The new Oil

Ever since the Industrial revolution,energy sources have played a prominent role in deciding the future of a country.It coincided with unprecedented growth in western countries and then the boom followed to Asia. Oil has been the single most important source of contention and even in world war 2,the big powers wanted to secure their energy interests first.Imperial Japan got so incensed when USA put sanction on it and stopped supplies of Oil and Coal from reaching Japan,that
they attacked pearl harbour.This forced USA to enter the war and affect war outcome significantly.
In 2016 ,in the most important elections in the word,there was security breach,data breach to be precise,at the Democratic National Convention Centre.Even though it is difficult to ascertain and quantify its impact on the election outcome,it was surely one of the highlights and the most contentious topic of the election.It is alleged that Russian hackers,directly under the control of Russian government,stole the data and released it in public domain. Along with Brexit,it led to one of the most defining upsets of the modern world.I remember in 2015,how it seemed a no brainer that UK will stay with EU and Hillary will win presidency.
A lot has changed since then.But it also points to a significant aspect,the importance of data. The biggest companies in the world by market capitalization,such as facebook(330 billion),Amazon(425 ),Microsoft(508 Billion),Alphabet (570) have the power of new oil with them-Data.Data has spawned multiple industries around it-Business Analytics,Data Science,AI to name a few.The frequent news of data breach is causing immense security headaches to many global corporations and governments. In 2016,EU passed a new legislation ,called GDPR,to protect customer data and outlined consequences in case the laws are not observed.I worked project called GDPR in my project a few months later.Artificial Intelligence is making tasks such as financial analysis redundant. AI is now used in auto mobile sector and virtual assistants,such as Alexa and Siri, are becoming more powerful and efficient through a new energy source-Data.The data analysis is being used to train and create more powerful AI systems.
There is also fear of monopoly and privacy.There is going to be constant battle over its control and in future it might lead to war -just like oil did on numerous occasions.The ever increasing power of data is now being used to predict customer buying behaviour and marketing campaigns take into account results obtained through data and influence customer behaviour. In India,fears are being expressed that personal data of more than a billion citizens might be compromised.There exists considerable difference in technical prowess of different countries and the difference might be exploited in future to install Govt. and dictators of choice using data as tool.
We are entering uncharted territories and we must take steps to ensure that potential negative impacts of it are covered and there must be a global consensus regarding data safety and security at UN.In the past there were fears that unbridled competition in space might lead to war in the space and we came up with a list of rules to avoid it. We must have debate around the new oil now-Data.

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wags and woofs

I have a tiny part to add from my experience with street dogs.I have viewed dogs as a terror since childhood and passing by a group of strays after 10 at night still gives me the chills.But since dealing with it was never a matter of choice for me,I had to find a way out.I initially decided to keep my calm no matter how hard they barked.I would neither run nor look at them,making it clear that I was just a passerby and they should read nothing more into it.From what I learnt, they are more curious than threatened.A nervous demeanour automatically raises suspicion.Gradually I felt they found me familiar and the daily growling changed into a casual stare and eventually diminished to indifference.As an added precaution,I would carry a packet of biscuits to barter my freedom in case things escalated.

Floodings and Municipality

Large tracts of India are inundated with water. The flooding in Mumbai made news and a building collapsed killed several people. As usual people started blaming the authorities for their incompetence and ever present corruption. BMC is the richest civic body in Asia and run by a so called nationalist party, shiv sena, for a considerable period of time .They occasionally represent their patriotism  by chiding Pakistan and punishing local Muslims for the deeds by the terrorists. I am surprised they did not blame flooding on NDA,modi,muslims and UP Bihar walas. This is the sorry state of the most important arm of government machinery. The municipality elections should have garnered most eyeballs since it is the instituting for providing basic amenities to the populace. However, as we witnessed in Delhi, these elections can be won by projecting a PM, who will any will not have time to take care of potholes in Delhi roads. He has more things to worry about. But the campaign worked , people voted and voted the same old party which has in power for already 10 and has done a dismal job at it.
I always imagined Delhi to better and cleaner than Kolkata. But i was wrong. There was garbage on the street everywhere and the traffic jams were way worse. Our cities need a better MCD and better accountability. But coming back to mumbai, we have larger questions to answer. We should have learnt the lesson in 2005.To be candid, the topography and geography of Mumbai makes it prone to flooding. Destruction of mangroves and deforestation coupled with rapid and unplanned urbanization has made things worse. We saw the same issue in Chennai. The climate has become unpredictable. History offers some lessons on this front. Climate change caused Indus valley civilisation to collapse. Few centuries later it  led to the downfall of Gupta empire and in 18th century it accelerated the end of Mughals and eventual take over of India by the British. There are parts is India where flooding is traditional , such as in Assam. The Brahmaputra is a massive river, anyone who has seen the river will know. Every year we hear news of flooding in Assam and parts of Bihar. Not only lives are lost, it also destroys houses, property and crops.The population living in such areas are already vulnerable and lack of medical facilities makes them eve n more susceptible to water born diseases. Government is thinking of river interlinking projects to face this menace. There are environmentalists who warn that the interlinking will lead to mix of 2 different river ecosystems and it could have unintended consequences .Surely  more study needs to be done to asses the environmental impact of such a move,.But we need to take steps that ensure that we will able to counter the extremely erratic weather patterns. We have droughts in some parts and flooding in other parts of country. Better water management and adding to reservoir capabilities could help ease the pressure in the short term.It is ironical that we are a water stressed country with plenty of water around us.

The one pillar that stands strong

It has been busy week for our judiciary.It seems as if in one week,judiciary had to stand up and reaffirm our belief in the system.With Triple talaq,it ended a regressive practice for good.But by declaring Privacy as fundamental law,a lot has changed and it will eventually impact section 377 too.Finally,judiciary brought a high flying conman to the ground and made us hope that powerful and connected will not always get away.

The 4 pillars of Indian democracy are the legislative,the executive,the judiciary and the press.Each requires an article of its own to analyse their respective impacts.Keeping the constraints in mind,lets just focus on the judiciary alone.Judiciary is an independent body and it has different levels.At the top we have Supreme court ,next High court and after that district courts and Lok adalats. It is largely based on British legal system and no wonder we often hear clamours for removal one law or the other.It has not kept pace with the changing times.It is also rightly criticised for its slow pace and there are numerous stories of cases going on for decades,when either the victims or the perpetrators themselves are not alive anymore.We do not want to go anywhere near courts and would instead prefer to either stay silent or settle the matter outside court.But there are crimes that cannot be simply ignored and buried,at least not always.With all its faults and need for reforms,Judiciary has been our pillar that has stood tall,especially during crisis such as emergency.It provides a counterweight to the overarching powers of government and politicians.Though issues like judicial overreach must be debated and considered on case by case basis,there is little debate that courts have saved the day on numerous occasions.For example the case that introduced the concept of basic structure in Constitution.Judiciary evolved and matured with our democracy and played a significant role in keeping the sapling of Constitution preserved.

The court has always been progressive and able to take tough decisions.The shah Bano case was one such example. Though often touted as progressive and visionary Rajiv Gandhi decided to use his strength in Parliament to reverse this decision and caused reforms in Muslim community to be  delayed for decades.The appeasement of extremists ,on both sides,caused mayhem in India for decades to come.The proud democracy became the first country to ban the Satanic verse to please the  medieval mindsets.To strike balance,the Ayodhya temple gates were opened.The impacts are still visible today and books,movies,plays getting banned because it hurts sentiments of one community or the other are a norm.The freedom of speech champions such as left front thought it was fine to thrown out Taslima Nasreen and then go to Delhi later and preach freedom of speech.

All this is not to hide issues in Judiciary itself. Certainly,there is corruption as well ,especially at lower levels that has not received much attention.In addition,the slow movement has been the biggest challenge to the concept of Justice in our country.But here comes another important aspect-our police system and the need of reforms in it.Rich, powerful and connected can easily influence and stall the trials and investigation.Moreover,the crime methods have become more sophisticated and police is understaffed,ill-trained and under paid to face the rising challenges.There is a lack of trust and the first point of contact in case of a crime is compromised.We need to first strengthen this institution.We also need to rely more and more on forensic evidence and upgrade investigation departments.How many times we have heard that the witness either disappeared ,was killed or have changed their statements in courts.The courage and persistence of two women in Rape case involving Ram Rahim ji were an exception,not the norm. We do not even know how many influential simply get away.Using technology ,forensic evidence and increasing accountability can resolve some of the problems.But unless we counter the challenges in police system,the reforms in judiciary may not yield the desired results.

Triple talaq Annuled

The instant triple talaq was announced unconstitutional today by the 5 bench supreme court.The NDA government welcomed the decision,claiming that their stand on the issue has been vindicated.In addition,Congress spokesperson Manish Tiwari too welcomed the decision.According to him,it was a progressive decision.It is to be noted that prominent Congress leader kapil Sibal was representing the case for continuation of triple Talaq practice.The All India Muslim Personal Law broad indicated that it will take a decision on the verdict with in few days.But,it was the ultimate victory of the group of women who were waging a battle against this regressive practice in the highest court.

The 5 judge bench delivered the verdict by a 3-2 margin for abolishing instant triple talaq.The 5 judges were from 5 major different religions of India.The 5 bench constitutional bench was hearing a case on petition filed by 5 women who themselves have been victim of this practice.There were some cases wherein talaq was delivered using whatsapp and letters.The court also cited the case of other major Muslim countries such Egypt and Pakistan ,where triple talaq is banned.
It might seem as if two judges,including chief justice JS Khehar,wanted the practice to continue.However,even the 2 other judges mentioned that the practice should be stopped for 6 months and in that time,parliament should pass a legislation on this issue.Their reasoning was that tripe talaq is a religious issue and personal law and court should not interfere.The other 3 judges disagreed and termed the practice sinful.One again court had to take an action which the society should have taken long ago.Unfortunately,the issue got politicised and some political parties viewed this as an opportunity to create a divide.But the credit goes to the petitioners who persisted and got it annulled.I wish supreme court had taken the same stand on section 377.It had overturned a high court order legalising gay relationships.It must be highlighted that section 377 is a British era law and it itself has been discontinued in UK.We,just like many such archaic laws,continue with it.The supreme court wanted state and central legislative bodies to take action and provide the homosexuals their due right.The congress leader shahshi tharoor tried to bring a private bill in lok sabha,however it was defeated by a wide margin.The margin reflected the time we,as a society, might take to overcome homophobia .But no party has made it a poll issue ,unlike BJP did for triple talaq.Even the verdict will create goodwill for BJP and might helpit with minority votes,specially women,in Gujrat and Himachal assembly elections.The other major parties have themselves to blame.Instead of taking the morally right decision,they tried to stand for illiberal and irrational voices.The decision might again ignite debate on Uniform civil code.If it does go to court,there is constitutional provision for implementation of UCC and it will be upto supreme court to decide how it approaches an even more controversial topic.

An Alternate Curriculum

We had a soaring wing webinar on the History curriculum topic. The webinar link is given below,

https://www.facebook.com/adoreindia.net/videos/vb.183953681795232/677632992427296/?type=2&theater

 The reasoning behind this webinar and topic is mentioned in the below attached document.IN this document I will specifically focus on what a session might look like and on what aspects we can focus on.

We will divide the sessions based on our objective .We will most probably have limited time and we cannot do everything. We will need to have some primary aim in mind. Based on my experience and understanding, I have designed the module. Please feel free to add/modify to it to suit your style and share your valuable insights with us. Most of the methods will improve significantly by trial and error and hence, it makes sense to collectively modify the modules and share it with others.

Objectives and session structure

Objective 1:- Our republic of India came into existence on 26th January, 1950. The constitution, judiciary, parliament , every other institution that are relevant to us today, have no mention in history. Independent India history and its evolution is as important, if not more, as the freedom movement. The familiarity with it helps understand our problems better. For emaple,the whole reservation debate today revolves around the politics of it since independence.

The absence of Independent India history has led to a disconnect among masses. We do not appreciate the positive things we have done. We did not achieve election system in a day or so. The pundits in india and abroad had predicted our demise and they could not believe how such a country divided along caste, religion, language etc. could survive for long. But , we did survive and flourish too. The understanding of problems is as important as understanding of achievements. Even educated hardly go out and vote today. The session will focus on the amazing story of independent India and journey.

 

Method-1) Students should be categorized according to age and class. Class 8.9 and 100 students are relatively mature .We will talk with them about range of topics such as :-

-Elections In India, election commission, its evolution and what can be done to improve it

-Role Of Army and its contrast with other largely autocratic military countries (Burma, Pakistan etc)

-Why caste politics took root and its journey.

– Economic, social impacts of war we had to fight.

The topic style should give them an idea of the story. I find it easier to use videos ,documentaries and even quality and historically accurate movies followed by a discussion around it. We need to try and keep students interested. This is a difficult thing to do and I myself struggle with it at times.

Method-2)

The younger kids below class 8 will not like discussions. It is simply better to focus on specific events.

–Emergency and what happened at that time

-1971,1965,1962 and kargil war

-Presidents and Prime minsiters

-Kashmir,Naga insuregency

-J.P movement

-Riots in independent India

–Assassination of Chief minister,Prime ministers and noted personalities.

We should tell a story with one of the above topics as its back ground . And proceed to give them an idea. The story will keep engaged and even through indirectly, they will know about the topic. We cannot teach them history. We can only try and make them curious. They themselves will do the rest. it is also important to realize that not everyone will like the history topic. It is always better to work with limited size and let trouble makers leave.

How to tell the story , is upto you. The stories need not be real. Our target is to tell them about such important events and its impact on our country. As said earlier, visual media of any form is always better,followed by a discussion.

 

Objective 2:-

This is even more relevant today. What do you think of the way we have debates and discussions around serious topics. Think of TV news and debates in public forums and social media, it is very rigid. There is no concept of nuance. Most of us have our conclusions ready and we will cherry pick the events that suit our narrative. We already have our minds made up ,This is why we are eve more vulnerable to misinformation and propaganda .

This symptom can be traced back to our lack of debating skills. We never learn this art in school. Even the debate competitions that we participated in school are simply reading out scripts that our teachers handed out to us. The art of debate requires open mind, listening to others and process that information, and modify our own views, if convinced, when a better argument is made. History is the only subject that offers us this opportunity. The history has many interpretations and our politicians any way whatever narratives that suits them. The different viewpoints already exist in public mind. Why not allow the students to have the same. A better history curriculum will need to be flexible and must allow students to form their own opinion, even incorrect and outright offensive at times. At least they will start to own those views. This is better than simply asking to memorize even the conclusions. Allow them to reach that conclusion.

The session focuses on initiating the nurturing the habit of constructive debate, listening , forming own opinion. This can also enhance public speaking skills of students significantly.

The sessions again should be designed keeping in mind the age and the class.

Method-1) Class 8,9,10.

Give them contrast of personalities such as Netaji Subhash and Gandhiji,Akbar and Ashok,Nehru and patel and let them evaluate. You can also focus on alternative methods and events such as Non-violence vs violence method of attaining freedom. The role of violence and revolutionaries  such as Bhagat Singh, Khudiram bose , Azad etc. It is always better to guide the debate and allow the conversations among students to proceed own its won. This will happen quickly. Most students do have the habit of debate ad speaking in public. They may hesitate. We need to find ways to get them engaged and allow them to understand importance of listening skills.

If the topic is new or unfamiliar to students, better show them some videos on this. I cannot stress more on value of visual media. Simply talking tends to get boring. We cannot lose student interest in the beginning itself.

Method-2)Below class 8

Debate on this level may not easy. it is better to capture their imaginative skills. Play among students on specific events and life of personalities can be useful. We need to ask them questions on their personally held views such as their favorite historical personalities and why do they like them? Conversely who do they dislike the most and why? What life in 15th century may have looked like?If they back to 1920,what will they do. Any answer ,however imperfect it might be,should suffice.hey need to talk to us and among themselves to reach an answer.

The aim is to get them to talk and use their own imaginative skills to reach an answer. We can use any method to achieve it.We can also ask them to write on such topics.

 

Objective 3:-

It is not an overstatement that we as citizens of India do not know our history, culture, society very well. Some are too ashamed of it ,  some are really proud of it, while others are simply indifferent. All three attitudes can be traced back to the way history curriculum is designed.

There is no mention of North East India. This certainly plays a role in the lack of awareness and the resulting racist attitude even among the educated masses.

We can relate to Holocaust more when we watch a quality movie, say Schindler’s List, but we cannot understand the magnitude of horror of partition itself. There are no museums to raise awareness among students. Any field trip is still not prevalent. Even movies are not much of quality. The combination of  kinesthetic and visual skills always work better along with auditory methods .If students actually understood the impacts of colonialism,  partition, riots etc, we would be more responsible as a society not to repeat them.

If we do not understand our issues well, how are we supposed to solve them. Patriarchy, castes and reservation, language and religion divide, all of our modern social issues have deep historical connections. An informed individual will not see them as black and white. If we understand how we reached to where we are today, we will know how to change track or even continue on them ,if it is the right thing to do.

Young kids are very imaginative and impressionable. They like stories already a lot. We need to give them the incentives and capitalize on these. Even mythological           should be fine. Comics style books do wonders. They also seem a lot interested in stories around assassinations,mystery,conspiracy etc. In addition, the stories of birbal and akbar ,tenali raman ,kautilya etc. can ignite their interest in vijayanagar empire,maurya empire etc.

As you might have guessed by now, there are too many issues. And a reform our education system is needed in order to counter them. this looks implausible since history is the most sought after and modified subject based on government of the day. Therefore, we need to provide young minds the means to look for and find answers on their own. Internet offers unlimited opportunity. The best thing we can do, keeping in mind the constraints, is to provide students the means and make them familiar with the amazing stories of history. If they become interested, they will eventually be able to cover even our varied 5000 years old history. The methods to do it are many .I have used only a fraction of them. You please give your inputs and help it improve.

History Curriculum and The Lost Opportunity

When most of us think of history, we primarily recall wars, colonialism, invasion , freedom movement etc. The reason behind is the school curriculum. The emphasis is disproportionate on British rule, mughal rule and independence movement. Students are burdened with dates and places of wars and the lesions are simply concerned  with respect to duration of particular dynasty or invasion. Unfortunately, this leads history to primarily become just another facts and date based subject. The other subjects are already being taught on the same line(geography, Physics, Math etc) and unfortunately this kind of study curriculum loses a great opportunity. We lose the chance to make students think on their own based on objective analysis.

The only thing fixed are the facts in history and historians reach a conclusion based on their interpretations of these facts. No wonder we often hear charges of bias and to be honest any alternate interpretation will be charged with the same controversy. The history often becomes battleground of ideologies and based on the government of the day ,the interpretations often change. Refer to the below link,

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NCERT_textbook_controversies

Almost all the controversies are related to political interference.

This will likely continue in the future. Here in we miss a great opportunity. There can be multiple interpretations possible and young minds should be allowed of have such differing views and debate on them. The idea is to compel them to think on their own and try to convince other of the same. And this means you should really be willing to listen to the other and agree ,if you are convinced, that the other side has better arguments. A conclusion reached in such a way would make it more legitimate. Moreover, the habits inculcated in such a way will go long way in helping the students in other aspects of life.

 

This was the history will not seem like a burden to students and since they do not need to simply memorize everything, it might actually lead to interest in the subject. It might, for example, make the student remember as to why Mahatma Gandhi went on his Dandi march and not when .That why aspect is critically linked to quit India and non-cooperation movement. These links establish Mahatma as not only an activist, but a great political mind .Because, then the history looks like a set of stories connected to the other through a common thread and students understand what event led to the other.

 

What exactly do I mean?

 

In order to proceed further, I will pose a question. What do you think of mahatma Gandhi and his contributions to freedom movement? It is very common kind of question. Our school books have given him a demi-god status. We are simply told he is beyond criticism. Same goes for other many major historical personalities. We as students were not taught to think why someone was either great or cruel. We are told this is it and you must memorize this. The reasons behind major narratives range from political to lazy curriculum design. In an alternate scenario, an objective analysis of Mahatma Gandhi  would have allowed us to at least take into account limitations of the methods he advocated. The controversial aspects of his life (racism towards Africans in South Africa,his views on Bhagat Singh and Netaji Bose,charges of being anti hindu ,his celibacy experiments towards the end of this life etc.) are simply ignored or deliberately overlooked. An objective analysis will take into account all of the above and made us reach a conclusion that Mahatma was just like us ,a human,with his own set of mistakes and should not be judged simply on these controversial aspects of his life .

One unfortunate outcome of such a curriculum we are witnessing today. The current generation is a product of the prevalent education system and we are also the most vulnerable to whatsapp journalism. Because we as students were not taught to think objectively on our own based on a set of events and facts, we are more susceptible to misinformation campaigns.

The way it should have been:-

To begin with, any alternate history curriculum will have its own set of faults. The reason is that first our history is more than 5000 years old. And even that is not uniform geographically. Often different areas had its own historical developments that led to its unique language and culture.

Most of our time in the past were spent on normal day to activities. These set of events and activities  led to the social structure and culture we witness today. Most of the controversial aspects of our society have deep historical roots(caste system, patriarchy, superstition, riots).These issues are in turn tied to major events today such as reservation system.

 

The history needs to be taught in a way that focuses more on the why and how aspect rather than on when and where aspect. It needs to be taught as a set of stories that are linked to each other through a common thread. But as long as the exams question the dates, the invasions and the names of the places where battle took place ,the students have no incentive to focus elsewhere.

With such constraints, I believe it is better to focus on history as a separate hobby or topic that students will follow separately from their studies. Our sessions will be targeted towards enticing students towards the rich and fascinating set of stories that the history offers.

Primary purpose:-

From my experience till now, I believe that keeping the constraints in mind, we can focus on the following :-

  • For students of class 8,9 and 10,we can use history as a medium to encourage debates. The debates will focus on contrast between personalities(Mahatma Gnadhi vs Netaji Bose, Akbar vs Ashoka , Nehru vs Sardar Patel etc.).The aim will be to compel students to reach a conclusion on their own and form an opinion based on facts and events. However, imperfect it might be ,we first need them to from the opinion. Then we need to allow the debate to proceed on its own on among differing groups. This may not directly lead to students learning history for exam. But it can develop the habit of thinking objectively among the students. Not to mention, it could also encourage students interest in the subject overall.
  • For kids younger than 12, we will focus on simply stories and through these stories impart valuable lessions. The stories can be told through videos, books or through short plays among the students. Even the mythological stories can be of immense help. At the end of the story, we will keep the common thread of the story intact and will ask students to enquire on their won.

This was we can include other relevant topics such as anti-bullying(history is replete with stories that include bullying, the beginning of British empire in India was a mix of Bullying and coercion),civic sense,hygiene.

 

 

  • Most of us remember the names of Swami vivekanada ,Raja Ram Mohan Roy, RabidraNath tagore, Kalidas etc. But we cannot exactly recall what they stood for. We remember that Vivekanada gave a great speech on Hinduism in Chicago and feel proud of it.But what did he say exactly? What prompted him to say that? How much do you agree with that speech? Similarly, we remember Tagore won Nobel prize .We are proud of it. But what were his stands on other issues? What he thought of nationalism and religion? We just remember that these are great personalities but cannot recall the very ideas that make them great. I have often found Tagore,Viekanada,Raja Ram Mohan Roy and Ambedkar personalities who were way ahead of their time. Their views are more relevant today than ever before.These people were way ahead of their time and had very enlightened position on many topics. If instead of focusing on porbandar as Mahatma birth place, we focus on how his movements attacked the very basis of British Raj, the financial exploitation of India and Raj. The swadeshi movement ,dandi march all were not random movements, but instead we thought out political movements .Mahatma Gandhi was not simply an activist advocating non-violence but also a great political mind.The subtlety and nuance such as these finds no place in our history. The black and white narrative leads to more divide and breeds ignorance so much so that groups advocating Nathuram Ram godse as a hero do find sympathy among a section the population. There are also people who are having a Nirvana moment that There are numerous examples today, for example character assassination of Nehru and Gandhi, that points towards glaring lack of our history education. Why do such misinformation campaigns find foot among even the educated masses?

We need to emphasize more on the ideas that great personalities stood for along with considering the faults these personalities might have had. This will lead to a more nuanced and balanced conclusion. History is the only subject that offers this opportunity. I must emphasize that aim is not to again dictate to children that Mahahtma was great. We must allow for the freedom for a faulty conclusion to exist instead of getting offended . Suppressing alternate points of view, however incorrect you think it might be, offers such narratives an opportunity to prolong its life. We need to question the logic employed .

Please note, I have not mentioned even the tip of the iceberg. Even controversial topics such as religion, language divide, caste etc. can be rationalised with impartial study of history.

The quintessential Indian millennial

Someone once fondly recalled childhood saying – “We didn’t realise we were making memories we just knew we were having fun.”
While this holds true to each of our hearts, our social media feeds and bio often say otherwise and paint a different past.
Growing up in the 90s had its own charm.Be it watching Shaktimaan with a warm
mug of bournvita and finishing the last drop of the thick chocolate sediment as credits start rolling or fixating our eyes on to the tv screen while Sachin wove magic with his bat.Besides we had the undisputed privilege of watching classic Disney cartoon short films every evening.The only other superheroes we heard of were He-man,Spider-Man and Batman.
I for one never knew that Marvel or DC comics were a thing or for that matter even Star Wars or Star Trek.But everyone else today seems to have grown and gone through a different childhood.With no offence to the cult following the above programmes enjoy, Star Wars in India was never out there for every kid to see.It is a norm here to find blank expressions at the mention of a storm trooper or a Jedi knight.
Its strange even trying to relate to people who express excitement about the latest Batman movie or share memes referring to instances from Star Wars without having seen or heard about them earlier ever.I don’t understand the hype around iron man -I had never heard of him before the first Iron man movie hit Indian theatres or for that matter Thor and the most part of the avengers’ cast.This fabricated reality of the past goes far beyond movies and fictional characters.We never drank milk from a mason jar growing up or saw people read classics as passionately as they post about it as a long lost memory.We never celebrated Halloween or participated in ballerina recitals(well some might have but most did not).We had no concept of bridesmaids and the list can goes on.
Those fancy sepia Instagram posts with references to childhoods are mere reflections of what we would have wanted our childhoods to look like.The need to conform to the “in vogue” standards of childhood is not one that any of us Indian kids have lived.For instance, many of us never bothered bonding with our household maids and milkmen serving us since ages and yet, now, we post closeups of their heavily wrinkled faces.This might as well count as “humane” photography giving them two minutes of their long overdue fame while they smile and unsuspectingly oblige.
If I were to indeed retrospect, our childhoods  were a breeze of cool air.It was collecting money for that one cosco tennis ball for playing cricket.It was board games like Ludo or Snakes and Ladders.It was fighting for the last piece of samosa and racing home to defeat that friend in a cycle race

Climate Change Deniers

As expected,US pulled out of Paris Climate deal.there were signs already since the new administration came in power.Technically,the deal is not legally binding.The targets mentioned are voluntary .However,the countries might need to be verified by external agencies to verify the veracity of claims.The US joined only Syria and Nicargua in rejecting the proposed climate deal.However,the Syria could not join due to civil war and Nicargua felt that rich and developed countries did not pledge enough help in terms of finance and technology. It will be interesting to see the domestic development after the pull out.

US under Barack Obama  was one of the leaders who pushed and finalized the deal.It was an amazing achievement.The major polluters US,CHINA,EU and INDIA were party to it .There is support among public as well for limiting global programming including US.Economics is also serving as a catalyst leading to boom in renewable energy sector.The development has spawned many startups focused on this sector.Also traditional Auto makers and energy companies have been taking steps aimed at increasing fuel efficiency .Therefore,the tilt towards renewable seems unstoppable.India has also seem significant development in renewable sector.Solar,Wind and biomass could contribute 40% of energy requirement.There is also increasing awareness among the masses and there is no climate change deniers  group here in India.Since we import close to 80% of crude iol and it contributes the most to trade deficit,it makes senses as well to diversify energy sources.Recently power minister Piyush goyal emphasized on the need to promote electric cars and claimed that we might move towards electric cars completely by 2030.This will require not only government support but also public participation.Transport minister Nitin Gadkari had also pledged support for electric cars.

The claim that Paris deal is leading to loss of jobs ,is preposterous.When to cut down on Coal use and focus on renewable,it simply transfers the job from non renewable sector to non renewable.India ,China both have significant employment generated because of renewable.The core reason behind climate change are vested interests.The Republican party relies heavily on Oil and Coal companies for funding. Before Donald Trump,it was George Bush who pulled out of Kyoto protocol as soon s he was elected.The data presented to deny Climate changes is often misleading and there is widespread scientific community behind such claims. The Coal is anyway facing stiff competition from natural and Shale oil gas.Despite all its tall claims,US is now the biggest oil producer in the world.Probably,only making documentaries with the help of Leading hollywood stars seems to serve the purpose.US still the biggest producer in the world of CO2 and it has historic responsibilities.The average american causes 15 times more CO2 emission than an average Indian does.The most significant impact can be achieved by changing the life style of developed nations.India has close to 250 million people still living in darkness.It needs to balance its aspirations,development along with cut in CO2 emissions.It seems well set on its way to do so. The US pull out has also provided other world leaders the opportunity to look ahead without US.Several EU nations have the technical and financial muscle to help the developing and under developed nations achieve their targets.The China is now at the center of renewable energy sector and It could lead the way for the world along with EU.It will be interesting too see how US proceeds.Simply pulling out of the deal cannot disrupt market forces and most probably the US will return to its commitment to climate change once there is a change in government. It could be 2020 or 2024.we will have to see the CO2 release levels  by US in the coming years.

The IT Shake up

News websites are buzzing with impending doom in the Indian IT sector. There are reports of employees being fired in thousands and that this trend will continue. I belong to this industry and the reports can be quite unnerving too.I will give my two cents and let you decide.

Ever since the Y2K bug phenomena, the industry grew leaps and bounds and transformed into  a multi billion dollar industry. It is also one of the biggest employment creators in the private sector. The market continued to do well even during the financial crisis and there was not a major crisis in terms of employment generation. The current shift in technology towards automation and cloud computing is forcing industry to realign itself. The  tilt was visible long ago and the industry insiders were aware of it. There was an internal emphasis on re skilling associates and they were encouraged to learn and master new technologies. however, we are talking about a number in millions. The natural order of things dictates that not everyone will succeed in this endeavour and even the success in acquiring skills mandates new and exciting opportunities. The challenges for employees are also in terms of growth. The constant hiring of new resources allows companies to get the work done economically. Because of increasing supply in terms of engineers and limited opportunities ,the companies have the upper hand when it comes to deciding the compensation structure. The employees with 10+ years experience who transitioned to managerial level work, are the most vulnerable group. Their job profile is increasingly becoming redundant and they cannot compete with new recruits in terms of energy and effort. In addition to this ,they often have family and house/car loans. All this does create nightmarish situation for sure.

Yet, it is also relevant to look at the impact of technological change on other sectors. Automobile sector is witnessing a revolution. Along with boom in electric car population, even the traditional cars are becoming increasingly reliant on software. The banking sector has also witnessed dramatic change in terms of inclusion of technology .The bank braches look increasingly empty and an ATM cans server all your purpose. The job profile of clerk and cashier might soon become redundant. This might not necessarily lead to large scale firing, but banks will surely cut down on new recruitment. Similarly, financial sector is also becoming more competitive-wallets and digital payment systems  such as Paytm, mobiwik, UPI,BHIM app are driving the next stage of growth. And to highlight one oversight by IT companies, they failed to seize the opportunity when it came to local market. It companies generate significant revenue from financial institutions and the inherent changes in the sector will have serious consequences for IT sector as well. Technology has also made manufacturing more efficiency t and the manual non skilled jobs have almost vanished. Therefore,the onslaught of technology will challenge the employment structure itself. We were late to the party. We should have made foray in mobile phone market sooner as well. And the nature of IT itself makes it the ideal candidate for frequent and rapid changes.