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Interior Designing: How decor can affect our well  being

Be it our workspace, home or shopping centre, the interior of a place significantly affects us. It can make us calm and productive, make the kids behave better or make the customers buy more. 

Usually interior designing is taken to mean only the aesthetics. But that’s only one part of the puzzle. The psychological effects of interior design on our subconscious is not really spoken about. The look of our house or office space can have  a documented effect on our emotions. An office with just tables, chairs and barren walls may not provide its employees the mental stimulation to work better. Likewise a cluttered home may fail to give the much needed relaxation at home. Interior design of these places can dictate how we feel. Hence, a music studio or a chef’s kitchen and most other workspaces are artistically designed to give employees the feel of their respective professions. 

A balance of colors, size of windows, fall of light and the shape and texture of furniture can make all the difference how one feels. 

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Colors

Colors are an important aspect of how we perceive our surroundings. That colors produce certain emotional response is evident from our vocabulary. We feel blue, go green with envy and sometimes we just think pink!  It is difficult to decode the exact implications of colors, experts agree that bright hues of yellow and green offer a splash of energy and stimulate communication and socialization. Richer shades of orange have a similar vibrant effect, it increases appetite therefore mostly used in kitchens. Purple and dark shades of blue and green cause a tinge of gloom though when used in appropriate proportions they can evoke comfort. Softer shades of orange and yellow are soothing, create happiness and enhance creativity. Light shades of blue evoke the color of sky and sea and usher in tranquility. Icy green and grey create a sense of calm and peace. Red can pepper the room with energy but if used in excess, it can appear hostile. 

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Light

Humans are like plants. They bloom in natural light and wilt in dark  dingy spaces. Natural light is the primary source of health and means of a composed body and mind. Bright natural light energizes the surroundings and make the space look spacious. Dim light creates sad, gloomy and suffocating spaces and hence are unproductive. The best source of light is  sunlight and that is why the number and sizes of the windows in a space can boost ones happiness or make one depressed, sad or anxious. 

 

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Space

Space can have a definitive effect on our behavior, mood, thoughts and feelings. The size of the room and height of the ceiling impacts the mood and individual’s perception of freedom and confinement. It is documented that in rooms with higher ceilings, people are more focused and creative. Studies point that the proximity to plants can lift one’s mood, increase concentration and even improve memory retention, since the sight of natural elements and green color reduces stress. Clear passages and uncluttered homes allow the free flow of energy and create happy vibrations. 

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Shapes and Forms

The ancient practice of Feng Shui tells us that besides spaciousness, light and colors, the texture and form of the furniture can produce a particular emotional response. The shapes and textures should represent the five natural elements i.e. earth, fire, water, wood and metal. Rich textures ooze a sense of comfort while metal elements like wall clocks are linked to strength. Wooden elements promote personal growth and health. Feng Shui also teaches us that the arrangement of the furniture should ensure a seamless flow of energy. Dead spaces due to ill arrangement create negative energy. 

Refrences-

http://psychologytomorrowmagazine.com/aesthetics-and-well-being-how-interior-design-affects-your-happiness/

http://www.dawnchapnick.com/design-psychology/

Authored by Shraddha Jadhav, Faculty of Arts and Design at Vishwakarma University. 

Monday, 06 August 2018 06:18

Books adapted for the Silver Screen

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Books adapted for the Silver Screen

What are the odds of the current generation not having seen the movies of Harry Potter or of Game of Thrones? The actors who have starred in these movies, from Daniel Radcliffe to Sean Bean are now superstars with a huge fan following. Yet, both books were not originally made for television, rather they were meant to be read as books first. The Harry Potter series was written by J.K. Rowling, while the ‘Song of Ice and Fire’ was written by George R.R. Martin as a series of fantasy novels. History is replete with examples of successful adaptations, right from ‘Adventures of SherlockHolmes’ to 'Malgudi Days’, closer to home. All this begs the question: What is an adaptation? What are the hallmarks of a successful adaptation?

What makes a good adaptation?

Curled up in bed with a book, savoring the delicious satisfaction of reading is widely different from sitting in a dark cinema hall watching a film with hundreds of others in the audience. The business of adaptation is tricky. To begin with, understanding that books and films are two distinct mediums would help. Trying to be too faithful to the source will not fulfill the requirements of the genre. A book will have to undergo necessary changes to become a screenplay. Certain events, situations, characters in the novel will be lost or diminished while other elements will have to be added and highlighted to make the script effective. 'The Godfather’, considered a perfect film by most, leaves out at least half the book in adaptation, leaving out everything that wasn't related to dewy-eyed Michael becoming the shrewd Don Corleone.

Selection of the text keeping in mind the contemporary taste and viewership is the key to a successful adaptation. These days mythological stories of Lord Ganesha, Bhim, and other Hindu Gods are being adapted for television keeping in mind the increasing number of kids as the audience.

Remember the cult adaptation by B.R. Chopra of the epic Mahabharata. It cast a magic spell on the country every Sunday morning the streets were deserted for all were watching television. But the younger generation does not appreciate it in the same way. That is why an adaptation has to keep pace with the changing sensibilities of the time. ‘Pride and Prejudice’ adapted for the screen in the 1970s may not hold any sway with the contemporary audience of today.

Banes and Bonuses of adaptation.

“The book was better” is a popular axiom. I do not always subscribe to it. But my golden moments in the book have been lost in translation several times. One of my favorite books ‘A flight of Pigeons’ by Ruskin Bond was rendered ineffective in its film adaptation- Junoon by Shyam Benegal. 'A Flight of Pigeons' is set during the mutiny of 1857 in a muflis town of Shahjahanpur in UttarPradesh. The male protagonist of the novel Javed Khan, a courageous Pathan, is quietly besotted with Ruth Labrador and hopes to marry her. He has imprisoned Ruth, her mother and her grandmother in his house after the mutiny. Javed Khan is filled with raging hatred against the colonial British while at the same time is in love with Ruth, a Britisher. The novel very subtly depicts the undercurrents of feelings Javed harbors for Ruth. The film highly undermines the power of subtlety and makes Javed Khan shout out his feelings at the top of his lungs, leaving no room for imagination.

Towards the end of the book, after the sepoy revolt is crushed by the British, Ruth and her mother reach a safe British cantonment. There is an exceptionally powerful scene in the book where Javed Khan is hoping to see Ruth one last time before he turns his back on her forever. Ruth quietly appears from the darkness and stands in front of Javed Khan against her mother’s wishes. Anybody who has read the book would vouch for the impact the scene has on readers. Unfortunately the most important scene in the book falls flat and fails to evoke the same emotional impact as it does in the book.

That’s one of the pitfalls of adaptations. They overwrite our imagination of the characters, how they speak, the scenery of the world in which they exist. The film somehow gives it a finality, diminishing the possibility of imagining it in any other way.

The opposite is also true. If I watch the movie first I can’t help but hear the movie play aloud in my head while reading the book. If I ever read Harinder Sikka’s book - ‘Calling Sehmat’, I would never imagine Sehmat as anyone but Alia Bhatt, now that I have watched ‘Raazi’. An alternate imagination of Sehmat is irreversibly lost to me.

It may be a clever marketing ploy to replace book covers with their film posters. But it annoys the good old book lover in me. I feel it compromises the sanctity of the book, as if the book exists because and for the film. Though it’s not all gloom and doom. Sometimes the film becomes so popular and pulls the book from the realm of darkness to the list of best sellers and keeps them in public eyes for decades.

Film adaptations of books definitely increase the brand value of the author and allows the unfortunates souls who do not find beauty and solace in words to yet get a glimpse into great literature through their film adaptations.

The author of this article, Richa Singh is a content writer with Investronaut. She is a voracious reader and a keen traveller.

Friday, 27 July 2018 05:51

Sounds and Visuals of Aesthetics

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Sounds and Visuals of Aesthetics

Imagine you buy an expensive ticket to your favorite singer’s concert but instead of the singer’s melodious voice you hear disruptive shrieking sounds. Would you enjoy your evening? Or imagine a badly pieced together film where the sound and visuals are out of sync. Or a super hero film with tacky visual effects. Divorce technology from art and the effect would be lackluster. No film, live show, tv series or news can be conceived without technology. Behind the scene technicians of the Media and Entertainment industry are as important as people who appear in front of the camera.

From one state owned channel in the 1900s to more than 800 24*7 active channels today, it is not surprising that in India the Media and Entertainment industry is expected to grow at a rate of 14.3% and touch 2.26 trillion by 2020. The growth is directly proportional to the demand for media technicians.

Overview

Sound mixing is such an important part of the entertainment industry today. Commercials, jingles, radio, TV, films, advertisement, videos, websites, computer, mobile games etc all require trained sound engineering professionals. A sound engineer is responsible for correcting every note before it gets to your ears. Imagine a live music concert with bad sound quality. No matter how hard the singer tries to pour in emotions in to the song, if it fails at the technical level it will fail at the emotional level. In India sound engineers have always been integral to the entertainment industry but Resul Pookutty lent respectability to the profession after he won the Oscars for Slum Dog Millionaire in 2009.

A film or a series actually gets made at the editing table. Before that it’s a raw footage with no coherence and sound. A video editor is responsible for matching the audio and video clips and keeping only the most essential and relevant parts of the film. The editor needs to have a knack for the flow of the story. A good editor can make the average footage into a powerful one while a bad one can sometimes render the video embarrassing. A few years ago during an award show actress Kangana Runaut was shown to be receiving an award on the stage while she was also shown to be sitting in the audience applauding in the very next shot. Indeed a true example of bad editing!

The hallmark of a good visual effect is that the audience shouldn’t notice it at all. It is not easy to achieve an intricate fusion of technical finesse and artistry. The visual effects make the story and characters plausible. Cheaply done visual effects will always be a hindrance to the easy absorption of the story by audience. If in Jurassic Park, the dinosaurs didn't seem as real as they do, it would not be difficult to hold the story plausible. Visual effects are now an inseparable part of the entertainment industry.

Learning on the job

A degree or diploma is a good starting point to learn the basics, it gives you some hands on experience of handling the equipments. You can begin by assisting a senior in the industry. Thats when the real learning takes place. It is one field where complacency can cost you your career, technology is evolving everyday and you have to keep pace with the latest development to stay relevant.

Remuneration

Fresh after the diploma, one can expect anything between 10,000-15,000. However, with experience and a zeal for experiment, the sky is the limit. The renumeration can vary from the project to project and the production house one is working with.

Reference-

https://www.livemint.com/Consumer/7cMLq2Q02wiIBC9T2IEfeO/Indian-media-industry-likely-to-touch-Rs2260-billion-by-202.html?utm_source=scroll&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=scroll

The author of this article, Richa Singh is a content writer with Investronaut. She is a voracious reader and a keen traveller.

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Digital journalism: A New Way of doing Journalism

A cup of hot tea with the newspaper is the quintessential start to mornings in India. Well, the romance of newspapers may soon be a nostalgic memory of the yesteryears. Next only to China, India has 500 million internet users. With low cost devices and better 3G/4G internet speed, the traditional journalistic landscape is slowly giving way to digital or online journalism.

Traditional Vs Digital Journalism

The rapid boom in mobile internet users coincided with the rise in digital journalism scene. The Wire, Scroll, the Quint are producing interesting content with ‘mobile-first' distribution strategy as mobile devices account for 79 percent of web traffic in India, compared to 50 percent globally. They give real time news and analysis without the shouting matches of the television news rooms.

Digital journalism sets itself apart from the print and T.V. journalism on many accounts. It has catapulted news from a once-a-day product to an ongoing event to be consumed real time on social media and news portals.

For digital journalism web traffic is God. That is why web journalists are expected to know about the workings of the search engines and the use of keywords. They have to be in tune with the trending topics and package the content in an accessible manner by using multimedia tools. While print journalists take pains to carefully frame headlines, a web journalist will think more in terms of the ease of discovery of a story.

While a print journalist may toil to produce an elaborate in-depth article, for a digital journalist, given that the content is consumed mostly on the 5 inches screen of a mobile phones, brevity is important.

The 5Ws and a H ( what, when, where, why, who and how) makes up the bulk of the newspapers with barely two pages of editorial opinion. Digital news websites has less reporting and more analysis.

Digital journalism is an interactive medium where the comments and reactions to a story are quick, editors and writers are constantly put on the spot by the readers making them more accountable.

Antidote to sycophancy

Neutrality of media is a thing of the bygone era. Unfortunately, censorship, pedaling a particular ideology or party line is the norm now. Be it news channels or news papers, barring a few, each media house has a Left or a Right leaning. Digital marketing may not be an absolute antidote to self censorship and bias towards one particular party line but it certainly limits it. Self censorship of an important story by a news portal can cost them the significant loss of web traffic and popularity. They have to cast their net wide and far to keep the readers engaged and keep the web traffic going. Toeing a particular ideology can make them predictable and their niche world view will limit the popularity and reach of their site. The instance of The Wire breaking an important and sensational political story about the BJP president’s son was a flickering ray of hope in the otherwise gloomy state of electronic and print media.

The bottom line is that one can choose to report exclusively about fashion, movies, sports, politics etc but can not afford to be predictable in their views.

Democratic space

Digital journalism weakens the hierarchies of the traditional newsroom. The pace of the news cycle is so swift that a story in the morning may become stale by the afternoon. The pressure to constantly keep the wheel spinning and gauge the online trends, decentralizes the power of an editor as in traditional set up and places more power with the reporters and writers. The judgement of the editor is not to be undermined but a digital news room is more democratic as digital journalism relies on skills other than just writing. A desk rookie good at gauging online trends and writing viral stories could be more useful than a serious editor.

Loopholes

Online news come with its own set of issues of due diligence. The tearing hurry to put the story online often overtakes the need to get it right. A host of unverified, badly stitched stories circulate on the web to attract the traffic. While newspapers have the luxury of time to verify the facts before putting it out the next day.

Our reading habits are changing with shrinking attention spans which means more skimming of news online than real sustained engagement as in the case of newspaper.

Media is facing a serious trust deficit in the wake of constant attacks on journalists and polarized news being the norm of the day. Digital media is no silver bullet but it presents a ray of hope.

References-

https://www.techinasia.com/india-462-million-internet-users-79-traffic-mobile

https://www.firstpost.com/tech/news-analysis/digital-journalism-how-the-internet-will-save-the-indian-press-2-3642889.html

Authored by Richa Singh, Content Writer, Investronaut.

Schools shut for 10 days, residents queuing up to collect water from tankers and tourism stalled. Shimla, designated as the queen of hills is crippled by the acute water scarcity. It echoes the “Day-Zero” horror of Cape Town, South Africa, the date when taps were declared to run dry earlier this year. The crisis in Shimla and Cape Town is symptomatic of a wider problem staring the world today. If water management and conservation is not pursued vigorously, the day is not too far in the future when there will be no usable water left.

Not a drop to drink?

According to the NITI Ayog report released on 15th June 2018, 2 lakh people in India die every year due to inadequate access to clean drinking water. The report said that 600 million Indians are facing high to extreme water shortage. It further adds that 21 major Indian cities will run out of groundwater by 2020 and the country will face an eventual loss of 6% GDP due to water shortage by 2030. The report cites that nearly 70 percent of the country's water is contaminated, which puts India at the 120th position among 122 countries in the water quality index.

Water crisis has been ranked above cyberattacks and natural disasters as among the global threat with greatest potential impact by the World Economic Forum. The reason being, fresh water reservoirs are rapidly disappearing because water on the surface is not being skillfully managed and ground water is extensively exploited.

The scarcity of water in India is largely an issue of wasteful and inefficient use rather than availability of water. About 55% of India’s total water supply comes from ground water. According to a 2012 World Bank report, India is the largest user of groundwater in the world. It uses an estimated 230 cubic km of groundwater per year - over a quarter of the global total.

Inequity in water availability has already proved to be fodder for many inter-state disputes. Unless proper water management strategies are put in place, these conflicts are likely to escalate.

Reasons for the deplorable situation?

This over exploitation of groundwater can be understood in two parts. First, Irrigation accounts for 80% of total water consumption in India of which 60% comes from underground water. The flood irrigation technique used by farmers for major Indian crops like maize, paddy and sugarcane leads to unrestricted extraction of underground water. This, coupled with the attitude that groundwater is part of the land giving unlimited entitlement to the land owner to extract it. The government subsidies to farmers on fertilizers and electricity has added to the callousness and has lead to the overuse of fertilizers and water, tampering with water and soil quality.

Second, for personal consumption about 80% of drinking water needs are sustained by groundwater. This overexploitation has lead to the depletion of water tables to dangerous levels. Unlike surface water reservoirs ground water aquifers takes centuries to recharge making them similar to non-renewable resource.

Water scarcity is compounded by the growth of water intensive industries such as extraction and mining, thermal power production etc.

Is there a solution ?

In the wake of increasing farmer distress, it would be cruel to withdraw the subsidies on agricultural equipments, fertilizers and electricity to save the wastage of water. That is why an alternative to flood irrigation system needs to be adopted. Of late the government has collaborated with Israel to promote the drip irrigation system. Drip system follows the motto of grow more with less resources. It utilizes a minimal amount of water and fertilizer, saving excess wastage. This equipment is sold to farmers at subsidized rates and it works well for all vegetable crops like pea, potato etc. including sugarcane crop. Though, so far only big and medium landowners with tube well connections have been able to afford it.

India lacks a legal framework to limit the extraction of groundwater. Since it is considered a public property, a commodity that comes with the land, the government is unable to act. Stringent legislative changes are necessary to penalize the extraction of ground water beyond a certain limit.

Scarcity of water is one part of the problem, deteriorating water quality is another. The flow of all Indian rivers is hampered and water quality reaching dangerous levels due to contamination from sewage, industrial discharge, pesticides etc.

Despite all claims of modernity in India, an appalling half a million children die due to Diarrhea every year. Between 2005 and 2015, India recorded the lowest decline in mortality rate of diarrheal diseases among the BRICS economies of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

We need to pursue the save water campaign vigorously and spread awareness about the imminent danger of taps running dry forever.

Initiatives at school and college level need to be encouraged. Students participation in the cause can make a huge difference to the cause. Vishwakarma University in collaboration with WILO Foundation, Germany has been doing its bit for the cause. A “Water Quality Centre of Excellence “ is established at the Vishwakarma University, PUNE campus with the help of grant from WILO Foundation, Germany. The objective of the centre is to promote  the use of clean drinking water. The centre will work towards developing innovative water management technologies and provide water quality testing facility. The WILO Foundation has established an innovative Water ATM on the campus to allow students to have 24*7 free of cost access to clean drinking water.

References-

https://www.livemint.com/Opinion/ldcgxu5P9ES63OJ9fcGwpO/India-must-take-action-before-it-runs-dry.html

https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/india-facing-worst-water-crisis-in-history-says-niti-aayog-report-1867755?fb

 

Authored by Richa Singh, Content Writer, Investronaut

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                                                                                                                    Pic 1: Golden Sand backwaters in Kerala

Off the trodden track: Random reflections on my travels.

When I was growing up, I explored the vastness of the world only through the pages of my favorite books. I lived in a small village in North India, raised in family of farmers who believed that the land you worked on was irrefutably home, a living entity that claimed you as lovingly as you claimed it. Any venture away from home was temporary. A beacon, it always called you back and you willingly returned. This world view turned itself on its head when I found myself sitting in a lecture on “British women’s travel writing from the 17th to the 19th century” during my Masters.

Travel to me hitherto meant sticking to rigid itineraries and hotels. But that lecture changed my idea of travel. It inspired me to shuck off the predictability of a tourist and carved a traveller out of me. My idea of travel changed from adhering to the restrictive routine of travel guides and tourist brochures to charting the unexplored. I often fancied myself to be a Fanny Park like figure, exploring the place at my own unhurried pace, developing an intimate relationship with the surroundings, gradually allowing the place to reveal itself to me.

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As luck would have it, in 2009 I found myself on a plane bound to Europe. I had won a scholarship to which I had applied and had conveniently forgotten about until I received a letter of acceptance. I spent a year in a university town called Tubingen in southern Germany. That year transformed me in ways inexplicable.

As they say if you want to do something well, do it slow. I spent the year marveling at European architectural splendour, discovering the ruined abbeys and picturesque villages and meeting people from remote corners of the world. The year opened my heart and mind to a completely new way of life and fueled in me an infinite curiosity for cultures hitherto alien to me.

Years passed by and the drudgery of routine city life took over. In 2014, tired of my crowded, noisy city life I took stock of my savings and boarded a train to the southernmost state of India, also known as the Gods own country-Kerala. On a humid July morning, I landed on the doorstep of a lonely elderly couple in Trivandrum. They graciously rented me a room in their house and fed me with lip smacking home cooked food every day. On days when my hosts were in a chatty mood I would sit on the veranda with them listening to their tales of love and loss.

One of the divine joys of being alive is to experience the magic  of rains! And the monsoon in Kerala gives you just that! A heaven for a  pluviophile like me!! It rains incessantly every day at all hours of the day. It pours  with such ferocity that all other sounds are subsumed under the angry pitter   patter of the rain outside. I spent innumerable days sitting by the window,   dreaming and blankly watching the raindrops falling from the sky. Several nights   would lay awake till wee hours of the morning, reading. I still miss waking up to   the sound of Aarti and Azaan every morning with church bells ringing in the   background. I spent six glorious months in Trivandrum taking long walks along  the pristine beaches, visiting the mesmerizing backwaters, contemplating, reading, celebrating Onam, marvelling at the rich south Indian silk, participating in local customs and rituals and soaking in the uniquely syncretic culture of Kerala. The only challenge for a chappati eating North Indian was to cope up with a carb-rich diet of rice for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Not surprising by the end of the trip along with a treasure trove of memories I added a few inches to my waistline.

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                                                                                                              Pic 3: A view of the Dal lake from Parimahal, Srinagar

I like to travel with few plans and more freedom. In the summer of 2017 after six months of unrest and perpetual cycle of violence as Kashmir was limping back to normalcy I landed in Srinagar expecting a dusty brownish war-zone with pellets flying around to greet me. Contrary to the imagination of my well wishers, Kashmir was gracious to me. Amidst heavy military presence and signs of local resistance I discovered the everyday patterns of life in Kashmir. From witnessing student protests in the Kashmir University to being acutely aware of my Indian identity at all times. From visiting the local baker to looking for an ophthalmologist in the narrow by lanes of Srinagar to voluntarily covering my head and arms when the stares became too long, every little act unearthed the real Kashmir to me. To me my favorite memory of Kashmir will always remains the baffling amusement on peoples faces when I told them I am a vegetarian and have lived my life without ever tasting Wazwan!

You have to live in Kashmir long enough to feel the constantly brewing anger and mistrust in people which seems imaginary while gazing at the misty mountains and aroma of noon chai engulfing you every morning. To understand the beauty and rage of Kashmir one has to look beyond the picturesque and the seemingly enchanting world of shikara rides. Despite the everyday adjustments and negotiations with life in Kashmir, the place slowly grows on to you. I still remember the sinking feeling I woke up with on the morning I left - a heart so full and an intense longing for the place I had not yet left. I realized Kashmir was home!

My travels have taught me things that can’t be possibly put on a score card. Stepping into new cultures, treating myself to new cuisines, breathing in a new air, I have learned so much without knowing. Travel has weaved poetry in my pain and transformed my sobs into songs. My physical journeys have also been journeys to the self. They have made me a better, largely nonjudgmental and a wiser person. Being in different spaces has made me see beauty in every person and brought home the fact that cultures may vary but human emotions are universal. Today I appreciate what I have and value things I took for granted. Traveling in some mysterious ways, challenges my deep seated prejudices. I often wonder whether all the traveling will ever change my memories of my little village for better or worse? Where or what is home to me? Has my definition of home changed? I know not the answer to these questions. May be some day I will appreciate the art of stillness and develop an eye to find beauty even in close confines of a room but till then I will pack my bags and discover a new place for I know it’s my ticket to a better self.

Authored by Richa Singh, Content Writer, Investronaut

Hacking Creative

How secure are we from the peril of hacking?

Newton’s third law holds that every action induces an equal and opposite reaction. Every possibility manifests within itself a counter possibility as death is ever present over life. The Internet has opened up a host of possibilities unheard of and unthought of, yet it contains within itself the germ of its own vulnerability, most notable among them being hacking.

Interestingly, long before the term hacking came to be associated with fraudulent acts like stealing personal and corporate data from computer networks, it was used for fun and constructive learning activities and had nothing to do with computers.

White hat hackers. Black hat hackers.

In common computer palace, we distinguish between two kinds of hackers. The terminology of hacking is shaped by the cliche of a good guy wearing a white cow boy hat. Ethical hackers or white hat hackers break in to the protected computer networks with due permission of the company that has employed them. Their job is to point out the loopholes in the security system to thwart potential hacking in the future. Unethical hackers or the black hat hackers do so with a malicious intent.

The thrust for digitization has boosted business potency and enhanced the accuracy, transparency and convenience in financial transactions but it has also exposed us to a huge risk of our life savings disappearing in the wink of an eye. To deal with the menace of hacking financial organizations, social media sites and important government organizations including the United States headquarters of defense, The Pentagon, invite bug bounty hunters. Bug bounty hunting is a collaboration between white hat hackers and companies who then handsomely reward the ones who identify the chink.

Most Vulnerable Targets

India has a robust cyber law in the form of Information Technology Act, 2000 which criminalizes hacking among other cyber crimes under India Penal Code. But when are laws ever enough to keep people from committing crimes?
According to 2016 NCRB ( National Crime Records Bureau) report, 11,592 cyber crimes were reported out of which a whooping 13.5% are against professional hackers.
The financial sector and government agencies have been the chief targets of hackers, not just in India but the world over.

Evidently money attracts the most number of criminals, trying to con people of their hard earned money. That is why the financial sector has been at the fore-front of the risk of data hacking. However, in the last few years banks have injected huge sums of money to battle cyber hacking. In 2017, in the U.S. the banks have invested over $1.5 billions to mitigate the risk of breach in security. The scenario is rather bleak in India. In 2017, the data of 32 lakh debit cards of half a dozen banks stood compromised which is symptomatic of our unpreparedness to tackle the risk of hacking.

With a large amount of official data being stored online almost all government sites belonging to central and state ministries have been taken to the cleaners in the last few years. This may be rather dangerous in view of India being surrounded by hostile neighbors on the both sides.

Most upsetting of them all, earlier this year the rumors were rife about the hacking of Aadhar data. With the government invested to making Aadhar the sine qua non of India citizens, it is likely to be more susceptible to hacking and misuse in the future as well.

What to expect in 2018?

The predictions for 2018 are far from encouraging. It is predicted that along with the extra layer of comfort in our lives, IoT (Internet of Things) will also added additional risk of hacking. With millions of devices connected to each other, 2018 may put people at fresh risk of financial frauds and identity thefts.

The good news is that as consumers are waking up to the risk of hacking most companies in 2018 are going to opt for RBA (Risk-Based Authentication) and MFA (Multi Factor Authentication) to create layered defense to deal with the menace of hacking.

Takeaways

Cyber space is as fragile as any other operational space. So long as it exists, crooks will continue to meddle with sensitive data and the skirmish between the stakeholders and hackers is likely to be an ongoing one. In order to overcome these attacks, the government ought to act nimbly for which first the governments, banks and companies need to come out of their defensive groove and admit the ramification of cyber security breaches.

Secondly the governments and private companies should take advantage of bug hunters, make them collaborators and not threaten them with legal notices. 

Thirdly, the financial institutions and other establishments need to adopt a proactive approach rather than relying on reactive measures in dealing with the future threats.

References-

http://www.infoguardsecurity.com/5-industries-top-hit-list-cyber-criminals-2017/

https://www.thequint.com/news/india/demonetisation-note-currency-ban-how-ethical-hackers-and-cyber-secur

 Authored by Shailesh Thaware, Assistant Professor, Faculty of STEM, Vishwakarma University

Thursday, 17 May 2018 08:57

Art and Design: Are they different?

art vs design

Art and Design: Are they different?
The difference between the right word and the almost right word is that of between lightening and the lightening bug, Mark Twain noted prophetically. Art and design are usually viewed in a synonymous relationship, and although they do share a complimentary relationship , the two terms are as different from each other as chalk and cheese. The difference is subtle , yet wide enough to merit a detailed analysis.

Art is fluid. Design is concrete.

Art is a manifestation of an artist’s feelings, emotions or ideology. It is boundless. An artist has any color, material or medium at his disposal to express himself. Art is for art’s sake; that is to say that it is a means of expression and not meant to serve any purpose other than the artistic fulfillment of the artist. Art is freedom.

Design exists to serve a purpose. It is user-centric hence it has to be precise and can’t afford the luxury of loosing sight of the end user. For example while designing furniture, clothes, bridges, a brochure or a website, the designer has to make sure that it is user friendly or else it looses it’s purpose. This is not to say that design can't be rebellious like art, it can do so in a limit.
Art is non- utilitarian. Design is commercial.

Art do not confirm to Jeremy Bentham’s popular idea of Utilitarianism, which preaches that best actions are the ones that maximize utility. Art adds to the cultural, intellectual and aesthetic wealth of the society. For some the utility of this wealth is less tangible to that of a design. Art is self sufficient and do not depend on an external entity or object for validation.

Unlike most arts, design is commercial and profit driven. Design is a communicative medium and exists to convey a clear message to the consumers or to increase the efficiency of a product. A design depends on an external object for its existence. For example, design of a car can exist only when there is a concept of car. A painting or a sculpture has no such dependence.

Art is subjective. Design is objective.

The very definition of art is subjective. Art verifies the famous saying that “beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder”. One can find art in a heap of rubbish! An object of art such as a painting, sculpture, a piece of music or a work of literature lends itself to as many meanings as the eyes looking at it. The same piece of art can transform one person while appall the other.

Design is quite unlike art in this regard. A good design is always objective and leaves no room for ambiguity. It is easy to understand and convey clearly what it sets out to achieve.

Art is Left. Design is Right.

Good art asks unsettling questions to the establishment. It is supposed to disrupt the stats quo, be thought provoking and rebellious. Famous artists across the world have been persecuted for being outspoken and anti-establishment. Michelangelo’s work on Rome’s Sistine Chapel, now considered the pinnacle of Renaissance art was attacked for its nudity. Back home in India the pioneer of Modern arts in painting, the legendary M.F. Hussain had to flee the country to escape the wrath of right wing groups.

Design is supposed to answer questions. It is expected to simplify rather than complicate.

Art originates from a problem, so does the design.

Art and design are different but they are not worlds apart.
Most art stems from conflict and problems. Very often it is a cry for attention to the issue so that they can be addressed and resolved. The same holds true for design. Design can not exist in isolation of a need, a problem that needs to be resolved.

Art strives to be innovative, so does the design.

Renaissance art gave way to the Elizabethan sensibilities till restoration of monarchy in England infused a new ease and openness to arts. Old schools in arts have always continued to give way to new ones. Even the age old Victorian prudery was eventually toppled by the Modernist movement that turned every idea that traditionalists held dear on its head. Today we inhabit a post-modernist world where the distinction between high and low culture has blurred, an idea that would have hit even the most avant-garde Modernist on the face.

A cursory look at the history of design would reveal a similar lineage of innovation. Design like art has attempted to be innovative and keep pace with the sensibilities of the constantly evolving world.

Both art and design are visual representations requiring great degree of talent and skill. The purpose of this article is not to define the essential natures of art and design or to establish the superiority of one over the other. Having said that, having a vivid notion of where one belongs is a good start point.

Authored by Mr. Prashant Acharya, Assistant Professor, Department of Design.

Technology for climate change 1

Can technology be a solution to climate change?- An opinion

“Winter is coming” the popular refrain from the series Game of Thrones warns of an impending winter. Whether or not the deadly winter strikes Westeros remains to be seen. But the inhabitants of Earth may safely say that the “Summer is coming” and a fatal one at that. That the Earth is bracing for an eternal summer is evident from the melting snow in Antartica, rising sea levels and soaring temperatures across the globe. Can technology, largely responsible for climate change, be a solution and to what extent?

The opinion is divided about the technological solution to climate change. Many argue that climate change is not entirely a technological problem so it needs more than a technological solution. A well rounded solution that takes into account technological, social and cultural cause of climate change is needed. Unless both halves of the problem are addressed the severity of climate change is unlikely to reduce.

Technological solutions
Geoengineering is a set of technologies utilized for reversing the climate change by removing CO2 from the atmosphere and cooling off Earth by reducing the solar radiations reaching the Earth.
The first category of technology is designed to remove CO2 from the air with the help of machines sometimes called as artificial trees. Sequestration, another CO2 removing technology which separates carbon dioxide from other gasses and deposits it miles under the Earth’s surface via pipes or ships.

These technologies are far too few and expensive. The challenge is to make these CO2 removing technologies commercially viable by reducing their running cost.

The second set of technology cool off the Earth by limiting the amount of solar radiation reaching the Earth. It involves shooting sulphate aerosols into the space which reflects the sun rays back into the atmosphere like mirrors. It has become extremely controversial because it can be catastrophic for the environment and destroy the ozone layer.

These technological solution are limited in scope as they don't deal with other problems which arise out of excessive CO2 in air such as acidification of the ocean.

This is not to argue that technological solutions are irrelevant but they can’t stand alone as a response to climate change. They are also likely to raise issues of geopolitics and governance. It is almost impossible to reach a consensus where everyone is equally benefitted. Certain schemes may benefit certain countries while may work to the detriment the others.

Social, cultural and non-technological solutions
Amidst the conundrum to find a perfect technology to miraculously rid us of the poisonous gasses, we are undermining the larger social, political and cultural issues that exacerbate the issue of climate change.

Climate change is rooted in social issues. So, when we talk about possible solutions to it, technology at best can offer a temporary or a short term solution. Social issues such as population growth, consumerism, industrial agriculture drive climate change and need urgent intervention.

Consider the issue of over population. In order to address it, systemic programs are needed to empower women, provide them equal employment opportunities and recognize their reproductive rights. It might seem like a vague and very indirect way of addressing climate change. But, it does lead to a steady decline in the population. Countries in which women have higher political status also emit less CO2 per capita.

Don't we all possess shoes, clothes and other things more than what we require for basic sustenance? Capitalism propagates consumerism and thrives on our unending greed to own and hoard things beyond what we require for subsistence. This greed serves the capitalist goals of higher profits by propelling production even at the cost of ecological balance. This tendency is less prevalent in rural communities where greater emphasis is laid on minimalism. This is a cultural and social issue and changing this attitude can go a long way in helping the environmental issues.

Along with these social changes, several seemingly utopian non-technological changes highlighting a strong political will are needed for the civilization to continue. One is of them is to move from fossil fuels to solar energy even if that calls for large investments. The global energy consumption needs to reduce by 60% .

A major chunk of this cut down will have to come from the developed nations as they are the largest consumers of energy. This would mean 90% cut in the energy consumption of U.S and Canada. The developed nations need to aid developing nations in building green projects and sustainable growth patterns. The economy has to change its motto from “gain maximization” to “risk minimization”. The uninhibited expansion of cities must stop and the energy differential between urban and rural has to narrow down. A uniform risk and emission policy for all is needed for the entire globe. Co2 emission beyond a limit is to be made expensive or punishable.

Solutions are galore but the weak political will to execute them is evident in the wake of Trump administration pulling out of the Paris agreement. The breakthrough in climate change mitigation has to be primarily social and political than technological.

References-
https://thebulletin.org/technologys-role-climate-solution
https://ensia.com/voices/climate-change-social-fix/
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2011/feb/18/geo-engineering

Authored by Subodh B. Kharat, Faculty of STEM, Vishwakarma University.

Wednesday, 02 May 2018 05:55

Understanding Green Finance

Understanding Green Finance

Understanding Green Finance

An uninhibited expansion of human activities and unrestricted development has wreaked havoc on the environment. The recent climate imbalance the world over and alarming levels of pollution is a warning about the bleak future that awaits us. In such a scenario, in order to mitigate the harmful effects of unsustainable development on the environment and to create eco-friendly models of development, green finance is the need of the hour.
Green finance refers to financial investment in environmentally responsible businesses, projects and industries. Green finance seeks to preserve the ecological integrity by encouraging green technology, boosting efficiency, sustainability and curtailing carbon footprints.

The World Bank and the European Investment Bank launched green bonds in 2007. Subsequently, corporate too started participating in 2013 giving a major boost to green finance. Green Bonds and Blue Bonds are a novel financial initiatives to raise climate finance. They are like regular bonds, the only difference being that the money raised is used for financing eco-friendly projects and protecting marine resources. These environment friendly projects could be in the areas of renewable energy, clean transportation and sustainable water management.

The Paris climate accord in 2015, has placed the dangers of climate change at the centerstage. It has become a contentious issue between the developed and developing nations. The first world camp is eager to make the emerging economies to commit to sustainable development. Developing nations are demanding the developed countries to provide funds to middle income and low income nations to mitigate the ill effects of climate change. The rationale behind this demand is that hitherto developed nations have been the largest contributors of carbon gas emission which has done considerable damage to the environment in form of warmer climates, increased sea levels, irregular rainfalls to name a few. Developing countries have inherited these issues from the developed countries and to absolve themselves of their sin they should help developing countries set up green projects. In the Paris agreement the feud was addressed to an extent when developed countries agreed to pay US $ 100 billion in aid till 2025 to developing countries for actions on climate change adaptation and mitigation.
Ironically, the U.S, amongst the biggest carbon emitters of the world has declared it’s withdrawal from the Paris agreement as soon as it is legally eligible to do so in 2020.

World scenario
In 2016, G20 heads of state recognized the need for green finance for the first time. It led to a series of strategy implementations for greening their financial systems with China being at the frontline, launching a 35-point programme. Leading insurance regulators all over the world have decided to collaborate to respond to sustainability challenges. Policy measures for greening the financial system has more than doubled to over 200 across 60 countries. These policy changes have accelerated green finance in the market.

Indian Scenario
Green finance space has seen a significant development in India.
India has undertaken national target of reducing emission intensity of GDP by 33-35 percent by 2030 under the Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) goals. The Government has made an ambitious announcement to make India the first country in the world to use only electric vehicles by 2030. India plans to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels and increasing the share of renewables in its energy mix to 40 percent by 2030.
According to Namita Vikas, Group President & Global Head, Climate Strategy & Responsible Banking, Yes Bank, “India’s ambitious NDCs and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are estimated to cost USD 2.5 trillion and $8.9 trillion, respectively, by 2030. Mobilizing this enormous amount of climate and SDG finance would require the development of new and innovative financial mechanisms, and channelization of funds towards sustainable sectors and businesses that not only deliver on climate targets, but also meet the developmental agenda.”
In India banks such as SIDBI, IDBI, YES Bank and others have associated themselves with several initiatives to promote lending for sustainable growth technologies particularly in MSME (Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises) sector. Banks have created exclusive groups to work on climate change and more specifically on carbon credits advisory services. This group has devised a structured product for providing upfront finance against the carbon credit receivables.
There are several ways in which these banks and DFIs (Designated Financial Institutions) can contribute to green growth. Firstly, they can revamp their internal systems to move towards energy efficiency and move to e-transactions and e-statements, converting their buildings into green premises. Secondly, they can assess environment, social and governance (ESG) risks while appraising projects for financing, and thirdly, they can introduce green financial products such as green bonds.
India’s green bond market is currently pegged at about $3 billion, with the majority of it being allocated to renewable energy projects – contributing directly towards achieving India’s NDCs. Green municipal bonds hold promise towards building the 100 smart cities plan, through market interventions to revive the dormant municipal bonds market.
Yes Bank has raised over Rs 1,000 crore by floating green infra bonds and Exim Bank has obtained $500 million through the issue of green dollar bonds, while IDBI is also set to attract global investors in this arena. The Reserve Bank of India has included renewable energy project financing as a part of priority sector lending category in July 2015.

Conclusion
For developing economies like India the challenge is to get green finance into mainstream finance along with incorporating environmental impact into commercial lending decisions. This has to be done while maintaining a balance between economic growth and social development.
Mobilization of huge financial resources towards climate sustainable future is only one part of the challenge. Channelization of these funds to the emerging climate positive sectors and deployment of funds on time is crucial. A collaborative effort is needed to unleash the full potential of the new economy leading to a more sustainable and green development.

References:

Authored by CS. Sandhya Nair, Asst. Prof. Finance, Vishwakarma University

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