World

Governments and politics have always been in the biased clutches of nepotism all around the world. Nepotism can be defined as the practice of using power and influence to favour relatives and friends over others, especially while giving jobs and making promotions. Manu Joseph has quoted in his New York Times article that, “The Indian elite is a system where there is a 100 percent reservation for its own genetic material”.

India is not untouched from Nepotism:

The State cabinet ministers in Kerala have decided to pass a legislation which would curb nepotism in government appointments. The decision has been provoked by frequent controversies that were made after the appointment of some relatives of CPM leaders to high-ranking posts in few public sector undertakings (PSUs). All the top posts like the Managing Director in PSUs will now be allotted only after scrutinisation by the vigilance committee.

The Samajwadi Party is repeatedly accused by opposition leaders as well as media houses of promoting nepotism in politics. BSP leader Mayawati states that they support nepotism rather than socialism. Similarly, Congress has been pelted with accusatory comments from a long time in Indian politics as the Gandhi-Nehru family continued to appoint prime leaders from their family. Rahul Gandhi, is often criticised of being a hereditary successor to his family’s political background without being worthy of the role.

Recently, Prime Minister Narendra Modi encouraged political leaders and portfolio-holders not to ask for tickets for their kindred or friends as there are other hard-working and deserving candidates who might miss upon the opportunity. It has been reported that several party leaders have cited their family members’ achievements and merits on their own letter-heads to create a good picture about how they have worked tirelessly for the parties and the community.

World’s powerful nation also follows Nepotism: 

The US President Donald Trump has been attacked for practicing nepotism in appointing his son-in-law as a senior advisor in the White House a little while back. The legal fraternity holds two different views on this issue. One is that since the anti-nepotism law enacted in 1978 allows the President to appoint his own White House staff without interference of any other provision of law dealing with employment, Trump has made no mistake. The other viewpoint states that the decision by Trump violates a 50 year old federal law and will set up a bad example for the future Presidents of the US.

Pakistan is no far too:

Nepotism can be observed in the politics of Pakistan as well. Bilawal Zardari, whose mother and grandfather are both former Prime Ministers of Pakistan, is the Chairman of the Pakistan Peoples Party. He went abroad to study and returned to take up a hereditary political role.

Neither UK is untouched, be it in politics or in private agencies! 

The United Kingdom does not have specific anti-nepotism laws but nepotism policies are adopted by several private companies. It has been stated that more than 200 MPs used their parliamentary allowances and liberties to employ their relatives and friends to different official posts in the U.K. It has often been suggested that nepotism should be banned in the United Kingdom but no conclusive law has been made till now.

Though some countries do not have anti-nepotism laws but private companies can put in place employee policies regarding nepotism at workplace.

So it can be summarised that nepotism has infiltrated world politics.

When did you last talk to your customer care service exceutive? Did you talk with a human or a bot?

Very interesting, isn’t it? Its ok! Don’t worry you are born curious and stay in that way because we are here to answer all your questions which arise in your mind.

Even if you haven’t started using chatbots, gear up to hear a lot about them. Poncho is the top ranked chatbot on Chatbottle. This futuristic sounding customer-service tool is already in use by some huge brands like Sephora and KLM and its poised to become the next big thing in marketing sector. Like Siri for brands, chatbots are quickly rising as a new “voice” in consumer communications. These chatty computer programs respond to texts or digital chats, effectively carrying on superficial-conversations with the humans. These bots have stronger conversation abilities than ever before.

There are different ways in which chatbots can be programmed. The most elementary form is rules-based. These rules-based bots are the most similar to automated customer service lines and guide consumers through a decision tree model. Bots have evolved to incorporate NLP, which translates common language into a form the bot’s system can understand. It extracts the user’s intent through a sentence and turns it into a command a machine can understand. Adding another level to NLP is AI, which enables the bot to “learn” through its interactions. Professional writers at editorial content marketing companies like Masthead Media can script chatbots with dialogue that not only reflects the brand identity, but also encourages consumers to continue engagement. These chatbots can mimic a conversation with a customer in a tone that reflects the brand’s identity. This back and forth communication can lead to happy and surprising moments to the consumers. Another important component of optimizing the bot is to understand and work with chatbots’ limitations.

Chatbots are getting more sophisticated all the time. However, chatbots are still in infancy which means people are going to have some negative experiences too.Two words: Microsoft Tay, Microsoft launched an AI bot named “Tay” that was programmed to mirror chatters’ speech patterns. But it created a lot of problems, that warned against entirely replacing utilitarian components of the website.

So, the moral here is to be careful with this emerging technology, and always prepare critically for the worst way consumers may try to use it. Chatbots reach the consumers when they want to be reached. Chatbots have their own personality but make sure you focus on utility over personality.

So, are you already thinking of unlocking a bot’s potential for your brand? Go ahead!

What causes some people to lose their memory while others stay sharp as a tack? Genes play a role, but so do choices. Proven ways to protect memory include following a healthy diet, good sleep, exercising regularly, not smoking, and keeping blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar in check. Living a mentally active life is important, too. Just as muscles grow stronger with use, mental exercise helps keep mental skills and memory in tone.

Are certain kinds of “brain work” more effective than others? Any brain exercise is better than being a mental couch potato. But the activities with the most impact are those that require you to work beyond what is easy and comfortable. Playing endless rounds of solitaire and watching the latest documentary marathon on the History Channel may not be enough. Learning a new language, volunteering, and other activities that strain your brain are better bets.

Here are few techniques by which one can drastically improve their memory.
According to Prateek Yadav, memory athlete, 4X Indian memory champion and also the first and only International Grandmaster of Memory from India, our brain is extremely good at memorising images than abstract things. Converting data into bizarre images and connecting them into a creative story can help retain a huge amount of data. For example; cat, sofa, pool, table, walk, instead of repeating it over and over one can create a bizarre story by imagining a cat jumping on a sofa and into a pool which has a long table in it, which can’t be seen and it walks on it which looks as if it’s walking on water. So the more bizarre and outrageous the story the better it can be retained.

Memory is just like any other skill which can be improved through regular practice. We don’t store information correctly in the first place so Being Attentive as much as possible can help a lot. The advent of gadgets has made us lazier so instead of storing info in mobile we can make a conscious effort to memorise it or one can try puzzles to keep brain sharp.

Apart from all memory techniques, overall health and activities play a vital role. Expertise regards poor sleep as memory killing factor, 7-8 hrs of sleep a day is important to remember more of our task. Exercise increases heart rate which gets the blood flowing to the brain, thus keeping memory sharp. Running, swimming, biking – any form of exercise – for at least 30 minutes helps enlarge the hippocampus, which is regarded as the ‘memory centre of the brain’. Meditation is Key, meditation produces a positive charge in the brain’s grey matter overtime, which is important for memory, learning and self-awareness, in addition, meditation has been shown to reduce stress. Quitting multitasking and being mentally active are the other factors recommended by doctors to improve one’s memory.

So, now anyone can become Prateek Yadav with constant practice and will power. Good luck!

WannaCry ransomware, also known as WanaCryptor 2.0, is a ransomware program targeting Microsoft Windows and was detected this Friday as one of the most widely spreading ransomware around the world, earmarking users and organizations including NHS (British National Health Service) in England, Telefonica in Spain, Fed Ex in USA, Interior Ministry of Russia and Academic Institutes in China.

Breaking it down.

A ransomware is a program run by a group of remorseless hackers that take control of computers and block access to them, until the demanded ransom is paid. This ransom, in the case of wannaCry ransomware, is in terms of bitcoins. It displays a message on the screen and blocks all access to your files by encrypting them.  Simple ransomwares can be reversed by professionals. However, it is highly difficult and challenging to do so with a complex one like wannaCry. This exploit is termed as Eternal blue.

Why should the common man worry?

The ransomware has been spreading very fast and has already affected 150 countries within 2 days. It had affected 11 countries in less than the first two hours. The wannaCry ransomware has not specifically targeted the organisations that were influenced, which means that it could be random and this is what the common man should be aware of. Ransomwares might enter the computer when users download the wrong files or due to the vulnerability in network service and also through baleful email attachments. The ransomware can encrypt a wide range of file types including the ones with following extensions: .txt, .doc, .pem, .der, .zip, .gif, .raw, .sch, .avi, .wks, .123, .fla, .cmd, .vcd, .jpeg, .mp4, .ps1, .dip, .3gp, .PAQ, only to state a few.

What actually happens when a computer is attacked?

All the files on the computer are encrypted by the malicious software, leaving only two files open for the user – Instructions set on what has to be done next as a .txt file named ‘!Please Read Me.txt’ and a window demanding ransom and displaying content that essentially means, all files from the computer will be deleted if the user fails to pay the ransom, within a certain amount of time, which adds to the psychological constraint. The ransom demanded is often between 0.3 to 1 bitcoin, which amounts to 28,000 to 1,00,000 Rupees. Here’s how the window looks like:

The WannaCry Ransomware attack was detected this Friday, on the 12th of May 2017, and by the weekend it has been reported to have affected around 2,30,000 computers in 150 countries. It began with Russia, spread to Ukraine, Taiwan and the other countries. This is huge.

If your computer is attacked, DO NOT pay the ransom, as that would only encourage the hackers. Speaking of which, a lot of concerns in the readers’ minds on ‘How the data is to be protected otherwise?’ cannot be left unaddressed.

The security evangelists suggest that, the best security strategy for protection of your data, is prevention and backup of data and The Indian Computer Emergency Response Team is doing their part to help us stick to the strategy. In view of high damage potential of the ransomware, a webcast has been arranged to create awareness among users/organizations on the 15th of May from 11 AM on http://webcast.gov.in/cert-in/.  Tune in to the link for any further in-depth information regarding the ransomware and its prevention measures. It will only take 20-25 minutes to watch the video and protect your systems. Beware, Be protected.

 

Pro Eu- Centrist Emmanuel Macron has won The French Presidency after crushing far-right leader Marine Le Pen in the significant presidential election that has vowed to amalgamate a divided and fractured France. The election was held, on 23rd April 2017, the results were announced on 7th May 2017. Independent centrist has won the election by 65.1% (2,04,29,650) to Le Pen’s 34.9% (1,06,08,109). Addressing thousands of his adherents he said, ” I will fight with all my strength against the divisions that are undermining us”.
A person who was unknown to the world three years ago is now the youngest president on the planet.

This was a historical result specifically to the future of European union and to the liberal leaning people. The region and its people, who are far away from right wing ideologies find solace from his victory.

Saudi Arabia was elected to the UN Commission on the Status of Women. This UN agency is exclusively dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women. Saudi Arabia was elected by a secret ballot last week of the UN’s 54 – nation Economic and Social Council.

Saudi Arabia is the world’s most gender segregated nation with the world’s most misogynistic regime. All women in Saudi Arabia must have a legal male guardian who will​ make all critical decisions on behalf of her. Saudi Arabian women are forbidden from obtaining a passport, marrying or accessing higher education if a man does not approve.

Hillel Neuer, the executive director of UN Watch, a non-governmental body that monitors the United Nations, has said, “Electing Saudi Arabia to protect women’s rights is like making an arsonist into the town chief”.

Saudi Arabia is also in the UN Human Rights Council.

India has become a global hub for software development and offshoring of back office services, over the last two decades. According to Thomas Friedman, it is innovation that will keep the West ahead of the developing world – with the more sophisticated, innovative tasks being done in the developed world, and the drudge work being done in the developing world.

With respect to the increasing flight of white-collar jobs to India from the developed world, the important question is, will India go from being a favoured destination for software services and back office services to a destination for innovation?
When this question was asked to several executives, their response was negative, as they believed Indians could not be creative. But some people said that there is nothing to do with Indians, it’s really the rule-based, regimented education system in India that is responsible for killing all creativity. Not only this, they believe that if one want to see real creativity, they have to go to Silicon Valley, and look at companies like Google, Microsoft and Intel.

On examining the level of corporate innovation in various cities, it was observed that the heads​ of a majority of R&D centres or innovation labs of various multinational companies were Indians, who were educated in India itself. So, the right question to ask would be, can Indians based out of India do innovative work?

Professors Nirmalya Kumar and Phanish Puranam of the London Business School explore this question in their book “India Inside”. The book says that India is well represented in innovation, but the innovation that is being done in India is in a form one did not anticipate, and the authors called it “invisible innovation.” And specifically, as per the authors, there are four types of invisible innovations that are coming out of India.

Innovation for Business Customers: The R&D and innovation of a new product or service is done in India but is branded under the name of the MNC which is not Indian. Thus, what is visible to the end user is not where it is developed but the name under which it is sold.

Outsourcing Innovation: Foreign companies contract Indian companies to do a major part of their product development work for their global products which are going to be sold to the entire world. For example, XCL Technologies developed two of the mission critical systems for the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner; one to avoid collisions in the sky, and the other to allow landing in zero visibility. But the ultimate users of Boeing 787 will never know the actual developers of this invisible innovation.

Process Innovation : This deals with the “process” to create or develop or manufacture a new product and not the new product itself. New products are generated with this new innovative process. For example, the advent of call centres in India. It’s only in India that youth have opted to work in call centres as a choice rather than a last resort. These educated enthusiasts then attach their creativity and expand this sector through innovative processes such as predictive modelling. Thus, it is the injection of intelligence to a process, which has revived the sector. But this process was considered to be dead in the west for a long time.

Management Innovation :  This is about new and novel ways to organise work. The most significant innovation to come out of India has been the global delivery model which allows you to take the geographically core-located tasks and break them up into parts, send them around the world where the expertise and the cost structure exists, and then specify the means for reintegrating them. Without this, there would not have been any of the other invisible innovations today.

As Indians spend time working in these facilities, the country will inevitably begin to notice the benefits of a ‘sinking skill ladder’. What does this mean?

Initially, MNCs were comfortable outsourcing only the most basic of research. But after a few years, they reached​ a point where they either moved the higher end work to India or take it to their higher cost home country. Most inevitably they moved work to India helping Indians climb up the skill ladder. Kumar and Puranam accept that for now, it is bottom end work that is coming to India but is confident that in time this will change.
Other examples abound. Take the much-touted global delivery model that IT companies pioneered in the wake of the Y2K scare. Companies like TCS, Wipro and Infosys used this opportunity to build their reputations and have since taken on more tasks that are integral to the business process of their clients. As India gets more noticed by global companies, there will inevitably be more Indians reaching the top of global corporations that would lead to more work being sent to India.
However, studies shows that a much larger and wider scope for innovation in India still remains untapped. If improved, India can become a global hub for innovation just like it has become a global hub for back office services and software development because India has the youngest growing population in the world. Sadly, Indian institutes and the​education system are incapable of producing students in the quantity and quality needed to keep this innovation engine going. Hence, the need of the hour is to improve the education system of the country to be able to utilise the innovative minds of the budding youth population and expand their creative thinking. Further, once the right potential is tapped efficiently, the time will come when innovation will become a norm in the Indian society rather than remaining an exception.

For more info: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zodVSlOuShc

Hitler is hated all over the world for killing the Jews, for being insensitive, inhuman; and primarily for causing the ‘German Holocaust’. But there are other leaders a well who have a darker and far more cruel side to them than the world knows.
Not only Hitler, but Winston Churchill, too is hated by many for his deeds, specially by Indians.

In 1934, present day West Bengal(in India) and Bangladesh suffered one of the worst famines the region has ever seen. During the period, India was still in Churchill’s hands and he refused to cut off supply for the war. People were let to die out of hunger but war supplies were met by exporting from famine struck areas. Not only this, Churchill once very coldly said that ‘Indians breed like rabbits’.

Is not enough for Indians to hate Churchill? Apart from this Churchill’s racism is also widely known.

He was a white supremacist and believed that Africans are the lowest on the hierarchy while White European hold the top most stature. His attitudes were similarly hostile towards Jew and Islam. For Churchill, Jews were responsible for causing antagonism and they were suffering for it. He further remarked that his ‘loyalty’ will be with his ‘own race’.

For Islam, Churchill once said, “Improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce and insecurity of property exist wherever the followers of the Prophet rule or live.” this statement in itself says lot about Churchill’s idea of Islam.

After all this that Churchill did, can we still charge Hitler of being the worst? Definitely no, all leaders have a detestable side to them as Churchill and Hitler.

Bar Rafeli once said ‘Have the passion, take action and magic will happen’.
Senthil Kumar, who is presently the Program Manager at GESCI (Global e-School and Communities Initiative), an UN initiative is an exemplary for Bar Rafeli’s words. A person who chose passion over profession, who chose to work for education of millions over a huge sum or money.
Senthil worked as an engineer for a decade, gave up his high paying job in 2000 and an approaching career to follow his passion. He calls his first move towards socio-economic development as a ‘drastic shift’ in his career. He devoted himself to education as he firmly believes that education is key to development. From the late nineties onwards, education was beginning to integrate with technology and some organizations were keen to work on this. Senthil found way to his passion through this emergence and took his first move by joining Schoolnet India Ltd., (presently, IL&FS ETS Limited) that worked for bringing technology and education together and worked as project manager and handled the technology deployment for teaching and learning for kinder garden to class 10th students for South India. He then moved to Azim Premji Foundation in 2003 and was responsible for creating over 550 e-learning content modules in 14 languages. The idea was to make education a fun and vibrant  activity through the technology tools. With this e-learning content, in partnership with state education departments, they reached 35 million children across 21,000 school in India by 2008. The learnings that emerged from the e-learning content deployment, teacher traning and technology models have been strongly leveraged and constructed into policy and stratiges development for both state and federal level for integration of technology into education sector.


He achieved new heights when the Indian content was implied on international level in Algeria, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. These countries have approached Government of India and other Development partners to support technology integration into their education sector. In partnership with Governemnt of India and Development partners, Senthil has represented Azim Premji Foundation and supported these countries for tying the stings of education and technology. This acted as a stepping stone for working at the International level. Then he moved to GESCI, an United Nations initiative and assisted Government of Rwanda for holistic approach towards integration of technology into education sector. As part of his efforts, the partnership was signed between Ministry of Education, Rwanda and Azim Premji Foundation with the blessings and endorsement from Government of India to contextualize the e-learning content and deploy it in Rwanda. He continued his work in Africa and supporting many countries for; ICT in Education policy and strategy development, Digital Content Resources development, Teachers Professional Development, Monitoring and Evaluation of ICT in Education initiatives. With the result of deeper engagement in the ICT in Education development and African countries aspiration for the Knowledge Society Development, GESCI has developed the 9 months long blended learning model of Leadership Development Program for Knowledge Society Advancement in Africa. This initiative is implemented by GESCI in partnership with African Union Commission with the funding support from Ministry for Foreign Affairs Finland. Presently, the programme is implemented in 16 African countries covering Southern, Eastern, West and North Africa region. They trained Government Leaders started their significant contribution towards shaping up the knowledge Society Advancement in Africa. Senthil presently heads this Leadership Development programme and based at Nairobi, Kenya.

Continue reading…

Social media is becoming completely integrated in our lives.  It has altered the way we communicate as human beings.

There is a social media tool to satisfy every type of person. There are the industry titans such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, MySpace.

Social media has enabled us to connect with many people across the world without much effort.

When you take away these social tools,  it hurts productivity and it simply makes life a lot more dull. Social media creates an environment where you can develop more relationships with people who have common interests.

Its your turn to think hard about what social media tools have done for you.

How might life be different right now without them?

Could you live without your Facebook profiles and friends? Would  you be sending more emails or calling your friends more?

Without these tools,  there might be two things,

  •  Sitting at the desk, listening to cricket chirp waiting for my phone to ring.

It would feel like the anchor on local TV news, simply broadcasting the news rather than interacting and building a community around it.

If we imagine the life without social media, then the youth of the  nation could no longer depend on picture captions for political or social context.

Before the existence of social media the youth had to take stands and decisions unendorsed by likes and shares and many found they lacked conviction.

Without pop-culture reference and film scenes to provide context,  ideas had to be communicated in full sentences which were found to be boring. Certain Prime Ministers and Presidents could no longer jump the queue on facts or public opinions.  They had to wait for the facts to emerge along with voters.

The only positive thing which we  see is that relatives were  easier to love and cherish as they were no longer sharing misogynist or racist comments on family groups.

Life without social media is just unimaginable!  Continue reading…

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