A Very Interesting Film

The following content is not a movie review.

I would merely like to suggest this movie which is hardly heard of now but immensely interesting and brilliantly performed by the cast. Some readers might have already seen and appreciated it; others, I am sure shall love watching it.

And I request you to watch the movie WITHOUT knowing details of the plot. Only then you can enjoy the play thoroughly !

The movie is: Ek Ruka Hua Faisla (1986)the Hindi remake of the American motion picture 12 Angry Men (1957) .

Originally written as a teleplay by Reginald Rose, the Hindi version is directed by the famous Indian film director and screen-writer, Basu Chatterjee. Barring merely a few scenes, this drama film uses just a single set !

Here’s a brief account of it…

A teenage boy from a slum is on trial for allegedly stabbing his father to death. After final closing arguments are presented, the Judge instructs the twelve-member Jury to unanimously decide whether or not the boy is guilty of murder. The Judge also informs them that a guilty verdict will imply a mandatory death sentence.

The Jury meets in a separate room to discuss and conclude the verdict. Initially, it appears to almost all of them that the boy is guilty and therefore, they talk about quickly releasing their verdict and winding up their day. But soon it is learnt that Juror Number 8 opines a “not guilty” vote in a preliminary tally !!

From here onwards, the movie is centred on various opinions and reasons of the twelve Jurors, either in holding the boy “guilty” or “not guilty”. Some of the Jurors display personal prejudices but Juror Number 8 focusses on the circumstantial evidences of the case and throughout, seeks a fair deliberation for the boy. The film also depicts certain techniques of consensus-building among a group of twelve men bearing intensely conflicting personalities.

After periodic discussions, votes are cast through the system of secret ballot and finally, the unanimous verdict is inferred.

No names are used in the film; the Jury members are identified by numbers until two of them exchange names at the very end; the defendant is referred to as “the boy”, and the witnesses as “the old man” and “the lady across the street”.

Noteworthily, 12 Angry Men was selected in 2007, for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.

Well, I have not watched the original American cinema but that too must be simply great. However, I must say that the Hindi title Ek Ruka Hua Faisla (a pending decision) sounds more catchy and apt 🙂 !

And thanks a ton to my hubby for making a wonderful evening by arranging this amazing movie.

Aamjunta, enjoy either of the versions and post your thoughts here…

 

 

 

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Indian Space Station – Connect, Engage And Ignite The Space Explorers

A guest post by the team Indian Space Station (ISS), a noble initiative for popularizing space science.

ISS

www.indianspacestation.com

Vision

To create a forum of knowledge, discussion and for the dissemination of news and information for the out worldly science of Space.

Mission

The mission of Indian Space Station (ISS) is to provide budding space enthusiasts every possible kind of information and assistance towards furthering their dreams of travel into the stars. At ISS, we strive to strike a balance between the presentation of theoretical and practical aspects of space technologies, between news and opportunities for students and amateurs and between informative and entertaining aspects of space literature.

What we do at ISS?

Some of the important activities of ISS are as follows:

  • To interact with the researcher scholars from across the world to understand their research problems and the proposed solutions at the abstract level. We believe that the space domain is the only field which is truly multidisciplinary which could use solutions from every field to make its technology to advance. These interviews also provide an opportunity to the student/research community to get acquainted with the current state of the art research going on across the world. You could visit here to know the type of research problems that have been captured so far.

  • To interact with the eminent space experts from the industry and the academia around the world and to get their opinion on future of space science, space technology and exploration, etc. In addition, these interviews also serve as a guidance for the student/research community as most of the questions are relevant to them. You could visit here to know the eminent people who have been interviewed on ISS.

  • To keep a track of every major achievement from the student/research community. We bring those people on the ISS platform to talk about their achievements through various articles. These articles serve as a motivation for other people to take up the similar initiatives. Please visit here to know more about it.

  • To conduct workshops/competitions at regular intervals with focus on involving more people in this space revolution rather for a profit. Some of the workshops are CanSat leadership training program, High altitude ballooning competition/training, telescope making, etc. Please visit here to know our current work in this direction.

  • To ignite and inspire the school students as well by conducting events like space related drawing competition, space essay competition, cartoon explaining the various space concepts etc. Please visit here to know our current initiative on this.

  • To provide an opportunity for the students through the intern-ship program. In these intern-ship, they contribute to science education improvement by identifying local talent or issues. In addition, their work is being published in the form of white papers summarizing various information related to space field. Please visit here to know more about it.

  • To provide stipend to the talented and bright for a limited period of time. This is another way to keep them motivated to do better work and research.

  • To review some of the important books related to space domain. The idea here is to let the audience know these great books written by the eminent space experts. You could visit here to know more about it.

  • One of the best medium to see the future technologies is through movies. We do review science movies on a regular basis to identify the technologies shown in them and feasibility of its realization in the coming days. We also talk about the current developments so far related to those technologies. Please visit here to know more.

  • To provide information on the various institutes in India which provides different programs to pursue a career in space domain. You could visit ISS to know more about this.

  • To provide information on available scholarships program across the world for the students to support their education in basic science and space domain. You could visit here to know more about this initiative.

  • To write about the important science and space related workshops happening across the world. In addition, we do provide articles related to career guidance. We also guide the students who contact us through ISS platform. Please visit here to know more about it.

Achievements

  • After working close to 6 years on this initiative, Indian Space Station name is quite familiar among the student community and even with some of the best space experts and scientists from around the world.

  • Indian Space Station name is also quite familiar with the publisher due to their honest review of various science related books.

  • First of a kind BalloonSat competition is being held for the undergraduate and graduate students in India in close collaboration with Antariksha Labs.

  • Successfully conducted an essay competition for the school student to ignite their creativity and imagination.

  • On-going drawing competition for the school students in tribute to Mangalyaan, India’s first Mars mission. The competition is well received by the students and there is a huge response in every month.

  • A new kind of workshop is in progress to give a hands-on experience in designing and launching a model satellite to every student in India.

  • Developed an expertise in high altitude ballooning missions in close collaboration with Antariksha Labs. This service will be offered to interested people.

  • Unique opportunity is being provided to the students to get better exposure to space field through our intern-ship, stipend programs and student ambassador programs.

  • Regular career guidance from ISS team to the students who contact us to know about various opportunities and avenues related to space field.

What next from ISS?

In the next few years, we have plans-

  • To conduct the space workshops in every college in India to motivate and ignite them to work on space related projects which is both exciting and equally challenging. We believe that the student skill set could improve significantly by working in these multi-disciplinary space projects.

  • To develop in-house products related related to small and large scale, small scale propulsion systems, products targeted at the farmers/rural area to make effective use of satellite technology etc. Our ultimate goal is revolutionize the private space industry in India. We have collaborated with Antariksha Labs (www.antarikshalabs.in) to realize this goal.

  • To create a venture capitalist division which will fund the research work privately to the deserving students, faculties and experts. These research will be time-bounded and there will be an accountability. The idea is to generate a pool of patents by utilizing the vast talent available in India.

  • and many more ambitious proposals in pipeline.

Aamjunta – your contribution to this noble initiative will be the game changer in India’s education system and future of young India.

 

24/7 News Channels and Opinion Polls in India – do we want this ?

With cable television these days, in India we have 11 English (excluding the international news channels),  45 Hindi, 7 Assamese,  21 Bengali, 7 Gujarati, 10 Kannada, 8 Malayalam, 8 Marathi, 5 Odia, 12 Tamil, 31 Telugu and 27 other regional news channels running 24/7 and these numbers are increasing day by day. Surprising, isn’t it ?

Just wondering whether these many 24/7 News Channels in India are really serving and creating an awareness or adding salt to our ever increasing list of wounds. Let’s dissect this further…

With the changes in life style, requirements and tastes, both the number of news and the news makers are increasing day by day. This has increased the competition for audience which brings the advertiser’s attention. With money and virtual power flowing and the ever increasing number of news channels, the competition increases and in the process, the channels attempt to deliver the latest news in the most compelling manner, such that they remain ahead of their competitors. In simple terms- increase the Target Rating Point (TRP) by any means.

Further, to rise up the ladder, every channel wants to show sensational news and to show them first; sometime no-news becomes sensational news and a minor incident becomes a national talking-point. For every small or big news item, there are interviews, live debates, public opinions, etc. It does not end there. Most of the debates and opinions go to the extent of media trials and passing of judgements, without verifying all the facts and figures or fairly hearing witnesses, and sometimes even before the matter is taken to the Courts.

The journalistic standards have also gone down. Instead of the ideal reporting, which looks for relevance of the news, verification of the facts, depth of the facts, quality of interpretation (in both language and material), these days we see mostly opinion-based news, which mainly sensationalize the facts. The quality of interpretation is also very poor (in print media – grammar mistakes are common, language and writing style is some time derogatory and pathetic; so also is in the electronic media including TV). Some channels always show the negative side of the society or country or put us in bad light all the time. It is like showing the poverty and backwardness of India through movies and winning international acclaims; showing poverty and not helping to eradicate poverty cannot be treated as an art !!

Coming to live-telecast of news…This type of news has many faces – in some channels it is ‘Breaking News’, wherein somewhere it is ‘News Just Came In’ and so on. To make the ‘live-news’ more masaladar (spicy), reporters sometimes mislead and give importance to the non-important part because in their opinion that small episode can bring TRP – as the first channel to show such news. To an extent, sometimes these kind of news along with repeated clips put our safety at stake as in 26/11 – Mumbai !!

Then there are several recorded versions of the same news that are repeatedly shown like the molestation incident in Guwahati, the lured tribal dance in Andaman and Nicobar Is., clips of indecent behaviours, suicidal deaths, murder scenes, accidents, etc. Such  visuals can so much hamper our social security. Very specifically, I would say that repeated narration of certain crimes and mindless telecast of crime scenes (even if partially blurred) can impair human psychology and derail our general peace in terrible ways ! As we know, there has been so many incidents where after watching uncensored news, juveniles and children have tried to callously imitate certain acts, particularly suicides and many had tragic ends. And especially in families where there is already some sort of disengagement among the members or like in a nuclear family where both parents are working, children imbibe such negative content in an awful manner; it would in all probability remain with them life-long or worse still, may find their yet violent vent in some anonymous, untraceable form at a later stage !!! Repeated telecast of gruesome accident scenes can even make otherwise healthy adults nauseate and heart-patients fatally ill !!

Moreover, the ‘breaking news’ is mostly an old news and is of little importance. It not only is irritating but also creates a confusion as the scrolling headlines do not carry detailed information; rather are catchy masaladar news headings. Broadcasting the same news, same discussions and same interviews throughout the day and night ridicule the significance of the news.

On a technological note,  repeated telecast of makes-no-sense news is also a complete misuse of bandwidth !!

There are many instances of collusion by the channel, reporters, news readers and other influential people of the society which brings forth wrong, negative and paid news. Sometimes even due to pressure or money or some other deal, actual news which could have changed the fate of the nation or the society never gets broadcast; both the news and the news reporters are protected under the carpet as a fallout of the deal. This kind of news ‘making, breaking and stopping’ should be dealt with heavy hands as the self-restrain advocated by media house does not work all the time. Appropriate legal proceedings should also be taken against them !!

I am not saying all news items are wrong or bad and every channel is bad. And I am not asking to stay away from your fundamental right – ‘free speech’. What I as an aamjunta want is very simple: show us truth and balanced news – present both positive and negative aspects of the news along with the supporting reasons and necessary censorship, keeping in view the general human psychology. Instead of making us a passive news audience, make us an active one and help us to increase our creativity.  Help us in improving our country’s security, political stability, development and preserving its cultural heritage and integrity by showing some good documentaries, short-films, depicting both basic and innovative ideas regarding every possible sphere including education and health care, etc. And of course, certain telecasts must be suitably scheduled when children and youth could watch it best to widen their knowledge and concepts- so make it inspirational too !

The other is the Opinion Polls.

These could be also so misleading, especially for election analysis and predictions ! Let’s take a look at the following facts associated with it-

Firstly, it is opined by people having knowledge of and access to the click-and-mouse technology; are all of our rural or sub-urban folks able to use it ? No. Then how is the average figures, charts and the opinion sample itself being read ? If one says there has been door-to-door surveys, I think even then the counts are very limited and not well distributed !

Secondly, it is a time-pass for many people (some may not be adults) like those not having even a brief idea about national policies, politics, history, consequences of winning or losing an election, probability of parties forming alliances and the consequences of it, etc.

Thirdly, among the eligible voters, are all of these click-and-mouse technology users going to vote ? I seriously doubt; many will prefer to idle away in the comfort of their homes by taking a leave on the polling day and watching election analysis on the 24/7 news channels on TV !! …But almost all of the rural and sub-urban folks who have not even participated in these opinion polls, will surely take the pain and ride all the way to the polling stations even in scorching heat and dust.

Therefore, I believe whatever be the context, opinion polls too must be very thoroughly regulated.

The scholastic and creative journalism, the sensitivity of reporting and thoughtful journalism are actually one of the greatest needs of this hour; not ‘raise-the-TRP’ type of journalism !!!

Aamjunta, what do you say?

Is Universe the Ultimate Free Lunch: Cosmic Inflation to Intellectual Inflation ?

Last week, as I was browsing a news report, an advertisement of a car appeared on the right-hand column. Its caption read ‘space re-defined’ and then it instantly struck me – all the three kinds of news that I had come across by then related to inflation (or some sort of that) banged on my thoughts with a hint of some inter-connection.

Here is the list of those inflations:

Economics inflation.

Cosmic inflation.

And the mysteries of the human mind, its quest, its challenges  and expansion of our thoughts, which I refer here as Intellectual inflation.

Last year, President Barack Obama highlighted innovations as an important factor to boost the American economy and unveiled “the next great American project“- a $100 million enterprise to probe the mysteries of the human brain. At the august gathering of top scientific dignitaries of America, he also affirmed the power of philanthropic science.

I myself now borrowing, scaling up and transforming a few ideas from the above bit of news, hope to present in the forth-coming analysis how this Intellectual inflation, quite expectedly, acts like a window of perception with regard to the other two types.

The first one- I need not elaborate it as everyday, we either personally confront it or see it in the newspapers or hear it on the television. What I need to mention is that the third type, our ever-changing or expanding ideas can further influence those graphs that feature significantly in the internal world of business and commerce. Terms in economics like demand, supply, costs, profit, loss, etc. finally boil down to various human needs and achievements across demographies and are also changeable over time.

Now, let us focus on the second type of inflation which has been the workhorse of cosmology for 35 years. Before I relate this to the third type, let me first highlight the newly discovered spectacular findings or evidential proofs as a result of the undaunted perseverance of man.

Describing in very simple terms, Cosmic inflation means when the cosmos or the universe, just after the Big Bang, underwent an exponential gush in its first trillionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a second. According to British scientist Dr Jo Dunkley, it could be when “everything that is important, everything we see today – the galaxies, the stars, the planets – was imprinted at that moment”! Since then, space has continued to expand for nearly 14 billion years and will endlessly continue to blow up here and there (multiverse). Scientists opine that coupled with a few other factors, a phenomenon as this has perhaps also rendered an evenness to the sky.

Researchers from the American BICEP2 (Background Imaging of Cosmic Extragalactic Polarization) team believe they have detected the residual signal (B-mode polarisation) left in the sky by this super-rapid expansion of space or Cosmic inflation. To seek this “smoking gun”, they have been using a telescope (basically a giant superconducting thermometer) at the South Pole to make ideal observations of a small part of the thin, cold and dry sky. This residual signal was observed to have a distinctive twist pattern, now believed to have been caused by gravitational waves. The discovery of this particular polarization of the cosmic microwave radiation was thrilling because it means ‘the light waves had a slight preference to vibrate in one direction rather than another’. These patterned spirals were detected by measuring infinitesimally small differences in the temperature of the microwaves.

So far, so good.

The BICEP2 data does not talk about what this magical-sounding inflating energy is. Einstein’s concept of anti-gravity or dark energy was revived 15 years ago along lines that it is ‘giving a boost to the expansion of the universe, albeit far more gently than inflation did’.

Let us take a look at the four forces of Physics at work in the world today: gravity, electromagnetism, and the strong and weak nuclear forces. But Physicists have long suspected that ‘those are simply different manifestations of a single unified force that ruled the universe in its earliest, hottest moments.’ Since men interpreted these forces, the laws of Physics have evolved and can definitely evolve further whenever or until the cosmos ‘super-cools’.

Though the BICEP2 group’s data is subject to intense peer review, there is an all-high possibility that this new observation may make certain existing theories or models indefensible and set up a completely new regime of Physics or even science.

In the exalted and equally humble words of Prof. Alan Guth, a leading pioneer of the theory of Cosmic inflation from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, to the BBC: “I have been completely astounded. I never believed when we started that anybody would ever measure the non-uniformities of the CMB, let alone the polarisation, which is now what we are seeing…I think it is absolutely amazing that it can be measured and also absolutely amazing that it can agree so well with inflation and also the simplest models of inflation – nature did not have to be so kind and the theory didn’t have to be right.”

Amazed at the enormity and ways of the Cosmic inflation, he further mentions: “It’s often said that there is no such thing as a free lunch,”…”but the universe might be the ultimate free lunch.” 🙂

But scientists do admit that ‘we might never know what happened before inflation, at the very beginning, because inflation erases everything that came before it. All the chaos and randomness of the primordial moment are swept away, forever out of our view.’

And this is perhaps where, in my opinion, the eternal and imperishable Bhagavad Gita would come in as a form of Intellectual inflation to bid defiance, in a way, to the boundaries set by Cosmic inflation.

An article in The New York Times bears this comment regarding the ever-changing state of the cosmos and consequently, the changes in laws of Physics: ‘As the universe cooled, according to this theory (a special break point in the evolution of the universe), there was a fall from grace, not unlike some old folk mythology of gods or brothers falling out with each other. The laws of Physics evolved, with one force after another “freezing out,” or splitting away.’

Now, recall the chapter in Bhagavad Gita in which Lord Krishna bestows the divine eyes to Arjuna and asks him to behold the countless manifestations of the entire cosmos in His majestic, inconceivable, indestructible, expansive, omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, all-sustaining, all-pervading and transcendental Form. This Holy text extols – if the glory of thousands of suns were to blaze forth all at once in the sky, even that would not resemble the glory and prowess of that exalted Form – the Adhiyajn or ParBrahma or Ishvar (Super Being or Ultimate Consciousness) from which multifariously emanates the animate, the inanimate, the smaller than the smallest and the bigger than the biggest in these eternal cosmic phenomenon since time immemorial. In other words, it means that the entire cosmos is a manifestation of that Super Being.

Then there is a chapter which deals with the cyclic nature of creation and eternal transcendental existence. In the cyclic creation, one day and one night of the Brahma (Aadi Prakriti or primary material nature of Ishvar), each, lasts one thousand Yugas or one Kalp (4.32 billion years). At the beginning of such a day of the Brahma, all mortal beings are born again and again; and they are annihilated when such a night falls. These beings are said to be under the control of Gunas (Modes) of Prakriti or Maya (Nature). Interestingly, I wonder if these Gunas are those forces (comprehensible by the mortal being) that Physicists have so far deciphered and defined after years of perseverance !!

Only in the transcendental existence, can one rise above Prakriti and attain Param Dhaam or Vaikuntha (Supreme Abode); such beings do not take birth again. Only a steadfast Yogi who is aware of that splendid Form both in his inner psyche (contemplation) as well as in his Karma (actions) and devotionally meditates on the Ishvar, can seek Him and His endless cosmic vision. According to the philosophy of Bhagavad Gita (and even Vedas), seeking the Supreme Guru or Ishvar should be the ultimate aim of a true Seeker of knowledge. This knowledge is the most sacred and is in conformity with Dharma (Righteousness) and can be perceived by instinct gliding on the wings of Faith. Perhaps this Yogic manner of seeking the Ultimate Realization or Truth has been symbolically represented by Lord Krishna’s grant of divine eyes to Arjuna, who knelt in humility and in Faith, and prayed to the Lord to reveal His cosmic phenomenon !

Thus we, the human-beings, see how subtle yet how vast, how deep is the relation between the spiritual inner psyche and an outward urge for rationality. It is indeed amazing to realize how the Bhagavad Gita or the Vedas, composed thousands of years ago, contains so many golden mantras intensively relevant for the entire mankind, even today !!!

Whether metaphysics or science or spiritual beliefs, after all it begins with Faith and humbly continues with man’s unfathomable quest of knowledge. Whatever we do, we must surrender it in all good Faith, as an offering to the Lord who seems to pervade everything in this cosmos. Therein, we behold the beautiful balance of the intellectual and the spiritual worlds, and always a dramatically unfolding picture of the infinite Creation. The day either our Faith or our humility or our quest ends, we as human-beings, shall fall from grace.

Aamjunta – what do you say?

Set Up the Curve of Lips, Early on

Today morning, while chit-chatting with my husband over our morning cup of tea, a thought re-emerged which held out to us a single sharp contrast in two type of writings. And the next twenty minutes saw us discussing further on it which I now desire to express, though the theme can be found oft-repeated in several columns.

Here, we begin…

A major difference between documentary and creative writing is that you can always keep editing, appending the former but you can compose the latter only once !

Also, you need to have references for a documentary work. But a creative one has to flow straight from your heart or imaginations only- so events in your life, your reservoir of good knowledge, mental health, emotional maturity, sometimes your social circle, place of upbringing or living or writing, and both time and timing matter a lot. When I say mental health, it does not necessarily mean composure but nonetheless, your levels of sensibility must always be present to correctly channelize your thoughts !! For example, to write a romantic poem or illustrate a roseate sunset, you shall certainly need to have a serene mood; whereas lines echoing nationalistic fervour or any desperate want of freedom can be still appreciatively composed by you in an agitated frame of mind.

In this context, I am further reminded of Teachers and Parents /Guardians  evaluating compositions of children on various topics. Some certainly do justice to such delicate formative years; they are aware that children need to grasp concepts at this stage and not necessarily do an extra-ordinary job – be it a routine exam or competition. Thus they never drive them hard; they adequately guide them in their pursuit. Especially regarding creative writing, what a child is far from achieving today, he or she may profoundly excel in it tomorrow, provided the passion for it is discovered as well as rightly nurtured at the right time at the right place.

Others unfortunately, simply label marks without using an average standard or without themselves understanding the basic framework of nascent writing. They may unfairly end up grading a child as an under-performer. To make matters worse, sometimes such unweighed high expectations from children may completely ‘kill’ their potentialities like a pre-maturely ripe fruit. We saw something much similar in the very well depicted Indian films Taare Zameen Par and 3 Idiots. And then, the modern pace of life may not allow enough space or time to everyone for re-adjustments later on !

Therefore, irrespective of the medium of language, education systems must abide by well-balanced methods that are scientifically assessed and set up. It should be process-oriented and not people-oriented.

Now, scaling it up…

Here I go to reiterate the message that we see everywhere- let’s shed the unhealthy bearings wherever possible…and rather encourage children to explore their potentialities or passion- whatever be the field. Together with children, let us patiently and tactfully help them discover their own-selves. The early the curve of their lips is defined or re-defined, the more secured and happy shall be any society. Our aim should be to assist them gather pleasant memories, contentment and happiness from the core-of-the-heart; not dictate their profession or status or salary.

And my experience says- apart from unwinding and having unlimited fun, summer vacations are an excellent opportunity for this introspection and nurturing of hopes borne by passion. Let us utilize it to our best advantage. Who knows, what goodness is stored for entire mankind even…? 🙂

Aamjunta – what do you say?

Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) – A Necessity in India !!

There are arguments and counter-arguments on FDI or Foreign Direct Investment in India in the Parliament, in election rallies, in TV-debates, in newspaper articles, in general strikes in the country or Bharat Bandhs… There are obvious fears by the farmers, retailers, small-scale manufacturers, and the common man on the effect of FDI in India. Some say that FDI in India will bring major Multi National Companies (MNCs) in India which will abolish small-scale retailers and businessman. There are arguments saying that the MNCs will have a monopoly in the market resulting in a sharp rise in price of items in India. Further, there is also a fear that the country’s security – both internal and external, will be at stake due to the involvement of MNCs in Telecom, Internet, Aviation, Infrastructure, Retail, Healthcare, Insurance, etc.

Not that all the above arguments against FDI are invalid. However, with a positive mindset, we can certainly overcome such apprehensions. This can certainly be done by bringing reforms in our Judicial system, and by resetting a stronger regulator like the Competition Commission in the line of Election Commission of India or Auditor General of India. Moreover, Vigilance Commission has to be more responsive and aggressive in its activities. Along with these, the concept of Lokpal needs to be operational in India and the nature of functioning of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) needs to be completely autonomous in this regard. And of course, the public (consumers) must be aware, prompt and pursuant with regard to issues and their solutions ! With a proper check-and-balance policy implemented, we can  certainly reap benefits from FDI in India. In the current economic scenario – stiff rise in corruption, lack of accountability and transparency – FDI seems to be the right answer and is a dire necessity in India.

Here are some reasons favouring FDI in India…

It is really surprising to know that only 2-3% Indians pay Income tax. Does this figure say that the income of 97-98% Indians are less than the taxable limit (INR 2 Lakh/year) ?? A serious doubt. There are many reasons to it. The first and foremost is the lack of transparency and lack of accountability in our financial transactions – be it in income or expenditure. People prefer cash transaction over card or cheque while buying any item in India. Starting from a kirana shop (local general store) to a jewellery shop, everybody prefers cash transaction and giving and taking a bill /receipt is mostly discouraged. Some feel it is a taboo to ask for a bill, and some think ‘why to pay tax and take a bill’ ? But have you ever wondered that in not asking for a bill /receipt, who is getting benefited – the customers or the aamjunta ?!? ‘No’ – they are the losers only !!!

With direct and organized marketing which will mainly result out of FDI, the financial transactions will be mostly transparent and will be accounted for. Payments will be mostly in online mode. This will not only improve the tax scenario in India but also curtail huge corruption in India. Poor customers will not be cheated… and even if they are cheated, with a valid bill /receipt, necessary complaints can be conveniently filed in the Consumer Court. The investigation process will also become  easy and quick as everything would be duly accounted.

In India, we have the wide concept of “Middle-Man” or “Agent” or “Broker”, who always demands his/her share in every deal; sometimes even more than the actual cost of the product or service, without actually doing any thing or adding any value to it. The concept of direct marketing is hardly available in India, especially in Agriculture, Medicine, Grocery and Household items, etc. Surprisingly, there are many middle-men involved in the process – from the farmer to the consumer, from the factory-worker to the customer, from the laboratory-technician to the patient, and from the poor manufacturer (workmen) to the average consumers. This not only increases the price of the items but also encourages hoarding, corruption, unethical practices in business, unfair trade dealings, and above all the big bug i.e. inflation.

As per a study commissioned by the World Bank, farmers in India hardly get anything more than 12-15% of the price consumers pay at the retail outlet for Agricultural products. The reasons being –  (i) lack of education or awareness (ii) poor infrastructure (machinery) (iii) poor storage system (more than 25% food-grains are wasted in India today due to poor storage system) (iv) poor transport (e.g. non-urbanized roads leading from the agricultural fields to the towns) (v) middle-man (market-domination). With direct marketing as expected because of FDI in agriculture, the involvement of middle-man will be minimized in the process. Both the farmer and the consumer will be benefited largely – quantitatively and qualitatively. Direct sell by the farmers to organized retailers can render them a profit about 60% higher than that via ‘mandi‘ (a big un-organized wholesale /retail market in India) or the middle-man ! This will also check inflation of food items. Moreover, FDI will also ensure adequate storage facilities for food items, improve infrastructure scientifically and transportation facilities.

Like Agriculture, Retailing in India also requires FDI and organized marketing. The quality of the products will be improved and at the same time the price of the retail items will reduce severely. Moreover, it will also generate employment in India. With India’s traditional family system, culture, population and needs, the small retailers will also remain fully functional… but with enhanced accountability – in services and products. It will create a healthy atmosphere for a sustained competitive market.

Other than Agriculture and Retail, FDI will also benefit India to improve its Telecom penetration, Internet affordability, etc. At present, Broadband Services are mainly available in cities only. With better infrastructure and technology, it can be expanded to villages or rural areas at a lesser cost. Growth of Telecom and Internet in India will lead to better Governance, Healthcare, Insurance, Education, etc. This will ensure more and more participation of the common man in day-to-day services or the Public Services of the government. All services can be improved and a better lifestyle can be provided to the common man.

With FDI in Healthcare and Insurance, better care facilities can be provided at a lesser cost in the villages and expert advices can also be effectively delivered through e-health programs. Cost of Medicines will also come down drastically, if the system of generic medicines is adopted in India. In any case, with no middle-man involved, the prices of medicines can be brought down at least by 15-20%. Awareness for insurance schemes – be it life insurance or crop insurance or health insurance – will also greatly benefit the people in general.

What we need is very simple – accountable and transparent services at a better price with growth-oriented policies; create more jobs and provide better services. Political parties – ruling or opposition – must explore maturity levels in understanding the various issues by discussing and debating these in the Parliament, and not on the streets and election rallies ! Nation-wide or state-level strikes must be discouraged outrightly as these activities often spread the wrong message to the unaware folks. Parliament can introduce or change Laws and Institutions such that things can be improved to a larger extent in the interest of the common man.

Many may differ regarding the implementation, policy and the limits of FDI in various sectors. But if FDI brings organized market, with accountability and transparency, then it should be definitely welcomed in India, without any politics.

Recently (May,2013), the Supreme Court of India has aptly remarked that ‘Consumer is King‘ !!!

So, let the consumer decide…

Aamjunta – what do you say ?

Cloud Computing, its present and future in India

Aamjunta on Cloud Computing, its present and future in India.

What is Cloud Computing?
Cloud computing is a mechanism in which applications are served over the Internet, instead of traditional means of serving on the desktop computer or LAN. In cloud computing, the hardware and software are placed in a distributed manner and the applications or services are served as Software as a Service (Saas). All the processing and file-saving will be done “in the cloud” of the Internet, and the users will plug into or access that cloud to do their work. This can be done strictly on a usage-basis.

In cloud computing, the various data center hardware and software are connected to form a “cloud”. When this kind of cloud is made available to the users on a “rent basis” or “pay-as-you-use basis”, then the cloud is called as “public could”. Similar to public cloud, we define “private cloud” as cloud formed by hardware and software of various data centers which provide services to a particular organization, instead of general public.

Fundamentally, cloud computing provides a thin separation between the resources used and personal computer of an user. In this mechanism, as explained above, the resources (such as applications/software as services) may not exist locally in the personal computer of the user or the LAN. Instead, these services are physically present at different places/data centers over the Internet. The physical and logical separation between the users and the service providers (the data centers) allows the users to simply use the services even without owning them in their PC and get benefited.

In addition, cloud computing also allows the service providers (vendors) to create/develop new applications/services and to expand their business. By providing services over a “cloud” in the Internet, this technology reduces the complications of copyright, licensing and AMC to a great extent. However, there are a few downsides to it.

Architecturally, there are various layers: at the top, Cloud Computing (SaaS -Software as a Service), Cloud Software Environment (PaaS -Platform as a Service), Cloud Software Infrastructure, Software Kernel and at the bottom, Firmware/Hardware (HaaS -Hardware as a Service). The Computational Resources (IaaS -Infrastructure as a Service), Storage (DaaS -Data as a Service) and Communications (CaaS -Communications as a Service) units are part of the Cloud Software Infrastructure layer.

With the rise in deployment of cloud computing, quality of services of cloud computing in terms of (i) security, (ii) reliability, (iii) application response time, (iv) availability and (v) scalability, etc. become major concerns in the operational and deployment level. The service providers must ensure that there is seamless connectivity to the “cloud” for users across the globe. Since all of the users’ documentation/data is in control of the service provider, security and protection system of the files becomes highly necessary. If PC crashes, data is still out there in the cloud but if the reverse happens, then the user faces tough without any other back-up!

Therefore, security of data is equally important when an organization switches from a conventional system to a cloud computing system – it must choose the vendor carefully. While this robust technology reduces administrative costs dramatically, the risks lie in areas of service disruption, connectivity and online security! Similarly, application response time and scalability also pose a major problem in the design of the cloud. In addition to the above, care needs to be taken in terms of usage, cost of deployment, and complexity before bringing one service from the PC world to the cloud world.

Job opportunities for students in Cloud Computing
Looking at the benefits of cloud computing most of the organizations are venturing into the world of cloud computing. In many cases, organizations are moving some part of their services from the individual user level to cloud level, resulting in provision of public cloud or private cloud to users. This kind of technological transformation requires a need of “expert group” in the organization not only to create the cloud, but also to sustain the cloud. This is a new technology and hence bring careers to many. With the increasing trend to bring more and more services to the cloud, there exits many job opportunities for fresher as well as experts. Like the developers, could computing also generates more employability for test engineers, as the testing requirement of cloud based services are quite different from conventional local services.

Expertise required to study cloud computing?
Expertise in terms of idea on a working knowledge of computer networks is handy. However, it is not mandatory. Since most of the services or applications can be provided through Internet or through web services, software development skills such as web services, AJAX and SOAP, etc. provide more job opportunities. Unlike conventional services or applications provided through a local PC, cloud based services requires thorough architectural design to simultaneously provide many services to the users. This requires specific skills in the development process.

Though an engineering background is not mandatory, development skills such as AJAX, SOAP, Web services like .Net, Java, Testing skills will be handy to sustain and grow.

Possible research interest among students their career options in India
Cloud computing is becoming a hot research topic and attracts students at the level of Masters, PhDs and at other levels. Prominent research areas include Quality of Services in cloud computing, virtualization, resource sharing, multi-threading, licensing, pricing models, etc. Academic organizations as well as private and government organizations are showing more and interest in these fields. There is a group (faculty and students) at Computer Science and Engg of IIT Bombay, India actively working in cloud computing, and are involved in R&D related to various aspects of cloud computing. Other than IIT Bombay, IBM India Research Lab (IBM IRL), Bangalore, TCS Innovation Lab, HP Labs India are some of the major R&D organizations working in cloud computing.

Cloud Computing and IT Industries in India
IT companies in India as well as abroad are showing interest on professionals with cloud computing background. This is because most of the IT companies are moving their applications from the user PC to their cloud. This helps in obtaining quick access to software services and products, lowering license, infrastructure and maintenance costs, providing instant software updates (version controls), increasing computing power (perform supercomputing-like tasks by utilizing power of thousands of computers and servers), providing unlimited data storage capacity, increasing data safety (if PC crashes, data is still out there in the cloud), improving compatibility between operating systems (in “clouds”, data matters ; not operating systems), improving document format compatibility, easing group collaborations, enhancing productivity and high utilization factors (leading to expansion of business).

Almost all IT companies are recruiting people with cloud computing as a skill. However, service industries such as TCS, Wipro, Infosys, CTS, GSS Infotech are becoming the major recruiters. Companies like Google, Mirosoft, Amazon, etc., also provide job opportunities as these companies mostly provide and maintain the infrastructure of the “cloud”. Other major commercial cloud providers are Yahoo, Verizon, HP, vmware, b-hive, 3tera, Q-layer, CYCLECOMPUTING, MOSSO, Engine Yard, Joyent, etc,

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