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Shaping frugal & disruptive innovations for India

The foundations of frugal and disruptive innovations will thrive on value-based education. When innovators are led by benevolence ahead of breakthroughs, the innovation becomes transformative.

Dr Vishal Rao

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“When you think something is impossible, you do not disturb the person who is doing it.” — Amar Bose

 With due respect to Thomas Carlyle’s celebrated prescription, it is time we improvised it for the sake of innovation. Our responsibility does not just lie with doing what is clearly at hand but we also need to look at what lies dimly at a distance. Possibilitarian is a person who, in doing so, converts possibility into actuality. 

Every successful organisation today needs such a ‘Dreamer at the Top’, a possibilitarian doing the impossible against all odds. This prime mover dares the team to dive deep and soar high towards timely thought and action but in a manner hearteningly devoid of provocation and intimidation. 

 Science would be deficient if it were only to remain a hope for the future. It will remain a potent force short of purpose if it fails to meet the pressing needs of today. The intention is the key driving force of innovation. No wonder, the right intention is the foundation of most scientific breakthroughs. 

The Covid-19 challenge has thrown down a gauntlet of this century: The Virathon. Unlike prior hackathons, this lifehack has brought the entire innovation ecosystem to the brink of several paradigm shifts. A case in point is the bench to bedside progression in science that spans, on an average, 17 long years — from lab research, clinical research and guidelines to clinical practice. Thanks to Covid-19, this time frame has shrunk to 17 days, making the bench seem right next to the bedside. As the Virathon continues, innovators and researchers are forced to take a big leap forward to create a hyperloop for knowledge aggregation. 

 If the end goal of education is knowledge and that of knowledge is service, we can leave this world by making it a tad better than from where we started. All you need to do is ‘raise the right question’. When one swears allegiance to a principle, the ‘answer’ appears as soon as the question is right and ready, just like how the master appears when the disciple is worthy and ready. Innovations are the fountainhead to set this largely intuitive process in motion. 

Jugaad and frugal innovations have found its earliest origins in India. If innovations represent our ambition, intentions should be the driving purpose behind them. Both collide within you, they are an inspiring combination and leave you transformed. An unknown force takes over, it drives your life to make you a witness of your unfolding idea, not its creator. If innovation is your passion, make compassion your purpose. If innovation is your power, make intention the underlying force.

At the end of one of my lectures, a starry-eyed medical student asked me: Sir, how do I get a brilliant idea? I replied: Develop a deep yearning to help one patient in need and do not stop until you have solved his or her problem. The entire universe will conspire to flood you with the most brilliant ideas. Remember, perfection becomes effortless if the innovation is unflinchingly focused on removing an individual’s pain, not tweaked to ‘meet’ the market potential. Any success achieved in solving an individual’s problem seamlessly attains scope, scale and size, thereby impacting the masses and thereafter the markets in an organic manner. 

 During my interaction with students, I am often asked: “Which branch of medicine do I take up? Which branch has better scope?” I invariably surmise, “I don’t know, ask yourself.” One must necessarily look within to discover inherent interests and deliberate upon how they could benefit your patients. If one is sincere about this introspection, scope and fulfilment become a foregone conclusion.

En route your educational voyage, you will often come across a subject, a chapter or a topic that ‘speaks’ to you. You will sense an instant connect, akin to a reunion with a long lost pal. This premonition of destiny will become your driving force! This has been my experience with oncology, as also my interest in research in the area of Voice. I connected with it from the first year of my medical school and relished exploring its depths. My professor Dr Humbarwadi inspired me to look at the voice box differently. We spent much time dissecting the nerve to the voice box; he would speak to me at length about the enigma and exceptionality of the voice box.

  Today, when I connect the dots, my ongoing work on Voice prosthesis innovation seems to make sense. The truth be told, you connect the dots when you turn back, not when you look forward. You need to keep creating the dots as you move forward in the path of innovations and stop intermittently. At some point, it will all make sense. 

The former Chief Justice of India, Justice M.N. Venkatachaliah, has been one of the most revered mentors. He once told me, “We should examine India’s development beyond GDP.” This limited and inadequate economic parameter can even be achieved through immoral and illegal means, say by allowing pirates or criminals to run riot. 

He shared with me a beautiful note, which etched in my memory for life: “If three doctors walk from their homes to the hospital, the GDP is low. If the same three buy a brand new BMW and drive it to the hospital, the GDP is way better. However, if on the way, the car meets with an accident and all three doctors lose their lives, our GDP maybe turn out to be the best!”

GDP is but a feeble way to assess progress. Let us envision an India of holistic ideals and purposes, beyond mere economic goals, which stands tall to inspire the world towards scaling similar strides. We must envision India’s development as an expansion of freedom across spheres. Through my innovation of 1$ voice device, I only did my bit to expand the freedom of speech. 

 This ascetic spirit of India was envisioned by Swami Vivekananda. He and Jamsetji Tata met en route a Japan to Chicago voyage when Swamiji shared his aspiration with the visionary industrialist, “What a wonderful feat it would be if the philosophy of the East met the science of the West.” Years later, Jamsetji incepted the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), donating almost half of his wealth for this noble cause. Jamsetji’s letter addressed to Swami Vivekananda, which has been embossed on the IISc walls, is a towering inspiration to millions who harbour similar ambitions rooted in selflessness.

A counterintuitive approach to innovation

During a Tuck School of Business global leadership programme conducted by renowned strategy and innovation expert Dr Vijay Govindarajan, the RollsRoyce team offered me a remarkable perspective on innovation: Unlike the 20th century when knowledge was power, today ignorance is power, as the offbeat views and lateral thinking of non-domain experts have become so very crucial to frugal and disruptive innovation, especially in these Covid-19 times. We need collaboration beyond conventional spheres, not a competition between warring cartels.   

   The ultimate truth about ideas defies popular perception: “Ideas never come from you, they come to you”. Although they reach out to many, only the receptive pay heed and accommodate them. What if we could share our ideas, maybe even allow someone to whisk them away, in the hope of a larger good to society through a better use. If we copyleft our work, it will help us evolve and also serve others in the true spirit of innovation. Such an attitude strengthens ideas through powerful collaborations. The copyleft principle (unlike the copyright) unleashes the power of an idea, its true potential, from conceptualisation to implementation. 

 Some time back, an innovator called me up for a possible collaboration on a similar voice device for throat cancer patients. The call was essentially to connect with me and clarify some of his doubts. We ended up discussing a few principles of speech and I urged him to study my designs. One of my colleagues glared at me in absolute perplexment as if I were insane beyond repair. When he asked me for my logic, all I told him was this: if this man were to disrupt the process or device for speech better than me (less than a $), I will salute him. But I am more than confident about disrupting his innovation further, at a pace twice faster. 

 That is how innovators should compete to ensure that the world gets the absolute best. We must always ‘pay it forward’ to society, breaking free of fear, insecurity and conformity to the convention only to see the world anew each passing day. 

We must never forget we are all dwarfs standing on the shoulders of giants. The greatest innovations of today could well turn out to be the biggest blunders of tomorrow. We live in an era of a versionable generation gap. Our greatest competitors are our strongest collaborators. What better time than this to harness the power of collaboration to its fullest, thereby expanding our outreach to masses for achieving farreaching, measurable and sustainable social outcomes. 

 The foundations of frugal and disruptive innovations will thrive on value-based education. When innovators are led by benevolence ahead of breakthroughs, the innovation becomes transformative. 

Sadly, in the current medical sphere, we are only innovating illnesses, not therapies. Worse, we are further innovating on top of these ‘man-made’ ailment innovations. No wonder, most medical students feel a compelling need to build a hospital to cherish what they assume is the crowning glory of a successful career. 

Today, the holistic term healthcare is invariably held synonymous with the incidental term medical care. The latter is only a part of the former and it comes into play only when there is a deviation from health. Healthcare is about treating the root cause, not merely the effect which is only the tip of the iceberg. It is an indisputable fact that a healthy society thrives on as fewer ailments and hospitals as possible. High time we broke the conformal barriers that disallow healthcare innovations to serve the larger cause of humanity. High time we neither raise eyebrows nor ring alarm bells that an integral member of the medical fraternity should be endorsing this critical need.

 The writer is the Regional Director, Head Neck Surgical Oncology and robotic surgery and the Associate Dean for Centre of Academic Research at HealthCare Global (HCG) Cancer Centre, Bengaluru.

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When Anil Kapoor gave ‘jhakkas’ twist to dandiya

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Actor Anil Kapoor extended heartfelt Navratri greetings to everyone in a filmy way. Taking to Instagram, Anil posted a particular sequence from his 1988 film Tezaab in which he is seen performing dandiya.
Recalling how the particular sequence was filmed “smoothly and effortlessly” in just one night, he wrote, “Happy Navratri to one and all! This time of year always takes me back to this scene from Tezaab, conceptualised so beautifully by N. Chandra. I’ll never forget how smoothly and effortlessly we shot this entire dandiya scene in one night. One of my favourite memories of this happy festival. “
Tezaab featured Anil Kapoor in the lead role alongside Madhuri Dixit.
Reacting to Anil’s video of performing dandiya, filmmaker and choreographer Farah Khan commented, “Papaji tussi great ho.”
“Ekdum jhakkas,” a social media user wrote.
Meanwhile, on the work front, Anil recently wrapped up his shoot for the much-awaited Indian remake of ‘The Night Manager’, which is an espionage thriller that has a tense cat-and-mouse chase between a covert agent and a secret arms dealer.
The 2016 series features Tom Hiddleston in the lead role. In the remake, Anil will essay the role that was originally played by Hugh Laurie. It will also feature Aditya Roy Kapur and Sobhita Dhulipala in lead roles. The original British series became a massive hit across the globe and earned several awards at the 74th Golden Globe Awards.
Anil will also be seen sharing screen space with Hrithik Roshan and Deepika Padukone in the action-packed ‘Fighter’.  

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Research says Family ties give animals reasons to ‘help or harm’ as they age

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New research shows that the structure of family groups gives animals an incentive to help or harm their social group as they age.
A team of scientists from 17 institutions in six countries, led by the University of Exeter, examined how “relatedness” (strength of genetic links to members of a social group) changes over a lifetime in seven mammal species. This varies from species to species, depending on whether male or female offspring (or both) leave the group into which they are born.
For example, male and female killer whales both stay in the same group as their mother, so females have a growing number of close relatives (their children and grandchildren) around them as they age.
Other animals, such as female spotted hyenas, usually live among fewer close relatives as time passes.
Given that all animals have evolved to ensure their genes-and those of close relatives-survive, these long-term changes in relatedness to the family group give animals different incentives to engage in “helping and harming behaviour across the lifespan”.
“We wanted to know how an individual’s relatedness to their group changes as they age, and what consequences this might have for behaviour,” said lead author Dr Sam Ellis, from Exeter’s Centre for Research in Animal Behaviour.
“We made a model to predict these changes and then tested it using data on banded mongooses, chimpanzees, badgers, killer whales, spotted hyenas, rhesus macaques, and yellow baboons. Our model fitted the real data. This is exciting because it allows us to predict how and why social behaviours can change with age.”
The “ultimate payoff” of behaviour for animals depends on how each behaviour affects an individual and her relatives. When living in a group of close genetic relatives, it might be in an animal’s interest to behave in a way that helps the whole group.
However, when living among less related or unrelated individuals, the best strategy could be selfish or even harmful behaviour.
“Our findings suggest that incentives to help or harm the group change with age, depending on the social structure of each species,” Dr Ellis said.
Professor Darren Croft said: “Across a wide range of species, we see age-related changes in helping and harming behaviour, which can also differ between males and females. Our new work shows that understanding how relatedness to the family group changes with age is key in understanding how the incentives to help or harm the group change across the lifespan, which can potentially explain these differences across species and between the sexes. This research opens the door for future studies by providing testable predictions for how patterns of helping and harming will change across the lifespan, and we eagerly anticipate new work testing these predictions.”
Among the species included in the study, male spotted hyenas, rhesus macaques, and yellow baboons usually leave their birth group once they reach maturity.
In chimpanzees, female offspring leave the group, while in killer whales and mongooses, both sexes usually stay in the group into which they were born.  

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Silicon Durga idol depicting lives of sex workers created

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Furthering a tradition of presenting new themes during the Durga Puja in Kolkata, pandals and idols depicting the lives of sex workers under the ‘Parichai’ (identity) theme have been created for the celebrations during this year’s festival. The pandal has been brought up by the Nawpara Dadabhai Sangh Puja Committee in the city, which was inaugurated by Lok Sabha MP and actor Shatrughan Sinha on Monday.
The preparations for the puja in West Bengal are in full swing, with new and innovative themes on display. The sculptors in Kolkata present various themes while preparing the Durga idols.
One such pandal showing the lives of the sex workers has been brought up, which also shows the society they live in and the way people see them, and the manner in which they remain anonymous in a different world without an identity.
In a first for the city, a silicon idol of Maa Durga has been installed in the pandal, which has never been seen before. The idol has been given the form of a mother, through which an attempt has been made to show that even a sex worker has the form of a mother.
Sinha said, “It is a boon by Maa Durga. The entire state of West Bengal is drenched in the colours of the festival. I have been coming to Durga Puja for years, but it is a matter of fortune for me that I am inaugurating this pandal. I am grateful to Saugata ji and Mamata Banerjee.”
The concept and theme designer, Sandip Mukherjee, expressed his perspective on the work of the sex workers and said that there is a need to bring about a change in the perspective of people.
“Prostitution is a profession, but for the common people, is it a profession? We can say which profession we are in, but can they say so? Because we see them from a different perspective. We should change this perspective. Our project is to bring about change in society. We corner them because of what they do. We do not let them enter society. Why can’t they come when they are also doing their job?” he said.
“We have attached the ambience of a mother in the idol which depicts the sex workers. We gave them the silicon form to make it attractive and touching to the people. This is for the first time that an idol of Maa Durga has been made of silicon,” Mukherjee added.
Describing the essence behind the pandal, he said that the sex workers’ lives have been displayed, which seems like a film when a visitor visits the place.

“If we see the pandal from the front, it will seem like a movie. The lives of sex workers have been displayed in the theme. I had this concept for many years, and presented it before other organisers, but they could not show the courage to give it a nod until this time,” he said.
Madan Mitra, TMC MLA, said, “The celebration is showing not only the pride of Bengal but also the magic of Mamata Banerjee.”
Anjan Paul, Organiser and Councillor Baranagar, said, “It was challenging for me to represent the theme. A lot of people are coming to see the pandal. I hope people in lakhs will throng the place in the coming days. I have made this pandal to give a message that they should be included in society. I do not collect money. Our target is to invest Rs 30 lakh in the making of the pandal. However, the exact number will be known only after the completion of the puja.”

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Asha Parekh to become 52nd recipient of Dadasaheb Phalke Award

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Asha Parekh to be conferred with Dadasaheb Phalke Award

The 68th national film awards will be presented on September 30 in accordance with the more than 60-year-old tradition by President Droupadi Murmu and Information and Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur, two years after the Covid-19 outbreak put the coveted event on hold.

As the recipient of the Dadasaheb Phalke award for 2020, veteran actress Asha Parekh becomes the 52nd recipient of the honour. The previous Dadasaheb Phalke award was given to the star of southern cinema Rajinikanth.

“Honoured to announce that the Dadasaheb Phalke selection jury has decided to recognise and award Asha Parekh ji for her exemplary lifetime contribution to Indian cinema,” Thakur said.

Industry icons Asha Bhosle, Hema Malini, Udit Narayan, Poonam Dhillon, and TS Nagabharana are members of the Dadasaheb Phalke committee.

She worked in more than 95 films and was the chairperson of the Central Board of Film Certification from 1998-2001,” Thakur added. Parekh was also conferred with Padma Shri in 1992.

The National Film Development Corporation (NFDC), which was founded in 1954, is now in charge of organising the awards, which fall under the purview of the I&B ministry, for the first time.

The government consolidated four film organisations in March of this year, giving the NFDC full authority over all matters relating to the production of documentaries and short films, the management of film festivals, and the preservation of films.

In keeping with tradition, Hon’ble President Draupadi Murmu will be conferring the National Film awards this year,” NFDC MD Ravinder Bhakar said. “It is an honour for the winners and I congratulate them.”

Eminent leaders and figures from the film industry make up the national awards jury, which is chaired by Vipul Shah and includes Dharam Gulati, Sreelekha Mukherjee, GS Bhaskar, S Thangadurai, Sanjeev Rattan, Karthik Raja, VN Aditya, Viji Thampi, Thangadura, and Nishigandha as members.

The ceremony is taking place four years after President Ram Nath Kovind only delivered 11 of the 137 awards, breaking with convention, which saw more than 50 award recipients skip the 65th National Film Awards ceremony in protest.

The remaining prizes were given out by former information and communication minister Smriti Irani and minister of state Rajyavardhan Rathore.

In 2018, 70 award recipients had expressed their intention to boycott the event in an open letter to protest the cancellation of the award presentation. However, a number of the letter’s signatories, including the singer KJ Yesudas and the filmmaker Prasad Oak, later turned up. The honorees clarified in their letter that their action was not a “boycott,” but rather a demonstration of their displeasure with the President’s choice.

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Legally Speaking

Supreme Court live-streaming hearings for first time today

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The Supreme Court went live for the first time on Tuesday when the cases’ hearings, which were planned to be livestreamed during the day, could be viewed online. One of the three cases slated for live streaming was from Maharashtra and pitted Team Uddhav Thackeray against Team Eknath Shinde over a dispute over the Shiv Sena’s symbol, with the Election Commission already involved. This was the second live hearing where the attorney, Kapil Sibal, could be seen arguing.

Live broadcasting was recommended by the Supreme Court around four years ago.

The former chief justice of India, Dipak Misra, had passed the landmark ruling on September 27 on the live telecast of important proceedings, saying “sunlight is the best disinfectant”.

Following discussion on the issue by the whole top court on September 20, it was decided to begin live-streaming constitutional bench hearings this week. Chief Justice of India (CJI) Uday Umesh Lalit presided over the whole court meeting, and all the judges agreed that constitutional matters should be the first to be streamed live on a regular basis.

A bold plan to integrate the use of information and technology with India’s judiciary, the e-courts project’s third phase included the proposal to have an exclusive platform for live-streaming Supreme Court sessions.

The high courts in Gujarat, Orissa, Karnataka, Jharkhand, Patna, and Madhya Pradesh are some of the high courts that broadcast hearings live as well.

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Some Royal staff used to call Meghan Markle ‘narcissistic sociopath’

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Some Royal staff used to call Meghan Markle ‘narcissistic sociopath’

Author Valentine Low has written a book about the staff who work for the royal families called ‘Courtiers: The Hidden Power Behind the Crown’. In the book, she quoted many staff who worked for Meghan Markle and Prince Harry during their term as senior royals in the UK.
According to the New York Post, the book details the alleged bad behaviour by Meghan and her husband, Prince Harry, towards their staff. In the book, the author even quoted a royal staffer calling Meghan, a “narcissistic sociopath”
Staff members coined the epithet for the Duchess of Sussex, according to a report in The Sun citing excerpts from the explosive tome, according to the New York Post.
According to Page Six, “There were a lot of broken people,” an insider claimed to author Valentine Low.
“Young women were broken by their behaviour,” the palace source added.
Valentine Low cites one alleged occasion in her book in which Markle scolded a young female coworker in front of other co-workers.
“Don’t worry. If there was literally anyone else I could ask to do this, I would be asking them instead of you,” Markle allegedly told the staffer, with whom she had been working to execute a plan of sorts.

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