Guest Posts

Entrepreneurship

By Nitesh Chandra:

Entrepreneurship is fast acquiring a coolness factor in India. Newspapers and magazines are full of passionate and largely young people who have made it big by starting up. We have come far as a society in the acceptance of people leaving their jobs to start on their own. Yet, there are cautionary tales and failures galore. The hype and glamour masks the commitment and persistence needed to succeed as an entrepreneur. I have tried to list some groundwork that one should undertake before one decides to go down this route:

– Discover your passion: Passion is crucial. Entrepreneurship will test you at every step; there will be lots of failures and very few successes. Unless you are passionate about what you do, these travails will be disheartening and you will be tempted to give up midway. And how does one understand what they are passionate about? This is usually very obvious, yet a classic test could be asking yourself: ‘‘can I do this for 1000 days and still be passionate about it?’

– Unearth an idea: Not all passions can get converted into a viable business. Using your passion as a starting point, try to figure out ideas that may be of value in the real or virtual world. You may check websites like www.springwise.com or www.coolbusinessideas.com and other similar sites as a starting point.

– Team Up: Teams are more successful than individuals. You cannot be good at everything that is needed for the success of a start-up. It is no coincidence that the world’s best-known teams are those formed by school/college friends or colleagues. Facebook, Google, Apple and many of the successful companies bear testament to this fact. So take a good look around you (not necessarily just in college). Choose someone with complementary skills to maximize your chances of success.

– Start Up: This is the most important step. Very few of us actually start working on the idea. Typical excuses are ‘But, will it work?’, ‘But, I still don’t have this, that and this to make it work’, ‘But, I am too busy’ and so on. Essentially, most of us are scared to fail. Once you find yourself going over these thoughts, you are already beaten. Unless you start it up, you will never know whether there is a chance to succeed. Even if you fail, you will learn valuable lessons. In fact, most start-ups fail. All the more reason to get it off ground the soonest and give it your best shot. You can’t succeed unless you at least try to.

India is and will be the hub for a lot of opportunities over the course of this century. The Indian youth could not possibly ask for a better gift. The start-up ecosystem in India has never been so strong. So I believe that it is definitely a good time to give wings to your entrepreneurial dreams.

[box bg=”#fdf78c” color=”#000″]About the author: Mr. Nitesh Chandra, is the Country Manager at EFactor, the world’s largest entrepreneurial community, providing resources that every small business owner needs: funding, knowledge, revenue-gain and cost-saves. Nitesh started his entrepreneurial stint with Inteple, an educational products and services company and then serially founded several startup ventures in Educational Product, Travel, Social Recruitment & Personal Branding as well as Social Networking. For him the excitement of a new startup never wanes as he moves on from project to project lending his expertise and guiding them towards success. At EFactor he joins the team as the Country Manager where he will lend his knowledge to the entrepreneurs on the online networking portal to successfully reach their full potential.[/box]

 

 

Puppet on the fast track

By Ilika Ranjan:

Sometimes it is not about the good winning over the evil, but about evil corroding an existing system so much that it destroys the system.

A lot has been said and written about corporate culture. The book, Puppet on the Fast Track, highlights the real problem of the corporate world – the lack of adept leaders. It is a satire on the leadership of today and a wake up call for all young management students/ professionals, that despite their outstanding educational qualification, they blindly follow what is brought to their table at the place. Very few question the relevance and in turn become puppets on the fast track!

The book narrates a dilemma of a young hardworking professional, who gets subjected to work exploitation due to conniving bosses and manipulative colleagues. Where jargons like ‘learning through trial and error’, ‘perception management’, ‘the art of delegation’ are being aptly used to camouflage devious practices.

The story also highlights the conspiracy against an outstanding leader who decides to quit the organization rather than succumb to negativities of the culture and how his decision is proved correct in the end.

The book satirically refutes the existing dogmas present in companies where human resource is taken for granted. Every employee is subjected to a psychological pressure of molding their personalities the way the seniors deem suitable. To quote few lines from the book

“Forget corporate world, no culture teaches you to change your true self because that is your essence and that is the diversity you bring to the table. No two people are born the same, then why do we endeavour to make their personalities and the way they react the same? It is not their problem but the fault lies with the leaders of today who are encouraging this practice.”

The book also hints at the current notion of putting up a fight in a soiled system. It is imperative that a person is realistic and wise about the environment he/she is working in. Sometime it takes courage to follow your heart and quit the place where it is getting messy. To quote the book

“It is all about how realistic you are. If an earthquake comes and I decide to close my eyes and recite ‘all is well’, I will surely get killed. But if I preempt that an earthquake is possible and I leave the land, I may survive.”

The ending of the book is hard-hitting and bona fide. There is no alternative to hardwork. Every organization requires passionate and skilled resources. Those who manipulate sooner or later pay the prize.

“All the organizations need mavericks and exceptional leaders.

Those who have played a puppet to be fast trackers may last, their designations may grow, but the organization they are corroding may not last.”

The book is a wake up call for the youth of today.

Puppets

By Arastu Zakia:

Example 1:

Fact: Kisan Baburao Hazare went on fast. “Team Anna” demanded that the Jan Lokpal bill be turned into a law.

1) BJP’s view: “The UPA should resign”

2) facebook’s view: “Rahul Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh are responsible for all the corruption in the country. We are with Anna in his fight for the nation”

3) Congress’s view: “______” – No view. They were invisible.

De-puppetize yourself!

Example 2:

Fact: The government accepted that they will forward 3 recommendations of “Team Anna” concerning the lower bureaucracy, Lokayukta and PM to the Standing Committee for consideration

1) Media’s view: “Victory for ‘Team Anna'”

2) facebook’s view: “We won, we won, the people’s revolution prevailed. All hail our hero – Anna”

3) Congress’s view: “We always want the good of the nation”

4) BJP’s view: “_______” – They were invisible

Example 3:

Fact: Kannada actor Darshan was accused by his wife Vijayalakshmi of assaulting and threatening her. She also named actress Nikita Thukral as the main reason for their marital discord.

1) Karnataka Film Producers Association (KFPA)’s view: “Vijayalakshmi should forgive her husband. We are banning Nikita Thukral for three years. If Nikita apologises for her behaviour and says she will just work in films and not get involved in domestic affairs of fellow actors, we will withdraw the ban”

2) Everyone else’s view: (a) “What is ‘Tollywood’?”, (b) “The other woman…hmmmmmm”

Example 4:

Fact: The Supreme Court did not give a verdict on and referred the 2002 Gulbarg Society riots case to a trial court in Ahmedabad

1) Narendra Modi’s view: “God is great”

2) Media’s view: “Breather to Modi. Does this clear his path to the national stage?”

3) BJP’s view: “This proves once again that there is absolutely no evidence against Narendra Modi. He is innocent”

4) facebook’s view: “Once again, pseudo-secularists, NGOs, fake activists, Congressmen and Pakistanis have been taught a lesson as they failed in their efforts to malign the lion of Gujarat. Respected Shri Mahatma Narendra Modi ji, now take over India and turn it into Gujarat. We are with you”

5) Congress’s view: “Modi should resign”

Example 5:

Q: Where does the Indian Mujahideen function papa?

A: On the Internet beta, on the Internet

Now, even depressed jobless boys and children send fake e-mails after an explosion claiming responsibility of the “terrorist attacks”

Example 6 to Example infinity:

No patience or willingness to write any more

___________________________________________________

Its never about reporting news or facts or views. It is just about how to manipulate the psyche of the entire nation’s population and turn them into oblivious, yet passionate puppets to someone else’s vested interests. The way the happenings of the world are portrayed to people can be termed as indoctrination or propaganda or even corruption and terrorism.

‘De-puppetize’ yourselves. Claim ownership of your lives, especially of your heads.

The writer is the Founder of ‘The Difference’, which is an effort by committed youngsters who realize the desire and feel the need to liberate people’s minds and lives from the shackles of stereotypical, irrational thinking, imitative lifestyles and a confined existence because we believe that the root cause of most problems and ironically even the solution lies in — the way we think.

conflict zones

Guest post by Forgotten Diaries, also the winner of the World Summit Youth Award:

It is a little known fact that dozens of wars are currently being waged around the world. Outside of the Middle East, most of these conflicts are shunned by, and receive almost no attention from the media. An even less known fact is that of the vastly untapped potential of young people in these zones and the significant role they can play in peace building.

These two little known facts form the heart of the motivation driving the team of seven hard working young people behind ‘Forgotten Diaries’. Forgotten Diaries (FD) is a project which aims to raise awareness of the dire situation facing over 100 million children and youth living in conflict ridden environments. Their unique and innovative approach involves the use of a dedicated web platform which connects up to five young bloggers from each of 10 ‘forgotten’ conflict zones around the world, allowing them to share their stories and present a human face to each crisis. Kashmir and Pakistan are two of the forgotten conflict zones being covered by the project and youth bloggers from these zones regularly provide updates through FD’s online platform.

FD project manager Anush Hayrapetyan said “We often underestimate how powerful the internet is and the potential it has to really bring attention to significant problems all over the world which are being missed by the mainstream media”.

However, even more innovative and exciting has been their ability to empower young people to take an active role in community and peace building, highlighting the enormous potential young people play in shaping the otherwise dire futures of many of these areas. Following online training on project development and online media, Forgotten Diaries issued grants to five of its participants to begin community projects.

The results have been highly successful. 26 year old Ogaga Maxwell, a Forgotten Diaries participant from the Niger Delta began a unique program called ‘Sports Skills for Peace’ which uses sport as a basis to bring together school children and train them about peace building, conflict resolution and management. Amare Abebaw, a participant from Ethiopia believes that the roots to peace building between communities lie in basic conflict resolution skills. Amare’s project ‘the Teenage Peace Brigades’ aims to informally teach school students about the importance of tolerance and various conflict resolution skills.

Nine new youth led projects were supported just last month including one in Pakistan which will include a one day workshop on peace, non-violence and tolerance for youth at risk of being recruited into terrorist groups in Peshawar in Northern Pakistan. Another project close to India is a series of youth theatre productions in Nepal used to educate children about peace and non-violence, something almost alien after years of experiencing Maoist activity.

FD’s development manager Shasheen Jayaweera says “Forgotten Diaries also empowers young people in conflict zones by helping them build the skills they need to develop community peace building projects which help thousands of people”.

Conflict resolution is complex, challenging, and costly, and even the world’s top diplomats and politicians struggle endlessly in pursuit of peace. However, many of the world’s conflicts share some key elements including a lack of tolerance, understanding, empathy and humanity by many of their perpetrators. Forgotten Diaries, with the support of the ArtAction foundation has aimed to tackle these fundamental characteristics by attempting to engrain such values in tomorrow’s generations.

Forgotten Diaries founder, Selene Biffi says “young people are often portrayed as the problem, but we see them as the solution to building peace from the grass-roots up, and have proven this through Forgotten Diaries – all that is needed is for us to empower youth, and to help them achieve their dreams”.

FD was started in 2008 and is run by a dedicated team of young volunteers from around the world. FD has already received tens of thousands of visits and won praise from organizations including the Pulitzer Centre, Oxfam and Microsoft.

How you can get involved: There are a number of ways to get involved. FD aims to raise awareness of forgotten conflict zones and you can help by spreading the word about FD, sharing the link to FD’s documentary or joining their facebook group. FD also aims to create a conversation between youth in forgotten conflict zones and  youth around the world to help more people understand conflict zones and get involved — you can contribute to FD’s blogs by posting a comment too — visit www.forgottendiaires.org. FD will soon also be recruiting more bloggers from India — join our mailing list online to keep up to date! You can email us at [email protected].

Forgotten Diaries is a project of Youth Action for Change

Written by Dickson Popoola
Edited by Omolola Famuyiwa

In general, “media” simply means the various means of communication. For example, the Radio, Television, Newspapers & Magazines and the Internet are different types of media. The term can also be used as a collective noun for the press or news reporting agencies. In the computer world, the term refers to the different types of data storage options. Understanding what the media is will help us to relate the term “media” with the youths to fully understand the problems and developments faced in today’s world as it concerns the youth and media. Youth according to the United Nations is the age between 15 and 25 but here I would stretch my coverage area to children.

Let me jump in on it, the media casts youth in a constant bad light and habitually portray the youths in an overwhelming negative image. The press has minimal youth representation, a chunk of press stories involve young people committing or associated with crimes. We have heard gory tales of teenagers killing a police officer, a teenage boy assassinating his parents, young people threatening school massacre etc. Interestingly, the media have a seemingly direct influence on the results of youth violence; many of these crimes has been traced to the influence of songs with heavy lyrical contents, negative adverts, negative religious values portrayed within the media etc.

So many negative media images have featured suffering and dying children in poor parts of Africa, tragedy images from political conflicts, pandemics and natural disasters have featured children. The relationship between the children and the media goes a long way in realizing the child’s right to identity, dignity and self-respect. The media should and have the ability to report positively on young people, identify and celebrate our achievements and not focus on horrible pictures of malnourished naked children… The youths need to be represented fairly.

The generation of young people really needs information in all aspects of the media; we need to find ways to promote our own active participation in the media and media development. We the young minds need to learn as much as we can about the media in order to make right choices as media consumers so as to maximize our potential and open ourselves up for optimum benefit. The government also plays a key role in how we should be represented. We should be seen as potential clients rather than bothersome consumers. The young people are real investments; if only the government could see that we are less expensive as educated and nationally conscientious than as radicals or criminals.

We need to play an important role in making a significant impact in the society. To achieve this, we need to understand the issues affecting us and the proper way to communicate these issues to the necessary authorities. In Nigeria for example, the young people are being deprived of their rights to good education, to good health and basic needs. To become critical thinkers, we need to be more creative. To become tomorrow’s leaders, we need to be empowered and catered for. The youths should be represented in all areas adequately. Report about young people should be in a fair and accurate manner as they do to other groups. The image of young people engaged in anti-social activity, violent outbursts, unreasonable behaviour, crime and drug abuse has become a favourite of the press as it generates strong feelings of moral outrage and antagonism but this should be stopped. Instead, young people’s innovations and inventions should be made known through the media.

The body governing broadcast in Nigeria, National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) should look seriously into the adequacy and appropriateness of programmes and programming for young people. The days of cartoon and musical fillers especially those with violence (e.g. Tom & Jerry) and immoral language, should be gone for good. Local content should be encouraged and the percentage decided by NBC should be enforced. When the media start paying fines for not providing adequate and appropriate content; the stakeholders will sit up tight and do what is right.

The theme for the International Children’s Day of Broadcasting (ICDB) this year is, “All Rights, All Children.” Hence quality content should not only be tailored to the children of the rich or educated. Giving those who do not know any better programmes of low quality only further enmesh them in their current state. Giving all young people quality, adequate and appropriate programmes at the time they are available to watch will develop young people towards becoming wholesome citizens.

There is need for we young people to change our “siddon look” attitude. You have a right to complain about the programmes you see on air or the columns labeled for children in the papers or on the internet if you feel uneasy about the content, quality, language etc. The more letters we write, the more calls we make, the more visits to the General Managers would make those in charge see that we are stakeholders who know our rights and are ready to stand up for those rights. Plus the better the quality of the programmes, the more likely sponsors and advertisers would come on board to keep the programmes alive and the more children would have access to participate in media.

It is a shame that parents who were once young vote against sponsorship of children’s programmes. Kudos to companies that advertise on children’s pages, programmes, magazines. We celebrate you! You are the reason young people are being educated, informed, entertained. For the others still sitting on the fence; don’t wait till it becomes illegal not to have a chunk of your advertising budget devoted to children and youths.

In conclusion, publishing and airing the right things at the right time and getting a media system that supports media makers so they can do what they do best: create media that reflect real people would work best. It is believed that fewer people listen to the children and young people yet, we have revealing insights to offer adults and the public. We the young people should be approached by key media players to give opinions and also to share our views on issues affecting the populace globally.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) should be promoted and accessible to young people so they are well informed about their rights and determine ways to contribute to the fulfillment of these rights and carry out responsibilities attached to these rights. There should be proper media education especially about development in new media technologies and products and also for the protection of harmful media contents which is really an important factor. The role the media plays in the lives of the young people necessitates that media literacy should be part of the school curriculum.

We the young people are represented in the media in various ways through the mass media. There is a need for the young minds to be heard and the role of the young people in making huge contributions to the development of the society at large should be celebrated. We need to encourage a media that ensures young people are given the chance to comment on issues affecting them; to avoid repeated words like “yobs”, “thugs”, “criminals”, “bullies”; and to recognize that most young people are disciplined, law abiding citizens that are against crimes and more interested in becoming good leaders.

Dickson Popoola is a volunteer columnist for willows magazine and a guest columnist at Youth Ki Awaaz from Nigeria. He has recently been invited to the 5th World Youth Congress, Istanbul, Turkey and is one of the few selected young leaders representing his country at the international stage.

by Aygul Hanova, Kyrgyzstan

Central Asia is not just a post-Soviet area; it is a region where people are bound by similar cultural values and historical experience.  The five countries of Central Asia are like brothers from a single family, yet each of them has its own lifestyle and character.  Some of those countries are capable of independent and rapid development, whereas others have become dependent on the external aid to sustain their living.  In this regard the brotherhood fails:  traditions in Central Asian families value respect of siblings towards each other and there must be support of one another.  Unfortunately, CA is made up of countries which understand independence literally and hence act independent of their closest neighbors, disregarding the fact that together they could have achieved more.

I was born and raised in Turkmenistan and Turkmen by origin. Outside of the country I feel responsible for representing not Turkmenistan solely, but I feel that I am a Central Asian and I can speak for the region as a whole.  Living and studying for 4 years outside of my homeland, here in Kyrgyzstan I have become friends with students coming from CA and outside.  With them and owing to them, my vision of Central Asia has changed and now I believe that even if our brotherhood fails on a higher level among politicians, the people and the younger generation is able to unite and integrate.  We feel the pride and happiness of each other, moreover we share the times of sorrow and feel each others’ pain.

This year for Kyrgyzstan has become crucial.  The turmoil which took place in Bishkek, April 7th this year, has become the milestone for the events that appeared in Southern Kyrgyzstan recently.  Local citizens believed that overthrowing the government and replacing it with the left wing leaders will change the future of Kyrgyzstan and speed up achievement of anticipated democracy.  Unfortunately, this struggle not only impinged on political and economic stability, moreover it took away lives of the people who strived for the democracy.  The lack of tolerance and unawareness of how they can improve their living became the push factors for turmoil in Osh and Jalalabad (South KG).  We are still left clueless what has become the real cause of the destructions in the South.  Here even the opinions of the official sources vary: it was either a small ethnic conflict that amplified into a massive revolution or it was a revenge of the overthrown government to show that they still have power.  The reason is undefined.  The result is shocking.  According to the media there has been around 200 dead, yet they have failed to count the dead corps that could not have been picked up because people were afraid to be shot and killed.  In fact, there is more than 1000 dead.  The international community is doing its best to assist the country in its recovery and to provide help for the refugees that flee to Uzbekistan.

Out in periphery of these events, here in Bishkek every resident feels the pain and grief.  The current government calls us to help the people in the South with food and necessary items.  Benevolently, a number of families in Bishkek are hosting the refugees from the South.  Citizens of Kyrgyzstan are compassionate, yet this has become a solid ground to arm themselves and fight for their interests.  The ongoing struggle for democracy leaves us all with question whether all the killings and damages of the resistance make that long awaited democracy worth endeavoring.  Peace and stability should become foremost and make the development of the country sustainable.  Whether this is realized or not: one shall see in the events that proceed.  All we can hope is to raise awareness and tolerance.

Aygul Hanova is a Guest Columnist at Youth Ki Awaaz from Kyrgyzstan. She has recently been invited to the 5th World Youth Congress, Istanbul, Turkey and is one of the few selected young leaders representing her country at the international stage.

image: A government supporter in front of a barricade of riot police shields tries to stop protesters from storming the government compound on a central square in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. (AP Photo/Gleb Shchelkunov, Izvestia) source: http://www.cbc.ca/news/photogalleries/kyrgyzstan/pages/13.html

The value of a country is assessed not by the riches or assets it possesses, but by its people. A nation may be wealthy, but what’s more important than the actual wealth is the collective intellect and intelligence of the people who contributed towards earning that wealth. As you can see from this, wealthy nations can go to ruin if their newer generations are unable to keep pace with their forefathers and drive innovation and growth, and developing nations can boost their welfare with insightful planning and an enthusiastic youth.

The youth of a nation determine how it shapes up a few years into the future; they are the future of the country, and their actions and inaction both contribute to the state of the nation. In developing and promising countries like India, the youth of the nation can contribute to its growth by:

  • Exercising their franchise: India is proud of the fact that she is the world’s largest democracy, but if the country has to be governed properly, it has be done by people who are responsible and who don’t abuse their positions of power for their own betterment instead of helping to better the nation. When the youth of a nation realize the value of good governance, they ensure that they vote for the people who they believe can make a difference to the nation’s prosperity and future. By exercising their franchise and encouraging their peers to do so too, they also prevent their votes from being misused by political parties who wish to win by hook or by crook.
  • Bringing in positive change: India is plagued by various social ills like corruption at the highest levels. Politicians and bureaucrats wind so much red tape around simple processes that they complicate them and make it impossible for progress to take place. The youth of the country can use their education to battle these problems that plague their country — they can fight corruption, bribes and every other social ill that keeps a nation down and prevents it from progressing at the speed it should.
  • Using their education for the good of the country: Countries develop and become better when more of their youth are educated, and when this education is used for the greater good of the nation. India is leaping ahead of most other nations in terms of infrastructure and opportunities, but the basic mindset of the people is yet to change. They still don’t know how to adhere to basic societal propriety like following traffic rules or keeping to a queue and waiting their turn. They must strive to get people to follow their lead instead of following herd mentality and joining the majority.

If the youth of a country are educated and willing to go the extra mile to effect positive change, miracles can happen.

This guest post is contributed by Kathy Wilson, who writes on the topic of X-Ray Tech Schools . She welcomes your comments at her email id: [email protected]

Teresa Jackson:

Ah, how great a feeling it is to be young, because with youth comes vigor, a zest for life, and naturally good health. But the downside of youth is its folly, the stupidity that prevents us from realizing how precious and transient this gift of being young is. And so we squander it on a hedonistic lifestyle that does not bode well for middle and old age. We throw away the gift of good health, little realizing that once it has gone, health hardly ever comes back. In short, the youth of today are a careless lot when it comes to health and fitness.

The reasons for this are manifold, but the chief villain is technology — it has made our lives so much easier and much more convenient that we hardly have to lift a finger to do things. We spend most of our time either on the Internet or on the phone because we cannot do without either today. And if not these gadgets, then it’s one of the many others that have proliferated into our world. This makes us lead sedentary lifestyles; we are glued to our television and computer screens and do not feel the need to exercise. This makes us overweight, and disease follows as a natural consequence.

The other reason why youngsters neglect their health and fitness is that they are so caught up in their present lives that they fail to plan for the future. Just as it is important to be financially savvy and save money for a rainy day, it’s also necessary to add value to the asset of health using fitness, exercise and diet as interest-earning investments. But because they’re so focused on their lessons, friends and social life, they fail to eat right and exercise regularly. Fast food, late nights, booze parties, smoking and doing drugs — they’re all considered a natural part of youth, and most teenagers join the bandwagon because they fear being left behind by their peers.

The problem with neglecting health when you’re young is that it comes back to bite you as you grow older. Your body takes a beating and by the time you get around to doing something about your health, it’s often too late to regain the sheen and gloss of youth. You become obese, your internal organs are worn out because they’ve worked overtime to cleanse your body from all the toxins that you’ve ingested over the years, and your mental health starts to deteriorate as well because you’re so used to technology that you stop thinking for yourself.

The only way to harness the power of youth and use it as a lever to vault into middle age hale and healthy is to eat right, exercise both your body and mind regularly, and avoid cigarettes, booze and drugs.

____________________________________________________

Teresa Jackson writes on the subject of OnlineNursePractitionerSchools . She invites your questions, comments at her email address : [email protected]

The BBMP (Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike) elections are here finally! Get ready to elect your Ward Corporator on coming Sunday – 28th March 2010, and play your role in improving the governance in Bangalore.

Janaagraha’s Jaagte Raho! campaign has teamed up with CommonFloor to ensure all residents of Bangalore go out and vote for these all important elections, which will affect our quality of lives on a day-to-day basis!

Click here to take the pledge to vote now!!!

In order to vote in these elections, your name must be on the voter’s list.

  • If you were registered to vote for 2009 Loksabha elections, check the voter list click here.
  • If you registered recently (after May 2009), check the latest supplement at the office of your Revenue Officer (RO). Click here for to find the address.

Please remember that your name must be on the voter list for you to cast your vote whether you have a voter ID card or not. If you haven’t been issued a voter ID card, you can vote with any other valid photo ID card.

In case you wish to BE THE CHANGE, you can run an effective door-to-door campaign in your own society / neighbourhood, and ensure that all your neighbours go out and vote in these elections!

Download our guide to organize a neighbourhood door-to-door drive.

To know more about your candidates, click here to check the affidavit details (education, assets, criminal records) of the candidates contesting from your ward. You can also be a part of the following “Know Your Candidate” events being held across Bangalore:

Ward 7- Byataranayapura

Date and Time: March 23 (Tue), 4:30pm

Venue: Vinayaka Sunrise School, Coffee Board Layout, Near MK Ahmed Stores, Kempapura.

Ward: 112-Domlur

Date and Time: March 24 (Wed), 4:30pm

Venue: Domlur club, Domlur

Ward: 34-Gangenahalli

Date and Time: March 24 (Wed), 5pm

Venue: Staff institute, DGQA Residential Complex near Para School, Mekhri School,Opp. HQ training command, airforce, Bangalore- 560032

Ward 6: Thanisandra

Date and Time: March 24 (Wed), 4:30pm

Venue:Kenneth George English School, Bhuvaneshwari Nagar.

To volunteer with Jaagte Raho! campaign or for further details, call at (080) 41277105.

Hari Batti from the Green Light Dhaba writes a guest post at Youth Ki Awaaz
“It’s the traders,” says the CPI (M).
“Blame the government,” say the business page columnists.

“Blame Congress,” says the BJP.

“It’s the states,” says the Minister of Agriculture.

“My ma’am says it’s corruption,” the DU student standing next to me on the bus tells her friend.

“It’s the Commonwealth Games,” says the Delhi autowalla, though he concedes a moment later that prices are rising in the villages as well.
It seems that everyone is talking about inflation these days, which isn’t surprising, since rising prices affect us all.  And with overall food inflation running at something like 20 percent, there’s a lot to talk about.
Nearly everyone has their own theory for why this happening. Most of the explanations I’ve heard are partly right– but they all downplay one very important factor: at it’s root, this round of inflation has been made possible by an environmental crisis that only stands to get worse in coming years. And if we don’t do something soon to address it, we will be in very deep trouble.
Today I’m here to tell you simply why this is happening, and what needs to be done. That sounds easier than it is, because inflation, and the statistics we to measure it, are actually tricky beasts. I thought I’d try to be funny AND simple at the same time, but I just couldn’t manage that.  Inflation is NOT funny!  But hold on tight, and I think you will find it’s not as boring as you thought either.
I’m not going to go into all the ways economists and reporters try to measure inflation and how all those methods are flawed. That’s not needed.  But a little terminology is helpful.  Sometimes the papers report something called a “wholesale price index” or WPI, which attempts to measure changes in the prices wholesalers pay. Sometimes the papers report the “consumer price index” or CPI, which attempts to measure changes in the prices “typical” consumers pay for the goods they buy in the retail market.
Whether you look at CPI or WPI actually matters for several reasons. One is the fact that the WPI puts less statistical weight on food prices than the CPI.  And since everyone knows food prices are what has been going up recently (as opposed to fuel prices, which have remained mostly flat over the past year), inflation doesn’t look so bad when you look at the WPI.  You can learn more about this in an article in The Hindu, here.  But the important thing to note is that, when it comes to inflation, numbers can be deceiving.
Inflation is tricky for another reason: it can be caused by a great number of things, many of which you cannot see!  If the government prints too much money, for example, inflation will happen.  If foreign investors pull their money out of a country’s economy suddenly, the value of that country’s currency will fall and inflation will result, because it will take more local currency to buy things (like oil) on the international market.  These monetary factors are important in some instances, but they are not the primary cause of our most recent round price rises.
Inflation can also happen when the price of key commodities rises. A spike in the price of ipods or toaster ovens is unlikely to affect other prices, but a jump in food prices affects the whole economy, because everyone needs to eat. If a lot of workers get raises to compensate for higher food prices, that puts upward pressure on the price of the goods and services those workers produce.  On the other hand, if workers don’t get raises, they will cut back on their own consumption of things other than food, which will depress economic activity.
A rise in oil and energy prices will also affect almost everything else.  This is because so much of our economy depends on oil.  For example, making and transporting fertilizer is energy intensive, so more costly energy prices will affect food prices at their source.  Similarly, the cost of manufactured goods jump when oil prices rise because most factories run on oil. Of course transportation costs also rise with oil prices, because it takes diesel fuel to haul food and other goods all over the country.
As noted above, fuel prices have been mostly flat for the last year; they are not the cause of our current inflation.  But our growing dependence on fossil fuels to run our economy means that when oil prices rise again, as we know they will, we will see nasty, persistent inflation, just as we did in 2008, before the world market collapsed and international oil prices plunged. (If we aren’t careful, we will also see a drop in agricultural output, as farmers will find it more and more difficult to buy the fertilizers they have become dependent on–but let’s save that discussion for another day).
So if fuel and energy prices aren’t to blame for the inflation we are seeing now, why have food prices risen so much recently?  In fact, it’s a combination of things: middlemen continue to manipulate the food distribution system at the expense of farmers and consumers; speculative traders are almost certainly holding back food stuffs in anticipation of higher prices later; and the central and state governments have not been as effective as they should be in getting food stored in better years into the market.
But underlying all these things is something else: our agricultural production has been hit hard this year by extreme weather. Most analysts predict an 8-10%  decline in foodgrain production this year, provided the rabi crop is the same as last year’s.
Everyone knows this, and almost everyone mentions it in passing–how could they not?  We all know that our rains were horrible this year, and then there was widespread flooding in the south.  But weather tends to find itself above criticism, and who wants to let the bad guys off the hook because they couldn’t manage one poor harvest?
The critics of both private traders and government are right: a healthy food storage and distribution system should be able to absorb a downturn in food production…for a year or two…or even five!  Unfortunately, extreme weather is exactly what we can expect to happen more and more often as the earth’s climate changes.  And no matter how efficient our food storage and distribution system is, it won’t solve the problem of long term drop in agricultural output.   This dynamic is something we detailed at the Green Light Dhaba way back in October in “The 10,000 Year Flood and Other Fairy Tales: a realistic look at India’s extreme weather.”
So what needs to be done?  I don’t have all the answers, but it should be obvious that we need to take our long-term food security more seriously.  If we don’t, we may be find ourselves worrying about a word that is considerably uglier than inflation: famine.
We can start by taking the billion dollars or more that we are currently spending on our space program and using it for more useful things.  India doesn’t really need a base on the moon or a space ship for space tourists.We need to point our best brains in other directions: the search for sustainable energy sources and agriculture that is drought and flood resistant. Without power or farms, what good is a ticket to the moon? It won’t pump our water; it won’t feed our families.
Of course we need to clean up our existing food storage and distribution systems.  That will be a a very big, complicated job.  In Delhi, we are spending a huge amount of energy and money on the upcoming Commonwealth Games.  Is that effort distracting us from more important things?  Maybe we need to rethink our priorities.  While we’re at it, we should reconsider our military spending. Yes, our armed forces need to be able to defend our borders and protect us from terrorism; but we need to de-prioritize big budget programs like nuclear weapons and high-tech bombers, since, as I’ve said before, these programs are more about national pride than national protection.
Finally, we need to shame the US and other European countries into taking meaningful action on climate change. Copenhagen was a fiasco, in part because our leadership’s main priority was to maintain cozy relationships with the West while protecting our right to business-as-usual development. That approach won’t work.
With rising fuel prices and more frequent extreme weather in the long range forecast (not to mention falling water tables and melting glaciers), food security will be the biggest challenge India faces in the coming decades.  We cannot afford to wait for a famine to figure this out.  It’s time we face facts and get to work.
Hari Batti writes for the  Green Light Dhaba, which serves up fresh green thinking every Tuesday and Thursday from Delhi. Hari Batti says, “If we’re not pissing someone off, we’re not doing our job. Come join us sometime! Talk is cheap and we’re a dhaba, so there is plenty to go around.”

Drop in a comment below or mail us at [email protected], you can also tweet us at @YouthKiAwaaz.

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Supporters: SaveLife Foundation

Guest post by Tamara Lucas Copeland, President, Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers

With job losses, home foreclosures and other symptoms of the recession taking a stern toll in the Washington area, grantmakers in the region have worked hard to support efforts by nonprofits to help families ride out the storm.

But grantmakers have learned a lesson from this recession, one they won’t soon forget: they need long-term strategies aimed at achieving true systemic reform—not just short-term projects that fix symptoms, but “big change” to fix big problems. Doing that requires that they mobilize the full scope of their assets—not just their dollars, but their unique capacity to bring people together to share ideas and marshal their resources.

A recent survey of Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers members confirms that local philanthropies have taken a hit during the recession, not surprising given that their investments were rocked when the bottom fell out of the stock market. They’ve had to reduce their grants this year as a result, and they expect to do even more of that next year.

Even with all that working against them, grantmakers have begun to implement a new style of giving, one that takes dead aim at the causes behind deeply rooted problems. Such grantmaking is the subject of Washington Grantmakers’ new report, Beyond Dollars: Investing in Big Change: How Washington Area Grantmakers Are Creating Lasting Impact. Focusing on a series of case studies, the report identifies four distinct elements of grantmaking that goes “beyond dollars” to achieve big change:

* Capitalizing on timing and momentum. By coordinating local and regional action with national initiatives, timing action to coincide with groundswells of public sentiment or moments of crisis, grantmakers are translating a vision for change into on-the-ground progress.
* Being a strong voice for change. By creating a platform for affected communities to engage in the policy dialogue, and sharing information with the media, policymakers and others, grantmakers are creating energy to drive change.
* Leveraging key resources. By supporting research, combining their knowledge and experience, and using their dollars to open the door to national and government funding sources, local grantmakers are creating the building blocks for change.
* Building true partnerships. By bringing organizations and individuals together in new collaborations, grantmakers are strengthening the agents of change.

Put into action in recent years, those strategies have made a real difference in the lives of our neighbors in the Washington area. For instance, as The Community Foundation’s September 11 Survivors’ Fund accumulated $25 million from more than 12,000 donors, foundation leaders asked: what will it truly take to help people heal? The Fund locked arms with Northern Virginia Family Service to pursue a case management approach. The two organizations’ intensive, seven-year partnership resulted in a model system of care–case management combined with financial support–which proved better at addressing complex long-term needs than “quick distribution” approaches.

Despite the recession, local funders are continuing such transformational grantmaking. Building on its continuing commitment to direct services, The Community Foundation’s Neighbors in Need Montgomery Fund recently announced support for a new systemic approach to delivering emergency services in isolated neighborhoods in Montgomery County to ensure services are reaching those who most need them. A partnership between IMPACT Silver Spring and the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services, the Neighbors Campaign hopes to leverage other community resources to sustain long-term recovery for those in crisis; create a new, sustainable network of mutual support in isolated neighborhoods and increase the number of people embarking or staying on a path toward secure employment and greater economic empowerment. Later this month, The Community Foundation will announce a new round of Neighbors in Need grants aimed at strengthening the safety-net infrastructure and system through which safety-net services are provided.

Grantmakers are continuing to provide dollars to feed the hungry and provide medical care for the poor, and in countless other ways to care for those in need. But they’re also taking aim at the broader causes of such problems, using all the tools available to them. The saying goes that if you give a hungry person a fish they’ll eat for a day, but if you teach them to fish, they’ll eat for a lifetime. What grantmakers are beginning to do is more akin to restocking the river with sustainable species of fish! Such strategic grantmaking is where foundations are headed, indeed, where they absolutely must go. The recession won’t prevent that. In fact, it makes the transition all the more imperative.

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Jessica Martin

Fifteen years ago, my mailman would bring me letters that bulged, not junk mail filled with pamphlets or bills for services provided, but actual letters from my friends and family that were chock full of news and gossip and that ran to several pages. Today, I have more friends than ever before (234 to be exact if I were to go by Facebook’s count), but I never receive a single letter.

Rather, I am poked, scrapped and pinged, and if you’re shocked at this, it means you haven’t yet let technology take over your life.

They’re everywhere you go; it’s like an invasion that continues to increase in intensity with each passing day; and it threatens to deluge us unless we know how to master them. We live and breathe technology today; we don’t go anywhere without our mobile phones, iPods, notebook computers, netbooks, and various other gizmos and gadgets. By the time we figure out how to use one, we are bombarded with ten more that are more sophisticated and snazzy. And obsolete is a word that takes months now instead of years as it did a few years ago.

While it is true that technology has brought us a host of benefits, we must also acknowledge the fact that it has made us more machine-like and less human. Instead of person to person communication, we talk through our computers and gadgets. We send email and instant messages to talk to people who are barely five feet away from us; we use social networks to stay in touch with friends who live next door; and we send virtual hugs and kisses to random strangers who are our “friends” because we’re too hooked to our computers and our online lives.

Besides this, we have lost the capacity to think for ourselves and remember information. With contact lists and automatic reminders, we don’t remember phone numbers and birthdays like we used to. And with less work for our brains, our neurons become dull and their connection becomes weak. We become dull patsies who are mere shadows of our former selves, and we have technology alone to blame for this.

In the quest for faster, smaller and sleeker, we have lost our innate humanness and become more bits and bytes than flesh and blood. We have reached a stage where we are addicted to technology and cannot go back to a world without it, even though we did get along really well a few decades ago with less of it than exists now. Yes, it’s true that the Internet has revolutionized communication in ways we would never have dreamed of twenty years ago, but ironically, it has made us drift further apart even while bringing us closer to each other.

In a world where you are online 24×7, we begin to hide from “friends” by going invisible, we ignore calls on our mobiles when we see certain numbers, and we filter content for certain friends even as we pretend to be one big happy social family on Facebook. Technology has done wonders for us, but sad to say, it has also made us two-faced and less capable that we were before.

Jessica Martin has contributed this guest post, she writes on the topic of x ray tech schools. She welcomes your comments in the comments section below or at her email address: [email protected]

image source: http://www.watblog.com/
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Dr. Ajay Gupta
Founder and CEORuralNaukri.com

Ruralnaukri.com was started in 2001 with the intent of linking professionals in Agri and rural to the growing opportunities in this domain. In this article I shall try to present some of the learnings that I have had during the course of pursuing this venture over last eight years.

Any idea, not converted into action is like abortion of a treasury. However, route to the treasure is rather painful, irrespective of the potential in the idea and key lies in sustaining this period while one encounters many negatives and only few favourable developments.

Several thoughts and comments evoke during this period and many tend to conclude that there was an error in assessing business potential of the proposal being pursued. Hence, there is a tendency to shift to some other opportunity that may look more attractive. Our experience has been no different. Thus, based on my limited experience, I have realized that while one may modify the proposal but not give it up. There are always ways and means available that come up on their own once hard thinking is persistently applied at instead of an accompanying option to withdraw from it. Another important learning has been to de-link the efforts and rewards. There are many efforts which may pay off after five years. All put together, realization has also come that ultimately no effort has gone waste. One may try for getting ‘X’ result. ‘X’ may never accrue but ‘Y’ may come your way now or later. Ultimately, each effort can be taken as an additional brick put on the building under construction. The house will be complete only when thousands of bricks shall be placed. Its like the jigsaw puzzle when several pieces put together brings image of an animal. While you keep putting and reorganizing, you are unable to see the full picture till the time you reach a fairly advanced stage. Ability to keep working without directly relating with results is a must to be able to fulfill your dream of becoming an entrepreneur. The law of averages quite applies in business. You may not succeed in first twenty attempts or in first two years. But you won’t say after ten years that you have tried your best and nothing came your way. Hence, ruralnaukri has taught me and continues to be a tutor that it is persistence that pays.

Another good thing that we did from beginning was to keep expenses at its lowest. Hence, the real loss on monthly basis was salary foregone plus minimum expenses. Many entrepreneurs may make the mistake of investing heavily in infrastructure or advertisement etc. For a small businessman who operates from minimal budget, one should spend like a miser. Show off has never paid and therefore it makes sense to show what you are instead of spending on first opportunity to leave a false image.

Lastly, I realized that modesty pays. Instead of claiming to be in big business to influence your prospective clients, it may make sense to mention that you are new; you are in learning phase, in the process of making an effort and will try to provide your best. Clients tend to respect your honesty and would rather bet on such an individual rather than someone who claims to wear a suit larger than his size.

Having worked for 15 years prior to starting on my own, my impressions about one’s own enterprise has been extremely satisfying. Lastly, I would like to mention that my views are mine and someone else may think diagrammatically opposite and he may be right too. If there is one thumb rule, it is that you need to go ahead with an idea that you have complete faith in and not because someone else suggested that. Your conviction will bring about your passion, your discipline to pursue the difficult times and unleash your energies to achieve what you set for yourself. You can’t afford to live on someone else’s belief, while he very well can. Fire in your belly is ESSENTIAL.

About Dr. Ajay Gupta and ruralnaukri.com

ruralnaukri.com was launched in late 2001 by Rural Management Consultants Private Limited (RMCPL). ruralnaukri.com addresses the need of providing a meeting platform exclusively for the employers and employees of Agribusiness, Rural Marketing, Retail and Development sector.

Besides online placement, RMCPL also takes up offline placement services. Under offline services, based on the job specs, RMCPL browses its database of employees and undertakes an advanced shortlisting process through detailed personal or telephonic interview of candidates. Our experience, understanding and networking in this specialized sector permits time economy in reaching to right talent. [Read more…]

Visit Rural Naukri at http://www.ruralnaukri.com

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Read on as Sramana Mitra, an author, a blogger, an entrepreneur and a strategy consultant in Silicon Valley, writes an open letter to the youth, in this guest post at Youth Ki Awaaz.

I received an email a few weeks back from a Junior Year Undergraduate from an Indian institute. He asks the question: “What’s next for India? What should we, the youth, do?” First, let me thank you for asking the question. It delights me to see that you are asking the right question. It makes my journalism efforts worthwhile. In this piece, I will attempt to address the question, and we can also discuss the issues at length here.

You see, the India I grew up in was not an India of opportunities. We had to leave the country to access opportunities. Your India is a different India. Opportunities are and will continue to be much greater in India, than in the US or Europe.

With that backdrop, I would encourage you to think of the India that you want to build, given that you are entering the workforce at a point where the basic platform is ready. You have the world’s attention as one of the two greatest consumer markets of the 21st century. You have a financial system that is ready to support high momentum growth and building of new enterprises with an openness unknown to prior generations.

Your India is brimming with optimism. Take advantage of that mindset.

Your India is also full of problems. Solve them.

Your India, I believe, needs to be an entrepreneurs’ India. Your generation will need to rise above the risk-averse tendencies of your previous generations. They have been satisfied with too little. You can do much more.

So, my number one advice to you is that you need to change your expectations from “getting a job” to “finding a platform for doing your life’s work.”

You, the best, the brightest, and the most fortunate of India’s youth, need to reach for bigger goals.

So what could be some of those goals?

To answer that question, look at the problems that are pretty much staring us in the face.

India’s supply chain is a disaster. Amidst rampant urbanization, India’s cities are bursting, fuming, overflowing.

If the Bay of Bengal or the Arabian Sea rises a few inches due to global warming, could it wash over your precious institute?

Water is fast becoming a crisis, and India will need to figure out how to meet the population’s drinkable water needs, as well as the water needs for growing crops and livestock.

You, new engineers, need to build a road system, a port system, and an air-transit system that scales with India’s growth ambitions. You will also need to build cars that do not pollute. You will need to find alternative sources of energy, including solar, wind, and nuclear.

You will need to design food processing techniques, build affordable and energy-efficient housing, formulate new drugs using computational biology models. Whether it is in curing cancer or Alzheimers, you have a role to play.

And yes, you will also need to design software, hardware, chips, and information systems.

So why did I put IT as an afterthought to what all you need to achieve?

Because, in the last decade, IT has sucked all other engineering disciplines dry of their best minds. Even the IIT Civil Engineers and Mechanical Engineers are writing low-level software for Oracle or IBM. If you continue at this rate, none of the other major disciplines will get their rightful share of leadership that is your responsibility to provide.

Another reason is to underscore the need of IT to support all the other disciplines. Today, many of the opportunities for innovation and entrepreneurship are at the cusps of different disciplines. Biology and Computer Science. Design and Manufacturing. Technology and Education. Software and Entertainment. Architecture and Materials.

My alma mater, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has put a huge emphasis on interdisciplinary programs at the cusps of various departments. Yours needs to do the same.

At the end of the day, if you seize the opportunities, take the risks, and not get complacent with the fact that some multinational is willing to pay you 15-20 Lakhs a year right out of college, there is no limit to how much money you can make.

And let me be very clear: you can and should plan on making huge fortunes. There is a venture capital industry coming together in India to support your wealth creation journey.

But, remember, risk and reward have a direct correlation. And, to reap the rewards, you have to learn to build. Build products. Build companies. And finally, Build fortunes.

In the short term, as you step out of the institute, look for the best employment opportunities that will teach you to build. Not only build products, but build yourselves.

And if managers and recruiters try to “buy” you for a few extra lakhs, be sure to remember that your end-game is to have a much grander scale of impact than what they ever dared to aspire for.

Good luck!

[ps. Please read my Vision India 2020 series for further ideas on what to build and how.]

PETA Foundation

If you put the va-va-voom in vegetarianism, then petaDishoom is looking for you. It’s time again for their annual Cutest Vegetarian Alive contest, and they need to hear from guys and girls between the ages of 18 and 25.

You can visit petaDishoom.com to submit your entry, including a brief bio that includes your name and age, where you’re from and the scoop on why you went vegetarian, along with a photo of your fine self.
petaDishoom will select 20 foxy finalists — 10 guys and 10 girls — and give their users the final say in a vote to crown the veggie king and queen.
Hurry up and enter today–the nominations round ends 15 September 2009. Click here to participate


The below guest post by Global March Against Child Labour tells Youth Ki Awaaz about how child labourers are used in the cosmetic industry.

New Delhi — 21st July, 2009. An investigation by the Sunday Times (http://go.youthkiawaaz.com/clj) has today exposed on 19th July, 09 that children as young as 6-8 yrs. are working in mica mines in Jharkhand and Bihar, collecting mica for export all over the world in the cosmetics industry. The investigations revealed that thousands of children are involved in illegal collection of mica from the soil, which is being exported to major brand including Merck KGaA, the German based pharmaceutical co., which further supplies this mica to some of the biggest names in the cosmetics industry.

Bachpan Bachao Andolan(BBA), Global March Against Child Labour Core Partner an organisation working in the area to provide access to education to children has been responsible for opening of several schools and rescue and withdrawal of hundreds of children from child labour in the area.

Kailash Satyarthi, Chairperson Global March Against Child Labour and founder BBA said, “International corporations need to do more work and take up more responsibility in their supply chain. Leaving an area or changing one supplier after child labour is found is not the solution. Corporations must ensure that their profits are not made at the cost of children and should work towards elimination of child labour. Corporate Social Responsibility lies in a firm commitment throughout the supply chain if we want to eliminate child labour. The Governments of importing countries also must play a pro active role in elimination of child labour alongwith the Government of India.”

Bhuwan Ribhu, National Secretary of BBA said, “When we started working in the area, there was hardly any consciousness on education and against child labour in the people and more than 5000 children were involved in mica collection. As mica is right there in the soil, the opportunity to make easy money was more appealing to children and their parents than education. However over a period of time, people are beginning to understand that poverty can not be seen as a reason for children’s exploitation and exposing the children to health and safety hazards like skin and respiratory diseases. Moreover, when we opened schools in the area, a lot of children took up education and an increasing number of children are going to school now. But still a lot of effort is required from the Govt. as NGOs can only play a small role for a limited time in providing the fundamental right of education.”

Govind Khanal, BBA activist in Koderma (Jharkhand) said, “We are currently working in 9 villages to raise awareness in the entire area of Giridih, Koderma in Jharkhand and Nawadah in Bihar. We have demonstrated that with little help, children like Manan, who recently raised the issue of education for all at the 10th anniversary of ILO Convention 182 on Worst Forms of Child Labour in Geneva, after being withdrawn from the mica mines in Koderma, can do exceeding well in school. The Govt. needs to take up this issue and ensure free, compulsory and quality education to all children in the area, access to social welfare mechanisms for their parents and families with access to social security, minimum wage, health insurance, freedom of association, etc.”

The lack of alternative means of employment for adults, resulting in acute poverty coupled with the naxalite presence and such illegal opencast mining also shows the absence of Govt. social welfare systems and law enforcement in the area.

Do read the Landmark judgement of Delhi High Court defines the roles of various agencies on child labour.

http://globalmarch.org/news/190709.php

Also Read- Manan’s Story: From Mica Mines to UN Geneva

image source: http://www.childjustice.org/

Piyush Tewari, the Founder of SaveLife Foundation, which was established in February 2008 in response to the ever-increasing incidents of road accident deaths due to lack of timely intervention to save the victims, narrates his real life experience and a few essential tips and steps on how the road accident fatalities can be reduced in this guest post at Youth Ki Awaaz.

Last evening, I left my office in Gurgaon a little late than usual for my home in Noida. As I was approaching the highway toll booth, driving in the right-most lane, I noticed a cyclist in the middle lane. I slowed down a bit and honked lightly to let him know that I was about to pass. Just as I was going to cross him, he suddenly swerved into my lane with his right hand jutting out. He never looked behind to check the traffic. I braked and nearly avoided being hit by a mini-truck behind me. I honked in protest but got a stare in return that soon changed into a grin mocking me. I then saw him lifting his bicycle through the central verge, mounting it again and riding across 4 lanes almost perpendicular to the traffic, inviting honks and abuses from other drivers. He clearly didn’t care for his own, or others’ safety. Neither did the guards posted on the highway responsible for warding off cyclists to the service lane

I moved on and reminded myself of being even more careful than I usually am. By the time I reached home, I had encountered trucks with blinding headlights driving at a break-neck speed, motor-cyclists without helmets swerving across lanes (including the bus lane!), call center cabs driving at almost 100 Kmph all over the road, the infamous Blue-line buses honking the crap out of auto-rickshaw drivers, and between all this, pedestrians trying to cross the road even with a foot-over-bridge within comfortable distance. Throughout the journey I didn’t spot even a single traffic cop. But then do they really do much even during the day when they are around? Fortunately I didn’t witness any accidents which are all so common in this part of the world. This wasn’t the first time I had had a frustrating drive from Gurgaon to Noida or vice versa. But maybe for the first time I realized that nobody really cares about what goes on on our roads — the drivers, the pedestrians, the cops and the law makers put together.

Consider this,

– According to India’s National Crime Records Bureau, last year over 130,000 people died in road accidents in the country, by far the most in the world.
– Simple math converts that figure to an average of 15 road accident deaths every hour.
– To put that in perspective, the figure is significantly higher than the death toll in 15 years of Kashmir insurgency (both civilian and military) and the Kargil war, put together!
– Most fatalities have been in the age group of 15 — 50. The socio-economic impact can be determined just by understanding how a death or injury to a productive family member impacts the whole family.

10 years ago a WHO report had stated that India will see an annual escalation of over 3% in road accident deaths till 2040 unless emergency measures are taken. We have already surpassed the prediction with over 15% escalation year on year for the past 3 years, but unlike reservations or T&D losses, making our roads safer doesn’t seem to be a top priority for any political formation in India, despite the epidemic proportions of the problem. As a newspaper recently put it, “India has always suffered from appalling misallocations of investment. This is just another glaring example”. Across India, the concept of emergency services is still non-existent and in metros still very nascent. Victims have to wait for many minutes and sometimes even hours to get any kind of trained help. Ambulances serve merely as patient transportation vehicles and are not equipped to provide critical pre-hospital care. Police jeeps are not equipped with stretchers or spine boards, increasing the probability of severe spinal and head injuries, and policemen have no idea of first aid. Across Europe and United States, and many countries in Asia, policemen are required to have first aid skills including CPR, but not for the force that polices the second largest population on this planet. Rampant corruption in RTOs ensures that anyone can get a driving license without a test, for a ‘fee’. There are no or limited facilities for pedestrians to cross roads and they end up taking grave chances to get to the other side. The state of our roads is well known. A few weeks back in Delhi a motor-cyclist with his daughter riding pillion couldn’t negotiate a rough patch and they both fell from the bike only to be run over by a truck. And there is no one to control the truck menace on our highways or surface streets. They come into the city, drive like maniacs and get away without being prosecuted. Many do stop at check posts to ‘pay their respect’ to the cops.

But the government alone cannot be blamed when people themselves don’t care for their safety.

– Cyclists think that being the smallest/slowest members on the road they will never get the blame for an accident.
– Motor-cyclists perhaps believe they will never get into an accident while they make their death-defying moves with or without a helmet (…and women pillion riders refuse to wear helmets perhaps because they are gifted with stronger skulls than their male counterparts?!?). In any case, most bikers wear helmets not for their safety but to avoid getting fined and therefore many-a-times go for make-shift helmets or ones that are of very poor quality.
– The bus drivers and owners strive to do more rounds and pack their buses even if it means running over a few people.
– And cab drivers are simply in a rush as if always on nature’s call. But more importantly, it’s the passengers in these cabs that I’m most shocked about. A friend recently had his car nicked by a call-center cab and the employees sitting inside the cab flashed gang signs and laughed at him while the cabbie sped away. These occupants certainly didn’t care about the number of people or cars the driver took out while he rushed them to their office. I have noticed similar attitude in the Gurgaon toll lanes as well, where a cabbie would break a lane (whenever there are any), go right ahead and shove his cab back in the lane while employees look the other away. I employ the services of such cabs for my company too and know that it doesn’t take much to ask the driver to slow down or complain to the company if he doesn’t. Well this note is not enough to talk about this phenomena and I will write another one just dedicated to this aspect.
– Finally, the private car drivers. I have always felt that many drivers on our roads get a sense of achievement if they takeover another vehicle or swerve across lanes as they speed ahead. It seems they haven’t succeeded anywhere else in life and want to make up for the loss while they are on the road. Or maybe their cars don’t have breaks. But the moot point is that very few care for any other person on the road.

When all these characteristics come together we get a nasty cocktail of death and destruction that makes India World No. 1 in road accident deaths. China is a distant No. 2 with under-100,000 road fatalities.
But does anyone care?

Well there are pockets where things are looking up.

– Satyam Computers has started a well-equipped ambulance service in Hyderabad, Ahmedabad and Jaipur, and soon in Delhi.
– In Delhi again, Police Control Room (PCR) vans are reaching accident sites within minutes and evacuating victims (there’s of course much to be desired in quality of evacuation).
– The Lifeline Foundation is providing search and rescue service on Gujarat’s highways.
– On 27th February 2007, the Supreme Court passed a ruling stating that bystanders helping victims of accidents and violence cannot be questioned by hospitals or the Police; their job ends the moment they leave the victim at the hospital or nursing home. It is the hospital’s responsibility to call the Police, stabilize the victim, and shift him/her to a center of higher care.

All are steps in the right direction, but for a country as big as ours, we need reforms at the policy level. We need initiatives that address the present as well as the future.

– Standards need to be set for ambulances, road quality, issuance of driving licenses and Police training across the country, and people flouting them need be put behind bars for a long time.
– The need for safe driving must be emphasized at the school level itself and all students must be put through sessions of life saving skills.
– A country-wide campaign needs to be launched to re-educate the general public in traffic rules.
– A single-number on the lines of US’ 911 needs to be set-up (perhaps as a public-private partnership for efficient management) across the country to ensure a quick and well coordinated response to accidents.
– In cities where traffic is an issue, choppers need to be pressed into service to evacuate critical victims. The Army and Air Force can surely contribute here as they normally do during natural disasters, until our cities can afford to create this service. Though looking at the usage of choppers by our politicians during elections, I’m sure something can be done in that direction.
– If that is difficult, medics on bikes need to be pressed into service for rushing through traffic and attending to victims before an ambulance or police car arrives. This will ensure that the victim gets stabilized before being shifted to a hospital.
– Laws need to be strengthened to ensure fair investigations of accidents so that the driver of the bigger vehicle in an accident doesn’t go behind bars just based on assumptions.
– There is a desperate need for pedestrian facilities in our cities and the government needs to attend to this deficiency immediately.
– And lastly, public transport needs to be expanded and modernized so that people avoid using their own vehicles at least on weekdays.

This is not anything out of the box. We all know that these are the right steps forward. What is missing is a collective effort to make our roads safer and pull India down from the No. 1 slot in this gloomy global list of deaths. Unless we care enough, and care NOW, this epidemic is never going to come under control.

– Piyush Tewari, Founder, SaveLife Foundation

Read below as David Hylton (IS PR Specialist) from Child Fund International writes about a wonderful initiative by Child Fund International in the guest post he did for Youth Ki Awaaz below.

Chickens, goats, mango trees and vegetable seeds can go a long way of helping children and their family members. Not only can they provide food, they also can help families start businesses.

So how can following ChildFund International on Twitter (@ChildFund) help? To celebrate our new name and our commitment to children, we launched a Twitter campaign on July 10 that helps make a difference in the lives of children — by simply following us, we’re giving these items from our Gifts of Hope and Love catalog to areas where they’re needed most:

– Chickens for a school in The Gambia
– A goat for a family farm in Zambia
– Mango trees in Kenya
– Vegetable seeds in Ethiopia

This effort is being made by anonymous donors who said they would help out. This is above the amount they usually give. This Twitter campaign is not about raising money, but instead raising awareness of the work we do for deprived, excluded and vulnerable children in the 31 countries where we work. Last year alone we helped 15.2 million children and their family members.

To show how this campaign works, we are sending small video cameras to program offices in each of the four countries to report back. We promise to share the recipients’ stories and photos with everyone reading our blog and following us on Twitter. It is a commitment not to simply promote, but to continue an accountable dialog with our supporters.

There is no cap on followers (so far we have about 1,200), and the offer will continue through July 27. It is important to note that this effort will take time — once the campaign ends we have to ship the items to the country to the country, along with the cameras. The areas where the items are delivered are in very rural areas of Africa. Many of our offices in Africa also have extremely slow Internet connections, so delivery of the video back to us in the United States takes time as well.

Small Part of a Bigger Picture
We hired CRT/tananka to develop the strategy around the Twitter campaign, and then used Geoff Livingston to be an initial voice for us. Given a very limited budget, we knew working someone who was established with an existing community, and experience interacting with bloggers was the best way to go. And Geoff did a lot with a very limited amount of time resource available to him.

The Twitter campaign is a small part of our goal of raising our visibility. We want to increase our visibility because as part of our strategy we have a new name and we wanted people to know about us and that if they followed us we would show them specifically what we’re doing with the gifts donated by a donor specifically for Twitter followers.

And our goal is to not just have a specific number under our “Followers” on the Twitter page. We want followers who care about children and the work we do; we want to have a conversation with them. We want to answer their questions.

This is the beginning, and people are giving us an opportunity to start a conversation with them, but have not necessarily committed to that community. We hope to be worthwhile additions to their Twitter experience and to evolve that experience into something more meaningful and rewarding.

To know more about the initiative click here

Visit Child Fund at http://www.childfund.org

Follow @ChildFund on Twitter

Do visit http://www.livingstonbuzz.com/

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