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#India’s 1/3rd is #youth. Is it time to rejoice?

While inaugurating the World Population Day 2014 with UNFPA, Honourable Home Minister of India has said that India’s 1/3rd is youth.  While this is good news that we have the resources at hands to build a vibrant nation, we are not prepared to tap the potential of this youth – due to many mismanagement issues. It’s not a time to rejoice, but to commit ourselves and work in the right direction to unleash the potential of this youth, otherwise, it’s going to be a disaster of uneducated, unemployed people constituting 1/3rd of the nation.

Ground reality is harsh.  A recent report shows that 1/3rd of the country is poor. Mr. Rajnath Singh is all for listening and addressing the concerns of the youth. This is good, and at the first place, quality education is unavailable in 70% of India, which are rural.  Several NGOs are pitching in and trying to change the rural education landscape by running quality schools, but there is grapevine that government is mulling imposing a law which prohibits NGOs which does not have a certain amount of funds to close their schools!  So, government schools don’t have the necessary quality and infrastructure; private schools will be closed if they don’t show sufficient money. Where will 1/3rd of India Population go for education?

If strong structural changes are not brought in, all these 1/3rd of the population will be capable of only manual labour.  And it shows today, where people from central and east central states are moving to other far-off states in search of labour jobs, leaving alone their homes, culture and lands.  This is clearly not an indication of a vibrant culture, but may be of a blind economy.

On top of all, the country will go crazy trying to educate with youth whose number keeps multiplying year after year.  Unless there’s a policy on population of India (to stop generation of more and more babies), India is going to multiply many fold and keep adding to the uneducated rural youth problem – which in turn will lead to inefficiency, crimes and hopelessness.

So, what’s India’s Population Policy?

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Being a nature’s friend…

What would be your take on being a Nature’s friend?

There are so many themes that are talked about today on Nature or the environment, but to me it’s about protecting and nurturing the wonderful planet that we have been given. It’s a privelege to be in this algae-bluish-green rock that’s 2 stones away from the sun, breathing the fresh air, thriving and frolicking in this awesome earth!

But, for our conveniences and comfort, we have almost destroyed this planet in the past 3 decades in so many ways. Especially, the last two decades has seen the individualism rise to its peak – with people looking for individual comfort, diverging from the landscape of the past of few well-to-do and many minions. Well, that’s fine, only if we didn’t have this many heads! Especially, in India, the 1.3 billion!

Once a person is here in this earth as a human being, you cannot ask them to limit their aspirations – be a miser on their wishes, earn less money and live within the means – all these advices are not going to bear fruit – in this age of technology enablement, democracy and freedom. The only other option is not to bring in more and more human beings to this planet. We all have that choice as individuals, and if we really care about the Nature, that’s the best way of being the Nature’s friend!

Let me explain in more detail with some statistics – with data – for the folks who are not convinced of this.

Out of the 7 billion population of the world, 1.3 billion are in India!  That’s 17% of world’s population living in 2% of the world’s land! You will very well agree that every human being need the basics of – air, water, food, space to live, education and job. Let me just take these basic 6 parameters without going into other extended parameters like energy, aspirations, travel and entertainment. Now, let’s look at where we stand in each of the 6 basic parameters:

Air

There’s oxygen depletion happening in earth, and they say that by 2025, we will have 40% less oxygen. Can you imagine breathing 7 times a minute instead of the regular 12 times a minute?

Water

Several business stalwarts are beating their chest that they have invested on water resources since the next world war is going to be on water! Fair enough if you want to be an autocrat who want to rule and control large masses of people, but if you want to be a sensible human being, you would rather contribute to creating awareness about containing the no. of people such that we all have water to drink. Water conservationists talk about conserving every drop of water from the tap, saving every water resource, etc. That’s all fine, but if the no. of human beings keep on increasing, how are they going to find land to live and water to use? They will encroach lakes, and thus bring down the amount of water available, in addition to consuming more & more water!

Food

No doubt India has done well on agriculture, but of late, we have lost our traditional grains and millets, and also looking for imports of wheat from foreign countries! This could be because of mismanagement, but the point is if we mismanaging with the existing levels of population itself, how will we able to manage more? We should be ashamed to that the sons and daughters of our agricultural workers do not even eat a single good meal everyday. As it stands, this scenario does not support ‘Nature’.

Space to live

Needless to say – the more no. of more human beings – more demand for living space – lakes, foothills, riversides enroached and houses built – and we cry foul and blame God when earthquakes, floods and natural disasters kill people – as happened in Uttaranchal recently. Well, is it the Nature’s fault ?

Education

70% of India lives in villages, and we all know the story of rural education. No intervention is helping because of the sheer no. of children that need be educated. Quality is already suffering, and in addition, if we have more and more babies, who is going to educate them? Let’s not forget that uneducated, unskilled people are a burden to the nation than being assets. If they are not educated, how will they be sensible enough to take care of ‘Nature’ ?

Job

Our workforce population between the age of 22 and 60 is going to increase from 575 million to 810 million in the span of next 15 years. This is without counting the babies that might come by in the next 2 decades. How are we going to give job opportunities to them, and what will happen to the ‘Nature’ while we build office and factory infrastructure for these people?

As it stands, we are looking at a very gloomy, bleak picture at Nature and its resources. We have leveraged to the maximum extent possible, wherein the demand can never be met with the supplies. It’s time that we need to reduce our demands by containing the no. of people – abstaining from having babies for the next two decades, and every one of us working in whatever ways possible to spread the message and making personal decisions in life – to be single, to marry but not to generate babies, but may be adopt, etc.

Government policies can be enforced to reward familes without children or families that totally adopt children, and not give the financial benefits for the families that generate babies. India, being a democratic country, will take many years for the people to accept any government initiated measures – and economic carrot being the prime motivator that could work in this market driven picture. We cannot enforce things on people, and we have known by experience that it does not work. Only way is to create awareness.

The urban people can adopt. The rural can stop generating babies for labour, while their economic wellbeing can be taken care by social enterpreneurship, NGOs and government measures.

If we all put our heart and soul on this, this can really work, and we will be doing a very big favour to the Nature by being a sensible race that nurture this planet and not destroy it for its selfish needs.

Otherwise, any amount of trees planted is not going to help. Any amount of water conservation is not going to help. And any amount of pollution control is not going to help. Because, we have exceeded the threshold of those measures being helpful and being scalable.

Please send your comments to populationvision2050@gmail.com

 

 

 


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#Gift an #Education, Make a #Life ! – #Isha Vidhya

5 months ago, #IshaVidhya applied for accreditation with #GlobalGiving, a respected online fundraising platform which partners with corporates, employees and individual donors around the world.

Isha Vidhya crossed the fundraising requirements of $5,000 from 40 donors in just 23 days to become a permanent online member partner of GlobalGiving, thanks to many general public, supporters & wellwishers worldwide. They recognize Isha Vidhya’s work in transforming the rural education landscape of #India, and especially in #Tamilnadu. With its high quality education through carefully crafted methodology to the most economically backward children, Isha Vidhya is making a signficant difference in the lives of many rural families – many of them are first generation school-goers.

The fundraising was started to fund the critical infrastructure needs of the rural school near #Dharmapuri in Tamilnadu, needs like academic material, furniture for classroom and staff, compound wall, water facilities, digital class room, etc.

IshaVidhya has obtained $10,175 in donations from 104 donors. It’s heartening to see that 13 of those donations are from #corporate employees through employee gift cards, whose companies are partners with GlobalGiving, and be able to donate to Isha Vidhya through the GlobalGiving portal.

There’s still a long way to go to reach the fundraising target of $97,750, so awareness about this good work need be made to spread the word far and wide so that many more can support this building of rural India through education.

And the good news for the existing donors is that your project Isha Vidhya is in a very good standing at GlobalGiving, in many categories including donations, no. of donors, number and quality of project reports, and frequency of donations. It is expected that IshaVidhya will soon be in the ‘Leader’ category at GlobalGiving, at which time it will be introduced to more corporates, employees, and offered more exposure opportunities.

On February 12th, 2014, between 9:00 AM USA Eastern Standard Time and 23:59 PM USA Eastern Standard Time (between Feb 12, 2014 19:30 PM Indian Standard Time and Feb 13 10:29 AM Indian Standard Time) (what would be the time at my place? : http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/converter.html), donations made to Isha Vidhya at the Global Giving portal will be matched 30% by Global Giving, upto a maximum of $1000 per donor, till the Global Giving matching funds of $75,000 run out.  This is a great opportunity for everyone to donate and show their support for Isha Vidhya’s work. The link is:

http://www.globalgiving.org/projects/ishavidhya

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India passport issuance renewal – a few thoughts

The passport application & renewal in India has become relatively hassle-free and straight-forward, thanks to the new online tracking system. I applied on 20th and got my passport on hand on 31st.  The process is transparent – and stage-by-stage, the progress is updated in the web-site at http://passport.gov.in . No stage takes more than a day or two. Police verification stage proceeds smoothly and fast if you go to the police station and give your details with the photocopies of I.D. proofs and the documents that they ask for.

I do have a lot of concerns in the forms and the physical logistics of the passport seva kendra. This is true for the passport seva kendra in Lalbagh, Bangalore, and passport office in Kormangala, wherever specified.

1) Annexure F asks for the applicant name followed by S/O information, using blanks. Nowhere it says in the application or the associated instructions that the applicant’s full name (First name followed by middle name followed by last name) should be entered in the applicant name. Most of us tend to enter just our first name, especially since the S/O is asked immediately after the first name. If we enter just the first name, it is not accepted by the officials.

2) Lalbagh PSV, Bangalore: The place where they issue the tokens and the enquiry area is pretty crowded. Officials don’t realise the fact that every applicant is carrying sensitive documents with them like I.D. proofs and the queue system does not work. Everyone tries to push and fall on each other. If anyone’s document is lost, it is a big problem for them.  On the other hand, there is plenty of space inside the seva kendra allocated for the first stage of application processing called the ‘A’ section in the right side of the office, which is not used at all. This space should be around 5000 sq.ft. Why not use this space for receiving the applicants in a well-managed fashion, in a queue or a token system, so that people don’t fall over each other?

3) The no. of people attending to the tokens in the ‘B’ and ‘C’ sections are just 4 people each on a typical day, wherease ‘A’ section has 20 people. This leads to ‘B’ and ‘C’ section applicants waiting for a long time to be served. On the day I went for the interview, 100 applicants were sitting for around 7 hours waiting to be served in ‘B’ and ‘C’ sections.  The tokens were being issued even after 4:30 PM, which lead to heavy crowd.  It was sad to see the Assistant Regional Passport Officer herself doing the ‘B’ and ‘C’ verifications on the day I went. Her role should be to monitor whether things are moving smoothly in the office and to take actions where required.  Token issuance should be stopped once the ‘B’ and ‘C’ section no. of applications become unmanageable. No. of officers processing the ‘B’ and ‘C’ section should be increased.

4) There is a wonderful token issuing software algorithm to manage the applicants category like women, children, senior citizens, tatkal and normal quota, but at the end of the day, we all feel the crunch as the algorithm’s speed does not match with the no. of officers serving the ‘B’ and ‘C’ section. Talk about smart machines managed by not-so-smart people!

5) In the Kormangala passport office, applicants are forced to stand outside without cover in the queue though some limited no. of shaded seats are available, but they are not sufficient.  The token issuance windows look like a foreign embassy where applicants are asked to stand outside their office for visa stamping ! (Everyone know the Chennai scene near Gemini flyover!). If India itself treats their citizens like this, how will other countries respect India’s citizens ?

5) Securities manning the exit gate at Lalbagh PSV are openly asking to write their name and mobile number in a form that solicits Tata AIG insurance. This clearly falls in the borderline of illegal marketing. I don’t know who pays the securities – the Ministry of External Affairs (or) Tata AIG. Action has to be taken on this front.

If space and the monitoring and servicing of crowd is done properly in passport seva kendra, things will move a lot faster and smoother. Will the Ministry of External Affairs look into these points and take action?

 


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Towards an incredible India !

My passion is inclusiveness.

We all talk about making India a super-power. A super-power, in my terms, is NOT the one which behaves like a street rogue, threatens other countries, follows a divide-and-rule policy, and sell weapons against each other.

A super-power is one, which has love in its heart, has so much to offer through its citizens, a nation with abundance, and willing to help through diplomacy and philanthropy.  A super-power is one which can show that little bit of fire in times of need, when a rat’s tail becomes longer than its body and wags.  As you can see, India has many of these traits already built-in. It’s ready to take on, with its majority young population of 1.2 billion, which is almost 19 percent of the world’s population, just that we need to build a few things to make that happen.

Famines and foreign invasions created a havoc in the country. In 1947, the average life expectancy was 26 years in India. We didn’t have proper food, clothing, shelter and nothing to look forward to. In 2013, today, that’s not the case. We are in a stage, where medical, technological and engineering advances have been imported, and our average life expectancy is 63 years. We are doing okay with food production. But, still there are several major gaps.

While the 30% of the India’s population that live in cities and major towns enjoy the fruits of economic well-being, 70% still live in villages and depend on agriculture. These 70% live in poverty conditions (if not ‘extreme’ as per the government wordings), don’t have a single good food a day, divided by languages in education, thus cannot go work or do higher studies in another state or a foreign country, and reproduce for generating labour force for the family for income. This is insane.

Our laws are out-dated and tax regime is in shambles.

We have enough political parties to satisfy each and everyone’s egos, now it’s time to look at what really needs to be done to make this country a super-power.

We had been clerks and accountants and xxx-dars for the British government. We maintained files and offices and provided transportation arrangements for the British officers. We are not doing anything new these days. We have not matured to respect various professions, and still look out for the job that gives the highest salary.

People from central Indian states like Bihar, West Bengal, Chattisgarh travel to other states in trains to find jobs in real estate sector in states like Kerala – leaving behind their agricultural lands, family and culture. Are we really thriving?

So, let’s look at the solutions.

As a nation, we need to make significant progress in rural (remember, 70%) primary education where the ability of the students to study, wonder and ask questions to broaden their perspectives. This will generate the next generation scientists, mathematicians, geologists, historians and any other field experts, who can wonder and awe the vast expanse of this universe and make significant advances in these fields.  Isha Vidhya (http://www.facebook.com/ishavidhya , http://www.ishavidhya.org) an NGO, works tireless on educating the rural children of India through its English medium schools with integrated computer education for the most economically backward children. Take a look at their website, their methodology of education, their management and other details.

We need leaders who inspire leaders in every field, not just politics.  We need entrepreneurs who take social problems and convert them into viable businesses. We need people who question status-quo, and suggest improvements. We need people who can take initiative in suggesting modifications to the outdated law and enable it to take it to the parliament (long shot, yes, can we do it? Of course yes, just need a bunch of committed people).

And yes, we have enough people. All it takes are hearts. Only if you could spare yourself and work on what is required to be done within your circle of influence (and you need to keep expanding this circle of influence), we can make this country shine and become a super-power. If we don’t, we don’t have the right to blame it on politicians and bureaucracy and corruption. Not anymore. It’s on us. Let’s make it happen !

This blog has been written for indiblogger.in’s ISB iDiya contest. If you like this blog, please promote it by clicking the heart icon in this page: http://www.indiblogger.in/indipost.php?post=219454 . Your vote will help this blog trend among the famous and get good visibility, and thus might help in winning the prize money (Rs.30,000/- onwards) which will be donated to Isha Vidhya for the education of rural children. You need to have an indiblogger account (http://www.indiblogger.in) to vote.

For more info. on iDiya, please visit: http://www.isb.edu/idiya/