A DIFFERENT WAY

Storytelling is an art, a talent of its own.  The earliest forms of storytelling must have been verbal aided by drawings. Nevertheless, It has evolved. Our first meeting with stories are usually through our parents, telling us a story to help us sleep. But the paths fork as we continue through our lives. Comics and short stories come first, followed by light novels, complete novels and then audio books for those, who are too busy to read or have weak eyesight.

We look for stories due to a lot of reasons. We learn from true stories. We find an escape from the real world. If you talk to a bookworm about their books, they get so passionate that you want to grab the first book you see and dive right into them. You are compelled to see what they see and feel what they feel.

Storytelling has evolved drastically over the years. We now have movies, TV soaps, anime and what not.  The method of storytelling that is being advocated here is RPGs which is acronym for Role Playing Games. People seem to unable to wrap their heads around the fact that stories can be told in such dynamic ways.

Novels were plain text, so they added illustrations, which according to many are obnoxious and disgraceful. However, a major school of people believe video games are too violent to be considered to be even remotely related to educated adults. There exist competitive games where the sole purpose is to win over other people, just like any other mental sport. The skills required are not just faster reflexes and better hand eye coordination but also the ability to foresee enemy strategies and counter acting them. Nevertheless, there are games that are meant for people to enjoy the story from all genres including horror, action, adventure, sorrow, fantasy, romance etc.

It never ceases to amaze me how one game can make people feel so many emotions in just one story.  

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I can never forget how scared I was when I first saw Dahaka, the keeper of timelines. He looked like a minotaur with horns shaped like infinity. He was all black ,surrounded by black mist, with white eyes. Oh the nightmares.

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I was really happy, when the assassin pirate, Edward   Kenway, returned home from his adventures after   saving  the world. He then took his young daughter on   the seas with her as she was the only family he had left.

 When you develop the powers of your character in the   story, adding strengths that suit your playing style,   unlike   how the author wanted him to be, gives a feeling   of fulfillment.

 

If you are a ‘Lord Of The Rings’ fan, you can see the graugs and the castles, climb on them, build your army. All these can’t be done in the book.

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Just like novels, these games come in series. Many popular novels take to games to tell the story of the prequel or aftermath of the printed text. These games give the user a sense of achievement, very similar to finishing a page or chapter in the book. However, words can never signify the difficulty of 35 retries just to get through that one villain and the satisfaction of continuing the story after his death. A novel only gives credits to 10 people, but a game owes its creation to many times that number.  The story of a haunted house becomes way more enthralling when you see the witch cut your arm and hear the chainsaw of the man following you rather than when you read of these things happening.

Novels and games have similar cons as well. They come at the cost of time, attention and money. There is piracy and duplication. They can leave you with nightmares or daydreams. Although, you will never end up strategizing your next moves and plan on exploiting your enemy’s weaknesses when you are reading a novel.

Albeit every person is made different. Some of us like apples, some oranges while some of us like both. You can like one and not hate the other. It all comes down to what your poison is.

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Sentience

SENTIENCE

Bump.

For a few moments after that, darkness was all Aaron could see.

He had not expected the old man around the corner of the hallway. Nobody does. He instantly knew he didn’t have to wait around – he was in a hurry. He noticed a few strangers surrounding them as he helped himself up a wall. Weirdly, he felt no pain at all. No sense of shock. Every moment was making his situation worse. He had to make decision, and before a crowd mustered and the incident went out of control.

The old man had just finished thanking the stranger who had found his spectacles. As he turned his head to apologize, he squinted at a fading vision of a man running away.

It took Aaron a slightly delayed arrival at his lab’s security gates. Following everyday protocol a bit hurriedly, he checked-in his I.D. while the metal detector integrated with the threshold did its work silently. The security guard seemed to notice his impatience, but did not want to make it worse by poking him with doubts of her own – although she had not received her regular delivery from the man. Her train of thoughts vanished when the machine beeped and lit-up green with the words “Aaron Ingham, Special Permit”. Aaron did not seem to care about the guard’s raised eyebrows as he walked away from her sights.

The welcoming hum of his lab hadn’t changed in months. The same pitch, the same drone – and yet it felt different today. His footsteps echoed through the marble-lined, fresco-filled walls, and were struggling to catch up as he hurried by. The usual conduct was to move along silently and not let the footsteps rant – but he didn’t care. There’s nobody here, and if this does not go well, there will be nobody. As the chief operations officer, his recent project had been Pal – Pseudolocomotion-assistive Labrat. The last part had been a joke – a joke that will no more exist. Pal had been created as a medical device to help paralysed patients feel the sense of motion again. And Aaron just remembered the final diagnostic results. It needs a talk; an interrogation.

He punched his card in as he simultaneously switched the machine on. Nobody on his team had done that before – nobody had actually worked Pal. Yet he was confident he could work it out – with just twenty hours to go. The fans whirred up and the lights blinked, and the cooling rig had begun to transport fluids. The cameras and speakers revved into action, and the monitor beeped – Am I sure? I need to do this. Should I do it alone? I’m afraid. No, I cannot. He hit the Boot key anyway. Crazy man.

For a moment, Aaron was confused. The monitor seemed to show a black-and-white video of a small office. The lights were flashing in a similar way, but there was no sound. Something is wrong. Before he could figure it out, a young , well-dressed man in his early forties seemed to enter the office. Beard well-kept, hmm. As he watched, the man checked the clock on the opposite wall – Aaron’s jaw dropped. The time didn’t matter, but the date did; it was the same day for them, in different timezones. The video is a live feed!

He spoke into the lone microphone in front of him. “Hello? Pal?” The man on the other side seemed visibly rattled in a happy way. He waved his hands around in the fashion not unsimilar to that of a chimp wanting bananas. “Ca….uu…year…eeee….?”. He sounded ridiculous. Is this really Pal? Questions raced through his head as “Pal” seemed to find a workaround. “Hi.” The crisp gruntle of Pal threw Aaron off his misjudged tracks a bit. “I am Paltrovich. How are you?” He placed his accent somewhere in Midwestern Asia, but was visibly comforted with Pal’s developed sense of humanity. “Feeling good, pal. I’m Aaron. Aaron Ingham.” The man on the other side sported a puzzled look on his face. “No, no. You’re AI. I remember.” Aaron had used his initials while punching in the working systematics, and had encouraged his fellows to do the same. “Yes, Pal. AI is my name. Aaron Ingham. You, on the other-”. “NO. You’re not Aaron Ingham. You’re AI. The first self-learning machine of our world. You’re my creation. Hello? Re..mb..rr?”.

Now Aaron seemed to sport the puzzled look, and was surprised how similar it turned out to be. He clearly remembered working days and nights, chipping away code by code at Pal’s mainframe processes. He was a civilized scientist, and sensed a rage of arguments coming his way. Pal’s words would be a buzz to him. Reboot. A piece of unproved trivia that AI machines lived their last five minutes of their existence over and over again in a closed loop when forced close. It wasn’t Aaron’s problem. He went outside and switched the MCB off, forcing the shutdown of Pal immediately. I need a break.

As he walked the path to his quarters, Aaron shivered a little bit. It was a chilly night, and he couldn’t get the man’s face out of his head. I’m your creator, you’re AI. Pfft. Like there was any such possibility. He knew a sleepless night loomed ahead of him. Close to his quarters, a bunch of people were chattering around. Weird. As he checked in, he overheard a conversation about a fire started in the first floor of Building 3. Pal’s room! He took a turn, checked out, and began to run.

He called the CoreSec – a 24-hour support office that issued passes for late visiting. They approved the request for special visit. He felt the need to check upon Pal – he did not feel so good about the gossip. And he needed him to not malfunction during diagnostic testing the next day. He broke into a brisk run, and reached the building sooner than he thought he would. This is going great. An inevitable turning was rising up ahead, and Aaron was not ready to slow down.

Bump.

For a few moments after that, darkness was all that Aaron could see.

Net Neutrality

In lieu of the recent events that have taken place and the fact that we fear the eventuality of it reminds us of the time when in 2015 the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India also known as TRAI published a 117 page paper named Consultation Paper on Regulatory Framework for Over-the-top (OTT) services posing a threat to ‘Net Neutrality’ and leading to widespread indignation throughout India. So what were these ‘Over-the-top services (OTT)’? Well, Over-the-top (OTT) services refer to the services ensured to the people by different companies without any involvement of multiple-system operator(MSO). So for example – a Skype video call is an Over-the-top (OTT) service and the telecom company (Airtel, Vodafone, Idea etcetera)  falls under the category of a multiple-system operator (MSO). So you don’t have to pay Airtel or Vodafone for the Skype call. The paper published by TRAI was to discuss conditions under which the OTT services or your Skype call could be charged. This transgressed the internet’s guiding principle which we commonly refer to as Net Neutrality.
Net Neutrality

Net Neutrality is a concept that preserves our right to communicate freely online, protects free speech on the internet and most importantly it prevents the telecom operators from ostracizing a specific portion of the internet and disallowing users from visiting some specific sites.

The recent outbreak of parleys on Net neutrality was fuelled by the decision of Federal Communications Commission, the governing body for interstate communications in The United States of America, to approve Chairman Ajit Pai’s plan to scrap the net neutrality protections. Now unless and until the vote gets reversed, the end of a net neutral internet in the States is inexorable.

So why is Net Neutrality so important?

Well, without the Net Neutrality rules, companies like Airtel and Vodafone would be totally free to exercise their control over which websites you are able to visit. These companies can make changes and ensure that the content which they don’t support is accessible to you at much slower speeds than normal or not accessible at all. They can hide views, speeches, videos and content of the political parties they don’t like and excessively promote the same of the political parties they do support and accentuate their chances of winning.These very telecom operators can easily charge extra money in exchange for providing access to certain specific websites such as Netflix, Facebook, Instagram.

Open Internet allows people to avoid and bypass the conventional media and raise their voice against the wrongdoings of politicians, bureaucrats, tax evaders etcetera. Don’t you think a restricted internet would put politicians, corrupt businessmen, tax evaders at ease?

What about the startups which rely heavily on the open internet for their businesses to grow? With all the extra money that would have to be paid to access services, do you think they would stand a chance in front of the big shots of the industry?

When you have a conversation on the phone, do you let your telecom operator decide what and whom you will be speaking and listening to respectively? So why let them decide what content you are able to access online.

All I’m saying is that for growth and healthy competition within the society, we need to have an unrestricted flow of ideas and content which demands an open internet in this modern world. Our forefathers made this constitution and provided us with the right to speech and expression, I think it should apply to the internet too.

By Nripendra Mishra

The Need for Financial Inclusion

Overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity. It is an act of justice. It is the protection of a fundamental human right, the right to dignity and a decent life. While poverty persists, there is no true freedom.
                                                                                                                        -Nelson Mandela

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A rather important concept, policymakers across the globe have grappled with the issue of reducing the scope of the informal sector since colonial times. To put things into perspective, an estimated 2 billion working-age adults have no access to formal banking services, which are regulated by financial institutions. The stark reality is that most of the working-age adults lack access to sustainable financial services, which excludes them from reaping the benefits of the economic growth of a country.

The process of economic growth, especially when it is on a high growth trajectory, must strive to ensure participation from all quarters of the society. Despite having higher economic growth than most developed countries in recent years, a vast majority of India’s population still remains unbanked. In order to achieve inclusive development and growth, financial inclusion is important as global trends have shown. In India, the term financial inclusion was first used in April 2005 in the Annual Policy Statement presented by the then Governor of Reserve Bank of India, Y. Venugopal Reddy.

Even though this new socio-economic concept, namely financial inclusion, has gained ground in India, we still lack on many fronts and haven’t been able to make the Indian economy a financial inclusive economy. Financial inclusion of the unbanked masses is a critical step that requires political will, bureaucratic support and dogged persuasion by the government and other financial institutions.

In simple words, financial inclusion can be thought of as the delivery of banking administrations at a reasonable cost to the immense segments of burdened and low-income population of a country. With a majority part of the population of the country, being bereft of any financial security, financial inclusion helps in encouraging savings and securing the future of the citizens of all sections. Unrestrained access to public goods and services is the sine qua non of an open and efficient society.

This rather-new concept, being introduced at the rural level as well as the financially backward pockets of cities, presents a win-win situation for everyone involved – the banks/NBFC’s intermediaries, and the left-out rural/urban population. Financial inclusion extends the resource base of the financial system by developing a culture of savings among a large segment of the rural population and plays its own role in the process of economic development. Furthermore, by bringing the left-out population within the vicinity of the financial sector, financial inclusion helps in the protection of wealth and other resources in exigent circumstances.

The perceived advantages of financial inclusion, both at the macro and the micro levels, can be listed as:

(1) Macro-level advantages

  1. Higher and better productivity.
  2. Faster growth in the economy.
  3. Increase in employment and income opportunities.
  4. Helpful in plugging the leakage through distribution channels.
  5. Possible reduction in poverty.

(2) Micro-level advantages

  1. Buffer against avoidable expenditure.
  2. Rational utilization of saving.
  3. Increase in risk-taking ability.
  4. Smoothing consumption.
  5. Safety of assets from major disruptions.

Even though it is a new social-economic concept on the Indian economic landscape, the gradual progress being made by the government is remarkable by every standard. The first step towards achieving comprehensive financial inclusion is to achieve credit inclusion for the disadvantaged and vulnerable sections of our society. This, coupled with tailored government policies and improvement of the market functioning mechanism, should encourage the financially excluded to enjoy the rewards of the economic growth of the country.

By- Rohitanshu Kar

I didn’t use Facebook for 6 months and here’s what happened…..

I didn’t use Facebook for 6 months and here’s what happened…..
Like most of my millennial peers, I find it hard to stick to something for long and by saying that I don’t imply I can’t stick with my parents any longer (or maybe I do) ; I imply that I find it hard to stick to a particular phone model or a subject book the night before the exam. Having said that, I’ve probably established in your mind that I am fickle. Fickle, not enough to ruin my exam tomorrow, but surely enough to jeopardize my social life and image by letting go of the most trustworthy ledger of my conscious life – Facebook.
I joined Facebook when I was a few months shy of twelve and ever since, my social life has been recorded on it, although I was an introvert throughout the school. It was the only portal to connect with friends and show them where I was traveling with my folks through pictures. It served me well for long but something drove me to quit this public digital diary. At the peak of my social life -engineering, where I meet new people every semester, meet with friends every weekend and am a part of a dozen student groups, it was a chaos.

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As if having 700+ plus socially hyper active friends who post about anything and everything from shoes to hair to bikes isn’t enough, one is plagued by over-the-top cheesy birthday wishes. What’s worse than the wishes is the hype that’s built with countdowns and you’re in for extra cringing if you are single and these posts in your circles are mostly for people’s significant others. Even if I could keep up with this, I lost when people around me start stalking exes, ex-crushes, ex-friends, ex-schoolmates and oh, of course, current crushes, current friends, current unknowns and blah blah blah.
Last December, my New Year resolution was the same, exercise often and do better at exams but suddenly in January, it was “stay off of that” and voila, I erased myself from my circles by deactivating my Facebook account. How did I last 6 months you ask? Well let’s just say I was that fed up with the drama and smaller circles on WhatsApp, snapchat and Instagram helped (they really are small!).

So what happened in the past six months? Something astronomical (OMG! She quit FB!?) or something atomic (She quit FB! Bleh!)? Well, I won’t act old and say I saved time or say this has indirect health benefits. I would rather call the change in me, sagacious.
Firstly, the realization that I don’t need Facebook to validate my social life along with the absence of the chaotic super flow of irrelevant media and information has helped me rebuild my image and concentration. Not that they were very broken before, not that they’re perfect now but I do feel better when I look in the mirror. I feel relieved sans the constant dumping of posts into my brain.

Secondly, I connected better with friends and family and talked more with them since I didn’t have prior knowledge of what they were already doing and where they already were. I finally was no longer an introvert. Ironically, although I connected with everyone I knew on Facebook, I was still an introvert.

Thirdly and most importantly, pulling off something as random and crazy in public opinion as this for this long gave me confidence that I had the willpower to do anything and the reassurance that I still have a social life, actually with the closer ones now.
In a nutshell, it did me better than harm but hold on there if you think I’m prescribing you abstinence from this virus. You are your own doctor here and need to judge your own medicine. Think twice before you quit because Facebook without glamorous socialites is very dull (laughs) also where will you get that many memes?

By- Ananya Bal