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The Curious case of Prosenjit Hazra - Part 2

Read Part 1 Manikarnika Crematorium Varanasi  Part 2: Prosenjit Hazra Prosenjit Hazra’s father, Biswajit Hazra migrated to Varanasi from East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) at the time of partition. Belonging to a poor Hindu family from East Bengal, he was still pursuing his graduation when partition happened. Varanasi was once called a ‘mini Kolkata’. Nearly three lakh Bengalis, who had settled here were engaged in various activities – trading, business and tourist services, among others. Biswajit knew a wealthy Banerjee family who had a large house [ 5 ] along the riverbank in Benaras and visited the place during vacations. When partition happened, Biswajit sought out the Banerjees who lived in Kolkata – the Banerjees could not invite him to Kolkata, but instead offered him to become the caretaker of the family’s ‘holiday mansion’ in Benaras. Living as a servant of the Banerjees, Prosenjit’s father completed his studies – as a caretaker, he had almost no income, the Banerjee

The Curious case of Prosenjit Hazra - Part 1

Disclaimer: This is a purely fictional amalgamation of several real-life incidents I've read in the past several days formed into a contemporary tale running across threads of misinformation, cyber-security, terrorism et al. The story, all names, characters, and incidents portrayed in this series of posts are fictitious. No identification with actual persons (living or deceased), places, buildings, and products is intended or should be inferred. [ 0 ] Mumbai Police Headquarters Part 1: ACP Vaman Chandrakant ACP Vaman Chandrakant just couldn’t settle his mind on how he should present the case of Prosenjit Hazra. He had taken this case on the recommendation of his mentor ADGP Padmanabhan. “ Just like a case on the Underworld was a stepping stone to promotions in our times, it is going to be terrorism and cybercrime in yours – and this case has a perfect blend of both ” – Padmanabhan Sir had said. Padmanabhan himself had risen through the ranks of IPS to become the DIG

What's with the 20 year fascination?

Here's a 2005 video of a TED talk by Ray Kurzweil - noted futurist and now a director of engineering at Google. He talks about some of the life-transforming (literally!) innovations which will happen by 2020, due to the accelerating speed of technology change. I had written in past about how the science fiction of the 1980s predicted several innovations (like Androids, Space Travel, Space cities, and teleportation) would come true by the year 2000, and how hardly any one of these seem to be coming true by 2050. As we cross the year 2019, and we can predict with a more absolute sense about where we will be in the year 2020, and Kurzweil's vision that "we will succeed in reverse-engineering the human brain" and "we'll be able to manufacture almost anything we need in the 2020s, from information, in very inexpensive raw materials, using nano-technology", look pretty much unachievable. Nevertheless, self-driving cars are here and smart digital

How did India become a British Colony?

The ills of British Raj in India are well documented; historians - both Indian and British - have also left large literature [ ref ] regarding the revolt of 1857. Popular perception has it that the British defeated a motley band of Indian princely states who came together under the titular regime of Bahadur Shah Zafar - the last Moghul. This description while technically accurate hides in itself a very important disgrace - as to how did the British get to the point where they became the common opponent to all the princely states. Surely, the East India Company's (EIC) conniving use of their relations with certain Indian states, its treachery and opportunism in using 'laws' like Doctrine of Lapse - brought them to a position of control in several parts of India, but this was not sufficient for a foreign entity whose officers had once prostrated in front of India's monarch, to gain control over large parts of India. The main events which brought EIC (the pre

Sanju was a huge opportunity lost by Sanjay Dutt!

I know its too late to post a movie review, the movie Sanju was released more than 10 months ago and honestly, I just happened to watch it because it was showing on TV yesterday. But I am writing this because I simply cannot subdue my ruth at the complete waste of opportunity the movie turns out to be and mainly for the lack of directorial ability from someone as adept as Rajkumar Hirani. Rajkumar Hirani is an excellent story-teller but more so, a director par excellence, as anyone who has watched Munnabhai MBBS would confirm. His first directorial venture was a testimony to how a saturnine subject can be presented in an entertaining manner, yet contain a social message. But with Sanju , Hirani has failed as a director - because he has stuck to his template for a subject which demanded an independent treatment and not paid directorial attention to what the subject demands. There are many posts online [ 1 ] [ 2 ] [ 3 ] [ 4 ] which call out for the selective editing of Sanjay D

When scale can destroy quality

I have written in past about how a services business is hard to scale. While one would lament at the non-scalable nature of the consulting business, at the same time these businesses can claim a very high premium in their services. Conversely, when a product or a service becomes 'commoditized' - it stops commanding a premium. The less 'scalable' something, the more valuable it becomes. If one could produce a million copies of Picaso's work, or every dining hall could have the Monalisa - the value of great artists or great works of art would diminish. Even if this example sounds extreme - it explains an important principle which can then explain certain other phenomena of the business world.  For example, take the culinary business - it is possible to standardise not just the process of making food but even the ingredients used in food, to build a super scalable restaurant business like McDonalds - yet the price point which a McDonalds can claim will nev

Contrasting futures - the suburb vs. the city (Part III)

Those of you who read these posts [ Part I Part II ] know that my worldview of ecologically sustainable living, has, over the years veered towards cluster based human settlement – large metropolises or cities with shared infrastructure which reduces the ecological cost of living and that recent technological breakthroughs in Solar power, off-grid power storage, biodegradable materials etc have created a window for suburban sprawls also be become ecologically efficient lifestyles. But as we concluded in the previous post of this series, the biggest stumbling block in making suburban life sustainable is the real estate overhead claimed by it. Suburban sprawls, however energy efficient, do consume much larger space per-capita leaving less land available for food and related needs to serve the ever-burgeoning population of the world. The matter is further complicated by the rapid upward economic mobility of large populations in Asia and Africa. I wrote about two routes to manage

Contrasting futures - the suburb vs. the city (Part II)

Tesla Solar Roof Continued from here . As explained in my previous post, scientific research proves that cities are more sustainable for mankind to live - the characteristic compactness of cities, for example, lessens the pressure on ecological systems and enables resource consumption to be more efficient [ 1 ]. This assumes that cities will be built to sustain the population load they bear through appropriate infrastructure including public transport, sewerage / eco-efficient waste disposal, provision of parks or other recreational habitats etc. If one observes the ‘ecological cost’ of human living there are 4 direct costs: Food production and transport Waste & Sewage management and processing  Human commute and communications  Real estate needed for stay, recreation and occupational needs (incl. education and administration) Energy is a common cost underlying all four above costs in addition to other ecological costs they impose. Of course, these costs are dire

Why do we celebrate being a Republic?

Why is our faith in power of people so weak?
Do you fear / hate Modi or are you actually afraid of another Indira

Reading the Lounge this Sunday, I was particularly struck by the conspicuous underpinning in several articles fearing a dictatorial dystopia in Indian politics. Whether it was the article and a  story on Giant Statues, translation of the poem of dissent, caricature fiction  on the eerie mix of mega weddings and government control, or the note on movements of the 'collective' - all of them smoked of dissension from the Modi government's policies, attitude and actions. Why is this striking, you may ask - after all we're just about a quarter and a half away from the General elections and media is expected to write anti-establishment. It isn't really the fact that these articles and stories are anti-establishment which strikes me, but that most of them hint towards the fear of a dictatorial dystopia which people fear Modi will usher in. Even in private discussions, I have found more Indians wary (and even angry) not at what was done (Demonetisation, GST, Statu