Bihar Political Dynamics: Morality v/s Opportunism

In a single day, the politics of Bihar turned upside down. Nitish Kumar resigned as Bihar Chief Minister (CM) just to get back to the realm within a day. The reason stated for steeping down as CM is far from believable. As Tejaswi Yadav, son of Lalu Prasad Yadav, was not explaining the corruption charges against him, he resigned on moral grounds. The relationship between the both is Mahagathbandhan alliance which was ruling the state. Janata Dal(U), led by Nitish Kumar; Rashtriya Janata Dal(RJD), led by Lalu Prasad Yadav and Congress formed alliance in 2015 to contest elections. Now, the relationship was strained due to corruption charges on Tejaswi Yadav and Nitish Kumar had to face the heat.

It was alleged that in 2004, Lalu Prasad Yadav and Tejaswi Yada were involved in land-for-hotels case. Three acres of land was given as a bribe to Yadav’s family to secure a licence to run a hotel. But, Tejaswi Yadav accuses BJP of false charges as he was just 14 year old in 2004. Though the case is not yet closed, the damage is already felt in terms of erosion of ruling party credibility. Nitish Kumar’s move sounds morally correct but forming the government with BJP just doesn’t sound well. Nitish Kumar fielded himself as Narendra Modi’s competitor for Prime Ministership in 2014. Also, he won 2015 Assembly elections by projecting BJP as Hindutva party and his party as secular. Now, forming a government along with BJP looks opportunistic.

Present JU(U)-BJP government has 129 seats out of 243 Assembly seats. Earlier the Mahagathbandhan alliance had a whopping 178/243 seats. So, the opposition still wields greater power. Looking forward, the new alliance would be more beneficial to BJP than JD(U). JD(U)’s base was slowly eroding as they were unable to stand on their election promises. On the other hand, BJP was gaining more foot on the ground given the popularity of the Modi and his landmark reforms. So, now the BJP is in dictating terms both in the government and for the 2019 general elections. BJP could also propagate its ideology into the masses without much hindrance. There are also chances that BJP could completely erode JD(U)s popularity.

Of course, opposition would not sit idle watching all these moves. Congress would also think about continuing with RJD, given its notorious background. However, the options for congress are limited, especially when it is not in power at Centre. JD(U) should now be aware of every single move taken by the BJP or Congress given its vulnerability in the state. With these changing dynamics, people of Bihar should assert themselves for the development they deserve.

 

Unprecedented moves by the Indian Presidents

One of the most complicated relationships in the Indian History is between Indian President and the Prime Minister. Several courts intervened to solve the issues raised and they were successful to some extent. There have been many events which challenged the constitutional norms and questioned the existence of democracy. The President is Nominal Head and the real power lies in the hands of the Prime Minister. But, few Presidents, to protect the Constitution, have asserted their power. From our first President Dr. Rajendra Prasad to the People’s President Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, everyone had one or the other issue with the government. Critical events are discussed below.

In June 2006, then President Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam shockingly refused to give his assent to the Office-of-Profit Bill. Indian Constitution bars Member of Parliament (M.P) from holding few offices and they are referred to as Office of Profit. Sonia Gandhi has just resigned her position as Chairman of National Advisory Council, which was assumed as Office of Profit. However, the Membership of around 43 MPs and 100 M.L.As were at stake. So, Congress government hurriedly passed Prevention of Disqualification (Amendment), Bill, 2006 to protect the People’s representatives. Abdul Kalam boldly sent his displeasure by not giving his assent to the Bill. But, according to the law, if the same Bill is passed by the Parliament and sent to President, he has no other choice but to approve the Bill. However, the impact was already felt in the form of embarrassment to the government.

Similarly, in 1986, Rajiv Gandhi government tried to pass Indian Post Office Amendment Bill but President Giani Zail Singh refused to give his assent. If passed, the Bill would provide the government with extraordinary powers to intercept any Post Office sent among the Indian Citizens. Also, Indian Constitution is silent on the time frame in which the President should give his assent. So, Mr. Zail Singh sat on the Bill till his term ended notwithstanding the simmering tensions between President’s office and Prime Ministers Office(PMO). This act of ‘not acting’ is also referred to as the use of Pocket Veto. This was the only case when the Indian President has used his Pocket Veto. On the lighter note, it is said that Indian President has the largest Pocket as he could hold the Bill for unlimited period of time.

Another incident was in the early 1950s when Dr. Rajendra Prasad expressed reservations to the Hindu Code Bill. The reason for their contention was their ideologies. Nehru supported a modern society with the focus on development and giving minimal emphasis to the religion. Whereas Dr. Rajendra Prasad, on the other hand, asserted the coexistence of religion along with development. So, they exchanged heated arguments in the form of letters. After many amendments, the Hindu Code Bill was passed including both the views. This Bill was seen as the present day Uniform Civil Code.

Thus, many Presidents tried to protect the Constitution using their powers. Let’s see what’s in store for Mr. Ram Nath Kovind.

The Art of Choosing a Gift for A Girl

gift-girl

In 21st century, two things that you can never predict are the occurrence of World War III and a girl’s mentality. “What is the need for a gift now man!” can either mean that she seriously did not expect it or that you have bought a stupid gift.

Remember any gift which gains the response as “owwwww, it’s so cute, that’s fabulous, so sweet” is definitely a good gift. As no one on this earth can gift anything to enhance internal beauty, we try to concentrate on external beauty enhancing gifts. A recent research shows that the happiness quotient of a girl is dependent on her beauty quotient. People might think that beauty lies in the eyes of a beholder. Remember in the case of a girl, both the beauty and the beholder is the same girl.

What are the things that comes to your mind when you think of a girl? An elegant dress, makeup, footwear, accessories. So, let’s look at them individually.

Clothing: Unless you know her dressing style very well, don’t take a risk to get a dress. If you still want to choose one, three important things to keep in mind are the fit, colour and the brand. Fit will be of paramount priority as you don’t want the dress to be an antique in her ward robe which would remain untouched.

Cosmetics/Perfumes: Again, if you have a sound knowledge on the beauty brands in the market and the brands which the girl generally uses, go for this option. The usage of your gifts depends on the availability of the same with her. In this case I suggest you to go for a perfume. As it is an oddball to give an eyeliner or a kajal, if you choose to gift a cosmetic product, go for a lipstick/gloss.

Footwear: A safe zone for anyone to play in is the footwear. Unless you are not a person who likes colours like radium, any footwear is wearable for some or the other dress. The only thing you should be careful about is to choose ones with heels or without heels. I know that understanding the difference between a bellies, pumps and clogs is a mystery, go with a broader classification.

Accessories: This includes bags, purse, wallets, earrings, chains, rings, bracelets, hair accessories etc. etc. etc. This option is like a mega market of choices. Unless you don’t mess up with the colour and the brand, you will have a beautiful day. Even though you don’t understand the accessories to be worn for a particular dress, a decent one which you feel will go with any dress will make a clear difference.

These are the major categories one can start with. Although there are multiple other categories from which you can choose like chocolates, customized artefacts, antique pieces etc., start with the basic stuff. If you choose to get the girl all of the above as a set to take her to a party or so, best thing is tell the girl to choose things for herself. As we already said, personal satisfaction of a girl on the gifts she gets is paramount.

Article Written by Bommineni Jyothirmaie Reddy 

Dunkirk: Why you should watch the film

Disclaimer: I’m a Christopher Nolan fan, but I’m not recommending the film because of his direction. It’s just not a visceral piece of film making. The film portrays one of the most important incidents of the Second World War which I believe the current generation should be aware of – it takes you through a sheen of nostalgic sentimentality. It’s about both bravery and suffering, individuals who care less about themselves than about a greater good.

Dunkirk is a war film written, co-produced and directed by Christopher Nolan. Christopher Nolan is known for his films – The Dark Knight Trilogy, Inception & Interstellar. The music is composed by German composer & 4 time Grammy Award winner Hans Zimmer. Cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema shot the film on IMAX 65 mm and 65 mm large format film stock.

Let’s look at the history

The film depicts Operation Dynamo, also known as the Miracle of Dunkirk – the evacuation of Allied soldiers during World War II from the beaches and harbour of Dunkirk, France. A large numbers of British, French, Belgian, and Canadian troops were surrounded by the German army during the Battle of France between 26 May and 4 June 1940.

The Nazi Germany invaded Poland in September 1939. The British Empire and France declared war on Germany and imposed an economic blockade. The Germans invaded Beligum and Netherlands on 10 May 1940. The British Expeditionary Force (BEF) was sent to aid in the defence of France. However, they were surrounded by the German forces. The German army halted their advance to Dunkirk after a German High Command order, with Adolf Hitler’s approval.

It is one of the most debated decisions of the war, since it gave time for gave the Allies to organise the Dunkirk evacuation and build a defensive line. The Siege of Lille also gave time for the BEF to evacuate the forces from Dunkirk. British casualties amounted to 68,000, while French losses totalled around 290,000 with more than that either missing or taken prisoner.

In a speech to the House of Commons, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill called the events in France “a colossal military disaster”, saying “the whole root and core and brain of the British Army” had been stranded at Dunkirk and seemed about to perish or be captured. In his We shall fight on the beaches speech on 4 June 1940, he hailed their rescue as a “miracle of deliverance”. Most importantly the decimation of the British at Dunkirk may have resulted in the U.K.’s capitulation to Hitler and no American involvement in the European war. It was Hitler’s best chance to win the war.

The film depicts three distinct perspectives, based on fictionalized characters.

  • Land: Tommy (Fionn Whitehead), plays a young soldier who is stranded on the Dunkirk beach and unfolds the tale of the men on the beach.
  • Sea: Dawson (Mark Rylance) is a Brit who decides to rescue survivors using his small boat.
  • Air: Farrier (Tom Hardy), a fighter pilot in a Spitfire who has one hour to take out Nazi planes and protect the men on the ground and in the water.

The film has been made extensive use of practical effects – employing 6,000 extras, assembling boats that had participated in the real Dunkirk evacuation, and using genuine era-appropriate planes for aerial sequences. With Hans Zimmer’s pulsating background score and extra-ordinary effects, the film is a must watch in theatres.

Not going to put forward any more spoilers. To put in one word, the film is a massive Nolanesque scale film. It’s definitely going to go down into the history as one of the greatest war films of all-time.

Chatbots: The Future of Human-Computer Interaction

Hello Siri, “What is the Future of Human-Computer Interaction ?”

Well, you shouldn’t be surprised if your virtual assistant/chatbot suggest you what to message to your friends or intervenes in a conversation. The future of message interaction is all about Chatbots. Aritifical intelligence (AI) and Machine learning is changing the ways in business operates and delivery customer experiences.

What exactly are Chatbots ? A chatbot is a service powered by AI that lets user interact via a chat interface to accomplish a task. A user will have an access to a chat interface where he/she types his need. The chatbot automatically replies to the queries and get things done much faster for you. Some example would be a weather bot that gets the current weather whenever you ask, Grocery bot that helps user shop for items, News bot – reports interesting news or update & scheduling bot that helps you schedule appointments.

Chatbots have become popular especially after the rise of mobile devices. People prefer to chat rather than talk to each other. Some of the most popular bots that are currently in the market include Facebook Messenger, Kik and Slack.

One must understand that the functionality of the bots is limited. You must have faced instances when Siri or Alexa is unable to reply to your queries or gives you the wrong answer. To know why this happens, you must understand how it works. A system works on a set of keywords and a set of rules and algorithm powered by machine learning helps the chatbot reply to the queries. The chatbot learns itself from the experience, gets smarter and will started to recognize key words. It may not recognize the context in which they are being used but the system continuously improves itself.

In terms of business, Chatbots are slowly replacing Call-centre employees. It is a cost-efficient & never-sleeping interface that provides basic support to the customer. Unlikely humans, chatbots don’t make you wait. It helps users to multi-task. You get instant replies to your queries and helps personalize customer experience. However, chatbots lack human emotion but they help increase productivity at work. As the technology improves especially in Artificial Intelligence, Machine learning, Internet of Things, the acceptance of chatbot is expected to grow. They will have a much bigger role to play in customer service and support.

A classic example of a chatbot is DoNotPay, created by Joshua Browder, a Stanford student. It was described as “the world’s first robot lawyer” that gives free legal aid to users through a simple-to-use chat interface. The chatbot was programmed to deal with a wider range of legal issues. The chatbot has taken on 250,000 cases and won 160,000, giving it a success rate of 64% appealing over $4m of parking tickets. The chatbot current using Facebook Messenger, is now helping refugees fill in an immigration application in the US and Canada.

The innovation in chatbot continues to grow especially in natural language processing and machine Learning. You shouldn’t be surprised if you start dating a chatbot in future.

Getting to know Deep Learning with TensorFlow

Machine learning is one of the fastest-growing and most exciting fields in the 21st Century. It is the science of getting computers to act without being explicitly programmed. Deep Learning is a subfield of machine learning that is concerned with algorithms that is inspired by the structure and function of the brain called artificial neural networks.

Today, most companies hire talents in the field and develop Machine learning tools & packages to develop products/services. Google is one of the major companies that uses machine learning extensively. Google uses machine learning to classify images in Google Photos, for image recognition, voice recognition, to improve search results, translation and search suggestions.

For developers, Google has developed an open-source software machine learning library called TensorFlow. It was originally developed by the Google Brain team for their internal use. Google Brain developed DistBelief – a proprietary machine learning system based on deep learning neural networks. The use of Distbelief grew rapidly with the expansion of the company. TensorFlow was Google Brain’s second generation machine learning system and it was released as open source software on November 9, 2015. TensorFlow Lite is a scaled-down version of the software library meant to run on mobile devices.

What is a Tensor ?

The central unit of data in TensorFlow is the tensor. The name TensorFlow derives from the operations in which neural networks that performs on multidimensional data arrays. A tensor consists of a set of primitive values shaped into an array of any number of dimensions. A tensor’s rank is its number of dimensions. So, basically it’s a multi-dimensional array.

So, why don’t they call it a multi-dimensional array ? Here is where you must understand the difference. Tensors and multidimensional arrays are different types of object; the first is a type of function, the second is a data structure suitable for representing a tensor in a coordinate system.

In short, Tensor is “something” which can be represented as multidimensional array. This representation must depend in some very specific way from where you are looking at this “something”.

To get started with TensorFlow, head towards the TensorFlow website that has a bit of documentation and tutorials. Please note that these are made on the assumption that you have some (or a lot) prior machine learning and artificial intelligence knowledge/experience. You also should be very comfortable with Python programming language.

Udacity has partnered with the Google to provide a course on Deep Learning. The course is available for free and TensorFlow will be introduced via projects and assignments. For more details visit: Deep Learning with Google

There are lot of exciting project that have been developed using TensorFlow. Visit the collection of TensorFlow models in the TensorFlow Zoo.

One of the main reasons why Google open-sourced TensorFlow is to attract the best talent from the world. Many top professors from universities have joined companies like Facebook, Google & Baidu. Google has certainly a first mover advantage in terms of open-source TensorFlow. Apple also generate huge amount of data, but their extreme stance on privacy has restricted the development. Google is acquiring a lot of startup/companies based on Machine Learning and AI, the recent Halli Labs from India, data science community Kaggle & DeepMind in 2014. Looks like Google is now becoming an A.I. first company.

TensorFlow is already one of the leading platforms for teaching A.I. and the adoption rate is expect to grow exponential. So, if you are looking for a machine learning job, start working on project with TensorFlow.

Trip to Andaman – 2

It takes 2 hours to travel to Havelock from Port Blair on a cruise. Also be aware that reservations for the cruise will be finished a day prior to the day of travel. The journey was quite peaceful, unlike return journey, as we travelled on a single wave. As soon as we reached Havelock, I scheduled Scuba Diving at one of the Private Scuba Diving Centres. All the bookings would be made through Divers association. The training and diving would consume two more hours. And it is not to be missed in Andaman as the clear waters and exotic corals cannot be easily found. You will be taken 7 m into the sea to enjoy the beauty of marine life. Below picture was taken by the photographer diving with me.


Pic: Left: Scuba Diving Pictures & Right-Havelock Islands

Later, we checked into Forest Guest House at Havelock. It has a lovely view as white sand Beach is attached to its compound. Just like Chandipur beach in Odsha, the water resides around 1km during the ebb tide. And one could go deep into the beach as they were no waves due to surrounding islands. Later, we visited one of the best beaches in World (Times, 2004), Radha Nagar beach. It is a wide beach covered with lush palm trees along the coastline. It is also peaceful and clean due to minimal human presence.

On the next day, we visited Kaala Pathar Beach. Though the name looks exciting, the aesthetics could not beat Radha Nagar Beach. It neither has place to swim or have fun. It’s just an over hyped beach at Havelock. Later we boarded the cruise to Port Blair at 3:00P.M. This is the most exciting journey of the whole trip. As the cruise has to pass through gigantic waves of the sea, it felt as if I am on a Giant wheel. Indeed, watching people worrying for their life on the secured boat was more fun.

Next day, we visited Rajiv Gandhi Sports Complex and took a return flight to Vijayawada via Chennai. The trip was memorable not just due to exotic locations, but because of ever green companions- Mom and Dad.

Font Gate: How a Microsoft font can bring down the government

Pakistan’s government is in turmoil after an ongoing corruption scandal on Pakistan PM’s daughter, Maryam Sharif. Her illegal offshore properties and a Microsoft Word font might be one of the keys to discovering the truth. Let’s see how the story evolved.

The case began in 2016 with the Panama Papers expose. The leak suggested many of Sharif’s children had allegedly used shell companies to purchase real estate without disclosing the details to authorities. There was no mention of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif directly, but there was an investigation into the source of his family’s finances.

Due to a lack of evidence of corruption, the Supreme Court of Pakistan ruled that Sharif could remain Prime Minister. However, recently Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s daughter Maryam Sharif allegedly submitted forged documents in a judicial investigation into the family’s “unusual wealth”. So how did the investigators conclude that the documents were forged?

It was found out that the document used Microsoft’s Calibri font, which wasn’t publicly available until 2007, while claiming the documents were created in 2006. The font’s inventor Lucas de Groot, told the BBC, “that beta versions were generally only used by ‘tech geeks’ rather than normal companies or government officials”. According to reports, The Calibri was delivered to Microsoft in a finished form in 2004 and the first public betas to include it was released in 2006. The case is still pending and the opposition party in Pakistan is demanding the PM’s resignation.

So, could Maryam Sharif documents be actually forged? There is high possibility that the documents were forged. A simple question could provide insights into the case, “Why did Maryam Sharif use the Calibri font?” The font was in beta version in 2006 and it was not quite famous. There are many number of fonts which were available on Microsoft Word at that time. Or Did Maryam Sharif purchase the font and made the document? Was she a font fanatic and downloaded the font prior to the release?

During the period, Microsoft Word 2003 was the latest version of Word which had Times New Roman as the default font. The Calibri font was commercially available only after January 30, 2007 with the release of Microsoft Office 2007 on the same date. The default font used in this edition is Calibri.

As a result of the sudden dominating headlines in Pakistan about the case and due to the surge in interest from people around the world, Calibri font’s Wikipedia page has been locked for editing. Well, of course, the Twitterati’s came out with their own reactions and has prompted a tweet storm with the hashtag, #Fontgate.

Well, so the next time, you should be extra careful when you’re drafting your next Word template. Your choice of font might get you caught or just lead to an international scandal.

Let’s wait and watch if font’s can bring down government.

Hello Corporates !! It’s time to pay your taxes at the Right place

All through the decades Big Corporates escaped paying taxes by operating from tax havens. This process is called Base Erosion and Profit Sharing (BEPS), wherein the Multi-National Companies (MNCs) could exploit the variations in tax structures across nations. Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and G20 have been rigorously working to prevent this phenomenon using BEPS project. One of the outcomes of these efforts is Multilateral Convention to Implement Tax Treaty Related Measures to Prevent Base Erosion and Profit Sharing (Multilateral Instrument or MLI).

MLI also prevents abuse of bilateral treaties by the third parties. The abuse is basically done in the form of Treaty Shopping by the MNCs. I would explain this with an example. Suppose, India and Mauritius have entered into a bilateral treaty to prevent double taxation. If this treaty is used by Chinese citizen for tax savings in capital gains, then it comes under Treaty Shopping. To prevent this, MLI has introduced the Principle Purpose Test (PPT) and Limit of Benefit (LoB) clauses. So, if a bilateral treaty is signed under PPT, then that treaty will be implemented under MLI. It restricts the usage of bilateral treaty to particular country citizens. Also, if the treaty is utilises for anything other than the intended purpose (spirit) of the treaty, then that transaction comes into question. Thus, the abuse of bilateral treaties could be prevented.

This landmark Convention was signed by 68 countries including India. India deferred implementation of General Anti-Avoidance Rules (GAAR) from 2015. At this particular juncture, it is unclear whether it would go ahead with GAAR or MLI. GAAR provisions are more stringent compared to MLI. It may also have a huge dent on Foreign Portfolio Investors (FPIs). Each and every International transaction can be traced in case of GAAR whereas the MLI allows questioning of those transactions which are in conflict with underlying treaties. India is yet to decide on the same.

However, Mauritius and Singapore are yet to sign the treaty. Investments from these two countries are huge and needs to be tracked and traced back for effective implementation of any anti-tax abuse policy. With the recent changes to Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement signed between Singapore and Mauritius, there have been even more investments. Tracking them is crucial for India’s development. We should wait and watch to see which way the ball would roll.

B2B Marketing – Treasure Unveiled

During the World Wars, Companies had a mind boggling time inventing new methods to supply arms, medical requirements and other essentials to the markets. The most fruitful time was during World War-II. The innovation pertaining to Operations Management, Logistics, Operations Research and Supply Chain was at its peak. This was coupled with the great minds of economics such as Keynes and Hayek. The only piece left in the jigsaw was the brain-child of Marketing and Psychology, i.e., “Marketing.”

During the wars, speed, quality and reliability will be the prima donna. How could the conquerors of the country arrange everything in a jiffy? Main reason was the industrial relationship between their colonial countries for both the Axis and Allies. The important question is, was there Ads or any fancy marketing like current day scenario? Did countries have time for the same? Back then, ‘Industrial Marketing’ was the most used form of Marketing.

The growth of B2B marketing has been phenomenal. Social Media has played a major role in B2B marketing and LinkedIn is one of the most preferred sources of B2B marketing. Also, marketers are now inducted into Facebook for the same. Almost 75% of enterprises in Germany use Social media for B2B marketing (https://qymatix.de/en/b2b-sales-interesting-facts ). The importance of B2B is on the rise due to the growth in importance of industrial relations in current scenario.

The major portion of B2B is focused on rational purchase and reduction in complexity. The role definition, role clarity and the effervescence of converting a commodity into a product has increased the size of the B2B arena. Analytics and AI has empowered the whole number crunching process.
Developing Countries like India, Philippines, South Africa and Brazil would see a rise in the infrastructure in the coming future (Refer the link for the data). Industrial marketing would be on the boom during the same, which has an enormous role to play in the entire episode of a purchase or a sale. The boost in infrastructure triggers various demands in different sectors right from RM to Logistics.

One of the articles on B2B marketing was published by Forbes in 2012. The link has been shared. Overall, if anyone is looking at B2B marketing as the new “Golden Egg” of today, the treasure needs to be unleashed with full potential. Steps are being taken with the advent of IOT, AI and Machine learning to empower business marketing to its fullest potential.

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