Can Intel power a Digital India?

When I was working on Wall Street back in 2007, there were talks of getting a specialized hardware processor designed for high frequency trading applications so that we could outdo our competitors by microseconds. It was the perfect example of achieving a specific goal by an intelligent marriage of hardware and software. With increasing population moving online, India is witnessing an outbreak in Internet penetration. Internet Users in India will cross 300 million mark by December 2014 according to ‘Internet in India 2014’ report jointly published by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and IMRB International and is expected to cross 500 million users before end of 2016. No surprise then, that the popular BJP government is taking more interest in Digital India than its predecessors. We all know that Internet services are the future and so does Narendra Modi. I smile everytime I receive an email from different Ministeries or the PMO wishing me Happy Independence Day or Happy Diwali.

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But execution of e-governance is not an easy thing especially when you are talking about a population of more than 1 Billion. This is where the role of hardware and companies like Intel comes into play. Imagine a lightning fast website of IRCTC or SBI. Imagine you never having to step out to stand in long queues for Aadhar cards. On the lines of above example of Wall Street, India can benefit a lot from specialized hardware for processing higher traffic in a country like India. With so much untapped potential in healthcare data, energy related innovation, agriculture reforms, the time is ripe for a Digital India. To make a meaningful growth, the only option is to penetrate rural India with innovative solutions at low cost. I believe these sectors in villages can especially gain from such innovation:

  1. Agriculture – As global warming is severely affecting the climate, there is a dire need for protecting farms from adverse and untimely weather changes. Recent rains in March as seen a lot of crops being destroyed and farmers pushed to suicides. Digitized farms with temperature control and mechanized irrigation can not only solve weather problem but also save critical resources like water. In this field, a big level collaboration between corporations and Indian government is the only feasible solution. Can Intel rise up to this challenge?
  2. Financing – Farmers are forever running in debt to local lenders facing unfair interest rates and repayment conditions. Micro loans can ease this burden and with a push towards financial education and awareness, people in villages can be helped to start their dream businesses without worrying about unfair loans.
  3. Healthcare – How do you keep a nation of 1 Billion people healthy? By connecting medical services and personnel between rural and urban India, by mining the healthcare data (only possible by digitizing), new insights can be developed and used to combat diseases like swine flu which are still claiming unacceptable number of lives.
  4. Energy saving – While villages struggle with power supply, there is ton of solar and wind energy that is still under utilized. With its Claremont processor, Intel already showed promise in the field of solar powered computers. What country better than India for testing and using it?
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  5. Record keeping – A system like Aadhar if implemented intelligently can solve many problems – even corruption and black money. Giving access to energy efficient low cost computers in rural areas, government can try to make the biggest database of citizens that any country has ever created.

In all these areas, an offline education and training program backed by digital access can help connect the humongous web of villages and people that India is. With optical fibre layout to every panchayat, Intel’s digital literacy plan can actually solve multitude of problems. It is a worthy cause and effort – one that can change the lives of millions. Giants like Intel can not only help in hardware innovation but spreading awareness through online and offline services. We are at the cusp of a change and Intel’s involvement can provide the right support for a rising India, a #DigitalIndia.

  

Date a guy who blogs

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He is the one sitting quietly in the corner sofa of a cafe and observing things around. He sees everything and nothing. He is as comfortable ordering a single black coffee as working on his regular day job. He is a bit shy and quiet – at first. But his smile hides a lot of stories and to know those, you need to get through his heart to his blog where he keeps his old colored secrets hidden.

You see, he gets inspired and restless sometimes. Some nights when he is exhausted from work, he feels like walking back home and that’s when the ideas haunt him. He is thinking about traveling, his bike or that old friend who he could never quite forget. So, when he enters his apartment, the first thing he does is open up his laptop and type out his incoherent but genuine thoughts on wordpress. Only then, he realizes that he is super hungry.

Date a guy who blogs and writes. He has habituated his mind to articulate and while he may not be a polished speaker, he can express his feelings in a way that you can understand. You might have to check his blog after a date that you thought went okayish and you will discover that he has written a poem on how you smiled every time you talked about your earrings. You will discover that he remembered the tiny detail you mentioned even though his countenance lacked interest.

Date a guy who is sensitive enough to blog. Don’t talk to him about jewelry or ask him how you look before you have decoded him. He will be quiet in the beginning, almost awkward. Ask him why he quoted Tennyson in his last post and he will tell you absolutely random stories of how he loves Bond movies. Be a part of his writing and his stories, inspire him to write and he will pour out his heart to you. Now, he will tell you that you look cute in those dangling earrings and that you should wear that wooden bracelet.

He will not console you on failures or tragedies but he will be there listening without interrupting. He will be anything but fake. He may tell on your face that you complain too much but that’s because you are in his inner circle now and you are, for him, a part of his own self . And he doesn’t lie to himself. He expects nothing short of you, so don’t use your fake tears to get something done, he will soon lose interest in you. He doesn’t like dressing up but will have his weird muses. Don’t boss him around or you shall find a subtle rebellious post the next day on his blog and perhaps, the last one for you. Be his muse and take pride in it.

Pardon him when he looks dreamily at your and smiles for no reason. He is just falling in love with you again and again but too inward to say it out loud. With him around, you will need nothing else because small trips to cafes will feel like witnessing a broadway. He will never be busy for you and will go out of his way to steal a walk with you and make you smile. He is not too ambitious to plan a secure future but he will be game whenever you ask him to take you for a ride. He will talk and laugh in your company and appreciate that because you are the only one he can be carefree with.

Things will not always be bright and he will seem distant and cloudy at times – his beard literally clouding his chin. Give him time and don’t impose. Let him break free of his thoughts but be around just in case he needs to kiss you. He will mess up at times when you need him but remember he never lied to you. It will hurt but he will find you when you are fallen and will help both of you survive the setbacks.

Celebrate his birthday with words, write something for him – he will treasure that forever and may even post it on his facebook before changing his relationship status to ‘in a relationship’. And when the time is right, set up a joint blog with him. You will find a daily piece of love that will change your life forever.

You will counter that such a guy doesn’t exist and you are half right because he is a rare breed and a prized keep. So, you know what to do if you ever cross paths with him.

(Pic by Thomas Leauthard)

-Inspired from Don’t date a girl who travels.

  

Planning Singapore on a budget

One of the dream destinations I have in mind for 2014 is Singapore because I have heard a lot of great things about it and have some great friends there! While living in India and later in New York, I have explored USA, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, Australia and New Zealand and I now wish to explore more of Asia. Singapore seems to be a good clean, travel friendly destination to begin this dream exploration.

Travel smart can mean a lot of things, for me, it means –
1. See more stuff and do meaningful exploration at little cost
2. Waste little time on unnecessary things so that you can spend more time on things you like

With this theme, this is how I would plan to see Singapore-

1. Save on travel fare – By flying in off-peak season and booking in advance, plus using a smart tool such as skyscanner to find the best fare deals (esp the best-time-to-book tool which shows that I can save 25% off Singapore flights by booking 12 weeks in advance! and the flight-prices-tracker tool), I can ensure booking the tickets in a reasonable price. Many people underestimate this step but the fact is one can easily save 50% of the fares just by picking inconvenient dates to travel. Hell, why not!

2. Save on stay – I check if I have friends in a place I am visiting. Do I have friends in Singapore? Check! I call them up and inform of my plans of visiting. This ensures that I have company to hang out with and of course, a home to stay. More than that, they can help with my itinerary and suggest me things that are off beat and not mentioned on popular travel advice forums.But don’t be cheap, always take a good house gift for your generous hosts. That’s why I like saving up on unnecessary things so that I can spend on my favorite people and places – a trick that has always helped me make and ‘keep’ close friends closer!

If I don’t have friends in my destination, I try to find home stays or interesting places to stay – friend of friends, boutique lodges etc. I avoid staying in expensive hotels or resorts unless it is a relaxing vacation I am after where I intend to spend most of the time availing the resort facilities.

Another way to save on stay is to book flight, hotel and car packages together. Lastly, look for the credit cards which have special skymiles rewards for frequent flyers. Now that I am set for flight and stay, I plan the itinerary.

3. See interesting and not the touristy stuff – I like seeing offbeat things and exploring places deep rather than touching everything mentioned in a guide book. Anyways, guidebooks are so 90s, so I open my laptop and a quick scan of travel forums gives me an idea of the most important places of my interest.

I am a photography buff, so capturing a good sunset always tops my list. With a little search, I find that Lower Pierce Reservoir is the perfect place for that.

Now, I plan rest of my time for art, shopping, walkabouts and of course food walks. After a couple of phone calls with my friend who knows my taste, I pick a morning walk in Botanical garden one day-

and a day tour to China market for cheap shopping and the food-

4. Explore local cuisines, eat more for less – Now, food is another priority of mine as I like to explore the local cuisine at savvy rates. I find this great blog that lists exactly that kind of stuff – http://www.ladyironchef.com/tag/cheap-and-good-food-in-singapore/ It already has more places than I will have time to explore, so I am all set food wise!

Next, I search for the best means to commute within Singapore and find out that the express bus service Singapore Attractions Express is great to visit the common spots. I will then install the Singapore Map and Walks iOS app to get the city maps because I love walking around independently and seeing stuff from close (another tip for traveling smart – always have maps handy in your smartphone). I have been told its fun to ride a rickshaw around the city at night and being from India, I am totally excited for that. I reserve one night at Clarke Quay for a lively and perhaps loud time out with friends. After all, no trip ends without a drink with friends!

And writing this post itself has got me excited to explore Singapore as soon as I can! May be its time to enter a skyscanner price alert for Singapore after all.