WHERE IS JACK MA, THE CO-FOUNDER OF ALIBABA?

Jack Ma is the second richest person in China and the co-founder of the Alibaba Group, a multinational technology company.
He is also the ambassador of Chinese business globally, an investor and a philanthropist.  Forbes ranked him 21st in “world’s most powerful people” in 2019. His total net worth as of January 2021 was estimated to be $58.3 billion. He was also ranked among the “world’s most powerful people” in 2017 by Fortune. 

Jack Ma wanted more from his life and thus, in September 2019 he retired from Alibaba. He wanted to pursue educational work, environmental causes and philanthropy. He has actively supported and worked for underprivileged communities in China, Africa, Australia and the Middle East. 

Apart from being a businessman, Ma likes being in the spotlight. He made his acting debut in a short film called Gong Shou Dao, participated in a singing competition, presented a dance performance on Alibaba’s 18th anniversary, all in the year 2017.

Recently, he was also the judge of his reality show Africa’s Business Heroes. But was later replaced because of a “schedule conflict”.

But for the past few months, he has not been seen publicly. After his last public appearance in October, no one is familiar with his whereabouts. This happened after he criticised the Chinese government stating that they need to change now. 

After the news flouted and people started questioning Jack Ma’s disappearance, China’s official newspaper printed an article stating that he is currently “embracing supervision”. This post was, however, taken down soon after. 

Jack’s Ant Group was also suspended after this event. They were offering a $37 billion public offering last November. Alibaba, which was co-founded by him, is also under antitrust investigation. Although he has retired from the company, he still holds a considerable amount of power in the company. All these events happened after Ma pointed out the banking system of China calling them “pawnshop mentality”. 

Jack has since then not posted anything on his social media also. For someone who loves the spotlight and is extremely active publicly, this event seems a bit unusual.

But this isn’t the first event where a celebrity or a millionaire has gone missing from China. A pattern can be observed here. All the previously missing celebrities or businessmen also hit the Chinese government with their critics one time or the other.

In 2020, a Chinese actress suddenly went missing and later it was reported that she was imprisoned for three months. 

Another similar event happened with a Chinese scientist, He Jiankui. He disappeared and was reportedly under house arrest. 

A reporter who revealed about the origins of the Coronavirus has also been missing ever since. 

It is yet uncertain as to where Jack Ma is. His company continues to keep silent about his whereabouts. But patterns and the chronology of the events similar to this have been seen in the past as well. 

All we can do is wait and see how this turns out and if Jack was actually “embracing supervision” or was it some other deeper and darker reason.

Digital Currency and drawbacks.

A virtual currency is a digital representation of value that can be digitally traded and functions as (a) a medium of exchange, and/ or (b) a unit of account, and/or (c) a store of value, but, unlike fiat currency like the rupee, it is not legal tender and does not have the backing of a government. A cryptocurrency is a subset of virtual currencies, and is decentralized, and protected by cryptography.

What are blockchain ?

Imagine a small group of school friends maintaining a list of transactions among themselves, but with a twist: Instead of holding this list in one single computer or in the notebook of one of the group members or authorising some outside authority (say, their class teacher) to maintain (and update) the list, all of them decide to maintain a separate copy of the list in their personal computers. Every time they transact, the rest of the members verify the transaction and once it is verified by all, they update their list. Further, to make sure that none of them changes records of the past transactions in their personal list, they decide to place each transaction as a block, and to stack it one after the other in a sequence. This way, no one can tweak the details of any past transactions because the overall sequence will not match with sequences held by others. Lastly, to make sure that no other child from the school gets to know the details, they devise a code (a cipher) for all their communications related to the list. These blocks are known as Digital ledger technologies (DLT) and bitcoin is special type of DLT.

What is the IMC’s (Inter ministirial commsion) view on DLT and cryptocurrencies?

The first thing to understand is that the IMC recognises the potential of DLT and Blockchain. The IMC accepts that internationally, the application of DLT is being explored in the areas of trade finance, mortgage loan applications, digital identity management or KYC requirements, cross-border fund transfers and clearing and settlement systems. To that extent, it recommends the Department of Economic Affairs (within the Finance Ministry) to take necessary measures to facilitate the use of DLT in the entire financial field after identifying its uses. The IMC also recommends that regulators — RBI, SEBI, IRDA, PFRDA, and IBBI — explore evolving appropriate regulations for development of DLT in their respective areas.

However, the IMC has recommended a ban on “private” cryptocurrencies. In other words, it is open to a cryptocurrency that the RBI may unveil. The IMC’s view is that it “would be advisable to have an open mind regarding the introduction of an official digital currency in India”. It noted that the RBI Act has the enabling provisions to permit the central government to approve a “Central Bank Digital Currency” (CBDC) as legal tender in India.

It recommended ban on private use of cryptocurrency.

Why have private cryptocurrencies attracted a ban?

While it is true that the technology used in virtual currencies has immense potential, without a central regulating authority, they can have numerous downsides.

The IMC’s first concern is that non-official virtual currencies can be used to defraud consumers, particularly less informed consumers or investors. The IMC gives the example of the Rs 2,000 crore scam involving GainBitcoin in India where investors were duped by a Ponzi scheme.

Second, the IMC is worried that if private cryptocurrencies are allowed to function as legal tender, the RBI would lose control over the monetary policy and financial stability, as it would not be able to keep a tab on the money supply in the economy.

Third, the anonymity of private digital currencies make them vulnerable to money laundering and use in terrorist financing activities while making law enforcement difficult.

Fourth

there is no grievance redressal mechanism in such a system, as all transactions are irreversible.

It is for these broad reasons that the IMC singled out private cryptocurrencies for a ban.

POLLUTION

ABOUT POLLUTION:

Pollution is the introduction of harmful materials into the environment. These harmful materials are called pollutants. These harmful materials are called pollutants. Pollutants can be natural, such as volcanic ash. They can also be created by human activity, such as trash or runoff produced by factories. Pollutants damage the quality of air, water, and land. These pollutants can be natural or can be man-made like, human wastes, ashes, trashes, or wastes runoff from the factories. This is mainly caused by human activities that harm the environment in ways more than one. Pollution is an issue that has been affecting our earth. Pollution is the stuff that pollutes the environment.  It also affects the ordinary living of the living things on this planet by disturbing the natural life cycle. There are several ways in which our environment can get polluted. Some of them being the use of chemicals, excessive noise, garbage disposal, etc. Pollution causes imbalances in the environment. This imbalance threatened the very survival of all forms of life. We should control pollution for our safe survival. Certain species have been exterminated, and humanity is under a great threat of environmental pollution.

TYPES OF POLLUTION:

There are different kinds of pollutions. Some of the major types of pollution are,

  • AIR POLLUTION:

Air pollution refers to any physical, chemical, or biological change in the air. It is the contamination of air by harmful gases, dust, and smoke that affects plants, animals, and humans drastically. The population’s heavy production of waste is the main reason that air pollution is increasing rapidly. The rapidly increasing human activities like the burning of fossil fuel, deforestation is the major cause of air pollution. There are some other air pollutants like industrial waste, agricultural waste, power plants, thermal nuclear plants, etc.

  • WATER POLLUTION:

Water pollution occurs when harmful substances, often chemicals or microorganisms that contaminate a stream, river, lake, ocean, aquifer, or other body of water, degrading water quality and rendering it toxic to humans or the environment. Water pollution is now a major environmental threat to the existence of humans.

  • LAND POLLUTION:

Land pollution is the cause of many different factors that ultimately pollute the land. These factors include solid waste, deforestation, chemical, and agricultural activities. Land pollution is a result of dumping garbage, waste, and other toxins making the land contaminated or polluted. Some soil or land pollutants are chemicals, pesticides and fertilizers, mining activity, use of plastic, deforestation, growing urbanization, and industrial waste.

WAYS TO CONTROL POLLUTION:

Some of the ways to control pollution are,

  • Avoid excessive idling of your automobile.
  • Avoid burning leaves, trash, and other materials.
  • Conserve energy – at home, at work, everywhere.
  • Encourage industries to avoid pollutant formation at the very source by use of cleaner fuels, the adoption of less polluting materials, and technology in manufacture.
  • Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
  • Do not throw waste in water bodies, remain waste of industries should not pour their waste in water bodies.
  • Plant trees.
  • Use fewer chemicals in home gardens and general agriculture.
  • Maintain our vehicles.
  • Conserve electricity.

NASA shared some interstellar fireworks to bring 2020 to an end. The Orion Nebula looks like a rainbow canvas peppered with dots of light.

A composite image of the Orion Nebula, as seen by the Hubble Space Telescope

NASA decided to share some interstellar fireworks to end an unforgettable year.

The agency posts an “image of the day,” every day, and the final image of 2020 did not disappoint.

A canvas of color, NASA’s December 31 image of the day depicts a composite image of the Orion Nebula, captured by the Hubble Space and Spitzer Space Telescopes.

It’s located more than 1,500 light-years away from Earth.

Nebulae like this one are interstellar nurseries – giant clouds of gas and dust in space that cradle infant stars as they’re born. Some nebulae form as stars die: As a star’s core cools, it starts to shed its outer layers, which disperse to form gaseous clouds

A rainbow canvas

NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope captured two nebula

When space telescopes like the Hubble image the hydrogen, sulfur, and carbon molecules that make up nebulae like Orion they don’t capture color. Rather, Hubble records particles of light, which NASA can then view through different filters that only let in certain wavelengths of color. Then they assign color to the particles that come through those filters (light than came through the red filter is assigned a red color, for example.)

NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope captured this image of the Helix Nebula, which is located in the constellation Aquarius-about 700 light-years away from Earth

By combining images of the same nebula viewed with different filters, the agency can create a composite, color image like the ones shown above

“We often use color as a tool, whether it is to enhance an object’s detail or to visualize what ordinarily could never be seen by the human eye,” NASA said.

There are roughly 3000 nebulea in our galaxy.

The closest known nebula to our planet is the Helix Nebula, the cosmic remnant of a dying star. It’s about half the distance from Earth as the Orion Nebula is – 700 light-years (so if you traveled at the speed of light, it’d take you 700 years to get there).

The Hubble Space Telescope has been imaging nebulae for 30 years, and these images help scientists learn more about how these cosmic clouds evolve, or even dim and shrink, over time.

RAINBOW

ABOUT RAINBOW:

     Rainbow is a natural phenomenon that happens after Rain. It is one of the most beautiful phenomenon created on earth. A rainbow is a multicolored arc in the sky which appears when sunlight hits water droplets. The magical and wonderful phenomenon of a colorful arc in the sky is known as the rainbow. The seven colors that exist in a rainbow are violet, indigo, blue, green, yellow, orange and red. Rainbows are usually seen on the opposite end of where the sun is located. The Rainbow is a lovable scenery that is colorful and pleasant to eyes. In many Civilizations, rainbows are considered to bring good to society and is a symbol of peace and harmony. Rainbows means peace and harmony in many ancient cultures.  There are two main components by which a rainbow is formed i.e. light and drops of water. The state of Hawaii in America is the only place on earth, where rainbows occur most. When the sun is lower, then the rainbow formed in the sky will be higher. The semicircle formed by rainbow makes a 42-degree angle which starts from the direction opposite to the sun. In simple words, A rainbow is an arc of color in the sky that can be seen when the sun shines through falling rain. The Greeks used to imagine that it was a sign from the gods to foretell war or heavy rain. The Norsemen considered the rainbow as a bridge over which the gods passed from earth to their home in the sky. Others have tried to explain the phenomenon physically.

HOW RAINBOWS ARE FORMED:

     A rainbow is caused by sunlight and atmospheric conditions. Light enters a water droplet, slowing down and bending as it goes from air to denser water. The light reflects off the inside of the droplet, separating into its component wavelengths–or color. When light exits the droplet, it makes a rainbow.  A rainbow is caused by three phenomenon of light – reflection, refraction and dispersion.

TYPES OF RAINBOWS:

Some of the different types of rainbows are,

  • SUPERNUMERARY RAINBOWS:

     Supernumerary rainbows are faint bow lines that appear just inside the main rainbow.

  • MULTIPLE RAINBOW:

      Multiple rainbows are another type of rainbow which is also a rare occurrence. Multiple rainbows are sometimes referred to as double rainbows. As the name suggests, multiple rainbows are instances when more than one rainbow occur simultaneously in the same place and are made up of a primary rainbow and other secondary rainbows. 

  • MONOCHROME RAINBOW:

       A red rainbow, also called a monochrome rainbow, usually appears at sunrise or sunset.

  • HIGHER-ORDER RAINBOW:

      Higherorder rainbows appear to viewers facing both toward and away from the sun.

  • LUNAR RAINBOW:

      A moonbow is also commonly referred to as a lunar rainbow. A moonbow is a rare natural atmospheric phenomena that occurs when the Moon’s light is reflected and refracted off water droplets in the air. Moonbows are much fainter than rainbows made by the sun and often appear to be white.

INTERESTING FACTS OF RAINBOWS:

            Some of the interesting facts about rainbows are,

  • A very rare quadruple rainbow was seen over long Island, NY. In April 2015.In the past 250years, only triple and quadruple rainbows have ever been documented.
  • When you’re flying in an airplane and looking down below, you can actually see a rainbow as a complete circle! If the weather circumstances are just right.
  • A person standing next to you is standing in a slightly different spot and sees the rainbow different because they see different raindrops.
  •  A double rainbow occurs when the light is reflected twice in the raindrop, and thus, you can see two distinct reflections that are coming from two different angles.

Ancient Rainwater Harvesting Systems

Jal hi jeevan hai (water is life). Water is an indispensable part of our life. But some of us do not know that every drop counts. Our ancestors knew this and that is why they built many water harvesting systems.

Khadin system 

A khadin, also called a dhora, is an ingenious construction designed to harvest surface runoff water for agriculture. The khadin system is based on the principle of harvesting rainwater on farmland use of this land for crop production. It was first designed by the Paliwal Brahmins of Jaisalmer, western Rajasthan in the 15th century. A Khadin is an earthen embankment built across the general slope which conserves the maximum possible rainwater runoff within the agricultural field. The embankment not only helps to increase moisture in the submerged land, but also prevents the washing away of the top soil and the manure added to it.

Suranga system

Suranga (also Surangam or thurangam) is a traditional water management system used to provide a reliable supply of water and irrigation in Kerala and Karnataka. A suranga is basically a horizontal tunnel dug in the slope of a laterite hill for about 30 metres to 40 metres , which uses gravitational force for extraction of the underground water and collects into a storage tank. 

By Vssun – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=20371095

As both the areas are covered by uneven and steep laterite hill which makes borewell expensive, surangas are considered as a relatively cheap option. The water can be collected by using a small barrier, which then can flow through a plastic or bamboo pipe into a storage pit or tank.

Pat 

Bhitada village, Jhabua district of Madhya pradesh developed the unique Pat system. This system was devised according to the peculiarities of the terrain to divert water from swift-flowing hill streams into irrigation channels called pats. The diversion bunds across the stream are made by piling up stones and then lining them with teak leaves and mud to make them leakproof. The villagers irrigate their fields by turns. The channel requires constant maintenance and it is the duty of the family irrigating the fields on a particular day to take care of the Pat on that particular day.

Kuis / Beris

Found in western Rajasthan, these are 10-12 m deep pits dug near tanks to collect the seepage. Kuis can also be used to harvest rainwater in areas with meagre rainfall. The mouth of the pit is usually made very narrow. This prevents the collected water from evaporating. The pit gets wider as it burrows under the ground, so that water can seep into a large surface area. The openings are generally covered with planks of wood, or put under lock and key. The water is used sparingly, as a last resource in crisis situations.

Baoris / Bers (Stepwell)

Baoris or bers are community wells, found in Rajasthan, that are used mainly for drinking. However, unlike the wells that we can find in the West, here the descent into the well is made up of hundreds of steps (hence the name Stepwell) that enclose places of great beauty and spirituality. Most of them are very old and were built by banjaras (mobile trading communities) for their drinking water needs. They can hold water for a long time because of almost negligible water evaporation.