Contemporary Love story – Emerging Markets and Companies

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“Think Rich, Grow Rich” is growing into an effervescence vitriol of “Think Emerging Markets, Grow Rich” for many companies. At least at this point in time, the statements seem to be right. MNCs such as Walmart, Amazon, Microsoft, Google and a plethora of them have been venturing into the “realm of emerging markets (EM)”. So, why are these companies venturing into these nations? And, what makes these gain brownie points over the rest?

These are the countries whose growth has been largely stable, thanks to the financial easing and complementing economic policies. The countries such as China, India, South Africa, Brazil, Russia (BRICS) and Nigeria are touted to be the few countries to step on a constant growing trajectory. So, the fuelling prospects are due to the raise in Education qualifications, administration ease, FDI norms and cultural acceptance. Of course to enhance the top line is the prime motto of the Cos. These aforementioned countries have been constantly growing from the past decade at an average of 5%. The growth has stagnated in the West and so in the Far East. Thus, the large honchos are looking for opportunities elsewhere.

The shift in the mindset of emerging markets amongst other economic indicators enable these companies to establish the footprint in the emerging markets. One of the statistics also reveals that roughly 38-40% of global GDP is contributed by the emerging markets. The companies have also understood the need for “Glocalization” and have tailor made resources for the same. The “Love story” started in the early 2000s when the Companies realized that as the global stability would enhance. The market size that lies vacant for them to latch onto. So till what extent should these countries continue to venture into the EMs?

The answer is difficult to predict. The customer specifications in developing and developed markets are heading towards “convergence”. The drivers here are cost and bottom line. Many Companies in China are now focusing to reduce their “solitudinal” export growth by encouraging domestic consumption. The overtly reliance on emerging markets is not really expected from these companies. The customer satisfaction in developed countries is one aspect that these Cos should consider as the market is stagnant in most developed countries. Customer once lost is difficult to gain. Whereas in an emerging markets, the scenario is a different ball game altogether. The customer acquisition and retention are required for long term growth.

Thus, is it really advisable for Cos to invest a 100 Crore or a billion dollar Capex and expect positive cash flows after 15 or 20 years?

This is where the “Cassandra Complex” (Ruchir Sharma: Breakout Nations) and Catch-22 situation would be of some use. The infusion of technology into emerging markets is rapid and the agile style is making the decision processes void in less than 5 to 7 years. Thus, the fundamental question is, shouldn’t Companies re-think “long term” as 7-10 years instead of trying to predict GDP and other economic policies with their financial statements as well. Some of the Companies are poised and braced for takeovers, M&A, amongst all odds. Stability of the country is measured with a certain leeway as it is. No one knows what the scenario might be like 10 years down the line. The prediction comes with certain T&Cs! So, should countries continue the same investing pattern in EMs in the future?

The answer is, yes. Technology, demography and politics are going to be the key drivers of economics in the next few decades till the growth plateaus out. The BRICS are no wonder more stable than many countries, but these magnates should focus on their markets through innovation for obtaining technology & cost arbitrage and garnering control in both the spaces of developed markets and EMs. The growth of EMs are also expected to hit a roof amidst the next two decades or so. So, over-reliance with long term orientation by focusing on EMs is not really a smart move. Of Course India and China are exceptions due to their large population and consumption. All in all, Emerging markets of today need not be the emergent markets of tomorrow. These markets are viable for next few years, hence the love story would prevail for at least a decade!

Originally Written by Adithya N

The Evolution of WhatsApp

WhatsApp – the instant messaging platform is one of the most popular apps with a user base of 1 billion in 180 countries. Starting as an alternative to SMS in 2009, today WhatsApp has revolutionised the messaging platforms. It now has the support to send and receive a variety of media: text, photos, videos, documents, and location, as well as voice calls. Let’s have a look at the business model of WhatsApp and how it became popular:

It all began in 2009, when two former employees of Yahoo – Brian Acton and Jan Koum decided to work on WhatsApp. The iOS App was launched first in order to target the US Market. Later, the Symbian version was launched in 2010. Android was growing at that time and hence they decided to quickly come up with a version for the OS. The Windows Phone and Blackberry 10 version was launched in 2013. The Windows Phone and Blackberry 10 version was launched in 2013. They initially charged WhatsApp users based on first time installation (for iPhone users) and every year (for Android).

One of the main reasons for the success of WhatsApp was due to its simplicity. It was simple, secure, and fast. It was also free to use. The developers from their previous experience knew that users didn’t like ads and hence decided not to have any ads in the app. The major milestone for WhatsApp was the acquisition by Facebook in 2014 for $19 billion – the largest acquisition to date.

Initially, it was an instant messaging app and the ability to send photos was one of the first feature addition. The ability to send GIF images was released in 2016. Group chat feature was launched in 2010. Voice messaging feature & support for Android Wear Smartwatches were added in 2013.

After the acquisition by Facebook, WhatsApp underwent major changes to support voice calls, Read receipts feature & WhatsApp web. This created a havoc among telecom operators who were already unhappy with WhatsApp replacing SMS to a great extent. More features like End-to-end encryption, document sharing, video calling and two step verification were added in 2016. In 2017, a Snapchat like feature called “Status” was added to WhatsApp. Users can upload an image that allows users to upload photos and videos to a 24-hours-lifetime feed that is visible to their contacts.

However, there are many issues related to the security and privacy. On 25th August 2016, WhatsApp changed its privacy policy to allow sharing of data from WhatsApp to Facebook. This was a concern for users since data sharing affected privacy. WhatsApp also offers measures such as two-step verification and encryption. In January 2017, an article published in the Guardian claimed loopholes in WhatsApp’s end to end encryption. WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption protocol was developed by Open Whisper Systems, who make their own secure messaging app Signal. Finally, the introduction of ‘read’ and ‘seen’ features were perceived not very privacy friendly.

What’s the future for WhatsApp ?

WhatsApp will continue to add more features with the upcoming updates. Change is inevitable part of any app development and they have to stay ahead with the competition to survive.

WhatsApp is expected to launch payments soon in India. They have obtained permission from the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) to allow users to make in-app payments and money transfers using the Unified Payments Interface (UPI). WhatsApp will also soon launch support for business verified accounts on its platform.

The Application to Person (A2P) messaging market is innovating rapidly and we may see big changes very soon. Currently, it’s difficult for WhatsApp to allow third-party app integration due to privacy and encryption concerns. However, this is expected to change by WhatsApp opening it for developers. This will help integrated apps to WhatsApp and it could have a Chatbot feature like Facebook Messenger. WhatsApp may also have a Natural Language Processing (NLP)/AI integration that will provide assistant to the user when he types in the chat. You never know, WhatsApp may even turn into an e-commerce portal and even allow you to purchase online by messaging.

WhatsApp is also expected to become more personalised. The app in future will learn about a consumer’s preferences and offer deals based on their geographical location. In the long term, we can expect WhatsApp will evolve into something greater than just a messaging platform.

The Hegemony of Feminism

Feminism as an idea has emerged through the ages. Started as a campaign to assert the basic Rights of women, the idea of feminism has been exploited by a few. Christine de Pizan was considered as the first writer ‘to take up her pen to defend her sex’ in 15th Century. Later, the first wave of feminism began in late 19th century to assert political rights (Right to vote and Representation). Adding on to this, the second wave of feminism began in late 20th century to assert sexuality, workplace and reproductive rights. The demands are evolving with the time and it is beneficial for the society. All these reasonable demands can be genuinely addressed with political will, but in the name of dignity, there are few under carpet demands which ought to be blatantly opposed.

A World Bank study in 2001 found that for every one standard deviation increase in female representation in Parliament, there would be 20% reduction in corruption. But a recent study points out that the impact of gender on depends on the societal norms. If the corruption is widely accepted in a society, then women tend to be as corrupt as men. Those women who successfully climbed the ladder by asserting their rights are not averse to the greed of money. It will definitely not hold to everyone. But, while demanding for their rights and dignity, are women forgetting the cost of assertion? Is it resulting in selfish feminism?

Few women emphasize their rights only when they need it. This irony can sometimes be observed around us. It is always an issue if someone asks dowry to marry ‘her’. But when it comes to her brother, he should be ‘well paid’ as he is the sole breadwinner. It is completely fine if her father accepts a bribe to buy her a new iPad. But, it is a big issue when a Chandigarh police officer accepts the bribe and refuses to file a FIR. She also demands a better earning husband though she has access to similar resources. Only when a husband earns more than her, he deserves the respect. Sometimes, even the concern for her security is being viewed as imposition of patriarchal norms by her parents.

The demand for 33% women reservation in legislature, entry of women into temples, stringent norms against marital rapes are all valid. From abolishing Sati to passing a strong Nirbhaya Act, Indian feminism has pocketed many successes. However, different levels of intervention are needed for different geographies, religions and castes across India. Sex ratio is skewed in Haryana where the sex selective abortions are rampant. So, government duty is to fight against female foeticide in these parts of the states. In rural areas, the patriarchal norms are still rampant. Here, the cultural intervention by NGOs is necessary. Muslim women face even more subjugation. Thankfully, Supreme Court abolished Triple Talaq and provide them a hope in Indian Legal system.

A wide range of disparities in Indian society is the dilemma for most of the feminists. As women gain more power and respect in the society, they should not forget the fact that their fight is for EQUALITY and not for HEGEMONY.

The Indo-Afghan Camaraderie

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The recent turbulence in the relationship of India and China can be contrasted and differentiated with the one that India shares with Afghanistan. The relationship has grown over time positively. So, what are the facets of this relationship?

The relationship is much more than just transactional. It traces back in time, as early as the Najibullah’s period (1980s). India was one of the few nations to act as a backbone to Afghanistan even when the country was having strong internal conflicts and provided the necessary support. The bilateral agreements are increasing, Indian counterparts have helped set-up a University at Kandahar offering scholarships as well. India has also undertaken a lot of projects in Afghanistan to aid them in their development. India also conducted joint operations with the US in Afghanistan. India has also tied up a lot of MOUs with the previous President. And the current President Ashraf Ghani has been resoundingly good in terms of establishing ties. The major portion of Afghanistan’s export is to India, roughly about 44%. The cultural heritage shared between the countries is also something to savor. The Indian music, the tradition and the different Hindustani Gharanas are closely related to Afghan culture. The arms supply is also prevalent from both the sides. So why Afghanistan, not other nations?

The relationship has a lot to offer on the strategic front to both the countries. A myriad of complexities can be prevented for India in terms of gaining access to EMEA (Europe and Middle East Asian) markets. The advantage for India is also on circumventing the risks by tying up with the Afghan defense in case of the exigency of support during War or crisis. There are multiple import and export agreements which have led to the birth of corridors in between the countries. The rising of US, Russia, North Korea and China simultaneously meant that India needed to concomitantly get onto “good terms” with as many of the neighbors as possible for her sovereignty. On the other hand, Afghan is in a quarantine trying to get rid of internal conflicts and to recuperate itself with as many resources as possible. This is possible with the influx of monetary and trustworthy inputs from the supporter. India has been one of the most trusted friends of Afghanistan on this front. On a geopolitical front, the access to Chabahar Port is pivotal for India as it is the center for all trading activities. The defense input to Afghanistan has also increased as India provided more than 20 helicopters. The seamless access for trading is extremely important for any country to have a greater impact on growth and hence India was smart enough on this front.

So what next for both the Countries? The construction of the “Friendship Dam”, the permission for Air Corridor and the return of brotherhood from Afghanis is a new sight in a “switching” 21st century. The process of development can be faster for Afghans. The Indians can sit at the hub and monitor the development of the CPEC corridor which is part of the OBOR if it bypasses the Indian border. The Air Corridor is also being accused of bypassing Pakistan, which is a sign of India’s sternness and unconditional support to Afghanistan. Tensions are mounting in almost all parts of the world simultaneously and it is no coincidence. All the events are interlinked. To further deepen the bonding with Afghanistan, India needs to befriend Russia, China and USA. This is a herculean task, but future is going to be a thriller. Mind you, these events are as difficult to predict as Christopher Nolan’s outstanding movies!

Article Originally Written by Adithya N

Let’s get ready to embrace new norms !!

Three recent complimentary Supreme Court (SC) judgements have broadened the liberal nature of Indian society. Judgments on Triple Talaq, Right to Privacy and Section 377 sent very strong messages to the government and the society at large.

Triple Talaq was declared unconstitutional as it is not a Fundamental Right under Indian Constitution. Article 25 specifies that every citizen has the freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of Religion. But, Triple Talaq invalidates the marriage without any reconciliation between the spouses. Supreme Court highlighted the patriarchal nature of the practice and now empowers women to have a fair divorce. The baton is now passed on to the Parliament for the appropriate legislature.

In another judgement, SC declared Right to Privacy as Fundamental Right. The judgement is based on the premise that the privacy is the inherent and natural right of every human being. SC has just made it explicit by recognizing it as Fundamental Right. Article 21 of the Constitution guarantees Protection of life and Personal Liberty. Right to privacy is now a part of it. Article 21 has been evolved with the changing patterns of the society and the addition of Right to Privacy is a mere affirmation to liberal values. For example, Right to go abroad and Right against public hanging, Right against delayed execution have been recognized as part of Fundamental Right under Article 21. SC also validated the use of Aadhar for purposes other than Welfare activities. Thus, providing respite to the government.

In line with these decisions, Section 377, which criminalizes the homosexuality, was struck down by SC. By saying that the law affected a Minuscule population, SC had done a grave mistake of going against the basic principle of Democracy. Now that it has corrected its mistake, the insensitive law is buried passing on smiles to LGBT community. Though the population of LGBT community is unknown, going with US numbers, it might be around 10% of total population. As a collective society, we should try to accommodate these minorities. Further, the constitution just recognises linguistic and religious minorities. It’s time to recognize the minorities based on sexuality.

Above judgements have socio economic and political repercussions. The government may have to invest heavily in infrastructure for securing the digital data collected. The litigation costs for the government may also go high in case it has to go against big corporate giants (Google, Facebook). They are alleged to have collected a large amount of inappropriate data for their business needs. Abolition of Triple Talaq strengthens government resolution to push for Uniform Civil Code. Political leverage can be garnered among the Hindus by BJP. And the economic consequences of recognizing Right to Privacy as Fundamental Right is still unknown. Also, as a society, we need to broaden our thoughts, open our hearts, extend our hands and pull the LGBT community on board to integrate the nation.

Blockchain 101 – Understanding what blockchain is and how it works

If you are interested in finance or technology, you would probably have heard about the emergence of blockchain. Many companies like Microsoft, Amazon, and IBM are developing the block chain technology and it is expected to significantly dominate the cloud computing arena. The most widely use of block chain technology in the space of cryptocurrency like Bitcoin. Let’s understand what Blockchain is all about and how it works.

So what is a Blockchain ?

It is a shared, distributed ledger that facilitates the process of recording transactions and tracking assets in a business network. In simple words, it’s a master document that records every single action related to it.

Imagine, you are a business owner who transacts daily with customers. You will record your transactions for the day in a ledger. However, your customer may record transaction differently in his ledger. This is a recipe for error, fraud and inefficiencies. There could also be a lot of intermediaries in transactions and can cause delays. It is also an expensive process. A blockchain basically makes it better by eliminating the complexity involved.

Traditional document sharing involves sending files to individuals and asking them to revert back. It involves delays and confusion on the versions and edits made especially in the case of a large document. But with Cloud document sharing, you could send a single file that would be edited by multiple users and will have the option to track the edits. A blockchain is something similar.

How is a blockchain created ?

The word “Blockchain” gets its name from the way it stores transaction data – blocks are linked together to form a chain. As each transaction occurs in a business, it’s put into a block. A block contains the details of a particular transaction. Each block contains a hash – a digital fingerprint or unique identifier. Each block is connected to the one before and after it as it occurs. It is added to the next in an Irreversible chain. Finally, all transactions are blocked together.

A network of “nodes” make up the blockchain. A node is a computer connected to the blockchain network using a client. It performs the task of validating and relaying transactions. It also gets a copy of the blockchain, which gets downloaded automatically upon joining the blockchain network. Every node is an “administrator” in the network.

How does Blockchain technology help Businesses?

Bitcoins would be the best example to explain the blockchain technology. Bitcoin was a digital currency launched in 2009 by a mysterious person (or persons) known only by the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto. Bitcoin is actually built on the foundation of blockchain, which serves as bitcoin’s shared ledger. To know more about Bitcoin: A Bit of Coins

You must note that Bitcoin and blockchain are not the same. Blockchain provides the means to record and store bitcoin transactions, but blockchain has many uses beyond bitcoin. Bitcoin is only the first use case for blockchain.

For business, blockchain technology benefits them in multiple ways. It helps them reduce time and cost. Settlements happen faster because it doesn’t require verification by a central authority. There is no need of creating duplicate records. Since there are less intermediaries, both time and costs are reduced. The security features also give protection against tampering, fraud, and cybercrime. It enhances trust across a business network. A better name for the technology would be Blockchange – because it changes the way how businesses operate.

We believe that the future of any business transaction would be dominated by blockchain technology. The world has already witnessed Bitcoin and its applications. We expect more industries to adopt this technology. We also have to closely watch the Hyperledger project – an open source blockchain and related technologies project started in 2015 by the Linux Foundation to support and develop technologies based on blockchain distributed ledgers.

The Android Story: The Past, Present & Future

More than 85% of the phone is powered by Android making it the most popular mobile OS in the world. Let’s look back at the history of Android to know how the OS was developed and how it became successful.

It all began in 2003, when a young group of computer experts – Andy Rubin, Rich Miner, Nick Sears, and Chris White decided to create “Android Inc”. The early intention was to develop an advanced operating system for digital cameras and then pitch in the idea to investors. However, they figured out that the market was not large enough and then they decided to develop a handset operating system. At that time, Symbian was the most popular mobile OS. However, they were running out of cash in 2005, and Google decided to acquire Android Inc.

The introduction of iPhone – the first full touchscreen phone in 2007 certainly influenced the development of Android. All major mobile companies believed that consumers will not accept a phone that doesn’t have an external QWERTY keyword. However, Google had different plans in their minds and decided to develop an OS that supports full touchscreen phone. They had initially developed ‘Sooner,’ an unreleased prototype device (also made by HTC) which looks like a Blackberry device with a full QWERTY keyboard with a 320×240 display. They decided not to launch the phone and went back to the drawing board.

The first android phone was launched by HTC in October 2008. It was called the HTC Dream, also known as T-Mobile G1. The first apps in Android included Gmail, Google Maps, Search, Google Talk, You Tube etc. And of course, it consisted of other regular apps like calendar, contacts, alarm etc. Many other mobile manufactures like Samsung and LG were developing a full touchscreen phone. However, they need an OS to work on.

The reasons for Android’s success are many. The main reason was that it was Open Sourced – it made smart devices cheaper. Manufactures who were part of the Open Handset Alliance put their effort in Android because of the expertise that they possessed. They could customise the OS based on the requirement of the phone manufactures. The OS also offered great interface and lot of features. A larger market share led to more developers developing apps in the Android which bought in more users.

In 2009, CyanogenMod was launched which become the most widely used custom Android ROM. It is basically a tweaked and edited version of Android OS that you can install on a phone or a tablet in place of the official version from Google. However, it has been discontinued in 2016, due in part to internal conflicts within Cyanogen Inc.

In 2010, Google started developing the Nexus line of devices based on the Android platform by partnering with mobile hardware manufactures. These devices became “reference” devices for Google to enhance user experience in the Android OS and venture into hardware. Another reason could be that they don’t want to take down the big players who used Android OS. Google’s own device at that time would upset the manufacturer and they would start developing their own OS. Google also had less visibility in the mobile arena at that time. However, Google launched Pixel and Pixel XL smartphone in 2016 in order to compete in the mobile hardware market.

Since 2008, Android has seen numerous updates that have improved the OS by adding new features and fixing bugs. Each updated of Android versions is named after a dessert or sugary treat in alphabetical order – Cupcake, Donut, Éclair, Froyo, Gingerbread etc. So, what is going to be the future of Android OS ?

Android OS is not just going to power smartphones. Google has already developed Android Wear for wrist watches, Android TV for televisions, Android Auto for cars and Brillo (later renamed Android Things), for smart devices and Internet of things. Android might also make its way into laptop and even desktop OS.

Google is also developing Fuchsia – a real-time operating system (RTOS). Chrome OS and Android are based on Linux kernels (which are getting outdated) whereas Fuchsia is based on a new microkernel called “Magenta”, derived from “Little Kernel”. It could also be modular in nature allowing for it to be customized for different applications. There is no definite timeline when Fuchsia will enter the market. It may even be an Android update or replacement.

As of now, the Android OS will keep improving via updates that adds new features and fixes bugs. Most Android has some serious shortcomings that Google is well aware of – most devices run outdated OS & they are also involved in numerous patent lawsuits. This will be a big challenge for Google to overcome.

Coke Studio – A decade of formidable music

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The name Coke Studio resonates with every music aficionado in the South Asian sub-continent. So, what does Coke Studio do? They make outrageous fusion music with an exquisite blend of different styles and instruments. This is innovation through different genres and different languages as well. Rohail Hyatt was in-charge of Coke Studio for the first six seasons. Coke Studio here refers to the “Coke Studio Pakistan”. The ten seasons are a benchmark that is difficult to replicate for any other musical show in the sub-continent.

Why is Coke Studio different? Coke studio is essentially the breeding ground for new talent and for musical maestros to come up with landmark numbers. Some of the examples of such masterpieces are “Aj Latha Naio” from Javed Bashir, “Tera Woh Pyar” from Momina Mustehsen and Asim Azhar, “Afreen Afreen” from Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, “Man Qunto Maula” and Momina, “Miyan ki Malhar” by Zara Madani et al., and others. These songs have a flair of beauty, feet tapping rhythm and a resounding melody topped with amazing lyrics.

Apart from the stellar singers, legendary instrumentalists such as Ustad Raees Khan and Farhan Raees Khan have added an icing on the cake. Adding to this, compositions from legendary composers such as Sahir Ali Bagga, Fuzon, Jaffer Zaidi and Ali Azmat have enhanced the perception of Coke Studio among the fans. The involvement of the in-house band in the compositions is one to savor. The enthusiasm, the positivity and the bonhomie attitude is the bright side of Coke Studio. CS has also featured Indian artists such as Shilpa Rao and Sharmista Chatterjee.

But there has been some shuffle in the producer end of the show. The first six sseasons were produced by Rohail Hyatt and from seventh saw the comeback of the much wanted team of Bilal Maqsood’s Strings. The change in production and direction saw a change in the artists. In the season six, there were musicians from Morocco, Nepal and Serbia playing for Roahil Hyatt’s ingenious numbers. The songs such as “Mahi Gal” were some which only Rohail could arrange. On the other hand, Strings is more of a band which has focused on medleys and fusions. Right from Man Qunto Maula to Tera Woh Pyar, medley and fusion have created magic in their numbers. Some of the songs are just soulful enough for one to etch in their hearts. For example, Afreen, which stood out of the lot for its tune, garnered a heap of praise for Momina Mustehsen and gave her a break-through.

So what next for Coke Studio? I was eagerly waiting for the tenth season. The season has had some flashes of brilliance from singers like Ali Sethi and Amanat Ali Khan, but has not lived up to the expectation of the audience. But the expectations have risen to a skyscraper level after Coke Studio 9, which is difficult for even Coke Studio 10 to match. The next few episodes would determine how the season would carry out. One song which has driven a lot of criticism and skeptic reviews online is Rahat’s re-creation of Ali Azmat’s Sayonee. According to me, Rahat has done his bit for the song, Ali Azmat’s voice is what people want for such a track. The frame of reference is the source of dissonance with people for this song and even I feel Coke Studio has gone off the beat here. Elsewhere in Season 1 of Coke Studio, Garaj Baras of Rahat and Ali Azmat was a blockbuster, because Rahat added his master class Hindustani “Andaaz” (which Ali is not known for) in the song and made the song all the more complete.

Nevertheless, there has been a lot of criticism towards Coke Studio, as to how the songs are being repeated and re-created rather than getting the composition from the creative side. The artists from either side of the border are outstanding and are blessed with amazing creativity. One could expect a lot of fusion coming from the upcoming versions. Coke Studio has also educated people and will continue to do so, about Hindustani Classical Music, Sufi, Hamad, Qawwalis and Sufi Rock. Thus, Coke Studio must continue to innovate different styles and genres as the audience want the same from the show. The poems/Dohas (Couplets) of great writers such as Waris Shah, Sant Kabir, Raheem and Bulleh Shah can be considered for the forthcoming seasons of Coke Studio which can effectively render new numbers by giving a classical touch with reggae/ pop/rock or any other Western style. Coke Studio is essentially different because it is about experience and harmony. Coke Studio’s existence would not be under threat (as some of them were worried online) if other musical events are popular because Coke Studio is about being different and not composing mundane stuff. So, one or two blips might be acceptable as all songs cannot be evergreen. On the geopolitical front, if there is any hope of India and Pakistan to work together to create magic in the field of entertainment, Coke Studio could be the right place!

Article Written by Adithya N

Food wastage – A leading cause of poverty

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It’s said that there is more fruit in a rich man’s shampoo than in a poor man’s plate. In a world covered with 31% forest area, 13.5% of the population suffer undernourishment. Almost one third of the food produced around the world is never consumed.

The Global Report on Food Crisis, 2017 compiles the food insecurity around the world every year. This year four countries – South Sudan, Somalia, Yemen, North East Nigeria are identified as possible countries to be affected by famine. If you had ever heard of a country called Yemen, it has 27.58 million population with 14.1 million people suffering from the food crisis which is as high as 50%.

A country might go into a food crisis due to different reasons. It might be due to armed conflicts (Yemen- 3.2M/14.1M) or natural disasters. Food insecurity is generally measured on a scale of < 0.5->2.0. Most of the African countries fall into this bracket along with countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh, Tibet, Afghanistan and Burma. The situation in Africa is further worsened by the superstitious beliefs like accusing the children of witch craft and deserting them away from the normal society.

Each year approximately 1.3 billion tons of food is getting wasted in the world accounting to $990 billion dollars each year. On a happy note, the wastage per capita in South Asian countries is approximately 6-11Kgs when compared to 95-115Kgs in Europe and North America. This scarcity is resulting in one person’s death in every 3.6 seconds out of which 75% are children. To give a frame of reference, in Europe an average person wastes 375 boxes of meals per year. This is throwing a meal box every day.
Though Indian Food Security Law covers 67% of the population, the right to highly subsidised food grains, 25% of the world’s hungry poor still stay in India. Laws has been made to spend Rs.125000 Cr. each year for the supply of 62 million tonnes of basic grains. Yet, the time it will take and the funds required to change the current situation in India is still unpredictable. India has already seen 10 greatest famines in the history including the Bengal famine of 1943.

Food production also requires water. So, in a way, we waste water as well by wasting food. This water can serve all the world needs. To talk business, the production cost, manufacturing/processing cost, packaging cost, logistics cost and marketing cost everything goes waste. The major items that account into food wastage every year are the fruits and vegetables. So, what exactly can be done about this problem?

Here are some possible ways to avoid food wastage

  • Make better purchasing decisions – More conscious you are about your meal requirements, less tendency to buy excess grocery and lesser the wastage of food.
  • Recycling of food – Most of the famous food outlets now adopt food recycling techniques. Compact food recyclers are available for household usage
  • Serve smaller portions – In restaurants and at home, serve smaller portions which can reduce food wastage as you can always serve second time. Try to pack the leftover food at restaurants and donate to hungry on roads.
  • Better production and storage techniques – Higher yield and longer storage facilities can increase food production and time of consumption of the food.
  • Discounted price for unsellable but edible fruits or vegetables in super market. It is seen that fruits and vegetables of irregular shapes are not sold. These can be either sold at lower prices or donated to the needy.

In the history, Norman Borlaug, father of green revolution has saved 1 billion people from starvation by inventing modernised and advanced techniques to develop high yield variety of grains and fertilizers. M.S. Swaminathan played a crucial role in India by adopting the same and further developing High Yield Varieties of seeds. Verghese Kurien’s white revolution idea of Operation flood – world’s largest dairy development program also helped address the food crisis in the past.
If one cautious step of yours towards the food can save one life, it is definitely more sacred than any offering to god. As it is always said, helping hands are better than praying lips. It’s not the prayers that we need for those people its self-realization and awareness creation. There is enough food in this world. It just has to be utilised or served well.

Article Originally Written by Bommineni Jyothirmaie Reddy

Slowdown in economy is acceptable but not a death of single child

Heart thumping rhetoric by the government in guaranteeing the improvement in the standard of living is far from belief. The prospects of the GDP growth rate is at a lower end of expectation, the markets are saturated, and Index of Industrial Production (IIP) is declining. External factors can be blamed for all these developments. But, what about the disturbing death of 70 children at the Gorakhpur hospital. The inquiry report submitted by the District Magistrate blamed the Oxygen cylinder supplier and two doctors for the cause of death. However, the interim report submitted by the Magistrate stated that the deaths are due to uncontrolled events. It also shamelessly said that the deaths in 2017 are comparatively less than the previous year. And that there is some improvement in facilities provided.

According to a PwC report, India is set to reach the world’s third largest economy by 2030. The basic assumption in concluding this outcome is the strength of Indian youth. But, if we lose potential scientists, entrepreneurs and potential politicians at this pace, will we be able to achieve our aspirations? Just because the Oxygen cylinders are not provided by the supplier on time, we cannot afford to lose a life. The reasons like these are not acceptable from a place which acts as a referral Hospital to all the nearby villages. We are already losing two children per every hour. The Under-five mortality rate in India is 43 i.e., the probability that a child born in a specified year will die within 5 years of age is 43 per 1000 live births. A shocking figure to hear even after the celebration of 71st Independence Day

Article 45 of the Indian Constitution directs the government to strive for the childhood care. But, only 2.5% of India’s GDP is allocated to the health sector. It is grossly negligible. To put things in perspective, Uttar Pradesh (UP) government has diverted 13% of the funds to loan waiver schemes which are supposed to be allocated for Development. UP is the hub of communalism and it has developed the latest fad of protecting cows while their children are unable to walk out of hospitals in which they were born. The newly formed government should focus on strengthening the relationship of Mother and her child rather than separating people in ‘relationship.’ Only when the state resolves to focus on critical issues, the country will be prosperity.

India also has the credit of not achieving the Millennium Development Goals related to Child mortality rate. Here, the mortality rate is one of the highest in the world. We couldn’t reduce the mortality rate by two thirds by 2015 from 1990 levels. May be our beloved politicians neglected those little children as they do not possess voting rights. We need to take lessons from countries like Nigeria which was able to substantially control its Infant Mortality Rate through effective immunization. Here, we are unable to avoid Japanese Encephalitis, which is another cause of death in Gorakhpur. With one hand, we are bargaining for UN Permanent membership and with the other hand, we are killing our own children without supplying Oxygen cylinders. What an irony!!