Archive for November, 2017

Why Goa’s famous Mapusa market is a perennial source of inspiration for artists?

November 23, 2017

Nice piece by Arti Das. Learn about markets via pictures.

The word market suggests a commercial place with buyers and sellers. But Goa’s Mapusa market on Fridays is a sensory experience of colours, flavours, smells and people.

A market of abundance, filled with vegetables, meat, fish, dry fish, fruits, rock salt, spices, sausages and even wooden furniture and lottery tickets, Mapusa also includes Goa’s unique and fresh produce: pyramid-shaped coconut jaggery, kokum butter, and chicken sold especially as an offering to Devchar, a local deity.

The market’s name, as also the name of the town where it’s located, Mapusa, is generally thought to be derived from the Konkani word maap, or to measure – an apt title for a space crucial for the local economy. Yet, for many people, the market is a lot more than a place of commerce.

Graphic artist Orijit Sen said that Mapusa market, unlike a museum, is a reflection of culture that is not static. “The sheer intensity of that place is amazing,” he said. “Previously the market had only traditional produce from the nearby villages, but today you get products from all over the world. That’s the reality of Goan life and culture for me. It is not static and that interests me as an artist.”

Further:

Mapusa market is an important reminder of the fact that Goa is an agrarian society, not just a tourist destination. Here, in the relatively small space, mainly women bring produce from their farms along with handmade things like chorizo, pottery, cane baskets, vinegar and pickles. Anyone can sell their produce here. One merely has to just pay a sopo orrent.

“The first thing you notice about Mapusa market is the riot of colours,” said Niyati Patre, a regular at the market. “Even though it is crowded and messy, I love to shop here mainly for the local produce, medicinal herbs, plant saplings, coconut jaggery. This place is a must-see during the purumed or provisions market, just before the monsoon. At that time it is filled with spices, kokum and local rice. The market has remained the same all these years.”

It was partly this vibrancy that inspired photographer Assavri Kulkarni, author of the book Markets of Goa, to begin documenting it over a decade ago.

Flower market. Image credit: Orijit Sen

The market signifies different things to different people. For illustrator Fabian Gonsalves, the place is filled with nostalgia and inspiration. “You could bump into that old school friend or a relative, sit for five minutes for a cup of chai, exchange stories and continue shopping,” he said. “My favourite place is the pottery section, mainly to check out any new designs, or the small vendors who sell old Goan household items for low rates, like vintage plates, locks, keys and chains.”

Superb…that is what a market is..

Advertisements

What exactly is the Holy Grail – and why has its meaning eluded us for centuries?

November 23, 2017

Leah Tether, Reader in Medieval Literature and Digital Cultures at University of Bristol takes us through the question.

Type “Holy Grail” into Google and … well, you probably don’t need me to finish that sentence. The sheer multiplicity of what any search engine throws up demonstrates that there is no clear consensus as to what the Grail is or was. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of people out there claiming to know its history, true meaning and even where to find it.

Modern authors, perhaps most (in)famously Dan Brown, offer new interpretations and, even when these are clearly and explicitly rooted in little more than imaginative fiction, they get picked up and bandied about as if a new scientific and irrefutable truth has been discovered. The Grail, though, will perhaps always eschew definition. But why?

Based on her research:

My recent book delves into the medieval publishing history of the French romances that contain references to the Grail legend, asking questions about the narratives’ compilation into manuscript books. Sometimes, a given text will be bound alongside other types of texts, some of which seemingly have nothing to do with the Grail whatsoever. So, what sorts of texts do we find accompanying Grail narratives in medieval books? Can this tell us anything about what medieval audiences knew or understood of the Grail?

The picture is varied, but a broad chronological trend is possible to spot. Some of the few earliest manuscript books we still have see Grail narratives compiled alone, but a pattern quickly appears for including them into collected volumes. In these cases, Grail narratives can be found alongside historical, religious or other narrative (or fictional) texts. A picture emerges, therefore, of a Grail just as lacking in clear definition as that of today.

Perhaps the Grail served as a useful tool that could be deployed in all manner of contexts to help communicate the required message, whatever that message may have been. We still see this today, of course, such as when we use the phrase “The Holy Grail of…” to describe the practically unobtainable, but highly desirable prize in just about any area you can think of. There is even a guitar effect-pedal named “holy grail”.

Once the prose romances of the 13th century started to appear, though, the Grail took on a proper life of its own. Like a modern soap opera, these romances comprised vast reams of narrative threads, riddled with independent episodes and inconsistencies. They occupied entire books, often enormous and lavishly illustrated, and today these offer evidence that literature about the Grail evaded straightforward understanding and needed to be set apart – physically and figuratively. In other words, Grail literature had a distinctive quality – it was, as we might call it today, a genre in its own right.

Hmm…

She cautions against using the word freely:

In the absence of clear definition, it is human nature to impose meaning. This is what happens with the Grail today and, according to the evidence of medieval book compilation, it is almost certainly what happened in the Middle Ages, too. Just as modern guitarists use their “holy grail” to experiment with all kinds of sounds, so medieval writers and publishers of romance used the Grail as an adaptable and creative instrument for conveying a particular message to their audience, the nature of which could be very different from one book to the next.

Whether the audience always understood that message, of course, is another matter entirely.

This blog is guilty of the free usage as well. Should stop using it..

How Italian banks are trying to modernise…

November 23, 2017

Valentina Za of Reuters has a piece on modernisation of banks in Italy. Right from making themselves more digital to making branches like Pizzeria, they are trying it all:

Bailed-out Monte dei Paschi, the world’s oldest bank and a bastion of tradition dating back to 1472, has entered the realms of virtual reality. It’s an unlikely sign of the times.

They are looking to catch up with European rivals in digital banking, and are reducing their dependence on lending by selling insurance and other financial products.

How this overhaul plays out could shape the sector for years to come, with those who adapt most swiftly sweeping up a larger slice of new business, say bankers and industry experts.

 Monte dei Paschi’s online arm last week launched virtual reality (VR) branches, accessed via phone app and VR headset, and said 3,500 customers had signed up in the first few hours. But other banks are moving far more aggressively in revamping their businesses.

Italy’s biggest bank, UniCredit, set a template for lenders in need of restructuring by raising 13 billion euros from shareholders this year. As well as investing 1.6 billion euros in its IT systems, it is re-training 1,500 Italian staff and moving them from administrative jobs to client-facing roles.

Mediobanca has meanwhile acquired a “robo-advisory” service, an algorithm that proposes investments to customers of its digital arm who can access it directly. It is also hiring 100 financial consultants a year to reach more than 300 by 2019 to boost assets under management.

…..

Under a 500-million-euro renovation push aimed at turning its branches into modern-day piazzas, Intesa is partnering with a pastry chef to host his patisseries from next year and recently launched its first branch with a cafe inside.

Meanwhile UniCredit opened its first branch for small corporate clients near La Scala theater in September, with a lounge area where they can hold their own meetings.

These are all adding bells and whistles. The real problem with Italian banks and other banks in trouble is imprudent banking and misgovernance. So unless we fix the basics, nothing much will change.

The origins of industrial revolution in UK and why the industrial revolution did not happen in Rome?

November 22, 2017

Just like Great Depression remains the holy grail for macroeconomics, industrial revolution is the grail for growth economics.

Two pieces on industrial revolution.

(more…)

Why being a historian is about so much more than producing displays for museums?

November 22, 2017

Nice piece by Prof Tim Cole who teaches Social History at University of Bristol.

He talks why interdisciplinary research is so important to realising true potential in humanities and social sciences:

Being both a specialist and generalist is something that academics are well used to as they combine research and teaching within their day-to-day life and persona. And it is something that we discovered more arts and humanities researchers are embracing, in particular in their interactions with the creative industries.

Here we were struck by the way that the most successful collaborations were ones where the distinct identities of arts and humanities researchers and businesses in the creative industries blurred. One inspiring example was Olion/Traces, an app offering visitors to St Fagans National Museum of History in Cardiff an innovative way of experiencing the museum grounds as it melds fact and fiction, the archives and the site itself. This innovative interpretative tool was co-developed by an academic, Jenny Kidd from Cardiff University, a creative producer, Allie John at yellobrick, and a heritage professional, and Sara Huws from the digital media department at Amgueddfa Cymru/National Museum of Wales.

What the team found was that Kidd wasn’t simply involved at the “ideas” stage, inputting her specialist knowledge and then stepping back. But rather, all three were involved at each and every stage of development and feedback. Olion/Traces is one example of new and fruitful ways of working, where arts and humanities researchers become active participants in the creative economy.

This sense of new ways of working in the arts and humanities is something that I’ve thought a lot about personally. In some ways I am still a traditional researcher whose specialist knowledge of the Holocaust is, for example, drawn upon by museums who want content to create a new display. But, alongside that, I’ve also discovered the opportunities, and challenges, of working alongside others in the creative economy, in my case working with artists Stand+Stare to develop a sound journal called Mayfly. In our research, we discovered plenty of other academics from the arts and humanities who are using their knowledge and skills in unexpected – as well as expected – ways.

One big problem with all research has been the silo approach in humanities: This is history and this is how we do it, this is geography and this is how we do it and so on. This has not just proliferated research but made us miss the key components which makes the overall research more meaningful.

50 years ago: When banks closed for two days in Pakistan following devaluation on 19-Nov-1967..

November 21, 2017

India devalued the Rupee in 1966 amidst fair bit of drama.

Pakistan followed in 1967 with its own set of drama:

(more…)

European Banking Authority to be relocated from London to Paris: History of International Financial Centres remains exciting..

November 21, 2017

Post-Brexit, some of the EU agencies have to be relocated from London to other places. Actually there are just two agencies: European Medicine Agency and European Banking Authority.

European Banking Authority was established in 2011 post Eurozone crisis. Its objectives are:

(more…)

When the definitive history of demonetisation is documented, RBI’s valiant defence of financial stability hopefully gets its due?

November 21, 2017

It is like when the kings force war onto its people and then saying look how well I defended you.

RBI Executive Director and MPC member Michael Patra in this speech reviews one year of RBI’s Monetary Policy Committee and comments:

(more…)

Welcoming research on business anthropology and community anthropology…

November 20, 2017

Prof. M Romesh (anthropology, University of Hyderabad) has an interesting paper on business anthropology:

(more…)

Godrej Locks aiming to be ahead of thieves

November 20, 2017

Godrej Locks has roped in reformed robbers.thieves to talk about security:

Traditional wisdom has it that the best place to hide things from a thief is right under his nose.

Security solutions company Godrej Locks has gone a step ahead, getting the thieves themselves to dispense advice on how to secure yourselves from risk and theft.

In a series of three videos, three robbers, now reformed, let viewers into some tricks of their trade – such as ways to break a lock – and reiterate that thieves will stop at nothing, even murder.

Shyam Motwani, Executive Vice-President, Godrej Locks, says the persons featured in the videos “have done all kinds of gruesome things to achieve nefarious objectives”. The company tapped many sources, including the police to track these people. They have all done time in jail. “Now that they are reformed, they were more than willing to talk,” Motwani says.

The videos are primarily to spread awareness but end with the former thieves certifying Godrej Locks as ones that cannot be tampered with.

Mention the scores of movies where robbers overcome sophisticated technology to carry out heists and Motwani says that in real life, electronics and biometrics make it difficult. Unless someone has placed a spy cam atop your door and figures out your passcode, they cannot gain entry. It’s important to change the code regularly, he adds.

Also, with mechanical locks that have several bolts, it’s not worth a thief’s time to get through every single one because he may well be discovered before he finishes the job, he says. He adds, though, that it’s a fact that thieves would want to get ahead of the technology, “so it’s our challenge to develop even more sophisticated technology and be ahead of them”.

Hmm..

Weather prediction: Can individuals challenge central agencies?

November 20, 2017

Came across two posts today:

So two individuals whose track record of predicting weather. rains etc has been seen as decent.  I am sure there are some more around in other places as well. Given track record of the Indian Meteorological Department, perhaps we should encourage more such decentralised ways to manage and predict weather patterns..

Open your eyes to (the ills of) Federal Reserve

November 20, 2017

For a moment one thought this piece would have been written by an economist who was a follower Austrian School.

But it is written by Joel Thornton who is a businessman in Tallahassee. He says Federal Reserve is the “greatest business monopoly and swindle in the history”.

(more…)

How shops use tricks to get you spending..

November 17, 2017

Nice piece by Prof. Cathrine Jansson-Boyd of Anglia Ruskin University. One knows most of these tricks but still get tricked..

In the business of shops and selling, times are tough. Retail sales indicate that shops are are struggling to persuade customers to part with their cash.

But there are some innovative methods which retailers are using to address the challenge of enticing and engaging consumers. And it’s not just about slashing prices and Black Fridays. Many well-known businesses make use of psychology to connect with customers and increase sales.

Here are some of the tricks they have up their shop sleeves.

Read on..

Bernanke, Geithner, Paulson to lead new project explaining decisions of financial crisis…

November 17, 2017

One does not know how to react to such research projects. When the chief actors during the 2008 crisis get to figure what was behind their very decisions:

Ten years after the onset of the worst financial crisis in generations, the first-person “we were there” accounts by the those who led the rescue have been published, journalistic accounts have been written—and even turned into made-for-TV movies—and the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission has disbanded after publishing its report on the causes of the crisis.

But in one important respect the record is incomplete: There is no coherent and detailed explanation of the dozens of design decisions the first responders made as they crafted the many rescue and stabilization programs. Why, for instance, did the Federal Reserve conduct auctions for its Term Auction Facility on Mondays, but provide winning banks the cash on Thursdays instead of immediately? (So no one would conclude that a bank that borrowed this way was so desperate that it needed the cash to open the next morning.) More generally, what options were rejected and why? In hindsight, what worked as anticipated and what did not? Besides completing the historical record, answers to such questions may clear up some lingering controversies and may prove useful the next time the U.S. or any other country confronts a severe financial crisis.

To fill that gap, the Hutchins Center on Fiscal and Monetary Policy at Brookings has teamed up with the Yale Program on Financial Stability to commission papers from those who crafted the rescues in the Bush and Obama administrations and the Federal Reserve.

The project will be led by former Treasury secretaries Tim Geithner and Hank Paulson and former Fed Chair Ben Bernanke, and will culminate in the presenting of research at a Brookings conference close to the tenth anniversary of the crisis on September 11 and 12, 2018. The conference will end with reflections by Messrs. Bernanke, Geithner and Paulson. My colleague, J. Nellie Liang, Miriam K. Carliner Senior Fellow in Economic Studies at Brookings and former director of the Fed’s Division of Financial Stability, will serve as editor for the papers.

Scholars will be studying and writing about the causes and consequences of the global financial crisis and the Great Recession for decades to come.  We hope the unique nature of this project—the first-hand accounts by those who were in the trenches—will inform that work.

Looking forward to this…

A Tale of Two Cities: Why Hamburg succeeded and Lübeck declined?

November 17, 2017

Nice post by Prateek Raj.

The German cities of Hamburg and Lübeck have an interwoven and eventful history. Whereas Lübeck offers an example of how dominant cities may become unattractive and decline when they end up serving the interests of a privileged few and refuse to change, Hamburg serves as a tale of how cities can reinvent themselves by changing with the times.

(more…)

Got a cold? How and why Indonesians trust coin rubbing on their bodies..

November 17, 2017

Traditions vs. medicine. Who wins?

Prof Johanna of Universitas Indonesia has a piece on how traditions win in Indonesia. People prefer to rub coins on their bodies to the extent it leaves red marks on their bodies:

(more…)

Why the worst humans are able to rise to power? (cues from Hayek’s Road to Serfdom…)

November 17, 2017

As debates rage over the Mugabe era and whether Zimbabwe will see democracy or dictatorship.

Recent scholarship finds that while “democratization coups” have become more frequent worldwide, their most common outcome is to replace an incumbent dictatorship with a “different group of autocrats.”

Signals in Zimbabwe are mixed so far. Experts generally describe the latest developments as “an internecine fight” among inner-circle elites and ask two key questions: Which side will prevail, and will violence break out?

In my assessment, the answers hinge on Mnangagwa, a hard-nosed realist and survivor who was critical in securing Mugabe’s four-decade rule. Mnangagwa has an appalling human rights record. Many consider him responsible for overseeing a series of massacres between 1982 and 1986 known as the “Gukurahundi,” in which an estimated 20,000 civilians from the Ndebele ethnic group perished.

More recently, in 2008, civil society groups accused Mnangagwa of orchestrating electoral violence against the political opposition and rigging polls in Mugabe’s favor.

It is also true that Mnangagwa is massively invested in ensuring his continued and unfettered access to power, which has proven highly lucrative for him. The vice president is “reputed” to be one of Zimbabwe’s richest people. All of this suggests he might become yet another dictator.

The big question is how do these people come to power at all? Brittany Hunter picks cues from Hayek’s Road to Serfdom:

(more…)

Lucknow Bank of Montreal celebrates 200th birth anniversary?

November 16, 2017

For a moment I was totally surprised to come across this news. Lucknow Bank of Montreal? How come one knows nothing about this bank>

It took me time to understand that Bank of Montreal recently completed 200 years of existence. And there is a place in Canada named Lucknow which was named after the Indian counterpart:

The village was named after Lucknow, India where, the Indian Rebellion of 1857 took place between the Indian rebels and the East India Company army. Lucknow takes the name of “Sepoy” which refers to the Indian foot soldiers who fought on the British side in the Relief of Lucknow. There are two theories about the origin of the name of Campbell Street-one is that the main street was named after Sir Colin Campbell, leader of the relief forces. The other is that the street is named after Malcolm Campbell, the community’s first merchant. Several Lucknow streets bear the names of some of the British generals involved in the Relief of Lucknow: Campbell, Ross, Outram, Havelock, Willoughby, Rose and Canning.

Eli Stauffer first settled the unnamed land that was to become Lucknow in 1856 where he constructed a dam and built a sawmill. In 1858, Ralph Miller purchased a parcel of Stauffer’s land and built “Balaclava House”, a log tavern. James Somerville purchased the Stauffer mill and land rights in 1858 and had village lots surveyed, earning Somerville the title of the “Father of Lucknow”. With the “Gravel Road” open into Kinloss in 1866, the village continued to grow and had a population of 430 in 1868.

Wow! Imagine how Lucknow inspired naming a village in Canada in 1857!

So, it is the Lucknow branch of the Bank of Montreal which celebrated 200 years of the bank’s anniversary…

A closer look at history of small denomination coins…

November 16, 2017

Nice post by Hillery York. It also has a picture of the Lydia coin, the first ever coin produced.

(more…)

How Iceland persuaded teens to give up drink and drugs…

November 16, 2017

Interesting short film by Richard Kenny on how Iceland collectively worked to address teen problems in their country. One hears that this drinking and drugs  =is already a big problem in some of the regions in India as well…Some lessons here..


%d bloggers like this: