Tradition is not an obstacle to progress.

Tradition basically means undocumented beliefs and customs that have been passed on from generation to generation,  which we all adhere to in our daily lives either knowingly or unknowingly. It is upto the decision of an individual where to follow traditional values and take them as a lesson or not. Since tradition is unwritten, it gets modified with time to suit the need of the time, but it is a chapter that provides lessons of right and wrong. Adhering to these values doesn’t make us orthodox, it rather makes us more aware of the past, and thus help make right decision. Along with binding  us to our forefathers, it makes our character distinct. In fact tradition are a testimony to our culture and society. While we have modern lifestyle today, one should remember, traditions values are not meant to be erased.

Such is the significance of tradition in our lives, that it can never become an obstacle in progress. It teaches us ways to utilize our time more effectively.The tragedy lies in the fact that usually elders tend to look down upon the younger generation if they don’t adhere to the religious and cultural traits of their parents. This decision should left up to the individual. Moreover, traditional Indian habits like touching the feet of our elders to show respect or visiting the temple with the family on an auspicious occasion are signs of a refined sense of culture, not of backwardness. Tradition cannot be an obstacle.

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India: One Land, Many Clans

India One Land, Many Clans

Romaine Rolland, a French scholar, once quoted, “If there is one place on the face of Earth where all the dreams of living men have found a home from the very earliest days when man began the dream of existence, it is India!”

India, the land of spirituality and philosophy considers religion as an integral part of its tradition. The worship of various religions and its rituals play a significant role in every aspect of human life in the country.

India is the birthplace of two great religions of the world, namely, Hinduism and Buddhism. India is also home to the followers of one of the oldest religions of the world, Zoroastrianism and ancient religions like Jainism and Sikhism are also widely practiced here. Followers of Islam, Christianity, Bahaism and Judaism exist throughout the world and also form a part of the population of secular India.

Hinduism is the dominant faith in India. The ancient Hindus, literally meaning the people of the valley of the Indus river, soon took on functions and specialisation that had little to do with tilling the soil. Different castes developed out of necessity, for with the evolution of society, it was no longer possible for the tiller of the soil to assume the functions of priest, warrior, merchant and artisan, all rolled in one. Roles began to be defined and people were classified according to their work, occupation and economic place in the society.

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Also, a number of world religions originated in India and others that started elsewhere found fertile ground for growth here. Buddhism and Jainism, and ancient monastic traditions, have had a major influence on the Indian art, philosophy, and society and are followed by a large section of the society even in the late 20th century. Islam spread throughout South Asia in the early 8th century and is the largest minority religion in India today.

Sikhism, which started in Punjab in the 16th century, gradually spread throughout India and to the other parts of the world. Christianity, represented by various denominations, traces its history in India, back to the time of the apostles. Judaism and Zoroastrianism, that originally arrived with traders and exiles from the West. are represented by small populations, mostly concentrated on India’s West coast. A variety of independent tribal religious groups are also live carriers of their unique ethnic traditions. Even with such diversity, the message of love and brotherhood is expressed by all religions and cultures of India-the bowing in prayer in the courtyard of a mosque or the rows of lamps that light up houses at Diwali, the good cheer of Christmas or the bonhomie of Baisakhi-the festivals of India are celebrations of a shared emotion that bring people together.

People from different religions and cultures of India, unite in a common chord of brotherhood and amity on this fascinating and diverse land. Yet, there is a disparity amongst various religions in accordance with the occupation or hierarchy due to which the caste system evolved.

This rigidity of caste system marginalised a lot of sections of society, thus,hampering the overall growth of the human race in India. A lot of religious leaders such a Mahavira (540-468 BC), the founder of Jainism and Gautama (563-483 BC), the founder of Buddhism, failed to reduce the rigidity of caste system It was the Industrial Revolution that finally made a dent in the caste system and brought a new awareness to Indians. Industrialisation encouraged urbanisation, as village dwellers of both high and low castes moved to the cities for better jobs. In the urban areas, the rigid, age-old, caste-centered thinking gave way to a more liberal outlook and encouraged the mixing of castes without distinction. Trade unions and other associations saw members from all castes working together.

The British Government of India had a considerable transforming impact on the country’s social structure. The British brought changes by passing many important laws, such as the Hindu Act, the Caste Disabilities Act and the Widow Remarriage Act etc.

The strongest, most systematic attack on the caste system had come in the 20th century through the Constitution of India, adopted on 26th November, 1949, India’s Constitution guaranteed the rights of all its citizens to justice, liberty, equality and dignity. This highlights the long and arduous journey from ancient caste distinctions based on Hindu philosophy and religious traditions to the constitutional pledge of a democratic government with equality, dignity and justice for all human beings. To uplift the backward classes, the Government of India has officially documented castes and subcastes, primarily to determine those deserving reservation in education and jobs through the census.

India is a secular state and probably, the only state where so many religions flourish side by side. In practice, it is difficult to divide religion or caste affiliations from the life of people. This is probably so, because it is impossible to know India without understanding its religious beliefs and practices, which have a large impact on the personal lives of most Indians.

For many Indians, religion and their caste exerts a strong motivational influence on their lifestyles, beliefs and culture. Kinship bonding in India is very strong, with an enormous respect for family, community values and traditions. Festivities transcend the invisible barrier between religions and rather become a celebration of the universality of human living. But this does not mean that religious practices in the Indian sense merely involve hollow and meaningless display of traditions, instead it is a deep rooted sense of the way of life.

At present, Indian society is characterised by the development that has led to a free-market economy. In the current scenario, India’s caste system can no longer fully contain the socio-economic changes that the country is undergoing. Different occupations and levels of education are no longer correlated with caste.

For example a high caste person may not be born as a Chief Executive, but he/she can work to become one. A person of low caste can now get a good education and can become an executive, a college professor or even a political leader.

However, the vote politics rampant in Indian democracy tries to lure the voters on the basis of their castes and religions, which is also a great setback to the real and concrete development of the country. The only weapon that seems available to fight the rigid caste system is education.

We need to learn to respect man as man first, which will help us value the uniqueness of religion, class, ethnicity and culture of India.

Advertisements

We come across different types of advertisements in our day-to-day life. They have invaded every aspect of our day-to-day dealings, our conversations, our thoughts and to a certain extent even control our behaviour as customers and consumers of goods. and services, Advertisements stare and scream at us from every corner of the street every newspaper, every magazine, every hoarding, every stall or shop or showroom to walls of every public building, vehicle, radio and television. They don’t even spare our computer screens when we all are interested in checking our mails or even simply browsing through. The world has suddenly become advertisement conscious, so much so, that at night the city lights up with thousands of neon glow signs proclaiming. capturing and demanding our attention.

Advertisements have crept even into smaller and insignificant things of our life. Everything from education to career building to buying a soap or a mobile, one has to rely upon advertisements. It seems nothing as if can be obtained without advertisements. They are the ones that tell us which soap to use, which biscuit to eat. which brand to wear, which sun glasses to use, which pens to write with, which toys to play with etc. An effective advertisement can zoom the sale of even a third rate and useless commodity. No business, trade or transaction can flourish without proper advertising and marketing. It is these advertisements that bring products to the sotice of general public. Today lakhs of rupees, even crores, are spent in preparing Two or three minutes of an advertisement.

Many small things have been made large by right kind of advertising. Infact, newer needs have been generated amongst people. People have started to feel the need for even those goods which they have never heard of before. Advertisements intentionally create demands. The companies pay utmost attention to study the right time to telecast their advertisements so as to target major viewership. Large companies depend heavily on advertisements to make their products known to the consumers. Without these sponsorings, the major sports events cannot be organised with such a fanfare.

The art of advertisement is of course a modern blessing but it has reached and touched all possible heights. It has touched all the aspects of modern complexities and has complicated man’s life more. For even a simple pencil, there are too many options which don’t provide a child with any solution but rather confuse him all the more. Myriads of products work up man’s brain, play havoc with his pocket and assault his peace of mind. It is because of these advertisements that a whole new field of career and businesses have opened up. The branch of marketing solely depends upon this recent art of advertising alongwith other components. Advertisers exercise their imagination, feel the pulse of the people, what touches or tickles them and what captures their mind and then create a whole new tantalising world of fantasy, glamour and fiction to sell off real things. Infact, advertisers and advertisements play and encash upon the psychology of people in order to achieve their ends.

Even cinema has been affected by advertisements. What we call as trailors of movies Theatre. In this age of tough competition, one cannot survive without popularising publicity of a movie, is nothing but its advertisement to bring audience to the sae’s business, product, institution. It is then that advertisements come to one’s aid. Moreover, these days politicians too rely heavily on advertisements for election campaigning. Some advertisements are enlightening like the ones which caution against the use of tobacco or informing about polio day. Some advertisements are revolutionary in nature like Tata Tea Jago Re’ advertisements or Idea Cellular advertisements. Some advertisements are misleading, especially in the education sector wherein various institutes guarantee 100% job placement. Such claims proved fake and thus were banned. There are some other advertisements too which gained huge popularity, but did little to boost the sales of the company. The Vodafone’s Zoozoos are the perfect examples of this. “A good advertisement is one which sells the product without drawing attention to itself,” quotes David Ogilvy.

It is through advertisements that people can popularise their business, talent, product, service or commodity. But for this, advertising is not limited to the television advertisements only. Advertisements in thousands are there in newspapers, magazines, radio, banners, hoardings, on walls, on the internet. All of them are gaining equal viewership. Advertisements are not limited to consumer durable or FMCG products only. Today advertisements are published or telecast for everything like for services: banking, hospitality, matrimonial service, insurance, salon service, for schools and other educational institutes; for vacancies available, for upcoming exhibitions or shows, for every big and small thing. And with a smart phone in every hand, internet seems to be a new rage for advertisers wherein Bill Gates has said:

“The future of advertising is the internet.”

Without advertising, the world refuses to acknowledge the presence of a thing in today’s It would not be wrong to say that hike in sales depend upon the kind or quality of advertisements prepared to promote it.

Lately, it has been seen that some advertisements are crossing over from artistic sensibility and creativity to shabbiness, puerility and sometimes even indecency which hurts a person’s artistic sensibility and aesthetic sense. For this reason many advertisements have been banned. For instance, cigarette advertisements are banned on Indian channels. Tobacco and Alcohol advertisements are telecast or printed only with statutory warnings. Other advertisements which were found indecent, unethical or provoking religious sensibilities have been banned from time-to-time. Advertisements should be made with great care as they are seen by all men, women and children alike. Sometimes, children try to imitate what they have seen without realising that they are breaking the code of conduct. Public needs to be vigilant while watching or reading advertisements. Thus, we see that advertisements can be useful as well as can be destructive. If used with sense, advertisements can prove to be entertaining as well as educative. Although, we cannot escape this onslaught of advertisements, we can use our own intelligence to weed out the bad ones. 

Indian Railways

Indian Railways is one of the largest railway networks operated by the Government of India. Railways was first introduced in India in 1853. Today, its operations cover 19 states and 7 union territories, and also provides international services to its neighbours, Nepal, Bangladesh and Pakistan. It is also one of the busiest rail networks in the world, carrying about 18 million passengers daily. Moreover it is the world’s largest employer, providing jobs to millions.

For a country so reliant on its trains, Indian Railways Vision 2020 envisages introduction of bullet trains. It will be a massive addition to its route network, with segregation of passenger and freight services into separate double-line corridors, raising the speeds of passenger trains from the current 130 kmph to 160-200 kmph on some routes, zero accidents and equipment failures and setting up of high-speed passenger corridors.

However, this vision would remain a difficult one to achieve, looking at the past and current situation of the railways. Inspite of being the largest and the busiest network, Indian Railways was never a sector to give good returns to the economy, (barring the time of Lalu Prasad Yadav). It faces a lot of problems, sometimes proving even a burden to the Indian Government. The age-old and crumbling infrastructure, low fares, lack of maintenance, mismanagement, lack of quality service deliverance ete are all the major issues with the railways. A sharp decline in the earnings and serious escalation in expenditure has posed even more problems for Indian Railways. Additionally, the ever increasing prices of fuel, coal, the number of accidents, cost of maintenance ete further increases the problems.

A significant change in the Indian Railways came after the year 2004. The 156 years old Indian Railways was regarded as a hopeless, loss making organisation, with too little revenue, too many problems. Steps were taken to increase the demand rather than the price. A team of experts proposed and applied some simple techniques effectively on a per train basis. Subsequently, fares were increased in line with the demand, giving the railways the much needed cash flow to improve its services. Thus with these efforts, Indian Railways was able to book profits. After 2010, the railways went back into problematic phase. The funds started shrinking, therefore improvement in passenger amenities could not be carried out. However, the recently elected government has again brought in a ray of hope for the good days for Indian Railways. Surprisingly, Indian train fares are among the cheapest in the world. With such fares, Railways paced its steps well with technological advancement. The e-ticketing for making reservations and mobile app system to track train schedules are some major breakthroughs. Additionally, with the new government, new hopes have also risen. Today, Railways is eyeing private players and foreign funding to mobilise more funds for its various projects. Railways is keen to modernise railway stations with the help of private players. They are also prepared to lease out its properties for some years, given the share should come to Railways too.

Vision 2020 also intends to spread the railroad service to isolated areas of the country with 25,000 km of new track by 2020. Moreover, the ‘vision’ to revamp railways comes with an assurance that investment in India’s conventional train network would continue, which is a social necessity in the wake of 18 million daily passengers.

With 18 million daily passengers, a staff of 1.4 million employees and 17,000 trains operating on 64,000 km of track, India maintains one of the world’s largest rail systems. Vision 2020 not only aims to accelerate the urban pace of the country, but also plans to connect the isolated parts of the country by reaching far and wide. It largely suggests that India is all set to write a new chapter in the history of Indian Railways.

Brain Drain – A Need for Reversal

Brain drain refers to the situation when highly qualified and trained people leave his/her own country to permanently settle down in some other country. It is also referred to as human capital flight. Brain drain is a global phenomenon that refers to flow of human resource in bulk from one country to another. With the beginning of globalisation, ideas, opinions, skills in the form of labour started being exchanged between nations. The term emerged in 1960’s when the skilled workforce started emigrating from the poor or developing countries to the first world countries (or developed countries) in search of better job opportunities. This is primarily due to the fact that developing countries like India have failed utterly in providing the right kind of opportunities to its youth. 

This, in turn, is leading to a great loss of national wealth. In the past few decades, a lot of Indian professionals too migrated to other countries. The human capital in terms of skills, ideas, labour and intelligence is being transferred to countries abroad from India since ages. This has become a characteristic more of the intelligentsia of the nation-the doctors, engineers, scientists, MBA’s, CA’s, lawyers and other professionals. Today, Indian constitutes majority of large organisations like NASA (the National Aeronautics and Space Administration), California Laboratory etc. Additionally, studies show that Indians are one of the most hard working, dedicated and sincere workers. That is why various countries and companies readily take our nationals.Countries like USA, UK, Germany, France, Russia, Italy, Japan etc., have developed greatly in their technology, science, electronics, computers, astronomy etc. Thus, these countries provide greater opportunities-quality as well as quantity-wise. The facilities, packages, scholarships etc., provided by these nations are far better than what India can provide them. While this is the case of young students/ professionals, the academically well qualified people prefer going abroad for a higher research because they don’t get the best chances, resources and facilities for research in India. The cut-offs for admissions have became close to 100% in the best Indian Institutes. While the institutes are in the race of getting the best students, the ambitious youth fail to occupy seat in any of the prestigious Indian Universities. This leads them to explore the scope of higher education abroad.

Most of these students prefer staying back in the host country due to better work opportunities and heavy pay packages. A part from good earnings, those in the US and Europe are aware of the public services, social security system and retirement benefits. So, after getting global exposure and getting introduced to the high quality life and facilities, the students become reluctant to go back to the home country.

There are many Indians at top posts in global firms and companies like Sabeer Bhatia, founder of Hotmail email, Satya Nadella, now Chief Executive Officer of Microsoft, Indra Nooyi, Chairperson and Chief Executive Officer of PepsiCo. As many as 12% scientists and 38% doctors in the US are Indians, and in NASA, 36% or almost 4 out of 10 scientists are Indians. Awakening to this fact, Indian Government is putting the best foot forward to curb brain drain. In lieu with consistent economic growth, India will see robust hiring and there is an expected double-digit salary increase across all sectors-IT, manufacturing, finance, insurance and real estate.

Both, government and private firms are aiming towards a better and friendlier atmosphere to create better conditions for their employees. Discrimination and bias at work places are checked by making laws and strictly implementing them. Incentives are given to stop youngsters from going abroad in search of work.

After witnessing a huge brain drain of doctors, the government was persuaded to take actions. Now, the medical students going abroad for higher studies will have to signa bond with the government, promising to return to India after completing their studies Policies to nurture higher education, better public service delivery and better sharing of data with the public (RTI) needs to be promoted to encourage a reverse brain drain. Moreover the government of the day needs to ensure good employment facilities for students by encouraging domestic and international investments in manufacturing research and development. ‘Our IT professionals and IIM graduates are the best in the world. Countries welcome them open arms. We can use the best potential of the country to accelerate our own progress in socio-economic fields. We need to give deserving jobs to students, who return to India after completing their education.

Meditation – The Ultimate Nirvana

Modern age philosopher Osho maintains “No meditation, No life. Know meditation, Know life.” This quote holds cent per cent relevance in today’s time. In this modern day and age, the negative effects of stress are unavoidable. People have literally forgotten the way to live their life. They are extremely busy running after materialistic goals thereby fueling stress every day.

To cope with this stress, they have tried everything from exercise and diet to alternative methods like medicines. However, the most effective method to deal with stress is not one of these modern methods but rather a thousand years old idea of meditation. Meditation finds its root in many religions, primarily in Hinduism and Buddhism.

Hindu mythology is full of examples wherein normal human beings and sages meditated for years to gain higher spiritual powers. Through meditation, they have risen above the botherations and tensions of worldly life. They have aligned their souls with the almighty in their meditation.

Buddhist mythology explains ‘Nirvana’ through meditation. According to it, Lord Buddha reached enlightenment at the age of 35, awakening to the true nature of reality, which is ‘Nirvana’, the ‘Absolute Truth’. The word Nirvana comes from the

root meaning to blow out and refers to the extinguishing of the fires of greed,

hatred and delusion. When these emotions are destroyed by wisdom, the mind becomes free, radiant and joyful, and at death, one is no longer subject to rebirth. Nirvana is the ultimate happiness, which can be achieved through meditation. The basic principles and practices of meditation are rooted in Hinduism, which believes that the soul is eternal and maintains an eternal relationship with God. The aim of meditation is to quieten the thought waves of the mind.

Quietness can lead to more peace inside the mind. Meditation leads to tranquility and

purification from negative state of our mind, Infact, Buddha religiously believes

“Meditation brings wisdom, lack of meditation leaves ignorance.”

Meditation is very difficult to describe and can only truly be explained once experienced. It is the practice of mental concentration leading ultimately through a sequence of stages to the final goal of spiritual freedom called nirvana. Meditation can be compared with any sport, for example to a basketball game. Everyone can try to play this sport but only a few know the rules and the central dogma of the game. And the others just play the game as they assume it is like. So, it would be right to say that not everyone is able to practise meditation correctly.

Learning to meditate properly, however, is very difficult and must be done under the supervision of teachers. A person who has not practised meditation before, finds it difficult to understand the nature of his mind and may think he is meditating while his mind runs disorderly.

Just a mere 10-15 minutes practice of meditation each day can bring many positive results in the lives of the people. It can be practised anywhere and anytime. The first stage of meditation is to stop distractions and make the mind clearer and more lucid. This can be accomplished by practising a simple breathing meditation.

A quiet place is chosen to meditate and to sit in a comfortable position with closed eyes. Sitting in a traditional cross-legged manner is preferable. The most important thing is to keep the back straight to prevent the mind from becoming sluggish or sleepy. The main motto is to concentrate on breathing.

Breathing during meditation is done naturally, preferably through the nostrils, without attempting to control it, thereby trying to become aware of the sensation of the breath’s movement. This sensation is the object of meditation. Additionally, meditation should be practised with great discipline and awareness to obtain positive results, otherwise it can cause problems in psychological and spiritual well-being.

In recent years, scientists and doctors have shown interest in the effects that meditation has on people going through various situations. Infact, prestigious universities such as Harvard and Washington have invested their efforts in the research and have also come out with positive results. Meditation not only helps reduce the negative effects of stress, but also leads to a better sense of well-being by uniting mind and body.

Statistics on meditation in the Western culture have shown that people suffering from chronic pain, anxiety, depression, hypertension were treated with the help of meditation. Meditation provides benefits to all of the major forms of human existence: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.

A lot of famous people across the globe have started shifting to this practice religiously. They believe that through meditation, the mind is rejuvenated, the soul refreshed, nerves calmed and in general, one is at peace with oneself and the environment. Fortified by sessions of meditation, people have found they are able to face the tensions of the world with increased success. 

Wildlife in India

Wildlife constitutes animals, birds, insects etc., living in the forests. The rich flora and fauna of India have been studied and mentioned in texts since the earliest times. Animal laws date to third century BC. Later, several zoologists recorded their distribution and abundance. Wildlife helps in the promotion of various economic activities that generate revenue from tourism. The fauna plays a crucial role in maintaining the ecological balance of a region. With the baffling variety of forests in India, the wildlife wealth is equally diverse and perplexing. There are about 76000 species of animals in India which comprise about 82% of known species of the world. India has a variety of birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians.

The trans-Himalayan region, encompassing Lahaul-Spiti district of Himachal Pradesh and Ladakh comprise the richest wild sheep and goat community in the world. Tigers are found in the forests of Eastern Himalayan foothills. Leopard is found in Northern parts of Asom, Lynn and Yak in Ladakh along with Brown, Black and Sloth Bear in the Himalayan Region. The Wild Buffalo is found in Asóm, Bastar district of Madhya Pradesh, while the Great Indian Bison is found in the forests of Central India. Black Panther is found in widely distributed areas including deserts and jungles. Cats are found in the North-Western parts of the country. Several species of Wild Sheep and Goats too are found. Deer, Stag are common but have reduced in numbers considerably. Monkeys, Langurs, Chinkaras too are common as well as the Blue Bull, the Four-horned Antelope or the Chawsingha, Wild Dog, Fox, Jackal, Hyena, Mongoose, Shrews, Hedgehogs, Mole, Bats, Rodents and Squirrels. There isof reptiles like Cobra, Krait, Russel Vipers Dhamoa, a non-poisonous large snake, Rock Python, Marsh Crocodiles, Gharial, Lizards, Chameleon, Monitor Lizards, Turtles etc. Elephant is the largest Indian mammal found in the forests of Asom, West Bengal, Central India, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Rhinoceros is India’s second largest mammal whose number has considerably decreased and is now confined to the forests of Asom and West Bengal under strict protection, in the famous Kaziranga

and Manas Sanctuaries of Asom, and Jaldapara Sanctuary in West Bengal. India can proudly boast of about 2000 species of birds in India which is thrice the amount of birds in all the countries of Europe put together. Aquatic birds like Storks, Herons, Ducks, Flamingoes, Egrets, Cormorants are found along with waders and shore birds like the Sea Gulls, Snipes, Iluses, Cranes and Lapwings. The Great Indian Bustard, Pea Fowl, Jungle Fowl, Quail and Partridges are the main ground birds along with Babblers, Barbits, Bulbuls, Mynas, Pigeons, Parakeets, Doves, Cuckoos, Rollers Beaters, Fly catchers, Orioles, Warblers, Wagtails, Finch larks, Finches, Drongos and Hoops. Prey birds such as Owls, Eagles, Kites, Fallows and Kestrel too are found in large numbers. Peacock, is rightly the national bird of India symbolising the vast variety of our bird-wealth with its rich and magnificent plumage fossils of several animals have also been found in India. Titanosaurus indicus was the first dinosaur discovered in 1877 in the Narmada Valley by Richard Lydekker. Rajasaurus narmadensis, a carnivorous dinosaur was also known to inhabit this region. Whale fossils were found in the foothills of Himalayas, as the area used to be underwater (in the Tethys Sea). Unfortunately, our wildlife has been adversely affected by the fast dwindling forest wealth. Large number of species have got reduced, others are endangered and still others are on the verge of extinction. This has adversely contributed to the disturbance of the ecological balance. Moreover, poaching and illegal killing of animals for their fur, skin, teeth, hair etc has contributed in the reduction of wildlife population.

The first species to disappear during the Indus Valley Civilisation was wild cattle. This probably happened due to inter-breeding with domestic cattle. Species of birds, like pink-headed duck and Himalayan quail have become extinct. Along with Tigers, the numbers of Cheetahs too have dwindled who are now surviving under protection and breeding programmes in the Gir Sanctuary, Gujarat.

To put a check on this, Indian Board for Wildlife was made in 1952 with its main function as an advisory board advising the government on how to conserve and protect wildlife with the construction of National Parks, Sanctuaries, Zoological gardens etc. The Wildlife Conservation Act, 1972 is a strict law and gives a firm footing to National Parks and Sanctuaries. The endangered species of plants and animals have been classified under this act for protection. Project Tiger was launched in 1973 under which 21 Tiger Reserves have been created to check intensive land use practices like mining, construction of roads and railway lines affecting the tiger habitat and corridors. The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has set-up a 10-member committee of experts in 2011. The committee will also appraise ongoing demand for diversion of habitat areas towards infrastructure projects in states. Wildlife reserves have started using advanced technology for better maintenance of facilities and also the inhabiting animals. Haryana wildlifedepartment will make use of the camera trap method to get the exact number of animals in its sanctuaries. Kolhapur department has been equipped with wireless communication.

Along with the efforts of the government, people’s awareness and cooperation is needed in order to conserve and protect these invaluable natural resources of our country. Then only can the efforts of the government be given a concrete direction and the conservation goals can be achieved. On International Tiger Day, 29 July, Pench Tiger Reserve along with Rotary Club organised competitions in Nagpur. Such initiatives can go a long way in instilling responsibility towards wildlife among citizens. Wildlife is an integral part of our national heritage. We want our future generations to be able to ‘hear’ lions roar and not just ‘see’ them in picture books. For that we must take steps today. Otherwise, it will be too late!

Water Resources in India

Water is the most important and valuable natural resource on Earth. It sustains all life and life itself originated in water. Before the discovery of traces of water on Mars, Earth was the only planet in the solar system to contain water. About 71% of Earth’s surface is covered with water, but only 3% of the available water is freshwater, About two-thirds of the freshwater lies frozen in the form of glaciers and ice caps. The rest of the small portion is available in the form of groundwater and surface water.

Water is used in the agriculture for irrigation of crops. In industries, water is used as a coolant, solvent and in manufacturing processes. Hydroelectricity is electricity generated with the help of water. Water is also used for navigation and transport of goods.

India covers 2.45% of the world area and possesses 4% of world’s water resources. Precipitation contributes about 4000 cu km of water to the country. India has a large number of surface water resources, in the form of rivers, lakes, ponds, tanks and other small bodies. The three main rivers of North India are Indus, Ganga and Brahmaputra, which carry 60% of the total surface water in India. The flow of India’s rivers constitutes 6% of discharge of all the rivers of the world.

Being an agriculture-centric country, India has developed a number of irrigation schemes. Irrigation projects of Bhakra-Nangal, Hirakud, Damodar Valley. Nagarjuna Sagar and Indira Gandhi Canal have featured prominently in Five Year Plan.

The land area between Punjab and Brahmaputra Valley has abundant groundwater resources. The technology for identification of more aquifers can be developed further, as has been done in Punjab, Haryana, Western Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu. India also has more than 600 km long coastline. Lagoons exist in the states of Kerala, Odisha and West Bengal, where the coastline is indented. This water, known as brackish water, is used for the cultivation of paddy, coconut etc., and for fishing. na

Unmindful use of groundwater has led to the lowering of the water table. Excessive quantity of water used in irrigation increases soil salinity, affecting the crops.

Disputes also have arisen where water bodies are shared between two states and distribution of water is in question. For example, in the absence of Cauvery Agreement, Karnataka developed some irrigation schemes, which affected Tamil Nadu’s rice delta.

“Water, water, everywhere, not a drop to drink.”

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner -By ST Coleridg

Hydroelectricity can solve a part of India’s energy crisis, triggered by hike in oil prices. It is generated by the use of gravitational force of falling or flowing water. is the most widely used form of renewable energy, with production in 150 countries India has one of the greatest hydroelectric power potentials in the world. Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB) has installed a hydel power grid in North India. Hydroelectricity is cost-effective. Once a hydroelectric complex is constructed, no waste is produced and carbon-dioxide emission is also less as compared to fossil fuel powered plants.

Water of the rivers and other natural sources is getting polluted due to industrial chemicals, pesticides, oil slicks and household wastes. Around 75% of surface water in India is polluted. Rajasthan and Maharashtra have high fluoride content in water, while arsenic has been found in water of West Bengal and Bihar. There are 14 river basins found to be most affected by dumping of sewage. For example, leather factories in Kanpur pump around 5.8 litre of waste water into Ganga everyday. Yamuna is also known as ‘Open Drain’.

The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) along with the State Boards monitor water quality at 507 stations. Some of the legislations passed by government include water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974, Water Cess Act, 1977, Environment Protection Act, 1986 and National Water Policy, 2002. Ganga Manthan dialogue was initiated recently, to discuss measures to check pollution of Ganga water. Placing portable toilets and small scale water treatment plants along the river can go a long way in halting pollution.

Other than these, efforts of NGOs and citizens have also counted in the cleaning of lakes such as Puttenahalli lake, Dal lake, Agara lake, Rankala lake etc.

Maintenance of water quality and water conservation are the needs of the hour. Villages can collaborate to form watersheds, so that wells and other water reservoirs can be recharged with water. Ralegan Siddhi is a village in Maharashtra which successfully implemented this approach. Rainwater harvesting has been made mandatory in Tamil Nadu.

India’s water resources are in ample amount, but what is available freely, shouldn’t be Wasted. Let us be more responsible and emulate successful models like that of Ralegan Siddhi in every part of India.

Right To Education (RTE)

Education is the most effective tool and medium for human development. Education changes the mindset through a continuous process involving, research, experiment and innovation. Without such practices a nation cannot expect the future citizens of its country to be informed and creative.

Education is a must thing” quoted modern political activist Malala Yousafzai. This quotes further justifies Aristotle’s words, “The educated differ from the Uneducated as much as the living differ from the dead.” These two quotes show the importance of education in everybody’s life. According to the Indian Sages, the aim of education is second birth.

We are born into the world of nature and necessity, we must be reborn into the world of spirit and freedom. This significance gave rise to Right To Education. The Right To Education is a Fundamental Right and is accorded the same legal status as the right to life as provided by Article 21 A of the Indian Constitution. The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 is “An act to provide for free and compulsory education to all children of the age 6 to 14 years”.

The right of children to free and compulsory education came into force from 1st April, 2010. According to the Act, every child in the age group of 6 to 14 years will be provided 8 years of elementary education in an age appropriate classroom in the vicinity of his/her neighbourhood.

According to the Act, any cost that prevents a child from accessing school will be borne by the state which shall have the responsibility of enrolling the child as well as ensuring completion of 8 years of schooling. No child shall be denied admission for want of documents; or shall be turned away if the admission cycle in the school is over and no child shall be asked to take an admission test.

This would apply to all schools, private or even Navodaya schools. The act restricts schools to claim special category status because it indulges in screening procedures at the elementary level. Moreover, if the number of children applying to a school exceeds the available seats, an open lottery system shall be used to fill the seats. This applies to all categories of schools.

Children with disabilities will also be educated in the mainstream schools. Section (10) of the Act makes it the duty of the parents to ensure that their children go to schools, without prescribing any punishment. Special provisions are laid for children not admitted to school or who have not completed elementary education; a child so admitted to elementary education will be entitled to completion of elementary education even after 14 years.

Banking in India

“Money plays the largest part in determining the course of history.”

-Karl Marx

A bank is a financial body that accepts deposits and channels them into lending through loans or capital markets. Banks thus, connect customers with lack of funds and those with extra capital.

The word ‘bank’ was borrowed from European languages, literally meaning bench’ or ‘counter’. Banking system evolved in the 14th century in Italy. By the 18th century, merchants of London had started storing their gold with goldsmiths who charged a fee and issued receipts.

A banker is a person who discharges his dduties in the form of operating customer accounts and, paying and collecting cheques.

Banks borrow money by accepting the money deposited in current accounts, by accepting term deposits and issuing securities on banknotes and bonds. They also create new capital by giving loans. Banking activities can be for retail, in which the customers and small businesses are involved directly with the bank; for businesses; for large corporate houses and for investments.

There are various types of banks such as commercial banks (which are engaged solely in banking activities), investment banks (for capital market activities), cooperative banks (non-profit banks), postal savings banks (associated with postal systems) and private banks (managing the assets of high net worth people).

In India, banking has its origin in the Vedic period. It is believed that the transition from money lending to banking must have occurred even before Manu, the great Hindu Jurist, who laid down rules relating to rates of interest. During the Mughal period, the indigenous bankers played a very important role in lending money and financing foreign trade and commerce.

The first bank in India, though elemental, was established in 1786. From 1786 till today, the journey of Indian Banking System can be segregated into three distinct phases. They are-Early Phase from 1786 to 1969 of commercial banks; Nationalisation of Commercial Banks upto 1991, prior to Indian banking sector reforms and New Phase of Indian Banking System with the advent of Indian Financial & Banking Sector Reforms after 1991.

The General Bank of India was set-up in the year 1786. The East India Company established the Bank of Bengal (1809), Bank of Bombay (1840) and Bank of Madras (1843) as independent units and called it Presidency Banks. These three banks were amalgamated in 1920 and Imperial Bank of India was established which started as private shareholders banks, for mostly European shareholders.

Health Advancements

Modern medicine has gained prominence and widespread acceptance as the preferred method of curing diseases. Today, we know more about the human body, how it works and about its diseases. The advances in modern medicine have made clearer the physical and psychological causes behind various diseases. Advancements in the field of health and medicine has been there in every civilisation. But, today it is more researched and revised in form of chemicals. These advances in medicine have opened up possibilities beyond what doctors thought was possible years ago. Today’s techniques, surgeries, therapies and drugs have decreased the overall death rates, placing doctors equivalent to God.

Due to the advancements in modern medicine, newer and more effective methods of cure and treatment are available that will help humans to live longer, healthier and with more satisfaction. Medical advancement has shown various wonders like achieving the impossible task of separating bodily attached twins. After the accident, people were bound to live a handicapped life with amputated body part. But now they are given a second life with a help of a substitution part. People born with diseases or any defects as such being blind, deaf or any other bodily defects can now be cured with the help of advanced technology.

Moreover, doctors have been successful in transplanting various body parts like heart, liver, kidney, etc and have performed various brain surgeries too. Not only this but they have also treated people with acid burns etc by providing them with new faces. And it has all been possible due to the advancement in cosmetic surgeries. Medicine are now available for psychological disorders also. Even the gender of people in some cases, can be changed nowadays. Such is the power and might of modern day medication.

Medical sector is thus proving miraculous every day and coming up with refined development each time. Some important ones amongst them are: Robotic surgeries, which are happening on a daily basis and in growing number of centres. Doctors are using more of robotic technology in complicated surgeries to improve the accuracy of procedures. Because of the combination of drug therapies, the rate of death due to HIV and cancers have come down.

Today treating heart attack is not about doctor’s perfection. It is about the speed with which the patient is brought to the hospital so that the clot that blocks the heart can be cured. The most recent stem-cell research has proved a laboratory breakthrough for doctors. This is likely to be the future of regenerative medicines. About so many life-taking diseases can now be cured using embryonic or adult stem cells.

India is also not behind in its medical advancements. It is a promised land offering much in the medical and scientific research. In medicine, India has not only put research efforts in traditional medicine, but also in herbal medicine. It has thus adopted a holistic approach. Indi, has formulated the drug against tuberculosis called Risorine’ which has drastically cut short the duration of TB treatment. India is now a home to some great hospitals like Medanta the Medicity, Apollo Hospitals, NIMHANS (The National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences), Fortis Hospital chain and others serving patients from foreign countries too.

The bright Indian minds leading various research projects are making news every day. Thousands of years of accumulated medical knowledge is now. available at a d click of a mouse. Even doctors need to study and be up to date. For that, Ministry of Health has come up with the world’s first digital library on traditional knowledge comprising ayurveda, herbal and other such medicinal formulations. Government, private and even some non-profit organisations are coming forward to boost the sector even more.

According to a Chinese Proverb: “Good medicines, tastes bitter” which implies medicines comes with side effects too. Today, it seems that people just don’t want to bear even a slightest amount of pain because they have a medicine available for pain. In response to this, they undergo a number of tests, and request for unnecessary care for themselves. Doctors see the human body as a machine with separate parts that can be treated independently rather than as an integrated whole. every

Medicines give quick results but have to be continued for long. People suffering with same disease are treated the same way irrespective of their uniqueness and emotions Medicines have several side-effects too. For instance, over dose of medicine can hamper the immune system, the therapy for cancer leads to baldness, several surgeries need extensive after care, and so on. That is why Buddha’s quote holds meaning as he said:

“Every human is the author of his own health or disease….”

In the earlier time, people would die pitiably, without any known reason. One would feel helpless in front of a small illness. People would accept their disease as their fate. In lieu of this fact, the benefits of medical advancements has outweighed their drawbacks. A lot has been achieved in this field, yet a lot needs to be done for the betterment of mankind.

India’s Defence System

The Indian Armed Forces are the military forces of the Republic of India. It consists of four professional uniformed services: the Indian Army, Indian Navy, Indian Air Force and Indian Coast Guard. Additionally, the Indian Armed Forces are supported by several paramilitary organisations (Assam Rifles and Special Frontier Force) and various inter-service institutions such as the Strategic Forces Command.

The President of India is the Supreme Commander of the Indian Armed Forces. The Indian Armed Forces are under the management of the Ministry of Defence (MoD), which is led by the Union Cabinet Minister of Defence. With strength of over 1.5 million active personnel, it is world’s 2nd largest military force and the largest standing volunteer army in the world.

India has quite a volatile neighbourhood. To our north we have China- a very big military power- with whom we keep on having altercations, not to mention the war of 1962. We still have many border issues with them and their troops keep on infiltrating our land. Then there is Pakistan, a country born out of India but still trying to take one or more parts of it under control. We have had a number of wars with them. In the recent years, terrorism has become a grave concern for India. Owing to all these wars in the past, the recent infiltrations, terrorist attacks, border altercations and stand-offs it is easy to imagine why India needs a strong military strategy to combat these problems and survive as a nation.

Speaking of stats, India is now one of the world’s biggest spenders on defence and the world’s largest importer of military equipment and munitions. Adjusted for purchasing power parity, India was the world’s ninth-biggest spender on defence in 2012, according to the World Bank. It spends a full 2.5% of its GDP on the military, a tad higher than the world total of 2.4%, though lower than America’s 3.8% of GDP. Yet, unlike the US, most European nations or even China, India does not have a thriving domestic defence industry of its own. The tendency to import weapons, military aircraft, ships and other hardware from abroad is worrying. However, India has a land frontier of 15,200 km, a coastline of 7,516.6 km and an exclusive economic zone of 2.2 million sq km, as well as island territories, vital offshore installations and airspace to defend. The Indian forces, therefore, have to be kept prepared and well equipped to repel any external threat.

One can easily understand that Indian military depends heavily on foreign products. India, hence, needs to revamp how its defence sector operates. Though the country basks in the glory of Kargil and thumps its chest over an occasional successful missile test, defence development and production remains a joke in India. The list of failures and shocking delays in the country’s defence sector is long. The cloak of secrecy under which research and development in defence operates causes even greater concern about inefficiencies, waste, questionable priorities, and failed or delayed projects the public is not yet aware of.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s maiden budget does address issues relating to the defence sector. A key Budget announcement was that 49 per cent foreign direct investment will be allowed in the defence manufacturing sector, up from 26 per cent. This will induce more foreign companies to invest in India’s defence manufacturing. It is also good news for domestic private sector players such as Mahindra & Mahindra Defense, Tata Power SED, or the Kalyani Group’s defence arm which manufactures

field guns and similar equipment. That, in turn, is healthy for India’s defence procurement, which is dominated by either public sector undertakings or by foreign contractors. This, combined with the upgrade plan for soldiers and the modernisation of the army, means well for Indian manufacturers who stand to benefit.

A policy of integrating border policy in some ways with defence needs is also evident in the enhanced allocation of 990 crore, a substantial sum, for the socio-economic development of villages along the border. This may mean economic improvement of those communities residing there. The 150 crore earmarked for marine police stations, jetties and purchase of patrol boats holds out a similar indication. While modern warfare is mostly about improved technology, it is also important to ensure that the morale of the troops remains high. The decision to erect a war memorial and set up a defence museum will definitely raise the morale of the armed forces. It will certainly be a welcome addition to the Amar Jawan Jyoti at New Delhi’s India Gate. Again, the one rank one pension scheme, accepted earlier by the government, has been given a Budgetary allocation of 1000 crore.

In the recent years, India has leaped miles forward in the field of tiding up its security. We have a range of state-of-the-art products like missiles and tanks that has put us at par with the strongest military powers of the world. India is one of the few countries to have developed an anti-missile system. India is only the sixth country in the world to develop an undersea nuclear deterrent, INS Arihant ballistic missile, Agni-5, which can carry a nuclear warhead in the east as far as all of China and in the west all over Europe. There is no dearth of money in defence, what remains to be seen is how the private sector and the army spends it. The best way would be to increase our capabilities using the opportunity and the increasing interest from foreign collaborators. The most difficult part of this balance would be ensuring a successful interlocking set of relationships between the military, private sector, universities, and the political leadership at least over the fledgling period.

Is Caste Based Reservation Justified?

Dr BR Ambedkar, Mayawati, Abhijeet Sawant, PT Usha, we all know these notable people of society. They all are known for their distinguished effort and hard work. But does their caste or social backwardness have to do anything with their work as they all belong to the weaker sections of society? Are they at their stature because their caste had a reservation? Indeed the answer to all these questions is ‘no”.

Reservation in India is the process of setting aside a certain percentage of seats (vacancies) in government institutions for the members of backward and under-represented communities. Reservation is a form of quota-based affirmative action. Scheduled Castes (SCs), Scheduled Tribes (STs) and Other Backward Classes (OBCs) are the primary beneficiaries of the reservation policies under the Constitution. The concept was enshrined in the Constitution to allow the so-called deprived classes to come at par with the so-called privileged ones.

Initially, the reservation policy was only for 10 years after the independence to uplift the socially and under-privileged to stabilise them economically. Yet, even after 68 years of independence the Government has failed to truly uplift the backward sections properly.The reservation system finds its origin in the age-old caste system of India. The caste system at its birth was meant to divide people on the basis of their occupation like teaching and preaching (Brahmins), kingship and war (Kshatriya), and lastly business (Vaish) etc, but soon it became an instrument to divide the society on caste-basis, creating various walls between different sections of the society. After independence, the primary objective of the reservation was to uplift the untouchable who were the most marginalised.

But today we stand divided widely into Hindu, Muslim, SC, ST, OBC with newer reservations coming up from different sections of society like Christians, Jats, Pandits, Tribals etc. Unfortunately, the policy has failed to achieve the desired aim of bringing the non-privileged classes into the mainstream. It has instead marginalised them all the more and has deepened the rift created by the caste system even more. Moreover, today it is not taken as a right but it is considered more of a privilege by people, provoking unending debates.

The 93rd Amendment and the recent declaration of the government for reservation in institutions of higher education has stirred the anger of the youth in general all over the country. The UGC cell helps universities implement the reservation policy in student admission and staff recruitment process for teaching and non-teaching jobs. Protests from various sections of society had come stating that development of one section of the society should not be at the cost of the other section.

They have argued caste category cannot decide whether he/she is eligible for admission or not, what matters is merit. Further some have argued that in some cases children belonging to the backward classes do not even possess the necessary merit. thereby snatching away one seat, just because they come from a particular religion or caste for which our government provides reservation.

Recent Women’s Reservation Bill’ passed by Rajya Sabha in 2010 got majority support but it has not been voted on the bill as yet. Its opposers say gender cannot be held as a basis for reservation alone. True, as Pratibha Patil, Meera Kumar, Sonia Gandhi and other women do not hold their position merely because of their gender reservation.

If one takes a look at the issue objectively, one will realise that the intention behind reservation is not faulty at all but it is the implementation and application that has proved ineffective. The benefit of reservation has failed to trickle down to the lowest section of the society. Also, it has killed the spirit of brotherhood and healthy competition.

India can take a lesson from the United States in this regard. For instance, US has long abandoned the quota system for affirmative action. They have put in place a point system under which candidates from Blacks, backward regions, immigrants etc., are given a few extra points in admission and appointment procedures, Caste of a person cannot be the sole criteria for ascertaining whether a particular caste is backward or not. Determinants such as poverty, occupation, place of habitation could be the relevant factors to be taken into consideration. All sections of the society that need development and financial aids should be clearly identified. Then to uplift them with free-education or incentives and financial assistance should be provided. And if a class reaches the state of progress where reservation is not necessary then the government should delete that caste from the list of backward classes.

With time, people have started misusing this policy. There are many examples of people making false documents just to get a seat in a college or a job. Politicians are playing a major role in fueling reservation policy. The reason behind this is that SC and ST make up to 33% of the population of our country. Politicians fear losing out on their vote bank if they make changes against SC and ST.

Let us not do such that these policies hinder the growth of our economy. Need of the hour is to remove this evil. Making education mandatory and free for all till the age of 15 is one good resolution that has been adopted. Others could be proposing reservations based on economic status and providing opportunities to students to earn while they study. Also from time to time such laws must be evaluated by experts and their impact on the development of the under-privileged, and overall society must be assessed.

Children: Our Tomorrow

The wealth of a nation lies not so much in its economical and natural resources but it lies more decidedly in its children and youth. It is they who will be the creators and shapers of a nation’s tomorrow. The children of today will be adult citizens of tomorrow. Today’s students will be tomorrow’s lawyers, doctors, engineers, teachers, leaders and activists. Their quality and personality will determine the kind of destiny that beckons the nation. Nelson Mandela has aptly said:

“Children are our greatest treasure. They are our future.”

It therefore becomes mandatory for every nation and every society to nurture a strong, healthy and intellectual childhood. The children have a boundless store of energy, will, capability, zeal and enthusiasm, and have the power to mould the destiny of the nation. And particularly in India, this store is available in abundance. The Indian population has this major advantage over the population of China or the rest of the world. So, this advantage has to be properly moulded and needs to be given appropriate direction. Development and upliftment of children is an important step, especially for poor and low income children. Investing in them in their early years will provide a foundation for future success with lifelong benefits for them, and economic and social benefits for our entire nation. Government of India has acknowledged this fact and has started with reforms to bring a change. It has been seen that not only non-poor, but poor children too perform well if they are provided with the right support.

There are so many examples around us, which show that it is not that only children of rich families help in the development of nation. There are many famous riches who had poor and gloomy childhood. Yet, today they are famous billionaires.

Howard Schultz, Chairman of Starbucks was born in a government housing and his father was a truck driver. Sam Walton, founder of Walmart helped his family out by milking the cow and delivering newspaper. Famous Media person Oprah Winfrey was born into abject poverty but now is a well-known face. Dhirubhai Ambani, US President Barack Obama are all examples of such people who were born poor but found their way to the top of the world.

Right kind of education is the first step towards the upliftment of children. The education provided should be progressive, in keeping with the needs of the society and should not only create great professionals, but also great human beings. Academics should be taken care of along with adequate emphasis on sports, technical areas and other fields as per the interest of the students.

The ‘Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan’ (Education for All) is one such wonderful step taken by the government to brighten the future of poor and village children. Some NGO’s like CRY, Smile, Asha too are doing great work by providing education, rights, meals to poor children and their families. Social evils like child labour, drug addiction, child marriage, beggary, child abuse etc., also hamper the proper development of children. These rampant evils, if remain unchecked, will jeopardise and endanger the future of the country.

The government should take strict measures to ensure that children are enrolled in primary and secondary schools and should try to reduce the drop-out percentage. Child labour too should be strictly prohibited.

Children today are very smart and enlightened right from their early age. They are capable of many feats and accomplishments. All they need is proper channelisation of abilities, right guidance and training, and a desired environment. Given this, the posterity is sure to lead the nation to greater heights and newer worlds. We all are human beings and share the same planet.

Just as it is our responsibility to care for the environment for generations to come, we must also take responsibility for those children who were born into a world without the care and support what every child deserves. God has given us two hands, so we must use both of them to help these children. And let’s use our mouths too to advocate for their rights. Let us give them a better future and in turn give the world a better future.

Delhi Metro: The Defeline of Delhi

Not long ago, Delhiites used to curse the public transport system of the national capital. Errant, reckless and rash bus drivers, showing no sign of courtesy even to the ladies as well as the elderly, made commuting from one place to the other a painfully daunting task.

Delhi Metro has changed the way people travel within Delhi. With the arrival of Metro, travelling from one place to another has become joyfully exciting, fast, noiseless, dust free and absolutely dependable. For most people living in Delhi, Metro is their great pride, as it has made their life comfortable by making travelling stress free. It has brought relief from traffic snarls.

Delhi Metro is thus a world-class metro. It is one of the few metro systems in the world having an operational profit from the very first day. It is India’s second urban-mass rapid transportation system after Kolkata Metro. Delhi Metro or Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) to be precise, is a metro system serving Delhi and the suburbs such as Gurgaon, Noida and Ghaziabad region in the National Capital Region of India. Delhi Metro is the world’s thirteenth largest metro system in terms of length. It is a dream come true for the workers and people employed and a blessing for its commuters.

After the 1980s, Delhi saw a major population explosion and about fivefold rise in the number of vehicles. As a result, the other public transport system i.e.. bus service was unable to bear the load. Commuters took to private vehicles which increased the traffic congestion as well as pollution. So in 1984, the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) and the Urban Arts Commission came up with a proposal of developing multi-modal transportation system which would curb all the problems and would connect the city in a better way.

After the technical study and finalising the finance issue the physical construction of Delhi Metro was started on 1st October, 1998. The first line of Delhi Metro was inaugurated by the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on 24th December, 2002. It became the second rapid system in India after the Kolkata Metro which was operational since 1984. The first phase of the Metro was completed on the estimated budget and almost-three years ahead of schedule, an achievement described by Business Week Magazine as ‘nothing short of a miracle’.

Delhi Metro Rail Corporation Limited (DMRC) is a state-owned company with equal participation from the Government of India and Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi. The huge investment involved in the construction comes from both of these sectors as well as from the loans from companies. These companies are banks like Japan Bank for International Cooperation or Indian companies like Reliance Infra. In 2007, the Delhi Metro claimed to be one of the only five metro systems in the world that operates at a profit without governmental aids. This was achieved by keeping the maintenance cost limited and by getting additional revenues from advertisements and property development, apart from the ticket sales.

With the increasing association with Delhi as an image of the city’s everyday life, it became popular filming location for films like ‘Love Aaj Kal’, ‘Delhi 6’, ‘Paa’ ete and for some other advertisements too. The metro also generates revenue with such a lease. Delhi Metro has air-conditioned coaches. To ensure safety, it is equipped with the most modern control and communication system. It has all the conveniences and world class amenities like ATMs, food outlets, cafes, mobile recharge stores etc., in most of the stations.

Students of many art colleges have designed decorative paintings at Metro Stations, while pillars on some elevated sections have been decorated with the creations of schoolchildren. Some of the newer metro stations conduct rainwater harvesting as an environment protection measure. In order to reduce its dependence on non-renewable sources of energy, DMRC is looking forward to harness solar energy. Infact DMRC has been certified by the United Nations as the first metro system in the world to reduce greenhouse gas emissions thereby reducing pollution levels in the city.

Delhi Metro has a huge ridership on the daily basis and even record breaking number of commuters on the festival days. Commuters find it most convenient as it saves their money, save them from ever-lasting time consuming traffic, pollution, rains. heat among other things. The brighter side does not end here. DMRC conducts awareness programmes for the labour engaged in the construction work on issues like HIV/AIDS etc. It also provides medical facilities and educational services to its labourers and to their children. Overlooking some minute drawbacks like overcrowding, congestion during construction, Delhi Metro is a huge success in the capital city. It has, in more than one way, helped in the beautification of the city. Looking at such a positive success, government is planning to come up with more such metros in other cities like Mumbai and Lucknow. It is also attracting foreign investors who wish to be a part of one such profitable plan.

Old Times vs Modern

There is a famous saying: “Old is gold”. It’s modern adaptation says “Old is Gold but New is Diamond.” Such is the very uniqueness of the two times too: The Old Times and The Modern Times. They both have their own distinctive values. Irrespective of its peculiarity, the times have always been the reflection of human kind. Both the old and the modern times have their charms, characteristics, advantages and disadvantages. But to prove which one is better is an endless debate. Both have some or the other epitome excellence and both have, in some way degraded the mankind.

The old age does not refer to the stone age or the ancient age; it primarily refers to the age before the technological and scientific advancement. The age in which our grandparents were born and lived. The age which is particularly known for its rich traditions and values. But lack of education lead to diseases, ignorance and superstitions. Lack of advanced medical facilities led to shorter lifespan, wherein people would die pitiably merely due to spread of infection. Means of transport were rare or were limited to the elite only. Far-off, international journey was as far as one aeroplane itself. Means of communication were in equally terrible state wherein exchanging a message was a herculean task.

Inspite of this, old times were the times when people cared less for materialistic goals. Instead they gave utmost importance to their health and well-being. They would eat fresh, work upright and so would sleep tight. They did not have much technology to ease their work load. Yet, they had time to sit with people as a community. There were very few opportunities yet they enjoyed peace of mind.

Their lives were stress free. The chronic diseases like HIV/AIDS, cancer, tuberculosis were unheard of. They enjoyed their existence alongwith nature, with utmost zeal. We keep moving forward, opening new doors and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths,” said Walt Disney. Indeed, the advancement in the means of transportation and communication lead mankind to newer paths. Modern lifestyle has come across with new technologies and has broaden the horizon of one’s knowledge. The development of technology has made it easier for people to communicate, to travel, to work and so on. The computers, laptops and mobile phones have completely changed our lives. Education has developed, more so with the use of internet. Medical advancement is at its peak and still surprises us daily with further improvements.

Modern times has a darker side too. Due to modern lifestyle, the culture and tradition is fading off. Innovation has increased the hunger to quest for even more. It has in turn led to more competition and less peace of mind. People are more dependent on fast food which is taking their health down the drain. Technology has reduced the interaction time with family members, alienating human beings. Gadgets have made us lazy. Status and snobbery have evolved because of growing affluence. There are endless number of risks involved, yet people take those things, infact they take life for granted. Another major problem is all kinds of environmental damages like air pollution, water pollution and noise pollution. As a whole, life in the old days was simpler. One did not have so many problems that we face today. Their lives were not cluttered with so many consumer goods that we find today in supermarkets and shopping malls. Their lives were not any better or worse, only that it was different. They had so little gadgets such as TV, so they did not become square-eyed. They did not have cars nor pollution. We have so many gadgets but at the same time so many accompanying bills as well. Like every coin has two sides, both the old and modern times too have its advantages and disadvantages. The way both the sides of coin are inseparable, incomparable and of equal importance, same is the case with the times. Both the times have their uniqueness, their share of advancements and setbacks. Yet it can’t be denied that in a country like India, old times and modern times co-exist. Or in Anita Desai’s words: “India is a curious place that still preserves the past, religions and its history. No matter how modern India becomes, it is still very much an old country”

The Role of Indian Cinema

Cinema is in today’s world the most popular means of entertainment. Millions of people watch cinema everyday all over the world-not only as a means of entertainment, but also as an escape from the monotony, boredom, anxiety and troubles of life. It is a restful, pleasurable and entertaining way of rewinding and relaxing after a long day’s work. All the senses are captivated while viewing cinema and the next two and a half or three hours are spent in a wink. Moreover, every class and section of society can afford this form of entertainment at their will and convenience.

Indian cinema has a charm, flavour and magic of its own. It appeals not only to the film-crazy Indian public but also enchants a large number of audiences the world over. People who do not speak or understand Hindi still sing songs from Hindi films. An average Indian film is longer than films from other parts of the world, has a ginger-touch of love, hate, revenge, drama, tears, joys and also its own share of songs and dances. A typical Indian film has it all-all the spice and variety of life condensed into it, transporting the audience on a magic carpet to a totally different world where everything and anything is possible. Infact, Salman Rushdie has quoted:

“I have been a film buff all my life and believe that the finest cinema is fully the equal of the best novels.”

Down the years, cinema in India has reached its own destination, created its own history, touched its own milestones. From stereotyped love stories to action, to drama, to realistic, to fictional-the silver screen in its every aspect has mesmerised, captured and tantalised millions of every age, class, sex and community. The journey from silent films to talking pictures, from black and white to coloured has been long.

It has catered to the dreams and aspirations of many who have hungered for glamour and reached “Mumbai’ and it still does.

There have been two streams of cinema in India-one is the Commercial Cinema which has the sole aim of entertaining and making money in return. The second stream is the Parallel Cinema or the Art Cinema which aims at sensitising people on various social issues and problems of the society. While Commercial Cinema appeals to all sections of the society. Parallel Cinema appeals mainly to the intellectual class and the intelligentsia of the society. But a change has taken place over the last decade and half. A general awareness among people has increased and Art Cinema is being more and more appreciated by a large number of people. Many a times, an art film does much better at the box-office than a mainstream commercial film. This has resulted in the thinning of the differentiating line between Art and Commercial Cinema.

Cinema has an educative value too. Because it exercises a deep influence upon the minds of the people; cinema can be used as a very effective reformative instrument. Statutory warnings are included to spread the awareness about the adversity of smoking has compelled many to quit the habit. Social awareness can be generated on issues like dowry, women education, abortion, girl foeticide, youth unrest, corruption, unemployment, poverty, illiteracy etc. Films like No One Killed Jessica, My Name Is Khan, The Attacks of 26/11 are some movies which have dealt with current sensitive issues. Cinema can expose the evils prevalent in society. It is the most effective means of mass communication. Cinema also is a great unifying force in a diversified country like ours. People belonging to all communities and sections, speaking any language, watch the cinema with the same fascination and excitement. Moreover, people can go to places with cinema. We travel from Ooty to Shimla to Switzerland to Washington to Sydney. It also encourages the art of music, singing, dancing, script-writing, direction etc. It employs a large number of people from technicians to producers to spot boys to dress makers. Thousands of people earn their livelihood through cinema.

Shahrukh Khan has aptly put the significance of cinema by saying: “Cinema in India is like brushing your teeth in the morning. You can’t escape it.”

The silver screen spreads and sells not just dreams but captivates the hearts of young boys and girls. If this medium is not used judiciously and wisely, it can distract the youth from the right direction. Thus, the film makers should undertake film making as a social responsibility and through films should give youth a sense of direction. The trend of making films on famous novels and plays should be encouraged to spread good literature and its appreciation among common man. Sensible and relevant themes should be picked to make films. Films need not be didactic, but they still can pass on constructive messages subtly to the masses. Hence, if used with pure sensibility, cinema can help in bringing positive changes in the society and the attitudes of the people.

Tourism in India

Tourism is the world’s largest and fastest growing industry. It is an invisible export, which carns valuable foreign exchange without any significant or tangible loss of internal resources. It is a source of revenue and employment. There are countries in the world whose main source of revenue is tourism.

India is one of the popular tourist destinations in Asia. India has fascinated people from all over the world with her secularism and her culture. Hence, India is a country with a great potential for tourism. Bounded by the Himalayan ranges in the north and surrounded, on three sides by sea (Arabian sea, Bay of Bengal and Indian Ocean), India offers a wide array of places to see and things to do. The enchanting backwaters, hill stations and landscapes make India a beautiful country. There are historical monuments, beaches, places of religious interests, hill resorts, etc. that attract tourists. Every region is identified with its handicraft, fairs, folk dances, music and its people. Tourism is the second largest foreign exchange earner in India. The tourism industry employs a large number of people, both skilled and unskilled. It promotes national integration and international brotherhood.

Tourism is highly labour intensive industry of a unique type. It provides different services needed as well as expected by the incoming tourists. At the world level, it is one of the largest in terms of money spent by tourists in the countries they visit. This amount is said to exceed the GNP of many countries with the sole exception of the USA. According to the latest estimates of the world travel and tourism council, this industry is expected to generate about 6 percent of India’s total employment.

The services rendered to foreign tourists visiting India are the invisible products of tourism industry. These products, i.e. hospitality services of all sorts for tourists turn into invisible exports because these are included in this category without leaving Indian soil. More the foreign exchange earnings, greater is the gain. In the same manner more the number of visitors from foreign countries, more is our foreign exchange earning. The host country has only to provide all possible facilities to the guest visitors to keep them entertained and in a holidaying mood for the longest possible period in hotels. Longer is their stay, more money they will spend and their earning is passed on to us. As the same time, the creative items like art pieces fabrics in indigenous designs including heavy goods like carpets and a lot more, do not fail to carry an appeal for the sightseers. Their sale in India itself is an additional advantage. By exporting the same product through an agent, our profit gets reduced. Next to readymade garments, gems and jewelry, tourism is our largest export item in terms of its earnings. In 2005 The Indian Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC) started a campaign called Incredible India’ to encourage tourism in India For a better growth, the department divided different places in different sections like ‘spiritual tourism,’ ‘spa tourism, ecotourism’ and ‘adventure tourism.

As Indian healthcare sector develops, a new term has been coined called Medical Tourism’, which is the process of people from all corners of the world visiting India to seek medical and relaxation treatments. According to research reports on Indian Healthcare sector, the medical tourism market is valued to be worth over $310 million with foreign patients coming by 100,000 every year. Medical tourists choose India as their favorable destination because of the key opportunities in Indian healthcare sector in the form of efficient infrastructures and technology. The health insurance market and National medical systems here are well developed, which is convenient for visitors from the West and the Middle East. They also find the hospital expenses very affordable.

Things have now started looking bright for the Indian tourism industry. However, the Indian tourism industry has been hit by pollution. The effluents emitted by the Mathura Refinery have led to the de-colorization of the Taj Mahal in Agra. The condition of many of our monuments is deteriorating due to the negligence of the concerned authorities. On the other hand, beaches have become the dumping grounds of garbage and waste left by tourists. The natural environment and heritage sites remain a source of attraction as long as these are not damaged beyond control from their degradation or pollution. Massive tourist traffic, unless regulated creates these mal-effects. Tourist carrying capacity of a resort needs to be matched to minimise the inconveniences of local people during the period of tourist rush. Youths of the host area are also to be saved from cultural alienation by blindly imitating the lifestyle of foreigners during days of reckless massive tourism. A planning for adopting a sequence of steps like a survey of the existing position of services, facilities needed by tourists and measures for development of a healthy and sustainable tourism, has become a dire need. At national level, an apex body has to take stock of the status and trends of tourism in comparison with neighbouring countries. It will help appraise the future needs, the nature of various incentives for alluring tourists and the gaps to be removed for better provision as well as management of the infrastructure.

India: One Land, Many Clans

Romaine Rolland, a French scholar, once quoted, “If there is one place on the face of Earth where all the dreams of living men have found a home from the very earliest days when man began the dream of existence, it is India!”

India, the land of spirituality and philosophy considers religion as an integral part of its tradition. The worship of various religions and its rituals play a significant role in every aspect of human life in the country.

India is the birthplace of two great religions of the world, namely, Hinduism and Buddhism. India is also home to the followers of one of the oldest religions of the world, Zoroastrianism and ancient religions like Jainism and Sikhism are also widely practiced here. Followers of Islam, Christianity, Bahaism and Judaism exist throughout the world and also form a part of the population of secular India.

Hinduism is the dominant faith in India. The ancient Hindus, literally meaning the people of the valley of the Indus river, soon took on functions and specialisation that had little to do with tilling the soil. Different castes developed out of necessity, for with the evolution of society, it was no longer possible for the tiller of the soil to assume the functions of priest, warrior, merchant and artisan, all rolled in one. Roles began to be defined and people were classified according to their work, occupation and economic place in the society.

Also, a number of world religions originated in India and others that started elsewhere found fertile ground for growth here. Buddhism and Jainism, and ancient monastic traditions, have had a major influence on the Indian art, philosophy, and society and are followed by a large section of the society even in the late 20th century. Islam spread throughout South Asia in the early 8th century and is the largest minority religion in India today.

Sikhism, which started in Punjab in the 16th century, gradually spread throughout India and to the other parts of the world. Christianity, represented by various denominations, traces its history in India, back to the time of the apostles. Judaism and Zoroastrianism, that originally arrived with traders and exiles from the West. are represented by small populations, mostly concentrated on India’s West coast. A variety of independent tribal religious groups are also live carriers of their unique ethnic traditions. Even with such diversity, the message of love and brotherhood is expressed by all religions and cultures of India-the bowing in prayer in the courtyard of a mosque or the rows of lamps that light up houses at Diwali, the good cheer of Christmas or the bonhomie of Baisakhi-the festivals of India are celebrations of a shared emotion that bring people together.

People from different religions and cultures of India, unite in a common chord of brotherhood and amity on this fascinating and diverse land. Yet, there is a disparity amongst various religions in accordance with the occupation or hierarchy due to which the caste system evolved.

This rigidity of caste system marginalised a lot of sections of society, thus,hampering the overall growth of the human race in India. A lot of religious leaders such a Mahavira (540-468 BC), the founder of Jainism and Gautama (563-483 BC), the founder of Buddhism, failed to reduce the rigidity of caste system It was the Industrial Revolution that finally made a dent in the caste system and brought a new awareness to Indians. Industrialisation encouraged urbanisation, as village dwellers of both high and low castes moved to the cities for better jobs. In the urban areas, the rigid, age-old, caste-centered thinking gave way to a more liberal outlook and encouraged the mixing of castes without distinction. Trade unions and other associations saw members from all castes working together.

The British Government of India had a considerable transforming impact on the country’s social structure. The British brought changes by passing many important laws, such as the Hindu Act, the Caste Disabilities Act and the Widow Remarriage Act etc.

The strongest, most systematic attack on the caste system had come in the 20th century through the Constitution of India, adopted on 26th November, 1949, India’s Constitution guaranteed the rights of all its citizens to justice, liberty, equality and dignity. This highlights the long and arduous journey from ancient caste distinctions based on Hindu philosophy and religious traditions to the constitutional pledge of a democratic government with equality, dignity and justice for all human beings. To uplift the backward classes, the Government of India has officially documented castes and subcastes, primarily to determine those deserving reservation in education and jobs through the census.

India is a secular state and probably, the only state where so many religions flourish side by side. In practice, it is difficult to divide religion or caste affiliations from the life of people. This is probably so, because it is impossible to know India without understanding its religious beliefs and practices, which have a large impact on the personal lives of most Indians.

For many Indians, religion and their caste exerts a strong motivational influence on their lifestyles, beliefs and culture. Kinship bonding in India is very strong, with an enormous respect for family, community values and traditions. Festivities transcend the invisible barrier between religions and rather become a celebration of the universality of human living. But this does not mean that religious practices in the Indian sense merely involve hollow and meaningless display of traditions, instead it is a deep rooted sense of the way of life.

At present, Indian society is characterised by the development that has led to a free-market economy. In the current scenario, India’s caste system can no longer fully contain the socio-economic changes that the country is undergoing. Different occupations and levels of education are no longer correlated with caste.

For example a high caste person may not be born as a Chief Executive, but he/she can work to become one. A person of low caste can now get a good education and can become an executive, a college professor or even a political leader.

However, the vote politics rampant in Indian democracy tries to lure the voters on the basis of their castes and religions, which is also a great setback to the real and concrete development of the country. The only weapon that seems available to fight the rigid caste system is education.

We need to learn to respect man as man first, which will help us value the uniqueness of religion, class, ethnicity and culture of India.

Information Media

By far, books, magazines, newspapers and other printed matter carry the largest and most varied kinds of information to their readers. We can get books on almost any subject that we care to read on. There are books on sports, cookery, fashion, language education, etc. You name the topic and the likelihood is that somebody has published a book (or books) on that topic. So does the internet, which is a modern development in this field.

We get all kinds of information via magazines and newspapers. We come to know about various anti-social happenings through the print media and are able to keep ourselves alert. We also read about the rise and fall of certain politicians, the cricket matches, the state of the stock exchange, the grand sale going on in a supermarket, and also about the various kinds of jobs available.

The amount of information that we can gather from a newspaper is enormous. To read the whole newspaper completely would take hours. While everything printed in newspapers may not be interesting to everyone, we usually read the sections we like, for example, the sports and cartoon pages, and leave the rest. In our country, newspapers are published daily in various languages to cater to various linguistic groups. Each newspaper gives its own version of the hottest news items plus other items that are its particular preferences.

Thus, an average person can be reasonably well-informed about the current happenings in this ever changing world; and only at the price of a few rupees.

The last century, and especially the last few decades, witnessed the tremendous strides made in the field of electronic technology. The simple traditional telephone has been joined to sophisticated television sets, computers, stereo, music, mobile phones and the internet.

Moreover, the internet and social media are particularly important for facilitating access to an unparalleled wealth of information, as well as providing opportunities for new innovative activities and social interactions. Through the means of the internet, especially in smart mobile phones the information spreads instantly and reaches mass audiences in a less costly manner.

In order to get the attention of masses one can voice thoughts on any of the social networking sites and in return get thousands of reviews back. This advancement made Bill Gates quote; “The PC (Personal Computer) has improved the world in just about every area you can think of… Access to information and the ability to give a voice to people who would never have been heard.”

Through the television comes all manner of soap-operas, talk-shows, news, documentaries and the ubiquitous advertisement clips. Large number of people are reached daily in this way. A whole new generation of people is created based on the ideals and dreams that are propagated by television. Political groups and manufacturers make extensive use of this mode of communication to communicate with people. Television has become so effective as a means of transferring information that even criminals and terrorists know its value.

The invention of communication satellites now allows us to witness any event around the globe at the touch of a remote. Even the internet is playing a huge role in the transfer of information at present.

India: A Software Superpower

Two mighty streams flow through India- the spiritual and the technological, indeed! Many developed countries today feel threatened with the Indian Brains taking up leading positions in their country. India is fast becoming the boiling pot of all the IT and software professionals. For a country that lagged behind in the industrial revolution, this rapid catching up with the technology is nothing short of a miracle. It is a country that is being increasingly identified with the high quality IT products, services and processes as well as wealth of skilled manpower that ranks among the best in the world.

The country is forecasted to become the ‘software superpower’ of the world by 2020. It has thus acquired a foremost position in the map of the IT world. India’s progress in this sector is quick and influential, providing the economy a boost.

Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai, manufactured the first computer in India, in 1966 and since then there has been no looking back. India has emerged as a great reckoning force and a dynamic nation at the dawn of this century.

The year 1985 is said to be the year which is the generator of the software and IT revolution in India. India declared its IT policy under the leadership of late Rajiv Gandhi who saw computer as a powerful instrument of modernising the country. The IT policy of 1985 stressed on the fact that electronics and software would be the answer to the problem of unemployment in near future. Indeed computers are spreading in the country at a rocketlike speed. Today, software revolution is at its peak in India. Computers are common in every home, with small children playing games, to generating businesses. Computer consciousness and awareness is fast-developing amongst the youth of today. At present, the United States is considered the leader in IT software, with giants like Microsoft, Apple, Hewlett Packard etc. Today even India is among the top rankers is software industry with over 150 of the fortune 500 companies existing in India.

The world’s top software firms such as Microsoft, Motorola, Intel, IBM etc already have set-up centres for research and development because of globally recognised quality standards of India. For instance, Guillermo Wille, head of GE’s India Research Centre noted that GE’s Indian scientists and engineers are working in leading edge fields such as nanotechnology, hydrogen energy, photonics etc. Moreover, while complimenting Indian talent, Oracle co-president Charles Phillip said:

“The kind of intellectual figure you people have is phenomenal……

The success is ‘phenomenal’ and has been achieved because of various reasons. Strong steps by the government have been taken to improve infrastructure led by revamped policies to attract global foreign direct investments. There is a huge base of English-speaking graduates that supports the extensive ITES-BPO industry. Additionally, there is a ready supply of professionals with relevant IT skills from both formal and informal sector.

Infact, to further boost the literacy in this sector, Indian Government has launched low-cost-tablet called ‘Aakash’ which will link about 25000 colleges and 400 universities to an e-learning programme.

Bengaluru is popularly known as India’s Silicon Valley. It is the hub of IT companies specialising in R & D, electronics and software production. Leading Indian software companies like Infosys, Wipro Technologies, Tata Consultancy Services, HCL hold the world ranking in terms of revenues.

Infosys is the third-largest Indian IT service company by 2014 revenues. Wipro’s founder, Azim Premji was claimed to be the richest man according to Forbes 2011 list of billionaires. Sabeer Bhatia, founder of hotmail e-mail services, recent Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s new CEO (succeeding Steve Ballmer in February 2014) are the examples of India’s excellent might in this sector.

A 21 years old Indian engineering graduate won a reward of ? 8 Lakh for discovering a bug which enabled the users of facebook to remove pictures from other accounts without the approval of the owner. Truly, India’s software whiz kids have won world-wide acclaim in rectifying the millennium computer bug. They are less prone to committing mistakes than their Western counter parts, especially in writing long and complicated software programmes,

And they take advantage of the 24-hour clock, while European and American multinationals sleep, Indian experts fix their software glitches overnight. Every third of Bill Gates’ employees is of Indian origin and upto 50000 Indian technicians make their way to US Silicon Valley each year.Indian politicians are eager to back the IT revolution. They are making the concessions so that the infrastructure and the sector as a whole can flourish. With such incentives India’s IT sector is getting stronger with each passing day. With a 1.2 Billion people, India has the world’s largest pool of technical talent and is the top global technology services outsourcing destination.

Moreover, the increasing demand of Indian software engineers is a sure signal that even the world accepts India as a software super-power to reckon with in the present era.

Sex Education in school

One of the much debated topics across the world is the importance of sex education in schools. Sex education refers to a broad programme designed to impart knowledge/training regarding values, attitudes and practices affecting family relationships. The real purpose behind sex education is the transfiguration of a male child into manhood and of a female child into womanhood.

It is the education that provides knowledge on physical, social, moral, behavioural and psychological changes and developments during puberty. It teaches the adolescents about the role of boys and girls in family and society, responsibility and attitude of boys and girls towards each other, etc within social context.

Sex education is never the most pleasant of the conversations for an adult and child to have. Yet, it is an essential one that many feel should happen in a responsible and safe environment. Due to increasing incidences of HIV/AIDS, RTIs/STIs and teenage pregnancies, there is a rising need to impart sex education. Parents and counsellors in Delhi argue that banning sex education is not a solution and will prove disadvantageous instead, given the exposure kids have to the internet.

E-commerce – Market Trend of the 21st Century

Even today, some considerable time after the so called internet revolution”, Electronic Commerce (E-Commerce) remains a relatively new, emerging and constantly changing area of business management and information technology. Speaking in layman’s terms, E-Commerce refers to the entire process of marketing. selling, delivering goods and servicing customers over the Internet. It has revolutionized the way companies do business. Consumers can buy almost anything online 24 hours a day.

In the 21st century, the rapid development of information technology and the rapid increase in information exchange have brought new drives and innovative ideas to the whole society. The wide adoption of information technology by the community has led to great changes. These changes are not simply in the context of data processing or computing. They are changes which affect how we communicate with each other, how we organise our daily activities, how we educate the younger generation, and how we run business. The great development and acceptance of information technology, computer networks and the Internet have transformed the mode of operation of many businesses, and at the same time have brought along unprecedented business opportunities. Businesses are now able to conduct transactions across geographical boundaries, across time zones and at a high efficiency. E-Commerce has become the market trend of the Century.

Life has become very busy these days. Odd working hours, hectic schedules and time constraints have changed how people shop these days. Hence, E-Commerce has become the preferred method of shopping for many people. They love the ease with which they can shop online from their home at any time of the day or night. Purchasing options are quick and convenient with the ability to transfer funds online. Consumers save time and money by searching for items and making their purchases online. It can take several days of physically going from location to location, costingtime and fuel, to purchase a hard-to-find item. Moreover, E-Commerce is an retail method for business transactions. Start-up costs for establishing an E-Commerce business is far less than expanding your business with more brick and mortar locations. Fewer licenses and permits are required to start an online business than that of a physical store location. You will also save money by using fewer employees to perform operations such as managing inventory and billing customers. You won’t have to search for an appropriate geographic location or worry about paying high utility costs for the facility. efficient

Advertising done well on the web can get even a small firm’s promotional message out to potential consumers in every country in the world. A firm can use electronic commerce to reach narrow market segments that are geographically scattered. The web is particularly useful in creating virtual communities that become ideal target markets for specific types of products or services.

The prospects are, in no doubt, great for E-Commerce and its followers. But still, there are some consumers who are reluctant to embrace E-Commerce because of privacy issues. Making an online purchase often requires disclosing personal information such as an address, telephone number and banking or credit card account information. While many people feel making an online purchase does not compromise their personal information, some still prefer not to take a chance of having their account information accessed by a third party, and will only make their purchases at a storefront operation.

Then there is the issue of inability to feel the product physically or check it with your own hands while buying. When making a purchase at a brick and mortar business, you get the product when you pay for it. On the web, there may be a time lag from purchase to actually being able to consume. The consumer will have to wait for delivery of physical goods.

Also, some businesses are less suitable for electronic commerce. Such businesses may be involved in the selling of items which are perishable or high-cost, or which require inspection before purchasing. Most of the disadvantages of electronic commerce today, however, stem from the newness and rapidly developing pace of the underlying technologies. These disadvantages will disappear as electronic commerce matures and becomes more available to and accepted by the general population.

Not only the new generation, but also the older generation is getting a hold of technology. They are adapting to the changing technologies and try to be up-to-date. Therefore, E-Commerce is also making its way into their lives. It is true that going to markets or malls to shop will never go out of fashion but E-Commerce is also here to stay and become more and more popular as people realize its advantages and get comfortable with it.

Decentralisation

Decentralisation can be defined as “the dispersion of decision making governance distribution of functions and powers from a central authority to regional and local authorities.”

There are various forms of decentralisation. Privatisation is a type of decentralisation. Privatisation and deregulation means shifting responsibility for functions from the public to the private sector. Privatisation can range from public-private partnerships to allowing private enterprises to perform functions the had previously been monopolised by the government. Usually, though not always, privatisation and deregulation are accompanied by economic liberalisation and market development policies.

India’s fiscal deficit during 1990s, spectacular growth by economies of Korea, Taiwan, Malaysia due to the indulgence of private sector; integration of world trade changes in China and dissatisfaction with the performance of public sector-all factors collectively contributed to the initiation of privatisation in India.

To begin with, in 1992, India opened up cellular and basic services to private players and then the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) was constituted in 1997 as an independent regulator in this sector. Till 1986, telecommunication was a public utility owned by the Government of India.

Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL) was created in 1986 as a Public Sector Enterprise (PSE) to facilitate telecommunication services in the cities of Delhi and Mumbai. In all other places, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) was formed as a PSE on 1st October, 2000 as a telecom service provider.

These state-owned incumbents with a large existing subscriber base dominate the fixed line service. However, with the entry of private players, today the Indian telecommunication industry is the world’s fastest growing industry with 826.93 million mobile phone subscribers, as of April, 2011, as liberalisation led to the entry of private players such as Bharti Airtel, Reliance Communications, Tata Teleservices. Idea Cellular and Aircel.

Privatisation of banks began in 1994 when the Reserve Bank of India issued a policy of liberalisation to license limited number of private banks, which came to be known as New Generation tech-savvy banks. Prior to this, SBI was in existence since 1955, apart from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) established in 1935, which controlled the central banking responsibilities.

Thus, Global Trust Bank was the first private bank after liberalisation, which was later amalgamated into Oriental Bank of Commerce (OBC) and Housing Development Finance Corporation Limited (HDFC) was the first bank to receive an in principle approval from the RBI to set-up a bank in the private sector. At present, there are many private banks in India including leading banks like ICICI Banks, ING Vysya Bank, Jammu & Kashmir Bank, Karnataka Bank, Kotak Mahindra Bank, SBI Commercial, Dhanalakshmi Bank, Federal Bank, HDFC Bank. Karur Vysya Bank, UTI Bank and YES Bank. Privatisation of insurance sector in India happened around the year 2000 when the government allowed private players to enter the Indian market. Although in the year 1993, a road map for privatisation of the life insurance sector was laid, but it took another six years before the enabling legislation to pass the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority Act in the year 2000.

s that Resultantly, the newly appointed insurance regulator-Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA)- started issuing licenses to private life insurers. At present leading private sector life insurers are SBI Life Insurance, Metlife India, ICICI Prudential, Bajaj Allianz, Max New York Life Insurance, Sahara Life Insurance, Tata AIG, HDFC Standard Life, Birla Sun Life, Kotak Life Insurance, Aviva Life Insurance, Reliance Life Insurance, ING Vysya, Shriram Life Insurance, Bharti AXA, Future Generali, IDBI Fortis Life Insurance, AEGON Religare and Star Union Dai-ichi Life Insurance Co. Ltd.

In the electricity sector, the new wave of policy reforms designed to promote private participation has been driven by the need to expand the capacity and increase the reliability of systems, public sector budget constraints and the positive results of the private participation in other countries. Although in India electricity sector is still largely under the domain of public sector, but the inclusion of private sectors for capacity additions has also begun.

Major PSUs involved in the generation of electricity include National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC), Damodar Valley Corporation (DVC), National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC) and Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCI). Besides PSUs, several state level corporations are also involved in the generation and intrastate distribution of electricity. In the private sector, major capacity additions are planned in Reliance Energy, Tata Power and RPG Group-CESC.

Decentralisation is an answer to the problems of the centralised sector. Decentralisation in the government sector helps to solve problems of economic decline, lack of funds, performance issues and reservation for minorities. In the area of politics, its objective is to vest more power with citizens or elected representatives. Economic decentralisation brings about privatisation of public institutions, through deregulation, abolition of restrictions on business competing with government services, such as postal services, school etc. Decentralisation has also been executed in various technologies like water purification, waste disposal, agricultural technology and energy technology.

Internet is a good example of a successful decentralised network. Wikipedia, the online Encyclopaedia, storing information on a plethora of topics, is also decentralised as it allows users to add, modify or delete content via the internet. Social networking sites are also decentralised systems that have greatly changed our lives. Information technology used to facilitate interactions of the government with the citizens, is referred to as e-Government.

petroleum are some of the other sectors that have been decentralised and are among It is indeed a good initiative to boost democratisation. Education, health care and the fastest growing sectors of the economy today. Thus, decentralisation of public sector enterprises that began with the economic reforms of the 1990s has yielded angible benefits to the country.

However, dangers of decentralisation loom large. For example, if the technical capacity or functioning of a system is weak, it will definitely result in poor quality products and services. Coordination for national policies can become complex and resource distribution can become uneven. A few local elites can grab power and hindrances in proper decision-making can surface. In the absence of a higher competent authority, monopoly and anarchy can give way to chaos and suppression of public interests.

Thus, decentralisation is both a boon and a bane to the economy. It is to be used as an ‘instrument of change and empowerment of the masses’ and not to earn quick money by few individuals pursuing their selfish interests.

Bengal and Food: A Better Love Story Than Twilight

West Bengal and food are a match made in heaven. Delicacies that form the image of this land can be found in the smallest of dhabas and on the menus of the most prestigious restaurants. Food is the wave that flows throughout the state; the song that unites every Bengali; the light that brightens up the City of Joy; and the love that never ends.

But what’s so special about the food of West Bengal? What is it that separates this state from the rest of the world? Is it the spice or the sweet? Is it the simplicity or the richness of the dishes?

Let’s take a look at some unique dishes:

Jhaal Muri – The quintessential

Jhaal Muri is the ultimate snack in a Bengali household. Its versatility is unmatchable as it can be eaten at any time of the day and can be combined with so many different food products. From the local trains to the Ganga ghats, from the streets to the shopping malls, from the snowy hills of Darjeeling to the beaches of Digha, the Jhaal Muri is present everywhere and, in a way, represents what a Bengali is-Jhaal (spicy) – fierce, competitive, revolutionary; on the other hand, friendly, simple, and humble, signified by ‘muri’.

Hilsa—A Bengali’s Beloved

Bengalis’ love for Hilsa dates back many centuries. Irrespective of any sort of boundary and border, every Bengali’s heart holds the same amount of unadulterated love for the national fish of Bangladesh and the state fish of West Bengal. Hilsa and the monsoons have better chemistry than Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet in “Titanic.” Through time, it has become a comprehensive part of Bengali culture, tradition, and lifestyle.

On Poila Boishakh (Bengali New Year), it is customary to relish a meal of Ilish (Hilsa) Maach with your loved ones. Despite it being very costly, sales never drop as it reaches its peak during the rainy season. Ilish bhaaja (fried Hilsa) along with Khichuri (fermented rice with vegetables) can fill the stomach as well as the heart of a Bengali on any given day.

Love for Hilsha has been reciprocated through art, literature, songs, movies, and eminent personalities of Bengal like Swami Vivekananda, Satyajit Ray, and Sunil Gangopadhyay, who have been vocal about it through their works. There are many multiferous varieties of Hilsa dishes like the Ilish Jhuro, Tetul Ilish, and newer innovations in the modern era like Anarosh Ilish, Ilish risotto, and baked illish. Recently, Bengal has conducted entire festivals dedicated to Hilsa, organised by hotels and the West Bengal State Tourism Department, such as the Ilish Utsav 2019, the 6th Sundarban Hilsa Festival 2019 and the Gongabokhe Ilish Utsab.

Pithe – The Sweet Beauty

The winter is witness to food items that balance out what the summer has to offer. Sweet vs. Spice. Pithe is a palm-sized winter-special sweet treat. It is a combination of fresh palm, date jaggery, scented rice flour, milk, and coconut. Mostly made indoors, a household isn’t Bengali if it doesn’t prepare pithe during the winter. It’s almost a tradition at this point as even guests are offered loads of pithe on their visit to a Bengali household. On the occasion of Poush Sankranti, the elder women of the house make pithe, which is enjoyed along with Rabindra Sangeet, poetry, and folklore.

Mishti Dhoi – A Sweet Tooth’s Paradise

It is impossible to talk about Bengal and not bring in Mishti Doi. It can be considered as the staple dessert of Bengal. The original brilliance of Mishti Doi can be found in the bhars (earthen pots) of the pandals during the Durga Puja. It is a wonderful dessert and is also very simple to make. Mishti Dhoi’s brilliance resonates all around the world. Bulgaria was the first European nation to introduce curd in Europe. The age-old, traditional techniques to make Mishti Doi never faded away, and hence, its originality was never compromised.

Tradition is not an obstacle to progress.

Tradition basically means undocumented beliefs and customs that have been passed on from generation to generation,  which we all adhere to in our daily lives either knowingly or unknowingly. It is upto the decision of an individual where to follow traditional values and take them as a lesson or not. Since tradition is unwritten, it gets modified with time to suit the need of the time, but it is a chapter that provides lessons of right and wrong. Adhering to these values doesn’t make us orthodox, it rather makes us more aware of the past, and thus help make right decision. Along with binding  us to our forefathers, it makes our character distinct. In fact tradition are a testimony to our culture and society. While we have modern lifestyle today, one should remember, traditions values are not meant to be erased.

Such is the significance of tradition in our lives, that it can never become an obstacle in progress. It teaches us ways to utilize our time more effectively.The tragedy lies in the fact that usually elders tend to look down upon the younger generation if they don’t adhere to the religious and cultural traits of their parents. This decision should left up to the individual. Moreover, traditional Indian habits like touching the feet of our elders to show respect or visiting the temple with the family on an auspicious occasion are signs of a refined sense of culture, not of backwardness. Tradition cannot be an obstacle.