Abdul Rashid Sir : Artist of our decade, light of our lives

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There comes a time in everyone’s life when he starts questioning the very meaning of his journey. Why is the onus of healing everything lying on time? In the last couple of years I have been losing my idols one at a time. It is not fair.

Today, at this very moment the nerves that I have, have stopped responding to the surrounding. A push has blown me to the summer of 2006. A more comfortable setting for my weary nerves.

That is a beautiful time, we were about to leave the majestic lush green playground of our school, for the recess had just ended. It took a mere five minutes for my lunch to get over and I had no idea about the contents of it. It must be the overly heated mashed ladyfingers, as they were the most loved by my friends. Sujay and Rajat’s food used to be a delicacy for me and I remember their boxes of sheer amaze quite distinctly. The 15 minutes break used to end with us discussing a couple of movies or matches. We would play a bit too in the said interval.

Listening to the sound of the hammer slapping the copper plate, we started to stroll from the deep end of the ground. Sometimes we would be 7, on the other times we might be 10. We did not care much as everyone was everyone else’s friend back then. Our walks would turn into strides on the site of Mukesh Sir, and then to heavy sprinting when Sir starts to whistle.

In soggy royal navy blue shirt, with pants having a darker shade of navy blue, and hair all misplaced, we submitted a plea to enter the class of the 6th A. It was in the form of 8 arms stretched as if we were taking an oath. We were a little late than most of our classmates that day. With a smile that would melt the hearts of even the most heartless souls, the teacher allowed us inside and asked us to take the seats. We were already pretty relieved after knowing that Rashid Sir would take this period as the other teacher was absent.

Rashid Sir was our drawing instructor and was one of the most respected and loved teachers. There were many reasons for it, but if anyone had met him even once in their lifetime, all those reasons would start to sound extremely superficial. His presence had the power to sooth the wandering minds and calm the negativity down. I used to be abysmal in the exact field he was worldly renowned.

He knew that I had interest in drawing. Whenever I would take my sketches to him, he would analyse them with me and suggest on how to better my skills. One day, when I was in 5th I showed him a picture that was drawn by my sister. I thought I would be highly praised for the same and Sir would appreciate “my” efforts. He did not say a word to me for the first time in such setup, but his slow pursing of lips talked enough. He rated that too, but did not discuss “the scenery of the village” like he always used to. Even though he marked it as an impressive piece I somehow felt no happiness; it felt nothing like I anticipated.

In the post recess period, Sir gave us the permission to study any subject. I thought of making a scenery that day. I took my drawing sheet that was still present in my bag, owing to last day’s drawing period. Students kept going to Sir to discuss their creations. It occurred to me to do the same and get Sir’s review. I don’t remember exactly what I created that day but what followed is a lifetime lesson and an ingrained memory now. The instance Sir saw the mess I made on the paper, he patted my back. He exclaimed, “I am proud of you. You have made this, this is your work.” That day I not only learnt a very important lesson on honesty but also realised what kind of person I want to become.

Looking back to that instance now, I feel my nerves again.

Rashid Sir did not only teach us how to decorate the drawing sheets but he also gave us a lifelong scenery. A scene in which the world around us changes at an unpredictable pace, it tries to flush down our beliefs at the same rate. But, if only we continue to be who we are, trust the lessons which the teachers have showered upon us, we all have it in us to defeat the evils just with our innocent and pure smiles.

Rashid Sir is here with us and will always be a very important person in all our lives. His drawings would continue to shine upon us and the coming generations. And his immortal lessons will be carried from one generation to another.

Rashid Sir is here and always will be. :’)

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Everything you need to know about the recent #SandPaperGate Scandal

Image result for sandpaper gate

The setting

It was the day 3 of the 3rd test of a yet another beautifully set up series in Southern Africa. As expected, South Africa had made a stellar comeback by winning the second test match, after being humbled in the first at the hands of the Aussies. Proteas had gained a handy lead of 55 after the first innings. At 129/2, thanks to a set Aiden Markram things were looking up for the home team.


Mom
ent that caught the eyes

Suddenly, Cameron Bancroft was seen to have taken out something yellowish from his right pocket and then placing it in his underpants (seriously?)

Nigel Llong and Richard Illingworth from England who were umpiring for this game, came in to chat with the great Bancroft. After the umpires’ inquiry Bancroft presented them with a soft cloth and a plastic cover (sun-glass case-ish); and these were definitely not the yellow object he was seen putting in his under pants.

By the end of the day the clips of Bancroft roughening the Kookabura with the yellow thing(Sandpaper?) were all over the Internet with #SandpaperGate now taking rounds. Andy Pycroft, the match referee for this game then registered Bancroft for ball-tampering.


The Press Conference that followed

Steven Smith and Bancroft headed the press conference which definitely had the least to do with the actual cricket but the stories of ball tampering that surrounded it.

Steven Smith accepted the allegations and informed the world about the involvement of the ‘leadership group’ of the team. When inquired about the involvement of the coaching staff in this conspiracy, Smith was seen to clearly deny the same. When asked if he’d step down as a captain, Smith replied with assurance that he still feels to be The Man to lead the crew.

For the rest of the Test match both Steven Smith and David Warner gave up their Captaincy and Vice Captaincy respectively. Tim Paine led the team for the remaining day(s).

To make matters even worse, Australia was crowned over by a mammoth and harrowing 322 runs defeat by the host team. International Cricket Council stepped in and Steven Smith was banned for 1 test match and was fined 100 percent of his match fee, while Cameron Bancroft was given 3 demerit points(demerit points combine to become suspension points, which further combine to result in serious charges such as ban for a number of matches / for a length of time) and was asked to give 75% of his match fee.


The Aftermath

The situation turned to be so intense that even the Prime Minister of Australia had to come out and express about how hampering the incident has been to the Australian spirit.

 

A number of legends took the opportunity of expressing their dissent on the #SandPaperGate.

 

Lets try to understand the mechanics of this unfortunate incident.


What is ball tampering?

Any attempt to alter the cricket ball’s condition by unlawful means come under this term.


What
are the laws with respect to altering the ball’s condition?

This has been made clear in Law 41.3 of the MCC’s Laws of Cricket. Simply, a fielder is only allowed to:
1. Polish the ball with his clothing;
2. Remove mud in umpire’s supervision, or;
3. Dry it up with a piece of cloth approved by the umpires.

To supplement it further, Clause 2.2.9 of “The International Cricket Council Code of Conduct for Players and Player Support Personnel” document prohibits the following –
(i) throwing the ball in the ground with the intention of roughening it;  
(ii) applying artificial/non artificial substance with any intention but to polish it;  
(iii) scratching the ball’s surface with finger or thumb nails;
(iv) interfering with the seam of the ball.


What is reverse swing and why it is effective?

Image result for reverse swing cricket gif

Conventional swing happens due to the shininess of the ball. When the ball gets old, it is handled in a way that one side of it remains shiny, where as the other side is left to get roughen and deteriorate.

Now, the condition of the ball becomes such that the two sides of the ball separated by the grip would show different amount of resistance to the air.

The ball will swing towards the rough side. This art of bowling was developed by Sarfraz Nawaz of Pakistan in the early 1970s. It was passed onto Imran Khan by him, who later taught this skill to the duo of Waqar and Wasim.


What do players try to achieve with ball tampering?

Naturally, ball roughening is a slow process. It might take 40-45 overs before a decent distinction can be made between the two sides of the ball. Ball tampering is hence an illegal method of fastening that process.


What do I feel about this recent incident?

As a fan who has been seeing cricket for 15+ years, this might be the most shocking incident this sport has unfolded to me. A sport that should spread the feeling of brotherhood, camaraderie and love is now in a grave danger to be seen as just another money producing venture. When a valiant Aiden Markram’s gritty inning gets overshadowed by the acts of a cheat, you know it’s time to be more severe with the punishments.

I am from a generation who has seen the most talented teenage fast bowled Mohammed Amir being booked for match fixing, a promising Sreesanth self-damaging his career, Turbanator Harbhajan Singh being banned for violence.

I am also from the same crowd who remembers that over from Andrew Flintoff’s Man Of The Series campaign at the 2005 Ashes, or the Ponting Vs Ishant’s Rivalry at the Perth from the 2008’s India’s Tour of Australia. The wreckage Stuart Broad caused in the 4th Test of the 2015 Ashes with his 8 for or Sachin’s over sweeper six on Shoaib Akthar’s bouncer, which set the tone for the 2003 World Cup.

The beautiful thing about cricket is that whenever it has been quagmire-d by controversies, it has always found its way out; thanks to a few players who with their performances and attitude have always snatched cricket from the darkest nights. (Remember how Dinesh Karthik’s last ball six in the Nidahas Trophy which ended recently calmed the chaos created by Bangladesh and Sri Lanka in the previous game!!)


The recent developments

Cricket Australia has called Steven Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft before the last match of the test series, back home. While, Tim Paine has been named as the captain for the final game to be played at the Wanderers in Jo’burg. The last game will be played from the 30th of this month. Matthew Renshaw, Glenn Maxwell and Joe Burns shall replace the 3. Cricket Australia has promised to present the sanctions on the 3 players it has called back home in the next 24 hours.

UPDATE (17:00 IST 28th March 2018) :- Steven Smith and David Warner have been banned from playing international and domestic cricket by Cricket Australia for the next 12 months. Also Steven Smith won’t be able to captain sides for a year after the completion of his ban. David Warner is banned from captaincy for his life now. They have also been prohibited by the BCCI to participate in the Indian Premier League this season.

Whereas, Cameron Bancroft would not be able to compete in any international and domestic cricket for 9 months according to the sanctions put on him by Cricket Australia. Also, he won’t be able to lead the side for the 12 months after the completion of the ban.

UPDATE (21:00 IST 28th March 2018) :- Darren Lehmann has decided that the last test match of the tour would also be the final one of his career as the head coach of the Australian Cricket team.

Problems with India’s Education System

 

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My neighbor’s child, a 13 year old in her most formative years of education had a computer science exam a few days back. She came to our home to prepare as the parents had a wedding to attend. Seeing her all perplexed, I came in to help. I asked her questions, such as what is a cell in a spreadsheet?. Closing her eyes, trying to regain from her last 2 hours effort of learning; in the most parrot-fashion there is, she muttered hastily, “A cell in a spreadsheet is a..”. It took her a few more attempts after which she finally was able to spit the whole definition, “A cell is the intersection between a row and a column on a spreadsheet”. I was a little unsettled after seeing her journey to the answer. Being a topper of her class comes with the expectations of her being a rational and a logical student. I then went deeper with the question, asking her to explain to me where a cell or a spreadsheet was used. Upon her silence, I tried to probe the cause of such an apathy. Her statement in defence stood that she didn’t have many practical classes. Sadly, this is the sorry state of one of the most renowned centrally funded schools of our country.

The present scenario of the state of schools in our country shows a uniformity in the learning pattern. Every kid receives the same textbooks, and gets the same notes. But how then do we grade our students? In order to do this, the country follows a uniform system of education which primarily aims at imparting basic education to the great 41 percent of our population. We believe that students need to be brought to the same footing across the country so that they have an equal shot at the life that awaits them. But in doing so, we try to measure the capabilities of every student with the same yardstick, forgetting the niche of every student.

The recent upsurge in the number of students who score 90% and above in boards, and not an equal one when it comes to their employability, goes on to reveal the nuances of the system that rote-learning has been successful in producing. Question papers are designed in such a way that any student having decent rote-learning capabilities can score well. Hence, there is a very limited motivation for the students to dive deeper in the subject. The propensity of their parents in wanting them to finish at the podium only worsens the case.

School years are the time when we can make our kids fearless in exploring. We can pick their curiosity and help them in stretching it to the extents of the Universe. Also, the roles of teachers in the schools are so strictly defined that even a hint of difference between what is taught to the children and the doubts that occur to them is almost always ignored and left under appreciated.

The definition of education in India is restricted to a handful of subjects and the appreciation for kids in fields other than those is lowly applauded. It doesn’t matter if it’s a Kathak queen or a Violin prodigy; all of them are only encouraged to score well in the 10th and prepare to become a Doctor, another engineer or the white collared Chartered Accountant.

To build a strong nation, it is required for it to have a solid foundation. For a country which has its 2/5th population under 18, it becomes imperative that a rightful methodology is placed in the education system. This 41% of India will define where our country ranks itself on the social, economical, political and scientific fronts for the century to come. As Mahatma Gandhi once said, “what is really needed to make democracy function is not knowledge of facts, but right education”.

How are Bitcoin profits taxed?

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India now accounts for about 10% of the global trade in Bitcoin. It is quite interesting to note that even though the Indian government has not granted recognition to the cryptocurrency, it has also not declared it to be illegal.

Use of Bitcoin has witnessed an upsurge in India. This can be attributed to many factors. We have a large number of people whose curiosity has prompted them to ‘try’ dealing with Bitcoins to know what the fuss is all about. Another section includes the freelancers of this generation; who are taking up projects of their interest, across continents. In this case, bitcoin acts as a uniform currency. Due to its decentralised and non-regulated nature, it is the quickest and the easiest way to make payments.

But being an Indian citizen (and a responsible one!), it becomes imperative to understand what happens to the wealth accumulated. This also becomes extremely necessary in the wake of people making profits that are more than 1000 times their investments. How vocal is the regulatory framework about accumulation of such wealth?

The Income Tax Laws in India provide for 5 basic heads for a citizen to pay their tax under. A division of such heads has been done so beautifully, that it tries to never leave a scope for anyone to take advantage of tax laws. The 5 heads are:

  1. Income from house property;
  2. Income from salary;
  3. Income from capital gain;
  4. Income from business or profession;
  5. Income from other sources.

The 5th head, i.e. income from other sources is the savior here. In case of any confusion about what head should a wealth be declared under, this section serves as the solution.

When it comes to bitcoins, we can imagine 4 scenarios of their origin and how they can be taxed in each of those :


Exhibit A : When you have mined Bitcoins yourself

So out of sheer curiosity you decided to employ your processors to mine bitcoin? By logic, since you mined them yourself, these should technically fall under the category of self generated capital assets. And should you choose to sell them off, you are going to amass capital gains. This would require you to define the cost of acquisition of your property, i.e. Bitcoin. But since you generated this yourself, it doesn’t fall within the purview of the law, as under Section 55 of the Income Tax Act, 1961.

What this means: Capital gains tax doesn’t arise on the mining of bitcoins.

What you can do: Till the time there is no concrete provision, you can list your Bitcoin wealth, as income from other sources (the 5th head.)

Exhibit B : When you’ve held Bitcoins as an investment
Investment in bitcoin has seemed to be the safer idea for the lot who doesn’t have direct access to buying bitcoin. With the fluctuations in the price of Bitcoin, investment in this cryptocurrency has become a very lucrative way to earn profits from the difference in prices of Bitcoin as a result of market fluctuations. It is in this case that tax on bitcoin will come under the 3rd head, i.e. “income from capital gain.”

Investments are either long term or short term. The dividing line for investments in Bitcoin is 3 years :

  1. If the period for which you are holding your bitcoin is more than 3 years, the investment is long term. In this case, you shall be charged 20% tax. The benefit of indexation will be applicable as per the Income Tax Act, 1961.
  2. If the period for which you are holding your bitcoin is less than 3 years, the investment is short term. In this case, you shall be taxed at the individual slab rate.

Exhibit C : Trading in Bitcoin
Who is a Bitcoin trader? The definition is absent in Income Tax Act, 1961. The layman’s definition of a bitcoin trader is someone who frequently trades in Bitcoin, in such a way that it almost looks like this is his business or profession.

What you can do: In case you’re a trader of bitcoin, you shall be taxed under the head “income from business or profession,” until some more clarity is provided by the Indian government with regard to their stance on taxability of Bitcoin.

Exhibit D : When Bitcoin is received as a Payment/Consideration
Let’s understand what is meant by consideration. Say, I really liked a pen in the shop. The pen costs Rs. 100. But I have only Rs. 10. I really want to buy the pen, and I want to go home and get the money and come back and take this pen. I can give Rs. 10 to the shopkeeper, as consideration, in return for a promise that he would not sell this pen to anybody else until I come back.
In some cases Bitcoin can be received as a payment or consideration. In this case, the cryptocurrency would be treated as regular currency. So the payment or consideration that you have received in return for your services, would be taxed under “income from business or profession.”

With subsequent clarity in tax laws, the ambiguity shall resolve and it will become easier to pay taxes for cryptocurrencies.

Hedge Funds v/s Mutual Funds

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Recent efforts by the Indian government to weed out black money from the economy and increase the tax base have called for a paradigm shift in the way people in India choose to save their money. The pumping out of cash from the economy has brought the citizen to a point where he is considering alternative investment options to save his money. This has led to an increase in the number of people who are now investing in the securities and derivative market. With a boom in the stock market over the past year, people are now more inclined to invest in securities, while carefully trying to avoid losses. It is the success of these markets that Long term capital gain tax found its way into the Budget announcement in February this year.


What are Hedge Funds and Mutual Funds?
Hedge funds and Mutual Funds are investment funds made by the fund management companies. The aim of these is to generate profits by investing in more than single entity i.e. through a diversified portfolio.

How do they work?
Investment from different parties gets pooled into a single portfolio. Both (Hedge Funds and Mutual Funds) of these play the stock, invest in land, real estate, currencies and derivatives in order to have high capital gains. They decide upon different investment options with the will of maximising the profits and create a single portfolio out of it.

What are the differences between Hedge Funds and Mutual Funds?
ELIGIBILITY
Hedge Funds are regulated by SEBI and are registered under SEBI, Alternative Investment Funds Regulation 2012. A Hedge Fund should have a minimum corpus of Rs. 20 Crores and minimum investment of Rs 1 Crore by each investor or member of the fund.
Whereas, Mutual Funds are regulated under Securities and Exchange Board of India (Mutual Funds) Regulations, 1996. A firm interested in opening Mutual Funds must register as trusts under the Indian Trusts Act, 1882 and set up a separate Asset Management Company, with the net worth of the parent company / AMC be amounting to at-least Rs 5 Crores.

AUTONOMY
Hedge Funds may at times be only available to a list of high profiled businesses and individuals. They are entrusted with total autonomy and are are allowed to take key decisions at all times. This luxury is not available to the Mutual Fund investors. Owing to the low budget nature of their clients, they are required to be more cautious.

LIQUIDITY
When it comes to liquidity, hedge funds are somewhat stricter. One cannot withdraw their shares whenever they want to. There is a lockup period, during which one cannot withdraw their stake. In the case of mutual funds, one can withdraw their funds whenever they want to.


In the light of recent developments in the Indian securities ecosystem, hedge funds and mutual funds serve as lucrative investment options for corporates and public alike.

 

Invert a Binary Tree

What makes this question special is this tweet.

He questions the interview process, I am with him. But whatever it is, it is.

Question : Invert a binary tree. Return the root of the inverted tree.

     4
   /   \
  2     7
 / \   / \
1   3 6   9
    
    to
   
     4
   /   \
  7     2
 / \   / \
9   6 3   1

 I would request you to change tabs or minimize your browser and give a good 30-40 minutes before seeing the solution.

Solution :-
As you can see in the example, all nodes have their siblings inverted or swapped! So we can recursively swap siblings for every node. But we cannot do it in one function, hence using another function to do the recursion work is required.

void inv(TreeNode* root){
    if(root==NULL)
        return;

    swap(root->left, root->right);

    inv(root->left);
    inv(root->right);
}

TreeNode* Solution::invertTree(TreeNode* root) {
    inv(root);
    return root;
}


The Time Complexity : O(n)
, since each node is visited once. Here n is the number of nodes.
The Space Complexity : O(h), as this many function calls will be put on the stack in the worst case, here h is the height of the binary tree. h ∈ O(n)

The full working code is available at Github, you can star the repository to get updates. I am also maintaining an Interview-Question-Wiki, kindly star and contribute. You can also follow this blog for more such posts. Comment in your queries, report bugs, discuss!:)

Data structures and algorithms practice resources

Data Structure and Algorithms resource guide.

bryanttunbutr

Here are the sites I have experience with and my thoughts

  • LeetCode is excellent because there are many problems and explanations. Furthermore the problems without explanations have answers and commented solutions in the discussion boards. It is the best online judge in my (limited) experience.
  • Code Wars is fun and great for learning a specific language and its features, i.e. JavaScript. But I did not find it as valuable for algorithms.
  • Cracking the Coding Interview has many questions and detailed answers in Java.
  • Data Structures and Algorithms Made Easy in Java is excellent. Sure there are many, many, many typos. But it has so many code samples for each of the data structures, explanations from worse (brute force) to best (optimized) along with advantages and disadvantages of the many possible solutions.

An honorable mention goes to Free Code Camp. The first time I ever had fun solving code challenges…

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