“Keep In India”: Why It’s Absolutely Vital For Us To Ensure That Our Data Stays Within Our Shores

_Keep In India_ 2017 BlogAt the India Today Conclave 2017 held in Mumbai, noted Industrialist Mukesh Ambani spoke about the absolute necessity of protecting our data and ensuring that it stays within our shores. To ensure that that happens, he talked about how it’s imperative that we launch a ‘Keep in India’ campaign, one that complements PM Modi’s dynamic ‘Make in India’ and ‘Digital India’ campaigns. Having already stated my views on this before, I couldn’t agree more with Mr. Ambani’s pragmatic assessment as there are countless benefits that we, as a nation, would reap if we ensured that all domestically generated data is retained within our borders.

These benefits include, but aren’t limited to, an increase in inflow of investments and international talent, a decrease in outflow of domestic talent, and a paramount increase in job creation. Then there are also, as Mr. Ambani rightfully pointed out, reasons pertaining to national security and sovereignty conditions that further add to the necessity of launching a ‘Keep in India’ campaign. Additionally, this initiative can also help us prepare for the Digital Age that the world is being ushered. How so? Well, it can ensure that we develop the necessary human capital needed to maintain our leadership position in the field of technology for future generations.

In one of my earlier blog posts from 2014, I had talked about how upsetting and frustrating it was to see that India was globally ranked 29th in a list of 30 countries for business attractiveness. I had also stressed on the need for a Policy environment that is conductive to growth for both the enterprise, as well as the entrepreneur, and one that gives big enterprises enough motivation to set shop here. Now ever since the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power with a thumping majority, things have gotten a lot better. The ‘Make in India’ and ‘Digital India’ campaigns have, to a great extent, helped create this pro-entrepreneur environment that has made India more attractive in terms of energy infusion, land and infrastructure, and capital infusion. But most, if not all, of this progress that’s been made in the last 3 years will be for naught if we don’t ensure protection of our domestically created data.

Now fortunately for us, there are many ways one could go about to ensure the protection of our data. For starters, as already mentioned above, launching a ‘Keep in India’ campaign will go a long way in informing, educating and motivating in-house developers and entrepreneurs about the need and importance of keeping domestically created data within our borders. Apart from that, the government could also draft some policies that would make it more difficult for companies that first generate ad revenue out of Indian data, and then set up Data Centres in foreign countries. Finally, we need to support our Prime Minister, in every way we can, in all of his endeavors related to ‘Digital India’ as we are extremely fortunate to have a leader like him, one who understands technology and all of its multiple benefits.

We are now living in a day and age where data and information wield unquestionable power. In the decades to come, they wouldn’t be any less important or desirable as a tool of power than even oil. As such, if we, as a developing nation vying to be the next superpower of the world, are to realize our full potential, we need to capture all of the benefits of the Indian technology revolution that we are currently a part of. And to do that, we need to ensure that data remains in India.

उद्यमेनैव सिध्यन्ति कार्याणि न मनोरथै: ।
न हि सुप्तस्य सिंहस्य प्रविशन्ति मुखे मृगा: ॥

Only with industry and effort is work done,
animals never themselves enter the lion’s mouth.

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Turning the Tables: Why Trump’s America could learn a thing or two from the Modi Government

Recently, I was in the US for some work-related purposes. Having stayed in Chicago, a few things quickly grabbed my attention. While I was certainly in awe of all the buildings that were the result of Donald Trump’s genius (the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago being one of them), I couldn’t help but notice how the rest of Chicago was largely lagging behind when it came to infrastructure. There were bridges that were rusting and falling apart, abandoned factories that resembled ghost towns and roads that weren’t well maintained at all. Considering the pride President Trump, and America itself for that matter, takes in its infrastructure, I found it incredibly ironic to see one of the largest and most popular cities in the States not being up-to-the-mark vis-à-vis government infrastructure.

Now let’s contrast this to the recent developments that have been made by our own Government and, in particular, the honourable Minister for Road Transport and Highways and Shipping, shri Nitin Gadkari. Recently, he raised the bar for developers of the 10,000-crore Eastern Peripheral Expressway, announcing that commuters would be able to effortlessly drive at the speed of 150 Km/h without having to face any hurdles on the road. In fact, he even said that driving on the Eastern Peripheral Expressway is going to be so smooth that one could pour themselves a cup of tea and not spill a single drop, despite the car being driven at a speed as high as 150 Km/h. Additionally, he also said that the NHAI will consider adding a layer of bitumen on concrete highways to prevent tyre bursts and crashes, as is the case with some road stretches abroad, in a bid to make expressways and highways safer for pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists and other vehicle users.

There’s a great sense of irony in what’s happening in the world right now. While on one hand Donald Trump stresses on enforcing an ‘America First’ and a ‘Make in America’ policy, all the while major cities in his country have areas that are being shoddily maintained. Meanwhile, the Indian Government continues to make new strides in different sectors including, but not limited to, health, railways, roadways and urban development. But it’s not just the irony that I’m trying to highlight here –  this is also another strong sign that it’s not time we too took a cue from Mr. Trump and decided to implement a ‘India first’ and ‘Make in India’ policy in ALL sectors.

The need for adopting a preferential market access policy could not be stressed enough. We’ve already proven that we are more than capable of developing this country on our own, so why not take things a notch further and implement the PMA policy that will promote homegrown talent and not limit their opportunities at the expense of international organizations? After all, shouldn’t our priority be towards our own citizens first? Additionally, enforcing this policy will help ward off concerns about product quality and security, will help reduce the balance of payments deficit in electronics and perhaps most importantly, will help create new employment opportunities in the manufacturing sector.

In closing, I’d just like to make one crucial point – In a time and age when the world around is constantly becoming more self-centered, with nations (Be it the post-Trump USA or the post-Brexit United Kingdom) electing to put their interests above globalized politics and policies, there’s no reason why a potential superpower like ours should stay behind and not look out for our own best interests.

 

आशायाः ये दासाः ते दासाः सर्वलोकस्य ।
आशा येषां दासी तेषां दासायते लोकः ॥

 

(Those who are the slaves of ‘desire’ are slaves of the entire world. But world itself is the slave of those to whom ‘desire’ is a slave.)

 

 

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US Crumbling Down: Why America actually needs Donald Trump to ‘Make it Great Again’

On November 8, 2016, against all odds, Donald Trump was elected the 45th President of the United States. Even on Election Day itself, this was something that most people thought was unfathomable. Defying the entire mainstream liberal media and overcoming all opinion polls, Trump won the election with 306 electoral votes, and in the process, ending up swinging deeply blue states such as Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania from Democratic to Republican for the first time in decades. Now whether you agree or disagree with his opinions, you can’t deny the fact that what he registered was a spectacular victory, one that defied all odds and made everyone reassess what they were initially thinking about politics. Now initially, even I was a little surprised by how Trump could have possibly won. But after recently visiting the United States (Chicago in particular) for some work, I can understand exactly how and why Trump ended up winning this election.

For the longest time one can remember, America has always been known as the global leader in a variety of fields including, but not limited to, infrastructure. Well, if you were to visit Chicago and were to travel to Downtown Chicago from Hyatt regency, you’d come across a bridge that would say otherwise. The bridge is rusting, shoddily maintained and even shows alarming cracks. When I first laid eyes on this bridge, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Is this the infrastructure of a city as modern and urban as Chicago? Our own Mumbai Bridge, that was initiated by Nitin Gadkari in 1995, stands majestic and beautifully maintained in 2017, whereas bridges in Chicago are rusting, breaking and, for lack of a better word, dying.

And no, that bridge isn’t the only thing that bewildered me during this trip. Detroit (situated in the all too important state of Michigan), that once used to be the hub of industrial America, now lays barren and empty, it’s vacant factories rusting and dying. This America seems less like the one mentioned by all in the proverbial ‘American Dream’ and more like the one that constitutes an ‘American Nightmare’. Noticing how far the Rust Belt of America has been left behind owning to globalization and outsourcing, one can see exactly why Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania voted for Trump.

Now during my stay in Chicago, there was another thing I noticed that, once again, made me understand exactly why people elected Trump in 2016. Not too far from where I was staying, was the Trump Tower. Standing 1,388 feet tall with 98 floors, it stood like a majestic beauty and was, without a doubt, a sight to behold. Adjacent to the Trump Tower was another innovative infrastructural creation the like of which I had never seen before – an elevated parking structure, standing higher than even most buildings we’ve got back home.

Seeing Trump’s own personal infrastructural creations, and contrasting them with the dying bridges of Chicago or the barren factories in Detroit, one can start to understand why, when he ran on the pitch of ‘Making America Great Again’, he ended up being successful. Whether Trump’s liberal haters would like to believe it or not, but the USA is crumbling down and many cities, especially those located in and near the Rust Belt, are slowly dying. Just having two cities located on the coasts (New York, Los Angeles) developing and thriving isn’t enough to make up for those cities that are rusting and falling apart. And so the need of the hour for the United States is to have someone leading them who, not only understands that this problem exists, but also is aware of the necessary that need to be taken to fix it. And if the majestic Trump Tower in Chicago is anything to go by, then I can confidently say that America truly made the right choice in 2017.

उद्यमेनैव सिध्यन्ति कार्याणि न मनोरथै
न हि सुप्तस्य सिंहस्य प्रविशन्ति मुखे मृगा

Only with industry and effort is work done,
Animals never themselves dare enter a lion’s mouth.

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India Celebrates a Saffron Holi: Why BJP’s Sweep of Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand is a Game Changer in Indian Politics

 

On 11th March 2017, India decided to celebrate Holi a couple of days early, with saffron being the most popular colour of choice. Whether it was the heartland of Uttar Pradesh, the hills of Uttarakhand or the northeastern state of Manipur, the BJP made decisive gains across the board, once again reinforcing the fact that Prime Minster Modi, and the party itself, is currently enjoying a popularity that is unrivaled.

While the victories it scored in all three states are equally impressive in their scale, the one it registered in Uttar Pradesh is, without question, the most stunning. The BJP, under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s dynamic leadership, as well as Amit Shah’s ingenious campaign management, won a landslide 325 seats. This victory becomes even more incredible when one takes into account the vote share that the BJP won, a whopping 39.7%. When you compare that to the vote share of the SP, BSP and Congress, none of them could even cross the 25% mark. Winning a 3/4th majority in any election is no mean feat, but to win one in Uttar Pradesh, a state that has a population of more than 200 million (more than that of Brazil, England, Australia or even Pakistan) and one that is diverse across the board, is evidence enough that by and large, the country is rallying behind the policies, ideologies and leadership of the BJP.

Moving further north lies another state where the BJP won a landslide victory and took one more step towards fulfilling its vision of achieving a ‘Congress Mukth’ Bhaarat. In Uttarakhand, BJP won a stunning 57 seats, compared to the Congress’s mere 11. Such was the scale of the Congress’s defeat, that sitting Chief Minister Harish Rawat lost elections from both of the seats that he was contesting from. And if we were to go to the eastern most corner of the country, the results in Manipur are perhaps best reflective of BJP’s pan-India growth as it went from winning zero seats in 2012 to 21 seats in 2017.

Finally, with these results, all those myths of there being Muslim, Dalit or Jat vote-banks, ones that would only vote on the basis of religion or caste, are officially debunked. When you receive a mandate of this scale and magnitude, you can’t do so without support that cuts across lines of religion, caste and class. One look at the seats that that the BJP won reinforces this fact – they swept urban as well as rural regions, areas with heavy Muslim and Dalit populations, they swept the suburbs of Noida, the Congress bastions of Amethi and Raebareli, as well as all seats in Lucknow. Simply put, BJP received votes from all sections of society and considering its scale of victory, parties that solely relied on either communalization (Samajwadi Party, Congress) or caste politics (BSP), have been given a resounding reality check by the people of Uttar Pradesh. Additionally, this was also an election that has now, once and for all, made it clear that dynastic politics and parivar wad simply won’t work anymore. Apart from the symbolic losses of the congress party in Amethi and Raebareli (supposed bastions of the Gandhi Parivar), Mulayam Singh Yadav’s bahu Aparna Yadav also lost from the Lucknow Cantonment seat by 30,000 votes.

There were, of course, setbacks that we need to pay attention to as well. The mandate in Punjab was certainly disappointing, although it’s never easy to win elections when you’re facing 10 years of anti-incumbency, and our performance in Goa could have been better. We need to learn what went wrong there and course-correct our mistakes. With the reinstallation of Manohar Parikar as the Chief Minister of Goa, the first step in the right direction has already taken place.

Of course opposition parties such as the BSP and AAP are not able to fathom the scale of their own losses and so, in a bid to feel better about themselves and their political future, are conveniently trying to pin the blame on “malfunctioning EVMs.” Isn’t it funny that when a mandate goes against them, only then do the likes of Kejriwal and Mayawati raise such concerns? When they win elections decisively, such as in Delhi in 2015, malfunctioning EVMs are never brought-up?

In the end, however, the fact remains that BJP has formed the government in four out of five states, and despite all the manufactured noise that was raised against demonetization, despite all the tall claims that were being made against PM Modi’s development work, the Indian voter has given his thumbs up of approval and that too decisively.

 

अक्रोधेन जयेत् क्रोधमसाधुं साधुना जयेत् ।
जयेत् कदर्यं दानेन जयेत् सत्येन चानृतम् ॥

Conquer anger by calmness, evil by good,
miserliness by charity and lies by truth

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India shoots for the Stars: Why ISRO’s Launch of 104 Satellites Should Make Every Indian Proud

On 15th February 2017, 9:28 AM, India made history. While India’s Space Research Organization (ISRO) has always been globally known as being a pioneer in its field, no one was expecting it to achieve the kind of milestone it did last week. Not one, not two, not even ten, the ISRO launched a staggering 104 satellites into space from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota. 104 satellites, and no you are not reading that number incorrectly. Not only is this number huge in and of itself, but it also sets a world record and that too by a huge margin, thereby breaking all previous ones that had been set by Russia and USA. The ISRO choose to use the XL variant (the same one that was used for Chandrayaan and Mangalyan) to launch these satellites that come from seven countries, including three belonging to India.

While it’s astonishing and incredibly remarkable that the ISRO was able to launch 104 satellites in one go, it’s the three Indian satellites that we really should be talking about – the CartoSat-2D, the INS-1A and the INS-1B. Weighing more than 700 Kg’s and fifth in the series of CartoSat-2 remote-sensing satellites, the CartoSat-2D is perhaps the most important satellite that was launched on 15th February, at least from India’s perspective. Its primary job is to capture and send panchromatic and multispectral images of India from space. While initially that might seem like a pretty simple task, its ramifications are pretty significant. All images that will be captured by the CartoSat-2D will be used to monitor coastal land use, as well as for urban and rural planning.

On the other hand, the INS-1A, as the name suggests, is a nanosatellite that weighs a mere 8.4 Kgs, has a lifespan of six months, comes equipped with two science payloads and will primarily be used for research purposes. The two science payloads, in particular, will be used for two primary reasons – a) tracking Single Even Upsets that occur due to high energy radiation in space environment in Commercial, Off-the-Shelf electronic components and b) taking readings of the sunlight reflected off of different targets on the earth’s surface. Finally, there is another nanosatellite, the INS-1B, which weighs 9.7 Kgs, has a lifespan that ranges from 6 months to up to a year and will also come equipped with two science payloads, the Earth Exosphere Lyman Alpha Analyser (EELA) and Origami Camera. While the former will be used to monitor terrestrial exospheric line-of-sight neutral atomic hydrogen Lyman Alpha flux and to give an estimate for the interplanetary hydrogen Lyman Alpha background flux, the later will be used as a remote sensing colour camera that can take high-resolution pictures of the earth.

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India was always taken seriously as a nation with its presence in space, but after the success of this mission (which the ISRO has labelled as its PSLV-C37 mission), it’ll internationally be looked at in a different light altogether. Additionally, considering that the primary motive for most of these satellites is to map every corner of the earth in high resolution, important functions such as water distribution, road network monitoring and land use map creation are guaranteed to get a major boost, thereby further helping pace up the speed of development work taking place across the country.

Now it’s not just the scope and scale of PSLV-C37 that makes it so special, the economic efficiency with which it was successfully accomplished is a story in and of itself. Let me give you an example to further elucidate this point. The 1995 Hollywood docudrama Apollo 13 (that depicted the journey behind America’s third Moon landing mission) was made under a budget of $52 million or around Rs. 388 Crores. ISRO’s PSLV-C37 mission, on the other hand, cost less than $15 million or around Rs. 100 Crores. So simply put, the budget of a Hollywood film about launching a shuttle into space was more than ISRO’s mission that actually sent 104 satellites into space.

When India’s populace heavily voted for the BJP and Prime Minister Modi in 2014, they did so on the platform of anti-corruption and development. Now with the resounding success of ISRO’s latest mission, one can safely assume that development has skyrocketed (no pun intended!) under the dynamic leadership of Prime Minister Modi.

 नास॑दासी॒न्नो सदा॑सीत्त॒दानी॒म् नासी॒द्रजो॒ नो व्यो॑मा प॒रो यत्।

किमाव॑रीव॒: कुह॒ कस्य॒ शर्म॒न्नंभ॒: किमा॑सी॒द्गह॑नं गभी॒रम्॥१॥

Neither existence nor nonexistence was there, neither matter nor space around,
What covered it, where it was and who protected? Why, that plasma, all pervading, deep and profound?

 

 

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The Tamasha of Uttar Pradesh

With the Election Commission having announced the dates of the 2017 Uttar Pradesh elections, all political parties have gone into campaign mode, all except one which is still busy disentangling its…

Source: The Tamasha of Uttar Pradesh

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The Tamasha of Uttar Pradesh

mulayam-family-759

Image Credit Indian Express : images.indianexpress.com/2016/09/mulayam-family-759.jpg

With the Election Commission having announced the dates of the 2017 Uttar Pradesh elections, all political parties have gone into campaign mode, all except one which is still busy disentangling its family crisis. Currently in power in Uttar Pradesh, not only does the Samajwadi Party and Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav have to overcome anti-incumbency and resurgent state and national parties, but they also have to combat the infighting and family drama taking place within the party that is making them all look like participants of a reality show. In fact, politics in general seems to be a family affair for the Samajwadi Party. Apart from party president Mulayam Singh Yadav and his son Akhilesh Yadav who is the Chief Minister of UP, there is Shivpal Yadav (Mulayam Singh Yadav’s brother and member of UP Assembly), Dimple Yadav (Akhilesh’s wife and member of Lok Sabha), Ram Gopal Yadav (Mulayam’s second brother and member of Rajya Sabha), Akshay Yadav (Ram Gopal’s son and member of Lok Sabha), Dharmendra Yadav (Mulayam’s nephew and member of Lok Sabha) and Tej Pratap Yadav (Mulayam’s grand-nephew and member of Lok Sabha). As far as SP is concerned, it seems like ParivaarWAD is the only policy they live by.

Generally in Hindi ‘ParivaarWAD’ means ‘Family Centric’ &  ‘WAD’ means ‘Conflict’. But in case of SamajWADies of UP , ‘ParivaarWAD’ means family with conflicts (Paarivaarik Tamasha)

This also explains why even one family dispute threatens to dismantle the entire party. Just in the last few weeks, we have seen Shivpal Yadav resign from the post of state president, then get reinstated by party president Mulayam Singh Yadav, then, along with Amar Singh, get sacked from the state cabinet by Akhilesh Yadav. We’ve also seen party general secretary and Rajya Sabha MP Ramgopal Yadav expelled for six years, only to be reinstated and expelled again. The Chief Minister himself hasn’t been immune to this drama, as he too was sacked by party president and father Mulayam Singh Yadav on 30th December and was then reinstated just days later. With all this spectacle taking place, it won’t be wrong if one were to label it as the ‘Tamasha of Utter Pradesh’.

The electorate of Uttar Pradesh deserves better than this. Instead of a Chief Minister who is busy being engulfed in his own family disputes, and instead of being governed by political parties which are only interested in garnering votes on the basis of caste (BSP) and religion (SP), it’s time the people of Uttar Pradesh voted for a party that will be running an election campaign on the agenda and platform of development. For the last 15 years, be it when the Bahujan Samaj Party was in power or the Samajwadi Party, the state of Uttar Pradesh has grossly deteriorated. Be it crimes against women, corruption or lack of basic development, things only seemed to have gotten worse. In fact, according to the latest data from the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), there has been an alarming increase of 34% in crimes against women over the last 4 years alone and as far as corruption is concerned, the HRHM scam that took place under Mayawati’s government in 2011, where top politicians and bureaucrats allegedly siphoned off a massive sum estimated at ₹100 billion (US$1.5 billion) from the National Rural Health Mission, speaks for itself.

Communal tensions too have been at all all-time high during the past few years. The 2013 Muzzafarnagar riots were described as one of the worst instances of violence in Uttar Pradesh’s recent history, resulting in 62 deaths and 93 injuries. Not only did these riots cause the army to be deployed in the state for the first time in 20 years, but the Supreme Court also held Akhilesh Yadav and the Samajwadi Party prima facie guilty of negligence. While the state was still recovering from the carnage caused in Muzzafarnagar, more communal riots broke out in Fatehpur in 2016, resulting in the injuries of 30 people. Needless to say, the current state of law and order in Uttar Pradesh has become another valid reason to label it as the ‘Tamasha of Uttar Pradesh’.

With elections just around the corner, the voters of UP have to make an imperative and integral choice, one that will directly affect their safety, development and betterment. Having to go on for another five years of lawlessness, corruption and family theatrics is just not an option anymore. It’s time they opted for change, and put the state on the path towards development and prosperity.

” satyameva jayate nānṛtaṁ
satyena panthā vitato devayānaḥ
yenākramantyṛṣayo hyāptakāmā
yatra tat satyasya paramaṁ nidhānam”

Truth alone triumphs, not falsehood
Through truth the divine path is spread out
by which the sages whose desires have been completely fulfilled, reach
where that supreme treasure of Truth resides.

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