Trivia Thursday: Indian Origin CEOs Of Global Tech Companies

Trivia Thursday: Indian Origin CEO's Of Global Tech Companies

As we celebrated National Technology Day on Tuesday, 11th May, in this week’s Trivia Thursday, let’s have a look at some prominent Indian origin CEOs of global tech companies!

Crux of the Matter

In this week’s Trivia Thursday, let us have a look at Indian origin CEOs of global tech companies:

Sundar Pichai
Company: Google
Sundar Pichai earned his degree in Metallurgical Engineering from IIT-Kharagpur. He joined Google in 2004 as VP of Product Management and oversaw development of Google Chrome and Google Drive.

Satya Nadella
Company: Microsoft
Satya Nadella took over as CEO of Microsoft in 2014 after Steve Ballmer stepped down. Before becoming the CEO, he was the Senior Vice President of Microsoft’s cloud and business division.

Shantanu Narayen
Company: Adobe
Shantanu became the Vice President and General Manager of Adobe’s engineering technology division in 1998. He was appointed President and COO in 2005, CEO in 2007, and has been the Chairman of the board since 2017.

Arvind Krishna
Comapny: IBM
Arvind Krishna received his bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from IIT-Kanpur in 1985. He joined IBM in 1990 at IBM’s Thomas J. Watson Research Center.

Sanjay Mehrotra
Company: Micron Technology
Mehrotra earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences from Berkeley. He was the co-founder of SanDisk and also served as its President and CEO until 2016 when it was acquired by Western Digital. Mehrotra is the owner of over 70 patents.

Sandeep Mathrani
Company: WeWork
Sandeep Mathrani is an Indian-American real estate executive who took over as CEO of WeWork after Adam Neumann was fired. He was the CEO of GGP Inc and the retail division of its parent company Brookfield Property Partners previously.

Anjali Sud
Company: Vimeo
Anjali Sud was named CEO of Vimeo in July 2017, shortly after the company revealed plans to shift its direction from investing in original content and toward providing apps and resources for video producers. Vimeo acquired Livestream and the video editing software Magisto under her leadership.

Take a look at our last week’s Trivia Thursday here: Trivia Thursday: Indian Nobel Prize Winners

Why Is Gain Of Function Research Making News Amidst The Pandemic?

Why Is Gain Of Function Research Making News Amidst The Pandemic?

Since the onset of Covid-19 pandemic, the scientific community is debating regarding the transparency of virus research. This is specifically regarding the federally funded research that involves making pathogens more deadly or more transmissible for research purposes. But is it worth it if it can risk the public health in case it escapes the lab environment? How do we make it more ethical? Let’s first understand the basics of Gain of Function research for this.

Crux of the Matter

What Is Gain Of Function?
GoF is a study that involves creation of pathogens with additional functionalities than occur in nature. This could even lead to creation of pathogens that are more transmissible and deadlier.

Why Would We Do That?
It is performed to understand the way in which a pathogen adapts to environmental pressures. This allows disease control measures to be better planned, and potential vaccines to be explored. Also research on bio-weapons and vaccines is carried out in case a malicious entity weaponises such pathogens.

Controversy With GoF
In 2012, a team worked on a paper, Airborne Transmission of Influenza A/H5N1 Virus Between Ferrets for genetically modifying H5V1 virus by creating a strain that was airborne in ferrets. This demonstrated that it was possible for the avian influenza virus to become transmissible in air and that the strain was sensitive to certain antiviral drugs.

Research Stopped
 The possibility of an accidental or intentional malicious release of such a virus caused the US to halt funding for GoF research relating to influenza, SARS, or MERS in 2014.

Research Restarted
In 2017, National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity concluded that very few such experiments posed a risk to public safety. So the ban was lifted and White House developed an ethical analysis white paper.

What’s In The White Paper

Transparency In Research
In such analysis, expert-panel members are not publicly available, nor are its reviews of study proposals.

We’re not trying to say the policy is wrong, we’re trying to say the policy is ambiguous

Marc Lipsitch, Harvard epidermiologist

Unknown Origins Of Covid-19
There have been theories about Covid-19 causing SARS-CoV-2 emerging as a result of Gain of Function research. That’s because the pandemic started in December 2019 in Wuhan, China, which also houses the Wuhan Institute of Virology, that conducts research on bat coronaviruses. Till date, we don’t know if Covid-19 originated in the wild or in the lab.

  • The word Pathogenic came into existence in 1852 and the word Pathogen was derived from ‘Pathogenic’ during the 1880s. In Greek, the word Pathogenic means “origin of suffering“.
  • Antonie van Leeuwenhoek invented the first microscope in the 1600s. It was a single lens microscope made with a very small glass ball lens. With the help of that microscope he then rediscovered the red blood cells and Spermatozoa.
  • Fungi’s medicinal significance was discovered in 1928 by Scottish bacteriologist Alexander Fleming. Fungi can also be eaten; for example, certain mushrooms, morels, and truffles are considered epicurean delicacies, and mycoproteins (fungal proteins) obtained from the mycelia of some fungi are used to produce high-protein foods.

Australia, NZ And The Oceanic Equation With China

Australia, NZ And The Oceanic Equation With China

China recently cancelled its economic dialogue with Australia amidst continuous conflict since the pandemic started. Meanwhile, New Zealand, Australia’s Oceanic neighbour, who normally has a different stance on China, recently recognized China’s Uighur rights violation though with a caveat. In that light, let’s look at the equation between the three and how they respond to China differently.

Crux of the Matter

What Happened Recently
China indefinitely halted ‘China-Australia Strategic Economic Dialogue’. It was done just after Australia cancelled Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) project between its state Victoria and China.

Across In New Zealand
NZ officially recognized human rights abuse of Uighurs in Xinjiang of China. However, it didn’t recongize it as ‘genocide’ on demand of PM Jacinda Ardern’s party. Still, the move alleviated widespread accusation of NZ ignoring China’s violations.

A Tale Of Two Countries
Oceanic nations Australia and New Zealand have widely differed in response to China. Generally, the former has more aggressive policy.

Australian Policy

  • Australia was among the 1st to ban Huawei and ZTE 5G of China in 2018 over ‘security issues’.
  • It was also among the nations not working with China’s Belt and Road Initiative and had in fact cancelled the one between its state Victoria and China.
  • The big ‘dent’ came in 2020, when Australia called for independent investigation into Coronavirus origin.
  • In turn, China, Australia’s biggest trade partner, imposed heavy sanctions on its exports like 80% on Barley, 200% on wine etc.
  • Chinese investment in Australia also decreased by 61%.

New Zealand

  • Analysts claim NZ is more pro-China in policies than Australia.
  • New Zeland was the 1st developed nation to sign ‘Free Trade Agreement’ with China in 2008.
  • Notably, NZ was the 1st ‘Five Eyes’ group country to join China’s BRI.
  • The country also refused joint condemnation of Uighur conditions with Five Eyes group.

Five Eyes is an intelligence sharing group formed in WW2. The countries members if this group are Australia, Canada, NZ, UK and US.


  • Australia and NZ have China as their biggest trade partner which leads to constraint on level of antagonism they can afford with China.
  • Both, although recognizing ‘rights violation’, refuse to recognize treatment of Uighurs as ‘genocide’.

  • The south China sea is an important trade route for transportation of crude oil. It creates the route from Arabian gulf to Thailand, Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, and Japan.
  • The Nine-dash line is a self-defined demarcation line adopted by China. It is used by them for their claims of territorialization over major parts of south China sea.
  • Mineral deposits like titaniferous magnetite, zircon, monazite, tin, gold, and chromite are highly exploited in near shore regions in the South China sea.

The Case Of Covid-19 Vaccine Patents Waiver

The Case Of Covid-19 Vaccine Patents Waiver

Amidst rising Covid-19 cases and a growing dearth of vaccines, discussions around removing intellectual property rights over vaccine have started again. With US making an official statement that it will waive off the patents for Covid-19 vaccines and treatments, many nations have shown support to the matter raised prominently last year by India and South Africa. There also have been arguments for and against patent waiver. Let’s understand what is happening.

Crux of the Matter

Back Story
In May 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) in order to share knowledge for rapidly scaling up the vaccine production proposed a Covid–Technology Access Pool. However, the initiative largely failed as vaccine companies refused to participate.

The Proposal
In October 2020, India along with South Africa, at World Trade Organization’s Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs) council meet, proposed to temporarily suspend the protection of Intellectual Property (IP) rights pertaining to the Covid-19 vaccine and drugs.

Proponents To Relinquish IP Rights
The India-South Africa proposal was roughly backed by over 100 nations.

Fundamental Argument:

  • The patent holders have the exclusive right to manufacture, sell, and use the vaccine/drug for the entire term of 20 years from the date of its filing.
  • IP rights could restrict the supply of vaccines and drugs. Thus, only by suspending the TRIPS agreement a ‘fair, equitable and affordable access’ to Covid-19 products can be ensured.

At present, the annual global vaccine production capacity is 3.5 billion doses. While to vaccinate 70% of the world’s population,11 billion doses are required. A significant increase in production is the need of hour to control Covid 19.

As Reported In WSJ:
Pharmaceutical firms in developing nations like Bangladesh, India, South Africa, and Senegal say that they have the capacity to produce vaccines within a few months if Western manufacturers license or share their technology.

Opposition To Waiver

  • Vaccine makers which are already ramping up production believe that squashing IP will not work to overcome supply shortage in the short term.
  • Reason? Contract producers are not well versed with the new technology.
  • Ugur Sahin, CEO of BioNTech said that it would take a year to master the RNA technology and ensure quality control, with others saying that it would take away resources from existing vaccine production.

What About Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin?

  • Covaxin is indigenously developed by Bharat Biotech in collaboration with Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and National Institute of Virology.
  • Covaxin is an Indian Intellectual Property and hence the scope of TRIPs is not applicable if India want to license it to other Indian firms.
  • So far, Indian government has granted the license to Haffkine Bio-Pharmaceutical Corp.
  • However, the firm will take at least a year to get the first Covaxin jab out of its factory owing to the mandatory ‘Biosafety level-3’ production facility required.

In News
On 6th May, 2021 the US finally agreed to temporarily suspend the IP rights. However, the statement released said that US will participate in ‘text based negotiations’ and ‘the entire process might take time’. Experts believe that the process will go on for so long that the emergency is over and there’s no longer a need to share IP.

  • Jonas Salk was the creator of one of the world’s first successful Polio Vaccines. In order to increase distribution globally, he did not patent or make a profit out of the vaccine.
  • Edward Jenner created the smallpox vaccine, the first ever vaccine. He is often regarded as the Father of Immunology.
  • The term vaccine and vaccination from the words ‘Variolae vaccinae’. It mean ‘smallpox of the cow’.

An Algorithm Trader Who Single-Handedly Caused The ‘Flash Crash’

Flash Crash: An Algorithm Trader Who Single Handedly Crashed The US Market

11 years ago, on this day the US Market faced one of the most unprecedented events in its history of trading. Popularly known as Flash Crash, it is an event where market indices and stocks heavily plummet and then rebound quickly, all owing to ‘high-frequency trading’. It erased $1 trillion of market value in a single day! Read the story to find out how one guy did it all.

Crux of the Matter

What Is Flash Crash?
On May 6, 2010, major US Stock Indices including Dow Jones Industrial Average, S&P 500, and Nasdaq plummeted and recovered within an hour. Globally, it is regarded as the one of the most volatile trading days. Even though the indices rebounded the same day, the crash erased $1 trillion in market value.

Events As They Happened
The morning of May 6, 2010 was bearish due to the deteriorating financial situation of Greece and the upcoming elections in UK. Major equity and future indices were already down by 4% in the afternoon.

The Crash
Shortly after 2:30 PM EST, the markets became extremely turbulent. In mere 10 minutes, Dow Jones Industrial Average fell more than 1,000 points (pts), losing almost 9% of its value. Simultaneously, the equity market dropped by an additional 600 pts in 5 minutes, totaling the loss of 1000 pts. Post which, in just 20 minutes, the market regained most of the loss.

Driving Force Behind Such Volatility
In 2015, the Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) filed a civil complaint alleging that a man named Navinder Sarao manipulated the Chicago Mercantile Exchange’s (CME) e-mini futures contract by using spoofing tactics that led to the stock fall.

Let’s break it down!

  • CFTC: US’ derivatives markets regulator.
  • E-mini futures contracts: These are electronically traded, are listed on CME, and represent 1/5th of a standard S&P 500 futures contract.
  • Spoofing: A market manipulation technique to place and cancel hundreds of thousands of orders without executing any of them. A few market regulators also call it layering.

Filling an order book with sales order is not illegal. CFTC alleged that Sarao created a false supply to push the market down. He placed orders in a way they got cancelled as soon as the market came close to it. More than anything, it was the size of the order that effected. On May 6, Sarao put in orders worth $170-$200 million until afternoon – this amount included 20-29% of the sell-side order book. The orders were replaced/modified more than 19,000 times before being cancelled.

The Manipulation
Sarao sent large sell orders in the e-mini futures contract using layering algorithm to lower their prices. He repeatedly sold the e-mini contracts and bought them back at a lower price. He then turned the layering algorithm off, due to which prices rebounded and he sold the contracts at the higher price. He earned $6.4 million, or $530,000/day in 12 days.

  • Berkshire Hathaway is the most expensive stock in the World. Listed on NYSE, each share of the company costs 4,28,517.25 USD as of 6th May, 2021.
  • JP Morgan Chase is one of the largest investment Banks in the world. It is categorised as a Systemically Important Financial Institution (SIFI) which is also colloquially termed as “too big to fail”.
  • First published in 1949, The Intelligent Investor is a book written by Benjamin Graham. It is a widely acclaimed book on value investing.