Monday, December 1, 2014

5 Awesome things about Airtravel : which go unnoticed

Magic, if performed very frequently, often becomes a norm. Flying is one such thing. I decided to share some magical, wonderful things about flying in an aircraft. It's a pity that most of us just take this for granted......

1. The size of the aircraft. 

The sheer size of this entity amazes me. The fuel tanker, the luggage of the passengers, everything is dwarfed by this colossal entity. It feels like a miracle that such a thing can even crawl a few meters, let alone fly to Japan !


2. The observation deck. 

There have been moments when I would go sit on the observation deck at the Udaipur Airport. It's a place where a very strong sensation of Joy takes over, completely.

Perhaps the source of the blissful experience,  is the comfort drawn from ceaseless takeoff's and landings of aircrafts.

Pro Tip:
  1.  Observation decks  are an amazing place for a date!  
  2. Try planning your next trip while sitting in an observation deck. You will be surpried at the difference it makes.
  3. Gazing at the aircrafts flying is a great way to introspect and solve the problems which weigh you down
3. The Takeoff

Few other instances exist in life are more releasing, than the 10 seconds of the liftoff.

Just in a few seconds, your entire world of mountains and mighty rivers, is reduced to a mere scratch on the surface of the earth. 

What does it teach you? 

The enormous power of the aircraft can inspire us to imagine: that perhaps one day we too, may prevail over everything which seem to loom over us right now. 

These few seconds can cause dramatic shifts in our lives

Pun Intended


It's a pity that no one seems to think that it is AWESOME and AMAZING that somewhere above an ocean,  we are flying over little candy floss islands of clouds.

These islands would make a perfect seats for angels or even God himself if what you were seeing was a renaissance painting. I can only imagine what would be the reaction of Da Vinci, Poussin and Rapheal if the cabin crew announced

"Ladies and Gentlemen, now we are now flying over clouds"

Things would go crazy on board, for sure. 

5. The Wait

Next time you are stuck on an airport waiting for your flight, stop cursing everything around you. 
Imagine a sailor from ancient times on his way to explore the world, and his journey is disrupted by a wild current. He waits, but he doesn't crib. 

The wait can be beautiful.
Some people, just can't wait !!

Like the wait to land on a new location. A place where no one knows your name and every time you observe something it will be a new experience. Nothing excites me more or gives me goosebumps more than the wait just before the landing. 

And the wait for a loved one arriving? It's perhaps the most beautiful wait anyone can have. 


What are the little things you experienced on your flights?? We would love to know and feature your thoughts here..

Meanwhile, here's the greatest tip of them all

Friday, November 21, 2014

A waltz across the turf of time

Serendipity is the most beautiful path which leads to things "you didn't know that you didn't know".I just ran across a collection on 8tracks which is "History of Music". It would be an amazing way to take a walk across centuries of music.

From 15th century Celtic music to the Baroque period, the one transformation which really stands out for me is the rise in collaborative music. From dominance of one musical instrument such as the fiddle, music evolved into symphonies where a crowd created a rhythm. It is in a way in line with what was happening in that era, from reverence to one man mastery over a trade, we were progressing towards Industries.

image courtesy: weheartit

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Content Strategy: Mind the tone

When it comes to offering solutions in the form of an online marketplace, we need to realize, that the voice and the tone of your product is: of paramount importance. We need to put a structure in place to identify the relationships between tone of the product and the ambition of the customer.

This can be simplified by a simple example. As a patient when I walk inside a doctor's cabin, I could be anyone of the following patient types

1) Those who are aware of what they want, are sure of the treatment they are receiving and their primary concern probably is the cost and the insurance issues involved. I would like the doctor to be able to suggest me honestly the various options available and give me a feeling that he is my well-wisher when it comes out to designing the most cost effective plan.

I want him to be a co-traveler in this discussion journey, a friend.

A complex listing page of Amazon with 15,000 products and a precise price filter is an example.

2) I am a patient who is unwell, unsure about what's going on. I want the doctor here to be confident about telling me what I should be doing, narrow down the options which I have.
Here, I want him to be the GUIDE of my journey. I want him to tell me what I want.

iPhone is an example. These products taught us what WE want.

Customer's purpose needs to be identified clearly, this shall then drive the content on the page.

Are you speaking in the right tone?


Monday, November 3, 2014

How to ensure retention? Induction of Hired Top Employee

As a startup, you need one of the best people to join your team and make your growth curve as steep as possible. One of the biggest challenges, is to retain them: once they do join you.

The seeds are sown at the induction stage.

I am going to focus on the high performers your firm manages to recruit for top positions. These individuals  have joined you, because they are "different". It's their individuality which separates from the crowd.It's this trait, which made you hunt for them, and empower your team with their presence.

However, this is where the first seed of failure is sown. Their induction in the firm is dealt with a standard SOP at best, and a very casual team introduction at its worst.

You ignored the most important factor when it comes to these assets: Their Individuality

Let us take a case study approach:

Meet Sam Paul. Enterprenuer who made record growth in first two years of his fashion startup and has just secured a $10 million funding. He is a star eyed boy of all the VC's in the scene.
Truth be told: the expectations are overwhelming. The growth has been so quick that multitasking skills have now boredered over chaos management. Before it takes the form of firefighting, Sam needs to hire a VP.

Meet Maya: Batchmate of Sam. Consultant with one of the biggest firms, a ninja at problem solving. Maya and Sam were together in the olympiad team, he knows her skills are exactly what he needs, Maya has realized that the stress in the stifling enviornment, without a chance to lead and no recognition is not her cup of tea. She gladly accepts Sam's offer, which is 50% of what she currently earns.

Nice story right? Do they work happily ever after? : No

let us break down the problem:

When the firm hires, following two factors matter the most
  1. Core strengths of the hire. 
  2. Ability to learn new skills, and execute them across departments other then the hire's own department

When a high achiever walks in, the expectations which are carried inside are

  1. Do I get to make a difference with my core skills? Do I get to do my thing, in peace?
  2. How much do I learn? What will my learning curve be like?

There are some additional factors too, which make a major impact

Team work: How much does the hire look forward towards working in teams? How important is it for the firm to have the new hire fit into the teams and gel with them?

Social Expectations: Does the new hire come from an enviornment where office parties were more of a norm than exception. Or does she come from an extremely comprtitve and a serious setup where a distance between employees was not only expected by encouraged.Is office get otgether and a firendly enviornment a black swan , uncomfortable event for this hire?

What is the firm's stand on this?

Now let us come to Maya and Sam

Maya expects that she will be given independence to go all out in her work. She will work at her pace, without the worries of a team not being able to catch up, away from the politics of a group she detested.Her past experience makes her crave independence and solitude.
She is NOT looking forward towards learning and executing skills completely unknown to her. She is an achievement oriented person who wants to excel and rise in her core skill area. She has had enough parties that she could puke at the mere idea of an office party!!
(No pun intended)

Sam needs a VP. Someone who is so comfortable in her core area that she will gladly handle other strings which are loose. he wants a team player who leads by example. He thinks the teams need to hang out more to develop camaraderie

A clear mismatch, right?

we need to analyse this better, we need to SEE the problem.

Lets try: we rate the priority out of 10

Hire Firm
Using core strengths  7 4
Learning New skils  3 6
Team Work 4 7
Multitasking 4 7
Social Aspects 2 6

So here is what we get

 Red represents the Firm, our Sam.Blue is Maya, the Diva Hire

The above graph shows obvious mismatch between "expectations".This is probably the most important thing to notice. Expectations can be aligned, provided one knows exactly where the alignment needs to be done, and for How Long

Above picture gives an idea of an obvious mismatch. To analyse it deeper, we could use a radar graph.

HR and the management needs to sit down and close the gap with the new hire.

This exercise, if done at induction stage: will work wonders. A win win situation is always a necessary condition for miraculous results to happen.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

What does your blog stand for?

As a startup, the question of whether one could blog always haunts the minds. More specifically, what will be the role of the blog? Is it a tool to create awareness? Is it a tool to generate traffic? The focus could be more on content, OR; focus could entirely be on driving the sales.

What will you do?

With experience in B2B marketing with a fortune 500 oil company and blogging for last 7 years, My answer is clear: Inspire and become a thought leader in your domain.

Blog is a long term tool. It's like that old inn which you always pass by on your way but you know it will always be there when you really need to cool your heels and have a drink.

It's reliable. It exudes trust.

Your blog has to create value for your reader. This is the key to every successful blog. Add value and Share your learning.

Best sharing happens when there is no expectation of a return.

Once you establish reliability and become a thought leader in your domain, you automatically generate awareness. Awareness then results in increase in traffic. Once increase in traffic is achieved, sales can be driven with ease.

Idea is to build a relationship, of sharing and giving. Not grabbing the client.


Blog>>Though Leader>>Inspire>>Awareness>>Increase in traffic>>Drive Sales>>Ninja Dance
KeyWords : Add value and Share

Image courtesy: weheartit

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Forward March

As a B2B professional in a fortune 500 firm, every single review meet followed the age old maxim: Compare the current performance with the historical.

I am learning Google Analytics and dealing with extensive data analysis.It's the same here, the option to compare the current figures with the similar period in the past, appears by default.

My masters in public policy is now in its second year. Critical data such as poverty alleviation and carbon footprints is analysed thoroughly using tools such as regressions, data modelling and big data analysis. Again, the comparison is with the figures from the past.

What is this fixation with the historical?

Most of the problems we face can be traced back to (pun intended) our incompleteness with the past.

Coming specifically to sales performance analysis in B2B marketing, it is a problem which needs to address these two basic questions:

  1. Current performance and value in the market
  2. Strategy to grow in the future
Once the problem has been broken down, we can see that both the components are not really connected with the "Past" 

  • The comparison has to be with Industry trends and competitor performance. Even when it comes to competitor analysis, firms mistakenly assume that the only competitors they have are the firms which match their size. In today's times, that is obvious. What needs to be done, apart from measuring up competitor's from our own size, is to look for small ones who are registering a High growth rate in the industry: What is the strategy they are using? Is there a segment which has completely been missed in our scanners?

  • We need to realize the crucial word here: "Future". Comparing with past figures and then devising a strategy is a way to undermine the current position and temperament of the customer. We need to analyse our capabilities, resources and commitment, and come up with a forecast for the "coming" month/Qtr. This process has to be in a feedback loop so that the comparison with forecast and performance on ground happens on a weekly basis.While we need to strive hard to achieve the figure initially quoted, we need to also readjust the targets if the shift from forecast is questionable, but not the efforts and commitment. 

Picture courtesy:

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The 10 Book Challenge

An year ago when I resigned from my job, I promised myself I will read more and travel more. Not finding time to read was a situation akin to my face being pushed in a bucket of water.
I kept my promise to myself. I read more than I could I ever imagine. I traveled more than my imagination could conceive.

I wrote the above simile because reading has indeed been like breathing to me. However, to be nominated for this challenge from people higher than me in the hierarchy of reading in a very obvious way, has been a humbling experience. 

I will thank and acknowledge those who nominated for this. These are not the people who can be described with brevity. So for books, please skip to the part where you see Mahabharata in Bold.

I stumbled across Shaz's blog at random. One of the few instances when randomness has been an ally. A sage when absorbed in mundane routine meditations feels no emotions. Then one day at random a vision blesses his tranquil mind and fervor grips him. Reading Shaz's blog was like that.

I remember her review on Knut Hampsons "Hunger". It was simple yet it would capture the reader. I read it several times while I read the book. I read it several times after I finished the book. This had never happened.
It's a privilege to have been nominated by her.

Pratik Mishra is one of the few people who re kindles the fire for reading in me every time we have a conversation. It's amazing how people know the field they want to be in and become ninja at it at such an early stage.If hierarchy, class , expertise and aristocratic principles exist to define the line which separates a reader like him from minion mongrel readers like me; then I not only accept the concepts with delight but endorse them.

Tamanna is one of those people who sit next to you in a movie in silence and then you both suddenly speak the same thing on the same scene together, creeping each other out. She writes about Mahabharata the way I do. She feels about physics the way I do. She has a hunger to learn new subjects like economics just like I do. However, she has a beautiful blog which if compared to mediocre blog of mine, would sit on an ivory tower. Beauty of the author reflects in the writings. Tamanna is a beautiful person. 

Rohini Singh is a genius. She can put Kafka to shame if she is feeling dark. She can write a novel which will strip away shrines from soul if she is angry. She is blessed with the superpower of capturing the readers soul and then do whatever she pleases to do with it. One has to read her exceptional blog to conceive the awesomeness she serves.Her nomination makes me as happy and humble as an apple polisher would be if the Countess asked his name. Its an honor.

Vernica has been a classmate besides being a close friend. So while others have known me personally, her request came as a huge professional compliment to me. I guess she is one of those people who realize that I always read books I am not supposed to be reading.[No, no pun intended] Always the wrong book at the wrong time. But that's how I've always been

I had to write this rather long introduction. Thing about my post is that....."it's mine"..

Here I go 

Everyone who knows me knows the impact I have had from this book. I blog about it. I study it on persistent basis.For this longest epic in the world, I think only these lines from my favorite band Strings come to my mind :

ये कहानी नयी है पुरानी भी है 
कुछ अनोखी भी है और सुहानी भी है
सुरम्यी शाम है और दीवानी भी है 
बात कहनी भी है और छुपानी भी है 

Alice in Wonderland

While every single fairy tale and childern's fable was about a clear distinction between good and bad, this was just about fun. I think I identify the most with the moment when caterpillar asks Alice who she is:

"Alice replied, rather shyly, 'I — I hardly know, sir, just at present — at least I know who I WAS when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then.'
'What do you mean by that?' said the Caterpillar sternly. 'Explain yourself!'
'I can't explain myself, I'm afraid, sir' said Alice, 'because I'm not myself, you see.'"

On a personal level this book is pandora's box. It has secrets related to me which perhaps I will never tell. Things I write about Alice and Hatter maybe give some hint.

 Great Expectations:

“You are in every line I have ever read.” 

In the little world in which children have their existence, whosoever brings them up, there is nothing so finely perceived and so finely felt as injustice.” 
― Charles DickensGreat Expectations

It was the title which intrigued me as a child . I became a co-traveler in the journey which Pip takes on the sailboat of his "Great Expectations". I have had profound learning experience from this book. I learnt how one could be extremely poor and in a wretched state as Pip's but still have amazing turnarounds. I learnt how one could have a fortune such as Ms Havisham's but still be stuck in time with gloom gripping your soul like spiderwebs in the Ms Havisham's mansion. I remember realizing that it was important to make the journey, like Pip. Things then have a way to surprise yourself. You will have tears , heartbreaks but you shall be alive nonetheless. 
Ms Havisham's stuck clock became a sort of symbol for me. When I found myself feeling stuck in my job, I would see this clock in my vision. It was easy to quit and leave with my bagpack then!

The Great Gatsby

When I read this the first time I was the college grad student who was reading this novel simply because it fit in the backpocket of my rugged jeans. Fast forward 10 years, I was on a bus from Prague to Berlin and was reading the book again. I wept. So much so that people in the bus had to come check if I am allright. I wanted to tell them that this is the first time I have found a man who in his bare naked soul form loves a woman like I would. I wept because the similarities were frighteningly similar.

I think the key thing which was captured was the "insignificance" which Gatsby felt because Daisy was not with him.

This poem I wrote comes close to what I want to say about this book. 

It's difficult to talk about this book , even harder to write.

I think the following quotes shall give an idea

The 4 Hour Week- Tim Ferris

I was recommended this book by Mukti Shah. She is a professional trainer whose workshop I attended and kept in touch ever since. I was suggested this book by her when I was looking for answers like a drowning man looks for a gasp. I was eternally confused about decision to leave my job. I will be honest and tell you that I have not read the whole book. I didnt need to. This books causes a paradigm shift in the thinking patterns.
Suddenly, co-existence of career advancement and living the dreams seemed like a possibility. I did it. I left the job which was sucking my soul and traveled across Europe. At the same time, I have grown my money and my skills. I owe it to this book.

Positano, Italy

Aghora: The Left hand of God by Dr Robert Svoboda

This is a hidden book. I didnt not want to write about this. I sincerely thank Vikram Gehlot for recommending this book to me. This book is extremely weird and different. However, it gave me a direction. A direction towards exploring the spirituality of the religion I was born into. I got into reading Puran's in their original form. The beauty between Shiva and Sati can not be fathomed by love. The way Svoboda speaks about concepts is extremely different and very serious. Exposing this book makes me vulnerable. Nonetheless, this book nudged me in a direction which makes me proud. The readings which happened as a consequence of this book make me who I am. 

Surely you are joking, Mr Feynman: Richard Feynman

Awesomeness was always associated with one being a ninja in one field. Then we had Feynman, who could be better than you in whatever you did best and still win a Nobel in Physics.I am often accused of being distracted and immersing myself in extremely varied fields. After BTech in Chemical Engineering and working in a fortune 500 company, I am now pursuing a Masters in Arts. This is the book which made this possible. This is the book which made me respect my tendencies. This is the book which inspires me. 

Outliers: The story of success by Malcom Gladwell

The only thing my being could come up with when exposed to someone awesome in her field, was awe. After reading this book i realized there is a way to greatness. There is a pattern. Everytime I see someone doing something I admire, I immediately start cracking the code on how he does it. I take my focus on how he is doing what he can , instead of immersing myself in the awe. Its a paradigm shift.
It also made me realize that solutions of problems can be extremely far from the places we look. Thus, it gave me a skill to dissociate myself from the problems I am facing and solveit from a third persons perspective.I'd recommend this book to everyone.

Le Petite Prince

This is a thin book which sometime people percieve as a children's book. I think every page is as profound as a book. 
I wrote a few lines being inspired from the book. Those who have read it will appreciate the rendition more. You can read it here

Basic Writings of Existentialism: Gordon Marino

This was one of the random finds in a bookstore. This book exposed me to some of the most brilliant authors I have ever read. I introduced me to the realm of existentialism. To the absurd. To the randomness. It now forms my core. If I had to dig deeper and point out one author from this genre I would have to pick Fyodor Dostoevsky's excerpts from "Notes from the underground". This writing was hauntingly similar to what I had written in my journal sitting alone in my room. 
I believe that anyone who accepts the absurd becomes a person I would have coffee with without checking my clock. 
People ask me why this book is always on my "currently reading" list on goodreads, it because this book is like looking into mirror when one is facing his own existential crisis. It takes guts to open this book. 

Tao Te Ching

This book is reported to be from approx 4th Century BC. From the courts of the Zhou Dynasty in China. 
I add this book with much embarrassment. It's because I got it very recently. I am still in the process of reading it. However, its not a book one reads cover to cover. I have this notion that every time I have a problem , I open a page randomly from this book and it throws a solution at me. Its thousands of years of magic packed in a few pages. This book is magic. 
I thank Pratik Misra for not only recommending but also recommending the book to me. 

We put thirty spokes together and call it a wheel;
But it is on the space where there is nothing that the usefulness of the wheel depends.
We turn clay to make a vessel;
But it is on the space where there is nothing that the usefulness of the vessel depends.
We pierce doors and windows to make a house;
And it is on these spaces where there is nothing that the usefulness of the house depends.
Therefore just as we take advantage of what is, we should recognize the usefulness of what is not. (chap. 11) 

There we go , the end to the extremely loquacious post.
images from:

Saturday, June 21, 2014

The Story

She woke up with the sound of his scratching on paper. Every part of her body could feel that pain which though felt as if she was tired, refreshed her being. Her legs ached and still fell strecthed. She had marks on her waist , her thighs and breasts. Marks so audacious that she will have to take extra care to hide them from the elders in the house for next few days. She felt loved. She felt wanted. She felt like a woman. She also felt owned, amd she was loving it.
"We are leaving for Europe", he said without looking up.He had stopped writing but was looking in the paper. It did not sound like a decision or final diktat. It sounded like a plan. That was his weakness which only she knew. This man was never sure about anything.

"Ya?" She chuckled.

He turned around, " Yes. Europe it is. We have to go. I just want to go and travel. All the great men who have led people have derived their poise and insight from their travels. Look at Netaji, Mahatma, PanditJi. I want to go too. "

She looked at him smiling. It's never just the person you fall in love with. You fall in love with his flaws, his dreams, his nightmares, his innocence, his light, his darkness, his voice, his hands, his smile. This girl was in love.

"When do we plan to leave then? "


"Thursday? It's Monday today!"

"Yes." He turned around and looked at her. Her sight comforted him. There was this overwhelming urge to hold and crush her little body, always. He wanted to love her and break her. He wanted to hold her like a mother holds her child and like a lion grips his prey, both at the same time. Everytime he touched her he wanted to tsake more of her. It was never enough. It was never complete.

That evening the carrige was prepared in secret and she went to see her doctor. If they had to travel so soon she has to take care of this trouble she had been having. Dr Hathway was a fine gentleman from Bristol who was one of the closest friend of her father in law. Dr Hathaway had however, been a friend to both the kids as well. She went and asked Dr Hathaway what was the result of the blood sample he took.

She was pregnant.


"So , we just go to Europe and Travel??"
He stopped working on his car and looked up. She was seated in the garden sipping tea.
" What do you mean we " just " go and travel? Thats the thing about Europe, you go there and travel. It's 1932, times are changing. Everyone is travelling anyway. "

"Yes but our reason is different I thought. Is it not about self discovery ??"

He knew she was coming to some serious point. He stopped working and kept his tools down looking at her.

She looked back in silence. He came and sat next to her.
"It is. It is about self discovery"
"Why don' t you take that cambridge degree. We can always travel. Ill join you later on."

"I thought about it. I do not want to be away for so long. I want to be here, in India."

"Some dreams are so grand it is almost impossible to concieve them. You have to go see a mountain before you start building one. "

He kept silent. It was easy for her to talk about him leaving. He was disappointed but did not reveal it.

" And all the names you took, they studied abroad".

Perhaps she was right. 

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The real teeth of the bear

Guys I'm delighted to announce my new blog on Energy and Foreign Policy. 
I named it Joules and Jalebi. Joules for Energy and Jalebi for awesomeness.

I mostly share the articles I think are amazing on it. 
This is the first post I wrote

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Power Potion

How do Asterix and rest of the Gauls kick ass of the Roman empire? They do it after they receive the magic potion of power from the village druid Getafix.

I received a power potion from the Colonel in my class today. Power potion about power.

What makes us strong?

How do you inflict maximum impact ?

Colonel's theory is simple. We derive our strength from Unity.

When we are isolated from a community, a group, we are in our most vulnerable form. To cause deep and maximum impact strike when you find the person isolated and vulnerable. When you find such a moment do NOT waste it and hit with aggression. If such a moment does not present itself then you create that isolation and wait for it.

This is also true to tackle social issues. Issues such as poverty, women empowerment, corruption etc can be dealt and solved if there is unity and entire communities working to solve the problem.

The power of One, it's a bullshit concept.

This guy, got NO change. Probably got killed. 

Mao, who had people behind him: created history. 

Unless of course you want to be this guy 
 Who caused this 

End of the day, it's the crowd which wins.

Seek out your people, your family , your friends ; when you find yourself vulnerable.
Disconnect and isolate the problems and people you want to finish.

We do the opposite.


The Dark Room

Per capita electricity consumption of countries. Little blue line in the end is India.

I am so deeply disturbed I don't wish to comment anything. Just one thing, how do we afford to talk about investing in insanely expensive green technologies like solar grids when people lack access to basic electricity. ??????

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The equal wages hypothesis

Hypothesis: Implementation of equal wages policy will cause an upsurge in female unemployment in the short run and then a fall. A kuznet's curve expected. 


Source for legal reference

The 1999 Law 
Unemployment Stats for the females from 1998 to 2013 (Google public Data) *Eurostat

Refutes the hypothesis

The 1998 Employment Equality Act 

Refutes the hypothesis
The 1995 Constitution 

Refutes the hypothesis

UKThe Equal Pay Act 1970, as amended by Equal Value Regulations of 1983, and the Sex Discrimination Act of 1976 and 1986, superseded by the Equality Act 2010.

Refutes the hypothesis


  • Equal Remuneration Act of 1976
  • MGNREGA implemented in 2005, recognizes equal pay and makes 1/3 Quota

Refutes the hypothesis

Czech Republic

Czech RepublicRemuneration for work is regulated by Act no. 1/1992 Coll. on pay, remuneration for overtime, and average income; and by Act no. 43/1991 Coll. on pay and remuneration for overtime in state and some other organisations and bodies

In line with the hypothesis


NetherlandsThe Constitution (Article 1) and the 1994 Law on Equal Treatment.

Refutes the Hypothesis

Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Shroud

There is this thing about old books. You can read the story written inside them but you will never their own story. Given the awesomeness of the book it's obvious that it has been in the hands of some amazing people. We will never know.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Is Poverty a threat to Environmental Sustainability?

Environmental Sustainability gets the required priority and impetus not when the academia and media make it a central focus but when the governments decide to do so.
The democratic world represents the majority and power in todays world, making it unipolar.
In a democracy the priorities of issues are decided by the impact these issues will have if they were addressed to. The timeframe plays a critical part as well because on an average a democratically elected government has 4 to 5 years on the podium to win hearts of audience for the next election. This is also the time when they have to stave off the daggers of the opposition.
In the non-democratic part of the world, things get more complex. The withering part of the world, due to its insecurity and hunger for power, stresses more on immediate growth of the nation. Issues concerning public such as health and environment always take a back seat. Any action, if done at all on these fronts is just pettifogging to leverage the reputation at the world stage.
I do not think anyone finds himself astonished to see that issues such as environment sustainability and climate change are plunged at a position which one may term, “Nugatory”.
The issues such as health and poverty always take a center stage for the governments. The overarching theme for governance is always public welfare. Issues such as environment are critical but a hamlet dying of famine or even slightest increase in inflation are issues which lead to grave threats to the very existence of the ruling party’s majority in the house.
Achieving environmental sustainability will take a dedicated battle which will require both efforts as well as capital. Ability to deal with issues of poverty and environment sustainability together at the same time with equal and effective efficiency is a utopian thought. That which cannot be implemented should be avoided to refrain from wasting time. On a personal note I think the above statement is extremely pessimistic but having worked with the government at the field level I know that governments are always interested in schemes and policies which show an immediate impact. A quick look on government’s expenditure on schemes such as food bill and on National action plan on climate change will give a very clear idea of the ground reality.
I t is indeed clear that till the time we are facing problem of poverty and stunted development, steps towards environmental sustainability will be reticent.
Governments may be worng not to address poverty and environment together but with the Lion’s share going towards poverty alleviation, it is clear that poverty is the greatest threat towards environmental sustainability.
Even though we have an overwhelming evidence of the threat we face if we cross the biophysical limit of the society, what we need to see is that what prevented governments to stand up and give the attention this issue deserved?
It is the overwhelming demand of people to curb poverty and their demand for immediately visible results. Imposing, would be a better word to describe the public’s stance.
Often while dealing with subject of Poverty and Environment , researchers show that carbon footprint of “Rich” nations such as USA, Japan is way higher than that of Developing nations such as India. Using this statistic it is argued that if Poverty was a threat to environment, this would not be the statistic we would have in front of us.
We need to be very careful about analyzing this data. This data tells us that Poverty and environmental “Degradation” are not related in a direct proportion. However, we need to look at the budget which developed countries such as USA, Germany and Japan have spent on sustainable practices such renewable energy. The figures in case of developing countries battling poverty fall from Olympian heights.
When it comes to environmentally sustainable practices, developed countries have fared to be exceptionally better in terms of policies and nation wide expenditures.
Governments in developing nations still believe subsidies to be the Noah’s ark to rescue those languishing in poverty. Over the years almost all economists and research institutes have pointed out the failure of direct subsidies towards poverty alleviation, however if we see election manifesto of any political party we will see promises of more subsidies[1].
In the thirst of rapid development the south countries became the industrial address for the developed world. China stands out as an example.
China’s population living under international poverty line decreased from 85% in 1981 to 27 % in 2004. In terms of numbers, China is attributed to greater than 95% reduction in global poverty over the period of last 20 years.
This comes at a price. China’s environment has a miasma of neglect in it. Miasma in every sense of the word. China is world’s largest source of carbon emissions and has 16 of the world’s most polluted cities.
As the developed world signed the Kyoto protocol, it simply shifted it’s industrial base to the developing and poor nations. These nations, in their frenzy to break the chains of poverty and hunger, willingly became the pit of the rich.
China had 1.2 million deaths due to air pollution last year. A price which is not only acceptable to the world but even applauded by development economists and the north because every grave represents the phenomenal fall of poverty.
Citing one example can be brushed off as a correlation but even a glimpse of any data comparing the fall of poverty and condition of environment in that country would give an idea of how the fervor for poverty reduction costs the environment.
To the more than 1 billion people subsisting on less than $1.25 a day, worrying about environmental issues is a distant luxury. If your family is freezing, you will cut down the last tree for fuel; if they are starving, you will strip the land bare to feed them. And if you have no certainty about the future, you will provide for it in the only way possible: by having more children to care for you in your old age, regardless of how much they will add to humanity’s demands on the planet.
Poverty means entire disadvantaged communities have less to eat, get less education, and are more exposed to infectious disease. Allowing them to get richer enables them to satisfy their families’ immediate needs like food, clean water, and education. And then they can afford to start caring about the environment. Recent history suggests that when living standards go up, people and societies reduce their pollution, stop cutting down forests, and stop dying from dirty air and bad water.
The governments are driven by people’s demands. They will act on environmental issue when it people make it a core demand.  
In short, helping people to emerge from poverty is one of the best things we can do for the environment. Untill then, it is and will remain the biggest obstacle on the road to environmental sustainability.



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