IANS-

Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk on Sunday met Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe in Indonesia during the 10th World Water Forum, Sri Lankan President’s Media Division (PMD) said.

In a post on X, PMD mentioned that Wickremesinghe discussed the implementation of Starlink service in Sri Lanka with the tech billionaire and also mentioned that he is committed to fast-tracking the application process to connect the country with the global Starlink network.

“During the 10th World Water Forum High-Level Meeting in Indonesia, President Ranil Wickremesinghe met with @elonmusk to discuss the implementation of @Starlink in Sri Lanka,” PMD wrote.

Meanwhile, Sri Lankan Minister of Water Supply and Estate Infrastructure Development Jeevan Thondaman, who accompanied Wickremesinghe to Indonesia, took to X and wrote that the president and Musk discussed Sri Lanka’s recovery, economic potential and new investment opportunities.

“President @RW_UNP met with @elonmusk today during his 2-day visit to Bali with me for the World Water Forum. President and Elon discussed Sri Lanka’s recovery, economic potential, and new opportunities for investment,” Thondaman said.

The tech billionaire arrived in Indonesia on Sunday morning ahead of the planned launch of SpaceX’s Starlink Internet service in the Southeast Asian country.

 

By Justice Markandey Katju-

Justice Markandey Katju

(Justice Markandey Katju is a former Judge, Supreme Court of India, and former Chairman of Press Council of India. The views expressed are his own)

Something happened in Pakistan yesterday which mesmerized the whole country, and was simply unbelievable.  A 70 year old man in blue garments was seen on a screen in Court number 1 of Pakistan’s Supreme Court ( the Chief Justice’s Courtroom ), a scene that electrified the whole nation.

The picture was of former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan appearing virtually in Court. No live streaming of his appearance was permitted by the Chief Justice of Pakistan Qazi Faez Isa ( who is known to be a toady of Pakistan’s Establishment, and servile to it ), though he permits live streaming of other proceedings in his court.. So it was some lawyer who clandestinely took the picture on his laptop when it appeared momentarily on the screen, which went viral all over Pakistan. A police investigation has been ordered about this as if a heinous crime had been committed.

The picture has gone viral all over Pakistan, and everyone has watched it.

Though jailed first in Attock, and then Adiala,  jail on fabricated and ridiculous charges since August last year, Imran Khan has become an icon and an idea that has gripped the masses in Pakistan and has the support of over 90% of the people of Pakistan ( as all opinion polls indicate ).

Even from inside the jail, Imran Khan is leading a heroic brave struggle for restoration of democracy in Pakistan and ending the nightmarish fascist reign of terror unleashed on the people by the army all over Pakistan after the incidents of May 9, 2023 ( which many asserts were stage-managed ).

By a massively rigged election for parliament on 8th February this year he was deprived of over half the seats which he would have easily won and become the Prime Minister again. The Pakistani army hates him, as was evident from the recent Press Conference of the DGI SPR Maj Gen ( now Lt Gen ) Ahmed Sharif who called Imran Khan’s party PTI an ‘intishari tola’ (  gang of disruptors  ), ‘siyasi balwais’ ( political chaos creators ), etc who relied on ”jhooth’, ‘fareb’ and ‘makkar’.

The army hates him as he insists that it be under civilian control, and accountable, something to which the generals, with their huge ill-gotten wealth, which they are unwilling to part with, are unwilling

The US Government also seems to dislike Imran Khan as he has often criticized it e.g. for making the then-Pakistan Government send Pakistani troops into Afghanistan, where many of them were killed. His visit to Moscow and meeting with President Putin was also seen as a hostile act by the Americans. He also said that Americans often treat Pakistanis as slaves, a remark which could not have endeared him to the former.

Despite all these odds, Imran Khan’s spirit is unbent, as the picture revealed.

There will be no peace in Pakistan until and unless fresh free and fair elections under the supervision of the UN or some other reputed international agency is held,  with the army strictly confined to their barracks, and whoever wins is allowed to form the government.

If this is not done, an era of large-scale violence in the form of a people’s guerilla war against the army is coming sooner than later in Pakistan

 

iNDICA News Bureau-

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently released data indicating a significant decline in H-1B registrations for the fiscal year (FY) 2025 cap. While the number of unique individuals registering (beneficiaries) remained relatively steady compared to FY 2024, the total number of eligible registrations saw a substantial decrease – over 38% lower– than the record highs of the previous year.

Eligible H-1B registrations plummeted from 758,994 in FY 2024 to 470,342 in FY 2025. The number of unique beneficiaries participating in the annual H-1B lottery declined marginally from 446,000 in FY 2024 to 442,000 in FY 2025. In contrast, the number of unique employers submitting H-1B registrations slightly increased from 52,000 in FY 2024 to 52,700 in FY 2025. USCIS selected 114,017 unique beneficiaries, resulting in 120,603 selected H-1B registrations during the initial FY 2025 lottery, translating to a selection rate of approximately 25.6 percent.

The data suggests that USCIS’s efforts to combat fraud, along with the implementation of a new “beneficiary-centric” selection process for FY 2025, are having a positive impact on ensuring the integrity of the H-1B lottery system.

The agency emphasized its ongoing commitment to deterring and preventing fraudulent activity in the registration process. USCIS highlights its continued efforts to investigate, reject, and revoke petitions suspected to be fraudulent. This includes potential referrals for criminal prosecution when necessary.

For those selected in the lottery, the H-1B petition filing period will conclude on June 30, 2024. For those whose registrations were selected in the lottery, the H-1B petition filing window closes on June 30, 2024. It remains unclear whether USCIS will conduct additional selection rounds for FY 2025.

Notably, the reasons behind the decrease in eligible registrations cannot merely be attributed to the USCIS anti-fraud measures. Additional factors such as economic conditions, employer hiring trends, or changes in the H-1B visa application process could be the other contributory factors behind this decrease.

The H-1B visa is highly sought after by U.S. employers looking to hire foreign workers in specialty occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise.

This year’s “beneficiary-centric” registration system prioritizes legitimate applicants. It tackles the past issue of duplicate applications for the same person. This aligns with USCIS’s mission: attracting high-skilled foreign workers to fill U.S. workforce gaps, while preventing abuse. USCIS’s continuous efforts to refine the H-1B process and fight fraud are essential to keeping the program trustworthy and beneficial for both American employers and qualified foreign workers.

OM Malik-

Om Malik

Om Malik is a partner at True Ventures, a Silicon Valley-based early-stage venture capital group. Prior to joining True, he was the founder of Gigaom, a pioneering technology blog and media company.

I have been thinking about the OpenAI and Google I/O announcements — and how they represent two polar opposite strategies, and thus diametrically opposed perceptions of two entities that are in a small, elite club that is creating a direction for a set of technologies known as “artificial intelligence.”

Let’s start with OpenAI’s announcement just a day before Google I/O:

  • It introduced a GPT-4o, which it describes as a large multimodal model that accepts image and text inputs and produces text outputs. By accepting both image and text inputs, the model opens up a whole new range of possibilities for AI applications.
  • It can respond to audio inputs in as little as 232 milliseconds, with an average of 320 milliseconds, which is similar to human response time (opens in a new window) in a conversation.
  • How does this happen? Previously you used Voice Mode to talk to ChatGPT. This had latencies of 2.8 seconds (GPT-3.5) and 5.4 seconds (GPT-4) on average. Voice Mode was a three-step process — (a model) transcribes audio to text, (using GPT-3.5 or GPT-4) takes in text, and outputs text, and a third simple model converts that text back to audio. Now, OpenAI says, “a single new model works end-to-end across text, vision, and audio, meaning that all inputs and outputs are processed by the same neural network.
  • It is faster and 50% cheaper.

What does it mean? Think of a voice assistant that not only understands you and your questions, but also has the capability to have an empathetic two-way conversation without it feeling too uncanny, or feeling stilted like, say, Siri or Alexa. It also has solved the problem faced by “real-time translation.”

Their demo, which felt real, human, and full of fun and empathy, led to quick comparisons with the movie Her, nudged a bit by OpenAI’s chief honcho, Sam Altman. The buzz has been almost universally positive.

Rumors suggest a pending partnership between OpenAI and Apple—a collaboration that could provide Siri, which in tech years has grown decidedly middle-aged since its 2012 debut, with a new lease on life.

Not to sidetrack the discussion, but Apple’s device possesses the potential to marry the efficiencies of edge computing and artificial intelligence. A revamped bot-based Siri would likely lean on OpenAI’s engine for all off-device needs, while Apple remains in control of on-device voice synthesis, privacy control, and Siri-interface personas. I am sure, we will find out soon.

OpenAI’s event and announcement was a masterclass in public relations and reinforced the point we had previously seen in many Apple events — short and to-the-point events and announcements can have a much larger impact. (I am not sure anyone noticed, but ChatGPT now has real-time search results — something they didn’t even bother to highlight during the event.)

Just a day after OpenAI’s event, Google kicked off its Google I/O event.

Google, it seemed, threw a lot of spaghetti at the wall during CEO Sundar Pichai’s keynote. It was a keynote that allowed him to share Google’s grand AI vision for the attendees — developers and also for the broader world (read: investors) at large.

  • Google’s new Gemini is now a multimodal model that can reason across text, images, video, code, and more. (This is what OpenAI launched to steal Google’s thunder.)
  • Project Astra, is a real-time multimodal assistant that has understanding and real-time conversational capabilities as a universal agent.
  • The Gemini era is defined by multimodality, expanded context (1M tokens), and agents. They want to go for 2 million tokens.
  • AI Overviews, a revamped search experience powered by Gemini, is launching to everyone in the U.S. this week.
  • The Google search app on iPhone now has AI chat with Gemini built-in. If you refresh your app and look for the diamond-shaped icon at the top.
  • Ask (Google) Photos uses Gemini. Just ask natural language queries to surface specific memories, going beyond simple keywords to complex queries that mine context and metadata.
  • Trillium, a 6th-generation TPU chip, boasts nearly 5X performance over the previous generation. It powers an AI Hypercomputer architecture that combines large language models, generative AI, custom chips, liquid cooling, and global networking for extreme efficiency.
  • In Workspace, Gemini can summarize recent emails, parse hour-long recordings, and even draft replies – acting as your intern.
  • A new AI-enabled browser-based IDE, Google Gemini 1.5 flash in AI Studio and Gemini Nano for the mobile. For me, these were probably the most important of all the announcements, but that’s me.

I wouldn’t fault you for not grasping what was the most important part of the keynote. Google announced so much stuff—that despite my notes and watching the whole keynote thing twice, I can’t pick out that one “WOAH! that’s amazing” moment from the whole event.

This is a bit disappointing because, in my opinion, this was one of the most coherent Google I/O events in recent memory. The past three I/O events were so disjointed that I wondered if the management was mailing it in — which I think they were.

“AI” might galvanize the company and make it more focused, but one thing is becoming increasingly clear — Google’s days as a frontline innovator appear to be in the past. Had it not been for OpenAI, and its assault on the idea of search, software, and machine learning, Google would still be debating about all the technologies that have come out of its labs. Had it not been for Perplexity, it would still be shoveling the same shitty search experience down our throats.

The sheer amount of money they were making, and the pressure of appeasing Wall Street, plus a cadre of timid, visionless executives made them an also-ran — and vulnerable company. They still are, but for now, they can at least take some comfort in the role of a “swift imitator.” That’s the best you can expect from a company with a managerial team that echoes the company’s shift from product creators to managers.

It is unfair to compare the OpenAI and Google events. Why?

Because OpenAI made a product announcement. Google, on the other hand, is hosting its annual developer conference. They are not the same. The market, however, doesn’t see it that way. For most people, there is an equivalence.

This is precisely what happens when you let another company take control of the narrative. This is precisely what happens when you don’t have a clear vision, or ability to lead the industry. Ironically, there was a time when Google used to do what OpenAI is now doing — and make everyone a fast follower.

Of course, there are many advantages at work for OpenAI — that are in turn challenges for Google. Since OpenAI is a privately held entity, it inherently possesses more flexibility and fewer restrictions (and structure) that are imposed on publicly traded companies. Google can’t make random comments, or it’ll be exposed to liabilities.

OpenAI executives can theorize about everything from AGI to societal disruptions, without any backlash, as they are a private company. More importantly, they are very smart — most of the commentary from OpenAI’s leadership deals in abstracts, hithertos, and what-ifs. They sketch the outline, and let the rest of us fill in the blanks.

By carefully using finely tuned marketing and public relations strategies, OpenAI has set itself up as the vanguard of the new technological revolution. This must be equally galling for Facebook, which counts marketing and public relations as its core competencies.

Make no mistake — the reason OpenAI is achieving all this success (and hype) is because they have a product that for now is stellar. Nonetheless, OpenAI has created excitement that reminds me of the emergence of Palm, and later social networks. They stoked the imagination, and possibilities. Of course!

In a few weeks when Apple holds its developer conference, there is a good chance they are going to be talking about “AI.” They will talk about a new improved Siri. And if rumors are true, a partnership with OpenAI. But by then we all would know — Siri got smarter, thanks to OpenAI.

 

iNDICA NEWS BUREAU-

A woman of Indian origin has been arrested for scamming a Florida man of $1.5 million. The accused, a US resident, arrested on May 9 is a key figure in a multi-state gold bar fraud in which scammers posing as federal agents would convince their victims to purchase gold bullion and hand it over for secure storage.

Shweta Patel, who has been arrested, had defrauded $1.5 million from a Bradenton resident. In April, the Bradenton Police Department received a report of fraud from an 80-year-old man. She and an accomplice posing as federal agents in February 2024 had showed up at the victim’s house with a fake arrest warrant alleging financial irregularities. They had also pretended to invite their supervisor.

“The supervisor then spoke to the victim and said they thought he could do more good than being arrested,” Det. Jim Curulla told Fox13. Over the next month, this “supervisor” communicated with the victim daily, building rapport and trust, according to a tweet posted by Bradenton police from their official handle on X. The scammers told the senior citizen that he was going to help with social security fraud. They convinced him that he would need to come up with seed money and that they were going to do a sting operation. Over several weeks, police say the scammers conned the man into transferring a total of around $1.5 million of his retirement money in gold bars. “The victim was retired military, so they played upon his experience in the military,” Curulla said. “They played upon his patriotism.”

Detectives say the man was instructed to make multiple transfers and meet the fake agents at different locations for organized drop-offs of the gold bars. According to an affidavit, investigators tracked one of the cars used at a drop-off to Patel, one of the alleged mules, who lived in Georgia.

Patel, who is charged with grand theft of more than $100,000, has also confessed to another case of fraud in which she went to North Carolina to collect $25,000 from an elderly woman. The police investigations have revealed that fraud schemes involving gold bars have become a trend across the country. “Gold is immediately liquidated, you’re never going to see that gold again if they melt it down,” an investigator said.

Curulla said that there have been a number of reports of elder fraud in Bradenton. Police say elder fraud cases reported to the Bradenton Police Department are up 50% this year. BPD recently launched an elder fraud unit, dedicated to combatting these types of scams. An FBI report released in April says scammers stole more than $3.4 billion from Americans 60 years and older.

 

iNDICA NEWS BUREAU-

Indian-American students are among the winners of the Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair 2024 (Regeneron ISEF), the world’s largest pre-college science competition.

While Grace Sun, 16, of Lexington, Kentucky, won first place and received the $75,000, Krish Pai, 17, of Del Mar, California, joined Michelle Wei, 17, of San Jose, California to receive the second Regeneron Young Scientist Award of $50,000.

Sun was awarded for her research on building a better organic electrochemical transistor that she hopes will be used to develop new electronic devices that could help detect and treat serious illnesses like diabetes, epilepsy and organ failure. Grace developed a way to chemically treat their organic parts, thus improving their laboratory performance.

Pai used machine learning to identify microbial genetic sequences that can be modified to biodegrade plastic. In tests, his Microby software identified two microorganisms whose modified sequences could degrade plastic at a cost he believes could be 10 times less than traditional recycling.

Wei, 17, from San Jose, California, won for her work quickly approximating solutions to complex programming problems, allowing her algorithm to outperform existing approaches.

Maya Ajmera, president and CEO of the Society for Science and executive publisher of Science News, congratulated the winners, saying, “Coming from around the world with diverse backgrounds and academic disciplines, these students have shown that it is possible to come together in unity to tackle some of the toughest challenges facing our world today. I could not be prouder.”

“The talent, intelligence, and potential of this year’s Regeneron ISEF finalists are truly inspiring, and I congratulate each on their remarkable achievements,” said George D. Yancopoulos, M.D., Ph.D.,
co-founder, Board co-chair, president and Chief Scientific Officer of Regeneron. “Science competitions like ISEF were pivotal in shaping my own career and fueling my passion to fight back against disease. I look forward to seeing these students continue to push the boundaries of science and technology to create positive and sustainable change for all humanity.”

Other top honors from the competition include Tanishka Balaji Aglave, 15, and Ria Kamat, 17.

Aglave, from Valrico, Florida, received the H. Robert Horvitz Prize for Fundamental Research of $10,000 for her work on a natural treatment for citrus greening, a disease that threatens citrus farming globally. It is currently treated only with antibiotics. Aglave’s method involves injecting infected trees
with an extract from the curry leaf tree. This has the potential to sustainably manage the disease.

Ria Kamat, from Hackensack, New Jersey, was recognized for her research to control the spread of
osteosarcoma, a primary bone tumor. Her work focused on addressing imbalances in the bone growth involved that could become cancerous.

Regeneron ISEF is a platform for the world’s talented young scientists and engineers. It nurtures the next generation of STEM leaders. Since 2020, Regeneron has offered STEM experiences to around 2.4 million students. Started 70 years ago by the Society for Science, ISEFis the world’s largest global science and engineering competition for 9th to 12th grade students. In total, over $9 million was awarded to finalists based on their projects’ creativity, innovation, and depth of scientific inquiry. The competition featured nearly 2,000 young scientists representing 49 U.S. states and nearly 70 countries, regions, and territories across the world.

IANS-

Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk on Saturday said his brain-computer interface company, Neuralink, can help restore full body control in people suffering from paralysis.

Neuralink has achieved a successful brain-chip implant with the first human — Noland Armagh — in the US.

The company is now accepting applications for the second participant for a chip implant.

“Long-term, I think we can bridge severed nerve signals to a second Neuralink in the spine, restoring full body control,” the tech billionaire posted on the X social media platform.

Arbaugh, the world’s first recipient of a Neuralink, has enabled “telepathic control of a computer or phone just by thinking,” Musk added.

When Neuralink selects the second chip participant, Arbaugh would tell him or her about his life-changing experiences after the implant.

The company has received approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for human trials.

According to the company, the PRIME (Precise Robotically Implanted Brain-Computer Interface) trials aim to evaluate the safety of its implant (N1) and surgical robot (R1).

These trials aim to assess the initial functionality of the wireless brain-computer interface for enabling people with paralysis to control external devices with their thoughts.

 

Ritu Jha-

Chicago-based doctor Munish Kumar Raizada[Above photo], a follower of Mahatma Gandhi, Anna Hazare, and a former AAP supporter has taken on a new challenge – to cure India of corruption and restore democracy to its spirit.

He has taken charge as the national president of the Bharatiya Liberal Party (BLP), a political party now based in Delhi.

Raizada, 54, is a board-certified Neonatologist with a practice spanning 21 years in the United States. He returned to India past September to work for political reforms.  In an interview with indica over the phone, Raizada spoke about his political ambitions and why he has now returned to his motherland.

“I moved to the US in 2002 to appear for some interviews and in 2003, I got a fellowship in neonatal medicine. Since then, I have been in the US. But I was always passionate about some real policy changes in India. When I came to the US, I figured out that though it’s a huge country, there are systems in place. India is such a huge country that it takes an enormous effort and time to manage. I realized that if there’s a bill aided by science and technology one can achieve bigger things. Policy changes were always my focus when Anna Hazare Andolan started in India in 2011. I became a part of that and the Aam Aadmi party was formed. During those years I spent a lot of time in India. I joined AAP officially because I thought the party could bring real change in the democratic system,” Raizada told indica.

His hopes for policy reforms were however dashed after AAP came to power in Delhi. “I realized that what they didn’t mean to follow through what they were preaching. The first assault came when AAP hid the donation list. Financial transparency was one of the fundamental principles for which this party stood for. As soon as AAP came into power in Delhi, the first thing they did was to hide the donors’ list, fiddling with the principle of financial transparency that they so vehemently espoused. I stood up against that. Nobody likes people who give sane advice once you have risen to power. Then some like-minded activists met Anna Hajare again in 2016. We started a no-donation campaign and went to Punjab also. We agitated in Delhi and I filmed a web series called Transparency in 2019 chronicling the untold stories of AAP and even Anna Hazare.”

His passion for reforms and the realization that “things are not changing the way we were passionate about” took him back to India 12 years after Anna Andolan. “I’m passionate about electoral reforms because the parliament has to bring certain reforms so that the politics becomes a level playing field. However, the central government is not interested in enacting those laws. The parliamentarians, when they get into the sanctum sanctorum of democracy, are no longer interested in bringing fundamental changes like overhauling the system because that goes against their interests.”

While BLP is contesting the 2024 parliamentary elections, its main focus is the upcoming assembly elections in Delhi which are due in February 2025. “We are participating in this Lok Sabha elections and will contest the Delhi assembly election too. For Lok Sabha, we are contesting in Chandani Chowk and northeast Delhi. Our focus continues to be fighting corruption because we want to bring good governance. At this point, India’s politics is dominated by caste and religious considerations and other kinds of parochial issues where the politicians are exploiting the sentiments of the electorate. But we are bound to the constitution and our focus is fundamental issues that affect the common man like governance, policy issues, and containing corruption. Faith is important, but it cannot be the primary instrument to run polity in the country.”

When asked whether BLP will align with the other larger parties, he said: “Electoral bonds are a prime example of how in this digital era the governments are able to hoodwink the citizens. It was enacted as a law in the parliament and every single party supported it. You can’t just blame the BJP for this. Every single party supported the electoral bonds, though it was nothing less than a scam. So why should we support any of these parties?”

Even with lofty ideals, it’s not easy to run an election. “The fundamental question of any election campaign is the finance, the campaign expenditure. We are struggling on that. As a fledgling newborn party, no one is supporting us to the level we should be supported. But we will continue to make efforts. And we are also asking the public to donate and support us. Some donations are trickling in but that is insufficient to fight the mega system. We hope the public continues to support us.”

Raizada says the government’s hyperbole on improving India’s urban infrastructure does not paint the correct picture. “If you look at Delhi too, most parts still need infrastructure. Delhi is developed but not every area of Delhi. Viksit Bharat remains a dream, it’s still a long way to go. China was able to bring uplift the population out of poverty within a generation, in a span of 25 to 30 years. India is no way closer to that. India’s infrastructure is in a mess. And I’m just talking like a citizen here, without any agenda. Even if you spend a few days in Delhi, you will see for yourself how bad, and pitiable the situation is. The Municipal Corporation of Delhi earns through toll tax but it is highly corrupt. It’s a den of corruption. This is the real challenge for the Indian electorate and citizens how do we stem this corruption? Corruption is rampant and has become part of life and the politicians are not interested in containing this.”

He believes that unless the people stand up now, the existing conditions will not change. “But people are unable to speak out. If an honest person goes into politics, he will be marginalized in no time because of black money and a lack of inner-party democracy. In the US we see that a Republican can stand against his party’s candidate or a colleague because the party ticket allocation doesn’t depend upon his boss. It’s a democratized primary system where the people choose you, not the party bosses or hierarchy. In India, it is such an entrenched system. Political parties are like organized gangs where if you even speak a little bit against the party line you are automatically an alien and the only thing that matters is blind faith in your boss or leadership and just parroting the party line. We need some reforms in the democratic system where people can participate in the democracy.”

On how he proposes to deal with the vote polarization: “People are being exploited. The political parties are polarizing the citizens and people fall to these vulnerabilities. But if they focus on fundamental principles of democracy like secularism then the choice of parties or candidates will become easier. Appeasement policies in the last several decades have caused this polarization. The real challenge lies in following the constitution. Across the world wherever the countries are being run on a religious basis they are in bad shape. Religion or faith is not the primary way to run a country. In India, this is happening in the last many years.”

“I think politics is the best means to serve the society and the country and we should focus on good governance and policy reforms. The country desperately needs electoral, administrative, and judicial reforms to upgrade the economy and democracy. India definitely needs to upgrade its democracy. These incremental changes are not going to help,” he added. “India’s Press Information Bureau (PIB) of the government initiated a subtle change which the Supreme Court has now stayed. PIB set up a Fact Check Unit to verify social media posts and instruct online platforms to take down posts that it found to be objectionable or factually incorrect. The question is, why should the government get into this and obstruct the fundamental freedom to express opinions, and speech freedom? All of these are not good. I’m concerned about these attempts to change the fundamental principles.”

“We want to contain this damage which has happened in the last many years and decades. If we focus on fundamentals, we should be able to achieve our goals.”

 

iNDICA NEWS BUREAU-

NASA and Boeing delayed the launch of Boeing Starliner’s historic crewed manned mission over a helium leak detected in one of the capsule’s thrusters, NASA announced on Friday, May 17.

The spacecraft, aiming to carry NASA astronauts Butch Wilmore and Indian-Origin Sunita Williams to the space station, is expected to fly on May 25.

“NASA, @BoeingSpace, and @ulalaunch are now targeting no earlier than 3:09 pm ET May 25 for the launch of the agency’s Boeing Crew Flight Test mission,” NASA said in a post on X.com

“Teams will use the additional time to finalize next steps that address a stable helium leak on the #Starliner service module,” it added.

After facing several delays over the years, Starliner’s first crewed mission was planned for May 7.

However, it was scrubbed two hours before the launch, due to a valve issue on the upper stage of the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket.

The mission then slipped to May 10, and later May 21, due to a helium leak.

NASA officials performed a pressure testing on May 15 on the Starliner’s helium system, which showed that “the leak in the flange is stable and would not pose a risk at that level during the flight”.

“The testing also indicated the rest of the thruster system is sealed effectively across the entire service module,” NASA said.

Boeing said its “teams are working to develop operational procedures to ensure the system retains sufficient performance capability and appropriate redundancy during the flight”.

Meanwhile, the ULA Atlas V rocket and Boeing’s Starliner that was rolled back from the launch pad, remain in the Vertical Integration Facility at Space Launch Complex-41 on Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.

The astronauts Wilmore and Williams will remain quarantined in Houston as pre-launch operations progress.

The Starliner mission aims to carry astronauts and cargo for future NASA missions to low Earth orbit, and beyond.

 

indica News Bureau –

Tech giant Wipro has appointed Sanjeev Jain as its new Chief Operating Officer (COO), effective immediately. Jain succeeds Amit Choudhary, who is leaving Wipro for new opportunities, the company announced on Friday, May 17.

Wipro said in a statement that Jain will report to Srinivas Pallia, CEO and Managing Director, and will continue to be a member of Wipro’s executive committee.

“In the short time that Jain has been with Wipro, he has developed strong relationships with on-the-ground delivery teams and made a significant impact on our strategic thinking and execution prowess,” Pallia said, adding that under Jain’s leadership, the Indian IT major has built out an approach to AI training and upskilling and trained over 225,000 of people in AI principles.

“Jain has also been instrumental in devising our career development strategy for next-gen associates and significantly enhancing our utilization. As COO, he will be responsible for continuing to simplify our operating model, building a client-centric delivery organization, and driving operational excellence with a focus on execution rigor and speed, Pallia stated.

Jain joined Wipro in 2023 as the Global Head of Business Operations and has made a significant impact. Over the past year, he has been leading Wipro’s talent supply chain, including the company’s gig work platform, ‘TopGear’, as well as talent skilling, global mobility, talent acquisition, and business resilience functions.

“I would like to thank Choudhary for his leadership over the last two years and for building a strong operations foundation and structure that will be invaluable as we move forward,” said Jain.

Prior to joining Wipro, Jain held a leadership role at Kyndryl Holdings (IBM spin-off), IBM, Cognizant, and GE. He brings over 30 years of experience in leading large, diverse teams, scaling up global operations, and deploying Lean Six Sigma and design thinking principles to drive operational excellence and business transformation.

Jain’s appointment comes amid a period of leadership changes at Wipro, including the C-level departures of former CEO Thierry Delaporte and CFO Jatin Dalal.

Choudhary, the outgoing COO, will remain with the company until the end of May to ensure a smooth transition.

Jain, an alumnus of IIM-Mumbai and a certified Master Black Belt from GE will be based in Bengaluru. He expressed delight about taking on the role of the COO. “I am honored and excited to take on the role of Chief Operating Officer. I look forward to further strengthening our operational and delivery capabilities to bring more value to our clients.”

By Justice Markandey Katju-

(Justice Markandey Katju is a former Judge, Supreme Court of India, and former Chairman of Press Council of India. The views expressed are his own)

A lot of hue and cry is being raised about the alleged misbehavior of Bibhav Kumar, Personal Assistant to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who reportedly attacked and physically assaulted AAP Rajya Sabha MP Swati Maliwal recently.
My own opinion is that it is Swati Maliwal who is mainly if not entirely, to blame for this incident.
This is because she entered Kejriwal’s residence without his permission. It is a criminal to trespass under section 448 Indian Penal Code to enter anyone’s house without the owner’s permission. If Swati wanted to meet Kejriwal at his residence she should have sought an appointment by phoning him or a member of his staff, but evidently, she did not do this, but simply barged into his house and created a ruckus.
She thought that being an MP she need not follow any law, and could do anything, particularly since she belonged to the party in power.
Bibhav Kumar has filed a written complaint with the police which was shared by AAP’s official X (formerly Twitter) handle, stating that Maliwal illegally entered the Chief Minister‘s residence and created a security breach.
In this complaint it is stated:

“Swati Maliwal forcefully and unauthorizedly entered the Chief Minister’s residence. Not only did she breach the security of CM’s residence, create a ruckus, and assault the complainant; she is now trying to falsely implicate the undersigned complainant to create undue pressure on him,”

Kumar said Maliwal came to the Chief Minister’s residence and sought permission to enter. The security officer present at the main entry of the CM residence inquired about her identity. After her identity was ascertained, the MP told the security officers to clear her path and allow her to enter as she had an appointment with the Chief Minister.

The said security officer requested her to wait till he got the details of her appointment verified. Upon verification the said security officer informed her that there was no such appointment on record and therefore he could not allow her to enter,” the complaint read, wherein Kumar added that Maliwal “forcefully entered the CM residence despite the objections of the staff”.

“So not only made false claims of having an appointment to gain entry into the CM residence, she forcefully and illegally trespassed into the premises despite the repeated objections of the security and CM office staff,” he said.

Kumar said that the MP started shouting and abusing the CM’s office staff when she was asked to wait outside the main building of the CM’s residence.

“At around 9:00 am on May 13, despite strong objections of the CM office staff, she stormed out of the waiting area and entered the main building of CM residence, where the CM resides.”

Kumar, in his detailed complaint describing the event, said he had approached Maliwal and politely requested her to follow the proper procedure for meeting the CM.

However, Kumar claimed that she then started screaming and shouting at him, and hurled abuses and said: “tumhari himmat kaise hui…ek MP ko rokne ki….tumhari aukat kya hai?”

He also alleged that despite several “polite” attempts to ask her to leave, the MP rushed towards him “with the intent to push him away”.

“She also hurled abuses upon the complainant, the contents of which are reproduced as under: “Main tujhe dekh lungi ******…main tujhe aese jhoothe case mein fasaungi ki tujhe zindagi bhar jail mei sada dungi ….” he added.

It is also alleged that Maliwal threatened police officials there

AAP leader Atishi has alleged that the BJP sent Swati to Kejriwal’s residence as a trap.

I am not going into the question of whether Maliwal spoke the truth that she was assaulted by Bibhav Kumar or not. That will be seen by the court if the matter goes to trial.

My point, however, is simply this: if it is true that Swati Maliwal barged illegally into Kejriwal’s house without his permission, is this the civilized behavior expected of a lady, or the misbehavior of a furious harridan, termagant, virago, dragon lady, or battle-ax, who wants to give a public dramatic performance to please her political superiors?

By Ritu Jha-

Top bankers took a deep dive into financial market opportunities in the US-India ecosystem at an event hosted by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) San Francisco chapter. The event was attended by entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and chartered accountants held May 8 in Milpitas, California.

Speakers from ICICI Bank and SBI (California) at the panel “Financial Market US Opportunities in the US-India Ecosystem” said it’s India time to be in the global space, India’s young populace will drive India’s macro growth and also whichever government comes into play in the US or India, the integration between the two countries is only going to increase. However, they also stated that coherent and uniform policies are a must and India needs to learn from the mistakes of other countries and ensure that development continues over some time, and the policy or regulatory frameworks are in place to support continuous growth.

“The relationship between India and the US is at a unique juncture,” Vish Arunachalam, founder, chairman, and director of ICAI San Francisco chapter told indica. “We are witnessing increased trade and investment among trusted partners and strategic allies.”

Akshay Chaturvedi, Country Head, USA ICICI, elaborated on opportunities available for the people in the Bay Area. Chaturvedi split these opportunities into different areas, which is common for anybody in the US. “The first thing is that there is greater integration happening between India and the US. Whichever government comes in the US or India, I think the integration between the two countries is only going to increase, which means the corridor is going to benefit as there will be a greater amount of goods and services which are going to be exported and imported. The second thing is that there is a lot of integration happening in equity and bond markets. The bond index inflows are going to be an exchange of $25 billion. Just because we got into the JP Morgan emerging market bond index, there is also a good possibility that in nine months we will get into the Bloomberg aggregate global bond index, which means another $25 billion of inflow into the country. From an equity market perspective, I think there is more. We went around today meeting around five or six investors in the Bay Area, and people are clearly very bullish on India. And most of these are India promoted or funds which are held by Indians.”

Akshay Chaturvedi, Country Head, USA ICICI

Chaturvedi  added: “Another important thing which is happening is China is getting less and less attractive. In India, the number of companies that are listed are humongous which highlights the diversification of industries that are available in the country. If you go to Vietnam, Indonesia or Malaysia, there are very limited number of companies and industries. Taiwan is very focused on semiconductors and electronic manufacturing. But India has manufacturing, automobiles, tourism, hotels, and listed online companies.”

“India has a mix of both size and diversification, which is why we are the only true alternative to China. And things are not going well in China. It’s exactly the opposite of what’s happening in India. India today is like what China was in 2000. China, over the next 20 years, grew phenomenally. Its GDP multiplied per capita. People do pray and hope that something similar is going to happen to India. The equity and bond markets are looking attractive, especially since the investors’ community, people who are running businesses in the US are establishing joint ventures in Indian companies, and opening up their own centers in India, those are the things that are quite very attractive.”

Taking the discussion forward Balachander said, “There was an expectation that the federal government would cut interest rates in June. The expectations ran high when strong data came. When you get strong economic data, instead of feeling happy about it, people in the markets feel sad that the rate cut will not come and that becomes a risk factor. If rates are going to remain at 5.5%, for a year, a lot of consumers and businesses which have taken credit at really low interest rates will come up for refinancing at much higher rates. After COVID-19 people are working more from their homes. This has impacted the capacities that have been built up in the commercial sector in the US and resulted in a lot of vacancies. I think the commercial real estate sector, maybe if the prices crash, can be another risk factor that is worth taking into consideration.”

Arunachalam added that India is a global bright spot, a powerhouse of growth and innovation. ICAI, with its network presence in 81 cities across 50 countries, has played a vital supporting role in this journey, serving as a trusted partner in nation-building.

“As trusted partners in nation building, we are in a unique position to act as the bridge between the players on both sides. So, we’re thrilled to host a power-packed panel on this important topic with two accomplished individuals from two reputed Indian Banks. CA Prasanna Balachander, Head of Treasury at ICICI Bank, who has traveled from Mumbai, India, to and Kaustabh Raut, VP Treasury from SBI California,” Arunachalam told indica.

Balachander responding to the question by Nilesh Shah, Joint Secretary, ICAI San Francisco Chapter, about macro view of India and the US said that India is at the right place at the right time now. From a growth perspective, we do think that there are a lot of long-term structural factors that will favor India as we go ahead. Macro factors like growth, inflation, external accounts, and central bank reserves seem to be very strong.

India has a growth in the region of 7% to 8% and inflation of less than 5%. “And, we have an external sector where our payment is very comfortable. It’s been a long time since we had this combination of all the three or four macro factors favoring India. And that is one of the reasons I felt that it’s a very good time for India to be in the global space.

“I think the India story is very strong from a market perspective. If we look beyond markets, we find that the Indian economy is on a much stronger footing and the relationship with the global economy will improve. The country’s growth is also going to be pretty good as we go forward,” Balachander said.

Raut said India’s young populace will drive India’s macro growth. Going back ten years, India did not feature in the top ten in terms of GDP. ‘Today we are among the top five,” Raut said. “Going by the rate we are growing, by 2027-28 we will overtake Germany and Japan, and we will be in the top three. From the macroeconomic perspective, we are poised to grow at a phenomenal pace. India’s growth will be driven by the population demography that we have, 65% of that population is below 35 years of age and 50% below 25 years,” Raut said. “We have a very young working-class population which will be a major factor propelling our growth.”

When Shah spoke about the key risks while engaging with the economies of the US and India, Balachander pointed to cybersecurity. “So as far as challenges are concerned, right now the concern is the digital economy and cybersecurity threats. Secondly, we have had regulations or reforms over the last decade, which have been FDI-affirmative and investment climate. We need to continue to be in the same frame, there have to be coherent and uniform policies. The problem with China right now is the lack of transparency. India needs to learn from the mistakes of other countries and ensure that development continues over a period of time, and the policy or regulatory frameworks are in place to support the continuous growth of investment and the overall economic climate of the country.”

Raut pointed out some other risks. “I think the other risk India faces is the flip side of the demographic profile. While the demographic profile means that there are more people in the workforce, it also means that more people earning, and consuming. That is why India is considered one of the top economies. The flip side of the argument is that social unrest could be triggered if people in the workforce don’t find jobs. That will then become a huge risk factor. The one interesting thing is that the Indian government is already working on this particular issue. They have set up a cell which is separately monitoring which countries are encouraging immigration to provide job opportunities to those seeking employment,” Raut said.

“I think that the number one risk factor is the lack of jobs. And if the jobs don’t happen, then I think that’s the real risk factor that India faces,” he added.

From the US perspective, Raut said, the risk factor would be demographic, but this time the factor is an aging population. The secondary factor is the fiscal deficit that has to be managed. “The US has unlimited power to print currency, but that power is also a big responsibility. If it wants to continue as the leader of developed countries, it should ensure that it uses this power responsibly. The third risk factor is that the US also faces risks from the inflation front. Though the US had an elevated interest rate for one year, the inflation has not decreased significantly. Another risk that it faces is a large number of personal consumption-related expenditures. These factors may lead to a lot of debt-related issues that over some time can snowball into a major economic crisis.”

indica News Bureau-

With US President Joe Biden announcing a steep hike in tariffs on $18 billion worth of Chinese goods, an opportunity has emerged for India to increase its exports of items such as steel, aluminum, and medical goods like facemasks, PPE, syringes, needles, and gloves to the American market, according to industry experts and market analysts.

This opportunity opens up for India against the backdrop of strengthening bilateral economic ties between the two countries.

India and the US had decided to end all bilateral trade disputes pending at the World Trade Organization during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s state visit to Washington in June 2023.

The US agreed to withdraw the 25 percent and 10 percent import duties levied on certain steel and aluminum products respectively, imposed earlier “on grounds of national security”.

India reciprocated this gesture by withdrawing its retaliatory duties on American products like chickpeas, lentils, almonds, and walnuts.

“The US move to ramp up duties on Chinese goods provides an opportunity for India and other competitors to fill the supply gap. Among the products affected by additional duties on China, India has opportunities in facemasks, PPE, syringes, needles, medical gloves, aluminum, and iron & steel,” Ashwani Kumar, President of the Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO), said.

Once all pending trade disputes were resolved following PM Modi’s talks in Washington, the US agreed to allow the import of 336,000 tons of steel and aluminum from India with the waiver of additional duties imposed under a national security law by the erstwhile Donald Trump administration in 2018.

“Now with a greater opportunity arising following the hike in the tariff on Chinese goods, the exports of Indian steel and aluminum products are expected to accelerate,” said a senior Steel Authority of India (SAIL) official on conditions of anonymity.

However, there are concerns in the steel sector that China, which has excess capacity, may resort to dumping its steel output in other markets, including India.

“China is sitting on overcapacity in many sectors, and thus the threat of dumping cannot be ruled out, especially when an important market is closed for their exports. However, I am confident that industry and the government will keep a close watch on imports, and if a surge or dumping happens, the Directorate General of Trade Remedies (DGTR) will take appropriate action to safeguard the Indian industry,” FIEO chief Ashwani Kumar said.

The Chinese property market has recently experienced a downturn, resulting in an excess of unsold steel. To address this surplus, Chinese steelmakers are exporting the excess metal to other countries at reduced prices. However, this has sparked global concerns. The US and other nations are pushing back against the influx of cheap Chinese steel, arguing that it may distort global steel markets and impact their steel industries.

In response to this economic challenge, China issued a $138.37 billion ultralong bond aimed at supporting its economy during the ongoing property-market slowdown.

Meanwhile, the Biden administration’s new tariffs on strategic sectors aim to protect US manufacturing. However, there is widespread apprehension that these tariffs could accelerate the relocation of Chinese production to other countries like Mexico and Vietnam, allowing Chinese goods to find their way into US markets.

Mexico has already become the top source of imports into the US surpassing China. The Biden administration’s decision to impose tariff barriers on Chinese goods has raised fresh concerns about Mexico becoming a transshipment hub for Chinese products.

The tariff hikes include punitive duties on Chinese electronic vehicles, semiconductors, solar cells, and critical battery minerals. These measures aim to protect new domestic manufacturing sectors through tax incentives and grants.

(With Agencies)

iNDICA NEWS BUREAU-

Yash Dhir and Rahul Nambiar, Indian-origin undergraduate seniors at the University of Pennsylvania, have bagged the President’s Innovation Prize 2024 for their new-age edtech solution, Jochi. They have been awarded the prize for making schooling easier to students with learning differences, like ADHD.

The prize includes $100,000 for their collaborative project and a stipend of $50,000 each. Additionally, they got a dedicated workplace at the university’s business incubator to cradle and grow their edtech startup, Travel Beats, an Indian community portal by IndianEagle, a leading travel organization for Indian in the US reported.

Deemed as changemakers of tomorrow wanting to ‘make a positive, lasting difference in the world,’ Yash Dhir and Rahul Nambiar are at present helping more than 1000 neurodivergent students with their educational management tool integrated to the system of nine schools. The UPenn President’s Innovation prize money would help them develop their technology and expand it to more schools in America.

Yash Dhir, an engineering major, and Rahul Nambiar, a computer science major, founded Jochi in 2022. The idea struck Yash in his freshman year when he realized the challenges of remote education – the new normal during the COVID-19 pandemic. He wanted to create a tool to aid remote learners in managing their time outside the classroom. Considering his learning differences in high school, he wanted to tailor it around middle and high school neurodivergent students with ADHD, dyslexia, and executive dysfunction.

But with life slowly returning to normalcy, Yash moved into the on-campus dormitory in 2021 for live classes. It is here that he met his roommate and future business partner, Rahul Nambiar. Soon, they started investing their time after studies into developing the idea and creating an educational management platform. After a year or so, Jochi came to life.

Jochi features a digital daily planner for students and management tools for learning specialties. While students can organize their daily assignment and extracurricular activities, educators can track their progress, examine their performance, and provide necessary support based on real-time information. This gives instructors a full picture of their students as learners in and outside the traditional environment of brick-and-mortal classrooms.

Yash Dhir and Rahul Nambiar’s Jochi earned recognition for its tremendous potential to revolutionize learning experience for neurodivergent students. “They won many awards for their invention, including the $50,000 Draper Bridge Fund Award and $30,000 cash reward in the Startup Challenge. They also made it to the semifinals of the 2024 Milken-Penn GSE Education Business Plan Competition. The 2024 Penn President’s Innovation Prize takes the total fundings for Jochi to nearly $300,000. With financial and faculty support from Penn, the student founders look forward to developing their startup into a successful business,” Travel Beats reported.

“Inventors at their core, Yash Dhir and Rahul Nambiar identified a gap and a solution to support students with learning differences. They have used their creativity and determination to turn an ambitious vision into a very useful product,” says Interim President J. Larry Jameson.

iNDICA NEWS BUREAU-

Indian American lawmakers said on Thursday that lecturing New Delhi on issues of human rights in India is unlikely to work, and they favoured entering into a conversation with the Indian leadership on their concerns with them.

India was colonised for over 100 years. So, when we’re having a conversation about human rights, and you’re having a conversation with (External Affairs Minister S) Jai Shankar or someone else, you have to understand that we’ve had colonial powers lecture us for hundreds of years and the approach is not going to be productive, Congressman Ro Khanna told members of the Indian American community during the Desi Decides Summit of Indian American Impact.

Khanna, who is also co-chair of the Congressional India Caucus, was joined by three other Indian American lawmakers — Shri Thanedar, Pramila Jayapal and Dr Ami Bera — during the panel discussion, which was moderated by Zohreen Shah, ABC national correspondent, who asked them about Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s relations with the Muslim community, the Business Standard reported citing a PTI report from Washington.

Having a conversation (with India) saying, here are the imperfections in our democracy, what are the imperfections in your democracy, and how do we collectively advance democracy and human rights, I think is a more constructive approach, Khanna said.

Bera said he agrees with Khanna. I’ve said the same to the (Indian) foreign minister. If India loses its secular nation, it changes who she is as a country and how the rest of the world views it.

He also said that a Trump presidency is not necessarily the same as Prime Minister Modi being in power. Because we still have a vibrant democracy here. We have a vibrant opposition party in the Democratic Party. We still believe in the freedom of the press and those are all things that I worry about India’s future, he said.

You see what’s happening to the freedom of the press. You’re not really seeing a viable opposition party or it’s being dismantled. The vibrant democracy has to have all of those things, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, the ability to push back. I hope you don’t ever see a second Trump presidency. But if that were to happen, you will see our democracy survive the first time, push back, and our democracy will survive. I certainly hope India’s democracy survives, Bera said.

Jayapal said she agrees with both Bera and Khanna. The only thing I would add is that I think we have to be able to critique our own country’s imperfections and any other country’s imperfections. That’s actually our job in Congress. We shouldn’t lecture, I agree with Roe (Khanna). But we do have to think about all of the United States’ interests. That is economic, for sure. India is an important partner for us. It’s an important partner because of other regional dynamics as well and global dynamics, she said.

It is also important for us to think about our values. Just like we criticise the Chinese government for the treatment of Uyghurs or any other country in the world, we have to be able to also look at what’s happening in India and call attention to it, she said.

Justice Markandey Katju

By Justice Markandey Katju-

(Justice Markandey Katju is a former Judge, Supreme Court of India, and former Chairman of Press Council of India. The views expressed are his own)

One single thought must haunt, obsess, torment, agonise, harrow, harass, and madden the minds of all Indian patriots (as it haunts mine ), day and night, 24×7 (and by Indian I mean Indians, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis, for we are really one nation, only temporarily and artificially divided by a British swindle in 1947, but are sure to reunite one day): how to transform our Indian subcontinent into a modern industrial giant, with our people enjoying a high standard of living ? All other thoughts are irrelevant, superficial, minor or at best trivial or subsidiary issues.

We owe this transformation to our children, grandchildren, and succeeding generations, for without it they too will suffer terribly from massive poverty, unemployment, malnutrition, lack of proper healthcare and good education, as our generation and our ancestors suffered from.

It must be clearly understood that such a transformation will not be easy. There are powerful forces, both national and international, which will oppose it tooth and nail, as their vested interests will be adversely affected by it (as explained below). They fear that if India becomes a modern industrial giant, for which it has all the potential, having a huge pool of technical talent and immense natural resources, and with our cheap labour, we will undersell their goods, leading to collapse of their industries, throwing millions of their people out of employment.

Therefore our national interest directly conflicts with the interest of the developed countries. Our interest is to rapidly industrialise, while the latter’s interest is to keep us semi-feudal, backward and weak.

Hence a mighty united people’s struggle led by patriotic, selfless, modern minded leaders will be needed to achieve India’s transformation into a modern industrial giant. It cannot be achieved within the present constitutional system of parliamentary democracy.

Huge sacrifices will have to be made in this people’s struggle, maybe up to 10% of our population will perish in it , as historical experience shows.

For instance after the success of the Chinese Revolution in 1949 an estimate was made by the Chinese government, and it was found that out of the approximately 500 million Chinese who lived before the start of the revolution in the 1920s, about 50 million perished in it.

Similarly, of the approximately 40 million Vietnamese living in 1945, about 4 million were killed in the liberation wars against France and America which ended in 1975. The struggle will be long drawn, arduous, and with many twists and turns, probably extending over 10-15 years, or even more.

The struggle will initially be, as it is presently, an ideological struggle, in which the weapons used are not guns, bombs or swords, but ideas. Later, it will develop into an actual revolutionary struggle.

Historical experience shows that before every major revolution, there is usually an ideological revolution where ideas, not weapons, are the tools of change. The French Revolution of 1789, for instance, was preceded by an ideological revolution led by great thinkers like Voltaire, Rousseau, and other thinkers belonging to the French Enlightenment. This period saw a powerful, sustained attack on feudalism and religious bigotry.

The current task for Indian patriots is to develop and disseminate correct, scientific ideas among the people. This mission will initially face fierce hostility, as most people are resistant to changing their orthodox beliefs. However, patriots must persevere in their mission, regardless of the dangers or the likelihood of not witnessing the fruits of their labor.

India is currently undergoing an ideological revolution, and the actual revolution is still some distance away. In this period, the enlightened section of our society must launch a strong ideological attack on feudal ideas and practices like casteism, communalism, and superstitions. They must advocate for scientific and rational thinking and explain the limitations of parliamentary democracy, which entrenches feudal forces.

Transforming the mindset of a largely feudal population is a daunting task. Patriots undertaking this mission will face mockery, ridicule, and even physical assaults. Changing deep-rooted feudal mindsets is significantly more challenging than altering the physical environment.

In this struggle, unity of our people is absolutely essential if we are to have success. Taking advantage of our tremendous diversity, our enemies, internal and external, always seek to divide us, as our British rulers did, on the basis of caste, religion, language, or race. We must therefore expose such anti national elements, such as most of our present political leaders, who try to polarise society and incite caste, religious, lingual and racial hatred among us, for vote banks, and must safeguard and maintain our unity.

The real transformation of India can only begin after this heroic people’s struggle, led by patriotic, modern minded leaders is over, and an alternative political order is created under which India rapidly industrialises, and the standard of living of our people is steadily raised. A storm is coming in India, and we must prepare for it.

Till then, we must, paraphrasing the words of Winston Churchill, say to our countrymen ” “Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duty, and so bear ourselves, that if the Indian nation lasts for a thousand years, men will still say, ‘this was their finest hour’.”

Prakash Narayan

By Prakash Narayan–

(Prakash Narayan is chief technology officer at 3K Technologies)

The 2024 TiEcon conference was held at the Santa Clara Convention Center on May 1st 2nd and 3rd.  The theme for TiEcon was Ubiquitous AI – highlighting the transformative power of AI. There were over 150 speakers and almost every one of them wove the theme of AI in their narrative. Due to editorial constraints, this article does not cover every session / keynote at TiEcon. It does, however, attempt to capture some of the highlights.

The Startup bootcamp and AI bootcamps on the first day were completely sold out. The opening grand keynote was delivered by Jay Chaudhry, Chairman and Founder of Zscaler. Jay shared six lessons that he had learned through his entrepreneurial journey:

  • Disruptive vs Incremental – it is the mega shifts that create new market leaders
  • All about the team – look for hungry, rising stars who have the spark in them
  • Culture is critical – leadership behavior drives the culture. Being execution focused in key
  • Sales and marketing are keys to success – customer and growth obsession are essential ingredients
  • CEOs: The buck stops with you – constantly evaluate what the business needs to succeed
  • Raising money vs selling the company – don’t take short cuts and focus on building a lasting company

Jay invited the CIO of Zscaler, Praniti Lakhwana on stage to reinforce his management lessons – that he walks the talk.

The opening day also saw a track on Exponential India. The track was chaired by Asha Jadeja Motwani. The panel discussion on a New Global India had Dr. Mukesh Aghi, President and CEO of USISPF; J Sai Deepak, Advocate at Supreme Court of India; Prashant Gulati, Founder of SmartStart Fund; and Satyan Gajwani, Vice Chairman of Times Internet. The panel discussed the rise of India in Defense Tech, Social Media Tech and AI Tech. The Indian economy is at $4T – which is just 3% of the Global GDP of $105T. There is a need for a closer collaboration and cooperation between US and India. The US-India commerce is at $200b. The Indian diaspora the US have $170k spending power vs $75k among the others. The opportunity for India is far beyond the boundary.

Globally, the “India Way” is being recognized as education-oriented, honest, non-troublemakers. Today, most people in India are comfortable in their own skin. Rural India is embracing technology and there are many startups coming up in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities. All this bodes well for India in the coming years. There is a need for a Capital Expenditure of $3T to grow the infrastructure in India. A lot of this money is coming from Japan and the Middle East.

The Grand Keynote on Day 2 was a fireside chat between Naveen Chaddha, Managing Partner of Mayfield Fund and Jensen Huang, CEO of NVIDIA.

Jensen talked about the fourth industrial revolution that we are currently experiencing where intelligence is being delivered at scale. NVIDIA is providing the cognitive plumbing to enable this revolution.

Naveen steered the conversation to focus more on Jensen’s leadership style and his core values. When asked about how he tackles seemingly insurmountable problems with aplomb, Jensen responded by saying, “There is a superpower in ignorance. So, I jump in asking myself how hard can it be?”

When asked what keeps him going, Jensen said, “I don’t know what else I will do. I derive immense joy in working with amazing people.”

Sumit Sadana, EVP and Chief Business Officer at Micron Technology gave another Grand Keynote on “Memory – Unleashing the Potential of AI” on Day 2.

He said breakthrough in AI capabilities will revolutionize every aspect of human life.

He spoke about the status quo in AI being ANI – or Artificial Narrow Intelligence: which is limited to a specific field. Machine learning, recommender systems, computer vision, natural language processing, facial recognition are all examples of ANI.

When you add GenAI and another 5 years to ANI, we get AGI – or Artificial General Intelligence. Here, we get broad, human-like intelligence. We get reasoning capabilities and intuition. The system is also able to do psychological and emotional understanding.

Adding 10 years to AGI, we get ASI – or Artificial Super Intelligence. Here we far surpass humans in all capabilities linked to Intelligence. The system is Self-aware. All the cumulative wisdom of humanity can be found in a Data Center.

There are 100b neurons in the brain that have a 100T connections. Today, we are at 1% of the number of connections that the brain makes.

The other Entrepreneur Programs at TiEcon: MentorConnect and VC Connect were also at capacity. Over 300 mentees participated in MentorConnect over two days while VC connect provided the opportunity to over 120 entrepreneurs to connect with over 25 VCs.

MentorConnect session in progress

VC Connect session in progress

TiE50, as always, attracted a large number of submissions from early to mid-stage startups. The top 50 startups got to pitch in front of a live panel of judges all day on Thursday, May 2nd. In addition, 10 startups got to pitch to Meet the Drapers.

TiEcon 2024 - Ubiquitous AI

Dr. Ramesh Raskar, Professor at MIT Media Lab, delivered the Keynote in the Healthcare track on Day 3. He shared his insights about the future of healthcare in

decentralized AI with each patient owning their personal data. He urged the audience to spot unique problems and probe solutions efficiently. The moat is the strongest when building Dimensional AI that requires multi-dimensional efforts but captures enduring values.

To unlock the true power of AI, we need a new paradigm: decentralized AI – since centralized models (ChatGPT is an example) are reaching their limits. The challenges of centralized AI include limited data access, one-size-fits-all models and lack of transparency and accountability.

Decentralized AI, on the other hand, will have secure data marketplaces to enable data exchange while protecting privacy. There will be multi-dimensional models and the AI will learn from real-world experiences through simulations. The AI will be verifiable with mechanisms like blockchain to ensure responsible development and deployment of AI models. We can thus have exchanges for AI solutions – to allow people to access and contribute to AI solutions for a diverse set of needs.

Decentralized AI goes beyond a technological leap. It is a societal shift where individuals feel empowered, and innovation gets unlocked.

He narrated an anecdote where he set up a “Talk to God” phone booth at Burning Man (in Black Rock Desert, Nevada). People would step into the booth and share their innermost private details to the voice on the other end with the goal of getting answers to their problems. In real life, we all do this on a daily basis. We share our (private) location information with Google (God) with the goal of navigating to our destination without encountering too much traffic. In other words, if the incentive is high, then a compromise on privacy is acceptable.

While Software is wisdom from Rules (Cooking is an example), AI is wisdom from examples (Raising a child is an example)

Overall, TiEcon 2024 had really good content in each track. It would certainly be worthwhile reviewing the videos once they get posted in TiE Silicon Valley’s YouTube channel. Kudos to TiE Silicon Valley President, Anita Manwani; the TiEcon 2024 conveners Surbhi Kaul and Sandeep Bhat and all the Track Chairs for yet another excellent conference.

Arul Louis (IANS) –

Indian economy’s growth rate projection for this year has been raised by 0.7 percent to 6.9 percent from the forecast made in January by the UN. It retains its position as the world’s fastest-growing large economy.

The better outlook is fueled by lower inflation, robust exports, and increased foreign investments, Hamid Rashid, the chief of the UN’s Global Economic Monitoring Branch, said on Thursday.

“The drivers (of higher projection) are very simple: inflation has come down significantly, and that means the fiscal position is not as constrained as in other countries,” he said at the release of the mid-year edition of the World Economic Situation and Prospects (WESP) report.

Exports, another element in the improved projection, have been “pretty robust” and India is also benefiting from more investments coming in from other Western sources while the flow to China is coming down, Rashid said.

“India has become an alternative investment source or destination for many Western companies,” he added.

Another factor benefiting India, he said, is the special import arrangement India has with Russia for oil that is lowering its cost, he said.

The WESP report also gave a positive picture of the employment situation, saying: “In India, labour market indicators have also improved amid robust growth and higher labor participation.”

It said women’s participation in labor has increased particularly in South Asia.

India’s growth projection for next year remains at 6.6 percent, which was made in January.

Last year, the WESP report said, India’s economy grew by 7.5 percent and in 2022 by 7.7 percent when it received a big short-term boost coming out of the drastic Covid slowdown.

The report also revised the projection for the world economy this year to 2.7 percent, an increase of 0.3 percent from January.

“Most major economies have managed to bring down inflation without increasing unemployment and triggering a recession,” the report said adding a cautionary note, “However, the outlook is only cautiously optimistic as higher-for-longer interest rates, debt difficulties, and escalating geopolitical risks will continue to challenge stable and sustained economic growth”.

The developing economies on the whole are growing at a faster clip — clocking 4.1 percent — than the developed economies which are expected to record only a 1.6 percent growth rate this year.

However, the growth among developing countries is uneven, the WESP report stated.

While large developing economies like India, Indonesia and Mexico are benefiting from strong domestic and external demand, many African, Latin American and Caribbean economies are on a “low-growth trajectory” because of “lingering political instability”, higher borrowing costs and exchange rate fluctuations, it said.

China’s economy is projected to grow by 4.8 percent this year, making it the second fastest-growing large economy.

The US economy is projected to grow by 2.3 percent this year.

“Despite the most aggressive monetary tightening in decades, a scenario of hard landing of the United States economy has receded,” the report said.

Looking ahead, the WESP saw risks and opportunities in rapid technology changes.

“The breakneck pace of technological change — including in machine learning and artificial intelligence — presents new opportunities and risks to the global economy, promising to boost productivity and advance knowledge on the one hand, while exacerbating technological divides and reshaping labor markets on the other,” the report said.

 

iNDICA NEWS BUREAU-

Pharma giant AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine, made in collaboration with Oxford University has been found to raise the risk of vaccine-induced immune thrombocytopenia and thrombosis (VITT) — a rare but fatal blood clotting disorder, researchers claimed on Thursday, May 16.

The research comes after AstraZeneca “accepted, in a legal document submitted to the High Court in February, that its Covid vaccine ‘can, in very rare cases, cause Thrombotic Thrombocytopenic Syndrome (TTS)’.” Indica had reported the story saying that TTS is a rare side effect that can cause people to have blood clots and a low blood platelet count. It has been linked to the death of at least 81 people in the UK as well as hundreds of serious injuries.

 

VITT emerged as a new disease following adenovirus vector-based Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine — sold as Covishield in India and Vaxzevria in Europe — at the height of the Covid pandemic in 2021.

“An unusually dangerous blood autoantibody directed against a protein termed platelet factor 4 (or PF4)” was found as the reason for VITT.

In separate research in 2023, scientists from Canada, North America, Germany and Italy described a virtually identical disorder with the same PF4 antibody that was fatal in some cases after natural adenovirus (common cold) infection, IANS reported.

Now in a new research, Flinders University in Australia and other international experts found that the PF4 antibodies in both adenovirus infection-associated VITT and classic adenoviral vector VITT share identical molecular fingerprints.

“Indeed, the pathways of lethal antibody production in these disorders must be virtually identical and have similar genetic risk factors,” said Professor Tom Gordon from Flinders.

The researcher noted that the “findings have the important clinical implication that lessons learned from VITT are applicable to rare cases of blood clotting after adenovirus (a common cold) infections, as well as having implications for vaccine development”.

The same team had in a 2022 study “cracked the molecular code of the PF4 antibody and identified a genetic risk factor”.

Their new findings, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, also have important implications for improving vaccine safety.

IANS-

The 2024 version of the presidential debate, a key element of US politics, will be significantly different and fewer, if President Joe Biden’s proposal sent on Wednesday is accepted by the body that organises them and, more importantly, by former President Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee.

In a letter to the Commission on Presidential Debates, which has organised these debates for decades now, the Biden campaign has proposed two debates, instead of the three scheduled by the body as before, and to be held in June and September, instead of in September and October, without live audiences, and with a provision to automatically switch off the microphone when the candidate’s time elapsed.

The letter, signed by Biden campaign chair Jennifer O’Malley Dillon, which was first reported by The New York Times, also stated that the President will only participate in the debates if they are hosted by a news organisation.

Also, the Biden campaign wants the debates to take place between him and Trump, no third person, who is not named but is clearly Robert Kennedy Jr.

“Donald Trump lost two debates to me in 2020,” Biden said in a video released by his campaign.

“Since then he hasn’t shown up for a debate. Now he’s acting like he wants to debate me again. Well, make my day, pal, I’ll even do it twice. So let’s pick the dates, Donald – I hear you’re free on Wednesdays,” he added, referring to the ongoing trial in New York, which takes a break on Wednesdays.

In a post on X, Biden went on to say: “I’ve received and accepted an invitation from @CNN for a debate on June 27th. Over to you, Donald. As you said: anywhere, any time, any place.”

Trump accepted the offer and said in an earlier post on Truth Social, his social media platform, that he accepted the offer.

“I am Ready and Willing to debate Crooked Joe at the two proposed times, June and September.”

He added that he would prefer a “large venue” for “excitement purposes”. But his real intent may become clear when the two campaigns actually get down to negotiating the details. He did not participate in the Republican primary debates despite repeated calls from his rivals.

The changes proposed by the Biden campaign seek to prevent a repeat of the 2020 debates. In the first, Trump had repeatedly interrupted Biden and spoke over him which forced an exasperated Biden to say: “Will you shut up, man? This is so unpresidential.”

Trump had also famously shown up ill and had shortly after announced he had contracted coronavirus.

The Biden campaign was furious that the commission, which is an independent and non-partisan body, failed to ensure adherence to its rules. The Trump family members had taken off their masks before sitting. The debate was held at the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic, which had gone on to take the heaviest toll in the United States.

IANS-

This week, streaming platforms are packed up with exciting OTT titles, ranging from S.S. Rajamouli’s animated series ‘Baahubali: Crown of Blood’ to the Adah Sharma-starring political thriller ‘Bastar: The Naxal Story’, and the rib-tickling journey of bromance ‘Namacool’.

Here is a list of five titles that have caught the attention of IANS this week:

‘Bridgerton Season 3’:

The eight close-knit siblings of the Bridgerton family look for love and happiness in London high society. It is inspired by Julia Quinn’s bestselling novels. In the third season, Penelope Featherington (Nicola Coughlan) finally gives up on her long-held crush on Colin Bridgerton (Luke Newton) after hearing his disparaging remarks about her last season.

The showrunner is Jess Brownell, and it stars Victor Alli, Adjoa Andoh, Lorraine Ashbourne, Simone Ashley, Jonathan Bailey, Joanna Bobin, Harriet Cains, and Bessie Carter, among others.

It is now streaming on Netflix.

‘Baahubali: Crown of Blood’:

It shows Baahubali and Bhallaladeva joining hands to protect the kingdom of Mahishmati and the throne from the warlord Raktadeva. Directed by Jeevan J. Kang and Navin John, the series promises to take the audience into an animated world of Baahubali, showcasing epic adventure, brotherhood, betrayal, and conflict.

Produced by Graphic India and Arka Mediaworks, with Rajamouli, Sharad Devarajan, and Shobu Yarlagadda, ‘Baahubali: Crown of Blood’ drops on Disney+ Hotstar on May 17.

‘Bastar: The Naxal Story’:

The political thriller film, directed by Sudipto Sen and produced by Vipul Amrutlal Shah, stars Adah, Indira Tiwari, Vijay Krishna, Shilpa Shukla, Yashpal Sharma, Subrat Dutta, and Raima Sen. It is based on the Naxalite-Maoist insurgency in the Bastar district of Chhattisgarh.

It will premiere on May 17 on Zee5.

‘Namacool’:

Hina Khan, Abhinav Sharma, and Aaron Koul-starrer ‘Namacool’ revolves around two inseparable friends, Mayank and Piyush, and the true definition of manhood.

Directed by Ritam Srivastava and written by Shantanu Srivastava, this seven-episode series also features Abhishek Bajaj, Anushka Kaushik, Faisal Malik, and Aadil Khan in pivotal roles.

Produced by Reliance Entertainment Studios, ‘Namacool’ will premiere on May 17 on Amazon miniTV.

‘Thelma the Unicorn’:

The American animated musical adventure comedy movie is a quirky, hilarious, and heartfelt ride from directors Jared Hess and Lynn Wang. Thelma is a small-time pony who dreams of becoming a glamorous music star. In a pink and glitter-filled moment of fate, Thelma is transformed into a unicorn and instantly rises to global stardom. But this new life of fame comes at a cost.

It stars the voices of Brittany Howard, Will Forte, Jemaine Clement, Edi Patterson, Fred Armisen, Zach Galifianakis, Jon Heder, and Shondrella Avery.

The film will be released on May 17 on Netflix.

iNDICA NEWS BUREAU-

US Vice President Kamala Harris said on Wednesday that the number of Indian Americans in elected offices is not reflective of their growing population, urging the members of the ethnic community to run for elected offices increasingly.

Harris, who is of both Indian and African heritage, was speaking at “Desis Decide” — the annual summit of Indian American Impact, a Democratic party think tank, that supports and funds Indian Americans running for elected offices across the country, NDTV reported quoting a PTI story.

“Over the years, we’ve had so much more participation by Indian Americans in the electoral process running for office. But the numbers are still not reflective of the size of the growing population,” Harris, the first-ever Indian American, African American, and a woman to be elected as the vice president of the US told a packed room of Indian Americans in the national capital.

At present, there are five elected Indian American members of the Congress — Dr Ami Bera, Raja Krishnamoorthi, Ro Khanna, Pramila Jayapal, and Shri Thanedar. Impact believed that in 2024, the Indian American strength in the Congress will increase to 10 members.

In a tightly contested presidential race, Impact said Indian American voters — the second largest immigrant community and fastest growing in many states — could be the decisive margin of victory in key races across the country.

The work being done by Impact, Harris said, is extraordinary as she applauded the role of the think tank and its members in electing not only members of the community but also in electing Senators in states like Georgia.

“It really is extraordinary. I wanted to stop by to thank of course the organisation for everything and for all that it represents, but also to say especially to those who have run for office or aspire to run for office, that you must run,” Harris said.

Prakash Narayan

By Prakash Narayan–

(Prakash Narayan is chief technology officer at 3K Technologies)

The 2024 TiEcon conference was held at the Santa Clara Convention Center on May 1st 2nd and 3rd.  The theme for TiEcon was Ubiquitous AI – highlighting the transformative power of AI. There were over 150 speakers and almost every one of them wove the theme of AI in their narrative. Due to editorial constraints, this article does not cover every session / keynote at TiEcon. It does, however, attempt to capture some of the highlights.

The Startup bootcamp and AI bootcamps on the first day were completely sold out. The opening grand keynote was delivered by Jay Chaudhry, Chairman and Founder of Zscaler. Jay shared six lessons that he had learned through his entrepreneurial journey:

  • Disruptive vs Incremental – it is the mega shifts that create new market leaders
  • All about the team – look for hungry, rising stars who have the spark in them
  • Culture is critical – leadership behavior drives the culture. Being execution focused in key
  • Sales and marketing are keys to success – customer and growth obsession are essential ingredients
  • CEOs: The buck stops with you – constantly evaluate what the business needs to succeed
  • Raising money vs selling the company – don’t take short cuts and focus on building a lasting company

Jay invited the CIO of Zscaler, Praniti Lakhwana on stage to reinforce his management lessons – that he walks the talk.

The opening day also saw a track on Exponential India. The track was chaired by Asha Jadeja Motwani. The panel discussion on a New Global India had Dr. Mukesh Aghi, President and CEO of USISPF; J Sai Deepak, Advocate at Supreme Court of India; Prashant Gulati, Founder of SmartStart Fund; and Satyan Gajwani, Vice Chairman of Times Internet. The panel discussed the rise of India in Defense Tech, Social Media Tech and AI Tech. The Indian economy is at $4T – which is just 3% of the Global GDP of $105T. There is a need for a closer collaboration and cooperation between US and India. The US-India commerce is at $200b. The Indian diaspora the US have $170k spending power vs $75k among the others. The opportunity for India is far beyond the boundary.

Globally, the “India Way” is being recognized as education-oriented, honest, non-troublemakers. Today, most people in India are comfortable in their own skin. Rural India is embracing technology and there are many startups coming up in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities. All this bodes well for India in the coming years. There is a need for a Capital Expenditure of $3T to grow the infrastructure in India. A lot of this money is coming from Japan and the Middle East.

The Grand Keynote on Day 2 was a fireside chat between Naveen Chaddha, Managing Partner of Mayfield Fund and Jensen Huang, CEO of NVIDIA.

Jensen talked about the fourth industrial revolution that we are currently experiencing where intelligence is being delivered at scale. NVIDIA is providing the cognitive plumbing to enable this revolution.

Naveen steered the conversation to focus more on Jensen’s leadership style and his core values. When asked about how he tackles seemingly insurmountable problems with aplomb, Jensen responded by saying, “There is a superpower in ignorance. So, I jump in asking myself how hard can it be?”

When asked what keeps him going, Jensen said, “I don’t know what else I will do. I derive immense joy in working with amazing people.”

Sumit Sadana, EVP and Chief Business Officer at Micron Technology gave another Grand Keynote on “Memory – Unleashing the Potential of AI” on Day 2.

He said breakthrough in AI capabilities will revolutionize every aspect of human life.

He spoke about the status quo in AI being ANI – or Artificial Narrow Intelligence: which is limited to a specific field. Machine learning, recommender systems, computer vision, natural language processing, facial recognition are all examples of ANI.

When you add GenAI and another 5 years to ANI, we get AGI – or Artificial General Intelligence. Here, we get broad, human-like intelligence. We get reasoning capabilities and intuition. The system is also able to do psychological and emotional understanding.

Adding 10 years to AGI, we get ASI – or Artificial Super Intelligence. Here we far surpass humans in all capabilities linked to Intelligence. The system is Self-aware. All the cumulative wisdom of humanity can be found in a Data Center.

There are 100b neurons in the brain that have a 100T connections. Today, we are at 1% of the number of connections that the brain makes.

The other Entrepreneur Programs at TiEcon: MentorConnect and VC Connect were also at capacity. Over 300 mentees participated in MentorConnect over two days while VC connect provided the opportunity to over 120 entrepreneurs to connect with over 25 VCs.

MentorConnect session in progress

VC Connect session in progress

TiE50, as always, attracted a large number of submissions from early to mid-stage startups. The top 50 startups got to pitch in front of a live panel of judges all day on Thursday, May 2nd. In addition, 10 startups got to pitch to Meet the Drapers.

TiEcon 2024 - Ubiquitous AI

Dr. Ramesh Raskar, Professor at MIT Media Lab, delivered the Keynote in the Healthcare track on Day 3. He shared his insights about the future of healthcare in

decentralized AI with each patient owning their personal data. He urged the audience to spot unique problems and probe solutions efficiently. The moat is the strongest when building Dimensional AI that requires multi-dimensional efforts but captures enduring values.

To unlock the true power of AI, we need a new paradigm: decentralized AI – since centralized models (ChatGPT is an example) are reaching their limits. The challenges of centralized AI include limited data access, one-size-fits-all models and lack of transparency and accountability.

Decentralized AI, on the other hand, will have secure data marketplaces to enable data exchange while protecting privacy. There will be multi-dimensional models and the AI will learn from real-world experiences through simulations. The AI will be verifiable with mechanisms like blockchain to ensure responsible development and deployment of AI models. We can thus have exchanges for AI solutions – to allow people to access and contribute to AI solutions for a diverse set of needs.

Decentralized AI goes beyond a technological leap. It is a societal shift where individuals feel empowered, and innovation gets unlocked.

He narrated an anecdote where he set up a “Talk to God” phone booth at Burning Man (in Black Rock Desert, Nevada). People would step into the booth and share their innermost private details to the voice on the other end with the goal of getting answers to their problems. In real life, we all do this on a daily basis. We share our (private) location information with Google (God) with the goal of navigating to our destination without encountering too much traffic. In other words, if the incentive is high, then a compromise on privacy is acceptable.

While Software is wisdom from Rules (Cooking is an example), AI is wisdom from examples (Raising a child is an example)

Overall, TiEcon 2024 had really good content in each track. It would certainly be worthwhile reviewing the videos once they get posted in TiE Silicon Valley’s YouTube channel. Kudos to TiE Silicon Valley President, Anita Manwani; the TiEcon 2024 conveners Surbhi Kaul and Sandeep Bhat and all the Track Chairs for yet another excellent conference.

By Anil Swarup–

(Anil Swarup is a former Education Secretary and Coal Secretary in the Government of India. He is also a renowned author. The views expressed in this article are his own)

“TMC moves privilege motion against ED and CBI in West Bengal Assembly”: ANI

It is a “war”. A very unfortunate one. The Centre and the States are at each other’s throats making a spectacle of themselves as the country suffers. The tension between the Centre and the States is nothing new but very rarely in the past have we seen a relationship like the present one.

Sometimes we forget that Centre is a geographical fiction and all action is in the states. We also forget that India is a federal country. The “distance” that exists between the Centre and the States is the cause of failure of a number of initiatives and schemes. It is indeed ironical that a number of officers that would have worked in their respective states (especially those belonging to the Indian Administrative Service) look at states with disdain and look down upon them. One could discern such an attitude amongst some officers in Delhi. One of the major factors contributing to the success of schemes or initiatives has been on account of the partnership forged with the states. This was in evidence yet again when we look at the problems that beset Coal and Power sectors. Coal could come out of the crisis ‘untainted’ in 2016 but “UDAY” couldn’t go much beyond ‘dawn’, forcing the government to think in terms of UDAY 2.

Coal sector faced an unprecedented crisis in 2014 (it re-surfaced recently once again on account of the tension between the Centre and the States). Everyone was given to believe that this crisis was on account of alleged scams. It wasn’t so. It was just the other way around. These so-called scams were a consequence of shortage of coal in a country. India boasts of 300 billion tonnes of coal reserve with a requirement of just 800 million tonnes per annum. Yet there was a crisis as the coal production did not meet the target and 25 percent of the coal was being imported. To make matters worse, the Supreme Court, based on ‘presumptuous’ calculations of a rampaging CAG, cancelled allocation of coal blocks to private entities that were contributing around 90 million tonnes per. The coal blocks had to be auctioned now and by the Central Government. It was indeed a difficult job as these coal blocks did not exist at the “centre” but in states, some of which were being ‘ruled’ by an ‘opposition’ government. National Democratic Alliance (NDA) had its government at the centre but states like West Bengal and Odisha were ruled by non-NDA parties. Hence, a strategy was chalked out to get the states on board. It worked because states were treated as partners and, instead riding a rough shod, a value proposition was conveyed. The states got convinced that the auction of coal blocks and the process defined for the purpose was in their interest. Such an approach is even more imperative now as almost all the coal bearing states (West Bengal, Jharkhand, Chattisgarh, Odissa and Maharashtra) are under non-NDA governments. Auction for commercial coal mining cannot succeed without taking these states on board.

In terms of coal production by Coal India Limited (CIL) that is still the primary contributor to coal production (80%), partnership with states is even more important. Coal production depends upon a number of factors but the most important amongst them are: a) Land acquisition b) Environment and forest clearance c) Evacuation of coal. The first two factors are totally dependent upon what happens in the states. The process of land acquisition is under the control of and influenced by state governments. For environment and forest clearances, the entire groundwork is done in the states. Hence, states have to be taken on board. During the years 2014-16, a well-defined strategy was worked out. Under this strategy, no meeting was held in Delhi to resolve issues that were local in nature. As Coal Secretary, I travelled to the states and held periodic discussions with the state level officers and District Collectors to expedite clearance. An effort was also made to convey a value proposition to the states regarding coal mining. It worked. Coal production increases by 34 million tonnes during 2014-15. This was more than the cumulative increase of four previous years. During the following year, 2015-16, the production rose by another 44 million tonnes. Coal shortages were a thing of the past as no power plant was critical on account of paucity of coal. We were even toying with the idea of exporting coal to Bangladesh. The states were happy because their power plants had surfeit of coal and they were getting larger amount in form of royalty on account of increased production.

Goods and Services Tax is another example where the approach of treating states as partners has worked.  Yet again, the whole approach was masterminded by none other than the master-strategist, Arun Jaitley. There was a mission to engage with the stake holders and convey a value proposition to them. Assessing ground realities constituted very useful input in formulating policies and approaches to resolving issues. This has been a game changer.  A “connect” has been established with each stake holder, including the state governments.

Now that the States like Tamilnadu and West Bengal are also going on the offensive, matters have become worse. A number of civil servants are getting caught in this political cross-fire. All this can actually derail the administration.

What is sometime forgotten at the Centre is that the States also have elected and responsible governments and that the Centre is not the sole repository of all wisdom. This attitude gets reflected in a number of policies that are announced by the Central Government. The details of such policies are defined to an extent that leaves little flexibility with the states and the auditors have a field day. In as complex and varied country as India, only the broad national parameters need to be defined and sufficient flexibility needs to be given to the states, treating them as responsible partners. The details of each scheme and initiative will have to be worked out locally. This will impart a greater ownership amongst the States giving the schemes greater chance to succeed.

In the interest of the country, this ongoing “war” needs to be stopped forthwith. The initiative will have to be taken by the Centre.  Those in the States will also have to own the responsibility of ending this unfortunate “war” that has the potential to derail all the development as the country.

Justice Markandey Katju

By Justice Markandey Katju-

The 21st century will be characterised by two main features:

(1) The struggles of the peoples of the underdeveloped countries to make their countries developed ones.

(2) The conflicts between  alliances of developed countries. We may consider each of these separately, and then the impact they have on each other.

The 21st century will witness historical struggles by people living in the underdeveloped countries to transform their countries into highly developed ones, so that their peoples may enjoy decent lives and a high standard of living. Before the Industrial Revolution, which started in England around the beginning of the 18th Century, and then spread to France, then Germany, and then in many parts of the world, there were feudal agricultural societies in most parts of the world.

In feudal societies the methods and tools of economic production were so backward and primitive that very little wealth could be generated by them. In much of Asia the bullock or buffalo, and in Europe the horse, was used for tilling the land (there were no tractors in those days). Consequently. little wealth was generated by the feudal method of production that only a handful of people (kings, aristocrats, etc ) could be rich, while the remaining vast majority (mostly poor peasants) had to live in abject poverty and ignorance.

When the cake is small very few people can eat it. (This statement must however be qualified with a caveat that at the later stage of the feudal era, e.g. during the Mughal and Chinese Empires, handicraft industry had grown enormously in many parts, so that a considerable number of people, mainly artisans, had risen above abject poverty).

This situation has drastically changed after the Industrial Revolution. Now a unique situation has developed in world history, and that is that now no one in the world need be poor. This is because modern industry is so powerful and so big that now enough wealth can be created to give everyone in the world a decent life. If society is organized on scientific lines, everyone can get jobs, healthcare, education, and housing, and no one need be poor.

However, the truth is that the overwhelming majority of the people of the world, particularly in underdeveloped countries are still poor, many extremely poor, and their numbers are increasing.

Why is this so ? After all, almost 300 years have expired since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution in the first half of the 18th century. By now poverty, unemployment, and hunger should have been abolished everywhere in the world. Why has that not happened ? The reason is that soon after the Industrial Revolution a handful of countries e.g. in Western Europe quickly industrialised and grew relatively prosperous, but then they would not let others follow suit, thinking the latter would become economic rivals.

In fact, their industrialisation was aided by plunder and loot of their colonies, as England did in India, leaving the latter far poorer. There are in fact now two worlds in the globe, the developed world, consisting of North America, Europe, Japan, Australia, (and now even China, which by a Revolution has broken into their ranks), and the
underdeveloped countries (Asia, except China and Japan, Africa and Latin America ).

The developed countries now have a secret, unwritten rule not to allow underdeveloped countries to become developed, as that would adversely affect them. To understand this one must go into economics, for, as is often said, politics is concentrated economics.

Cost of labour is a big chunk of the total cost of production, and so if labour is cheap, the cost of production is less, and then one can sell his goods at a cheaper price. There is competition in the market, and one businessman eliminates another not by guns or bombs but by underselling him, i.e., selling the same high-quality goods at a
cheaper price. Thus, China, which built up a massive industry after its Revolution of 1949, captured much of the markets in the world because it has much cheaper labour than in Western countries.

Western supermarkets are packed with Chinese goods, because they often sell at half the price at which Western manufacturers can sell them (because of the expensive Western labor).

If underdeveloped countries like India set up a massive industry, with their cheap labor they will undersell the products of Western industries, which will then collapse, throwing millions out of employment. Will the developed countries easily permit that ? Will they let their industries collapse, throwing millions out of employment ? No, they will oppose it tooth and nail.

And how do they oppose it ? They oppose it by making people in underdeveloped countries, e.g. in India,  fight each other on the basis of religion, race, language, caste, etc instead of waging a united people’s struggle for  emancipation from their socio-economic plight. This they do through the local politicians, of all parties, who are all objectively their loyal agents, e.g. Narendra Modi whose politics  thrives on religious polarisation and inciting hatred against religious minorities (like Hitler’s hatred of Jews).

I have expained this in my interview by Moeed Pirzada, a Pakistani journalist, in the video below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PmoDYaAIbNI&t=851s&pp=ygUTbW9lZWQgcGlyemFkYSBrYXRqdQ%3D%3D

Thus there is a direct  conflict between the interests of the developed countries, who do not want underdeveloped countries to become developed ones, and the interests of the underdeveloped countries whose enlightened section realise that unless their country becomes developed it can never escape from abject poverty.

So people of underdeveloped countries have to launch historical united people’s struggles, under patriotic, selfless, modern minded leaders, which will be long drawn, and in which tremendous sacrifices will have to be made, to create a political and social order under which all our people enjoy a high standard of living and lead decent lives.

The other feature of the 21st century is the hostility between alliances of powerful nations e.g. the hostility between the alliance of USA and European countries on the one hand, and the alliance of China and Russia on the other. This hostility is unlikely to grow into nuclear war, as that would destroy all, but it will lead to proxy wars between them, using their local agents.

If utilised skilfully by the patriotic leaders of the underdeveloped countries, this hostility between the present two alliances of powerful nations can be turned to the advantage of underdeveloped countries, as the Chinese leaders who later came to power did during the conflict between Western nations and Japan in the Far East.