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THE ART OF KEEPING IT SHORT BUT NOT SIMPLE

Richa Gupta

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An anthology of short stories enables a writer to develop multiple germs of thought into distinct stories, each of which has a compactly expressed theme. A short story can be more impactful than a novel since all its concentrated elements—plot, characters, ambience, pacing and resolution—amalgamate to convey a singular idea or emotion such as humour, mystery, moral truth or an emotional conflict while incorporating profundity, innovation and complexity despite the conciseness of form. 

Whereas a novel can dawdle into multiple scenarios and time spans, a short story delves into a single scenario, dilemma or conflict that is resolved or finally brought to a climax within 1000 to 5000 words. Here are some tips to write expressive short stories.

• Describe the details of a central setting so as to make it vivid, relatable and interesting. For example, in my anthology The Jamun Tree and Other Stories, the scene of the story ‘Inheritance’ is clearly set as a lawyer’s chamber where the lawyer conveys the contents of the late matriarch’s will to her family:

The bespectacled senior lawyer, Kishen Khanna, seated on one side of an expansive desk, watched the Dewan family stream into his wood-panelled office with ergonomic office chairs and shelves stacked with law books and case files.

The events of ‘Holiday Luncheon’ take place aboard a cruise liner sailing from Singapore to Port Klang in Malaysia, and the scene is clearly delineated at the outset.

‘What a lovely cruise liner!’ remarked Disha, as they boarded the liner and saw a gigantic artificial tree decorated with brightly coloured tinsel, silver balls, red stockings and other Christmas decorations in the centre of the circular carpeted Reception room with doors leading to different arenas: recreational facilities, cabins, suites, multi-cuisine dining options, a duty-free shopping zone and a walk-around promenade deck.

• Develop an original story in which the plot structure does or does not follow the classic linear sequence of the beginning, the middle and the ending. For example, you can plunge straight into the middle of the story and then rewind into a flashback. The story ‘The Jamun Tree’ begins with the comments of some onlookers about the luxurious Jamun tree in the courtyard of a vintage bungalow and then covers the past 45 years in the lives of the Jamun Tree and the family inhabiting the bungalow. 

• Focus on one or maximum two main characters and add complexity by describing their unexpressed feelings and desires instead of making them simply good or bad characters. Describe their physical and mental attributes, contradictory emotions and past history so that the characters seem realistic and well-rounded. 

Do not reveal everything about the character at once but gradually throughout the story to keep the readers hooked on to the revelations. For example, the story ‘The Discovery’ reveals new facts about the narrator’s psychological state of mind as her thrilling story proceeds until the last crucial exposition that turns her tale on its head; and in the story ‘Crackdown’, the true mental state of the protagonist is revealed at the conclusion, much to the readers’ surprise. 

• Develop the characters and ambience through brief sensory details instead of detailed explanations. For example, in the story ‘Art of Living’, the description of Manya when she meets her friend in the café conveys her anguished frame of mind:

As she gave me a quick hug and sat opposite me, I saw a careworn and grief-stricken lady with wild darting eyes and shabby untended hair and clothes. Most of all, I noticed the dazed and faraway look in her eyes—probably due to medication for depression, which, Rajiv had told me, she had been prescribed.

• Use dialogue to reveal character and propel plot tension. The dialogue must enable the reader to infer the character’s personality and state of mind. Provide enough description of the speaker’s actions, tone and attitude to enable inference but avoid over-detailing. 

In these words of Manya from ‘Art of Living’, one can feel her grief:

‘It was a blue polka-dotted dress with red satin ribbons, so pretty! She looked like a doll in it. But, after the accident, there were red streaks all over her and the dress…so awful…’ Manya burst into tears and took a paper napkin from the holder to dry her tears. ‘Now, she is gone and we are all here …eating … sleeping …working. Only she is gone.’

• Write the short story in First Person or Third Person. In the former, the narrator can be the main character or someone observing him or her. In the latter, there is an omniscient narrator who is aware of all that is happening with the characters.

Ensure clarity of perspective and an undercurrent to the narration so that the reader can see beyond what is stated to interpret the narrator’s follies, illusions and subjectivity. Build up contrasting versions of the truth to intrigue readers as in this first-person narrative from ‘The Discovery’:

‘Deepak alleged that I had shown criminal negligence in abandoning my father in his frailty to the care of my sister-in-law, Seema, a working professional. Of course, I had done nothing of the sort and had been literally driven out of my mind by Sahil and Seema’s persecution, which started as soon as my father fell ill.’ 

• Prune all words extraneous to the central theme. Every sentence must be there for a purpose. This will keep the story moving forward and retain the reader’s interest.  

• Build up to a riveting climax or anti-climax. Try to include a twist at the end of the tale so that the reader stumbles on something unexpected but avoid clichéd endings. Provide a resolution to the conflict so that there is a change in the protagonist’s perception or attitude. The ending must satisfy the reader and not leave them with the feeling that the story ended too soon or left loose threads unresolved.

Perhaps you may love the process of writing short stories so much as to agree with Annie Proulx’s statement, ‘I find it satisfying and intellectually stimulating to work with the intensity, brevity, balance and word play of the short story.’

Richa Gupta is the author of ‘The Jamun Tree and Other Stories’. 

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I TRIED TO CREATE A CONVERSATION AROUND SEXUALITY: LEEZA MANGALDAS

In an exclusive conversation with NewsX Influencer A-List, Leeza Mangaldas opened up about the content she creates on Instagram, the kind of conversations she has been having on social media, and how she has been helping youngsters get relevant information about sex.

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Leeza Mangaldas, Sex Positive Content Creator recently joined NewsX for an insightful conversation as part of NewsX Influencer A-List. In the exclusive conversation, Leeza opened up about the content she creates on Instagram, the kind of conversations she has been having on social media and how she has been helping youngsters get relevant information about sex.

When asked about the content that she is creating on Instagram, Leeza said, “I tried to create a conversation around sexuality, sexual health, gender, the body, identity. My hope is that this can help normalise these conversations because sex remains so stigmatised for discussion. Most young people don’t receive information. It is a normal part of life. It’s something we deserve, that is, accurate judgement about sex. The fact that most people have a smartphone now, the internet allows us to access the stuff from the comfort of our homes and privacy from our headphones and phone. It’s really lensed. I also think that young people use social media so much, people don’t put their phones down. They take it even in the bathroom. So, if you want to connect to young people, social media seems like a great way to do it, but it’s so important to me to have the conversation. A typical attitude to sex education is like let’s teach people how not to have negative experiences. ‘Ok, so it’s very don’t do this, don’t do that, and kind of fear-based approach. If you have sex, you will get pregnant. If you have sex, you will get an STD. Oh, it’s really bad that if you have sex, you will be punished as if you have done something wrong or evil,’ This kind of messaging is there. Any official messaging intended is laced with judgement and punishment. All of this type of language, absence base, fear-based or even when it is well-meaning it’s like not to get an STD or not to get pregnant. Nobody is focusing on pleasure. Nobody knows how we can have the best experience, it’s just talking about how we cannot have a bad experience. I wanted that shift where we talk about sex and its normal, important and wonderful thing, rather than a scary bad thing.”

Talking about the topics she has been addressing via her videos, she said, “I try to also allow for audience questions to dictate the topics I choose. I got a lot of questions repeatedly around certain things and addressed them. I think many people have a lot of issues when it comes to body image. Like questions around penis size, questions around boobs size, questions around why is the skin of the vagina is darker than the rest of the body or lots of questions around first sexual experience. I have created a lot of content types trying to provide help with full information on what you should know before you have sex. Consent is a subject that is important to me, talking also about stuff like arousals, desires, and being in contact with your own body and pleasure and understanding that you can communicate better because I think communication is central to sexual experiences.”

Speaking about where she draws a line between helping younger people to get relevant information about sex and drawing a line with what is the legal age to have sex, she said, “The age of consent varies from country to country and changed over time and it’s a really tricky area without easy answers in terms of age of consent of what is legal to begin having sex. In India, it is 18 but there was a time when it was something around 12 here. Child marriage is a part of how things operated in your grandparents’ generations. In other countries, it’s 16 and in some countries, it’s still even younger than that. So, how old is appropriate or not appropriate 16, 17, 18, 20. This is a question that doesn’t have an easy answer and it’s not up to me to decide. I’m also a citizen abiding by the laws, so of course, I maintain the age of consent. In India, it is 18 but I think the information, the education is something that has to start earlier and have to start when the child is learning the first word or when he learns the body parts. For example, you are teaching him this is your eyes, your nose, you are teaching them the words to think and why is it that we never teach them the correct names of the vagina, instead we say some other name like shame shame. You’re getting it, in such an age, this is shameful. So, of course, you should be appropriate but not for a one-time conversation, which you have with a young person. These are opportunities to normalise education around sexuality, body, sexual health, all through childhood because it’s usually the age 6 or seven somebody will ask mom, where do babies come from how would I get here or if you are expecting another sibling like how would it get in your stomach? Are you going to tell them that a bird dropped it or you found it in the dustbin? Why lie to the child? After there are picture books that simplify an explanation or consumptions and pregnancy, seeing things. When your adult teaches a child to get on her first periods, don’t you think they owe an explanation?”

I try to also allow for audience questions to dictate the topics I choose. I got a lot of questions repeatedly around certain things and addressed them. I think many people have a lot of issues when it comes to body image.

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Huge social media following comes with a certain responsibility: Rasika Shekar

Singer and Flautist Rasika Shekar, in an exclusive conversation with NewsX Influencer A-List, speaks about her journey as a singer and a flautist, as well as the responsibility that comes with having a huge following on social media.

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Rasika Shekar, Singer and Flautist, recently joined NewsX for an exclusive conversation as part of NewsX Influencer A-List. In the candid chat, Rasika opened up about her journey as a singer and a flautist, as well as the responsibility that comes with having a huge following on social media. Read excerpts:

Speaking about her journey, Rasika shared, “My flute journey started when I was 13. I started learning Carnatic classical music, then I came down to India to study Hindustani music. I was born in Dubai, grew up in the US, so music brought me to India. I have been exploring a lot more genres when I’ve been living here. I have been lucky to work on some Bollywood films, working on a couple of background scores. I have also sung for a couple of movies, as a playback singer and it has been extremely exciting. I am very fortunate that I am able to do so.”

Revealing that one song that she liked the most and has stayed with her, Rasika said, “I would say, the second song called Hulla Re, from a movie called ‘2 States’. I loved doing that song because it is a very upbeat, fun song and I got to do it with Shankar ji and Siddharth Mahadevan. It was super fun. I also got to sing the part that was in Tamil, which is my mother tongue, so it was a brilliant experience.”

Talking about her huge following on social media and the responsibility that comes with it, she stated, “I feel very fortunate to have that because we are able to interact with people that are from so many different parts of the world, so many different parts of the country. Technology enables us to do that, which probably I never expected or anticipated to be able to. I think that comes with a certain responsibility, at least I like to see it that way because it pushes me to be able to learn more and make sure that I am putting out quality work and I love that part. At the same time, because I am connecting with a very different audience, I feel like it pushes my musical boundaries and ideas as well. It is a really nice give and takes kind of a scenario, so it is very encouraging and I love it.”

When asked what she considers as her main responsibility when you say that you feel responsible for the people that are looking up to you, she responded, “At the fundamental, I would say that for me, it is to put out the most honest music. That’s my first thing. If I look at something like promoting it, it would be a different thing. If the promotion happens as the side effect of what I do, that’s great. When I am putting out music, I make sure that it is the most honest music that I put out. Secondly, I am always making sure that I am continuously learning and evolving as a musician so that I can create something different. Every time I can create something that is of top quality, to the best of my ability and at the same time, I am able to interact and collaborate with different musicians so that we can bring people something new, something fresh. To top it all off, at the end of the day, if I can bring a smile to someone’s face through my music, I consider myself really blessed.”

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I WANT TO SEE MAXIMUM NUMBER OF INDIANS SELF-EMPLOYED: VEERANDER CHOWDARY

Digital marketer and an entrepreneur Veerander Chowdary spoke to NewsX India A-List about how the Covid-19 pandemic made him feel the need for educating people about self-employment so that they can ride the waves of such uncertain times with ease.

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Veerander Chowdary is a skilful digital marketer and an entrepreneur. But now, he has set on a mission to train people and make them self-dependent for employment. We hosted Veerander for our series, NewsX India A-List. Below are the excerpts from the interview:

Describing his journey, Veerander said, “When we come to our journey, it’s quite interesting. So I’ll tell you why we started this. Before the first lockdown, there were so many people who were working, but after the lockdown, 7.3 million jobs vanished and people were in a situation where they couldn’t even fulfil their basic needs. That’s where I recognised why I can train people on how to become self-employed.” This led Veerander to start his own training course ‘BBA Mastery’. Chowdary claims that the course has trained 5,500 people so far and 40% of his trainees have succeeded in building self-employment opportunities for themselves. The digital marketer also said, “I have seen many digital marketing institutes, across India, which charge to the range of ₹75k to ₹1L.” He further added, “People from various backgrounds are investing in them and coming out without any practical knowledge. So that’s where I recognised why there is no need to spend such amounts on digital marketing courses when one can get the knowledge, for free, on YouTube.”

We asked Veerander what he feels sets his brand apart from his competitors, to which he replied, “Online course completion rate is very less because people don’t show any interest in completing the course. My competitors are training people using pre-recorded classes, but I give my students live classes every Saturday.” Veerander told us that he has spent the last 68 Saturdays giving live classes to his students. Moreover, he said that his course comes with lifetime access and at a reasonable price of ₹5,000, which he says makes his course stand out from what his competitors have to offer.

Speaking about the challenges in this endeavour, Veerander said, “The biggest challenge that I’m facing is the low course completion percentage. Out of 100 people registered for my course, only 20-25 people complete it.” He said his focus right now is on improving the overall content and adding value to the course so that more trainees complete it.

Our next question to Veerander was about the achievements in his mentoring journey. “Till now, I have a community of 2,76,000 students who are currently enrolled in my individual courses, out of which, 5,500 students are the paid students,” said Veerander. He continued, “When it comes to how many people manage to become self-employed, as I said, 5,500 people are learning through the courses and 40% of them are successful entrepreneurs right now where they are earning a minimum of ₹1L per month.”

For our final question, we asked Veerendar about his plans for the future. “I want to see a maximum number of Indians self-employed. Recently, we started our own edtech startup called Self Employment. We have launched the Android and iOS versions, as well, to give more learning flexibility to our students,” was his answer. Veerander concluded the response by expressing his desire to train at least 1 lakh people and make them self-dependent for employment.

Before finishing the interview, Veerander shared a few words of wisdom for the youth of the country and said, “Think creatively. Whatever field you are in right now, you need to stand out and you need to be creative. If you are the same as everyone, you will not get any recognition.” He also appealed to the youngsters to be of value to the people around them.

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Nadella gets C.K. Prahalad Award for Business Sustainability Leadership

The award recognises winners for exemplifying the fundamental connection between sustainability, innovation, and long-term business success in a globalising world.

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CEF presented the 2021 C.K. Prahalad Award in two categories: collaborative leadership by an executive team to Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella, President and Vice-Chair Brad Smith, Chief Financial Officer Amy Hood, and Chief Environment Officer Lucas Joppa; and leadership by an individual executive to Ecolab Chairman and former CEO, Douglas M. Baker, Jr. The awards were announced at the 2021 CEF Annual Leadership Retreat, attended by senior executives representing CEF member companies with combined revenues of $4 trillion.

Four of Microsoft’s top leaders received the prestigious honour for their collaborative leadership to transform Microsoft into a carbon negative company by 2030 and to remove all of the company’s historical emissions by 2050: CEO Satya Nadella, President and Vice-Chair Brad Smith, Chief Financial Officer Amy Hood, and Chief Environmental Officer Lucas Joppa.

CEF Founder MR Rangaswami explained what set the team’s approach apart: “Nadella, Hood, Smith and Joppa have exhibited a remarkable level of joint ownership of this moonshot initiative – this is the first time we’ve seen a CEO/President/CFO/Environmental Sustainability coalition like this. They’ve defined a new model for what corporate-wide climate leadership looks like while sending a clear message that sustainability is core to Microsoft’s business strategy for the decades ahead.”

With this team at the helm, Microsoft is moving aggressively to advance its vision to make a positive impact globally on the climate, while proving that such steps can also be good for business. By 2025, the company will shift to 100% renewable energy for its data centres, buildings, and campuses, and it will protect more land than its operations use. By 2030, it will match 100% of its electricity consumption, 100% of the time, with zero-carbon energy purchases—and will push beyond that to actually become carbon negative: to remove more carbon from the environment than the company emits. Their approach is holistic, connecting the dots to other aspects of planetary health—including a commitment to replenish more water than the company uses—a goal known as “water positive”—and a pledge to achieve zero waste for its direct operations, products and packaging.

The team has led Microsoft to look beyond the company’s own walls to create the enabling environment for change at scale. The company has set up a $1 billion Climate Innovation Fund to help accelerate the global development of carbon reduction, capture, and removal technologies.

It is also building a Planetary Computer platform to help monitor, model, and manage Earth’s natural systems. Beyond that, Microsoft has co-founded a new Green Software Foundation to help reduce emissions within the software industry by 45% by 2030, working with co-founders Accenture, GitHub, and ThoughtWorks to develop new standards, tools, and leading practices.

CEF also celebrated the leadership of Douglas M. Baker, Jr., board chairman and former CEO of Ecolab. During his esteemed tenure as CEO from 2004 to 2021, Baker was outspoken in his effort to educate the business community about corporate responsibility and the business risks of global water scarcity and the need to account for the true value of water in financial decisions making.

Baker believed the business had an imperative to act to ensure the world’s future prosperity through sustainable innovation and collaboration. Under his leadership, Ecolab became one of the largest water management companies in the world and more than tripled its net sales, while focused on sustainability, water management and carbon reduction.

Under Baker’s leadership, Ecolab joined the Business Ambition for 1.5oC, pledging to reduce its emissions by 50% by 2030 and to net-zero by 2050, and led the way in the formation of the Water Resilience Coalition, an initiative of the UN Global Compact CEO Water Mandate.

Baker proved that foresight about water and climate risks was critical to business success. The company helped its customers in more than 170 countries conserve 206 billion gallons of water in 2020, equivalent to the annual drinking water needs of 712 million people. And Ecolab is on track to achieve its goal of saving 300 billion gallons of water—enough for one billion people—by 2030. In 2020, Ecolab also helped customers avoid 3.5 million metric tons of GHG emissions, provide safe food for 1.3 billion people and prevent 1.8 million infections.

Baker has received several awards for his leadership: In 2019, he was named one of the 100 best-performing CEOs by Harvard Business Review for the fifth year in a row. In 2018, he received the Deming Cup for Operational Excellence and accepted The World Environment Centre’s Gold Medal for International Corporate Achievement in Sustainable Development on behalf of Ecolab. In 2014, Baker was named Responsible CEO of the Year by Corporate Responsibility Magazine.

CEF’s Chair and Co-Founder P.J. Simmons expressed his appreciation for Baker: “Doug has always been a visionary leader, putting sustainability at the heart of his company’s growth strategy. He truly exemplifies the principles C.K. Prahalad espoused and offers an inspiring example of how to lead a company during these tumultuous times.”

“Water is one of the world’s most precious resources and vital to the health of society and industry,” said Baker. “I am honoured to receive this award from CEF and I accept it on behalf of the entire Ecolab team and their vision and motivation to promote responsible water use.”

Douglas M. Baker has always been a visionary leader, putting sustainability at the heart of his company’s growth strategy. He truly exemplifies the principles C.K. Prahalad espoused and offers an inspiring example of how to lead a company during these tumultuous times.

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WHAT TO LEARN FROM SOLANA’S SCALABILITY GLITCH

The 17-hour outage has exposed a critical design flaw and grossly exaggerated TPS claims.

Douglas Horn

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On 14 September at 12:38 PM UTC, Solana announced that it had encountered a denial-of-service disruption caused by a surge in transaction loads, reaching as high as 400,000 attempted transactions per second (TPS) that overwhelmed its network and led to its longest downtime yet. While initial tweets by the official Solana Support Twitter account suggested it was due to its mainnet-beta network “experiencing intermittent stability,” Solana Labs’ CEO Anatoly Yakovenko eventually attributed the network’s failure to the overwhelming transaction volume from bots during an initial decentralised exchange offering, or IDO, for the Grape Protocol project that was taking place on the Solana-based decentralised exchange Radium. Although the flurry of transactions caused problems for Solana’s transaction queues, a deeper analysis is warranted to understand the maladies plaguing Solana and why it will take more than “bug fixing” as exclaimed by Yakovenko to correct the issue.

FROTHING UP THE TPS NUMBERS

Solana’s claims of offering superior scalability as compared to Ethereum seem misleading when you consider how toughly 80% of Solana’s transactions are the chain’s own consensus messages required simply to coordinate validators. These processes are typically handled separately from on-chain transactions via a distinct communications channel but are inexplicably bundled with user transactions on Solana’s blockchain.

Examining the transaction numbers demonstrates this illusion. The much-ballyhooed number of 400,000 TPS is simply the number of transactions that were attempted by bots. As for the transactions actually being written to the chain that was approximately 2,000 TPS of which up to 350 TPS are actual user transactions and the rest were validator consensus messages. Anatoli Yakovenko confirmed this with his response to a Twitter question about the actual maximum TPS prior to the outage:

“I don’t think it was significantly higher than (sic) normal.”

Solana’s normal speed is about 2,000 TPS of which 80% are consensus messages, not the user or smart contract transactions that networks like Ethereum can process at speeds of 15 TPS or even the 10,000 TPS capability offered by Telos. Further, the massive amount of consensus messages required in voting on each new fork means that as more Solana validators join the cluster, the number of consensus messages grows exponentially, not linearly as described in “the handshake problem.” This protocol design that artificially inflates the TPS numbers is a large part of why the Solana chain was halted (0 TPS) for nearly 17 hours before validators on the network could help in restarting it. The point where a chain loses consensus and crashes or must be stopped is its actual throughput. For Solana, that real number is around 2,000 TPS but only 350 of those are user transactions that would be counted on any other blockchains.

PROBLEMS WITH PRIORITISING A SINGLE CHANNEL

In addition to the concern of exponential increase in consensus messaging as the network grows, Solana lacks any form of prioritisation rules being set which would have ensured better handling of critical consensus message processing in scenarios when the transaction queue gets flooded. Instead, at such times, such consensus messages would be displaced leading to a lack of syncing between the validator nodes and likely a growing amount of consensus rollbacks further congesting the network. Based on the tweets that emanated from Solana’s official account’s post about the outage, it seems likely that they will pursue prioritising network-critical consensus messaging over user transactions as opposed to creating a separate blockchain consensus channel. The latter solution offers the more conducive approach that would create a distinct communication channel between validators that cannot be interrupted by user transactions and doesn’t require prioritising messages—which risks introducing centralisation of BFT—instead and ensure recurrence prevention instead of the “quick-fix” approach that seems intended.

EMBRACE REAL SOLUTIONS AND REAL NUMBERS

Solana’s vulnerabilities can be resolved by emulating the tried-and-true way that blockchains like Ethereum, Telos, and most others handle consensus messaging via a distinct communication channel from user transactions but at the expense of frothy theoretical max TPS numbers for the marketing department. For Telos, this proven design has been running with 100% uptime for almost three years with over 173 million blocks despite occasional attempts to overwhelm the network. Telos’ claim of 10,000 TPS on the native chain reflects a tested maximum, not a theoretical one, backed by tests on the EOSIO Jungle Testnet performed by block producers running Telos and other EOSIO chains and this sets it apart from other competitors like Solana that evidently have a lot of catching up to do.

The race to post ever-higher theoretical maximum TPS numbers to wow investors has led put the cart before the horse in Solana’s design, but they are hardly the only chain that’s guilty of advertising untested and unachievable TPS numbers. We in the crypto community bear some responsibility here for blindly FOMOing over such numbers without ever asking to see test results. Let’s stop this and get real about TPS numbers so blockchain designs won’t need to compromise reliability trying to exaggerate stats.

The writer is Chief Architect, Telos Blockchain.

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We guide MSMEs to raise money at the optimum cost: Ajit Kothari

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Ajit Kothari, Proprietor, Kothari Ajit & Company, recently joined NewsX for an insightful chat as part of NewsX India A-List. In the exclusive conversation, he spoke in detail about his work in the field of finance, fundraising and much more.

Speaking about his association with the field of finance, Ajit Kothari said, “When I was doing chartered accountancy, I had seen people fiddle around for finance. They were not getting the right kind of guidance from the people in finance because generally, chartered accountants do auditing and taxation. There are no people, who can guide them on how to raise money at the optimum cost, without hurdle and do the problem of selecting finance fee. In this journey, we have had many people. Approximately, we’re raised 20,000 crores for the mid-size corporate people to fund their business and to fund their ventures.”

When asked why did he decide to be in the fundraising, he responded, “MSME units can’t afford to have the finance team on their payroll, that is the biggest hurdle for the MSME unit. Their set up is small. They can’t have that much revenue, so they can’t be people who can raise money. That is the main reason to be in the MSME segment to help them. We work with them as a mentor to them and we guide them to raise money at the optimum cost and the right mix of the equity. They should never come in the debt trap. We are there in the time of adversity to hand-hold. Suppose, they get bigger order also, then the bridge finance has to be arranged. They can’t create that in their own office, that is the main reason.”

Talking about our education system and what is the biggest change he would like to see happen today, Ajit Kothari stated, “If you see the education system, people do BCom, people pass BSE, but nothing related to your life. They don’t teach you how to earn in your life. That education is no way helping you out in your life earning. You are only carrying a degree. Or, you go for a specialisation in something, then only you can understand. See, suppose we are into finance. I am a chartered accountant but up to BCom, we don’t know anything about how to earn for our life, run our life smoothly, to live the life after retirement, what kind of planning is needed. Nothing short of practical things is taught in our education system. We are just creating batches. That has to be changed and practical guidelines to be introduced that they can earn or they can sustain after 55 years of their age, when they reach a retirement table, how to manage their lives. That is the expectation from the education system.”

Giving us an insight into his background and the challenges he faced along the way, he shared, “I come from a very middle family. My father was doing service. We din’t have that big money. I did my schooling and graduation from Gujarati medium. After the joining CA , it suddenly became English medium, but that I could manage. A real challenge came in the year 2014, when somebody flee away. I had to be under the debt of Rs 20 crores because Chartered accountants are only available in the field. One person escaped and flee away, the promoters flee away from India. Nobody was there. Only chartered accountant can be catch-hold because our data are publicly available. I had to travel around the police stations, just answering the queries. I came to literally having no penny but the knowledge with which we helped the people, raising finance that came to my rescue. The way again, I can bounce back. Today, I am on the path of growth and helping people.”

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