Leisure, Lifestyle & Wellness
Wearable Gadgets
Wearable tech devices are more like  fashionable toys than necessary tools
You say ‘wearable device’ and the very first name that comes to mind is Apple Watch. Although it is not the first smartwatch, perhaps, it is the most ambitious and well-designed (in terms of functionality) smartwatch. Then there are fitness bands that track user’s movement, steps, heart rate and offer other similar information. Both, the smartwatches and fitness bands or wristbands from reputed brands, are still beyond the reach of ordinary buyers.
The first wearable device, many of us would remember, was a digital watch with calculator. Today’s smartwatch can do more than that; but again, its usage is still limited, especially looking at the features these devices offer. In 2013, Pebble, a crowdfunding-backed start-up, reinvented the smartwatch and was a successful launch. By end-2014, Pebble claimed to have sold one million devices. The company is now selling its second-generation Pebble Time. Using Google’s Android operating system, in March 2014, Motorola launched its Moto 360 smartwatch. This was powered by Android Wear, the modified and customised version of Android. Later, in September that year, Apple joined the bandwagon with its Apple Watch. 
Jawbone and Fitbit Flex have been receiving a very good response to their fitness bands, since 2013. Besides these two, several other players, like Garmin, have entered the market. However, sales of wristbands are not very encouraging. 
This may be due to the limits on their ability to connect with other devices and battery power, constrained by the sizes available and higher price tag. The last factor is the main reason for lower sales in a country like India known for consumers who want value for money. 
All these smartwatches, or wristbands, perform as they are supposed to. But, when it comes to seamless interconnecting or communicating with other devices, they have limitations. For example, you can connect an Apple Watch with all other devices from Apple, but it takes some time to make it compatible with devices from other manufacturers. 
Another issue is ease of use. Take the example of interconnected smartwatch and mobile handset. For both devices, you need to use your hands. Now, if at all, I have to attend a call or reply to a message, wouldn’t it be better to use a mobile handset instead of the smartwatch? Nevertheless, things are changing and I hope these issues would get resolved in future.
One of the most important qualities any wearable device should have is to make technology pervasive by interweaving it with our daily life and usage. Except a few, most of today’s wearable gadgets are still learning this. These devices are useful but more as  fashionable toys rather than as necessities. For example, a few months ago, London-based fashion company, CuteCircuit, created special costumes for singer Katy Parry. These costumes had LED (light emitting diode) lighting that changed colour during stage shows and appearances on the red carpet for the singer. 
But, you do not wear such costumes daily; right? Or even if you wear a smart T-shirt, its usage would be limited, for a particular time. You may use it only for some specific activity, like jogging, or walking, or even partying. 
Remember Google Glass, the optical head-mounted display gadget? Google Glass was aimed at delivering rich text and notifications through a heads-up display worn as an eyeglass. It also had a 5MP camera to record videos at 720 pixels. It went into customer beta in March 2013; but its adoption by users remained limited. Finally, in early 2015, Google halted its sales after criticism of the design and a towering price tag of $1,500. Maybe, with changing technology and innovations, we may have more useful wearable devices in future.


Mental Age vs Biological Age
In criminal cases, quarrelling about 16 and 18 should stop
“Murder is unique in that it abolishes the party it injures, so that society must take the place of the victim, and on his behalf demand atonement or grant forgiveness.” —WH Auden
Not a day passes without our media publishing something or the other about the recent controversy over adolescent age brought on by the new Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act . Most opinions appear to be of people who feel really sorry for the perpetrators of heinous crimes like murder or rape. 
Only criminals above 18 years of age was considered adults below that age, they are to be treated on a different pedestal, even if they have committed the most heinous crime. A recent article made a deep impression on my mind, where a strong push was made for the difference between 16 years and 18 years—the writer thought that the brain growth between 16 and 18 made that cut between adolescent thinking and adult thinking. This writer was a very vocal law-maker and thinks that, unless the brain develops to the level of 18 years, no one can be punished like an adult, even for a heinous crime. 
The human mind is not inside the human brain and has very little to do with any organ in the body. The first scientist who connected the mind to the brain was Wilder Penfield, a Canadian neurosurgeon. Fortunately, he did not stop his research and his work even after getting a Nobel Prize. He soon realised that he was wrong when consciousness came into mind which, until then, was an anathema to Western reductionist science.
Penfield wrote thus in the latter half of his life: “None of the actions that we attribute to the mind has been initiated by electric stimulation or epileptic discharge… There is no area of the grey matter, as far as my experience goes, which local epileptic discharge brings to pass what could be called the mind-action… what the mind does is different. It is not to be accounted by any neuronal mechanism that I can discover. 
To expect the highest brain-mechanism, or any set of reflexes, however complicated, to carry out what the mind does, and thus perform all the functions of the mind, is quite absurd.” In his classic The Mystery of the Mind, which he wrote in 1975, he goes into the deep recesses of the mind to explore it. 
Wilder writes, in one place: “I am an explorer, but unlike my predecessors who used compasses and canoes to discover unknown lands, I used a scalpel and a small electrode to explore and map the human brain. Throughout my career, I was driven by the central question that has obsessed both scientists and philosophers for hundreds of years. Are mind and body one? Can the mind—thinking, reasoning, imagination—be explained by the functions of the brain?”
It should now be clear that the mental age is something that has very little to do with physical age. Quarrelling about 16 and 18 should stop scientifically, from now on. One can always beat the government when you want to pull it down; but do it more scientifically. The Act came into force on 15 January 2016. Our archaic Indian Penal Code (IPC), a legacy of our colonial past, can be done away with. 
We have enough brains to have a new IPC relevant to our country and the present times, where crime takes newer and newer faces almost by the day. Let us make the laws that deter, if possible, human suffering at the hands of bad minds. Our educational system must also change concurrently, to make education inculcate healthy minds in our students, in addition to imparting the wealthy career obsession of today. Healthy minds have two qualities—enthusiasm to work and enthusiasm to be compassionate.
(Professor Dr BM Hegde, a Padma Bhushan awardee in 2010, is an MD, PhD, FRCP (London, Edinburgh, Glasgow & Dublin), FACC and FAMS.)



Brij Lal Suthar

8 months ago

Excellent article Sir. Last para is very important and Government should take action on this issue

Simple Indian

8 months ago

This is yet another insightful article from Dr. Hegde. While the laws always seem to lag behind social ills / crimes, like Dr. Hegde I too always wondered why our "great founding fathers" never thought it fit to review and revise all laws and procedures enacted during the British era. In fact, even during his long uninterrupted stint of 17 years as PM, Jawaharlal Nehru never broached this issue even once in the Parliament. As a result, even after about 69 years after our so-called "freedom" from the British, we continue to follow the very systems - administrative, legal, political - established by the British to suit their rule in India. Not having overhauled these systems is the greatest disservice our political leaders have done to the country. In fact, I wonder why celebrate 15th August and 26th January wnen we continue to practice the British estd systems which our "freedom-fighters" vehemently opposed for over a century. Turns out, we only opposed the British, not their policies, as we continue to follow them even today.
Coming to this debate about age of legally trying a person for a crime, the mental maturity of the person should be considered. Maturity comes to different people at different ages, hence it should be left to the Juvenile Justice Board and Courts to ascertain on a case to case basis, if the offender ought to be tried as a juvenile or as an adult. With increasing crimes by juveniles even below 14 years of age, no age bar set in law will satisfy the purpose of justice.
Moreover, there was a recent case of a juvenile having killed an elderly woman in Delhi, after having relased from the juvenile home for "good behaviour". Shouldn't the JJB and officials who release thus be held accountable for lax review procedures ? Had this juvenile remained in a juvenile home, this crime could have been prevented.
Similarly, I wonder why our Constitution empowers the President of India to pardon a death-row convict, when the eminent judges of the SC review the case on all aspects (social, psychological, mental, emotional, etc.) before approving the death sentence. What merits the President to overrule the SC in pardoning such convicts ? Also, if such convicts commit another heinous crime after their life sentence (thankfully, the President can only pardon the death sentence to convert it into a life sentence), shouldn't the President be held accountable for having "facilitated" the crime ? Moreover, why is life sentence not sentence in jail for life, as in many countries ?

Amit Kumar

8 months ago

i deeply like this post.

Don't break law, bend it for helping citizens, says Dr RC Sinha

Dr Sinha, Advisor to the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways, while speaking at Moneylife Foundation’s 6th Anniversary said, while finding out a way in the system, an official may have to take flak from vested interests


“Do not break law, but you can bend it and if you do not have any malafide then the government will not take any action against you,” was the advice given by Dr RC Sinha to government officials. He was speaking at Moneylife Foundation's 6th Anniversary in Mumbai on Saturday.
Dr Sinha, Advisor to the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways and Ministry of Shipping and former Additional Chief Secretary of Maharashtra said, “You have to get out tactfully from difficult situations. Within the system, we as government employees can do good for public provided we are ready to take risk from those with vested interests.”
Dr Sinha is man who turned around Navi Mumbai, built over 40 flyovers in Mumbai, the Mumbai-Pune Expressway, planned the Cybercity and 30 projects in Hyderabad, MIHAN project in Nagpur and several similarly important projects.
Dr Praveen Gedam, the keynote speaker at the event and Municipal Commissioner at Nashik, has used technology for better governance, while tackling entrenched corruption in each of his jobs. While there are several measures undertaken by the physician-turned-IAS to help the administration to improve services and provide relief to citizens and resolve their issues faster, Dr Gedam cited four specific examples. One was how he devised a strategy and camp up with sand mining approval and tracking system (SMAT) to curb illegal sand mining. Using the same monitoring and online reporting system, he put a brake on loot at the famous Tuljabhavani temple. He also spoke about the efforts taken by the administration for a smooth and incident free Kumbh Mela at Nashik and new apps launched to provide complete information to citizens and also help them file complaints and get it resolved in transparent manner.
Curbing illegal sand mining in Solapur district
The Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) has come out with new guidelines on sand mining, which are largely based on a model developed and implemented by Dr Gedam, while serving as District Collector at Solapur in Maharashtra.

Solapur has always been notorious for the illegal sand mining and mafia gangs that operate without fear due to support from politicians. When Dr Gedam took over as District Collector of Solapur in January 2013, he too faced stiff opposition from the sand mafia gangs. Illegal sand mining was rampant in Solapur district as sand excavation was happening from sand beds that were not part of any auction. Once sand was mined illegally over and above the permitted quantity, the sand miners used to even produce forged receipts. The same forged receipts were also used multiple times, Dr Gedam said.

The Solapur district administration under the guidance from Dr Gedam came out with a plan for e-tendering, e-auction and digital monitoring for sand mining. The administration set up control rooms at sand ghats on the only access road. All other access roads to sand ghats were closed. The administration also brought in SMS-based transport permits, developed new online software, mahamining.com for multi-layered tracking on sand mining and also installed closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras at several places. The whole system was known as sand mining approval and tracking system (SMAT).
The results of this e-governance initiative were astounding. With these measures, the Solapur district administration increased its income to Rs78 crore (in FY2013-14) from a mere Rs22 crore (in FY2012-13) by e-auctioning, increased collection of fines and fool-proof monitoring of sand mining through SMAT. These efforts from district administration also saw about 425 first information reports (FIRs) filed against the illegal cartels of sand mafias in FY2013-14 alone.
Plugging the loot at the famous Tuljabhavani temple
Dr Gedam, while serving as District Collector at Osmanabad, not only plugged the loot at Tuljabhavani temple at Tuljapur but also helped the temple to obtain an ISO certificate in the clean-up process. After he sensed that donations were pilfered on a massive scale, Dr Gedam used multiple direct and indirect methods at the famous temple, which led to astounding results. The income of the temple, which was hovering around Rs7 crore a year, some five to seven kgs of gold and 40-45 kgs of silver, jumped four times to Rs24 crore, excluding gold and silver donations.
In order to make the pilgrimage of people to Tuljabhavani temple easy and less troublesome, Dr Gedam improved physical amenities including a modern darshan mandap, built three modern bhakt niwas (lodging) using traditional designs, developed gardens and improved roads. He started or completed several works in Tuljapur that enhanced facilities and amenities of the Tuljabhavani.
"Tuljapur gets millions of tourists every year. The entire local economy revolves round it. It relates to livelihood as well. Better civic amenities and recreation was needed there. As government appointed trustee of the Tuljabhavani Temple Trust, we tried our bit to improve amenities in and around the temple," is what the humble but determined IAS officer has to say.

As the District Collector of Osmanabad, Dr Gedam was ex-officio Chairman of the Shree Tulja Bhavani Temple Trust. Due to the efforts of Dr Gedam and his team, the temple received ISO certification, a first for a religious shrine in Maharashtra. The certificate was issued taking into account the temple's transparent administration, dress code, cleanliness and other matters.
Last year in August, a museum conceptualised and whose construction started by Dr Gedam, was completed. This museum will have exquisitely carved silver idol of Goddess Tuljabhavani weighing about 200 kgs donated by one devotee, about 2kgs of gold ornaments as well as replicas of antique and historic documents and articles.
The Kumbh Mela
Every 12 years, Nashik witnesses influx of millions of people, including devotees and sadhus. Apart from building, modifying infrastructure, what withstood in last year’s Kumbh at Nashik was the effective use of technology. Be it the use of drones with cameras to control and manage crowds or cloud computing or a system to monitor threat of epidemics and a mobile app that gave information on hospitals, hotels in the city, trains and bus services available as well as information on nearest pilgrim spots like Shirdi and Bhimashankar.
For the two-month long Kumbh Mela, the state government had sanctioned a budget of about Rs2,200 crore including Rs1,200 crore buy the Nashik Municipal Corp. Dr Gedam said, “We (NMS) built a 26-kms long underground drainage and a 40kms long water supply line to the Sadhugram, the temporary township created for sadhus. It could accommodate around 3 lakh sadhus. We also increased number of ghats to seven from two.”
‘Smart Nashik’ app
Last year in September, the Nashik Municipal Corp launched an interactive mobile app aimed at bringing in transparency and providing facility to citizens. Talking about the idea behind launching the mobile app, Dr Gedam, said, “With the mobile app, citizens can participate in the work of the corporation, give suggestions, register complaints and use the facility on online payment of bills, register births or death, seek building plan approval, all aimed at clean, efficient and transparent working of the corporation.”
His emphasis is on increased use of technology for providing civic services as well as brining transparency in all transactions. This is the reason, why all details about a civil work in Nashik, including name of the contractor, value, defect liability period as well as actual photos before, during and after the work are made available online. “If this is not done, we do not pass the contractors’ bills for payment. Not a single rupee in Nashik is spent unknown to the public,” he added.



Meenal Mamdani

8 months ago

Thanks ML Foundation for giving a platform to speakers who inspire others with their exemplary work.

Nothing inspires like concrete examples of improved governance and these stories also reduce cynicism and increase trust in govt, which India sorely needs.

I can see from the photos accompanying this article that the auditorium was full to capacity. Hope that some among them will follow in the footsteps of these two great public officials.

R Balakrishnan

9 months ago

Fantastic people, both. Truly inspirational. Thank you, Moneylife Foundation for letting us get to hear them and find out that there are some great Indians around.


Shirish Sadanand Shanbhag

In Reply to R Balakrishnan 8 months ago

I fully agree with R. Balkrishnan.

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