Monday, 30 June 2014

THE POWER OF SMILE




Every time you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing.
This famous quote was said by one of the most saintly figure on the earth MOTHER TERESA.
According to her a smile can do wonders. Smile is a gesture, a better way to elicit your responses from laughter to empathy.
A smile portrays a person with full warmth and affection and can draw others towards you instantly. It makes you a charming and a confident person which could lead you to greater heights...
A smile has the power to inspire others. It can change someone else’s mood for the better.
It helps in relieving stress thereby creating a positive atmosphere all around.
A smile can inspire many artists and one of the greatest smiles has been captured by a famous painter of the times – Leonardo Da Vinci, which is reckoned as MONA LISA’S SMILE.
A smile thus is a symbol of unity and peace. Each one of us is blessed with this most potent weapon but the only need is to express it at the right time.
Finally, I want to share with you all what one of my friend shared with me and truly it’s a remedy to all my worries. She said that whenever you are in the lowest of mood, just relive and recollect all the good memories which you have collected in your life. Remembering those times will surely bring a smile on your face and you’ll forget all your problems at least at that particular moment.
So smile always and stay happy.

CORRUPTION IN DIFFERENT TIMES



Today, one of the most important questions which has come to my mind is – How is it that corruption came to the fore?? Well as we have seen in the age of Neanderthals (the primitive humans) people live amicably without any expectations. Whatever they had, they remain contented. People peacefully lived in bands constituting about 15-20 people. There were no state structures and no proper definition of territoriality in those times.
So, what eventually happened with the formation of political structures and with the coming up of nation states that led in staggering increase of people’s avarice. Let’s unfold the pages of history a little to delve deeper into the topic.
In a patrimonial regime (which every society has gone through), ruler, his family members and officials (who were merely the patron of the ruler) were accountable to none and committed acts of omission and commission but they made sure to keep their subjects happy so as not to instigate them for rebellion against the ruled. Corruption under such circumstances was limited even in the absence of accountability since societies in general remain prosperous.
Whereas in a competitive regime, where competition for power is ensued; institutions of accountability are either ineffective or are missing. Distribution of power is unbalanced in favour of certain social or ethnic groups. Where political change has occurred through revolution, revolution leaders gained legitimacy through their charisma and were less concerned with building institutions of accountability. They were simply concerned with completely taking over of state power from the previous rulers. Corruption in this phase exploded. Thus, a culture of privilege reigned, making unequal treatment the accepted norm in society and corruption as a system got institutionalized.
As per my observation, I found that there is a difference between corruption in a developing and a developed society.
For this, the answer lies in the third kind of regime- wherein people demand professional and accountable institutions to look into the atrocities committed by those in power. This calls for a LIBERAL DEMOCRACY as in USA. In such developed countries we will see only individual cases of infringement rather than a nexus. Such as the one committed by the former Director, Goldman Sachs Rajat Gupta and the likes.
So, how can we attain a liberal democracy, which is to say, how can we fight against corruption?
§  Try and build the kind of government that is both accountable and fair
§  Corrupt countries should emulate models of clean countries like the Scandinavian kind of model of OMBUDSMAN
§  International assistance is crucial to push for adoption of some institutional weapons that anti corruption coalition can use
§  More transparency in legislation and taking into account all the stakeholders
§  Compulsory disclosure of wealth by the politicians, civil servants and other public officials
§  Create incentives for politicians to “GO CLEAN”  (especially during elections) by constant monitoring by public and disclosure
§  An active cooperation by government and active participation by civil society institutions in implementing measures can create a healthy environment.

Thursday, 26 June 2014

CYBER SECURITY - Need or Just An Apprehension ?



The World Wide Web consortium which is popularly known as Internet has added several new dimensions to the way computers are being used today. Due to over dependence on Information & Communication Technology in today’s globalised world, it has become imperative to protect citizens’ lives, and governmental institutions from the growing menace of cyber crimes. Thus, the term Cyber Security consists of two terms viz. Cyber, that is, the entire space of ICT and Security which means protection against any probable or perceived threat.
The core principles of cyber security can be identified as confidentiality, integrity and availability. Cyber security is the sum total of all activities and operations which are aimed at reduction and prevention of threat and vulnerabilities and having in place policies for protection, incidence response, data assurance, data recovery and much more. It has become a global menace. Nations around the globe are creating their cyber armies. The attackers could be hackers or terrorists or some spy men who could inflict severe damages to critical infrastructure like banking systems, air traffic control system, power infrastructure, gas pipelines. Their objectives could be anything ranging from shutting down the system, promote hatred, steal confidential data, gain access to the system, and manipulate data or simply espionage on the working of the governmental institutions.
The prolific use of internet for applications such as e-governance, e-Commerce, e-Banking, e-Learning etc. has made e-Security an important aspect of Computers and Networks. There is a need to consider cyber security as an essential component of national security. All stakeholders must foresee and plan for various challenges arising out of growth of internet and digitalization of governance. Consequently, National Cyber Security Policy, 2013 was unveiled by the government. The spate of incidents which has drawn the attention of policymakers includes attack by STUXNET VIRUS.  Although, its main target was Natanz Nuclear site in Iran but organizations across the world (including India) operating with Siemens suffered a collateral damage. FLAME VIRUS was also used for data gathering espionage.  Therefore, the key features as envisaged in this policy include: 
·         Creating a national level nodal agency coordinating the matters related to cyber security.
·         Ensure that all organizations keep aside some specific budget to implement security policies and initiatives.
·         Undertake and invest in various R&D programs in area of national cyber security.
·         A 24*7 operational national level computer emergency response team (CERT) which will handle all communication in cyber crisis situations. 
India’s major security concerns lay across its borders viz. China and Pakistan. Pakistan defaces Indian websites by writing derogatory messages against India since 2000-01. On the other hand, China has pledged to create best “informatised” army. The attacks and counter-attacks on governmental websites are a testimony to this fact.
Thus, to ensure the security of our nation, government, national security experts and industry catering to strategic sectors of the economy should come together. Companies must invest in putting cyber defence architecture. Government should create an environment within which the security is built into our cyber and communications working methods.
ICT thus poses many social, economic, and security related challenges. Consequently, lack of security in cyber space undermines confidence in information society. But, without the active cooperation and engagement between nations, it is doubtful that any country can protect all by itself.

LESSONS LEARNT IN THE HIMALAYAS AFTER A YEAR





One year has passed since the catastrophic “natural” disaster in the Himalayas shook the world. The unfateful tragedy was basically the result of excessive commercialization and man-made activities. Man’s ignorance in developing a sustainable environment led to this catastrophe which took a huge toll of lives; buildings and homes on the riverbed collapsed like a pack of cards. Men, vehicles and animals swayed along with intense flood streams. The memories are still afresh.

In my opinion, the reason for this widespread devastation could be attributed to rapid urbanization which was the result of increasing population and commercialization of pilgrimage tourism. People from all over the world thronged to two most famous pilgrimage sites of Kedarnath Temple and HEmkund Sahib. Consequently, deforestation was recklessly pursued to create massive infrastructure like house construction, building of roadways, guest houses et cetra. The presence of heavy pilgrim population led to coming of many new hotel clusters, resorts and commercial complexes on river boundaries leaving little or no buffer zone between human settlements and riverbed.  Roads were built haphazardly by blasting the vulnerable Himalayas which are still young and rising, destabilizing them and loosening up boulders, soil and plantations. Builders dump vast mound of debris into rivers causing their path of flow to change. Large scale hydropower and allied construction activities were pursued in the name of “development”. Therefore, these became the potential sources of slope weakening and destabilization. Hydel projects are still being constructed on the seismic zone. Dam operators release more water during rains than their carrying capacity of downstream areas causing floods. Environmental norms were continually flouted in the name of development.  

To prevent Uttarakhand kind of disaster from recurrence, all stakeholders including both union and state governments should work in cohesion. There should be an integrated policy on the Himalayan environment and development. Himalayan state governments need to consider imposing high environmental tax on visitors and regulate the influx of tourists. Ministry of Environment & Forests (MoEF) should redefine the term “sensitive zones” after taking inputs from National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES). There should be a clear policy on river beds and flood plains and reform land use policy. Prior warning systems should be installed by Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) and proper follow up at ground level needs to be ensured. As Himalayas are earthquake prone due to its several thrusts and faults, any kind of major mining, construction or blasting activity would further weaken the hills and therefore should be avoided. Roads and other critical infrastructure should be built according to the hill construction norms. Small hydel projects should replace large dams.

Though states have the sovereignty to build structures but these need to be done within a sustainable and clear framework. Thus construction activity in the hill states should not be confused with development. Instead it should be people oriented. In the hills, rural and cottage industry must be promoted apart fro agro-forestry, hill agriculture, animal husbandry and technology to reduce drudgery for women besides enhancing literacy. Laws like Forest Rights act and Panchayats (extension to Scheduled Areas) act should be implemented in letter and spirit in tribal areas. A massive plantation drive should be put in place to restore the ecosystem.

What India really lacks is a NATGRID for disaster management to help integrate different wings of government Centre, states and districts. The need is for different agencies working together. An action plan for India to mitigate such dangers should include resilience building by spreading disaster awareness, protecting the environment by reducing Carbon footprint.


One year has passed since the catastrophic “natural” disaster in the Himalayas shook the world. The unfateful tragedy was basically the result of excessive commercialization and man-made activities. Man’s ignorance in developing a sustainable environment led to this catastrophe which took a huge toll of lives; buildings and homes on the riverbed collapsed like a pack of cards. Men, vehicles and animals swayed along with intense flood streams. The memories are still afresh.

In my opinion, the reason for this widespread devastation could be attributed to rapid urbanization which was the result of increasing population and commercialization of pilgrimage tourism. People from all over the world thronged to two most famous pilgrimage sites of Kedarnath Temple and HEmkund Sahib. Consequently, deforestation was recklessly pursued to create massive infrastructure like house construction, building of roadways, guest houses et cetra. The presence of heavy pilgrim population led to coming of many new hotel clusters, resorts and commercial complexes on river boundaries leaving little or no buffer zone between human settlements and riverbed.  Roads were built haphazardly by blasting the vulnerable Himalayas which are still young and rising, destabilizing them and loosening up boulders, soil and plantations. Builders dump vast mound of debris into rivers causing their path of flow to change. Large scale hydropower and allied construction activities were pursued in the name of “development”. Therefore, these became the potential sources of slope weakening and destabilization. Hydel projects are still being constructed on the seismic zone. Dam operators release more water during rains than their carrying capacity of downstream areas causing floods. Environmental norms were continually flouted in the name of development.  

To prevent Uttarakhand kind of disaster from recurrence, all stakeholders including both union and state governments should work in cohesion. There should be an integrated policy on the Himalayan environment and development. Himalayan state governments need to consider imposing high environmental tax on visitors and regulate the influx of tourists. Ministry of Environment & Forests (MoEF) should redefine the term “sensitive zones” after taking inputs from National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES). There should be a clear policy on river beds and flood plains and reform land use policy. Prior warning systems should be installed by Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) and proper follow up at ground level needs to be ensured. As Himalayas are earthquake prone due to its several thrusts and faults, any kind of major mining, construction or blasting activity would further weaken the hills and therefore should be avoided. Roads and other critical infrastructure should be built according to the hill construction norms. Small hydel projects should replace large dams.

Though states have the sovereignty to build structures but these need to be done within a sustainable and clear framework. Thus construction activity in the hill states should not be confused with development. Instead it should be people oriented. In the hills, rural and cottage industry must be promoted apart fro agro-forestry, hill agriculture, animal husbandry and technology to reduce drudgery for women besides enhancing literacy. Laws like Forest Rights act and Panchayats (extension to Scheduled Areas) act should be implemented in letter and spirit in tribal areas. A massive plantation drive should be put in place to restore the ecosystem.

What India really lacks is a NATGRID for disaster management to help integrate different wings of government Centre, states and districts. The need is for different agencies working together. An action plan for India to mitigate such dangers should include resilience building by spreading disaster awareness, protecting the environment by reducing Carbon footprint.
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