. However, in highly deserving cases, a relaxation can be made by the Awards Committee.

 

The awards are presented by the President of India usually in the month of March/April every year where the awardees are presented a Sanad (certificate) signed by the President and a medallion.

 

The recipients are also given a small replica of the medallion, which they can wear during any ceremonial/State functions etc., if the awardees so desire. The names of the awardees are published in the Gazette of India on the day of the presentation ceremony.

 

The total number of awards to be given in a year (excluding posthumous awards and to NRI/foreigners/OCIs) should not be more than 120.

 

The award does not amount to a title and cannot be used as a suffix or prefix to the awardees’ name.

 

Who decides

 

All nominations received for Padma Awards are placed before the Padma Awards Committee, which is constituted by the Prime Minister every year. The Padma Awards Committee is headed by the Cabinet Secretary and includes Home Secretary, Secretary to the President and four to six eminent persons as members. The recommendations of the committee are submitted to the Prime Minister and the President of India for approval.

 

2019 Awardees

 

Details of 2019 Awardees announced on 25-1-2019 are furnished below.

 

Bharat Ratna

 

1. Shri Nanaji Deshmukh (posthumously) (Social Activist)

2. Dr Bhupen Hazarika (posthumously) (Playback singer, lyricist, musician, singer, poet and film-maker)

3. Shri Pranab Mukherjee (Former President of India)

 

Padma Vibhushan

 

1. Ms. Teejan Bai (Art-Vocals-Folk, Chhattisgarh)

2. Shri Ismail Omar Guelleh (Foreigner) (Public Affairs, Djibouti)

3. Shri Anilkumar Manibhai Naik (Trade & Industry, Infrastructure, Maharashtra)

4. Shri Balwant Moreshwar Purandare (Art-Acting-Theatre, Maharashtra)

 

Padma Bhushan (14)

 

5. Shri John Chambers (Foreigner) (Trade & Industry, Technology, USA)

6. Shri Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa (Public Affairs, Punjab)

7. Shri Pravin Gordhan (Foreigner) Public Affairs South Africa

8. Shri Mahashay Dharam Pal Gulati Trade & IndustryFood Processing Delhi

9. Shri Darshan Lal Jain Social Work Haryana

10. Shri Ashok Laxmanrao Kukade Medicine-Affordable Healthcare Maharashtra

11. Shri Kariya Munda Public Affairs Jharkhand

12. Shri Budhaditya Mukherjee Art-Music-Sitar West Bengal

13. Shri Mohanlal Viswanathan Nair (Art-Acting-Film, Kerala)

14. Shri S Nambi Narayan (Science & Engineering-Space, Kerala)

15. Shri Kuldip Nayar (Posthumous) (Literature & Education (Journalism) Delhi)

16. Ms. Bachendri Pal (Sports-Mountaineering Uttarakhand)

17. Shri V K Shunglu (Civil Service, Delhi)

18. Shri Hukumdev Narayan Yadav (Public Affairs, Bihar)

 

Padma Shri (94)

 

19. Shri Rajeshwar Acharya (Art-Vocal-Hindustani, Uttar Pradesh)

20. Shri Bangaru Adigalar (Others-Spiritualism, Tamil Nadu)

21. Shri Illias Ali (Medicine-Surgery, Assam)

22. Shri Manoj Bajpayee (Art-Acting-Films, Maharashtra)

23. Shri Uddhab Kumar Bharali (Science & Engineering, Grassroots Innovation, Assam)

24. Shri Omesh Kumar Bharti (Medicine-Rabies, Himachal Pradesh)

25. Shri Pritam Bhartwan (Art-Vocals-Folk, Uttarakhand)

26. Shri Jyoti Bhatt (Art-Painting, Gujarat)

27. Shri Dilip Chakravarty (Others-Archaeology, Delhi)

28. Shri Mammen Chandy (Medicine-Hematology, West Bengal)

29. Shri Swapan Chaudhuri (Art-Music-Tabla, West Bengal)

30. Shri Kanwal Singh Chauhan (Others-Agriculture, Haryana)

31. Shri Sunil Chhetri (Sports-Football, Telangana)

32. Shri Dinyar Contractor (Art-Acting-Theatre, Maharashtra)

33. Ms. Muktaben Pankajkumar Dagli (Social Work-Divyang Welfare, Gujarat)

34. Shri Babulal Dahiya (Others-Agriculture, Madhya Pradesh)

35. Shri Thanga Darlong (Art-Music-Flute, Tripura)

36. Shri Prabhu Deva (Art-Dance, Karnataka)

37. Ms. Rajkumari Devi (Others-Agriculture, Bihar)

38. Ms. Bhagirathi Devi (Public Affairs, Bihar)

39. Shri Baldev Singh Dhillon (Science & Engineering, Agriculture, Punjab)

40. Ms. Harika Dronavalli (Sports-Chess, Andhra Pradesh)

41. Ms. Godawari Dutta (Art-Painting, Bihar)

42. Shri Gautam Gambhir (Sports-Cricket, Delhi)

43. Ms. Draupadi Ghimiray (Social Work-Divyang Welfare, Sikkim)

44. Ms. Rohini Godbole (Science & Engineering-Nuclear, Karnataka)

45. Shri Sandeep Guleria (Medicine-Surgery, Delhi)

46. Shri Pratap Singh Hardia (Medicine-Ophthmology, Madhya Pradesh)

47. Shri Bulu Imam (Social Work-Culture, Jharkhand)

48. Ms. Friederike Irina (Foreigner) (Social Work-Animal Welfare, Germany)

49. Shri Joravarsinh Jadav (Art-Dance Folk, Gujarat)

50. Shri S Jaishankar (Civil Service, Delhi)

51. Shri Narsingh Dev Jamwal (Literature & Education, Jammu & Kashmir)

52. Shri Fayaz Ahmad Jan (Art-Craft-Papier Mache, Jammu & Kashmir)

53. Shri K G Jayan (Art-Music-Bhakti, Kerala)

54. Shri Subhash Kak (Foreigner) (Science & Engineering, Technology, USA)

55. Shri Sharath Kamal (Sports-Table Tennis, Tamil Nadu)

56. Shri Rajani Kant (Social Work, Uttar Pradesh)

57. Shri Sudam Kate (Medicine-Sickle Cell Maharashtra)

58. Shri Waman Kendre (Art-Acting-Theatre, Maharashtra)

59. Shri Kader Khan (Posthumous-Foreigner) (Art-Acting-Films Canada)

60. Shri Abdul Gafur Khatri (Art-Painting, Gujarat)

61. Shri Ravindra Kolhe (Duo)* (Medicine-Affordable Healthcare, Maharashtra & Ms.  

      Smita Kolhe (Duo)* (Medicine-Affordable Healthcare, Maharashtra)

62. Ms. Bombayla Devi Laishram (Sports-Archery, Manipur)

63. Shri Kailash Madbaiya (Literature & Education, Madhya Pradesh)

64. Shri Ramesh Babaji Maharaj (Social Work-Animal Welfare, Uttar Pradesh)

65. Shri Vallabhbhai Vasrambhai Marvaniya (Others-Agriculture, Gujarat)

66. Ms. Gita Mehta (Foreigner) (Literature & Education, USA)

67. Shri Shadab Mohammad (Medicine-Dentistry, Uttar Pradesh)

68. Shri K K Muhammed (Others-Archaeology, Kerala)

69. Shri Shyama Prasad Mukherjee (Medicine-Affordable Healthcare, Jharkhand

70. Shri Daitari Naik (Social Work, Odisha)

71. Shri Shankar Mahadevan Narayan (Art-Vocals-Films Maharashtra)

72. Shri Shantanu Narayen (Foreigner) (Trade & Industry, Technology, USA)

73. Nartaki Natraj Art (Dance-Bharatnatyam, Tamil Nadu)

74. Shri Tsering Norboo (Medicine-Surgery, Jammu & Kashmir)

75. Shri Anup Ranjan Pandey (Art-Music, Chhattisgarh)

76. Shri Jagdish Prasad Parikh (Others-Agriculture, Rajasthan)

77. Shri Ganpatbhai Patel (Foreigner) (Literature & Education, USA)

78. Shri Bimal Patel (Others-Architecture, Gujarat)

79. Shri Hukumchand Patidar (Others-Agriculture, Rajasthan)

80. Shri Harvinder Singh Phoolka (Public Affairs, Punjab)

81. Ms. Madurai Chinna Pillai (Social Work-Microfinance, Tamil Nadu)

82. Ms. Tao Porchon-Lynch (Foreigner) (Others-Yoga, USA)

83. Ms. Kamala Pujhari (Others-Agriculture, Odisha)

84. Shri Bajrang Punia (Sports-Wrestling, Haryana)

85. Shri Jagat Ram (Medicine-Ophthalmology, Chandigarh)

86. Shri R V Ramani (Medicine-Ophthalmology, Tamil Nadu)

87. Shri Devarapalli Prakash Rao (Social Work-Affordable Education, Odisha)

88. Shri Anup Sah (Art-Photography, Uttarakhand)

89. Ms. Milena Salvini (Foreigner) (Art-Dance-Kathakali, France)

90. Shri Nagindas Sanghavi (Literature & Education-Journalism, Maharashtra)

91. Shri Sirivennela Seetharama Sastry (Art-Lyrics, Telangana)

92. Shri Shabbir Sayyad (Social Work-Animal Welfare, Maharashtra)

93. Shri Mahesh Sharma (Social Work-Tribal Welfar, Madhya Pradesh)

94. Shri Mohammad Hanif Khan Shastri (Literature & Education Delhi)

95. Shri Brijesh Kumar Shukla (Literature & Education Uttar Pradesh)

96. Shri Narendra Singh (Others-Animal Husbandry, Haryana)

97. Ms. Prashanti Singh (Sports-Basketball, Uttar Pradesh)

98. Shri Sultan Singh (Others-Animal Husbandry, Haryana)

99. Shri Jyoti Kumar Sinha (Social Work-Affordable Education. Bihar)

100. Shri Anandan Sivamani (Art-Music, Tamil Nadu)

101. Ms. Sharada Srinivasan (Others-Archaeology, Karnataka)

102. Shri Devendra Swarup (Posthumous) (Literature & Education-Journalism Uttar Pradesh)

103. Shri Ajay Thakur (Sports-Kabaddi,  Himachal Pradesh)

104. Shri Rajeev Tharanath (Art-Music-Sarod, Karnataka)

105. Ms. Saalumarada Thimmakka (Social Work-Environment, Karnataka)

106. Ms. Jamuna Tudu (Social Work, Environment Jharkhand)

107. Shri Bharat Bhushan Tyagi (Others-Agriculture, Uttar Pradesh)

108. Shri Ramaswami Venkataswami (Medicine-Surgery, Tamil Nadu)

109. Shri Ram Saran Verma (Others-Agriculture, Uttar Pradesh)

110. Shri Swami Vishudhananda (Others-Spiritualism, Kerala)

111. Shri Hiralal Yadav (Art-Vocals-Folk, Uttar Pradesh)

112. Shri Venkateswara Rao Yadlapalli (Others-Agriculture, Andhra Pradesh)

 

Note: * indicates duo case. (counted as one award)

 

Annulment of awards

 

While there are no specific criteria for withdrawing a Padma award, the President of India, per the awards' statutes, may cancel and annul any award in the case of any misconduct committed by the recipient. At least three awards of the Padma Shri have been so annulled, twice in 1958 for recipients residing in the state of Punjab and once in 1974 for a recipient residing in the state of Gujarat.

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South Korean delegation visits Maker Village

A two-member delegation from South Korea visited Maker Village, India’s largest electronic incubator, on Thursday in connection with the K-Startup Grand Challenge 2018 to be held in Seoul in July, which will open a window for startups to compete and win attractive monetary prizes.

The contest, being organised by the National IT Industry Promotion Agency, Korea (NIPA), will give an access to the contestants to Korea’s top tech companies with expertise ranging from smartphones and software to semiconductors. Besides giving immense investment opportunities for the Indian startups, it will also pave the way for Korean startups to come to India and operate.

The delegation, comprising Mr HyoGeun Kim ( Harry), Executive Director, NIPA and Mr Tak Lee, Executive Advisor, NIPA, said they were much impressed by the support and encouragement given by the Kerala Government to boost the startup ecosystem in the state.”Some of the most modern equipment in the maker village are a perfect example of it,” they said.

The screening and interview of the competition, which is open to all the South West Asian countries, will be held at Bangalore in July.

Besides India, the contest is open to all South West Asian countries.

Interested startups can begin applying through NIPA’s website, for which the closing date is June 14.

Eighty participants will get the opportunity to take part in the contest which will be held in Seoul. First, second and third prize winners will get 10,0000 USD, 40,000 USD and Rs 20,000 USD respectively, followed by a consolation prize of Rs 6,000 USD.

Those who are selected will get the opportunity to live in Korea for six months . In addition to that, the first 40 startups will get monetary assistance worth Rs 15 lakhs.

To get more details of the contest : https://www.k-startupgc.org/

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International MSME Day Celebrations and Metro MSME Award Distribution held

Thiruvananthapuram: International MSME Day celebrations and Metro MSME Award distribution was held in Thiruvananthapuram. Distributing awards for eminent personalities from the MSME sector, Minister for Agriculture Adv. V. S. Sunilkumar said that MSME sector has a significant role in boosting the economy of the state. Minister for Tourism, Cooperation and Devaswom Kadakampally Surendran inaugurated the MSME Day celebrations. The event was presided by K. Muraleedharan MLA.

Minister for Ports, Museums, Archaeology and Archives Kadannappally Ramachandran released Logo of Metro Expedition and Executive Knowledge Lines. Website inauguration was done by the Minister for Fisheries, Harbour Engineering & Ports Mercykutty Amma.

Kathreenamma Sebastian from MSME-DI, Shivaraj S.V. from NSIC, S. Gautham Yogeeswar from DIC, and Krishnan from LUB participated in the seminar held on various topics pertaining to the MSME sector.

The function was organized by Metro Mart in association with MSME-DI, NSIC, TCCI, CISSA, DIC, KFC, LUB and Machine Maker. Attendees at the event included KTDC Managing Director M. Vijayakumar, KITCO Associate Principal Consultant Dr. Chandrasekharan Nair, TCCI President Raghuchandran Nair, and KTM Society President Baby Mathew. The gathering was welcomed by Metro Mart Managing Director Siji Nair and vote of thanks was given by Raj Nijith.

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