Thursday, 30 May 2013

India - Through the Lens of Data : 01

India has always been a land of diverse cultures , languages, cuisines and what not.

And with more and more Indians feeling positive their Nation as an Economic power, its time we see on how the states within India are performing and competing with each other.

But before that, lets see how India as a nation is performing in the global race to achieve higher GDP growth.

In drawing rooms, we would have heard random conversations on how China has pipped Japan in terms of GDP, which is Gross Domestic Product and how it will soon overtake U.S, which isn't as simple as our Armchair economists think.

Coming back, GDP can be explained as below.

GDP = consumption + investment + government spending + (exports – imports) 

With ever changing global scenario up in action, it is predicted that India will soon rise up as one of the top 5 nations in terms of GDP.

Currently India stands 10th globally with respect to GDP .

Top 10 Nations in terms of Gross Domestic Product according to International Monetary Fund Report (Report for Selected Countries and Subjects

  1. United States
  2. China
  3. Japan
  4. Germany
  5. France
  6. United Kingdom
  7. Brazil
  8. Russia
  9. Italy
  10. India   

In addition to that, European Union as a single Economic Unit, stands first in comparison with U.S . With an impending economic crunch , it's a wait and watch game for us to see on how this numbers would turn up next year.

In addition to this,this also signifies the growing clout of BRIC Nations in this ever changing world with all 4 nations making into Top 10 List. ( Brazil, Russia, India and China ).

In the next post, lets see how nations fare by the measure of GDP - PPP ( Purchasing Power Parity ). 

More on BRIC grouping :

BRICS countries dump the euro, establish bank

BRIC //The acronym was coined by
Jim O'Neill in a 2001 paper entitled "Building Better Global Economic BRICs". The acronym has come into widespread use as a symbol of the shift in global economic power away from the developed G7economies towards the developing world. It is estimated that BRIC economies will overtake G7 economies by 2027// Wikipedia

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters

This was the remark of Peter Theil , a founder of Pay Pal. 

It's true that our current innovations aren't having a big bang appeal which 18th and 19th century innovations had, like a Steam Engine or Iron Clad Ship or Radio. 

But this also explains a bit about inability of human kind to direct innovations in a specific direction and bit more about our inability to predict the impact of seemingly humble tools like Twitter, which asks people to react within a limit of 140 words.

Who would have imagined that those 140 words would have fueled a great socio-political churn in form of 'Arab Spring '. 

In 1990's our childhood dream would have been to travel in a flying car and not typing 140 characters on a glass screen. Jump to 2013. Flying Car is still a distant dream but those 140 characters are moving the world, changing the rules and made the ideator Jack Dorsey, A Billionaire for god sake.

And now he is going to kill another childhood dream of having our own credit cards with unending limits of withdrawal .  

Yes. His product Square is here , to disrupt the existing credit card framework and bring the wallet into our smart phones. Hence now the Credit cards are facing a slow death. How cool is that ?

Though sounding cool, we have no idea about it's supposed impacts on our spending habits and its reflection on actual economy. 

Below are the links which speak on how the present day Innovations is being viewed by majority and its implication ,which are far from unknown.

1. Founders Fund , whose motto goes like /// We invest in smart people solving difficult problems, often difficult scientific or engineering problems///.
Their Innovation document is interesting and it can be found @ What Happened to the Future?

2. An Economist article on whether the present day Idea and Innovation have stopped benefiting the real economy : Has the ideas machine broken down?

3. A case of an unintended effect on real economy by 140 characters :

Happy reading !!!!

Public Opinion - 1 : European Union

European Union

It has always been an Utopia- sortie for Indians like me, for we always associate liberal ideals and ethical fairness with the word 'Europe'.

Right from the start of the millennium, EU has always been in news, world over , with its Unitary currency Euro coming into global basket of currencies.

Being a coin collector, I still can remember the frenetic pace at which the demand for Marks, Francs increased in the years to come, for they had adopted Euro.

Cut the story short, now EU is in news for all the wrong reasons like skeptics questioning the stability of EU itself, rise in unemployment numbers, re-emergence of Nazi- like parties in Greece (Rise of the Greek neo-Nazis: Ultra-right party Golden Dawn wants to force immigrants into work camps and plant landmines along Turkish border ).

Along with above said, the divide between Northern countries ( Germany, Belgium, France, Netherlands ) and Southern countries ( Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal ) is fast increasing .

With Germany performing better than the rest of the Europe, people have started to harp the old tunes of supposed German supremacy and wildly imaginary tales of Germany trying to impose hard austerity measures over errant countries.

But contrary to the widespread view, public view in Europe is vastly different from what we would have imagined.

Here are the conclusions that have come out of a study by Pew Research Global Attitudes project. 

1. The faith in common currency Euro is unshaken

2. People are willing to accept austerity measures to reduce public debts.

3.  Contrary to the supposed belief, it is the French who are increasingly disillusioned with the current state of economy

And most of all People believe that Germany is the most trustworthy nation

Wish European Union emerge stronger from the ensuing crises. 

Source : The New Sick Man of Europe: the European Union

Changing Europe : George Friedman from Stratfor , here to talk on how Geography shapes everything that we know. One man to hear, to know how Geo-politics shapes the world we live in . Here he explains Why Europe is in brink of collapse.

Can Social Media 'Reform' Indian Society -2 : Social Media and Decision Making

Social Media: Can social media bring transparency in decision making apparatus of Government through crowd sourcing?

Let me try answering this question keeping in mind a developing nation with a vibrant civil society like India .

People, now clamor for transparency in policy making and functioning of government , and hence see Social media as a savior to reach those demands. 

As a developing nation, when we look around in the world, countries are struggling to create such an environment because it is prohibitively costly to create such an extensive framework where opinions of citizens could be taken by Government.

On the other hand, government is trying to take hold of Internet as a medium. Though it is impossible to achieve that state, it actively discourages people from voicing their concerns for the fear of spying by the government. Recently , our government issued a statement that it is creating a central authority for screening 'every byte' of information that is communicated. So these acts would just create a 'Unhealthy environment ' for discussion.

So what we need is a Citizen organization which can act as a facilitator of voicing grievances and Social media based framework would be much cheaper to establish and robust too. But can creation of such a body alone solve the problem ? No.

What we need is a change in stance by Government in tolerating opposing views in cyber space and it should try create a framework wherein better suggestions would be rewarded. The citizen organization should be in a position to exercise authority by having a partnership based interaction rather than being a postman. That would prevent government from manipulation and the worst case scenario of making the whistle blower, a convict. 

Distrust causes hesitation among masses to express freely on a forum that is run by the government, especially if censorship and punishment might follow.

A McKinsey and Co., report states that by 2015, 330 million Indians will be online. As of now it has 120 million Internet users and Over the next three years, India will add the highest number of Internet users, taking the penetration rate to 28%. India boasts of 62 million facebook users (3rd highest user base globally) and more than 15 million twitter users. These figures are likely to grow, indicating that there is a fertile ground which is emerging, wherein more and more people expect real time access and authentic engagement.

//Any problem is half solved, once it is properly defined//. Hence with existing social media and right policy decision from Government to facilitate such a Citizen organization, would help it to identify the problems and accelerate the implementation.

Here, I would like to add an recent development :

In case some of you are interested, the Urban Development Ministry (India) is inviting citizens to join a new Google group they have set up in order to crowd source/solicit recommendations and ideas on the 14th Central Finance Commission - with respect to Urban Local Bodies. 

The link to subscribe is as follows:!forum/moud14cfc

[Thanks to Arbind Gupta for providing the correct link]

Hoping to see how things get shaped up.

How is it to grow up as a single child ?

Hi again !!!

Here am going to talk about what it is to be a single child.

People always tend to have a perception that single child are usually introverts, socially awkward , less competitive and self obsessed.

Am a single child and I wish to give you some background about myself in order to clarify that the experiences of single kids aren't the same , for the whole social experience that one has is influenced not only by siblings, but also by parents, grand parents, cousins, nephews and Uncle / Aunts.

* My family is basically a nuclear family in Chennai and with my parents being new to the city, we had all experiences of an immigrant family . As my parents weren't comfortable with the city experience, I was raised more protective.

* So that means, I didn't have friends in my neighbor hood. And add to that , I visit my relatives only during vacations and the duration is usually too short to have any memorable experience. 

* I didn't get the experience of grand parents for reasons that they were either no more or it really didn't matter. I never heard stories of Devas/ rakshashas from my grand mother nor moral lessons from my grand father. Add to that, as a kid I used to hear from my friends about the awesome stories their grand parents shared with them and I didn't have any thing to say. I mean really I didn't even have a word to say, unless I make up some stories .

* With me being the elder kid of my generation in the extended family, I didn't have any role model as such. I never had a elder cousin who would share his/her experiences ranging from  fights with their friends or learning a sport or  stories about their crush. 

* One thing which I did have is my uncle and aunt who were more like a parent to me. But that couldn't change the experiences which I had. 

So with all above , that may seem as an ideal setup to grow into a introvert, socially inept, less competitive person.

But it wasn't so. And I can vouch that to any, who is reading this entry.

The one thing  the experience as a single child taught me is 

To be open to views and experiences from outside : As a child, when you don't hear much from people around you, you always tend to observe more people other than your family. Television became my friend and I indeed learnt much more,  for I needed stories to be discussed in school, to sound cool. 

Loneliness is not fearful : One thing that you face in current society is that many people are increasingly feeling lonely due to their lifestyle and resort to many avenues to break off that feel. In my case, I was conditioned to being lonely. Being alone wasn't a choice, but more a reality. That slowly makes you enjoy the idea of being alone. Hence I would like to use the word ' Alone ' in place of lonely , for its attached negative connotation.

Accepting people as they are : One thing you tend to develop is tolerance and the idea of accepting people as they are. This may be a protective mechanism within to not lose people but it slowly makes you a person who can accommodate completely differing views with elan. So that certainly makes you more a sociable person and hence developing into an Introvert is completely out of question. But it doesn't mean that you are going to be real extrovert. Personal experiences decide the degree of extrovertedness .

Competitive, Hardy, Independent : Being alone, you have no choice other than being competitive for you won't have a sibling to help you with any. In my case, I didn't have grandparents to run and sob that I lost at something or I was bullied. Being alone also makes you develop a sense of independence and hence you would stop bothering your parents for trivial issues. That actually makes you independent, hardy and have a sense of control on yourself. After all in life, you can't afford to always have a companion to overcome barriers, be it real or emotional.

* Accepting views of parents and their hardships : Being in a nuclear family and being a single child, helps you to empathize the position of your parents much better and you there are chances that you would be taken seriously. And people , Empathy is essentially a skill to be learnt. For in fairly large families, there is always a possibility to not know the real situation.

To counter superficial celebrations : Over a period of time, you would come to view birthdays, father day, mother day and all other days as a superficial celebration. Though it may depend upon the peer pressure, my personal view is clarity of thought that you acquire helps you to sift superficiality from real feel. In fact, single kids usually don't end up sentimental. And that also guards you from disappointment for you would have known that all relationship is fallible. 

And superficial celebrations, are usually a defensive mechanism to fill the emotional vacuum we have inside. And we all know that running away form a problem isn't exactly a solution. 

But I do miss a close confidant to share , have every chance of becoming self obsessed, lack of a role model to look up to, the push you need to give yourself  to move forward is sometimes painful, the pain you feel when you look back to see what have you missed and the crushing pain to see you are on your own in future.

But people, on a lighter note, birth rates are falling worldwide and single child are going to soon become a norm. So cheer up, form lasting friendships , enjoy every moment which you can ( Enjoyment is not always celebration, enjoyment is mostly the internal feel when you cherish what you do ) and take care of parents ( for we being single is mostly because of the conscious decision they took for our well being ). So let's not make them rue over that. 

Am open to hearing views from any who is reading this post and wish to hear them. Looking forward.

Jeyannathann Karunanithi Pillai's answer to Life: How is growing up with a sibling different from being a single child?