Poverty in India

Poverty is the state of not having enough material possessions or income for a person basic needs. Poverty may include social, economic, and political elements. Absolute poverty is the complete lack of the means necessary to meet basic personal needs, such as food, clothing, and shelter. Poverty is linked with negative conditions such as substandard housing, homelessness, inadequate nutrition and food insecurity, inadequate child care, lack of access to health care, unsafe neighborhoods, and under resourced schools which adversely impact our nation’s children.

There are several definitions of poverty, and scholars disagree as to which definition is appropriate for India. Inside India, both income-based poverty definition and consumption-based poverty statistics are in use. Outside India, the World Bank and institutions of the United Nations use a broader definition to compare poverty among nations, including India, based on purchasing power parity (PPP), as well as a nominal relative basis. Each state in India has its poverty threshold to determine how many people are below its poverty line and to reflect regional economic conditions. These differences in definitions yield a complex and conflicting picture about poverty in India, both internally and when compared to other developing countries of the world. 

More than 800 million people in India are considered poor. Most of them live in the countryside and keep afloat with odd jobs. The lack of employment which provides a livable wage in rural areas is driving many Indians into rapidly growing metropolitan areas such as Bombay, Delhi, Bangalore or Calcutta. There, most of them expect a life of poverty and despair in the mega-slums, made up of millions of corrugated ironworks, without sufficient drinking water supply, without garbage disposal and in many cases without electricity. Poor hygiene conditions cause diseases such as cholera, typhus and dysentery, which affects children more. 

Poverty in India impacts children, families and individuals in a variety of different ways through:

  • High infant mortality
  • Malnutrition
  • Child labour
  • Lack of education
  • Child marriage
  • HIV / AIDS

Since the 1950s, the Indian government and non-governmental organisations have initiated several programs to alleviate poverty, including subsidising food and other necessities, increased access to loans, improving agricultural techniques and price supports, promoting education and family planning. These measures have helped eliminate famines, cut absolute poverty levels by more than half, and reduce illiteracy and malnutrition.

Around 75 million more people in India fell into poverty last year because of the pandemic-induced economic recession, compared with what it would have been without the outbreak, an analysis by Pew Research Center showed on Thursday. That number in India accounts for nearly 60% of the global increase in poverty in 2020, the analysis showed. It defined the poor as people who live on $2 or less daily.

India has achieved annual growth exceeding 7 per cent over the last 15 years and continues to pull millions of people out of poverty, according to the World Bank. The country has halved its poverty rate over the past three decades and has seen strong improvements in most human development outcomes, a report by the international financial institution has found. Growth is expected to continue and, the elimination of extreme poverty in the next decade is within reach, said the bank, which warned that the country’s development trajectory faces considerable challenges. 

Rail Transport in India

Rail transport is the most commonly used mode of long-distance transportation in India. Indian Railways (IR) is the primary operator of rail operations throughout the country, a state-owned organization of the Ministry of Railways, which historically had its government budget. The rail network traverses the length and width of the country, covering a total of 63,140 km (39,200 miles).

It is one of the world’s largest and busiest rail networks, transporting over 5 billion passengers and over 350 million tonnes of freight annually. Its operations cover 28 states and 3 Union territories and link the neighbouring countries of Nepal, Bangladesh and Pakistan. In March 2020, the national rail network comprised 126,366 km (78,520 mi) of track over a route of 67,368 km (41,861 mi) and 7,325 stations. It is the fourth-largest national railway network in the world (after those of the United States, Russia, and China).

Indian Railways is headed by a Four-member Railway Board whose chairman reports to the Ministry of Railways. The Railway Board also acts as the Ministry of Railways. The officers manning the office of Railway Board are mostly from organised Group A Railway Services and Railway Board Secretariat Service. IR is divided into 18 zones, headed by general managers who report to the Railway Board. The zones are further subdivided into 71 operating divisions headed by divisional railways managers (DRM).

A plan for a rail system in India was first put forward in 1832, but no further steps were taken for more than a decade. In 1844, the Governor-General of India Lord Hardinge allowed private entrepreneurs to set up a rail system in India. Two new railway companies were created and the East India Company was asked to assist them. Interest from a lot of investors in the UK led to the rapid creation of a rail system over the next few years.

Railways were first introduced to India in 1853, and by 1947, the year of India’s independence, they had grown to forty-two rail systems. In 1951 the systems were nationalised as one unit to become one of the largest networks in the world. India’s first passenger train, operated by the Great Indian Peninsula Railway and hauled by three steam locomotives (SahibSindh and Sultan), ran for 34 kilometres (21 mi) with 400 people in 14 carriages on 1,676 mm (5 ft 6 in) broad gauge track between Bori Bunder (Mumbai) and Thane on 16 April 1853.

It was as late as 1895 that India saw the birth of its first locomotive. The locomotive, an F class 0-6-0 metre gauge numbered F-734, was built at Ajmer for the Rajputana Malwa Railway. It weighed 38 tonnes. The locomotive, to be used for hauling mixed trains, was built at a cost of Rs 15,869. This locomotive has outside connecting rods and side rods. It was also used on the Bombay Baroda and Central India Railway (BB&CI) network. Today, the locomotive has been stored as one of the outdoor exhibits at the National Railway Museum, New Delhi.

In June 1950, the Railway Board put forward a plan to divide the railways in India into six zones to get things organized. However, after some formalities, the actual plan was implemented a year later, by April 1951.

On April 14, 1951, the Southern Railway was formed by merging the Madras Railway, the South Marhatta Railway, the South Indian Railway and the Mysore Railway. On November 5, 1951, the Central Railway was constituted by bringing together the Great Indian Peninsula Railway (GIPR), the Nizam Railway, the ScindiaRailway and the Dholpur Railway.

On the same day, the Western Railway was constituted by merging the Bombay Baroda and Central India Railway (BB&CI), the Sourashtra Railway, the Rajasthan Railway and Jaipur Railway. The merger of Eastern Punjab Railway, the Jodhpur Railway, the Bikaner Railway and some upper divisions of the East India Railway led to the formation of the Northern Railway on April 14, 1952.  Oudh Railway, Tirhut Railway and the Assam Railway formed the North Eastern Railway and the remaining divisions of the East India Railway and the Bengal Nagpur Railway constituted the Eastern Railway on the same day. These were the first six zones of Indian Railways.

On March 31, 1978, the railways were split into nine zones. The Northern zone with its headquarters at Delhi (Delhi junction), the North Eastern zone with its headquarters at Gorakhpur, the North East Frontier with its headquarters at Maligaon (Guwahati), the eastern zone with its headquarters at Kolkatta (Howrah junction), the south eastern zone with its headquarters at Kolkatta again (Howrah junction), the south central zone with its head offices at Secunderabad, the southern zone at Chennai (Chennai Central) and the Central and Western Railways with their administrative headquarters at CST and Churchgate respectively.

In 1977, the country’s first railway museum was set up at Chanakyapuri, New Delhi. The first of its kind in the country, this unique museum covers a land area of over 10 acres, comprising an elegantly designed octagonal building housing nine display galleries and a large open area laid out to simulate a Railway Yard. With constant emphasis on improvements and additions, the museum can now boast of being one of the finest rail museums in the world and a very popular tourist attraction of the country’s capital. On an average, this museum has around 1,000 visitors daily.

Code of Ethics

A code of ethics sets out an organization’s ethical guidelines and best practices to follow for honesty, integrity, and professionalism. It is a document that outlines the core values and ethics of business that professionals must follow. The codes of ethics are determined by the professional body, company management or the association. The main types of codes of ethics include a compliance-based code of ethics, a value-based code of ethics, and a code of ethics among professionals.

A code of ethics will start by setting out the values that underpin the code and will describe an organization’s obligation to its stakeholders. The code is publicly available and addressed to anyone with an interest in that organization’s activities and the way it operates. It will include details of how the organization plans to implement its values and vision, as well as guidance to staff on ethical standards and how to achieve them.

Types of Codes of Ethics

A code of ethics can take a variety of forms, but the general goal is to ensure that a business and its employees are following state and federal laws, conducting themselves with an idea that can be exemplary, and ensuring that the business being conducted is beneficial for all stakeholders. The following are three types of codes of ethics found in the business.

Compliance-Based Code of Ethics

For all businesses, laws regulate issues such as hiring and safety standards. Compliance-based codes of ethics not only set guidelines for conduct but also determine penalties for violations. In some industries, including banking, specific laws govern business conduct. These industries formulate compliance-based codes of ethics to enforce laws and regulations. Employees usually undergo formal training to learn the rules of conduct. Because noncompliance can create legal issues for the company as a whole, individual workers within a firm may face penalties for failing to follow guidelines.

To ensure that the aims and principles of the code of ethics are followed, some companies appoint a compliance officer. This individual is tasked with keeping up to date on changes in regulation codes and monitoring employee conduct to encourage conformity.

This type of code of ethics is based on clear-cut rules and well-defined consequences rather than individual monitoring of personal behaviour. Despite strict adherence to the law, some compliance-based codes of conduct do not thus promote a climate of moral responsibility within the company.

Value-Based Code of Ethics

A value-based code of ethics addresses a company’s core value system. It may outline standards of responsible conduct as they relate to the larger public good and the environment. Value-based ethical codes may require a greater degree of self-regulation than compliance-based codes.

Some codes of conduct contain language that addresses both compliance and values. For example, a grocery store chain might create a code of conduct that espouses the company’s commitment to health and safety regulations above financial gain. That grocery chain might also include a statement about refusing to contract with suppliers that feed hormones to livestock or raise animals in inhumane living conditions.

Code of Ethics Among Professionals

Financial advisers registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) or a state regulator are bound by a code of ethics known as a fiduciary duty. This is a legal requirement and also a code of loyalty that requires them to act in the best interest of their clients.

Certified public accountants, who are not typically considered fiduciaries to their clients, still are expected to follow similar ethical standards, such as integrity, objectivity, truthfulness, and avoidance of conflicts of interest, according to the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA).

E-Technology in Agriculture

Photo by Quang Nguyen Vinh on Pexels.com

E-Agriculture is a new area of knowledge emerging out of the convergence of IT and farming techniques. It enhances the agricultural value chain through the application of the Internet and related technologies. IT helps farmers to have better access to information which increases productivity. It also enables him to get better prices through the information of changes in price in different markets.

The information related to policies and programs of the government, schemes for farmers, institutions through which these schemes are implemented, innovations in agriculture, Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs), Institutions providing new agricultural inputs(high yielding seeds, new fertilizers etc) and training in new techniques are disseminated to farmers through the use of Information technology to ensure inclusiveness and to avoid digital divide.

The advantages of E-Agriculture are –

  1. Better and spontaneous agricultural practices.
  2. Better marketing exposure and pricing.
  3. Lessening of agricultural risks and enhanced incomes.
  4. Better awareness and information.
  5. Enhanced networking and communication.
  6. Facility of online trading and e-commerce.
  7. Better representation at various forums, authorities and platform.
  8. E-agriculture can play vital role in the increased food production and productivity in India.

Access to price information, access to agriculture information, access to national and international markets, increasing production efficiency and creating a ‘conducive policy environment’ are the beneficial outcomes of e-Agriculture which enhances the quality of life of farmers.

Soil Management, Water Management, Seed Management, Fertilizer Management, Pest Management, Harvest Management and Post-Harvest Management are the important components of e-Agriculture where technology aids farmers with better information and alternatives. It uses a host of technologies like Remote Sensing, Computer Simulation, Assessment of speed and direction of Wind, Soil quality assays, Crop Yield predictions and Marketing using IT.

In India, there have been several initiatives by State and Central Governments to meet the various challenges facing the agriculture sector in the country. The E-Agriculture is part of the Mission Mode Project, which has been included in NeGP (under National E-governance Plan) to consolidate the various learnings from the past, integrate all the diverse and disparate efforts currently underway, and upscale them to cover the entire country.

In the framework of agriculture, the impact of information technology can be evaluated broadly under two categories. First, Information technology is a tool for direct contribution to agricultural productivity and secondly, it is an indirect tool for empowering agriculturalists to make informed and quality decisions that will have a positive impact on the agriculture and allied activities conducted. Precision agriculture which is popular in developed countries broadly uses information technology to make a direct contribution to agricultural efficiency.

It is well recognized that E-Agriculture is a developing field focusing on the augmentation of agricultural and rural development through better information and communication processes. More precisely, e-Agriculture involves the conceptualization, design, development, evaluation and application of innovative ways to use information and communication technologies in the rural area, with a primary focus on agriculture.

Information technology can aid Indian farmers to get significant information regarding agro-inputs, crop production technologies, agro-processing, market support, agro-finance and management of farm agri-business. The agricultural extension tool is becoming dependent on Information technology to provide appropriate and location-specific technologies for the farmers to provide timely and proficient advice to the farmers. Information technology can be the best means not only to develop agricultural extension but also to expand agriculture research and education system.

Information and communication technologies can enhance the agricultural sector in developing countries by functioning as pioneering solutions to agricultural challenges. Information technology is drastically changing the lives of humans in all areas including the agriculture sector. Information technology use computers along with telecommunication equipment for the retrieval, storage, transmission and manipulation of data, which are aimed to improve competence in the agriculture sector. 

The Bhagavad Gita

The Bhagavad Gita (“The Song of the Lord”) is is among the most important religious texts of Hinduism. The Gita is the sixth book of the Mahabharata, one of India’s most famous epic poems. The work is also known as the Shrimad Bhagavad Gita, Iswara Gita, the Ananta Gita, the Hari Gita, the Vyasa Gita, or simply the Gita. The Gita is a dialogue between Krishna and Arjuna, right before the start of the climactic Kurukshetra War in the Hindu epic Mahabharata

The Bhagavad Gita is a poem written in the Sanskrit language. It has a total of 700 verses which are structured into several ancient Indian poetic meters, with the principal being the shloka. It has 18 chapters in total. Each shloka consists of a couplet, thus the entire text consists of 1,400 lines. It’s unclear exactly when the Gita was composed as estimates vary widely, but several scholars suggest it was completed around 200 CE and then inserted into the larger work; many see it as the first fully realized yogic scripture. 

In the Indian tradition, the Bhagavad Gita, as well as the epic Mahabharata of which it is a part, is attributed to the sage Vyasa, whose full name was Krishna Dvaipayana, also called Veda-Vyasa. Another Hindu legend states that Vyasa narrated it while the elephant-headed deity Ganesha broke one of his tusks and wrote down the Mahabharata along with the Bhagavad Gita.

The Gita is a dialogue between the warrior-prince Arjuna and the god Krishna who is serving as his charioteer at the Battle of Kurukshetra fought between Arjuna’s family and allies (the Pandavas) and those of the prince Duryodhana and his family (the Kauravas) and their allies. Arjuna and his brothers have been exiled from the kingdom of Kurukshetra for 13 years and cut off from their rightful heritage by another faction of the family; the Gita takes up their struggle to reclaim the throne, which requires that Arjuna wage war against his kinsmen, bringing his considerable military skills to bear. This dialogue is recited by the Kauravan counselor Sanjaya to his blind king Dhritarashtra (both far from the battleground) as Krishna has given Sanjaya mystical sight so he will be able to see and report the battle to the king.

On the battlefield, the armies of the Pandavas and the Kauravas have gathered, ready to fight. The Pandava prince Arjuna asks his charioteer Krishna to drive to the center of the battlefield so that he can get a good look at both the armies and all those who are going to fight on both sides. He sees that some among his enemies are his own relatives, beloved friends, and revered teachers. He does not want to fight to kill them and is thus filled with doubt and despair on the battlefield. He drops his bow, wonders if he should renounce and just leave the battlefield. He turns to his charioteer and guide Krishna, for advice on the rationale for war, his choices and the right thing to do. 

The Bhagavad Gita is the compilation of Arjuna’s questions and moral dilemma, Krishna’s answers and insights that elaborate on a variety of philosophical concepts. The compiled dialogue goes far beyond the “a rationale for war”; it touches on many human ethical dilemmas, philosophical issues and life’s choices. The Gita has three major themes: knowledge, action and love. The setting of the Gita on a battlefield has been interpreted as an allegory for the ethical and moral struggles of human life. 

The Gita combines the concepts expressed in the central texts of Hinduism – the Vedas and Upanishads – which are here synthesized into a single, coherent vision of belief in one God and the underlying unity of all existence. The text instructs on how one must elevate the mind and soul to look beyond appearances – which fool one into believing in duality and multiplicity – and recognize these are illusions; all humans and aspects of existence are a unified extension of the Divine which one will recognize once the trappings of illusion have been discarded.

The Gita inspired the Bhakti (“devotion”) Movement which then influenced the development of Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism. Krishna explains the path of selfless devotion as one of the paths toward self-actualization, recognition of the truth of existence, and liberation from the cycle of rebirth and death; the other two being jnana (“knowledge”) and karma (“action”). The Hare Krishna Movement of the present day is an expression of Bhakti, and the Gita remains their principal text.

According to Flood and Martin, although the Gita is set in the context of a war epic, the narrative is structured to apply to all situations; it wrestles with questions about “who we are, how we should live our lives, and how should we act in the world”.

Home Automation System

Home automation or domotics is building automation for a home, called a smart home or a smart house. The word “domotics” is a contraction of the Latin word for a home (Domus) and the word robotics. The word “smart” in “smart home” refers to the system being aware of the state of its devices, which is done through the information and communication technologies (ICT) protocol and the Internet of Things (IoT).

A home automation system will monitor and control home attributes such as lighting, climate, entertainment systems, and appliances. It may also include home security such as access control and alarm systems. Home automation allows you to control almost every aspect of your home through the Internet of Things. 

A home automation system typically connects controlled devices to a central smart home hub (also called a “gateway”). The user interface for controls of the system uses either wall-mounted terminals, tablet or desktop computers, a mobile phone application, or a Web interface that may also be accessible off-site through the Internet. Home automation has a high potential for sharing data between family members or trusted individuals for personal security and leads to energy-saving measures with a positive environmental impact in the future.

Applications and technologies:

Home automation is prevalent in a variety of different realms, including:

Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC): it is possible to have remote control of all home energy monitors over the internet incorporating a simple and friendly user interface.

Lighting control system: a “smart” network that incorporates communication between various lighting system inputs and outputs, using one or more central computing devices.

Occupancy-aware control system: it is possible to sense the occupancy of the home using smart meters and environmental sensors like CO2 sensors, which can be integrated into the building automation system to trigger automatic responses for energy efficiency and building comfort applications.

Appliance control and integration with the smart grid and a smart meter, taking advantage, for instance, of high solar panel output in the middle of the day to run washing machines.

Home robots and security: a household security system integrated with a home automation system can provide additional services such as remote surveillance of security cameras over the Internet, or access control and central locking of all perimeter doors and windows. 

Leak detection, smoke and CO detectors 

Laundry-folding machine

Indoor positioning systems (IPS). Home automation for the elderly and disabled.

Pet and baby care, for example, tracking the pets and babies’ movements and controlling pet access rights. 

Air quality control (inside and outside). For example, Air Quality Egg is used by people at home to monitor the air quality and pollution level in the city and create a map of the pollution. 

Smart kitchen, with refrigerator inventory, premade cooking programs, cooking surveillance, etc.

Voice control devices like Amazon Alexa or Google Home are used to control home appliances or systems.

Advantages:

1. Energy Savings

Home automation systems have proven themselves in the arena of energy efficiency. Automated thermostats allow you to pre-program temperatures based on the time of day and the day of the week. And some even adjust to your behaviours, learning and adapting to your temperature preferences without your ever inputting a pre-selected schedule. Traditional or behaviour-based automation can also be applied to virtually every gadget that can be remotely controlled – from sprinkler systems to coffee makers. Actual energy savings ultimately depend on the type of device you select and its automation capabilities. But on average, product manufacturers estimate the systems can help consumers save anywhere from 10 to 15 per cent off of heating and cooling bills.

2. Convenience

In today’s fast-paced society, the less you have to worry about, the better. Right? Convenience is another primary selling point of home automation devices, which virtually eliminate small hassles such as turning the lights off before you go to bed or adjusting the thermostat when you wake up in the morning.

Many systems come with remote dashboard capabilities, so forgetting to turn off that coffee pot before you leave no longer requires a trip back to the house. Simply pull up the dashboard on a smart device or computer, and turn the coffee pot off in a matter of seconds.

3. Security

Remote monitoring can put your mind at ease while you’re away from the house. With remote dashboards, lights and lamps can be turned on and off, and automated blinds can be raised and lowered. These capabilities – combined with automated security systems – can help you mitigate the risks of intrusions: you will be alerted immediately if something uncharacteristic happens.

The Disadvantages

1. Installation

Depending on the complexity of the system, installing a home automation device can be a significant burden on the homeowner. It can either cost you money if you hire an outside contractor or cost you time if you venture to do it yourself.

2. Complex Technology

Automating everything in life may sound extremely appealing, but sometimes a good old-fashioned flip of the switch is a lot easier than reaching for your smartphone to turn lights on and off. Before you decide which system is right for you, think about how far you want to take home automation in your household.

3. System Compatibility

Controlling all aspects of home automation from one centralized platform is important, but not all systems are compatible with one another. Your security system, for example, may require you to log in to one location to manage settings, while your smart thermostat may require you to log in to another platform to turn the air conditioner on and off. To truly leverage the convenience of home automation, you may need to invest in centralized platform technology to control all systems and devices from one location.

4. Cost

Even though the price of home automation systems has become much more affordable in recent years, the cost to purchase and install a device can still add up. Consumer Reports offers a wide range of information and insights – including costs – on the best home automation systems on the market.

Main purpose of home automation system is to provide ease to people to control different home appliances with the help of the android application present in their mobile phones and to save electricity, time and money. The sheer quantity of consumer attention generated by home automation technology means the biggest technology businesses and innovators have entered a race to overtake one another. That means better smart house technology is continually improved to coincide with our technological requirements. 

Corporate Social Responsibility

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a form of international private business self-regulation which aims to contribute to societal goals of a philanthropic, activist, or charitable nature by engaging in or supporting volunteering or ethically-oriented practices.

According to the World Business Council of Sustainable Development, corporate social responsibility is the “continuing commitment by business to contribute to economic development while improving the quality of life of the workforce and their families as well as of the community and society at large.” It is also called corporate sustainability, sustainable business, corporate conscience, corporate citizenship, conscious capitalism, or responsible business.

CSR is generally understood as being the way through which a company achieves a balance of economic, environmental and social imperatives (“Triple-Bottom-Line-Approach”), while at the same time addressing the expectations of  shareholders and stakeholders. It is a management concept that helps companies be socially accountable to themselves, their stakeholders, and the public. Corporate social responsibility is now a familiar metric of how well a brand interacts with stakeholders and communities, both locally and globally. 

On April 1, 2014, India became the first country to legally mandate corporate social responsibility. The new rules in Section 135 of India’s Companies Act make it mandatory for companies of a certain turnover and profitability to spend two percent of their average net profit for the past three years on CSR.

Some examples of CSR in action include:

  • Reducing carbon footprint
  • Engaging in charity work 
  • Purchasing fair trade products 
  • Investing in environmentally conscious businesses
  • Getting involved in volunteer work
  • Improving labour policies

Types of Corporate Social Responsibility

Corporate social responsibility is divided into four categories: environmental, philanthropic, ethical, and economic responsibility.

Environmental Responsibility: Environmental responsibility refers to the belief that organizations should behave as environmentally friendly as possible. It’s one of the most common forms of corporate social responsibility. Some companies use the term “environmental stewardship” to refer to such initiatives.

Companies that seek to embrace environmental responsibility can do so in several ways: Reducing pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, the use of single-use plastics, water consumption, and general waste; Increasing reliance on renewable energy, sustainable resources, and recycled or partially recycled materials; Offsetting negative environmental impact; for example, by planting trees, funding research, and donating to related causes.

Ethical Responsibility: Ethical responsibility is concerned with ensuring an organization is operating fairly and ethically. Organizations that embrace ethical responsibility aim to achieve fair treatment of all stakeholders, including leadership, investors, employees, suppliers, and customers.

Firms can embrace ethical responsibility in different ways. For example, a business might set its own, higher minimum wage if the one mandated by the state or federal government doesn’t constitute a “livable wage.” Likewise, a business might require that products, ingredients, materials, or components be sourced according to free trade standards. In this regard, many firms have processes to ensure they’re not purchasing products resulting from slavery or child labour.

Philanthropic Responsibility: Philanthropic responsibility refers to a business’s aim to actively make the world and society a better place. In addition to acting as ethically and environmentally friendly as possible, organizations are driven by philanthropic responsibility often dedicate a portion of their earnings. While many firms donate to charities and nonprofits that align with their guiding missions, others donate to worthy causes that don’t directly relate to their business. Others go so far as to create their charitable trust or organization to give back.

Economic responsibility: Economic Responsibility is the practice of a firm backing all of its financial decisions in its commitment to do good in the areas listed above. The end goal is not to simply maximize profits, but positively impact the environment, people, and society.

Examples of CSR Companies

  1. Lego: The toy company has invested millions of dollars into addressing climate change and reducing waste. Lego’s environmentally conscious efforts include reduced packaging, using sustainable materials and investing in alternative energy.
  2. TOMS: TOMS donates one-third of its net profits to various charities that support physical and mental health as well as educational opportunities. As of April 1, 2020, the brand is directing all charitable donations to the TOMS COVID-19 Global Giving Fund.
  3. Johnson & Johnson: The brand focuses on reducing its environmental impact by investing in various alternative energy sources. Globally, Johnson & Johnson also works to provide clean, safe water to communities.
  4. Starbucks: The global coffee chain has implemented a socially responsible hiring process to diversify their workforce. Their efforts are focused on hiring more veterans, young people looking to start their careers, and refugees.
  5. Google: Google has demonstrated its commitment to the environment by investing in renewable energy sources and sustainable offices. The company’s CEO, Sundar Pichai, is also known to take stands on certain social issues.
  6. Pfizer: The pharmaceutical company’s focus on “corporate citizenship” is reflected in its healthcare initiatives. Some of the company’s initiatives include spreading awareness about noninfectious diseases and providing accessible health services to women and children in need. 

A properly implemented CSR concept can bring along a variety of competitive advantages, such as enhanced access to capital and markets, increased sales and profits, operational cost savings, improved productivity and quality, efficient human resource base, improved brand image and reputation, enhanced customer loyalty, better decision making and risk management processes.

While the goal of CSR is to push businesses to act responsibly and ethically toward the environment and community, there are some disadvantages. Engaging in CSR is not always cheap. It can rely on expensive structures and strategies to plan, execute and measure. A poorly planned CSR strategy that doesn’t deliver what it says it can quickly become a failure and business liability. The impact on a business’s reputation can be detrimental, and the community will be quick to scrutinise its actions.

H&M’s Greenwashing campaign is an example of a misleading or disingenuous CSR – Swedish fast-fashion chain H&M has been called out recently for supplying insufficient information about the sustainability of their “sustainable style” collection. This is known as greenwashing (the act of giving a false impression that a company and its products are more environmentally friendly than they truly are). The internationally renowned fashion company has marked some of its products as ethical and environmentally friendly, yet they still produce materials at a non-environmentally friendly rate. The Norwegian Consumer Authority called out the chain for failing to produce sufficient information on how their products have “environmental benefits”. As a result, H&M have received criticism in the media.

The movement toward CSR has had an impact in several domains. For example, many companies have taken steps to improve the environmental sustainability of their operations, through measures such as installing renewable energy sources or purchasing carbon offsets. In managing supply chains, efforts have also been taken to eliminate reliance on unethical labour practices, such as child labour and slavery.

As the use of corporate responsibility expands, it is becoming increasingly important to have a socially conscious image. Consumers, employees and stakeholders prioritize CSR when choosing a brand or company, and they are holding corporations accountable for effecting social change with their business beliefs, practices and profits. In today’s socially conscious environment, employees and customers place a premium on working for and spending their money with businesses that prioritize CSR. 

A Brief Introduction to Constellations

Constellations are a group of stars that form patterns in the sky. Constellations played a significant role in navigation for explorers of the Earth; these navigators created extensive star charts to help them find their way around the planet. The word “constellation” comes from the Late Latin term cōnstellātiō, which can be translated as “set of stars”; it came into use in Middle English during the 14th century.

Ancient humans spent a lot of time observing star patterns in the sky. They identified clusters of stars as gods, goddesses, heroes, animals, and objects. They also created stories to go along with these star patterns, which became the basis for many of the myths passed through centuries by the Greeks, Romans, Polynesians, Indigenous Americans, and members of various African tribes and Asian cultures. Most of the constellation names we know came from the ancient Middle Eastern, Greek, and Roman culture. In some cases, the constellations may have had ceremonial or religious significance. In other cases, the star groupings helped to mark the passage of time between planting and harvesting.

In 1930 the International Astronomical Union (IAU) officially listed 88 modern and ancient constellations in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres of the sky. In 1928 adopted official constellation boundaries that together cover the entire celestial sphere. It is roughly based on the traditional Greek constellations listed by Ptolemy in his Almagest in the 2nd century and Aratus’ work Phenomena, with early modern modifications and additions by Petrus Plancius (1592, 1597/98 and 1613), Johannes Hevelius (1690) and Nicolas Louis de Lacaille (1763), who named fourteen constellations and renamed a fifteenth one.

36 modern constellations predominantly lie in the northern sky, while 52 are found in the southern celestial hemisphere. Most constellations (more than 40) represent animals. Many were named after humans or figures from mythology, while some depict inanimate objects.

Constellations are typically grouped around asterisms, which are patterns formed by bright stars that appear close to each other in the night sky. These asterisms are often the most conspicuous parts of constellations, which is why the term constellation is still colloquially (and incorrectly) used synonymously with asterism. The constellations themselves are much larger than asterisms and occupy considerably larger areas. For example, the Big Dipper, Little Dipper and Southern Cross are not constellations. They are asterisms formed by the brightest stars of the constellations Ursa Major, Ursa Minor, and Crux.

Zodiac Constellations are constellations that lie along the plane of the ecliptic. The ecliptic, or the apparent path of the Sun, is defined by the circular path of the Sun across the sky, as seen from Earth. In other words, the Sun appears to pass through these constellations over the course of a year.

There are 12 constellations in the zodiac family. They are: Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpius, Sagittarius, Capricornus, Aquarius and Pisces.

The northern zodiac constellations – Pisces, Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer and Leo – are located in the eastern celestial hemisphere, while the southern – Virgo, Libra, Scorpius, Sagittarius, Capricornus and Aquarius – are found in the west.

Some prominent constellations include:

Ursa Major constellation lies in the northern sky. Its name means “the great bear,” or “the larger bear,” in Latin. The smaller bear is represented by Ursa Minor. Ursa Major is the largest northern constellation and third largest constellation in the sky. Its brightest stars form the Big Dipper asterism, one of the most recognizable shapes in the sky, also known as the Plough. Ursa Major is well-known in most world cultures and associated with a number of myths. It was one of the constellations catalogued by the Greek astronomer Ptolemy in the 2nd century. In Greek mythology, it is associated with Callisto, a nymph who was turned into a bear by Zeus’ jealous wife Hera.

Cassiopeia is one of the most easily recognizable constellations in the northern night sky. Nicknamed the W constellation, Cassiopeia is easily recognizable for the prominent W asterism formed by its five brightest stars. The constellation is named after the vain queen Cassiopeia in Greek Mythology, wife of the King Cepheus of Aethiopia. Cassiopeia can be found high in the northeastern sky on October evenings, not far from Polaris, the North Star.

Andromeda constellation is located in the northern sky, between Cassiopeia’s W asterism and the Great Square of Pegasus. The constellation was named after the mythical princess Andromeda, the daughter of Queen Cassiopeia and wife of the Greek hero Perseus. It is also known as the Chained Maiden, Persea (wife of Perseus), or Cepheis (daughter of Cepheus).

Pegasus is one of the most prominent constellations in the northern sky. It was listed by the astronomer Ptolemy during the 2nd century and was named after a winged horse in Greek mythology. The brightest star in the constellation is Epsilon Pegasi, which forms the creature’s nose. Pegasus belonged to Poseidon, the god of the sea, earthquakes, and storms. In a battle between Perseus and Medusa, Perseus decapitated her and the winged horse “sprang” from her blood. In the Northern Hemisphere, the Pegasus constellation can be found high in the sky from the end of summer through autumn.

Orion is one of the brightest and best known constellations in the night sky and lies on the celestial equator. It is named after Orion the hunter in Greek mythology. In mythology, Orion was a supernaturally gifted hunter, and the son of Poseidon. He proclaimed himself as the greatest hunter in the world. This angered Zeus’s wife Hera, who had a scorpion kill him. Out of compassion, Zeus put Orion into the sky. Located on the celestial equator and made up of bright young blue giants or supergiants, it is one of the most prominent and recognizable constellations in the sky and can be seen throughout the world. Orion’s Belt includes the three most prominent stars in the constellation: Alnilam, Mintaka, and Alnitak. Orion is clearly visible in the night sky from November to February.

Each Latin constellation name has two forms: the nominative, for use, when talking about the constellation itself, and the genitive, or possessive, used in star names. For instance: Hamal, the brightest star in the constellation Aries (nominative form), is also called Alpha Arietis (genitive form), meaning literally “the alpha of Aries”. 

The 88 officially recognized constellations are visible at different times throughout the year. Each season has distinctive star patterns because the visibility of stars in the sky change as the Earth orbits the Sun. The Northern and Southern Hemisphere skies are very different from each other, and there are some patterns in each that cannot be viewed between hemispheres. In general, most people can see about 40-50 constellations over a year.

Most people can see more than half of them throughout the year, though it can depend on where they live. The best way to learn them all is to observe throughout the year and study the individual stars in each constellation. To identify the constellations, most observers use star charts found online and in astronomy books. Others use planetarium software such as Stellarium or an astronomy app. 

The Life of John Keats

John Keats was an English Romantic poet. He was one of the main figures of the second generation of Romantic poets, along with Lord Byron and P B Shelley. Although his poems were not generally well-received by critics during his lifetime, his reputation grew after his death, and by the end of the 19th century, he had become one of the most beloved of all English poets. Today his poems and letters are some of the most popular and most analyzed in English literature.

John Keats was born in Moorgate, London on 31 October 1795 to Thomas Keats and his wife, Frances Jennings, and was the oldest of 5 siblings. He lost both his parents at a young age. Keats attended the Clarke school at Enfield, two miles away, that was run by John Clarke, whose son Charles Cowden Clarke did much to encourage Keats’s literary aspirations.

After the death of Keats’s mother in 1810, his grandmother made Richard Abbey their guardian. In 1811, John Keats was apprenticed to a surgeon at Edmonton. He broke off his apprenticeship in 1814 and went to London, where he worked as a dresser, or junior house surgeon, at Guy’s and St. Thomas’ hospitals. In 1816 Keats became a licensed apothecary, but he never practiced his profession, deciding instead to write poetry. His literary interests had crystallized by this time, and after 1817 he devoted himself entirely to poetry.

Charles Cowden Clarke had introduced the young Keats to the poetry of Edmund Spenser and the Elizabethans, and these were his earliest models. His first mature poem is the sonnet “On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer” (1816), which was inspired by his reading of George Chapman’s classic 17th-century translation of the Iliad and the Odyssey. Clarke also introduced Keats to the journalist, contemporary poet, and editor of the Examiner – Leigh Hunt, and Keats made friends in Hunt’s circle of literary men, including poets Percy Bysshe Shelley, William Wordsworth, and John Hamilton Reynolds. The group’s influence enabled Keats to see his first volume, Poems by John Keats, published in March 1817.

In 1817 Keats left London briefly for a trip to the Isle of Wight and Canterbury and began work on Endymion, his first long poem. On his return to London, he moved into lodgings in Hampstead with his brothers. Endymion appeared in 1818. This work is a long poem divided into four 1,000-line sections and composed in loose rhymed couplets. The poem narrates a version of the Greek legend of the love of the moon goddess Diana for Endymion, a mortal shepherd, but Keats emphasizes Endymion’s love for the goddess rather than on hers for him.

Soon after the completion of Endymion, Keats wrote “Isabella or the Pot of Basil” in 1818 which was a narrative poem based on a grotesque and tragic tale from Boccaccio’s Decameron. It was during the year 1819 that all his greatest poetry was written, which included: The Eve of St. Agnes, a romantic love story amid a family feud and Lamia, the story of a witch who is transformed by Hermes from a serpent into a beautiful maiden and then into a serpent again, and the two versions of Hyperion.

During the same year, he also wrote the great odes (“On Indolence,” “On a Grecian Urn,” “To Psyche,” “To a Nightingale,” “On Melancholy,” and “To Autumn”). All the odes were composed between March and June 1819 except “To Autumn,” which is from September. These odes are Keats’s most distinctive poetic achievement. They are essentially lyrical meditations on some object or quality that prompts the poet to confront the conflicting impulses of his inner being and to reflect upon his longings and their relations to the wider world around him. This subject was forced upon Keats by the painful death of his brother and his failing health, and the odes highlight his struggle for self-awareness and certainty through the liberating powers of his imagination.

Keats’ central theme of all his poetry is imagination mainly concerned with beauty because it was the only consolation he found in a life full of sadness and misunderstanding. The memory of beauty was to him a source of pure joy. For Keats, beauty is intrinsically tied to life as it should be, where humans and nature are in complete harmony with one another, where beauty is dynamic, changeable, in process, and includes its fulfillment. He loved nature just for its own sake and for the glory and loveliness’ which he everywhere found in it, and no modern poet has even been nearer than he was to the simple ‘poetry of earth’.

Keats’ letters were first published in 1848 and 1878. During the 19th century, critics disregarded them as distractions from his poetic works. During the 20th century, they became almost as admired and studied as his poetry, and are highly regarded within the canon of English literary correspondence. T. S. Eliot described them as, “certainly the most notable and most important ever written by any English poet.”

He had been increasingly ill throughout 1819, and by the beginning of 1820, he was diagnosed with tuberculosis, a disease that had afflicted many of his family members, Keats traveled along with Joseph Severn to Italy in hopes of finding treatment. Keats died in Rome on 23 February 1821 at the age of 25.

The United Nations

The United Nations (UN) is one of the largest and most familiar international organizations. It is an intergovernmental organization responsible for maintaining international peace and security and international cooperation among nations. The organization’s objectives include maintaining international peace and security, protecting human rights, delivering humanitarian aid, promoting sustainable development, and upholding international law.

The UN succeeded the ineffective League of Nations, the first worldwide intergovernmental organization whose mission was to maintain world peace. The League of Nations was created by the Treaty of Versailles in 1919 and disbanded in 1946. The League lasted for 26 years; after which the United Nations (UN) replaced it in 1946 and inherited several agencies and organizations founded by the League. The UN was established after WWII to prevent future wars.

At its founding, the UN had 51 member states; with the addition of South Sudan in 2011, membership is now 193, representing almost all of the world’s sovereign states.  UN is headquartered in New York City and has other main offices in Geneva, Nairobi, Vienna, and The Hague.

Charter of the United Nations:

The Charter of the United Nations, also known as the UN Charter, is the founding document of the United Nations. The Charter establishes the purposes, governing structure, and the overall framework of the UN system. It was signed on 26 June 1945, in San Francisco, after the United Nations Conference on International Organization, and came into force on 24 October 1945. The United Nations can take action on many issues due to its unique international character and the powers vested in its Charter, which is considered an international treaty. As a charter, its rules and obligations are binding on all members. 

The UN has four main purposes:

  • To maintain peace throughout the world.
  • To develop friendly relations among nations.
  • To help countries work together to improve people’s lives, to conquer hunger, disease and illiteracy. 
  • To be a centre for harmonizing the actions of nations to achieve these goals.

The Main Bodies of the United Nations:

The United Nations is part of a broader framework called the UN System, which includes many institutions and entities. It has six principal organs – 

The General Assembly:

The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) is the main deliberative, policymaking and representative organ. All 193 Member States of the UN are represented in the General Assembly, making it the only UN body with universal representation. 

The six committees of the general assembly include: (1) Disarmament and International Security, (2) Economic and Financial, (3) Social, Humanitarian, and Cultural, (4) Special Political and Decolonization, (5) Administrative and Budgetary, and (6) Legal.

The Security Council:

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has primary responsibility for maintaining international peace and security. It is responsible for establishing peacekeeping operations, international sanctions and authorization of military action. It has 15 Members (5 permanent and 10 non-permanent members) with each member having one vote.

The Economic and Social Council:  

The United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) is a central forum responsible for discussing and coordinating international economic and social issues and formulating policy recommendations. It is the central platform for reflection, debate, and innovative thinking on sustainable development. It has 54 member states, and over 1,600 NGOs have consultative status with the council to participate in the works of the UN. 

The International Court of Justice (ICJ): 

The International Court of Justice (ICJ), sometimes known as the World Court, is the primary judicial organ of the UN. It is a universal court for international law; its functions are to settle legal disputes between states following international law and gives advisory opinions on legal issues. The ICJ consists of a panel of 15 judges elected by the UN General Assembly and Security Council for nine-year terms. 

The UN Secretariat: 

 The United Nations Secretariat is the administrative organ of the UN, headed by the United Nations Secretary-General and assisted by a staff of international civil servants worldwide. It provides studies, information, and facilities needed by United Nations bodies for their meetings. It also carries out tasks as directed by the Security Council, the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council, and other bodies.

The Trusteeship Council: 

The Trusteeship Council was established in 1945 to provide international supervision for 11 Trust Territories under the administration of seven Member States. It also aimed to prepare the Territories for self-government and independence. By 1994, all Trust Territories had attained self-government or independence. The Trusteeship Council suspended operation on 1 November 1994.

Specialized Agencies of the UN:

The UN specialized agencies are autonomous organizations working with the United Nations. All were brought into relationship with the UN through negotiated agreement, some of which include –

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)

The International Monetary Fund (IMF)

World Health Organization (WHO)

The World Bank Group (WBG)

International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD)

Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)

World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)

World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)

World Meteorological Organization (WMO)

United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO)

Programmes and Funds of the UN:

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)

The World Food Programme (WFP)

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)

The United Nations Environment Programme  (UNEP)

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA)

UN Women 

UN-Habitat

Successes and Failures of the United Nations:

The U.N. is credited with helping negotiate 172 peaceful settlements and helping more than 30 million refugees. It has provided safe drinking water to more than a billion people and food to millions of people across 80 nations. It has assisted countries with their elections, provided vaccinations for children, helped millions of women with maternal health and protected human rights through some 80 treatise and declarations.

Currently, approximately 100,000 peacekeepers from 120 countries are serving in 13 missions. The U.N. and its agencies have had success in coordinating global efforts against diseases such as HIV/AIDS, Ebola, cholera, influenza, yellow fever, meningitis and COVID-19, and has helped eradicate smallpox and polio from most of the world. Ten U.N. agencies and U.N. personnel have received Nobel prizes for peace.

UN inaction is responsible for a number of ongoing crisis, including Russia’s takeover of part of Ukraine; China occupying disputed territories in South China Sea; the Iraq War; the Israel-Palestine conflict; civil wars in Syria, Yemen, Libya and the Democratic Republic of Congo; and the treatment of Rohingyas in Myanmar, Ughyurs in China and Kashmiris in India.

Despite having many short-comings, the United Nations plays a crucial role in the world. The work of the United Nations reaches every corner of the globe. Although it is best known for peacekeeping, peacebuilding, conflict prevention and humanitarian assistance, there are many other ways the United Nations and its System (specialized agencies, funds and programmes) affect our lives and make a change in the world. 

E-Commerce

E-commerce, also known as electronic commerce, refers to the buying and selling of goods and services, or the transmitting of funds or data, over an electronic network, primarily the internet. Electronic commerce draws on such technologies as electronic funds transfer, supply chain management, Internet marketing, online transaction processing, Electronic Data Interchange (EDI), inventory management systems, and automated data collection systems. In the emerging global economy, e-commerce and e-business have increasingly become a necessary component of a business strategy and a strong catalyst for economic development.

Photo Credits: Grace Kim, The Balance

Business-to-Consumer (B2C):

Business-to-Consumer (B2C), also called B-to-C, refers to the transaction of goods and services that take place directly between a business and a consumer, who is the end-users of its products or services. This type of ecommerce is among the most popular and widely known sales models. B2C traditionally referred to mall shopping, eating out at restaurants, pay-per-view movies, and infomercials. However, the rise of the internet created a whole new B2C business channel in the form of e-commerce or selling goods and services over the internet. Amazon is an example of B2C e-commerce.

Business-to-Business (B2B):

Business-to-business (B2B), also called B-to-B, is a form of transaction between businesses, such as one involving a manufacturer and wholesaler, or a wholesaler and a retailer. Simply put, it refers to business transactions between two companies. These transactions commonly happen in the supply chain, where one company will purchase raw materials from another to be used in the manufacturing process.

Consumer-to-Consumer (C2C):

Customer-to-customer (C2C), also called C2C, is a form of business model whereby customers can trade with each other, typically in an online environment. C2C transactions actually represent a form of bartering. It represents a market environment where one customer purchases goods from another customer using a third-party business or platform to facilitate the transaction. Two implementations of C2C markets are auctions and classified advertisements. eBay and Etsy are examples of C2C companies.

M-Commerce:

M-commerce, also called Mobile Commerce refers to the buying and selling of goods and services, paying bills, mobile ticketing and doing transactions through wireless handheld devices such as smartphones and tablets. Many choose to think of mobile commerce as “a retail outlet in your customer’s pocket.” M-commerce can be used by businesses to improve their customer base and increase their revenue. Some types of m commerce include online shopping, mobile banking, mobile app payments through PayPal and Google Pay, and booking tickets online.

F-Commerce:

F-commerce, also called Facebook Commerce, refers to the selling of goods and services on Facebook. It has become a major online trading vehicle. Facebook being a popular social media site provides a captive audience to transact business. Many small businesses rely more on their social media presence than they do on traditional websites. This is one of the newest forms of e-commerce, that has become popular with young entrepreneurs which makes shopping on Facebook pages convenient for the young generation.

Positive Psychology

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Positive psychology is the scientific study of what makes life most worth living, focusing on both individual and societal well-being. It is a field of study that has been growing steadily throughout the years as individuals and researchers look for common ground on better well-being. As a field, positive psychology deals with topics like character strengths, optimism, life satisfaction, happiness, well-being, gratitude, compassion, self-esteem and self-confidence, hope, and elevation. Positive psychology focuses on eudaimonia, an Ancient Greek term for “the good life” and the concept for reflection on the factors that contribute the most to a well-lived and fulfilling life.

Positive psychology began as a new domain of psychology in 1998. It became popular when Martin Seligman, who is known as the ‘father of positive psychology’, chose it as the theme for his term as president of the American Psychological Association. He was of the belief that past practices of psychology weren’t helpful and the new ones should instead focus on the enhancement of positive human attributes. From this point in time, theories and research examined positive psychology interventions that help make life worth living and how to define, quantify, and create wellbeing. Positive psychology can have a range of real-world applications in areas including education, therapy, self-help, stress management, and workplace issues.

Positive psychology focuses on the positive events and influences in life, which includes:
Positive experiences (happiness, joy, inspiration, and love).
Positive states and traits (gratitude, resilience, and compassion).
Positive institutions (applying positive principles within entire organizations and institutions).

Three Levels of Positive Psychology:

Subjective level: focuses on feelings of happiness, well-being, and optimism and how these feelings transform your daily experience.
Individual-level: a combination of the feelings in the subjective level along with virtues such as forgiveness, love, and courage.
Group level: positive interaction with your community, including virtues like altruism and social responsibility that strengthen social bonds.

The PERMA Model of Well-Being:

The PERMA Model is a well-being theory developed by positive psychologist Martin Seligman. It identifies five essential elements to well-being. PERMA is an acronym for the five elements of well-being – Positive Emotions, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning, and Accomplishments.

Positive Emotions: Positive Emotions is much more than just happiness. It includes other emotions such as hope, joy, compassion, pride, and gratitude. Positive emotions are prime indicators of flourishing and can help improve well being. Increasing positive emotions helps individuals build physical, intellectual, psychological, and social resources that lead to this resilience and overall well-being.

Engagement: Engagement is something that an individual becomes engrossed in and is in line with the ‘flow’ concept, which includes the loss of self-consciousness and full involvement in an activity. This concept of engagement occurs when there is a perfect combination of skill and challenge involved. The concept of engagement is something much more powerful than simply “being happy,” but happiness is one of the many byproducts of engagement.

Relationships: Relationships include all the various interactions individuals have with partners, friends, family members, colleagues, and their community at large. Relationships in this model refer to feeling supported, loved, and valued by others. It is based on the idea that humans are inherently social creatures.

Meaning: Having a purpose in life helps individuals focus on what is important in the face of significant challenges or adversity. Having meaning or purpose in life is different for everyone. A sense of meaning is guided by personal values, and people who have a purpose in life live longer, have greater life satisfaction and have fewer health problems.

Accomplishments: A sense of accomplishment is the result of working toward and reaching goals, mastering an endeavour, and having self-motivation to finish what you set out to do. This contributes to well-being because individuals can look at their lives with a sense of pride. Accomplishment includes having a passion to attain goals. But flourishing and well-being come when accomplishment is tied to striving toward things with an internal motivation or working toward something just for the sake of the pursuit and improvement.

Yoga

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Yoga is a group of physical, mental, and spiritual practices or disciplines that has its origins in ancient India. The word Yoga first appeared in the oldest sacred texts, the Rig Veda and is derived from the Sanskrit root “Yuj” which means to join or unite.

According to the Yogic scriptures, the practice of Yoga leads an individual to the union of consciousness with that of universal Consciousness. It eventually leads to a great harmony between the human mind and body, man & nature. The prime objective of Yoga is Self-realization, to overcome all types of sufferings prompting ‘the state of salvation’ (Moksha) or ‘freedom’ (Kaivalya).

Yoga in the Bhagavad Gita:

The Bhagavad Gita (‘Song of the Lord’) is part of the Mahabharata and contains extensive teachings on the discipline of yoga. In addition to an entire chapter (chapter. 6) dedicated to traditional yoga practice, including meditation, it introduces three prominent types of yoga: 

Karma yoga: The yoga of action.

Bhakti yoga: The yoga of devotion.

Jnana yoga: The yoga of knowledge.

The Gita consists of 18 chapters and 700 shlokas (verses), with each chapter named as a different yoga, thus delineating eighteen different yogas. Some scholars divide the Gita into three sections: the first six chapters with 280 shlokas dealing with Karma yoga, the middle six containing 209 shlokas with Bhakti yoga, and the last six chapters with 211 shlokas as Jnana yoga; however, this is rough because elements of karma, bhakti and jnana are found in all the chapters.

Branches of Yoga:

Raja Yoga: Raja yoga is also known as ‘Classical Yoga’ and this approach is closely linked to Patanjali’s Eight Fold Path of Yoga. Raja refers to ‘royal’, ‘chief’ or ‘king’, and alludes to being the best or highest form of yoga. The focal point of this branch is meditation, aiming to ‘control’ the intellect and thoughts through meditation. A connection with ‘God’ or ‘consciousness’ is worked towards by un-identifying with the ego-based self and identifying with the universal true Self.

Karma Yoga: Karma Yoga (Religion of Love), also known as the ‘yoga of action’ is based on the teachings of the Bhagavad Gita. Karma Yoga is an intrinsic part of many types of yoga. The word ‘Karma’ is derived from the sanskrit Kri, meaning ‘to do’. Karma yoga suggests that we relinquish attachment to the consequences of our actions and instead focus on the moment in action. Awareness of each thought, word and deed and mindfulness are an important part of Karma yoga, which allows the practitioner to truly experience that moment-in-action. Karma yoga is based upon selfless service and acting without any expectation of benefitting from the service. It occupies a large part of Indian thought and through this practice, union with ‘the divine’ is achieved through making any action an offering to God. 

Hatha Yoga: Hatha yoga is also known as ‘the yoga of force’. Many teachers equate Ha to mean ‘Sun’ and Tha to the moon, and reason that the physical yoga practice is intended to ‘balance’ the Sun and Moon energies within us. Whilst the physical yoga practice is intended to bring about a state of equilibrium within the human organism, the real meaning and essence of Hatha yoga is to change the physical body and mind by way of experimentation, movement and physical ‘force’. Hatha yoga is anything that uses the physical body. First mentioned and practised around 1100AD, it is the most ‘modern’ branch of yoga.

Bhakti Yoga: Bhakti yoga is also known as the ‘yoga of devotion’ and describes the path of devotion. The word Bhakti comes from the word ‘Bhaj’, of which the essence is ‘to share’. This form of yoga is based upon the heart, love and devotion towards a chosen deity. Much like Karma yoga, dedicating all actions towards a deity or ‘God’ is an intrinsic part of Bhakti yoga. Seeing the divine in all of creation, bhakti yoga is a positive way to channel the emotions. The path of bhakti provides us with an opportunity to cultivate acceptance and tolerance for everyone we come into contact with. Bhakti yogis express the devotional nature of their path in their every thought, word, and deed.

Jnana Yoga: Jnana yoga, also known as the ‘yoga of knowledge’ is the yoga of the mind, of wisdom, the path of the sage or scholar. This is the yoga of ‘knowing’, of realizing the truth of oneself. This path requires development of the intellect through the study of the scriptures and texts of the yogic tradition. The jnana yoga approach is considered the most difficult and at the same time the most direct. It involves serious study and will appeal to those who are more intellectually inclined.

Mantra Yoga: Mantra yoga is the yoga of sound. Considered sacred utterances, mantras are syllables, words, or phrases representing a particular attribute of the Divine. Mantra yoga is the practice of becoming centered through the repetition of mantras.

Yoga as a Physical Practice:

Yoga as an exercise is a physical activity consisting of asanas, often connected by flowing sequences called vinyasas, sometimes accompanied by the breathing exercises of pranayama, and usually ending with a period of relaxation or meditation. Yoga as exercise was created in what has been called the Modern Yoga Renaissance by the blending of Western styles of gymnastics with postures from Haṭha yoga in India in the 20th century, pioneered by Shri Yogendra and Swami Kuvalayananda.

Today, yoga has developed into a worldwide multi-billion dollar business, involving classes, certification of teachers, clothing, books, videos, equipment, and holidays. In 2015, The United Nations General Assembly established 21 June as “International Day of Yoga” and celebrated annually. On 1 December 2016, UNESCO listed yoga as an intangible cultural heritage.

Benefits of Yoga:

Building muscle strength
Enhancing flexibility
Promoting better breathing
Supporting heart health
Helping with treatment for addiction
Reducing stress, anxiety, depression, and chronic pain
Improving sleep
Enhancing overall well-being and quality of life

Yoga is the medicine for nearly every problem. As you practice yoga, it does not only help you to improve your physical body but also helps in maintaining your inner peace and relaxing your mind. Yoga is not just a one-day practice; it’s a lifelong commitment.

The Role of Civil Services in a Democracy

In a democracy, civil services play an important role in the administration, policy formulation and implementation, and in taking the country forward towards progress and development

Democracy is an egalitarian principle in which the governed elect the people who govern over them. There are three pillars of modern democracy: Legislature, Executive, and the Judiciary.
The civil services form a part of the executive. While the ministers, who are part of the executive, are temporary and are reelected or replaced by the people by their will (through elections), the civil servants are the permanent part of the executive.

The civil servants are accountable to the political executive, the ministers. The civil services are thus a subdivision under the government. The officers in the civil services form the permanent staff of the various governmental departments. They are expert administrators. They are sometimes referred to as the bureaucracy or also as the public service.

Importance of the Civil Services:

  • The civil service is present all over India and thus has a binding character.
  • It plays a vital role in effective policy-making and regulation.
  • It offers non-partisan advice to the political leadership of the country.
  • The service results in coordination between the various institutions of governance.
  • It offers service delivery and leadership at different levels of administration.

Functions of the Civil Services:

  • Civil services are the basis of governments. No government can function without an administrative machinery, which is necessary for implementing policies.
  • Civil services are responsible for implementing laws and executing policies framed by the government. The role of Civil Servants across the domains of policy making and policy implementation is critical to the development process.
  • The civil service is chiefly responsible for policy formulation as well. The civil service officers advise ministers in this regard and also provide them with facts and ideas.
  • Amidst political instability, the civil service offers a sense of stability and permanence. Civil services carry on the governance when governments change due to elections etc. While governments and ministers can come and go, civil service is a permanent fixture giving the administrative set-up continuity.
  • Successful policy implementation will lead to positive changes in the lives of ordinary people. The task of actualizing schemes and policies fall with the officers of the civil services.
  • Civil services are also managing public enterprises and public utilities in the interest of socio-economic justice. Public utilities are either publicly owned or strictly regulated in most countries. Government also imposes controls over private economic and business activities in the public interest.
  • The services offer welfare schemes such as providing social security, the welfare of weaker and vulnerable sections of society, old-age pensions, poverty alleviation, etc.
  • The services perform varied developmental functions like promoting modern techniques in agriculture, promoting the industry, trade, banking functions, bridging the digital divide, etc.
  • The civil services also perform quasi-judicial services by settling disputes between the State and the citizens, in the form of tribunals, etc.
  • Assisting ministers in fulfilling their responsibilities towards the parliament and its committees.
  • Handling financial operations of the state

Problems Affecting the Civil Services Today:

It is widely recognized that the civil services have contributed to stability in terms of maintenance of peace, the conduct of fair elections, managing disasters and the preservation of the unity of the nation, providing stability and maintaining order in a vast country prone to various conflicts – ethnic, communal, regional etc. Nonetheless, various committees including the Second Administrative Reforms Commission (ARC II) have pointed out that, there are certain criticisms with respect to the performance of the civil services, towards realizing a results-oriented government. Some of them are:

  • Lack of professionalism and poor capacity building.
  • The incentive system is ineffective and does not reward laudable and upright civil servants.
  • The rules and procedures are rigid, which doesn’t allow civil servants to exercise individual judgement and perform efficiently.
  • There is a lack of accountability and transparency procedure, with no adequate protection for whistle-blowers.
  • Political interference causes arbitrary transfers and insecurity in tenures. There has been regular political interference in the functioning of civil servants to further narrow political agenda, which undermines the public welfare at large. Fear of transfer and lure of promotion sometimes impairs judgement of civil servants making them politically compliant.
  • Rampant corruption and nepotism is common due to an erosion in ethics and values.
  • Patrimonialism (a form of governance in which all power flows directly from the leader) is prevalent.
  • Resistance to change from the civil servants themselves.

Disasters and Disaster Management

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A disaster is a sudden event that results in massive damage, loss, and destruction of life and property beyond a community’s capacity to cope. It can be either natural or human-made and leads to disruption of the daily life of the community. The damage caused by disasters is immeasurable and varies with the geographical location, climate and the type of earth surface/degree of vulnerability. It causes human, material, and economic or environmental losses. 

Disasters are classified as per origin, into natural and man-made disasters. Natural disasters include earthquakes, volcanoes, hurricanes, floods, and fires. Man-made disasters can include hazardous material spills, fires, groundwater contamination, transportation accidents, structure failures, mining accidents, explosions and acts of terrorism.

No country is immune from disaster, though vulnerability to disaster varies from country to country. There are four main types of disaster:

Natural disasters. These disasters include floods, hurricanes, earthquakes and volcano eruptions that can have immediate impacts on human health, as well as seconday impacts causing further death and suffering from floods causing landslides, earthquakes resulting in fires, tsunamis causing widespread flooding and typhoons sinking ferries

Environmental emergencies. These emergencies include technological or industrial accidents, usually involving hazardous material, and occur where these materials are produced, used or transported. Large forest fires are generally included in this definition because they tend to be caused by humans.

Complex emergencies. These emergencies involve a breakdown of authority, looting and attacks on strategic installations. Complex emergencies include conflict situations and war.

Pandemic emergencies. These emergencies involve a sudden onset of a contagious disease that affects health and disrupts services and businesses, bringing economic and social costs.

Worst Disasters of India:

A few of the worst disasters India has faced:

The Bengal Famine (1943): The Bengal famine of 1943 affected the Bengal province of British during World War II. An estimated 2.1–3 million died of starvation, malaria, and other diseases aggravated by malnutrition, population displacement, unsanitary conditions and lack of health care. 

Bhopal Gas Tragedy (1984): The Bhopal Disaster is considered among the world’s worst industrial disasters. It occurred due to a gas leak incident on the night of 2–3 December 1984 at the Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) pesticide plant in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, India. At least 30 tonnes of methyl isocyanate gas killed more than 15,000 people and affected over 600,000 workers.

Gujarat Earthquake (2001): The Gujarat earthquake, also known as the Bhuj earthquake, occurred on 26 January, 2001. Bhuj, Ahmedabad, Gandhinagar, Kutch, Surat, Surendranagar, Rajkot district, Jamnagar and Jodia districts of Gujarat. The earthquake killed between 13,805 and 20,023 people, injured another 167,000 and destroyed nearly 340,000 buildings.

Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami (2004): The Indian Ocean tsunami occurred on December 26, 2004 affected parts of southern India and Andaman Nicobar Islands, Sri Lanka, Indonesia etc., and resulted in the death of more than 2 lakh people.

Uttarakhand Flash Floods (2013): The Uttarakhand Flash Floods of 2013 caused devastating floods and landslides, becoming the country’s worst natural disaster since the 2004 tsunami. It affected 12 out of 13 districts of the state. Four districts were worst affected namely; Rudraprayag, Uttarkashi, Pithoragarh, and Chamoli.

Disaster Management:

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Disaster management refers to the conservation of lives and property during natural or human-made disasters. Disaster management plans are multi-layered and help tackle catastrophes such as floods, hurricanes, fires, mass failure of utilities, and the rapid spread of disease and droughts. Disaster management includes seven administrative decisions and operational activities: Prevention, Mitigation, Preparedness, Response, Recovery, and Rehabilitation.

There are three key stages of activities in disaster management:

  1. Before a disaster: to reduce the potential for human, material, or environmental losses caused by hazards and to ensure that these losses are minimized when disaster strikes;
  2. During a disaster: to ensure that the needs and provisions of victims are met to alleviate and minimize suffering; and
  3. After a disaster: to achieve rapid and durable recovery which does not reproduce the original vulnerable conditions.

National Disaster Management Authority:

The Government of India set up a High-Powered Committee (HPC) in August 1999 in recognition of the importance of Disaster Management as a national priority, and a nation committee after the Gujarat earthquake, for making recommendations on the preparation of Disaster Management plans and suggestion effective mitigation mechanisms. 

The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) is the apex body for Disaster Management in India, headed by the Prime Minister. The NDMA was established through the Disaster Management Act 2005 enacted by the Government of India. NDMA is responsible for framing policies, laying down guidelines and best practices for coordinating with the State Disaster Management Authorities (SDMAs) to ensure a holistic and distributed approach to disaster management. The vision of the National Disaster Management Authority is “to build a safer and disaster resilient India by a holistic, pro-active, technology driven and sustainable development strategy that involves all stakeholders and fosters a culture of prevention, preparedness and mitigation.”

Functions and Responsibilities:

  • Lay down policies on disaster management
  • Approve the National Plan
  • Approve plans prepared by the Ministries or Departments of the Government of India in accordance with the National Plan
  • Lay down guidelines to be followed by the State Authorities in drawing up the State Plan
  • Lay down guidelines to be followed by the different Ministries or Departments of the Government of India for the Purpose of integrating the measures for prevention of disaster or the mitigation of its effects in their development plans and projects
  • Coordinate the enforcement and implementation of the policy and plans for disaster management
  • Recommend provision of funds for the purpose of mitigation
  • Provide such support to other countries affected by major disasters as may be determined by the Central Government
  • Take such other measures for the prevention of disaster, or the mitigation, or preparedness and capacity building for dealing with threatening disaster situations or disasters as it may consider necessary
  • Lay down broad policies and guidelines for the functioning of the National Institute of Disaster Management.

Disasters are inevitable. Countries need to be prepared to survive unforeseeable impending disasters. It is necessary to stay watchful, and a structured and preplanned preparedness and a healthy response to the disaster will help save lives. 

Environmental Pollution

Pollution is the introduction of contaminants into the natural environment that causes harm to plants, animals and human beings. Pollution can take the form of chemical substances or energy, such as noise, heat, or light. Pollutants, the components of pollution, can be either foreign substances/energies or naturally occurring contaminants. Pollution is the largest environmental cause of disease and premature death.  Pollution causes more than 9 million premature deaths (16% of all deaths worldwide). Major forms of pollution include air pollution, light pollution, noise pollution, plastic pollution, soil contamination, radioactive contamination, thermal pollution, and water pollution. The following are a few types of pollution:

Air Pollution:

Air pollution is the presence of undesirable substances in the air that are harmful to human health and the environment. It is the contamination of the air by any chemical, physical or biological agent that modifies the natural characteristics of the atmosphere. Vehicle emissions, fuel oils and natural gas to heat homes, by-products of manufacturing and power generation, particularly coal-fueled power plants, and fumes from chemical products are the primary sources of human-made air pollution. Pollutants include particulate matter, carbon monoxide, ozone, nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide. 

Air pollution has various health effects. Short-term exposure to air pollutants is closely related to COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), cough, shortness of breath, wheezing, asthma, respiratory disease, and high rates of hospitalization (a measurement of morbidity).The long-term effects associated with air pollution are chronic asthma, pulmonary insufficiency, cardiovascular diseases, and cardiovascular mortality.

Water Pollution:

Water pollution occurs when harmful substances—often chemicals or microorganisms—contaminate a stream, river, lake, ocean, aquifer, or other body of water, degrading water quality and rendering it toxic to humans or the environment. Water pollution reduces the ability of the body of water to provide the ecosystem services that it would otherwise provide. Water pollution traditionally is attributed to four sources: sewage, industry, agriculture, and urban runoff. The main water pollutants include bacteria, viruses, parasites, fertilisers, pesticides, pharmaceutical products, nitrates, phosphates, plastics, faecal waste and even radioactive substances.

Water pollutants may cause disease or act as poisons. Bacteria and parasites in poorly treated sewage may enter drinking water supplies and cause digestive problems such as cholera and diarrhoea. Hazardous chemicals, pesticides, and herbicides from industries, farms, homes and golf courses can cause acute toxicity and immediate death, or chronic toxicity that can lead to neurological problems or cancers.

Light Pollution:

Light pollution refers to the excessive and unwanted use of poorly implemented artificial light by urban and other heavily-populated areas. This light is from artificial sources, mainly electricity from houses, offices, streetlamps, billboards or car headlights. It disrupts the natural patterns of wildlife, contributes to the increase in carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere, disrupts human sleep and the activities of nocturnal animals, and obscures the stars in the night sky. 

There are three other kinds of light pollution: glare, clutter, and light trespass. Glare is excessive brightness that can cause visual discomfort (when driving). Clutter is bright, confusing, and excessive groups of light sources (Times Square in New York City). Light trespass is when light extends into an area where it is not wanted or needed (like a streetlight illuminating a nearby bedroom window). 

Noise Pollution:

Noise pollution, also known as environmental noise, refers to the unwanted or excessive sound that can impact human health, wildlife, and environmental quality. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines noise above 65 decibels (dB) as noise pollution. To be precise, noise becomes harmful when it exceeds 75 decibels (dB) and is painful above 120 dB.

The sources of noise include loud music, transportation, lawn care maintenance, construction, electrical generators, wind turbines, explosions, and people. Poor urban planning may give rise to noise disintegration or pollution, side-by-side industrial and residential buildings can result in noise pollution in the residential areas. This type of pollution can contribute to cardiovascular effects in humans and an increased incidence of coronary artery disease. In animals, noise can increase the risk of death by altering predator or prey detection and avoidance, interfering with reproduction and navigation, and contributing to permanent hearing loss.

Soil Pollution:

Soil pollution or soil contamination refers to the toxic chemicals (pollutants or contaminants) in the soil in high concentrations that poses a risk to human health and the ecosystem. Soil pollution consists of pollutants and contaminants. The major pollutants are biological agents and human activities. Soil pollution is mainly caused by deforestation, soil erosion, mining activities, industrialization, construction activities, sewage treatment, and overcrowded landfills.

Soil pollution affects plants, animals and humans alike. While anyone is susceptible to soil pollution, soil pollution effects may vary based on age, general health status and other factors, such as the type of pollutant or contaminant inhaled or ingested. Soil pollution may cause a variety of health problems, starting with headaches, nausea, fatigue, skin rash, eye irritation and potentially resulting in more serious conditions like neuromuscular blockage, kidney and liver damage and various forms of cancer.

Digital Marketing Strategies

Digital marketing refers to advertising delivered through digital channels such as search engines, websites, social media, email, and mobile apps. Companies use digital marketing to endorse their goods, services, and brands, using online media channels. In the past decade, digital marketing has become a vital component in organizations’ overall marketing strategy. It allows companies to tailor messages to reach a specific audience, making it possible to market directly to people who are likely to be interested in their product. Digital marketing encompasses a wide variety of marketing tactics and technologies used to reach consumers online.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO): 

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a process used to optimize a website’s technical configuration, content relevance and link popularity so its pages can become easily findable, more relevant and popular towards user search queries. Search engines recommend SEO efforts that benefit both the user search experience and the website ranking by featuring content that fulfils user search needs. SEO targets unpaid traffic, organic results rather than direct traffic or paid traffic. Unpaid traffic may originate from different types of searches, including image search, video search, academic search, news search, and industry-specific vertical search engines.

Search Engine Marketing (SEM):

Search engine marketing refers to marketing a business using paid advertisements that appear on search engine results pages (or SERPs). Advertisers bid on keywords that users of services such as Google and Bing might enter when looking for certain products or services, which gives the advertiser the opportunity for their ads to appear alongside results for those search queries. Search engine marketing’s greatest strength is that it offers advertisers the opportunity to put their ads in front of motivated customers who are ready to buy at the precise moment they’re ready to make a purchase. No other advertising medium can do this, which is why search engine marketing is so effective way to grow your business.

Pay-per-Click (PPC):

Pay per click advertising is an umbrella term for online paid ads where you pay each time someone clicks on your ad. Paid search ads are the ones that show up in the search results. Most of the time (except for some home services queries), those ads are search ads triggered when someone searches for a particular set of keywords. Within pay per click, there are a few different types of ad strategies: Paid search campaigns, Social media campaigns, Google Local Services ads, YouTube ads, Display ads, Immersive ads (VR and AR), Shopping ads (e-commerce), and Nextdoor ads.

Social Media Marketing (SMM):

Social media marketing refers to the marketing activity done via social media profiles and platforms to build a brand, increase engagement and promote the business. Social media is an ideal place for brands looking to gain insights into their audience’s interests and tastes. The way experts see it, smart companies will continue to invest in social media to achieve sustainable business growth. Seven out of ten consumers expect a business to have a well-maintained social media presence, and 17% of consumers actively use social networks to know more about the business. The top platforms for social media marketing are Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.

Content Marketing:

Content marketing is a long-term strategy that focuses on building a good relationship with the target audience by giving them high-quality content that is relevant to them consistently. Content marketing uses storytelling and information sharing to increase brand awareness. Ultimately, the goal is to have the reader take action in becoming a customer, such as requesting more information, signing up for an email list, or making a purchase. Content can mean blog posts, resources like white papers and e-books, digital videos, podcasts, etc.

Email Marketing:

Email marketing is the act of sending a commercial message to a group of people using email. Every email sent to a potential / a current customer could be considered email marketing. It involves using email to send advertisements, request business, or solicit sales or donations. Email marketing helps you connect with your audience to promote your brand and increase sales. 

Mobile Marketing:

Mobile marketing is a multi-channel strategy that aims at reaching a target audience on their smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices, via websites, email, SMS, social media, and apps. In recent years, customers have started to shift their attention to mobile. Because of this, marketers are doing the same to create engagement. Mobile marketing is an indispensable tool for companies large and small. To earn and maintain the attention of potential buyers, content must be strategic and highly personalized. Some types of mobile marketing are mobile app marketing, in-game advertisements, quick-response barcode, mobile banner ads, proximity or bluetooth marketing, and voice marketing.

Capitalism

Capitalism is an economic system in which a country’s trade, industry, and profits, are controlled by private companies instead of the people who contribute their time and labour to the company. In this system, private entities own the factors of production such as entrepreneurship, capital goods, natural resources, and workforce. Individual capitalists are typically wealthy people who have a large amount of capital invested into the business and benefit from the capitalistic system by making increased profits and thereby accumulating more wealth.

Capitalism requires a free market economy to succeed. It distributes goods and services according to the laws of supply and demand. The law of demand says that when demand increases for a particular product, its price rises. When competitors realize they can make a higher profit, they increase production. The greater the supply reduces prices to a level where only the best competitors remain.

Capitalism results in the best products for the best prices because consumers will pay more for what they want the most. Businesses provide what customers want at the highest prices, but the prices are limited by business competition, making their products as efficiently as possible to maximize profit. Most important for economic growth is the reward of capitalism for innovation, including new products and more efficient production methods.

Capitalism does not provide for those who lack competitive skills, including the elderly, children, the developmentally disabled, and caretakers. To keep society functioning, capitalism requires government policies that value the family unit. Despite the idea of a level playing field, capitalism does not promote equality of opportunity. Those without good nutrition, support, and education may never even make it, and society will never benefit from their valuable skills. People who can find work may face low wages, limited possibilities for advancement, and potentially unsafe working conditions. In the short term, this inequality may seem to be in the best interest of capitalism’s winners. They have fewer competitive threats and may use their power to rig the system by creating barriers to entry. Capitalism also ignores external costs, such as pollution and climate change, in its pursuit of increasing levels of consumption and growth. The system makes goods cheaper and more accessible in the short run, but over time, it depletes natural resources, lowers the quality of life in the affected areas, and increases costs for everyone.

Sustainable Development

Sustainable development refers to development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. It is the idea that human societies must live and meet their needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Sustainable development attempts to minimize greenhouse gases, reduce global warming, preserve environmental resources, and provide communities that allow people to reach their fullest potentials. The concept of sustainable development formed the basis of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. The summit marked the first international attempt to draw up action plans and strategies for moving towards a more sustainable pattern of development. It was attended by over 100 Heads of State and representatives from 178 national governments. 

Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland, the first woman prime minister of Norway was asked to chair a United Nations commission to address “a global agenda for change.” She came to make strong impact on the commission’s work, widely referred to as the Brundtland Commission. She developed the broad political concept of sustainable development in the course of extensive public hearings. Brundtland has become known as the “mother of sustainability” since the release of the 1987 report, Our Common Future

Pillars of Sustainability:

The three pillars of sustainability are a powerful tool for defining the Sustainable Development problem. This consists of the Social, and Environmental, and Economic pillars.

Social Sustainability:

Social Sustainability is the ability of a social system, such as a country, family, or organization, to function at a defined level of social well-being and harmony indefinitely. Problems like war, endemic poverty, widespread injustice, and low education rate are symptoms of a socially unsustainable system.

Environmental Sustainability:

Environmental Sustainability is the ability of the environment to support a defined level of environmental quality and natural resource extraction rates indefinitely. This is the world’s biggest actual problem, though, since the consequences of not solving the problem now are delayed, the problem receives too low a priority to be solved.

Economic Sustainability:

Economic Sustainability is the ability of an economy to support a defined level of economic production indefinitely. Since the Great Recession of 2008, this is the world’s biggest apparent problem that endangers progress due to environmental sustainability.

Sustainable Development Goals:

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), also known as the global goals, includes 17 interlinked goals, addressing global challenges, including poverty, inequality, climate change, environmental degradation, peace, and justice. In 2015, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the SDGs intending to meet the target by 2030. The goals are a blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all.

  1. No Poverty – End poverty in all its forms everywhere. 
  2. Zero Hunger – End hunger, achieve food security and improve nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.
  3. Good Health and Well-Being – Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all of all ages.
  4. Quality Education – Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote life-long learning opportunities for all.
  5. Gender Equality – Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.
  6. Clean Water and Sanitation – Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.
  7. Affordable and Clean Energy – Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all.
  8. Decent Work and Economic Growth – Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.
  9. Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure – Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation.
  10. Reduced Inequalities – Reduce inequality within and among countries.
  11. Sustainable Cities and Communities – Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.
  12. Responsible Consumption and Production – Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.
  13. Climate Action – Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.
  14. Life Below Water – Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.
  15. Life on Land – Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss.
  16. Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions – Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.
  17. Partnerships for the Goals – Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development.

Impact of Globalisation on India

Globalisation refers to the interdependence of world economies and populations brought about by trade in goods and services, technology, and the flow of investment, people, and information. It includes the creation of networks and pursuits transgressing social, economical, and geographical barriers. One of the effects of globalization is that it promotes and increases interactions between different regions and populations around the globe.

India is one of the countries which experienced significant success after the initiation and implementation of globalisation. The growth of foreign investment in corporate, retail, and the scientific sector increased enormously. It tremendously impacted the social, monetary, cultural, and political aspects of the country. In recent years, globalisation has increased due to improvements in transportation and information technology, and improved global synergies have led to the growth of trade and culture globally. 

The Indian economy has witnessed drastic growth since it integrated into a global economy in 1991. It had a tremendous impact on the economic condition. Although India has had immense economic growth, not all sectors of the country have benefited. Globalisation did not have a positive impact on agriculture. Agriculture now contributes only about 20% to the GDP. International norms imposed by WTO and multilateral companies have directed funds of the agriculture sector to private-sector enterprises. Agriculture has received reduced government support, affecting farmers because production costs are very high, while commodity costs are low. Greater integration of global commodities markets leads to a constant fluctuation in prices, which has increased the vulnerability of Indian farmers, who are also increasingly dependent on seeds sold by the MNCs.  

Globalisation has led to an increase in the consumer products market. They have a a variety choices in selecting goods. People in cities working in high paying jobs have a greater income to spend on lifestyle goods. There has been an increase in the demand for products like meat, egg, pulses, organic food as a result. It has also led to protein inflation. Protein food inflation contributes a large part to the food inflation in India. It is evident from rising prices of pulses and animal proteins in the form of eggs, milk and meat. With an improvement in the standard of living and rising income level, the food habits of people change. People tend toward taking more protein intensive foods. This shift in dietary pattern, along with the rising population results in an overwhelming demand for protein-rich food, which the supply side could not meet. Thus resulting in a demand-supply mismatch thereby, causing inflation.

Outsourcing is one of the principal results of globalisation. In outsourcing, a company recruits regular service from outside sources, often from other nations. As a kind of economic venture, outsourcing has increased, in recent times, because of the increase in quick methods of communication, especially the growth of information technology (IT). Voice-based business processes, accountancy, record keeping, music recording, banking services, book transcription, film editing, clinical advice, or teachers are outsourced from advanced countries to India.

Another sector the government has neglected is public health. India has one of the lowest ratios of public to private health expenditure. The rate of epidemics among the poor has increased, leading to outbreaks of contagious diseases becoming common. 

Globalisation has provided a relatively better environment for women. Technology has made education in India accessible for more people, especially women, decreasing the gender gap stratified by gender roles. Women now have access to more jobs and are more involved in avenues generally reserved for men. It has increased the number of women in competitive professions, empowering them. 

The increasing migration coupled with financial independence has led to the breaking of joint families into nuclear ones. The western influence of individualism has led to an aspirational generation of youth. Concepts of national identity, family, job and tradition are changing rapidly and significantly. The rise of nuclear families has reduced the social security that the joint family provided, leading to greater economic, health and emotional vulnerability of old age individuals.

The current generation, especially, the young have an identity that gives them a sense of belonging to a worldwide culture, which includes an awareness of events, practices, styles and information that are a part of the global culture. People have developed a bicultural identity or perhaps a hybrid identity, which means that part of their identity is rooted in the local culture and another part that stems from an awareness of one’s relation to the global world. The development of these global identities is no longer just a part of immigrants and ethnic minorities. Media plays a significant role in developing a global identity. Yet, along with this new global identity, people also retain and develop their local identity for daily interactions with their family, friends and community.

We cannot say that the impact of globalisation has been totallly positive or totally negative. It has been both. However, it becomes a point of concern when an overwhelming impact of globalization can be observed in Indian culture.

Social Anxiety Disorder

Social anxiety disorder (SAD), also known as social phobia, is an anxiety disorder that involves intense fear of social settings. Everyday interactions can cause a significant amount of anxiety, and self-consciousness, due to the constant fear of being scrutinized and judged negatively by people. According to ICD-10 guidelines, the main diagnostic criteria of social phobia are fear of being the center of attention or behaving in a way that will be embarrassing or humiliating. 

People experience anxiety in several social situations, from meaningful encounters to everyday trivial ones. They can experience overwhelming anxiety or fear in social situations, such as meeting new people, being on a job interview, answering a question in class, talking to a cashier in a store, answering the phone and making new friends. Even everyday things like eating or drinking in front of others or using a public restroom may cause anxiety. Social anxiety disorder is referred to an illness of lost opportunities where “individuals make major life choices to accommodate their illness”.

Social anxiety disorder is known to appear at an early age in most cases. 50% of people with this disorder develop it by the age of 11, and 80% develop it by age 20. This early age of onset may lead to people with social anxiety disorder being particularly vulnerable to depressive illnesses, substance use, and other psychological conflicts. Generally, social anxiety begins at a specific point in an individual’s life, which develops over time as the person struggles to recover. Eventually, mild social awkwardness can develop into symptoms of social anxiety or phobia. 

Social anxiety isn’t the same as just “shyness”. Shyness is short-term and doesn’t impact daily life majorly or lead to excessive social avoidance. Whereas social anxiety is persistent, interferes with everyday life, and disrupts one’s ability to attend school, work, and develop close relationships. This disorder could lead to the following:

Low self-esteem

Trouble being assertive

Negative self-talk

Hypersensitivity to criticism

Poor social skills

Isolation and difficulty in social relationships

Low academic and employment achievement

Causes:

Research into the causes of social anxiety and social phobia is wide-ranging with encompassing multiple perspectives. Scientists haven’t yet figured out the exact cause. Studies suggest that genetics can play a part in combination with environmental factors. 

Genetics: Anxiety disorders tend to run in families. Studies suggest that parents of people with social anxiety disorder tend to be more socially isolated themselves, and shyness in adoptive parents is associated with shyness in adopted children. Growing up with overprotective and hypercritical parents has also been associated with social anxiety disorder. Adolescents who found having an insecure (anxious-ambivalent) attachment with their mother as infants were twice as likely to develop anxiety disorders by late adolescence, including social phobia 

Brain structure: A structure in the brain called the amygdala could play a role in controlling the fear response. People who have an overactive amygdala may have a heightened fear response, causing more anxiety in social settings.

Social Environment and Experiences: A social anxiety disorder may be a learned behaviour. Half of the people diagnosed had the anxiety worsened due to a specific traumatic, unpleasant or embarrassing social situation. Direct experiences, observing or hearing about the socially negative experiences of others, or verbal warnings of social problems and dangers, may also make the development of a social anxiety disorder more likely. Longer-term effects of not fitting in or being bullied, rejected, or ignored are also causes. 

Signs and Symptoms:

Physical Symptoms

  • Shortness of Breath
  • Excessive Sweating
  • Blushing
  • Blurred Vision
  • Shaking
  • Dry Mouth
  • Trembling Voice
  • Palpitations
  • Muscle Tension
  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Numbness or tingling in extremities
  • Dizziness
  • Chest tightness

Behavioral Symptoms

  • Avoiding what makes you anxious 
  • Fidgeting or other nervous actions
  • Isolating yourself and limiting actions related to the social situation
  • Leaving or escaping from a feared social or performance situation

Emotional Symptoms

  • Fear of rejection, humiliation
  • Worrying about being left out or being unable to overcome anxiety
  • Feeling defeated as if there is something “wrong” with you
  • Feeling exposed or vulnerable around others

Cognitive Symptoms

  • Racing thoughts
  • Worrying about what people will think
  • Believing everyone is looking at you or judging you 
  • Thinking it is not worth the discomfort of trying to socialize 
  • Assuming the worst about a situation or interaction
  • Analyzing social interactions after it’s over
  • Negative evaluations of yourself

Diagnosis:

Clinicians use a predetermined set of criteria to diagnose SAD, also known as the DSM-5. The following is an overview, which also corresponds to its presentation and help with the understanding of social anxiety disorder. 

Fear or anxiety is evident in social situations, where possible scrutiny may be experienced.

Aversion to situations in order to avoid getting embarrassed, humiliated, or rejected.

If the person is able to endure it, it is often done with intense fear or anxiety

Anxiety experienced by an individual that is not proportional to the situation

If the fear or anxiety has lasted for 6 months or longer.

When an individual experiences anxiety or distress that affects their daily living 

Anxiety or fear that is not associated with a medical condition, medication or substance abuse

Treatment:

Treatments depend on the severity of your emotional and physical symptoms and how well you function daily. The length of treatment also varies. Some people may respond well to initial treatment and not require anything further, while others may require some form of support throughout their lives.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy: CBT is the first-line psychotherapeutic treatment for this disorder. It is a type of psychotherapy useful for treating social anxiety disorder. CBT teaches you different ways of thinking, behaving, and reacting to situations that help you feel less anxious and fearful. It can also help you learn and practice social skills. CBT delivered in a group format can be especially helpful. 

Psychoanalysis: Psychoanalysis and psychodynamic therapy involve a therapist helping you to understand underlying issues from childhood that may have contributed to your social anxiety. It is most useful for people who have deeper unresolved conflicts contributing to their anxiety. Psychoanalysis may also be useful in some instances to explore potential resistance to change.

Support Groups: Many people with social anxiety also find support groups helpful. In a group of people who all have a social anxiety disorder, you can receive unbiased, honest feedback about how others in the group see you. This way, you can learn that your thoughts about judgment and rejection are distorted. You can also learn how others with social anxiety disorder approach and overcome the fear of social situations.

Medication: There are three types of medications used to help treat social anxiety disorder – 

Anti-anxiety medications

Antidepressants

Beta-blockers

An Introduction to Halley’s Comet

Image Credit: NASA

Halley’s Comet, officially known as 1P/Halley, is a short-period comet visible from Earth every 75–76 years. It is the most famous known comet and is the only known short-period comet that is regularly visible to the naked eye from Earth and thus can be viewed twice in a human lifetime. The comet made its last appearance in 1986 and will next appear in mid-2061. 

Comet Halley was the first comet recognized as a periodic or short-period comet, with an orbit lasting 200 years or less. Its shape vaguely resembles that of a peanut shell, and its dimensions are about 9.3 by 5 miles (15 kilometres by 8 kilometres). It is one of the darkest or least reflective objects in the solar system, reflecting only 3% of the light that falls on it.  While it travels around the Sun, Halley leaves behind a trail of dust and ice particles that form the annual Orionid Meteor shower every October.

Origin:

Halley’s periodic returns have been subject to scientific investigation since the 16th century. Although it was around for centuries, it wasn’t until 1705 that Edmond Halley, an English astronomer and physicist, calculated its orbit and predicted its next appearance. He noted the three occurrences of the comet, used Isaac Newton’s recently developed Laws of Motion and some observational records and concluded that the comets which appeared in 1531, 1607, and 1682 were the same comet, and predicted that it would appear again in 1758. As foretold, the comet did reappear, but unfortunately, Edmond Halley wasn’t around to see its appearance. In 1759, Nicholas-Louis de Lacaille, a French astronomer, named the comet after Halley to honour him.

History of the Comet:

Some historians believe that the comet was sighted as early as 467 BCE by the ancient Greeks. A comet in ancient Greece, recorded between 468 and 466 BC with its timing, location, duration, and an associated meteor shower all suggest it was Halley.

The first official known sighting of this comet, according to historical records, occurred in the year 240 BC. The Chinese recorded this sighting in the Chinese chronicle ‘Records of the Grand Historian’ or ‘Shiji’, which describes a comet that appeared in the east and then moved north. 

In 1066, the comet was seen in England and was considered an omen. Later that year, King Harold II of England was overthrown and killed at the Battle of Hastings by William the Conqueror, who then claimed the throne.  The battle depicted on the Bayeux Tapestry chronicles those events and prominently displays the comet as a star. 

In 1456, on a return passage, Pope Calixtus III determined that the comet was an agent of the devil, attempted to excommunicate this natural phenomenon, and ordered special prayers for the city’s protection. His misguided attempt to frame it as a religious issue failed because the comet came back 76 years later. 

He wasn’t the only person of the time to misinterpret what the comet was. Around the same time, while Turkish forces laid siege to Belgrade, the comet was described as a fearsome celestial apparition “with a long tail like that of a dragon.”

Modern Observations:

The comet’s reappearance in 1986 sparked great interest in scientists around the world, who planned extensive plans to observe it closely. It marked the first time scientists were able to study it with sophisticated and developed technology. The high-quality images returned by the probes were the first of their kind, providing a fascinating insight into Halley and proving that its core is a solid mass primarily composed of dust and ice. Five spacecraft from the USSR, Japan, and the European Space Agency journeyed to Comet Halley. ESA’s Giotto obtained close-up photos of the comet’s nucleus. Halley being large and active, with a well-defined and regular orbit, was a relatively easy target for Giotto and the other probes. 

The Ganges

The Ganges River, also known as the Ganga River, is a transboundary river that flows through India and Bangladesh. The river emerges in the western Himalayas in Uttarakhand and flows down across Northern India into Bangladesh, where it empties itself into the Bay of Bengal. It is the longest river in India and flows for around 2,525 km, and has the second greatest water discharge in the world. Its basin is heavily populated, with 400 million people living in it. Nearly 80% of the Ganges river basin is in India, and the rest is in Nepal, China and Bangladesh.

Humans have inhabited The Ganges river basin since ancient times. The first people in the region were of the Harappan civilization. They moved into the Ganges River basin from the Indus River basin around the 2nd millennium BCE. Later, the Gangetic Plain became the center of the Maurya Empire and then the Mughal Empire. The first European traveler to mention the Ganges was the Greek envoy Megasthenes in his work ‘Indica’. 

Course:

The headwaters of the Ganges River begin high in the Himalayan Mountains, where the Bhagirathi River flows out of the Gangotri Glacier in India’s Uttarakhand state. The glacier sits at an elevation of 12,769 feet (3,892 m). The Ganges River proper begins farther downstream, where the Bhagirathi and Alaknanda rivers join. 

The Ganges River emerges from the Himalayas at Rishikesh and begins to flow onto the Indo-Gangetic Plain. Also known as the North Indian River Plain, it makes up most of the northern and eastern parts of India, parts of Pakistan, Nepal, and Bangladesh. In addition to entering the Indo-Gangetic Plain, part of the Ganges River is diverted towards the Ganges Canal for irrigation in the Uttar Pradesh state.

As the Ganges River then flows farther downstream, it changes direction several times, joined by many other tributary rivers such as the Ramganga, Tamsa, and Gandaki Rivers, to name a few. There are also several cities and towns that the Ganges River passes through on its way downstream. Some of these include Chunar, Kolkata, Mirzapur, and Varanasi. Many Hindus visit the Ganges River in Varanasi as that city is considered the holiest of cities. 

Once the Ganges River flows out of India into Bangladesh, its main branch is the Padma River. The Padma River is joined downstream by large rivers like the Jamuna and Meghna rivers. After joining the Meghna, it takes on that name before flowing into the Bay of Bengal. Before entering the Bay of Bengal, the river creates the world’s largest delta, Ganges Delta. This region is a highly fertile sediment-laden area that covers 23,000 square miles (59,000 sq km).

The course of the Ganges River described above is a general description of the river’s route from its source where the Bhagirathi and Alaknanda rivers join to its outlet at the Bay of Bengal. The Ganges has very complicated hydrology, and there are several different descriptions of its overall length and the size of its drainage basin based on the included tributary rivers.

Significance:

The Ganges is a sacred river to the Hindus and worshipped as goddess Ganga Ma or “Mother Ganges.” According to Hindu mythology, the goddess Ganga descended from heaven to dwell in the waters of the Ganges River to protect, purify and bring to heaven those who touch it. Hindus visit the river daily to offer flowers and food to Ganga. They also drink the water and bathe in the river to cleanse and purify their sins. Hindus consider the waters of the Ganges to be pure and purifying. Regardless of scientific understanding of its waters, the river is ritually and symbolically vital in Hindu culture.

In Hindu tradition, the Ganges flows in heaven, earth, and the netherworld, and thus is a ‘tirtha’, a crossing point between heaven and earth. At a ‘tirtha’, prayers and offerings are thought most likely to reach the gods and, in the other direction, blessings can descend most readily from heaven. Hindus believe that upon death, the waters of the Ganges River will help them reach the World of the Ancestors. 

Economy:

The Ganges River provides water to about 40% of India’s population across 11 states. The fertile soil of the Ganges Basin is instrumental to the agricultural economies of India and Bangladesh. The Ganges and its tributaries provide a perennial source of irrigation to a large area. Chief crops cultivated include rice, sugarcane, lentils, oilseeds, potatoes, and wheat. The swamps and lakes along the riverbank provide a rich growing area for crops such as legumes, chillies, mustard, sesame, sugarcane, and jute. There are also many fishing opportunities along the river, though it remains highly polluted.

The three towns holy to Hinduism — Haridwar, Allahabad (Prayagraj), and Varanasi attract millions of pilgrims to its waters to take a dip in the Ganges. Varanasi, Haridwar, Gangotri, Allahabad, and Rishikesh are the prime destinations that have great religious significance for Hindu devotees. Allahabad and Haridwar are renowned for organizing Kumbh Mela, a grand religious fair, and Haridwar is known as the “Gateway to Heaven.”

Pollution:

The Ganges suffers from extreme pollution and is the fifth most polluted river in the world. Industrial and human activities of the 400 million people living near the river contribute majorly to the state of the river. Sewage dumped from cities along the river’s course, industrial waste, and religious offerings wrapped in non-degradable plastics add large amounts of pollutants to the river as it flows through densely populated areas.  There are many tanneries, chemical plants, textile mills, distilleries and slaughterhouses along the river and many of them dump their untreated and often toxic waste into the river. Furthermore, people who rely on the river daily for bathing, cooking, and washing their laundry have worsened the situation. Varanasi, where many pilgrims visit to take a “holy dip” in the Ganges, releases around 200 million liters of untreated human sewage into the river each day. It has led to large concentrations of fecal coliform bacteria, at least 3,000 times higher than what is established by the World Health Organization as safe. The water of the Ganges has been tested to contain high levels of things like chromium sulfate, arsenic, cadmium, mercury and sulfuric acid. 

Clean-Up Efforts:

The Ganga Action Plan: (GAP)

In 1985, the government of India launched an environmental initiative, the Ganga Action Plan to clean up the river in selected areas by installing sewage treatment plants and threatening fines and litigation against industries that pollute. It was “the largest single attempt to clean up a polluted river anywhere in the world.” The initiative was a failure, owing to corruption, a lack of will in the government, poor technical expertise, environmental planning, and lack of support from religious authorities. 

National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA)

National Ganga River Basin Authority is the financing, planning, implementing, monitoring and coordinating authority for the Ganges River, established by the Central Government of India. It declared the Ganges as the “National River” of India.

Namami Gange Programme:

In the budget tabled in Parliament on 10 July 2014, the Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announced an integrated Ganges development project titled ‘Namami Gange’. As a part of the program, the government of India ordered the shut down of 48 industrial units around the Ganges. Significantly the approach is underpinned by socio-economic benefits that the program is expected to deliver in terms of job creation, improved livelihoods and health benefits to the vast population that is dependent on the river.

The Great Exhibition of 1851

One of the landmark events of 19th century Victorian England was the Great Exhibition of 1851. It was one of the most successful cultural events of the century and was an attempt to showcase Britain’s progress and superiority to the rest of the world. Following two decades of political and social upheaval in Europe, Great Britain sought to provide the world with the hope for a better future through the aid of technology.

The Great Exhibition, also known as the ‘The Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations, was held from 1st May to 15th October 1851 at the Crystal Palace in Hyde Park, London. It was a celebration of modern technology and design of the Industrial Revolution and was a platform where countries could flaunt their achievements. It was the first-ever exhibition held for manufactured products.

Although its conception is famously associated with Prince Albert, Queen Victoria’s husband, the idea was initially proposed by Henry Cole, a civil servant. When Albert became the president of the ‘Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce’ in 1943, he backed Cole’s idea for an international fair. They were impressed in particular by the scale of the Paris Exposition of 1849, but they proposed an even larger event, which would be international in scope, where Britain’s engineering and manufactured goods could be compared with those of its international competitors.

Initially there was little interest in the concept of an exhibition by the government of the day, but Henry and Albert continued to develop their idea. They wanted it to be for All Nations, the greatest collection of art in industry, ‘for the purpose of exhibition of competition and encouragement’, and most significantly it was to be self-financing. The government was finally persuaded to form the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851 to establish the viability of hosting such an exhibition.

Dickinson’s Comprehensive Pictures of the Great Exhibition of 1851

Designing and constructing a large enough building in 12 months was one of the biggest challenges. A design competition was staged, which received a total of 245 entries, but none of the proposed structures were suitable – partly because they would be difficult to remove once the event had ended. However, a landscape gardener, Joseph Paxton, who had previously designed greenhouses for the Duke of Devonshire, came up with the idea of the Crystal Palace. 

The Crystal Palace, made entirely of glass and iron, was created exclusively at Hyde Park for the Great Exhibition by Joseph Paxton. It was a temporary structure that was built in 8 months and could be easily assembled and dismantled. The Crystal Palace was created with 294,000 glass panes and was 1,851 feet long, with an interior height of 128 feet, about three times the size of St Paul’s Cathedral. The name resulted from a piece that playwright Douglas Jerrold wrote for Punch magazine, where he referred to it as a “palace of very crystal.” 

William Makepeace Thackeray, one of the leading novelists of the Victorian era, was moved to write a poem about the opening of the Crystal Palace:

“As though ’twere by a wizard’s rod

 Leaps like a fountain from the grass

As blazing arch of lucid glass

 To meet the sun.”

Dickinson’s Comprehensive Pictures of the Great Exhibition of 1851

Queen Victoria officially opened The Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations with an elaborate ceremony at noon on May 1, 1851. Famous people of the time attended the Great Exhibition, including Charles Darwin, Karl Marx, Michael Faraday (who assisted with the planning and judging of exhibits), Samuel Colt, members of the Orléanist Royal Family and the writers Charlotte Brontë, Charles Dickens, Lewis Carroll, George Eliot, Alfred Tennyson and William Makepeace Thackeray. 

The exhibition featured objects from the host country, Britain and its colonies, and foreign states. More than 100,000 objects were displayed by over 14,000 exhibitors from around the world. The exhibits displayed were divided into four themes: Machinery, Manufactures, Fine Arts, and Raw Materials. The objects displayed included almost every marvel of the Victorian age, including pottery, porcelain, ironwork, furniture, perfumes, pianos, firearms, fabrics, steam hammers, hydraulic presses, and even the odd house or two. Many more ordinary items were displayed by manufacturers and merchants. Inventors and manufacturers from Britain displayed tools, household items, farm implements, and food products.

Dickinson’s Comprehensive Pictures of the Great Exhibition of 1851

India contributed an elaborate throne of carved ivory, a coat embroidered with pearls, emeralds and rubies, and a magnificent howdah and trappings for a rajah’s elephant. The most anticipated artifact from the Indian subcontinent was “The Great Diamond of Runjeet Singh called the Koh-i-Noor or the Mountain of Light”, the world’s largest known diamond. It was of priceless value, but visitors found it underwhelming, owing to its lack of sparkle. Another diamond was the Daria-i-Noor, a pale pink diamond, one of the rarest in the world.

The Russian exhibits arrived late, having been delayed by ice in the Baltic. When they did arrive, they were breathtaking: huge vases and urns made of porcelain and malachite more than 10ft tall; furs; sledges and Cossack armour. Canada sent a fire engine with painted panels showing Canadian scenes, and a trophy of furs. Chile sent a single lump of gold weighing 50kg, Switzerland sent gold watches. C C Hornung of Copenhagen, Denmark, showed his single-cast iron frame for a pianoforte, the first made in Europe. The American display was headed by a massive eagle, wings outstretched, holding a drapery of the Stars and Stripes, all poised over one of the organs scattered throughout the building. The largest foreign contributor was France, with its sumptuous tapestries, Sevres porcelain and silks from Lyons, enamels from Limoges and furniture. 

Dickinson’s Comprehensive Pictures of the Great Exhibition of 1851

The opening of the Great Exhibition coincided with one of the greatest innovations of the Industrial Revolution, the railways. Visiting London had become feasible and accessible for the masses, thanks to the new railway lines spread across the country. About 6 million people flocked to witness the exhibition between May and October. The ticket was initially priced at £1 each and reduced to one shilling each, which proved much more popular. However, the tickets were still expensive on peak days – Friday and Saturday. The fair brought in an enormous profit of £186,000, which funded the construction of well-known cultural centers in South Kensington like the Science Museum, the Natural History Museum, and the Victoria & Albert Museum.

Shortly after the exhibition, the whole structure of the Crystal Palace was removed from the Hyde Park site and re-erected at Sydenham, in the Kent countryside, now a part of South East London. The structure was transformed into a permanent attraction, and was in use for 85 years until it was destroyed in a fire in 1936.

The Great Exhibition of 1851 has become one of the most defining cultural events of Victorian England and is an enduring symbol of the 19th century. The exhibition set a precedent for the many international exhibitions which followed, inspiring a long succession of international fairs in other cities, including Paris, Dublin, New York, Vienna, and Chicago – almost one a year for the rest of the 19th century. The Great Exhibition was enormously influential in developing many aspects of society, like art and design education, international trade and relations, and tourism.

Interpersonal Skills

Interpersonal skills, also known as people skills, are the qualities and behaviours one exhibits while interacting with people. They can be defined as character traits, personal attributes, and other non-technical abilities that help you work and communicate with other people.

It is one of the most sought after soft skills. Interpersonal skills is one of the top criteria based on which companies hire their employees. A person with good interpersonal skills can communicate effectively and collaborate with a range of people, which will help them become successful. 

Types of Interpersonal Skills:

The following are some of the essential interpersonal skills:

Communication:  Communication is one of the most important interpersonal skills. Communication skills involves verbal, non verbal, and written. Regardless of the field of work, the ability to express your thoughts clearly and effectively with others verbally and in writing is crucial.

Active Listening: Listening goes hand in hand with good communication skills. Active listening involves paying close attention to what the other person is saying and taking the time to absorb and reflect on what they say. It helps you truly understand what someone is trying to convey. Listening demands the ability to decode and interpret verbal messages and nonverbal cues, like the tone of voice, facial expressions, and body language.

Empathy: Empathy is the ability to understand what another person is experiencing and is an essential part of being a good manager, employee, or colleague. This skill can help one get along with their colleagues and form meaningful relationships at the workplace. 

Emotional Intelligence: People who have high emotional intelligence are good at identifying and meeting the needs of others while taking responsibility for their own needs and feelings.

Teamwork: Teamwork is essential in almost every industry, and companies expect employees to be team players. Regardless of the role, it is necessary to collaborate and work together towards a common goal. 

Conflict Management: Conflict management or conflict resolution skills is needed to mediate and resolve workplace conflicts effectively. Poor communication and lack of interpersonal skills can easily cause simple disagreements to flare up for the worse, affecting the work environment. Having good conflict management skills can help keep the morale high and diffuse conflicts. 

Negotiation: Negotiation is a necessary skill for many positions. Depending on the specific job, it might involve creating formal agreements (or contracts) between clients or helping colleagues solve a problem and determine a solution. To be a good negotiator, you must be able to listen to others, use creative problem solving, and arrive at an outcome that satisfies everyone.

Positive Attitude: A positive attitude can take you a long way. A positive attitude plays a vital role in maintaining a good work environment to work. Being positive during difficult situations will make tasks easier, encourage others and boost morale.

Ways to Improve Interpersonal Skills:

Cultivate a positive outlook. 

Control your emotions. 

Practice active listening.

Be assertive. 

Practice empathy.

Maintain good relationships. 

Master good communication skills

Attend classes or workshops

In today’s world, technical skills alone won’t guarantee one a job. Strong interpersonal skills help you stand out from the crowd. They complement your technical abilities, enhance performance, boost social interactions, and give you an edge over your competition. Employers look for candidates with good interpersonal skills, as they can be effective communicators, great leaders, good team players and efficient managers.

Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence, also known as the emotional intelligence quotient (EIQ) or emotional quotient (EQ), is the ability to perceive, control, and manage emotions. Although the term first appeared in 1964, it gained popularity in the 1995 best-selling book Emotional Intelligence, written by science journalist Daniel Goleman. Goleman defined EI as the array of skills and characteristics that drive leadership performance. Emotional intelligence helps build stronger relationships, increase performance at school and work, and achieve professional and personal goals. It can also help connect with your feelings, turn intention into action, and make informed decisions about what matters the most. Since its popularization in recent decades, methods of developing EI have become widely sought by individuals seeking to become more effective leaders. 

Abilities:

Mayer, Salovey and Caruso developed the four-branch ability model of emotional intelligence. They divide the abilities and skills of emotional intelligence into four areas – 

The ability to perceive emotion 

The ability to use emotion to facilitate thought 

The ability to understand emotions

The ability to manage emotions 

Components:

According to Daniel Goleman, an American psychologist who helped to popularize emotional intelligence, there are five main components to it:

Self Awareness: Self-awareness refers to the capacity to recognize and understand emotions and how they can affect others. Self-awareness is associated with being open to different experiences and new ideas and learning from social interactions. It involves knowing your strengths and weaknesses. 

Self Regulation: Self-regulation includes being flexible, coping with change, and managing conflict. It also refers to diffusing difficult or tense situations and being aware of how one’s actions affect others and taking ownership of these actions. It involves the appropriate expression of emotion.

Empathy: Empathy, or the ability to understand how others are feeling, is critical to emotional intelligence. This component enables an individual to respond appropriately to other people based on recognizing their emotions. Being empathetic also allows you to understand the power dynamics that often influence social relationships, especially in workplaces. It is vital for guiding your interactions with different people you encounter each day.

Social Skills: Social Skills refers to interacting well with other people. It involves applying an understanding of the emotions of ourselves and others to communicate and interact with others on a day-to-day basis. Different social skills include – active listening, verbal communication skills, non-verbal communication skills, leadership, and developing rapport.

Motivation: Motivation is another important emotional intelligence skill. Emotionally intelligent people are motivated by things beyond external rewards like fame, money, recognition, and acclaim. Instead, they have the desire to fulfil their own inner needs and goals. They seek internal rewards, experience flow from being totally in tune with activity, and pursue peak experiences. Those who are competent in this area tend to be action-oriented. They set goals, have a high need for achievement, and are always looking for ways to do better.

Ways to improve emotional intelligence:

Practice observing how you feel

Pay attention to how you behave

Take responsibility for your feelings

Take time to celebrate the positive

Acknowledge your emotional triggers

Today, studies show that emotional intelligence (EQ) is more important than IQ. Individuals can improve their emotional intelligence to live a successful life. Being emotionally intelligent is important to how you respond to what life gives us. It’s also an important component of compassion and understanding the deeper reasons behind other people’s actions.

A Brief Overview of The Indian Constitution

The Constitution of India is the supreme law of the country. It is the fundamental governing document that provides a comprehensive framework to guide and govern the country. The Constituent Assembly of India on adopted the Constitution on 26th November, 1949. It came into effect on 26th January 1950, celebrated as Republic Day in India, replacing the Government of India Act 1935, and the Dominion of India became the Republic of India. 

The Constitution of India establishes the main organs – executive, legislature, and judiciary, defining their powers, states the fundamental rights and the responsibilities of citizens. The Indian Constitution is the world’s lengthiest for any sovereign nation. At its enactment, the original text of the Constitution contained 395 articles in 22 parts and 8 schedules. At about 145,000 words, it is the second-longest active Constitution in the world, after the Constitution of Alabama. The Constitution has a preamble and 470 articles, in 25 parts, with 12 schedules and 5 appendices. It was neither printed or typed, but was handwritten and calligraphed in both Hindi and English.

The Constituent Assembly:

The Constituent Assembly was responsible was drafting the Constitution. The members were elected indirectly by the people by the ‘Provincial Assemblies’ by a single, transferable-vote system of proportional representation. The Constituent Assembly met for the first time on 9 December 1946, reassembling on 14 August 1947 as a sovereign body. The constitution was drafted by 299 delegates, and the assembly took almost 3 years to frame the document holding 11 sessions over 165 days.

Dr. B.R Ambedkar, the chairman of the Drafting Committee, was the chief architect and widely known as the Father of the Indian Constitution. Some of the prominent members of the assembly included – Jawaharlal Nehru, C. Rajagopalachari, Rajendra Prasad, Vallabhbhai Patel, Abul Kalam Azad, Shyama Prasad Mukherjee, Nalini Ranjan Ghosh, and Balwantrai Mehta, Sarojini Naidu, Hansa Mehta, Durgabai Deshmukh, Amrit Kaur, and Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit. Following India’s independence from the British Government in 1947, its members served as the nation’s first Parliament.  

The Preamble:

A preamble is an introductory statement in a document that explains the philosophy and objectives behind it. The Preamble contains the intention of the makers and the history behind its creation. The Preamble declares India to be a sovereign, socialist, secular, and democratic republic. The objectives stated by the Preamble are to secure justice, liberty, equality for all citizens and promote fraternity to maintain the unity and integrity of the nation. These objectives specified in the Preamble cannot be amended and constitute the basic structure of the Indian Constitution. 

Keywords of the Preamble:

We, The People of India: The Constitution was created and made by the people through representatives, without any external power. 

Sovereign: People have the supreme right to make decisions on internal as well as external matters. No external power can dictate the government of India.

Socialist: Wealth is generated socially and should be shared equally by society. Government should regulate the ownership of land and industry to reduce social and economic inequalities.

Secular: Citizens have complete freedom to follow any religion. The government treats all religious beliefs and practices with equal respect. 

Democratic: A form of government where people have equal political rights, elect their rulers, and hold them accountable. 

Republic: The head of the state is an elected person and not a hereditary position.

 Justice:  Citizens will not be discriminated against by their caste, religion, and gender. Government should work for the welfare of all, especially of the disadvantaged groups.

Liberty: There are no restrictions on the citizens in what they think, how they wish to express their thoughts, and the way they want to follow up their ideas in action.

Equality: All are equal before the law. The government must ensure that there are no social inequalities. 

Fraternity: All of us should behave as if we belong to the same family. No one should treat a fellow citizen as inferior.

Fundamental Rights:

Fundamental Rights are the basic human rights guaranteed by the Constitution of India. These rights are justiciable, and an individual can move the Supreme Court or the High Courts if there is an encroachment on any of these rights. 

(i) Right to Equality

(ii) Right to Freedom

(iii) Right against Exploitation 

(iv) Right to Freedom of Religion 

v) Cultural and Educational Rights 

vi) Right to Constitutional Remedies. 

Governmental Sources of Power:

The Constitution is considered federal in nature and unitary in spirit. It has features of a federation, including a codified, supreme constitution; a three-tier governmental structure (central, state, and local); division of powers; bicameralism; and an independent judiciary. It also possesses unitary features such as – a single constitution, single citizenship, an integrated judiciary, a flexible constitution, a strong central government, appointment of state governors by the central government, All India Services (the IAS, IFS, and IPS), along with emergency provisions. This unique combination makes it quasi-federal in form.

The executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government receive their power from the Constitution. It provides for the Parliamentary form of government with a bicameral legislature at the Centre consisting of Lok Sabha (Lower House of Parliament) and Rajya Sabha (Upper House of Parliament). The President is the nominal head of the state and the Parliament. In actual practice, the Prime Minister, aided by the Council of Ministers, heads the executive and is responsible for governance. 

An impartial judiciary, independent of the legislature and the executive, is one of the main features of the Constitution. The Supreme Court of India is the highest court of the country, and is known as the guardian of the Constitution. Each state has a High Court as its highest court. Under powers of judicial review, the Supreme Court and High Court can declare a law as unconstitutional or ultra vires if it contravenes any provisions of the Constitution.

Sociology

MA Sociology- Course Details, Top Colleges, Eligibility - Leverage Edu

Sociology is a social science that deals with the study of society. It is a broad discipline that explores human social behavior and social relationships. At its core, sociology promotes critical thinking, poses analytical questions, and pursues solutions. The word sociology is derived from the Latin word socius (companion) and the Greek word logos (study of), which means the study of companionship. 

The discipline examines human behavior influenced by social structures (groups, communities, organizations), social categories (age, sex, class, race, etc.), and social institutions (politics, religion, education, etc.). The traditional focus of sociology includes social class, social mobility, religion, gender, law, and sexuality. It has now extended its focus to other subjects and institutions like the military, education, social capital, and health.

Origin:

Sociology is a relatively new discipline, with roots in the works of ancient philosophers like Plato, Aristotle, and Confucius. It formally originated in the early 19th century during the industrial revolution. The industrial revolution was one of the main factors in the emergence of sociology.  The industrial revolution had immense effects creating an unprecedented amount of change as well great implications on modern society. Where the once meticulous art of making goods and items by hand was the norm, this was quickly replaced with engine manufacturing allowing goods to be produced in large quantities and bringing about the development of factory organization. The emergence of the nuclear family as well as work force diversifications, are all but some of the implications of the industrial revolution.

Ways of Thinking...: Three Perspectives of Sociology

Auguste Comte, a French philosopher, coined the term sociology in 1838 and is thus known as the “Father of Sociology.” Comte became interested in studying society because of the changes that took place as a result of the Industrial Revolution. He believed that science could help study and understand the social world, and scientific analyses could aid the discovery of laws governing social lives. He then introduced the concept of positivism to sociology — a way to understand the social world based on scientific facts. From his observations of the numerous changes taking place on the societal front, he believed that society should be understood and studied as it was, rather than what it should be. 

The founding fathers of sociology are Emile Durkheim, Max Weber, Karl Marx, and Herbert Spencer. They helped define and develop sociology as a science and discipline, each contributing theories and concepts still used and understood in the field. Some of the other prominent contributors to this discipline were – W.E.B Du Bois, Harriet Martineau.

Main Approaches:

The two main approaches of sociology include micro-sociology and macro-sociology. These two sociological approaches are conceptually different from each other but are interrelated and essential in the study of society.

Microsociology is the study of an individual. It refers to approaches and methods that focus on the nature of everyday human behavior at the community level. At this level, Social status and social roles are the main components of social structure. 

Macrosociology is the study of society as a whole. It refers to approaches and methods that study large-scale patterns and trends within the overall social structure and population. At this level, the main focus is on the social system of a higher level.

Areas of Sociology:

Sociology is a broad discipline with many branches of study. The following are a few areas of sociology –

Criminology: This branch of sociology studies the criminal behavior of individuals or groups. 

Religion: The sociology of religion examines the practices, history, development, and roles of religion in society. 

Family: The sociology of family focuses on marriage, divorce, child-rearing, and domestic abuse.

Education: The sociology of education studies how educational institutions influence social structures and experiences.

Globalization: The sociology of globalization focuses on the economic, political, and cultural aspects and implications of a globally connected society.

Consumption:  The sociology of consumption places consumption at the center of research questions, studies, and social theory. 

Race and Ethnicity: The sociology of race and ethnicity examines the social, political, and economic relations between races and ethnicities. 

Social Inequality:  The sociology of social inequality studies the unequal distribution of power, privilege, and prestige in society.

Work and Industry: The sociology of work examines the implications of technological change, globalization, labor markets, work organization, and employment relations.

Health and Illness:  The sociology of health focuses on the social effects and society’s attitudes towards diseases and disabilities. 

Theories of Sociology:

Symbolic Interaction Theory:
The symbolic interaction perspective is also called symbolic interactionism. George Herbert Mead, an American philosopher, introduced this theory in the 1920s. This perspective relies on the symbolic meaning that people develop in the process of social interaction. This theory studies society, focusing on the symbolic meanings given by people to objects and behaviors. Importance is given to symbolic meanings because people act based on what they choose to believe. People comprehend each other’s behavior, and these comprehensions help form social bonds.

Conflict Theory:
Conflict theory explains that conflicts arise when resources and power are not distributed equally between groups in a society. Karl Marx, a German philosopher, introduced this theory focused on the causes and consequences of class conflict between the bourgeoisie (owners of the means of production) and the proletariat (the laborers). The basic idea of conflict theory is that individuals and groups within society will work to maximize their wealth and power. The conflict theory, premised on class conflicts, is now used to study how other conflicts on race, gender, sexuality, religion, culture, and nationality can affect our lives.

Functionalist Theory:
The functionalist perspective is also called functionalism. This theory has its origins in the works of Emile Durkheim, who was interested in how social order is possible or how society remains relatively stable. The functionalist perspective perceives society as an elaborate system whose individual aspects work together to promote the stability of the whole. According to the functionalist theory, the different parts of society are composed of social institutions, each designed to fulfill different needs. An institution only exists because it serves a vital purpose in the functioning of society. He considered society as an organism since each component plays an important role but can’t function alone. When one part experiences a problem, others must adjust to fill the void.

Some other notable theories include – Feminist Theory, Game Theory, Critical Theory, Social Learning Theory, Rational Choice Theory and Chaos Theory.

Career Prospects:

Best Jobs for Graduates With a Sociology Degree

Sociology prepares people for a range of careers. A degree in sociology can lead to work opportunities with government agencies, non-governmental organizations, and corporations in fields like social service, counseling, designing policies, and market research. Knowledge in sociology serves as an advantage in sales, public relations, journalism, teaching, law, and criminal justice.

Sociology will help gain a better understanding of the social forces that shape our life. It can provide foundational knowledge about social interactions, organizations and society helpful in the pursuit of careers and a good life for ourselves and our families. Sociology helps enhance one’s ability to be an active and informed citizen, and be able to influence societal choices and policies.

Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit

The Indian freedom struggle helmed by Mahatma Gandhi witnessed many women taking center stage against the colonial power. Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit was one such woman who played a vital role in the nation-building process and became one of the most distinguished figures of the 20th century.

Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit was a prominent freedom fighter, diplomat, and politician. She was the first woman to be elected as the Governor of Maharashtra and the first woman President of the United Nations General Assembly.

Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit was born on August 18th, 1900, as Swarup Kumari Nehru in Allahabad to Motilal Nehru, a prominent lawyer who served twice as the President of the Indian National Congress and Swaruprani Thussu. She was the younger sister of the first Prime Minister of independent India, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. Growing up, she never received any formal education but was tutored privately in India and Switzerland. 

Inspired by her brother, Nehru, who was very active in the Indian political front, and Mahatma Gandhi, Pandit joined the freedom struggle and was imprisoned by the British during the Civil Disobedience Movement. She first ventured into politics in the 1930s through the All India Women’s Conference (AIWC), a non-governmental organization founded by the Margaret Sisters. She actively advocated for the rights and freedom of women and led the organization between 1941 to 1943. 

In 1936, Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit was elected as a member of the Legislative Assembly of the United Provinces but resigned from office two years later to protest against the British in World War II. In 1937, she became a minister of local self-government and public health, making her the first woman in pre – independent India to hold a cabinet post.

Pandit soon entered the diplomatic arena and took to the global stage representing India, and in a way, helped in shaping the country in its post-colonial era.  She led the Indian delegation at the United Nations Organization Conference as her first official diplomatic mission. During her tour of the United States, Pandit openly condemned colonial rule and the inherent problems attached to it. She was vocal about countries being responsible for human dignity, equality, and rights. 

Soon after India gained Independence in 1947, Pandit became appointed as the first Indian ambassador to the Soviet Union (1947-49), the United States and Mexico (1949-51), Ireland (1955-61), and Spain (1958-61), and high commissioner to the United Kingdom (1955-61). In 1953, she became the first woman to serve as the President of the 8th session of the United Nations General Assembly and the first woman to become the Governor of Maharashtra from 1962 to 1964.  From 1964 to 1968, Pandit served as a member of the Lok Sabha, representing a constituency that her late brother had won. In 1978, she served as India’s representative to the United Nations Human Rights Commission. 

After a glorious stint as a diplomat and politician, Pandit retired from politics in the 1960s owing to personal reasons. She soon returned and became a relentless critic of Indira Gandhi, her niece and the prime minister of India, confronting her actions during the emergency era. Pandit has written two books, So I Became a Minister (1939) and Prison Days (1946). She died on December 1st, 1990, in Dehra Dun. After her passing, President Ramaswamy Venkataraman described Pandit as a “luminous strand in the tapestry of India’s freedom struggle.”

“Education was not merely a means for earning a living or an instrument for the acquisition of wealth. It was an initiation into the life of spirit, a training of the human soul in the pursuit of truth and the practice of virtue.”

– Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit

Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit was one of India’s greatest assets. Her diplomatic and political career spanning over several decades is remarkable, and her achievements before and after the independence were commendable in the harsh world of politics. She was a firm believer in the freedom of India and broke many barriers for women, and is an inspiration to many.

Climate Change – a looming threat

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Climate change refers to a change in the average weather conditions of a place. It is one of the biggest crisis that humanity is facing right now.  In 2019, around 11,000 scientists declared a global climate emergency and warned of the dangers to come. Countries across the globe are grappling with the severe effects that reflect the state of the planet. The impact of climate change is intensifying and poses a threat to life on Earth as we know it. The Earth has become warmer than the previous century, and CO2 levels in the atmosphere have risen by 50%. 

Human actions have influenced the rapid climate change we are experiencing today. Cutting trees, burning coal, oil, and gas contribute to an increase in global warming. These activities have led to a drastic increase in CO2 levels in the atmosphere, which traps more heat. According to the 2018 US National Climate Assessment, the emission of greenhouse gases has been the dominant cause of global warming since the mid 20th century. Thus, 97% of scientists agree that human activity is the primary cause of the present climate scenario. 

Humans have exploited nature for the longest time, and we’re facing devastating consequences. Climate change and extreme weather conditions have led to natural disasters on a large scale, leading to the massive loss of life and property. The past few years have proven that climate change is real, as the world woke up to devastating headlines of forest fires, hurricanes, heatwaves, floods, droughts, and storms ravaging countries around the globe. 

IPCC Report:

The Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) of the United Nations recently released the 2021 Climate Report that raised concerns about the climate of the Earth. The report is based on more than 14,000 scientific studies and presents the most comprehensive state of climate change and its impacts. Within the next two decades, the average temperature of the Earth will increase by 1.5 degrees celsius. This increase will lead to extreme weather events. Heatwaves, droughts, floods, and wildfires will occur frequently. The sea levels will rise due to the warming of oceans and melting of glaciers, which pose a threat for the cities along India’s coastline, which are vulnerable to the rising sea levels. All these changes will affect livelihoods, agriculture, and the ecosystem drastically.

Impact:

If the temperature of the planet goes on increasing, weather-related events will become more frequent and dangerous. According to the World Health Organization, climate change will contribute to approximately 250,000 deaths per year due to malnutrition, malaria, diarrhea, and heat-related stress. A new study by scientists from China, Europe, and the US has found that within just 50 years, climate conditions in India could become unlivable, with temperatures as high as the Sahara Desert if the emissions of greenhouse gases continue to rise at the current pace. Scientists predict that we could lose 550 species by the end of this century, and this is only the tip of the iceberg. People living in developing and third world countries will be the most impacted and will face a hard time coping with the consequences of climate change. India is among 11 countries declared as “highly vulnerable” by US Intelligence Agencies to prepare and respond to the climate crisis.

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What we can do:

Governments and corporations cannot tackle climate change alone without the collective help of the people. People have to do their bit and can contribute in their ways to help save the planet. Small daily efforts can help create an impact. The following are some ways in which we can help:

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle 

Consume less meat

Reduce the use of plastic 

Take fewer flights 

Walk and cycle more 

Carry your own shopping bag 

Plant trees and create green spaces

Embrace slow fashion

Compost 

Reduce consumption and wastage 

Spread awareness 

Climate change is a threat to humanity and is a serious issue that needs to be tackled. The present generation is experiencing an overwhelming sense of dread and climate anxiety regarding the future. The Covid19 pandemic provided some climate relief, but that is only temporary. We are running out of time to salvage the planet and its inhabitants, and it is time for governments, corporations, and individuals to step up their climate action to match the scale of the task ahead of us.