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  • Raghav Sand

2021: A Year in Review

Every year in review tells a story. 2021 was the first full year of operations at ‘The Know-How Journal’; it was a year like no other we had ever seen before. Don’t we feel like this at the end of every year? The new year starts with hope and aspirations, while it ends with a story of its own. No conversation in the present times is complete without the mention of Covid-19 virus. Certainly, we cannot ignore the obvious in our pursuit of hyper-positivity. Even if we are made to believe that the end of the pandemic is near, a more realistic approach is take one day at time.

New variants of the virus have derailed the efforts towards normalcy. Over 60% percent of the eligible world population has received vaccination against the Covid-19 virus. Health authorities have begun to recommend booster shots for frontline workers and at-risk population. Probably, it will take another year for the stubborn Covid-19 virus before it becomes just another flu.

Heartfelt condolences to those of you who have lost someone in the past twelve months. As much as masks have saved precious lives in the past two years, there is an apparent mental and physical fatigue while we keep them up to stay safe and keep our loved ones safe as well. Whatever happens in the next twelve months, share your feelings with loved ones and be empathetic towards the emotions of others, whether they are your near and dear or otherwise. Do your bit, and wait for it!

Review Through Articles

In 2021, we published over 100 articles on ‘The Know-How Journal’. Out of those we have selected 20 articles which capture the most important social, cultural, national and international developments. It is our ‘Endeavour to Decipher’® an ever-evolving world. Hopefully, as a reader of our website, you will get a quick recap of the year gone by. The articles have been selected in the chronological order.

To read the whole article, which opens in a new tab, please click on the hyperlink in the heading of each paragraph shared below. For those of you who like to read articles on the economy, search for ‘IndEcon’ from the search bar at the top of the page and immerse yourself with data and commentary about the Indian economy over the past twelve months.

After facing defeat, in both popular vote and electoral college, Trump and his legal team made an attempt to malign the elections by labelling it as ‘rigged’. Subsequently, when they did not find any takers for their conspiracy theories, suits were filed in contentious state to overturn the polling outcome. Lastly, on 6th January, when none of the above tactics found any traction, the gloves were taken off to ‘save democracy’. None of the above was unexpected, but the inability and incompetence of the law enforcement agencies to restrict the damage caused from violence exposed disturbing facts.

“The heaviest penalty for declining to rule is to be ruled by someone inferior to yourself.” Plato, who wrote numerous words of wisdom in his book ‘The Republic’ enlightened the world with his views about a structured political body. The Constitution is the foundation of all other laws in a republic nation. The Constitution of India was adopted by the Indian Constituent Assembly on 26 November 1949 (Constitution Day) and came into effect on 26 January 1950 with a democratic government system, completing the country’s transition towards becoming an independent republic.

The Republic Day this time round was unprecedented for a lot of reasons. Apart from not having a chief guest after 55 years and curtailed tableaux and crowd due the pandemic, the scenes that took place at the various entry points of the national capital territory left the nation shocked and saddened. Political affiliations and preferences are obvious in a democracy, but complete disregard for rule of law during a show of strength rally has made the liberals question the means and ways of farm law protestors.

A bombshell interview of Meghan and Harry sent shockwaves around the world. Oprah Winfrey steered the conversation with grace and the revelations made by the former royals gave a first-hand account of the hostility. The formal relinquishment of royal duties took away all financial and security benefits from the grandson of Queen Elizabeth II. There was no formal agreement or pre-planned questions; Meghan and Harry were not paid for the interview.

From left: Harry, Meghan and Oprah

The monarchs of Great Britain (The Firm) and Saudi Arabia (Kingdom) are two of the most prominent and oldest royal families in the world. Incidentally, both these family run ‘firms’ have served themselves and their cronies more than anyone else. A long list of similarities between the two would include, but is not limited to, having disregard for human rights and getting away with heinous crimes.

In the past three decades all the central and state governments have made an effort to attract foreign direct investment (FDI), especially in the field of information and technology. By not asking the tech giants some uneasy questions, the Indian government is trying to improve its ease of doing business rankings. Any move that may upset foreign investors is shelved for a later, more convenient date. In the age of tech capitalism, rampant underemployment and unemployment further ties the government’s hand.

Global companies have mastered the art and science of flexing their muscles to dilute country-specific laws. They tend to have multiple standards depending on jurisdiction. Almost all companies have separate governance standards for Asian countries and another set of rules for same products and services in the European Union. This is a clear violation of human rights and the against pledge for equity and equality.

Throughout history, the most productive and lasting relationships have been between matchers. Employers who treat and pay their employees well, get the best out of their present workforce and also attract the best candidates for new openings. Countries that have shared vision for both commerce and geopolitics avoid unnecessary friction. When a country tries to sell much more than it buys from another nation, this sows the seed of discord.

When future generations harvest the crop of this imbalance, the relation between ‘trade partners’ turn sour. In the future, self-awareness and self-respect will grow with the spread of education and information. It is in everyone’s best interest to match the value of resources they seek and provide.

Until a few years ago, the conversations people had in their office or neighborhoods’ groups contained basic intellect and civility. Contemporary conversations lack any sense of direction and dignity. Impolite words and high decibel interactions have become commonplace; the word bhadralok (prosperous, well-educated people, typically Bengalis, regarded as members of a social class) has forever been dissected into infinite parts. In earlier times, people listened and talked rationally, but now people keep conversations about common concerns reserved for gathering of like-minded people i.e., people of same political inclination. Way to go!

By choosing not to talk about state-level issues, the incumbent government has made a mockery of the festival of democracy. The deception does not end there, but is taken one step ahead by implanting fear among people who are seen as subscribers to the views of leading opposition parties.

Having no strategy is in itself a strategy. Undoubtedly the governments, both at the central and state level, have failed in their duties. But, to be fair, the ruling class is getting more than its fair share of the brickbats. Politics is all about timing and no individual or party is missing a chance to sling mud on adversaries. Indians have not been programmed to use accountability and governance in the same sentence. For way too long, we have kept our politicians above all reasonable parameters of scrutiny.

At the moment there are multiple tasks on our hands and this may not be the best time to stop every essential crisis management activity just to name and blame the inept individuals. Once the nation is back on its feet, we owe it to our country and countrymen, that once and for all, our resources and those who exercise influence on the resources are capable and accountable.

Does Fantasy Sports Lead to Pathological Gambling?

One by-product of engaging with the fantasy sports community is that you will be exposed to many more good scores than bad ones. Scientists call this a ‘selection bias’ and you’re far more likely to see successes than failures because people are far more likely to publicise their successes than their failures.

“In simplistic terms our brains are designed in such a way that they seek rewards,” explains Dr Cyrus Abbasian, an addiction specialist at Nightingale Hospital in London. That reward, he says, comes in the form of dopamine – a chemical in the brain that makes us feel good.

Yudhishthira, the eldest of the Pandavas, is considered among the most righteous people ever. In a game of gambling, he lost his mind and put everything at stake, including his wife’s honour, with a thought of regaining everything lost at the next roll of the dice. What happened after that is etched in the memory of every Indian – 13 years in exile, with the last year spent in hiding. Indulgence in any activity beyond personal means, where the opponent staging or conducting the contest knows all the tricks of the game (just like Shakuni knew in Mahabharata) and has the ability to manipulate outcome, is a pointless pursuit in self-destruction.

Social media has completely revised the mourning code. Someone from the social circle of the deceased starts a post or thread and others pay their respect through comments or replies. Some try to use this platform to cleanse their conscience and finally let go. They believe that the phrase ‘better late than never’ applies to their situation, though such an action is a feel-good exercise. Using decorative words or pasting a copied template for obituaries is disrespectful and inhuman. Try to keep it personal and precise. The regret of not making any effort to reconcile, can fill such a person with regret.

Verbal abuse can basically be defined as any communication that results in emotional damage to at least one person. If the toxicity is allowed to continue, it can seriously damage the victim’s self-esteem and self-worth. They may even begin to accept what the abuser says about them is a true and fair assessment.

While verbal abuse is always upsetting, it’s not always obvious – like angry outbursts. Sometimes it is concealed such as making very subtle negative comments. Above all else, verbal abuse is meant to manipulate and control the victim. Now that you have an idea about verbal abuse, let’s take a look at some examples so you can recognize it if it happens to you or someone else you know.

One of the longest running trade disputes, since the formation of World Trade Organization (WTO), involving the aviation industry seems to be nearing a final resolution. United States (US) and European Union (EU) have decided to suspend tariffs on aviation products for the coming five years. The deal shall take effect from 11 July, 2021.

Source: United States Census Bureau

Policy makers on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean are mindful about the trade arithmetic with China. It will not be incorrect to say that China is fueling its economic engine with help from its alleged adversaries. We cannot question China on the progress it has made in the last two decades. By turning itself as the factory of the world, China was able to lift millions out of poverty.

Why are you spending so much time on YouTube, Facebook Watch, Instagram TV (IGTV) or other similar services? Is it because of spare time or are you making time for consuming audio-visual content? People whom I talk to or observe, don’t seem to have the time to do certain activities. Have you wondered why you feel short of time for necessary things? Let us take one more deep breath. Is it because you are watching (an exorbitant amount) pointless audio-visual content on your preferred platform or platforms?

Who decides what is meaningful content? Or what is the definition of meaningful content? These easy looking questions do not have straightforward answers because what is worthwhile for someone, may be insignificant for others. In short, this is a subjective topic. Freedom is not a luxury, it is essential. As a civilized society, we should not tutor others about the dos and don’ts of everything, while there should be rational moderation of content at both the individual and societal level. After all, just like the food we eat affects our health, we are what we watch or vice versa.

The process of creativity is absorbing, and someone in the middle of the creative process rises above hunger, fatigue and gratification; there is no other way around it. The duration and intensity may differ with person and task, but the basic outline is same. Creation is not easy and yet it is not rocket science; though rocket science is still rocket science. Paying attention to detail and understanding the process of an activity leads to better way of doing things. Music, for example, is based on handful of keys, yet almost every song sounds different from the other. An accomplished musician has mastered the basics and it has enabled the creation of a new tune / song.

Political parties spent astronomical amounts of both accounted and unaccounted money to engage and entice the voter. This is just a glimpse of the monetary side of a general election. India has 28 states and two (out of the eight) union territories which witness an election for state legislature every five years. The cost of these elections is also borne from the consolidated fund of India. Having simultaneous elections for Lok Sabha and state Vidhan Sabha is the best way to average out the cost of holding an election. It will reduce the burden on resources and keep the cross-country movement of security personnel at sustainable levels.

Never-ending election campaign and allocation of scarce resources – both human and financial – is a missed opportunity for a nation that has a long way to go before the fruits of development are distributed in a more equitable manner.

People can’t say no these days. They feel a strong sense of obligation to say yes too often. Trying to be a crisis manager, and being indispensable has removed the word no from the vocabulary of many. Multi-tasking has become a necessity, leading to burnout and loss of motivation. The apprehension of being on the wrong side of colleagues and the chain of command is making people agree to be part of new projects.

Saying yes or no to a request or assignment should be carefully considered. The world, as we know it today, was not built from kneejerk decisions. The progress humans have made is also not made from only saying no to propositions. Every well-reasoned no creates room for a strategic yes. Yes, is a call for action and it dictates how the resources are allocated to get the maximum return. Saying no doesn’t mean being lazy or incapable, but it means that a person thinks their time can be better utilized elsewhere.

Peace and prosperity seem to have given up on Afghanistan, so has the World. With no reward and reconciliation in sight, the war in Afghanistan is one of the biggest failures of global diplomacy and military operations. Many Afghans have fled their homeland, while those who remained back expect the return of conservative barbarism. What has anyone gained from this war or any other war for that matter? How can U.S. justify the human and economic toll of avenge and aggression? If the U.S. invaded Afghanistan to punish the culprits of 9/11 attacks, they may have achieved it some years back.

Why did they choose to retreat without justifying the name of Afghan war operation – ‘Enduring Freedom’? Are they leaving Afghanistan in a better shape when compared to 2001? Who will provide answers to these questions?

A demand-supply mismatch has been brewing up in the microchip industry since the last quarter of past year. The domino effects of chip shortage are presently being felt only on the supply chain level, but it can soon impact product availability. Shifts in consumer behaviour is continuously evolving and in a world where people are scaling down some expenditures, technology companies do not want to miss out on the gold rush in their industry.

Microchips are the brains behind our devices. More computational power has direct correlation with the speed on chips. By some estimates, tech industry generates $5 trillion a year. Whether it is hardware or software, chips are an integral part of the tech ecosystem. At the moment, the chip manufacturing is heavily concentrated in a few countries, among them Taiwan is the undisputed leader. Industry experts assert that a microchip wafer takes three to five months’ time in the production cycle.

The human brain has in-built lethargy; it wants to be part of crowd-thinking. People carelessly arrive at the conclusion that, if so many people are doing something, it must be right. The biggest cost of a mistake is to not learn from it. Living beyond means is like igniting a fire that will cause disproportionate self-harm. No one will / should / can decide what is right for you as an individual consumer. It is your right and responsibility to arrive at a conclusion after evaluating the risk-reward ratio of your choice. In a free market economy, buyers and sellers arrive at finer details and configuration after negotiation.

Non-fungible is an economic term that you could use to describe things like your furniture, a song file, or your computer. These things are not interchangeable for other items because they have unique properties. Fungible items, on the other hand, can be exchanged because their value defines them rather than their unique properties. The biggest use of NFT today is in the digital content realm. That’s because that industry today is broken.

Content creators see their profits and earning potential swallowed by platforms. An artist publishing work on a social network makes money for the platform who sell ads to the artists followers. They get exposure in return, but exposure doesn’t pay the bills. NFTs power a new creator economy where creators don’t hand ownership of their content over to the platforms they use to publish it; ownership is weaved into the content itself.

HOPE: Hold On, Pain Ends!

Hope is the last thing ever lost. This old Italian saying is one of the various uplifting phrases that motivates us to strive for success at the time of adversities. Trying to be positive all the times is not possible. Though, eventually we have to look at the brighter side and pursue prosperity. As we grow older, the meaning and purpose of life get redefined. Let us resolve to do more of the stuff that makes our lives, and the planet we call home, better than ever before. Undoubtedly, every living creature has worldly desires and self-interest as the focal point of their existence. As humans we are blessed with an intellect that is programmed to create and care. Let us devote ourselves for the common good.

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