Autodesk Just Gave Every Fab Lab Access to $25,000 in Design Software
BATTIR, West Bank — In this scenic Palestinian village in the West Bank hills near Bethlehem, just south of Jerusalem, a week is said to last eight days, not seven. That is because Battir’s eight extended families take daily turns watering their crops from the natural springs that feed their ancient agricultural terraces, a practice they say has worked for centuries.
The water flows through a Roman-era irrigation system down into a deep valley where a railway track — a section of the Jaffa-Jerusalem railway built in Ottoman times — roughly marks the 1949 armistice line between the West Bank and Israel. The area is dotted with tombs and ruins upon ruins of bygone civilizations.
When the World Heritage Committee of Unesco — the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization — meets in St. Petersburg, Russia, over the next two weeks, this pastoral area will be thrust into the spotlight at least momentarily as the villagers and conservation experts fight to save what they say is a unique living cultural and historical landscape.
The experts say the Battir terraces are under imminent threat because Israel plans to build a section of its West Bank security barrier right through the valley, parallel to the railway track. They are seeking to have Battir nominated as a World Heritage site on an emergency basis, a move that might persuade Israel to change its plans for the construction.
“The people here constructed their village while always preserving the terraces,” said Hassan Muamer, 27, a civil engineer working for the Battir Landscape Eco-Museum. “It was part of the mentality,” he added. “It is living history.”
But the effort to secure a nomination for Battir has been bogged down by internal Palestinian disagreements, designs and interests. The formal submission of the case was blocked at the last minute on the grounds that it had come too late. Instead, the Palestinian delegation to Unesco is pushing a higher-profile, more political effort to have Bethlehem’s venerated Church of the Nativity and pilgrimage route inscribed on the list of World Heritage sites on an emergency basis.
A panel of experts has already determined that although the church needs renovation and conservation, it does not appear to be in imminent danger and therefore does not qualify for emergency status. Leaders of the three churches that share control of the Church of the Nativity, always leery of prospective changes to the delicate status quo, also expressed some early reservations.
When Unesco granted Palestinians full membership in the organization last October, Israel and the United States viewed the development as part of a contentious, wider Palestinian campaign for international recognition of statehood in the absence of an agreement with Israel. The step cost Unesco one-quarter of its yearly budget — 22 percent, or about $70 million, contributed by the United States, and 3 percent contributed by Israel.
Now some Palestinian and Western officials say that by pushing the case of the Church of the Nativity, the traditional birthplace of Jesus, the Palestinian leadership is putting prestige above professional and technical considerations.
In response to the criticism, the Palestinian ambassador to Unesco, Elias Sanbar, wrote a letter condemning what he called “a persistent campaign of rumors aimed at discrediting Bethlehem’s candidacy” by “those who do not want to see Palestine exercise its legitimate rights.” He attached a statement from two of the three church leaders expressing their thanks to the Palestinian leadership for its efforts to safeguard and advance the Christian congregations’ freedom and cause.
Still, experts in the Palestinian territories say Battir is in more urgent need of protection.
“If Battir is submitted only next year, it may be too late,” said Giovanni Fontana Antonelli, the cultural heritage program specialist at the Unesco office in Ramallah, in the West Bank. “If the wall goes through the valley, it will totally destroy the integrity of the site,” he added.
Noting that the terraces are supported by dry stone walls made up of many millions of stones, Mr. Fontana characterized the valley as “not monumental but historical, an example of outstanding engineering.”
“The work of human beings there needs to be valued,” he said. “It is the work of centuries.”
Israel says its barrier, a system of fences and walls, razor wire and patrol roads, is essential to prevent Palestinian suicide bombers from reaching Israeli cities.
The villagers have petitioned the Supreme Court in Israel to have the barrier rerouted here to prevent the destruction of the striking beauty of the area and its ancient system of cultivation. A court decision is pending. The conservationists hope that a recommendation from the World Heritage Committee may help persuade the court not to reject the villagers’ petition.
Local Palestinians like Raed Samara, a planning and development expert who has been active in promoting the case of Battir, say construction of a barrier would destroy the tranquillity that has prevailed here for decades.
The steep slopes across from Battir are in Israel, making this shared landscape a transboundary site in the Unesco lexicon.
“Nobody thinks that Israel’s security concerns are not legitimate or important,” said Gidon Bromberg, the Israeli director of Friends of the Earth Middle East, an organization that works to promote cooperation on environmental issues in Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian territories. But, he added, “there are alternative ways to bring about security without destroying 4,000 years of cultural heritage for the Israelis, the Palestinians and all of humanity.”
On a recent evening, Mohannad Abu Hassan, a schoolteacher, was working a small triangular plot in the valley with his son Muhammad, 12. Water poured in from one corner as they turned the rich soil planted with green beans, zucchini, eggplant and chard. As soon as they were finished watering, a sprightly elderly woman, a distant relative, skipped down to a nearby plot across the railway track and turned her water on. In the old core of the village, children bathed in the cool waters of the central spring.
Until the late 1940s, Battir was the last stop before Jerusalem on the Jaffa-Jerusalem railway. The train platform used to turn into a bustling market, and the villagers maintained strong connections with the city. The train does not stop here anymore, and most of the produce is now for home use or for local sale. But the villagers are keeping up with the times, swapping news about the Unesco effort through a Facebook group of 2,000 residents and supporters.
Akram Bader, the mayor of Battir, recently traveled to Unesco headquarters in Paris to push his case and plans to go to St. Petersburg. “For three months I couldn’t sleep,” Mr. Bader said. “I cannot imagine my village divided. If we have lived in peace these last 60 years, we can live the same way forever.”
Rob Matheson | MIT News Office
May 12, 2016
A team of MIT and Harvard University students who invented a smartphone-connected sensor that detects lung cancer from a single breath took home the grand prize from Wednesday night’s $100K Entrepreneurship Competition.
Astraeus Technologies won the $100,000 Robert P. Goldberg Grand prize at the 27th annual competition, beating out seven other finalist teams that pitched business ideas to a panel of expert judges and a lively capacity crowd in Kresge Auditorium. Five other teams innovating in big data, creative arts, and food service took home separate category prizes totaling $40,000.
Astraeus has developed a postage-stamp-sized device, called the L CARD, that detects certain gases indicative of lung cancer. When someone blows onto the device, a connected mobile app turns a smartphone screen red if those gases are present and green if they aren’t.
Inventor Joseph Azzarelli, an MIT PhD student in chemistry, demonstrated the device on stage by spraying a syringe filled with the lung-cancer-signaling gases onto the device, causing the smartphone screen to flash red. “The L CARD reacts and sends instantaneous information to the physician that further attention is required,” Azzarelli said while a ripple of excitement spread through the crowd.
“We love that demo as much as you guys do,” added team member Jay Kumar, a student at Harvard Medical School.
After the competition, Azzarelli told MIT News the prize money will go toward product development and first-round clinical trials in research hospitals in the area.
Cheaper, safer screening
Lung cancer is the deadliest type of cancer in the United States, causing more deaths than breast, colon, and prostate cancers combined, according to the World Health Organization. “Part of the reason lung cancer is so deadly is that the current gold standard screening test — the low-dose CT scan — is wholly inadequate in a variety of ways,” said team member Graham Lieberman, an MBA student at the Harvard Business School.
Kumar delved into more detail, explaining that CT scans cost about $800 for each scan, have a high false-positive rate, and expose patients to radiation that can increase their cancer risk.
Due to the risks and costs of CT scans, Lieberman added, only about 1.6 million of the 94 million Americans at risk for lung cancer — as estimated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — are scanned each year. “A cheaper, safer screening device can be applied to a much larger percentage of that population,” he said.
The L CARD (which stands for Chemically Actuated Resonate Device) is essentially a modified near-field communication tag. Certain volatile organic compounds unique to the breath of lung cancer patients modify the tag’s radio frequency identification signal. A smartphone then pings the device and determines, from the modified signal, if those volatile compounds are present.
Kumar said the devices are an order of magnitude (about 10 times) more accurate than CT scans and can be made for less than $1. Astraeus will sell L CARDS directly to hospitals and clinics for use during routine annual checkups, he said. “We’re going after lung cancer,” Kumar said. “The root cause is bad screening: We’ve developed a better screening test, and it’s cost effective.”
Last night’s win was the second for Astraeus in the $100K Entrepreneurship Competition, which consists of three independent contests: Pitch, Accelerate, and the Launch grand finale. Astraeus, which formed last November, also won the $10,000 Danny Lewin Grand Prize and the $3,000 Founders.org Audience Choice Prize at the Accelerate competition on Feb. 10.
Going through the competition helped the team focus on all the steps it takes to establish and expand a business, Azzarelli told MIT News. “Going into the $100K — the Launch competition in particular, which is taken so seriously by so many — really forces you to think, ‘If we’re really going to do this, at the level we really want to do it at, how are we going to move forward,’” Azzarelli said.
Several additional awards were granted last night to finalist and semifinalist teams: Finalist team Spyce, which developed a tumbler-type machine stocked with raw ingredients that autonomously cooks and serves meals in bowls to customers, won the $5,000 Audience Choice award.
A $10,000 data prize from Booz Allen Hamilton went to semifinalist team ReviveMed, which developed a platform that can be used to repurpose safe but shelved drugs at pharmaceutical firms, for other uses. Two teams split a $10,000 Thomson Reuters Data Prize: finalist teamHive Maritime, which is developing analytics and optimization algorithms for shipping routes and vessel speeds, based on predicted queues at ports and canals; and semifinalist teamSwift Calcs, which is creating a cloud-based computational platform for engineers to collaborate on calculations.
Taking home the $15,000 Creative Arts Prize was Tekuma, which developed a service that matches people who want to rent property with artists who create and curate art, and ships the art to the rented space.
Five other finalist teams pitched ideas: AquaFresco developed a water-recycling technology that lets people use one batch of soapy water to clean their laundry for several months;DoneGood is an app that lets people rate businesses based on practices such as being green, supporting diversity, buying locally, and adequately supporting workers, among other causes; Lux Labs created a nanoscale film that selectively filters light to reduce energy consumption on mobile devices and improve efficiency of solar cells; Solugen invented a green, safe, scalable process for producing hydrogen peroxide, which is used for things like semiconductor fabrication, plastic production, and water purification; and ABA Power is making aluminum-based batteries that have 30 times the energy density of traditional lithium batteries and are manufactured with zero emissions.
Since its debut in 1990, the MIT $100K Entrepreneurship Competition has helped launch 160 companies worldwide that have raised an additional $1.3 billion in funding, have a combined market value of $16 billion, and have employed more than 4,600 people.
This year, 160 teams applied to the entrepreneurship competition. That number was winnowed to 50 semifinalist teams for the Launch contest. Judges then chose eight finalists to compete in Wednesday’s grand finale event. Semifinalist teams receive mentoring, prototyping funds, media exposure, and discounted services.
Decades before the sexual assault of women during the 2002 Gujarat and 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots, Hindutva propounder Veer Savarkar justified rape as a legitimate political tool. This he did by reconfiguring the idea of “Hindu virtue” in his book Six Glorious Epochs of Indian History, which he wrote in Marathi a few years before his death in 1966.
Six Glorious Epochs provides an account of Hindu resistance to invasions of India from the earliest times. It is based on historical records (many of them dubious), exaggerated accounts of foreign travellers, and the writings of colonial historians. Savarkar’s own febrile and frightening imagination reworks these diverse sources into a tome remarkable for its anger and hatred.
Savarkar’s account of Hindu resistance is also a history of virtues. He identified the virtues that proved detrimental to India and led to its conquest. He expounded his philosophy of morality in Chapter VIII,Perverted Conception of Virtues, in which he rejected the idea of absolute or unqualified virtue.
“In fact virtues and vices are only relative terms,” he said.
Virtues or vice?
Savarkar added that the test of determining what is virtue or vice is to examine whether it serves the interests of society, specifically Hindu society. This is because circumstances change, societies are always in a flux. What was deemed virtuous in the past could become a vice in the present if it is detrimental to mankind, he said.
For instance, said Savarkar, the caste system with its elaborate rules of purity and pollution helped stabilise Hindu society. But some of these rules became dysfunctional, degenerating into “seven fetters” of Hindu society.
These shackles, according to Savarkar, were untouchability, bans on drinking water from members of other castes, inter-caste dining, inter-caste marriage, sea-voyage, the ban on taking back into the Hindu fold those who were forcibly converted to Islam or Christianity, and ostracism of those who defied these prohibitions.
These “seven fetters” proved advantageous to the Muslim conquerors, wrote Savarkar, because they exploited caste rules to increase their population.
The conquerors forcibly converted Hindus who had been defeated, provided them with food and water, abducted women who were either kept as concubines or wives, certain that the ban on taking them back into the Hindu fold left them with no option but to live as Muslim, the Hindutva propounder wrote. This meant the “transformation of a man into a demon, the metamorphosis of a God into a Satan”.
Rape as a political tool
It is in this paradigm of ethics that Savarkar mooted the idea of rape as a political tool. He articulated it as a wish, through a question: What if Hindu kings, who occasionally defeated their Muslim counterparts, had also raped their women?
He expressed this wish after declaring, “It was a religious duty of every Muslim to kidnap and force into their religion, non-Muslim women.” He added that this fanaticism was not “Muslim madness”, for it had a distinct design – to increase the “Muslim population with special regard to unavoidable laws of nature.” It is the same law, which the animal world instinctively obeys.
“If in the cattle-herds the number of oxen grows in excess of the cows, the herds do not grow numerically in a rapid number. But on the other hand, the number of animals in the herds, with the excess of cows over the oxen, grows in mathematical progression.”
He cites examples from the human world too. For instance, he wrote, the African “wild tribes” kill only their male enemies, but not their women, who are distributed among the victors. This is because these tribes consider it their duty to increase their numbers through the progeny of abducted women. Similarly, he wrote that a Naga tribe in India kills women of rival tribes whom they can’t capture because they believe, rightly so, that paucity of women would enhance the possibility of their enemies dwindling in number.
Savarkar said that the Muslim conquerors of Africa too followed this tradition. Immediately thereafter, he spoke of the well-wishers of Ravana who advised him to return to Rama his wife, Sita, whom he had abducted. They said it was highly irreligious to have kidnapped Sita. Savarkar quotes Ravana saying, “What? To abduct and rape the womenfolk of the enemy, do you call it irreligious? It is Parodharmah, the greatest duty!”
It is with the “shameless religious fanaticism” of Ravana that the Muslims, from the Sultan to the soldier, abducted Hindu women, even the married ladies of Hindu royal families and notables, wrote Savarkar, adding that this was to increase the population of Muslims, to demographically conquer India, so to speak.
Savarkar is venomously critical of Muslim women who, “whether Begum or beggar”, never protested against the “atrocities committed by their male compatriots; on the contrary they encouraged them to do so and honoured them for it”.
Savarkar, even by his own standards, takes a huge leap by claiming that Muslim women living even in Hindu kingdoms enticed Hindu girls, “locked them up in their own houses, and conveyed them to Muslims centres in Masjids and Mosques”.
Muslim women were emboldened to perpetrate such atrocities because they did not fear retribution from Hindu men who, argued Savarkar, “had a perverted idea of women-chivalry”. Even when they vanquished their Muslim rivals, they punished the men among them, not their women, he said.
“Only Muslim men alone, if at all, suffered the consequential indignities but the Muslim women – never!” wrote Savarkar.
When Shivaji was wrong
This regret prompts him not to spare those who commend Shivaji for sending back the daughter-in-law of the Muslim governor of Kalyan, whom he defeated, as well as Peshwa Chimaji Appa (1707-1740), who did the same with the Portuguese wife of the governor of Bassein.
“But is it not strange that, when they did so, neither Shivaji Maharaj nor Chimaji Appa should ever remember, the atrocities and the rapes and the molestation, perpetrated by Mahmud of Ghazni, Muhammad Ghori, Allauddin Khalji and others, on thousands of Hindu ladies and girls…”
Savarkar’s febrile imagination now flies on the wings of rhetoric. He writes:
“The souls of those millions of aggrieved women might have perhaps said ‘Do not forget, O Your Majesty Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and O! Your Excellency Chimaji Appa, the unutterable atrocities and oppression and outrage committed on us by the sultans and Muslim noblemen and thousands of others, big and small.
“Let these sultans and their peers take a pledge that in the event of a Hindu victory our molestation and detestable lot shall be avenged on the Muslim women. Once they are haunted with this dreadful apprehension that the Muslim women too, stand in the same predicament in case the Hindus win, the future Muslim conquerors will never dare to think of such molestation of Hindu women [emphasis added].”
Their chivalry was perverted, said Savarkar, because it proved highly detrimental to Hindu society. This chivalry was “suicidal” because it “saved the Muslim women (simply because they were women) from the heavy punishment of committing indescribable serious crimes against Hindu women”, Savarkar laments.
Even worse, he said, was the foolish notion among the Hindus that to have “any sort of relations with a Muslim woman meant their own conversion to Islam”. This belief became an impediment to Hindu men inflicting punishment on the “Muslim feminine class [fair (?) sex]” for their atrocities [words in parenthesis Savarkar’s].
Savarkar’s readers cannot but see that he has overturned the code of ethics and freed the Hindus from the shackles that prevent them from descending into barbarism. But Savarkar doesn’t seem convinced of his persuasive powers.
So under a subsection titled, But If, he seeks to hammer in his point. He asks readers:
“Suppose if from the earliest Muslim invasions of India, the Hindus also, whenever they were victors on the battlefields, had decided to pay the Muslim fair sex in the same coin or punished them in some other ways, i.e., by conversion even with force, and then absorbed them in their fold, then? Then with this horrible apprehension at their heart they would have desisted from their evil designs against any Hindu lady.”
“If they had taken such a fright in the first two or three centuries, millions and millions of luckless Hindu ladies would have been saved all their indignities, loss of their own religion, rapes, ravages and other unimaginable persecutions.”
Thus, the use of rape as a political tool stands justified.
But why should Savarkar’s idea of rape as a political tool apply today, given that Six Glorious Epochs deal with India’s past?
This is because Savarkar very explicitly stated that a change of religion implies a change of nationality. It was Savarkar, not Muhammad Ali Jinnah, who first categorised Hindus and Muslims as two nations. From the Hindutva perspective, the two nations – Hindu and Muslim – have been locked in a continuous conflict for supremacy since the 11th century.
In the Savarkarite worldview, only those ethical codes should be adhered to which enable the Hindus to establish their supremacy over the Muslims. Thus, he reasoned, it is justified to rape Muslim women in riots because it is revenge for the barbarity of Muslims in the medieval times, whether proven or otherwise. After all, today’s riots are a manifestation of the historical conflict.
This is why BJP leaders clamour to celebrate the heroes of what they call Hindu resistance. The most recent example of this trend is Union Minister VK Singh, who wants Delhi’s Akbar Road to be renamed after Maharana Pratap. It is from Savarkar they have got their cue.
Later in Six Glorious Epochs, Savarkar adopted a distinct Nietzschean tone to cry out: “O thou Hindu society! Of all the sins and weaknesses, which have brought about thy fall, the greatest and most potent are thy virtues themselves.”
These virtues were cast aside in Gujarat in 2002 and Muzaffarnagar in 2013. That is something to remember as some people come out to pay homage to Savarkar who was born on this day 133 years ago.
This is the second article in a two-part series on VD Savarkar. The first part can her read here.
Read Six Glorious Epochs of Indian History here.
Ajaz Ashraf is a journalist in Delhi. His novel, The Hour Before Dawn, has as its backdrop the demolition of the Babri Masjid. It is available in bookstores.
We welcome your comments at email@example.com.
On May 28, India will commemorate the 133rd birth anniversary of Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, who was born on this day in 1883. Bharatiya Janata Party leaders will recall his valour, because of which he has been given the honorific, Veer.
But, really how veer, or brave, was Veer Savarkar?
Savarkar died in 1966. During his 83 years, he was involved in the political murder of three British officials. From the nationalist perspective, these murders have been cited as examples of Savarkar’s revolutionary zeal to violently uproot British rule, unmindful of the consequences.
Savarkar was also chargesheeted in the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi but was subsequently exonerated, largely because no corroborative evidence of his involvement was furnished. It has helped perpetuate the myth of Savarkar the brave.
But this myth has been shattered because of the new evidence gathered over the years. He manipulated his followers to assassinate British officials, yet took care to conceal his links to the crimes he conceived. He did not hesitate to betray his acolytes, as he did Nathuram Godse, the man who assassinated Gandhi.
His famed fortitude was rarely on display during his years of imprisonment in the Andamans. He tendered craven apologies to the British, willing to bargain for his own freedom, not the country’s.
Political Murder No. 1
On July 1, 1909, Madanlal Dhingra shot dead Sir William Curzon Wyllie, political aide-de-camp at the India Office, London. Earlier, Dhingra had planned to assassinate former Viceroy Lord Curzon and former governor of Bengal, Bramfield Fuller, at a function they were to attend. But Dhingra was woefully late for the meeting, by which time Curzon and Fuller had left the venue.
Dhingra was arrested, tried and hanged for killing Wyllie. The British suspected Savarkar’s involvement, but had no concrete evidence against him. The evidence surfaced months after Savarkar died in 1966, courtesy Savarkar’s biographer.
Following Savarkar’s death, Dhananjay Keer reissued his 1950 publication,Savarkar and His Times, as Veer Savarkar. Keer wrote that the new edition contained a “plethora of new material”, which was made available to him by Savarkar himself.
In the 1966 edition, Keer said that Savarkar gave Dhingra a nickel-plated revolver on the morning of Wyllie’s assassination and told him, “Don’t show me your face if you fail this time.” Keer also confided in Robert Payne, author of Life and Death of Mahatma Gandhi, that Savarkar had trained Dhingra for months, and often mocked him for having missed the opportunity to assassinate Lord Curzon and Fuller.
These new details in Keer’s 1966 edition prompted the lawyer and historian AG Noorani to note wryly in his seminal work, Savarkar and Hindutva: The Godse Connection:
“One wonders whether Savarkar also stipulated that they [the new contentions] should be published only after his death. The interval of sixteen years between the two editions is inexplicable on any other assumption.”
Political Murder No. 2
Before leaving for England to study law, Savarkar had been a member of a secret society, Mitra Mela, which was subsequently renamed Abhinav Bharat. Its goal was to overthrow the British through violent methods.
Savarkar’s older brother, Ganesh, alias Babarao, was an Abhinav Bharat member too. The police nabbed Ganesh Savarkar and stumbled upon a stockpile of bombs. Ganesh Savarkar was sentenced to transportation for life on June 8, 1909.
His comrades decided to retaliate. On December 29, 1909, Anant Kanhere shot dead AMT Jackson, district magistrate of Nasik, as he was watching a Marathi play, Sharada, in a theatre. Jackson had committed Ganesh Savarkar to trial, but was not the judge who had banished him to the Andamans.
From Kanhere’s accomplices, whom the police arrested, were discovered Savarkar’s letters. The Browning pistol used in the assassination was linked to Savarkar, who was accused of sending 20 such weapons to India from England. A telegraphic warrant of arrest was sent to London, and Savarkar surrendered to the police on March 13, 1910. He was brought to India.
For his role in the assassination of Jackson and for waging war against the King, Savarkar was sentenced to transportation – for two terms of 50 years each – to the Andamans. He arrived in Port Blair on July 4, 1911.
The condition in the Cellular Jail in Andaman Islands was undoubtedly horrific. For instance, Savarkar was yoked to the oil mill. Quite understandably, his revolutionary fervour fizzled out. It must, however, be pointed out that he wasn’t the only person singled out for barbaric punishment.
In 1911 itself, Savarkar petitioned the authorities for clemency. The text of the 1911 petition hasn’t been found. But Savarkar referred to it in his petition to the British on November 14, 1913, seeking mercy and requesting a transfer to a jail in India. He wrote:
“The Mighty alone can afford to be merciful and therefore where else can the prodigal son return but to the parental doors of the Government?”
In return, Savarkar offered to serve the “government in any capacity” as it thought fit. He declared he no longer believed in violence, justifying his conversion to constitutionalism because of the reforms the British government had introduced.
Savarkar said his conversion to the constitutional line would bring back “all those misled young men in India and abroad who were once looking up to me as their guide [emphasis added]”. In one stroke, the Indian revolutionary movement was disowned.
The British government was not convinced, but his cringing petition did help alleviate his plight. He was made a foreman. Noorani points out, “Few revolutionaries would have accepted this ‘honour’ from their captives who were also rulers of their captive land.”
Savarkar’s trait of encouraging others to take the precipitous course without joining them was evident in the Andamans as well. Historian RC Majumdar quotes Trailokya Nath Chakravarti, an inmate of the Cellular Jail, saying that Savarkar encouraged him and others to go on hunger strike but neither he nor his brother joined it. Even inmates older than Savarkar participated in the strike.
Savarkar justified his decision saying he would have been put back in solitary confinement and denied the right to send an annual letter to India. Savarkar does seem a leader who endorsed revolutionary action as long as he wasn’t required to pay the price.
Return to the mainland
In May 1921, Savarkar was transferred from the Andamans to the Indian mainland. Three years later, the government put forth conditions to Savarkar for his release from the Yerwada Jail in Pune.
These conditions were: Savarkar was to reside in Ratnagiri district; he could not go beyond the district’s limits without the government’s approval; he was not to engage in political activities publicly or privately; these restrictions were for five years, subject to renewal at the expiry of this period.
Savarkar accepted these terms, shattering the myth spun around his much-serenaded bravery. But there was also a humiliating coda to these conditions, not known until Frontline magazine published, in 1995, an additional undertaking Savarkar agreed to give the government.
Savarkar declared he had a fair trial and just punishment. He also wrote: “I heartily abhor methods of violence resorted to in days gone by, and I feel myself duty bound to uphold Law and the constitution…”
For sure, Savarkar was no Nelson Mandela.
In 1925, there was a Hindu-Muslim riot over Rangeela Rasool, a scurrilous booklet on Prophet Mohammad. The communal conflagration soon spread to parts of Punjab. Savarkar wrote an inflammatory article in the English newspaper, Mahratta, in March 1925.
The government communicated to Savarkar that any such writing in the future could lead to a reconsideration of his release. The warning had Savarkar foreswear that he would have no truck with the idea of Swaraj.
Political Murder No. 3
During the period of conditional freedom, Savarkar is said to have inspired yet another assassination attempt. On July 22, 1931, VB Gogate fired two shots at acting Governor of Bombay Sir Ernest Hotson during his visit to Ferguson College, Pune. But Hotson survived miraculously.
Nobody suspected Savarkar’s role. However, Keer in the 1966 edition ofVeer Savarkar disclosed that Gogate had been a staunch Savarkarite and had met him days before the assassination. Was Keer suggesting that Savarkar had inspired the failed assassination attempt on Hotson?
Savarkar’s role in Gandhi’s assassination
When Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated on January 30, 1948, Savarkar was taken into police custody on February 5. Seventeen days later, he wrote a letter to Bombay’s Commissioner of Police:
“I shall refrain from taking part in any communal or political activity for any period the government may require in case I am released on that condition.”
It was this gratuitous offer, which had the government suspect him of having a central role in the assassination of Gandhi. But his role could not be proved in court. It subsequently came to light because of the depositions his aides made, years later, after Savarkar’s death.
There were two attempts made on Gandhi in January 1948. The first was made on January 20 – it was a botched up affair for which a Punjabi refugee, Madanlal Pahwa, was arrested. The second attempt was successful – Nathuram Godse shot Gandhi dead on January 30, 1948.
There were eight accused in the Gandhi assassination case – Nathuram Godse and Gopal Godse, his brother, Narayan D Apte, Vishnu Karkare, Madanlal Pahwa, Shankar Kistayya, VD Savarkar, and Dattaraya Parchure. The ninth member of the group – Digambar R Badge – turned approver. It was his testimony to the court that linked Savarkar to Gandhi’s assassination.
Badge gave a detailed account of the two visits he, Godse and Apte made to Bombay’s Savarkar Sadan, on the second floor of which their mentor resided. The first visit was made on January 14, which was the day on which Badge had handed over to Godse and Apte two gun-cotton slabs, five hand-grenades and detonators.
Badge, however, did not enter the Sadan. Apte later confided in Badge that he and Godse had met Savarkar, who told them that Gandhi and Nehru should be “finished” and had “entrusted that work to them.”
On the second meeting of January 17, Badge entered the Sadan. Godse and Apte went to the second floor. After 10 minutes or so, they came down the flight of stairs, followed by Savarkar. Badge testified that he heard Savarkar tell Godse and Apte, in Marathi, “Be successful and return.” However, Badge did not see Savarkar.
The trial court judge, Justice Atma Charan thought Badge was a “truthful witness”, but exonerated Savarkar only because there was no corroborative evidence in support of the approver’s deposition.
This was also because Godse and others did their best to ensure their mentor wasn’t implicated in the assassination case. For instance, Godse made out that his relationship with Savarkar wasn’t beyond what a leader has with followers.
Godse said that he and others decided in 1947 to “bid goodbye to Veer Savarkar’s lead and cease to consult him in our future policy and programme… I re-assert that it is not true that Veer Savarkar had any knowledge of my activities which ultimately led me to fire shots at Gandhiji.”
The prosecution had harped on Godse and Apte’s devotion to Savarkar. Savarkar, as was his habit, disowned them:
“Many criminals cherish high respect to the Gurus and guides of their religious sects… But could ever the complicity of the Guru or guide in the crimes of those of his followers be inferred and held proved only on the ground of the professions of loyalty and respect to their Gurus of those criminals?”
Savarkar’s deposition deeply hurt Godse, a fact testified to by lawyer PL Inamdar, who had defended Gopal Godse. In his account of the trial, Inamdar wrote:
“How Nathuram yearned for a touch of Tatyarao’s [Savarkar’s] hand, a word of sympathy, or at least a look of compassion in the secluded confines of the cells. Nathuram referred to his hurt feelings in this regard even during my last meeting with him…”
The new evidence
On the release of Gopal Godse from prison in October 1964, a felicitation ceremony was organised for him on November 11, 1964. On that occasion former editor GV Ketkar claimed that Nathuram would often discuss with him the advantages of killing Gandhi.
It created a furore in Parliament, prompting the setting up of a commission of inquiry under Justice JL Kapur in March 1965. The commission was to ascertain whether there had existed prior information to assassinate Gandhi and whether or not it was communicated to the government.
Months later, in February 1966, Savarkar voluntarily courted death, by stopping all consumption of food and water. He said it was better for a person to die willingly at the end of his life mission. But did Savarkar take this decision because he wanted to evade the prospect of the commission inflicting ignominy on him late in life?
That question cannot be answered. But it did perhaps free Savarkar’s bodyguard, Appa Ramachandra Kasar, and his secretary, Vishnu Damle, to depose before the commission. They testified to the close relationship Savarkar had with Godse and Apte, even travelling together for Hindu Mahasabha meetings. They also said, quite damningly, that Vishnu Karkare had brought a Punjabi refugee boy (Pahwa) in the first week of January to Savarkar for an interview that lasted 30-45 minutes.
In 1967, Gopal Godse published Gandhi Hatya, Ani Mee (Gandhi’s murder and I), in which he said Nathuram Godse came to know Savarkar way back in 1929 in Ratnagiri and had daily personal contact with Savarkar.
The new depositions prompted Justice Kapur to summarise: “All these facts taken together were destructive of any theory other than the conspiracy to murder by Savarkar and his group.”
Is it possible that despite their deep relationship with Savarkar, Godse and Apte might not have confided in their mentor their plan to kill Gandhi? Perhaps the answer to it lies in History & the Making of a Modern Hindu Self, published in 2011.
Its author, Aparna Devare, cites personal communication she had with her great-uncle, Dr Achyut Phadke, whom Narayan Apte had taught physics in high school. Phadke told Devare that Apte would openly talk of his and Godse’s plan to assassinate Gandhi. It does seem incredible that Apte wouldn’t confide in Savarkar about what he openly spoke to schoolchildren.
BJP’s love for Savarkar
Savarkar is the progenitor of the political philosophy of Hindutva, which the Sangh Parivar adheres to. It is this that has made them perpetuate the myth of Savarkar’s bravery, and ignore his betrayal of his diehard followers and his entreaties to the British government.
But what really symbolises a breakdown in consensus over the ethical norms in the country is that we dedicate public buildings to the Father of the Nation as we do to Savarkar, who mentored the killers of Gandhi if not directly guided them.
Worryingly, the cult of Savarkar persists. Lt Col Shrikant Purohit formed Abhinav Bharat, which has been accused of bombing Malegaon, the Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad and the Samjhauta Express. The underground outfit to which Savarkar belonged was also called Abhinav Bharat. It does suggest a more than 100 years of continuity of a violent ideology.
This is the first article in a two-part series on VD Savarkar. You can read the second part here.
Ajaz Ashraf is a journalist in Delhi. His novel, The Hour Before Dawn, has as its backdrop the demolition of the Babri Masjid. It is available in bookstores.
Idea of Bharat Mata is European import: Irfan Habib
Courtesy : http://lifestyle9.org/learn-how-to-unblock-blocked-websites/
Blocking the user access to various social media websites and other internet services have become one of the most common tactics that is followed widely in organizations and educational institutions like schools and colleges.These usually involve websites like Facebook, bebo, MySpace and so on. When it comes to the question how to unblock blocked websites, you must have already heard about different techniques. When all those tactics fail to bypass the internet filters, just give a try to the following tricks. It works!
Trick No: 1
Access the restricted websites using unblock website proxy servers
Do you have any idea on how web proxies work? No? Let me explain now. It acts like a middle man or an inter-mediator between your system and the internet. It downloads your requested pages directly from its server and in turn it transfers the pages to the users. When you use proxy servers, your requests bypass all the internet filters and even those annoying firewalls.
youhide.com is one such website proxy server (for unblocking) which also helps in protecting your online identity. Apart from doing the job of unblocking websites and bypassing the internet filters, it even helps you handle your sensitive data in a much secured way. If the website you want to access has no SSL certificate, you don’t need to worry about it. Because, when you access the websites through web proxies like youhide.com, it will automatically add SSL security on the fly. This way you can make your data go hidden from the malicious programs and potential hackers as well. Isn’t that great now?
Hidemyass.com is one of the most popular and reliable proxy servers which was available at free of cost until quite recently before. Now it comes with the price tag though.You can make use of the following free proxy servers to achieve the premium like service anyway.
Some Free web proxies that help you unblock the blocked websites
Note: These days many school boards and organizations block proxy servers too. Sadly, if this is the case then trick no 1 will not work but don’t be disappointed because we do have many other options too. You can give a try with other techniques explained here.
Trick No: 2
Internet Archive (Wayback Machine)
It’s a non profit organization. To be more technical, we can call it as Way back machine. It stores the data of any website in an archive format. You cannot expect it to have up-to-date copy for all the time though. It will show you the website in such a way like how it was looked on some particular dates. So when you enter the name of the website in the Wayback Machine, hopefully you can get its recent cached copy. Apart from using this to access the blocked websites, you can make use of this amazing feature to visit websites which are down or suspended now. It is a very useful site for webmasters too.
Trick No 3
I can hear your question. How to unblock websites using the Translation Services? Think a bit! Follow the below instructions so you can unblock websites in not more than a minute. You can use the translation services like Yahoo! Babel Fish or Google Translate. But to do this, your filters should allow access to search engines. Eager to know how to unblock a website? Follow the below steps
Step 1: Type the URL of the website you want to access in the translation field.
Step 2: Choose the language in the “Translation from” and “Translation To” Field. In “Translate From” field select the language that is different from your current web page language. For example, if your current language is “English” then select any other language like ” French, Spanish, German etc” in “Translate From” field. In ” Translate To” field choose “English”. This method is one of the most effective ways to unblock the blocked website. So I hope you are now clear with how to unblock websites. However, the article doesn’t end here. There are some more tricks too. Read on.
Trick No : 4
HTTP into HTTPS
Even if you are searching all over the internet on how to get around blocked websites, i bet you can’t find any simpler method than this one.
All you need to do is to just replace http with https in your URL. Obviously this will cause a confusion to the software program restricting the access.
On the flip side, we can’t expect this hand trick to work every time.
Trick No : 5
Unblock Websites Through IP Addresses
how to unblock blocked websites websites using IP Address? If this is something that you are literally looking for then just read on. When all the above tricks to unblock websites fail, you can try this method.
- Find out the IP Address that is been allocated to the website you wish to open. Getting the IP address is pretty simple.
- Open the command prompt & type [ping yourdomain.com](type without brackets). Hit enter .
- For Example ping youtube.com. This command will return the IP address of your desired website.Isn’t that cool? Now instead of the real URL, enter the IP address in the browser’s address bar . This trick has higher probability to open up any restricted website.
Trick No : 6
Convert IP Address into Decimal URL
You can unblock a blocked website using IP address. But some website sites have their IP address blocked too.
If this is the case, try converting the IP address into its decimal values.
For example, instead of using http:// 126.96.36.199/ (IP address of Google), you can use the decimal format of the IP address HTTP://1249766560.
How will you convert the IP address into Decimal value? Go to the website http://www.ipaddressguide.com/ip, type the blocked website’s IP address that you want to convert.
Trick No : 7
Use TOR- Effective And Risky Way
Have you ever heard about TOR ( The Onion Router)? Well, it is one of the best free software for those who are looking for how to unblock blocked websites.
Tor is an internet browser that is specially designed to encrypt the confidential military communications. UNRL (The US Naval Research Lab) has designed this browser. Tor channels data via multiple nodes to prevent the scrambling of original data. To use Tor, you need to download this piece of software from torproject.org. Then you can start to browse your unblocked website through the Tor. Even though browsing through this site is little bit slow, it is considered as one of the effective methods to access the blocked sites.
Warning: Keep in mind that the Tor is so famous with the cyber criminals; the users of the Tor may be flagged as the immoral intent, so use this browser with caution. If you like to use Tor with ambiguity, it is recommended to create a different new identity on each time you use the web. It helps you to guarantee that you’ll never be attached to the identical server twice. The new identity can also helps to browse faster, because each time you change the identity you will be switched to another browser.
Trick No : 8
Unblock Websites via VPN
Another worth noting trick on how to get around blocked sites is none other than using VPN (Virtual Private Network). It will create a protected tunnel between VPN server and your System. Once you are connected with a VPN Server, your entire communication will start to travel via a secured tunnel, hence 3rd parties can’t able to track it. In this technique, your IP address that is your online identity will be anonymized, hence you are free to access your restricted websites. In addition, VPN also provides higher range of security than the available proxy servers do. There are many VPN software available to provide you this service, the following are best of them:
- HotspotShield VPN
- Hola unblocker
- TunnelBear VPN
- ProXPN VPN
Hola unblocker is the free VPN Proxy service that permits you to access the censored or blocked websites in your school, college or country. This simple and very effective software never affects the speed of your Browsing. This browser extension is available in all famous browsers.
- Install the Hola extension
- Go to the blocked website
- Click the icon of the Hola extension (you can see it at the browser’s top right spot)
- Choose the country you like to bypass the site and enjoy accessing of the blocked site
How To Get Hotspot Shield VPN
Go to the official website of Hotspot shield (www.hortspotshield.com) in your browser and download the free version.
- Install it on your PC
- Open your browser Firefox, Opera, Mozilla, Safari or whatever it is. You can see the Hotspot Shield placed at the top.
Trick No : 9
Use blocked sites with Google Cache
Google maintains cache for each and every file published on the internet on every single day. To access the cached version of any website type the following in Google search box “cache:websitename.com”. Anyway to use this trick, your network should allow access to Google anyway.
This will give you the sites from the old Google Cache. Before using this trick just ensure that the browser caching is enabled in the browser. Keep in mind that this technique wouldn’t provide the current version, but still it can help you to get the piece of information you wish to read.
Trick No : 10
Use URL Shortners
Wondering how to unblock websites using URL shortner? It’s one of the best possible ways around. Generally, to short the lengthy website url, we use this service.It shortens the url length. By using these sites, you can sidestep the access and security of the website, as they redirect the URL of the blocked website to the unblocked one.
Try using the following url shortners.
- Google’s goo.gl
Trick No : 11
Try Opera Mini Simulator
Opera mini is a web-based version of Opera. This demo version is designed to access the blocked websites that offer their mobile version. But it does not mean, you can’t access the websites that doesn’t offer a mobile version. You can. Only drawback is, quality will be much lower.
- Just install opera mini 5 beta into your mobile device
- Open the simulator, type the URL of the restricted site you like to open.Press Enter
- Now you can gain access to the unblocked website.
Trick No : 12
Get The Help Of Web2Mail
As you are looking to find a way to unblock websites, i suggest you to try Web2Mail.With this site, you can enjoy the access of the blocked websites. Send a message to the email firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line that refers to your “intended site url”. Web2mail take this mail as a request for the website or webpage and return you a mail. That mail contains the website that you requested. For getting daily email for the selective webpage, you need to subscribe. You can sign up an account in the web2mail to receive websites by mail.
Trick No 13 :Internet Options – Restricted Websites
If switching between http and https does not work, check out the error message if you get any.
If it says that the page couldn’t be opened because of the “restrictions imposed on this account”, it may be due to the family safety software. In such cases, your choices to bypass the internet filters are limited. You can use trick no 11.
What if the error message doesn’t have anything to do with your account? In this is the case, the chances are, site you were trying you to access may be blocked by the internet options.
You can unblock blocked websites with the following simple procedure
1. Open control panel.
2. Click on the internet options. Under the security tab, click the restricted websites.
3. Hit on the button labeled “sites”. Check out whether the site you are trying to access is on the list. If it’s there, simply removing it from that list would give you access to that particular site.
This option is one of the simplest and least useful ways to get around the blocked websites because organizations and big concerns would not simply block the sites through this basic blocking method. They prefer network level restrictions which are often hard to overcome.
The Bottom Line
When the network administrator notices people bypassing the internet filters using one way or the other chances they will catch up the rule breakers soon. So keep your eyes wide open folks. Be little careful while applying these tricks. Going against your school rules or organization policies may make you land in some serious troubles. So use these kinds of access violations with more caution at your own risk.
Learning how to unblock blocked websites is not a bad thing. But to enjoy a trouble free life, make sure you play it safe.
ഫലസ്തീന് പെണ്കുട്ടിയെ വെടിവെച്ചുവീഴ്ത്തിയ ഇസ്രയേല് സൈന്യം വീല്ചെയറിലെത്തിയ യുവാവിനെ ചവിട്ടിവീഴ്ത്തുന്ന ദൃശ്യങ്ങള് വൈറലാകുന്നു
Up to 11% of the world’s electricity could come from concentrated solar by 2050
The world’s largest solar power plant, now live in Morocco, will eventually provide 1.1 million people with power and cut carbon emissions by 760,000 tons a year.
The $9 billion Noor Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) plant could eventually start exporting energy to the European market.
The Noor Concentrated Solar Power (CSP), paid for with funds approved by The World Bank, is located in the Souss-Massa-Drâa area in Morocco, about 6 miles from Ouarzazate town. It began operation on Thursday. While the World Bank and other development partners provided financial support, the Noor solar plant is a wholly Moroccan project.
“With this bold step toward a clean energy future, Morocco is pioneering a greener development and developing a cutting edge solar technology,” Marie Francoise Marie-Nelly, World Bank Country Director for the Maghreb, said in a statement. “The returns on this investment will be significant for the country and its people, by enhancing energy security, creating a cleaner environment, and encouraging new industries and job creation.”
The plant will be able to store solar energy in the form of heated molten salt, which allows for the production of electricity even at night.Overall, the new Noor CSP plant will increase Morocco’s energy independence, create 1,600 jobs during construction and 200 jobs during the power plant’s operation, and increase the installed capacity of solar power stations from 22MW in 2013 to 522MW in 2018, according to The World Bank.
Unlike concentrated photovoltaic solar power, CSP plants do not create electrical current through the photovoltaic effect, where particles of light (photons) break electrons free from atoms, generating a flow of electricity. Instead CSP uses either lenses or parabolic mirrors to concentrate the sun’s light onto a small point where water or another substance is heated.
The heat is used to create steam, which runs a turbine that produces electricity. In the Noor CSP, concave mirrors focus on molten salt, heating it anywhere from 300 degrees to 660 degrees Fahrenheit.
Currently, the Noor CSP can generate 160 megawatts (MW). But as additional phases are completed, in two years it’s expected to generate more than 500MW — enough power to meet the needs of 1.1 million Moroccans.
Phase 2 (Noor 2 and 3 plants) are due to open in 2017 and 2018 and will store power for up to eight hours. In all, the Noor CSP plant will cover an area of 6,178 acres.
At full power, the new solar power plant will reduce carbon emissions by 760,000 tons per year, which would equate to 17.5 million tons of carbon emissions over 25 years, according to Climate Investment Funds.
The International Energy Agency estimates that up to 11% of the world’s electricity generation in 2050 could come from CSP.
Morocco’s goal is to have 42% of its energy come from renewable resources by 2020.
The fencing team events rotate in and out of the Olympics; there was no team event for women’s saber in 2012, a disappointment to the Americans, who had won the bronze medal in the event at the world championships in 2011 with Muhammad on the team. Olympic rules permitted a maximum of two Americans in the individual event, leaving Muhammad out.
The Americans have continued to shine in women’s saber in the years since and have now won five consecutive team medals at the world championships, including a gold in 2014. Muhammad was a part of all five teams, giving her a great chance at an Olympic medal in Rio.
The team is led by Mariel Zagunis, the most accomplished fencer in American history, winner of individual Olympic gold medals in 2004 and 2008 and still one of the best in the world. Russia and Ukraine are the main opposition.
Muhammad’s accomplishments led her to be invited when Mr. Obama made his first visit as president to an American mosque last week in Baltimore. Muhammad was among the prominent American Muslims invited to a round-table discussion with the president before his speech.
The subject was “the varying concerns that people have within the Muslim community, like Islamophobia, mass incarceration, anti-Muslim rhetoric,” Muhammad said. “I talked about my experiences as a minority member of Team U.S.A.”
Muhammad is glad her mother noticed the fencers in the cafeteria that day.
“On a Saturday, you’ll see 200 kids here learning to fence” under the auspices of the Peter Westbrook Foundation, she said at the Fencers Club in Midtown Manhattan. “Sports gives girls a sense of confidence that’s very hard to find in this society.”
Follow BBC Trending on Facebook
Herbal therapy gives cancer patient hope
Alternative medicine is proving the answer for one Taranaki cancer patient who claims his immune system was wrecked by chemotherapy.
Hari Nath, a chemical engineer from New Plymouth, was 20 kilograms underweight and in a wheelchair when he travelled to India to find a solution to the painful recurring throat ulcers he developed after being treated with intravenous chemotherapy for non-Hodgkins lymphoma.
He said he tried everything modern medicine had to offer, including controversial drug thalidomide, at hospitals in Bangalore and Kerala, but nothing worked apart from high doses of the steroid prednisone, which worsened his diabetes, and left him prone to infection and in an emotional tailspin.
Every time he tried to reduce his dosage of the steroid his ulcers would return – making it so painful to eat even liquidised food that he had to numb his throat with an anaesthetic before he could get anything down.
“Even to watch him eat was a torture,” his wife Geetha Nath said.
Mr Nath turned to alternative medicine, but with equally little success.
He tried several traditional Indian Ayurvedic remedies, but abandoned them when he found no improvement.
“After a year of unsuccessful struggle and a life with pain killers and antidepressants, the feeling of hopelessness crept in and I googled to search for a naturally occurring steroid equivalent and stumbled across a herb called ashwagandha (witheria somnifera) used in Indian Ayurvedic medicine over thousands of years for improving immune system,” he said.
He did some more research and found on the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Centre’s website that studies had been done where the herb had killed cancerous cells in mice.
“I decided to make myself the mouse,” he said.
Mr Nath consulted both an Ayurvedic doctor and his oncologist before beginning treatment with ashwagandha, and got the go-ahead from both of them. They were out of other ideas.
Being a chemical engineer, Mr Nath had a keen scientific interest in his health.
“I took the results of all my blood tests since I was diagnosed in 2002 and plotted them on a graph.”
Shortly after starting to take the herb, Mr Nath began to feel better.
Within a week he was able to halve his steroid dose without the ulcers coming back, and a month later his blood tests began to show a remarkable improvement.
“A blood test showed a sharp jump in total white cell counts with my lymphocytes increased from previous level of 600-700 to a whopping 2500-2800. Interestingly my ESR [indication of inflammation/infection] also had a sharp dip from 80 to below 20, ” he said.
Three months later he was able to stop taking the steroids altogether and got back to a healthy weight and state of mind.
Mr Nath said that if a year before someone had suggested he take a herb to treat his problem he would’ve dismissed it out of hand.
“It got to the point where I had no choice, I had to do something.”
Since then he’s discovered that clinical trials using ashwagandha to treat cancer patients were in progress in the United States and India, and patents pending in the US and Japan.
“I had contacted the concerned head of clinical trials and was told that they had several positive feedbacks from cancer patients on ashwagandha,” he said.
In November last year he was finally able to return home to New Plymouth and has been ulcer and cancer-free since.
“Now I am hoping for a long remission and possibly a complete cure,” he said.
A Story of the Holocaust and the AIDS Epidemic: The romance of an Indian Muslim Freedom Fighter and a Lithuanian Jewish Woman
Mohamed Iqbal Pallipurath
Dr. Chinnaramaswamy Iyengar was bewildered. Never in his 25 years tenure as professor of IIT Delhi (Mechanical Engineering Department, Thermal Science Stream, Applied Quantum Chromodynamics Section, Hyperspace Heat Transfer Subsection, and Specialisation Picard-Iyengar Tesseracts) had he ever been confronted with such a dilemma, “But we cannot accept an incomplete application form. “Mr…., er, Miss…, I mean… “ He gazed in mute appeal at the new student, dressed nattily in the latest androgynous fashion of the year 2112.
“Just call me Yar, sir, without the appellations” said the new student.
Dr. Iyengar was appalled. A strict disciplinarian, he had always been impersonal-in his dealings with students. And now this!
His spectacles oozed down his nose. He was one of those diehards who hold old traditions dear. Nowadays, when you could install a force field generator in a single hair of your eyelashes at any ophthalmologist’s clinic by laser microsurgery, he defiantly wore his anachronism.
“I don’t mean the Hindi word sir“, The rich tenor voice was continuing pleasantly “Just part of my acronym O-YAR. Stands for Organic Yttrium Articulated Robot”
“Yes Sir!! I am part of a new secret experiment being conducted by the Non-Human Resources Development Council. I am required to register for an M.Tech course under the quality improvement Programme”.
Dr. Iyengar appeared to possess a rather limited vocabulary.
“I have no doubt sir, that you would have received a copy of the G.O. connected with my enrolment here”
Dr. Iyengar forced his grey cells to work. He remembered no G.O. But then, he thought, bureaucratic lethargy increases exponentially with its age. More than one and a half centuries after independence, Indian bureaucracy had reached colossal heights of bungling inefficiency. The extinction of bamboo in the beginning of the 22nd century was attributed by many conservationists to the Paper Mountains created by millions of smug bureaucrats at the drop of a hat. If paper had not been replaced by cheap holograms which could present the printed word on thin air as it were, no organism with cellulose in its cellular makeup would have survived.
“May I suggest sir, that you peruse this copy I have at your leisure?”
Wordlessly Dr. Iyengar accepted the hologram but his eyes remained on the features of the new student.
They were not bad features at that. Familiar as he was with anthropomorphic robots, he was nonetheless dumbfounded by the life like object he saw. Longish hair was brushed back from a broad forehead, sparking wide set eyes, an aquiline nose and a rather wide mouth over a determined chin.
Dr. Iyengar recovered the use of his vocal cords.
“Do you mean to tell me that you are …..er.., synthetic?”
“No, not at all sir, my flesh and bones and blood vessels are quite real and do function normally as in a human being. It is mainly in the central nervous system that the difference lies. It’s all made of organic chip circuitry. As you know we have never been successful in growing human nerve cells in vitro”.
Dr. Iyengar nodded. Unlike others who personify the tongue-in- cheek definition of a specialist as one who knows more and more about less and less, he took an active interest in fields other than his own. The VLSIC of the 21st century had been relegated to museums by the development of huge organic molecules which could act as diodes and transistors, thereby increasing the density of a circuit a thousand fold. A super computer of the 2010s could now be placed on a desk. And not a big desk at that.
“And your power sources?”
“I have three independent ones. The first a fusion reactor with force field plasma containment, the second ordinary metabolic processes as in living organisms but with a catalysed ATP* energy release and finally an Iqbal modified Stirling engine drawing energy from the ambient with the heat sink in hyper space. The last will be of particular interest to you I think, sir.”
Dr. Iyengar’s eyes gleamed.
“And to think I never heard of this project!”
“Well sir, the whole project was shrouded in secrecy. The Americans would have loved to get hold of something like this”.
* Adenosine Tri Phosphate, the chemical responsible for the release of energy from food.
The “Arab Spring” and “Occupy Wall Street” movements of the early 21st century had dealt Autocracy and heartless Capitalism, blows from which neither recovered.
The occidental was now inferior to the oriental; at least technologically. India led the world in technology. Technology! Dr. Iyengar snapped out of his reverie.
“Tell me,” he asked, “Why do you have to study? It should have been a simple thing to program all the requisite data into your memory.”
“Quite so sir, but one of the main reasons for my creation is to study the efficacy of the present higher education system and its effects on the social interactions of the student.”
“Social interactions?… Hmmm…”
The good doctor suddenly became aware of the registration form in his hands.
“But you have to fill up this column.”
“I leave it to your discretion sir; I can take care of the physical aspect by simply changing my objective reality module.”
Beards may contain bacteria which could potentially be developed into new antibiotics, a study has found.
Researchers found that clean-shaven men were actually more likely to harbour infection-causing bacteria resistant to antibiotics when compared to bearded men.
The study, published in the Journal of Hospital Infection, tested swabs from the faces of 408 hospital staff with and without facial hair.
According to the results, clean-shaven men are more than three times as likely to be carrying methicillin-resistant staph auerus (MRSA) on their cheeks as their bearded counterparts.
Clean-shaven men were also more than 10 per cent more likely to have colonies of Staphylococcus aureus on their faces, a bacterium that causes skin and respiratory infections, and food poisoning.
Researchers suggest this may be due to micro-abrasians caused by shaving in the skin, “which may support bacterial colonisation and proliferation”.
The report reads: “Overall, colonisation is similar in male healthcare workers with and without facial hair, however, certain bacterial species were more prevalent in workers without facial hair.”
Dr Adam Roberts, a microbiologist from University College London, was able to grow over 100 different bacteria from beard swab samples in a separate analysis.
Among the petri dishes, he found the presence of a microbe that appeared to be killing the other bacteria.
Dr Roberts isolated the microbe and tested it against a form of E. coli that causes urinary tract infections, and found the microbes killed the bacterium efficiently.
The next Movember, which is also known as No-Shave November, is still several months away. However, this does not mean that you should switch to a clean-shaven look, especially if you are interested in attracting the attention of a potential mate.
A scientific study conducted by the Official Journal of the Human Behavior and Evolution Society also indicated that specific types of facial hair have a major impact on how others perceive individuals with a beard.
Therefore, depending on your personal preferences, you might want to grow ayeard or stick with thick stubble.
So what type of beard is right for your lifestyle? That depends on which qualities you want to be associated with:
- Most Attractive – Female participants in studies that have analyzed male facial hair have rated heavy stubble as the most attractive look. Men equally enjoyed the appearance of heavy stubble or a full beard.
- Healthiest – Men and women indicated that men who have a full beard appear to be healthier than those without any type of facial hair.
- Best Parenting Skills – This was another category that both genders ascribed to men who maintain a full beard.
- Masculinity – The perception of a man’s masculinity increases with the amount of facial hair that he has. So if you want to be seen as a highly masculine individual, you should consider cultivating a full beard.
Men who are clean-shaven or who have a light amount of stubble were rated as being the least attractive by women and men.
Additionally, it is interesting to note that a heterosexual woman’s interest in masculine looking men becomes more pronounced during the ovulation portion of her fertility cycle. In other words, if you and your female spouse or partner have been trying to conceive or are dealing with intimacy issues, it could be beneficial to grow your facial hair out.
After all, increasing your level of attractiveness in your partner’s eyes is definitely a good way to boost their sex drive.
There are also scientifically proven health benefits associated with having a beard. According to researchers from the University of Southern Queensland, beards are able to block up to 95 percent of the sun’s harmful UV rays, and this will reduce your risk of contracting skin cancer.
Men who suffer from asthma could experience some relief from symptoms by growing a beard because this will help prevent dust and pollen from getting into their respiratory system. As an added bonus, a full beard will keep your skin looking healthier and more youthful.
It sounds like it is time to toss out your razors, gentlemen, but make sure that you take steps to keep your beard in good shape so that you can look your best!
The role of facial hair in women’s perceptions of men’s attractiveness, health, masculinity and parenting abilities
Reposted from Rajeev Edappal’s post
ഗോംമാംസം ഭക്ഷിച്ചതിന് ഒരു മനുഷ്യനെ തല്ലിക്കൊന്ന കാലഘട്ടത്തില് ആരെ മുന്നിര്ത്തിയാണോ സംഘപരിവാര് സംഘടനകള് ഇത്തരം കൃത്യം നിര്വ്വഹിച്ചത് എന്ന് നോക്കുന്നത് നന്നായിരിക്കും. ശ്രീരാമന് മാംസാഹാരിയാണോ സസ്യാഹാരി ആണോ എന്ന് പരിശോധിക്കുകയാണ് ഇവിടെ. വാത്മീകി രാമായണത്തില് കൃത്യമായി തന്നെ രാമന്റെ ആഹാരശൈലിയെ കുറിച്ച് വിശദീകരിക്കുന്നുണ്ട്.
വാത്മീകി രാമായണത്തില് പല ശ്ലോകങ്ങളിലും കൃത്യമായി തന്നെ രാമന് മാംസാഹാരിയെന്ന് വിവരിക്കുന്നുണ്ട്.വനവാസത്തിന് പോകുമ്പോള് രാമന് കൗസല്യയോട് പറയുന്നുണ്ട്,
“चतुर्दश हि वर्षाणि वत्स्यामि विजने वने |
मधु मूल फलैः जीवन् हित्वा मुनिवद् आमिषम् || २-२०-२९”.
മലയാള പരിഭാഷ ഇങ്ങിനെ,”പതിനാലു വര്ഷം ഞാന് ഇറച്ചി ഒഴിവാക്കി, ഫലമൂലാദികളും തേനും മാത്രം ഭക്ഷിച്ച് കാട്ടില് കഴിയാം- അയോധ്യാകാണ്ഡം 2-20-29″
സുന്ദരകാണ്ഡത്തില് ഹനുമാന് സീതയോടു പറയുന്നുണ്ട്,
“न मांसं राघवो भुङ्क्ते न चापि मधुसेवते |
वन्यं सुविहितं नित्यं भक्तमश्नाति पञ्चमम् || ५-३६-४१”.
മലയാള പരിഭാഷ ഇങ്ങിനെ,”രാമന് ഇപ്പോള് മാംസം കഴിക്കുന്നുമില്ല, ലഹരി ഉപയോഗിക്കുന്നുമില്ല, വൈകുന്നേരങ്ങളില് കാട്ടില് നിന്ന് ലഭിക്കുന്ന സസ്യാഹാരങ്ങളാണ് രാമന് ഭക്ഷിക്കുന്നത്, സുന്ദരകാണ്ഡം 5-36-41″
ആരണ്യകാണ്ഡത്തിലെ ഒരു ശ്ലോകം ഇങ്ങിനെ,
“निहत्य पृषतम् च अन्यम् मांसम् आदाय राघवः |
त्वरमाणो जनस्थानम् ससार अभिमुखः तदा || ३-४४-२७”.
മലയാളം പരിഭാഷ ഇങ്ങിനെ,”രാഘവന് ഒരു മാനിനെ കൂടി കൊന്നു, അതിന്റെ ഇറച്ചിയുമെടുത്ത് ജനസ്ഥാനയിലേക്ക് പോയി, ആരണ്യകാണ്ഡം 3-44-27″, അതായത് വനവാസകാലത്തും രാമന് മാംസം ഭക്ഷിച്ചിരുന്നുവെന്ന് വ്യക്തം.
വാത്മീകി രാമായണത്തെ പുതുക്കിപ്പണിഞ്ഞവരില് ജൈന-ബുദ്ധമതങ്ങള് ചെലുത്തിയ സ്വാധീനമാണ് രാമന് സസ്യാഹാരിയാണെന്ന വിശദീകരണത്തിലേക്ക് എത്തിച്ചത്. രാമന് മൃഗങ്ങളെ ബലി കഴിച്ചിരുന്നുവെന്നും മൃഗത്തോലു കൊണ്ടുണ്ടാക്കിയ വസ്ത്രം ധരിച്ചിരുന്നുവെന്നും വാത്മീകി രാമായണം വ്യക്തമാക്കുന്നുണ്ട്. രാമായണത്തില് മാത്രമല്ല വേദങ്ങളിലും മാംസാഹാരം ഒരു ജനകീയ ശീലം ആയിരുന്നുവെന്ന് വ്യക്തമാക്കുന്നുണ്ട്.
മാംസാഹാരികള്ക്ക് നേരെ നടക്കുന്ന സംഘപരിവാര് അക്രമം കരുതിക്കൂട്ടിയുള്ള വര്ഗീയ നീക്കങ്ങളാണെന്ന് വ്യക്തമാക്കുന്നതാണ് മുകളില് വിവരിച്ചിരിക്കുന്ന ശ്ലോകങ്ങള്. രാമന്റെ പേരില് നടക്കുന്ന അക്രമത്തെ രാമന്റെ ജീവിത കഥ സാധൂകരിക്കുന്നില്ല. താത്കാലിക രാഷ്ട്രീയ ലാഭങ്ങള്ക്കും മ്ലേച്ഛമായ വര്ഗീയ ചിന്തകള് പരത്തുന്നതിനും മാത്രമാണ് ഇത്തരം അക്രമങ്ങള്. ജനാധിപത്യ ഇന്ത്യ ഒറ്റക്കെട്ടായി ഈ ഇരുട്ടു മനുഷ്യന്മാര്ക്കെതിരെ അണിനിരക്കേണ്ടിയിരിക്കുന്നു
HOW A NATION OF TECH COPYCATS TRANSFORMED INTO A HUB FOR INNOVATION Related Galleries How GM Beat Tesla to the First True Mass-Market Electric Car Space Photos of the Week: A Supermassive Black Hole Burps The Best Photos of CES 2016: Drones, VR, and … a Pigeon Ricoh’s Theta S Camera Captures CES in 360 Terrifying, Beautiful Degrees Misfit’s Wearables Hide Their Tech Behind Cool Minimalism SLIDE: 1 / OF 6 . Caption: Employees at rising mobile star Xiaomi take a break at their office in Beijing. ZACHARY BAKO SLIDE: 2 / OF 6 . Caption: A worker at ecommerce giant Meituan. ZACHARY BAKO SLIDE: 3 / OF 6 . Caption: Offices of livestreaming enterprise YY. ZACHARY BAKO SLIDE: 4 / OF 6 . Caption: Zepp Labs employee testing hardware at the company’s office in Beijing. ZACHARY BAKO SLIDE: 5 / OF 6 . Caption: Meituan office lobby. ZACHARY BAKO SLIDE: 6 / OF 6 . Caption: Jerry Liu, CEO of ShenZhen YueJiang Technology, during an open house at a XinCheJian hackerspace. ZACHARY BAKO Advertisement Related Galleries How GM Beat Tesla to the First True Mass-Market Electric Car Space Photos of the Week: A Supermassive Black Hole Burps The Best Photos of CES 2016: Drones, VR, and … a Pigeon Ricoh’s Theta S Camera Captures CES in 360 Terrifying, Beautiful Degrees Misfit’s Wearables Hide Their Tech Behind Cool Minimalism SLIDE: 1 / OF 6 . Caption: Employees at rising mobile star Xiaomi take a break at their office in Beijing. ZACHARY BAKO THE YOUNG PROGRAMMER had an idea, and everyone thought it was nuts. Just out of college, he’d gotten a job writing software for YY, a livestreaming company based in the massive city of Guangzhou, in China’s Pearl River Delta. More than 100 million users every month stream themselves, or tune in to broadcasts of others, singing, playing videogames, or hosting talk shows from their Beijing apartments. The audience chats back, prolifically, via voice or text. The programmer thought YY should try something new: use its proven streaming technology to run a dating service, which would operate kind of like a TV dating show. A host would set up an online lounge, then invite in some lonely singles and coax them to ask each other questions and maybe find a partner. Company executives were dubious. “The CEO almost killed it,” says Eric Ho, chief financial officer, sitting in YY’s headquarters, atop three floors of furiously coding engineers and designers. Are you sure you want to do this? the CEO asked the kid. This is very stupid. I don’t think people will like it! But the programmer was hungry and persistent, so they waved him on: Give it a try. The old attitude—keep your head down and stay safe—is vanishing, swept aside by the surge in prosperity. In China, this type of employee didn’t used to exist. Ten years ago, high tech observers complained that the nation didn’t have enough bold innovators. There were, of course, wildly profitable high tech firms, but they rarely took creative risks and mostly just mimicked Silicon Valley: Baidu was a replica of Google, Tencent a copy of Yahoo, JD a version of Amazon. Young Chinese coders had programming chops that were second to none, but they lacked the drive of a Mark Zuckerberg or Steve Jobs. The West Coast mantra—fail fast, fail often, the better to find a hit product—seemed alien, even dangerous, to youths schooled in an educational system that focused on rote memorization and punished mistakes. Graduates craved jobs at big, solid firms. The goal was stability: Urban China had only recently emerged from decades of poverty, and much of the countryside was still waiting its turn to do so. Better to keep your head down and stay safe. That attitude is vanishing now. It’s been swept aside by a surge in prosperity, bringing with it a new level of confidence and boldness in the country’s young urban techies. In 2000, barely 4 percent of China was middle-class—meaning with an income ranging from $9,000 to $34,000—but by 2012 fully two-thirds had climbed into that bracket. In the same time frame, higher education soared sevenfold: 7 million graduated college this year. The result is a generation both creative and comfortable with risk-taking. “We’re seeing people in their early twenties starting companies—people just out of school, and there are even some dropouts,” says Kai-Fu Lee, a Chinese venture capitalist and veteran of Apple, Microsoft, and Google, who has spent the past decade crisscrossing the nation, helping youths start firms. Now major cities are crowded with ambitious inventors and entrepreneurs, flocking into software accelerators and hackerspaces. They no longer want jobs at Google or Apple; like their counterparts in San Francisco, they want to build the next Google or Apple. Related Galleries How GM Beat Tesla to the First True Mass-Market Electric Car Space Photos of the Week: A Supermassive Black Hole Burps The Best Photos of CES 2016: Drones, VR, and … a Pigeon SLIDE: 1 / OF 4 . Caption: YY programmer Mo Wengang, who pitched the idea of using the company’s streaming tech for a dating service. ZACHARY BAKO SLIDE: 2 / OF 4 . Caption: YY employees line up for a mid-afternoon snack. ZACHARY BAKO SLIDE: 3 / OF 4 . Caption: The offices of YY in Guangzhou. ZACHARY BAKO SLIDE: 4 / OF 4 . Caption: The offices of YY in Guangzhou. ZACHARY BAKO Related Galleries How GM Beat Tesla to the First True Mass-Market Electric Car Space Photos of the Week: A Supermassive Black Hole Burps The Best Photos of CES 2016: Drones, VR, and … a Pigeon SLIDE: 1 / OF 4 . Caption: YY programmer Mo Wengang, who pitched the idea of using the company’s streaming tech for a dating service. ZACHARY BAKO Anyone with a promising idea and some experience can find money. Venture capitalists pumped a record $15.5 billion into Chinese startups last year, so entrepreneurs are being showered in funding, as well as crucial advice and mentoring from millionaire angels. (It’s still a fraction of the US venture capital pool from 2014, $48 billion.) Even the Chinese government—which has a wary attitude toward online expression and runs a vast digital censorship apparatus—has launched a $6.5 billion fund for startups. With the economy’s growth slowing after two decades of breakneck expansion, the party is worriedly seeking new sources of good jobs. Tech fits the bill. The new boom encompasses both online services and the hardware arena. Recent local-kid-makes-good models like Xiaomi, the fast-rising Beijing mobile phone firm, or WeChat, Tencent’s globe-conquering social networking app, are leading the way forward. Homegrown firms have distinct advantages, namely familiarity with local tastes, the ability to plug into a first-class manufacturing system built for Western companies, and proximity to the world’s fastest-growing markets in India and Southeast Asia. The combination of factors is putting them in a position to beat the West at its own game. Xiaomi, for example, was the fourth-highest seller of mobile phones worldwide last year, behind Samsung, Apple, and Huawei. As for YY, it turns out it was good that the executives indulged their enterprising programmer. The dating show launched last year and became a hit. It also generated serious profits. YY has no advertising; it earns revenue when users fork over real Chinese currency to buy virtual items they give as gifts to each other or to the “broadcasters” streaming their own lives online. YY takes a 60 percent cut of each purchase, with the recipient getting the rest as actual cash. (Popular broadcasters make so much money that they live off their YY earnings.) At a laptop on Ho’s table, I peer at the screen, where a dating event is livestreaming. Money is flying around as male and female guests give each other—and the host—virtual presents: rings (worth $1.55), kisses (16 cents), and love letters (5 cents). Some items are pricier yet; for about $1,000, you can buy someone a virtual Lamborghini. In its first nine months, YY’s dating show brought in about $16 million, a sum growing rapidly every month. Last year YY itself brought in $580 million, and three years after going public on the Nasdaq, its market cap tops $3 billion, even after the market gyrations of 2015. The next Silicon Valley has emerged—and it’s in the East. CHINA’S TECH BOOM in the late ’90s produced its own Web 1.0: search engines, email and blogging tools, news portals, and Alibaba’s sprawling online sales market. Back then, China very much needed local copies of US companies, because US firms often couldn’t operate easily in China. The government blocked many foreign sites by using a complex system of filters known as the Great Firewall of China. Local firms had an edge anyway: They understood the particular demands of the Chinese digerati in the early ’00s, when Internet access was still scanty. Ten years ago, for example, eBay tried to dominate in China but failed, partly because many small businesses—the places that might otherwise have used eBay to sell their products to the world—didn’t yet have computers or a connection to the Internet. At Alibaba, however, founder Jack Ma understood this, so he assembled a huge sales force that fanned out across the country, teaching merchants how to get wired. (He also outcompeted eBay’s PayPal with Alipay, which holds a buyer’s payment in escrow until they receive their goods and pronounce themselves happy with the purchase; this helped build trust in online markets.) Riding that first crest, firms like Baidu and Alibaba became the “big dragons” of Chinese high tech, minting millionaires much as Microsoft had in the ’90s. The success of copycat firms paved the way for “little dragons”—creative, upstart Web 2.0 firms that emerged in the late ’00s. The big dragons provided role models, but even more significantly, they built the infrastructure crucial for today’s high tech boom, including the cloud services that allow any twentysomething to launch a business overnight and immediately start billing customers. One of the most successful in this second wave is Meituan, a firm that has become an ecommerce giant by enabling small merchants across the country to broadcast deals to nearby shoppers who have opted in, on the web and within Meituan’s mobile app. When I visit the Beijing headquarters, it looks like a tropical forest: There are leafy green plants plunked down between each workstation, while humidifiers puff clouds of moist air upward. It’s nearly silent, but there’s a lot of money flowing through the office. Suspended above dozens of coders is an LCD the size of a table for four that reads “8,309”: the number of deals Meituan has broadcast so far today. The firm’s revenue has skyrocketed in its five years of operation; in 2014 it processed more than $7 billion in deals for its 900,000 partners. It’s aiming to reach $18.5 billion by the end of this year. China’s techies don’t want jobs at Apple or Google—they want to build the next Apple or Google. Meituan’s CEO, the slender and soft-spoken Wang Xing, is a serial entrepreneur who tracks the emerging creative shift in Chinese startups. He had already made Chinese clones of Facebook and Twitter when, in 2008, he noticed the rise of Groupon. “There’s no doubt that we got influenced by Groupon,” he admits. But by then he was seasoned enough to spot the flaws in the discounter’s business model. Groupon took a big cut—up to 50 percent—of the revenue from each deal, which left participating merchants bitter. They’d routinely lose money by issuing Groupon deals, so they’d grit their teeth and hope it would attract new permanent customers; usually it didn’t. Wang, in contrast, wanted to make Meituan the easiest way for small merchants to charge their customers and stay in contact with them. Setting Meituan’s cut at only 5 percent ensured that merchants nearly always made money. He also began developing proprietary ecommerce tech. Wang whips out his phone to show me a recent example. His programmers fanned out to movie theater chains across the country, laboriously connecting Meituan’s app to their booking systems. It was a hassle, but now moviegoers can not only buy a ticket from the Meituan app, they can pick their seats. Wang clicks on The Hobbit to show me. “When you go to the theater you don’t have to wait in line and talk to any people—you can just go to a vending machine and scan your passcode” to get in, he says. It’s slick and simple, and now one-third of all movie tickets in China are bought via Meituan. Last year it was 10 percent of the firm’s annual income. Related Galleries How GM Beat Tesla to the First True Mass-Market Electric Car Space Photos of the Week: A Supermassive Black Hole Burps The Best Photos of CES 2016: Drones, VR, and … a Pigeon SLIDE: 1 / OF 4 . Caption: Zepp Labs’ cofounder Robin Han at the company’s offices in Beijing. ZACHARY BAKO SLIDE: 2 / OF 4 . Caption: Zepp Labs’ cofounder Xiaowei Dai uses the company’s tech to capture his golf swing. ZACHARY BAKO SLIDE: 3 / OF 4 . Caption: Hardware startup Zepp Labs in Beijing. ZACHARY BAKO SLIDE: 4 / OF 4 . Caption: A Zepp Labs employee tests hardware. ZACHARY BAKO Related Galleries How GM Beat Tesla to the First True Mass-Market Electric Car Space Photos of the Week: A Supermassive Black Hole Burps The Best Photos of CES 2016: Drones, VR, and … a Pigeon SLIDE: 1 / OF 4 . Caption: Zepp Labs’ cofounder Robin Han at the company’s offices in Beijing. ZACHARY BAKO It’s an adroit move, because service—and convenience—is what China’s urban middle class increasingly craves. Sporting high-end mobiles and elite fashion from Europe, they pull out their phones for nearly every purpose: using Alipay to cover a cab ride to a DJ’d party in the artistic outskirts of Beijing; opening WeChat and using its location-sharing function so their friends can find them; posting selfies on Meitu, a picture-sharing service with built-in beautifying filters. The service economy commanded 44 percent of all money spent by the Chinese middle class in 2013, a figure that consulting firm McKinsey expects will grow to 50 percent by 2022, as young urbanites splurge via their phones on everything from massages to takeout food, hairstyling, and nail salons. Even the market meltdown of this year doesn’t seem to have dented middle-class consumption: During China’s travel-focused Golden Week national holiday in October, box office sales were up 70 percent over the previous year, and overseas trips were up 36.6 percent, according to Bank of America-Merrill Lynch analysts. Ecommerce, already big in China, has an astonishing amount yet to grow—a tremendous number of everyday services are not yet online. For example, 80 percent of China’s hotel rooms are still booked offline. And people are eager for ecommerce not just because it’s convenient, but because it’s much less corrupt and opaque than brick-and-mortar businesses. As Kai-Fu Lee points out, the latter are, by American standards, riddled with inefficiencies and hucksterism. “In the US, hundreds of years of fair competition made commerce relatively fair and transparent,” he says. Not so in China. “If you were to sell real estate, there is no transparency. If you buy a used car, there is no Consumer Reports or Ralph Nader.” By removing middlemen and creating reputation systems, ecommerce firms are making transactions more transparent and trustworthy, he argues. “So a mobile social-based solution will be dramatically better,” Lee says. Corruption is just one of the many challenges China faces. The country’s leaders and investors also contend with nontransparent banks, government regulators on the take, rampant pollution, fierce crackdowns on political speech, and a rural population yearning for better jobs in the cities. It’s not clear whether the party can solve all these messy problems. In the short run, though, the high tech gold rush has produced manic and fierce competition. Whenever a new category opens up, it’s immediately swarmed upon by dozens or even hundreds of entrepreneurs. By comparison, competition in the US is mild; for example, there are only two major firms—Uber and Lyft—duking it out for car bookings. But Lee estimates that in its early days, Meituan had to fight 3,000 competitors dotted across the country. Whoever is left standing is battle-hardened. That’s Wang now. Halfway between the old guard and the new, he has become an angel investor himself, on the lookout for youngsters with daring ideas: the next little dragons. One company he’s investing in is eDaijia, which, rather hilariously, lets car owners find someone to drive their vehicle home when they’re drunk. “They are totally dominant in China, and last year they went to Seoul,” he laughs, “because, they told me, that’s the most drunk city in the world.” CHINA’S CREATIVE BOOM in web services is significant enough, but arguably it has an even bigger edge over the US in hardware. The country has spent 30 years becoming the manufacturing capital of the world, so coastal cities like Shenzhen and Guangzhou are now crammed with electronics facilities, from tiny three-person shops to Foxconn’s 30,000-employee city-factory complexes cranking out iPhones. All have a deep knowledge of how to make things, so it was almost inevitable that homegrown entrepreneurs would get in on the act. Living next to the factories or being able to stroll the electronics markets, they’re the first to know when trends in hardware emerge: for example, when a cutting-edge sensor arrives that lets you collect new forms of data—or when the cost of an existing one suddenly drops to a penny, allowing it to be sprinkled anywhere, like dust. The high tech gold rush has produced manic and fierce competition among the swarms of entrepreneurs. “It’s easier in China than in other places,” Robin Han says, “because we have Shenzhen.” Han is the 32-year-old cofounder of Zepp Labs, a Beijing-based hardware startup that is the darling of the sports world: It makes a square sensor that tracks your swing—of a golf club, a baseball bat, a tennis racket—then uses an iPhone app to help you improve. Han got the entrepreneurial itch five years ago as a PhD student working in Microsoft’s Beijing research office. Big-company life might be stable, but you could toil for years on a project that might never become a real product. Success was out of your control, he tells me, sitting in the brightly lit Zepp office, where, behind him, two dozen coders and designers pilot keyboards. Han had noticed gyroscopes being used in HTC and HP phones as well as Nintendo Wii remotes and figured they would go down in price as big companies continued to include them in their products. That had potential. He and a friend, Peter Ye (now Zepp’s head of R&D), loved sports and hit on the idea for a swing sensor. Players could analyze their motions or compare them to those of professionals; coaches could scrutinize an entire team’s practice swings, even remotely. Han and Ye started with golf. They figured duffers would be willing to spend money on a sensor that promised to improve their game. They lead me to the basement, where they have constructed a huge batting-and-golfing cage. “We spent a lot of hours in here perfecting the sensors and working on our swings,” Han says. The walls are studded with marks from errant balls. Their prototype worked so well it attracted the attention of an Apple rep who was touring China, looking for products for the Apple Store. Satisfying Apple’s precise aesthetics required them to slowly refine the design through 14 prototypes, but it paid off: Since the Zepp sensor launched in Apple Stores worldwide in 2012, Zepp has activated more than 300,000 of them. Han and Ye got Zepp Labs off the ground with $1.5 million in seed money from angel investor Xiao Wang and worked their contacts to find a good factory to help prototype and mass-produce their device. That last step—finding a talented, Foxconn-class factory that has deep experience in elegantly solving design challenges—has traditionally been the hard part of getting things made in China. But in recent years, that’s gotten easier too. A set of middlemen has emerged specifically to help bridge that gap, including Highway 1, a program by the manufacturing giant PCH: It picks gadget inventors from around the world and finds topflight factories willing to take a risk manufacturing a product by an unknown new talent. There’s also been a hackerspace movement in China. The first one—Shanghai’s XinCheJian—was cofounded in 2010 by Chinese Internet entrepreneur David Li, when he noticed how cheap prototyping tools were allowing kitchen-table inventors to produce increasingly slick prototypes. Now local creators from across China mix with expatriates who flock to XinCheJian from around the world, brainstorming ideas with each other and going on tours of factories organized by Li to help them understand how China’s hardware ecosystem works. Much like a gym, members pay monthly fees to XinCheJian, which gives them access to the hackerspace’s tools and, just as important, advice and networking from fellow inventors. “I always encourage people: Get to your prototype fast, try to find manufacturing partners, and get your Kickstarter campaign finished,” Li tells me, sitting at the hackerspace’s main table, in front of a fridge emblazoned with a sticker that reads DO EPIC SHIT. The rooms behind him are filled with metal lathes, electric tools, and rows of 3-D printers. One successful product that recently emerged from XinCheJian is Wearhaus headphones, which enable one person to stream music from their phone while friends listen in, letting them privately enjoy the same music while, say, coworking or studying. The first run of 3,000 headphones sold out, and now a larger run is in the pipeline. THE ACME OF China’s innovation boom can be found in four office towers that loom over a sprawl of condos in the suburbs of Beijing. These are the headquarters of Xiaomi. Founded in 2010, the company has become famous for making mobile phones comparable to the iPhone—fast processors, large screens, and a sleek operating system called MIUI—but at half the cost. It may be even more famous for its chiefly online sales model and explosive growth. Xiaomi sold 61 million phones last year, and for part of 2015 it was the top-selling mobile brand in China. Though it’s still private, last year investors said it was worth $45 billion. Xiaomi was founded by a serial entrepreneur who got a chance to make his early mistakes—and fortune—10 years ago: CEO Lei Jun founded the online bookseller Joyo, which he later sold to Amazon. He quickly became an angel investor, pouring money into the next generation of innovators, like YY, and making connections with the country’s brightest young designers and engineers. By 2010, a new vision had taken hold: to build an operating system and a new business model for selling mobile phones. Lei formed Xiaomi and hired a team of crack talent to quickly produce a gorgeous mobile phone OS and put it online in August of that year. China’s techies loved it. But only the most nerdy were willing to endure the hassle of downloading an OS to their existing phones. If Xiaomi wanted to get the system into the hands of millions, it would need to make—and sell—handsets. Foxconn became one of Xiaomi’s primary manufacturers. Meanwhile, the startup hit upon a hugely effective sales system. Each new model would initially be sold in a limited quantity—perhaps 50,000—via a weekly flash sale on its website. The exclusivity drove fans wild. The lucky few who scored phones would flaunt them to their envious hipster friends—and later, Xiaomi would open up a larger run to satisfy pent-up demand. Related Galleries How GM Beat Tesla to the First True Mass-Market Electric Car Space Photos of the Week: A Supermassive Black Hole Burps The Best Photos of CES 2016: Drones, VR, and … a Pigeon SLIDE: 1 / OF 5 . Caption: David Li, cofounder of hackerspace XinCheJian. ZACHARY BAKO SLIDE: 2 / OF 5 . Caption: XinCheJian’s first 3-D printer, an open-source machine called Printrbot. ZACHARY BAKO SLIDE: 3 / OF 5 . Caption: A vintage oscilloscope at XinCheJian in Shanghai. ZACHARY BAKO SLIDE: 4 / OF 5 . Caption: The SofaBike at XinCheJian. ZACHARY BAKO SLIDE: 5 / OF 5 . Caption: Every Wedneday evening, XinCheJian hosts an open house where makers present their ideas to the public. ZACHARY BAKO Related Galleries How GM Beat Tesla to the First True Mass-Market Electric Car Space Photos of the Week: A Supermassive Black Hole Burps The Best Photos of CES 2016: Drones, VR, and … a Pigeon SLIDE: 1 / OF 5 . Caption: David Li, cofounder of hackerspace XinCheJian. ZACHARY BAKO Xiaomi’s office is brightly lit and decorated with huge paintings. A mutt that workers adopted off the street sleeps in his doghouse on the first floor. One flight up, a sprawling room is filled with customer-service reps chattering into phones, attempting to solve users’ issues around the world. Though China is Xiaomi’s largest market, in 2013 the firm hired Hugo Barra, previously Google’s product manager for Android, to oversee global expansion. “These are phones for the generation that will never have access to a computer,” Barra says. “They’re discovering the Internet from their phones.” Xiaomi’s edge, he says, is that it continuously produces new upgrades. “We build hardware, but we take a very software way of doing it. We do a software update every week!” These updates often incorporate the voluminous feedback that Xiaomi gets from its deeply involved fans: A single post by Xiaomi’s team on the company’s customer forums can receive 100,000 replies discussing the latest tweak to the operating system. Indeed, Xiaomi’s willingness to talk online with its customers has been a key part of both understanding the demands of young consumers and cultivating their manic devotion. Xiaomi sells its phones at close to cost; much of the company’s revenue comes from its line of accessories, like headphones and step-tracker wristbands, as well as from app store purchases of things like new OS skins. The hope is that eventually even more revenue will come from the many ecommerce transactions that Xiaomi owners will engage in, buying everything from meals to plane tickets to clothing. But to see the company’s broader vision for the future, you need to head downstairs to a spare and elegant showroom. It’s filled with Internet of Things devices that the company is bringing to market, all of which can be operated remotely via the mobile OS. There’s a smart lightbulb, a connected webcam, a bathroom scale, a TV, a power strip—and an air purifier, a crucial appliance for the Chinese, who must contend with the country’s out-of-control air pollution. Once you buy one product, you’ll very quickly buy the others, because they all work so well together, Barra boasts. “The game in China is building walled gardens and getting them to stay in your garden.” Xiaomi didn’t design and manufacture this hardware itself. The executives went on a hunt for the country’s hungriest cutting-edge startups, then invested in them and demanded they produce Apple-quality design. It is astonishing to see the ecosystem laid out. It makes Google’s toe-dip into the Internet of Things—its Nest smart thermostat and security camera—look several years behind the curve. Western entrepreneurs now flock to hardware and software accelerators in China’s coastal cities. China’s creative generation, in other words, has proven it is ready to compete head-on with the world’s top high tech brands. “Apple and Samsung are right to be worried,” says Bunnie Huang, a well-known hardware hacker. (Indeed, Samsung’s global share of the smartphone market dropped to 21.4 percent in the second quarter of 2015, from 32.2 percent in the same period of 2012.) When it comes to hardware, Chinese inventors benefit from proximity to the world’s largest base of consumers, which is growing fast. Xiaomi’s first major foreign expansion wasn’t to the US but to the much huger—if poorer—India, where it sold 1 million phones in the third quarter of this year. Sew up China and India, it realized, and that’s a third of the planet. In context, the US, where many consumers already own smartphones, isn’t a particularly big market. Yet while Chinese firms like Xiaomi are challenging the big tech firms, the flow of opportunity goes both ways: It’s getting easier and easier for Western entrepreneurs to go work in China. They now regularly flock to hardware and software accelerators in the coastal cities so they can meet local collaborators or find factories. One French woman arrived in Shanghai last year to team up with Chinese coders and create an online market for French wine, targeting the chic restaurants where urbanites dine. Young American inventors congregate at H@xlr8r in Shenzhen, where they prototype everything from retro animated-GIF cameras to customized-pill-creation robots. China is essentially becoming a mecca, a destination for people with ideas—much as Silicon Valley did a generation ago. RELATED STORIES CADE METZ China’s Alibaba Just Beat the US in a Global Machine Battle ISSIE LAPOWSKY Techies Are Trying to Get Chinese Consumers to Rack Up Debt ANDREW CURRY Building a New Silicon Valley in a Post-Soviet Dictatorship I saw that one day toward the end of my visit. I dropped by David Li’s XinCheJian hackerspace, where Li was meeting with a startup team he’d been mentoring, including a Dutch-Italian man named Lionello Lunesu, who has lived in China for eight years, and a Latino man named Berni War. They were looking over their latest prototype, which had been sent by courier from a nearby factory. It was a little device that gives you alerts from your computer or phone, almost like an Apple Watch that sits on your desk instead of on your wrist. “For David, we’re not going nearly fast enough,” Lunesu says. Li picked up the gadget and stroked its sleek white sides. “That’s the same plastic they use for the iPhone 5c,” he says. The entrepreneurs grin. A lot of this opportunity is not available in the US. That’s why they’re here. Contributing editor CLIVE THOMPSON (@pomeranian99) is the author of Smarter Than You Think. Go Back to Top. Skip To: Start of Article.