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A Bengali gentleman’s engagement with America – Part I

Bengali Gentleman : Author

America : the geography as well as the “myth” and stories interwoven collectively by Indians from 1970s. Also the New Rome of our times – the new Rome is told as an approximation and as a shorthand.

Engagements : Mental and in-person collisions / interfacing.

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I have never stayed more than 45 days at a stretch in America though I did come many times – first time as a Federal Government of India officer and later as visitor, business or combination. I did visit many cities and many locales although all these can be considered fleeting, fragmented and highly selective. The first visit was in 1997 – a different world perhaps and a different man, some 23 year old.

I first became aware of America while I read , an adolescent boy residing in Silchar, a small-town in Assam of North East India, a short story by a Bengali author Mr. Shankar called ” Milk of New York” where an immigrant mother was irrationally pursuing her daughter to drink a glass of milk while she was going out for a date. On being asked by the author for such such insistence, the Bengali immigrant mother replied: “I mixed birth control pill in the milk. ” The story timeline was somewhere in 1970s and I read the story in 1980s.

Then I read dispatches of Ms. Alolika Ganguly in one of the leading Bengali newspapers where she described the life very nicely and in a simple prose. It provided a small-town boy the idea of the goings-on of a far away land.

Then when I was 16, I read Buddhadev Basu’s travelogue in the United States – somewhere in the 70s when he was as scholar visitor and stayed in New York with his wife for few months.  Mr. Basu, being first and foremost a poet could communicate more essence of the land to me and it was also the time, I was getting ready to enter into the hyper-competitive Indian Entrance Systems.

In my engineering college, I met Mr. Mathew who was my class-mate and room-mate and he introduced me to the novel The Godfather. I was hooked by the English prose and the prose itself told me how American soil and the environ took Queen’s English and produced something utterly different and individual. The Godfather left in me a lasting lust for New York. Even after I had watched the trilogy, the charm of Puzo’s prose retained its freshness. One of the images that haunts me is Michael Coreleone’s escape in Italy from New York harbour at the same night, he killed Sollozzo and Captain McLuskey and his watching the New York skyline with its lights and the image of a Greek hero watching some funeral fire at the coast of Carthage or that of Byron greeting English coast or I myself finding the palm trees of Dumdum airport when I was leaving for England after leaving my job for my “tryst with destiny” in England. The imagery is old but it is so portable in ages when uncertainty is embedded on a moving vehicle.

In the final year of my college days, I did encounter an acronym called GRE – the entrance test to enter America as s student. I did see many of my classmates preparing themselves for the examination. Curious, I did see the structure of the examination and I discovered how hilarious and grotesque it was when the students were supposed to know very complex, arcane English words and their meanings.

Two American men impressed me a lot – Mr. Edgar Allan Poe and Mr. Whitman. I believe Mr. Poe’s stories impressed me a lot and Mr. Whitman was talking of something that was close to my heart as a small-town boy with wide fields and less crowded spaces.

Post-college, I was working as a Federal Government of India officer in the monopoly international telecom provider and I heard many of my batch-mates were leaving the job and joining “software companies” and then taking a flight to the United States. Curious, I went to visit a “software company” in Chennai somewhere in 1999 and one in Bangalore in 2000. An old colleague used to work there and I entered the office… I did not see the space at eye-level, instead I instantly fixed my eyes in space and it looked like a bee-hive with square boxes or hives. The whole space looked like a factory with matrix of men and women. The artificial light, a hermetically sealed environment and the AC cool air – all made me feel like a prisoner. My “dot com” dream ended then and there.

I started taking more active interest in the United States as a geography when I became a business owner (not an entrepreneur).

I consider, the word a sort of insult while spoken in certain context in India and that story I shall tell in Part II.

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Voice – Future of UI (User Interface) and UX (User Experience)

The Future Landscape connecting Smart Machines, Universal User Interface (i.e. voice – spoken words) and Business Mantra

  • In Sanskrit, the word “mantra” always signifies some spoken words, i.e. sounds with convoluted, complex and encrypted meanings. Something resembling genetic code. It uses matter (vibrations in air in general) but in itself a mantra is “de-materialized matter”. A mantra is a universal interface ranging from calling Olympian gods to that of activating a weapon.
  • The future landscape, I believe will resemble a situation where voice / spoken words will be the Universal User Interface. From keyboard, mouse, stylus, smart-screen, fingers, eyes and hand to completely TOUCHLESS.
  • Spoken words, VOICE or mantra – whatever you call it will use SYNTAX, SEMANTICS, CONTEXT  and SENTIMENT on a framework called – HUMAN LANGUAGE
  • One’s first language (by birth or by acquisition) will always feel like a “biological organ” for a person and being an organ rather automation, it will have all the attributes humans have.
  • Future devices and the ecosystem in general needs to be TRAINED on the huge number of languages spoken by people all over the globe.

LOCALIZATION – 1.0

The historical evolution of machines took a specific route but it could have taken other equally probable alternate routes. Hence, we learnt “computer languages” first to have basic interaction with world’s first computers. The evolution of this phase reached its zenith with the evolution of HLLs or Higher Level Languages.

Localization – 2.0

The parallel stream was computation through multiple natural languages. Then came the wave of localization of content – translation in major languages. Devices came with multi-language manuals and training kits opening a new industry vertical in the function of language translation.

Localization – 3.0

This is the phase we are now where new devices directly process “spoken words” in few languages some basic instructions. It is the equivalent of fighting with parsers and compilers in the era of Localization 1.0 whenever the syntax, semantics and context become subtle and inter-wined.  Handling Sentiment is in its infancy.

Localization – 4.0

This phase will rule few decades. In this phase, devices will be able to handle all natural languages – it will be able to process syntax, semantics, context and sentiment together. It will be also the phase when devices will resemble more like a “human entity” and the value-add will be on the emotive, (functional yet transcending functionality) artistic (functional but connecting to some hidden and intractable aspect of our being) and aesthetic (recall of beauty and our attendant sense of mortality).

These devices will interface pre-dominantly with spoken words – either spoken within the range of speech (sitting on a self driven car) or any distance away (directing a drone).

What will be the most-valued USER EXPERIENCE in this environment?

Of this new world, we have no historical precedent and human nature is our only guide, even if not an infallible one. Based on what we understand by human nature, i.e. our own, we can identify some attributes of this ecosystem:

  • The anthro-morphic principle: Human beings will project its own reflection into things created by him. Example, can you deny that once or twice, you have talked with an elevator or a computer in half-praying, half-playful mood as if the device understands your emotion.
  • The Beauty Principle: Human beings respond to beauty and will continue to do so although definitions will vary and there will be change in fashion but the poet was right – “a thing of beauty is a joy forever” and only this principle and none else can explain why people are ready to pay so much premium for an I-phone although functionally it is same like other smart-phones. Another example – people visit Acropolis, Greece to see a non-functional building like Parthenon but who will pay to see most of our highly functional office buildings?
  • The Intimacy Principle: This principle is founded on our liking for being closer with non-judgmental and “you will err but forgiven in advance” environment.  This is at the root of some of our greatest attachments and friendships. This is the psychological and sexual glue that binds relationships that endure. This is the reason why rather than becoming angry, we find comfortable when devices suggest the corrected string we have typed in a hurry.
  • The Morality Principle: Starting from name written on a grave-stone to that of emperors putting obelisk, the under-lying principle is the subterranean but perpetual presence of the inevitable human mortality. Until every human is immortal, this principle will be the fountain-head of all other principles. The Beauty Principle is the complement of this principle. A thing of beauty is a joy forever only because we know that none are here (or there) forever.

CONCLUSION

With Voice as Universal Interface, a whole business landscape will emerge and that means there will be new business models. The value concentration will be in the niches. It is not yet clear where will be those niches but we can have some idea about the nature of those niches and the skill-sets supporting them:

  • Artistic
  • Linguistic
  • Auditory
  • Phonetic

Event Report – Wordcon 2018 – 3rd International Freelancer’s Conference, 9th Feb 2018, Calcutta, India

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Freelance Foundation – non-profit for freelancers organized its 3rd International International Conference for Freelancers called Wordcon.

Event Report of Wordcon17/18 – 3rd International Conference of Freelancers

The Park, 9th February 2018, Calcutta, India

The Heritage and Mission of Wordcon

Wordcon is a movement, born in Bengal, India but belongs to the world. The Vitruvian Man of Da Vinci as theme image brings a freelancer, an individual at the centre of the Kosmos. The theme this year was Harmonizing Income, Leisure and Fame in the Digital World – a time snapshot manifestation of the Eternal Cosmic Order.

 The Event Structure and Chronology

 Wordcon17/18 was structured more or less like a classical Indian wedding – starting with invocation and closing with music and also wishing a pollinated, fruitful and prosperous future to all the stakeholders.

Brief Summary

Dr. Angshuman Bhattacharyya chanted verses from Rig Veda and also translated in English. Mr. Bruce Bucknell, British Dy. High Commissioner, Calcutta, Dr. Parthasarthy Bhattacharyya, MD, DM, renowned pulmonologist,  Mr. Sushobhan Mukherjee, Chief Architect, Wordcon and Chairman, Infosec Foundation, Mr. Pritam Bhacharyya, Chairman, Freelance Foundation were present and they inaugurated the lamp and the Conference was declared open.  The message to the audience was that there are changes in the power structures and freelancers have tremendous opportunities as well as unknown challenges.

Invocation was followed by Inaugural Session, then formal opening of the Conference with the lighting of lamp. Keynote Address, Panels, Speakers, Speeches, Debate, Lunch, Music, Panel Discussions, Gifts, Felicitations, Awards and then a musical finale by live performance and Vote of thanks with the wish to meet again.

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Keynote Address entitled “Freelancing and the New Media” was delivered by Mr. Jawhar Sircar, ex-CEO, Prasar-Bharati and an inter-disciplinary scholar. His address covered the changes sweeping  and he talked of two technologies that

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are going to impact the world of Life and Business – Artificial Intelligence and Augmented Reality.  Presenting these themes in an easy to understand and humorous way, he ended with a great sense of hope for freelancers – collaborated content will be always in demand and will have a hitherto unthinkable  scale and depth.

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2 panels – represented by freelance panelists from Consulting, Strategy, Translation, Law, Sports Coaching, Journalism, Food business, Chartered Accounting, Auditing, Academic Research discussed and debated on the essentials themes of freelancing – how to charter the new seas and also to be a valuable part of the society. Mr. Kaushik Bhattacharyya, Chief Strategy of Prime Infoserv and Mr. Nirpuam Sen, Regional Head of BSI moderated the panels. How to build enterprises neither for the Government nor for an oligarchy but the model itself having checks and balances to create a social enterprise. Freelancer as a social hero, not only an enterprise-building warrior.  The panels witnessed the launch of 3 books – first is Bootstrapping Market Innovation – a book by two freelancers as how to build an effective and reality-tested marketing plan with virtually no financial cost. Freespace – Freelancer’s Journal – 3rd Edition was launched and Bengali collection of short essays অবকাশ সমগ্র (Collected works of Leisure) by Dr. Abakash Ranjan Kar – ex-Editor Freespace and Professor and Head of the Department of Leisure, Wordsmith University.

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Mr. Goutam Choudhury – a virtuso performer of harmonica and a archivist for the music of one of the greatest musical geniuses of India – Mr. Salil Choudhury who is based in Netherlands but roams around the globe for his archival work on the Life and Works of the musical genius. It was our privilege to hear a passionate man who is spending time, a fortune in creating a archive for posterity.  As luck would have had it, he met Mr. Jayshankar – a rising star in Bengali music and it was wonderful to see the old archivist meeting the young musician on the stage of Wordcon.

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 Wordcon’s perspective on Sports is based on the holiness ancient Greeks attached to their Olympic games and in more recent times, Britons, in their finest hour attached to the Game of Cricket, which can be called – “an Indian game discovered in England.” Mr. Sanjay Sen – a national football coach told how a sportsman goes through the cycle of a freelancer of other domain, followed by Life Skill coaching by Mr. Saurav – an ex-Army man and now a NLP practitioner. Mr. Subhasish Chatterjee delivered an important address as how freelancers need to groom themselves to be an efficient unit in terms of physical and mental health.

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Income uncertainty and anxiety thereof is an existential fear of any freelancer of all times. The successful fear whether they will be successful next time and the aspirants are anxious to succeed.  How to fight this fear and anxiety? On top, one needs to be physically and mentally fit to run one’s vocation and there are so many changes and uncertainties. Swami Sarvalokananda, a senior monk of the Ramakrishna Order and sought after speaker on Vedanta philosophy discussed the short solution – Human empowerment. Very interestingly, he said that many monks do not have technical qualification of some works the global order is engaged with. But they master it. How? The secret lies in working with devotion, dedication, hard work and patience. This means that we need not fear change – these ingredients will universally succeed.  He also narrated incidents from the lives of Swami Vivekananda where the centre-piece is: FEAR NOT.  Face the challenges life is throwing at you and with the practice of virtue, internal power will manifest and that power is the subtlest and the greatest – the power of the Self within.

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Dr. Devasis Ghosh discussed something all professionals are prone to : stress, clinical depression and anxiety and impaired mental health. A holistic healer and independent researcher on the subject of stress and cancer, audience could relate easily. Then came the finale – Mr.Parijat Biswas – a lyricist, composer, musician sang some of his own songs with his instruments and the songs talked of the time gone by but also of hope and to be sensitive.

All problems either remain or vanish but Beauty remains forever.

The Next Milestones in the Journey

 We, the Organizers consider ourselves as a gardener for Wordcon and all events under the banner of Wordcon. Like a good gardener, our job is to work honestly, harmonize all the interests of the stakeholders, create an open, inclusive, transparent, fertile and friendly environment so that flowers and fruits of all time and clime may bloom and flourish. The agents of change and connection – the birds and bees visit, so do the lovers and the curious and lay visitors and their purposeful or purposeless walks create footprints in the globe.

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March / April 2018 – Spring – Summer Musical Show

June / July 2018 – People’s Cricket Exchange Programme – UK Tour – Birmingham + London + Oxford

November 2018 Flying Feathers – Corporate Badminton Tournament, Calcutta

December 22nd and 23rd 2018 – Wordcon Mela + People’s Cricket Exchange (Fructus et Virtus- Season II) – NKDA Cricket Ground, Calcutta, Calcutta / Tagore’s Shantiniketan, Bengal Sweet festival, Yoga classes in the rural heartland of Bengal.

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Contact

 Email : wordcon2015@gmail.com

  1. Facebook : facebook.com/wordconconnect
  2. Web : wordcon.in
  3. Blog : wordsmithofbengal.wordpress.com
  4. For all media enquiries, contact Anik Gupta at +91 9073361512
  5. For any engagement inquiries, contact chairman@freelancefoundation.in and wordsmith.bengal@gmail.com

Photo Essay – Fructus et Virtus Cricket Match – 30th Dec NKDA, Calcutta, India

“Greeks, the inventor of Olympic games considered Sports as something sacred and also an avenue practicing Virtue. Britons, inventor of Modern Cricket, also considered in their finest hour this as not mere Game but something of character building and connected with moral virtue. A British father did say to his young son while he was padding up to go to the crease : “Remember, anyone may not be watching but God is watching. Play fair, play well and enjoy the Game.”

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Cricket is sometimes called “an Indian game invented in England.” Many old lovers ( generation born between 1970-1990 in India) of cricket in India consider that the Game is perhaps lost forever – it resembles more like gladiatorial arena and the old charm of playing and watching the game is gone forever. The very soul of Cricket, for her old lovers is sold to Big Money, Big Stars, Big Media, Big Stadium and the combination.

It occurred to us that as a Curtain Raiser to Wordcon – 3rd International Freelance Conference, we may organize a retro style cricket match with good food, lazy afternoon and socialization among friends, colleagues and strangers turned acquaintances.

Four teams played on knock-out and 40+ players played.

NEXT INNINGS 

We are planning a fixture called Indo-British People’s Cricket Programme where teams from the UK will play in Calcutta during December/January and Indian teams will play in Birmingham in May / June.

This will be Wordcon’s endeavour to bring the old charm of the Great Game.

 

[Book Review] – Living Hinduism – Scriptures, Philosophy, Practices by Samarpan

[Disclaimer : We had the opportunity of reviewing the previous works of the author. Those were all in the story form. This is different – this is a survey of something which is beyond survey, not for its vastness alone but for the subject matter itself. In 240 pages, the author has attempted and attempted very successfully to convey the essentials and also with an eye to the contemporary time. The word “ancient” is silently present behind the word Hindu / Hindoo in discourse  and for some mysterious reason, this “ancient fossil” aspect appears to have gotten new lease of Life in each historical age. Had this been not so, this book would not have been written ] 

More than two thousand five hundred years back, Buddhism and Jainism were contemporaries and Budhha and Mahavir  preached in the same locality quite often and one of the areas is present Bihar. Their world-view were sometimes radically different. People listened to both –  to Tirthankar and Tathagata with no disturbance. Both the tradition flourished and endured.

The book quotes from a credible source ( a Frenchman writing a book entitled L‘Inde des Rajahs)  narrating an incident in Benares in 1876 where a missionary was preaching Christianity and admonishing people of worshiping of the black rock as rank idolatry. People listened to and no disturbance at all. Everyone went with their own business.

The tradition continues. 

The book is a part of that continuity. This itself is a success and the title of the book confirms it.

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Without much ado, let me clarify my position as a reader-reviewer, a Hindu/Hindoo and disclose the metaphorical and literal lens I shall be using.  With the charge of being arbitrary completely accepted, I may say that for a Hindu born in India after 1750, it is historically impossible to have any “pure Hindu” lens. First, the source Vedic text needed some “made easy dictionaries” almost a thousand years back to understand. Second, the nature, structure, richness and infinite malleability of Sanskrit language. Third,  discontinuity in the political / government sphere due to repeated foreign contact, attack, hit-and-run, capitulation and consolidation of political power by successive foreign elements.

In this way, India can be considered a feminine womb which has always attracted the most vigorous and out-bound masculine forces in history.  Swami Vivekananda ruminates while visiting ruins of Capitol in Rome : “.. from where all-powerful Ceasars used to rule larger part of the world, today spider is weaving its net in the Capitoline Hill…” and then he reminds us that “.. if ancient sages come back to India today, they will not be at all bewildered for they will see the inner unity in all the outward variety.”  [ Paraphrased by reviewer ]

It is true. No civilization completely dies. Greece and Rome are present – in thinner form in the modern European Civilization. This word “thinner” I borrow from the book itself where the author talks about Puranas and other supplementary literature of Hindus (whose complete disregard for balance, measure, precision and accuracy were immediately observed by Al-Beruni[12th century] to  Macaulay [19th century]  ) but they missed the full picture. There was a deliberate plan in this thinning just like we dissolve things in water to have the active ingredient have better flow, reach and acceptance. Here is a fundamental look on life – the Art of Becoming is much greater than the Art of simply being precise and accurate for a certain historical fashionable period. 

The wonder of Hindu Civilization is that it has remained relatively more intact form in spite of being hammered across ages. This reminds me of the internal integrity and consistency of genetic code. Genetic Codes are made from small number of atoms and yet they retain their integrity and consistency across millions of years till some mutation sets in. This mystery was raised by the seminal thinker of Quantum Physics, Erwin Schrodinger in his very very small book entitled – What is Life ?

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The Grand Recycling of Debt and Payback of Civilizations 

The structure of the Book  with of codification / classification / analysis is a lack  which was immediately observed by the last contact with Hindus with another civilization, I mean the ambassador of modern Europe, The Britons, first in the form of fortune hunters, missionaries, economic migrants (just like most of Indian economic migrants in USA, UK, Persian Gulf, Africa and other parts of the globe) and then imperial burden-bearers – the burden of the Empire (The Raj) and also the bearer of the self-imposed burden of racial manifest destiny  – the white man’s burden.

Finally – those from Ox-Cam network and ICS (pre-cursor of our IAS and IPS framework) happened. It is told that in the zenith of the Empire, ICS was perhaps one of the “dream jobs” globally.  I think the closest one can think of ICS today is to become some Investment Banker responsible for a geographical region for a “too big to fail” financial or trans-national corporation with inter-locked ownership and control. Our ancient sages would not have been wondering at all on this observation. They had been exposed to the cosmic classification of living beings as per innate quality and  activity which can be mapped into 4 types just like management books talk of 4-quadrant BCG boxes in classifying companies. They would have remarked – “Oh… I see, now the clock of dominance is moving from administrators to money-managers.” 

India’s history since last thousand years demonstrate a cyclical contact with Turko-Persian-Afghan cultural sphere, followed by British and European and in each phase or in historical cycle where dominance has varied, India responded and changed but not so much as un-recognizable. This  is a “living” proof of the sign of Life : reaction, absorption and assimilation.  Only a living consciousness is capable of these functions.

The Book captures this in an undertone while it moves with a taxonomist’s eye for classification and cataloging and this is a triumph. The author has masked tremendous scholarship and this is the last barrier to be breached by scholar of any discipline.

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The Future Readers or Readers of the Future 

Since I and all the future readers of the book are born after my arbitrary dateline of 1750, the book is a rarity that it says something so beautiful, so radical, yet so naturally – “we need to write new Puranas.” I think these are being written continuously, we need to be conscious of it. All the space-time defying magic realism of novels and that of films – for elites and plebs alike, all the huge output in social media – these are the Puranas  being written by us of varying quality. If Vyasadeva comes today and checks in our social media, he will not be bewildered at all, he will smile and chuckle and wonder how  his children are creating Tera-bytes of Puranas collectively with their fingers and keyboard.

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Summary Thoughts from a reader now relinquishing the role of a Reviewer 

  • I have not read any book on this subject of this type earlier and I have read some.
  • What we have lost here in the form of poetry (his earlier works of fiction were poetic prose) is gained in terms of logic and clarity. It is a delight, a vindication and a critical triumph to observe a Hindu monk writing this sentence on Sanskrit language – “Here it may be mentioned that Sanskrit language uses the same word for many objects and the quirk is of great advantage in poetry or logic but disastrous when it comes out in bringing the meaning of a sentence. (page 211)”.
  • The book ends with a sense of “enlightened hope” – the social structure is changing and new technologies are making the tortoise extending its limbs outside. This will bring a situation when the timeless will be projected into a specific historical time.
  • On a personal note – when I was a boy in the late seventies, I used to ask myself – “Why did we become a British Colony and became a colonized race ?” I was naive and immature but the question was genuine. I remember reading Bankim Chandra Chatterjee and after thirty odd years I believe he wrote something which I did not read anywhere. Bankim’s core argument was so vast and broad in its scope that he posited a thesis – not of Clash of Civilization but civilization moving in Great Cycles. Using the same historical method, he talked of Debt of Civilizations in his Bengali essays where modern Europe came in contact with the civilization of the Greece through Arab scholars who solely kept the lamp of learning burning in Middle Age. The Arabs themselves learnt from India and the cycle goes back further when historical memory goes dimmer and dimmer. So, the essential question we need to ask any Civilization at any point is this : ” Are you paying your historical debt properly and sincerely?
  • Hinduism goes further from this historical debt. It goes cosmic. This is demonstrated in the 2nd chapter of the Gita when Arjuna asked a personal problem but Lord Krishna projected this problem into a gigantic, cognitively broadest possible canvass over space and time and it included all that is and all that be.  This is one of the facets of Living Hinduism – both of the book and that of a Hindu.

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Recommended Reading for anyone interested in Hinduism.

 

Fructus et Virtus : Cricket Match on 30th December, 2017 at NKDA Cricket Ground, Calcutta

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Off-Break brings a cricket match – invitation to the Great Outdoor where once when we were younger and not surrounded by power-point, EMI, RoI, cash-flow, deadline, off-track, project management. In those days, we played and the game was the end of it. But those games helped us in becoming – becoming eligible to deserve the inestimable gift of existence.

Ancient Greeks, whom we owe Olympic Games considered Sport as a ‘Practice of Virtue’ – the highest attainable human ideal as per them. Participating in sports was not some mere physical exercise, win / loss or becoming a professional or celebrity. Sport was one of the avenues, like rhetoric, philosophy and geometry to become a whole person – the great practice of Becoming.

We have named the match – a friendly but serious one – Fructus et Virtus : the matured Fruit of Virtue.

In less ancient times, here is a record from a family archive dated 23rd January 1884, from Mr. Hammond of Oxfordshire, England:

“I was padding up to go to the crease and my father came near to wish me. After wishing me luck, he had told, very gravely – No one may hear or see something while you are playing, but remember, God is always watching. Be fair, be honest and enjoy the game”.

In their finest hour, like Greeks, Britons, the inventor of cricket considered cricket as not a mere game but something with a call to higher aspect of Man and Becoming.

Modeling Conference RoO and RoI

[ A more formal and rigorous version of the methodology described below is submitted to the International Journal of Event Management Research, Griffith Business School, Griffith University, Australia]

EMPIRICAL MATHEMATICAL FORMULATION 

A very important question for a sponsor for a Conference is to have a measure of RoO (Return on Outcomes) and RoI (Return on Investment). It is equally important for the organizers is to present a quantifiable value while having a consistent, data-based, factored and realistic “benefit model” for the sponsors. These benefits can be modeled under RoO (Return on Outcomes – expected) and RoI (Return on investment – financial).

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Basic Empirical Formulation between RoO and RoI 

CALIBRATING THE KEY PARAMETERS AND ESTABLISHING RELATIONSHIPS 

RoI in money terms can be estimated from the weighed average of RoO (Return on Outcomes). Every sponsor has some outcome in view and these outcomes directly or indirectly influences RoI. The monetization constant is that multiplier that has some impact on RoI. For example, for a Conference having a sponsor putting stall containing merchandise, monetization in terms of sales revenue at the conference depends on expected outcomes like position of the stall, visibility, announcement during conference of itself and any discount etc if available.

RoO has two major components – a) Measurable in money terms directly b) Immeasurable in money terms directly but can be compared based on reference scales. These scales are to be calibrated for each sponsor depending on the priority of their RoOs.

RoO LISTING (For a sponsor X )

For each sponsor, one can imagine the following :

Sponsor Expected Outcomes (raw ROO):
Sponsor Budget (Investment): INR / $

RoO LIST  order of priority as received from the Sponsor through dialogue and deliberations 

  • Direct Sales
  • Lead Generation
  • Customer Success
  • In-event inquiry
  • In-event interest with chance of escalation
  • Brand Visibility across demographics
  • Eyeballs – in-event and other media
  • Social Media impact
  • Positioning and packaging
  • Brand Perception (comparative
    scale)
  • Feedback – raw and refined
  • Empathy Quotient
  • Fan /interested penetration
  • Post-Event support and actionable intelligence to measure and make decisions

For the RoO, enablers/deliverable  can be mapped 

  • Segmentation (Attendees)
  • Speaker Association (Relevance, Context)
  • Media (Local) (Tier and Penetration/Circulation on with Social Media)
  • Ambiance / Free time to discuss
  • Opportunities / incentives to socialization (e.g. cocktail, musical event)
  • Brand Mentions (imprint, eyeballs, duration, prestige)
  • Retention
  • Shared post-event Analysis
  • Consistency

SUMMARY PROCESS 

• For each outcome (blue column), we write down enablers and their rating
• Multiply by proper co-efficient (weighed average) as found from ROO priority
• Multiplier for enabler from historical data (e.g feedback gathered and then applied with a reality check factor)
• Now, we calculate RoI = K* ROO ; where 0 < K < 1 and K is bench marked  on three bands. These bands are classified as LOW / MEDIUM / HIGH  levels of investment from the sponsors.

FURTHER WORK 

The empirical model can be tweaked for separate sectors and specific RoO cases.

Confidence intervals on the reliability of RoI and RoO can be ascertained with more data fed to the mode.

[ This methodology is referenced at the design of Wordcon 2017/18 – 3rd International Conference of Freelancers, to be held on 9th February 2018, The Park, Calcutta, India.]