OPERATION POLO: HYDERABAD’S UNTOLD TALE OF INDEPENDENCE

National News

The year was 1947 and Sardar Vallabhai Patel was a tense man. India had just witnessed partition, and apart from managing the refugees that were coming in large numbers from the newly formed state of Pakistan, Sardar Patel had been given another very important job by Pandit Jawarharlal Nehru : Integration Of Indian states.

Courtesy: Wikipedia

At the time of partition, India had 562 princely States and 17 British provinces. If India needed to develop economically, some sort of integration was needed. While handling the 17 provinces was easy, Sardar Patel had a tough time trying to integrate 562 princely states across India.

Courtesy: Wikipedia

Why?

At the time of partition, Viceroy Lord Mountbatten proposed the ‘Mountbatten Plan’ where in, the princely states had the option of joining either India, Pakistan or remaining independent. Just like the Raja of Kashmir, the Nizam of Hyderabad Osman Ali Khan chose to remain independent, despite it being an unviable option for the King and his subjects.

Importance of Hyderabad:

Hyderabad was a prosperous princely state which roads, railway lines and airway developed even before independence. What’s more, Hyderabadi currency was stronger than India’s Rupee. In fact at the time of Independence the Nizam was richest man in India.

Operation Polo:

While the leader was a benevolent leader, his military aides also known as Razakars were known for their barbarity. They tortured several people especially Hindus and there was communal tension in Hyderabad in September, 1948. Sardar Patel, who was desperate to integrate Hyderabad with India, realized the importance of this situation and launched Operation Polo.

Courtesy: The Hindu

The operation was headed by Major General Choudhari. One division of Indian Army went to Hyderabad and cracked down on the Nizam and his Razakars. Within 5 days that is from September 13 to September 18, 1948 the operation was over. The Nizam was overthrown and Hyderabad became a part of India.

Major Gen Choudhari became the Military governor of the state till December 1949 and Nizam became the Rajpramukh of the state. He held this position until 1956. The state is witnessed its first elections in 1952 and B K Rao became it’s first Chief Minister.

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ANOTHER SIGN OF ECONOMIC SLOWDOWN? ZOMATO SACKS EMPLOYEES

BUSINESS, NEWS

In a bid to reduce ‘redundancy’, Foodtech Goliath Zomato has sacked 1% of their workforce earlier this month. On the 9th of August, the company decided to let go of 60 employees mainly from customer support department of their Gurugram office.

The company issued a statement explaining their motive behind this move. “Over the last few months, our service quality has improved, and the percentage of orders requiring support has come down significantly creating redundancies for about one percent (60 people) of our workforce. Most of these redundancies are in customer support department and also include movements to other departments as part of our Internal Job Placement exercise.”
The company further explained that expansion into more than 500 cities across India led to addition of more than 2000 people into the company’s workplace. This expansion however needs to be constantly realigned to new departments. Zomato further justified the lay offs saying use of new technology also results in further redundancies.
However there is no clarity if these 60 employees were sacked immediately along with a severance pay or if they were asked to serve their notice period.
Reports suggest that for every order Zomato spends up to Rs 5 for customer support & with high orders coming in the costs of customer support were high. In its annual report, the company cited delivery operations as the driving force for its loss. The company is now trying to automate its customer support to cut the human cost & enchance customer service.
Sustainable Growth?
This however isn’t the first time the company has sacked its employees. In the year of 2015, the company had to let go of at least 300 employees, majority of them from United States.
But in 2019, the company is facing crisis of a different kind. If the ‘Food has no religion’ hurt it’s image on social media and drew flak from Right Wing Groups, the Infinity package offered to it’s Flagship Gold Users has dented it’s prospects with Restaurant Association. Several restaurants opposed the idea, leading to a standoff despite several rounds of talks.
Consultancy firm, Market Research Future predicts that at a growth rate of 16%, Online Food Markets could become 17 billion dollar industry by 2023. Companies like Zomato & Swiggy clock in 70 million orders per month approximately. But what remains to be seen is, can these food Giants sustain their own success story in the future.

IS INDIA READY TO PLAY GLOBAL MUSICAL CHAIRS?

BUSINESS, NEWS

In the year 1996, Michael Jackson had arrived in India for the first time. The fans were thrilled at the prospects of seeing the King of Pop live in action. Mega stars such as Michael rarely navigated to India & the fan response was unprecedented. The streets of the newly named city of Mumbai were filled with fans. The show was a stellar success and is still recalled as one of the greatest shows by Michael.

Cut to 2019, 23 years later, the scene is completely different. In the coming few months, not one but two superstars will arrive in India- Katy Perry and Dua Lipa will be performing in Mumbai. The two singers will be headlining a music festival in the city of dreams. While this is Katy’s second visit, Dua Lipa is visiting India for the first time.
India, today, no longer is a distant market for the Music industry and companies all over the world are willing to invest big. Multimedia corporate bigwigs such as YouTube and Spotify are leaving no stone unturned to reach out to the 1.3 billion strong nation.
What favours India?
Thanks to the humongous growth of IT sector and fierce telecommunication sector rivalry, data prices in India is the cheapest in the world. A user is likely to pay 200 rupees for 48 gb of data per month, far lower than global average. What’s also important to note is India’s rising interest in Western pop culture makes the country a strategic investment spot.
The big players in the game of music streaming include YouTube, Apple Music, JioSaavn, Gaana, Hungama, Sound Cloud, Amazon Prime and Spotify. However it will not be a cake walk for these companies to set up business in India. India still hasn’t warmed up to the idea of music streaming. Many still prefer listening to the radio, plus local music companies are here to provide a tough competition. Remember PewDiePie vs T-Series saga? T-Series went all out beat a YouTuber in the bid to conquer the number one spot.
The other big problem are the diverse languages spoken in India, while it may be easy to conquer the market in North, given the excessive use of Hindi, but down South and in the NorthEast multiple languages are spoken. Also there is a huge divide in what urban and rural India consumes. Companies will have to look into each state and come up with a strategy to capture the market. This will not be an easy task to achieve.
The other big factor to watch out for is the price. Companies like Spotify and Apple make users pay for the content, while Spotify charges approximately 13 rupees per day, Apple usually seeks per song payment, but in India they are trying to incorporate the pay per month module. Expecting the audience to change their spending habits will be a tough task for many companies. Remember, companies like Netflix and Amazon are struggling to reach to wide audience due to this model, while hotstar has a wider reach due to it’s free Content in some genres.
But as the companies try to woo the customers, there is one more audience they need to be aware of- the singers & the music composers. Singers in the bollywood and other regional markets are highly underpaid. If streaming apps need an edge over their content, then they will have to enter in exclusive deals with the content creators. They will have to pay big money to lock in these deals. Whether or not it’s an investment they are willing to make remains to be seen.
In America, several singers such as Taylor Swift refused to tie up with Apple over payment issues. These music streaming apps will have to avoid such issues here in order to avoid the negative press coverage. The other big issue concerning the music industry in India is piracy. Use of apps can lead to leaks of audio clippings of songs. How they battle this will be a upheaval task.
Podcasts have also generated a huge buzz in the recent times, today India is the third largest consumer of podcasts, we are only behind US and China. These apps should also venture into this category. But can they diversify or stick to the original genre of music remains to be seen.
India is a underrated and unexplored market in International arena but what remains to be seen is- are the consumers ready for this big change. Will they change their habits? Will they invest in good quality music that they pay for? Only the future can reveal this answer, but the corporates have a big task ahead of themselves

AMAZON FOREST: EARTH’S LUNGS ARE BURNING, BUT DOES IT MATTER?

NEWS, World Affairs

What’s common between Hollywood superstar Leonardo diCaprio & Bollywood diva Alia Bhatt? No, the two stars are not starring in a movie together, but the two have been urging their fans to take note and act on the biggest environmental crisis the world is facing right now.

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#Regram #RG @rainforestalliance: The lungs of the Earth are in flames. 🔥 The Brazilian Amazon—home to 1 million Indigenous people and 3 million species—has been burning for more than two weeks straight. There have been 74,000 fires in the Brazilian Amazon since the beginning of this year—a staggering 84% increase over the same period last year (National Institute for Space Research, Brazil). Scientists and conservationists attribute the accelerating deforestation to President Jair Bolsonaro, who issued an open invitation to loggers and farmers to clear the land after taking office in January.⁣ ⁣ The largest rainforest in the world is a critical piece of the global climate solution. Without the Amazon, we cannot keep the Earth’s warming in check. ⁣ ⁣ The Amazon needs more than our prayers. So what can YOU do?⁣ ⁣ ✔ As an emergency response, donate to frontline Amazon groups working to defend the forest. ⁣ ✔ Consider becoming a regular supporter of the Rainforest Alliance’s community forestry initiatives across the world’s most vulnerable tropical forests, including the Amazon; this approach is by far the most effective defense against deforestation and natural forest fires, but it requires deep, long-term collaboration between the communities and the public and private sectors. ✔ Stay on top of this story and keep sharing posts, tagging news agencies and influencers. ⁣ ✔ Be a conscious consumer, taking care to support companies committed to responsible supply chains.⁣ Eliminate or reduce consumption of beef; cattle ranching is one of the primary drivers of Amazon deforestation. ✔ When election time comes, VOTE for leaders who understand the urgency of our climate crisis and are willing to take bold action—including strong governance and forward-thinking policy.⁣ ⁣ #RainforestAlliance #SaveTheAmazon #PrayForAmazonia #AmazonRainforest #ActOnClimate #ForestsResist #ClimateCrisis 📸: @mohsinkazmitakespictures / Windy.com

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The two like rest of the environmentalists have been rallying on the internet to draw the world’s attention to the Amazon Forest Fire crisis.

Amazon forests have recorded several forest fires this year. If numbers by Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research are to go by, Amazon has witnessed 72,843 fires in 2019. This, reportedly, is 80% higher than last year. Approximately, 9000 of these fires took place in just one week’s time and the size of these multiple fires are varied.

The Brazilian government has already rubbished these numbers and have labelled them as lies. The physicist who served as the head of the agency has also been ‘fired’.

The Jungle Book

Global attention to crisis started once NASA relased images of these fires from space on August 11. The South American continent was virtually covered in smoke.

Spread over 5.5 million square kilometres of land, Amazon forest which has been classified as a Rainforest is located in South America and is spread across Brazil, Peru, Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Suriname, Guyana and French Guiana. Brazil houses 60% of the Amazon forest. Scientists estimate Amazon houses 390 billion trees including 16,000 species.

Political sparks to fire?

These fires have sparked immense public outrage, with several Brazilians sharing images of clouds and dust caused by the fire across the country.

As residents demand answers, environmentalists claim political nexus sparked these fires.

In 2018, Brazil witnessed a change of guard. Jair Bolsonaro became the President of this developing South American nation, promising to explore the country’s natural reservoirs – the Amazon and since his reign began, Nature has borne the brunt of his ideas.

The President has for now blamed NGOs of the starting the forest fires to defame his government.

Brazil’s INPE claims the area of forest land cleared this year is equivalent to that of forest cleared in 3 years.

Many are already calling it deforestation driven forest fire. The timber trees found in Amazon are being cleared to plant soy & land is being used for pasturing. Many are burning trees as a faster way to clear out forests. These fires are man-made and controlling them is a tough task given the size of operations involved.

While Government is trying to portray these fires as the result of ‘dry season’, the magnitude of the fires negates their argument.

Why Amazon matters?

Amazon Forests are called as Lungs of the world. It helps in carbon sequestration and helps in reducing carbon dioxide emissions.

The forests helps in creating rainfall over Northern part of South America. If Amazon forests are destroyed, then there will be no rainfall over the forest(natural cycle) & the quality of the forest can change from rainforest to savannah. This could also result in changing of global temperature. These fires can then lead to a significant rise in temperature.

Whether Brazil choses economy or nature is a moot point, however this crisis is a lesson for the world. While cutting trees will lead to economic growth in the short run, but conserving nature will lead to all around development in the long run

360 DEGREE OVERVIEW: HONG KONG CRISIS

World Affairs

The last few days, social media has been abuzz with photos and videos of Hong Kong residents, taking to the streets.

The streets were filled with protesters demanding democracy and autonomy from China.

Their symbol of protest is an umbrella, a symbol of passive resistance, which protesters have used against police since 2014 when forces used pepper spray on them.

But what has caused similar protests, 5 years later in 2019?

The seeds to the current protests were sown earlier in February when the Government of Hong Kong, proposed a bill. The bill in question is the Fugitive Offenders & Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters aka the ‘extradition bill’.

Features of the bill

There are several contentious features of the bill. However what sparked public fury was the Chinese connect to the bill

  • Several online reports suggest the bill aims to expand the list of countries to which a suspected offender could be sent.
  • This list went beyond the countries Hong Kong had mutual extradition treaties with
  • Hong Kong could now extradite suspects to other countries on case by case basis
  • This bill could possibly allow extradition of suspect to China and Taiwan.

The Hong Kong government claims this bill was proposed because a Hong Kong resident accused of murdering a Taiwanese resident could not be extradited to Taiwan to face his crimes.

However critics claim this bill is a trap that legalises governmental ‘kidnapping’. They fear this will ensure political dissidents are extradited to China under false charges.

History of Hong Kong

Hong Kong was previously the territory of British following the first Opium War in 1841. It was also briefly ruled by the Japanese for 4 years from 1941 to 1945. But once World War two ended,Britain regained control over it. In 1997 however, the colony was handed over to China through Sino-British Joint Declaration.

Hong Kong became a special administration. It has different laws from that of China (called the Basic Laws), separate Head of Government called ‘Chief Executive’ , their Judicial system is also separate from that of China. However, interpretation of laws by Standing Committee of National People’s of Congress China is final.

Where the bill stands now

The Chief Executive of China Carrie Lam has suspended the bill. She even apologised to the residents of Hong Kong for ineffective communication and explanation served by the government.

But protesters are not convinced,while the bill has been suspended, it has not been withdrawn yet and protesters feel it could be drawn back into life once things slow down a bit.

Carrie reportedly forged a strong bond with China in 2014, when anti-mainland protests broke for the first time. In 2014, she was second in line, but was soon elevated to top post in 2017.

While government is allegedly using police to crush the protest, groups such as Civil Human Rights Front, who are leading the movement, are refusing to drop the momentum. Several protests across Kowloon have drawn millions of people.

China, in the meanwhile, is refusing to legitimise this protest, even calling it a ‘serious violation of law’.

While China has refused to comment on whether they will crack the whip on these protests through the use of their forces, this situation will certainly act as a litmus test for a country which just a few days back delivered sermons of democracy to India on behest of its ally Pakistan over Kashmir.