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Amitabh Bachchan As President of India

Friday, September 8th, 2017

Even when the “world has become flat”, as Thomas L. Friedman claimed, professional groups tend to function like well-guarded islands of an unexplored world. Therefore, whenever a resident of one island wants to come to the other the tendency is to see the person with suspicion, disbelief and ridicule, something immortalized in the famous Bollywood song “Hamare angane mei thumara kya kaam hai”. It is only when the “invader” succeeds he is accepted that too grudgingly. If the “real estate tycoon” Donald Trump faced this in the past two years in his run up to the race for the white house his old time predecessor movie star Ronald Reagan faced it 30 years ago. Closer home in Indian movies all-time great super star Amitabh Bachchan underwent a similar experience in his home town of Allahabad more than three decades ago. However, destiny may see him back on a revisit to the island of politics as India prepares to look around for a new resident of Rashtrapati Bhavan whose present occupant is due to leave soon.

At present any suggestion to root for Amitabh Bachchan for President invites ridicule. However, it may not be so after a few weeks as we find that search for a candidate who can enlist wide support and a smooth election becomes extremely difficult. Though a President in India is only a constitutional head with no real power, neither the ruling BJP nor parties determined to unseat it from power in the coming Lok Sabha elections two years from now would like to risk an unfriendly occupant in RashtrapatiBhavan.

Amitabh Bachchan’s candidature can have the widest popular support. With a Sikh mother, a Bengali wife, a south Indian daughter-in-law and a Punjabi son-in-law he is a person with a pan India identity. Though a devout Hindu, his secular credentials are beyond doubt. His candidatre will be happily endorsed by minorities -Muslims, Christians and Sikhs. No major political party -ruling BJP, Opposition Congress or Communists will have any serious objection to his candidature.

Despite age, hostile propaganda from several quarters and charges of money making Amitabh continues to enjoy immense popularity among the masses, especially youth and large semi-urban sections of our society, His silver screen image of an average lower middle class Indian, a victim and fighter against an oppressive system, still holds appeal for a big number of people globally.

About 33 years ago, with no experience and no preparation, Amitabh made a wild card entry into Indian politics at the insistence of his childhood friend Rajiv Gandhi. In the Lok Sabha elections fought in 1984 the backdrop of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s assassination; he convincingly defeated the redoubtable H.N. Bahuguna in his home constituency of Allahabad. Though he held no official position his impressive victory, immense popularity among the masses and close friendship with Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi made him India’s second most powerful man after the Prime Minister. And that was the reason for his undoing.

Interviewing him in the late 1985 for The Pioneer which I then edited I asked him what was the single biggest factor behind his unprecedented success in life, Amitabh said when he does a job he does it not with 100 per cent sincerity but with 200 per cent sincerity. He plunged into politics with his characteristic sincerity. Secure in the belief that with Allahabad electorate firmly behind him and the Prime Minister a close friend he need to bother only about his new found responsibilities as Member of Parliament, Amitabh started working in right earnest with a dedicated band of young followers and a big number of supporters. What he did not know was that sincerity and hard work did not necessarily pay in the dirty game of politics and intrigue has been an essential part of power politics since time immemorial.

Opposition to Amitabh started even before he landed in Allahabad to file his nomination papers. And this opposition was not from Opposition parties but from ambitious leaders of his own party who saw in him as a challenge to their political ambitions. Raja Vishwanath Pratap Singh, who was to backstab Rajiv Gandhi to become the Prime Minister later, commented: “Now dancers and singers will run the country.” Banners put up in the city by unknown people said “Amitabhji is welcome but he should not bring Rekha with him “indirectly suggested to the traditional voters of Allahabad that Amitabh had an extra marital affair.

What happened between January 1985 and July 1987 when Amitabh resigned his Allahabad seat and said good bye to politics is a story which has neverbeen told. But everybody knows the end of it. Rajiv and Amitabh were implicated in Bofors gun scandal case; differences were created between the two childhood friends and their families; after Amitabh left politics his enemies turned on Rajiv Gandhi and once darling of Indian masses and the Congress leader, who had the highest ever majority in the Lok sabha, had to spend the remaining two years of his prime ministership in political disgrace in the shadow of the Bofors scandal; a dirty campaign against Sonia Gandhi for being a foreign lady was launched; Rajiv Gandhi’s Congress failed to get a majority in 1989 Lok Sabha elections; though still the leader of the biggest party in Parliament he refused to head a coalition to become the prime Minister; V.P. Singh fulfilled his lifelong ambition to be the prime Minister though he had to leave the job soon after in disgrace of the anti-Mandal agitation and Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated in May 1991 when he was on the comeback trail.

The only party to gain in this political confusion was the BJP whose bench strength went from two in 1984 elections to 86 after the 1989 elections. Its vitriolic campaign against Rajiv, Sonia Gandhi and everyone and everything that had to do with Nehru legacy, brought it to the centre stage of Indian politics and today it rules at the Centre and in 15 states and the once powerful Congress is nowhere. What had been the shape of Indian politics had there been no Bofors, Amitabh Bachchan had stated in politics and Rajiv Gandhi had not been assassinated is difficult to presume today. But then politics is always a game of probabilities and uncertainties.

It is typical of Indian politics that if Amitabh Bachchan is to run for the President, as looks unlikely today, his biggest support, nay sponsorship will come from the BJP. And this will not be because like V.P. Singh and Arun Nehru he backstabbed Rajiv Gandhi. Amitabh stood with Rajiv as long as he could but when he could not he left politics saying that it was not his cup of tea. He never said anything against Rajiv though his wife Jaya and mother Taeji always felt that Rajiv did not do enough to defend Amitabh in the Bofors case. If BJP supports Amitabh for president it will be to broaden its support base and to get into the traditional backdrop of Indian politics, sans Gandhi and Nehru, which emerged during the freedom struggle and is still important for bonding with historical continuity which BJP so desperately seeks.

Even if BJP were to decide on fielding Amitabh the big question is will Amitabh agree? Those of us who have seen a bit of Amitabhin public life think that he will be highly reluctant but could be open to persuasion – not because of the glamour of the high office but because he will take it as his final vindication from all the political sins that he never committed.

“Success is a dirty word in this country”, a bitter Amitabh told some of us during the height of the Bofors scandal campaign and the media trial on it by V.P. Singh and his many friends in the media. If he enters the portals of the majestic Rashtrapati Bhavan he may have to revise his opinion.

Top Five Benefits of Cloud Computing for Small Business

Friday, September 8th, 2017

Many hosted services are offered over the web for a variety of business needs. The general term used to refer to all of these is cloud computing. Cloud computing allows online companies to use resources over the internet rather than build and maintain their own in-house infrastructures.

Cloud computing is a trendy term that can be heard everywhere these days. Simply put, it refers to storing and accessing information and applications over the web instead of getting them all stored on the hard drive of your computer.

Storing or running programs from your hard drive is called local storage. This means that everything you need is physically there with you, making access to data easy and fast, especially for the one computer and the others connected to it through a local network. This was how many industries functioned for a long time before the cloud came along.

The “cloud” refers to the internet. This calls back to the times in office presentations when the internet was represented by a puffy cloud that accepts and gives information as it hovers above everything.

You may be using cloud computing at some aspect of life without realising it. This applies to online services that you use to send email, edit your documents, stream films or TV shows, listen to music, play games online, or store files and images. Cloud computinga makes all these things possible behind it all.

The first services to use cloud computing are a couple of decades old, rising fast so that a wide range of organisations are already using the service. This includes startups to big corporations as well as non-profits and government agencies.

Cloud computing at a glance

According to a study by the IDC, 50% of information technology will transition to the cloud within 5-10 years. Among the industries that rely heavily on data are the financial sector, telecommunications, technology, health care, government, advertising, retail, gaming, energy and data services.

Furthermore, 82% of companies have found significant savings in moving to the cloud. 60% of businesses already make use of cloud-based IT for operations. 82% of companies are also planning for a multi-cloud strategy.

These stats show that cloud computing holds much promise as a rising industry as well as a valuable resource for companies to take advantage of.

Cloud solutions for business

There are three different types of cloud solutions that businesses can choose from to find the best fit – private cloud, hybrid cloud and public cloud. Each offer different features and benefits. But with each type, the end result stays the same: cloud computing can be done wherever you are, at any time.

Private cloud

Private cloud works in industries with concerns for privacy, including medium businesses and more established enterprises that need to meet standards for security and compliance.

One example is IoT companies, such as those who trace customers through their phones. Other examples include health data companies, e-commerce sites that store credit card data, industries with high intellectual property concerns, and companies that emphasise data sovereignty.

Private cloud is managed by an in-house team of IT personnel or by a private host.

Private cloud offers complete control and flexibility, enabling businesses to manage their own dedicated resources within a third party datacentre.

Hybrid cloud

Hybrid cloud is for companies that prefer the security offered by private cloud. This type of cloud solution is best for workloads that are highly dynamic and prone to changeability. This includes enterprises that can be split into two spheres, sensitive and non-sensitive.

Hybrid cloud also works best for businesses with seasonal data spikes, big data processing, and those with workloads involving API compatibility and requiring solid connection to a network. Hybrid cloud takes its name from the fact that it is managed by both in-house and external resources.

This mix of private and public clouds offer blending of such services as Office 365 for email with other applications that businesses don’t want to be made available in a shared environment.

Public cloud

Public cloud is for industries that have a significant amount of data with no major concerns for privacy. Companies that use this service opt for a pay-as-you-go structure. This type of cloud solution is managed by third party providers.

Industries that use public cloud include those in development and testing, development platform, training servers, one-off big data projects and websites with public information, product descriptions and brochures.

Public cloud is perfect for services, applications and storage that are made publicly available as well as those that use shared resources that are managed by the cloud provider.

More benefits in the cloud

Now that you know the different types of cloud solutions available, it’s time to go over the benefits of moving to the cloud. As a growing trend, cloud computing offers many. Here are five of them.

1. Time-saving, on-demand services

Cloud computing features self-service delivery for different types of workloads and needs. What makes it so attractive to businesses is that any service can be available on-demand. This effectively removes the need for companies to maintain in-house IT staff, especially for small businesses, or manage physical computer resources.

Cloud hosting allows users to get access to their files from any device, anywhere and at any time. This means that files don’t get stored in just one computer, enabling faster operations and availability. Storing in the cloud also makes it safer for businesses to protect their files, with faster backup options and recovery in cases of breaches or similar scenarios.

According to TSG, 45% of companies that use private cloud solution in their operations have enjoyed significant reduction of the time it takes to install applications. This time-saving feature enables companies to enjoy faster processes and improve productivity for employees.

Cloud computing can make integration easier for you. A lot of cloud computing applications include an Application Programming Interface (API) where you can find apps that are compatible instead of having to pay to have them customised for you so you can integrate them.

2. Flexibility

One of the biggest benefits offered by cloud computing is its flexibility. People on your team can access files and information that are relevant to work anywhere and on any device. In a highly mobile world, this is especially important.

Moreover, many companies now offer flexible working arrangements, such as remote workers and telecommuting. With cloud computing, employees can access work files even when they are not in the office, making it easier for them to work wherever they are. For small businesses, this also makes it easier for them to easily manage their operations wherever they are.

Increased flexibility and mobility enable businesses to let their employees use the devices they are comfortable with. This can include tablets, laptops and smartphones, helping employees improve their personal productivity.

With this type of elasticity, companies are able to scale up as their computing needs increase as well as scale down when they decrease. This saves them from having to invest in infrastructure that may not be needed later on in time.

3. Lower costs with pay per use

One of the best immediate benefits of moving your business to the cloud is that there is significant financial savings involved. Cloud computing fully makes use of hardware. With virtualisation, the value of the physical server is increased, giving businesses the opportunity to do more with less.

Cloud computing enables businesses, especially startups, to decrease the need for physical space, power usage, IT resources and more. As a result, there is a lower need for installation, maintenance, upgrades and costs for support and hardware. For SMBs, this is a valuable way of saving resources so they can concentrate on online growth.

Cloud-based resources are measured at granular level, which means that users only pay for the workloads and resources that they use. You also don’t need to buy software anymore or pay for someone or a team to update or install the software, manage email or file servers or run backups.

The benefit of cloud computing is that all of the applications and services are taken over by the cloud vendor, instead of you having to be responsible for any of it.

4. Improved collaboration

Productivity is increased by cloud computing due to its accessibility. Since everyone who needs access to files and data can get them wherever they are, there is less need for employees to be in the same room. This is especially relevant for workers or employees who need to travel a lot.

Teams in different locations all over the globe can readily collaborate on projects without needing to actually meet. Easy sharing and real time updates on files are facilitated, and more things will get done with web conferencing for meetings.

Cloud computing lets small businesses grow quickly online. It’s faster, easier and more convenient to sign up for a cloud-based app than to purchase a server, run it, and install software on it. Expansion is cheaper as there is no need to invest in hardware and software for the startup.

Cloud-based applications can also be accessed on common web browsers at any time. This means that users across the company can adopt to the applications without the need for intensive training. This is especially valuable for businesses with employees in different locations.

5. Enhanced security with instant updates

There is increased security for companies as software is automatically updated, bugs are fixed and content is remotely stored.

Those who have doubts on what the cloud has to offer are concerned about the safety of data outside the company’s internal firewall. The truth is, due to the robust security standards established by ISO, safety is increased when cloud solutions are used. Moreover, cloud providers are strictly required to follow the rules.

As a result, risks are reduced when it comes to loss of laptops containing confidential information as well as the threats of hackers. You can also remotely wipe sensitive data from lost laptops and gadgets so nobody else can access them.

When it comes to ensuring security with the cloud service you choose, you need to know first where your data is stored. Firewalls, detection and prevention tools as well as data encryption can help prevent intruders from getting at your information. However, you still need to know where your data goes when you stop with the service or in cases where the cloud provider closes down. Dedicated hardware is what cloud computing providers need to pass the highest security guidelines.

Data backup is recommended to make sure that you can increase your control over your data. Ensure that the data centre you’re using takes security seriously. Find out what security measures are in place in the server and data centre where your data is stored.

Managed services are also a valuable option in making your data and apps stronger. This includes managed antivirus, firewalls and detection tools. High quality cloud providers offer these to allow for better security.

On top of it all, updates, including on security, are automated.

Cloud service providers can regularly update offers, giving customers the most up to date technology possible. This can include software, servers and computer processing power. Customers can avoid wasting their time maintaining systems and updating them once new features roll out. Suppliers take care of those themselves, out of sight.

As a result, businesses can focus on growing their business while enjoying the best that the latest technology has to offer.

To round up, the top benefits you get from cloud computing include:

- Saving time resources with services that you can enjoy on-demand

- Flexibility and mobility of access

- More affordable services with pay per use

- Better collaboration within teams, especially for overseas or traveling employees

- Heightened security measures in place plus automated updates

With the rise of the cloud computing trend, small and medium businesses can now create websites and power up online influence like never before. With many benefits to enjoy, moving to the cloud is an unmissable opportunity for companies.