Are animals superior to humans?


Animals and humans have coexisted in nature through millions of years. From the cocker spaniel in your neighbourhood to the wild boar in the marshy Amazon rainforest, animals form a significant part of the ecosystem. How this cohabitation has existed for so many years, despite the differences, is a matter of wonder.

The five big cats – lions, tigers, jaguars, leopard, and snow leopard – collectively called the Panthera genus, along with cheetah and puma have always been feared and admired in equal measures. The agile predators have defied humans for long with the latter left with no choice but to not interfere with the wild.

Leopards have had a historical conflict with India with two haunting cases of man-eating. The leopard of Rudraprayag killed 125 people, while the Panar leopard killed 400. Both were, in turn, killed by Jim Corbett, the British-Indian hunter and conservationist, whose ‘Man-eaters of Kumaon’ became a famous record of his experiences with the beasts.

Animals have the anatomy to survive the wild, their physical attributes overpower humans’ in a lot of ways. The echolocation of bats in complete darkness, wherein they emit ultrasonic sounds which echo and let them know about their immediate surroundings; the physical mass of elephants and rhinoceros, snakes that take flight or lizards that can walk on water, the dexterity and predatory nature of wild animals are astonishing and unnerving.

Humans have limitations to what they can achieve with their physiognomy, and to counter that they have built things externally. Because they could not travel 800kms for food like bats, humans shaped alternative modes of transportation – a lack of speed or the ability to fly were compensated by bullet trains and jet airplanes.

Earlier our ancestors had better physical strength, much like apes and chimps. That has been replaced by a much evolved human brain and, in turn, weak muscles. Our physical strength does not match up to most of the tame animals, even. To counter that humans make use of the brain, whose size is one of the largest among all species. While humans do not have a fur like shield to protect the skin from extreme weathers, clothes can alter that.

Left with just themselves in the wilderness, humans, devoid of any exceptional physical strength to protect them, would rely on the brain. This is what happened millions of years ago when the early humans made weapons by attaching stones to sticks, or to counter extreme weather, used animal fur or foliage. The human mind is the single most important thing that has carried forward the species, coexisting with some of the most ferocious animals in existence.

A flipside to this is speciesism, a belief that humans are superior to any other species, thus leading to widespread exploitation of animals. Because humans can now alter their environment with machines, they also exploit it through deforestation, pollution, global warming – making it unfit, if not extremely dangerous, for other animals as well. Hunting and poaching of animals has driven them into extinction.

Are humans then a separate species, reveling in and blinded by their own achievements, or are they a part of a whole, a balanced ecological setup? Humans may feel they are self-sufficient but they do need the presence of animals to survive. The dairy that comes from farm animals, to the honey produced by the bees – humans rely on animals for food. They are also important in farming practices, and have been used for transportation and hunting expeditions. The agility of horses and the companionship of dogs and wolves have helped the humans through centuries. Animals might survive without humans, but the reverse is not quite true.

How to create a lookalike audience for Facebook ads?

Hello everyone!

It was my usual day to use Facebook ads to promote my brand page when this pop-up from Facebook asking me to create Lookalike audience for my ads. First let us understand what is “Lookalike audience” on Facebook. Well, it means people similar to ones that are already interested in your business. Factors such as location, age and interests are used by Facebook’s artificial intelligence systems to find similar people. I would consider it a smart move as it falls in line with market segmentation basics where you are identifying your target customer groups, and then Facebook is making your job easier by targeting them on Facebook!

Next, I was prompted by columns such as lookalike audience source, country, audience size where a scale of 0 to 10 means percentage of audience of that country targeted by you. The minimum scale is 1 which means you cannot target 0% audience by any chance!

Advanced options here include creating different lookalikes on the basis of revenue per conversion or lifetime value of customers. One can bid differently for audiences with different conversion values. The software suggests minimum 5 audience size for 3 audience sets.

Next, I was prompted to create a custom audience for my ads.

I decided to choose engagement on Facebook as an option and anyone who had visited my Facebook page in the past 30 days as the criteria.

The audience is finally created and it will take about 30 minutes for Facebook to update me with this custom audience!

Self Driving Cars – A Reality or a Dream?



Call it a technological wonder or man-made catastrophe in the making but the debate on the reliability of a self-driven car has just started. One may see it as a major improvement and drastic step towards the future of the ongoing mechanized era but the applicability of self-driven cars is largely appearing to be a dilemma as of now.

Even the unimaginable scene of witnessing the vehicles running across the streets without a driver is frightening for the commuters and passers-by. However, companies like BMW, Mercedes and Tesla have already begun their experiments on this particular technology. So, next time you witness a driverless car roaming the streets of California or Florida you don’t need to feel panicky at all!

Some reports are doing the rounds in the national and international media that in the next couple of years, self-driven cars might make a big break. Approximately, 10-million cars and their corresponding technologies are already integrated in such a manner that they could move driverless using some sort of highly advanced robotics or artificial intelligence.

Technology giant, Google, had a word with media personnel a recent while back and all of them were given a joy ride on self-driven cars. Interestingly, no matter how conservative and old-fashioned people view this concept, as a matter of fact, it is actually aimed to preserve lives of the commuters by way of preventing road accidents using its highly advanced accident collision sensor. In short, self-driven cars are touted to be safer, speedier and smarter than the current human-driven cabs.

Exactly a few months back, nuTonomy, a firm founded by two automobile researchers from the MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) surprised the world when they introduced self-driving taxi service in Singapore. With the overwhelming interest of the people in self-driven vehicles, its future seems quite rosy but any exaggeration could be a risky game.

Two-three things will hold a key to the success of these types of vehicles; Price, features and safety factors. Companies must look into these aspects before rolling-out such cars.

Another major controversial issue surrounding the self-driving cars is the autonomy factor. It is still ambiguous whether the vehicle will be completely autonomous or could humans also intervene in case of need?

The Conclusion

These cars are definitely good for a fantasy ride but could be fatal if it runs on the busiest streets of cities like London, Mumbai, Beijing, New York city, Hong Kong and Tokyo in the presence of countless commuters. The vehicle is still not enough customized to and follow traffic rules and regulations while ensuring safety of the people.

The spurt in the recent cases of self-driven car accidents involving Tesla brand has resulted in a lot of trust deficit among the people. But then there is Google which argues that sans human intervention, the vehicle could actually move better and prevent car accidents. Human errors cause more than 90% of car accidents across the world.

It’s difficult to say which version is right. So, let the debate continue. Only time will tell us the exact answer to it.

Is 2000 INR New Note Usable in Today’s Crunched Economy



Following the Indian government’s bold step to demonetize the old notes of 500 and 1000 INR, it was expected that the government and concerned authority must have some ready solution to tackle the cash chaos. But even after three weeks of the decision, the situation is still problematic as people still stand in queues and thronging from one ATM to another in search of liquid cash.

Some get succeeded to withdraw money from the machine while some don’t. Amidst the prevailing nationwide cash crunch, the RBI has introduced the new purple colored 2000 INR note on November 10 this year. But people find it extremely difficult to use it for transaction purposes.

Honestly speaking, unless the situation comes to normalcy it’s almost impossible to use the new note at one go. Obviously, the way people are running here and there to withdraw smaller denomination notes like the 100s, 50s, 10s from banks, certainly, there is no taker of Rs. 2000 INR notes now. Even if some of the people accept it they do so with a certain degree of restraint and reluctance.

The basic reason why people don’t want to take such notes of the big denomination is the wide gap in the value of notes of 500 and 2000. The common man might feel it is easier to transact four currency notes of new 500 notes than a single 2000 rupee note in the current chaotic economy. It will surely take time when people will start accepting such notes for their day-to-day transactions.

Why People Don’t Accepting the New 2000 INR Notes

  • The current situation doesn’t let a person withdraw more than Rs. 2000/- per day from ATMs per card. They find it more convenient to withdraw money in 100 rupees notes than a single 2000 rupees note.
  • Grocery and vegetable sellers carry their day to day business with very limited cash. It’s definitely impossible to imagine that a vegetable seller will exchange your Rs. 2000 note for a limited purchase worth Rs. 100 or 200.
  • Many people won’t accept the new 2000 note for the single reason that it will be highly difficult for them to get the same exchanged when they need.
  • The current psyche of the people is to hold as much cash as possible in hand. So they won’t take your Rs. 2000 note until the restriction limit on cash withdrawal is revoked.
  • To meet our daily small transactions such as medicine bills, vegetable and fruit expenses and conveyance by way of rikshaw or bus, what we really need are the smaller notes of 100s, 50s and 10s and not the 2000 INR note.
  • If more and more people get enlightened about the new digital payment systems such as e-wallets, paytm, Bank transfer, chque payment and NEFT, then sooner or later the quantum of cash transactions with denominations of 2000 and 500 will reduce to a large extent.

In order to instill faith of the people in transacting with the new 2000 rupees note, there is an urgent need for the government to enhance the supply of paper currency of smaller denominations such 500/100/50. Meanwhile, also people need to give away their habit of cash holding practice in smaller denominations or preference to hold cash for liquidity purposes.

However, people can still use the new 2000 notes where sizable expenditure is required such as the medical charges for surgery or to buy costly house appliances or IT products. Another way to use such notes is when you pay a big sum of money to your landlord as rent.

Business down by 40% – Transportation Afflicted by Demonetisation



Raja Angam (68) has been an auto driver since 1978. “After years of hard-hitting savings I brought an auto in 2010, but because of Ola and Uber I could hardly earn Rs. 500 and now that the government has demonetised Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 notes, I have to drive for 16 hours to earn as low as Rs. 300,” he told dismally.

The decision of demonetisation in a speech by PM Narendra Modi on 8th November has afflicted Raja Angam and many alike. From auto rickshaws to pick-up vehicles, demonetization has comprehensively taken a toll on the transportation business.

Looking sporadically at a group of women standing at Institute of Mathematical Sciences (IMSc) gate, Angam said, “You see the women standing there? I asked them if they want an auto and they said that their cab is coming.”

Angam explains that people don’t have change to travel by auto and he too can’t help that. “So they are opting for cheaper options like share cabs and auto.” But he is unaware of the fact that cab drivers too are reeling for the same reason.

Shivaji, an Ola cab driver, was depressed by Modi’s decision. “Modi has no children to feed, so it’s easy for him to take such a decision, it is us who have to suffer.”

For Shivaji, business was good as he was conveniently making 2000 rupees per day, “But today, making Rs. 1000 has become a daunting task.” He pointed out, “It’s 3 pm already and I have made only Rs. 300 since 8 am. Young people who used my cab for movies and nightouts have no cash. Every time I stood near IIT, I was flooded with cab requests, but now it takes about an hour before I find a passenger.”

“The problem is that there is no money for rotation and moreover Tamil Nadu hasn’t yet received its new 500 rupee notes.”

He was cynical about the government’s claim of a crackdown on black money. “As long as we have rich politicians, black money is going nowhere,” said the 53 year old with a smirk.

His thoughts were reiterated by Purushotamman, a 41 year old Bolero Maxi truck driver. “Money is already running at the high level, but people like me are suffering even though corruption is happening. Look at what happened in Gujarat,” he said while talking about the government employees arrested by the Gujarat police for accepting Rs. 4 lakh bribe in Rs. 2000 notes.

Purushottamman is still being paid in old notes of Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000. “The contract engineer pays me in old notes and I have to go to the bank to deposit. I went to the bank on Wednesday and stood in line for 6 hours and then the bank said that there was no cash. I was helpless and had to revisit the next day. The day I go to the bank is the day I make no money,” he said showing his Rs. 1000 note.

“Petrol pumps are unwilling to put fuel below 500. So although my truck tank is full, I don’t have money to run the house,” said Purushottamman, a father to a school going girl and two college boys.

Even though many are sad about Modi’s demonetization step, not everyone is skeptical about its impact. “I am being paid in old notes and there is no problem with that because the petrol pumps are exchanging my money. The cash crunch problem is only for a few months and then it will be back to normal,” said Raja, looking at the travelers exiting the Chennai domestic airport, with a hope of getting a customer for his black and white taxi.

Even though Raja’s business has been hit hardly, he is optimistic over the government’s move. “I am hardly making Rs. 2000 now as compared to Rs. 4000. I go to the bank everyday in the morning and get back to work by 12. This takes up a lot of my time, but I feel that this is a good step.”

Demonetisation has diverted passengers from autos and taxis to buses and trains. C. Venugopal, who runs a saree shop in Sowcarpet, used to travel by cab everyday from Velachery, but now does so by MRTS. “Even after the ban, I commuted by cab because I thought it would all be normal in a few days, but it didn’t happen. Then I decided to MRTS to save money because I can’t go to the bank every day.”

Ravi, who gives ticket at the Indira Nagar ticket counter said that demonetisation hasn’t affected the MRTS. “MRTS tickets cost just Rs. 5 or Rs. 10. Currency notes of lower denomination are usually exchanged and therefore the crisis has not directly affected the transport system. However, not many have applied for a season ticket in the past one week. Let alone 500 and 1000, People who comes with 100 rupee notes are a problem for other passengers at the ticket counter,” he said.

On the other hand, MTC buses have seen a significant surge in the number of passengers. Raja Panti (28), a bus conductor pointed out, “Generally we have 600 passengers in an eight hour shift, but now we get more than 700 passengers. Even though today (Sunday) is a holiday, we have had 500 passengers already.” This was at 2.15 in the afternoon today.

Panti said that there is not much of an exchange problem in MTC. “We get only 100s, 50s, 20s and 10s from passengers and even if they are giving Rs. 2ooo notes, we exchange them.”

The story of Ola, an Indian cab service giant, is way different than the negative impact on the traditional transportation system. Especially because the company has used the cash hungry India economy to build up its digital payment solution.

A report carried by the Indian Express on November 9 said that Ola Money, part of taxi aggregator Ola, Wednesday reported over 1500 per cent increase in recharges across 102 cities of its operation in past 15 hours after government withdrew circulation denominations of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes in a major move against black money and graft. The surge in recharges was seen between 8:30 PM till midnight.

Recently the company also launched a new ad campaign that was showcased on all platforms with the tagline, “Nahi rukega India, cashless chalega India.” The tagline translates to ‘India won’t stop, India will ride cashless.”

How far will the likes of Ola will suffocate the likes of Raja Angam, is a wait and watch story. Until the government comes out to protect their livelihoods, the future generation will unfortunately not know what it meant to shout ‘auto’.