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The Bilderberg File…

Apologies for not blogging during the last few days. But, I guess I couldn’t find anything worth writing about. But then suddenly, I came across this topic and I knew that there can’t be a better topic to write about. Especially when I am here in Germany and the action was here this year. So let’s get straight to the point.

What is the Bilderberg?

Reading the title, you may ask that what is this Bilderberg? Let me tell you Bilderberg is an organization and it is one of the most secretive and powerful organizations which you have probably never heard of all your life! Never mind, even I had never heard about it before a week or so.

Founded some 60 years ago by Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands, it brings together senior politicians, economists, security experts, business people and the representatives of the governments, private industry, media, finance as well as numerous other organizations representing both private and public interests from Europe and North America.

“A shadowy world government. Political kingmakers and greedy powerbrokers. A capitalist conspiracy looking to be imposed across the globe.”

Looks like a brief synopsis of a thriller fiction novel. But, it aptly describes the Bilderberg Group instead! Since 1950s, the Bilderberg Group has been gathering in secret to discuss everything from the rise and fall of governments to nuclear warfare to cybersecurity. The group began as a way to create more cooperation between Europe and North America during the Cold War.

Every year, Bilderberg releases a guest list of the people who will attend the annual conference and the topics they will discuss, but beyond that, nothing leaves the walls of the meeting rooms. For decades, theorists have tried to decrypt and decode the secretive Bilderberg Group and their annual gatherings of some of the world’s most powerful figures.

Bilderberg website states that the annual conference is meant to harbour dialogues on major issues facing the world. The group also operates under a specific rule, which allow the guests who attend the meetings to use the information they gather but not to disclose who said what. This raises the question that the group is imposing a new world order and playing a kingmaker across the globe.

Now let us try to understand how the Bilderberg Group has been playing the powerbroker and kingmaker since decades. Ponder over the inclusion of Bill Clinton at the meetings in 1991 before he became the most powerful president of the world and Tony Blair’s presence in 1993 before he became the British prime minister! You will not have to think hard to fit the jigsaw pieces together.

Some of the most powerful members of the Bilderberg Group include former United States Secretary of State Mr. Henry Kissinger, former CEO of Chase Manhattan Corporation David Rockefeller, and British Prime Minister David Cameron.

The Dresden Meet of the Bilderberg Group

The Bilderberg group hosted some of the world’s top business and political leaders for the ultra-exclusive annual meeting in the German city of Dresden from 9th June to 12th June. The meeting was a forum held where the richest and the most influential met and exchanged ideas and planned the future of the globe in complete secrecy!

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A police car is parked in front of the Hotel Taschenbergpalais Kempinski, Dresden, Germany. The hotel was the venue for the Bilderberg Conference 2016.

About 125 politicians, bankers and industrialists attended this year’s conference. Two-thirds of this year’s guests were from Europe while one-third were from the U.S. The high-profile guests included Sam Altman, President of the tech seed accelerator Y Combinator; NBC News’ Chief Foreign Correspondent Richard Engel; Senator Lindsay Graham of South Carolina; LinkedIn CEO Reid Hoffman; and PayPal Co-Founder Peter Thiel. As if this was not powerful enough, the guest list also included Two prime ministers, four finance ministers, the former US Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, European Commission vice-president Frans Timmermans, the former and present heads of the CIA, MI6 and International Monetary Fund and the former president of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso! But just like every year, no reporters were allowed in!

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Mr. Henri de Castries , chairman and CEO of AXA, is also the chairman of the Bilderberg Group’s steering committee since 2012

The possibility of Britain leaving the European Union was expected to top the agenda, along with the struggling Chinese economy, low oil prices and the risk of Donald Trump reaching the White House. Matters like ISIS, Cybersecurity and Russian aggression against NATO could have also been highly debated in the meeting.

Bilderberg Group maintains that the annual conference never includes taking votes and issuing policy statements. Notes or Minutes of the meeting are not taken either. There are no opening press conferences or closing statements which are all the more reasons to question what happens behind closed doors at Bilderberg’s annual meets.

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Make no mistake that all that is known about the Bilderberg Group may just be the tip of a very large and dangerous iceberg!

Theorists have long believed the Bilderberg Group is actually a puppet master controlling many governments and moulding the world politics. Bilderberg Group has also been accused of trying to form a New World Order. Make no mistake that the fortunes of rulers are created at this event, as the fates of future presidents and prime ministers have often been decided by Bilderberg in the past. Some perceive the gathering as a big “corporate lobbying” event, while others attribute more criminal intentions of creating establishments of global governance to the meetings.

Virat Kohli: A Song of Ice & Fire

From the time he was a young boy, a fire had raged within Virat Kohli. A red-hot flame that burnt at the surface and occasionally even shot through in a violent burst on the field. When words of his talent spread, even the words of his temper spread. In our judgemental nation, we have a word for it. In fact, a couple. Attitude and Ego. Cricket fans, including many retired cricketers believed that it was a destructive flame, which would burn him into ashes one day.

There is still a fire within Virat Kohli. But it is a fire that drives him forward and fuels his unlimited aspirations. You can see it in his eyes, narrowed and looking determined, you can see it in his roar after every century. Don’t worry if you have missed noticing all this, as he keeps on getting those majestic hundreds and will continue to do so.

So what has changed in this last couple of years for Virat Kohli and his fire?

What was slightly concealed from public in initial years was his strong determination to succeed, extremely hard-working nature and a fighter for the cause of the team. He was lucky enough to start his career when Indian Cricket Team still had few stalwarts in the side. Virat never missed an opportunity to learn from senior players like Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Anil Kumble, VVS Laxman etc.

Being the leader of U19 team, he was automatically looked to as a potential captain of the future. He began to learn the ropes of captaincy by observing MS Dhoni closely. Who better to learn captaincy than the most successful captain India has ever had!

Virat learnt to channelize his inner aggression and focus on his performances. This was perhaps the most crucial lesson he has or will ever learn in his cricketing career. He took his time but once he learnt to focus his aggression positively on his game, he became the obvious choice to lead the team after MS Dhoni.

The opportunity came soon knocking last year when Dhoni relinquished captaincy in the Tests during the Australian Tour Down Under. Virat led the team admirably by personifying patience when Aussie batsmen forged partnerships and being a dynamite when it came to reviving the sagging team spirit.

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Virat addresses the media before a test match as the captain of the Indian Test Team

This mature approach left no doubts for the Indian cricket fans that Kohli was the man for the job. His leadership was different from MS Dhoni but one fine day, everyone had to accept that the team will not belong to Dhoni forever. Virat Kohli was a leader who believed in a ruthless but pragmatic approach to each and every game. He believed in having high expectations from every player of the team and leading the team from the front. Luckily, He always had his own performances to back his high expectations from other players.

Virat Kohli is a Song of Ice and Fire. Such a cliché that it may sound like a tagline of a TV Show or a cocky advertisement for a liquor brand. But it definitely defines Virat Kohli today.

The Ice is a relatively recent acquisition. It wasn’t there when he was a young U19 team captain. And even as late as that dramatic series in Australia where he pulled off four centuries and played some breath-taking shots, he sometimes, and only sometimes, let the fire loose. Every ball became a war to be won and the Aussies realised they could pin him down and get him to play a rash shot. But to his credit, he broke out of that zone quickly. On that tour, in the second innings at Adelaide, with India needing 364 to win on a last-day track where even a 250 looked tough, he played the innings I will always remember him for. He made 141, and if there were any doubts about his temperament, they were dispelled forever. The smile on his face during the after match presentations after losing the IPL Finals 2016 the other day proves how far Kohli has come in last couple of years.

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Virat Kohli celebrates after scoring a century on the last day of a test match at Adelaide in January 2015

The tour to Australia Down Under was also proof that he relishes tough situations. He loves and thrives in challenging times. It is often the sign of a champion. It is also pretty rare. There are many glass batsmen around, pretty and stylish but who crack at the first sign of pressure. Kohli seems to have become twice the player and ready to walk into any battle without a blink of an eye. The recent IPL has been a glorious example of Kohli blooming into a great batsman and captain. Royal Challengers Bangalore were having quite a forgettable campaign in the first phase of the IPL and couldn’t afford to lose more than one match in the remaining second half. Kohli took the responsibility and made sure that the team regrouped to thrive under pressure. Kohli’s century against Kings XI Punjab with a split webbing in his left hand goes on to show his dedication for the game and the team. No doubt, Sunrisers Hyderabad were a deserving champion team but Kohli made sure that they finished the campaign as not anything less than champions.

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Virat Kohli split his webbing in left hand during fielding in a match against KKR and had to undergo seven stiches but returned to hit a 75* in that match and a century in the next match against Kings XI Punjab
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Royal Challengers Bangalore skipper Virat Kohli celebrates after reaching his century during a match against the Gujarat Lions at Rajkot on 24th April 2016

Some years ago Rahul Dravid, who had admitted to raising an eyebrow when the young Kohli walked into the Royal Challengers Bangalore team back in 2008, said what struck him about young Virat Kohli was that every time he met him, he seemed to be a better player than at the previous meeting. Rahul Dravid was right in his assessment, as he often is. Just under two years ago, Kohli faced problems outside his off stump in England. To play or not to play is a simple question that has confused many. If he played, he edged, if he left, it rattled his stumps. Word spread so quickly that even on a flat deck in Bangladesh, they bowled a fifth or sixth stump line to him in anticipation that he would reach out.

But watch him now. The bat stays close to the body, and the feet looks decisive. And his response to the outside-off line bowl is to play one of the most thrilling cover drives the game has ever witnessed. In the last few months, I have lost count of the number of times I have awed at the Kohli’s cover drive. Only a few days ago during an IPL match, they showed his scoring areas on television. I noticed that the weak zone outside the off stump had produced a strong zone through cover!

The flick through mid-wicket is still his favourite shot and it hasn’t had to be replaced with the scoop over fine leg or the upper cut or the switch hit; those modern shots that befuddle bowlers and traditional cricket lovers. In fact, I believe Kohli stays away from those shots in fear that they can become a habit; a go-to shot that may infect his technique. For someone who is much ahead of his counterparts, he is still a fairly old-fashioned, orthodox batsman.

In this IPL, I saw grace and then I saw perfection. I saw class and then I saw beauty. And it was as good as anything I have seen so far from his bat or maybe even in cricket.

Sometimes, when you have seen a player frequently, you tend to believe that you have seen all that they have to offer. Then, suddenly, the champions will do something that generates a smile, a gasp or an awe. It happened to the cricket lovers often in 1990s with Sachin Tendulkar. His trademark walk to the pitch, his typical shuffle, his gaze across the field, adjustment of abdomen guard and I would think, “Right, I am ready for another of his innings.” Then he would stand still and punch through cover, the picturesque backlift, and it would seem the whole world, except the cricket ball he had directed to the covers fence, was static and silent. I have often been a small part of the loud roars and thunderous claps that followed that shot. You could see that a million times but every time was as special as the first.

Over the last couple of years, Kohli has produced so many gems of innings, that you are just tempted to write another cover drive against his name and wait for the next. In that amazing second innings in Adelaide a year and a half ago, I thought he had shown everything he possessed; including a sweep shot which I didn’t believe existed at all in his repertoire! In the Asia Cup, he played an innings against Pakistan that could only have been crafted by the very best of batsmen. Surely he had shown his talent there also.

Then I observed him bat in Bangalore against Kings XI Punjab on 18th May, 2016. He had put together a sequence of scores that evoked awe. He was in such a supreme run of form that I believe he could even score runs in his sleep, he could have even scored runs if he forgot to carry his bat out! Kyle Abbott, around six feet tall charged in and hit the deck back of a length, maybe a few inches further up. Kohli took a couple of strides, met the ball on its way up and pointed the bat towards extra cover. The entire bat these days, certainly with Kohli, is a sweet spot and the ball found it quite easily and used it to lift off over the covers. The ball did as it was ordered and reached boundary in no time. It was sheer audacity and elegance.

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Virat Kohli punches a powerful cover drive through the covers during a one day match against Australia in January, 2016

This IPL has seen many sixes and fours hit, lots of those breathtakingly good, some others brutal, but this shot took my breath away. It was stylish, it was elegant and it was so, so picture perfect. Sometimes you wish to freeze a moving picture to see perfection in a frame. I dare say, you could freeze any frame of that cover driven four.

He will play it again. We will think we have seen it before. And we will still wonder why our eyes are going big and our mouth is gawking so stupidly.

One may say it’s only T20 cricket, one may say the bats are clubs these days, one may even say that all is in favour of the batsmen. But I would say, it was perfection.

Today, I would urge each one from the young generation to have a role model like Virat Kohli. Whatever may be the field, one can always learn sheer dedication, passion, taking up responsibilities and focused aggression from this gem of the Indian Cricket Team.

Generation Alpha: The next “Next Generation”

Meet, Generation Alpha!! This know-how generation aged 1 to 6, was born in 2010 or later.

An Australian futurist, demographer, and TEDx speaker Mark McCrindle coined the term “Generation Alpha” for anyone born between 2010 to 2024. As you read this, there are now about 2.5 million ‘Alphanians’ being born around the globe each week and around 250 ‘Alphanians’ born each minute! When they have all been born (2025), they will number almost 2 billion.

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Generation Alpha will be the smartest, wealthiest and most tech-savvy generation ever

 

Alpha kids will grow up with iPads (ironically, also launched in 2010!) in hand, never live without a smart phone, and may also have the ability to transfer a thought online in seconds. According to a study by Marc Prensky, an American author, “By the time this generation reaches the age of 21, they will have spent 20,000 hours watching television, 10,000 hours on their cell phones and only 5,000 hours reading!” Rather than novels and books, they will read and study from electronic devices. These massive technological changes will make Generation Alpha the most transformative generation ever…!

Generation Alpha will be the most formally educated and most technology supplied generation ever. They will also be the wealthiest generation and are set to be the world’s first generation of multi-millionaires. Their parents are most likely to have double incomes compared to the past generations, so they will surely be materially endowed.

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Generation Alpha may not account for any purchasing power but their influence on their parents is already invaluable.

 

They may be too young to be your customer now, but their influence on their parents is already invaluable. Today, they are only 0 to 5 years old and do not account for any purchasing power. But they will soon take over the world — because that’s what subsequent generations supposedly do…!

By 2025, India will have surpassed China as the most populous country and Generation Alpha will form about 19% of the population of the world. The average household income will have gone up to 4 times of what it is today. Generation Alpha will also consist of the largest generation of middle-class consumers our world has ever seen — so one may not do any harm by understanding and preparing their business for such a huge demographic force.

I know that it may seem just like yesterday that marketers began addressing the needs, desires and attitudes of Generation Z (currently ranging in age from 7 to 21). We may also think that why are we talking about a generation that is just born, is just being born, or hasn’t even been born yet?

But we are talking sense. Because, as The New York Times pointed out once:

“For professional trend forecasters and futurists, a generation is not a collection of individuals born in a particular time, but a commodity. A commodity that needs to be processed into a manufactured unit, marketed and sold to the clients. To reach there first and define the next generation is like staking a claim in a gold rush.”

For one thing I am sure about Generation Alpha is that if you aren’t meeting their needs and meeting it right away, they’ll find someone who does! So, it is better you do it..

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Generation Alpha is certainly the next ‘Next Generation’ for every business and industry the world has to offer

It may be impossible to understand completely how Generation Alpha will shape the future, but it’s not too early to try to figure out the implications of its distinctive nature. Generation Alpha may be named after the first letter of the Greek alphabet, and rightly so, it should be at the very forefront of our business minds.

A single piece of advice to all the businessmen, entrepreneurs, marketers and managers out there:

It’s time to get your campaigns and businesses in a row, because this determined generation is the future of everything you sell or serve…!

“Respirer Paris, cela conserve l’âme”

The secret of ‘getting ahead’ is ‘getting started’.

Since many days, (might be months, now) I was planning to start this blog. But somehow, never knew where to start. Couldn’t find a good name, topic, time etc. But not today. I found out a perfect topic to begin with. Hopefully, I will be able to update my blog regularly from now and keep my small number of readers entertained.

Someone rightly said, “for Paris is a moveable feast.” So, there couldn’t have been any better topic than this city which has been depicting the Carnival of Life so perfectly since decades. Last week, I had this opportunity to be in Paris and I grabbed it with both hands.

I always thought Paris to be a beautiful but overrated city in the opinions of tourists. But, I felt the pangs of being wrong as soon as I landed in the city and saw the majestic Tower from a distance. I had the privilege of feasting on Paris for three days and would love to visit it again and again. In fact, I fell in love with Paris. I was so just beyond happy to be there in the lovely city. I felt that I might be feeling over-whelmed but it wasn’t so. Every tourist around me seemed to be engulfed by the charm that this city oozes.

On deeper thoughts, I concluded that this city has three characteristics which has been defining this city and making it so special amongst the tourists. Let me tell you a bit about all of them.

  1. Tourist Attractions

paris-collage-tourist-highlights-famous-40639877Just the mere mention of Paris smokes up images of the city’s world famous attractions, museums and art galleries. Paris is full of top attractions, museums, art galleries, things to do and places to go no matter what time of year you’re planning on going.

Louvre Museum, Musée d’Orsay, Centre Pompidou are few of the brilliant art galleries which attract the art-lovers from across the world and form a significant part of Paris.

Notre Dame Cathedral, Saint Chappelle are also breathtakingly beautiful. If possible, one must always plan a day-trip to Versailles. The architecture of the Palace of the Versailles is a must visit.

 

  1. Bon Appétit
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A french breakfast in bed in Paris is often found on the bucket lists of foodie tourists…!!!

Experiencing the cuisine of a country or region is a key practice of a foodie tourist. As we all know, Paris is a dream for foodies. So I was no different. I found out that Paris is the culinary hotspot of French Cuisine. It’s more than classy restaurants and street food though; far more than the macarons and the Michelin stars.

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Food is a part of the spiritual expression of the French, and I do not believe they have ever heard of calories.

The city thrives on its hundreds of dandy restaurants with its French interiors and lip-smacking menus and cartes offering a creative medley of French and other cuisines from across the globe. People may require advanced reservations at the trendy places like Alain Ducasse Au Plaza Athénée and Le Meurice. For budget-conscious tourists, there are plenty of restaurants, road-side eateries, kiosks etc. to exploit.

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Sometimes, all you need is Macarons. Macarons are an indispensable part of French desserts.

The only advice I can give you? Find at least one  little place and make it your ‘regular’ in Paris.

 

  1. Being a Parisian City

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I know this characteristic doesn’t make sense and no other city can beat it but that’s what Paris is. No other city can be as Parisian as Paris itself. The essence of Paris lies in its culture, history, people, tourist attractions, streets, River Seine, metro trains and all other little things of Paris. Paris wouldn’t have been Paris without any of these. All of them come together to form this City of Love.

For decades, Paris has been a flourishing European cultural centre. It can be called as a meeting point for artists from all over the world. No city acts as a melting point of all cultures and people as Paris does.

Presently, the city’s multicultural inheritance can be admired in hundreds of museums, art galleries, churches and cathedrals that grace nearly every part of the city. The spirit of Paris also oozes from the music of local artists and in the architectural built that gives the city its luxurious appeal.

Although usually considered the epicentre of French culture, Paris is at heart a multicultural metropolis. The art pieces in the museums and galleries indicate a permanent mark on the cultural consciousness of the city by the colonial past of France and the contemporary immigration of people.

Parisian culture is also imbibed in the sounds of the hustling-bustling streets, bouncy clubs and delightful operas. During the day, numerous local groups of artists perform the Parisian folk music on the streets (and metro trains also!) for tips and words of kindness.

I felt that Paris is most rewarding when you simply make it your own. I hear a lot of tourists say that Paris is over-rated, which I don’t agree now because I think it’s so wonderful. I think a lot of tourists must find it overwhelming; the city is so heavy with history and culture, and the mad rush to tick off Eiffel Tower and Louvre and Notre-Dame and Arc de Triumph and everything else in between is damn exhausting. It is entirely okay if you don’t see all of those things. Munching off a buttery croissant in bed at nine in the morning because you’re quite satisfied gazing out over the landscape of blue-grey roofs or River Seine with a distant Eiffel Tower can be just as rewarding as anything because it is PARIS..!

By the way, the Title of the Blog Post is a beautiful French phrase by Victor Hugo – “Respirer Paris, cela conserve l’âme” which means  “Breathing Paris preserves the soul.” Couldn’t think of a more apt title, could I…??? :p