Author: Shruti Rao
As the whole world is getting used to life in lockdown during the coronavirus pandemic some of the biggest information technology companies made a welcome announcement. In the last week of April 2020 companies like Infosys, Tech Mahindra, and TCS announced that they will have 75-90% of their staff working from home permanently. This was followed by Facebook announcing that it would let its employees work from home for one year and Google announcing its employees will be allowed to work from home until the end of 2020.
Different parts of the world have responded to the work from home option with their own set of challenges. For example, a study conducted by an Argentinian based public policy think-tank surveyed 250 firms in Argentina and found 93% of them had switched to teleworking. Another study by Baldwin, R and B Weder di Mauro on ‘Economics in the time of COVID-19’ revealed that while 96% of top executives in Japan understood the necessity for work from home only 31% managed to adopt teleworking because there are no clear rules of teleworking in Japan as yet.
It is presumed that workers in developed countries would be able to adopt a teleworking lifestyle more easily than in a developing nation due to infrastructure and other technological advancements and the culture that puts emphasis on work-life balance. So where does India fall with tech giants such as Infosys, TCS, etc adopting the same policy?
On this National Technology Day, let us have a look at the pros and cons of how the digital transformation of the information communication technology companies in India will affect the workforce and the economy.
Starting with the positives, the work from home policy has many benefits not only for the workforce but also on the environmental issues that India faces:
1. Work-Life Balance:
Right off the bat, it is pertinent to address India’s work culture, which often gets a bad reputation with the long-work hours and terrible commuting times. A study by MoveInSync says that Indians on average spend a minimum of 2 hours in traffic every day to commute to and from work, this makes up for 7% of their day. In the past, there have been calls for including the commute time into the work hours as well. By working from home, it will not only ensure that employees will have that extra hour to spend on their families, and health, giving them an overall sense of well-being.
2. More Women in the Workforce
A lot of women for a long time now have had to quit the workforce to tend to families. This has curtailed their career progression. So women who are looking to re-join will have more flexible options. JobsForHer, a job search portal catering to women, saw more companies open up roles that were not previously open to women in the month of March 2020 as compared to the pre-COVID times. The work from home policy would be a step in the right direction to close the gender gap at the workplace
3. Environmental Benefits:
As mentioned above, millions of workers commute for 2 hours on average to and from work daily. A work from home policy could benefit the environment as well, as it would reduce the amount of toxic pollution being let out every day by vehicles, reduce the sound pollution and also help metro cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore with terrible traffic woes to ease their traffic during rush hour. It would also improve the health of workers as they would not be inhaling toxic fumes during this traffic any more.
4. Boost in 5G adoption at home
India is at the cusp of adopting 5G technology, a work from home policy may lead to a surge in demand for home connections for this technology. Manish Vyas, CEO, Network, Tech Mahindra shared recently that telecom companies will have to look for a product mix that will fulfill the growing digitization needs in India. This would be a boost to the telecom industry.
5. Minimizing fixed costs
From a business point of view, it would certainly reduce some of the fixed costs such as rents, utilities, maintenance, etc, for businesses should they cut back on the number of employees who need to come into work. This would help companies manage their finances in the post-COVID economy.
Watch: Digital Revolution in India
While the benefits seem too good to be true, the Indian economy also will come with its own set of challenges as this policy is adopted:
1. A decrease in employment opportunities for staff
A lot of manpower is required to maintain traditional offices and therefore generates a lot of employment. If businesses start shutting down large offices and move to smaller spaces, India will need to have a plan B for critical staff that is employed to keep the offices smoothly functioning every day.
2. Real Estate Sector
A majority of income in real estate is generated from the commercial real estate sector. With companies cutting back on office space the commercial real estate sector will have to find innovative ways to keep up in the race. Most employees like working from home, but most of them also like coming into work. The real estate market will have to innovate and find flexible solutions for companies to cater to the new trends in the workplace
2. Impact on the Telecommunication sector
While it is exciting to think about the adoption of the upcoming 5G technology, it would be important to also think about the burden that might fall on the telecommunication industry in India. Quality of service would be very important to deliver if the workplace shifts to home. The existing infrastructure in India for the information communication technology in India is inadequate and will have to be revamped to ensure a smooth transition from a traditional workplace to working from home.
Theoretically speaking, the pros seem to definitely outweigh the cons. However, only time passes by will we know how the effectiveness of this new policy being adopted by the information technology companies. However, until then it is exciting to think of the upcoming possibilities at a personal, professional, and environmental front.
Mastering India focuses on blending various methods of learning (blended learning) through its online courses, events, and travel-based experiences. We give you an insight into the rich culture and heritage of the world’s biggest democracy – India. At Mastering India we are driven towards building awareness around India and help you understand the growth opportunities in this country.
Author: Divya Badri
Mother: The first to handhold you and teach you
On Mothers Day, let us look at just four kinds of mothers there are out there in this world :
- The Thinking Mother: She may be the one who philosophizes and writes poetry and teaches her child to appreciate Tagore. “Where the mind is without fear and the head is high…” and makes it the foundation of her child’s upbringing.
- The Caregiving Mother: She may be the one who takes on heavy caregiving responsibilities at home keeps track of the pantry is stocked, fridge being full, clean towels and toilets, bills paid and personal hygienes of all members in family maintained and ensures the first aid kit is always updated.
- The Verbal Mother: She teaches you to talk, she sings with you, she helps you with your homework. These language skills eventually will help you develop issues and discourses.
- The Sporty Mother: She either goes jogging with you or drives you to your weekly sports training. She does yoga with you and teaches you meditation techniques.
Watch: Mindfulness vs Yoga
A mother may be one of these or all these rolled into one for there are as many kinds of mothers as there are personality types in this world. More than a mother, does she play yet another role? As we get more and more involved in years of formal education that keeps us focussed for almost 15 years of our youth on daily school routines, tests, evaluations, let us take a moment to ask ourselves what the mission of a teacher is. It teaches a language to convey thought? Is it to teach socializing through interactive” process with fellow humans? Is it to get life skills? Is it to learn to be self- confident and independent? Is it to light the flame of critical thinking? Who plays an important role in a person’s social and professional prospects?
Who really is our teacher?
If she lights the flame of critical thinking, curiosity, and self–confidence to become independent humans, then clearly, the Mother is the first teacher. She instills liberal ideals in the child, that provides it with confidence in their own abilities, and the need for hard work to develop them tirelessly.
If a mother passes on these skills to her child, she teaches valuable life skills and the Mother is a teacher. Caregiving comes so many responsibilities that lead to invaluable skills that a Mother develops.
If she is involved in the development of her child’s physical and emotional development, creative thinking, and self-esteem, then the Mother is a teacher. Responsible for fostering her child’s socialization, she indirectly and directly contributes to the formation of an autonomous, free, and responsible person.
If a mother’s available for her child, she is likely to encourage the development of empathy and self-confidence in her child, since the child is receiving benevolent attention.
What are the learning outcomes you receive from a mother? Is it about knowledge learned (life skills, social skills, personal hygiene skills, etc.)? Or is it about demonstrating a good capacity to lead a globally coherent thinking process, with an analytical work that moves the reflection forward, the pleasure of thinking? Or is it about empathy and encouraging progress with openness and kindness? If it is about any of these or all of these, then certainly, a mother is to be credited as being the first teacher of her child. And the evaluation would be the end result of just being the adult you are. On Mother’s Day, we remember who our first teacher is and wish Mother, teacher a Happy Mother’s Day.
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Migratory birds are nothing less than nature’s miracle. As we observe the world migratory birds day, I find it fascinating to examine how India has been host to several migratory birds for centuries. By the virtue of its geographic location, India is a haven for several species of birds. While many of them fly thousands of kilometers to avoid harsh winters, several other bird species see India as a good habitat for breeding and raising their little ones. If you are new to India, you will be happy to know how each region of the country is home to a different variety of migratory birds.
As I move on to share my thoughts about these avian fellas, it strikes me how a single blog can perhaps do no justice to the various batches of birds taking flights to India. Yet, I am going ahead with presenting my thoughts and understanding of these beautiful winged creatures. It is interesting to see how the Indian government has identified and set up dedicated bird sanctuaries – it is almost like setting runways for the easy landing of the migratory birds. There are more than 50 bird sanctuaries in the country; I begin my journey into the avian ecology with the famous Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary, now known as Keoladeo National Park.
Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary: Heaven for Migratory Birds
A world heritage site now, the bird sanctuary was once a duck shooting venue for the British viceroys. For instance, on the fatal day of 12th Nov 1938, Viceroy Linlithgow and his hunting team shot down, 4273 birds using 39 guns. Imagine… so many birds being shot just for entertainment! Today instead of the gun firings, all you hear here is a cacophony of native as well as migratory birds.
The picture shared below is the records cast in stone in the Bharatpur bird sanctuary. Any visitor to the beautiful bird sanctuary can feel their blood curdle on seeing this grave imagining just how many more birds there should be. Extinction, no doubt, is a real issue – and turns out, is more of a human-made problem.
Among its noted avian guests to the Bharatpur bird sanctuary are the Siberian cranes. Also known as snow cranes, the endangered bird species, migrate to Bharatpur in the winters. Bar-headed goose, pelicans, teals, and mallards can also be spotted in this avifauna sanctuary.
Besides Bharatpur, Haryana’s Sultanpur bird sanctuary, Salim Ali bird sanctuary in Goa, Orissa’s Chilka Lake, and Kumarakom bird sanctuary in Kerala, also host several migratory birds each year. Nalsarovar in the state of Gujarat, the largest wetland of the state, is another beautiful place for spotting the migratory birds. From the rosy pelicans, purple moorhen, brahminy ducks, to the greater and lesser flamingos – Nalsorovar is a bird watcher’s paradise for sure.
Protecting Avian Migration
As I researched on migratory birds, their migration patterns, and other such interesting details – I also came across some hard facts like how pollution and other human activities are hampering the migration patterns of these birds. Migratory birds are part of our shared natural heritage. A dedicated day for migratory birds highlights the need for awareness and building ecosystems which makes flights easier for these birds.
The recent spotting of 150,000 flamingos in the bustling city of Mumbai, amid covid19 lockdown, made me think how much we have hampered the environment with our unsustainable activities.
There is a dire need to create awareness around ways in which we humans are causing the extinction of birds. From India to Europe, birds are falling dead from the sky.
Did you know the Giddh or the Long-billed Vulture (Gyps indicus) is going extinct because of Diclofenac? Who amongst us hasn’t used Diclofenac? Would you imagine something that we buy over the counter could critically threaten to birds?
Seeing the Indian vultures after ages with my own eyes jumpstarted me out of my own navel-gazing. They were seen often soaring above. They use their fantastic hooked bills to cleanly rip the flesh off the bones in carcasses. Often vilified in our human stories and cartoons, these fine birds are in great danger of extinction. One of the prime causes of decline being the use of Diclofenac, the common non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug used to treat livestock that kills these impressive vultures, when they feed on carcasses. The vultures then die of kidney failure. They are also dying due to hunger. There simply aren’t enough carcasses for the vultures to feed on, because humans use them for themselves!
The Indian government-imposed ban on Diclofenac from 2006 and the pharmaceutical firms was then encouraged to promote an alternative drug, which is proven to be safe for vultures and effective treatment for livestock. Unfortunately, the misuse of human forms of diclofenac in the veterinary sector remains a significant threat to vultures.
The theme of this year’s world migratory bird day is “Birds Connect Our World”. It is high time we spare a positive thought and act responsibly towards a sustainable future for all life forms, non-judgmentally. It’s up to us to stop navel-gazing and look up to get a bird’s eye view of things. For if the birds were to start judging us humans, even with their bird brains, it would not be a pleasant judgment.
Mastering India gives you an insight into the rich culture and heritage of the world’s biggest democracy – India. At Mastering India we are driven towards building awareness around India and help you understand the growth opportunities in this country.
On the south-west corner of India, lies the lush state of Kerala. Well-known among travel enthusiasts for its greenery, the coconut and paddy fields, the seashore, pilgrimage centers, and relics of colonial architecture. For many others, Kerala stands out as one of the most literate states in India with its human development index on par with some of the most progressive countries in the world.
The state has been in news recently for some other reason though. It is for the manner in which Kerala not only tackled the coronavirus pandemic but also flattened the curve.
Kerala’s Coronavirus Story
As covid19 spread throughout the globe, India’s first positive case of coronavirus was traced back to Kerala – a medical student who returned from Wuhan. With a porous border and a huge number of expatriates traveling to and from the state, it hardly took any time for the coronavirus to spread and the curve to bulge high.
Two months down, Kerala has not only controlled the spread of the pandemic but has also flattened the curve. How did Kerala manage to do this? Who does one credit for this outstanding way of controlling the spread of the deadly virus? Is it the administrative system and the healthcare facilities? Or, is it due to the literacy rate of this state?
The simple answer is it is a combination of right governance, proactive civil society, and best healthcare facilities. Let us diagnose the role of each of these elements:
Turning Houseboats into Isolation Wards
No doubt the health facilities in Kerala are one of the best in the country. With at least two primary healthcare centers for every three villages, the extensive healthcare infrastructure turned out to be a boon for tackling the virus. What made Kerala stand out is the manner in which it tackled the high demand for isolation wards with coronavirus outbreak. While the Indian government transformed railway berths into isolation wards, Kerala turned its houseboats as isolation venues. Some nature therapy for those placed under isolation!
Constant monitoring, aggressive testing, and contact tracing emerged as the real game-changers in the fight against coronavirus.
Proactive Civil Society
Be it coronavirus or any other pandemic, a success story cannot be made without the proactive participation and support of the civil society. Adhering to self-imposed quarantine, accepting social distancing, and the wearing of masks, have been strongly followed in the state. To make the masses understand the severity of the situation, several self-help groups and NGOs came up with awareness campaigns on the importance of personal hygiene, cleanliness, and the need to maintain social distance.
Resident associations, youth organizations, and professional organizations all came together for the “Break the Chain” campaign – which got widespread popularity through social media feeds and videos.
Watch: Touchless Greetings
Governance Par Excellence
The true test of governance machinery is its ability to tackle situations like coronavirus outbreak. It is in such difficult times that the grit and leadership qualities of those in the position of power and authority come to the forefront. The governance model in Kerala follows the paradigm of an inverted pyramid – with village panchayats, municipalities, and local governing bodies having ample authority to make the impossible possible. This decentralized governance system enabled large-scale monitoring and testing of the citizens. Also, rather than getting into the panic mode, government bodies adopted the attitude of vigilance. Proper and regular communication about the coronavirus pandemic went a long way in building trust in the people.
What Kerala model has proved is that it takes sheer resolve and robust administrative systems to fight Covid-19. While there has been a lot of coverage on how Kerala flattened the curve – one needs to keep in mind that this was not achieved overnight. Also, flattening the curve does not mean the pandemic does not exist anymore in the state. Rather, Kerala has lessons for people and governments around the world with its frugal innovation methods, community mobilization, and decentralized governance.
Mastering India gives you an insight into the rich culture and heritage of the world’s biggest democracy – India. At Mastering India we are driven towards building awareness around India and help you understand the growth opportunities in this country.
When I Visited World Heritage Sites
World Heritage Day is an international day for monuments and sites. I have visited many world heritage sites. I visited these sites in different geographies. Museum Island in Berlin, Duomo Cathedral in Milan, San Marco Venice, Jungfrau mountain Switzerland, Old town of Bern, Switzerland, Swiss Vineyards of Lavaux, Statue of Liberty New York, Eiffel Tower Paris and Tower of London are just some of them.
Travel is a great experience for those who have the privilege. I get to enjoy time with my family, and it is a learning–filled experience for my family members. On World Heritage Day, I look up the list of world heritage sites. India is one of the world’s last surviving most ancient cultures and has many heritage sites. If you look at the criteria UNESCO uses, these are what they are. There are six of them:
- Represents a masterpiece of human creative genius.
- Exhibits an important interchange of human values.
- Bears a unique testimony to a cultural tradition of civilization.
- Is an outstanding example of an architectural or technological ensemble throughout history.
- Is an outstanding example of traditional human settlement or interaction with the environment.
- Is tangibly associated with traditions, ideas, beliefs, and works of universal significance.
I noticed three differences in the heritage sites I visited in Western Europe versus the ones I visited in India.
- The number: Western Europe has more sites attributed to heritage and culture by UNESCO than the Indian subcontinent has. (See screenshot of UNESCO map)
- The diversity: While landscaping and architecture are very eye–catching in the heritage sites of Western Europe, heritage sites showcase a diversity of art-forms going beyond physical architecture alone, spanning across the whole of the Indian subcontinent, that is simply unmatchable.
- The focus on sustainability: The Western European heritage sites show the world the dominion of Man. In India, visits to all the cultural and natural heritage sites showcase a peaceful co-existence of all life forms, flora, fauna included; of life on land and in the water included.
Personally, I have had the good fortune of visiting these UNESCO World Heritage sites in India: Amer fort Rajasthan, Taj Mahal Agra, Big Temple Tanjavur (Brihadeeshwara Temple), Bharatpur Bird sanctuary, Airawateshwara Kumbakonam, Fatehpur Sikhri Agra, Meenakshi Ammal Madurai, and Qutab Minar Delhi. Let me then explain each of these three points further.
Apart from these sites which are on the list of UNESCO Heritage sites, there is a lot more to see in India. At the time of writing this article, many examples of Indian heritage aren’t yet listed by UNESCO. These unlisted places form a very important part of Indian culture and heritage. Numbers then become a subjective quantification. If you look at the list of sites available on the UNESCO website, Europe has almost double the number of sites than India has.
India is a much older civilization than Europe. Isn’t it curious that Europe would then have more sites? A big reason for this is the process that goes behind the World Heritage Site certification granted by UNESCO. It costs a particular culture significant money, time and resources for cleaning and conservation, and then invite a UNESCO team to visit a site to ascertain its heritage status. It is only obvious that countries with larger budgets at their disposal for conservation of their heritage will have more tangible UNESCO World Heritage sites.
The Diversity of Art
To give you an example of the diversity of heritage present in India, from the Taj Mahal in Uttar Pradesh in North India to the Great Living Chola Temples in Tamil Nadu in Southern India, I stood speechless. It is not just the impressive continuity of civilization one gets to witness. Indian art forms are diverse and many. My team and I made this short video that shares some of the classical arts that can still be seen alive and well in India. Some of these I have grown up watching, imbibing and even enjoying by doing! They range from temple frescos, rock–cut sculptures, saris, rangoli, jewelry, and paintings.
Watch: How Elegant is Indian Art?
India also has a very rich performing arts scene that has kept its ancient storytelling culture alive. Many of these performing arts are alive not only for entertaining the masses but also to pass on traditions of faith and spirituality that keeps India’s family values in place in society. Some of these traditions are so valuable that Sangeet Natya Akademi, India’s central body for performing arts, that is responsible for preserving Indian culture (and comes under Ministry of Culture), nominated the Durga Pooja for UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage for 2020.
Durga Pooja is celebrated worldwide by the communities belonging to Bengal, the Eastern state of India, that was divided into West Bengal and Bangladesh. During Durga Pooja, the feminine divine is worshipped and celebrated by all genders in India, across all social divisions. In a significant role reversal, the woman is recognized as the creator, the one with the power to destroy and the power to sustain. She is recognized as the one with the power to give wealth and wisdom. It is a celebration that goes on for ten days. The same Goddess is revered in a traditon in Southern Indian state of Kerala called Mudiyeetu. Mudiyeetu is now a UNESCO world heritage as it is an intangible cultural ritual art form.
Watch this video, to get a glimpse of how various parts of India keep intangible cultural heritages alive, during just one of the many festivals that take place simultaneously across the land.
Here is a list of a few more examples of intangible cultural heritage of India that UNESCO has already recognized. However, there are many more examples of India’s intangible cultural heritage that does not have a UNESCO recognition. (more…)
By Himanshu Shukla
This is part one of our blog series on “Technological Innovations in Rural India”
As it is often said, “necessity is the mother of invention”. Talent can be found anywhere, and this is visible in the multipurpose modified Royal Enfield engine. They can be seen mostly in the Saurashtra region of Gujarat, India.
Earlier, old bikes ran on petrol, now diesel engines are also available in the market. When I visited my friend Ankur’s village Pedhla, near Jetpur city of Rajkot district in Gujarat; I was surprised to see how modified diesel engines were used by the locals. From the transportation of goods to conducting agricultural activities like ploughing and spraying of pesticides or fertilizers; modified diesel engines were used everywhere. It was even being used for commuting as well! The name given to this vehicle by people of Gujarat is Chakda and it’s been in Gujarat since the 1970s. I saw this as the best combination of creativity and sustainability in terms of its economical utilization.
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According to RTO (Regional Transport Office) of Rajkot, nearly 10,000 chakdas are moving on roads** and this number is very small considering the size of the state of Gujarat. However, its local availability makes it significant.
There are many reasons why chakda became the lifeline of rural Gujarat in India. During my exploration, I tried to figure it out by meeting the villagers. Why do they not prefer the usual small tractors, which are better designed for agricultural purposes? Why do they prefer chakda? How does chakda make their life easier?
To begin with, chakda has one big advantage over other vehicles available in the market is its adaptability. Even though a mini tractor is available in the market at a price range of Rs. 2 – 3 lakh, the problem arises with its associated parts. Add-ons are required for agriculture activities. If a person already has a cultivator or a plough, then it’s easy to reuse them with a chakda by welding. The mini tractor in comparison becomes a costly affair. One has to make a trip to the tractor company (which is usually far off) for modifications. The chakda, on the other hand, allows for modifications locally at welding shops. This way not only is it convenient to use but is easy on the pocket as well.
Figure: Tractor with cultivators used for ploughing the field
Figure: Chakda use for commutations inside the cities
From Cows to Chakda: Why the Transition?
It is common in rural Indian culture to worship cows and have livestock at home for various agricultural purposes. The transition from cows to chakda took place due to the following reasons:
- As farmers chose to grow cash crops, the availability of fodder for the livestock went down drastically
- The emergence of water scarcity also had a negative impact on livestock in rural areas.
- Vehicles like the tractors have a big turning radius when compared to chakda. This made chakdas easier to handle especially in the black soil which is found throughout in the state of Gujarat.
- People of Gujarat were quick to learn how to manufacture chakda Add to this, when the locals learned the art of servicing and modifying the engines, the adoption rate of chakdas grew at a fast rate. Today, this vehicle is used for many goods transportation, agriculture activities, commutations, and in some cases even as an ambulance.
- The rental model allowed people to use machines for several hours and pay by the hour.
Figure: Livestock of a farmer in Gujarat
An interesting thing is that some of these modified machines can run on kerosene as well. There was a time when kerosene was cheap thanks to government subsidies. Nowadays, with petrol/diesel pumps are easily available in rural India, kerosene is not used that widely.
Figure: Showing usage of the vehicle for spraying pesticide or insecticide
Source: Ankur Khanpara, PhD Research Scholar at CTARA, IIT Bombay
Technological Innovation at Grassroot Level in Rural India
Many innovative technologies are developed locally rather than by any qualified engineers. The best part is, most of these technologies are community-driven self-initiatives which are invented based on the needs of society. Chakda is one of those technologies which has been very helpful in rural areas of the Saurashtra region of Gujarat.
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Besides several advantages, technological innovations like chakda have some downsides as well. One major drawback of chakda is its non-compliance with the pollution norms of India. As most of these vehicles work on old engines, and with lakhs of these vehicles are running on the roads of Gujarat, it will have a negative impact on the environment. With the livelihood of several locals dependent on chakda, no strict laws have been implemented on its usage as of now. The policymakers on their part are working towards coming up with a viable solution that could benefit the local population without compromising on the environmental aspects.
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by Himanshu Shukla and Divya Badri
Holi is a festival of spreading love. It usually takes place during the month of “Phalguna”. This is a month in the Hindu calendar and usually falls around February or March. During this festival, people meet and greet each other by gently applying color. The traditional colour is called Gulal, and applied on each other’s face during Holi.
What is the Story behind Holi?
The festival of Holi goes back to the story of Lord Krishna; venerated all over India mainly in “Sanatan Dharma” (also known as Hinduism)
Why Do People Play With Colors?
Legend has it that when Krishna was a baby, he was attacked by his power-hungry maternal uncle. He survived the attacks as a baby but this resulted in the colour of his skin turning blue. Pre-teen Krishna had a very good friend, a girl named Radha. He was worried whether Radha and her friends liked him or not, due to the colour of his skin being so different. So, he went to his mother and asked for advice. His mother casually advised him to playfully put color on Radha, so that no one could differentiate between his and others’ skin colors. The plan worked and the friends played a colourful Holi happily!
Such a beautiful idea! Imagine a world full of people who look Green, Blue, Red or Yellow or Purple. A simple idea, given by Krishna’s mother to him, remains valid. Once you playfully colour another in vibrant Holi colours, you become unrecognisable. Differences based on class, caste, colour, religion, creed, sect, disappear. On Holi, everyone plays together inclusively. It demonstrates –
how playing with a little coloured powder and some water during Holi, could make one very happy!
Watch our Video on Holi:
Preparation for Holi Celebration
Holi preparations begin at home, one or two weeks in advance. All start making papad and sweets and many more dishes depending upon famous dishes in that region. People clean their homes and all family members come together to celebrate this happy festival.
Playing the game
On the morning of Holi, once the delicacies are ready, people visit each other. They greet by applying colors on each other’s faces and hugging. One welcomes guests with homemade sweets and dishes. Celebrators gather together in open spaces and dance to music to their heart’s content. The atmosphere is that of togetherness, positivity, and equality. You wear old clothes while playing Holi. They will be later reused for cleaning as mops or dusting towels. Isn’t that a sustainable way of celebration?! This concept of reuse/reduce have been practiced as tradition by Indians over generations.
Gulal and other Holi colours
Remember we spoke of Gulal, the colour? Earlier, Holi colors were made at home with materials available at home. With the industrial revolution in India, the manufacturing of artificial Holi colors came into practice and the traditional gulal took a back seat. Here is how, you can bring back organic colours into your holi celebrations.
Advice for Holi: How can Organic Holi Colors Be Made At Home?
Organic Holi colors are not only safe for the skin but also sustainable for the environment. Before running off to play Holi, make it a point to apply some coconut or sunflower oil all over your body. This will help you get rid of the coloured marks later. You can make Gulal (powdered color) by using any flour present in your home (wheat/non-wheat) and mixing in the right amount of organic colouring. Different organic colors made at home from vegetables and flowers are coming back in use. For example, boiling roses in water give red, green is possible from spinach and yellow from other flowers. These colors mixed with different flours and dried give you the organic Holi colours.
When celebrating Holi, you wish each other “HAPPY HOLI”. Diversity and inclusion as some of their biggest challenges in some societies. Cultural differences could make it hard for some to understand how inclusivity and gender equality are achieved, even celebrated in India. This blog on Holi focusses on the positives of an old Indian tradition, that has been coming down since generations, and now finding its way into different corners of the planet.
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This holi, we wish you all HAPPY HOLI. Let’s play Holi sustainably!
by Divya Badri
Women and girls in science need greater representation internationally. Gender equality is a sustainable development goal number 5. Why is gender equality in science important for sustainable development in India or anywhere else in the world? Equal access to education and opportunities is essential. This applies not only to societies in the Global North but also in the Global South. Be it in Switzerland or in India, it also applies in the field of science and tech.
Finding solutions to end gender inequality requires female role-models. Higher numbers of women scientists and technologists could inspire young girls to take up this field as a profession.
A Woman in Science from India!
Archana Sharma is an Indian living in Geneva, Switzerland. In India’s respected and widely read national daily The Hindu, she shares the challenges she faced. “It was challenging to do a Ph.D in a place where I had to get through exams in French, a language totally alien to me. Designing and building detectors from scratch was another tough task. There was no weekend, no holidays, and with a young child, it was an uphill task. But I had to take these challenges head on.” Dr. Archana Sharma works at CERN, the European Centre for Nuclear Research, which is located in Geneva, Switzerland. She was part of the team that discovered the famous God particle – the Higgs Boson.
Quantum physics is a challenging subject already, moreover, being in a completely different culture could not have been easy for Dr. Sharma when she began her journey.
Of Subatomic Particles and Hope for the Future
When CERN has its open day in Geneva, never miss the chance! My first impressions from the European Centre for Nuclear Research on the Swiss-French border are incredibly captivating.
Physicists at CERN will always tell you they know that they know nothing. They delve into the goings on of subatomic particles. They seem to have gotten the big picture a lot more clearly than so many news headlines! It was refreshing to meet people who are seeking the truth via science. The monotonous humdrum of daily news and politics are soon forgotten. You then hope for a better future, when immersed in seeking answers via giant, underground experiments.
“Take photos and talk about us!”
CERN asks people to come and discover the future with them. CERN has an ancient, extremely old symbol from Indian culture right in the Centre of their campus. Why is there a Shiva statue (a Hindu God) in the middle of CERN? Visit their website where they answer this in French and in English. Listen to Aldous Huxley explain the dancing Shiva in his interview from the 1960’s!
Usually, one is told to keep cameras away while visiting prestigious capitalistic establishments. In the true spirit of seeking the truth and collaboration, Dr. Archana Sharma from CERN encouraged me to take photos. A woman who has dedicated her life to science, told me to spread the word about their establishment of knowledge! The feeling in the air was just so calming and nice, equitable, authentic. It truly felt sustainable for years to come.
New in Switzerland: a CAS in negotiation and intercultural values with China, United States, India, Japan and Russia
The University of Neuchâtel is launching a new CAS (Certificate of Advanced Studies) unique in Switzerland for companies with contacts in China, the United States, India, Japan and Russia. This training, which aims to improve communication and negotiation skills, will start in January 2020. Registration deadline: November 15, 2019.
The economic environment has become globalized and internationalized in recent decades. Companies or administrations are in continuous contact with a multitude of countries whose customs, mores, the way of doing business, communicating and negotiating, can be very different from our way of operating. To maximize the opportunities to get in touch with other partners, it is important to understand the differences and prepare for these meetings and exchanges.
An unprecedented case
The Certificate of Advanced Studies (CAS) in negotiation and intercultural values aims to improve communication and negotiation skills (simple and complex) and helps to better understand intercultural aspects. While dealing with general, legal and economic theories and issues, the program focuses on the challenge of negotiating in five different contexts (China, USA, India, Japan and Russia), which together represent great business potential. for Swiss companies.
Unlike the existing training in the field of negotiation, the lessons focus on the socio-cultural and psychological aspects rather than on the legal framework and legal specificities.
Each participant will have the opportunity to write a personal work with the follow-up of those in charge, in relation to his personal experience and the contributions of the CAS.
This CAS is aimed in particular at entrepreneurs and business and administrative managers. Information and registration under
The courses on March 6 and May 15, 2020 on the subject of India are taught in English. The other courses are taught in French.
International trade and legal principles International trade and development; Trade liberalization and competitiveness; Migration and international trade; International trade and environment; Legal principles of international trade / WTO law / Competition law.
Intercultural values and differences This module covers five countries with five independent lessons: China, the United States, India, Japan and Russia. For each country, the following themes will be discussed: the country’s history and political and economic system, relations with Switzerland; differences in the process of communication; ways to develop intercultural sensitivity and to come into contact with its nationals, to present oneself and to widen one’s network.
Opportunities among the Great Asian Powers The opportunities and challenges in relations with the two major Asian economies (China and India) are presented through examples in various sectors related to Swiss companies. The module also deals with the possibilities of developing business, opening up to the challenges of tomorrow and offers a critical analysis of the challenges and opportunities facing our country.
Negotiation This module is divided into two parts. The first deals with an introduction to negotiation, its strategies, tactics and tools. Using real cases and examples, we will also discuss the most typical mistakes in negotiation, and techniques to avoid them. A second part deals with the psychological effects of negotiation: putting under pressure, tools that allow it to be detected, reaction to pressure, with the setting up of practical workshops.
Defense of personal work and summary This module will allow each participant to present their personal work and engage in a discussion on the issue addressed.
• Business and administrative executives
• Entrepreneurs and start-up managers
• Political and economic decision-makers
• Members of boards of directors
• Anyone interested in negotiation and intercultural values
The speakers have a close connection with the country he presents.
November 15, 2019
Master or Bachelor degree from a Swiss university or qualification deemed equivalent. Persons with adequate professional training and professional experience of at least five years in the field studied may be admitted on application. The direction of
program may invite applicants for an interview, in order to assess their experience and motivation, ensuring fair treatment between them.
Certificate of Advanced Studies (CAS) in Negotiation and Intercultural Values for companies in the following countries: China, India, United States, Russia and Japan, with 12 ECTS credits (European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System).
Dates and place
The training program will run from January to October 2020, for 15 days, (mainly Fridays) from 9.15 a.m. to 4 p.m. Classes are given in the premises of the University of Neuchâtel, which is located near the center and Neuchâtel station.
Faculty of Economics, email@example.com, Tel. +41 32 718 14 37 (Mondays and Fridays), www.unine.ch/cas-nevi