Sunday, December 24, 2017

A visit to 43rd Annual Cake Show, Bengaluru 2017

As of December 2017, the popular 43rd Annual Cake Show is back at St.Josephs School Grounds in Bengaluru.

We decided to visit the exhibition on Christmas eve (Sunday evening) and it seems like most parents in the city had the same idea. The place was really crowded and the bouncers had a tough time managing the long queues.

Topica exibit: celebrating Virat Kohli and Anushka Sharma's  wedding 

And a few more picture

So, what's a show without a family selfie

Event Date 15-Dec-2017 to 01-Jan-2018
Where : St.Josephs School Grounds
Entrance fee: Rs 60/head
Organized by : ncfexhibition 

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Top 10 technology trends to watch in 2018

Emerging Digital technologies will continue to dominate technology investments in 2018. In this report, we highlight 10 technology trends likely to have the most impact on businesses in the year ahead.
  • Corporate Digitization – Technologies have continued to mature in 2017 and ‘digitization’ has moved beyond a buzzword. Business and tech executives continue to execute ‘digital transformations’ that bring greater automation, user-self-service, and enable advanced eCommerce and SMAC techniques to engage with customers.
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning and Cognitive technologies – Tech analysts will remember 2017 as the year when business world finally started getting serious about the disruptive potential of AI. The tech Oligopoly – Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Google and Microsoft – announced large investments in AI and began showcasing solution offerings for consumers and businesses. 2018 is also likely to see startups, tech-service firms and the academia addressing the skill shortage.
  • Big Data – Analytics, aggregation and visualization – We create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every day; and over 90% of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone. As the challenges of big-data are being understood, innovative applications are highlighting potential to glean insights from the aggregated sources.
  • Internet of Things (IoT) – Internet of Things (IoT) holds a lot of promise in machine-to-machine communication enabling ‘smart’ devices. IoT is really an aggregation of technologies with sensors that gather data, machine-to-machine communication and networks to a ‘gateway,’ big-data and analytics to enable storage, analysis and review of the findings. Innovative ideas range from applications in wearables, smartphones, smart meters, vehicles, factories, machines to other places where imagination takes us.
  • Immersive Experiences, Virtual Reality and gaming – A combination of immersive and Virtual Reality technologies have been raising consumer expectations of video games. These technologies, enabled by advances in hardware and high performance computers, are beginning to blur the line between the physical, digital and simulated worlds, creating a sense of immersion.
  • Voice recognition and Voice Activated UI – Adoption of voice recognition and voice activated technologies have been advancing at a fast pace. Voice based applications in the corporate world are also continuing to make strides. Widespread adoption of Interactive voice response (IVR) at call centers and for CRM based solutions are beginning to enhance productivity by allowing computers to interact with humans through the use of voice input.
  • Blockchain – Bitcoin technology – The blockchain technology – popularized by digital currency Bitcoin – is increasingly being used to enable trust across industries. The underlying blockchain technology is a trust based protocol enabled by globally distributed, secure platform that enables a ledger or database where value could be stored and exchanged without powerful intermediaries.
  • Technologies from Self-Driving cars – Auto manufacturers, ride share and technology companies are advancing research and development of self-driving cars. 2017 also saw a lot of mergers and buyout of niche technology companies. Autonomous vehicles are the leading edge of artificial intelligence investment and development and investments in that sector is a precursor of things to come in fields like natural language processing, image recognition, and others as these technologies gain commercial momentum.
  • Robotics and automation – Automation, and use of bots aided by emerging techniques like artificial intelligence and machine learning are advancing at fast pace. Intelligent machines and ‘bots’ are already being employed in ways we never thought possible a few years ago. However, automation and robotics continues to be niche and fragmented business. Most large companies and manufacturers aggregate and integrate services from small, niche suppliers innovating on automation and robotics.
  • Enabling Digitization – Organizations are interested in solving specific problems using some of these technologies. Such corporate digitization efforts translate to opportunity for consultants, system-integrators and software product development firms.

A PDF copy of the report is available for FREE download:

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Caregiving for elders and senior citizen in India - Observations and trends

Many of us take on the responsibility for parents and family members when they age. There was an interesting article in the New York Times a few weeks ago highlighting this trend "Old and Lonely in New India." However, unlike some of the people quoted in the NYT article, I decided on a different course of action and relocated back to India. 

About a year ago my wife and took the plunge and moved back from the US to take care of my aging parents. (link to my blog on the move) In the year gone by, I have been reflecting on my experiences with the growing cottage industry around elder-care in urban India.

A generation or two ago, it was quite common for joint families – three or even four – generations to live together. One would frequently come across middle class families with grandparents living with uncles, aunts, cousins and siblings with their kids. In many cases, the families would live in a large house, under one roof or in a compound with conjoint units.

Festivals and celebrations would be a joint affair, and there was an informal division of labor when it came to household chores. Some finances, resources and effort would be pooled in without much thought or effort since it was the norm and expected. The communal process was also designed to provide for care and support of children and elderly in the family. Even when families didn’t live together under one roof, they lived in close proximity – perhaps the same village or town – giving them a sense of belonging and being there for each other.

Image result for old age india
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Demographic shift: two sides of a shifting coin

India is certainly a youthful country with a large population. With over 350 million 10-24 year-olds, India has the world’s largest youth population; and over 70 percent of Indian population is under 35 years. Thanks to improved access to medical care and increased affluence of the population, the life expectancy of senior citizen in the country continues to rise. Many seniors are also living well into their eighties and nineties, which bodes well for elders if the earlier social support model had continued.

In the past couple of decades, the Indian society has transformed. Rapid and widespread urbanization, migration of population from villages to cities, and emigration of the younger generation to western countries has changed the social fabric considerably. Younger generation of Indians are increasingly aping western model of independence and self reliance, leaving home as soon as they are ready for college, and then continuing to pursue their jobs and careers wherever opportunities beacon.  
The logistics and expectations of senior care in India, however, has not kept pace with the change in the society. 

In the west, the fragmenting of joint families was accompanied by an emergence of senior-care system across a wide spectrum. Care giving for seniors is a serious and lucrative business. Organizations and entrepreneurs provide services ranging from senior living apartments and condos, assisted living homes to a network of hospice and terminal care systems. This has led to a large network of service providers focused on various aspects of home-healthcare to meet medical and caregiving needs. These facilities are designed to accommodate people from across social, economic and demographic segments.

Senior citizen in the west willingly – or sometimes goaded by family members – move from one stage of elder-care to the next as their physical faculties and abilities change as they age. Such changes are generally accompanied by downsizing of one’s house, assets and other amenities of life. 
One can argue that much of the senior-care is ‘outsourced’ without emotions and encumbrance by family members. The society has begun to accept this as a norm and people begin saving for their own retirement and old-age. In some western countries, personal savings are supplemented by an advanced system of social security that comes handy for a variety of senior needs.

Emergence of old-age care in India

Young, Indian nuclear families who opt to live away from extended families and hometowns still feel obligated to support their elders but are unable or unwilling to take on such responsibilities that might weigh down their lives and careers. As the society transforms, the Indian middle class is beginning to explore a wider range of elder-care facilities to accommodate their eclectic needs. This translates to an increased demand for elder-care and home-care services.

Old age homes, that in earlier generations were the last refuge for poor and destitute are starting to transform. Many “old age” homes are being designed to cater to the needs and desires of the urbane, affluent middle class and also the needs of the NRI community. Some of them advertise modern amenities, 24-hour care and security along with communal facilities including access to nursing and medical care. Some facilities in larger cities also advertise “elder day care” where one can drop off elders during the day to engage and entertain with fellow seniors.

Builders and property developers are beginning to capitalize on this opportunity to develop flats and communities for ‘senior living.’  The sweet-spot is the relatively affluent class of empty-nesters and newly retired senior citizen in their sixties who are looking to downsize from their flats and villas to planned senior communities.

Such planned senior-living communities and old-age homes address only a small segment of the needs, especially since senior citizen have unique health and other challenges. Much as we desire to maintain good health as long as we live, nature and age takes its toll. No two seniors age in the same way. Disease ranging from benign aches and pains and temporary loss of memory to more serious cancers can derail the best laid retirement plans.  Ailments that incapacitate and cripple elders can be excruciating. Such a crippling of physical faculties can affect the morale of the elders, while also draining the energy and resources of the families that unwittingly get sucked into the role of caregivers.

My father, a proud veteran of the Indian Air Force enjoyed a relatively good health well into his seventies after retiring from service. He and my mother enjoyed their golden years living alone in an independent house and frequently traveled to temple towns across South India. All this slowed down after my dad was diagnosed with Prostate Cancer – in itself not a life-threatening condition. However, in quick succession he was also diagnosed with Parkinsons, that began impacting his motor skills and physical movements. While he was mobile and active during the day, he needed help with diaper change at night and to escort him for his morning walks. After a few phone calls and quick research, I engaged a caregiver from an independent agent who had provided a similar service for a relative’s family.

The middle-aged lady, Kamala, would come at around 8 in the evening and spend the night at home and after the morning walk and breakfast with dad, would leave. Her temperament was well balanced and she brought in a rich background in caregiving from her previous experiences. This setup continued for about a year, before my dads’ condition abruptly took a nosedive after a mild stroke, when he was hospitalized. After a few weeks in the hospital, he was discharged and advised homecare where he continued to be bedridden.

We realized that the night-caregiver wouldn’t be sufficient and that Kamala alone wouldn’t be able to manage my father’s advanced needs. After additional word-of-mouth research, I decided to engage a live-in caregiver from another small organization.  

Bottomline: The newer generation of elders, caught between rapid urbanization and prevalence of nuclear families is realizing that they need to be more involved in planning for their own sunset years and many not have the social support previous generations enjoyed. However, without an advanced network of providers catering to needs of seniors, those who can, still fall back on their families. It still takes a village to care for an elder; though an increasingly affluent middle-class has to pay for the village!