Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Envisioning a Digital India

The launch of the E-Governance and Digital India Initiative by the government is a highly welcome move and couldn't have come at any better time. The rise of the IT Revolution in this country has been phenomenal especially in the past decade and the race is just getting tougher to compete with China

Despite being the world's second largest country in terms of population , its a common fact that the infrastructure growth and technological development in most parts of the country hasn't seen any progress and requires a major overhaul. So it is imperative that the importance of technology in any every step taken towards creating a digital governance is understood and more focus is given to that

So for this initiative to gain steam, one should work on a plan in creating an unified government model that heavily relies on technology, internet and more importantly social media. The government model doesn't focus on just providing more facilities to the public but rather creating a seamless government organization that taps and adapts every resource available to give a superior experience,which includes harnessing the power of digital technologies and social media

The below two representations of the old model of government channels and communications and how it has transformed adapting to the technologies available at their disposal



Source : Self drawn

The above picture should be interpreted in a way that social media and internet doesn't replace existing channels but rather it only complements the age old solutions and adds more utility and efficiency

Planning for a Digital India

The ideal way in going forward with this plan is to see it as a 3 point objective

  • Empowering the Public
Empowering the public/citizens should be achieved through public awareness and training programs to push the people in adopting to the digital practices. Be it Birth certificate document or an Aadhar Card status check , one shouldn't rely on the physical government locations , but rather get access right from his computer or mobile. Every document should and will be available on the government hosted sites & cloud where one can track their application status , pay bills and see complete information in English as well as respective native languages
The public's literacy is no longer evaluated on basic reading and writing but rather also evaluated on computer/mobile literacy with his/her knowledge on accessing desired info from the internet

                                        Source : https://cleach.files.wordpress.com/2010/11/classroom1.jpg

  • Service on Demand
An integrated seamless government organization which encompasses all the departments and acts as one single frontier for easy access by the public ,at any given time on demand
These are available in a live environment ,most probably available in a cloud platform accessed through government websites and mobile apps

Electronic payments for electricity , corporation tax,wealth tax, water tax, income tax ,filing returns for IT or even a passport application is available in government self-service websites where everything is done at the click of a button without middle agents and avoids the need to bribe, to move the papers quickly

   Source: http://www.jll.com/PublishingImages/Services%20and%20Industries/jll_DA_ComicGrid.jpg
  • Developing Infrastructure
For the above 2 objectives to happen , what is important is underlying infrastructure. We no longer can operate on dial up connections or unreliable telephone networks for accessing the internet ,but rather require powerful high speed fiber optics,which can offer speeds easily in the range of 20-40MBPS.
Apart from the internet facilities, public should be given the option to create bank accounts and digital identities that aids them in utilizing these govt offered facilities

Source : https://0.s3.envato.com/files/47085175/Building%20Digital%20Tablets%20Vertical%20Preview.jpg

With a rapid rise in cloud networking and digital infrastructure being setup, another key point to watch out is safety and security of these information. A Digital India can be fully called as one, only if its safe and secure from cyber criminals too

All the three objectives are interconnected and serve one unified goal : Developing a Digital India

Mobile Revolution : A pivot for Digital India

As explained above infrastructure, empowerment and cloud services are the key tools in building a Digital India. However despite the presence of all these , the mission can still fail, if it doesnt reach to every last citizen of the country. Those living in urban cities have access to all facilities, like High Speed internet ,good roads, 3G Mobile connectivity , Media and so on.

But it all matters when it comes down to rural and suburban connectivity, which lacks even basic facilities like schools,drinking water , toilets and hasn't seen any development in several decades. Not just internet , but most parts of India, don't even have a cell phone tower to make a mobile call. These are the areas which Government must focus ,to help them get access to the mobile world .
This last mile of connectivity can be immensely useful for the government to send targeted communication and ads to these remote villages and spread awareness on new initiatives almost instantly. Earlier it was the job of the post office and village panchayats to constantly communicate with Government offices to spread information

Even if procuring a laptop or a PC is very expensive for most households in these parts of the country, a cheap touch screen mobile powered by even a 2G internet can literally put them on the digital world with access to emails, E-Government services etc..

Source : http://under30ceo.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/3952943293_57542eb7bd.jpg

The Convergence of Technology

Source : http://image.slidesharecdn.com/dineshmalkani-141209031312-conversion-gate02/95/the-future-of-business-in-a-digital-india-dinesh-malkani-10-638.jpg?cb=1418118827

Creating Jobs

Even before planning and setting up the infrastructure for a Digital India, the starting point for all of these should be about Education and Jobs.

Source : Self Drawn

Feedback Mechanism for E-Governance
About 10-15 years back ,a government feedback mechanism was practically non existent and the only two available modes of expressing discontent or providing feedback was through letters to the Editor to the national newspaper(Which was rarely published) and the other one was a complaint box , that was more like a trash bin and never checked

But these things are no longer taken lightly as the public has been armed with more than 10 types of social media channels where they can vent out their frustration publicly, immediately read and shared by several thousands across the country. Hence a proper government feedback channels ( Points of contacts ) is to be setup for properly collecting feedback not only through feedback forms but also on the internet like Twitter, Facebook , Instagram , Vine, WhatsApp etc
The current day scenario for Feedback Channels
Source : Self Drawn

As popularly said in one of the recent TV episodes of "The Newsroom" by Aaron Sorkin, 
"The news gathering and newscasts will have tentacles into every inch of the internet - interactive, podcasts, livestreams, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter. We’ll make our audience reporters in the field through Instagram and Vine, Snapchat and blogs, our users become the audience and our audience becomes contributors."

Impact of E-Governance in Digital India

  1. A Broadband connectivity in nearly 3 Lakh villages across India
  2. Public Wifi Hotspots in all public areas and Creation of WLAN zones in many urban Tier-1 cities
  3. Empowered citizens , digitally
  4. 20 Million Graduates and students trained in IT ,Telecom and Soft skills
  5. Creation of IT/IT ES/BPO/Telecom/Software jobs in the range of 30-40 million
A Snapshot of the PMO's Portal capturing the right essence of a Digital India
 Source : pmindia.gov.in/

Check out Intel's initiative in their quest for promoting #DigitalIndia.
Intel is committed towards our government's vision of a Digital India. Through its ‘Digital Skills for India’ and ‘Innovate for India’ initiatives, Intel has been fostering technology as the enabler for creating a digitized India.
The Intel Digital Skills for India Program  will set India on the path of becoming a digitally inclusive society. Intel Innovate for India Challenge will also foster local innovation for pervasive technology adoption and usage across India

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Perfect Breakfast

As the age old saying goes, Breakfast is the most essential meal of the day, which acts as a motivator and a kick starter to keep your day going, with full energy. So being the crucial meal, it’s all the more important there’s more variety and spice to make it interesting, than being a monotonous meal

From the area I belong to, the variety for breakfast is very limited and basically consist of 4-5 items. These include the usual Idly-Vada, Dosa , Poori and Pongal and it becomes so dull after sometime that you really want some change. However most of the other options available include very unhealthy options that involve a lot of a fat, oil, deep frying and cholesterol. This can really leave a bad feeling on the stomach, especially when you have a big day ahead of you

I took up some research, to identify some healthy foods at the same time, easy to cook options for my breakfast, which was when I discovered the huge recipe manuals of Gupta that extended to more than 100+ options. The interesting thing about these recipes are that, they are extremely healthy, very easy to make (literally a child’s play) and mostly involves mixing of Kellogg’s Corn Flakes with a variety of items

Some of the recipes that really struck me as very interesting are listed below
  • Strawberry and Banana Cornflakes
  • Cornflake Dahi Upma
  • Cornflakes Sheera
  • Almond Strawberry Cornflakes
  • Etc…

      Reading over these delicious recipes made my mouth watering already and I was awestruck about the simplicity of the way it is made, yet surprised with the creativity involved in it.
So why would I choose to dine in at GuptaJi’s house for Breakfast than any other place? Here are the reasons

After a heavy workout in the gym every morning, I require a meal that basically takes care of all my nutrients. This breakfast should have no oil, replenish all the energy I had burnt running in the treadmill and lifting weights. So the best thing for me to do is to head out to Guptaji’s home, where their family has invited me for a “daily mystery breakfast”. Just like when you head over a hotel and you ask around for the special of the day, I’d probably head over to their house, and wait until they prepare the delicious aromatic meal which would be a surprise until it comes

The other important reason why would I head over to Guptaji’s house is their love. I believe in the policy that food should be served not only hot and delicious, but also with love. Without that love of cooking, you’d never get the taste, no matter how hard you try

I am a huge fan of Kellogg’s corn flakes (the grain in the corn flakes has rich content in carbohydrates and low in fat) and also tropical/exotic fruits like strawberries, banana , guava etc. Guptaji’s breakfast predominantly contain most of these and definitely would satisfy my appetite. One such example would be the Almond Strawberry cornflakes. It’s made by mixing a bowl of cornflakes with milk and sugar .This is then topped with strawberries, almonds and other nuts to make a delicious Nashta

So I am already on my way to Guptaji’s house.. Are you joining me? #KelloggsWaleGuptaji

The Journey Begins with the MotoE

Sometimes you will never the true value of a moment until it becomes a memory            
 - Unknown Proverb             

“Truly, happy memories always live on. Over time, one by one, they come back to life“, says an ancient Japanese proverb.  I cannot fathom but realize how true it is. We have accumulated and cherished so many memories in the past that they still continue to live before us in our eyes. Especially, if the memory is about the first time of the experience, it’s an even special one and you may probably talk about it on and on, forever with your friends
The memory could be a first day in college, the first time you rode a bicycle, your first computer, first international vacation, first flight trip and last not but not the least, the first mobile phone(A Moto SLVR L9 and a Nokia 1100)

Here’s some of my collection from the Gallery of the Firsts

My First Indiblogger Meet

My First College Tour


My first International Flight

My First day at office

My First trip to Singapore

My First Camel trip in the Desert

Last not but the Least
My First Mobile Phones
MOTO SLVR L9               Nokia 1100

The mobile phone is an integral part of my life, and it can become so difficult even when I'm separated for a short period of time. I cant even begin to think what my life was like, before it was launched

I still remember the day when I walked into a store and bought my first pair of mobile phones (one a classic Moto SLVR L9 and additionally the Nokia 1100. Both were rock solid phones that ruled the roost in those days with almost no or little competition. Even their presence carried a swag on its own with lots of eye turning with their unique mobile ring tones. Unlike many mobile phones of today, the above phones were very light weight , minimal specs,a battery that lasted for 3-4 days easily, an extremely easy user interface and last not but the least , not matter how many times you dropped it, it was still rock solid and worked like a charm

The recent launch of the Moto E (2nd Gen) has excited me so much that it has rekindled the memories and fun I had when i bought and used my mobile phone for the first time in my life.

The revolutionary design, extremely impressive range of inbuilt hardware specs (that one could see only in a 500 dollar phone), a 5MP HD camera ,the MOTO brand name and of course a Rs.6999 price tag  makes this an irresistible piece of machinery , one cannot do without. So it wasn't quite surprising that I chose to make the Smartphone upgrade to buy the new Moto E.

So what amazing things I can do with my Moto E? Here's a list of how I'll #ChoosetoStart the amazing journey
  • Create a Revolution : Well there are infinite possibilities with a MOTO E. So why not create a revolution and let the world know what you stand for by using the phone and spreading your message through the internet
                                         Source: http://mobilerevolutionnow.com/img/phone_hand.jpg
  • Write my First Mobile Novel/Short Story  : With so many typing apps being launched, it's become far easier to write your book on the go in a mobile than on a laptop / pen and paper
    Source : http://i.kinja-img.com/gawker-media/image/upload/s--C8n2QR6q--/18s0yqd8yvo1wjpg.jpg

  • Protect my Heart  : With a simple heart monitor band around your arm and installing a Heart Monitor app in MOTOE, you can start monitoring your heart status and even overall fitness levels to keep everything in check. You can just save those on expensive medical checks to the hospital 
    Source : http://pocketnow.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/fuelband-se.jpg

  • Learn to Cook : Why waste on those expensive cooking classes , when you can power the Youtube app in your phone,and play the cooking videos to learn to make "DIY foods"
  • Use it as an NFC Card : I'd eventually start using the MOTOE for making NFC payments instead of my credit cards or cash payments 
  • Save a Friend : MotoE is not just a phone to me , but it's like a emergency device for me too. When a friend is in distress, all he needs to do is press a distress button from an app, and I'll have him traced through the GPS in my phone and go to his rescue immediately

Here's a list of "usual" things I would #ChooseToStart my smartphone journey with the new MotoE
  • Migrate:
First thing I'd do is to migrate my data from my older phones to this new Moto E , so that I can remain synced up with my personal information and contacts

Source : http://img.talkandroid.com/uploads/2013/08/Moto_X_Motorola_Migrate-630x354.jpg

  • Action Packed Gaming
So being an ardent gamer since childhood, the first thing I'd do is install a lot of Action Packed games from the Google Play Store and get involved in some hardcore gaming throughout the night
With a 1.2 GHz Quad Core Processor , 1 GB Ram and a 8GB ROM , any racing / first person shooter game should run smoothly without any lags

                                       Source : http://i.ytimg.com/vi/kq0AzMqwJBY/maxresdefault.jpg

  • Vacation Shoot 
Of course, the first thing I'd do purchasing the new MotoE, is to hop on to a vacation(probably to Goa) and click endless HD pictures of the surroundings and the adventures

Source : From my own Camera

  • Selfies 
A very welcome upgrade to the new MotoE is the front camera ,which basically shows how much they actually listen to consumer feedback and I greatly appreciate this feature

So to catch up on the Selfie-mania ,I'd simply do a double twist of the wrist to launch the front camera and get clicking on those selfies

  • Listen/Read Audio and E-Books
Being the bookwork, I'd love to carry all my novels and magazines everywhere I travel and that often seemed to form the bulk of my weight. With the new MotoE, I'd finally take the Digital Route and buy the e-book/Audio Book versions of my favourite novels and directly download them to my phone. With Adobe Reader and other E-book reader apps from play-store,I'd probably convert my phone to a mini-library 

  • Become a Social Media Ronin
Catching up with others has never become so easy with the massive revolution in Social media. The no of social apps one can possibly install in a phone is endless and that's just the beginning
Facebook, Twitter,Line,BBM,Messenger,WhatsApp,Instagram, SnapChat, Vine, LinkedIn are just some of the apps I can begin with installing in my phone to contribute to those endless status updates and likes

  • Bling It On
The first thing I usually do post purchasing a new phone is to accessorize it. So i'd search for some interesting back panels for the phone or even replace the outer bands to define my accent colour for the phone

Source : http://www.startwithmotoe.com/
  • Work and E-Mails
I'm a data science professional and its imperative that I am connected most of the times with my work data
So the new Moto E helps me to connect to my work E-Mail, work on presentations and excel applications using the MS Office app and work on the go while I utilize my travelling time in the most effective manner 

As they say the best thing about memories is making them.So go ahead and make your own memories with the New MotoE.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Singapore - A Food Journey to the FarEast

The jewel of the far east , a confluence of traditions and cultures, an international business hub, central point for flight layovers, Asia's New York ,there are many ways by which you can define Singapore
An island-country and a city-state, Singapore has charmed and enthralled its visitors for decades
A magical city that literally offers something for everyone.

So if you begin to list out the things that make Singapore stand out and really special , here's what you might probably come up with

Top Attractions in Singapore

When i quizzed my friends on their knowledge about Singapore, they came up with the basic known facts like Sentosa Island, Cheaper electronics prices, Shopper's Delight, Best Asian destination for vacation/honeymoon and so on. But surprisingly none of them happened to talk about the main speciality.

So what was missing here? Something so special and unique to Singapore, that may not available or even sourced from anywhere else? Yes, you guessed it right . Its Food !!  A little known fact about Singapore is that its home to several hundred varieties of food and can serve as a gastronomical delight to all its visitors.

Singapore Food Trail

Source : http://www.garmin.com.sg/m/sg/g/waypoint_travelroute/travel_009/map_big.png

The geographical position of Singapore has a tremendous influence in its cuisines as it sources different things from different countries.As time progressed, these cuisines became part of the original Singapore cuisine and became one global pyramid. So its obvious that when one refers to Singapore food , this includes broadly: Chinese,Malay (one of the primary ancestor of Singapore Cuisine) , Indian, Thai, Vietnam and of course the Western/European foods. Rather than being isolated amidst the enormity of the differences,Singapore has actually seen different cuisines come together to form an integrated chain
So don't be surprised when you see a Chinese guy pouring Indian spices into his noodles or Indian chef preparing Fried rice mixing with a Thai ingredient to form a truly Asian delicacy

Grains of different countries Flock together - In Singapore

(Source : http://passportpantry.com/recipes/world-cuisine/)

So when I had a chance to visit Singapore a few years back , I didn't miss the chance to experience this gastronomical delight and went on food tours exploring the different food options in Singapore
Food is taken very seriously like an obsession, so much so , that it's declared as a National past-time in Singapore

Based on everything that I had tried, I have listed some of the foods that I have taken a particular liking to and would also encourage my readers to try it out sometime

Enjoy a short video below of some of the famous foods of Singapore 

Source of images : From my own collection and Images from yoursingapore.com

The Perfect Singaporean Mail - A 4 Course Lunch

To begin with , any lunch begins with a very crispy starter and here I'm opting for a Singaporean styled Singapore roll ,which is less on the oil but tends towards the salad variety and very tasty too

Source : https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/25/31/0d/25310d1819f8bae5fe43826d7089599a.jpg

You don't start a sumptuous Singaporean meal without a Spicy Soup and my favourite among that would include the famous Tom-Yum Soup

Source : http://annzventures.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/Tom-Yum-Soup.jpg

Mi/Mee Goreng
Followed by this, I'd probably go for the vegetarian version of Mee Goreng Rice for the main course, coupled with some french fries and the spicy Singaporean sauce

Mee Goreng is the perfect meal of the day , and can be had almost anytime. It's very tasty, filling and also doesnt have too much fat compared to other foods.

Source : http://smg.photobucket.com/user/sweesan/media/IMG_0846.jpg.html

Hot Tea
This fine meal is now concluded with yet another hot item instead of dessert and you should head to a Kopi-Tiam where you sip on an authentic Malay hot tea

Source : http://www.myheartlandsingapore.com/ckfinder/userfiles/images/Kopitiam%20Uncle%202.jpg

Who said Singapore food is just restricted to Singapore Noodles and Komalas? Come visit Singapore, to enjoy its huge variety of divine mouth watering food, but do come on an empty stomach :)

Singapore - The Food Republic of Asia

Enjoy some of the memes that I have created, with my love of Singapore food

Source : memegenerator.net/takeaway

Do visit http://discover.stayfareast.com/ for more details on Singapore and plan a trip soon :)

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Defining Happiness

On this international day of happiness, I took time off, to think about my past and tried to figure and write about what really makes me happy. To put it differently, I wanted to introspect and understand what happiness actually means to me. I looked up all over the net to “literally” find the meaning of happiness. Google and Wikipedia threw up answers that only a psychologist would have understood and would have been satisfied. It defined happiness as an emotional state coupled with positive emotions that included joy and content or even a metric for success ,as if it was a high school grade to be rated.

So if it were to me, I’d define happiness as a state of mind when our wishes come true.  The wishes could be anything, a small joy in winning a prize, or a huge one where you were landed with that dream job.
Here goes the list of things, both small and big, that would give me happiness and joy

  • Winning a prize. Well, who wouldn’t? I’d always love to compete hard and participate in contests and being chosen the winner would give me the maximum happiness

  • Listening to Music: If there’s anything that would change my mind immediately from being dull and sad to happiness, I’d definitely rate music to be top of that list. Especially A.R.Rahman’s music is something that gives me the extra boost, when I most need one.

  • Winning a match: Irrespective of whether I am playing or my favourite sports team is playing, I’d gain immense happiness when I/we win. I’d always root for Manchester United in Football, Ferrari in F1 and if these two teams happen to win, that gives me a great level of happiness.

  • Spending time with friends: The best way to spend your time is to spend it with someone who’s close to you, probably family and friends. So it’s no wonder that I am usually the happiest when surrounded with good company, hanging out and chatting away through the day
  • Food: The key point to my happiness undoubtedly lies in food. Especially when you are hungry and crave for some good food to eat, and you go home to find some delicious food awaiting you. Additionally, you can see the happiness literally in my taste buds, when I see my food coming from a distance, in a restaurant. If that food happens to be pizza, I may probably consider doubling that happiness
  • On a hot summer afternoon, when you are drained in heat and exhaustion, the biggest joy & happiness comes when you buy a chilled bottle of Coca-Cola and you gulp it down in one go. That energy, a rush of adrenalin and happiness ,soon after you drink it, should definitely be among the key moments of happiness in my life
  • Some of the other things that gives me happiness would be : Seeing others happy , watching a little baby laugh ,watching my favourite movie again and again and the list goes on