Month: December 2019

  • Things That Won’t Get You Paid

    first_imgPossessing a Bad Attitude: Nothing repels money from you like a bad attitude. Negativity, cynicism, scarcity will all keep you from earning the money you want. A bad attitude will even prevent you from making money if you are smart and skilled. There are plenty of smart people with a bad attitude that never earn what they are capable of earning.Not Growing Personally and Professionally: It’s easy to stagnate. Comfort is your enemy. Discomfort is your ally. David Allen says, “The better you get, the better you better get.” You are capable of far more than you believe. Because you are your own greatest asset, the best investment you will ever make is the investment you make in yourself. You are being paid what you’re worth. Grow into the money you want.Doing the Bare Minimum and Poor Quality Work: The surest way to leave financial opportunity and earning on the table is to do the bare minimum. Poor quality work produces poor financial rewards (penalties, really). Money follows value. The more value you create, the more money you make. Good doesn’t pay. You get paid for being exceptional, for creating outsized value.Complaining: The time you spend complaining, griping, and standing around the water cooler with people who are unengaged and lack vision will prevent you from pecuniary advantages. The Founding Fathers, whose faces are captured on our money, hated whining and bellyaching. They were attracted to resourceful people who took initiate and solved problems.Avoiding Responsibility: Want to be paid more? Then be responsible for bigger and more strategic outcomes. You don’t get paid for doing nothing noteworthy. You don’t make money for producing nothing worthwhile. The reason earners earn is because they own bigger outcomes. If someone has to tell you what to do, you’re avoiding Benjamins.An Inability to Listen: Your ability to make money is directly proportional to your ability to listen. And your ability to communicate your ideas and your vision clearly. If you can’t listen, you can’t hear opportunities. It also betrays a self-orientation that makes it difficult to for people to believe that you care about them.Low Empathy: The less you care about other people, the less you understand what other people feel, the less you make. If you aren’t interested in other people’s feelings, you aren’t interested in other people. We are emotional creatures with a capacity to be rational and logical, not the other way around. The greater your ability to connect, the better your earnings.Lack of Confidence: You make what you believe you’re worth. If you have doubts about your worth, money will have doubts about you. No one believes before you believe. Once you believe, what you want follows.last_img read more

  • Unpredictable contest in the offing in Pune, Pimpri

    first_imgPune: A combined 37 lakh voters across 73 panels in the Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad townships will exercise their franchise on Tuesday for the civic polls.Despite pretensions to being a ‘Smart City’, Pune continues to be ridden with nightmarish traffic snarls, rutty roads and chronic water shortages.Against the backdrop of these issues, candidates in the fray are acutely aware of the importance of the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) and Pimpri-Chinchwad Municiapl Corporation (PCMC) civic polls.In the PMC panel list, number 25 in the city’s Wanowrie area features a crucial contest between incumbent mayor Prashant Jagtap of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), and the Bharatiya Janata Party loyalist Prasad Hole.The panel has a populace of Defence personnel and servicemen.The BJP has pulled out all stops to ensure the Mayor’s defeat. The party got Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar to campaign in the area last week, in a bid to win the hearts and minds of servicemen.Dynastic tussleThe PMC’s panel 9, which comprises the Baner-Pashan-Balewadi area, is set to witness a dynastic tussle between political families who’ve owned land in this region.Chandrashekhar Nimhan, son of the Shiv Sena’s city unit chief Vinayak Nimhan, is seeking re-election for the second time on a Sena ticket after having been elected on a Congress ticket in 2012.Despite the area considered as a territory of the Nimhans, Mr. Chandrashekhar faces stiff competition from sitting NCP corporator Baburao Chandere. The panel is one of the clusters that are to be developed under the ‘Smart City’ project. A number of vital issues are at stake here, namely the rejuvenation of the ecologically sensitive Pashan Lake and the improvement of key roads connecting the Hinjewadi IT Park and the Balewadi Sports Complex.The PMC’s posh Model Colony panel will witness another critical fight; between the BJP’s Siddharth Shirole, son of the party’s city MP Anil Shirole, who takes on the NCP’s Balasaheb Bodke. Family against familyIn the NCP’s bastion of Pimpri-Chinchwad, the Pimple-Saudagar panel has the dominant Kate family pitted against each other, with Sheetal Kate of the NCP contesting against relative Shatrughan Kate, who jumped the NCP to contest on a BJP ticket.Despite the forced transformation of this panel into an upmarket area, key issues — like lack of good schools and recreational amenities like decent parks — continue to bedevil the area.The BJP has left no stone unturned to supplant the NCP’s 10-year rule in both the civic bodies, with Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, along with some Central Ministers, campaigning owing to the party’s lack of prominent faces in the city.Close contestThe NCP, while rattled by defections of its brass to the BJP in the PCMC, still appears to be in the reckoning owing to Sharad Pawar’s extensive campaigning.Egged on by Uddhav Thackeray, the Sena hopes to make steady gains. The Congress, despite campaigns by its top leaders, appears to lack focus. The All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) hopes to eat into the minority votes previously held by the Congress and the NCP.One party whose stock appears to be on decline is Raj Thackeray’s Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, despite an impressive performance in the previous civic polls. This is reflected in the MNS’s haphazard campaign, which barely featured one curiously muted public address in the city by Mr. Thackeray. Election watcher Harshal Lohokare said, “The allure of the 2017 civic polls is its sheer unpredictability. While the BJP is poised to make gains in the PCMC, the NCP is not going to be easy to dislodge. It appears to be a neck-to-neck contest.”last_img read more

  • Cong blames govt for unemployment

    first_imgMany senior Congress leaders on Tuesday blamed the Narendra Modi government at the Centre for its failure to create jobs for the unemployed youth in the country.Addressing a rally organised by the youth wing of the party, the Congress leaders also accused the BJP of spreading religious intolerance.Braving the scorching heat, a large number of young people from different parts of the State attended the rally outside the State Assembly.Indian Youth Congress president Amrinder Singh Raja criticised both the Narendra Modi government and the Naveen Patnaik government in the State for their failure to provide employment to the youth as promised.Mr. Raja alleged that Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had a tacit understanding with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. It was due to Mr. Modi’s pressure that the CBI was not properly investigating the multi-crore chit fund scam in Odisha, he added.The rally was also addressed by OPCC president Prasad Harichandan.last_img read more

  • Minister passes of Vietnam bridge as one in India

    first_imgChhattisgarh’s PWD Minister posted a picture of a bridge on his Facebook page on Tuesday, claiming that it was an under-construction bridge across a river in Raigarh district of north Chhattisgarh. The picture, however, turned out to be that of a bridge in Vietnam.Rajesh Munat, the BJP MLA from Raipur (West) constituency in Chhattisgarh and Minister for PWD, transport, housing and environment in the Raman Singh Cabinet, posted the bridge’s picture on his Facebook page at 11.59 p.m. on Tuesday. He claimed that it was a bridge being constructed across the Kelo river for Lamdaraha road in Raigarh district of Chhattisgarh. PWD minister Rajesh Munat (left) posted the picture on Facebook, but later deleted it. The minister received over 2,000 ‘likes’ and 155 comments on the post, which was shared by more than 150 people on the social network.But an anonymous reader informed Alt News, a news portal, that the image posted by Mr. Munat was that of a bridge from Vietnam, and was taken from online portal Saigan Online.A closure look at the minister’s post suggested that the picture was that of the Cho Chien Bridge in Mekong Delta area in southern Vietnam, which was inaugurated on May 16, 2016. The minister appears to have taken the bridge’s image from a news report on Saigan Online portal.Despite repeated attempts, Mr. Munat could not be reached for his reaction as his phone was switched off.The minister removed the post from his Facebook page, but came under criticism on social media sites.The Hindu managed to get a screenshot of the post before it was deleted.Mr. Munat is the second BJP leader to face flak for sharing a wrong image on social media in recent times. Union Minister Piyush Goyal had recently shared a picture from another country to showcase an LED-lit street in India.last_img read more

  • Mannan Wani’s conduct not objectionable: AMU

    first_imgThe internal probe constituted by the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) into the conduct of Mannan Bashir Wani has found “nothing objectionable” against him in his stay and conduct as a student of the University. Mr. Wani was suspended by the AMU on January 8, 2018, immediately after a picture of him with an AK-47 surfaced on social media. The 109-page report by the University, however, describes him as a “brilliant student” and certifies his “good conduct”. Mr. Wani, 25, was studying as a Ph.D scholar in Applied Geology after completing his Masters and M.Phil. in geology from AMU. Immediately after suspending Mr. Wani, the AMU had constituted a two-member probe committee to submit a report on his activities at the University. The committee declared in its report that it found “nothing suspicious or objectionable against Wani as far as his stay in the university as a student was concerned”.The report has been submitted to the Aligarh Police, which is probing Mr. Wani’s disappearance. The AMU had filed a report with the police saying that Mr. Wani had gone missing since January 2. The University authorities had declared in the missing person complaint that if Mr. Wani was caught for his involvement in illegal activities, the AMU would not be held responsible for it. Aligarh Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Rajesh Pandey confirmed receiving the committee’s report and said that the police will send it to the U.P. Anti-Terrorism Squad for a detailed examination. The report was prepared after talking to a more than 100 people who had met Mr. Wani, including his teachers, supervisor, classmates and hostel-mates. Meanwhile, the AMU Students Union (AMUSU) has decided to launch a nationwide campaign demanding the government “declare concrete evidence that Wani had joined a terror group”. AMUSU president Mashqoor Ahmad Usmani told media, “It is indeed sad and unfortunate that merely on the basis of social media reports, the Government of India concluded that Wani has joined a terror group. Even the investigative agencies do not have any proof or evidence to substantiate the allegation.”last_img read more

  • Man mistaken as thief flogged to death in Rajkot

    first_imgA Dalit man was allegedly flogged to death by five persons at Rajkot in Gujarat.Identified as Mukesh Vania, a rag picker, the man was tied to a pole and beaten mercilessly by five persons, who mistook him for a thief at a factory in the Rajkot Industrial Area. He died later at the Rajkot Civil Hospital.Following the incident, the police arrested five persons, including the factory owner and booked under law on atrocities against Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.Mevani condemns“Mr. Mukesh Vaniya belonging to a Scheduled Caste was miserably thrashed and murdered by factory owners in Rajkot, and his wife was brutally beaten up,” Gujarat’s independent MLA and Dalit activist Jignesh Mevani tweeted, condemning the incident.He described the Rajkot incident as worse than the Una flogging case and said that lawlessness prevailed in Gujarat. “This is a far more gruesome incident than [that in] Una. In Una, the victims were beaten up and humiliated. Whereas, here a man lost his life amidst caste violence… The government of Gujarat has still not learned from its past mistakes,” Mr Mevani wrote on Facebook.The whole incident was caught on CCTV. Later the footage went viral, sparking protests by Dalit groups.The State authorities immediately swung into action and announced a compensation of ₹8.5 lakh to the victim’s family with the assurance that the accused would not be spared.last_img read more

  • Suspected criminal shot dead by police in Muzaffarnagar encounter

    first_imgA suspected criminal was gunned down by police in Muzaffarnagar district of Uttar Pradesh in an alleged encounter, an official said on Monday.Police said that a police inspector in Purkazi area of Muzaffarnagar had a “chance encounter” with three motorcycle-borne suspected criminals while he was on patrolling duty.”In an exchange of fire one accused and the inspector were injured. Both injured were sent to the hospital,” said UP police spokesperson Rahul Srivastava.The accused died on the way to hospital. He was identified as Ramesh alias Rishipal, a resident of Deoband in Saharanpur.A 32-bore pistol with live cartridges and a stolen motorbike were recovered from him, police said.Police parties have been pressed to nab the other two, Mr. Srivastava added.Many cases against himAccording to police, Ramesh carried a bounty of ₹ 50,000 and had over two dozen criminal cases against him including loot, murder, attempt to murder and gangster activities in the districts of Meerut, Saharanpur, Muzaffarnagar and Baghpat.”He is an active member and shooter of the Jamshed gang,” said Mr. Srivastava.last_img read more

  • Debate on EVMs will go on: CEC

    first_imgThe Chief Election Commissioner of India O.P Rawat has reiterated that Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) were “unbiased and tamper-proof” and said the EC will allay concerns of all political parties on the matter.Mr. Rawat, who was in Nagpur on Tuesday to deliver a lecture on “Questions on the Electoral process: Apprehensions and Solutions”, claimed that the EVMs did not witness any malfunction and its failure rate was 0.5 %.“Today, many political parties are raising apprehensions about the EVMs. When the ballot papers were being used, lakhs of votes would get invalidated because of some small reason and at times, the victory margin would be less than the invalidated votes. Election by ballot paper involved many dangers and risks of manipulation. Our two neighbouring countries recently witnessed elections using ballot paper. But in both these countries, large-scale complaints are being received. Our technical experts from IIT Mumbai, Delhi and Bhilai have done a root cause analysis (of the EVMs) and improved it. Now you don’t witness [EVM] failures like the previous elections. Despite all this, some political parties are going to demand election by ballot paper. We will give them time and try to address their concerns,” Mr. Rawat said.Posing a counter question to those who raise doubts over the EVMs, Mr. Rawat said, “Common people, political parties, and the election commission have to decide [on the EVM]. If you can do transactions involving crore of rupees by electronic means, why do you want to go the other way [in terms of voting]?” Blaming the non-seriousness of some polling officials while taking training for EVM snags, Mr. Rawat said that some polling officials miss out on important details during training which causes EVM snags but the blame goes to the EVM.To a question from Congress leader and former Lok Sabha MP Nana Patole regarding malfunctioning of EVMs during the by-election in Bhandara-Gondia Lok Sabha constituency, the CEC said, “It wasn’t the EVM which witnessed snags. It was the VVPAT. New machines and those (officials), who didn’t take training properly, caused it. The VVPAT machines should be compatible with the same generation of the EVMs and the companies which is why the EVMs were brought from Surat for this election. The Election Commission is committed to resolving all the concerns of the stakeholders i.e. the people and political parties.”Terming the media management, including social media, and money management during elections as a worry for the Election Commission, Mr. Rawat said he was concerned over the misuse of money and public data during elections.Admitting that fake news affected elections, the CEC asked the people not to be vulnerable to it.“Have faith in the strength of the Constitution and the country’s institutions. Don’t doubt common citizen of this country. There are people who take money (from political parties) but vote for only those who do good work,” he added.He termed the Election Commission’s ruling over the Rajya Sabha election of Congress leader Ahmad Patel last year as proof of how the ECI was competent enough to take unbiased decisions. At the same time he expressed concerns over illiteracy of voters and democratic deficit.“The debate on the EVMs will go on. Some people are spreading rumours that the VVPAT captures pictures of the voters. We are running a campaign against this. We had connected 30 crore voter IDs to Aadhaar but the Supreme Court put a stay on it. We will start the process as soon as the court’s ruling comes,” he said and refused to comment on a “hypothetical question” if the Election Commission was ready for an early Lok Sabha election.last_img read more

  • Meghalaya mine mishap: SC to hear petition seeking urgent rescue measures

    first_imgThe Supreme Court agreed to hear on January 3 a writ petition seeking urgent measures to rescue 15 miners trapped inside a rat-hole mine in Meghalaya.Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi on Wednesday said the petition, which was orally mentioned by senior advocate Anand Grover for petitioner Aditya N. Prasad, will be listed on Thursday even as a multi-agency rescue operation is underway in the north-eastern State to locate and rescue the miners.Besides seeking for the framing of a standard operating procedure for rescue in mines and similar situations, the petition said the court should order the government to utilise the services of the expert technical arms of the Forces in the rescue operation immediately.The petition has also asked for the requisitioning of high capacity pumps, including the ones built by the Kirloskar Brothers Ltd., which were offered to the Royal Thai government in June/July 2018 during the cave rescue of the school boys and their teacher.The petition urged the court to order Coal India Ltd. to provide necessary technical know-how, equipment and guidance immediately at the rescue site.The miners were trapped on December 13 when water from Lytein river flooded the mine.last_img read more

  • Nagas take out rally in Delhi

    first_imgCarrying blue flags, thousands of Nagas marched in Delhi on Saturday to demand an “immediate political solution” to the Naga issue lingering on for decades.This was the first time that such a large mobilisation of Naga residents had taken place in Delhi after August 2015, when the government signed an agreement with the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Isak-Muivah), the largest group representing the Nagas. A press statement issued by the group said, “The BJP has no merit to campaign for support among the Nagas in the upcoming 2019 general election unless there is a concrete promise for a solution.” The solution should be “honourable and acceptable” to them, they said.The Naga peace accord, which has been hanging fire since a framework agreement was signed with the NSCN-IM in 2015, is tied in knots.The rally was organised by the Naga Student Union Delhi (NSUD) in collaboration with the Naga community in Delhi under the theme ‘Global Nagas call for immediate political solution — honourable and acceptable”.After signing an agreement with the NSCN-IM, the Centre signed a preamble in November 2017 with six Naga National Political Groups (NNPGs) to further hold discussions to find a solution to the issue.The protesters were carrying banners which said, “PM Modi pass an ordinance to solve Indo-Naga issue within stipulated time. PM Modi, where is the promised solution?” Around 3,000 Naga residents converged at Mandi House and later marched towards Jantar Mantar.last_img read more

  • Cyclone Fani: GoAir cancels flights to Bhubaneswar from Mumbai, Kolkata for Friday

    first_imgBudget carrier GoAir cancelled its flights on the Kolkata-Bhubaneswar and Mumbai-Bhubaneswar routes for Friday, owing to cyclone Fani and provide full refund to the passengers for its action. The extremely severe cyclonic storm is expected to hit the Odisha coast on Friday.“Owing to cyclonic storm Fani, the flights on the Kolkata-Bhubaneswar-Kolkata and Mumbai-Bhubaneswar-Mumbai routes stand cancelled for May 3,” GoAir said in a statement on Thursday.Earlier the airline had also announced waiving of the rescheduling/cancellations for its flights to and from Bhubaneswar, Kolkata and Ranchi between May 2 and May 5 in the wake of the cyclone.The operations of various domestic airlines have already been affected due to the oncoming cyclone.“GoAir is waiving cancellation and change fees for Bhubaneswar, Kolkata and Ranchi flights for travel between May 2 and May 5,” the airline said. It also said the passengers can re-book their flights within seven days of scheduled departure of the flight.Other States on the eastern coast, such as West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu are also expected to be affected by the cyclone. Two other carriers – full service Vistara and budget carrier IndiGo – have already issued travel advisories to their respective customers on Twitter.IndiGo, later, in a revised statement said due to cyclone Fani, IndiGo flights to or from Bhubaneshwar have been disrupted. Flights later in the evening on Thursday are likely to be affected and all flights operating on Friday, stand cancelled.“We are accommodating passengers to the next available flights at no additional charge, waiving off cancellation fee and refunding full amount,” it said adding the airline will continue to review the situation and provide real time updates to passengers through various social platforms.last_img read more

  • Bill Revising Federal Grants Process Wouldn’t Change Practices at NIH and NSF, Says Sponsor

    first_imgChill out.The author of legislation that would alter how federal agencies manage competitive grants says his bill isn’t aimed at research agencies and “would not change” how those agencies do their jobs. He also said he plans to fix several provisions that are causing the most heartburn among academics and their institutions.Last week, Representative James Lankford (R-OK) introduced the Grant Reform and New Transparency (GRANT) Act (H.R. 3316). The bill would force government granting agencies to, among other requirements, post funded applications on the Web, provide lists of reviewers, and enable unsuccessful applicants to request a “debriefing” from agency officials. Lankford says the legislation, a slightly revised version of something he proposed in 2011, is intended to level the playing field for grant applicants and give those who aren’t funded “the opportunity to learn from the experience.”Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)Some of those provisions worry academic groups, who fear they would strip away the anonymity of reviewers or result in the disclosure of sensitive and proprietary information. But in an interview yesterday with ScienceInsider, Lankford said that’s not his intent. He said that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) “does a great job” and that his bill would affect only those agencies—he mentioned the departments of Education, Justice, and Commerce—“that do not have a transparent process in place.” And he said the legislation is still a work in progress.Lankford’s bill appears to be on a legislative fast track. Introduced on 23 October, the bill was approved Tuesday by the Oversight and Government Reform Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives along strict party lines and could come before the entire body later this fall.But Lankford says he is still tinkering with provisions that Democrats on the committee want to change. “As the bill stands now,” he told ScienceInsider yesterday, “it should not go to the floor” until those differences are worked out. An earlier version of his bill also cleared the committee in November 2011, but it never came up for a vote by the full House.Academic lobbyists say that they don’t object to the bill’s overall intent. “We appreciate the need for appropriate transparency to help ensure that taxpayers and policymakers have the necessary information and assurances that federal grant monies are well-managed and executed as intended,” a coalition of research universities wrote Lankford and committee Chairman Representative Darrell Issa (R-CA) in 2011. Their fight, then and now, is over how much and what type of information should be made public.Posting proposalsOne major bone of contention is a provision that would require agencies to put the contents of every funded proposal on a government-wide website. “Posting full grant applications would make such ideas and preliminary results available to anyone, domestic and foreign, … thus undermining the hard work and intellectual capital the applicant and institution have already invested in the project,” notes the coalition’s 2011 letter. The bill allows agencies to delay such posting for up to 60 days.At Tuesday’s markup of the bill, Representative Gerry Connolly (D-VA) offered an amendment in which posting an abstract of the proposal, instead of the full text, would be the default option. The public would still have the right to request entire copies of winning proposals through a process governed by an existing sunshine law known as the Freedom of Information Act. The amendment was rejected along party lines by a vote of 19 to 15.However, Lankford told ScienceInsider that he thinks Connolly’s idea makes sense for research agencies such as NIH and the National Science Foundation (NSF). “It will probably end up that way,” Lankford says. “We’re working with Mr. Connolly to be able to have that option for a science project. Why wouldn’t you do that?”The reason he has insisted on posting the full proposal, Lankford says, is because the majority of grants don’t contain such sensitive information. “When you’re talking about a grant proposal for smart boards in the classroom, that’s not exactly intellectual property,” he explains.Identifying reviewersThe scientific community also objects to language that it fears could make it possible to identify individual reviewers. The bill language is ambiguous, calling for disclosure of “[t]he employer, and either the name and title or a unique identifier, of each individual who served as a peer reviewer for the grant program” during the previous 6 months. During the markup, Representative Mark Pocan (D-WI) spoke in favor of using only the “unique identifier,” but the Republican majority dismissed the idea.However, Lankford says that Pocan’s suggestion is still on the table, and that, in fact, he expects research agencies to take that approach if the bill becomes law. “I can’t imagine that, among the science agencies, they would use anything except a unique identifier,” Lankford told ScienceInsider. “They are not going to use names because it’s a relatively small number of people involved. So they will use identifiers to protect who those individuals are.” He says that his goal is to make sure that agencies “don’t have the same people doing the reviewing year after year.”Getting a debriefingThe bill also gives losing applicants the chance to learn why their proposal was rejected. Agency officials have expressed concern over the additional time and resources that might be needed to conduct such “debriefings.” But again, Lankford says that he wasn’t thinking about research agencies when he inserted the provision.“I think that what NIH and NSF do now would suffice,” he told ScienceInsider. “But a fire department or a rural school that applies for a grant doesn’t have a professional grants writer. They just want to see a sample of what a winning grant looks like, and how they can avoid losing again if they apply next year.”Academic leaders believe that Lankford’s bill is redundant—as one put it, “it is an example of over-compliance.” They say that federal science agencies already go to great lengths to make their peer-review system transparent, to attract fresh reviewers, and to provide plenty of feedback to those whose proposals are not funded.During the interview, Lankford repeatedly praised how NIH and NSF now operate and said the bill would not require them to revise their policies and procedures significantly. “Other than unique identifiers, I can’t think of anything that NIH would have to do differently,” he noted.Despite his admiration for the status quo at many science agencies, Lankford thinks his bill sends an important message about how the federal government should operate. “There is no entitlement when it comes to a federal grant,” he says. “They are funded with taxpayer dollars, and they should be handled in the most open and transparent way possible.”last_img read more

  • ScienceShot: Scrambled Eggs, Hold the Lead

    first_imgChicken keeping is all the rage among urbanites interested in affordable, local food, but the eggs may be less wholesome than they presume. Lead, a potent neurotoxin that is especially harmful to young children, commonly contaminates city soils, and urban chickens can pass it into their eggs, researchers report in Environmental Geochemistry and Health. Nearly half the eggs the team collected from chickens raised in New York City community gardens contained detectable levels of lead, whereas none of the store-bought eggs did, and the degree of contamination tracked that of the soil where the chickens lived. So just how dangerous are urban eggs? While no safety standards specifically govern lead in eggs, all but one of the city eggs that the researchers tested had concentrations deemed acceptable for other foods—good news. Still, the researchers estimated that eating an egg a day with the highest lead concentration they found, 167 parts per billion (ppb), could increase kids’ blood lead levels by an amount linked to a loss of roughly one IQ point. And eggs could easily become even more contaminated: Those they tested came from chickens living on soil that maxed out at about 600 ppm of lead, but levels greater than 1000 ppm are common in some cities. Fortunately, urban farmers who prefer their eggs unleaded can take action, including adding clean soil to chicken runs and giving calcium supplements to their flock.See more ScienceShots.*Correction, 13 December, 11 a.m.: This item has been corrected. The figure 167 parts per million has been changed to 167 parts per billion. Science regrets the error.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)last_img read more

  • Termite-Inspired Robots Build With Bricks

    first_imgA termite mound is a model of insect engineering. Some are meters high and consist of a complex network of tunnels. Even more impressive, millions of the bugs work together to build the mound, all without a blueprint or foreman telling them what to do. Could robots do the same?That’s a question that has now been tackled by Justin Werfel, a computer scientist at Harvard University Today, he and his colleagues introduced a computer program that figures out how autonomous robots can make specific structures, including small-scale skyscrapers and pyramids, simply by following the same set of rules. The researchers started small, tasking three compact robots, or bots, with making a one-story, three-pronged structure all on their own, a job they completed in 30 minutes.The structure “is a proof of principle, a first step,” says Laurent Keller, an evolutionary biologist who uses robots to study social behavior in insects at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland and who was not involved in the work. “It would be interesting to see something [built] that is more complex.”Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)It’s a long-awaited first step, however. In 1995, researchers had proposed that such a feat might be possible, says Dario Floreano, a roboticist at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne who was not involved in the work. “But it took almost 20 years before this could be realized—with [this] set of mobile robots.”Werfel and his colleagues envision autonomous robots building sandbag barriers to prevent flooding or doing other types of hazardous work that people either couldn’t or would prefer not to do themselves. Their approach makes possible the use of many simple robots, any of which is expendable, instead of relying on a few sophisticated ones, where the loss of one might jeopardize a project.To get robots to build specific structures, Werfel thought about how termites use a limited repertoire of behaviors to build their mounds. He developed a computer program that works backward from the desired structure, breaking its construction into a series of rules that the robots follow about which way to move and where to put down bricks. The order of the bricklaying is not specified, nor do the robots know what they’ve accomplished. Instead, the robots adjust what they are doing based on the presence of other robots and bricks already in their paths, Werfel and his colleagues report online today in Science and at the annual meeting of AAAS, Science’s publisher, in Chicago, Illinois. Like their termite models, the robots “don’t have explicit instructions to do specific things,” Werfel explains. “Each is just reacting to what it encounters.”To test whether this computer program and this decentralized approach to construction work, Harvard engineer Kirstin Petersen built liter carton-sized robots named Isis, Kali, and Nargun, equipped with four wheel-legs, called whegs, and a front-loader that could pick up and hold 21.5-square-centimeter foam bricks about 4 centimeters high. Sensors enable the bots to detect a black-and-white grid pattern on the bricks to help them navigate, and to sense the presence of the structure’s perimeter and other robots. The robots go forward, backward, turn, and climb up and down one step at a time.Petersen programmed the three robots with the rules needed to make a 10-brick trident (see video). The researchers kicked off the process by laying down three bricks in a row and putting a white arrow on the floor next to these bricks. Each robot circled the bricks until it found the arrow, which prompted it to climb onto the starting bricks, turn to pick up a brick, then move and turn so it could place its brick on the base, and later, on one of the growing prongs of the trident. Then it climbed down and circled until it once again found the arrow to repeat the cycle. The robots don’t know when the structure is done—only when there are no more places to put bricks—and they keep circling until they run out of battery or are turned off, Petersen says.The work “shows that with a simple behavior which was programmed into the robots, you can get a type of construction done,” Keller says. “From their models, they show that using similar rules, you can have more complex structures that can be built.”The trident is not very complex, but as Barbara Webb, a bioroboticist at the University of Edinburgh in the United Kingdom who was not involved with the work, points out, “it’s always really hard to make these things work in the real world.” Indeed, Werfel says getting the bots up to speed for the job was quite the challenge, as robots tend to make small errors—they drift off course and can fall off the structure, they fail to pick up the brick, and so on—that add up and need to be corrected.Nonetheless, Floreano says, “the paper shows that robots can be used for construction without a global supervision, making the concept applicable to environments where humans cannot go.”last_img read more

  • The Saga of Indian Hand-woven Fabrics

    first_imgOn August 7 every year since 2015, India celebrates (it would perhaps be more appropriate to use the word ‘observes’) National Handloom Day. The Indian handloom industry is the largest cottage industry in the country. The sector is very important in terms of its size and employment potential. It provides direct and indirect employment to over 13 million weavers and is the single largest economic activity, second only to agriculture.Read it at The Hindu Related Itemslast_img

  • Ungentlemanly Conduct

    first_imgThe murder of Pakistan’s cricket coach Bob Woolmer and the explosive, even violent, reaction of cricket fans in India and Pakistan following their elimination from the World Cup has cast a pall of gloom over the games and roiled the cricket world.Woolmer’s death in his hotel room in Jamaica a day after Pakistan was ousted from the tournament was initially attributed to a heart attack, then rumored to have been a suicide before an autopsy concluded that he had been murdered by strangulation. Rumors abound that Woolmer was the victim of betting syndicates and suspicion has even been cast on the Pakistan squad. Jamaican police interrogated, fingerprinted and secured DNA samples of all team members before they left the island for home.In both India and Pakistan angry fans went berserk following their teams’ defeats. Mobs attacked the homes of cricket players in Karachi and in several parts of Pakistan marched to slogans of “Death to Woolmer” and “Death to Inzamam-ul-Haq,” the team’s captain, who has since announced his retirement from international one-day cricket. Likewise, in India fans burnt effigies and held mock funeral processions of players. Wicketkeeper Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s home in Ranchi, currently under construction, was attacked by rampaging mobs livid at his poor performance. Police were deployed to protect Indian Captain Rahul Dravid’s home in Bangalore, batsman Sachin Tendulkar’s house in Bandra, Mumbai, and bowler Zaheer Khan’s restaurant in Pune. Both Indian coach Greg Chappell and captain Dravid have expressed concerns for their safety.The pain, disappointment and anger — especially after slick marketing and publicity hype ramped up exaggerated expectations — that fans in the sub-continent feel in the aftermath of the disastrous performance of their teams is understandable. A through examination of the commitment and competence of players and sport management, as well as investigations into the overt politicization and over-commercialization of the game is clearly warranted. Without question, half-hearted or lack-luster performance should be called to account and even penalized.But the violence unleashed by angry mobs can neither be justified nor rationalized. Indeed, the obsession and raucousness that sub-continental cricket fans are demonstrating is escalating to the dangerous levels of their fanatical soccer counterparts in Europe.Unsavory bookies are destroying a game that once had a reputation as a gentleman’s sport, in which teams break for lunch, tea and dinner. Less than a decade ago, the game was mired in scandals involving match-fixing that ensnared several prominent players. It now seems patently clear that the International Cricket Council has not moved aggressively enough to police the sport. The time has also come to reign in the excessive commercialization of teams and players, which is increasingly undermining performance and fanning irrational fan behavior. Otherwise, as Mike Atherton wrote recently in London’s Telegraph, the game is “seriously close to losing its soul.”   Related Itemslast_img read more

  • A Touch of Spice

    first_imgThis year Pantone, the global authority on colors, selected Chili Pepper, a deep spicy red, as the color of the year, for everything from interior design to cell phones. Now vegetarians can eat Veggie Delites’ vegetarian kebabs and chicken“In 2007, there is an awareness of the melding of diverse cultural influences, and Chili Pepper is a hreflection of exotic tastes both on the tongue and to the eye,” says Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute, adding that painting a wall in Chili Pepper will stir the appetite in a dining room, spark up a kitchen or add glamour and sensuality in a bedroom.What a sea-change for American palates that could not bear the heat and fire of spicy, flavorful foods. Now chili and spice are a part of the American diet and you see them making their way even into desserts and candy! All good news for Indian food, as it shifts from the margins into the mainstream.The new Packaged Facts report, The U.S. Market for Asian Foods, notes: “One of the fastest-growing and most diverse segments of the U.S. population, Asian Americans, are both driving the growth of Asian and Indian foods through their own spending power and, at the same time, changing the palates of their fellow Americans. A broad spectrum of food products from an increasingly wide range of Asian cuisines is fast finding a place in mainstream grocery channels and on mainstream American tables. Along with Chinese food, American consumers are embracing Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese, Indian, and other Asian cuisines, as well as Asian-inspired fusion dishes.” Likewise, Specialty Food Magazine recently observed in an article on emerging food trends, “Mirroring the menus, cocktails are enticing consumers with Latin American, Asian and Indian flavors, too.”At long last, the future of desi khana seems assured in America now that Americans have finally got the Indian spice mix into their blood. Thanks to celebrity chefs, Indian restaurants, ready prepared foods and a number of cookbooks, Indian food has infiltrated the country. Maya Kaimal: The people that I know who really love Indian food and who are American, came to love it because an Indian person fed them, not because they ate it in an Indian restaurant or because they bought a bottle of Indian sauce or pickleIndia is also playing a part in food diplomacy, endearing its way into the international community’s heart through its stomach. It started this year with the export of Indian mangoes to the U.S. and continued with a heightened presence at the recent International Fancy Food and Confections Show organized by the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade (NASFT).The Indian pavilion, under the aegis of APEDA (Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority) brought in basmati rice, processed foods and a whole kiosk of fresh mangoes, which were sliced up and fed to the thousands attending.A California chef demonstrated mango and basmati recipes to a receptive audience to generate mango-awareness. India produces over 50 percent of the total world production of mangoes and is vying to grab a major share of the export market. Recipes incorporating mangoes into just about everything from martinis to margaritas are being handed out at trade shows.Indian food products were also a part of the repertoire of companies from countries like Malaysia, Singapore, the Caribbean, South Africa and the UK. Some products are entirely Indian, while others have flavors or spices that Indian traders long ago brought to these countries.American manufacturers also seem to be cashing in on the new fad for Indian food and spices. Three years ago, Amy’s Kitchen in California introduced Indian heat-and-eat cuisine to mainstream audiences through major supermarkets and gourmet stores.Our samosas are finally going mainstream! Celebrated TV chef Sanjeev Kapoor has launched his Khazana line of foodsDafur Pastry Kitchens of New York manufactures samosas as part of its hors d’oeuvres line, which includes Indian “salsa” curry Phyllo triangle – a salsa of toasted spices and tomatoes with paneer (homemade Indian cheese). It also sells curry pastry shells with Indian spices brightening the crispy cup.Kabobs Inc. in Lake City, Ga., offers several Indian products along with many other international ones. In poultry it has Chili Lime Chicken Kabob and Tandoori Chicken Satays. And yes, they offer chicken and vegetable samosas too.American companies are also sourcing their spices from India. Victoria Gourmet, a manufacturer and marketer of spice blends, has introduced new organic Tellicherry Peppercorns. “Black peppercorns are common, but a verified single source is uncommon,” says Victoria Taylor, who acquires the best Tellicherry Peppercorns from a trusted, small co-op farmers in India: “These come from Peermade, India, a plantation town south of the Idukki district with lush pepper vines and ideal growing conditions. They are certified organic.”This year Indian food at the specialty foods fair was very visible from three sources – local Indian American manufacturers, an entire pavilion of manufacturers from India, and manufacturers from the Diaspora.The Cremica Group Company founded by Rajni Bector, already established in Europe, UK, Australia and Middle East, was launched at the fair. It offers a range of Indian products, such as vegetarian mayonnaise, Indian flavored dips and syrups, ketchups, cookies and jams. In India, McDonalds, Pizza Hut, Domino’s, Papa John’s, and several airlines are using its products. Will these ubiquitous products catch on in America? Imagine Mrs. Bector as the next Mrs. Fields or Sara Lee! A California chef demonstrated mango and basmati recipes to a receptive audience to generate mango awareness at a New York food trade showThe rising global aspirations can be seen in Clique Exports, a Mumbai based company headed by Manish and Amrita Majithia, which manufactures and exports West Indian, Jamaican, Caribbean and African food, such as Jamaican jerk seasoning, cassava flour, yam fufu and noodles from India.A number of Indian American companies have also jumped on to the Indian food train, manufacturing their own products both in the U.S. and India. All the major Indian American players, like Deep Foods, House of Spices, Raja Foods, Kohinoor and Maya Overseas Foods, are thriving and adding new products to their lines.The new buzzword seems to be “healthy” and Indian manufacturers are starting to capitalize on the trend. Deep Foods has introduced vegetarian masala burgers while Raja Foods is offering spicy veggie chicken nuggets and spicy burgers. Master chef Sanjeev Kapoor, celebrated TV host, restaurant consultant and author of best selling cookbooks, has branched out into processed food with his brand Sanjeev Kapoor’s Khazana, which has 123 Ready to Cook mixes for such dishes as Goan Fish Masala, Methi Chaman Biryani and Chikoo Walnut Kheer, blended masala, chutneys and sprinklers.The globalization of Indian cuisine is opening a new market for new products. A case in point is Narinder Jaisinghani of Veggie Delites and the Kebab Factory, which manufactures ready to eat, frozen vegetarian and non-vegetarian products. One of its exciting new products is Veggie Delites – just heat and eat, but with a difference. Now vegetarians can eat kebabs and chicken, which is so close to the original as to be almost scary! Veg Lolly, spicy vegetable mix on edible bread stick, and vegetable fingers, shami kebabs, paneer rolls, Hare Bhare Kebab and soya kebabs are some of the choices for vegetarians who generally are limited to deep fried samosas and pakoras.Indian food businesses are sprouting up all over the U.S. Taste of Malacca, headed by Susheela Raghavan, offers gourmet spice blends with four product lines. In San Ramon, Calif., the noted cookbook author Laxmi Hiremath has launched Laxmi Delights, which introduces her own creations, including organic Flaxseed Spread with Ginger and Honey, Date Spread with Orange Juice, and sweet, spiced nuts. Kerala curry Brand’s Ann Varkey has introduced Southern ranchers to chicken curryCAS Foods in Charlottesville, Va., offers several products, including Goa Coconut Curry and Madras Masala Curry. Another company Chanteclere Foods has launched a salad dressing, the Indian Curry Mango Dressing, a blend of exotic flavors, which can be used for marinating ingredients as well as dressings for salads. Cinnabar Specialty Foods, founded by Neera Tandon, in Prescott, Ariz., has several products, including Neera’s Urad and Channa Dal Mix and Neera’s Vegetable Chutney. Another company in Los Angeles, Calif., Commissariat Imports Inc., is distributing products under the Bombay Brand label and its Eggplant Pickle was a winner of the NASFT’s best aisle product.Award winning cookbook author Maya Kaimal has introduced a new line of chutneys recently while her line of simmer sauces, Tikka Masala, Coconut Curry, Tamarind Curry, Vindaloo and Classic Korma, hit the market in 2003. The products are hrefrigerated, all natural, vegetarian, preservative-free and made with high-quality ingredients, including fresh curry leaves, freshly ground spices and slowly caramelized onions“The market was already overcrowded with jarred sauces, but sauces were a great way to give people a shortcut to making Indian curries, so to differentiate our line we decided to make it hrefrigerated,” she says. “We were able to occupy a unique niche in the market and at the same time we were able to give Indian food a kind of gourmet cachet, because the part of the store we’d be shelved would it be near high end products like fine cheese, fresh pestos and pasta sauces. It gave us an opportunity to present Indian food as a more gourmet, high end, high quality product.”At the food show, she served the chutneys, which will be launched in October, in innovative ways – as dips, relishes, in salads and on crackers – targeting it as a crossover item. Curious crowds gathered to taste something new served in familiar ways.“Globalization is changing the face of India and Americans are seeing it as a glamorous, sophisticated place,” Kaimal says, which accounts for Indian food’s emerging star status. “There’s now a special appreciation of all things Indian. Indian food is finally being presented in a restaurant form that’s very elegant. This has been going on in the UK for a very long time, but finally in the U.S. you are getting people who are ready to spend a lot of money on a fine Indian meal.”She says that historically people thought of Indian food as inexpensive and couldn’t bring themselves to spend $20 on an entrée, but that’s changing and is hreflected in the rise of celebrity Indian chefs in America and Europe.Cuisine mirrors the fashion world: Designer labels inspire cheaper knock offs and the styles and innovations trickle down to the masses. In much the same way, packaged goods are reaching a larger market, because of the increased appeal of Indian food.“People are seeing many more Indians than they ever have in this country. Chances that people know Indians and have tasted their food, and chances of Americans traveling to India are high now,” says Kaimal. “The people that I know who really love Indian food and who are American, came to love it because an Indian person fed them, not because they ate it in an Indian restaurant or because they bought a bottle of Indian sauce or pickle.”Indian Americans in very personal and intimate ways are introducing Americans to the foods they have known since childhood. By eating a meal in someone’s house or sharing a co-worker’s packed lunch, Americans get to taste an authentic version of Indian food.A remarkable story of creating change at the grassroots is that of Rollo and Ann Varkey, two lone Indians in the small town of Pittsboro, N.C., which has only 3,000 residents. Most of them know about Indian cuisine, thanks to the Varkeys, who are creators of the Kerala Curry brand.“My wife Ann and I used to work for Nortel Networks at Research Triangle Park for over 16 years and started this food manufacturing business in 2002 when the telecommunication industry slowed down,” says Varkey, who is from Kerala. His small company is located in Pittsboro, in rural Chatham County, in a federally inspected USDA plant.“Under the Goodness Grows in North Carolina program, we try to buy most of our ingredients from North Carolina for our manufacturing needs, except spices, which come from Kerala,” he says. The couple use fresh North Carolina chicken in their products and raise Angus cattle on their 100-acre ranch. Starting with one product, a ready-to-eat chicken curry in a can five years ago, they now have 25 shelf stable products, bulk frozen curry products and fresh chilled individual meals in specialty and gourmet stores in over 22 states, including Hawaii. They are introducing a new line of frozen meals in sealed trays this year.Their products are sold at major stores like Whole Foods and a number of cooperatives, where most customers are mainstream Americans. All the products are manufactured in Pittsboro, except for the pappadams, which are imported from India.Yet even in this very rural Southern town, people are buying Kerala Curry. Varkey says all his neighbors love his wife’s chicken curry, and the ranchers wedge it between Southern biscuits and eat it as a sandwich. He says, “One of my neighbors does a lot of barbecue cooking and uses my meat masala on his pork and other meat cuts. Ranchers also use it for their venison meat, rural Southerners really love the curries!”And so, bite by bite and plate by plate, the spice revolution rolls on! Related Itemslast_img read more

  • How Data Analytics Is Shaping What You Watch

    first_imgWhen Netflix decided to go into the entertainment-producing business by commissioning the streaming series House of Cards, there was a lot of data to be crunched before the first download ever took place, said Dave Hastings, Netflix’s director of product analytics, data science and engineering.“You do not make a $100 million investment these days without an awful lot of analytics,” Hastings said at the recent Wharton Customer Analytics Initiative Conference in Philadelphia. While some may claim that Netflix over-analyzed House of Cards, Hastings is adamant that it was the way to go. “We have had a whole catalogue of things we did not make. We wanted early on to be careful, and it has worked out.”Just four years after the March 2011 release of that first season of House of Cards, Hastings said Netflix has as many as 60 series seasons in the works or soon to arrive, from season two of comic book adaptation Marvel’s Daredevil to another House of Cards season to a new comedy talk show with Chelsea Handler. All of them will undergo thorough analytics before release.“We live and breathe the customer,” said Hastings. “We want to be the world’s leader in Internet TV. When you have aspirations of being the largest, that means shaping demand. What is Internet TV and how does it differ from linear TV — the questions around that are what we use analytics for.”In terms of corporate maneuvering, the speed at which Netflix has altered course in its business practices could give anyone along for the ride whiplash. Started in 1997 after CEO and co-founder Reed Hastings got irked about a $40 video store late-fee for the movie Apollo 13, it rapidly became the No. 1 DVD-by-mail rental service, shipping out its billionth DVD by 2007.However, recognizing that streaming video would eventually displace physical movie rentals, its management team slowly de-emphasized the DVD mailing business and expanded into streaming. By 2010, that business had become its calling card. The move into producing entertainment, said Hastings, was the natural next step, and it was heavily planned, taking into account a lot of big data.“House of Cards is an outstanding show, but it was a huge bet from the company to get into that business,” Hastings noted. “We were a technology company, and it took some highly creative education to move into entertainment production. There was a lot of analysis.“But it was not what urban legend had it,” he added. “People said the whole show concept was made analytically — that we needed Kevin Spacey as the lead in a political drama, and so forth. I mean, in theory you could do those things with analytics, but there is a far gap between that and what we did. On the other hand, we hope now to be the biggest original studio in a few years.”Netflix had to establish a strong analytics infrastructure early on, Hastings noted. The company, for instance, had to determine how many DVDs of which movies it would need on hand to meet demand. And that focus only became more important as the company moved to streaming.“The foundation of the streaming business was analytics,” he said. “Our catalogue was extremely limited when we started streaming. We had to be right in what we were trying to deliver.”Getting to Know Your CustomerHastings said that currently the company is using analytics to see how to expand services in a variety of ways. For instance, it uses data on different regions to see what to promote in the American South or in urban areas or in Australia – Netflix’s newest streaming market. The company also needs to know what sorts of customers are using the service on televisions versus those who are using hand-held devices.“You integrate all this together, and you really get to know who your customer is,” he said.Bill Franks, chief analytics officer for Teradata, which works with Netflix on big data, was on the dais with Hastings, and noted that it’s not enough for a company to have powerful analytics tools; applying them correctly to an end product is the key.“Analytics cannot replace execution,” said Franks. “If you can’t deliver a good experience, analytics are irrelevant. Netflix made sure those videos were delivered and they were not stopping every 10 minutes.“Sometimes you go overboard on theories, but Netflix was pragmatic and looking for the best solution with the data they got,” he said.Hastings said Netflix can use as much data as it can get on customers, distribution and the like, and it’s always looking to improve its algorithms. He noted that Netflix’s streaming services are so vast that the company is the largest user of downstream North American web traffic, accounting for as much as a third of traffic.“It is a huge amount of data to wade through,” he said. “You have an issue then of scale with the analytics you do.”Though Netflix has $5.5 billion in sales, it has only 1,600 employees. Hastings said the company hired 187 people last quarter, which seemed a lot to those there, but was, he realized, a small number for a company with its reach. Because of that, Teradata’s Franks said, Netflix has to be careful in what its staff does with analytics to ensure that it does not overreach.“We are getting to the point, with all the data we can have, that there will be tradeoffs,” said Franks. “The focus has to be on achieving a gain, not just analytics for its own sake.”That said, according to Hastings, there is little in the new entertainment realm that will go online without a lot of advance study.“I can say that no changes in Netflix’s products are not tested and validated, and we do not just test to test,” he said. “If we do not believe it will improve, it will not be tested. We have 300 major tests of products and dozens of variations within. When you go into Netflix, hopefully we are improving your experience. How do we increase streaming? How do we increase customer retention? We mine lots of data for those sorts of things.”‘Morphing and Twisting’Sometimes, though, Hastings admits, the results of analytics get overruled at Netflix. For instance, he said, data would indicate that the company should make it hard to cancel its service – that making it difficult to quit would increase retention rates. But, he said, the founders of the company early on knew they wanted to make it easy for a customer to cancel: It would, they hoped, give the company a good reputation, and they realized that ultimately, making their customers frustrated would not be a good thing.“The data said we should not have done that,” he noted, but he admits it worked, enhancing Netflix’s reputation in the long run.Teradata’s Franks said that if it wanted to, Netflix could almost be a stand-alone analytics firm.“It is getting blurry out there as to what companies are in,” said Franks. “AT&T is not just a phone provider. It is providing TV, and then has its own data. Nike is now manufacturing high-tech electronics and housing data in its data center, not just doing knitted sportswear. Companies can commercialize the use of their data outside of their core business. It is a fascinating time, and a lot of companies will be morphing and twisting.”Hastings said, however, that despite all the change the company has gone through in its 18 years, Netflix is not looking to be constantly shifting businesses.“We are really careful about doing things outside our core,” he said. “If you are distracted, you waver from being the best. There are [ways to use our data that] could theoretically make money, but it would be a distraction from using those analytics to be the best we can be in our core businesses.”According to Franks and Hastings, there are sometimes things analytics cannot measure effectively, at least at not given the current state of the art.“Mood is an interesting thing to try to go after. When you sit down in front of your iPad, we do not know what your mood is. There is only so much information we have,” said Hastings. “Maybe we can tell certain things by the time of the day, but I don’t know what I am going to do tomorrow and I don’t know what I will want to watch tonight, so getting that mood right is not part of analytics right now.”Franks agreed, but said that outliers in analytic data have to be expected.“Even if I go to such-and-such restaurant every day and order such-and-such sandwich all the time, today I might decide to go with the other submarine sandwich,” said Franks. “Even perfect data will not always lead you to a perfect conclusion. But, like Netflix, if you go with the aggregate, you will be successful.” Related Itemslast_img read more

  • Farmers’ delegation meets U.P. Governor

    first_imgA delegation of Rampur farmers met Uttar Pradesh Governor Ram Naik here on Sunday, urging him to help them get back the “land of farmers” from senior SP leader Azam Khan.The former Uttar Pradesh Minister was named in the FIRs lodged in connection with alleged forcible acquisition of land for the Mohammad Ali Jauhar University, of which he is the founder and Chancellor.In a statement issued here, Congress leader Faisal Khan Lala said: “A 12-member delegation met U.P. Governor Ram Naik and handed over a memorandum to him, informing him that despite being mentioned in the list of land grabbers, Azam Khan was unwilling to leave the land of farmers and poor people.”“Despite a large number of cases registered against him, the police are yet to arrest him,” he added.Governor’s assuranceMr. Lala said the Governor assured the delegation of taking up the matter with the Chief Minister. Family members of those whose land was allegedly grabbed by the Rampur MP were part of the delegation.Recently, Rampur MP Azam Khan’s name was put on an online list of “land mafias” by the district administration.“The name of the Rampur MP has been put on the list of the anti-land mafia portal of the State government after FIRs were lodged against him on land-grabbing charges,” Additional District Magistrate (Administration) J.P. Gupta had said.last_img read more