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Friday, September 22, 2017

IIM Bangalore, German B-schools Tie Up To Launch International Management Programme For Technologists 09-22



The Indian Institute of Management Bangalore (IIM Bangalore) has announced a partnership with two premier German B-schools - the Friedrich Alexander University of Erlangen-Nuremberg (FAU) and the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits IIS, Germany for an International Management Programme for Technologists (IMPT), an innovative Executive Education Programme. The IMPT is designed by the three management schools to enable technology leaders respond effectively to challenges and complexities that they face, said a statement from IIM Bangalore. 

Offered to engineering and technology managers, R&D leaders, product designers and architects, and managers in charge of large and complex projects in India and Europe, the unique two-week programme will be offered at both locations, with participants traveling to Nuremberg and Bangalore for one week each. 

The focus of the programme is on innovation, technology-driven business models, intrapreneurship and platform business models.

"The IMPT distils the key elements of Indian and German technology ecosystems to deliver the competencies required for global business. The Erlangen Nuremberg area in Germany is the origin of Industry 4.0, and is known for its manufacturing excellence. Bangalore is home to a vibrant technology start-up ecosystem and is widely considered to be the Silicon Valley of India," Prof. R. Srinivasan, Chairperson, Executive Education Programmes at IIM Bangalore said while highlighting the key takeaways of the new programme.

The partnership, according to IIM Bangalore, brings together best-in-class academicians and leading researchers on strategic innovation, cooperation and management, and the digital transformation of organizations. 

"The IMPT helps participants understand how to compete using technology and leverage the benefits of open innovation in a sharing economy, and promote intrapreneurship," Prof. Dr. Kathrin M Moslein, Chairperson, Information Systems, Innovation and Value Creation at Friedrich-Alexander University of Erlangen-Nuremberg said.

"It will equip managers to work in cross-functional, cross-cultural and geographically distributed teams," he added.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Top Trends in the Gartner Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies, 2017 09-22





A feature on the Gartner Hype Cycle, by Kasey Panetta, suggests enterprises need to explain the business potential of blockchain, artificial intelligence and augmented reality.

The technology would offer higher levels of performance from employees and offer businesses an edge. Whilst the technology is upwards of 10 years from mainstream adoption, it has the potential to create a multi-billion dollar human augmentation market.  While human augmentation is just at the beginning of the innovation trigger phase of the Hype Cycle, complementary emerging technologies such as machine learning, blockchain, drones (commercial UAVs), software-defined security and brain-computer interfaces have moved significantly along the Hype Cycle since 2016.

The Gartner Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies, 2017 focuses on three emerging technology mega-trends:
  1. Artifical Intelligence
  2. Transparently immersive experiences
  3. Digital platforms
These three emerging technologies are discussed in detail in the article and can be seen represented in the figure below:





Augmented Reality Spending Exploding 11X To $36.4B in 2023, Greenlight Says 09-22


Apple just released ARKit and Google just released ARCore in the last few months. But revenue for augmented reality devices and content will hit a massive $36.4 billion in 2023, according to Greenlight Insight's newest report.

That's 11 times higher than the estimated $3.4 billion in revenue in 2019.
Greenlight Insights



Estimated augmented reality revenue from devices and content

Current devices in the space include Microsoft's Hololense, Google's second version of the Google Glass, and the Meta 2. Apple's new iPhone X and high-end Android-powered devices are the thin edge of the wedge driving augmented reality experiences into the consumer consciousness.

We're about to see a lot more devices, however:

According to the report, the total number of augmented reality (AR) head-mounted displays will grow from two million in 2019 to 30 million in 2023. That means, of course, that the tipping point is still a ways off ... several years, in fact.

“We are expecting a faster adoption of AR headsets than what we have seen with virtual reality headsets," Clifton Dawson, CEO of Greenlight Insights, said in a statement. "But optimism should be tempered as the AR ecosystem must address substantial problems on numerous base levels.”
Head-mounted AR revenues should reach $12.9 billion in sales by the end of 2020, the report says. Device revenue is most of that: $7.1 billion, with content revenue taking the rest.

And device revenue should grow fast: the report estimates a compound annual growth rate of 98% from 2019 to 2023.

Early devices are going to hit industrial and professional workplaces first, with prices for head-mounted displays in the $1000-3000 range currently. Those prices will come down, of course, and phone-driven systems with lower quality can be priced as low as $100.

Key markets the report identifies include healthcare, industrial design, manufacturing, education, and training. As device penetration grows, so will demand for content and software.

"In the five years to 2023, consumer and commercial spending on AR content and software is forecasted to grow at an average annual rate of 78% to $15.4 billion," the report says.

By 2023, Greenlight says that 53% of spending will be consumer spending. The key driver will be no surprise to technology industry veterans: gaming.

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History of zero pushed back 500 years by ancient Indian text,was it during Ashoka's time.09-22



























The earliest recorded use of zero

The symbol “0” is a familiar sight, but its origins are far from certain. A recent batch of carbon dating is causing the history of mathematics to be rewritten, as it has discovered zeros dating back to a period 500 years before previously seen.

The numbers appear in an ancient Indian text called the Bakhshali manuscript, which consists of 70 leaves of birch bark, filled with mathematics and text in the form of Sanskrit. “It seems to be a training manual for Buddhist monks,” says Marcus du Sautoy at the University of Oxford.

The manuscript was first discovered by a local farmer in 1881, and was named after the village it was found in, in what is now Pakistan. It’s been housed by the University of Oxford’s Bodleian library since 1902.



Now, for the first time, the manuscript has been carbon dated – and this has immediately upturned some commonly held beliefs. It was originally thought that manuscript was from the 9th century, but the dating methods revealed that the oldest pages are from somewhere between 224 AD and 383 AD.
This means that the manuscript predates a 9th century inscription of zero on the wall of a temple in Gwalior, India, which was previously considered to be the oldest recorded example of a zero.

Across the text there are hundreds of zeros denoted using a dot. It’s this dot that will later evolve to be the symbol with a hole in the middle that we know today. The dot was originally used as a placeholder, like how “0” is used in the number 505 to denote that there are no tens, but was not yet a number in its own right.

The use of zero as a placeholder appeared in several different ancient cultures, such as the ancient Mayans and Babylonians. But only the Indian dot that would eventually go on to gain true number status, first described in 628 AD by the Indian astronomer and mathematician Brahmagupta.
“Some of these ideas that we take for granted had to be dreamt up. Numbers were there to count things, so if there is nothing there why would you need a number?” says du Sautoy. The concept of zero, initially banned as heresy, was eventually allowed for the development of calculus, and underpins the digital age. “The whole of modern technology is built on the idea of something and nothing,” he says.

Dating it had always been tricky because not all of the pages come from the same date, with as many as 500 years between the oldest and youngest pages. “There’s still some mystery about how all of these leaves got collected together,” says du Sautoy.  

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Time to Accept Reality and Manage a Nuclear-Armed North Korea 09-21























Image credit : Shyam's Imagination Library

Shyam's take on this topic...


I have already read one high value article on this topic from Kevin Rudd. This is another value addition to this topic. I think this is for the first time someone has spoken about accepting the status quo of North Korea being nuclear state. This acceptance solves many problems and removes certain pre-requisites that hinder a peaceful engagement with the North Koreans. 
In this context, I would like to mention what the Russian president Vladimir Putin said, he said the economic sanction after a particular stage can become counter productive. He (Kim Jong-un) will even starve his people and allow them to die, but will not back down on his nuclear intentions.


It is an accepted fact and history shows many examples of the economic sanction becoming counter productive after a stage. North Korean president Kim Jong-un is an educated young upstart. Apart from being arrogant, he is also intelligent, but at the same time highly insecure. Removing the insecurity of a military aggression from his mind and providing food and medicine for his people would gradually make him a little less unpopular every day and would leave him with less problems to tackle with in his own country and with his own people. 
This quite possibly may result in softening of his aggressive postures, giving a room to begin a peaceful engagement.


We would however need a huge contribution from both Russia and China to make even a small beginning possible. 
The idea at this stage may look a bit too far fetched, but who knows, Even Kim Jong-un may be keen to come out this. Because maintaining this level of military activity and agility, must be too heavy a financial burden for the already impoverished country.
Having a positive thought about a positive action for a peaceful outcome is also a positive development.

Let us start dreaming, action will naturally follow...

Posterity should not blame us for not even trying…



Now the article...................


Anyone following the growing crisis on the Korean Peninsula in recent weeks has been treated to an endless parade of op-eds on what to do about it, written from almost every conceivable angle. Despite the variation among these perspectives, most such proposals remain focused on how to get Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons. Unfortunately, this objective appears less and less viable with every new North Korean (DPRK) missile and nuclear test. This suggests the need for policymakers in the United States, China, South Korea, and Japan to adopt a more realistic approach focused on deterrence, containment, and an array of crisis management measures.

While some nongovernmental observers are beginning to call for this approach, few if any present a clear explanation of either the reasons why such a refocus is needed, what specific key features it should include, or how to carry it out. This is a first step in that direction.

A Reality Check on North Korea


The spectrum of suggested responses to the North Korean crisis runs the gamut from attacking Pyongyang in large or small ways—whether as a means of ending the regime, signaling resolve, deterring further escalation, or forcibly ending Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program—to offering North Korean leaders untold numbers and types of carrots—such as a peace treaty, security assurances, and economic aid—to convince them of the life-altering benefits of dismantling their program.

In between lie a variety of mixed approaches, most often centered on a combination of ever greater sanctions (usually seen to require much higher levels of Chinese pressure) and various types of saber rattling, alongside potential freeze deals and assurances. I advocated a version of such proposals myself at an earlier period.

The situation that the world is facing today has evolved, however, particularly regarding North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. A more realistic approach should be based on the following five basic truths, most of which are ignored or downplayed by many political leaders and outside observers alike.

First, the danger of military escalation that could result in a devastating all-out war would exist with any direct use of force against North Korea, however small. In the current situation, there is no such thing as a surgical or limited strike with a low chance of escalation. Any such action would constitute an act of war, inviting major retaliation by an insecure and defiant Pyongyang. Anyone who thinks otherwise is being highly reckless and engaging in wishful thinking.

Moreover, North Korea’s possession of nuclear weapons could increase the likelihood of such retaliation by giving the leadership the false impression that it could strike back with little fear of prompting major escalation. And anyone who concludes that the best course of action is therefore to jump to the supposedly inevitable endpoint of any potential clash by launching an all-out war on the peninsula would be thinking even more recklessly and irresponsibly. Such a bloody conflagration could conceivably kill as many Americans and South Koreans as a North Korean nuclear strike would. And a smaller-scale military attack designed to simply destroy Pyongyang’s nuclear capabilities is an impossibility, given the large number of underground sites involved.

Second, no use of force or other high-risk option against North Korea would offer any chance of success, however small, without the full and willing support of South Korea (ROK). Without such support, a U.S attack on North Korea would likely shatter, or at the very least greatly weaken, the alliance, undermining, in the short term, efforts to control escalation and successfully conclude such a conflict while creating enduring resentment and anger toward the United States.

Moreover, regardless of the outcome of this hypothetical war, the resulting badly damaged U.S.-ROK alliance and resulting loss of U.S. credibility as a trustworthy ally would greatly increase the likelihood that Seoul, and then quite possibly Tokyo, would eventually acquire nuclear weapons. Such a regional security environment would be far more unstable than the current one, marked by the United States; China; a likely reunified, nuclear-armed Korea; and a nuclear-armed Japan maneuvering for an advantage, with high levels of suspicion on all sides.

Third, despite its highly inflammatory rhetoric and the Alice-in-Wonderland features of its political system, Pyongyang is not suicidal. Its leaders understand that the United States could extinguish North Korea in a matter of minutes and would do so if a DPRK nuclear missile struck even one U.S. city. Therefore, Pyongyang is not about to launch an unprovoked, out-of-the-blue nuclear attack on the United States.

Rather, the major dangers posed by North Korea’s nuclear weapons arise from the possibility of misperception and miscalculation. These risks could most likely be the result of a perceived existential threat emanating from Washington, or a rapidly escalating conventional clash initiated by Pyongyang under the mistaken belief that its nuclear weapons would deter any U.S./ROK military response. Under such conditions, Pyongyang might eventually resort to serious nuclear threats, prompting a U.S. preemptive strike.

These dangers speak more to the need to greatly reduce threat perceptions and strengthen crisis management measures vis-à-vis North Korea than the need to eradicate Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons before they can strike the U.S. mainland.

Fourth, no assurance exists today or for the foreseeable future that Pyongyang would give up its nuclear weapons under the most draconian sanctions regime possible, a mix of sanctions and assurances, or even an assurances-only approach. North Korea’s nuclear weapons program is now almost certainly too far developed and serves too many vital purposes for the regime to abandon it as a result of greater pressure and/or more extensive incentives.

The North Korean leadership views its nuclear weapons as more than just a deterrent against attack. They are also a symbol of the potency and status of the DPRK regime, a domestic propaganda tool, a source of leverage for extorting benefits from other countries, and a potential direct source of political influence and economic growth via the export of nuclear materials and technology.
Hence, even with full Chinese cooperation on UN sanctions and/or hand-on-heart U.S. security and/or aid assurances, Pyongyang would almost certainly cling to the benefits it receives from its nuclear capabilities rather than take the clear security and other risks involved in abandoning them. Indeed, the determination of the North Korean regime was reflected in a private remark recently made to a colleague by a DPRK official: “We will go to any lengths not to give up our nuclear weapons.”

In addition, despite such bravado, it is highly unlikely that more onerous outside sanctions would create such deprivation. Reports from knowledgeable sources strongly suggest that the North Korean economy is more resilient today in the face of outside pressure than during the famine of the 1990s, due to the widespread expansion of private economic activity and the growth of indigenous production in many key industrial sectors.

Fifth, despite the above observations, the United States, its allies, and most of the international community cannot just accept the idea of a permanently nuclear-armed North Korea and adjust accordingly. Given the insecure and hostile nature of the DPRK regime, any open acceptance of such a status would raise the likelihood of war in Asia, increase the possibility that other aggressive states and terrorists might obtain nuclear weapons, and weaken U.S. extended deterrence with South Korea, Japan, and possibly other allies, thereby increasing the chances that they might acquire nuclear weapons of their own. Hence, the international community must continue to work to deter and contain North Korea’s nuclear capabilities, regardless of the short-term prospects of fully eradicating its weapons program.

Shifting Gears: Deterrence, Crisis Management, and Confidence Building


The above five factors strongly suggest that any effective approach to the Korean nuclear crisis must replace the current primary emphasis on ridding North Korea of its nuclear weapons before Pyongyang acquires a clear-cut capability to strike the U.S. homeland. Instead, policymakers should aim to develop a less urgent, long-term strategy designed to minimize North Korea’s capacity and willingness to utilize those weapons and related technologies in threatening ways, while also continuing to work toward eventual denuclearization.

In particular, the United States, China, South Korea, Japan, and Russia must focus not only on deterring and containing Pyongyang through clear, strong, consistent, and common diplomatic and military signals. They must also aim to minimize the chances of destabilizing military escalation by building effective crisis management mechanisms (CMMs) and channels of communication, while also implementing some confidence-building measures (CBMs) toward Pyongyang to reduce its insecurity.

Such CMMs and containment measures should include:
  • A direct crisis management channel between trusted senior officials or high-level representatives of the senior leaderships in China, South Korea, and the United States;
  • Communication links between key intelligence agencies in China, South Korea, and the United States to share information on North Korean nuclear weapons development and possible proliferation activities, communicate sensitive messages, and confirm specific actions that each side may take in a crisis;
  • Agreed-upon procedures for detecting and preventing any attempt by Pyongyang to transfer nuclear weapons materials, know-how, and technologies;
  • A military-to-military dialogue about how to de-conflict Chinese, South Korean, and U.S. special forces in the event of a loose-nukes scenario in North Korea resulting from a fracturing or breakdown of the DPRK regime.
In addition, the United States and China should assure one another that, in any potential Korea crisis: 1) neither side would seek to benefit at the expense of the other, 2) both sides would provide full information and notification before any action would be taken, and 3) nothing would be done to change the situation on the ground over the long term.

In the deterrence realm, critical actions should include a greatly strengthened ballistic missile defense network in the United States, South Korea, and Japan, as well as a more integrated intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance system that includes both China and Russia, if possible. Containment measures should consist of a more extensive and focused version of the existing Proliferation Security Initiative in effect since 2003 (again, including China) to prevent Pyongyang from exporting nuclear machinery and technology.

CBMs toward Pyongyang should include, as a first step, a freeze on its missile and nuclear testing, as well as its conventional military exercises, in return for a suspension of U.S. and South Korean exercises and perhaps a partial easing of sanctions. This should serve as a prelude toward an eventual capping of the North Korean nuclear weapons program in return for movement toward a peace treaty and diplomatic recognition. If Pyongyang refuses such an understanding, the United States should then consider redeploying tactical nuclear weapons on its naval vessels in Northeast Asia, as well as other measures designed to strengthen deterrence and reassure U.S. allies.

Creating such a regime and set of understandings will require significant changes in the mind-sets and approaches of the powers concerned, especially those of China and the United States. Beijing has thus far refused to discuss with Washington or other powers either crisis contingencies or possible deterrence and/or containment measures, due to a sensitivity about how North Korea might react, a fear that such actions would result in the eventual replacement of the Pyongyang regime by a unified Korean government closely allied with the United States, and the misplaced belief that security assurances will eventually entice the North Koreans to give up their nuclear weapons.

For its part, Washington resists any actions that detract attention from greater pressure in the service of denuclearization. In this respect, President Donald Trump seems only concerned with developing ways to coerce or entice Beijing and Seoul into applying supposedly irresistible pressure on Pyongyang before it acquires the capability to strike the U.S. homeland—a dangerous, misdirected, one-dimensional strategy that is almost certainly destined to fail.

To move both powers toward an emphasis on containment and crisis management, analysts in and out of both the Chinese and U.S. governments, as well as those of South Korea and Japan, need to stop telling their respective political leaderships that they can coerce, force, or entice Pyongyang into abandoning its nuclear weapons in any foreseeable time frame, if ever. In such a high-stakes situation, policy should not be based on extremely low-probability outcomes and certainly should not operate under a self-imposed, short-term deadline.

Washington and Seoul should also work together to revive earlier efforts to convince Beijing to hold talks on crisis contingencies and CMMs, on the likely assumption that Pyongyang’s recent missile and nuclear tests in defiance of Beijing’s strong urgings may have reduced China’s resistance to such moves. To facilitate this effort, both nations should also address Beijing’s long-term concerns by expressing a clear willingness to discuss the future political and security status of a unified Korean Peninsula, including the size and presence of any U.S. forces. This could significantly increase China’s willingness to cooperate in a deterrence and containment regime.

Once progress is made in the above areas, the United States, South Korea, China, and Japan should begin talks on the possible features of a stable, long-term deterrence and confidence-building regime on the Korean Peninsula. Even if all sides agree to such an undertaking, it will not prove an easy task to implement, as it requires agreed-upon military, economic, and diplomatic postures sufficient to deter major North Korean provocations without causing Pyongyang to overreact and lash out at a perceived existential threat. Hence, some limited reassurances will likely prove necessary in addition to the above CBMs, such as a formal no-first-use conventional and nuclear force agreement between North Korea and China, South Korea, and the United States.

Finally, throughout this process, the powers concerned should maintain their demand for North Korea to move toward eventual denuclearization, as follow-on to an eventual peace treaty and diplomatic normalization. But that eventual objective will remain as a likely long-term effort.

None of the above recommendations will be easy to achieve. But transitioning as soon as possible away from efforts to denuclearize North Korea in short order to a more realistic focus on deterrence, containment, and crisis management would stand a far better chance of creating a stable and peaceful Korean Peninsula not only in the immediate future but for the long term as well.

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Please also read on North Korea 




Monday, September 18, 2017

John Harvard Distinguished Science Fellow in Imaging 09-19





John Harvard Distinguished Science Fellow in Imaging

Below you will find the details for the position including any supplementary documentation and questions you should review before applying for the opening.  To apply for the position, please click the Apply for this Job link/button.
Title
John Harvard Distinguished Science Fellow in Imaging
School

Faculty of Arts and Sciences
Department/Area
Center for Advanced Imaging at Harvard University

Position Description
Harvard University is seeking applicants for a position as a John Harvard Distinguished Science Fellow (JHDSF). We seek life and physical scientists with an interest in imaging to develop innovative imaging technologies, lead biological investigations using advanced imaging technologies, or both.

The Fellow will be part of the current JHDSF community
(https://projects.iq.harvard.edu/jhdsfprogram) and will work with the newly formed Center for

Advanced Imaging at Harvard University. The Center aims to develop novel imaging methods that enable direct visualization of the molecular interactions and networks inside cells, organisms and animals; bridge major gaps in imaging; and apply these new technologies to solving biological problems.

The Fellow will work as an independent researcher; receive funding to run a small, independent research group; and will be appointed for a three-year term, with the expectation that it will be extended by two years after review.

Basic Qualifications
Recently completed a PhD in Chemistry, Physics, Biology, Engineering or related areas, or will complete a PhD by the time the appointment begins.


Special Instructions
REQUIRED APPLICATION MATERIALS
Please submit the following required application materials through http://academicpositions.harvard.edu/postings/7801
1. Cover Letter
2. Curriculum Vitae
3. Summary of previous research accomplishments (up to 2 pages)
4. Research Proposal (up to 5 pages)
5. PDFs of up to 3 publications
6. Names and contact information of at least 3 references who will be contacted to provide a letter of recommendation. Letters must be received by the deadline for the application to be complete and candidate considered. Please allow at least 1 week for referees to provide letters.

APPLICATION DEADLINE
The Application Deadline is October 29, 2017 (11:59pm ET).

Contact Information
For further questions please contact the Center for Advanced Imaging at Harvard University at centerforadvancedimaging@harvard.edu

Contact Email
centerforadvancedimaging@harvard.edu


Equal Opportunity Employer

We are an equal opportunity employer and all qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability status, protected veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by law.

Minimum Number of References Required :  3

Maximum Number of References Allowed:   5

Supplemental Questions


Required fields are indicated with an asterisk (*).
* How did you learn about this position?
Harvard University - online job search
Journal - online job search
Postdoctoral Association - online job search
Other - online job search
Email announcement
From a colleague
Other

Applicant Documents
Required Documents
Cover Letter
Curriculum Vitae
Statement of Research
Other Statement
Publication

Optional Documents
Publication 2
Publication 3

Harvard University seeks to find, develop, promote, and retain the world’s best scholars.
Harvard is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer. Applications from women and minority candidates are strongly encouraged. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability status, protected veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by law.

You can apply for the job here


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India's first bullet train isn't 'free of cost' as Modi claims 09-18




Prime Minister Narendra Modi has claimed the bullet train offered to India by Japan is virtually free of cost. A 50-year yen loan amounting to Rs 88,000 crore at 0.1 % interest is being described by the prime minister as free of cost. This is patently absurd.

India can have as many bullet trains as it wants on these terms from the Japanese, but nobody should be misled into believing they are free. For one, India may have to repay much more than Rs 88,000 crore over a 50-year period because the rupee will most likely depreciate against the Japanese yen over a long period.

Why is this? Simply put, it’s because the exchange rate between the currencies of two countries is determined by their inflation differential. If India’s inflation rate is average 3% over the next two decades and Japan’s inflation rate is zero, as is widely anticipated, then it stands to reason that the rupee must depreciate 3% every year because the rupee’s value is eroding by 3% as against no erosion in the yen. So, the rupee is bound to weaken by over 60% in two decades. This means that on a loan of Rs 88,000 crore, the repayment, in rupee terms, goes up to more than Rs 1,50,000 crore at the end of 20 years.


Over 50 years, the repayment value will be much higher based on the inflation differential, which is bound to persist between Japan and India because the latter is a rising economy with a sizeable poor population and is striving to become a middle to high income country over the next few decades. India, therefore, could end up paying a much higher value of rupee debt over 50 years. If this happens then we are not being fair to the successive generations, which will be saddled with this high debt component. Inter-generational equity is an important aspect of national debt accumulation even if it is a yen loan coming at 0.1% interest rate.

Therefore, Modi must be careful while describing the 50-year yen loan as “in a way, free”. I remember some Indian corporate houses had shown similar enthusiasm two decades ago by raising international debt via 50-year dollar bonds using the same logic that such money need not be repaid over a long period. Subsequently when the rupee weakened against the dollar – by 50% – over 15 years, the same family-owned business houses got wise and prepaid large portions of the money. Perhaps they did not want to saddle their next generations with such risky loans. This logic holds even truer for countries.

This loan is just for a short route – Ahmedabad to Mumbai. As is being anticipated, if the Japanese build three more such projects connecting other cities in the south, north or east, one can well imagine the total foreign debt burden that will arise. After all, the loans will have to be paid back with the exchange risk built into it. The yen is considered the most volatile currency among all the hard currencies today.

Another factor to be considered is that while an interest rate of 0.1% may appear free from an Indian perspective, it is not so in Japan. Japanese short term interest rates (Tokyo Inter Bank Offer Rate) is 0.06%. The interest rate offered by ten-year Japanese government bonds is 0.04%. India’s ten-year government bond offers 6.5%. The gap between Japan’s 0.04% and India’s 6.5% is explained by the inflation expectations in the two countries. This perspective cannot be lost sight of. So what you pay back to Japan in rupee terms will be way higher than what you borrow. There is no free lunch, as the saying goes.

One last point that needs to be emphasised is the bullet train project covering just Ahmedabad and Mumbai will cost Rs 1,10,000 crore. Just compare this with former rail minister Suresh Prabhu’s first Budget which projected a five year expenditure of a similar amount for network expansion in the entire country. Or a similar amount for strengthening safety over five years.

What would be your priority? After all, there should be something called sequencing of expenditure in a nation as poor as ours.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

2,000 Years of Economic History in One Chart 09-14







































All major powers compared by GDP from the year 1 AD

The Chart of the Week is a weekly Visual Capitalist feature on Fridays.

Long before the invention of modern day maps or gunpowder, the planet’s major powers were already duking it out for economic and geopolitical supremacy.


Today’s chart tells that story in the simplest terms possible. By showing the changing share of the global economy for each country from 1 AD until now, it compares economic productivity over a mind-boggling time period.

Originally published in a research letter by Michael Cembalest of JP Morgan, we’ve updated it based on the most recent data and projections from the IMF. If you like, you can still find the original chart (which goes to 2008) at The Atlantic. It’s also worth noting that the original source for all the data up until 2008 is from the late Angus Maddison, a famous economic historian that published estimates on population, GDP, and other figures going back to Roman times.

A Major Caveat

If you looked at the chart in any depth, you probably noticed a big problem with it. The time periods between data points aren’t equal – in fact, they are not close at all.

The first gap on the x-axis is 1,000 years and the second is 500 years. Then, as we get closer to modernity, the chart uses mostly 10 year intervals. Changing the scale like this is a big data visualization “no no”, as rightly pointed out in a blog post by The Economist.

While we completely agree, we have a made an exception in this case. Why? Because getting good economic data from the early 20th century is already difficult enough – and so trying to find data in regular intervals before then seems like a fool’s errand. Likewise, a stacked bar chart with different years also doesn’t really do this story justice.

We encountered similar historical data issues in our Richest People of Human History graphic, and at the end of the day decided it was primarily for fun. Like today’s chart, it has its share of imperfections – but ultimately, it provides a great amount of context and serves as a conversation starter.

Our Interpretation

Caveats aside, there are many stories that materialize from this simple chart. They include the colossal impact of the Industrial Revolution on the West, as well as the momentum behind the re-emergence of Asia.

But there’s one other story that ties it all together: the exponential rate of human economic growth that occurred over the last century.

                                                                                                                                                                 













For thousands of years, economic progress was largely linear and linked to population growth. Without machines or technological innovations, one person could only produce so much with their time and resources.

More recently, innovations in technology and energy allowed the “hockey stick” effect to come into play.

It happened in Western Europe and North America first, and now it’s happening in other parts of the world. As this technological playing field evens, economies like China and India – traditionally some of the largest economies throughout history – are now making their big comeback.

Editor’s note: We have adjusted the main graphic as of Sep 10, 2017 to change the description of the chart. It now says “Share of GDP (World Powers)” instead of the previous “Share of world GDP”, which was technically an inaccurate description.

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Internet use in India proves desktops are only for Westerners 09-13






The next billion internet users are ditching computers for pocket-friendly phones.
Globally, half of all internet users got online in February 2017 using mobile devices, and over 45% visited the web on desktops during the same time period. In countries like the UK and US, where more than eight in 10 have access to the internet, people got online using phones over a third of the time. In India, the split was leaning heavily toward mobile use: Indians accessed the internet through their mobiles nearly 80% of the time.

“Our research confirms that Indians adore their mobiles for surfing the internet,” Tarak Desai of StatCounter, Mumbai, said. “Internet usage by mobile in India is striking compared to that in most other countries.” Desai attributed part of the success to the latest entrant to India’s $50-billion telecom sector: Reliance Jio. The Mukesh Ambani-led venture lured over 100 million subscribers by offering one gigabyte (GB) a day of free 4G. It also ignited price wars that drove data prices in the country down by nearly 20%.

Besides data, smartphones, too, have become more affordable amid competition. Recently, Chinese brands have won over Indian audiences by manufacturing locally to drive down costs, creating smartphones with bigger screens and an improved user interface, spending heavily on marketing, setting up retail stores, and even adding local language support. At the end of last year, four out of the top five brands of smartphone shipments in the country—Vivo, Xiaomi, Lenovo, and Oppo—were Chinese.





For those reluctant to switch to smartphones, 4G feature phones with long battery lives and simple, easy-to-use designs serve as the online connection. Close to 200 million 4G feature phones are projected to sell in India over the next five years, according to Counterpoint Research.
Data shows that India has clearly leapfrogged the desktop generation. The country holds the title for mobile internet usage among G20 nations. Others like Indonesia and South Africa, where desktops are significantly more expensive than mobile phones and power issues are widespread, are close behind.






































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Monday, September 11, 2017

Top Scientist Tells CBS: HAARP Responsible For Recent Hurricanes 09-11






World renowned physicist Dr. Michio Kaku made a shocking confession on live TV when he admitted that HAARP is responsible for the recent spate of hurricanes. 

In an interview aired by CBS, Dr. Kaku admitted that recent ‘man-made’ hurricanes have been the result of a government weather modification program in which the skies were sprayed with nano particles and storms then “activated” through the use of “lasers”.

In the interview (below), Michio Kaku discusses the history of weather modification, before the CBS crew stop him in his tracks.

The High-Frequency Active Auroral Research Program (HAARP) was created in the early 1990’s as part of an ionospheric research program jointly funded by the U.S. Air Force, the U.S. Navy, the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

According to government officials, HAARP allows the military to modify and weaponize the weather, by triggering earthquakes, floods, and hurricanes.

Anongroup.org reports: One detail in a plethora of academic papers and patents about altering the weather with electromagnetic energy and conductive particles in the stratosphere, research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences said the “laser beams” can create plasma channels in air, causing ice to form. According to Professor Wolf Kasparian:

“Under the conditions of a typical storm cloud, in which ice and supercooled water coexist, no direct influence of the plasma channels on ice formation or precipitation processes could be detected.
Under conditions typical for thin cirrus ice clouds, however, the plasma channels induced a surprisingly strong effect of ice multiplication.

Within a few minutes, the laser action led to a strong enhancement of the total ice particle number density in the chamber by up to a factor of 100, even though only a 10−9 fraction of the chamber volume was exposed to the plasma channels.


The newly formed ice particles quickly reduced the water vapor pressure to ice saturation, thereby increasing the cloud optical thickness by up to three orders of magnitude.”

To really understand geoengineering, researchers have identified defense contractors Raytheon, BAE Systems, and corporations such as General Electric as being heavily involved with geoengineering. According to Peter A. Kirby, Massachusetts has historically been a center of geoengineering research.




With the anomalous hurricanes currently ravaging the Americas, floods destroying India, and wildfires destroying the Pacific Northwest, weather warfare is a topic on the public consciousness right now. Please share this with as many people as possible.

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Saturday, September 9, 2017

Step into Your Communities to Regain Trust 09-10





“Prime Minister, what would you like to tell us about today?” This opening gambit from a UK television presenter in the 1950s, part of a documentary I watched recently about the history of the political interview, reminded me how far we’ve come since that innocent age.

Trust was more prevalent then. It allowed politicians to go unchallenged and the media to remain deferential. Business, meanwhile, was often faceless, existing at a distance from the people it served.
Of course, all three institutions have evolved dramatically since then. But not far enough, as far as the public is concerned. Edelman’s latest Trust Barometer showed trust in all three – plus a fourth, NGOs – declining for the first time in the study’s history

The breakdown in trust is widespread and corrosive, but there is a chink of hope for business. Of the four institutions, it is viewed as the only one that can make a difference.

Three out of four respondents agree a company can take actions to both increase profits and improve economic and social conditions in the community where it operates.

This suggests brands have the power to rebuild trust through true engagement. I believe that needs to be done in two ways: by demonstrating a social purpose, and by taking part in genuinely two-way dialogue.

Show you have a stake in the future

For millennials, in particular, brand value is increasingly about trust and respect rather than simply price. Edelman found that customers’ chief expectation of financial brands – rated above even keeping their families and data safe – is that they make a positive contribution to society.

“It’s not necessarily check book philanthropy, but doing a good job and investing for the future,” explains Deidre H. Campbell, Edelman’s Global Chair of Financial Services.

Chase’s Mission Main Street program is a prime example, celebrating small US businesses and offering grant support to the most promising. Similarly, American Express’s Small Business Saturday initiative harnesses digital connectivity to link small firms and communities.

Citi set out to support a different demographic with its professional women’s community, launched in partnership with LinkedIn. It provides access, networks and best practice to support women in their careers.

Join the conversation

Being part of your community also demands a willingness to interact with customers, rather than talk at them. Perhaps it’s for this reason that trust in the mainstream media, which lacks two-way channels, is in decline.

LinkedIn, for example, is now trusted as highly as venerable media brands such as the Wall Street Journal, according to our research.

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99% of banned notes returned after demonetisation: RBI annual report 09-10

































The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Wednesday said it estimated that people had returned almost 99 per cent of the scrapped Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes after demonetisation, effectively putting a question mark over the government gaining handsomely by the unreturned money turning into a special dividend by the central bank.

In its annual report, the RBI also said the face value of fake high-value notes was minuscule at Rs 41 crore.

The central bank said people had returned Rs 15.28 lakh crore of the Rs 15.44 lakh crore banned currency, or 98.96 per cent of the scrapped Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, to the banking system.



“Subject to future corrections based on the verification process when completed, the estimated value of Specified Bank Notes received as on June 30, 2017, is Rs 15.28 lakh crore,” the annual report said. 

The old notes came to the RBI either directly or from bank branches and post offices through the currency chest mechanism.

Some of these notes were still lying in currency chests, the RBI said, adding it could only estimate the value of the notes and could not provide an accurate figure.

The data showed the unreturned Rs 1,000 notes in March 2017 amounted to Rs 8,900 crore. The segregation of old and new Rs 500 notes were not that clear. The RBI incurred a cost of Rs 7,965 crore in printing notes in 2016-17, against Rs 3,421 crore incurred in the previous year. The central bank also increased its provisions by over Rs 13,000 crore in order to boost its contingency reserves, a practice it was adopting after three financial years.

The net effect was that the dividend paid to the government was halved to Rs 30,659 crore in the July-June financial year 2016-17. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had on November 8, 2016, announced demonetisation in a televised address, rendering 86 per cent of the currency in circulation invalid. The nation subsequently queued up at bank branches and automated teller machines as the central bank struggled to supply new notes. About Rs 15.3 lakh crore of notes are in circulation in June, against the pre-demonetisation level of Rs 17.9 lakh crore. Economists said the government may have overestimated the extent of black money in the system, but increased tax collection should be counted as a long-term gain.

“Data analytics of deposits have thrown up unusual patterns. Previously we did not know who held black money. Now we do, and this is a clear gain,” said the chief economist with a private bank. The number of suspicious transaction reports by banking system increased by 345 per cent, which could possibly lead to an increase in future tax revenues. Coupled with the goods and services tax, this will help in improving tax realisation,” said Soumya Kanti Ghosh, group chief economist, State Bank of India.

The total number of suspicious transactions detected in 2016-17 was 473,003, up from 106,273 in 2015-16 across banks, other financial institutions and intermediaries . In banks alone, the number of suspicious transactions detected was 361,214, against 61,361 a year ago.



This is the first time since 1952-53 that reserve money for the whole year contracted, by 13 per cent. The RBI incurred a loss in seigniorage, the profit made by the central bank on account of currency issuance.A committee headed by the RBI board member Y H Malegam had suggested the central bank did not need to build additional reserves for three years starting 2012-13.

This being the fourth financial year, the RBI increased its provisions to Rs 13,190 crore and allocated them in various reserves. “In value terms, the share of Rs 500 and above banknotes, which had together accounted for 86.4 per cent of the total value of banknotes in circulation at end-March 2016, stood at 73.4 per cent at end-March 2017. The share of newly introduced Rs 2,000 banknotes in the total value of banknotes in circulation was 50.2 per cent at end-March 2017,” the RBI said. 

In volume terms, Rs 10 and Rs 100 banknotes constituted 62 per cent of the total banknotes in circulation at end-March 2017, against 53.0 per cent at end-March 2016.

The RBI said  processing and destruction of old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes kept in various currency chests and regional offices of the RBI “pose a challenge.”

“In this regard, the agenda for 2017-18 includes the procurement of Currency Verification and Processing System/Shredding and Briquetting Systems.”  The RBI’s agenda also include introduction of new series banknotes in other denominations; procurement of security features; and “introduction of varnished banknotes.”

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Monday, September 4, 2017

The Fight Against Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria Might Start With Vaccines 09-04



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It seems like a major part of keeping kids healthy these days is managing their microbial exposure. On the one hand, we’re told that letting our kids get dirty and tempering our use of hand sanitizer can help cultivate a healthy population of good microbes in and on the body, which is associated with lower rates of chronic maladies like asthma and allergies. On the other hand, we know that among all the benign and beneficial bacteria in the world lurk some that are deadly, causing diseases such as whooping cough, pneumonia and meningitis.

To treat these diseases, we need antibiotics, but the downside is that antibiotics indiscriminately kill bacteria in the body, including the ones that contribute to our health. Meanwhile, every course of antibiotics gives bacteria that are resistant to the drugs a chance to grow and thrive. That makes for more antibiotic-resistant infections, all of which are harder to treat and some of which can’t be treated at all.

Ideally, we want to protect our kids from deadly bacteria without disturbing the good ones or worsening the trend of antibiotic resistance. And this is exactly what vaccines do. They give us exposure to the pathogen — be it bacterial or viral — in a weakened, killed or partial form so that we can develop immunity to it without getting the full-blown illness. If we’re exposed to the real thing later, our bodies have antibodies specific to that pathogen ready to fight back. No antibiotics needed, and our friendly microbes can continue to live in peace. But when parents choose not to vaccinate their kids, they’re increasing the kids’ chances of not only becoming seriously ill, but also of needing antibiotic treatment and other medical interventions down the road.

Dr. Joel Amundson, a pediatrician in Portland, Oregon, finds himself frequently talking about vaccines and antibiotics in the same breath. Oregon has one of the lowest immunization rates in the nation, and Amundson said many of the parents he counsels want to keep their kids “all-natural” and see vaccines as an unnecessary medical intervention. But when he explains that vaccines are a tool for decreasing medical interventions, including antibiotic use, that often changes their perspective. “That’s a huge benefit to my families,” he said, “It definitely has them more interested in doing vaccines when they understand that.”

Some parents who are reluctant to vaccinate worry about side effects, and though some kids will experience short-lived, minor reactions such as swelling at the injection site, serious side effects are extremely rare. Side effects from antibiotics, including diarrhea, rashes and allergic reactions, are generally more common and severe, Amundson said. “I see far more harm from antibiotics than I do from vaccines, by a huge margin. It’s not subtle,” he said.

Of course, when a person has a serious bacterial infection, the benefits of antibiotics far outweigh those risks, because these diseases can be deadly. “When we need them, we really need them,” said Janet Gilsdorf, professor emerita of pediatric infectious diseases at the University of Michigan. But in a world where antibiotic-resistant infections are thought to kill 50,000 people each year in the U.S. and Europe alone, a problem that the United Nations has called “the greatest and most urgent global risk,” reducing our use of antibiotics helps preserve their value. “The fewer infections we have, the fewer antibiotics we need to use, and we know that the use of antibiotics is what drives antibiotic resistance,” Gilsdorf said.

Vaccines have prevented millions of illnesses
Estimated number of infections prevented by vaccines over the lifespan of children born in the U.S. in 2009
INFECTIOUS DISEASECAUSED BYCASES PREVENTED
VaricellaVirus3,942,546
MeaslesVirus3,835,825
PertussisBacteria2,950,836
Pneumococcus-related diseasesBacteria2,323,952
MumpsVirus2,312,275
RubellaVirus1,981,066
RotavirusVirus1,582,940
DiphtheriaBacteria275,028
HepBVirus239,993
HepAVirus153,164
PolioVirus67,463
HibBacteria19,606
Congenital rubella syndromeVirus632
TetanusBacteria169
Source: Pediatrics

We don’t yet have research on whether emphasizing this benefit of vaccines might encourage parents to immunize their kids. While the vast majority of parents vaccinate their kids on schedule, the number of parents who are reluctant to do so does seems to be increasing in the U.S., despite a mountain of evidence supporting the efficacy and safety of vaccines. Reasons for parents’ concerns about vaccines are varied, and each type of concern will likely need to be addressed differently to improve vaccination rates. But there’s some evidence that parents are becoming more aware of the problem of antibiotic resistance, and a study of Austrian adults found that those with more knowledge about antibiotics were more likely to get the flu vaccine.

There’s no question that vaccines have dramatically reduced the burden of disease. A study published in 2014 estimated that among U.S. children born in 2009, following the recommended childhood vaccine schedule (not including the flu vaccine) would prevent 20 million cases of disease across their lifespans, and about 30 percent of these are bacterial diseases that would likely require antibiotic treatment. These are diseases like diphtheria and pertussis, both of which were major causes of childhood illness and death before their vaccines were developed in the first half of the 20th century.

More recently, the vaccine for Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib), which the Food and Drug Administration approved for use in toddlers starting in 1985 and infants in 1990, nearly eliminated the dangerous blood and brain infections caused by this bacteria.

Pneumococcal vaccines have also reduced our dependence on antibiotics. The first was recommended in the U.S. for infants and young children in 2000, followed in 2010 by an updated version covering more strains of the bug. Like Hib, pneumococcus bacteria can cause pneumonia and invasive blood and brain infections, but it’s also a major cause of ear infections, which are one of the biggest reasons that children are prescribed antibiotics. Before the vaccine was added to the infant immunization schedule, up to 40 percent of invasive pneumococcal infections — meaning infections that spread to parts of the body, such as the bloodstream, that are normally germ-free — were resistant to at least one antibiotic, making them more difficult and costly to treat. The first pneumococcus vaccine decreased antibiotic-resistant invasive pneumococcal infections in young children by 81 percent, and the second vaccine caused an additional 61 percent drop. (These studies looked at different age groups, however; the first included only children younger than 2, and the second looked at children up to age 4.)

Pneumococcal vaccines have also reduced our dependence on antibiotics. The first was recommended in the U.S. for infants and young children in 2000, followed in 2010 by an updated version covering more strains of the bug. Like Hib, pneumococcus bacteria can cause pneumonia and invasive blood and brain infections, but it’s also a major cause of ear infections, which are one of the biggest reasons that children are prescribed antibiotics. Before the vaccine was added to the infant immunization schedule, up to 40 percent of invasive pneumococcal infections — meaning infections that spread to parts of the body, such as the bloodstream, that are normally germ-free — were resistant to at least one antibiotic, making them more difficult and costly to treat. The first pneumococcus vaccine decreased antibiotic-resistant invasive pneumococcal infections in young children by 81 percent, and the second vaccine caused an additional 61 percent drop. (These studies looked at different age groups, however; the first included only children younger than 2, and the second looked at children up to age 4.)
The U.S., Israel and the U.K. have also observed big drops in kids’ ear infections coinciding with the introduction of pneumococcal vaccines. (Other factors, such as increased breastfeeding and tightened diagnostic criteria for ear infections, have likely contributed to these improvements, but researchers believe that the vaccines have played an important role.) In a paper published last year, researchers estimated that making the pneumococcal vaccine universally available to children in the 75 countries they looked at could not only prevent disease but also avert 11.4 million days of antibiotic treatment each year, a 47 percent drop in current antibiotic use for pneumonia.

Less obviously, vaccines that protect against illnesses caused by viruses rather than bacteria can also help cut antibiotic use. For example, influenza is viral, but flu season always brings an uptick in antibiotic prescriptions. In many cases, the antibiotics are being inappropriately prescribed, but some are necessary treatments for secondary bacterial infections, like pneumonia and ear infections, that can move in when a person’s immune system is busy fighting the virus. When Ontario, Canada, started offering free flu vaccines, the province’s rate of antibiotic prescriptions associated with the flu dropped by 64 percent.

The vaccine against measles, another viral infection, also probably decreases antibiotic use. A 2015 paper showed that a measles infection weakens a person’s immune system for two to three years, which explains why the measles vaccine reduces childhood mortality by 30 percent to 50 percent in poor countries, which can’t be explained by measles prevention alone. “Not having measles is a really good thing for your immune system in terms of preventing other infections,” said Marc Lipsitch, professor of epidemiology at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

In a paper published last year, Lipsitch argued that development of new vaccines should be considered an important strategy in the fight against antibiotic-resistant bacteria. He believes that it would be most useful to have vaccines against certain bacterial strains that patients tend to pick up in hospitals — those strains are often resistant to multiple antibiotics. A more effective flu vaccine and a vaccine for respiratory syncytial virus, known as RSV, which sends more than 57,000 young children and 177,000 elderly people in the U.S. to the hospital each year, could also reduce antibiotic use. Potential vaccines for a number of these diseases are in various stages of clinical trials.

Lipsitch envisions vaccines that go even further. “I actually think one of the most interesting ideas I’ve had is the idea of using vaccines directly to target [antibiotic] resistant bacteria, not just all bacteria, but directly aiming at the targets that are the resistant genes.” This type of vaccine would be especially helpful for bacteria like pneumococcus and Staphylococcus aureus, which are so ubiquitous that they’re unlikely to be eliminated; keeping drug resistance at bay would help us coexist with them more peacefully. “The idea of these resistance-targeted vaccines is to try to make life extra hard for the resistant organisms,” Lipsitch said.

But would it be tough to sell people on more vaccines for both kids and adults when some people are refusing to get the vaccines we already have? “I think it ought to be a pretty easy sell, actually,” said David Salisbury, associate fellow at the Chatham House Centre on Global Health Security in London and former director of immunization at the U.K. Department of Health. “Imagine if an ear infection, which happens so commonly in children, became untreatable. You can fantasize about false risks of the vaccines, but they turn to nothing when you compare them with untreatable infections. Would you seriously prefer your child not to have a vaccine and risk an infection to which there was no treatment?”

A global challenge as big as antibiotic resistance will require multiple solutions, including reducing the use of antibiotics in agriculture and developing new antibiotics, but Salisbury says that vaccines deserve more attention and investment. Gilsdorf is on board with that. “What we need is more good science, which means we need more funding for the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and these federal agencies that support scientists to learn the nitty-gritty of these bacteria,” she said.

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