Love Curry – Pankaj Dubey

I think Love Curry was written for the 20 somethings who like the feeling of brotherhood amongst the nations comprising the Indian sub-continent. Also, I am amazed that I’ve accurately summarized the entire novel in a single line…

The story is about an Indian, a Pakistani and a Bangladeshi living together in London (where else will these folks meet and live together). Rishi is the recluse, while Shehzad is the temperamental and Ali is the sentimental.  They develop a strong friendship that grows stronger when they are collectively labelled as terrorists after a bombing incident in London.  The story takes shape only towards the end of the novel, prior to that it is all about teenage fights, love, lust and the occasional spicy food from the subcontinent. Central to the story is Zeenat, the love interest of all 3 guys.  Well, just Shehzad and Ali were interested in her at first but via a clandestine medium, Zeenat was dragged close to Rishi as well. Ali breaks into shayari whenever he sees Zeenat, whereas I get the feeling that Rishi is a poet too, like when he was supposed to meet with Zeenat, he planned to propose to Zeenat when ‘the capsule of the Ferris wheel was high up there, and the city floated down below, with the Thames flowing beneath majestically’. He believed her to be his soulmate.

Overall, as you might have gathered from a few points above, there is not much of a story in this work. If you like to read through friendly banter, there’s some voluminous stuff in here. If you like love triangles and quadruples and a multitude of permutations within, then this would be interesting too. If you believe in peace and harmony between India, Pakistan and Bangladesh then don’t hesitate to rush and get yourself a copy.

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How can blockchain help the Insurance Industry?

It’s still early in the blockchain hype cycle and it’ll take a few years for today’s ideas to become tomorrow’s new normal – but some of these ‘crazy’ out-there ideas are coming to reality much, much sooner. Some, like SmartContracts, are even available today. The real question is: What are the substantial ways in which blockchain could disrupt the insurance industry?

Magdalena Ramada, Senior Economist at Willis Towers Watson, and author of one of the best articles on the topic, Want to get an insurer’s attention? Just say blockchain, has identified the areas where blockchain has the greatest potential to disrupt insurance sales, products, and operations.

For those ready to dive in, hold onto your hats, this is an amazing interview chalked full of real world examples, predictions, and guidance applicable to anyone interested in the intersection of insurance and technology.

Blockchain technology is revolutionary for three reasons:

1) It is decentralized, so there is no single party in charge of the network, nor storing or owning the information contained in the ledger.

2) It’s believed that it can’t be corrupted or hacked, since every single participant in the network holds a complete history of the transactions in the ledger. The records of issuance, transfer and ownership of assets transacted in the network are recorded permanently in the ledger and stored by every user participating in the network. To modify it, one would have to be able to alter every existing record, attacking all existing users simultaneously.

3) Data flows are public, but also fully encrypted: Blockchain first verifies the identity of participants in a transaction and then guarantees the deal isn’t corrupted by ensuring that data can’t be modified or intercepted.

In summary, it is revolutionary because it is able to generate shared consensus among non-trusted, even unknown, parties, despite conflicts of interest, without the need for a third party or central authority to oversee that process. It allows multiple databases to communicate with each other in an automated way, to reconcile and be kept in synch, to get information from external oracles, to validate transactions, keeping an immutable, digital ledger of “shared truth”, distributed among all parties, highly encrypted and extremely difficult to hack.

Clear trends in the startup ecosystem

Trends are driven by needs or is it the other way round?

Think about it – do trends DRIVE needs?

I think so.

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When a new idea is taking shape, there are very few buyers.  There is a lot of resistance to let the little new concept in.  In time, as the concept falls in the hands of influencers, the speed of adoption increases.  Eventually, due to the idea’s newfound status of being a ‘trend’, the adoption accelerates.  I am taken back to my school days when it suddenly was an absolute necessity to own an ‘Intel Inside’ desktop computer, even though almost all of us ended up just playing games on them.

Facebook was launched amongst influencers.  That is why it took off really early in the cycle.

Now that the app economy is strongly entrenched in the Indian economy, I see clear trends – online buying, chatting, learning and consuming a lot of news and social news online.

What this leads to is – unanimity of preferences.

No longer are we separate discerning individuals.  We’d like to feel we are, but no.  We all are subject to forming a yes/no opinion about EVERYTHING.  And our attention spans are shorter.  The more ‘Ah’ factor we get from a service, the more of it we will use.

The trends explained above have given way to other technologies to emerge: blockchain and AI.  Blockchain ensures the credibility of the product/ service that we consume.  It is a direct fallout of an intent to decentralize transactions.  AI understands the context of a certain demand so that a better response is served.  Typically, software is a rigid piece of logic that throws out predictable response.  AI gets a flavor of recent interactions and their settings and then determines the best response.  It is basically regression.

In future posts that I’ll publish everyday, we will delve deeper into today’s technology trends.

You can achieve more – Shiv Khera

In this world of high fever, one strives for some respite and direction.  And then Shiv Khera announces THE book – You can achieve more.  Now, there are 2 types of people that you will fall into – the first is the group that want to take a step back and do something about the turmoil that everyday life throws at them.  The second group is the one that stands out in the sun and waits…waits forever…for in this world, you either live by default or by design.  This book is for the first stock – the people who are OK with studying their behavior bit by bit and then re adjusting it to suit their purpose.

Default or design – this is the underlying theme.  When I picked up the book, I expected it to be a wholesome take on what causes our issues and how to break away from them.  For some reason, I expected an Indian take on this eternal issue.  Instead, I was treated to a very Americanized version of approaching the subject.  I was an avid reader of Norman Vincent Peale and Napoleon Hill while in school and I could see their strong influence on Shiv Khera.

I nevertheless found the contents very insightful and easy to read.  When one is reading a self help book, one is only bound to become wiser.  I still couldn’t resist the urge to see Shiv Khera deliver one of his speeches. On youtube, I was surprised to see this very American accent even though nothing on public sites told me that he was American.  I could now tell for sure that he had been influenced by the American motivational speakers, with the typical sermonizing replete with day to day stories, anecdotes and examples.  I still think that this book makes for very good reading, the reader though needs to look at his work with a constructive frame of mind – Shiv Khera has taken the practical approach to life as evangelized by other (mostly American) motivational writers/ speakers and Shiv has tried to build on the art…it is an honest attempt, and will stand the reader in good stead if the reader goes through the journey as a learner.

Sudhanshu ji – against superstition (Sep 2015)

Sudhanshu ji talks about strange beliefs that people harbor to gain happiness.  It is a big business, involving a lot of money.  2 examples were given : a lady puts tyre outside of her house for good luck.  Others being very particular about how to place each article, with respect to direction. A lady goes to a soothsayer, he says that no one respects you, no one values you, the lady starts weeping and she is totally a devotee now : the saint is just being very clever.   In this world there is no bigger power than the supreme soul.  Just have faith in God, someone who aligns themselves with God, has confidence on their faith in God, nothing ever can effect the person negatively.

Sudhanshu ji – Navratri

In this Navratri discourse, Sudhanshu ji welcomes the new year. There are 9 sources of strength in our lives.  We pray to these forces, Durga, Shama, Jaya are some names of these powers. We pray for eternal prosperity for ourselves and everyone. Life is combination of happiness, fear, loss.  To face life, we need a balance of mind, we need to have courage to earn this.  To earn courage, we have to keep winning even in the face of loss.  As we grow these virtues, we are attracted to God as well.  God wants us to deal responsibly with all of World’s Maya.  We need ‘vivek’ or discretion that we get from our Gurus.  We have got this life after a lot of struggle.  We need to make sure that we don’t stop the struggle and justify this life we have got.

Sudhanshu-Ji-Maharaj