A cloth with the images of Don Quixote and his squire Sancho Panz. (Source: Reuters photo)
Four hundred years ago, on April 23, 1616, Miguel de Cervantes died in Madrid. A former soldier who had fought bravely and been wounded at the battle of Lepanto, a captive for five years in Algiers, an impoverished tax collector who had troubles with his accounts and twice wound up in jail, a failed playwright, he had the satisfaction of having published, in 1605 and a second part in 1615, Don Quixote de la Mancha, a book that he knew ranked among the great works of literature in the Western tradition. He could not know that on the same date, but not quite the same day because England and Spain followed different calendars, William Shakespeare was dying in Stratford-on-Avon.
He had written and produced a number of unsurpassable plays with unforgettable characters who toiled in the midst of the supreme trials of human life, expressing them in the highest kind of poetic language English would ever know. It was quite a historical coincidence, even if slightly off.
Cervantes had invented two characters, Don Quixote and Sancho, who would become a universal pair representing opposing yet complimentary approaches to the dilemmas of modern existence. The Englishman’s life was a success, the Spaniard’s was not, though by the time he passed, he had overcome the extreme poverty that he had endured, and received some of the recognition that the Madrid literary establishment had denied him. Miguel died resigned yet content, at peace with the world and with himself, buoyed by the religious faith that he had never abandoned, even in his worst moments of despair or at the height of his bold literary experiments, which put him at the cutting edge of the philosophical inquiries of his time.
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Cervantes came upon the immortal Don Quixote gradually. He had set out to compose a long short story similar to others that he would write throughout his career, about a mature gentleman who goes insane from reading too many romances of chivalry, whose protagonists he wants to emulate. He wrote the first few chapters, which included Don Quixote’s visit to an inn, which he takes to be a castle, is cared for by prostitutes that he treats as ladies, and is dubbed a knight by the innkeeper. He returns home to pick up a few necessary items for his journey but is badly beaten by the servants of travelling merchants who find him ridiculous and amusing. A kindly neighbour carries him to his house.
Back in it, the priest, the barber, the housekeeper and Don Quixote’s niece purge his library of the romances of chivalry that they supposed caused his insanity. This was going to be the end of the story, with which Cervantes, we assume, was understandably dissatisfied.
It is at this point that Quixote as we know him was born. Cervantes came up with the idea of adding Sancho, a local peasant, as squire to the knight, and a second sally was planned and executed surreptitiously. With the two on their way, the adventures flow, led by their chance encounters on the road. Variety, provided by the different kinds of people and situations that they find, contributes to the increasing richness of the adventures. Some, like the one in which Don Quixote charges some windmills, have become emblematic, known to all, even if they have not read the book.
I believe that after the scrutiny of the books, Cervantes discovered the possibilities of the character that he had invented. Here is a mature man, beyond the pressures of finding a life for himself, who sets out with a head full of essentially medieval ideas and ideals bent on making the tawdry present that he inhabits coincide with those ideals. The humour in the situation is a given from the start, particularly with the knight’s ridiculously obsolete attire, which he has fashioned for himself, and Cervantes does not eschew scenes of low comedy involving both characters. They are hilarious.
Early readers of the book only saw this, however, blind to the higher kind of irony that pervades the story and which secured its universal appeal. This involves the pathos of Don Quixote’s predicament, which has a modern feel to it: He wants to set the world aright but is armed with the weakest of weapons, particularly his battered body and deranged mind. The knight is in pursuit of principles that no longer exist (or ever existed) and of a lady who is a figment of his imagination. The world around him provides plenty of opportunities for the ideal and the real to clash.
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Will be launched in 2017.
At Auto Expo 2016, General Motors India unveiled the Chevrolet Essentia, the three-box version of the next-gen Chevrolet Beat hatchback, in a near-production form. The four-door notchback will be launched in India in 2017, Chevrolet confirmed with the car’s debut. However, the company didn’t reveal engine or transmission specifications of the car.
The Chevrolet Essentia is based on the Beat’s platform.
Now, a new report from Motor Octane says that the Chevrolet Essentia will be available with a 1.0-litre three-cylinder diesel engine, paired to a 5-speed manual transmission. GM currently uses the Fiat 1.3-litre diesel engine on the Sail and Enjoy models, and if it chooses not to carry this forward to the Essentia, it’s sub-4m sedan could be the least powerful in its class. MotorOctane says that the petrol variant would be strapped with the 1.2-litre STEC II engine which is used on the Beat.
The Chevrolet Essentia will be equipped with MyLink2 infotainment system that includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration compatibility.
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The Chevrolet Essentia concept has been designed at the GM Korea Design Studio. The production version, GM confirmed, will be available with features like Chevrolet MyLink2 infotainment system that includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration compatibility, dual airbags, ABS and a reversing camera.
Chevrolet Essentia – Image Gallery
[Source: Motor Octane] [...]
Will go up against the Royal Enfield Himalayan and the upcoming KTM 390 Adventure.
Reportedly confirmed by a BMW Motorrad UK official a few days back, the BMW G 310 GS Adventure would be making its world premiere in 2017.
BMW Motorrad’s UK director has confirmed to a magazine that the dual-purpose GS-styled G310 is coming in 2017.
Sadly, there has been no spy image or sketches hinting the bike’s design. To give you an idea of how this baby adventure tourer will look like, our artist Shoeb R Kalania has rendered the motorcycle.
The upcoming Bimmer looks highly inspired by its elder sibling – the BMW R 1200 GS. Though it will be based on the G310 R, some adventure focussed components like long travel suspension, dual purpose tyres and taller windshield would be integrated to do justice to its ‘GS’ suffix. The bike primarily focuses on budding tourers and will be manufactured at the TVS production facility in Hosur after being engineered by BMW in Germany.
Expect the GS to come with the same backward-tilted 313 cc single-cylinder liquid-cooled engine with DOHC from the G310R, paired to a six-speed transmission.
The BMW G310 GS will share the same 313 cc, single-cylinder, liquid-cooled engine that does duty on its naked sibling. The six-speed transmission equipped, fuel-injected mill produces 34 hp of power with 28 Nm of torque, which will be retuned for the tourer’s application. Once launched, the bike will go head to head with the upcoming KTM 390 Adventure and to some extent, with the Royal Enfield Himalayan.
BMW G310R – Image Gallery [...]
Will go on sale in 2017
The current, third generation Suzuki Swift (Suzuki YP6), sold as Maruti Suzuki Swift in India, entered production in May 2010 in Hungary and was officially revealed in June 2010. In 2013, it received a facelift with very minor revisions.
The next-gen Swift will be based on the Baleno’s high-rigidity and lightweight new-generation platform.
Sometime next year, the fourth generation Suzuki Swift will go on sale. It’s currently under development and being tested on public roads in a production body, as seen in these spy shots which seem to have been clicked somewhere in Europe, courtesy Auto Plus.
The next-gen 2017 Suzuki Swift’s Sport variant leaked in official renderings last month and was previewed this month in a clearer rendering by IAB’s digital artist Shoeb Kalania. The all-new Swift will be based on the Baleno‘s high-rigidity and lightweight new-generation platform, and comes with a completely new dashboard design. It will be interesting to see how the company positions it next to the Baleno, although what’s expected as of now is that the Swift will be a slightly cheaper and more fun to drive offering of the two. The Sport variant will continue being the range-topper, with its price exceeding the Baleno’s.
The next-gen Swift will likely be offered with 1.2L DUALJET and 1.0L BOOSTERJET petrol as well as a new diesel engine developed by Suzuki.
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Expect the new Swift on the European market next year, and in India a few months after its European release.
2017 Suzuki Swift – Image Gallery (Spy Shots)
[Image Source 1: Auto Plus, Image Source 2: Auto Plus] [...]
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The Indian government has rightly rested its Digital India initiative on a series of measures to liberalise the economy. One of those measures of free-market wisdom, however, the usual government-cheering section suddenly seems to be irrationally against. The PMO will be receiving from the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) on April 30 a report on the Patent Office’s Computer-Related Inventions Guidelines (CRI), in which parties who usually applaud free-market measures are horrified to discover that Section 3(k) of the Patent Act really does prohibit government-awarded monopolies in software, and that the controller of patents is implementing the statutory command.
Software patenting is not a requirement of TRIPs, or of any current international trade law. The controller’s new CRI guidelines actually implement a test for software per se — unpatentable owing to Section 3(k) — which is close to the “machine or transformation” test all-but-imposed by the US Supreme Court in a series of cases over the last five years, in all of which we were amici curiae, urging the court in its current direction.
Software patenting is not in the Indian national economic interest. “Software,” as Bill Gates used to say, “is an IQ business”. When non-Indian firms can get software patents in India, the effect is to hobble the Indian IQ advantage, by making what many talented Indian programmers could otherwise use to make new innovations in software the property of the non-Indian patenting company. As our organisation, SFLC.in, has shown in its research report on the subject, more than 90 per cent of software patents awarded in India, before the rectification imposed by the new guidelines, were issued to foreign corporates.
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Indian software companies can and do patent their inventions abroad, thus actively competing in the market for government monopolies maintained in other countries. But as the US Supreme Court has moved the US patent system away from patenting pure software claims and software-enabled business method claims, permitting such claims to be perfected in India awards the US and other non-Indian companies an unfair advantage here. The persistent US unfairness found in the Super 301 designation, alleging supposed inadequacy in Indian “protection” of “intellectual property”, is also clearly expressed in current demands by US industrial parties — softly but unmistakably backed by their government — that India reverse a course converging with the US’s own.
In the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) negotiations, too, Indian efforts to implement its own longstanding patent law, preventing foreign parties from using the patent system to hobble Indian advantages in software-making, have come under direct fire. Language proposed by the Japanese government would require India to repeal the CRI guidelines and modify or abandon Section 3(k), which makes algorithms and software per se unpatentable.
Software industry incumbents, including TCS and a sprinkling of other Indian firms among the phalanx of US giants, have been forecasting doom if the Patent Act is actually observed. Along with patent lawyers — to whom no limits on the applicability of patent law are ever welcome — they have been announcing the death of Digital India, unless they are instantly allowed to own it. But as many IIT luminaries and dozens of start-up entrepreneurs have publicly indicated to the Indian government in refutation of this chatter, the most important barrier to the growth of the burgeoning internet economy’s dynamic, inventive small firms is the uncertainty for potential investors caused by the possibility of patent attacks by incumbents against new market entrants.
Patent law is supposed to provide a limited-term commercial monopoly in return for the disclosure of inventions that would, in the absence of patent availability, be kept secret. This “bargain” has never made analytic sense for inventions made entirely of computer software. The idea of “free software”, made by massive collaboration under rules allowing everyone to learn, understand, improve and share, has transformed the global software industry. Disclosure is now an inherent part of the process by which progress occurs, as it is in fundamental research in physics, chemistry or any other natural science.
Patenting software makes no more sense than patenting mathematics, which is why the Patent Act Section 3(k) says what it does. Patenting so [...]
So what do politicians have to do with history? Last heard, BJP MPs, JD(U)’s K.C. Tyagi and Deputy Chairman of Rajya Sabha P.J. Kurien were agitated over noted historian Bipan Chandra’s reference to Bhagat Singh as a “revolutionary terrorist” in a popular text book, India’s Struggle for Independence (1988). HRD Minister Smriti Irani called it “academic murder”. BJP’s Anurag Thakur has called for a debate on what is taught in academic institutions. In the Rajya Sabha, Kurien directed the government to remove the description and to “inquire how it happened”. The government has assured the House that the HRD minister will take “necessary steps”. Meanwhile, a case has been filed in a Kanpur court against the Delhi University VC and the authors.
It is reassuring that legislators are concerned about the quality of texts taught in universities. But are they competent to rewrite history? Chandra was an internationally respected historian who did seminal work on Bhagat Singh. He tracked down Bhagat Singh’s now celebrated essay, “Why I am an Atheist”, and published it first. Then, descriptions and categories must be read within the historical context in which they are coined and deployed. The textbook in question was written at a time when terrorism had not become the global phenomenon it is now and Chandra used the term “revolutionary terrorism” to delineate a political tradition that ran parallel to the Gandhian non-violent tradition in India’s independence movement. It was one that preferred armed struggle to non-cooperation and moral persuasion to overthrow imperial rule. Unlike the Gandhian mainstream represented by the Congress, Bhagat Singh’s Naujawan Bharat Sabha, Chandrasekhar Azad’s Hindustan Socialist Republican Association, Bengal groups like the Anushilan Samiti and Jugantar, used the killings of British officials and bomb attacks to press the cause of national liberation. This was much before the advent of transnational Islamist terror groups transformed the debate on “terrorism” and gave it new meanings and associations. The enormity of this change can also be grasped from the shifts in India’s own approach to Tamil separatism in Sri Lanka over the years. Of course, Chandra himself had clarified that he used “revolutionary terrorism” “without any pejorative meaning and for want of a different term”.
It is unfortunate that what should have been a lively and nuanced debate in a university classroom over how meanings of terms change with shifting contexts has been reduced to uninformed mudslinging. [...]
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The spurt in person-days employment under the MGNREGA in the three states — 37 per cent, 69 per cent and 134 per cent respectively over 2014-15 — has clearly had to do more with a pre-election push.
States currently in poll mode have reported the highest increase in job numbers under the MGNREGA in the year that ended March 31, 2016. That may not surprise, but certainly goes against the scheme’s basic objective of providing guaranteed employment in public works to those needing it most. While Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Assam do have sizeable poor populations, the fact, however, is that they are not experiencing any major drought. The spurt in person-days employment under the MGNREGA in the three states — 37 per cent, 69 per cent and 134 per cent respectively over 2014-15 — has clearly had to do more with a pre-election push from “above” by the ruling parties than any distress-driven demand pull from “below”. True, Maharashtra also registered a 24 per cent rise, but its total 7.64 crore person-days generated was just over a fifth that of Tamil Nadu and a quarter of West Bengal, while even lower than the figures for Chhattisgarh and Odisha. Nearly a third of Maharashtra’s gram panchayats, in fact, incurred “nil expenditure” under the MGNREGA; that it happened in a terrible drought year speaks volumes about the state government’s commitment to the scheme.
The above numbers highlight an inherent design flaw in the MGNREGA: Although conceived as a demand/ distress-driven programme, its successful implementation has largely rested upon state-level governance capacity (Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Tripura) or political expediency (West Bengal). Thus, the total MGNREGA wage expenditure for 2015-16 worked out to around Rs 9,050 per poor person in Kerala and Rs 7,800 in Tamil Nadu, while being a mere Rs 315 for Bihar and Rs 475 for Uttar Pradesh. If the MGNREGA is neither helping the states worst-hit by drought nor those with the highest poverty incidence, there is a fundamental problem that must be addressed to make it a genuinely demand- and need-driven programme.
The time has probably come to allocate MGNREGA funds to states by linking it to their individual rural poor population numbers. Before the start of a financial year, the Centre can announce the allocation to each state and declare that any unspent amount would be automatically reallocated to those with the capacity to use this money. The very prospect of foregoing one’s entitlement — and letting the public know — would put pressure on the states to implement the MGNREGA better. Right now, many states do not register demand for employment even in times of widespread distress. They do this only because the MGNREGA rules require work to be provided within 15 days of demand registration, failing which they are entitled to unemployment benefits from the state. But when the Centre is making funds available that are still going unspent, this tactic will not sell. The states will, then, be compelled to respond to work demands from “below” — which is what the MGNREGA is meant to do. [...]
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