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Topics - Abdus Sattar

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Why it’s the right time to invest in the Bangladesh Startup Scene!
M Fayaz Taher
Published on June 24, 2018

There has been quite a buzz going on in the Bangladesh Tech scene over the past year. Home Grown companies like Pathao have raised at a valuation more than $100 million while Bkash got investment from Ali Pay, and companies like Bongo, Sheba, Sindabad dominate in their respective industries.  Alibaba has also recently bought out Daraz in the sub-continent. The tech giants are making a presence in Bangladesh.

Venture Capital fund is also increasing in Bangladesh especially with the Government also boosting with its own grant funding and venture fundind to expediate volume of startup companies building for the local market. Other VCs out of India and South East Asia are increasing their frequency of visits to the market to meet founders and seek out the opportunities.

At the policy level, the government has been pro technology with giving tax benefits and introducing a small cap exchange for tech companies to go public. They have also reduced internet costs for end consumers over the last few years and encourage the telecom operators to build out further infrastructure to increase the internet coverage in Bangladesh. This year the telecom operators like Grameenphone, Robi and Banglalink also launched 4G service to increase the speed. Live TV Services like can now be streamed much better than before.

 It is the perfect opportunity to know more on how to get involved in the startup scene in Bangladesh. Accelerators like Grameenphone Accelerator powered by Startup Dhaka are accelerating 10 teams every year while many NRBs are returning to start their own companies or join a startup. 


The flu vaccine is being oversold – it’s not that effective
June 5, 2018 8.44pm AEST

Winter has started, and with it, flu season. Inevitably, all of us (young, old and sick) have been implored to be immunised against influenza, with some eligible for a subsidised vaccine. And people are heeding the message, to the point that there is now a shortage of available vaccines.

At the same time, findings from three important Cochrane reviews on the effectiveness of the influenza vaccination aren’t consistent with the advice we’re been given.

Cochrane reviews are independent systematic reviews, which are comprehensive analyses of most of the literature relevant to a research topic. Cochrane reviews summarise the results in a multitude of studies, and are regularly updated to absorb new research.

These three Cochrane reviews have been recently updated, as well as stabilised, which is what happens when it looks as if it seems unlikely new research would be published that would change the conclusions.

What the reviews found
The first Cochrane review looked at the effects of the influenza vaccine in healthy adults from 25 studies conducted over single influenza seasons in North America, South America, and Europe between 1969 and 2009. It found the vaccine reduced the chance of getting laboratory confirmed influenza from 23 cases out of 1,000 to 9 cases out of 1,000.

While this seems to be a reduction of more than 50%, that seems less optimistic expressed in absolute terms.

The infection rate in adults drops from 2% per year to 1%. You could say that’s halved, but it effectively only drops by 1%. So this means that out of every 100 healthy adults vaccinated, 99 get no benefit against laboratory confirmed influenza.

Read more:  What you need to know to understand risk estimates

The second Cochrane review – which looked at trials in children over single influenza seasons in the US, Western Europe, Russia, and Bangladesh between 1984 and 2013 – found similar results.

The third Cochrane review looked at vaccines for the elderly in nursing homes. It found much less good evidence, with only one randomised trial – considered the gold standard in clinical trials as it establishes causation rather than correlation.

While observational studies (that draw inferences from a population to establish associations) have been done to show benefits of the vaccines, bias means we cannot rely on their results.

There are also potential harms from influenza vaccines noted in the reviews. They range from serious (a neurological disease called Guillain Barre) through to moderate (fevers, in children especially – some of which will cause febrile convulsions), and trivial (a sore arm for a couple of days).

Why are we so scared of the flu?
There is a special concern about influenza from a public health point of view. This comes about from its potential to cause pandemics. The first in modern history was the Spanish influenza pandemic of 1918-19, when tens of millions of people died worldwide.

There’s good evidence to show face masks protect against influenza. from
There have also been been several, less severe pandemics. These include the most recent swine flu that, although while affecting some (unexpected) groups of people (including pregnant women, those who were obese, and had asthma), caused little more effect on the overall population than the usual seasonal influenza.

Public health experts worry about another pandemic that can be more harmful and contagious, which could be devastating. But it’s important to note the vast majority of deaths from Spanish influenza were from secondary bacterial infections and predated the antibiotic era.

The reasons influenza virus has this ability to cause new pandemics comes from its instability – it changes genetically easily, making it more difficult for our immune systems to recognise newer strains. The effect is that new vaccines must be prepared every year for a best-guess at next year’s virus, and we need vaccination every year.

Influenza can also undergo a more radical change, such as when a new form of the virus emerges from an animal host (wild or domesticated birds or pigs, for example). This moving target makes it more difficult to vaccinate against – especially with the genetic shifts of pandemics. Just when we need protection most, vaccines can provide it least.

So what, if not the vaccine?
There are physical barriers that can prevent the spread of influenza. These are the masks (to reduce the spread of aerosol-borne virus particles), hand washing (to reduce the spread if virus from hands onto shared surfaces), and quarantine measures (isolating infected people to reduce their infectivity).

There is now reasonable evidence such measures reduce infections considerably. It might take a bit of effort to change the psyche of Australians to make wearing a facemask acceptable if you have an acute respiratory infection. Even the heroic “soldiering on to work” (or school) with your virus needs to be reversed as a public health act.


Alzheimer’s disease: why insulin is a new suspect
June 6, 2018 12.20am AEST

Johnson and Johnson recently announced that it was halting a clinical trial for a new Alzheimer’s drug after safety issues emerged. This latest failure adds to the dozens of large, costly clinical trials that have shown no effect in treating this devastating disease.

The growing list of failures should give us pause for thought – have we got the causes of Alzheimer’s all wrong?

In the first analysis of the disease, the German physician, Alois Alzheimer, noted odd changes in the brain of a patient who died of the condition. Alzheimer identified two kinds of protein aggregates that are not found in younger brains: plaques that are found between brain cells and tangles that are found inside brain cells.

Later research identified the proteins that made up the plaques as amyloid and those that form the tangles as tau. What these structures actually do is still under debate.

Unheeded warning
Alzheimer advised scientists not to jump to the conclusion that these proteins caused the disease. Unfortunately, his caution was ignored, and over the years it has become gospel that the build up of these proteins causes Alzheimer’s disease.

One problem is that it’s not possible to test, in a scientific experiment, if this theory is correct. Only in recent years has technology been developed that can test what these proteins do, and it is clearly not what scientists previously assumed. For example, genetically engineered mice that accumulate human amyloid in their brains show only mild impairment. But the pharmaceutical industry made up its mind a long time ago that amyloid is the culprit, and this has been the target for Alzheimer’s drugs ever since.

Alois Alzheimer’s warning was ignored. Wikimedia Commons
The aim of these drugs is to reduce the levels of amyloid in the brain, either by slowing down the formation of amyloid or by removing it from the brain. Both approaches have been tested many times now using different techniques and drug types. None of these trials have shown any effects, and some large drug companies, including Pfizer, have abandoned this area of research altogether.

The continued failure of new drugs to make a difference has to be interpreted as evidence that the amyloid protein is not the cause of Alzheimer’s disease. Some companies have changed their target to the tau protein. But again, drugs companies are assuming that a single protein is the cause of the disease.

Promising new avenues
Perhaps it is time to rethink the disease altogether. One approach is to look for genes that increase the risk of developing the disease. The problem with this approach is that there are surprisingly few of these genes, and they are rare. Alzheimer’s does not appear to be driven by gene mutations, so this approach does not shed new light on the underlying processes.

Another option is to look at the risk factors for developing Alzheimer’s. One of these is type 2 diabetes. Clearly, diabetes is very different from Alzheimer’s disease, so what’s the connection?

In diabetes, insulin becomes less effective at controlling blood sugar levels. But insulin does a lot more than just control blood sugar; it is a “growth factor”. Neurons (brain cells) are very dependent on growth factors, and if they don’t get enough, they die.

The loss of insulin’s growth factor effects in the brain appear to make neurons vulnerable to stress and reduce the brain’s ability to repair damage that accumulates over time. (Neurons live as long as we do, so there is a lot of time for damage to accrue.)

If brain cells don’t get enough growth factor, they die.  whitehoune/
When looking at brain tissue taken from deceased Alzheimer’s patients, researchers found that insulin lost its effectiveness as a growth factor, even in people who were not diabetic. This observation suggests that diabetes drugs might be an effective treatment for people with Alzheimer’s. Some experiments showed impressive results in animal studies, and several clinical trials have started.

Testing these drugs in animal models of another neurodegenerative disorder, Parkinson’s disease, also showed impressive effects, and two clinical trials in Parkinson’s patients showed good protective effects. In one of the trials – a pilot study – the patients who received the diabetes drug did not get any worse for two years while the control group, who received a standard treatment for Parkinson’s, deteriorated significantly. The other trial, a larger trial with a placebo control, confirmed this result and showed no deterioration in the drug group during the 12 months of study.

To see any protective effect in the brain in a clinical trial is completely new, and it supports the new theory that Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease are caused, at least in part, by a lack of growth factor activity in the brain. These new theories bring a fresh view on how these diseases develop and increase the likelihood of developing a drug treatment that makes a difference.


Latest Technology / Industrial IoT: Give machines more IQ
« on: June 05, 2018, 11:09:06 AM »
Industrial IoT: Give machines more IQ
June 01, 2018

Augment your machines with artificial intelligence and sell a production performance improvement community to your customers.

New business models are enabled by industrial IoT, making machines smarter and augmenting the knowledge of operators.

The reconfigured value chain enables new collaboration possibilities between machines and humans to increase production uptime, adapt to demand versatility, comply with regulations and mitigate intermediation risks.

It is a huge opportunity for industrial companies who have not yet started to harvest the potential of the new technologies.

OptimData is TechniaTranscat’s joint venture that focuses on ways to help customers move to industry 4.0. It develops applications based on connected devices, data science and machine learning.

What if machines could talk?
ProductInUse is a Software-as-a-service that can connect to many data sources and combine data from enterprise data silos (CRM, ERP) with IoT data in one application.

It consists of two innovative pillars. On one hand, it is a design automation application for artificial intelligence (AI) of connected equipment.

Based on machine data and data science tools, system expert engineers can diagnose, design, simulate and publish the AI of the equipment.

The user is assisted to manipulate data and to create advanced algorithms. As a result, the AI teaches a language to the equipment for it to interact with production stakeholders.

On the other hand, a community of connected performance joins people and equipment for a single objective of production performance.

The equipment behaves as a friend of the operators, talking, predicting maintenance, suggesting the next best actions, anticipating failures and shortening the time to repair.

internet of things productinuse

Shorten time to repair
By internalizing the collective intelligence into the AI, the equipment can identify, in its own context of production, the best next action to repair and restart.

About 50 percent of the MTTR “Mean Time to Restart” can be saved enabling up to 3 percent increased OEE (Operating Equipment Efficiency) and a significant topline revenue increase.

Anticipating failure
Predictive analysis can be built on critical components of the equipment.

The AI is created via an algorithm that characterizes the physical issue. When triggered, it makes the equipment communicate before the failure. This digital service realizes huge savings at production sites.

It produces a redefinition of the service engagement between equipment manufacturer and user, with direct topline direct topline effects for both parties.

Tools for Industry 4.0


Why Should You Use Software To Make Your Small Business Profitable?
Published on June 4, 2018
Shah Mohiuddin

Running a business effectively as per plan and getting the ongoing implementation report is crucial for any startup to established business. There are two benefits if a business run by using its full capacity. First of all is wastage of time and money decrease and it naturally leads to second benefit which is increase of profit.

There are many software in the market that can help your small business to run more effectively. Use of the limited resources with the best effective way is the main benefit of management software. Because, most of the small businesses are startup type and always have the probability to grow if it minimize the risk with proper management.

How Small Businesses Can Be Benefited By Software?
Usually small business owners are using software that help specific part of their work such as Point of Sale software etc. This software provides single function for specific area. But, solving the all problems related to run a business effectively need a small business management software that care all part of the business.

For example, CRM software is a point solution that helps businesses manage their customer relationships. However, using point systems does not address the entire problem, which is raising productivity throughout the entire business.

Small business management software integrate all the works in a single platform. And, all regular works of a small business can run by owners, managers or any employees.

The main functioning features of a small business management system are customer relation management, contact management, billing and invoicing, project management. You can perform the following works by a small business management solution.

 You can manage all customer relationship through small business solutions. You will be able to make the database of the existing and prospected customers. It also able doing the marketing activities such as email marketing, SMS marketing. You can maximize the contact database and use it for marketing for the best possible ways.
 Customer contact can be saved with the created quotes and invoices that keep the important documents safe. The integrated invoicing and billing system with the total platform save the details of order with address. So, the product sell and stock status including after sell reports can manage easily the software.
 The small business software is the single solution for sales, marketing, project management and invoicing. It makes small business software special for the small business for the ability of the integration.
If you use the separate system it will be very hard for you to look over the cost related different projects at a time. But having a single system to help you to know quickly the costs related with any project or customer and invoice them properly.
 Owners or managers can access the employees' time sheet. It helps managers for planning the using of the manpower effective ways in the present or upcoming projects.


Hackers Are Now Using “Shimmers’ To Steal Your Credit Card Information
Published on May 17, 2018

Just as soon as we thought our credit cards were safe with the implementation of the new chip, hackers have found a way around it. Hackers have found a way around our chip-enabled credit cards designed to protect our information. It’s called “shimming” and it works by inserting a thin device with a microchip and flash storage into the credit card slot. The shimmer aka “shim”, copies and saves your information. It’s a new way of reading the magnetic strip. So can we even detect a shim? If you insert you credit card and it feels too tight in a gas pump or ATM, that could be a sign and you should report it.

So how can you protect yourself with so many scammers trying to steal your info?

Set up bank alerts for all transactions
Closely monitor your statements for any suspicious transactions
Use “tap and pay” smartphone apps such as Apple Pay to avoid using your physical card
Monitor your credit report for any new or suspicious accounts opened in your name
If you think that you have been a victim of credit card fraud, you must act immediately:

Contact your credit card company and report the fraud. Most have a toll-free number that is located online or on your statement
Contact the 3 major credit bureaus to place a fraud alert on your account. This simply sends a request to all creditors to contact you before they open any new accounts in your name.
You can also temporarily or permanently freeze and lock your credit
Call the experts at Quinn Technology Solutions at 281.817.7130!
Quinn Technology Solutions is an expert in cyber security. We have the tools to monitor and scan the dark web for your personal information and to protect you from an attack. It is important to remain and be aware of current scams by checking your account. These tips will make you less vulnerable to the bad guys. If you feel like you may be a victim of a hack or breach give the good guys at Quinn Technology Solutions a call at 281-817-7130.


5 Reasons Why Your Business Should Use Mobile Payments
by Kimberly de Silva

The evolution of money looks like this: barter, coins, paper, plastic, and now, phones. With the help of NFC (near field communication), companies are going to revolutionize the shopping experience and replace cash and credit cards with smartphones. People use smartphones to complete daily tasks including paying for goods and services. That’s why small businesses are encouraged to embrace mobile payments so that the customers can pay as easily as possible. Mobile payments encompass mobile wallets and mobile money transfers, both taking place through your mobile device. With the help of mobile payments, there is no need to fumble for cash, write out checks, or wait for invoices. As the growth of Apple Pay and other NFC payment methods isn’t slowing down, adapting to mobile payment technology is extremely valuable for your business.

From the data below, we can see that the mobile payments market is gaining momentum. According to Business Insider, the usage of mobile payments among millennials will continue to increase. By 2020, it is expected to reach $503 billion. It is also suggested that by 2025, 75% of all financial transaction will be cashless. We can be sure that the times of searching for your wallet will no longer exist as all payments will instead be possible with a single touch. According to Statista, the total global revenue from the mobile payment market will reach $930 billion in 2018.


A report conducted by Mobile Payment World suggests that by 2020 the number of mobile payment users could increase up to 150 million. Among the most popular mobile payment systems are PayPal, Stripe, and Braintree. In 2016, PayPal processed 102 billion mobile payments.

If these numbers haven’t convinced you, here are the top five reasons why small businesses should adopt mobile payment technology.

1. It is the most convenient option for customers
The first reason is pretty obvious: contactless payments are the most convenient transaction that can be completed a lot quicker. Mobile payments, then, allow for lower wait times at checkout which, in turn, improves the customer experience. Consumers can also access more accounts without the need to carry a physical wallet with all the different cards and cash. All the necessary data is stored in a mobile device.

In 2015, Business Insider conducted a research that revealed that 40% of millennials would switch to mobile payments and give up carrying cash. In Europe, Sweden is already on a way to a cashless society and expects to switch entirely to virtual or plastic payments by 2021.


mobile payment stats
Source: NFC World

2. It’s more secure
Contactless payments are expected to surpass credit card transactions. Thus, most mobile payment service providers recognize the importance of strengthening the security of contactless payments. Using mobile wallets, such as Apple Pay, Android Pay or Samsung Pay, is more secure and reliable than using a payment card. For example, Apple Pay uses tokenization, a method aimed to encrypt customer data. Users download a mobile payment app and add credit card information to it. Consequently, the real card number is replaced with a token, which is not the real card number. The token is protected with a password or Touch ID. As the token is a not a real card number, it becomes idle for attackers. These steps increase the level of security and reduce the possibility of fraud. In case the phone be lost or stolen, the payment activity can easily be frozen.

3. It’s an opportunity to stay on top of new tech
Recent research conducted by the consulting company Bain & Co states that “they [consumers] spend more than twice as much [money] through digital channels and tend to shop more often if they use mobile payments. Banks and retailers that move quickly will gain the interest and loyalty of the valuable consumers who are the primary early adopters of mobile payments.”

In 2016, Visa partnered with Honda for an in-vehicle payments system, which makes it possible for a driver to pay for parking and gas. Another example is a partnership between Mastercard, Samsung, and online grocery retailers to make an app that allows customers to order groceries directly from smart refrigerators. The use of mobile payments is a shift away from a card to an omnichannel future, where the payment methods will grow drastically. Businesses can get in on these trends early by incorporating mobile payments into their app or website.

4. It makes bookkeeping easier
When you run a business, you need an easy accounting system that will allow you to invoice customers, pay bills, and share all your payments with the accountant. Introducing mobile payment solutions can help a business achieve better cash flow management. With the help of mobile payments, small businesses can reduce costs such as bank charges and overheads and can better evaluate their cash flow position.

Quite often businesses forget to record their transactions, which can lead to missed valuable expenses or even potential penalties. To help avoid it, there are a number of cloud accounting packages that allow managing finances from mobile.

With the help of mobile payments, your business accounting can be significantly simplified by:

reducing time spent on bookkeeping tasks because everything is already in the system
eliminating data entry
avoiding a huge backlog of invoices and receipts
saving time compared to using spreadsheets
eliminating paper receipts and sending digital receipts to clients on the email address
5. It Improves The Customer Experience
People are ready to embrace mobile payments. Whether it is buying clothes or paying bills, people are more than ready and willing to accept a payment method that can help them to avoid wait times when paying for the goods and services. By providing an opportunity for customers to pay at any time, you provide not only a convenient solution but a payment experience.

As mentioned, mobile payments can speed up the checkout process, which goes beyond the mere ease of it. Instead, it has an impact on the entire customer experience. For example, retailers can increase their value during holidays when everyone is shopping and there are long queues at other stores.

The future of payments is going to be all about mobile. Starbucks, known as the pioneer of in-app mobile payments, states that mobile payment accounted for 27% of all their U.S. transactions in 2016. Implementing mobile payment will become an essential part of your business. Security remains the top priority. If consumers are sure that they can securely make transactions using mobile phones, they will be eager to use it. If the mobile payment provider underperforms, consumers will continue on using cash and cards.

Summing up, mobile payments create a better customer experience and set up a better and stronger relationship with them. One of the biggest advantages of mobile payments is a financial convenience, which allows managing money anywhere and at any time. As they become more secure and customer-oriented, mobile payments will play a relevant role in the future of finance and consumers.


We need a new Operating System for the Fourth Industrial Revolution
14 May 2018. Murat Sönmez

Society’s operating system needs an upgrade. The model we have been using is simply not up to the challenges of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

A new era is unfolding at breakneck speed. It has huge potential to address some of the world’s most critical challenges, from food security, to reducing congestion in big cities, to increasing energy efficiency, to accelerating cures to the most intractable diseases. But it also raises a host of social and governance issues that need addressing.

Given the speed and scale of the changes, and the slow pace of processes defining governance models to handle them, present solutions to these questions are being rapidly superseded. We end up operating in the "too late zone".

We need to think and act quickly. At the World Economic Forum’s Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, we are laying the foundations for a new, global "operating system (OS) to facilitate delineation between the rights and responsibilities of different stakeholders.

This is all part of efforts to ensure this new phase of civilization is human-centric, benefitting not just the privileged few and driven not by the imperatives of technological development, but serving all of society. We must ensure that algorithms driven by vast data harvesting are trustworthy; that artificial intelligence and machine learning are as ethical as they are intelligent; and that data ownership is clear. These questions and many more are coming at us faster than we can formulate answers.

What are the building blocks of an operating system that could cope with such complex questions?

Human-centric use of data
Maximizing the potential of the Fourth Industrial Revolution while minimizing its negative impact requires us to adopt "human-centric design" principles. Using these, we can project the positive or negative impact of specific technologies on society into the future, and work backwards to identify the governance protocols needed to set the right course today.

Data plays a key role: where it comes from, who owns it, what you can do with it, and who takes the rewards.

This requires a layered approach to governance:

Layer 1: The blockchain – the foundation

Blockchain’s peer-to-peer security architecture, transparency and rapidly evolving features such as smart contracts and tokens make it an ideal platform to build a system of accurate, human-centric protocols.

Layer 2: The Internet of Things – where does the data come from?

There are already more connected IoT devices than people. By 2020, more than 20 billion IoT devices are anticipated. This represents a massive opportunity to collect and use data to solve our most intractable problems. But to protect ourselves from potential data misuse, and to provide the foundation for a healthy, secure and equitable data economy, three crucial IoT protocols are required:

There must be a way for the OS to ensure data comes from trusted sources, otherwise data-derived algorithms may be skewed by "fake data" being pumped into the system. This authentication must be highly secure, cross-industry and not under any single governmental control: a perfect opportunity to use blockchain.

Ethics Switch
What happens if a data-derived algorithm asks a car or bus to drive into a crowd of people? Or a transformer to cut off power to the population? Or a high-speed train to accelerate near the train station and crash? A medical device to stop functioning and kill its host? A drone to fly into electric transmission lines? At the moment, we have no methods for knowing what these data-derived algorithms are, nor means for influencing their design principles.

So how do we prevent them from harming society? Human-centric values must be embedded in the OS in such a way that it can apply them to the myriad practical situations confronting it every day. The Ethics Switch in the OS must allow for ethical rules to be deployed based on the legal framework of the relevant jurisdiction (city, state, nation, region).

These rules, as defined by the jurisdictions, could be designed using blockchain smart contracts to ensure that no-one can tamper with them, and that they can be downloaded and updated using the next protocol. Ideally these ethics rules should be universally agreed on. But there is a need for urgent action. The Ethics Switch framework could be used subsequently, once these universal rules are defined and updated.

Have you read?
3 ways the Fourth Industrial Revolution is disrupting the law
The moral dilemmas of the Fourth Industrial Revolution
The Fourth Industrial Revolution could smash gender inequality – or deepen it
The law can't keep up with new tech. Here's how to close the gap
Over the Air (OTA) upgrade
If devices are hacked or legal frameworks change, their software and security needs to be upgradeable without the need for physical replacement, hence the need for OTA upgrades much like those currently in use on smart phones.

With these protocols in place, we can ensure that the data are coming from trusted sources, and we can allow for the combination of vast sums of data across different domains to "de-bias" data sets, resulting in better algorithms.

Layer 3: Data ownership - who owns it, what can be done with it, and who gets the rewards?

A key concern for governments and citizens is data privacy. In the absence of any other means of control, governments tend to prohibit the movement of data outside borders, or they apply the laws of the jurisdiction in which the data is collected if it is taken across national borders. While this may reduce misuse of data, it also obstructs us combining global data sets to accelerate innovation in critical areas such as agriculture, the environment, traffic, energy and health. It also prevents multinational companies from combining data sets to support their global operations.

A decoupled architecture would address concerns while maximizing potential. It would consist of the following aspects:

The relevant agency will need to be able to determine the rightful owner of the data (person, farmer, corporation, state etc.).

Right to use
The owner of the data will need to be able to specify the purpose and duration it can be used for (using, for instance, blockchain smart contracts). These contracts would be attached to the datasets, and would act as gatekeepers when the data are being accessed to ensure permitted use.

The owner will determine if there needs to be any compensation for the right to use. Such a reward system could be based on blockchain tokens issued by public or private sector organizations, much like the loyalty programs that are in common use today.

For example, this would allow me, as a user, to specify that my genetic data can be used for cancer research for two years without any compensation. But if a drug manufacturer wants to access it, I could limit that use to six months and ask for compensation in the form of, say, tokens issued by the pharmaceutical company. When the terms of the smart contract expire, data access is automatically removed by the OS.

How would one value the tokens? In the same way that a cup of coffee or carbon emissions are valued, that is through "token exchanges" to be set up at the national, regional or perhaps global level, as we have done with commodity exchanges.

The rapidly emerging “edge computing” architecture, featuring smarter devices with larger data storage capacities and longer battery lives, would provide computing architecture for these vast sums of data. They would be stored closer to the "point of collection" and made available, subject to the protocols above, near the "moment of consumption".

This protocol would also allow for flexible and secure use of data in emergencies such as wars or natural disasters, which would be regulated by international agencies. The owner of a satellite network would then be able to share their data in such cases, knowing that it would not be used outside permitted use.

Layer 4: Cross-border data flows

To fulfil the global potential of these protocols, this new operating system architecture requires interoperable – though not necessarily identical – cross-border data flow protocols across countries and regions.

For example, the CEO of a start-up operating in the "precision agriculture" space told me that in an African country, they were instrumenting the agriculture fields to dramatically increase (double and triple) the yield. But to do so, they needed to combine data from that country with other countries’ data, to avoid a biased data set. This was complicated by existing data protection protocols, as the data was not allowed to be taken out of the country.

Taxes, Intellectual Property, Legal System, Insurance
We also need to consider taxation, intellectual property rights and insurance in the context of this new operating system.

If I can 3D print a product, for example, I am effectively importing it, even though it has not passed any physical border. Should I be required to pay a fee? How do we ensure the authenticity of the design specification? How does the creator of the product get paid?

If an algorithm is derived from data coming from multiple sources, and there is no “human ingenuity” involved, is it patentable, and by whom?

Finally, on the insurance front, if the outcome of a decision made by an algorithm is harmful, who is at fault?

A world of possibilities
The above protocols apply to many areas set to be a feature of the Fourth Industrial Revolution: drones, autonomous vehicles, precision medicine, 3D printing, robotics, and our management of the earth’s resources.

The advances could be paradigm-shattering. Consider the following examples:

During a recent visit to India, I was informed by government officials that at state hospitals, there is one doctor for every 12,000 citizens. It is impossible to build enough hospitals and train enough doctors to meet the demand, particularly with the population continuing to rise.

What if, once a week, we could swallow or sniff a nanoparticle - later flushed out of the body - that would collect and securely upload our cellular data and vitals to the largest scientific knowledge base? After consultation with an AI-assisted doctor, a personalized formula for medication could be downloaded to the person’s mobile device, to be 3D-printed at a kiosk. Using this science-fiction-like (but completely possible) model, personalized medicine could be delivered to hundreds of millions of people, rich or poor, without the need for building hospitals and training doctors.

Traffic congestion in cities is a major cause of stress, productivity loss and environmental degradation. It also pushes people out of city-centre jobs, because the commute from the suburbs becomes too strenuous. What if only autonomous taxis and buses were allowed in city centres? The number of parking spaces could be reduced, making cities more liveable. Public transport would become faster, safer and cheaper, with elderly and young people no longer forced to wait in bus queues or walk from the station to their homes. Emergency services would become more effective. Workers could commute to their city-centre jobs more quickly.

However, this would also mean job losses - for bus and taxi drivers, for instance - so citizens would need skills retraining and social protection. Revenue for the cities would also decline, with fewer parking and traffic fines, so vehicle usage could incur a consumption-based charge depending on time of day, vehicle used and location.

Illegal fishing, particularly tuna fishing, is a source of major income loss for some nations, as well as a disruption to the ecosystem. Sanctions are largely useless, as by the time fishermen are caught, the fish are already dead. What if we could collect data from low-orbit satellites, use machine-learning algorithms to detect illegal activity, then deploy drones to prevent it?

Smallholder farmers are a key source of income and a significant food security topic, particularly in emerging markets. What if we could bring the Internet of Things (IoT) to agriculture, gathering data on sunshine, precipitation and soil conditions and delivering the right kind of fertilizer, in the correct quantities, by drone? We could consume fewer agriculture products and increase yields.

Existing regulatory frameworks and governance models are getting in the way of such advances. During the Forum’s recent Latin America Meeting in São Paulo, the head of a national innovation agency shared a story about his daughter, an oncologist in the US, who devised a blood test to detect pancreatic cancer long before traditional methods. When she needed data from nearby hospitals to validate the test, existing privacy laws prevented the hospitals sharing the data. Those laws were written at a time when such innovation was not a possibility.

A Nordic country delegation, on a visit to our Center a few months ago, said they have vast amounts of environment data that they are willing to share, but cannot find a mechanism to do so.

At the Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and through our global network, we are working with governments, business, academia and civil society to co-design this new operating system. It will provide transparency, accountability and innovative ways to solve the complex challenges of the new technology revolution. We need to think big, act quickly, and lay the foundations for a new, fairer, technology-based and global society.


Why the extraordinary story of the last slave in America has finally come to light

“We stand as living monuments,” wrote the historian Len Garrison, of the black British descendants of slavery and empire. “For those who are afraid of who they must be, are but slaves in a trance.” For Garrison, the idea of the African diaspora as “living monuments” was to some extent figurative. But a new book makes it literal. Barracoon: The Story of the Last Slave presents the remarkable fact that there were people alive in America who had experienced abduction from Africa – being examined, displayed, traded and enslaved – well into the 20th century.

The book is the story of Cudjo Lewis; a man born Oluale Kossola in the Yoruba kingdom of Takkoi. Kossola was the last survivor of the last known slave ship to sail from the African continent to America with a human cargo. Written in the 1930s, but hidden away from a public audience until now, it is also perhaps the last great, unpublished work by the Harlem Renaissance writer Zora Neale Hurston.

The word “barracoon” refers to the enclosures in which captives were held on the coast before being loaded on to ships. In Kossola’s case it was the Alabama vessel the Clotilda, which played its own gruesome part in the slave trade in 1860, half a century after its official abolition, transporting 130 men and women from the west African kingdom of Dahomey – modern day Benin.

By 1931, when Hurston interviewed Kossola – sweetening him with peaches, Virginia hams and late summer melons –, he was around 90 years old, and yet able, over a period of three months, to recall his life in Takkoi in great detail; his grandfather, an officer of the king; his mother and siblings; law and justice; love and adolescence. He spoke in heartbreaking detail of watching his community annihilated during a raid by Dahomey’s female warriors, leading to his capture and enslavement, the torture of the “middle passage”, and life in 19th and 20th century Alabama. Through all these years – many more lived in America than he had spent in his African birth nation – he never let go of the unspeakable loss of his homeland. When Hurston takes his photograph, Kossola dresses in his best suit, but removes his shoes, telling her: “I want to look lak I in Affica, ’cause dat where I want to be.”

The uniqueness of the story and that of the writer who tells it are layered and intertwined. The old, poetic Kossola, generous with his parables and storytelling, is one of almost four million Africans enslaved late in the history of the transatlantic trade. And while the full history is documented in countless accounts of slave traders, merchants, plantation owners and masters, ledgers and auction records and court documents, the number of first-hand accounts of Africans forced to become Americans can be counted on two hands. It is Hurston, and perhaps Hurston alone, who could have drawn this heavy tale out of the often melancholy old man, and have the vision and skill to make it sing, in the way that Barracoon does, for reasons rooted deeply in her own life story.

Hurston was born in 1891 in Eatonville, Florida, a small town with an entirely black population, which she would later describe as “the city of five lakes, three croquet courts, 300 brown skins, 300 good swimmers, plenty guavas, two schools and no jailhouse”. She would keep close links to her hometown, despite leaving when she was just 13, and then drifting – working as a manicurist and achieving a degree part time at Howard University – until she arrived in New York in 1925. By then she was in her mid 30s (but convinced those whom she met that she was a full decade younger) and had – as she wrote later in her autobiography Dust Tracks on a Road – “$1.50, no job, no friends, and a lot of hope”.

Hurston began studying anthropology at Barnard College and, having received a fellowship to gather material in her home state, set about documenting African American folk traditions in towns like Eatonville, and later in the southern states, the Bahamas and Haiti. It was during this period, right at the beginning of her career, that she first met Kossola, interviewing him several times in the late 1920s. It was her first major project, but also her first major failure. An article she published about Kossola in the Journal of Negro History would be accused of plagiarism, allegations which scholars now contest, and which in any event drove Hurston to return to Alabama, to conduct the series of interviews that would form the core of Barracoon, and, this time, to do so in a manner that would cast the work beyond any doubt.

Around this time, black art began asserting itself brazenly in an America still emerging from four centuries of slavery and legalised white supremacy, and the belief that the African had no civilisation to offer. By the time of her death in 1960, Hurston would have published more books than any other black woman in America. But it wasn’t until she caught the attention of sociologist Charles S Johnson, champion of the Harlem Renaissance and the editor of Opportunity, the official journal of the National Urban League (which published her work as well as that of Claude McKay, Langston Hughes and Countee Cullen), that she got her break.

Even within the Harlem Renaissance, Hurston’s approach was radical. Inspired by her Eatonville roots, she was instinctively compelled by the folklore, the idioms, customs, worksongs, spirituals, sermons, children’s games, folktales and practices of African American communities of the south. While other members of the black intelligentsia were celebrating racial uplift, and while hundreds of thousands fled the rural south in the “great migration”, in search of what they imagined to be progress in northern cities, Hurston was interested in “the Negro farthest down”. Her goal as an author, anthropologist and essayist, was – the scholar Karla Holloway has said – “to render the oral culture literate”.
“The unlettered Negro,” Hurston wrote, was “the Negro’s best contribution to American culture.” It was this belief which inspired Barracoon – a book in which there is little of Hurston herself, but plenty of her ideology, in capturing Kossola, a man whose culture slavery both created and destroyed. Like the language of some of Hurston’s later works – Mule Bone, the play she would write with Hughes in 1931; Mules and Men, a compilation of oral folklore in 1935; and her most famous work, the novel Their Eyes Were Watching God in 1937 – Kossola’s narrative plays the music of history itself within its tonalities, rhythms and inflections. But the narrative, like Kossola, stands apart from Hurston’s others; his speech is more a recognisably African Creole than the African American vernacular, and despite all his decades living in America, Kossola is steeped in the thought of Africa, the world – as he calls it – “in de Affica soil”. Hurston’s fidelity to the manner and content of Kossola’s storytelling is the book’s strength. Yet within it were also contained the seeds of Barracoon’s downfall. When Hurston took the manuscript to publishers, they wanted her to anglicise his English, which she resolutely refused to do.
“Hurston was not interested in, as Toni Morrison might put it, the white gaze, and how ‘they’ would perceive us,” explains Deborah Plant, a Hurston scholar who edited Barracoon. “She was interested in what was specific in African American culture, those aspects which were rooted in African tradition, African history, African civilisation, because in that authenticity lay the genius – the spirit, as Hurston describes it – that which the soul lives by.”

For Cheryl Wall, Zora Neale Hurston professor of English at Rutgers University, “this impatience with Hurston’s determination to transcribe Kossola’s speech faithfully is enormously frustrating”. It was “part of the pattern of Hurston’s life that she had to fight so hard to have her voice heard, and the voices of those whose stories she wanted to tell. We are told the dialect is too difficult. Is it really any more difficult than the dialect of Mark Twain or James Joyce? Yes it requires some extra effort, but it’s the kind of effort we usually put into a literary text without complaint.”

The irony is astounding. Kossola, a man denied his home and his voice by American racism, would have the telling of his story silenced too. Barracoon, having been met with intransigence by publishers, remained unpublished, ending up in a private collection that was passed to the archive at Howard University in 1956, where it remained inaccessible to all but a handful of scholars who read it and cited it in their work.

Hurston found her own life mirroring this cycle of narration and dispossession. After the success of her work in the 1930s and 40s, her hugely productive career spiralled downwards. She lived hand to mouth, writing articles for magazines while working at odd jobs, including one stint in Miami for an employer who saw her byline in the Saturday Evening Post and tipped off a reporter that the author was her maid. Hurston was humiliated, and spent the next decade in a series of small towns in Florida, plagued by health and money problems, until she ended up in a welfare home where she died, penniless, of heart disease in 1960.

 A slave’s cabin at the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
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 A slave’s cabin at the National Museum of African American History and Culture, Edisto Island, South Carolina. Photograph: Courtesy of NMAAHC
At the time of her death, none of her seven previously published books was in print. Neighbours collected money for her funeral and it made front page news in the local black weekly, the Fort Pierce Chronicle. But she was buried in a segregated cemetery, in an unmarked grave.

For the novelist and feminist Alice Walker, who in 1973 set out to discover what had become of Hurston, finding this grave in a “field full of weeds” was a devastating experience. “There are times,” wrote Walker, “and finding Zora Hurston’s grave was one of them, when normal responses to grief, horror and so on do not make sense because they bear no real relation to the depth of emotion one feels.” Walker was determined to restore Hurston’s legacy and reputation. She obtained a gravestone, and had it inscribed with the words: “Zora Neale Hurston – A genius of the south. Novelist. Folklorist. Anthropologist.”

Their Eyes Were Watching God, still considered Hurston’s greatest work, was soon back in circulation. That edition, by the University of Illinois Press, sold more than 300,000 copies, making it, as Wall says, “one of the most dramatic chapters in African American literary history”.

The publication of Barracoon thus represents a recovery within a recovery; the works of Hurston having been so dramatically resurrected, but this one languishing in obscurity until now. And its publication comes at an emotive moment in the African American experience – an experience loaded not just with historical trauma, but very contemporary pain. Alice Walker writes, for example, in the foreword to the book, that in reading Kossola’s story, African Americans “are struck with the realisation that he is naming something we ourselves work hard to avoid, how lonely we are too in this still foreign land”.

Karla Holloway, professor of English at Duke University, says: “The irony is that the loneliness that echoes through Kossola’s account, and that Walker so poignantly notices, is our collective legacy.

“We work hard to escape and slip past that loneliness, but inevitably we are captured, again, by the wake of slavery, a tidal wash as reliable as moonrise.”

The era of Black Lives Matter, of harassment in coffee shops, of a president who has been both overtly racist and also dismissive of racism, and of the disappointment at the first black president having been able to make little real change to poverty, criminalisation and exclusion, has produced a moment in which the struggle has never been more apparent, yet the cultural expression of that suffering has never been more visible.

 Illustration by Swain, from 1835, of slaves being put into the hold.
Facebook Twitter Pinterest  Illustration by Swain, from 1835, of slaves being put into the hold. Photograph: Rischgitz/Getty Images
“I do think one of the reasons that the book is so attractive right now is that there is this longing for African Americans to have access to a pre-US life – a connection to Africa,” says Autumn Womack, an assistant professor of English and African American studies at Princeton University. “If nothing else, Barracoon announces the desire for this kind of connection, even if it’s never really fulfilled. People are searching for a vocabulary to make sense of that.”

That struggle is finding expression in film, TV and theatre that focuses on the experience of slavery; from the Oscar-winning 12 Years a Slave, the remake of the memorable series Roots and the multi-award-winning musical Hamilton. It is present in pop culture, with the recent phenomenon of Childish Gambino’s “This Is America”, whose video references the violent brutalisation of African Americans. There are new museums – America’s first of African American history, which opened in 2016; the Whitney Plantation, the first plantation museum on American soil; and the nation’s first memorial to the horrors of lynching, in Alabama.

It is abundant in literature too; Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad and other influential books such ass Isabel Wilkerson’s The Warmth of Other Suns, which tells the story of the Great Depression in new and profound detail; Stamped from the Beginning, by Ibram X Kendi, which chronicles the lifespan of American racism; Angie Thomas’s The Hate U Give, radicalising readers of young adult fiction to the injustice of police killings; and Jesmyn Ward’s devastating Sing, Unburied, Sing.

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Watch the video for Childish Gambino: This Is America
The pathos of the African American experience, told with such tenderness in Barracoon, is matched by its complexity. Hurston herself remarked that in writing Kossola’s harrowing account of how the king of Dahomey profited from raiding and selling members of neighbouring kingdoms, she was deeply affected by the question of African complicity in the slave trade. “The inescapable fact that stuck in my craw,” Hurston wrote, “was my people had sold me and the white people had bought me. That did away with the folklore I had been brought up on – that white people had gone to Africa, waved a red handkerchief at the Africans and lured them aboard ship and sailed away.”

And yet Barracoon also helps deepen the understanding of the context in which slavery took place. “This idea of ‘African complicity’ is more myth than a reality,” Plant says. “Because at that point in history, there was no such thing as an ‘African’. People on the African continent did not self identify as Africans; instead there was a self identity in relation to specific ethnic groups and specific kingdoms, religions or language. So many of us don’t know, because we don’t have these nuances about our history.”

The absence of stories like Kossola’s has hardly helped bring these nuances to the fore. There are other difficult questions arising from the book about the extent to which the African American victims of slavery internalised the attitudes of their oppressors. Kossola recalls how his children in particular endured bullying from neighbouring African Americans, for having two African-born parents.

“All de time de chillun growin’ de American folks dey picks at dem and tell de Afficky people dey kill folks and eatee de meat,” Kossola recounts in Barracoon. “Dey callee my chillun ig’nant savage and make out dey kin to monkey … It hurtee dey feelings.”

“Those acculturated African Americans could have been more open, more receptive, compassionate, and they weren’t,” Plant says. “They were a source of hostility to Kossola and his community. We can explain or rationalise it, but it doesn’t justify it.” The book’s uniqueness is in its recounting of a story in which we are all equally bound up by this cycle of oppression – the former slave plagued by the trauma of losing his homeland and family, the writer whose work survived the desire of intellectuals for white approval, the reader forced to challenge their own ideas about race and the internalisation of oppression. But more than anything it brings an African past up close to an African American present, at a time of great searching. “Throughout her life, Hurston fought against this idea that there was no connection to Africa once people arrived on these shores, and everything was forgotten,” Wall says. “We know that’s not true. But a book like this really brings that to life.”

• Barracoon: The Story of the Last Slave by Zora Neale Hurston is published by HarperCollins.

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Faculty Sections / A Hunger Artist
« on: May 26, 2018, 02:08:01 PM »
A Hunger Artist
Shamsad Mortuza

May 19 marked the 110th birth anniversary of Manik Bandopadhyay. This week's In Focus remembers the author of Padma Nadir Majhi and highlights his contribution to the spirit of the age. With modernism thriving in Europe, Bengali writers were influenced by the changes in the world literary scene. They were not shy to experiment and to break away from the overwhelming presence of Tagore. Manik Bandyopadhyay stands out because of his artistic and political conviction that made him hungry for reality.

"The Puppet's Tale? Manik babu must have turned humans into puppets then, or made them become slaves to fate! The judges have spoken. The book however is kept alive for [more than] 20 years by those who do not judge me. They realise how this book is a sympathetic protest against those who pull the strings to make people dance like puppets. It is not revolution, but it is an act of continuous sympathetic protest."

Meet Manik Bandopadhyay— wounded by the critics who had glanced at the title of his novel to dismiss it as fatalist or feudalist. Manik's tongue-in-cheek reply shows that readership is the real mandate that an author needs; engagement with the society is the real commitment that an author desires. After he joined the Communist Party in 1944, his peers started sifting through his work in search of ideas that would compromise his political ideology. Some accused Manik of giving too much space to romantic sensibility or cheap sensuality (e.g. Putul Nancher Itikatha), possibly to titillate his readers, while others, of not understanding emancipation of labour as he resorted to Utopian visions (e.g. Padma Nadir Majhi). For them, the protagonist in Putul Nancher Itikotha, Shashi is nothing but a representative of the petty bourgeoisie while Hossain Mia's island without religion in Padma Nadir Majhi is a place that generates slavery.

Manik, however, has always remained firm in his artistic conviction. In an essay “Why do I Write,” he posits: “I write because I have the urgency to share a fraction of the way I have seen and felt life. No one else knows what I know” (Jol Pore, Pata Nore, Jana Noy). Indeed, despite being dubbed a champion of realism, Manik knows that the mimetic function of his narrative prose can only give expression to a fraction of the temporal experiences of an individual. It is impossible to retell and reconfigure reality in a way a psychoanalyst like Freud or a materialist like Marx would entail it. A writer has a plot in which he has to populate his characters; and he has to plot a storyline where these characters will interact both as individuals and social beings. The narrator in Putul Nancher Itikotha reveals: “It's not the beauty of the village that is made up of trees, houses, or ditches that Shashi was looking at; he looked around for people.”

Is Manik taking a jab at his contemporary Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay in these lines? Maybe. Maybe not. Manik is known for breaking away from the sentimentality of Tagore, his spirituality and idealism. He was writing at a time when a writer needed to respond to the advent of technology and the social evolutionary process. In “Trends of Novel,” he writes: “Artists must have a scientific attitude, especially today, so that one can detect the illusory pitfalls of spiritualism and idealism. … The mood and idea of a novel must be based on reality. The characters may turn out to be odd, but still they need to be earthly and real. …The narrative of a novel can involve imagination that is beyond reality, a mindscape that exists only in the mind of a writer; yet such creation must be grounded in real lives, real people and real environment.”

I refer to Manik's own composition process to understand the man behind his works. His explanation proves him to be a man of conviction, a man who knows what he is doing. He was a first year Honours student at the Presidency College, when one of his friends, a failed writer, challenged him to publish his work in a literary journal. Manik had obtained first divisions in both his matriculation and intermediate examinations, and was all set to pursue his Honours degree in Mathematics. When his friend blamed the system for not allowing budding writers like him, Manik simply retorted by pointing out that perhaps his friend's writing was not good enough. In response, his friend dared him to get published. Manik took up the challenge, and within three months' time he showed up at the office of Bichitra, an acclaimed literary magazine.

The editor-in-charge and a member of Kallol group, Achintya Kumar Sengupta later recalled, “One day a dark lanky fellow came to our Bichitra office. He said, 'I've brought a story'. I told him to leave it on the table. He said, 'take it,' stretching his arms to hand in the manuscript in a manner to suggest that it should go to press right away.”

The short story not only got published but also gave Manik his first earning of twenty taka as a writer. One of the editorial assistants from Bichitra came to his house to hand in the money with a request of writing more and a copy of his published story “Atoshi Mami,” which eventually became the title story of his first collection of short stories. Even though Manik later prescribed that nobody should write before the age of thirty, he violated his own rule by a near decade. At college, he started giving more and more time to his writing. It is at this same time that he got introduced to leftist politics. The double distractions cost him his education. He failed twice in his BSC exam and was ousted from college. His elder brother, who did not see any use of creativity, stopped sending him money. Manik reacted by saying, “One day people will utter my names along with Rabindranath or Sarat Chandra.”

Born on May 19, 1908, Manik Bandopadhyay was the fifth of the fourteen children of his parents. He was given the name Probodh Kumar Bandhopaddhay. Owing to his dark complexion, he was known to his family members as Kala Manik (black diamond), or simply Manik. His father was a sub-registrar who was posted in different parts of pre-Partition Bengal. Consequently, the family travelled all across the undivided Bengal, which had a shaping influence on Manik. For instance, before his school entrance exam he ran away from home to spend some time with the boatmen community in Tangail. His experience later helped him depict the fishermen's villages in Padma Nadir Majhi.

At the time of submission of his first story, he used his pet name Manik as his nom de plume, thereby authoring his own name, his own career path. It was not mere chance that made him an author. In an essay, “Before Doing Literature,” he mentioned the training and preparation required for writing. That Manik has become a 'gem' of Bangla literature is because of his experiential reality and the economy of language with which he expressed it. There are critics who have tried to categorise the different phases of Manik based on his encounter with poverty, alcohol, political dogma, epilepsy or even later day obsession with Ma Kali. They, however, all agree on his creative genius, and his contribution to the spirit of the age.

Many of his artistic themes are present in “Atoshi Mami” as seeds that we find abloom in his mature works. The story is about a musician, Jatin, who bleeds profusely every time he plays his flute. The artist lives in seclusion, and plays his flute only in the evening. Jatin is dying of poverty, and it is his love for music and his wife Atoshi that keeps him going. In her effort to keep her husband alive, Aunt Atoshi asks the narrator to deter Jatin from playing his flute. The narrator uses a ploy to buy the flute from Jatin before the family leaves town. Much later, one day on a train the narrator meets Atoshi who tells him how Jatin has died of an accident and she needs that flute back to join her husband in a place which only the couple can occupy.

This is a strange tale, especially coming from a twenty-year-old. Even more strangely, it foreshadows his own life of financial hardship and physical illness. Like Atoshi who was scarred by her uncle, Manik too bore a scar on his ankle from a burning charcoal which fell into his shoes. He was a wild boy, involved in all sorts of troubles including getting into fights with bullies and being injured by glass shreds while making firecrackers. He took up alcohol at an early age and showed signs of epileptic fits. Twice he had near death experiences by the river while walking in a trance. He often had flashbacks of memory. He never held any steady job. He is the ultimate Kafkaesque 'Hunger Artist' who literally killed himself in the process of writing 36 novels, 177 short stories, and many letters and non-fiction pieces. Or should I say he is just like Jatin who died in the process of creating music amid poverty?

The supernatural hints made in “Atoshi Mami” are far from the obsession for naturalism that he had. Manik is known for delving into the mind and bringing out the gritty reality. His poverty allowed him to face reality more than we can think of. After his death, one of his comrades asked his wife why she did not phone him. “It takes five annas to call,” was her curt reply.

Did he relish poverty? In his diary, he wrote about his wife Kamala (Dolly) who heaved a sigh of relief after giving birth to a stillborn. “Dolly is not at all unhappy to see the child die. It saves her from a lot of hassle. Thank goodness, she said. Now I can rest a bit before getting rid of the cook and save some money.”

Did Manik see money as the proverbial root of all evils? In “The Wife of a Leper,” he observed, “Everyone knows that earning implies bringing someone else's money to one's own house. If one can draw such money at a big scale, one becomes a big [read rich] man. The line that separates little-earning from big-earning is linked with the sweat of labour and the deviousness of the brain.”

By the time, Manik wrote his last novel Praneshwarer Upakhhan, it seems that the conviction with which he started writing had started becoming slightly clouded. He was tilting towards the supernatural. He identified the power of Ma's forgiveness and kindness in her process of practical sense and evolutionary consciousness.

Readers who are comfortable in seeing Manik as a champion of the class struggles, dialectical materialism are confused by this sudden shift in the writer's ideology. What happened to the Manik who famously located God among the rich neighbourhoods while reflecting on the lowly lives of the fishermen of Ketupur? Did he finally succumb to the trap of religion, the opium of the masses?

At the beginning of Putul Nancher Itikotha, there is a description of a man killed by lightning bolt. A villager Haru was taking a short cut while coming from town and took shelter under a banyan tree during a thunder storm. The gods in the sky struck him down, and the boatman Gobardhan was considering the appropriateness of touching the body in terms of caste. Only the educated Shashi had the consciousness to go beyond the logic of larger-than-life gods and lower-than-life caste system.

I feel, the mysterious disappearance of Atoshi Mami towards the end of his first story has a similar embedded desire of bridging up the irrational and the rational. The same desire is evident in the last journal entries of Manik. He was thinking of understanding divinity in scientific terms. He wrote in English in 1954: “The long-drawn controversy—what was first—matter or energy? Not meaningless but also a manifestation of truth, the real truth, that human consciousness is progressive.” He was even considering ways of presenting superstition of religion in a scientific way.

It is easy to bring in a theoretical lens to categorise Manik for his scientific analysis or psychoanalytic insight in understanding his time and space. It is possible to bring in a historical lens to canonise Manik as a writer of the thirties. It is even possible to identify how Manik used saga, lore, narrative as the local source of his stories to resist the western genre of the novel—a figure invested in decolonising the mind during the time of colonisation. The craftsmanship of Manik however lies in making the temporal universal. Because of his genuine interest in man and society, he can rub shoulders with any great writer of any culture to show how great literatures can transcend the binds of their time. As Devesh Roy has shown, Manik always posits man at the pivot and society at the rim; his characters span out like spokes in a bicycle wheel.

The wheel is on the move. It is not possible to think of Manik without his artistic hunger, and his commitment and attachment to the society in which he not only lived but also progressed.


Faculty Sections / Apperance Of Milk-Teeth
« on: May 26, 2018, 02:04:16 PM »
Apperance Of Milk-Teeth

The first set of teeth, or milk-teeth as they are called, are twenty in number; they usually appear in pairs, and those of the lower jaw generally precede the corresponding ones of the upper. The first of the milk-teeth is generally cut about the sixth or seventh month, and the last of the set at various periods from the twentieth to the thirtieth months. Thus the whole period occupied by the first dentition may be estimated at from a year and a half to two years. The process varies, however, in different individuals, both as to its whole duration, and as to the periods and order in which the teeth make their appearance. It is unnecessary, however, to add more upon this point.

Their developement is a natural process. It is too frequently, however, rendered a painful and difficult one, by errors in the management of the regimen and health of the infant, previously to the coming of the teeth, and during the process itself.

Thus, chiefly in consequence of injudicious management, it is made the most critical period of childhood. Not that I believe the extent of mortality fairly traceable to it, is by any means so great as has been stated; for it is rated as high as one sixth of all the children who undergo it. Still, no one doubts that first dentition is frequently a period of great danger to the infant. It therefore becomes a very important question to an anxious and affectionate mother, how the dangers and difficulties of teething can in any degree be diminished, or, if possible, altogether prevented. A few hints upon this subject, then, may be useful. I shall consider, first, the management of the infant, when teething is accomplished without difficulty; and, secondly, the management of the infant when it is attended with difficulty.

Management of the infant when teething is without difficulty.

In the child of a healthy constitution, which has been properly, that is, naturally, fed, upon the milk of its mother alone, the symptoms attending teething will be of the mildest kind, and the management of the infant most simple and easy.

Symptoms:- The symptoms of natural dentition (which this may be fairly called) are, an increased flow of saliva, with swelling and heat of the gums, and occasionally flushing of the cheeks. The child frequently thrusts its fingers, or any thing within its grasp, into its mouth. Its thirst is increased, and it takes the breast more frequently, though, from the tender state of the gums, for shorter periods than usual. It is fretful and restless; and sudden fits of crying and occasional starting from sleep, with a slight tendency to vomiting, and even looseness of the bowels, are not uncommon. Many of these symptoms often precede the appearance of the tooth by several weeks, and indicate that what is called “breeding the teeth” is going on. In such cases, the symptoms disappear in a few days, to recur again when the tooth approaches the surface of the gum.

Treatment:- The management of the infant in this case is very simple, and seldom calls for the interference of the medical attendant. The child ought to be much in the open air, and well exercised: the bowels should be kept freely open with castor oil; and be always gently relaxed at this time. Cold sponging employed daily, and the surface of the body rubbed dry with as rough a flannel as the delicate skin of the child will bear; friction being very useful. The breast should be given often, but not for long at a time; the thirst will thus be allayed, the gums kept moist and relaxed, and their irritation soothed, without the stomach being overloaded. The mother must also carefully attend, at this time, to her own health and diet, and avoid all stimulant food or drinks.

From the moment dentition begins, pressure on the gums will be found to be agreeable to the child, by numbing the sensibility and dulling the pain. For this purpose coral is usually employed, or a piece of orris-root, or scraped liquorice root; a flat ivory ring, however, is far safer and better, for there is no danger of its being thrust into the eyes or nose. Gentle friction of the gums, also, by the finger of the nurse, is pleasing to the infant; and, as it seems to have some effect in allaying irritation, may be frequently resorted to. In France, it is very much the practice to dip the liquorice-root, and other substances, into honey, or powdered sugar-candy; and in Germany, a small bag, containing a mixture of sugar and spices, is given to the infant to suck, whenever it is fretful and uneasy during teething. The constant use, however, of sweet and stimulating ingredients must do injury to the stomach, and renders their employment very objectionable.


খাদ্যে ভেজাল-বিষ মানদণ্ডে, বাংলাদেশ কী পৃথিবীতে শীর্ষে?
গোলাম মোর্তোজা
বিষাক্ত রাসায়নিক পদার্থ দিয়ে ফল পাকানোর কথা, বাংলাদেশের সব মানুষই কম বেশি জানেন। অফিসে একজন বলছিলেন, বেল ছাড়া কোনো ফলই খাওয়ার উপায় নেই। সবই বিষ মিশ্রিত, ভয়ঙ্কর ক্ষতিকর!

বললাম, দেশীয় ফলের মধ্যে আনারসে বিষ মেশানো হয় না। আনারস খাওয়া যায়। দেশে এখন আনারস আবাদের পরিমাণ এত বেড়েছে যে, বিষ দিয়ে পাকানোর প্রয়োজন হয় না। আনারসেও বিষ মেশানো হয়, আলোচনায় সে কথা সবাই বললেন। একমত হতে পারলাম না। ধারণা ছিল, আনারস এবং তরমুজে কোনো বিষ মেশানো হয় না।

গত দু’ সপ্তাহে দুবার ‘একটি কুড়ি দুটি পাতার দেশ শ্রীমঙ্গল গিয়েছিলাম। বর্ষার চা বাগান আর প্রকৃতির আকর্ষণে। শ্রীমঙ্গলে ঢোকার আগে থেকেই রাস্তার দুপাশে আনারস নিয়ে বসে আছেন খুচরা বিক্রেতারা। গাছ পাকা বা খেত পাকা আনারস। মাত্র বাগান থেকে আনা হচ্ছে, টকটকে রঙিন আনারস। পৃথিবীর অন্যতম সুস্বাদু এই আনারস ৩০ বা ৪০ টাকা হালি। দামাদামি করলে আরও কমে কেনা যায়।

পরের সকালে বের হয়েছি। সেই রকম বৃষ্টি, যে রকম বৃষ্টি ঢাকার শহরে অনুধাবন করা যায় না। এর মধ্যে ছোট ছোট ঠেলা গাড়ি ভর্তি আনারস, কাঁঠাল, লিচু নিয়ে বাজারের দিকে যাচ্ছেন। এসব ঠেলা চালকরা বিক্রি করতে পারেন না।

আনারস বাগান কোথায়?- প্রশ্নের উত্তরে ‘এই দিক দিয়ে, ওই দিকে যান। কিন্তু বাগানের আনারস তো কাঁচা। এখন সিজন শুরু হয়নি। বাগানে গিয়ে পাবেন না।’

এগুলো কি পাকা না?

‘এগুলো তো বিষ দিয়ে পাকানো।’

গতকাল রাস্তা থেকে কিনেছিলাম, সেগুলো তো পাকা ছিল।

‘সব বিষ দিয়ে পাকানো। আনারস পাকার সময় হয় নাই এখনও।’

কাঁঠাল নিয়ে যাওয়া ঠেলাওয়ালারা জানালেন, এগুলো ভালো না। ‘ঘাই’ দিয়ে পাকানো। ‘ঘাই’ মানে পেরেক জাতীয় কিছু একটা দিয়ে বোটার দিক  ফুটো করে বিষ দিয়ে পাকানো।

বাগান থেকে কাঁঠাল এনে রাস্তায় জড়ো করা হচ্ছে। তারাও স্বীকার করলেন ‘ঘাই’ দিয়ে পাকানো। বেছে দু’টি কাঁঠাল দিয়ে বললেন ‘ভালো আছে’ নিয়ে যান। দাম মাত্র ১০০ টাকা। কাঁচা একটি কাঁঠাল দিলেন, টাকা নিলেন না। রেস্ট হাউজে এনে দেখা গেল, নরম পাকা কাঁঠালের কোষগুলো সাদা, মিষ্টি তো নয়ই- খাবার অনুপযোগী স্বাদ। কাঁচা কাঁঠালকে ‘ঘাই’ দিয়ে পাকানো হয়েছে।

আনারস বাগানে গিয়ে দেখি, সত্যি সত্যি বাগানভর্তি কাঁচা আনারস। একটি আনারসও পাকেনি। বৃষ্টির সকালে, বাগানে কেউ নেই। কিছুক্ষণ অপেক্ষার পর একজনকে পাওয়া গেল। তিনি স্থানীয়, বাগানের কেউ নন। জানালেন, আনারস পাকতে আরও ১৫ থেকে ২০ দিন সময় লাগবে। বিষ দিয়ে পাকানোর বিষয়টি তিনিও নিশ্চিত করলেন।

কৌতূহলবশত দুটি কাঁচা আনারস বাগান থেকে সংগ্রহ করলাম। কাটার পর দেখা গেল সবুজ আনারসের ভেতরটা প্রায় সাদা, কিন্তু খেতে সুস্বাদু। আর কয়েকদিন পর পাকলে, বাইরে-ভেতরে রঙ এবং স্বাদ দুটোই পরিপূর্ণ হবে।

অপূর্ণ, অপ্রাপ্ত বয়স্ক কাঁঠাল-আনারস পাকানোর এমন ঘটনা জেনে মনটা বিষণ্ণ হয়ে গেল।


২. আনারস শুরু থেকে পাকা পর্যন্ত ৩ মাস সময় লাগে। বেশি লাভের লোভে, দেড় থেকে দুই মাসের মধ্যে আনারস পাকানোর ব্যবস্থা করা হয়। একটু অনুসন্ধান করতে গিয়েই বিষয়টি জানলাম। আনারসের ফুল আসার সঙ্গে সঙ্গে সুপারফিক্স নামক একটি হরমোন স্প্রে করা হয়। যার ফলে অতি দ্রুত বড় হয়। অপরিণত আনারস ফুলেফেঁপে বড় হয়ে ওঠে। মাস দেড়েক পরে মানে প্রাকৃতিক নিয়মে পাকার মাস দেড়েক আগে, বিষাক্ত রাইপেন- ইথোফেন স্প্রে করা হয়। স্প্রে করার এক থেকে তিন দিনের মধ্যে বাগানের সব আনারস এক সঙ্গে পেকে টকটকে রঙ ধারণ করে। তারপর স্প্রে করা হয় ফরমালিন। যা আনারসকে পচন থেকে রক্ষা করে। ফরমালিন স্প্রের পরের দিন বাগানের সব আনারস তোলা হয়। পাইকাররা কিনে বাজারে নিয়ে আসেন।

তবে অধিকাংশ ক্ষেত্রে কাঁচা আনারস বাগান থেকে তুলে ক্যালসিয়াম কার্বাইড স্প্রে করে পাকানো হয়। পচন ঠেকানোর জন্যে দেওয়া হয় ফরমালিন।

৩. মৌসুম শুরু হওয়ার আগে কাঁঠালের দাম বেশি পাওয়া যায়। শ্রীমঙ্গলের স্থানীয় ভাষায় ‘ঘাই’ দিয়ে পাকানোর কথা, উপরে লিখেছি।

রোজার সময়ের আরেকটি অপরিহার্য ফল কলা। বাংলাদেশে সবরি- চাপা- সাগর কলা উৎপাদন হয়। সময়ের আগে কলায় বিশেষ করে সবরি কলায় হরমোন স্প্রে করা হয়। অপরিণত কলা কেরোসিনের স্টোভের হিট দিয়ে নরম করা হয়। রাইপেন- ইথোফেন বা কার্বাইড স্প্রে করে পাকানো হয়। স্প্রে করার আগে কলা পরিষ্কার করা হয় সার্ফএক্সেল বা শ্যাম্পু দিয়ে। পাকানোর এই বিষাক্ত পদ্ধতি বাদামতলি থেকে কারওয়ানবাজার এবং দেশের প্রত্যন্ত অঞ্চলের কলার আড়তে অনুসরণ করা হয়ে থাকে। বিষাক্ত কলা বাজার থেকে কিনে খায় মানুষ।

ঈশ্বরদীর লিচু বাগান, যেকোনো মানুষের চোখ জুড়িয়ে দেয়। লিচু বাগানে গেলে, আকার- পরিমাণ দেখে বিস্মিত হতে হয়। সেই লিচুতেও পাঁচ থেকে ছয়বার কীটনাশক স্প্রে করা হয়। ঝড়ে না পড়া, বোটা শক্ত, বৃদ্ধি, রঙ চকচকে করাসহ সব কিছুর জন্য বিষ দেওয়া হয়।

কাঁচা পেঁপে পাকানো হয়, রাইপেন- ইথোফেন স্প্রে করে। বাইরের আবরণ দেখে মনে হয় পাকা। আসলে কাঁচা। পেঁপে বিষ দিয়ে পাকানোয় খাওয়ার অনুপযুক্ত থাকে। কোনোটা খাওয়া গেলেও তাতে, পেঁপের স্বাভাবিক পুষ্টিগুণ থাকে না। এসব পাকা পেঁপেতে বিষ জাতীয় যা থাকে তা মানব দেহের জন্যে অত্যন্ত ক্ষতিকর।

সবচেয়ে সুস্বাদু ফল আম। আরও এক মাস আগে থেকে বাজারে আম উঠেছে। এসবই কাঁচা অপরিণত আম, বিষ দিয়ে পাকানো।

মাছে ফরমালিন। সবজিসহ সবকিছুতেই বিষ।

৪. সত্যি, বাজারে বেল ছাড়া আর কোনো ফল দেখছি না, যা পাকানোর ক্ষেত্রে বিষাক্ত রাসায়নিক দ্রব্য ব্যবহার করা হয়নি। কী এক ভয়ঙ্কর দেশের মানুষ আমরা। আমাদের সব ফল, ভয়ঙ্কর বিষ মেশানো। প্রকৃতি নয়, বিষ মিশিয়ে আপনাকে খাওয়াচ্ছে মানুষ। একেবারে সাধারণ চাষি থেকে ছোট- বড় ব্যবসায়ী, সবাই এমন অন্যায়- অনৈতিক কাজ করছেন। লিচু বা আম বাগানগুলো মুকুল আসার আগে- পরে বড় ব্যবসায়ী, সুপার শপগুলো কিনে নেয়। বিষ মেশানোর অপকর্ম তারাও করে। কারও বিবেক স্বাভাবিকভাবে কাজ করে না। মুনাফাই তাদের কাছে শেষ কথা, মানুষের জীবন নয়।

ফলে যে বিষ দেওয়া হয়, তা একবারে পরিমাণ মত খেলে তাৎক্ষণিকভাবে মানুষ মারা যায়। চাষি বা ব্যবসায়ীরা আপনাকে একবারে বিষ খাইয়ে তাৎক্ষণিকভাবে হত্যা করছেন না। তারা আপনাকে হত্যা করছেন ধীরে ধীরে। এসব বিষ ফল- সবজি- মাছের সঙ্গে শরীরে ঢুকছে। ফুসফুস- পাকস্থলী- কিডনি রোগে আক্রান্ত হচ্ছেন। শরীরে বাসা বাঁধছে ক্যান্সার। মৃত্যুর দিকে এগিয়ে যাচ্ছেন, বুঝতে পারছেন না।

আমদানি করা আপেল- আঙ্গুরের অবস্থা তো আরও খারাপ। অধিকাংশ ক্ষেত্রে প্রায় খাবার অনুপযোগী। পচা খেজুর আমদানি করা হয়।

৫. ঠিক জানি না,সমাজের সর্বস্তরে এমন অবক্ষয়- অনৈতিকতা, এই মাত্রায় আর কোনো দেশে আছে কিনা! ভারত- পাকিস্তান- শ্রীলংকা- নেপাল- ভুটানে নেই। যত দূর জানি মিয়ানমারের অবস্থাও এমন নয়। থাইল্যান্ড- মালয়েশিয়া- সিঙ্গাপুর- দক্ষিণ কোরিয়া- জাপান কোনো দেশের মানুষ খাদ্যে ভেজাল বা বিষ মেশানোর কথা চিন্তা করতে পারে না।

ইউরোপ- উত্তর আমেরিকায় ফল বা খাবারে ভেজাল বা বিষের কথা কল্পনাও করা যায় না। দক্ষিণ আফ্রিকায় দিনে দুপুরে ছিনতাইকারীরা মানুষ হত্যা করে মাঝেমধ্যেই। কিন্তু প্রকৃতির ফলে বা খাবারে তারা বিষ মেশায় না। ল্যাটিন আমেরিকার মেক্সিকো, ব্রাজিলের কথা জানি, তাদের সমাজও এমন নয়। এর বাইরের পৃথিবী নিজে সরাসরি দেখিনি। খোঁজ নিয়ে যতটা জেনেছি, খাবারে বিষের মত অনৈতিকতার এমন তথ্য কোথাও পাইনি। কোনো জরিপ হলে, খাবারে ভেজাল বা বিষ মেশানোর মানদণ্ডে, পৃথিবীতে বাংলাদেশই কী প্রথম স্থান অধিকার করবে?

৬. ছোট দোকানিরা তো বটেই, সুপার শপগুলোও মেয়াদ উত্তীর্ণ খাবার বিক্রি করে।  বোতলজাত পানির কোনোটাতেই যেসব উপাদান থাকার কথা লেখা থাকে, তা বাস্তবে থাকে না। মোটা ইরি চাল মেশিনে সরু করে কেটে, মিনিকেট নামে বেশি দামে বিক্রি হয়। মিনিকেট নামে কোনো ধান বা চাল নেই। প্রকাশ্যেই এমন প্রতারণা চলছে। লাল চালের চাহিদা বাড়ছে। সাদা চালকে রঙ করে লাল করা হচ্ছে। দুধে শুধু পানি নয়, শ্যাম্পু জাতীয় নানা কিছু মেশানো হয় বলে অভিযোগ রয়েছে। ঘি নামে বাজারে যা বিক্রি হয়, তার সঙ্গে আর যাই হোক ঘি’র কোনো সম্পর্ক থাকে না- দু’একটি ব্যতিক্রম ছাড়া।

প্রতারণা- অনৈতিকতা শহর থেকে গ্রাম পর্যন্ত বিস্তৃত হয়ে পড়েছে।

একদিকে খাবারে ভেজাল বা বিষ দিয়ে মানুষের সঙ্গে প্রতারণা করা হচ্ছে, আরেক দিকে ভেজাল বিরোধী অভিযানের নামে মানুষের সঙ্গে রসিকতা করা হচ্ছে। সারা বছর খবর নেই, অভিযান রমজান মাসে। উৎসমুখে ব্যবস্থা না নিয়ে, অভিযান খুচরো বিক্রেতা পর্যায়ে। সবচেয়ে বড় ইয়াবা সম্রাট বা গডফাদারকে পৃষ্ঠপোষকতা দিয়ে টিকিয়ে রেখে, ছোট ছোট চোরাচালানিদের বন্দুকযুদ্ধের নামে হত্যা করা হচ্ছে। বিমানবন্দর, সমুদ্র বন্দর দিয়ে অবৈধভাবে মোবাইল ফোন সেট দেশে ঢুকছে অবাধে। অভিযান চালানো হচ্ছে বসুন্ধরা সিটি বা আরও কোনো মার্কেটে। উৎসমুখে সুযোগ অবারিত রেখে, ১০টি ফোন সেট যিনি বিক্রি করছেন- অভিযান তার বিরুদ্ধে।

রাতের ঢাকায় মহিষ দেখতে পাবেন। সকালের বাজারে মহিষের মাংস পাবেন না, সব গরুর মাংস। সব বকরির মাংসই এদেশে খাসির মাংস হয়ে যায়। সাদা বা অন্য রঙের খাসি তুলনামূলকভাবে রোগা দেখায়, কালো খাসির চেয়ে। হাট থেকে কালো খাসি কিনে এনে দেখা গেল, সাদা খাসিকে রঙ করে কালো বানানো হয়েছে- গ্রামে নিজেই তা প্রত্যক্ষ করেছি। এক কেজি খেজুর রসের পাটালির দাম ১২০ থেকে ১৪০ টাকা। এক কেজি চিনির দাম ৪০ থেকে ৫০ টাকা। যে খেজুরের রসে ৫ কেজি পাটালি হওয়ার কথা, তার সঙ্গে ৫ কেজি চিনি মিশিয়ে ১০ কেজি পাটালি তৈরি করা হয়। নিজে দেখেছি এবং বাংলাদেশের সর্বত্র এমনটা চলছে।

অসত্য- অন্যায়- অনৈতিকতা, অপরাধ প্রবণতা সমাজের রন্ধ্রে রন্ধ্রে ছড়িয়ে পড়েছে। আইনের শাসনহীন দেশের দৃষ্টান্তে পরিণত হচ্ছে বাংলাদেশ।

হাত বা পায়ে পচন ধরলে, তার চিকিৎসা আছে। অপারেশনে একটি হাত কেটে ফেললেও মানুষ বেঁচে থাকতে পারেন। পচন যদি মাথায় ধরে, বেঁচে থাকার সম্ভাবনা - অসম্ভবে পরিণত হয়। এই রাষ্ট্র বা রাষ্ট্রের মানুষের পচনটা ধরেছে মাথায়।


11 Things to Plan before Developing a Mobile App
 RAVI MAKHIJA 04/16/2018

With the growing popularity of smartphone as a multi-utility tool, the demand for mobile app developer has also shown a marked increase.

Here we are giving you a list of 11 different things that you need to worry about even before you start developing a mobile app.

1). Do a thorough research
The first thing that you need to focus on is doing a thorough market research on other apps that are providing similar services that your app is likely to provide.

This will give you a clear idea of what features are popular and what features are not accessed by the customers.

You can go through the customer reviews of similar apps to find out what extra features the customer wants and what are those areas that are not working smoothly.

2). Make sure that it does not gobble up data
Data is very expensive and carriers charge a premium for their data packages.

Therefore, if you want to increase the popularity of your app then deduce how to improve its efficiency.

Besides, there are some apps that need a continuous Internet connection to function, while there are some that can function offline too. So, plan which kind you will prefer.

3). Provide something unique to the customer
At present, there are more than 1.6 million Android apps and 1.5 million iOS apps.

If you want to build something that people will want, then make sure that it has some unique features that none of the other apps provides.

Downloading and installing an app requires both data usage as well as storage of the phone. Therefore, if you want to induce a person to install your app make sure that you build one that comes with special features.

4). Use animation to indicate different functions of the app
It has been observed that many apps (especially those that have heavy use of graphics contents) take a long time to load.

This may create a false impression in the mind of the user that the app has crashed or is not working.

To avoid any such misunderstanding, make sure that the app comes with animations (indicators) that will tell the user that the app is in the process of loading.

Besides using animations to improve the overall user experience of an app user significantly besides adding to the fun part of using the app.

5). Make a plan for Monetizing your app
If you want to make a livelihood out of developing mobile apps, then it is important that you price your app correctly.

There are many companies who are looking to hire mobile app developers for a particular job on a contract basis. It would be wise on your part to know the value of your own work and charge remuneration accordingly.

6). Identify the users of your app
Before launching an app, it is wise to first find out who will be the users of your app.

Once you know who your target audience is, then you can find out what they are interested in and what they are looking for in an app.

This will help you narrow down the features that you have to include in the app that you are developing so that the target audience is interested in it.

7). Develop expertise on one platform
If you are in the market looking to hire mobile app developer then do not go looking for a person who is an expert in multiple domains (he is more likely to be expensive).

Look for an expert mobile app developer who has great expertise in any one platform (Android or iOS).

Look at his past works to figure out how successful he was in developing the app that has gained good popularity in the mobile app market.

8). Do think about good marketing strategy
It has been observed that many good products with several unique features have not gained market traction due to lack of marketing strategy.

For a good and effective marketing result, you should start the campaign two or three weeks before the actual launch of the app in the market.

This will give time for a great buildup in the market about the app and many people will be curious about it and will like to try it out.

9). Be prepare for testing the app rigorously before launching it in the app market
It is important that you should not lose the goodwill of your customers.

And one of the fastest ways to lose it is to launch an app that is riddled with bugs.

It is important that you test the app very carefully to find out if there are any glitches. And if there are, then make sure that all of them are resolved before you launch it.

10). Write a catchy description
Any visitor who is browsing the app market will find it difficult to know the functions of all the apps hosted there.

To help them decide which app the choose, both Android and iOS market allows the developer to add a few lines of description about the app.

You should focus on writing a great description of your app in two or three lines that will catch the eye of the visitors.

11). The plan as per your budget
App development is not free. You have to spend a tidy sum of money if you want to hire a mobile app developer to give a shape to your idea.

Besides, app development has multiple stages, if you want to become successful in keeping the cost under control then make sure that have planned budget for each of these stages and you stay well within those limits.

If you do not look at the budget part of the app development process then your app will not be cost effective and you can lose money on it instead of gaining from it.



By Maddy Savage
18 May 2018
Learning the local language might seem an obvious goal for anyone moving abroad. But in an increasingly globalised world, whether this is an effective use of time is increasingly up for debate.

Having an adaptability to different communication styles or socialisation norms are perhaps as much or more important

Growing numbers of multinationals and start-ups are adopting English as their official company language, even if they’re not based in an English-speaking nation. And internationally, millennials seem to have a much higher tolerance for using the global language than older generations, meaning it’s potentially easier to socialise with young locals by speaking English than in the past. The British Council estimates that by 2020, two billion people will be using it, well over a quarter of the world’s population.

Plus, while the idea that millennials are job-hopping much more than their parents is something of a myth, being able to work flexibly in different locations remains a core goal for many. In 2017, the Global Shapers Annual Survey, funded by the World Economic Forum, showed that 81% of respondents aged 18 to 35 from over 180 countries said they were willing to work abroad. The “ability to work and live anywhere” was one of the most important factors they identified in terms of making them feel freer in their society.

  The British Council estimates that by 2020, two billion people will be using it, well over a quarter of the world’s population

But for those people who are up for relocating without a firm intention of staying put, how much point is there in spending your free time immersed in language apps or classes, if you can survive in English?


Caroline Werner's students (Credit: CAROLINE WERNER)
Caroline Werner's students. She says “a lot of people make the mistake of not really feeling the cultural codes” in Scandinavia (Credit: Caroline Werner)
“You don’t immediately get a return on your investment,” argues Sree Kesanakurthi, an IT consultant from India who’s worked in Dubai, Singapore, Stockholm and Brussels. He has largely felt comfortable getting by with the global language, both professionally and socially.

The 31-year-old suggests that anyone moving to a new country for less than two years is better placed to focus on getting ahead at work and “finding like-minded people” to connect with, either through expat clubs or local sports and cultural activities.

“There are so many communities that basically give you the freedom to not be alienated in a country which you don’t know,” he says.

Cultural versus language intelligence

“You can exist quite easily in many locations globally without speaking any of the local language,” agrees David Livermore, author of Leading with Cultural Intelligence: The New Secret to Success.

“I wouldn’t suggest a full fluency in the language is needed for a five-year or less assignment,” he says. “Having an adaptability to different communication styles or socialisation norms are perhaps as much or more important.”

His research, which spans more than 10 years and 30 countries, analyses the concept of cultural intelligence (CQ), which he breaks down into four key areas:

-       Having the drive and interest to work in cross-cultural environments

-       Knowledge of cultural similarities and differences

-       Having a strategy to help monitor, analyse and adjust plans in unfamiliar cultural settings

-       Having the ability to act by choosing the right verbal and nonverbal behaviours, depending on the context

While he accepts that “language has some importance”, he argues that “the ability to cope with, adjust to and persevere is the most important of the four CQ capabilities for expat success”.

“You can think about this as the emotional and cognitive resilience needed to address being outside your home culture,” he argues.

  You can exist quite easily in many locations globally without speaking any of the local language - David Livermore

But some places are clearly harder to adjust to than others: for example, where social and cultural norms differ wildly from an expat’s home nation and where English is not widely spoken among the wider population.

Sima Mahdjoub is French but has lived in nine countries including the UK, Australia and Spain, she has settled in Sweden (Credit: MARTINAXELL)
“There are very big differences around the globe,” argues Eero Vaara, a professor of organisation and management at Aalto University School of Business in Finland with a focus on researching multinational corporations.

Japan is one expat hub he singles out as a place in which young professionals can experience an intense culture shock, thanks to fixed codes of conduct in both work and more informal contexts. These might include etiquette such as bowing, saving face and avoiding conflict, extreme politeness and punctuality, respect for silence and very long working hours.

“If you lack cultural sensitivity and you start trying to collaborate or bring in something new, it won’t work... and there’s clearly a big need to invest in cultural learning,” he argues, while stressing that at the same time expats must be aware that not all locals adhere to national stereotypes.

Food for thought

Ryu Miyamoto, a 53-year-old living in Takarazuka, just outside Osaka, is originally from the US, but adopted his traditional Japanese name soon after he moved there. He says he’s watched many fellow expats struggle to adapt to cultural norms in Japan, returning to their home countries for frequent vacations, or as soon as their initial assignment finishes.

But he describes himself as becoming “culturally fluent” and “pretty ‘Japanised’” within about three years.

“If people hadn't reminded me every day by their behaviour towards me I don't think I would have realized that I wasn't Japanese,” he says.

“Japanese still see foreigners - or ‘gaijin’ as they call them - as some sort of outsider... But the people close to me, they don’t see me as a ‘gaijin’...I think I am a pretty special case.”

Although he had some knowledge of Japanese before arriving and is now fluent, he argues that learning cultural codes, immersing himself in Japanese television and even teaching himself how to cook Japanese food proved just as crucial to his adjustment as the language.

And from a business perspective, Miyamoto argues that adopting a Japanese name also made it easier to build relationships as he set up his own education company.

“If I called people I would say my American name and they wouldn’t comprehend, they would be like ‘oh how do you say that?’. Or they would say ‘no’. But if I said ‘this is Miyamoto’ they’d say ‘oh okay, fine’”.

Ryu Miyamoto (Credit: OPTION2)
Ryu Miyamoto adopted his traditional Japanese name soon after he relocated and describes himself as becoming “culturally fluent” within about three years (Credit: OPTION2)
Unexpected culture shock

One thing that can catch expats unaware is the experience of struggling to gain cultural fluency in nations that, on the surface, might initially seem to require less adjustment.

The Netherlands and the Nordic countries, for example, jostle among each other for the top spot in the annual global English Proficiency Index and don’t have a global reputation as being wildly different to other parts of northern Europe (rather, they are frequently idolised as leaders in efficiency and innovation). This suggests that English-speaking expats - especially those from elsewhere in the Western world - should have less need to pick up the local language or deal with unexpected behavioural norms.

But according to Caroline Werner, the managing director at Settle into Stockholm, a start-up offering culture and language courses geared specifically towards young professionals relocating to the Swedish capital, “a lot of people make the mistake of not really feeling the cultural codes” in Scandinavia.

Her lessons include everything from which topics to avoid bringing up during lunch breaks or dinner parties (it’s generally a taboo to discuss religion, politics or how much money you’re making in Sweden), to deciphering how to make friends and date in a country that avoids small talk and where more than half the population lives alone.

Meanwhile she’s a strong advocate of expats learning at least some of the local language in their host country, even if they’re unlikely to use it again if they move on elsewhere.

“I feel that it is an opportunity, not a waste of time, so you actually get to know people in a way that you wouldn’t have, if you never learned the language,” she argues.

“A lot of Swedes are good at speaking English when it comes to just being polite,” she says. “But if they want to really relax, they are actually not 100% comfortable with English”.

Eero Vaara’s research into language use at multinational corporations backs up the idea that taking the time to learn core local language skills is worthwhile for expats, even those living in countries with strong English proficiency levels. According to his work, it can prove crucial to cracking local power dynamics if they choose to settle in a foreign country or company in future.

“There are these inner circles or parts of organisations, not so much the formal but the informal networks and conversations that are really hard to access,” he says, noting that language skills can play a key role in connecting with these groups both professionally and personally.

For example, if you’re British but hoping to climb the ladder of “a Russian organisation that’s been around for hundreds of years”, learning Russian is likely to add value in the longer term. However “if you’re British and working for a British subsidiary” in Russia, Vaara suggests that while still highly useful, Russian proficiency might be less relevant.

Assimilation or acceptance?

But where to draw the line when it comes to both linguistic and cultural fluency remains a complex issue for many people living and working abroad.

Sima Mahdjoub, 30, who is French but has lived in nine countries including the UK, Australia and Spain, recently decided to settle in Sweden for the foreseeable future, largely as a result of its outdoor lifestyle. She has become fluent in the language and worked hard to understand local business norms (“in France you can close a deal in one meeting. That’s not possible in Sweden”), but says she can’t ever imagine viewing herself as Swedish, or becoming completely fluent in her adopted nation’s culture.

“In southern European countries in general we tend to be quite fiery people, quite expressive in both negative and positive emotions,” she explains, arguing that she does not want to remove these “natural instincts”, which are less common in Scandinavia.

“It is possible because I have seen other people manage it, but for me I’m too direct and I’m too influenced by too many cultures to really want to.”

At the end of the day if I am born in a foreign country… I will be differentiated no matter what - Sree Kesanakurthi

Meanwhile the now Brussels-based IT consultant Sree Kesanakurthi says he has started learning French, because he would like to put down stronger roots in the Benelux region than he has in previous locations he’s lived in. But he’s also not fazed by the idea of never achieving complete linguistic or cultural fluency.

“Learning a local language is important when it comes to buying a property, dealing with paperwork or taxes and accounting for example,” he argues.

“However I am not worried about how integrated I will be. As long as I have good people around me, I will be okay. At the end of the day if I am born in a foreign country… I will be differentiated no matter what.”

For Professor Eero Vaara, it is this kind of acceptance that can often hold the key to expats making the most of their experiences abroad, whether they end up staying for the short or long term.

“Differences are okay…it’s more a question of trying to appreciate the differences and deal with those, rather than going too far and trying to be what you are not, or what you’ll never be perceived to be.”


New technology can detect tiny ovarian tumors
“Synthetic biomarkers” could be used to diagnose ovarian cancer months earlier than now possible.

Anne Trafton, April 10, 2017

Most ovarian cancer is diagnosed at such late stages that patients’ survival rates are poor. However, if the cancer is detected earlier, five-year survival rates can be greater than 90 percent.

Now, MIT engineers have developed a far more sensitive way to reveal ovarian tumors: In tests in mice, they were able to detect tumors composed of nodules smaller than 2 millimeters in diameter. In humans, that could translate to tumor detection about five months earlier than is possible with existing blood tests, the researchers say.

The new test makes use of a “synthetic biomarker” — a nanoparticle that interacts with tumor proteins to release fragments that can be detected in a patient’s urine sample. This kind of test can generate a much clearer signal than natural biomarkers found in very small quantities in the patient’s bloodstream.

“What we did in this paper is engineer our sensor to be about 15 times better than a previous version, and then compared it against a blood biomarker in a mouse model of ovarian cancer to show that we could beat it,” says Sangeeta Bhatia, the John and Dorothy Wilson Professor of Health Sciences and Technology and Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, a member of MIT’s Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research and Institute for Medical Engineering and Science, and the senior author of the study.

This approach could also be adapted to work with other cancers. In this paper, which appears in the April 10 issue of Nature Biomedical Engineering, the researchers showed they can detect colorectal tumors that metastasized to the liver.

The paper’s lead authors are postdoc Ester Kwon and graduate student Jaideep Dudani.

Synthetic biomarkers

Bhatia first reported the strategy of diagnosing cancer with synthetic biomarkers in 2012. This method measures the activity of protein-cutting enzymes called endoproteases, which are made by tumors to help recruit blood vessels and invade surrounding tissues so the cancer can grow and spread.

To detect this sort of enzyme, the researchers designed nanoparticles coated with small protein fragments called peptides that can be cleaved by particular proteases called MMPs. After being injected into a mouse, these particles passively collect at the tumor site. MMPs cleave the peptides to liberate tiny reporter fragments, which are then filtered out by the kidney and concentrated in the urine, where they can be detected using various methods, including a simple paper-based test.

In a paper published in 2015, the researchers created a mathematical model of this system, to understand several factors such as how the particles circulate in the body, how efficiently they encounter the protease, and at what rate the protease cleaves the peptides. This model showed that in order to detect tumors 5 millimeters in diameter or smaller in humans, the researchers would need to improve the system’s sensitivity by at least one order of magnitude.

In the current study, the researchers used two new strategies to boost the sensitivity of their detector. The first was to optimize the length of the polymer that tethers the peptides to the nanoparticle. For reasons not yet fully understood, when the tether is a particular length, specific proteases cleave peptides at a higher rate. This optimization also decreases the amount of background cleavage by a nontarget enzyme.

Second, the researchers added a targeting molecule known as a tumor-penetrating peptide to the nanoparticles, which causes them to accumulate at the tumor in greater numbers and results in boosting the number of cleaved peptides that end up secreted in the urine.

By combining these two refinements, the researchers were able to enhance the sensitivity of the sensor 15-fold, which they showed was enough to detect ovarian cancer composed of small tumors (2 millimeters in diameter) in mice. They also tested this approach in the liver, where they were able to detect tumors that originated in the colon. In humans, colon cancer often spreads to the liver and forms small tumors that are difficult to detect, similar to ovarian tumors.

“This is important work to validate novel strategies for the earlier detection of cancer that are not dependent on biomarkers made by cancer cells. [The method] instead forces the generation of artificial biomarkers at the tumor site, if any tumor indeed exists within the body,” says Sanjiv Sam Gambhir, chair of the department of radiology at Stanford University School of Medicine, who was not involved in the study. “Such approaches should eventually help change the way in which we detect cancer.”

Earlier diagnosis

Currently, doctors can look for blood biomarkers produced by ovarian tumors, but these markers don’t accumulate in great enough concentrations to be detected until the tumors are about 1 centimeter in diameter, about eight to 10 years after they form. Another diagnostic tool, ultrasound imaging, is also limited to ovarian tumors that are 1 centimeter in diameter or larger.

Being able to detect a tumor five months earlier, which the MIT researchers believe their new technique could do, could make a significant difference for some patients.

In this paper, the researchers also showed that they could detect disease proteases in microarrays of many tumor cells taken from different cancer patients. This strategy could eventually help the researchers to determine which peptides to use for different types of cancer, and even for individual patients.

“Every patient’s tumor is different, and not every tumor will be amenable to targeting with the same molecule,” Bhatia says. “This is a tool that will help us to exploit the modularity of the technology and personalize formulations.”

The researchers are now further investigating the possibility of using this approach on other cancers, including prostate cancer, where it could be used to distinguish more aggressive tumors from those that grow much more slowly, Bhatia says.

The research was funded by the Koch Institute’s Marble Center for Cancer Nanomedicine, the Ludwig Center for Molecular Oncology, the Koch Institute Support Grant from the National Cancer Institute, the Core Center Grant from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, a Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship.


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