A Way to Harness Electricity from the Night Sky has been Discovered

Author: Aditi Chandrasekar

For the 1.7-odd billion people worldwide who still don’t have a reliable electricity connection, solar power is proving to be a potential saviour in terms of clean and sufficiently effective power, at least when the sun is shining. Of course, the technology to store excess solar power during the dark hours is improving. However, if there is an opportunity to harness electricity from the night sky, it could be a major breakthrough in the world of clean energy. Good news is, researchers at Stanford and UCLA have done just that. It is not ready to be deployed and used everywhere just yet, but this stunning development could play an important role in the energy demands of the future. The technology employed by itself is not novel or new; the principles behind it were discovered almost 200 years ago. The way it works is simple-the device, a thermoelectric generator, uses temperature differences between two metal plates to generate electricity through the ‘Seebeck effect’. Basically, the greater the temperature difference, the greater the power generated. This technology is already in use to convert waste heat from sources such as industrial machinery and car engines and this new research simply applies the same technique to capture the temperature difference between the outside air and a surface facing the sky. The top plate of the device faces the cold air of the open night sky, while the bottom plate faces the ground and is kept enclosed in warmer air. So, the two plates sit on top of each other. We know that heat in general always radiates to cooler environments. The cooler the surroundings, the faster the heat is radiated. Following this principle, the open night sky is cooler than the enclosed air surrounding the bottom plate, so the top plate loses heat faster than the bottom plate. This generates a temperature difference between the two plates. In the study conducted by the researches, this temperature turned out to be around 4 to 5 degrees celsius.

At different temperatures, heat will also start to travel from the hotter bottom plate to the cooler top plate and the device harnesses this flow of heat to generate electricity. But the glaring flaw in this is that at such a small temperature difference, the power generated is very limited-The researchers’ device produced 25 milliwatts per meter square-just enough to power a small LED reading light whereas a solar panel of the same size would be enough to sustain three 32″ LED TVs. Another possible flaw is its performance being affected by the climate-The device will perform better in dry climates than it does in wet climates because in wetter climates, any moisture in the air condenses on the downward-facing bottom plate, cooling it and reducing the temperature difference between the plates. Still, these don’t take away from the fact that this is a breakthrough technology. With enough research and development, it could be a massive boon to the energy crisis.

VueModel: an example of technology taking away jobs? 

Author: Aditi Chandrasekar

It is hard to believe that there was a time when e-commerce seemed like a shaky concept-today, online shopping is the way to go. Retailers and brands are pushing in enormous amounts of labour and money in digital marketing, and it is only increasing by the day. Vue.ai, an artificial intelligence company in the retail industry, launched VueModel in 2018. VueModel is the world’s first artificial intelligence-based human model generator. It studies the images of the product that has been uploaded, and mainly analyses the image of the garment laid out on a completely flat surface. Using AI, it then generated an on-model image, predicting how the garment would fit. Unlike pre-existing solutions in the industry, which uses 3D body scanners that require special hardware, Vue.ai uses generative adversarial network (GAN) which is a class of machine learning systems that’s extremely efficient when it comes to generating realistic images. Once the image is generated, it can be downloaded and used as required. Clearly, this is a highly cost-effective method that generates high quality and consistent product catalogue images allowing retailers to scale their businesses while saving time. It also offers customisations to enhance the process include personalising the model’s pose, body type and accessories to cater to every customer. Other products like VueTag, VueStyle and VueFind are offered by the company to automate product tagging, personalised recommendations, customised product delivery etc. With increasing revenue, the company plans to further build its team and expand itself in terms of locations and development areas like advertising. This would lead to human workers for these jobs getting eventually replaced, and this puts forth the bigger question-can the quickly advancing technology and humankind co-exist? As the domains of robotics and AI see giant leaps taken everyday, automation is increasingly taking over what we typically viewed as human jobs. Anuj Bihani, the managing director of Alstrut India Private Limited which is a company that is coming up with automation solutions for manufacturing companies, weighed in on the debate by saying, “Every machine that has been introduced to automate mundane and tedious manual jobs has been treated with scepticism-automobiles replacing horses; mechanised-looms replacing artisans; computerised accounting software replacing conventional book-keeping. However, historically it has been established, each ‘robot’ or automated machine/process has only lead to creation of multiple new jobs.” Similarly, the deployment of Vue.ai’s products and services does not imply curators would lose their jobs. Their work will be managerial as manually performed functions switch to automation. Seeing the demand and the growing trust of sellers and buyers alike, it would not be inaccurate to say that the future of retail and garment industry lies in consumer experience and AI is out of the labs to prove it.

Out For A Walk

The breeze is cold, with no identifiable smells, it’s pleasuring. The city looks beautiful, calm and the major intersections are the only places with lights. These huge flood-lights look like mere toothpicks from where I stand. The city looks like a collection of a kid’s building blocks, organized as on a circuit board of some complex electronic device. I have seen this view multiple times, probably in every lighting condition that the eyes can perceive, yet, it looks especially mesmerizing right now. I stand on the visibly largest bridge crossing the Ganga river, marking the start of this holy city. The oldest bridge was replaced by the latest one. The double-decker bridge is barely visible which identified the city in films like Raanjhna. A train chugs through the bottom and some two-three people walk by on the top every few minutes. Dawn will break soon.


I stand here, after hours of trying to sleep. The breeze keeps pushing me back, tailwinds of trucks passing on the highway behind me keep thrusting me forward, and I keep swinging like a disoriented pendulum. I came here to see the end. Option 1: Fall on the bottom of the pillar, crack your skull, instant, and certain death.  Option 2: Fall in the water, I’m high enough for the surface tension to shatter my bones, I writhe in pain and eventually drown. Another possibility is I enter the water safe and sound, the cold water and strong current give me a long, slow and agonizing death, my body is found somewhere downstream. 

This is it, my dream of twelve years is finally becoming a reality. I climb and sit on the edge, anytime now.

“Hey, why are you here? What are you planning to do now?”

“I have seen it all, I have reached the tipping point of my life, it cannot get any better. I will jump and end it all.”
“Yes, that’s the best you can do, I mean, you being here or just disappearing, wouldn’t make a difference in the grand scheme of things. Your existence is known to a maximum of a thousand people. About 500 remember that they met you. About a hundred remember you regularly. Some fifteen-twenty people care about your existence, only to eventually benefit from you. NO ONE ADORES YOU. It would be for the best for you and everyone around you if you died.”

“Wait. You have so much to live for, didn’t you want to go Bungee Jumping? You could do it if you didn’t jump now.”

“This isn’t much different though.”

All three of us laughed as a tear rolled down my face.

“Yeah, that’s true but you wanted to buy a car, raise a kid, live a happy life?”

“But isn’t that inviting more trouble down the line? Every change brings discomfort.”
“Exactly, right from choosing the pursuit of engineering. No, from choosing science. No, wait, from the first time I ever spoke, I have only invited trouble to myself and the people around me. My words, my actions, never solved anything, but definitely sprouted seeds for trouble.”

“Yeah, and you were also responsible for 9/11, don’t listen to him. You’re doing good. You’ve got a healthy lifestyle, a stable job. You are who many aspire to be. You can do anything you want to.”

“Haha, as if you’ve ever had anything in control.”

“That’s true, I have never had anything in my control. Isn’t that the truth of the world? No matter what decision I make, it always has consequences beyond my control. What am I doing, where am I headed? I will never have the life I wanted. It is all pointless. I will never know what’s next and uncertainty is never good. I can count the major events left in my life on the fingers of just one of my hands and most of them aren’t happy ones.”

“You can’t end here. People look up to you. They tell their kids your story. Wouldn’t you want that story to get better every time you meet them? Or do you want it to become a foreshadowing?”

“That is a part of the problem. I very much hate the life I have lived till now, I do not want anyone to follow my footsteps of all people.”

“The underachiever, the meta of our generation. You are spitting on the greats by calling yourself one. You idiot, people your age are running corporations, changing the world and whatnot. You are the worst example to follow. You yourself don’t want to be you. You are everything that’s wrong with you.”

“True, nothing I ever did has made a difference. My whole life has been a compromise. I have never had what I wanted. I was and never will be satisfied with what I have, and will live my entire life hustling for something better trying to unsuccessfully satiate myself. I do not want this. This is the worst part: I will never know what I truly want. What will make me full? A woman? A big home? Many big homes? Kids? Grandkids? Supercars? I guess I dreamed too big, haha. You get the gist.” 

“Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get. Not opening the box could be the biggest mistake you make. Walk back, and you can set a better example than the one you would if you jumped.”

“Haha, a box of chocolates can’t have ice creams or potato chips. I know where my life is headed, the last time I got a surprise gift was in sixth grade when my parents got me a digital camera for my birthday. There haven’t been any welcomed surprises after that. My life is not a movie, if I jump down and swim to the next town, they wouldn’t cover me in papers. They would put me in an asylum.”

“That reminds me, your birthday is coming up. Let’s postpone this ordeal until that day, the sun is up too. You do not deserve a release so soon, you should suffer more. Wouldn’t it be poetic to do it that day?”

“Yeah, not knowing what to do when they sing happy birthday would be the best torture. How bothersome, I loathe that day. I have to pick my own gift, sometimes I pick it months before or after, depending on when I need something. I have to plan a party for a bunch of ungrateful nobodies, who would dissolve in the crowd as soon as the party’s over. Leaving a debt to be fulfilled only on their birthdays.”

“Hey, you came here to celebrate that. A birthday with your parents after 4, maybe 5 years.”

“Yeah, let’s call today a trial run for what we will do on that day. Everyone will be tired from the party, it would be easier to escape.”

“Yeah, let’s head back.”


The sun shines from way above the horizon. People have started their days. Cattle owners, taking their herds of buffaloes to pasture. Milkmen cycling with huge tin containers on either side of the bicycle, headed to deliver or sell it at the “Satti”. Dust flows as school buses and vans rush on the roads to force start the dozy kids’ day. “You coward.” 

I put my head down. My cheeks keep getting wet, my breath keeps pacing and I blame it all on the dust. No one turns their head, ever. “They all have their problems to deal with, not everyone is as weak or has the time to lament over such issues.” The same sound keeps screaming at me on my way back. “You coward, you’ll never have the courage to do what you want. You can’t even JUST DIE. People work very hard to live and your puny, pathetic self can’t even do that. You can never be happy for you will NEVER BE SATISFIED.”

I reach home, wipe the mix of dew, dust, sweat, and tears off my face. Maa sips her daily tea while watching the headlines. Advertisements start, and she changes to some religious channel as I walk in. 

“Where were you?” She asks.

I don’t have an answer, I stay silent for a moment, it always makes me look like an intellectual who knows what he is going to say. I answer, “I was just…”

Too many mouths

Author – Vignesh

‘So, while I’m here being confessional, I guess I have a sudden urge to say something that I’ve never really been able to air in public. So, a declaration that I’m really nervous about…..Loud and proud, right? So, I’m going to need your support on this….’ It was 2013 Golden Globes awards. A famous Hollywood actor standing on the stage along with fellow actor Robert Downey Jr. as a hall full of famous figures sit and watch her fidgeting ‘I..am…’ she holds the mike as well as her breathing, as the crowd leans to the edge of their seats expectantly. ‘single’ she says and the hall erupts in laughter. This was Jodie Foster trying to explain that she indeed was homosexual, yet shying away from even uttering the word ‘gay’. Today we know that the USA and the rest of the world which includes India has come so far.

TEDx Talks releases a video on Youtube on November 16, 2016, named Homosexuality: It’s about survival-not sex. The speaker: Dr James O’Keefe MD tries to justify that same-sex marriage and being gay was only nature’s response to the overpopulation of humans. He says ‘You all have gay genes in you!’ as the crowd gets really uncomfortable. He goes on to say that homosexuality is not against nature but rather a part of natural selection. A loving couple that doesn’t reproduce but takes care of its herd is exactly what an overpopulated planet like ours needs and that nature knows it.

On 15th March 2019, Brenton Tarrant, the 28-year-old Australian who the media describes as a white supremacist walks into a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand and guns down 51 Muslims. Minutes before his attack, he posted a 74-page declaration text that serves as a “justification” for his act whose details were disturbing and bizarre. He details that all the environmental problems that we face including global warming were a consequence of overpopulation and the world is in a desperate need of population control. The reason why chose a mosque was because, in his own belief, Muslims were the ‘highly fertile’ group. So why is a well thought out and a profound doctor and a terrorist worry about the same thing? Overpopulation is a recent concern that is brought up by endless pop culture releases in different media, from the books like Dan Brown’s The inferno to the movies like Kingsman and of course, Avengers: Infinity war but is it really a problem?

population bomb.jpg

The whole argument that too many mouths to feed equals a problem hinges on the fact that we have limited food. Any resource is professed to be a zero-sum which is the concept that anything that is gained on the consumer’s side is lost by the other side: the source, that is the planet that provides us with the resources. It’s not wrong to think that way. After all, with the water crisis that our country is facing right now and we are told that there is only a constant volume of water existing on our planet and we are running out of it.

It still begs the question: have we really understood the problem though?  Yes, there’s no denying that an increase in demand at a short period of time calls for attention but is population control really the solution? Well, no.

There is another resource that we are running out of. Fossil fuel. We have fuel rates increasing and the government to put the blame on. After all the cold wars and the fight against terrorism paraded by the USA in order to obtain control over oil for years. Now, all that has settled down a bit and now the talk is shifted towards making Electric Vehicles and how to pioneer a way to be oil – independent. Statements that water will be the resource that the countries would be fighting each other for in World War 3, not oil have gained attraction. It is intriguing to think that both oil and water are limited. Yet, the fight for oil has settled down a bit. How did that happen? That is because, while in a technical sense resources are limited, they are really not.

We used lamp oils derived from seeds of canola, sunflower and in extreme cases, by killing whales from the oceans to light our homes. We had our existing populations do the heavy lifting such as moving wheels and machinery, that mined coal which in turn powers up printing machines that would imprint news texts on papers made out of uprooted trees to pass information. Did that lead to an inevitable doom? Did the trees and whales go extinct as the population exploded? The truth is, what we call resources is only limited by our very own imagination. Anything has value only we value them. If we just start to think differently, we may never run out of resources.

In the year 1879, Thomas A. Edison takes credit for inventing the bulb which turns electric energy into that of light. Transistors are invented by American physicists Bardeen, Brattain and Shockley right after World War 2. Now, we have the unlimited source of electromagnetic waves that power up industries and offices letting people work 24/7 through electricity and the transistors revolutionising the same industry with computer electronics and automated machines as well as of course, the smartphones we use to share information. We didn’t stick to the papers or the oil lamps. We innovated. We developed. More population doesn’t mean just more mouths to feed, it also means more minds to think and more hands to work. The real solution to the problem of overpopulation is not genocide or homosexuality, it is, after all, education. Enabling the existing population to think or work is enough to find new resources as we go.

Have you ever heard of the meme that everything in the world is invented by Indians? The invention of diodes followed by that of transistors was by Jagadeesh Chandra Bose. The invention of ‘zero’ of course is credited to Aryabhata. Endless new areas on mathematics unexplored to this day were claimed by Srinivasa Ramanujan. Even the advances in optical fibre technology, on which the today’s internet run on owes the fundamental optics starting scattering effect of light, a phenomenon that was first discovered by Sir C V Raman. Why is it that all the groundbreaking ideas originate from the land that is the second most populated? Countries around the world are making new efforts to eradicate carbon-emitting businesses. India is pushing its automobile industries to make electric vehicles as it is seen to be the future. A future that is independent of oil. Engineers are looking for new ways to produce fresh water every day in labs through researches. The future is not dark. Apocalypse is not nigh as long as there are researches, universities, labs and funds. It’s us, the students who think, create new ideas and innovate!

A look at space exploration’s evolution- and its challenges

Author: Akshat Kashyap


“One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”, the famous words uttered on July 19th, 1969 by Neil Armstrong when he became the first man ever to step on moon. This year marks the 50th anniversary since the historic event, and the progress made in space exploration has been unprecedented.

What began as a show of one-upmanship during the cold war culminated with Apollo 11’s landing on the moon, which inspired and paved the way for a spurt of human space exploration and advancement. From the competition to establish power among other countries, it graduated into a competition to find the best answers to go beyond the moon.

In the early 1960’s, Soviet Union had the upper hand in the quest to dominate space, as evident by several successful missions, such as the launching of first artificial satellite – Sputnik I, in the lower orbit of Earth, followed by a series of unmanned lunar missions as well as a successful attempt of sending a man, Yuri Gagarin, into space for the first time in human history. However, through all these celestial achievements, the US was preparing for something extraordinary, a manned lunar mission that would go on to be a watershed moment in the history of international space sector.

50 years later, not only the US and Soviet Union, but several dozen countries have made huge strides to satisfy the curiosity of what lies beyond the skies. 72 countries have formed government space agencies, of which 14 agencies have launch capabilities. Six government space agencies of the US, Russia, Japan, India, China and Europe have full launch capabilities. The achievements of India’s ISRO have been lauded worldwide with several missions, such as launching a record breaking 104 satellites from a single rocket, its Chandrayan mission which was able to discover traces of water on the moon, and the success of Mars Orbiter Mission, in which India was able to send a space probe to Mars on its maiden attempt. Several space agencies, by teaming up together, have been successful in creating a habitable artificial satellite- International Space Station-  where the astronauts live and explore more about the living and working in space.

But what truly shows the possibilities and opportunities in this sector is the enthusiastic participation of private entrepreneurs, including the three most recognizable billionaires on the planet- Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk and Richard Branson. Bezos established Blue Origin in 2000, Musk setup SpaceX in 2002 and Branson established Virgin Galactic in 2004. Iain Boyd, a space exploration expert and professor of engineering at the University of Michigan, says while the three billionaires are each very different, they were likely inspired by a similar frustration.  He says in the years and decades after the Apollo missions, with the limited success of the space shuttle programme and fewer funds being awarded to Nasa, there was a sense of an opportunity being wasted. As a result, it was natural that the entrepreneurs such as Musk, Bezos and Branson would seek to fill the gap.

The ambition of these entrepreneurs is grand.  Branson’s current project seeks to send six passengers and two crew to the edge of space, about 100km above the earth, by means of a two aircraft. Bezos’s current plan involves using reusable rockets to send a crew in a capsule to an altitude of 307,000 feet. The rocket returns to its launch pad, and the crew capsule separates and descends by use of parachutes.

In many ways, Musk’s plans are the most ambitious. While his SpaceX rockets are already restocking the international space station, again with reusable rockets, the South African-born entrepreneur also wants to send people to Mars. He has said his project could be ready to send people to the Red Planet – a vast undertaking that many scientists are skeptical about – as soon as 2026.

However, such projects, private and government, throw up new challenges, not just for technology and science but areas such as law. Right now, there are no rules governing space travel. Also, the Outer Space Treaty, a UN resolution first adopted in 1967 that prohibits the placing of nuclear weapons in space, is similarly lacking in detail.

There are also questions as to what impact the rush to reach other planets will have on our own. Some have said that by suggesting humanity can reach places such as Mars, there will be less incentive to address the pressing crisis posed by climate change.

But, no matter what consequences we face, there are still a lot of possibilities that have to be explored if the human population is to survive beyond Earth, as Konstantin Tsiolkovsky said, “Earth is the cradle of humanity, but mankind cannot stay in the cradle forever”.


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.  


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.


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.


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.




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.


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


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.


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