Thursday, 20 September 2018

Every employee rises to incompetent levels

Laurence J. Peter first formulated and named the phenomenon in 1969, in a satirical book "The Peter Principle," where he stated that "In a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence ... in time every post tends to be occupied by an employee who is incompetent to carry out its duties ... Work is accomplished by those employees who have not yet reached their level of incompetence." 
  • You will see that in every hierarchy the cream rises until it sours.
  • An employee does well. He’s rewarded with a promotion. He does well in that job, and is promoted again. This continues until the point he is no longer performing at a level deserving of a promotion, which leaves him at a level where he is incompetent.
  • Being incompetent, they do not qualify to be promoted again, and so remain stuck at that final level for the rest of their career. 
  • What’s true in general is often not true in particular. 
  • A company that relies too heavily on sales as a criterion for promotion pays twice for the mistake.
  • When good worker is promoted as supervisor and if he turns out incompetent then the firm lost a good worker and is saddled with a bad supervisor.
  • One of the greatest pieces of self-awareness is the knowledge that management, whatever its perks, might not be worth the burdens it will impose on you.
  • If a top-selling colleague from your team just became your new boss, it might be time to move on.
  • Certain groups of managers – notably women and minorities — who weren’t promoted despite their competence and so didn’t get the chance to reach their level of incompetence. 
  • The traits of good followers are nearly the same as the traits of good leaders. They “manage themselves well; are committed to the organization and to a purpose, principle, or person outside themselves; build their competence and focus their efforts for maximum impact; and are courageous, honest, and credible.”  If everyone were like that, the Peter Principle would probably never have been written.
  • Percussive sublimation, in turn, is related to the Dilbert principle, which maintains that the real purpose of the hierarchy is to provide managerial roles that will minimize the ability of those employees to interfere with the actual work being accomplished by more productive staff members.

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Who is trying to bring down PM Modi?

The right-wing Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) in India kicked off a three-day conclave in Delhi on Monday by praising the main Opposition Congress party for securing India's independence. It also clarified it did not believe in a Congress-mukt (Congress-free) India but a sarvalok-yukt (all-inclusive) India. It came as a surprise because the RSS' prime minister, Narendra Modi, has spent four years spewing venom against the Congress, its prime ministers and the family that holds the party together. Certainly, the RSS revealed its changed thinking when it invited Congress chief Rahul Gandhi to this conclave. Despite Rahul's surprise hug for Modi in Parliament, better sense prevailed and he spurned the RSS invitation (unlike former president Pranab Mukherjee, who attended an RSS function in Nagpur in June, thinking he was laying the ground for himself to head a coalition government after the 2019 election). And though the RSS is eternally tainted with the assassination of "Mahatma" MK Gandhi in 1948, it has occasionally flirted with the Congress as evidenced by the fact of dozens of RSS men named as culprits in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.

Still it is surprising that with a majority government still in the saddle and about eight months to go before the parliamentary election, the RSS finds it necessary to extend an olive branch to the main opposition party. It cannot be, as the RSS claims, that it is a misunderstood organisation and that this exercise is meant to dispel the wrong notions surrounding it. The RSS thrives on a certain element of mystery and myth given its rigid hierarchy and organisation and its para-military nature. There is only one explanation for the RSS's current behaviour: it has read the writing on the wall that its government is on its way out. Hence it is building bridges with opposition parties, because it fears what may come once Modi is out of power.

That things are not going well for Modi is evident from various other recent developments. NDA allies like Nitish Kumar's Janata Dal (United) have started acting tough. The Bihar chief minister, who till recently was silently facing all-round opprobrium for dumping his electoral partner (the Rashtriya Janata Dal) and hitching his wagon to the BJP, is now demanding his pound of flesh before the next parliamentary election - he does not want just a handful of seats to contest and has formally inducted Prashant Kishor, the data-genius behind Modi's 2014 victory, into his party to ensure it remains the senior partner in any future electoral alliance in Bihar. Telangana chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao has demanded an early assembly election in which he hopes to do well, and he is least bothered about Modi's pet project of a simultaneous parliamentary and assembly election. Even Ram Vilas Paswan, a dalit leader from Bihar who is reliably a political weathercock, has been talking about leaving Modi's National Democratic Alliance (NDA). The rats are obviously deserting the sinking ship.

The RSS would likely be concerned. In Delhi there is a general expectation that Modi's parliamentary tally will decrease to around 150 seats following the 2019 election, and while that would ordinarily be enough to remove a leader and replace him with someone acceptable to coalition partners (who have been silently licking their wounds of neglect the past four-plus years), the RSS also knows that removing either Modi or party chief Amit Shah will not be easy. Both these gentlemen are apparently willing to sit in opposition and let a coalition government totter about for two to two and a half years before finally collapsing under the weight of its own contradictions. Modi fashions himself after iron lady Indira Gandhi, and like her, might bide his time to return to the top post as she did in 1980, after a nearly three-year hiatus.

This does not suit the RSS, which would rather try to retain governance under a different prime minister, heading a coalition that was much like the late Atal Bihari Vajpayee's government. There are various advantages to this: to consolidate much of the hidden social work and deep changes in the education sector that the rightwing has undertaken since May 2014. Modi has been such a polarising figure that a replacement government would want to first of all undo much of the damage to institutions that he has inflicted, in the name of getting things done, where his will was supreme over any Constitutional nicety or propriety.

First things first, however: the RSS has to save its own skin. There are many political parties who would like to give the RSS cadres a thrashing of their lives. The RSS must be highly conscious of the fact that the atmosphere against it will change drastically once Modi loses power. Hence, the RSS top brass have humbly recounted Congress's contribution of independent India's history, and have extended the peace pipe to Rahul Gandhi. It is a heartening sign for Indian democracy that Rahul has showed the RSS its place - that it does not rule supreme over all Indians, but merely over a sullen part of society, whose achhe din are hopefully soon coming to an end.

Monday, 17 September 2018

IL & FS ruckus - Domino effect

The IL&FS downgrade has lessons for many other financial market constituents
  • The ruckus that has followed the recent credit downgrade at project financier Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services (IL&FS) highlights how financial troubles at a single institution in India can set off a domino effect across the entire financial system. 
  • IL&FS and its subsidiary IL&FS Financial Services enjoyed high credit ratings and seemed to be a go-to name for short-term lenders until reports leaked out a week ago that the subsidiary had missed due dates on commercial paper, while the parent had defaulted on deposit dues to SIDBI. 
  • Thereafter, rating agencies ICRA, India Ratings and CARE swung into belated action to abruptly downgrade IL&FS and its subsidiary from high investment grade (AA plus and A1 plus) all the way to junk status (BB and A4). With the ratings falling off a cliff, the 30-odd mutual fund schemes holding a ₹3,500 crore exposure to IL&FS entities were forced to take sudden write-downs, jolting their investors. 
  • Domestic banks and insurers, also said to hold significant exposures to the group, may soon have to follow suit. IL&FS, meanwhile, is in parleys with its major shareholders LIC and SBI for a lifeline, which may not go down well with the latter’s policyholders and investors.
  • There are lessons for almost all financial market constituents from this episode. For rating agencies, it is a matter of concern that, though the stretched liquidity position of the group was known for some time, it took an actual default for them to revisit their investment grade ratings. 
  • Though the raters repeatedly flagged loan book concentration, high debt levels and the dire financial straits of group firms in their reviews, they seem to have pinned their hopes on IL&FS’ big-name promoters (LIC, Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, SBI, Central Bank) to bail it out of its troubles. This exposes the fragility of the ‘structured obligation’ ratings often handed out to weak entities hailing from marquee industrial groups. 
  • The mutual fund industry too does not come out of this episode smelling of roses. Instead of restricting their exposures to the high-risk paper to their ‘credit risk’ funds, fund managers also parked it with their liquid and low duration funds, despite marketing them as low-risk alternatives to savings bank accounts. Here, SEBI should revisit its recent fund categorisation rules to ring-fence these categories of debt funds from credit risks. For banks, this again drives home the risks of funding long-gestation projects with short-term money.
  • Overall, even if IL&FS manages to tide over this episode, it has underlined the need for institutional investors in the Indian bond market — banks, mutual funds, pension funds and insurers— to build their own capabilities for independent credit appraisal instead of over-relying on rating agencies for their investment calls. Of course, this does not absolve rating agencies of the need to to be proactive rather than reactive with their rating actions.

Every one would like to invest in profit making companies and none would be interested in loss making companies even with a pole. Raising Rs.4,000 crores might enable IL&FS to fulfill payment obligations but problems remains where they were. Like most infrastructure companies that are on the verge of collapse, its investments in infrastructure will result in massive haircuts even if they are able to salvage. IL&FS with Rs.100,000 crores exposure is another big NPA. Its share price tumbled from Rs.94 in Jan'2018 to Rs.27 today (17/9/2018) i.e. depreciation of 71% in the current year. 

Indian economy's headwinds

India's GDP growth has peaked in the first quarter and going ahead some moderation is expected as weaker rupee and rising oil prices remain two major headwinds for the Indian economy, Credit Suisse said. 
  • The 8.2% GDP growth for the April-June 2018 quarter of this year, though "encouraging", was largely owing to base effects. 
  • The Indian economy grew at 8.2% on good show by manufacturing and farm sectors, according to official data. 
  • Monsoon deficit is now at 6% and the acreage under kharif sowing is flat year-on-year.
  • Weaker rupee and rising oil prices remain two major drag factors for the economy. These two headwinds could turn out to be a double whammy for India, exerting an upward pressure on inflation and downward pressure on growth, the report said.
  • The core inflation is inching up and all these factors could prompt the RBI raise interest rates. Higher interest rates will have a negative impact on growth expectations.
  • On the positive side, Credit Suisse expects economic growth to gradually get support from strengthening bank balance sheets as more companies exit bankruptcy, and as GST implementation progresses further which should provide a much more conducive environment for the investment growth to pick up.

As on Sept 17, 2018, Sensex drooped by 4% and USD INR also shed 4% during this month. INR lost almost 13% against USD, during 2018 and earned dubious distinction of the worst performing Asian currency against USD this year. Some reports point out that Indian economy is better than only Turkey, Argentina and Venezula, which is worry some. Weakening rupee, rising oil prices, widening current account deficit, inflation & interest rates ready to take off, our economic pundits are clueless of what to do and are simply staring. Any thoughtless intervention will only widen CAD pushing inflation up. Not intervening while economy is on slippery slope is also wrong. Steadily FE reserves are getting depleted. No reserves are adequate enough, when economy is facing headwinds.

Sunday, 16 September 2018

Justice should be tempered with mercy

'Mercy' is compassion or forbearance shown especially to an offender or to one subject to one's power.

'Justice should be tempered with mercy' has a reference to Portia's speech in Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice. It means the offender may have justly deserved a harsher punishment. If justice is tempered by mercy, it is adjusted to satisfy the idea of ‘mercy’. Hence the judge is less severe.

If someone has done something wrong, justice often leads to punishment, whether by a parent or teacher towards a child, or by a court towards a person who has committed an unlawful act. Punishment can sometimes be harsh. It suggests that while justice be done, the punishment has to softened by kindness. 

No one can accept that "eye for an eye" or "tooth for tooth" or the "law of retaliation" is just. Any justice untouched by spark of humanity or mercy is savage as justice is not tempered with mercy. If you forgive no man their trespasses neither will your father forgive your trespasses.

Criminal courts are halls of justice, not halls of mercy. Prosecutors often ask for the maximum penalty for the offense to be leveled against the defendant. Justice ought to be tempered with mercy, as mercy can make for good public policy. Almost all of those who go to prison are poor, and the handful who aren’t the state seems determined to make broke before they are released. When a judge sends someone to prison, the goal should be not just to punish them for their crimes, but to ensure that when they are released they become productive members of society. Making sure an inmate is financially wiped out upon release isn’t the way to do that.

Justice is not equivalent to meted punishment for moral and legal wrong. Justice is relinquishing what is due. When justice is abused, law rarely repairs the social rift. Instead it discourages repeated social rifts. If the criminal is ungrateful he will continue his behavior. Society may choose that risk rather than ruining the life and reputation of an individual over a single incident of indiscretion.

Once a junkie, always a junkie.

Very rarely people change themselves, especially for good. In the name of civilization, humanity and religion, if punishments are lenient, it promotes and encourages wrongdoings which are inherently profitable. Unless risk is high and profit is low, people will be tempted towards wrong doings. Therefore punishments must be harsh.

Saturday, 15 September 2018

Support local businesses

Locally owned businesses play a central role in healthy communities. Small business ownership has been a pathway to the middle class and continues to be a crucial tool for expanding prosperity and community self-determination. When a consumer supports his local business owners, he enjoys benefits he can’t possibly get from shopping at national chains. Here are some reasons to support your local entrepreneurs. 
  • Improves family health.
  • Locally owned businesses contribute much to local causes.
  • You will know the people behind the product.
  • Preserves uniqueness of your community.
  • Better customer service. 
  • More personalized service. Small business owners will bend over backwards for every customer, because every single customer matters when they are small.
  • Locally owned retailers recycle a much larger share of their revenue (~52%) back into the local economy than the chain retailers (~14%), enriching the whole community. Similarly, the local restaurants re-circulate an average of 79% of their revenue locally, compared to 30% for the chain eateries.
  • Locally owned businesses create more local jobs and provide better wages and benefits than chains do.
  • Entrepreneurship fuels economic innovation and prosperity, and serves as a means for families to move out of low-wage jobs and into the middle class.
  • Local stores require little infrastructure and make more efficient use of public services than the big stores and shopping malls.
  • Local stores help to sustain vibrant, compact, walkable town centers and in turn reduce sprawl, automobile use, habitat loss, and air and water pollution.
  • A marketplace with several small businesses is the best way to ensure innovation and low prices over the long-term.
  • A multitude of small businesses, each selecting products based, not on a national sales plan, but on their own interests and the needs of their local customers, guarantees a much broader range of product choices.
  • Shopping local is more important than people think. Even the value of your home goes up.
  • Local small businesses outperformed their peers in income growth, employment growth, lower poverty rates and lower levels of income inequality. 
  • Communities with a larger share of local businesses have more social capital, stronger social ties, higher levels of civic engagement, and better success solving problems.
  • More local businesses ensures lesser usage of automobiles by as much as 26%.
Enacting policies that strengthen small businesses and expand opportunities for local entrepreneurs is one of the most effective ways of reducing inequality and expanding the middle class. In India, government finds it difficult collect taxes from large number of small businesses, especially in informal sector, and tendency has shifted to promoting larger businesses for better tax realization and in their quest for taxes collection simply forgot their fundamental responsibility of reducing rich-poor gap.  Modi and Jaitley are guilty of  inflicting deadly blows to 'informal sector' which provides livelihood to >60% of the people with their 'hare brained demonetization' and 'haughtily designed & implemented GST' which almost pushed the entire Indian economy to the brink of collapse.

Wednesday, 12 September 2018

Our brains won't let us make economical choices on healthcare

Standing under a sign reading “pain relief,” I scanned the shelves, my legs throbbing after a 10K race that morning. I spotted a familiar red box: Tylenol Extra Strength, 100 pills for $7. Right next to it was the drug store’s generic version, offering 100 pills for $5. This should have been a no-brainer. I’m a physician, and I know the active ingredient, acetaminophen, is the same in both. It’s a simple molecule — a six-carbon hexagonal ring at the center with two side chains poking out — something any biochem major could manufacture in an afternoon. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration also makes certain that generic and brand-named drugs are identical. There were only two differences here: the packaging and the price. And yet I grabbed the more expensive box of pills. In that moment, my mind played a common trick on me — one that tells us why it’s so difficult to rein in healthcare costs. When it comes to our health, we are convinced that more expensive is better. If a brand-name pain reliever costs $2 more, we believe it must be safer and more potent. If a diagnostician wants to run duplicate tests, we shrug and agree. If a surgeon recommends a more complex and costly procedure, we presume there must be a good reason.

But why do we perceive that expensive is more effective? Expensive medications tend to make us feel better, even when they’re no different than cheap generics.

In a German study, people were asked to evaluate a side effect of two new anti-itch creams. Both were exactly the same, both fakes, but one came in a handsomely designed blue box and the other in a white box with bad orange lettering. Patients who used what they perceived to be the more expensive drug reported a much stronger physiological response. 

It’s not just patients who fall prey to such price-distorted perceptions. A 2016 study in JAMA Internal Medicine found that roughly 1 in 10 doctors still believe generic drugs are less effective than the brand-name versions. 

A doctor’s referral is the equivalent of a brand-name packaging. A study looked at adults who needed a knee or hip MRI. MRIs are virtually the same everywhere, but prices vary widely. Still patients went where their doctor suggested, bypassing an average of six lower-priced MRI providers on their way. Patients shelled out significantly more in co-pays and deductible expenses, but only 1% bothered to compare MRI prices in their area.

Americans are told again and again that we spend nearly twice as much on healthcare as other high-income nations (and get poorer clinical outcomes). Still, we keep treating healthcare like any other retail product or service, assuming that competition will boost quality and lower prices. But competition isn’t effective because consumers are unable to act rationally when it comes to medical decisions. We need to acknowledge this and help doctors and patients make smarter decisions.

Patients can make a habit of asking if there is a generic alternative for prescribed drugs. Similarly, before choosing a hospital or surgeon, they should be encouraged to review data from independent researchers. Often a friend or colleague’s recommendation of a “great” doctor or hospital is contradicted by the objective data. Businesses and government purchasers will have to play a bigger role.

In the Pacific Business Group on Health, a coalition of companies, crunched the numbers on hip replacements. PBGH found that hospitals charged $30,000 to $120,000 for the procedure. The more expensive locations may have luxurious lobbies and slick marketing materials, but their outcomes were no better. So PBGH members decided to contract only with in-patient facilities that would accept the $30,000 rate. Every hospital in California agreed to the new price.

Our brains conflate higher prices with higher quality and we could also nudge consumers toward wiser choices at the point of purchase. Perhaps it’s time for the FDA to step in and demand that other drugs with identical generic alternatives, carry a new warning label: This product is no better than the less-expensive generic. Had I seen that warning, I’d probably have put that Tylenol Extra Strength back on the shelf.

Leading a Double Life

Leading a double life would seem to be the exclusive domain of professional spies, fictional secret agents and undercover operatives with foreign accents.
  • Ordinary men and women sometimes hide extraordinary secrets from their families, friends and co-workers. A well-respected chief executive who embezzles funds from his company. The man with two wives and two sets of children who know nothing of one another's existence. Leading a double life is not as uncommon or abnormal as it may sound. In the most shocking scenarios, these dual lives lead to criminal acts, violence and, even murder.
  • Thousands of men and women are living in two worlds, caught in a web of lies, risks and shame that ultimately force them into secret behavior that is far different from their everyday existence.
  • Almost 70% of males and 50% of females have an extramarital affair at some point over the course of their marriage. What this says is that most people lead double lives, at some time in their life.
  • When that duality spins out of control, ruins careers, shatters families and, sometimes ends up in a prison sentence. This destructive duality can stem from an individual's inability to integrate two conflicting, opposite sides of a personality.
  • People who are not able to do this can end up splitting off the different aspects of their personality. Lying becomes their way of life.
  • Duality exists in most peoples' lives. At one end of the spectrum are daydreams -- harmless fantasies that exist in the mind and are generally not acted upon. Daydreams are often private and secret, but they're not dangerous. Everybody has daydreams at one time or another, and usually they're playful, happy and forward-looking. 
  • It is common for most people to have a public self and a private self, but some people cross the line when exploring the darker side of their nature, creating a situation that is dangerous and destructive. This behavior is sometimes obsessional, extreme and irrational, and without much regard for the consequences.
  • The double life unravels when the person is caught and the secret revealed. Some actions may be an unconscious cry for help, but there are ways to put a stop to the behavior before disaster.
  • It's important to recognize what's happening before the situation spins out of control. If you notice yourself engaging in continuous high-risk behavior (carrying on multiple affairs, gambling away your paycheck), and that behavior has an obsessive element that makes it dangerous and unpleasant, it's time to change. One strategy is to break the pattern of secrecy and to get some external input. Telling a trusted friend, a priest, a psychologist can be very helpful. It is crucial to seek psychological counseling. 
  • Although the secret life appears to be beyond your control, it's really a self-determined course of action that can be altered. To get to that point force yourself to examine the consequences of your actions.

Indirect taxes are unjust

  • Indirect taxes are regressive since they fall equally on the rich and poor and therefore are unjust. As a matter of principle, the rich & prosperous should contribute a higher share in taxes than the poor.
  • Taxes should be imposed based on the individual’s capacity to pay. Indirect taxes negate this principle of ability to pay and burdens poor more than rich. These taxes are unjust to the poor.
  • Income is not necessarily a sign of prosperity. Prosperity is not just a measure of their income in a given year. An individual’s spending behavior is related to their prosperity rather their income. One’s consumption should be attributed to their prosperity and, by a law of transitivity, one’s consumption should be attributed to their capacity to pay taxes.
  • The prosperous, who naturally consume or indulge more, must end up paying more indirect taxes.
  • Indirect taxes feed inflationary forces and are fed through higher prices, higher costs, higher wages and higher prices again.
  • The administrative costs of collecting these indirect taxes from large number of persons is huge and breeds corruption apart from tendency of the traders charge higher than the tax they pay.
  • The revenue estimates suffer uncertainty since higher prices results in lower demand.
  • The demand for necessaries is inelastic and demand for non-necessaries is highly elastic. Poor people use necessaries and cannot reduce their consumption even if there is a rise in the prices of necessaries due to imposition of indirect taxes. Rich people can reduce the consumption of non-necessaries (luxuries) when there is a rise in prices. Indirect taxes affect the poor more.
  • Indirect taxes collected through dealers and traders in small amounts and consumers may not feel its burden and tax payers become indifferent towards their responsibility and consciousness vis-a-vis government.
  • Direct taxes are unfair since the poor, the rich (they evade taxes by clandestine means), and the agriculturists do not pay any taxes. The onus of income tax falls squarely on the salaried middle class.
  • Indirect taxes raises the commodities prices which in turn rises wages and higher wages increase commodities prices. Wage-price spiral starts. The cost of production of commodities rises which in turn leads to rise in prices of commodities. This leads to general rise in prices of commodities i.e. inflation.
  • Indirect taxes raise the prices of commodities. The consumption of lower income groups is bound to fall because of rise in prices of commodities. Fall in the consumption of essential commodities worsens health and efficiency of the masses.
  • Indirect taxes can never substitute direct taxes. We can only have indirect taxes to the extent that the country stays competitive relative to the other countries.
Since GST, an indirect tax, is paid by rich and poor alike, care must be taken to make sure that all goods and services consumed by poor are taxed at rates very low or nominal while remaining items consumed by rich could be taxed at higher rates. Since the tax has to be collected from large number of dealers compliance procedures must be simple and easy to comply with and less burdensome for especially small traders. Petty traders must be exempted. 

Monday, 10 September 2018

Eminent vs Prominent

Eminent and prominent are both adjectives, and they can both be used to talk about people who are very well-known and successful in their profession. Eminent means highly qualified, successful and respected. Prominent means well-known, noticeable and important. 
  • Eminent is a stronger word than ‘famous’. Eminent comes from the Latin ‘eminentem’ meaning ‘to stand out’. An eminent person, therefore, is someone who stands apart from others. He is an outstanding and distinguished member of his profession. 
  • Eminent contains the idea of respected. He is respected by both the public and the members from his own profession.
  • Prominent has the idea of being well-known and important. For example, Bill Gates is a prominent figure in the world of computers.
  • It's possible to be a prominent person without being eminent, since eminence depends on respect which is earned through skill, education, public recognition. A pop star might be prominent but they probably wouldn't be described as eminent.
  • Prominent has other meanings as well. It can mean 'easy to see or notice' like a prominent scar on hand due to an injury.

It is better to be an eminent person than to be a prominent person.

Sunday, 9 September 2018

Benefits of morning walk

Morning walk is one of the most satisfying and beneficial physical activities that you could ever do! It makes you feel fresh and rejuvenated, and gets you ready for entire day. A 30-minute morning walk can change your life! Especially if you suffer from a host of lifestyle-related diseases such as diabetes, obesity, heart disease, etc. The morning hours have the least amount of pollution in the air. Fresh air has oxygen in abundance. Chances of you suffering from various diseases diminishes. The morning air is rich in negative ions and oxygen is negatively charged and help you have a pleasant state of mind. Make it a habit of walking in the morning and inhaling as much good air as possible. Motivate yourself every morning to get up from the bed and take a soothing morning walk. Here are 25 reasons that will get you going. 
  1. Lowers the risk of diabetes
    A 30-minute morning walk can help improve blood sugar control as well as aid the management of insulin in Type II diabetes. It allows the cells in the muscles to use up more glucose, helps burn body fats that are not needed, and also aids in improving the Body Mass Index (BMI). This benefits diabetics immensely.
  2. Strengthens the heart
    It might not be a good idea to run. Brisk walking can help reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. Walking every morning for about 30 minutes can help lower blood pressure. Morning walks can also lower triacylglycerol levels and prevent hypertension.
  3. Aids weight loss
    Obesity is one of the major causes of many deaths and diseases. And the main reason for being obese is the sedentary lifestyle. Walking will be easy on your heart. There is nothing like a brisk walk for 30 to 40 minutes daily. It helps elevate the heart rate and burn calories that are essential for weight loss. You can lose weight healthily without changing your diet by walking every day, along with other exercises. Walking can aid weight loss by reducing overall body fat and improving flexibility and muscle strength.
  4. Prevents arthritis and osteoporosis
    Leading an inactive life has many negative effects on the body, including stiff joints that can further lead to arthritis. Physical activity, such as walking for five days or more in a week, can help relieve arthritis pain and stiffness and give you more energy. Women are prone to losing bone density and developing osteoporosis. Walking gently exercises the joints and strengthens them along with improving bone density.
  5. Prevents strokes
    Brisk morning walk for half an hour five times a week helps in keeping the heart strong and lowers the risk of strokes. People who maintain a regular fitness regimen that includes brisk morning walks reduce their chances of suffering from a stroke by 40% than people who are not physically active. A brisk walk around the neighborhood is all you need to stay fit and keep strokes at bay!
  6. Controls cholesterol
    There is a greater risk of heart problems when there is an excessive amount of  LDL cholesterol and low amounts of HDL cholesterol. Following an active lifestyle and including activities like walking is an excellent way to make sure the levels of cholesterol in your body are regulated.
  7. Protects against atherosclerosis
    Atherosclerosis is a condition that is caused by arteries that are blocked due to plaque or LDL cholesterol depositions on the inner walls of arteries in the brain, kidneys, heart, and legs. Circulation of blood does not occur properly. Regular morning walks can protect you from this condition.
  8. Relieves depression
    One in ten people suffer from depression that gives rise to many other disorders and even leads to deaths.That’s because when you walk, the natural pain-killing endorphins flow properly throughout the body. Patients who suffer from depression found that walking fast every day for 35 to 60 minutes had a significant improvement in their condition. 200 minutes of walking per week can make you feel more energetic and positive.
  9. Fights and protects from cancer
    Many people develop cancer due to dull or hectic lifestyles. Morning walk give you the exercise that you need, better immunity, and a breath of fresh air as well. Walking helps prevent ovarian, breast, kidney, and cervical cancers. Walking can also improve sleep in cancer patients. To make sure that you are safe from cancer, go for a morning walk every day and keep your body and mind healthy.
  10. Enhances brain function
    Morning walks do more than just rejuvenating the body. It can help protect memory, improve thinking skills and has positive effect on the mind. When you walk, the oxygen and blood supply to the brain are accelerated, and this leads to an enhancement in mental alertness, brain function, and memory. Walking helps increase the brain volume and improves brain function in aged individuals. Take a regular walk every morning to keep your brain functioning properly at all times.
  11. Tones the body
    A brisk morning walk can help in restoring muscle tone. You can tone your legs, tummy, and other parts of your body. Walking daily can also define the muscles in your calves, buttocks, and quads. Make morning walks your way to get a perfectly toned body.
  12. Lowers risk of miscarriages
    Expectant mothers can hugely benefit from indulging in exercises like swimming and regular morning walk. Walking can moderate erratic hormone levels that cause changes in the body. Walking also helps prevent gestational diabetes that is quite common among pregnant women. Walking also provides protection against uterine contractions, which often result in spontaneous abortion, an occurrence that is caused by hormonal changes in the body.
  13. Boosts the immune system
    Walking improves blood circulation and the supply of oxygen in the body. Walking for 30 minutes a day strengthens the immune system and keeps you protected from various illnesses and serious diseases.
  14. Reduces fatigue
    A brisk morning walk can make you feel rejuvenated, refreshed and alleviate fatigue & boost your energy levels. Moreover, walking can also reduce fatigue experienced by cancer patients.
  15. Fights dementia and alzheimer’s
    Walking on a regular basis can help in the prevention of alzheimer’s and dementia can reduce the risk of this condition by up to 54%. This is a common problem among the elderly, and it is best to prevent it early. So make morning walks a part of your daily routine.
  16. Improves lung capacity
    The oxidation reaction quotient in the cells of your body can be increased significantly with a walk. However, these reactions cause a high demand for oxygen supply that makes the lungs pump extra oxygen. This, in turn, helps the lungs improve their capacity. To keep your lungs working properly and to ensure their health, start going for brisk walks for 30 minutes every morning .
  17. Keeps stress away
    Morning walks keep stress away. Stress can have an adverse effect on your body, making you fall sick more easily and causing depression, anxiety, etc. Walking improves blood circulation to the brain and helps uplift the mood. A brisk morning walk can make you feel more relaxed and calm.
  18. Makes skin glow
    Any exercise that improves blood circulation gives your skin a healthy glow and there is no better exercise than walking. It helps in delaying the onset of the signs of aging such as fine lines and wrinkles. Proper blood circulation also prevents pimples, acne, and other skin problems. With morning walks, you can achieve naturally radiant skin.
  19. Energizes the body
    Walking every morning gives your body the energy that it needs to get through the day. It helps increase the circulation of blood and the supply of oxygen and keeps you active and alert all day.
  20. Promotes healthy hair
    Being active has an important role to play in good hair health. Walking helps in keeping the hormones in your body well-balanced. It improves blood circulation, which promotes healthy hair growth and prevents hair loss as well. To get beautiful, lustrous hair, make it a point to go for a walk every morning.
  21. Lowers the risk of diseases
    Morning walks keep deadly diseases away. Blood circulation in your body is increased, which helps in keeping cardiovascular and other life-threatening diseases at bay. Walking also improves metabolism in muscles and helps the body function normally. So, this low-intensity exercise can take care of all your health problems.
  22. Promotes restful sleep
    The daily stress can cause insomnia. The best way to fight this is to take a walk every day. Morning walk help calm your mind, and you can get a good night’s sleep and feel well-rested when you wake up. If your lifestyle is not that active and you find it difficult to fall asleep, then you must walk in the mornings.
  23. Prevents cognitive degeneration
    Women over the age of 65, who walk on a regular basis, are less prone to memory degeneration that is age-related when compared to those who do not walk or walk less. Walking is a great way to keep age-related mental illnesses away. The risk of chronic ailments like vascular dementia can be brought down to 70% with regular walking and staying active.
  24. Slows down aging
    As you age, the tails of the chromosomes (telomeres) start to get shorter. And since chromosome is nothing but DNA, shorter DNA would mean lesser protein.This ultimately leads to loss of function and aging. Walking is a low-intensity physical activity that helps keep all your cell functions active and your heart healthy and improves brain function and blood circulation. Since your body remains active, the shortening of the ends of the telomeres slows down. This means, your aging process slows down.
  25. Improves overall health
    There is nothing like a morning walk every day to improve your health. Every part of your body benefits from this exercise. A brisk 30-minute walk can extend your lifespan by about a year.
Helpful tips for walking 
  1. Always keep your posture straight while walking. 
  2. Early morning walks are the best and body absorbs vitamin D from the sun’s first rays.
  3. A brisk morning walk every day, is what you need to lose a extra pounds. When you walk fast, you burn more calories.
  4. Avoid going for a walk after eating as exercising after a meal affects the flow of digestive juices, which prevents the proper breaking down of food.
  5. It is best not to drink too much water while taking brisk walks as it may cause harm to the respiratory system. Keep your body hydrated before you start your walk or 5 minutes after you are done.
  6. If you are just starting out on making walks a regular exercise, start at a pace that you are comfortable with and slowly build it up as the days go by. 
Read the source article

Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.

Do not walk in a place surrounded by trees at dawn because then the entire area is over concentrated with carbon dioxide. Walking barefoot is strictly prohibited for a diabetic patient as it may cause hookworm infection and other problems. Brisk walking all along is not good. One third of your total walking hour should be brisk walking. It should be preceded by an equal period of warm-up, followed by an equal duration of cooling-down. Once you start enjoying & benefiting walking, you will repent for having ignored such a good habit for several years left behind. The best time for morning walk is 7:30 am because oxygen and antioxident level is very good and sunlight gives vitamin d. And the best place is park where air is very fresh and full of oxygen. Any amount is good, but best if you can walk 30 to 60 minutes or more at a stretch.

Friday, 7 September 2018

Functions of money

Anything which is declared by the state as money is money. Anything which is generally accepted in payment for the goods and services or the repayment of debts is money. Money is often defined in terms of the three functions or services that it provides. Money serves as a medium of exchange, as a store of value, and as a unit of account.

Medium of exchange:
Money's most important function is as a medium of exchange to facilitate transactions. Money effectively eliminates the double coincidence of wants problem by serving as a medium of exchange that is accepted in all transactions, by all parties, regardless of whether they desire each others' goods and services.
Store of value:
In order to be a medium of exchange, money must hold its value over time; that is, it must be a store of value. As a store of value, money is not unique; many other stores of value exist, such as land, works of art, and stamps. Money may not even be the best store of value because it depreciates with inflation. However, money is more liquid than most other stores of value because as a medium of exchange, it is readily accepted everywhere. Money is an easily transported store of value that is available in a number of convenient denominations.
Unit of account: 
Money also functions as a unit of account, providing a common measure of the value of goods and services being exchanged. Knowing the value or price of a good, in terms of money, enables both the supplier and the purchaser of the good to make decisions about how much of the good to supply and how much of the good to purchase.
An ideal market economy is one where all goods and services are voluntarily exchanged for money at market prices. Such a system squeezes the maximum benefits out a society’s available resources without government intervention. 

Thursday, 6 September 2018

Dissent in a democracy

From being called as a largest democracy to improbable democracy, democracy in India has in general received a positive note. No freedom can be absolute, for frequently freedom of one limits freedom of another. Dissent is the most essential ingredient of a democratic society and right to disobey is a legitimate form of dissent.
  • In liberal democracies citizens have not only got the right to express their views but also the right to protest and express dissent against prevailing procedure and laws, so long as they do not rely on violence or coercion.
  • Despite India’s failure to promote rapid economic development and abolish abject poverty, the country can be justifiably proud of having sustained a democratic order. 
  • Resistance is a very old form of political action - much older than democracy itself. Resistance is a form of collective civil disobedience. It involves physical presence and solidarity; it appeals to moral law or human rights; it is usually illegal but non-violent; it is locally and communally based; its activists are angry citizens and lower-level officials. 
  • We should promote it and celebrate it - and recognize at the same time that it is only half a politics. Resistance is a defensive politics, but we also need a politics of offense - a politics aimed at winning elections and seizing power.
  • The protest movement is generally directed against political system or class or segment of the society or an organization considered harmful to the interest of those who have been activated in launching such protest.
  • The only movement which has been clear about its ideology is Naxalite movement.
  • Mahatma Gandhi gave a more strident expression when he called upon the people to listen to their conscience and refuse to accept what is unjust and morally unacceptable. He asked those joining him in non-cooperation and civil disobedience to resist unjust laws, but be willing to suffer the consequence of their actions. It is morally required that one must be willing to accept punishment for breaking the law because rule of law deserves respect.
  • It is one’s duty to infuse the legal with morally just. If self-critique and change could be ushered in through reasoned argument, then all forms of action outside the domain of constitutionally mandated institutions would be unnecessary. 
  • When reason fails to deliver and the quest for power and interests comes to dominate, maintaining the stability of a just constitution may require stronger action, including protests against institutionalized authority.
  • It is with the help of protests that democracy grew and grew to give us this splendid shade under which most of us sit. It took decades of activism before women got the right to vote and before blacks became legally equal to the rest in America.
  • Most of the protest movements in India have raised pertinent questions on the implementation of the directive principles of the constitution. The establishment’s general response to movements and their demonstrations is negative one. It treats movements and demonstrations as a law and order problem, instead of inquiring into their causes and seeking a solution through negotiations, and dispatches the police to suppress them. Adventures on the part of political establishment in India is its intolerant attitude towards protest and dissent.
Indian polity to remain as democratic needs greater maturity in accommodating dissent rather than rejecting every action as anarchic, and anti-constitutional. Every protest and dissent would not always necessarily be anarchic. Anarchy is dangerous but protest which is in the framework of democracy always revitalizes democracy.

One person’s anarchist could well be another person’s activist.

Money vs Wealth conundrum

Everyone seems to be running after money and still not being able to be satisfied with what one has got. Money is defined as the cash flow you need to maintain the lifestyle you have. Wealth is defined as the money accumulated over time or the money that will last a lifetime. Therefore, we must focus on wealth creation and not running after money. Remember, money never made a man happy yet, nor will it. There are 4 kinds of people with respect to their attributes on money and time. 
  1. People having lot of money, but no time.
    We see rich businessman, company's CEO's and other top notch officials who are arriving in chauffeur driven cars and are always busy in meetings and events. They seem to have a lot of money in their pockets but no time to enjoy it.
  2. People having lots of time, but no money.
    We come across a lot of people who just laze around or just enjoying their hookah, with no work to do and no money to have.
  3. People having no money and no time.
    Most of the salaried class and businessman lie in this class (over 97% of the world's population is here). Everyone seems to be working their day and night for money to be used to pay bills and EMI's. Growing in the corporate ladder will only take you from the quadrant 3 to quadrant 1. The corporate mindset is aligned towards attaining a level wherein you reside in the first quadrant.
  4. People having both money and time.
    This is where one must aim for and attain a mindset for so that one has the time to earn and spend on himself/herself. Less than 1% of the world's population lies here.

Wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants ... Epictetus
Money is a terrible master but an excellent servant ...  P.T. Barnum
Too many people spend money they earned, to buy things they don't want and, 
to impress people that they don't like ... Will Rogers

Wednesday, 5 September 2018

The conundrum of wealth

The real matrix of happiness is not linked to material wealth. Every one gets lot of joy by gathering huge amount of material wealth. Money is the oxygen of life. One must have sufficient means to live a comfortable and contented life.
  • The contentment quotient of life cannot be measured with material wealth gathered through means fair and foul, that one may have stashed away. 
  • The bliss of a contented life is the sum total of human relationships and humane virtues. 
  • A palatial mansion that offers the greatest of luxuries will be nothing short of a veritable hell if there is no love among the family members living in that opulent bungalow. Restful sleep eludes the denizens of such a plush house who are consequently the poorest of the poor, judged on the real matrix of happiness.
  • Modern man is addicted to desire to amass heaps of wealth, which has rendered him completely bankrupt in the absence of the virtue of real love. 
  • Loving others unconditionally softens our hearts and makes us truly compassionate towards fellow human beings. Love is the staple diet of the human soul; it infuses positive energy into our mind and body. This energy is manifested in our attitudinal change, and we begin to empathize with the entire creation of god. 
  • The feelings of hatred, jealousy, revenge and ill-will begin to die a natural death.
  • The inner joy for which man is ready to pay any exorbitant price, is not a costly affair. One can even derive a sense of deep contentment within one’s soul with even a small act of compassion and courtesy. The mantra of happiness, you don’t need to shell out any money.
  • Small acts of kindness & generosity should not be just restricted to the human world. It lends an equal amount of peace and tranquility to the heart of the giver even when it is lavished on the members of the animal kingdom. Being merely kind to men and ruthless to animals will deprive us of that sense of complete joy.
A little house well filled, a little field well tilled, 
and a little wife well willed are great riches ... Benjamin Franklin
Money has no utility to me beyond a certain point ... Bill Gates

Tuesday, 4 September 2018

Modi's adventurism

Adventurism is a pejorative term referring to politics or activism that involves reckless and  irresponsible behavior or conduct pursued only in the interest of excitement. Adventurism is defined as an attitude or way of behaving that involves attempting to gain an advantage by doing things that are regarded as foolish or risky. Adventurism is often used as a criticism against some government's policies. Countries pursuing foreign wars of dubious merit or which have little chance of success have often been accused of adventurism by opponents.
  • By general consensus, the government was widely seen to have faltered on four major counts. It is accused of failing to tackle the over-hang of demonetization, poor implementation of GST, containing prices and inability to create new jobs. Positive endorsements from the IMF, World Bank, investment bankers and a few contrarian economists were contemptuously dismissed.
  • Notwithstanding Rahul Gandhi's assertion that he can fix the problems in six months, macro-economic interventions will take more than a couple of quarters to yield results.
  • It has been argued with some merit that many pain points in demonetisation and GST rollout could have been mitigated if the bureaucracy and tax-administration were better prepared and proactive.
  • Demonetisation is considered to be the biggest villain. There is no denying that demonetisation had worst affected deep rural, where the banking network is least developed. In the cities, small-towns and "urban" areas, the situation largely settled at a new normal in about eight to twelve weeks.
  • There is no disagreement among experts that GST was the mega tax reform that was long overdue. Considering the gargantuan scale of the exercise, it would have been na├»ve to expect a totally seamless transition. The Opposition had smelt an opportunity for muddying the waters and waylaying the government on GST. They were hoping the turmoil would carry through into the next fiscal year damaging BJP's prospects in 2019.
  • Inflation is the only area where Modi government's performance has been the best. This is also largely due to low oil prices for over three years resulting in narrowing of the twin deficits. No magic wand with Modi, it just happened. Nevertheless, credit goes to Modi & Jaitley.
  • Very high petrol & diesel prices despite lower crude oil prices and thus depriving consumers the benefit of dynamic pricing is a false step that will become a poll plank against Modi. 
  • Without any doubt, job creation remains the most serious of the four weak spots in Modi's portfolio. But there are no quick fixes for it. The Congress and the UPA bought time on it with doles like MNREGA.
  • Long-term job creation will come only through the next wave of reforms - especially on the fronts of labour legislation and land acquisition laws. But the government does not have either the time or political capital left for further economic adventures so late into its term. So, jobs will have to wait till 2019 for a real take-off.
  • What the government cannot afford anymore are governance boo-boos and fiscal adventurism. 

NDA government's policies and actions are nothing but a divisive, destructive and disruptive propaganda. The country is in the grip of communal politics and there is no contradiction between communalism and development. BJP attempts communalism by uniting the largest group and compelling minorities to join the mainstream as politically junior partners but forgets that we are a nation of diverse cultures, sects and religions and can only stay united with a secular thread of humanity and protection of minorities.  BJP failed in fulfilling most promises made in its election manifesto especially remunerative prices for farm produce. People are disillusioned with their false promises as seen by the recent by-election results held in different parts of the country. General elections are just eight months away and BJP is on perfect slippery slope, due to its own arrogant, audacious and ill conceived adventurous actions.

Epidemic of dishonesty

Entrepreneur, philanthropist and former New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg discussed the importance of honor and honesty in bringing the country together as he addressed graduates at Rice University’s 105th commencement May 12, 2018 in the Academic Quad

The excerpts are:
  • The concept of honor has taken on different meanings through the ages: chivalry, chastity, courage, strength. And when divorced from morality, or attached to prejudice, honor has been used to justify murder, and repression, and deceit. But the essence of honor has always been found in the word itself.
  • The words ‘honor’ and ‘honest’ are two sides of the same coin. In fact, the Latin word ‘honestus’ can mean both ‘honest’ and ‘honorable.’
  • To be honorable, you must be honest. And that means speaking honestly, and acting honestly, even when it requires you to admit wrongdoing -- and suffer the consequences.  The commitment to honesty is a responsibility that you accepted as an Owl.  It is also a patriotic responsibility.
  • One of the first things, young children learn about American history is the story of George Washington and the fallen cherry tree.  ‘I cannot tell a lie,’ young George tells his father. ‘I cut it down.’ We’ve always lionized our two greatest presidents -- Washington and Lincoln -- not only for their accomplishments, but also for their honesty. We see their integrity and morals as a reflection of our honor as a nation. However, today when we look at the city that bears Washington's name, it's hard not to wonder: What the hell happened?
  • In 2016, the Oxford English Dictionary's word of the year was ‘post-truth.’ And last year brought us the phrase, ‘alternative facts.’  In essence, they both mean: Up can be down. Black can be white. True can be false. Feelings can be facts.
  • Pat Moynihan, once said: ‘People are entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts.’ 
  • Today, those in politics routinely dismiss any inconvenient information, no matter how factual, as fake -- and they routinely say things that are demonstrably false.  When authoritarian regimes around the world did this, we scoffed at them.  We thought the American people would never stand for that!
  • For my generation, the plain truth about America -- the freedom, opportunity, and prosperity we enjoyed. The more communists had access to real news, the more they would demand freedom. We believed that -- and we were right.
  • Today many of those at the highest levels of power see the plain truth as a threat. They fear it. They deny it. And they attack it -- just as the communists once did. And so here we are, in the midst of an epidemic of dishonesty, and an endless barrage of lies.
  • The trend toward elected officials propagating alternate realities is one of the most serious dangers facing democracies. Free societies depend on citizens who recognize that deceit in government isn’t something to shrug your shoulders at. When elected officials speak as though they are above the truth, they will act as though they are above the law. And when we tolerate dishonesty, we get criminality. Sometimes, it's in the form of corruption. Sometimes, it's abuse of power. And sometimes, it's both. If left unchecked, these abuses can erode the institutions that preserve and protect our rights and freedoms -- and open the door to tyranny and fascism.
  • There is now more tolerance for dishonesty in politics than I have seen in my lifetime, one-third of the time the United States has existed!  
  • My generation can tell you: The only thing more dangerous than dishonest politicians who have no respect for the law, is a chorus of enablers who defend their every lie.
  • Remember: The Honor Code here at Rice University just doesn’t require you to be honest. It requires you to say something if you saw others acting dishonestly. Now that might be the most difficult part of an honor code, but it may also be the most important, because violations affect the whole community. And the same is true in our country. If we want elected officials to be honest, we have to hold them accountable when they are not -- or else suffer the consequences. Honest people can disagree. That's what democracy is all about! But productive debate requires an acceptance of basic reality. 
  • It's always good to be skeptical and ask questions.
  • Scientific discovery permeates practically every aspect of our lives.
  • Political leaders are being dishonest about facts and data, and too many people are letting them get away with it.
  • So how did we get here?  How did we go from a president who could not tell a lie to politicians who can not tell the truth?  From a George Washington who embodied honesty, to a Washington, D.C. defined by deceit?
  • It’s popular to blame social media for spreading false information. 
  • It's the public's willingness -- even eagerness -- to believe anything that paints the other side in a bad light. That's extreme partisanship -- and that is what's fueling and excusing all this dishonesty. Extreme partisanship is like an infectious disease. But instead of crippling the body, it cripples the mind. It blocks us from understanding the other side. It blinds us from seeing the strengths in their ideas -- and the weaknesses of our own. And it leads us to defend or excuse lies and unethical actions when our own side commits them.
  • For example: In the 1990s, leading Democrats spent the decade defending the occupant of the Oval Office against charges of lying and personal immorality, and attempting to silence and discredit the women who spoke out. At the same time, leading Republicans spent that decade attacking the lack of ethics and honesty in the White House. Today, the roles are exactly reversed -- not because the parties have changed their beliefs -- but because the party occupying the Oval Office has changed.
  • When someone's judgment about an action depends on the party affiliation of the person who committed it, they're being dishonest with themselves and with the public. And yet many people -- in both parties -- don't even realize that they are making them.
  • When people see the world as a battle between left and right, they become more loyal to their tribe than to our country. When power -- not progress -- becomes the object of the battle, truth and honesty become the first casualties.
  • Honesty leads to trust and trust leads to freedom. In democracy, it's no different. If we aren't honest with one another, we don't trust one another, then we place limits on what we ourselves can do, and what we can do together as a country. It's a formula for gridlock and national decline.  It doesn't have to be that way.
  • Arguments were won and lost on facts and data -- not parties and polls. 
  • At the national level, in Washington today, partisanship is everything.  And I think the dishonesty that it produces is one of the greatest challenges that your generation will have to confront.
  • Partisanship is not a new problem. George Washington warned against it in his Farewell Address. He referred to the ‘dangers of parties,’ and called the passion that people have for our parties, ‘worst enemy’ of democracy -- a precursor to tyranny.  Washington urged Americans to, ‘discourage and restrain’ partisanship.  In recent years, the opposite has happened.
  • There is now unrestrained, rabid partisanship everywhere we look. It's in the communities where we live, which are becoming more deeply red or more deeply blue. It’s in the groups and associations and churches we join, which increasingly attract like-minded people. It’s even in the people we marry. 
  • Fifty years ago, most parents didn't care whether their children married a member of another political party, but they didn't want them marrying outside their race or religion, or inside their gender. Today, polls show a strong majority support for inter-racial, inter-religious, and same-sex marriage and that is progress. 
  • But the percentage of parents who don't want their children marrying outside of their political party has doubled and the more people segregate themselves by party, the harder it becomes to understand the other side, and the more extreme each party grows. The country is more divided by party than it has ever been since the Civil War.
  • In like-minded groups, fringe ideas can gather momentum with dangerous speed.
  • Bringing the country back together won't be easy. But it can be done -- and if we are to continue as a true democracy, it must be done.
  • Americans are facing an "epidemic of dishonesty" in Washington that's more dangerous than terrorism or communism, also warned that "an endless barrage of lies" and a trend toward "alternate realities" in national politics pose a dire threat to U.S. democracy.
  • The 76-year-old billionaire, did not call out any politician by name.
  • Bloomberg evoked the legend of the nation's first president, George Washington, who as a boy said he could not tell a lie when asked if he cut down a cherry tree. "How did we go from a president who could not tell a lie to politicians who cannot tell the truth?" he asked.

Monday, 3 September 2018

Flying is bad for the planet

  • Flying may be a large portion of your carbon footprint. The aviation industry accounts for 11% of all transportation-related emissions in the United States. Take one round-trip flight between New York and San Francisco, and you’ve generated about 0.9 metric tons of carbon dioxide per person. That is equivalent of 20% of the greenhouse gases that your car emits over an entire year. 
  • For perspective, the global average was about five tons of carbon dioxide per person in 2013.
  • Carbon footprint is defined as the amount of greenhouse gases and specifically carbon dioxide emitted by a person's activities or a product's manufacture and transport, during a given period.
  • A typical passenger vehicle emits about 4.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year. In addition to carbon dioxide, automobiles produce methane and nitrous oxide from the tailpipe and hydro fluorocarbon emissions from leaking air conditioners. The emissions of these gases are small in comparison to carbon dioxide; however, the impact of these emissions have a higher global warming potential than carbon dioxide.
  • About 20,000 planes are in use around the world, serving three billion passengers annually. By 2040, more than 50,000 planes could be in service, and they are expected to fly more often.
  • The most effective way to reduce your carbon footprint is to fly less often. The longer the distance, the more efficient flying becomes, because cruising requires less fuel than other stages of flight. So it’s certainly better to fly cross-country than to drive solo. If you’re taking a short trip, it may be better to drive.
  • Flying nonstop can help. About 25% of airplane emissions come from landing, taxiing and taking off. 
  • When you buy carbon offsets, you pay money toward replanting trees, which absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
  • To offset the almost 0.9-metric-ton carbon footprint of a single passenger traveling from New York to San Francisco, Sustainable Travel International, which runs offset program, offers two choices: Donate $8.95 to a wind farm in Texas or donate $10.75 to a forest conservation program in Peru.
  • The emissions associated with flying in business class are about three times as great as flying in economy class. In business class and first class, seats are bigger, so fewer people are being moved by the same amount of fuel. A first-class seat could have a carbon footprint of nine times as an economy one. Economy passengers have something to be happy about: smaller carbon footprints.
  • The bio fuel is estimated to cut at least 60% of greenhouse gas emissions compared to regular jet fuel. It cuts the emissions used to make the fuel as well as the emissions from burning it.
  • Researchers say that airplane crashes kills about a thousand people annually, whereas plane emissions kill about ten thousand people each year. About 80% by cruising emissions at high altitudes and 20% due to take off & landing emissions causing cardiovascular and respiratory diseases. 
  • Airplane pollution deaths at 10,000 a year still represent a small share. Emissions from ships kill an estimated 60,000 people a year, according to a 2007 study. The annual total death toll from air pollution is about a million, according to the UNDP.

Public transportation must be subsidized and encouraged in every form, especially if it is using electricity. Usage of personalized transportation must be restricted, discouraged and penalized. Business class & first class air travel should be discouraged and penalized. Pollution control norms for automobiles, industries etc must be strictly enforced. Environment safeguarding awareness must be promoted and encouraged.

Disaster and human history

Case Studies in Nature, Society and Catastrophe
By Benjamin Reilly
  • The present rate of technological advance is unprecedented in human history.
  • Modern college students believe that the study of our historical past has little meaning to their present lives.
  • World population has doubled between 1960's and early years of 21st century. Population density have also reached unseen levels. 
  • The percentage of world's surface covered by urban areas jumped from 0.1% to 1.0% between 1900 and 1990 and if the trend continues more people will be living in urban than rural areas.
  • Human beings are increasingly concentrated in "megacities", sprawling urban areas with millions of residents. The trend has slowed down in developed world but continues unchecked in the developing world. 
  • The parallel explosion of technological and demographic growth in the modern age is not accidental but are intimately linked. These two are complimentary processes and unfortunately linked to unprecedented natural resource depletion. The planet is now losing 120,000 of forest every year to logging, herding and agriculture. As a result of human intrusion into forest ecosystems, deadly epidemics may just be a taste of things to come.
  • Deforestation is linked to soil erosion. Soil is created very slowly by nature but can quickly be destroyed by human agriculturists employing unsustainable farming practices.
  • Modern farmers are "skinning our planet" reducing earth's soil deposits by 4 tons per head due to increasing exploitation of hillsides and prairies by land hungry farmers in developing nations. 
  • Mechanized farming renders soil susceptible to erosion. Although soil erosion is not a new problem in human history, the present rate of global soil loss is unprecedented. Mankind is currently stripping soil at 20 times the natural erosion rate, a process that is likely to have catastrophic impact in future.
  • The current rate of technological and demographic advance has also endangered world supply of water, which is the most vita natural resource. Human population pressure - large parts of the world are now in real danger of exceeding available water sources not only in low rainfall years but also during normal years. 
  • As of 2008, 35% of the world's renewable freshwater is already diverted from ecosystem for human use, mostly in agriculture which requires enormous water inputs. In arid countries like Egypt & Israel this statistic is 100% further undermining stability of already volatile region. 
  • Qatar is "mining" their water sources, withdrawing more water from the ecosystem than is replaced by natural sources, 6 times as much as is replenished by natural processes. In UAE it is 17 times annual replenishment.
  • So far, human being had some successes in staving off looming water crisis, through technology, tapping underground aquifers, piped transportation of river water etc. Water poor countries have sustained by importing "virtual water" in the form of food. [Production of one kg rice requires as much as 2,000 liters of irrigation water.] World's largest exporter of "virtual water" is USA which ships out billions of liters in the form of grain allowing importing nations to support higher populations than they could with limited domestic water supplies. None of these techniques will cope with increasing global population in long run.  Desalinization is expensive, rivers have limited capacity, and aquifers that are drained faster will disappear. Already some of the world's great rivers some times run dry before reaching the sea due to escalating demands on their water.
  • Virtual water in inextricably tied to the prices of petroleum, another finite source. The price of virtual water is tied to transportation fuel costs. Food and fuel are increasingly becoming interchangeable commodities, and nations depending on "virtual water" for their water needs, therefore are courting disaster.
  • Deforestation and road building has reduced the soils ability to absorb rainfall, lowering replenishment rate of aquifers. Industrial pollutants have made some of the fresh water sources unusable by humans. 
  • Global warming due to anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions will likely wreck havoc with the world's water supply. When the already retreading glaciers vanish, many rivers will flow more intermittently. 
  • Global warming will likely result less "average" rainfall and more extreme weather conditions, such as downpours leading to floods & soil erosion, dry spells and drought. Higher temperatures will increase evaporation rates, reduce agriculture production even if local rainfall is technically higher. Scientific understanding of global warming remains incomplete. 
  • The fossil fuels consumed between 1751-1998 were equivalent to the amount of sunlight that the world's plants captured in preceding 13,300 years. This energy fueled mankind's advancement from agriculture to industrial and then to technological age. but released thousands of years buried carbon dioxide into atmosphere.
  • The result is the certainty of environmental change in next few hundred years. But human species is not well suited to rapid environmental fluctuations.
  • It remains to be seen if the rapid medical advances the humans achieved in the 20th century will be able to keep up with new epidemic diseases that arise during 21st century.
  • The disasters of the future might look different from the disasters of the past.
  • Earthquakes and volcanoes will occur like in the past but human population growth in general and megacities in particular will magnify their effects. Other disasters will change more dramatically in future.
  • Population pressure, changing climate will produce unprecedented levels of deforestation, desertification, soil erosion and consequent famine. In the age of soaring food prices, declining water availability famine may become endemic in some parts of the world,  no longer checked by cheap transportation of large food supplies that curbed famines in the late 20th century.
  • Tropical cyclones may become more violent in future, though science is uncertain. 
  • Finally, unprecedented population density, near instantaneous modern transportation and rapidly changing environment will create host of new opportunities for infectious diseases.
  • Advances in technology might ameliorate these supercharged modern disasters. But will certainly create new disasters in future.
  • As mankind's need for more energy continues to increase, fossil fuel reserves continue to dwindle and CO2 continues to accumulate in the atmosphere pressure will build on humanity to exploit nuclear power for its energy needs. Nuclear power has worst reputation as a safe, clean energy source.
  • It is somewhat disquieting to note that a seemingly technological advance could have led to an environmental nightmare.
  • It is clear that different types of natural disasters are intimately linked and are created or badly exacerbated by human agency. In particular, global warming may play the role as "master disaster" of the post 20th century influencing almost every other type of natural disaster.
  • Rising global temperatures may lead to tropical cyclone activity and more frequent El Nino events and spread of tropical diseases. Rising sea levels will swallow coastal agricultural land and concentrate more people in squalid megacities heightening vulnerability to diseases.
  • Poverty bred by global warming worsen even terrestrial disasters since poverty plays a crucial role in determining the vulnerability of human beings to natural disasters. Global warming may precipitate worst famine as rising human population run headlong into declining agricultural activity. The result may be a new Malthusian crisis on a regional or even a global scale.
  • Human beings, especially those living in capitalist economies tend to make choices favoring short term gains and comforts rather than long term sustainability and stability thus making disastrous choices. We continue to build suburbs on fault lines, construct vacation homes on storm swept coastlines or volcano slopes, inundate poorly drained fields with river water leading to soil salinization. 
  • In an age, where population control provides surest means of mitigating future disasters, the worlds wealthiest refuses to fund programs that offer birth control for fear of offending certain social groups. Most damaging of all, human beings are still slow to make sacrifices in short term that might mitigate the environmental damage of global warming in the long run.
  • As a society, we have faith that the technologies of tomorrow will diffuse future disasters that we are creating by our actions today.

Development could be defined as the essence of general transformation and 
destruction of the natural environment and of social relations in order to 
increase the production of commodities (goods and services) geared, 
by means of market exchange, to effective demand. 

The technological progress has been bringing us with environmental issues and problems of pollution and global warming along with advancements that made our lives easier, more efficient and our bodies healthier. There is no alternative to reduce population, preserve ecological assets, minimize emissions & pollutants,  reduce water wastage and start living closer to nature. Plastics and fossil fuel usage must be brought down 10% every year. Nothing should be allowed at the expense of environment. The so-called sustainable practices etc only postpones doomsday.