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Unpredictable Trump means no agenda for Modi meeting: Expert

The two sides have decided not to have an agenda. President Trump is reputed not to pay attention to briefing papers.



Modi Trump

New Delhi, June 23 : There is no formal agenda for the talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump when they meet in Washington on Sunday in keeping with the latter’s functioning style that has also resulted in the American administration giving confusing and contradictory signals on Pakistan, an Indian analyst here said.

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Neelam Deo, Director at Mumbai-based think-tank Gateway House

“The two sides have decided not to have an agenda. President Trump is reputed not to pay attention to briefing papers,” Neelam Deo, Director at Mumbai-based think-tank Gateway House, told BTVi.

“For the Indian side, Modi’s first meeting with Trump is more for familiarisation,” she said.

The Indian Prime Minister has shown a flair for establishing a rapport with other leaders, Deo pointed out citing the examples of former US President Barrack Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

“As he (Modi) has a well established base and political strength, this makes him confident. Things are not clear about Trump… he has telephoned Modi thrice, once to congratulate him on the election victory in UP,” she said.

“None of them are conventional politicians… so it is difficult to predict what the outcome (talks) will be,” Deo added.

The foreign policy expert said Trump’s highly personalised style of conducting foreign policy, including via tweets, had added to the confusing and contradictory postures on Pakistan.

“There have been confusing and contradictory statements on Pakistan in this period from US administration officials,” Deo said.

“At the same time, the US has transferred $80 million to Pakistan as funding for supporting its fight against terrorism,” she added.


Is UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath losing his sheen?




By Mohit Dubey

Lucknow, April 10 (IANS) Is Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath — in power for just over a year — fast losing his lustre?

Many here feel so..

A litany of complaints about his public conduct, his behaviour with colleagues as well as common people is fast eroding the aura he had built up as the five-time Lok Sabha MP from Gorakhpur who was catapulted to the Chief Minister’s office of a socially diverse and politically volatile state of 220 million people.

Last week, 24-year-old Ayush Bansal shocked many when he broke down in front of media in Gorakhpur and disclosed how the monk-turned-Chief Minister mocked him during a “junta darbaar” where he had gone to complain about a land-grab case in which independent legislator from Nautanwa, Amanmani Tripathi, was involved.

He also accused the Chief Minister of calling him “awaraa” (wayward) and pushing him while throwing his file in the air. “Maharaj ji angrily snapped at me and said my work will never be done and that I should get out of his sight,” Bansal told IANS.

While officials got down to damage control and said the matter was being looked into, the fact that Adityanath behaved in a manner unbecoming of a Chief Minister was neither contradicted by officials nor denied by the ruling party.

Barely had the din over this episode died down when two MPs of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) complained of similar behaviour. In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP MP from Robertsganj Chhote Lal Kharwar, accused Adityanath of “scolding him and asking him to get out”. The MP said he was deeply pained at the behaviour of the Chief Minister as he tried to draw his attention to issues faced by the party faithful.

“Never did the local administration listen to my plants and when I went to meet the Chief Minister twice over many issues, ‘unhone mujhe daantkar bhaga diya‘ (he scolded me and chased me away),” the lawmaker said in his letter.

The BJP leader has also shot off a letter to the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, seeking help. Lal also says that definite proof of wrong-doing and corruption presented by him went unheard and unaddressed.

What is surprising is that all this happened to a man who is the state president of the BJP’s SC/ST Morcha.

While Modi is learnt to have assured Lal of action, there are other similar murmurs about Adityanath’s rough behaviour. Etawah MP Ashok Dohre has also written to Modi accusing the state police of lodging fake cases against SCs and STs during the Bharat Bandh. When asked why he did not petition the Chief Minister, Dohre said he considered Modi his leader, and thus petitioned him.

Alarmed by the sudden “unease” among the party’s lawmakers, Amit Shah summoned Yogi to New Delhi over the weekend and is learnt to have asked him to mend his ways. Adityanth also met Modi. Interestingly, Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya, who party insiders admit doesn’t see eye to eye with Yogi, was also called to Delhi at the same time.

Ironically, till not long ago, the 45-year-old Chief Minister was being venerated by the party faithful as a man next only to Modi. Insiders, however, now admit that not only has Adityanath failed to show his “pakad” (hold) on the party, but is also “awkwardly arrogant in his public conduct”, and not very able in his administration.

“He may be a busy man, so have been his predecessors… he remains inaccessible and uses foul and unacceptable language at times,” conceded a senior minister who did not wish to be named. Though stopping short of calling the Chief Minister arrogant, he suggested that “Yogi-ji is better advised to be more courteous and improve his time management”.

A senior party functionary too noted “the changing ways of Maharaj-ji”, though he felt “mood swings and the tongue-lashings could be because he has to handle a big state like Uttar Pradesh”.

A senior bureaucrat also alleged that the Chief Minister often “goes off the handle” and could be very acerbic in his dealing with officials.

The Chief Minister’s loyalists, however, point out that he does not like people to hang around him and wants officials to deliver fast and work within the system that has been set up. When there is any breach, he loses his temper, a close aide told IANS.

His failure to deliver on his promise to get all pot-holed roads fixed by a given deadline last year; the rollback — under pressure — in privatisation of the power sector in five cities; the poor showing in the Phulpur and Gorakhpur Lok Sabha by-polls and reports that he and his deputy, Keshav Prasad Maurya, don’t get along well have already rung alarm bells in the establishment, sources said.


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Can you have your privacy and eat it too?

The shift in the privacy burden, and it is a heavy burden to bear, onto those we entrust with our data to do right with it, is what is hoped will be key to ensuring much of this.




When Aristotle seminally made a distinction between the polis and the oikos, laying the early foundations of the confidential zone, he did so around clear societal demarcations and a very different understanding of what was private, and what privacy needed protection from.

In an era of automated public and private spheres mediated by all-powerful, all-pervasive online intermediaries, these boundaries have dangerously blurred, and the fallout of this is visible for all to see.

A number of the technologies that we spent the best part of the last decade celebrating have fallen from grace, and more watershed moments than one would have liked have heralded renewed demands for privacy in a new avatar — that what is proverbially whispered into the palm of your hand isn’t proclaimed from the vast house-tops of cyberspace, to your detriment and in ways you cannot even foresee.

In this environment, privacy takes on a whole new meaning and context, and is not just about preserving a sacred mental and physical space, but also informational control. As Danah Boyd recently proffered, beyond simply restricting access, privacy today is about strategically controlling the availability of one’s information in different social contexts, as well as its interpretation and reach.

But how do we balance this with, going back to Aristotle, our inherent disposition to be social animals? Can we continue doing so online and expect a fair privacy bargain in the process?

The privacy paradox — our claim to hold privacy as a high virtue, yet part with our information for a voucher code, Farm Coins, or free Wi-Fi — is very real. The blame for this, however, does not, try as the tech giants might, lie squarely on users, who have every right to be spooked by Cambridge Analytica, Strava or Netflix’s “creepy” tweets — and others that did and didn’t make it to the headlines.

The internet was born as a free and open space for people, who have instead been thrust into walled gardens, unwittingly and systematically misled, monetised, and offered unfair, sometimes dire, choices online. A recalibration then, was long overdue.

For big tech, balancing meaningful privacy and control with business models inherently at cross purposes with the Net’s ethos, is going to be an uphill task. Built around the data-for-ads value exchange, cutting off, controlling or reshaping the supply of that data has direct consequences for businesses, as Facebook, Acxiom and other stock prices reliant on maintaining that status quo have recently shown.

Also challenging is the manner in which the current ecosystem has technologically been constructed. The Move-Fast-and-Break-Things dicta translate into systems designed to incentivise (over)sharing and then vacuum up, analyse and disseminate data, primarily so that it can be monetised with tremendous speed and accuracy.

Imbuing these systems with respect for user-agency, contextual integrity and accounting for meaningful privacy in networked environments — where you may choose to be a social media hermit but turn up regularly on your friend’s (public) Instagram — is going to require going back to the drawing board on several fronts.

As rights go, the solution to addressing this doesn’t lie in simply providing greater individual ownership and control over and consent for using data, although these are key constituents of the privacy toolkit. Preserving privacy includes balancing the data-for-services barter so it is no longer askew. Knowing what you’re signing up for doesn’t make up for being given a raw deal you have no choice but to agree to.

An important premise of right to privacy being inviolable is that choices inconsistent with these rights cannot be presented to begin with, and they cannot simply be circumvented by burying things in fine print and engineering consent.

With comprehensive new data protection regulation flowing from such rights in place and on the anvil in many parts of the world (including in India), carefully accounting for a majority of these issues, the hope this time is that the law will not have to continue to keep playing catch-up, reactively bandaging our privacy wounds one at a time.

Rather, the idea is to send users out into the web forearmed with comprehensive rights, meaningfully in control of their data, and shielded by privacy — by design and default. The shift in the privacy burden, and it is a heavy burden to bear, onto those we entrust with our data to do right with it, is what is hoped will be key to ensuring much of this.

Beyond this, it is also time we as users meaningfully utilised the increased agency we’re being offered. Perfunctorily taking steps like deleting Facebook or slapping a webcam cover on your laptop are, while not entirely meaningless, largely placebos and can leave our understanding of, and response to, privacy stunted, keeping us vulnerable to being gamed in newer ways yet again.

Our informational privacy demands and deserves more of our time and attention, and proactively developing an objective, more nuanced understanding of our personal data, its use and our rights over it is an important obligation we must all fulfil. Our collective action in doing so, backed by powerful rights balancing the scales online, may just let us, at least in part, have our privacy and eat it too.

By : Arnav Joshi

(Arnav Joshi is a technology lawyer, data ethics researcher and Data and Society master’s candidate at the London School of Economics and Political Science. He can be reached via twitter @boom_lawyered)

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Investing in crypto currencies only makes sense if you have a well-defined framework

During great booms and busts, there is always much more noise than real signals to buy or sell. But a shrewd trader/investor always has the ability to see through the near-term noise and extreme price fluctuations and take a directional bet.




With the crypto currency universe hitting fresh 2018 lows over the long Easter break, the question on everybodys mind is whether they buy this dip, or book their losses, or simply stay put – or “HODL”, as the crypto community likes to put it.

During great booms and busts, there is always much more noise than real signals to buy or sell. But a shrewd trader/investor always has the ability to see through the near-term noise and extreme price fluctuations and take a directional bet.

This column believes that while money will still be made in the crypto space, the days of easy money are far behind us. Everybody is a genius in a rising market, but those who can make money or even limit their downside in a falling or sideways market will build wealth over the long term.

Below are some basic steps to follow for active market participants in the crypto space. They are extremely basic but yet require a lot of discipline.

1. Treat cryptocurrencies like you would treat your stocks in an equity portfolio: Investing in a cryptocurrency can be viewed as buying equity stock of a firm from the point of view of risk management and doing your due diligence before buying. Make sure you know your thesis for buying a specific coin just like you would for a company. Read the coin’s white paper online to gather what utility value it proposes to have; do a quick Linkedln search of the founding team and senior management to assess their backgrounds and work experience, and keep a close eye on who their current and potential clients are. The white paper also gives a timeline for the next 12-18 months of the potential business roadmap for scaling up.

2. Diversify and skew your portfolio towards the top 10 coins by market capitalisation: Price is king. The price reflects fundamentals, sentiment, momentum, future outlook as well as past performance. There is a reason that out of the current total market cap of the entire coin universe of approximately $250 Billion, the top 10 coins represent almost 80 percent. And within these coins, you have diversification. Further, although the smaller coins may have a higher beta when the overall market improves, the next bull-run in the crypto space will be led by the leading coins. This is similar to what we witness in equities. Whenever things get beaten down badly, the first leg up is led up by large caps.

3. Technical analysis is elegant, but don’t use it: One sees a lot of commentary pertaining to moving averages, oversold and overbought levels, major support zones and breakout zones online. While technical analysis does provide a good picture of medium term channels or trends, I believe it should not be used as the sole indicator to buy or sell cryptos. Remember that this field of analysis is based on the assumption that markets are weak form efficient and that past price and volume data is a good enough indicator for future price action to earn positive risk-adjusted returns. For a long-term investor in the crypto currency space, this column does recommend using charting.

4. Follow leading analysts and pioneers of the crypto community: Keep updated with the latest developments in blockchain technology and ideas of various thought leaders in the crypto space on Telegram channels, Twitter handles and a host of other crypro-dedicated websites. Remember, true believers and long-term secular bulls of the space are not in the business of predicting prices but rather holding a constructive view on how they see technology affecting the current landscape.

5. Keep updated with the latest news on your coins: There are usually updated blog posts and media-related coverage on the coin’s website. Make sure you stay on top of all the newsflow of your portfolio components.

Take an informed, educated and a high-conviction view on a coin. More importantly, be prepared to change this view if the underlying fundamentals dramatically change.

Always remember: Bulls make money. Bears make money. But pigs get slaughtered.

By : Vatsal Srivastava

(Vatsal Srivastava is Consulting Editor with IANS. The views expressed are personal. He can be contacted at [email protected])

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