Dilip Kumar : The star who inspired stars!!

It was 1999. I was 10 and Star gold was introduced on TV. At that time, it used to do what it was meant to – showing Hindi classics from 50s and 60s that shaped Indian cinema and set the methods which are still followed. I used to watch it tirelessly after school hours till I was pushed to bed.

So they were showing Madhumati​ one day during ad-free matinee hours and as a child I immediately got captivated by the simplicity and easy presence of the actors on screen. Though I had watched Karma and Vidhata before but this was the film where I realized how good an actor Dilip kumar was. I watched it a dozen times in next few months and also covered his other classics like Devdas, Gunga Jamuna, Andaz, Naya Daur, Mughal e Azam, sunghursh, Shakti and Mashaal.

Though many of the above films happened due to vision of directors like Bimal Roy, B R Chopra, Yash Chopra, K Asif and H S Rawail but its not a coincidence that all of them chose Dilip kumar for their most ambitious or experimental projects. He was the most capable actor of his time with surprising depth and breadth and more surprising capability to use those qualities. He was the most convincing one in his roles. Be it commercial flicks or art films, he mastered every role he did. Specially his representation of rural Indian youth was exceptional.

From Amitabh bachchan to Shah rukh khan, many major Indian mainstream actors have accepted that their acting is inspired by Dilip sahab. Many of their roles use exact nuances or methods used by Dilip kumar. I often find his ways being followed by actors on TV. This is his everlasting impact on the industry that has made everlasting impact on our people. One of the most complete actors our nation has produced – Dilip Kumar, a star who inspired stars after him.

Points to ponder for Data Science beginners

I was going through the posts on kdnuggets.com and found this article enlisting some basic steps to gain expertise of Machine learning. I am listing those points here again –

  • Feature Engineering – For most of the models that you build, Features will be the basic building blocks. Features are nothing but the attributes in your data sample (training & test datasets) which you provide to ML component. When I say about Feature Engineering: In the market – there are lot of techniques involved, think it will be separate MOOC course to explain on how to do this Feature Engineering. Still Machine Learning needs human in order to choose the right features for the respective use case. This is where domain knowledge play a key role. Lot of efforts are spent on collecting the feature data, correcting the feature data, choosing the right features for your model, introducing new features, filling up the missing features, changing the feature classes and normalizing the existing feature across the entire dataset. At this juncture, whenever you see any feature engineering scripts – just grab and store in your code repository – you never know when you will need those code snippets. Also keep in mind – too many features could affect the overall accuracy, add more noise and latency to your model build process.
  • Model tuning – You can easily get hold of any basic implementation of ML algorithm in R or Python. But further – model tuning is another critical factor. Understanding each model parameters and how to play with those parameters – proves to be significant ones to get more accuracy. This requires good in depth understanding of ML algorithm. Lot of You tube videos and white papers available on several models which you can bank on.
  • Avoid Overfitting – This is the most common error which could affect your overall model accuracy. When you train our model to the training set – building models which are more specific to input data alone could result in over fitting issue as it will not be able to predict well with respect to new test data or future data. In case of over fitting , Your model accuracy on new set of data will drop significantly. Always when you train any model – try to see if any over fitting occurs.
  • Getting handle on various ML techniques – You will learn the basic ML Techniques in any MOOC course but lot of ML Techniques are available in the market. MOOC Courses are not tuned to include all kinds of new techniques. So you need spend some quality time in learning new ML techniques on your own, how they implemented with R / Python / Java, what kind of parameters are passed to the model etc. etc.
  • Model Ensemble Techniques – this is one hot topic on increasing the model accuracy. In short, this is about building models based on various ML techniques, samplings of data and do your final prediction based on combination of results from multiple models (You could average out the results from several models, assign weights on the results from different model, looking for majority wins etc. and do the final prediction). You can also look on Stacking and Blending concepts which are again ensemble techniques. These Ensemble techniques has been one of the critical success factors for winning Kaggle competitions.
  • ML Implementation platforms – Multiple platforms like R, Python, Java, Spark ML libraries etc  are available for ML implementation. You can start with whatever platforms you are comfortable with. Most of the common code repositories are based out of Python & R. Again computing requirement plays another role in training the model – multiple times, I have seen my machine crashing over multiple iterations of training your model due to memory constraints. Well, there are several options to overcome computing limitations – you can also go for cloud based computing resources to train your model with exhaustive data. Try to look at Azure ML platform. But for a starter – basic computing resources are good enough.
  • Visualization (Data/Model) – Visualization of base data and model is another critical area – This will give holistic view on how well our data is organized, how your model performs etc. Lot of plotting functions available with R to start with. You can get hold of several plotting techniques available and use it whenever necessary
  • Work on real projects to gain practitioner view on deploying ML techniques. You can make use of Kaggle platform which already has lot of use-cases to start with.

To read the whole article, go to http://www.kdnuggets.com/2015/09/acquire-machine-learning-skills.html.

Clint Eastwood : The youngest old man!!

As an actor, Clint Eastwood was an occasional success and a victim of stereotyping (cowboy with no name). Worked as an actor for 1 and a half decade and then took on direction while continuing with acting. This was the moment he found his way to express what was going on inside, notably “in the age of 40”. He got better film after film but still it took him 2 decades to fetch first Oscar for Direction “in the age of 63”, he made his best films(Million Dollar Baby, Mystic River, Letters from Iwo Jima) in his 70s and recently made the blockbuster American Sniper.

His zeal and curiosity seem to be getting younger with time. I wondered what keeps him so alive with childlike inquisitiveness in the age of 85 and found that the answer was quite obvious – love for the medium because this is the way he expresses himself. The undying motivation originates from love, it never lets you go down like you never get bored with your child or your best friend because you simply love them.

His story is a testament to the fact that one ought to find a medium/way to express his thoughts/character/ideas/ways and he will be able to love it and work hard on that for his whole life. He will understand, execute and innovate in that field with surprising ease and little difficulties, challenges and failure will never bring him down and his work will be among the best things in his life. His love will become his muse, the motivation from within.

The life of PI-ku : Harmonies and contradictions!!

Originated from the eccentric and promising pen of Juhi chaturvedi, envisioned by the deft mind of Shoojit sircar, facilitated by the well-tuned performances of lead actors and weaved with the enchanting beats of Anupam Roy…. Piku is all about beauty of the contradictions.

Perception of families and actual families, Humor in morbid situations, functioning with the dysfunctional, responsibility with denial, love with anguish, satisfaction with frustration, reality with dreams, Delhi with Kolkata & Deepika with Irrfan. Piku brings down each polarization, there is canvas of the camera and all contrasting colors are painted on it.

Constipation is used as a tool to share messages and feminism is promoted in the most explicable yet subtle ways. Piku gives hope and hope is good. This is how a MOTION picture must be made

The Man Who Made Singapore!!

How intense can a man’s dream be? To what extent can he push the wheel? What is the true meaning of nationalism? How commensurate the thoughts of a leader can be with his people?

The life of this extraordinary politician facilitates us with answers of these questions. Lee Kuan Yew, the first prime minister of Singapore, father of the nation and the architect of this “Asian Tiger” economy, left this world on 23rd March 2015. A highly revered figure in Singapore, Lee was equally extolled by top world leaders and bureaucrats for his peculiar and progressive thoughts about development, nationalism, autonomy, public policies and foreign policies. Massiveness of his contribution can be apprehended by the fact that he elevated the country from third to first world status in a SINGLE GENERATION.

When he joined the office in 1959, Singapore was a rudderless country with 13% literacy, agrarian economy and gloomy future as an unheeded British colony. His determination to ensure uninterrupted development of Singapore led him to take a risky but utterly ambitious step. He successfully campaigned for merging Singapore with Malaysia to end British rule, but just after 2 years Singapore separated from the federation due to racial and political discords. It was a devastating event for Lee because he believed in the merger of these two territories since long. As a visionary, he was broken by the failure of his vision. After the separation in 1965, he spent 6 weeks of total isolation which raised concerns throughout the globe but he answered the concerns with unmistakable humor – “Do not worry about Singapore. My colleagues and I are sane, rational people even in our moments of anguish. We will weigh all possible consequences before we make any move on the political chessboard.” This candid reply not only settled the rumors but also galvanized his countrymen. This was the inception of the great Singaporean dream.

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So it is 1965, Singapore is independent, but what next? Surrounded by communists and countries with aggressive stance, like Indonesia, their first task was to announce and seal the freedom. Lee associated Singapore with UN in no time, but this was not enough. He knew importance of regional cooperation and formed ASEAN which is one of the most successful regional establishments in history. Apparently Indonesia was a threat but Lee kept visiting Indonesia as representative of a friend nation and this strategy worked. He simultaneously initiated the creation of Singapore Armed Forces as he didn’t want to project Singapore as a soft nation. It was his gumption to ask Israel to support them in building effective defense infrastructure because geographically and resource-wise Israel was not much different. Attributable to these efforts, gradually confrontations and fears annihilated. This was the time for the leap.

What’s the first requirement to be a developed nation? Establishing equality and receptiveness for all. Lee recognized that Singapore was a difficult to ingest country for immigrants and nonnative communities. But how can a country with little resources accelerate its growth in such environment? Lee decided to develop Singapore with the model that is in base of New York City, “Multiculturalism”. Creating unique Singaporean identity and maintaining religious tolerance and racial harmony were his prime motives because without them the success could never be achieved. He ensured that laws were capable of treating any violation of harmony.

Creating excessively strong laws against corruption, paying his ministers well to maintain honest government (matching salaries of government officials to that of private sector employees), foreseeing effects of increasing population and introducing two child family plan, igniting social reform by encouraging Singaporean men to choose highly educated women as wives(this encouraged families to educate girls), recognizing homosexuality as a natural phenomenon and many more such innovative steps were taken by him to ameliorate the social and structural efficiency of the nation.

It is attributed to his political shrewdness that Singapore has been a close ally to both USA and China at the same moment, which is a rare feat for a nation with very little to offer. His achievements had such effect on then Chinese PM Deng Xiaoping that over 22,000 Chinese officials were sent to Singapore to study his methods and to emulate his policies of economic growth and entrepreneurship. Leaders from Russia, UK and US are his major admirers. Tony Blair called him “the smartest leader I ever met”.

But history suggests that such leaders have always been accused of being totalitarian and this case is no different. Critics call him an authoritarian citing his attempts to sue media and opposition for their discordant views. Some also accuse him of promoting culture of elitism and nepotism. But for majority of Singapore, he is the savior. The man who envisioned all, the man who saw the future… the man who made Singapore!!

“My definition of an educated man is a man who never stops learning and wants to learn. I am not interested in whether a man has a Ph.D. or not, or an M.A. for that matter, or a diploma. Mao never had one, neither had Khrushchev, nor Stalin.”

– Lee Kuan Yew about Education

Children of Hate

Judaism was seen as the main obstacle before other religions in the race of being largest religion. There were ethnic differences and also conflicts over lands. The big reason is that, out of four Abrahamic religions, only Judaism claimed firmly that Jesus and Jerusalem belonged to them. So they were the threat for growing Christianity at that time. And these differences and fear of other religion caused anti Jewish sentiments. Germans coined the term antisemitism for this hatred of Jews. Practically it means Jews are inferior race and belong to no land.

Now what happens when a community is discriminated for centuries… they unite… they find their own philosophies to disapprove the claims of opposition. So here we have a Jewish writer in the dawn of 19th century with the idea of Zionism which states that whole land of Palestine belongs to Jews as per the history. This idea was in existence before also but it never got such attention globally. It was discussed, criticized and supported at mass level.

Then after a couple of decades first world war happened and ended with intense humiliation of Germany. This defeat and disgrace was unbearable for Germans and their frustration was at its peak. They were not able to accept it and of course this guilt pushed them to find a scapegoat, a reason of national shame. So why search for causes when you already have a centuries old well established social myth ? Just give this myth some air and it will become truth for millions. There were already people like Adolf Hitler in Germany with exaggerated and misguided nationalism and desire to go high in Ranks and control people. In my opinion, such guys used antisemitism as the tool to unite a defeated nation and also for becoming personality cult.

In first half of 20th century, political scenarios were changing. Colonies were becoming countries. Monarchies were becoming democracies and communism was spreading like tweets of lady gaga. Russia, Italy and Germany had powerful dictators with similar intentions. They joined hands and made promises of helping each other in their causes. Imperial powers were weakening and communists were rising, tension was high. That is when Hitler designed Antisemitic legislation. Invasion of Poland initiated the darkest war of planet and Nazi party implemented their philosophies in the shade of the war. It ended with ethnic cleansing of Jews from Germany.

Now, there was a community of millions with no home. They had survived and seen mass-shooting, gas chambers, chemical experiments and concentration camps. That is when they adopted Zionism in real and moved to east in search for home, a place surrounded by Arabs. Pain and unity of a suppressed community gave birth to undying nationalism. They were ready to sacrifice anything for a country of their own and since then war is going on.

But there were also Jews who moved to Allied nations. Their grief was equally large and they decided to grow as a community. Be it science and technology, politics, cinema, business, literature or bureaucracy , they grew like anything. By the end of 20th century, they became major stakeholders in American economy and politics. They made propaganda movies and wrote accounts of the holocaust and it brought them lots of sympathy from outside. They were in position to affect decisions of world powers in their favor and that is what they did. American jews provided financial and political aid to Israel.

In the war with Palestine, that insecurity of Israel grew rapidly. They were becoming more offensive, answering every attack with doubled aggression. Palestine was a weak nation so it became a nursery for Armed groups. PLO and HAMAS grew in this atmosphere, kept recruiting people and also won elections. But still they were weak and needed some global approval to survive. This approval they get from rivals of USA who don’t like to be a part of any agenda run for/by American favor. America does this too. So USA, UK, EU, Canada and other friends declared HAMAS a terrorist group but Russia and China don’t agree with that. This complex involvement of global stakeholders worsened the situation.

Now it is 2014. After Second Intifada and downfall of Fatah, conditions are worst. Gaza is smelling smoke. HAMAS is making children suicide bombers and Israel is in kick-ass mode. HAMAS can’t step back because if they do so, they won’t get a single penny from their endorsers. They are finished ideologically and financially if they stop the war. Israel has also gone too far in it and if they call it then it means they are not fully convinced with the basic idea of their own war. That will mean they agree they don’t belong to this land. It becomes a threat to the ruling party there. Also Israel has dragged many outsiders in it for their support, so stepping back is diplomatic defeat in their eyes.

If both parties are unable to stop it then is it ever going to stop ? Global powers will never agree due to their own reasons. If HAMAS gets paralyzed then other groups will take over. Hatred is installed deep in the brains and Israel has developed weapons to treat it. Such issues never get corrected until there is a world war. Dooms day fights end these conflicts temporarily and end a whole generation also. Then again after 50 years, cycle repeats itself.

These problems never get solved because their roots are human desires which never end. Power, greed and hate gave birth to Israel and are still driving this show. Seems it will go on. Hallelujah!!