Why we are obsessed with money

What a way to exist!

For most of us, practically the whole day all we are thinking is about money and more specifically how to have more money!

As if money was the only thing in life. Unfortunately for most of us, circumstances just do not permit any other thought!

We are running behind money most of the time which is almost akin to have become obsessed with money. Everything that we are doing in life is centred around money.

Unfortunately, this is because we need money for anything and everything that we do. There’s nothing wrong and what are you doing, however the problem is that over time, it becomes a compulsive habit to keep earning more.

That’s where the danger is. The problem is that there is a point where from we chase money as an addiction, we chase money because we like to do so. If we did not chase money we would not know what to chase now because we get out identity from money and the amount of money we have.

Another thing is that right from childhood we are always taught and our minds are conditioned that everything that we are doing is going to be for the sake of earning money.

There is no one who told you that money is just a means, and then there is something greater in life to achieve. Some examples are legacy; building something, charity; to giving something / helping someone, passion; pursuing something and living; simply to enjoy life and your money

We have got addicted to this and how!

There are three reasons for this:

First, we are what we do. It is the human behaviour. I know I should exercise and I don’t. I know I should eat healthy and I don’t. I know I should spend time with my kids and I don’t. I know that, yes, money isn’t going to make me happy and I still keep trying to make money.

We live by the laws of inertia, in a pattern which is hard to break. But we have to break it. For ourselves and for the sake of people and reasons for which we are chasing money.

Secondly, we need signals of progress. Money is a measure of how far you have progressed in life. The more the money you have the more you can make sure your progress. It’s simply the logic of evolution. People need validation of their success. Bigger house, bigger car, branded goods and list goes on.

Thirdly, it’s the easy way out. It’s only human to avoid difficult things. Important things are very difficult to measure.  Have I been a good father or husband? Have I groomed my child well?  Such things take years to measure and we still don’t have answers.

So, should we not be focused on creating money for ourselves?

I’m not saying that. Definitely create. Take care of yourself for sure!! Use it to the maximum to make yourself happy!!! You need a certain amount and beyond that is extra.

The definition of their certain amount is naturally different from one person to another. If that extra is going to happen easily, without stress and without your involvement, then its fine. Basically don’t kill yourself for that extra. Be Smart.

Kartik Jhaveri is an expert at planning money, life and aspirations. He is a certified financial planner, wealth manager and financial freedom coach.

How the RBI actually helps you

RBI

Most of us in Mumbai, see this huge structure called the Reserve Bank of India and wonder what it really does. It’s also a tourist attraction!! It has so many other offices and again one wonders why they need to have so many offices. I’m going to try and highlight a very interesting part of RBI’s work and how it helps us directly on a day-to-day basis.

The RBI does a review of the monetary policy of the country at frequent intervals during the year. So how does the monetary policy help us investors to take smart decisions?

Monetary policy is a tool by which the RBI decides to raise interest rates or reduce interest rates or keep them steady.

In our country, as we’re an oil importing nation, this decision is very closely linked to Oil. Oil to a large extent contributes to inflation. We all know what happens when inflation keeps rising. We in India unfortunately do not see too much of inflation falling and things becoming cheaper.

Oil is Not Well

So when oil prices rise i.e. we see a rise in crude oil prices almost instantly we can expect rising food prices. This is because there is going to be a rising cost pressure for manufacturing & services. This rise obviously gets passed onto the retail consumers.

When this happens RBI adopts a hawkish stance, tries to pull money out of the system by raising interest rates. Now when interest rates rise no one seems to be interested in borrowing. This immediately puts a brakes on money circulation.  Less money chasing goods decreases the demand for money. This way it controls inflation.

There is yet another tool that the RBI has and that is known as the CRR or the cash reserve ratio.  This ratio in simple words means the amount of cash that the bank must maintain with the RBI as the percentage of the total assets. So when this increases banks are forced to park more with the RBI and this is also a way to control inflation.

On the other hand when things look dull, when there is a recession of sorts, the RBI comes to the rescue and gets into action to kickstart growth in the country. It does this by lowering the interest rates. This we all will understand quite easily because we see a direct benefit of this happening. We see a fall of interest outgo in our EMI’s for the home loan that we are carrying. New loans become cheaper.

Individuals are motivated to go out and make purchases, whether it is for a washing machine or a piece of real estate. Businesses are motivated to go out and borrow to buy more machinery, to expand capacity, to hire more staff and manpower and basically do everything that will add to the growth of business.

Economic growth results as a result of all this. It is also during this time that stock market rises, we see a rally in stock prices and mutual fund NAV’s jumping higher and higher each day. There is prosperity all around.

Critical Role

As you can see that the central bank of the country has a very very important role to play.  If it makes a mistake, things can go really wrong.  Imagine like the USA or Japan if our interest rates were very low; everyone would run to borrow, they would borrow more than they require because it would be cheap and easy to borrow. And that is very individuals would run into what is known as the debt trap, because someday you’ll have to pay back.

Each day the central bank attempts to make sure that everything in our country remains stable and financially there’s nothing that goes wrong dramatically.

Kartik Jhaveri is an expert at planning money, life and aspirations. He is a Certified Financial Planner, Wealth Manager & Financial Freedom Coach.

The year of the bond, once again!

We are not talking of James Bond, we are talking of investment bonds.

We are in a situation where the fixed deposit rates are at a general low and there is a lot of discontent among depositors of fixed deposits.

Whenever we see a situation like this, one way or the other, the bond markets come to the rescue. It comes to the rescue of smart depositors, who are agile to move their money from fixed deposits to bond funds.

Let’s understand what is happening and why.

What Exactly is Happening in the Bond Markets?

It is likely that in this year, investors of bond funds will make handsome gains. Bond prices may rise and there may be capital gains. Investors of bond funds not only earn the rate of interest, but also earn capital gains. So that way, they make more than the return they would make on fixed deposits. The returns could be a high single digit or sometimes as high as double digits.

Over three years, this will become practically tax free or the tax would be a very small amount. So, basically, I am thinking that a rally will happen in the bond market. There are three main reasons for this — reduction in government borrowing (which is favourable), recovery of trading losses (which is favourable) and no change in monetary policy (which is neutral).

A word of caution, however, that such bond market investments are also subject to bond-market volatility and should be considered ideally with the help of a financial expert.

Before proceeding further, let us, therefore, quickly explain a bond, bond fund and bond market. We need to do this because few people understand the bond markets and even fewer invest in the bond markets.

Bond is nothing, but a commercial transaction where the borrower is issuing a bond to the lender and the lender will earn a certain rate of interest. When interest rates fall, everyone becomes interested in owning that bond.

As a result, the demand for the bond increases, the price of the bond increases and the bondholder makes capital gains.

A bond fund is a fund where ordinary investors pool in their money and a fund manager buys them a portfolio of bonds.

Moving onto the Reasons For a Rally in Bond Funds…

Now, the fundamental reason for a rally is reduction in interest rates as it stimulates economy and growth.

Firstly, the government is a massive borrower of funds. So a reduction in government borrowing reduces the demand for money in the economy. As a result, prices of bonds rise and this contributes to capital gains for bond holders.

Secondly, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) recently announced that the commercial banks and RBI, which are the largest lenders to the government, will have another year to offset losses they have incurred on account of buying government bonds in the past. This action will lead to a rise in the price of bonds and this contributes to capital gains for bond holders.

Lastly, on one side due to the rise in oil prices, there is more inflation and thus more money is needed for circulation in the economy. On the other side, many government bonds are maturing, which will provide money supply. So, it is likely that we see a neutralising effect and thus RBI will take no action. This inaction here will support capital gains as explained above. Hence, this year might be a year of good gains for the bond investors.

Kartik Jhaveri is an expert at planning money, life and aspirations. He is a Certified Financial Planner, Wealth Manager & Financial Freedom Coach.

Five new financial goals for you this summer

I am going to try and explain to you why the summer holidays of April and May are great months to get a lot of things started, financially speaking.

This time period in a way resets the financial clock. You also have the option to hit the reset button on everything you have done so far; financially speaking of course and hope to do better things better than you did last year.

Let’s look at some of the new and unusual things to do in April.

  • Make a learning budget

Learn something about money or anything you like. The best way to make money is to learn something about money. Just like if you wanted to learn cooking you will get into the cooking class. If you wanted to learn swimming you would enrol in the swimming class. If you find learning about money is too daunting task than learn something which is close at to your heart or related to your work. If you learn something new, there’s a possibility that you will use your new ideas to generate new income and in turn that will generate new wealth for you.  So make a budget, enrol somewhere and spend that budget. How about a % of your annual income? Spend it for sure!

  • Plan a unique holiday 

When you’re by yourself and without your mobile phone you will have the opportunity to think! When you have time to think, suddenly good ideas will come to your mind.  You may think this is silly but you can be sure that you will be amazed if your drivers experiment just once. So it might be a good idea to go for a holiday just by yourself. If you find that too intimidating, join a group of strangers. You can combine that with the adventures experience if you like.  Be extra careful if you’re going with your special buddies. Do this only if they are going to be in a position to help you discuss your idea and make it bigger. They must play the role of complimenting your thoughts. So make a schedule to do this holiday and obviously make a budget to make it happen. Think & create new ways of making wealth.

  • Make a prediction and make it happen

Be brave. Let’s aim to grow and multiply net worth by 50% by the time you come to the end of this financial year. This is not a joke and it is easier than you can imagine.  I’m speaking about NETWORTH and I’m not talking about return on investment. If your networth is Rs. 100 today, all I’m saying is that let’s aim to make this a 150 by the end of this year. This networth comprises of all your savings till date. This can be achieved by simply saving aggressively every month for the next twelve months. Just put this into a recurring deposit or liquid fund so you don’t spend it.  We just have to prove to ourselves that this is possible. Where and how we will invest this money will think about that later.

  • Eliminate a negative belief 

I want to give you an exercise here. Write down all your negative beliefs you have about money and wealth. Most people are not able to achieve the desired level of wealth because they think about wealth negatively. So even if you are earning a good amount of income you will never see yourself becoming wealthy. Examples are money causes problems, money causes a fight, managing money is complicated etc. Then for each negative thought, you have written down the positives i.e. the opposite for a few months. Soon negatively biased feelings will evaporate.

  • Make a new investment; something you have not done before

Again here you do not have to be a financial expert. The idea is to learn something new. There are hundreds of investment options. Our objective here is to learn something new. Talk to your advisor and seek his or her guidance. Just a word of caution here; don’t do anything which is speculative or is something that you just can’t understand. Do what do find easy you understand and do that then.

Kartik Jhaveri is an expert at planning money, life and aspirations. He is a Certified Financial Planner, Wealth Manager & Financial Freedom Coach.

Seeking financial freedom? The time is NOW!

John Lewis famously remarked, “If not now, then when? If not us, then who?” This is so appropriate in the current financial world that we live in.

That statement will leave to rest every other argument that is conservative and against the idea of wealth creation. We are often faced with the situation where there is no option but to create wealth. Read on to know why!

Interest rates are painfully low. For all those diehard fans of guaranteed investment returns, there’s hardly any place to go to. Thinking of fixed deposits? Feeling happy with 7%? And fully taxable? That period is over. Period.

That doctrine of investing into pure fixed deposits and similar instruments is unfortunately standing challenged. There is no option but to sprinkle it with a combination of a little something that will add to the returns earned from fixed income type of securities. In fact this category of investors are in a way, best placed in terms of the current tax laws.

They can earn about 9-10% with minimal or near zero tax over about five years and more. Starting to generate rate of return above the inflation level of 7% is starting to create wealth. So there it is; there is no option but to move in the direction of creating wealth.

For more evolved investors, who invest in equities and who and still sitting on the sidelines tend to run out of patience every now and then. They are sometimes waiting for the right time, sometimes waiting for correction, sometimes waiting for valuation and sometimes waiting for just nothing. Sometimes, just too busy to take action!

I totally understand not wanting to lose hard-earned money. But if the money does not move it will stagnate. That’s the problem with money.

Hit the Ground Running

Inaction and inactivity kills it. Makes it costly to hold. Makes us lose opportunities, sometimes small and sometimes significant. I know of many people including my dad, who just kept investing into equities and holding forever. No doubt they were hugely (big HUGELY) better off then the people in the same time zone. I think they could have done far better with some smart lessons on asset allocation. This is because if they compare the growth rate of their holding over a period of 20 or maybe 30 years the compounded rate of return earned is often not impressive.

It is just marginally better or a few percentage points above the fixed deposit rate. Hence the need for asset allocation, which simply put is not to have all eggs in one basket at any given point in time. These sections of investors anyways create wealth, and, asset allocation is the tool that ensures that the process of wealth creation continues uninterrupted. So again there it is; even for this section there is not option but to start enhancing their wealth creation activities, else returns will continue to remain forever mediocre.

Then there are skeptics and there is nothing much for skeptics of everything, except that they need a serious dose of financial education. Perhaps what if needed is a proof of concept and for that, which better country to live in other than India where financial transparency in investments is so high that I sometimes feel, it comes from another planet.

 Your Money Needs Action

Today, there is a whole lot of variety to choose from and we have never been more spoilt for choice. But the most important thing in all this is to understand that your money needs action. It needs activity and for that the time is now!

And furthermore, if you asked me this question 10 years ago; I would have said that, the Time is NOW. If you ask this question 10 years hence, I will still say the Time is NOW. Any time is the right time to start the process of creating wealth. All that is important is that you take your first step; then continue it all the way with zeal and determination… till you have the level of wealth that you desire. And if you accumulate more than you need, still do it and share it with the world.

If you want your financial freedom; then the Time is NOW!

Kartik Jhaveri is an expert at planning money, life and aspirations. He is a Certified Financial Planner, Wealth Manager and Financial Freedom Coach.

Young Turks: Here’s the success story of venture fund Aspada

Venture fund Aspada was co-founded by Kartik Srivatsa and Thomas Hyland in 2012 and has made 17 investments so far across Fin-tech, agriculture, health and edu-tech startups.

Young Turks takes a look at their investment thesis, their differentiated VC model and meet three of their portfolio companies – Capital Float that underwrites unsecured loans to startups and SMEs; Dunzo, a hyper local concierge and delivery player that is also Google’s first direct startup investment in India; WayCool, a Chennai-based agriculture-tech startup.

Himachal Pradesh polls: 68-member assembly will have just one woman MLA

People stand in queue to cast their votes for the Gujarat Assembly elections.

The new 68-member Himachal Pradesh Assembly will have just one woman MLA.  In the November 12 assembly polls, the performance of women candidates was dismal and only one out of 24 in the fray was elected.

The BJP, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Congress had fielded six, five and three women candidates, but only Reena Kashyap of BJP won the election. Kashyap, who had won Pachhad (SC) assembly bypoll in 2021, managed to retain her seat. In 2017, four women candidates had managed to win the assembly elections.

Among those who lost the November 12 elections included Social Justice and Empowerment Minister and four-time MLA from Shahpur in Kangra, Sarveen Chaudhary; senior Congress leader and six-time MLA from Dalhousie, Asha Kumari who was a contender for chief minister’s post; BJP MLA from Indora Rita Dhiman; veteran Congress leader Kaul Singh’s daughter Champa Thakur from Mandi.

The women constitute about 49 percent of the total voters in the state.

Interestingly, the polling percentage of women voters was more than men since 1998 polls and the trend continued in the past five elections. The polling percentage of women and men electors was 72.2 and 71.23 percent in 1998, 75.92 and 73.14 percent in 2003, 74.10 and 68.36 percent in 2007, 76.20 and 69.39 percent in 2012 and 77.98 and 70.58 percent in 2017.

Also Read: PM Modi addresses BJP party workers after Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh results

In the recently held elections, 76.8 percent of female voters used their right to franchise as against 72.4 percent of male voters. The women voters surpassed male voters by 82,301.

Women voters outnumbered men in three constituencies of Jaisinghpur (SC) in Kangra, Bhoranj (SC) in Hamirpur and Jubbal-Kotkhai in Shimla district and in 19 out of 68 constituencies the difference between male and female voters is less than 1000 and the percentage of female turnout was more as compared to men in 42 constituencies.

In order to woo the women voters, the BJP had made 11 promises for women under “Stree Shakti Sankalp” and announced 33 percent reservation to women in government jobs and educational institutions, corpus fund of Rs 500 crore to give interest-free loans to women entrepreneurs, and bicycles and scooters to school and college going girls, while the Congress unveiled “Har Ghar Lakshmi, Nari Samman Nidhi” promising Rs 1,500 per month to adult women.

However, in spite of tall claims of women empowerment and sops offered to them, there is perceptible gender bias among major political parties and only 43 women were elected to state assembly in fifteen elections since 1967.

Also Read: What led to Congress’ win in Himachal Pradesh elections 2022? 6 factors to look at

In fact, the actual number of women who made it to state assembly was 20 as senior Congress leader Vidya Stokes was eight timer, Asha Kumari (six timer), Sarveen Chaudhary (four timer), Viplov Thakur, Chandresh Kumari and Shyama Sharma (three timer), Anita Verma, Urmil Thakur and Krishana Mohini(two timers).

The first-timers included Sarla Sharma, Padma, Lata Thakur, Lila Sharma, Sushama Sharma, Nirmala, Renu Chadda, Vinod Kumari, Rita Dhiman, Reena Kashyap, Kamlesh Kumari, Asha Kumari, and Sarveen Chaudhary.

As many as 206 women entered the fray in these polls compared to 4,347 men and no woman was elected in 1967 while only one woman candidate won in 1977.

The women candidates made their debut in 1972 and four women, Chandresh Kumari, Sarla Sharma, Lata Thakur and Padma were elected and tally rose to five after Vidya Stokes was elected in by-election from Theog after the death of her husband.   Shyama Sharma of Janta Party was the sole winner in 1977 polls while three women — Shyama Sharma, Chandresh and Vidya Stokes — won the polls in 1982.

In the 1985 mid-term polls, Vidya Stokes, Asha Kumari and Viplov Thakur were elected, while four women candidates — Lila Sharma, Shyama Sharma, Sushama Sharma and Vidya Stokes — were winners in the 1990 polls.

Also Read: Himachal Pradesh Election Results 2022: A look at the closely fought battles

Asha Kumari, Viplov Thakur and Krishna Mohini defeated their male opponents in 1993 polls while the maximum number of six women contestants, Sarveen Chowdhary, Urmil Thakur, Viplov Thakur, Vidya Stokes and Asha Kumari, were elected in 1998 while Nirmala won the by-election.    Anita Verma was also elected in by-election from Hamirpur in 1994.

In the 2003 elections, four women — Vidya Stokes, Anita Verma, Chandresh and Asha Kumari — were elected, while five women contestants — Vidya Stokes, Urmil Thakur, Sarveen Chowdhary, Renu Chadda and Vinod Kumari — emerged victorious in 2007. The number again declined to three in 2012 polls when Vidya Stokes, Asha Kumari and Sarveen Chaudhary were reelected.

In the 2017 elections, Asha Kumari, Sarveen Chowdhary, Rita Dhiman, and Kamlesh Kumari were winners while Reena Kashyap entered the assembly winning bypoll in 2021.

Hindustan Unilever Limited to acquire 19.8% shareholding in Nutritionalab for Rs 70 crore

Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL) added Rs 2,998.26 crore to its market cap to stand at Rs 4,48,776.36 crore.

Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL) on Thursday announced that it is going to acquire 19.8 percent shareholding for Rs 70 crore of Nutritionalab Private Limited, a private limited company incorporated in India.

“In line with our strategic priority of entering fast-growing demand spaces, Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL) today announced its foray into the ‘Health & Wellbeing’ category through strategic investments in Zywie Ventures Private Limited (“OZiva”) and Nutritionalab Private Limited (“Wellbeing Nutrition”). ‘Health & Wellbeing’ is a fast-evolving category in India with a total potential market size of c. INR 30,0001 crores,” the company said in a statement.

Health and Wellbeing (Vitamins, Minerals and Supplements), is the industry to which the HUL being acquired belongs and the objects and effects of the acquisition are based on a strategic investment to enter the Health and Wellbeing category.

Founder and CEO of Wellbeing Nutrition Avnish Chhabria said, “We are very excited to welcome onboard Hindustan Unilever as a strategic investor. Wellbeing Nutrition has been on a mission to make clean nutrition accessible to consumers all over the world on the back of innovative products, such as Melts (Oral Thin Strips) and Slow (2-in-1 capsule technology) formulated using high-quality and globally-sourced natural ingredients. We believe this partnership will help scale Wellbeing Nutrition by leveraging HUL’s reach and capabilities and become a lifestyle wellness brand of choice.”

Also Read: Healthcare platform HealthKart raises $135 million from Temasek and A91 Partners

Wellbeing Nutrition was founded in 2019 and has pioneered disruptive formats in science-backed, benefit-led clean products in Health and Wellbeing. HUL will acquire 19.8 percent equity stake in the company through a combination of primary infusion and secondary buyouts.

The company said that the current Wellbeing Nutrition team led by Avnish Chhabria will continue to operate all functions of the business. HUL will be represented on the Board.

A leading plant-based, and clean-label consumer wellness brand OZiva was launched in 2016, with a focus on the need spaces such as Lifestyle Protein, Hair and Beauty Supplements and Women’s health. HUL will acquire 51 percent equity stake through a combination of primary infusion and secondary buyouts. The balance 49 percent will be acquired at the end of 36 months based on pre-agreed valuation criteria.

Founders of OZiva Aarti Gill and Mihir Gadani said, “We are glad to partner with HUL to achieve our vision of empowering people to live better and healthier with OZiva. Over the last few years, we have created an innovative portfolio that has helped millions of consumers live a better life. As the next step in this journey, with OZiva’s focus on innovation in the space of health & wellbeing and HUL’s strong capabilities in category development and distribution, we believe we can together create a stronger purpose led brand that brings us closer to our vision and touch more lives around the world.”

HUL CFO Ritesh Tiwari said, “HUL has a successful track record of building categories through market development. We are excited to work with the founders of OZiva and Wellbeing Nutrition to grow the businesses further by leveraging our complementary expertise and capabilities.”

The company said that both these transactions are expected to be completed in the next 1-3 months, subject to customary closing conditions.

Also Read: FMCG players bet big on protein supplements market – experts say segment may see 20% growth in 4 years

Mumbai’s air quality index deteriorates to poor and very poor category

Gone are the days when Mumbai could boast of better air quality as compared to cities like Delhi. For the last many days, Mumbai has been covered in this thick layer of smog and experts said this year is proving to be the worst for Mumbai’s air quality in at least the last five years. Specific weather conditions are being blamed to be the immediate cause.

Increasing air pollutants due to construction work and transport are trapped due to these weak winds. Experts also claim that the change in wind patterns can be an early sign of climate change effect.

Mumbai’s air quality index is under the poor and very poor category for the last few days. As per Safar India, on Thursday, Mumbai’s overall air quality index was 293, which falls under the poor category. Area-wise, Colaba and BKC’s AQI was 309 and fell under the very poor category. Malad’s AQI was 323, very poor category, Andheri’s AQI was 303, under the very poor category and Mazgaon’s air quality was worst, AQI of Mazgaon was 381, very poor category. This is resulting in health concerns, children and senior citizens are the most vulnerable to the health hazards caused by the current situation.

Also Read: Delhi’s air quality improves marginally, construction work banned under GRAP-3

Doctors have advised people, especially children, senior citizens, and those with breathing ailments to wear masks, avoid peak traffic hours while stepping out, and install air purifiers if possible.

Weather experts said the situation is not likely to improve significantly in the next 2-3 days. Winds may become slightly stronger, but not enough to drastically improve the city’s air quality. By next week, however, cyclone ‘Mandous’ which is heading towards the Tamil Nadu coast could result in some rain along the western coastal line. This, they say, should wash away some of the smog in Mumbai as well.

AI-based neurotech company MindMaze partners with US-based Vibra healthcare to expand global reach

Artificial Intelligence, machine learning

MindMaze, the Hinduja Group backed Unicorn on Thursday announced its partnership with Vibra Healthcare of the US to deploy its digital health technology platforms MindPod and MindMotion GO in-clinic and at-home for patients within select Vibra hospitals

Founded by a neuroscientist of Indian origin, MindMaze is a global pioneer inHinduja Group the development of AI-driven neurotechnology, while US-based Vibra Healthcare operates over 90 specialty hospitals as well as transitional care units, facilities across 19 states in the country. Nearly 100 million Americans are afflicted by a neurological disease.

Founder, Chairman and CEO of MindMaze, Dr Tej Tadi said that MindMaze is focused on providing clinicians with powerful, digitally-enabled, cutting-edge tools, while also empowering patients and their families with easy-to-use, engaging and accessible solutions.

“MindMaze is committed to redefining neuro recovery across the continuum of care through the development of evidence-driven solutions for patients with serious neurological conditions. In Vibra, we have found a world-class partner with both the commitment and true capability to deliver a step-change in brain health as well as meaningful improvements in patient outcomes,” he added.

Also Read: 68% companies believe Artificial Intelligence in HR raises overall job accuracy: Report

The company, in a statement said that MindMaze delivers novel software-based interventions and assessments for neurological diseases like Stroke/ Traumatic Brain Injury, Spinal Cord Injury, and Parkinsons’ disease, etc. as well as capabilities that monitor and measure patient function during the long-term management of chronic diseases. The use of game-based digital therapies makes rehabilitation more engaging with vastly improved outcomes over traditional/current protocols.

Founder, Chairman, and CEO of Vibra Healthcare, Brad Hollinger said, ”MindMaze has impressed our team not just with the power of their technological capabilities, but also with their experience in deploying real-world care pathways for patients with Stroke and other neurological conditions in countries around the world.”

With its presence in over 15 countries, MindMaze is an AI based company which provides neurotherapeutic solutions for brain health and recovery. The company has two core divisions, Healthcare and Labs – working collaboratively at the intersection of neuroscience, bio-sensing, engineering, mixed reality, and artificial intelligence. The company founded in 2012, has offices in Lausanne, Baltimore, London, Paris and Mumbai.

Also Read: India calls for global framework to prevent user harm from Artificial Intelligence 

BSNL 4G to be upgraded to 5G in 5-7 months; to be rolled out across 1.35 lakh towers: Vaishnaw

Communications minister Ashwini Vaishnaw. (PTI)

State-owned BSNL’s 4G technology will be upgraded to 5G in five to seven months and rolled out across 1.35 lakh telecom towers the company has in the country, Union telecom and railway minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said on Thursday.

While speaking at a CII event, the minister said the government has plans to increase the telecom technology development fund from Rs 500 crore per annum to Rs 4,000 crore to encourage indigenous innovation.

In response to a question on BSNL’s role in the telecom sector by Kotak Bank CEO Uday Kotak, Vaishnaw said BSNL will become a very strong stabilising factor in the telecom space.

He said BSNL has about 1,35,000 mobile towers across the country with a very strong presence in the rural areas which are still not fully covered by the other telecom players.

Also Read: Apple supplier Foxconn pushed China to ease COVID curbs: WSJ

“Telecom technology stack is going to be rolled out. It’s a 4G technology stack which will be upgraded to 5G in a timeframe of five to seven months. That technology stack will be rolled out across the 1.35 lakh telecom towers in the country,” Vaishnaw said.

BSNL has asked Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) to offer equipment for 5G testing so as to enable the telecom firm to start the trials for 5G services.

The minister said with the rollout of 5G across the BSNL network, the public sector firm, compared to the two other big players and a third player, will become a major player in the telecom space and especially for the far-flung areas which wouldn’t be served by a typical market mechanism.

Talking about encouraging innovation and startup ecosystem, Vaishnaw said that Indian Railways and defence have started a model to support startups from the idea stage to proof of concept and in some cases are giving a market or revenue stream at least for three to four years.

Also Read: Digital Communication Commission to dicuss TRAI’s revised recommendations on promoting broadband

“We are taking that model to the telecom space. A Telecom Technology Development Fund of Rs 500 crore every year has got established. We will be taking that to Rs 3,000-4,000 crore per year. That technology development fund will be available to the entire industry,” Vaishnaw said.

He said that Railways already has over 800 startups associated with the programme while 2,000 startups in defence are part of it.

“You can come up with new ideas for new solutions. Begin from an idea and come up to a product level. Similar experiments will be done in many of the sectors,” the minister said.

He said that the industry has the responsibility of getting world-class certifications for their products and always taking a bigger challenge and delivering something at a better quality then only the world will notice Indian industries.

Also Read: Stolen data of 6 lakh Indians sold on bot markets so far: Study

Ransomware attack on systems at AIIMS Delhi was planned and targeted; NIA probe on: MoS IT

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) is investigating the “deliberate and targeted” ransomware attack on the servers of AIIMS Delhi, Minister of State for IT Rajeev Chandrasekhar said on Thursday.

“I can’t comment on that as it is a subject matter of an investigation by the NIA…It is pretty clear that it is a deliberate and targeted effort…a ransomware attack on AIIMS’ system… and NIA is investigating it,” Chandrasekhar said on the sidelines of the CII Global Economic Policy Summit 2022.

The minister further said the NIA “will be in a position to comment on it when they are ready”.

Chandrasekhar, last week, had said the ransomware attack on the servers of AIIMS Delhi was a conspiracy.

Also read: Delhi’s Safdarjung Hospital suffers cyber attack even as AIIMS server remains down for 11th day

“It is clearly a conspiracy and it has been planned by forces that are pretty significant. It is a sophisticated ransomware attack. We will wait for the outcome of CERTin and NIA (investigations) before we come to conclusion on who is behind the ransomware attack,” Chandrasekhar had said on December 2.

In a ransomware attack, cybercriminals lock access to data or a device and promise to unlock it after they are paid the desired ransom.

The All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Delhi allegedly faced a cyber attack on November 23, paralysing its servers. A case of extortion and cyber terrorism was registered by the Intelligence Fusion and Strategic Operations (IFSO) unit of the Delhi Police on November 25.

The Indian Computer Emergency Response Team within the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, Delhi cybercrime special cell, Indian Cybercrime Coordination Centre, Intelligence Bureau, Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), National Forensic Sciences University, National Critical Information Infrastructure Protection Centre and NIA, among others, are investigating the cyber attack.

Also read: AIIMS working on cybersecurity policy with investigating agencies

Russia releases US basketball player Brittney Griner in prisoner swap with Viktor Bout

US basketball star Brittney Griner has been released in a prisoner swap with Russia and is on her way back to the United States, President Joe Biden said on Thursday, ending what he called months of “hell.”

The Russian foreign ministry said it traded Griner for Russian citizen Viktor Bout, a former arms dealer. The swap took place at Abu Dhabi airport in the United Arab Emirates, Russian news agencies said.

“She’s safe, she’s on a plane, she’s on her way home after months of being unjustly detained in Russia, held under intolerable circumstances,” Biden told reporters at the White House, adding she would arrive within the next 24 hours. “This is a day we’ve worked toward for a long time. We never stopped pushing for her release.”

Griner, 32, a star of the Women’s National Basketball Association’s Phoenix Mercury, was arrested on February 17. Talks to secure her release were complicated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24 and the subsequent deep souring of ties between Washington and Moscow.

The swap was one of the most high-profile and rare examples of cooperation between Washington and Moscow since the invasion.

The UAE president and Saudi crown prince led mediation efforts that secured Griner’s release, a UAE-Saudi joint statement said.

Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris spoke by phone with Griner from the Oval Office, along with Griner’s wife, Cherelle. The White House released a photo of the telephone call.

“These past few months have been hell for Brittney,” and for her wife, Biden said.

Also Read: Don’t see any sides surrendering in Russia-Ukraine war, says Thomas Loren Friedman

A two-time Olympic gold medalist, Griner was arrested at a Moscow airport when vape cartridges containing cannabis oil, which is banned in Russia, were found in her luggage.

She was sentenced on August 4 to nine years in a penal colony on charges of possessing and smuggling drugs. She had pleaded guilty, but said she had made an “honest mistake” and had not meant to break the law.

Last month, she was taken to a penal colony in the Russian region of Mordovia to serve her prison sentence.

Cherelle Griner, who said she was “overwhelmed with emotions,” thanked Biden and members of his administration for their work to free her wife.

“Today my family is whole,” she said. “BG and I will remain committed to the work of getting every American home.”

Biden said the United States would continue to work to free Paul Whelan, a former Marine.

“Sadly, for totally illegitimate reasons, Russia is treating Paul’s case differently than Brittney’s. And while we have not yet succeeded in securing Paul’s release, we are not giving up. We will never give up,” Biden said.

Whelan’s brother, David, said the US government alerted his family in advance, giving them time to prepare mentally for the disappointment.

“I am so glad that Brittney Griner is on her way home,” he said. “The Biden administration made the right decision to bring Ms Griner home, and to make the deal that was possible, rather than waiting for one that wasn’t going to happen.”

Biden thanked the United Arab Emirates for helping facilitate Griner’s return but did not mention Saudi Arabia in his remarks.

Griner’s teammates and other WNBA players cheered her release.

“Thank you to every single person that kept Brittney Griner’s name alive,” her Phoenix Mercury teammate Brianna Turner wrote on Twitter.

Bout, 55, was one of the world’s most wanted men before his arrest, and was variously dubbed “the merchant of death” and “the sanctions buster” for his ability to get around arms embargoes.

For almost two decades, Bout became the world’s most notorious arms dealer, selling weaponry to rogue states, rebel groups and murderous warlords in Africa, Asia and South America. For experts on the Russian security services, Moscow’s lasting interest in Bout hint strongly at Russian intelligence ties.

Also Read: Coup plot in Germany: Police arrest 25 far-right extremists

A guide to NFT mystery boxes

Who doesn’t love a good surprise? People, in general, are enchanted by the element of mystery. Whether literature or films, a gripping mystery feels delightful, no matter how intense. It’s a similar case with NFT mystery boxes.

Over the past few years, non-fungible tokens (NFTs) have become a raging trend worldwide. And to make things even more enticing, developers have added the element of surprise to these digital assets through NFT mystery boxes. But what are these boxes, and how do they work? Let’s find out!

NFT mystery boxes: What are they?

The NFT Mystery boxes are a trend that emerged in early 2021 when NFTs were at the peak of their popularity. Gradually different companies and brands have started using NFT mystery boxes as a way of surprising their customers.

Also Read: Explained: How to earn a passive income through NFTs

NFT mystery boxes are similar to physical mystery boxes, the contents of which are a secret. However, unlike physical mystery boxes that contain tangible items, NFT mystery boxes contain one or more random NFTs. It can be an NFT ticket, artwork, trading card or even an in-game digital asset.

No one knows what an NFT gift box contains, and that’s the appeal. It could contain a super-rare NFT worth thousands of dollars, millions even, or a common NFT, something that’s more run-of-the-mill. Some NFT marketplaces try to sweeten the pot by ranking their NFT mystery boxes in terms of rarity. They will drop standard boxes now and then but reserve rare boxes for special occasions. These rare boxes usually cost the most and are almost sure to carry valuable assets. However, this does not mean that regular NFT boxes cannot contain special NFTs; it’s just that the chances are lower.

How do NFT mystery boxes work?

It’s pretty simple. You can buy these boxes or receive them through an airdrop. However, before that, you will need a crypto wallet supported by the marketplace through which the NFT mystery box will be distributed. If you are buying the box, you will also need the right amount and type of cryptocurrency required to purchase it. Once you have the box in your wallet, you might be required to pay a small gas fee to open/mint the NFT. After that, the NFT will show in your wallet, and you can trade/sell it. Some users trade/sell unopened NFT mystery boxes as well. Again, it is the surprise element at play here.

Also Read: Porsche enters NFT space: A look at 3 other automotive giants that stepped into web3 this year

Examples of NFT mystery boxes

There have been several examples of NFT mystery boxes. For instance, in February this year, Nike unveiled its first-ever NFT in the form of a mystery box. The collection was called MNLTH and was designed in collaboration with RTFKT, a virtual sneaker studio that Nike acquired in December 2021. The collection was airdropped to the holders of RTFKT NFT collections. The contents of Nike’s NFT mystery box were only revealed a few months later, with some lucky winners receiving a pair of Nike Dunk Genesis, a skin to modify the look of the NFT and MNLTH 2 access cards.

NFT card game Duelist King also used these mystery boxes in December 2021. The platform used these surprise NFTs for its second NFT card sale. The initiative was a massive success, with all 20,000 mystery boxes selling out immediately. Each box was priced at $5 and could contain cards of varying rarity, including standard, rare, super rare, and legendary. Standard cards appeared in every 1 of 2 boxes, while legendary cards appeared in every 1 or 1,200 boxes.

Where can you buy NFT mystery boxes?

Opensea, Binance, SuperRare, Rarible, Foundation, and Enjin are reputable marketplaces from which you can purchase your NFT mystery boxes. You should choose the right platform or marketplace to purchase your NFT mystery box. If you buy these assets from illegitimate, non-verified sources, there is a possibility that you can run into some fraud or a scam.

Also Read: Explained: Literary NFTs and how they work

Conclusion

NFT mystery boxes are an exciting concept. They do exceptionally well for the brands and platforms that issue them and can also be highly lucrative for a few lucky investors. Therefore, if you are in for the mystery and surprise, try purchasing an NFT mystery box. If you receive a valuable NFT, well and good, and if not, then better luck next time.

Climate change: No need for law, specific apex body at national level this moment, says govt

There is no need to constitute any specific apex organisation at the national level to tackle climate change or to enact a law to set legally binding targets in mitigation and adaptation actions at this moment, the government told the Rajya Sabha on Thursday.

Asked if the government would constitute a “National Council for Climate Change” as a national-level apex organisation to tackle global warming and climate change, Union Minister of State for Environment Ashwini Kumar Choubey said India’s actions are undertaken through the National Action Plan on Climate Change and its missions that are anchored and implemented through various ministries, departments, and state action plans.

“Further, there is the Apex Committee for Implementation of Paris Agreement (AIPA) which oversees the implementation of India’s NDCs (Nationally Determined Contributions) under the Paris Agreement.

Also Read: India could soon experience extreme heat waves beyond human survival limit: World Bank

“Other entities and authorities are designated as necessary from time to time to undertake specific actions to address climate change. Hence, there is no need at this time to constitute any specific apex organisation or enact a law,” Choubey said.

NDCs are national plans to help achieve the global goal of limiting temperature rise to 1.5 degrees as compared to the pre-industrial average. Countries hope that limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius will avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

To a question by PMK MP Anbumani Ramadoss who sought to know whether the government has any policy proposal “to enact the Climate Change Act to set legally binding targets in mitigation and adaptation actions”, Choubey replied, “No sir.” “It may be noted that the commitments and responsibilities of developing countries under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and its Paris Agreement for mitigation and adaptation require fulfilment by the developed countries of their commitments to provision of financial resources and transfer of technology,” he said Choubey.

Also Read: Leaders from 196 countries gather in Canada for COP15 biodiversity summit

Further, economic and social development and poverty eradication are the first and overriding priorities of developing countries, Choubey added.

The minister said that however, in keeping with its commitment to addressing climate change, India has undertaken specific goals under the provision of the Paris Agreement enunciated through its Nationally Determined Contributions.

“The necessary facilitation towards achieving these goals as appropriate is undertaken through extant administrative and legislative means and provisions. It is through such means that India has fulfilled its pre-2020 voluntary pledge as well as being on track to achieving its NDC,” he said.

Also Read: Tamil Nadu braces for rainfall, showers to intensify from December 7, NDRF on alert

IndiGo announces 168 weekly flights from new Goa International airport

India’s leading carriers, Indigo on Thursday announced to operate 168 weekly and 12 daily flights to and from the soon-to-be inaugurated New Goa International Airport. As per the airlines, the flights will be operational from January 5, next year.

“Twelve daily and a total of 168 weekly, new flights to and from the New Goa International Airport at Mopa in North Goa from January 5 will be IndiGo’s largest ever-new station launch and will immediately connect the new facility to eight cities across India,” the airlines said in a release.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to inaugurate the new Goa airport in Mopa on December 11, this year. The airlines said that the new service will improve the connectivity to the state as well as is also aimed at catering to the increasing demand.

The present airport at Dabolim in South Goa will remain active, and IndiGo will continue its existing operations there, the airline said in a release.

According to Moneycontrol, Chief Executive Officer of IndiGo, Pieter Elbers said, “We are very excited to announce our largest ever new station launch with new direct connections from the New Goa International Airport in Mopa, North Goa. It’s momentous for us at IndiGo to have such massive opening and it speaks of our ambition and ability to provide connectivity to our customers and the nation in the best possible way.”

North Goa has generally high tourist traffic as compared to other regions in the states. Goa is one of the most popular destinations among the tourist and these new service will be helpful to fly directly across India.

Also Read: IndiGo CarGo begins operations with its maiden flight between Delhi and Mumbai