New challenge undertaken by Zuckerberg

The following article is based on my own interpretation of the said events. Any material borrowed from published and unpublished sources has been appropriately referenced. I will bear the sole responsibility for anything that is found to have been copied or misappropriated or misrepresented in the following post.

Prakash Bansal, MBA 2015-17, Vinod Gupta School of Management, IIT Kharagpur

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First China, now Facebook. Things don’t get any easier for Ericsson, the biggest maker of telecoms equipment.It’s spent the best part of a decade coping with a competitive onslaught from low-cost Chinese rival Huawei. Now it’s dealing with a surprising newcomer: Mark Zuckerberg’s social media behemoth.

Facebook has teamed up with companies including Intel, Nokia (an Ericsson competitor) and operators Deutsche Telekom and SK Telecom. They’re collaborating on open-source designs for the next generation of equipment linking our smartphones to mobile towers and transmitting text messages and YouTube videos. Zuckerberg wants the project to connect the billions of people who don’t have Internet access, especially in areas where building networks is hard because of climate or lack of reliable electricity.

Even big names now shun pricey servers for cheaper Facebook-inspired equipment. Goldman Sachs says more than 80% of its new server purchases are Open Compute-style gear. Nokia has decided on the “keep your enemy close” approach and has worked with Facebook, first on Open Compute and now on the telecoms project. Ericsson and Huawei have largely steered clear so far. Nokia says the project will expand the market, and there is hope among the established manufacturers that they’ll be protected by phone companies’ heavy reliance on secure and reliable networks. But given the telecoms gear market has been limp for a while, any slight competitive change must be taken seriously.

With most 4G networks already built in the US and China, carriers’ investment will slump 7% this year and 5% next, according to Deutsche Bank. Ericsson’s operating margin was in the 20% range before Huawei’s arrival, and will be about 10% this year, according to Bloomberg data. The 10% drop in its share price on Thursday because of falling sales shows its vulnerability in a difficult market. While Facebook won’t kill the telecom equipment business overnight, it’s never wise to under-estimate Zuckerberg.

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How Leaders avoid tunnel-vision?

The following article is based on my own interpretation of the said events. Any material borrowed from published and unpublished sources has been appropriately referenced. I will bear the sole responsibility for anything that is found to have been copied or misappropriated or misrepresented in the following post.

Prakash Bansal, MBA 2015-17, Vinod Gupta School of Management, IIT Kharagpur

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There have been stories of how the government was not pleased with the remark that the RBI governor had made. The minister for commerce had suggested that the RBI governor choose his metaphors carefully. Apparently, with his own brand of toxic mischief, Mani Shankar Aiyar had queried as to who the one-eyed king was. Looks like, in the scorching Indian summer, more than prickly heat, prickly hearts are the problem.

One is that the governor is a public intellectual who does express his views on many aspects of public policy – both domestic and global. In a public lecture in Basel in June 2013, he said that international bankers had a reputation between a conman and a pimp. In another lecture in 2014 at the Brookings Institution, he took on the Western central banks for their monetary policies calling them out for stealthily depreciating their exchange rates. Back home in India, he had commented on industrialists defaulting on loans and living lavishly. He had pushed banks to come clean with their bad loans. He is an ‘equal opportunity offender’ but with a purpose.

That actually brings us to our second factor. It is one thing to take offence when government policies are criticised publicly by officials who are part of the government but it is another thing to expect everyone to be a cheerleader for the government and the country. This government rightly took credit for strengthening the federal framework by devolving substantial resources as per the Fourteenth Finance Commission recommendations. It followed it up in this year’s budget with devolution to local governments. These things strengthen the institutional foundations of the democracy. Similarly, it should boldly announce that it would expect, encourage and empower (as the case may be) the Chief Economic Advisor, the Vice-Chairman of NITI Aayog and the RBI governor to act as ‘risk managers’ and ‘devil’s advocates’ for the government.

The economy may be a one-eyed king. But, political, business and thought leaders should take care to ensure that the society does not become the land of the blind-hearted. For its own sake and the country, the government should set an example to make India a land of big hearts.

Change needs to come from the top

The following article is based on my own interpretation of the said events. Any material borrowed from published and unpublished sources has been appropriately referenced. I will bear the sole responsibility for anything that is found to have been copied or misappropriated or misrepresented in the following post.

Prakash Bansal, MBA 2015-17, Vinod Gupta School of Management, IIT Kharagpur

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Speaking to bureaucrats on Thursday, Civil Services Day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi advised them not to work in silos but as a team; to experiment in order to bring about change. These are laudable sentiments. But the onus of bringing about structural change in the Indian bureaucracy and its methods of functioning rests as much with its political masters.

There have been various recommendations, such as in the Fifth Pay Commission’s 1996 report, for a minimum tenure for bureaucrats. In the absence of such safeguards, and with political interference rampant, a change in the bureaucratic mindset that prioritizes not rocking the boat is unlikely.The Puttingal temple tragedy seems to be the latest example when huge fire broke out during a fireworks show, which is part of the annual festival.

Coordination and cooperation are tough sells when the governance structure is replete with redundant ministries and departments. Modi must start at the top in order to rejuvenate the bureaucracy.

Towards revival of Test Cricket..

The following article is based on my own interpretation of the said events. Any material borrowed from published and unpublished sources has been appropriately referenced. I will bear the sole responsibility for anything that is found to have been copied or misappropriated or misrepresented in the following post.

Prakash Bansal, MBA 2015-17, Vinod Gupta School of Management, IIT Kharagpur

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The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) on Thursday announced that it would be hosting its first pink-ball Test match later this year, when New Zealand come calling on a full tour.The use of the “Kookaburra” ball will be quite a departure for the BCCI, given that India has traditionally used the red “SG Test” balls in home Test matches.

The BCCI’s day-night move shouldn’t come as a surprise. Earlier this year, the Board’s tours and fixtures committee was exploring options to bring more fans to the Tests in the upcoming season. It also has the backing of India’s Test captain Virat Kohli.

Interestingly, India was among the earliest countries to experiment day-night, long-form cricket, when in 1997, the Ranji Trophy final between Mumbai and Delhi were played under lights at the Captain Roop Singh Stadium at Gwalior. The players sported coloured clothing and used white balls.

To be sure, there are some reservations.

One of the biggest concerns about a day-night match in India is the dew, which could have a significant bearing on the last session of play, making the pitch more batsman-friendly. Even in the 1997 Ranji Trophy final, with heavy dew on the outfield in evenings, the ball was changed every 15 overs. The match itself was a run-a-thon, with 1100+ runs scored over the five-days. Mumbai were declared winners on the basis of their first innings lead

Going by how the Indian audience consumes its cricket, with a clear preference for attending matches in the evening (post-work), day-night tests should be a big success. But it needs smart marketing by the BCCI, similar to what it does with the Indian Premier League (IPL) to draw in the crowds. Just like it did with the IPL when the league first started, there’s a novelty factor about these day-night matches in their early, experimental days, which could draw in the crowd. As it did in Australia, when over 123,000 fans thronged to the Adelaide Oval to watch the first-ever day-night Test match.

India’s deliberate ignorance towards Maldives

The following article is based on my own interpretation of the said events. Any material borrowed from published and unpublished sources has been appropriately referenced. I will bear the sole responsibility for anything that is found to have been copied or misappropriated or misrepresented in the following post.

Prakash Bansal, MBA 2015-17, Vinod Gupta School of Management, IIT Kharagpur

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Last week, Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen visited New Delhi and reportedly concluded several bilateral agreements on issues ranging from taxation and tourism to defence and space research. The visit appeared to signal a changing, more welcoming policy by India towards the Maldives, apparently in response to China’s increasing influence in the region.

Unfortunately, this apparent shift seems to involve an increased reluctance on the part of Indian authorities to publicly engage with the ongoing human rights and rule of law crisis in the Maldives.

Only a week prior to the visit, Maldivian authorities had arrested 16 journalists who were peacefully protesting a number of recent measures undermining media freedom in the country. These included a draft criminal defamation bill that could be used to arbitrarily stifle free expression, including by the media. Disappointingly, even as Yameen arrived soon after these arrests, India remained conspicuously silent over this recent attack on fundamental freedoms in the Maldives

The discussions on the Maldives in the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) earlier this year provide another example of India’s tolerance for human rights abuses in the Maldives. The CMAG is an intergovernmental body responsible for monitoring Member States’ compliance with the rule of law, judicial independence and human rights, as contained in the Harare Declaration.

Both India and the Maldives are bound by international human rights treaties like the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which oblige them to respect human rights and the rule of law. India is facing serious human rights concerns of its own within its boundaries, which must be addressed. At the same time, perpetuating a regional cooperative relationship devoid of discussion around these issues—especially when these principles and values are increasingly under attack—is irresponsible.

Chess for School Kids

The following article is based on my own interpretation of the said events. Any material borrowed from published and unpublished sources has been appropriately referenced. I will bear the sole responsibility for anything that is found to have been copied or misappropriated or misrepresented in the following post.

Prakash Bansal, MBA 2015-17, Vinod Gupta School of Management, IIT Kharagpur

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Recently India has decided that it will officially bid for the 2016 World Schools Chess Championship. The bid will be opened in the FIDE presidential meeting slated to be held at Moscow on March 28 and 29. Previously, Mumbai and Pune have already hosted this prestigious tournament and this year Nagpur is all geared up to host it.

Such decisions are a great way how other sports apart from Cricket can be promoted among the young children. With the likes of Viswanathan Anand and Koneru Humpy Indians have role models to look up to. These events are a great way to compete against the best talent from around the world and bring out the best young talent.

Also it has been proved in various studies that playing Chess helps people to inculcate intellectual skills in them.Merim Bilalic, a member of the German researchers team from the cognitive psychology department of the University of Tübingen, stated in an interview that the experts’ brains handled the chess tasks quite remarkably compared to that of the novices. The study inferred that expertise is an acquired–and not an innate–skill. It drew a very sobering message: constant exposure to the game cultivates intellectual adeptness.

Not all of the enthusiasts in any particular activity takes  it up as a profession. Playing chess will expose them to gain new skills and abilities that will add value within themselves irrespective of wherever they choose to go. After all, chess is our game and there shouldn’t be any stone left unturned to restore its glory.

 

 

 

Sky is the limit

The following article is based on my own interpretation of the said events. Any material borrowed from published and unpublished sources has been appropriately referenced. I will bear the sole responsibility for anything that is found to have been copied or misappropriated or misrepresented in the following post.

Prakash Bansal, MBA 2015-17, Vinod Gupta School of Management, IIT Kharagpur

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There was once a time in the cricketing world when a score of 300+ was implicitly considered to be a victory for the batting team. Many a times, the opponent team, while chasing such targets collapsed like a pack of cards succumbing to the pressure created by such total.

In the recently concluded ODI series between India and Australia, this trend seems to fade away. In almost every inning 300+ runs were scored. To everyone’s surprise these totals were easily chased down by the opponents too. The fact that out of the 6 centuries scored by the Indian batsmen only one came in the winning cause, shows us the amount of runs scored in the series. It also depicts the change in the mindset of players who believe that everything can be chased down.

A lot many factors can be attributed to this change. One is the improvements in the technology over time. The quality of bats used by the players is much better now. The modified rules, like two new balls being deployed also has a role to play in. Also the biggest factor that I see is that with the advent of T20 cricket no score can be called safe now. We have players like Yuvraj who had hit 12 balls 50, Rohit Sharma scoring 264 in an ODI. It seems that the upper limit has been pushed to a higher value.

People speculate whether the famous records of Sachin Tendulkar can be broken or not. Well, I believe that with the sort of cricket being played, not even a single record is safe. With the likes of Kohli, De Villiers, Gayle who can break any record on their day, there is actually no limit on what can happen.