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Crisis of confidence in banking system provides an opportunity to unleash reforms
India's banking sector has been hogging the headlines for all the wrong reasons. It started with the mounting problem of non-performing assets - across banks; then came a revelation of systemic fraud in the second-largest state-owned bank; and most recently, topping it all off are damning allegations of irregularities against the head of one of the largest private-sector banks. All of these issues point towards a pandemic problem ailing the Indian banking sector, which cannot be resolved with quick-fix solutions. The government's response to the issue of bad loans has been to bail out the er ... read more

Can yoga make the cut for Olympics?
On a day when yoga is having to jostle for mind space with a hugely popular sporting event like the FIFA World Cup, many fans of the ancient regimen are seriously dreaming up for a world cup of their own. Are they getting too carried away by the euphoria around of the 4th International Day of Yoga? Or is it a case of trusting yoga's extreme versatility to adapt itself to the demands of the time? Will there ever be a time when a Yoga World Cup driving up a mania like the FIFA World Cup does? As yoga gets mainstreamed big time in the last four years, a debate on whether it can become a competi ... read more

International Yoga Day: India's new global narrative
India's soft power and its new global outreach became apparent after the United Nations General Assembly in September 2015 responded positively to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's suggestion that June 21 every year be commemorated worldwide as International Yoga Day. The date was recommended by Modi since it marks the longest day in the northern hemisphere. Many believe that it marks the day that Lord Shiva -- one of the Hindu Trinity -- began imparting yoga to his followers and became its first guru. Adopted in December 2015 in New York, the draft resolution had a record-breaking 177 co-spons ... read more

Here's why the 90-day 'golden period' in post-stroke rehabilitation is vital
A stroke can hit anyone at any age. India reports more than 1.8 million cases every year, of which almost 15 per cent affect people in their 30s and 40s. A stroke or a Cerebro Vascular Accident - results from a sudden blood loss to the brain or bleeding within the brain resulting in the impairment of neurological function. Obesity, smoking, hypertension, alcohol consumption, diabetes and family history are considered some of the common factors leading to a stroke. While effective treatment for stroke is evolving in the country, a largely neglected area is the 'golden period' of post-stroke r ... read more

Renewable energy-based desalination could resolve India's perennial water woes
The ever-increasing demand for potable water is exerting tremendous stress on our existing consumable water resources. Water covers a little over 70 per cent of the earths surface, and by this we erroneously presume that there is adequate potable water. Realistically, only 3 per cent of this water is potable. According to a study in Science Advances, some African and Asian countries face severe water scarcity for almost the entire year. The same study also reveals that India suffers from water scarcity for over seven months a year. The current water requirement for India is around 28,251.73 ... read more

Two Muslims near the very top in British politics'
The three column, six inch-deep headline on page 1 of the Daily Telegraph caught my eye: Doors open to thousands more skilled migrants. Given the anti-immigrant rhetoric I had heard in Rome and elsewhere in Europe, the headline was refreshing. Even more noticeable was the name of the Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, the third-highest ranked member of Prime Minister Theresa May's cabinet who had reversed policy with the statement which formed the headline. The 48-year-old son of Pakistani migrants who started business with a 500 pound bank loan had already established his clubability with the Con ... read more

Back in Goa, Parrikar will have to prove himself again, win back confidence
Panaji, June 15 - Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar is back at the helm in the state after a four month hospital stay but now faces a litany of chaos. Much of it stems from inertia caused by the absence of a decision-maker and some from the unending squabbles between partners in the ruling coalition, whose harmonious functioning has hinged on his hands-on ability to play deal-maker. IANS lists five key issues, which Parrikar has to tackle as he hit the ground running on Friday. Restore popular faith in his ability to govern: Very rarely has the social media in Goa erupted in scorn and ill ... read more

In 'post-war' Afghanistan, children's lives still scarred by violence and fear
After three decades of war, Afghanistan is still not a secure place to live in. It is perhaps the most dangerous place to be born. Although after 2001 Afghanistan is considered to be a post-war country, violence, suffering, injustice, inequality, illiteracy and poverty remain unpleasant reminders of conflict in daily life. The post-war tag doesn't make sense. In addition to the many injuries from landmines and artillery, over 80 per cent of Afghan children reveal the psychological scars of war. A survey conducted by the United Nations Children's Fund - on the effect of war on children aged 8 ... read more

Saudi Arabia and India: Global partners against terrorism
Saudi Arabia has faced more than 60 attacks by terror groups Al-Qaeda and Daesh, about half of them in the last two years alone. Daesh, also known in the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria -, called for the extermination of the Saudi royal family in three formal pronouncements issued between 2014 and 2016. India is the third-biggest target of terror attacks after Iraq and Afghanistan. Of the 11,072 terror attacks worldwide in 2016, as many as 927 took place in India. Saudi Arabia and India have a long history of shared prosperity and pain, unifying them in happiness and grief. Having faced the ... read more

Pranab's Mission Nagpur: Striking a blow for democracy
The images from Nagpur were, in the words of a Congressman, hard to digest. Here was Pranab Mukherjee, a dyed-in-the-wool secularist, who had spent a lifetime in the Congress party, then became the President of India with the responsibility of upholding its Constitution, sharing the platform with, and enjoying the hospitality of, a person -- and the organisation he heads, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh - -- espousing values and ideals that are the very antithesis of all he stood and strove for his entire life. You were part of the government that banned the RSS in 1975 and again in 1992. Do ... read more

India's education system needs urgent rewiring: Are we running out of time?
The CBSE results are out and students would be enrolling in droves for university education. While children find it exciting to embark on the next chapter of their life-journey, it is also a worrying and stressful exercise because of the significant demand-supply mismatch and, further, that none of India's higher educational institutions feature in the top 100 QS rankings. For students with exceptional aptitude, this can be a major disappointment. For a country of India's size and aspiration, this is a major failure. The reasons behind India's education crisis lie in the seven-decade approac ... read more

Try canola oil if you are diabetic, obese
What oil do you cook with? If you have been stuck with olive or other vegetable oils, it's time to shift to a healthier option: Canola oil. Research has shown that canola oil helps lower blood sugar in people with Type II diabetes. David Jenkins, head of the St. Michael Hospital's Clinical Nutrition and Risk Factor Modification Centre in Toronto, Canada, conducted the study where one group ate bread made with canola oil and a control group ate normal bread. The study found that the group that ate bread made up of canola oil experienced lower blood glucose - levels. Numerous cooking oils add ... read more

Corporate wellness goals will spell good health for healthcare industry
With a surge in unhealthy lifestyles, increased cases of mental illness and NCDs in India the concept of workplace wellness has become pertinent. The market for corporate wellness, valued at $3.4 billion in 2015, is expected to reach $7.4 billion by 2024 and is expected to grow at a CAGR of nine per cent in the Asia-Pacific during this period. Achieving a work-life balance has been a struggle for Indian employees, but company heads are realising that investing in employee health and wellbeing adds to the bottom line, and are now offering perks in the form of healthcare solutions that go abov ... read more

Secrets to success for India's budding entrepreneurs and start-ups
India is blessed to be the third-largest start-up economy in the world. Unfortunately, there is a curse that comes with that blessing. That is, as indicated in a 2016 report issued by the IBM Institute for Business Value and Oxford Economics, 90 per cent of Indian start-ups fail within five years. The question is what can be done to reduce the number of failures? What are the secrets to success for India's budding entrepreneurs and its business start-ups? There are many. But, based upon research findings and my own experience as an entrepreneur, I would like to highlight a critical few. The ... read more

'Why can't action against CFCs be replicated against plastics?'
It may be true that the world is drowning in plastics. However, in the last few weeks, we are submerged more in statistics than in plastics. For example: One million plastic drinking water bottles are purchased every minute, five trillion single-use plastic bags are used worldwide every year, half of all plastic produced is designed to be used only once and then thrown away. The world has produced till date about 8.3 billion tonnes of plastics, that is more than one tonne per person. Out of the global plastic production of 380 million tonnes in 2016, equivalent of the total weight of the hum ... read more

Planning a student loan? 5 essentials to keep in mind
New Delhi, June 6 - For long, parents have been saving for the primary and secondary education of their children, as well as any higher studies. The past 10-15 years have seen a change with more students willing to take on the responsibility to fund their education, and this is where student loans play an important role. Walnut App CEO and Co-Founder Patanjali Somayaji lists five essentials to keep in mind when taking a student/education loan. * Be clear on the reason for taking a student loan Spend some time to think about your goals and employment prospects and how your chosen course or de ... read more

Going green with the green economy
* 24 trees. That's the number of trees that need to be cut to make one ton of uncoated, non-recycled printing and office paper. *10.6 per cent. That's how much India's per capita consumption of paper grew this year, poised to grow and touch 25 million tonnes by 2019-20. * 10 lakh tonnes. The amount of paper imported by India last year, making it one of the biggest importers of paper in the world. * 10 litres. The amount of water used to make a single sheet of A4 paper. These figures show the heavy dependence of the Indian market on paper. Every day, businesses across India, utilise many shee ... read more

The planet's pernicious plastic plague peril
Thanks to the wonders of modern industrial technology we are now producing 20 times as much plastic as we were doing in 1964. If the current trend continues, output will double in 20 years and double again by 2050. Our hunger for the convenience of plastic products is insatiable. Buy it, use it, throw it away, buy another one -- drinks come in plastic bottles with plastic drinking straws; food comes wrapped in cling film; fast food is served in polystyrene containers with plastic cutlery. No need to wash up; just throw it away. Sorted. If only that were true. Modern society has become addic ... read more

There's a spiritual aspect to running
In 2008, during a transition period between jobs, I attended a Team in Training meeting as part of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society to learn more about running a half-marathon and raising funds for society. On an impulse I decided to enroll with the end goal of running the Nike Women's Half Marathon in San Francisco. Those training sessions leading up to the event were gruelling, especially for an out-of-shape engineer who stares at a computer most of the day. But I persisted and, in hindsight - that was one of the better decisions I made in how to live my life. It revealed an entire new vi ... read more

Bravehearts in the line of fire: The forgotten story of India's firefighters
Five minutes. This thin, precious, slice of time is all the window one gets to escape a fire accident. For a firefighter, the countdown that begins with the distress call turns into agonising moments of helplessness as his fire truck navigates traffic snarls and narrow roads to reach the accident spot. Once there, his humble uniform and gear are no match for the fury of the flames - there is a scarcity of personnel protective equipment that could shield his body, sometimes, there aren't even enough masks. His fire truck does not have the sleek hydraulic ladders that can match the towering he ... read more

Reforms show results, realty turns consumer-friendly
The four years of the Narendra Modi government, marked by landmark reforms, have seen the complete transformation of the unorganised and opaque real estate sector into a regulated, transparent, affordable and consumer-friendly asset class. Notwithstanding the global slowdown, Indian real estate's troubles have been self-created. The sector has been bogged down largely due to lack of regulation and transparency and inflated pricing, owing to speculative operations. Over the years, the foul play by a large number of realtors played havoc with the sector. It is in this backdrop that the governm ... read more

Opposition joins hands even as doves in RAW and ISI coo
Two mutually reinforcing images from last week may well define the next phase in national affairs. It is too early to call them game changers but they have considerable potential. The most comprehensive array of opposition leaders, almost a record, who assembled in Bangaluru for H.D. Kumaraswamy's swearing in as Chief Minister of Karnataka, is significant because it happened despite the contradictions inherent between the various groups in that galaxy. The occasion produced the man and he better be noticed: Kunwar Danish Ali, the Jamia Millia educated, JD-S spokesman, carried sufficient cred ... read more

Grasping at straws: Pathetic state of biofuels in India
For the past several winters, Delhi has drawn global attention for its life-threatening smog levels. This is attributed, in part, to the open burning of biomass residues like paddy straw and stubble in the neighbouring states of Punjab and Haryana. Ironically, while these residues can contribute to lethal levels of air pollution when burnt, they can in fact reduce air pollution if converted to biomass-based fuels. So, with a no-brainer solution to the capital's annual problem, what has held back its implementation? The biofuels story so far in India has been pretty underwhelming, despite com ... read more

25 years of conserving biodiversity in the Hindu Kush Himalayas
This year marks a quarter century of the ratification of the Convention on Biological Diversity - - an agreement among 196 countries to conserve the earth's biological diversity while ensuring it is used sustainably and that the benefits from using genetic resources are shared fairly. All eight countries of the Hindu Kush Himalaya -, from Afghanistan in the west to Myanmar in the east, are signatories to the convention. The HKH region hosts four biodiversity hotspots - the Himalaya, the Indo-Burma, the mountains of southeast China, and the mountains of Central Asia - that are home to species ... read more

Bollywood marketing caught in a 70-year time warp
It is well known that in spite of producing the largest number of films in the world the health of the industry is not very sound. With a success rate of a mere 10 per cent, there is no way the business can hope to thrive or even rise to its full potential. There are various reasons for this including over production, shortage of screen time and competition from other entertainment options. However, the most significant is the rising cost of production and even more the rising cost of marketing. Major films often spend as much as upwards of Rs 20 crore on advertising, promotion and marketing ... read more

Ramadan ceasefire In Kashmir meaningless if media war continues
I have never seen the electronic media so totally defiant of the BJP government. Home Minister Rajnath Singh's avowed intention to calm Kashmir by announcing a Ramadan ceasefire appears to have been dismissed as appeasement of Pakistan and terrorists. A guest peering out of one of the six windows on the TV screen was frothing in the mouth. Murderers of our brave jawans are being shamelessly appeased. The other went one better: A brave nation does what the Sri Lankan army did to the LTTE - just finished them off. The anchor on this Aaj Tak show Thursday evening looked angrier than both. This ... read more

Why it's important to teach students ethics of work
Quite a number of years ago, I was invited to give a major lecture at my alma mater IIT-Kanpur -. My lecture was an inspirational one where I told the students how they can, through their technological training, help in nation-building and in the process, achieve happiness. After my lecture a group of students wanted to discuss with me some issues on agriculture -. So, at a Cafe Coffee Day outlet on the campus, some of them said I stressed too much on idealism and the country. They said corruption is a part of life and they can factor that in their enterprise as increased service cost. Their ... read more

GEAC declines to give green light to GM mustard, seeks impact on bees
New Delhi, May 15 - The regulator for genetically modified - crops in its meeting on March 21 declined to reinforce its decision in May 2017 recommending approval for commercial cultivation of the GM mustard hybrid developed by a team of Delhi University scientists. Instead it decided to seek data on the impact of the hybrid on honeybees, other pollinators and soil microbes. The minutes of Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee -'s March meeting were posted on its site on Monday. At the meeting, the GEAC asserted that the issues in the representations it received against its May 2017 decisi ... read more

Let's put our money in the light combat aircraft
In its pursuit of global maritime dominance, China has decided to create a force of three aircraft-carriers -- one for each of its fleets. Like India, China first acquired an old Soviet-era aircraft-carrier, but - refurbished it at home and commissioned it as the ski-jump equipped Liaoning in 2012. A bigger, indigenously-designed and- built ship, designated Type 001A, followed in April 2017. An even larger successor, designated Type 002, shunning the ski-jump and emulating US design philosophies, is on the way. In order to maintain three operational carriers, the PLA Navy - will need to buil ... read more

Probit regression model can almost accurately predict election outcomes
This year -- the year before the 2019 Lok Sabha elections -- was to witness elections in a total of eight states. Three are already done, and it will be interesting to see how voters' opinions shape electoral outcomes in the remaining five states. In deciding who to vote for, citizens take into account certain factors which they think of as important in choosing their leaders. In most democracies, a common belief dominant among politicians is that of all the factors, it is good economics that makes for good politics. But to attribute an incumbent's successful re-election to just economic gro ... read more

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