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Aishwarya Rai on social media: I stayed away because after a while it becomes business

The Kashmir Monitor




Aishwarya Rai Bachchan kept away from the social media for a very long time until joining Instagram earlier this year. She says the fact that people start seeing it as a “barometric reflection of your popularity or status” was a put off for her.

The actor and former Miss World spoke up about it for Conde Nast Traveller India, the 50th issue of which features her as the cover star.

So far, she says, her social media journey has felt natural.

“I don’t post whatever happens through the course of the day because then it would become a job and then you’re constantly focusing only on the fruition of it, and not the actual experience. I need to be connected to my real life,” said Aishwarya, according to excerpts shared with IANS.

What made her decide to make her social media foray finally?

“I think it’s the patience, prodding and perseverance of my well-wishers… I mean, it’s the way of the world; I get it. The reason I stayed away for so long was that the nature of the beast is such that it becomes a business. Everyone wants numbers, they start to see it as a barometric reflection of your popularity or status. How do you then monetise it, or treat it professionally?

“It’s fine that it’s a business at the end of the day, but I didn’t want to get drawn into that entire world, the drama. That said, it’s a way of life, it’s the world in which our kids are growing up, it’s here to stay, and there’s nothing wrong with it,” added the mother of one.

Aishwarya and her actor husband Abhishek Bachchan have a daughter named Aaradhya together. Glimpses of their vacations are sometimes a part of what the actress shares with her fans online.

Talking about her favourite vacation style — beaches, mountains, cities, jungles or deserts — she said: “Abhishek and I are happy everywhere but ‘e’ve been doing a lot more beach destinations since we had Aaradhya.”

What is always in Aishwarya’s travel bag?

“You can’t ask me that! Abhishek always laughs and says my bag is like a Mary Poppins bag – even before Aaradhya. Whatever you need will pop out of it. Everything that you could possibly think of is in there.”

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Ascent to the temple of democracy

The Kashmir Monitor



By Pulapre Balakrishnan

Kerala’s reputation as a society that has evolved to an exceptional degree may have taken a bit of a beating. The reputation itself has been built on the strides made in the sphere of development, by now internationally recognised to be human development as reflected in the health and education status of a people.

When it was first noticed over four decades ago, Kerala’s perceived uniqueness had stemmed from the realisation that it was among India’s poorest States. To have achieved fairly high human development despite relative poverty was considered noteworthy. What was not apparent in the usual indicators, however, was something even more unique, the ending of social hierarchy. The caste system, which was at the centre of Kerala’s social arrangements, disintegrated virtually overnight. This was fuelled by the enactment of a land reform programme that ended feudalism. With feudalism went the equivalence between caste dominance and economic power. If evidence ever was needed for the Marxian view that it was the economic base of a society that undergirded its ‘superstructure’ this was it. What is significant is that the transition had been smooth, without recrimination for loss or retribution for injustice. Social distance in terms of caste distinctions just died.

Given the experience of the ending of a feudalism that had persisted for centuries in Kerala, the reception to the Supreme Court’s verdict on the practice of excluding women of menstruating age from the shrine at Sabarimala is disappointing. It is not as if the ruling has been received with sullen acceptance alone. It has been followed by vigilantes actually preventing the very few women who have attempted to enter the shrine since from doing so. Reports of heckling and intimidation that have led to disheartened women returning without darshan is likely to have left many a Malayali patriot ashamed.

To understand the reaction to one of the last bastions of male privilege being thrown open to women, we may turn to the work of the philosopher Michel Foucault.

Foucault had observed that while Marxism, a powerful tool for social analysis, emphasises the relations of production, it ignores the relations of power. Power for Foucault is ubiquitous and ramifies into every dimension of human association. Patriarchy or the idea of rule by men would be one of the sources of power.

Heteronormativity and the claim of the racial superiority of certain ethnic groups have also served as sources of power. Power for Foucault can draw its force from sources that are entirely unrelated to economic class. Thus in Kerala, for instance, patriarchy is entrenched across all classes and social groups. It did not vanish with the land reforms, even if its architects had wanted it to happen. From the recent events at Sabarimala we can see that some sections do not want it to lose its stranglehold even today.

The opposition to women’s entry at Sabarimala is at times met with an appeal to history, that the temples of Kerala have witnessed far greater transformation in the past, having been thrown open to all sections of Hindus over 75 years ago. While this history is correctly recounted, the issue of women’s entry into temples is not a matter of accepting the inevitability of change, it is a matter of recognising what living in a democracy implies for its members. Even as democracy guarantees rights to the individual, it requires him to acknowledge the rights of others. It is easily overlooked that it is democracy that grants the freedom to practise a religion.

The Church was discouraged in the former Soviet Union, China frowns upon the faith of the Uighurs, and the Saudi Arabian state is not exactly tolerant of religious plurality.

However, while democracy assures freedom to practise religion, citizens are expected to practise it in a way that is consistent with democracy. So the traditionalists on the Sabarimala issue must recognise that by excluding women, they are not keeping their side of the social contract as it were. In a democracy, the social contract is not between the state and the people, it is one entered into by citizens among themselves. As B.R. Ambedkar is believed to have advised Jawaharlal Nehru, you cannot have a republic within a republic. In the Indian context, the implication of this principle is that religion must be practised in a way consistent with constitutional values; at a minimum the practices cannot be discriminatory. Legal provisions against domestic violence and the ill-treatment of children point to the reach of democracy even into our homes. Religion cannot claim special dispensation. It need hardly be emphasised that the principle that religion be practised in accordance with the norms of democracy extends to all religions. Indian secularism would be tested on this idea.

In a way, the opposition to the entry of women to Sabarimala is reflective of a wider inequality between men and women that may be observed in Malayali society. Two indicators point to this, despite the very high literacy levels registered by women and a significant presence of women with higher education. First, female labour force participation is low in Kerala in comparison with other States. Surely the equality of women must be visible in their participation in the workforce. In Kerala, women were once a major presence in agriculture but this declined when paddy cultivation atrophied. The low female labour force participation in Kerala affects their ability to influence social norms, especially social attitudes towards female agency.

Second, the presence of women in governance roles is very low in Kerala. Three indicators may be noted, namely, the percentage of women legislators, judges in the High Court and leaders of political parties. It may come as a surprise to note that for the former two indicators the number is lower for the State than it is for Tamil Nadu and Gujarat. This despite the fact that Malayali women participate in elections at least to the same extent as men. Political parties of Kerala have made little effort to induct women into leadership positions. How much of this is due to male chauvinism and how much to inadequate women’s agency is a question to be debated.

However, a recent incident does help us see through the thicket. The union of Malayalam film actors, a highly feted body, was in the news for trying to protect an actor accused of abetting assault against a co-star despite the fact that he had been jailed. They held out till its leadership was publicly dragged over the coals by four determined women, some of them quite young. Such endings are few and far between but give rise to hope that women will eventually receive their due in Kerala.

It is hoped that the Sabarimala shrine, a site of popular worship with a long history and of great beauty, will henceforth be open to women of all ages. But for Kerala ending exclusion at this one site can only be the beginning of the much longer journey to gender equality in its society. The present situation bears comparison with what Nirad Chaudhuri had said of the British Empire, that it “extended subjecthood but denied citizenship”. In the case of Kerala’s women, its society may have extended education but withheld empowerment. So long as women are not represented in the upper echelons of decision-making it will be difficult to break this mould.

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Samsung Galaxy A8s With Infinity-O Display, Triple Rear Cameras Launched

The Kashmir Monitor



Samsung Galaxy A8s was launched in China on Monday, sporting the anticipated Infinity-O Display. This is also the smartphone’s biggest differentiating point, the fact that it sports a true bezel-less display screen, with a small hole in the display to house the selfie camera. Samsung calls it the Infinity-O Display and with the new hole-in-the-screen design, it tries to change things up by letting go of the notch trend. Other key highlights of the phone include a triple rear camera setup, up to 8GB of RAM, and a rear fingerprint sensor as well.

Samsung Galaxy A8s price, availability

Samsung has not yet announced the price of the Galaxy A8s smartphone, but it is set to come in 6GB RAM + 128GB storage and 8GB RAM + 128GB storage options. It will go for pre-order in China soon, which is presumably when the company will announce pricing details as well. The smartphone is set to come in Black (Green), Blue, and Silver colour options in China.

Samsung Galaxy A8s design

Samsung Galaxy A8s is seen sporting the Infinity-O Display with a hole on the top left edge of the screen for the selfie camera sensor. Apart from that, the entire front portion is taken over by the display, with no bezels on all sides. At the back, there is a triple camera setup stacked vertically, and a fingerprint scanner situated in the centre. At the bottom edge, we can see the USB Type-C port, the speaker grille and the microphone. The power and volume buttons are housed on the right edge, and the SIM tray is seen on the left edge of the device.

Samsung Galaxy A8s specifications

Coming to hardware, the dual-SIM, dual-standby Samsung Galaxy A8s runs on Android 8.1 Oreo and is seen sporting a 6.2-inch (1080×2340 pixels) full-HD+ display (6.4-inch when corners measured at right angles) with 19.5:9 aspect ratio. The smartphone is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 710 octa-core SoC paired with Adreno 616 GPU, with 6GB and 8GB RAM options. Internal storage offered is at 128GB.

Coming to imaging, the Galaxy A8s sports a triple rear camera setup – with one 24-megapixel main sensor with f/1.7 aperture, another 10-megapixel telephoto sensor with f/2.4 aperture that can offer 2X optical zoom, and another 5-megapixel sensor with f/2.2 aperture and this one is basically for more depth in photos. There’s also a 24-megapixel selfie sensor with f/2.0 aperture.

The Samsung Galaxy A8s packs a 3,400mAh battery with fast charging support. Connectivity options include NFC support, and there is no 3.5mm headphone jack. The smartphone is said to be just 7.4mm thick. As mentioned, the Samsung Galaxy A8s comes with rear fingerprint scanning support.

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Snapdragon 8cx Is Qualcomm’s Latest Chip for Always-On, Always-Connected Windows 10 Machines

The Kashmir Monitor



Qualcomm, the biggest supplier of chips for mobile phones, on Thursday pushed further into the PC market with a line of chips designed to power business machines.

Qualcomm’s “Snapdragon” processor chips historically have been at the heart of mobile phones like Alphabet’s Google Pixel phone and many Samsung Electronics Co devices.

Over the past year, though, Qualcomm adapted its chips to operate PCs running Microsoft Corp’s Windows operating system, making those machines start up more quickly and stay connected to the Internet constantly, much like a mobile phone or tablet.

But the chips Qualcomm used in those early PCs were essentially modified versions of the chips it sold for mobile phones. At an event in Hawaii on Thursday, Qualcomm officials said they have created a new series of chips called the Snapdragon 8cx that will be dedicated to PCs.

Qualcomm is calling the Snapdragon 8cx Compute Platform the world’s first 7nm PC platform, hoping it will allow for “new form factors in the always-on, always-connected category”. The Snapdragon 8cx packs the octa-core Qualcomm Kryo 495 CPU and the new Adreno 680 GPU, the company’s most powerful GPU yet. The memory interface is now 128 bit wide and support for second generation USB 3.1 over Type C and third generation PCI-E is now baked-in. This will let users connect up to two 4K High Dynamic Range (HDR) monitors to their Snapdragon 8cx enabled devices, the Qualcomm said. Snapdragon 8cx supports Quick Charge 4+ and also features the Snapdragon X24 LTE modem.

The biggest difference is the new Qualcomm chips will support Windows 10 Enterprise, the version of Microsoft’s popular operating system that is sold to businesses.

Previous Qualcomm chips supported only the consumer versions of Windows, making business customers less likely to purchase computers powered by them.

Qualcomm says Snapdragon 8cx is “currently sampling to customers and is expected to begin shipping in commercial devices in Q3 of 2019”.

Qualcomm’s move puts it in greater competition with chipmaker Intel Corp, which last year still derived more than half of its $62.8 billion in revenue from PC chips and dominates that market. Intel’s association with Windows PCs was so strong that the computer industry referred to them as “Wintel” machines for decades.

Qualcomm and others are also challenging Intel’s supremacy in the data centre business. Qualcomm’s chips are powered by technology from SoftBank Group Corp-controlled Arm Holdings. Several companies – including’s cloud division Amazon Web Services, a major Intel customer – are working to make ARM-based chips suitable for data centres.

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