Will it now be Jio vs Non-Jio?

This blog was originally written for Awesummly. Awesummly is an android which provides you with real-time summarised news. To download the app, click here.

At a time when Indian telecommunication companies are blamed for charging much more than they ought to, Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) chairman Mukesh Ambani seems to have brought a revolution in this sector with the commercial launch of Reliance Jio Infocomm (Jio) on September 1, 2016, at the Reliance Annual General Meeting. From providing highly attractive introductory offers in voice calling and 4G services to its ambitious plan of capturing up to 10 per cent of over 1 billion-strong customer base, Jio has caught the attention of both mobile subscribers as well as mobile service providers. It aims to serve 100 million subscribers by the end of this year, with an addition of 1 million subscribers per day. Following this, Reliance plans to make revenue in the range of ₹36,000 crores to ₹50,000 crores in FY17.

In an impactful speech, which cost Bharti Airtel and Idea Cellular approximately ₹12,000 crores in losses in under 45 minutes, Mukesh Ambani announced a series of measures which is set to directly affect mobile users’ behaviour, waging a “tariff war” with incumbent players in the telecom sector. From issuing free SIM cards and providing lifetime free voice calls (local plus national roaming) to providing free mobile data till December 31, and lowest data rates per megabit consumption (4G data rates will see a decrease from ₹250/GB which is charged by the incumbent players to ₹50/GB), advent of Jio is sure to have sent jitters down the telecom sphere. It is said that competition leads to better performance, but in all this brouhaha, future seems bleak for the likes of Aircel and Telenor. How Bharti Airtel, Vodafone or Idea Cellular effectively react to this is yet to be seen. A battle for providing the lowest tariff will not be a surprise.

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The Jio rates

The erstwhile Infotel Broadband Services Limited was rechristened as Reliance Jio Infocomm in 2015. Jio was previously launched as a beta service to its employees and partners in December 2015. As far as the initial investment in this project is concerned, Jio is supposedly world’s biggest venture with ₹150,000 crore investment. With a very strong backing by RIL, it is all prepared to take initial blows in terms of direct losses till 31 December. It will only start making revenue from January 2017 when it begins to charge for its data usage (from ₹149 to ₹4999 on a monthly basis). Apart from data services, it aims to leverage revenue from various digital services like video streaming (with a feature similar to Netflix) and other sources, not to forget the already profit-making RIL.

All this is indeed a welcome step towards digital literacy, especially as it is brought about by a private entity. This will motivate other players to step in –  a step they must take in order to survive in the competition. According to media reports, Vodafone and Airtel have called Jio’s offer a “gimmick” while the state-owned BSNL has pledged to match Jio “tariff-by-tariff”. At the current stage, Reliance Jio has everything to experiment with, owing to its strong financial support. What is left for other big players is to prevent an exodus of their top customers to Jio, for 30 per cent of the customers contribute to 70 per cent of their revenue. The launch of Jio seems to have been played out positively on consumer sentiment. Whatever level of competition and commotion this leads to, the end beneficiary is going to be the customers. And this is what really matters to us.

This blog was originally written for Awesummly. Awesummly is an android which provides you with real-time summarised news. To download the app, click here.

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Bob Proctor’s eternal wisdom

The legendary speaker and author Bob Proctor has been and continues to be a great motivation for millions all over the world. An institution in his own self and a great admirer of Napoleon Hill, Bob has been passionately giving himself for the cause of personal development, educating people all over the world. One can only realize the power in his teachings by watching his videos or listening to his audios. Most of his videos are available on YouTube for free.

In 2006, Mr Bob Proctor featured in the blockbuster documentary movie The Secret which featured many other authors and speakers who emphasized upon and discussed about The Law of Attraction. About a decade ago, he co-founded the Proctor Gallagher Institute with Sandy Gallagher – a successful banking attorney in the U.S., and someone who was taken aback when she heard Bob for the first time in one of his seminars in Vancouver (in 2006) and had decided back then to work with him and be his closest adviser.

In his mid-twenties, Bob, with a very little formal education, started a cleaning business and he went on to take his then meager earning of $4,000 a year to over $1,000,000 a year in under 5 years by following his mentor and reading, Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill, among other steps that he took diligently. He worked closely with Earl Nightingale from 1968 to 1973 at Nightingale-Conant, before starting his own personal development company. Interestingly, Bob Proctor continues to use the same copy of the book, every single day of his life. Now that is dedication and consistency. Bob is now 82 years old but still a student – someone who is passionate and believes in continually learning.

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A young Bob Proctor (center) with Earl NIghtingale (left) and Llyod Conant

After becoming a millionaire, it took 9 years for Bob to get to know exactly what he had done to transform his fortune. Like he stresses in his videos, he knew he wasn’t smart and intelligent enough to earn so much, so he really wanted to find out what exactly he had done to transform his life. Since then he had decided to dedicate his life to the cause of personal development, by sharing all that he knew. Almost all of Bob’s talks are focused on Paradigms (conditioned way of thinking; why do we what we do) and money. Other aspects like imagination, visualization/visioneering, positive thinking and goal-setting revolve around Paradigms.

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Bob Proctor and Sandy Gallagher

I would like to share some of the numerous quotes by Bob Proctor which I have come across.

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Sharing a link to the video of one of Bob’s live seminars –

~ Thank you 🙂

Five Things Plaguing India’s Potential in Science, Technology and Research

You might be aware of the recent case of group of CSIR (Council of Scientific and Educational Research) scientists at Institute of Microbial Technology, Chandigarh, India, being caught in a case of furnishing fabricated data in research Papers. It comes as an insult for the scientific community to India.

If asked about 5 things that are plaguing India’s potential in Science, Technology and Research, I will give the following points:

  • In general, a paradigm shift from a scientific inclination (bent of mind) towards non-scientific pursuits- This point is contestable. Parents these days do not actually encourage their child/children to take up Science and Research as a career. Maybe they are aware of the plight of M.Sc.s and Ph.D.s in India demanding more pay, comparable to management graduates and B. Techs. All they want is : their child/children should be earning a 7-figure pay package after graduation.
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Kolkata: A boy displays a ‘Micro Air Vehicle’ at the ‘Children’s Science Congress’ during 100th Indian Science Congress, in Kolkata on Friday. PTI Photo
  • Questionable work ethics of the scientists or researchers: In all possibility, incidents like these from the same scientists, and others, might have gone unnoticed in the past. A student who can successfully forge lab data and readings to defend his/her thesis may try to do the same in his professional life.
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Institute of Microbial Technology at Chandigarh, India
  • Significant brain drain of talent from India at all levels (post-intermediate, graduate, post-graduate, doctorate, etc.): loss of talents, who choose to leave India for a more prosperous and fulfilling future in their respective fields
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Brain Drain or Brain in a Drain?
  • Lack of engagement with foreign institutions and agencies at the research level resulting in no or low accountability for local researchers
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Education globalization
  • Lack of funds (such as, for procuring latest instruments) and incentives to successfully carry out the research work
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Pipe dreams?

~Thank you 🙂

 

 

Not a Yahoo! moment

This blog was originally posted on Awesummly. Awesummly is a news app available on Play Store. To download the app, click here.

It is said that Internet is an unforgiving place for yesterday’s great idea. Acquisition of Yahoo! Inc.’s core business by Verizon Communication on 25 July for $4.83 billion validates this fact. Verizon is America’s top ranking telecommunication company, which has started to experience a radical increase in digital content consumption from its mobile users. Hence, Verizon’s acquisition of Yahoo is clear as the latter had emerged as an unavoidable, but struggling, player in the field of content distribution. Last year, Verizon had acquired AOL Inc.(Yahoo’s biggest competitor for a long time) for $4.4 billion. Surprisingly, because of Verizon’s increasing customer base in the area of digital consumption, its biggest competitors now are Facebook and Google, the big brothers in providing content, and not AT&T or Sprint, big names in America’s telecommunication sphere.

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Verizon’s growing empire (source: Bloomberg)

Yahoo has reached its end as an independent company which was founded in 1994 by Stanford graduates David Felo and Jerry Yang. One of the biggest names during its heydays in the nascent world of dot-com, Yahoo was the front door to Internet for many first-generation users. At its peak in 2000, it was valued at $125 billion, having evolved through numerous products such as Yahoo Mail, Yahoo Messenger, Yahoo Answers, Yahoo Finance and many more. By mid-2000s, Yahoo struggled to maintain its spot, courtesy- beginning of era of Google and Facebook. For every Yahoo Search, there was a Google Search; for Yahoo Messenger, there was a Google Talk. Arguably, every Yahoo Mail user started to have a taste of Gmail, and the competition just got increasingly tough for Yahoo.

Just like many companies, Yahoo made goof-ups, but it had to pay a massive price for some of them, as it turns out to be in recent times. A shocking incident as it may come out to be, Yahoo had missed opportunities to acquire both Google and Facebook. Apparently, Yahoo was not willing to spend even $1 million to buy Google! Again in 2008, Microsoft offered a deal of $44 billion which was rejected by Yahoo.

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No more Yahoo!

Flash-forward to the present scene. No doubt, Yahoo has lost its charm. After this acquisition, Yahoo will have stakes remaining in the Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba (estimated at $40 billion), Yahoo Japan and other small portfolio of high-end patents. Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo, who had a long stint at Google, will be paid a severance package of $57 million. Notably, she was hired in 2012 to revive Yahoo but failed to do so. After all these years of pressure for Yahoo and its ultimate acquisition, one thing on which we all can agree is: Yahoo! came to its logical end.

This blog was originally posted on Awesummly. Awesummly is a news app available on Play Store. To download the app, click here.

Television news media is shaping our perception

This blog was originally posted on Awesummly. Awesummly is a news app available on Play Store. To download the app, click here.

Famously regarded as the fourth pillar of the Indian democracy, the television media in India has expanded both in its purview and responsibilities. It appears to be diverting from its presumed duty of divulging unbiased and neutral information, and from existing as a platform where people can raise and share their opinions — a phenomenon that has caught the attention of news viewers. Primetime debates on TV news channels look no longer like debates, and resemble more like an entertainment show catering to a man in search for a mood change after the day’s tiring work. Arguably, not every panellist’s point of view is addressed in these debates, resulting in a discussion that is heavily biased and sometimes confusing. Surprisingly, viewers tend to be more attracted towards the rhetoric of host and the speakers rather than the outcome of these debates.

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All eyes on you!

Shortcomings of the Indian television media

The quality of reportage by TV channels have raised questions by many sections of society. An instance of astonishing reportage by the TV media is the consistent impression of a fellow politician’s character upon the viewers. While a politician’s actions might be suggesting a positive assertion, such a reportage does not allow time and space to alter the negative image in the eyes of the people. Another shortcoming is the range of news coverage by some of the Hindi news channels, ostensibly labelled as “mainstream” and “national” news channels. Their coverage is remotely pan-India and grossly inadequate — in case it is not known — the 2015 Chennai floods took 3 days to hit the headlines of these news channels; environment issues and tribal affairs fail to find a space in their news ticker. Rarely does one see a news from the Northeast in these channels, and if the Northeast seems far enough, a state like Odisha (which is among the most neglected by the Central government, but the most mineral-rich in India) has a similar story to tell. Little coverage of these areas amounts to little public awareness, leading to reduced scope of outreach and development in these areas. No wonder the organization National Socialist Council of Nagaland- Isak Muivah (NSCN-IM) is, to this day, demanding a separate flag and passport for their proposed Greater Nagalim region. Apparently, the only time a person in the north hears of Kanyakumari is in the phrase Kashmir se Kanyakumari tak, most popularly pitched in political speeches in Hindi. Compare this with coverage of the NCR and the North India, and the difference will be all too clear to justify. In all this, the fundamental problem is in the news coverage, and to a greater extent in them being labelled as “national” news channels. How can a channel with a grossly limited coverage be dubbed as a national channel?

It is not only the political affairs that lack their due coverage. Various sports in India marred by minimal coverage have a similar story to tell. Undoubtedly Cricket has a massive fan following in India, perhaps more than all other professional sports combined. Is it then not the right time that other sports like be popularised and promoted? No doubt, the government and the various sports bodies have a role to play, but the media can play an even larger role because of its wide reach and popularity. This assumes greater importance at a time when our country is sending the largest-ever contingent for the 2016 Olympics in Rio, Brazil.

Shaping our perception

While a person is entitled to her opinion on a personal level, the same is not true for a news channel which is expected to be all-encompassing to as much an extent as possible. News is expected to be presented as it is without manipulation, and the final judgement of a right or a wrong should be left for the media audience to decide. Moreover, hunting down a single person or a group, for more TRP, and not giving them their due time and space to defend, sets a bad precedent for journalism in our country as this diminishes the distinct roles and responsibilities of the media. In light of the recent controversy regarding the Islamic preacher Zakir Naik, the media trial against him was regrettable. Several TV news channels stepped out of their expected roles of unbiasedness and left no stones unturned in shaping public’s opinion against him. Another incident involved the comedian Tanmay Bhat’s video that went viral in the social media. Though it might be too late to comment on this issue but it still stands relevant: Tanmay Bhat was already made a scapegoat before he could appear in the public to defend himself. The same thing happened in the case of the JNU incident where one of the students, Umar Khalid, was lambasted in a live TV debate and not allowed to put forth his argument. The media trial that followed is known to all. In such incidents, common questions arise: Is this kind of action by media justified? What is the TV news media creating — an informed public or a misguided mob?

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Is this a debate? (cartoon by Vignesh Rajan)

It should be noted that is the same media which airs a high-level coverage on Salman Khan’s acquittal from the Bombay High Court but fails to discover about Kailash Satyarthi and his works until he is nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Because of incident such as this, there is a high chance of the public missing out on issues of social importance. Isn’t it the responsibility of the media to make more and more voices heard, and not just the popular ones?

In this age of globalization, it has become all the more important for us as citizens to be aware of the prevailing situations and develop a tendency to engage, if not appreciate, a different perspective, even on a non-permanent basis. We should not let ourselves be derailed by the decibel level while watching a TV debate. And so far as the role of television news media is concerned, the lines by the English writer Evelyn Beatrice Hall fits appropriately — I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.

This blog was originally posted on Awesummly. Awesummly is a news app available on Play Store. To download the app, click here.

Top 5 quotes on capacity building

As an ardent follower of quotes which deal with capacity building as an essential prerequisite to achieve one’s dreams and ambition, I have always been fascinated by them. I think the best way here to explain the importance of capacity building will be to directly share these quotes.  Here is my list of top 5 quotes on capacity building.

Do check my latest post on “Top 5 Quotes on Happiness”. Also share your thoughts/analyses in the comments!

#5

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#4

Sandeep Manudhane quote

#3

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#2

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#1

quote005

~ Thank you 🙂

My Quotes

As a person who has been reading and following a lot of quotations since childhood, I am passionate about collecting quotes spoken or written by the great men who overcame their own difficulties and limitations. In fact, I have a dedicated folder for all these quotes on my PC. Whenever I wish to be encouraged, I go through this folder and read some of the best quotes – some of them catering to a particular scenario while others for giving me a boost of energy. As a reflection of some of these quotes, I recently compiled my thoughts – these are more of a reflection on my day-to-day and year-to-year experiences. I present to you some of the quotes (thoughts/reflections) which I believe are my own.

Top 4

No.4

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ThAct = Thought + Act

No.3

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Not even the tip!

No.2

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Yes, an action plan.

No.1

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As simple as that.

I hope you all enjoyed reading these quotes. Please do comment and share your ideas and thoughts on these.

~Thank you 🙂

Should Fairness cream ads depicting dark skins be banned?

In a society where a child is told, “Bahar dhoop mein mat jao, kaale ho jaoge” (don’t go out in the sun, you will turn dark), a primary school textbook pictures ugliness to darker complexion, and which has made fairness cream industry a multi-million dollar business, it is of little surprise that we are increasingly becoming obsessed with fair skin complexion. Fairness of skin tone has been associated with being sexy and attractive. To make the matter worse, fairness cream ads try to associate it with confidence, self-esteem and chances of employability.

It is well-researched that skin colour depends on several factors, primarily on the amount of melanin in the skin. Skin colour at birth, therefore, is completely natural. The reason for varying melanin content in the skin depends on the UVR penetration of the skin which in turn varies from region to region (more near the equator and lesser at the temperate regions).

While the debate on this topic may be of lesser relevance for a light-skinned person, the gravity of this can be understood if we look into the difficulties and mental harassment many women in our country face during marriage proposals or during employment opportunities. In a society reeling under pressure from relatives and social acceptance, parents advice their child to apply fairness cream right from his/her childhood. The multimillion dollar cosmetic industry can be held responsible for engendering such prejudices – they go on to use derogatory terms like ugly, dirty for darker skin for their advertisement, which promotes racism and discrimination and shapes the mind-set of people. One cannot ignore the frequency of such TV commercials during a cricket match.
A leading example of a crusader against this negative advertising is Nandita Das who discussed these issues in her book titled Stay Unfair, Stay Beautiful, and has been an active campaigner towards ending this prejudice. She stated that this topic is a kind which should be extensively debated. Like any other social issue, this will also require more awareness and popular participation of people. While it is a personal choice of skin colour for an individual, the mental conditioning through mass communications and advertisements should end. Some of the ways that can be suggested are: skin cosmetic companies should target more on features like pimples, blemishes and dark slots, if not in real then in their advertisements; celebrities can opt out of promoting such products that guarantee white “snow white” skin; use of derogatory terms for dark skin tone should be stopped; people can set an example for others to follow; employers should really be an equal-opportunity provider; giving more lead roles to actors/actresses with darker complexion without compromising on the quality of acting, or as the case may be.

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Stay UNfair, Stay Beautiful by Nandita Das

In conclusion, I would like to state that the need is to provide equal opportunities and end this discrimination of black and white for these issues have no place in this colourful world.

Gravitational Waves

Gravitational waves are space-time distortion or ripple that are caused by some of the most violent events in the Universe such as collision of two black holes, a binary pulsar, creation of the Universe, etc. The huge acceleration of these orbiting bodies (like neutron star, pulsar, black hole) as a result of these events creates a space-time distortion which results in the generation of these waves. These waves were first predicted by Albert Einstein in 1916 in his famous “Theory of Relativity”. In 1972, twenty years after Einstein’s death, two scientists observed the decreasing distance between accelerating bodies in a binary pulsar. The rate of this decrease matched with that predicted by The Relativity Theory. This led to the proof of the existence of Gravitational waves.

On 11 February 2016, a breakthrough discovery took place – Gravitational waves were detected for the very first time by LIGO detectors in Washington. Unlike Electromagentic waves, Gravitational waves do not interact with matter and are transparent to it, i.e. it can pass through matter undistorted. Since these waves emanate from source events like the birth of Universe, exploding stars, collision of black holes, etc., their studies can help us discover hidden secrets about the Universe.

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Two black holes!

In India, a recent cabinet meeting headed by PM Modi approved the decision to setup a LIGO lab in India, which came to be known as LIGO-India project. The setup, to be completed in 8 years, will have the direct support of some of the Indian science bodies and the LIGO observatory in Washington. This provides an interesting opportunity for various stakeholders to be a part of this project from its initiation to the completion. A new and an energised scientific temper is set to grow in India and many opportunities awaits its young as well as experienced scientists.

~Utkarsh Singh

Should India withdraw its troop from Siachen?

Siachen is the highest battlefield in the world at 20,000 ft (6000m) covering a contentious area in the range of 2,300 to 2,600 sq. km. The conflict arises due to the unclearly demarcated line in The Karachi Agreement (1949) and The Shimla Agreement (1972). During Operation Meghdhoot (1984), India was able to capture key Pakistani strategic points and an area of over 3000 sq. km. previously under Pakistan’s control. Since then both the countries have maintained soldiers on a permanent basis, though India occupies better higher and key strategic locations. UN has called for both the countries to stop the fight over this inhospitable and barren land.

More than 2,000 soldiers have died at the Siachen because of the extreme conditions and natural hazards. Last year, around 120 Pakistan soldiers lost their lives in an avalanche and this year 6 Indian soldiers died.

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Indian Army men at Siachen

Keeping in mind the extreme difficulties faced by soldiers and the value of their lives, if India withdraws from the glacier, then it will lose the key location advantage that it has since 1984. Also, even if both the countries decide to withdraw their troops, Pakistan’s word cannot be trusted since the latter is hell-bent on taking each and every inch of Kashmir (Pakistani Army was considering withdrawal after the 2015 Avalanche which killed 120 soldiers). It is a matter of pride and satisfaction for Indian soldiers who complete their requisite period of training at Siachen. The government can consider reducing that duration so that risk of fatality is reduced. Other possible solutions and analysis are:

  • use of remotely Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, but Pakistan may take up this issue with the UN.
  • use of snipers from less vulnerable locations; it will be a safe bet presuming Pakistan will not send its troops in hundreds all at once to capture the Indian side.

~Utkarsh Singh