History meets the Silicon Valley via Networks Narrative

Niall Ferguson for all his conservative follys has taken History to the Wall Street and now to Silicon Valley with the ‘Square and the Tower’ with mapping networks. When History is conversing with Neural Networks and Social Media, we know interdisciplinary thinking has moved STEM to the Humanities. Power, Digital, Fake News, Networks, Reformation, Enlightenment, Kissinger, Trump all converging in one Networks Narrative.

Prof Parag Khanna has taken the networks thesis to international relations with Connectography, with amazing mapping with the liberal assistance of AutoDesk. It is really encouraging to read theories/frameworks which have an implication in the real world.

Book Titles to Read Up!

Some exciting reads are out to read up:

Blind Spot by Teju Cole

The Bengalis by Sudeep Chakravarti

The ants among elephants

Tishani Doshi book of poems

Dr Parthiban Muniandy book on Migration in Malaysia

Satya Nadella’s Book

Sudeepa Chakrabarti’s book of essays

Suggestions welcome in this crowd sourcing exercise to curate titles!

Bollywood with Arabic Subtitles

While sipping Karak Chai this evening in the midst of a cool breeze, feeling the gulf winter; something struck me as I watched something eerily familiar on a large projector screen, usually utilised for watching soccer games. It was a Lebanese eatery, and the projector was screening an Arabic channel from the Levant. The only difference/familiarity was that it was a young SRK on the projector. The film was the cult classic DDLJ with Arabic subtitles. It warned the cockles of my heart and reminded me of the mid 1990’s when watching films: Hollywood and Hindi, on Arabic channels on a Friday evening was the norm as we did not have a south Asian cable connection at home, it was too pricey. Having grown up on a diet of LBC, MBC and Rotana; today evening brought back a flood of memories. These days, with the TATA Sky and Dish TV easily available in the gulf and YouTube having all content, those days were very limited indeed.

Speak Up/Write Up

Speak

For all the lives, spent in the rat race

Race for survival

The numbers

The mute images

These images silently make

Late capitalism run its wheels

Images are lives spent

In making cafes clean

Run smoothly

While the MacBook Elite

Sip artisanal coffees

Life’s though are not that straightforward

Lived at intersectionalities

Class, Caste, Race

Write to breathe life

In to these evident lives

As to write

Is a responsibility

As much as a gift

#SpeakLife

Happy National Day Oman

Happy National Day Oman! As a second generation migrant/expat who grew up here, attending ISM and did college at Waljat Colleges of Applied Sciences and have worked in the country’s premier environmental firm at different nodes over the past decade and a half.

Oman for me is an emotion, far more than a location which a person resides. Thank you for giving my family a living and all the opportunities which this blessed land has endowed upon us since the early 90’s where my Mum taught English at a Ministry of Education school in the Jebel’s of Dhofar to Al Khuwair 33.

#Oman #Home 🇴🇲

Paying it Forward

Was an honour to speak as an Alumni of the BE Biotechnology program at BIT Muscat centre/Waljat Colleges of Applied Sciences today morning to young undergrads as an invited speaker.

It felt like a full circle in a decade since I graduated, as I shared on my non linear journey across geographies. It was pretty special speaking in Oman’s National Day Weekend eve as i am a product of an Omani higher educational institution. It’s important to pay it forward for the blessings life has endowed upon oneself. #thursdaymusings #Oman

An Entrepreneurial Evening: Learnings On Fund Raising in Oman

As the dusk was setting in next to the runway of the Muscat International Airport, a training centre was lit up with a packed auditorium on a weekday evening to inform and network on Fund Raising:’Funding Your Business’ . Knowledge Oman, the catalytic community platform founded by youth pioneer Mr. Tariq Al Barwani has led this entrepreneurial learning series. This seminar was third in a winning row this year . A vital bottleneck which cripples the wings of a to be start up founder. Some complimentary coffee from Gloria Jeans with finger food, helped to ‘fuel’ the evening.

Entrepreneurial energies can be a fuel for national development as Oman is moving rapidly towards a knowledge based future. A post oil future is possible by unleashing the human potential of the youth by actualisation of ideas. In Oman’s nascent start up ecosystem, access to funding SME’s is the boost which ideas need to scale from a business plan to the retail store.

The first speaker on the hyper talented panel was Mr. Ali Al Lawati of Bank Muscat who shed light on the financing challenges of entrepreneurs and the value of SME’s in the country’s economy. The definition of MSME’s was informative as 90% of The companies in Oman is the MSME’s. He also gave details on a mini MBA which Bank Muscat offers to its loan recipients to better skill up the MSME founders including a YouTube channel. The speaker peppered his presentation with humour, thinking on his feet which is the trait of an experienced public speaker.

The second speaker of the evening was Madam Ameera Al Zadjali from the Raffd Fund which is a government institution established by Royal Decree to support non traditional projects in the SME sector. The fund is designed to meet the needs of the entrepreneur. It is a meta fund comprising of three funds one of which is Sanad, which is very popular. Madam delivered a data rich presentation and responded to the Q&A with the panache of a professional, with numbers at her fingertips.

The third speaker of the evening was Mr. Rajesh Ghosh of shared the perspective of a different stakeholder in the community: an entrepreneurial SME incubator; SME Development Fund. He shared his views regarding facilitating SME entrepreneurship. He indicated that SME’s falter in keeping monthly accounts. The SME Development Fund tries to bridge this gap at an affordable rate. He spoke about the concept of an ‘entrepreneur’. This was certainly a refreshing take away from the myth of entrepreneurship, and focus on the choke points.

Post the keynote speeches, there was a practitioner round table with five Omani entrepreneurs, three of them women. Dynamism was on full glory with a up market restaurant owner, a chocolatier, a salon owner, a water sports firm and a cafe boss.

The keynote panel was an eclectic blend of a private sector bank, a government fund and an entrepreneurial SME accelerator. This diversity of ideas to drive the ecosystem augers well for the SME’s. This is amiss in many countries. Oman is on a sound footing for the future, such evenings of learning are indicative of the entrepreneurial impulse.

Reading/A Poem

Read to inform

Read to replenish

Read to create a buffer

Google also needs the right keywords

I read to cleanse the soul

I have read the way to now

Reading is the update our brains need

Reading reflects desire

But, reading requires the drive

Which no one can buy

#thursdaymusings #spokenwordpoetry

‘Choke Slam’: Delhi Breathes Poison (again)

Developmental Modernity has it’s obvious limits. Air pollution is a complex, multi layered matter with no immediate need for political trigger as it is a regional matter. Delhi breathes poison for three months a year, then forgets it like the urban homeless deaths during winter. I was there last year and nothing has changed. Only crisis triggers our immediate needs.

All the social media activism will fall short as narrative echo chambers which flip from topic to topic. Social media is like a ever updated real time digital archive where the cache is the black box of media archeology. Arguments and online petitions land up in that black box. Environmental issues are protracted and need planning foresight. Air pollution from Beijing to the Riau Islands are issues that need the utmost public health attention. IPhone X gets more press than air pollution deaths.

Development is ofcourse needed and Environmental compliance is referred to as green tape to that development. The language we use to articulate environmental matters, frame it as a laggard, an impediment and a cost centre. We need to reimagine a discourse where sustainability will automatically refer to as liveability. Delhi will choke every year, unless measures are not taken year around. Images on my timeline with folks wearing N10 masks from 3M (certainly affluent) looks eerily similar to images from Beijing and Singapore. Asian Developmental Modernity is breaching it’s ecological limits. The sales guys at 3M are sleeping well. Crisis is capitalism’s opportunity to create perverse value.

The images remind me of a dystopian future which has arrived. Just think of the urban poor in Delhi. The person with the gamcha or the thin towel to wrap around the face is probably resigned to fate.