Category: Social

Young & Productive: Focus in Social Disruption

Speaking to young minds is an exceptional experience, fiercely energetic and eager to learn. They unusually figure out the directive path with steak eye & always curious to question. It happened to be at Lovely Professional University last month while speaking to around 400 grad students.

Today the world is evolving in an entirely different way. While it is modified to interact socially with the personification of digital, emotions are reshaping. Bombardment of over-information has kept people busy and ignorant to what really needed to learn and what should be avoided entirely. Just feeding our mind with overload doesn’t mean to be a worth of knowledge. It is the biggest challenge for gen-next how to organize the information and filter it as per its significance. Posting on Facebook about changing the world doesn’t help, apart from ‘virtual contentment,’ which is a new kind of disguise.

To push forward and challenging the status quo needs conventional but intelligent approach, books are still brilliant regarding information dissemination and logically reason the process of thinking. The Internet is helping disastrously, not because it is bad, but it has made to engage people smartly in a useless way and to make money out of it. I, somehow, find it better to disengage uniquely by uninstalling social media apps and login via laptop only. Just to keep a smartphone nearby, decreases the efficiency of a human brain by 10%.

There is a lot more needed to change the world, and the good news is we, all, are blessed with the ability to do so. Figure out, what is really important and how should it can be achieved & how really it is going to contribute to making a difference. Start it with a random act of kindness and develop the ideas of future, involve everyone without distinguishing, read WHY NATIONS FAIL by Daron Acemoglu & James A. Robinson.

Relying on others fail people more frequently than to get up and take the baton of responsibility, to put more than required and constantly. There is no innovation yet so effective, to make a human more capable against his willingness to dream and work hard to achieve.

P.S. Blog is not aligned to my core profession but human-factor is the basis of existence.

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Why Meeting IROM SHARMILA is One of the Best Moments of My Life

The most appalling thing can happen to someone is when he wants to eat but cannot. His jaw is dismantled and stomach is craving for food. He has to say something and cannot even speak. It was the time when no quotidian motivation felt enough and needed something beyond human propensity of unendurable. I wrote to her!

Unexpectedly, I have received a letter bearing the sender name as IROM SHARMILA CHANU. *Time has stopped for a while and life has changed into its due course*. What that was unbearable, went-off unharmed. Such was the power of her words. Eventually, an abandoned brother has found his abandoned soul-sister. An alone woman who is fighting the devilish for a selfless cause, what can be more powerful than her, not even the whole eternity.

Finally, the day had come, I went to see her; excited and thoughtful. Bewildered, I had no idea how to present myself in presence of Iron Lady. She saw me the first time and called me, “Sourav.” Her simplicity and miraculous smile were a sister’s love towards her brother. Her thoughts were so pure and fresh; she had chosen to talk about beggars in the city instead of the expensive beauty. A woman whose time is so precious that someone like Arvind Kejriwal wished to meet her. She has given me more than 2 hours to chitchat and share her experiences.

Her greatness is beyond words, just beyond words.

 

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Happiness! Utter Happiness!!

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Welcome Letter to Iche.

How Sugar Industry Dodged Its Social Responsibility

To mark profits is preponderant task of survival for any industry. Many times it gets obliterated, in silence, the concept Social Responsibility and left unnoticed for decades. Success of an industry depends upon its offering and how ‘sweetly’ people perceive it. In marketing terms, how well the behavioral changes are induced to attain the favorable disposition.

The sugar industry of America had an idea for its people, if persuaded, to shift dietary habits towards low fat. To remain healthy fat would have needed to be replaced with something else. Thus, an opportunity to spearhead a paradigm shift of three folds in per-capita sugar consumption.

The biggest threat that sugar leads to obesity and it had to keep in check by manipulating the facts. To derail the discussion, the sugar industry paid scientists in the 1960s to play down the link between obesity and heart-diseases and promote saturated fat as culprit instead. The internal sugar industry documents, recently discovered by a researcher, at UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA suggests that the dietary habits and recommendations were largely overshadowed by the sugar industry for last five decades. It ultimately became public opinion and consumers dutifully obeyed. The documents reveal that the sugar association paid three Harvard scientists to publish the malfeasance study that minimize the link between sugar and heart disease.

People replaced steak and sausages with pasta and rice, butter with margarine and vegetable oils, eggs with muesli, and milk with low-fat milk. But instead of becoming healthier, they grew fatter and sicker. In 1950s, just 12% Americans were obese whereas in 2000, it surged to 35%. In case of UK, it is even more terrible. Only 6% Britons were obese in 1980, today, two-third of Britons are either obese or overweight.

The conspiracy of projecting the different angle is widespread. Many organizations are indulged to makeover the grime as gold. In 2015, the New York Times obtained emails revealing Coca-Cola’s sponsored researches aimed at minimizing the effects of sugary drinks on obesity. Recently, the associated press obtained emails showing how a candy trade association funded and influenced studies to show that children who eat sweets have healthier body weight than others.

Kashmir: Freedom to Conspire

Kashmir has entered in its 50th day of predicament and bloodshed, by the time 70 lives are lost and thousands are severely injured of pallet guns. Any day in Kashmir starts with horrid quietude and all of sudden it becomes grim and strident. Those hands deserve pen and paper, hold stone to pelt upon people who are there to guard them. Barely they know the reason. Why?

You pelt a stone, we fire a pellet gun; one has to injure, blind, disable. That’s not the future of the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Which freedom you seek? The darkness of illiteracy, so that you keep on act as a ‘thing’ propagandize. Our economic corridors are fallen, no tourism anymore, hotels are unoccupied. What to gain out of that freedom? Hunger, lack of opportunity to grow together as an affluent hub.

Being a state-subject, I have the right to proclaim that the state of Jammu & Kashmir is one and only, whether it was governed earlier by the crown-head or the Republic of India. There is no question of freedom separately for Kashmir. Under no circumstance it is even possible whether to discuss strategically or practically. The idea of militancy has failed drastically and the “strategic partners” feel so miserable to act. Even a novice can understand why Pakistan support traitors and whose blood is lost. What they did (and keep on doing) in Balochistan is a heart-breaking lesson to learn.

We, the common people of Jammu and Kashmir want peace, prosperity, infrastructure, good education etc. This violence needs to end for the good of Kashmir and its people. Because stones cannot be eaten instead of food. No glory in dying for those who himself are wicked.

Panama Papers: A Brief Summary

About one year ago, an anonymous source contacted Süddeutsche Zeitung (the largest subscription newspaper of Germany) to submit the stolen data of world’s fourth largest offshore law firm, Mossack Fonseca. Famously called as “Panama Papers” includes; 11.5 Million documents comprising e-mails, pdf files, photo files etc. This 2.6 Terabytes of data was researched and analyzed by Süddeutsche Zeitung in cooperation with International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).

What are the findings?

The data reveals that how rich people and companies avoid taxes by investing in offshore firms of tax-heaven countries like Panama. Apparently terror groups, mafias, drug & weapon dealers use such money to finance their activities. How civil wars in countries like Syria and other parts of the world are fed on it. Many influential people of the world are named in it and the list includes Russian President Vladimir Putin, Footballer Lionel Messi, Pakistani PM Nawaz Sharif, Indian actor Amitabh Bachchan and his daughter in law Aishwarya Rai Bachchan etc.

How Mossack Fonseca works?

Started by Jürgen Mossack & Ramón Fonseca Mora, the leaks reveal that it has acted for more than 300,000 companies. More than half of the companies are registered in British-administered tax havens. It has offices all over the world and has strong intermediately collaboration with various banks and asset management companies.

The business model of Mossack Fonseca is based on a simple principle: If someone wants to hide his money or its source, Mossack Fonseca helps to set an anonymous company. If required, it also provides a sham director for the company, thus hiding its true owner. The sham director can sign all the papers though things remain in control of its true owner. In this way the identity of true owner remains anonymous. These shell companies can buy stocks and invest into desired businesses in tax-heavens.

What Mossack Fonseca has to say?

On Monday, the firm has stated:

“Our industry is not particularly well understood by the public, and unfortunately this series of articles will only serve to deepen that confusion. The facts are these: while we may have been the victim of a data breach, nothing we’ve seen in this illegally obtained cache of documents suggests we’ve done anything illegal, and that’s very much in keeping with the global reputation we’ve built over the past 40 years of doing business the right way, right here in Panama.

Obviously, no one likes to have their property stolen, and we intend to do whatever we can to ensure the guilty parties are brought to justice.

But in the meantime, our plan is to continue to serve our clients, stand behind our people, and support the local communities in which we have the privilege to work all over the world, just as we’ve done for nearly four decades.”

Five Major Challenges That India Continue To Face This Year

Every passing year rewriting the glory of India; as a nation of great potential, a young, vibrant and emerging economy, a source of human resources to the world. Since 1991, though unhurriedly, India has moved far ahead but a lot is yet to be done,. Right from social evils to natural resources, India is still not in ideal position to call itself a prosper nation. To mark 2016 as a year of marvellous success and to continue efforts towards the goal of establishing itself among developed & peaceful nations, I believe that the following five major concerns are needed to be addressed at a greater pace.

Quality of Education and Unemployment: India has evolved a significant change in terms of ‘quantity’ of education. “Since 2000, when countries committed themselves to the global education goals, India has reduced its out of school children by over 90% and Universal Primary Education has been achieved.” according to UNESCO.

But the ‘quality’ of education lags far behind, about 69 percent of unemployed Indians are educated but lack adequate skills, according to the Confederation of Indian Industry. As per to Pearson Voice of Teacher Survey, 75% teachers have called for restructuring of course curriculum in collaboration with industry to provide better employment opportunities to students. Outdated learning and teaching practices, lack of career planning and exposure results into the education without actual learning of how to get things done, without complex problem-solving skills, without knowing how to put their theoretical education into practice.

Gender Inequality and Rapes:  Gender discrimination continues to be an enormous problem within Indian society. Gender inequality persists in India despite of economic growth and modernisation. In 2014, India ranked 127 out of 146 countries in UNDP’s Gender Inequality Index with a value of 0.563. Though PM Modi led government has launched several commendable schemes to save and educate the girl child but that would not work unless people stop treating girl-child as inferior.

The situation is worsening due to increase in number of rape cases every year. As per National Crime Records Bureau, there is an increase of 900% registered rape cases in India over the past 40 years. In every 20 minutes, a woman is raped. One out every three victims is under 18 & one out of every ten victims is under 14. There is a higher probability that only one out of 100 rapes is reported.

Health & Infrastructure: India owes 21% of the world’s disease burden and unacceptably high rates of maternal and infant mortality.  It is horribly worsened by the burden of infectious diseases and a dramatic rise in non-communicable diseases like cancer, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and chronic respiratory conditions. It accounts approximately more than half of all deaths. It is estimated that over 63 million Indians are affected by these diseases in 2012 alone. India also lacks in adequate infrastructure, according to WHO recommendations there should be at least 3.5 beds for 1000 people, but there are only 1.3 beds in India for a population of that size and just one doctor per 1700 people. According to a study conducted by WEF in collaboration with the Harvard School of Public Health, India stands to lose $6.15 trillion due to non-communicable diseases and mental disorders by 2030.

Poverty and Rising Social Inequality: India is home of a third of the world’s poor and hungry. One in four people in India is hungry and every second child is suffering from malnutrition. The 2010 Multidimensional Poverty Index indicated that eight Indian states account for more poor people than in the 26 poorest African countries combined. In 2011, India was ranked 73rd out of 88 countries listed in the annual Global Hunger Index, six places down from the previous year.

On the other hand, India also houses the second largest number of affluent people in the world, with three million households having over $100,000 of investable funds. The gap between rich and poor is continuously widening. Adequate efforts are not made to uplift poor population, and this is worsening by inflation and corruption. If judged by the median developing country poverty line of two dollars a day on purchasing power parity, more than 80 per cent rural and just below 70 per cent urban inhabitants in India continue to be poor

 

Water Scarcity and Increasing Pollution:  Natural resources in India are strained by its continuously increasing population. It has only 1,000 cubic meters of water per person which is far below to the ‘water-stress’ mark of 1,700 cubic meters per person.

According to a report of WHO, 97 million people in India lack access to clean water. The World Bank estimates that 21% of communicable diseases in India are related to unsafe water, and it causes more than 1,600 deaths every day.

It is followed by pollution as 13 out of top 20 most polluted cities are in India. Air pollution slashes life expectancy by 3.2 years for the 660 million Indians who live in cities, including Delhi. The impact of rising toxins in the air is clearly visible as air pollution ranked sixth in top reasons that cause death in India, according to a Lancet study.

Poor Healthcare Could Stunt India’s Growth

(This post was also featured in HUFFINGTON POST )

I come from a place in India where many people prefer to visit a traditional healer or a god-man when they fall ill. You may argue that people are uneducated or ignorant, but that is only partially correct. The main reason behind is lack of access to affordable and quality healthcare in India. People tend to avoid medical facilities until things get critical, just to save bucks ‘wasted’ on unreliable treatments. For a major chunk in India, it is almost impossible to afford advanced diagnoses. The rising cost of living, unemployment, the expense of education and the increasing gap between rich and poor are only adding to the problem.

Prime Minister Modi waxes eloquent about a growing India, but with government spending on healthcare being slashed by nearly 20% in the 2015 Budget, the country’s health is at risk. This is often explained away as a result of the shifting of the onus of healthcare spending from the Centre to states, but there is no dodging the stark fact that India’s health spending in now among the lowest in the world, shrinking to 1.2% of the GDP. This is despite the fact that public spending has increased. Public health is in an appalling state and out-of-pocket spending even by the poor is among the highest in the world, contributing hugely to poverty risks. According to an article in the Lancet, around 15 of the health ministry’s national programmes, including mental health, prevention of blindness and elderly care have yet to be allocated “even a single rupee” and have been merged with National Health Mission (NHM). Incidentally, the NHM has also had its funding from the Centre reduced from 75% to 50%.

In India, the infrastructure gap remains substantial, and is exacerbated by the underutilisation of existing resources. According to WHO recommendations there should be at least 3.5 beds for 1000 people, but there are only 1.3 beds in India for a population of that size. Similarly, we have a shortage of doctors too – there is just one doctor per 1700 people. By some estimates, India needs 7 lakh additional doctors by 2015, which is undoubtedly a tall order.

In a country which shoulders 21% of the world’s disease burden and unacceptably high rates of maternal and infant mortality (the rates are declining but not enough), the government is just not stepping up to the plate. Merely bragging about growth will not bring actual change to the lives of the majority of Indians, many of whom are living below the poverty line. The government’s efforts to encourage sanitation via the Swachh Bharat programme and healthful practices in its promotion of yoga are all appreciable but they fall woefully short of what an ailing India needs.

Irom Sharmila: The Invisible Heroine

Welcome to India, the world’s largest democracy! Here is a woman who has been fasting for a cause for the past 15 years and nobody really cares. Yes, you heard it right – 15 years!
It is her conscience, her unwavering convictions that have made her the “Iron Lady of Manipur”. Irom Sharmila is like droplets of water trickling into a solid rock. With her silent, resilient and persistent efforts, this frail woman has made a dent, and a solid one at that. This poetess, with her adamant devotion, is, according to me, one of the greatest women to have ever lived on earth.
Irom Sharmila Chanu’s status as a heroine – and a victim of the Republic of India – started on 2 November, 2000, when armed forces killed 10 innocent civilians who were waiting for a bus in Malon, Manipur. The victims included an 18-year-old National Bravery Award winner.
In the ruthless world where people don’t even care about their own flesh and blood, broken-hearted Irom Sharmila has been on a continuous hunger strike since that day to force the government to repeal AFSPA. Sensing trouble, and that too trouble created by a woman, the government charged her with “attempted suicide” and ensured that she stayed trapped between the judiciary and jail. She is forcibly fed to keep her alive, which is an obligation for government to avoid any perceived conflict. No one in successive central governments, no so-called human rights activists, no civil rights organisations ever stood for her in any meaningful way.
When I met with an accident and broke my jaw, it was the time I couldn’t eat anything. I wrote to her to enquire how she managed to stay without food for so long. Her answer was as inspirational as she is: eternal faith.
With almost no media coverage and support from the “owners” of this country, her struggle against the draconian AFSPA is like a pigeon fighting against a flock of vultures, but her optimism is indestructible. There is no one I know who has suffered so much for an absolutely selfless cause.
A lower-middle class girl of Manipur may become ‘Mengoubi’ (a fair girl) or Iron Lady for us, but she never wanted to be this. She has a few aspirations for life, a loving boyfriend and a beautiful family. She wants to return to her life but only after ensuring peace and love for her motherland.
May she succeed!