Hi Friends,

Even as I launch this today ( my 80th Birthday ), I realize that there is yet so much to say and do.

There is just no time to look back, no time to wonder,"Will anyone read these pages?"

With regards,
Hemen Parekh
27 June 2013

Monday, 31 July 2017

Future is Nearer !



Much nearer than when I conceptualized :


Fast  Forward  to  Future  [  F 3  ] -  20  Oct  2016





I thought , this may happen by 2022



But , after reading the following news-snippet ( Economic Times / 01 Aug ) , I cannot escape the feeling that ARIHANT could well arrive ( - and save the mankind from Robots taking over  ? ) , by next year !



It goes to prove :


If you can “ Imagine “ a “ technological innovation “ , it will happen , sooner or later


More likely , sooner than later  !





“ These Ghosts Can Haunt Your Phone “



Las Vegas :


Chinese researchers have demonstrated an attack called the “ Ghost  Telephonist “ , which allows hackers to take over  “ PHONE  NUMBERS “ and gather “ CALL  and  MESSAGE  CONTENT  “



The demonstration was made by the Unicorn Team researchers from 360 TECHNOLOGY , Chinese leading security company , at the Black Hat , USA 2017





Those who have lingering “ doubts “ ( as to when this future will arrive ) , are requested to read the following news that appeared in Times of India ( 31 July ) :



“ Google flirts with AI that can imagine , plan “



Google’s artificial intelligence division is developing a system that can make its own PLANS


DeepMind  says its “ IMAGINATION  AUGMENTED  AGENTS  “ can “ IMAGINE “ the possible consequences of their actions, and  “ INTERPRET  “ those simulations



They can then make the “ RIGHT  DECISIONS  “ , for what it is they want to achieve



They , essentially THINK like HUMANS , trying out different strategies in their heads , so to speak, and are therefore able to LEARN , despite having little REAL experience



“ The AGENTS we introduce benefit from an IMAGINATION  ENCODER  - a neural network which LEARNS to ‘ extract any information ‘ useful for the Agent’s FUTURE  DECISIONS , but ignore that which is irrelevant “ , the researchers wrote in a blog post





For details , read :










I suppose , advocates arguing that “ RIGHT to PRIVACY “ is a fundamental constitutional right , may not like the above developments



But future of privacy does not look rosy !




01    Aug  2017





Sunday, 30 July 2017

Privacy : Not Right ?



Here is why :

Attorney General , KK Venugopal submitted to the 9 judge bench:

·      There is no fundamental right to privacy , and even if it is assumed as a fundamental right , it is multifaceted

·      Every facet can’t be ipso facto considered a fundamental right

·      Informational privacy could not be a right to privacy, and it could not ever be a fundamental right
    ( source : DNA / 28 July )


·      The bench drew Sundaram’s attention to present day reality, when rapid technological advance is making individual privacy increasingly vulnerable

o   “ Do we have a robust data protection regime to protect and secure personal information ? “ it asked, indicating its willingness to look at privacy afresh without being burdened by past rulings

o   “ If we accept privacy as a constitutional right , it will have to be part of personal liberty and right to life guaranteed under article 21 of the constitution” , it said


   ( source : Times of India / 28 July )


·      Senior advocate Sundaram, representing Maharashtra government told the court that,

o   “ Privacy can mean a lot of things . Moreover , right to privacy was considered by the constitution makers but they decided to drop it as a fundamental right

    ( source : Hindustan Times / 28 July )


All of this sounds so much rational !

·      Especially , the recognition that the “ March of Technology “ , will render futile , all arguments re: “ Right to Privacy

·      What could have brought about this changed perception on the part of Hon Judges ?




    #   Following news ?




·         Artificial intelligence ' Judge ' developed by UCL computer scientists


   ( source :


·         Artificial intelligence software that can find patterns in highly complex decisions is being used to predict our taste in films, TV shows and music with ever-increasing accuracy. And now, after a breakthrough study by a group of British scientists, it could be used to predict the outcome of trials.

·         Software that is able to weigh up legal evidence and moral questions of right and wrong has been devised by computer scientists at University College London, and used to accurately predict the result in hundreds of real life cases.


·         The AI “judge” has reached the same verdicts as judges at the European court of human rights in almost four in five cases involving torture, degrading treatment and privacy.

·         The algorithm examined English language data sets for 584 cases relating to torture and degrading treatment, fair trials and privacy.

In each case, the software analysed the information and made its own judicial decision. In 79% of those assessed, the AI verdict was the same as the one delivered by the court.


·         Dr Nikolaos Aletras, the lead researcher from UCL’s department of computer science, said: “We don’t see AI replacing judges or lawyers, but we think they’d find it useful for rapidly identifying patterns in cases that lead to certain outcomes.

·         “It could also be a valuable tool for highlighting which cases are most likely to be violations of the European convention on human rights.” An equal number of “violation” and “non-violation” cases were chosen for the study.


·         In the course of developing the programme the team found that judgments of the European court of human rights depends more on non-legal facts than purely legal arguments.

·         This suggests that the court’s judges are more legal theory “realists” than “formalists”.


·         The same is true of other high level courts, such as the US supreme court, according to previous studies.


·         The most reliable factors for predicting European court of human rights decisions were found to be the language used as well as the topics and circumstances mentioned in the case texts.



One of these days , expect some Indian Start-up in the LEGAL DOMAIN to upload all the past Orders / Judgements of Hon Judges ( of 9 member bench ) into this algorithm

{  They may want to first look up :


Will the outcome read  ?

PRIVACY  LEFT  :  NO MORE  RIGHT


31  July  2017







Friday, 28 July 2017

Private Sector in Infrastructure ?



Business Line ( 27 July ) carries a report titled :


“ Niti Aayog Chief says , govt should exit infra , jails , schools “


At a summit organized by FICCI , Shri Amitabh Kant ( CEO – Niti Aayog ) said :


“ The government has done a lot of big projects but it is not good at operation and maintenance . Therefore , the government must start the process of Reverse BOT ( build , operate and transfer ), must sell out projects and let the private sector handle it



We must bring in the private sector



That is the fastest way to bring in private sector and bring private sector money back in infrastructure . These projects are fully de-risked



The country needs to move into new areas of PPP



There is no need where jails , schools , colleges should be run in government sector . At least experience of many countries like Canada and Australia shows that private sector is capable of doing very good work in creation of quality infrastructure “





Dear Shri Amitabh Kant :


There is no doubt that India’s private sector players would welcome such a move on part of the governments ( Central + States )



Private sector is better at delivery because it is driven by PROFIT MOTIVE ( - not expected of the governments ) and its officers are subject to INSTANT SACKING , if they fail to make profit ( unlike government servants who enjoy life-time job security , no matter , how much losses the projects make )



Even leaving aside jails / schools / colleges , India needs $ 1000 BILLIONS in the next 10 years , just for Railways / Roads / Ports / Airports / Renewable Power / Electric Cars ( to replace 200 million petrol / diesel cars by 2030 ) / Internet Broadband / Airlines etc



Shri Dharmendra Pradhan says , petroleum sector alone needs $ 300 BILLION over the next 10 years



And you have just cleared 6 proposals involving Mass Rapid Transportation Technologies , such as Hyperloop , Metrino, Pod Taxies , Stadler buses , Hybrid buses and Freight Rail Road, with a condition that the Transport Ministry conducts trial run of all these technologies ( - under experimentation even in advanced economies )



From where will Transport Ministry find funds for these “ Unproven “ systems , requiring thousands of crores of rupees , and little assurance for “ Profits “ ?



Then there are NPAs ( valued at Rs 10 lakh*crore , in Coal based power plants / Telecom etc ), haunting the banks !

 

Banks reeling under these NPAs , are unwilling to lend for :


·         Untried / Untested / Un-proven technologies ( even in other countries )


·         Restarting of hundreds of “ Stalled “ projects


·         Take over by the private sector of Govt projects ( divestment ) , with accumulated losses of thousands of crores , making “ Reverse BOT “ , a difficult proposition ( even if government writes of debt and give VRS to employees )


No wonder , Shri Arun Jaitleyji is complaining that the Private Sector is not investing enough in the Infrastructure Projects


Given this non availability of “ LOW COST / LOW RISK “ funds , I have serious doubts that our Infrastructure could witness a quantum jump , any time soon !


The only way out is :


AMNESTY SCHEME  for investment of  BLACK MONEY  in  INFRASTRUCTURE SPVs



Here is a hint on how India can raise that $ 1000 Billion for Infrastructure :



( Source :



Indonesia Passes Law to Chase Tax Evaders Overseas


Indonesia moved a step closer to hunting down tens of billions of dollars it believes its citizens have hidden abroad after political parties agreed to seek a parliamentary approval for a law that will give tax officials access to financial data held by other countries.

A meeting of various political parties on Wednesday agreed to seek the parliament approval to turn an emergency rule in lieu of law, known as perpu, into a law at a plenary session on Thursday, said Johnny G. Plate, a lawmaker and member of Commission XI.

The law will fulfill a requirement for Indonesia to participate under the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s Automatic Exchange of Information framework.

The law will pave the way for Southeast Asia’s biggest economy to ramp up tax collection by getting better access to information on any assets parked in jurisdictions such as Singapore and Hong Kong.



While a tax amnesty launched last year uncovered more than $360 billion


Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati has estimated another 185 trillion rupiah ( = $ 14 Billion ) in tax revenue could be unlocked under the AEOI framework. 

Indonesia, which has a poor tax collection rate, has been facing a fiscal shortfall and needs to shore up revenue to fund an ambitious infrastructure program.



It is time to look at my proposal from an  “ POVERTY ALLEVIATION  through JOB GENERATION “ angle rather than a MORAL issue ( - rewarding dishonest tax-evaders and punishing the honest tax-payers )


29  July  2017




Thursday, 27 July 2017

Designations Define You



Following is an extract from a Business Line ( 28 July ) report titled :


“ Flat response : Tata Motors brings back designations “


Tata Motors has decided to do away with the ‘no designations’ policy that was implemented early last month.

As a result, all the original hierarchical tags, such as ‘manager’, ‘general manager’, ‘vice-president’ etc., will be back again within six weeks of change.

In an emailed response, a company spokesperson said: “...it was earlier decided to do away with the designations of the employees, across the five management levels.

By removing hierarchical barriers, it was also widely believed that performance would be enhanced.

Gajendra S Chandel, Chief Human Resources Officer, had then admitted that this was a challenging task and there was a lot of debate on how people within would react to the move.

Yet, it is now pretty clear that not everyone was happy with the move and for a senior employee who wore his designation on his sleeve, the abrupt scaling down would have been quite disheartening.

In the Indian context, hierarchy is a big thing even though it may not be such a big deal in the West.

It is quite likely that employees were concerned about external perception and how other associates in the supply chain, such as dealers and suppliers, would gauge their standing in the new ‘designation-less’ regime.


This is not a “ surprising “ reversal of a decision

In any case , TATA MOTORS management must be congratulated that they were ready to admit ( - although , Sotto Voce ! ) , that they had goofed up and made the reversal

Of course , HR managers / Recruiters and Head-hunters , have known all along , the fact that , in the Indian context , “ Designations Define “ who you are and what is your “ worth “ in the job market

Some 25 years ago , I managed to persuade the “ General Manager ( Operations ) “ of a large , nationalized bank to meet me

I wanted to persuade him to consider the position of  “ Vice President ( Treasury ) “ with one of my client , a very big , diversified Indian Conglomerate - salary no consideration !

After he talked for 30 minutes re the “ CONTENT “ of his current job , I mustered the courage to say :

“ Sir , Can I have a copy of your resume ? “ ( - this happened before arrival of E mails ! )

He pulled out from his wallet and handed me , his BUSINESS CARD , saying :

“ My designation and the Company that I currently work for , is all that your client need to know , to consider whether I can do that job they are offering “

In the 25 years since this incidence , designations have not only multiplied manifold but also got imaginative to the extent that , after looking up the Business Card of an executive , you have to ask :
Sir , what is your job ? What do you ( really ) DO in your company ?


28  July  2017