Category Archives: Experiences

The Growing Indian Population – a Dividend or Disaster?

For years, India’s booming population was under a firestorm of acerbic criticism. Even the book – Famine 1975! America’s Decision: Who Will Survive? – advocated the policy of forsaking food policy to the hopeless countries including India and let the population starve so as to stabilize the global population.

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Population Explosion in India: Boon or Curse?

Even as a decade ago when India officially crossed 1 billion mark in 2000, many experts considered this as a major liability. With adding over 181 million heads more to its humongous population since then, India has been most often found on the wrong side of a tongue lashing and considered as a country that has failed to provide basic necessities to its gigantic population size.

Today, the population of India stands tall at 1.27 billion, and equates to the combined population of Pakistan, Brazil, US, Japan, Indonesia and Bangladesh. Currently, it supports up to 17.5% of the entire world’s population.

no-development-population-explosion-indiaOver 50% of India’s current population is below the age of 25 and over 65% below the age of 35. This implies that a major section of the country’s population comprises of students and young workers, which in turn are more than the dependents. So, it’s a good indicator for the nation’s economy. As India continues to add more people than any other nation on the globe, it’s now poised to have one of the biggest talent pool in the world.

Demographically, does that qualify as a dividend or a disaster?

No longer is India’s thriving population considered a liability. Experts opine that the country does not need to be a worry wart about its burgeoning population and that it’s an asset. Now its massive young population is being looked upon as the country’s greatest resource since this able population can be trained into a capable working population for an economically productive nation.

With a mere 2.4% of the global landmass sheltering 16% of the world population, all Indian governments face the uphill task of taking measures to reduce ever-mounting pressure on dwindling resources, and turn its youth population turns into an economic asset. Lest this feat is accomplished, it’s nothing more than a liability as millions of mouth to be fed get added to the population every year.  This couldn’t be further from the truth. The government of India states that 402 million Indians are aged between 15 to 59 – the working age – and that these figures will rise to 820 million by 2020. This age advantage is actually a demographic dividend, an unprecedented opportunity that India can exploit to its huge advantage by infusing new dynamism into the country’s strained economy. The future is bright. Such vast man power is indeed a blessing in disguise for the country. This skilled man power simply needs to be combined with resources to be considered an asset. The gigantic population of India that makes for a big consumer market too has now become an asset. populatipon-of-india-dividend-disaster

The English-speaking, skilled man workforce has opened new doors to the global enterprises, hunting for quality-backed offshore outsourcing services available at relatively much affordable rates. India is a home to 2.5 million IT & life science graduates every year in addition to 6.5 million post graduates in science and related subjects. This young, talented population can really serve as a great source of country’s development.

However, these apparently favorable demographics are not devoid of its set of grave challenges. There exists a yawning gap between the vast workforce available and the job opportunities that are floating around. Employability issue is certainly a heated topic of debate. Also, there exists great numbers of unskilled Indian workers. Shockingly, only 5% of India’s labor force is estimated to have had any formal training, and the remaining still needs to develop the right skills matching the modern job scenario. It calls for the huge-scale development of the country’s human scale. To kick start this skill growth engine, the Union Government of India announced new job policies in the 12th five-year-plan that aim to generate over 100 million jobs by 2022 in different manufacturing sectors.

As the services sector continues to grow and strengthens the economy, it’s imperative to bridge the widening gap between the skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled labor. Also regional disparities emerging to supply the labor to address the demand forces the movement of labor force to the states that demand them. Kerala is a fantastic examples of this. To support varied economic activities in Kerala, states like Bihar, Odisha, West Bengal and Assam supply the surplus labor. However, Kerala’s own work force is keen on grabbing employment opportunities abroad, primarily Gulf countries. This strengthens Kerala’s economy manifold.

As India is predominantly an agricultural country, this alarming growth rate in population has pressed the panic button since our production of essential commodities such as food grains can be limited to address the needs of such vast population, though we’re self-reliant as of now. The Malthusian Theory of Population Explosion stands valid in such a scenario. As the population blooms over the 1.27 billion mark, feeding these multi-million mouths can pose a huge challenge in future. Current galloping inflation is a just a feeler of a monumental gap surfacing between the demand and supply curve.

The burgeoning population is, however, mounting enormous power on our limited infrastructure and natural resources that have been brutally exploited and squeezed to the tilt. Our finite wealth of natural resources is likely to crash under the increasing pressure of fast-growing Indian population. It has also resulted in the exponential increase in the number of poverty-stricken, malnourished and uneducated people resulting in a sharp slide in the standard of living. Not only this, this population explosion has put excessive pressure on current housing sector, transport network, health care, education and food production. Poverty is intrinsically linked to the exponential growth in India’s population.

No political party in India has until now showed its political will to introduce population check policy. The time is high when we all get above political expediency or democratic compulsions to curb the human population. Rather, it must be our aim to improve the quality of our population and standard of living.

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2014 Rings in. Best Apps to help you keep Your New Year’s Resolutions

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Happy New Year to all!

It’s 2014 in India and many other places on the “other side” of the International Date Line.

As the New Day and New Year dawn around the world, it’s time for all desk-bound keyboard-toilers (including me!), to draw up our list of resolutions that will make 2014 our best year ever.

I know, I know… we’re terrible at keeping New Year’s resolutions. Shocker! For years in a row, only a few resolutions on the entire list barely last for more than a week. Let’s embrace technology to hold our resolutions together longer. Here are some quick-hit resolutions and cool apps that we can check off in 2014:

Keep the Weight Off

Eat wise, drop a size. All diet plans, nutritionist’s advice boil down to the same weigh-loss-new-year-resolutionsthing: Eat right and exercise well. Meet only your real calorific needs. Check your calories intake and burn out rate. So here are a couple of the obligatory weight loss apps of the bunch – Lose It! from FitNow (free for iOS and Android; for more granularity, “premium” extras available for $40/year), Eat This, Not That! (free app) and Calorie Counter  from MyNetDiary ($3.99).

# Get Organized 

There ought to be a place for everything, and everything in its place since it saves you ideas and time to boost your productivity. Try out these apps for get-organized-apps-evernoteorganizing your day-to-day life better – Evernote (an easy-to-use, free app that allows you to take notes, save photos, make to-do lists, record voice reminders – everything on the go; available on iOSAndroidBlackberry). Another app is Things. Available on the Mac App store, Things is an easy-to-use task manager that segments your projects into different milestones, lets you schedule the tasks and puts forth the checklist of the top priority tasks. Things syncs across all your Apple devices and helps you become more efficient as you keep accomplish your goals that come more naturally – one to-do at a time.

Scale Greater Career Heights

Your job sucks. So does your boss. Fret not! 2014 might be a turning point in career-job-hunt-appsyour career. Here’s the savior app – Job Search by Indeed. This is a free app available on iOS and Android. As a highest rated tool on Apple’s and Google’s app stores, Job Search helps you scour through its 15 millions+ job database, and helps you meet potential employers in just a few taps on your smartphone screen. You can sort the jobs by relevance or date, GPS-related location, etc. You can also personalize your account to display only the jobs from your preferred employers or companies.

# Manage your Finances

Get your personal finances in order. Mint’s the best app, hands down! Available Finance appsfor free on iOS and Android, Mint is an award-winning finance app with rave reviews on the App stores. Considered as the finest budgeting app, Mint allows you to budget, monitor and manage your money from a single interface. You can open an account and link it to your bank, credit, loan and retirement accounts. This app will then auto-categorize transactions) and then auto-collate all information in easy-to-digest graphical representations. It’s indeed a safe and reliable tool to keep your personal finances organized.

I know sticking to these goals can be hard to accomplish but hopefully your iOS, Android or tablet will empower you this year to keep these New Year resolutions. With this information handy, it’s time to mentally gird yourself to keep the New Year Resolutions in 2014.  I’d love to hear your New Year resolutions in the comments box below.

I wish you all a blissful year ahead.

Article that Won Me “Special Mentions” in IFW Blogging Contest 2013

How Writing Helped Me Regain My Self-Esteem, And 5 Things I Love About This Profession. (Raina Trivedi)

Durga Shakti Nagpal: Being Victimized by the Ruling Dispensation; Honesty Punished

Suspended for cracking whip on the mining mafia in Gautam Buddha Nagar. Pawn in a political game. Acerbic reaction from different political parties. Media cries foul. Clamour for revoking her suspension orders from IAS association getting louder with each passing day. A huge controversy raked up. This is the story of an honest 28-year-old IAS Officer, Durga Shakti Nagpal.

Cornered for daringly exercising her jurisdiction by seizing 24 dumpers to check the raging menace of illegal mining in Noida, Durga Shakti Pal is today the centre of political focus in the country. She was suspended on July 27, less than a year after getting her first posting, by the government of Uttar Pradesh for demolishing an illegal mosque wall. 

Durga Shakti Pal, an IAS officer who took on sand mafia

Durga Shakti Pal, an IAS officer who took on sand mafia

The issue garnered humongous media attention barely within a couple of hours after her suspension orders, based on flimsy grounds, were served to her. Due to the media furor, a huge backlash from the different sections of the society has stirred up. And, now the Samajwadi Party led UP government seems to be trapped in a political muddle with different political parties policing this issue and alleging that the suspension orders have been placed by the UP government under the pressure of “mining mafia.”

The other day I was discussing this issue with a young gentleman (a 20-year-old engineering student with strong political views and a sky high ambition of clearing civil services examination), and we both had the synergy of views on the brazen corruption in the state and fate of this issue. The media outcry has highlighted the issue really well and has once again proven the intense nexus between political parties and the goons (or rather mafias) operating and blooming in Uttar Pradesh. No wonder the state stands today in a dilapidated state!

What astounds me the most is that this country today shelters two institutions with parallel views on the same issue; one being Akhilesh Yadav’s government that justifies her suspension orders in the interest of communal harmony and the other – Honorable Supreme Court of India that passed an order on illegal religious structures 2009 implying that suspended IAS officer Durga Nagpal adhered to procedures and violated no rules.

As per the order of the apex court of India in 2009, no religious structures could be constructed on public parks or streets and any breach would be seriously taken up by the court. Here Mr. Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav resolutely defends the officer’s suspension by calling her action to demolish the wall of a mosque strong enough to badger the communal harmony. What a faltering attempt to do cover up!

It’s pleasing to see how different groups and individuals – from IAS Association (to withdraw the suspension orders) and Aam Admi Party (offering a ticket to Durga to contest elections against Mulayam Singh Yadav) to Mr. Ram Jethmalaani (senior lawyer, who’d love to take up Durga’s case for Free) – have come out in full support of the suspended officer.

And, more amusing is the most recent turn of events today in which the UP government suddenly seems like going into the damage control mode and contacting the officer after a video (featuring SP Lok Sabha candidate from GB Nagar, Narendra Bhati boldly taking the credit for getting Durga suspended in mere 44 minutes in a speech to his local supporters) went viral clearly stating the deliberate political influence in getting the officer suspended .

Ecocide: An Anthropogenic Disaster in Uttarakhand

Ecocide, Anthropogenic disaster. What the heck is that? Well, my environmentalist friends would know what I’m talking about. It’s the result of nature’s fury triggered by human kind. We’re the culprits of Uttarakhand disaster. A national tragedy that has yet again given a golden opportunity to the political parties to throw cuss words at each other and score their selfish political points.

Uttarakhand - Battling the National Disaster

Uttarakhand – Battling the National Disaster

Back in college years while pursuing my Master’s degree in Environmental Science, I had all core environmental concepts down pat – global warming, anthropogenic triggers for environmental degradation and disaster management. That was just on examination papers then; today I see all that translating into a horrific reality. The truth lays bare that we’ve invited the nature’s wrath. Our Mother Nature has simply responded to the human greed for incessant, rampant development.

Being an avid nature lover, I now don’t miss even a little opportunity to frequent mountains. My last few visits were close. So, I could spend a lot of time amidst the serenity of the snow capped Himalayas – the same fragile mountain ranges that are now a witness to menacing flash floods, landslides and resultant colossal loss of lives, bloodbath, and devastation all around. On my most recent visit to the Himalayan terrain, I was aghast to see the distressed state of the exotic locale. The whole valley was littered with dirt, polythene bags (mind you, it’s banned there), debris and eroded silt. The mountains stood nude, devoid of their vegetation cover.

Reckless commercialization, depleted forest cover, extensive mining, incessant road construction, massive hydro-electric power projects coupled with criminally tardy response of the Central and State Governments to the environmental concerns and alarms raised by environmentalists from time to time – have cumulatively resulted into the catastrophe of this immeasurable quantum. My friends, it’s a man-made or more technically anthropogenic disaster that has taken place in Uttarakhand, an ecologically fragile and seismologically risky state. It’s ECOCIDE (eco = environment; cide = killing) – Development at the expense of ecology. What we reap is what we sow!

Government claims loss of over 1,000 lives; whereas, the victims, who’ve survived narrate a heart-wrecking count of over many thousands. We certainly cannot blame nature for all the destruction. The preliminary assessment of the response to the disaster portrays the state government to be falling woefully short of disaster management standards. In Indian scenario, the Indian Metrological Department (IMD) is the nodal agency that issues early disaster warnings. The Uttarakhand government turned a deaf ear to all the warnings of the IMD and failed to make adequate disaster management control framework. Neither did it do anything to check the uncontrolled religious pilgrims count in the state. Even in this torrent of emotional anguish, no succor – emotional or administrative  – reached the stranded people.

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Nearly a lakh of citizens, mostly elderly people, women and children were stranded in the flood-ravaged areas for over 10 days. Till this moment when I write this piece, over 3,000 people are still battling for their lives in the worst-hit terrains. Amidst all this commotion and hour of national grief, I’m dumbfounded to observe politicians shamelessly attending the News Hour debates and publicly displaying the chronic disease they suffer from – Verbal Diarrhoea. One political party downplaying the other. It’s time to shame this greedy brigade of politicians, who overlook the environmental issues and keep mincing money from their nexus with big corporate houses for permitting the setup of these commercial projects.Let's salute these REAL HEROES!

At the same time, I bow my head to salute the Indian Air Force, Indian Army and ITBP personnel, who fought against the vehemence of nature and risked their own lives only to save thousands of stranded pilgrims. A few of them have even martyred in the line of the duty.

It feels great to see some joyous scenes of teary-eyed reunions and tremendous pain to watch the dejected faces of the bereaved families. 

Going by the reports, North East India is the next region to be hit after Uttarakhand calamity. Let’s wait and watch what proactive measures our Central Government and State Authorities take for disaster preparedness and management.

Set Boundaries for a Woman….A Narcissist’s favorite slogan

This one goes out to an acquaintance, who unfortunately suffers from Narcissism and refuses to admit the same like many others of his brigade.

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I’m kind of a big deal!!

Set boundaries for women.  Oh really? Well, this is the most often heard statement from a male chauvinist, whose ego smacks of his rotten mentality and appalling behavior.  I pray that the Almighty helps him and many of his brothers suffering from such psychological disorder.

Not long ago the national capital “Delhi” was embroiling in a flurry of excitement, anxiety and sorrow after the barbaric gang rape that blotted the city forever. The nation stood in disbelief of such a heinous crime.  Lot of hue and cry and brouhaha took place. Many women empowerment groups and social activists grabbed this opportunity to pitch their opinions against male chauvinism, deeply embedded inside our patriarchal Indian society, which we are otherwise very proud of.

However raising the voice and queuing up for photographs to be telecasted on television are not the solutions to show these mentally ailing people the giant mirror of their arrogance. It’s no more the time for deadpan speeches.  Such male chauvinists should be strangulated and then made to realize that their time is up.

When the Almighty created human being on this living plant, little had he thought that the beauty of his creation in the form of man and woman would be scarred for ages. Such narcissists have posed socio-cultural problems in our society and are solely responsible for our society nose diving from boom to doom.

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I’m a Narcissist, I love hurting others!!

Thinking that setting boundaries for women is their birth right, which they carry along straight from their mother’s womb is their grave mistake. Oh boy, wake up! It’s 21st century.  No woman is awaiting to be at the receiving end of your ego, haughty body language or arrogance, especially if she surpasses you in everything that you boast of.

Though it lays bare the core issue of societal disease, many of the species like my acquaintance are currently suffering from NPD – Narcissistic Personality Disorder. It’s high time for such psychologically ill patients to put a halt to their trait of overestimating their abilities and intense desire for persistent admiration and affirmation.

A piece of advice – stop navigating choppy waters. Women are now done with platitudes. They believe in action. So beware! Next one in Tihar can be you, if you don’t stop setting boundaries for women.

Shining India or Suffering India?

India’s 64th Republic Day is fast approaching. As this thought flashes across my mind, the usual gleam in my eyes gets doused. Like a regular ritual, are we going to send the same photocopied message to the world about Shining India with sheer display of our military strength and cultural tableaus on India Gate Street? Is India really Shining enough to woo the world audience? Are we not living in the world of our own whims and fancies, if we believe so?

I hang my head in deep shame to confess that I’m a part of Suffering and not Shining India. Some of my friends can counter attack me by citing the facts and figures of our economic growth. However, I find this cynical.

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Suffering, not Shining India

Though this land is where I breathed first, received my whole education and subsequently the means of livelihood, I feel today that the anti-abroad settlement ideologies that I nurtured over the years were incorrect. Today, I feel my otherwise babbling tongue in dearth of words. I’m living in a country, where the members of one gender do not enjoy their basic rights. Right to live. Right to security.

We take immense pride in quoting about the financial progress that we’ve made in these 64 years post independence. It’s nothing but a fake show that we put up on the world podium. What progress have we made if we could not provide our 50% population with security, which they deserve as much as the male population? We live in a society ensnarled with deep-rooted male chauvinism and hypocrisy.

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Delhi gangerape in moving bus: Next one could be you, me or anyone of us..when will it stop?

We bring blabbering tongues out of our mouths to bestow acerbic criticism on the issue of physical and mental atrocities being meted out to the burkha-clad women in Afghanistan on the hands of Taliban. In a nick of time, we are all out there on the new channels to condemn the fatwas, when issued to the women in some part of the world. Today, our society’s double standards stand nude. We, as a society, have totally belly flopped. In real, the conscience of the modern India is callused to unimaginable degrees today.

Deeply analysing as to what factors have hand holded us to the doors of moral devastation, we’d find that our own opaque thought process is responsible for it. We, the Indians, squander most of our time engaging ourselves in war of words and more importantly, are extremely forgetful by nature. This factor alone has inspired the slew of our conniving politicians to run the country in a fashion they like, and encouraged them to boot down our economy from boom to doom.

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The Three Mystic Monkeys of Mahatma Gandhi: Silent Spectators

Inflation, price hike, corruption – all of this has driven us nuts. We’re madly running in professional marathons to make our ends meet, only to be dismayed and get distant from our moral values. Over the time, we’ve evolved into insensitive species, indifferent to pain and grief around us. We’ve learnt to stay silent, shut eyes only to believe that everything is hunky dory around us. We are jaded and petered out. We have called it truce with all wrong doings surrounding us. We truly represent “The Three Mystic Monkeys” of Mahatma Gandhi.

Then why does the nation stand in disbelief over the most reprehensible incident that has taken place in our national capital, Delhi. Better to call it “India’s rape capital!”

You, I and each one of us is responsible for this. Mumbai 26 / 11 terror attacks and the city trudged towards near-normalcy in no time. Delhi blast and we were back to our routine lives next day. We tattle our tongues for a day or two and then are quiet, only to pave way for lumpen elements to come out and mock hard at our cowardice, which we hide under the veil of sophistication.

In past 6.5 years in the capital, I’m aghast most often to find that some of my colleagues are so indifferent to anything happening around us with the most often heard statement slipping out of their mouths “Uh!! How are we concerned? We don’t have the time to waste discussing these issues. We are apolitical. Those who discuss have plenty of time and interest in politics…………”

The most amusing thing is that the next morning a few of them can be seen complaining while keeping their office bags about the traffic police man, who booked them for not carrying pollution or vehicle papers and managed to pull out a 1000-rupee note from their pockets, as a bribe.

The fact is that our own insensitive approach has eaten into our political, social and economic system like Moths. Our illusionary hope that one fine morning, we will have everything set right, without even moving a needle, has become the deadliest of killers.

We have to open our eyes wide to be more enlightened. No pepper spray is going to work for a woman, if five beastly men would pounce on her with iron rods. We all need to learn to constantly throw the volley of questions to those who serve us and ourselves, who we elect to represent us. Only then, we can teach our forthcoming generations the same. We can’t refrain ourselves from discussing the political issues, since these impact our lives directly.

Our education system is rotten. It needs to be set right. Besides compulsory martial arts and NCC training, I advocate the academic curriculum with the mandatory subject of Public Administration” and “Polity”, right from the elementary grade so that our next generation is way ahead of us in terms of political understanding.

Civil and police reforms are the call of this hour. But who will do this? We’d be only adding to the already very long string of our blunders, if we continue choosing from the same breed of politicians, armed with their immeasurable power and wealth stashed away in foreign banks.

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It’s time to make our political class bite the dust.

It’s time to dethrone these political czars spearheaded by a leader, who excels in making deadpan speeches and proves time and again incapable of bringing about any change to the country’s political or even economic fiascoes.  Once the top layer would be set right, all the evils tickled deep down the layers would fade at the snap of a finger.

Let’s uproot the political evils and clear the filth of our minds. Until then, let us all refrain ourselves from talking big words and coming up with engaging narratives of “Shining India”.

Looking forward to hear your views on this.