Friday, January 12, 2018

Jasti Chelameswar, the chief dissenting justice of India

From holding an unprecedented press conference about the Chief Justice to Aadhaar to ‘judges bribery’ case, Justice Jasti Chelameswar has been the flag-bearer of dissent in the higher judiciary.

New Delhi: “Seven years is a good tenure to make a mark personally and contribute to the march of law,” Justice Jasti Chelameswar had said at the Krishna Iyer memorial lecture in 2015.

Months before he retires, the second most senior judge in India’s Supreme Court cannot be faulted if he looks back at his last six and a half years in the apex court and heaves a sigh of satisfaction.

He has certainly made a mark personally, and could also believe that he has contributed to the march of law, considering he is being seen as perhaps the most consequential judge in India’s top court in recent times. The reasons are several.

His critique of the collegium system, through which he was appointed, has shaped the discourse on judicial accountability.

Chelameswar expressed dissent in the ruling on the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC). He perhaps saw the fragility of the process more than other judges who struck it down, probably because the same collegium system denied him a chance to be Chief Justice of India.

In 2016, a year after his famous dissent, Chelameswar became part of the same opaque cabal, but when invited to the meetings, he promptly refused to participate in deliberations. Instead, he chose to offer his opinions in writing when files were sent to his office. When he became the number two in that clique, a decision was taken to make all collegium recommendations public.

While that was the judge’s most famous instance of judicial dissent, it was not the only one. In fact, Chelameswar has become so known for his dissenting views – or should it be the march of law? – that the legal fraternity suspects it has something to do with the questionable delay in elevating him to the Supreme Court.

Chelameswar became Chief Justice of the Gauhati High Court in May 2007, but was not elevated to the SC until October 2011, robbing him of the chance to become Chief Justice of India as it placed him behind CJI Dipak Misra in seniority in the top court.

The march of the dissenter

Chelameswar’s other dissents are as political as the NJAC ruling. In 2012, he wrote a contrarian opinion on P.A. Sangma’s petition challenging Pranab Mukherjee’s election as President, on the grounds that he had held an office of profit on the day he filed his nomination. He said it must be given a hearing in open court.

In 2014, he wrote a dissent note against the majority view on holding open court hearings to review petitions of death row convicts.

Months later, Chelameswar, along with Justice Rohinton F. Nariman, would script one of India’s landmark rulings on civil liberties and right to freedom of speech in the Shreya Singhal case. But then, contradicting his latest stand on civil liberties, he upheld a Haryana law that made contesting panchayat elections contingent on having a minimum educational qualification and a functional toilet at home, among others.

On Aadhaar, he again took a liberal view on privacy. He headed the bench that referred the question of whether privacy is a fundamental right to a larger constitution bench, since there were ‘conflicting opinions’ of different benches of the apex court – another institutional process Chelameswar has long criticised.

“There are about 150 that go to constitution benches as different benches of the SC express different views on the same issue. This is predominantly due to the practice of the SC sitting in benches,” he said.

His suggestion was to have all judges of the apex court on one bench, at least for cases involving significant legal questions. Given the number of cases before the SC, and the perennial shortage of judges, the suggestion is not practically feasible. But it explains why he constituted a bench of “five senior-most judges of the court” to hear the controversial case seeking probe into allegations that attempts were made to influence an apex court judge.

“Clever lawyers, more often than not, make emotional appeals to the ‘good conscience’ of the judges to decide cases on ad hoc principles,” he said prophetically in a ruling, but is now haunted by similar accusations.

In the judges bribery case, the three-judge bench said that lawyers — Dushyant Dave, Prashant Bhushan and Kamini Jaiswal — “scandalised the court” by suggesting that their petition be heard by a bench of five senior-most judges, as directed by Chelameswar.

The three-judge bench that heard and dismissed the petition finally refused to even acknowledge Chelameswar in its ruling, referring to his bench as “Court No. 2” — the same court in which a portrait of the greatest dissenter, Justice H.R. Khanna hangs.

He was born in Pedda Muttevi in Andhra Pradesh’s Krishna district, a village whose current population is less than 3,000. He credits his school in Machilipatnam, a town 25 km from his village, for introducing him to Telugu literature, a passion he continues to nurture.

Being a voracious reader himself, Chelameswar is a rare judge who opens his personal library to his law clerks and young lawyers. He is often seen recommending books to them.

His interest in Telugu literature and his current position has made him a familiar face in Telugu circles abroad, and he is invited by the Telugu Association of North America to speak to audiences in the United States. Last year, Naperville in the state of Illinois declared 14 October as Jasti Chelameswar day, in honour of his landmark judgments.

As a judge, Chelameswar is known to give a patient audience to young lawyers and senior advocates alike. While listening to lawyers, he often slips two fingers on his cheek, resembling an iconic pose of NTR. Chelameswar is also the only apex court judge to use the microphone in court regularly, perhaps as a testament to his criticism of the court’s opaque mechanisms.

Now, as he prepares to hang his robe and walk away from the hallowed precincts of the Supreme Court, Chelameswar can be rest assured that the country has heard him loud and clear.

The #1 CEO Of The Year In The Cloud Wars: Microsoft's Satya Nadella

CLOUD WARS -- Quick quiz—name the company whose "top news stories of 2013" included the following: shut down the Zune Marketplace; bought Nokia's smartphone business for about $7 billion; quickly followed the disastrous release of a new operating system (8) with an upgrade/replacement (8.1); introduced two new tablets; lost trademark battle for the name "SkyDrive."

It seems utterly unimaginable that only four years ago, an annual list of Microsoft's biggest news stories could include such a mix of trifles, blunders and disasters.

But on Feb. 3, 2014, all that confusion and lack of direction changed profoundly when Satya Nadella was named the third CEO in Microsoft's storied history.

How profoundly?

On Jan. 7, 2014, in the waning days of Steve Ballmer's wind-down and four weeks before Nadella was named as CEO, Microsoft's market cap was $302.2 billion.

On Jan. 8, 2018, after 47 months of Satya Nadella's leadership, Microsoft's market cap stood at $681.6 billion.

Microsoft has a very good chance to become the first vendor to reach $20 billion in annual enterprise-cloud revenue, and it might do so by the end of this calendar year. (Microsoft reached a $20-billion annualized run rate last year, but I'm referring to it actually reaching $20 billion in real revenue for the trailing 12 months, not a projection for what could happen over a forward-looking period of time. Both sets of numbers are legitimate, but they refer to two very different metrics.)

Microsoft has been, for most of 2017, the top-rated of all enterprise-cloud vendors, fending off savage competition from Amazon, IBM, and others.

And without question, the person most responsible for that extraordinary turnaround, transformation, rejuvenation, re-imagining, overhaul, restoration, resurrection, and near-miracle reversal is the eloquent and passionate Nadella, who, as if he didn't have enough going on in 2017, somehow managed to write a book on business and leadership called Hit Refresh.

Throughout most of 2017, as I consistently put Microsoft at the top of my rankings of cloud vendors, I'd get questions along the lines of, "So dude, ever hear of, like, AMAzon? They're, like, bigger than every other cloud vendor combined— multiplied times a hundred!"

As it turns out, I have indeed heard of Amazon, and have rightfully been highly complimentary toward the cloud achievements of Andy Jassy and his powerful team.

But as I said in an October article called Why Amazon Won't Catch #1 Microsoft In The Cloud—Because It's All About Software, in spite of all of Amazon's IaaS prowess and its innovative technology and customer-engagement models, the next phase of the cloud evolution will be centered very deeply on enterprise software—and there is simply no way that Amazon can match Microsoft on that competitive dynamic.

In that piece, I wrote, "So fast-forwarding back to today, as Artificial Intelligence is arguably the hottest and highest-potential new technology in the enterprise space, only a software-native company like Microsoft could even dream about the ability to launch an AI division with more than 5,000 computer scientists and software engineers. Not 50 great people or 500, but more than 5,000. Microsoft created that AI unit just over a year ago."

Satya Nadella created that AI powerhouse by bringing together an array of different teams from across the company to give them a common purpose, a sense of shared challenge and destiny, and to underscore to his company and to the world that Microsoft was going all-in on AI and is fully determined to be the category king in that world-changing space.

And in his uniquely eloquent style, here's how Nadella described the significance—to Microsoft and for its customers—of the formation of that big and powerful AI team: "The core currency of any business going forward will be the ability to convert their data into AI that drives competitive advantage."

That decision to unify fragmented teams is another part of Nadella's triumphant reinvigoration of Microsoft—whereas in the past the company was often hamstrung or hobbled by its size and unwieldy momentum, Nadella has transformed the structure and culture and attitude of the company such that its mass is now a formidable asset.

Look at how that vision is expressed by Nadella in this excerpt from an article I wrote several months ago called 10 Powerful Examples Of Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella's Transformative Vision:

"Overall the approach we have taken for multiple years now is to transform everything that we do inside the company, whether it's about creation, how we are organized in the R&D, how we think about breaking down any silos and category definitions we may have had in the past, how we think about even marketing and the marketing approach and then, of course, even with the go to market. And this transformation is ongoing. This has been happening over multiple years, but we now have got very good customer momentum, because ultimately this is all driven by the opportunity at hand, which is much bigger than anything that we have participated in the past, so the total addressable market is much bigger. And second, our customer expectations and our partner expectations of how we show up with them has changed. And so over the years we have been making changes and now that we have a lot more momentum and critical mass we're going to that next phase and that's what you are seeing us in terms of changing the skill sets, changing the scope of how we show up to support the digital transformation needs of both large customers, as well as small businesses."

And here's a tangible example of how Nadella and Microsoft delivered on that promise (also from that same article):

"The workplace is transforming — from changing employee expectations, a need for more diverse skills and globally distributed teams, and an increasingly complex threat environment. Only Microsoft gives customers a comprehensive approach for this new culture of work. Earlier this month we introduced Microsoft 365, which brings together Office 365, Windows 10 and Enterprise Mobility & Security in a complete, secure solution to empower employees, safeguard businesses and simplify IT management. Microsoft 365 is a fundamental shift in how we design, build and go-to-market to address customer needs. Fortune 500 customers Fed-Ex, Dow Chemical, Staples and Progressive Insurance all chose Microsoft 365. The success of our Secure Productive Enterprise offering with its triple-digit seat growth is one reason we are investing in Microsoft 365 for businesses of all sizes."
Other CEOs in the Cloud Wars also delivered exceptional performance in 2017:

Ginni Rometty's ongoing transformation of IBM into a cloud-plus-cognitive software company continues to be extremely impressive. Along the way, IBM and Rometty have created an entirely new and customer-centric cloud segment that drives the cloud-purist police crazy: helping huge corporate customers convert their legacy IT systems into cloud or cloud-compatible environments, which has turned into an $8-billion business for IBM.

Andy Jassy is maneuvering Amazon into more of a PaaS player and has solidified Amazon's pre-eminence as the IaaS provider of choice for several of the world's top SaaS providers—while continuing to drive 40% growth for AWS, whose trailing 12-month cloud revenue is now just over $16 billion.

Marc Benioff has propelled to $10 billion in enterprise-cloud software revenue and has predicted Salesforce could well be the first to reach $20 billion. He's also generated huge value for the entire cloud industry by continuing to be probably the most vocal and widely recognized evangelist in the world for the enterprise cloud.

But as good as those 3 have been, Nadella's simply made more of an impact, driven more customer-centric innovation, and articulated a vision for how not only the cloud but some other transformative new technologies—AI, Machine Learning, Blockchain, IoT—will continue to create fabulous new business value and opportunities for companies across all industries for many years to come.

In attempting to capture the essence of Nadella's achievements in 2017, let me offer these two paragraphs that I wrote about him in the piece cited above showcasing 10 examples of his powerful vision:

"In doing so, Satya Nadella has made Microsoft into that most formidable of competitors: while it can surely float like a butterfly, it can also develop products faster than ever before, put more resources in front of partners and customers, plow more investments into promising technologies, share more world-class ideas, and tie its customers vast and disparate "digital estates" together seamlessly in ways no other enterprise-tech company can come close to matching.

"And Nadella does so in a style that is visionary, emboldening, insightful, and eloquent—he's a leader who fearlessly tells his troops that the way forward will be brimming with change and disruption and challenges, while also inspiring them to be not just willing but in fact eager to make that journey with him."


Thursday, January 11, 2018

Lt. Gen. Yendluri Venkata KrishnaMohan takes over as Commander of 9 Crops

Lieutenant General  Yendluri  Venkata Krishna Mohan today took over as the 13th Corps Commander of the Rising Star Corps from Lt Gen S K Saini.

Lt. Gen. Mohan is son of reputed Doctor Dr.YV Ramasubbaiah hails from Anantapur in Andhra Pradesh.

He was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant General in September 2016 and appointed Commandant of the National Defence College, in January 2017. He was awarded the Sena Medal (SM) for his services during 'Operation MEGHDOOT' in 2005.

A highly decorated soldier of the 7th Battalion the 11th Gorkha Rifles, Lt. Gen. Mohan has had an illustrious career during which he commanded an Infantry Brigade in High-Altitude Area and a Mountain Division along the China frontier, a defence spokesperson said.

The spokesperson said that Lt.Gen. Mohan has excelled in various professional courses during his service.

Lt. Gen. Mohan is a graduate of the Defence Service Staff College, Wellington, and has studied at the Royal College of Defence Studies, London.

The 9 Corps, also known as the Rising Star Corps, was raised in 2005 and is the Indian Army's youngest corps. It is based in Yol cantonment town in Kangra Valley, southeast of Dharamsala in Himachal Pradesh.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Suryadevara Mahendra Dev appointed Vice-Chairman of IFPRI board

Prof. Suryadevara Mahendra Dev has been elected as President of the Indian Economic Association (IEA) for the next three years starting from January 2018. Apart from having annual conferences, IEA will help in organising conferences and seminars to improve the quality of teaching and research in economics in colleges and universities. 

Mahendra Dev, a noted agri-economist, has been elevated as the Vice-Chairman, Board of Trustees of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), Washington D.C., USA.

He is the second person from India after Isher Ahluwalia (who became chairperson) to be appointed to a high position at the IFPRI in 42 years. Dev, who is at present Director & Vice-Chancellor of the Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research (IGIDR) in Mumbai, will formally take over the new responsibility in January 2018.

The 59-year-old Dev has made significant contributions in agri development, poverty and public policy, food security, employment guarantee schemes, farm and non-farm employment. He has been on the board of IFPRI for the past four years.

The IFPRI provides research-based policy solutions to sustainably reduce poverty and end hunger and malnutrition in developing countries. Established in 1975, IFPRI has more than 600 employees working in over 50 countries. It is a research centre of CGIAR, a worldwide partnership engaged in agricultural research for development.

Reacting to the elevation, Dev told BusinessLine over telephone that he will pursue the core goals of IFPRI and also focus on climate change, which has a wide impact on agriculture. Interventions into tackling malnuturition and providing food security in African, Latin America and the South Asian nations would be another priority.

Dev hails from Tummapudi, a small village near Tenali in Andhra Pradesh. After graduating from Loyola College, Vijayawada, he received his PhD from the Delhi School of Economics and Post-doctoral from Yale University. He was Chairman of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices, Ministry of Agriculture, and also Director of the Hyderabad-based Centre for Economic & Social Studies.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Indian-American Katragadda Aruna to Run for US Congress

Miller, 53, is currently a member of the Maryland House of Delegates for which she first elected in 2010.

Washington: Indian-American politician Katragadda Aruna Miller has filed nomination papers to run for the US Congress from a Congressional seat in Maryland.

Miller, 53, is currently a member of the Maryland House of Delegates for which she first elected in 2010.

The current Democratic incumbent to this Congressional District John Delaney has said that he will not seek re- election and instead has announced to run for 2020 Democratic partys presidential primary.

"As an immigrant, I have been afforded incredible opportunities here. I want to pay it forward and make sure we keep the doors of opportunity open to all our citizens," Miller said after she officially filed her Certificate of Candidacy for US Congress for the 6th Congressional district of Maryland.

"Congress needs more experienced, progressive legislators at this critical time, if we are going to enact and keep policies that really serve the best interests of the people and our country," said Miller who is considered as one of the active Maryland State legislature.

"This is one of the happiest days and proudest moments of my life," she said. 

Miller, 53, filed in Annapolis alongside her mother, Hema Katragadda. Miller was born in (Ventrapragada village - Krishna District/ AP) India and moved to the U.S. with her family when she was 7. She has served in the House of Delegates since 2010 and worked as a transportation engineer for the Montgomery County government. Emily’s List, a political group dedicated to financing and helping women win elections, endorsed Miller in the race.

Miller, a civil engineer, is endorsed by EMILYS List and 314 Action, a political action committee dedicated to electing more STEM candidates.

She worked for 25 years for Montgomery County. In 2010, she was elected to the Maryland House of Delegates where she represents the 15th District and serves on the Appropriations Committee.

The primary elections for Marylands 6th Congressional District is scheduled for June 26.

In addition to Miller, four others including an Afghan- American Nadia Hashimi have declared themselves in the race.

Miller, who came to the US from India at the age of seven along with her parents, said her political interest was sparked by the Bush v Gore election in 2000, where the fate of the country was not determined by the voters but rather by the Supreme Court.

"It was then I realised democracy needed me. Not as a bystander or to cast a vote when theres an election ? I needed to engage and empower others every day. I started to volunteer locally which brought me face to face with the needs and problems of others in the community," she said.

The current House of Representative has one Indian- American women, Pramila Jayapal from Washington State, who was elected for the first time in the 2016 general elections.

Senator Kamala Harris, who is of mixed Indian and African parental heritage is also the first Indian American Senator. She was elected in 2016.