Save the Planet; Don’t Eat Beef

  The Hindu reverence for cow is not shared by other people in world. It is even difficult to enforce laws that prevent cow slaughter in Bharat, let alone convincing that they should not kill cow for meat.

Hindus are reasonable people. They do not expect rest of humanity to worship or revere cow. All they hope, wish and pray for is some compassion from rest of humanity towards the Cow.

But the effort till date has been a losing one. All sensible reasons offered by Hindus for cow protection have fallen on deaf ears, even in Bharat, let alone the entire humanity.

Fortunately however, some sense is dawning on humanity. And this time the people who are arguing for some compassion towards cow, are not just Hindus, but Climate Scientists and the Scientific Community.

Studies show that Beef creates 5 times more carbon emissions than say chicken, pork, lamb or other forms of meat. And climate change is important for everybody to wake up to. It cannot be ignored and it is not a religious injunction, that people of other religions are free to ignore.

All of us – Hindus, Muslims, Christians and Buddhist share this planet and its climate. It is incumbent on us to make the best possible efforts to keep the climate healthy. And if there is scientific study that shows that beef contributes to 5 times Green House Gases than other forms of meat, it is reasonable to request Christians, Muslims and people of other religions to abstain from beef.

The finding in National Academy of Sciences recent paper published in June 2014, unambiguously finds Beef to be clear culprit in inflicting maximum damage on environment, at times when precarious climate conditions are making humanity’s existence unsustainable.

Beef production not only causes five times Green House Gas emission, but also requires, 28 times more land, 11 times more irrigation and 6 times more water. All in all it makes for bad economics and bad health choice. Indeed beef consumption threatens human existence on the planet earth.

In view of this the case against Beef, has strong scientific backing. It is not more a religious request from Hindus. Indeed Hindus have always had tolerance to people of other religious faith and their dietary habits. However, Hindus have found it difficult to not request a little bit more compassion, if not reverence towards cow.

Hindus do not seek to impose their religious ideas on others. ‘Ekam Sat, Vipram Bahuda Vadanti,” has been Hindu motto from age immemorial. Indeed Hindus would not even have enacted laws to prevent cow slaughter in Bharat, if other religionists would have been reasonable.

But now, the strongest argument against beef does not come from Hindu quarter but from the scientific community. It is at least now incumbent on people of other religions to pay heed to a wise request from Hindus. Let us all Hindus, Muslims, Christians, make sustainable life style choice by avoiding eating beef and thus saving our planet for our children and grand children.

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Steps to Health

“Health is Wealth,” goes the adage, but our neglect of health borders on crime, even as we spend all efforts trying to acquire wealth only to find ourselves spending all that money back into acquiring health, when we must have better heeded to age old advice that, “Prevention is better than cure.”

Almost all nations find that they spend a huge portion of GDP trying to keep the populace healthy. Some of it is private spending, some of it public. But treating an ailment after it has occurred, does not improve the quality of life, or compensate for lost days at work and its impact on GDP.

It is truly puzzling, why nations don’t take adequate steps to prevent health problems in first place, thus nipping in bud an unwelcome Frankenstein. And preventing health problems – Diabetes, Blood Pressure, Cancers, Heart Diseases and Depression does not require a fad or irregular life style – just some healthy life style choices.

For starters, how about reducing the fat content in food? India’s oil consumption, per capita has quadrupled since independence. Coincidentally, diabetes rates in India have also increased during the same period. There is enough medical literature that suggests that high fat intake contributes to diabetes, heart diseases and many medical conditions.

Next, how about a walk, better still, a run? All work and no play, makes Jack a dull boy. It certainly makes Jack a sick boy. An apple a day, keeps doctor away, they say. Certainly, a little bit of exercise is a better choice. Doesn’t have to be few hours at gym, a thirty minute walk would do just as fine. A little more and your would be ready to run the Olympics.

Thirdly, stay away from tobacco. Fortunately, tobacco has received so much bad publicity in last few decades and deservedly so. Hence that battle has taken off to a good start. What is still an uphill climb is the battle against the bottle. Somehow, alcohol has managed to become fashionable. Worse, it is being touted as panacea for all ills, with studies suggesting it as tonic for heart. Let us get this right – ‘Alcohol consumption is injurious to health.’ No ifs, no buts.

Fourthly sleep well. Sleep is natural stress buster. Yet we give sleep a miss, for longer working hours or worse a party you could do without or at the altar of Internet addiction, if you have managed to come out of as worse TV addiction. Sleep should be a priority. There is no better stress buster than sleep.

Meditation comes   a close second. Meditation is known to be a stress buster. And should be part of every body’s routine. It is simple. Just watch flow of breath; add to that, just watch flow of thoughts and you are done. Meditation will not only make you peaceful, it will also make you healthy.

Drink adequate water. Say 2 additional liters, apart from when you are thirsty and water to wash down your food should do the trick. Water will keep you hydrated and reduce stress and hunger pangs. Water should improve every medical condition – diabetes, blood pressure, heart disease included.

And now while we are it, would not hurt to reduce amount of caffeine – tea, coffee, colas. It interferes with your sleep and that can’t be too good, could it? There is no need to abstain from tea and coffee, just moderation is good enough, with also some efforts of avoiding late evening tea or coffee.

These steps should go a long way to a healthy you. Admittedly, requires some effort, but significantly less than effort it would take for you to become wealthy, or worse recover health, once you have lost it by a bad life style. So here is to a healthy life style. Let this century be a healthy humanity century.

Theoretical argument on Fiscal Deficit

Budget Deficits around the World

The new government has been sworn in. And the Government has had to present maiden budget, within 50 days of swearing in.  The finance minister had an unenviable task. Firstly he inherits an economy that is not only in its inflationary phase, but has also been testing the stagnating streak for quite a while.

And both these problems – inflation and stagnation – have economists, been pointing caused in no small measure due to fiscal deficit, that has been raging for quite a while, thanks in no small measure to Government’s failure to rein in deficit.

That fiscal deficit should cause inflation should be no surprise, as high monetisation to rein in deficit causes, inflation. Fiscal deficit causing stagnation is also not surprising because fiscal deficit leads to crowding of investment, which leads to reduced investment and that leads to lower growth rate and unemployment.

But fiscal deficit also leads to current account deficit. This is because inflation caused due to fiscal deficit reduces exports. Also fiscal deficit reduces loanable funds. Hence it increases exchange rate and this increases current account deficit.

Fiscal deficit is a major drag on economy. The Government of India had passed Fiscal regulation and Budget Management Act (FRBM). This Act was meant to institutionalise fiscal discipline.

However like many laws in India, the implementation of the act has been wanting and even finance ministers have found ways to evade the law, if not avoid it.

However FRBM Act has been diluted, first in its enactment and later in its implementation.

More importantly one needs to consider, how India compares with other nations as far as fiscal discipline goes. Is India fiscally lax, or is India fiscally stringent.

A study of budget deficits of many nation reveals that India is amoung fiscally the most indisciplined nation. In the Table below, we capture data on budget deficits as percentage of expenditures and find that India paints a sorry picture.

The Indian scenario is made worse by the fact, that fiscal deficit at state level gets added to the fiscal deficit at state level and the compound fiscal deficit makes the fiscal deficit much more.

Empirical Data on Budget Deficts

Below is list of budget deficit as percentage of expenditure. Clearly budget deficit in Bharat is very high and many nations have far greater fiscal discipline than Bharat.

Bharat needs to incorporate fiscal discipline urgently to be able to realize its potential as Superpower.

Government must abandon populism and design redistributive schemes efficiently.

 

Budget deficits as percentage of Expenditures

Nation

Percentage Budget Deficit(%)

Nation

Percentage Budget Deficit(%)

USA

-21

India

-30

 

Japan

-21

China

-4.8

Germany

-2.33

France

-9.7

Italy

-7.8

United Kingdom

-17

Brazil

8.6

Canada

-7.6

Spain

-18

Australia

8.6

Russia

-2.7

India

-30.5

Norway

+25

Netherlands

-9.3

South Korea

+3.1

Mexico

-10

Belgium

-8

Saudi Arabia

1.1

Switzerland

2.6

Austria

-6.5

Iraq

-6.7

Iran

+ 41

Kuwait

+111

UAE

+18

Argentina

-6

Israel

-11

Hong Kong

+18

Singapore

3

Egypt

-34

Pakistan

-32

Nigeria

-26

Sri Lanka

-32

Kenya

-24

Gaza Strip

-51

Bangladesh

-26

Burma

-45

Bhutan

-28

Libya

-32

Phillippines

-13

Portugal

-7.8

Indonesia

-7

South Africa

-13

Ireland

-22.4

Taiwan

-17

Hungary

8.5

Thailand

7

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_government_budgets_by_country

 

Technology in Education

Technology is revolutionizing the way we lead our lives. Technology is
changing shopping, banking, bill payment, entertainment, news reporting,Communication and indeed even citizen governance interface.
 
However changes due to technology on education front are slow. There are two aspects when one considers the gamut of technology in education.
1. Administration and Governance
2. Learning and Teaching and Examination.
 
While educationists haven’t been hesitant in adopting technology in
administration and governance, there seems a lack of speed in adoption of technology in learning, teaching and examination.
 
When questioned, educationists usually point that there is greater
resistance to adoption of technology in teaching and learning from student community, than there is from faculty.
 
Research indicates that technology adoption in education, primarily
depends on two factors
1. Perceived Use
2. Perceived Ease of Use.
 
There is need to impress upon educationists the utility of using
technology in education, even as adopting technology needs to be made more simple and easy to use.
 
It could be audio lectures, or indeed video explanations of lab
experiments. It could be online course content, or equally online
examinations.
 
Faculty should not perceive technology as threat to employment, but see
upon technology as an assistance in bringing about better learning
outcomes.
 
Educational institutions must administer incentive mechanisms that hasten adoption of technology in education.
 
Government of Bharat has started a National Mission on Education through Information and Communication Technology. This is step in right direction.
 
Technology is not meant to substitute traditional learning and teaching.
Technology is meant to supplement and complement traditional learning and teaching.
 
National GDP presents positive correlation with education. In such a
scenario, improved education through technology, will certainly impact
economic performance.
 
There is need for adoption of technology in education on a Mission Mode.

Trees for Climate

Climate Change refers to the changes in weather patterns and geographic
changes accompanying with it. This includes melting glaciers, disappearing
ice on sea, changing vegetation, changing animal population, cyclones,
floods, droughts, changing sea levels, and so on.

At heart of this is global warming. The temperature of earth has increased
by 0.8 C over last 100 years. The temperature of world is expected to
increase by 2-6 Celsius over next 100 years depending on how much fuel we
use.

Climate change impacts human existence adversely. It affects human health
– increase in respiratory and cardiovascular health problems, increase in
infectious diseases, water borne diseases and insect borne diseases.

Climate change affects habitat due to coast line encroachment by sea, it
affects cost of infrastructure, and imposes huge cost on economy.

There are only two ways to mitigate climate change. Firstly we must reduce
our  carbon foot print, by reducing the amount of fuel usage. This may
mean we reduce electricity usage, reduce transportation usage, reduce meat
in food, reduce waste generated.

The only other way is to offset carbon emission by planting more trees.
Indeed one can have a very simple calculation wherein one says that this
is the amount of carbon foot print one generates due to fuel consumption,
meat in food , electricity usage or waste generated and hence this is the
amount of trees one needs to plant. Roughly each tree absorbs 20 kgs of
carbon per year.

Indeed it is even possible to calculate how many trees each nation must
plant to offset its carbon emissions. Rural Bharat may not need to plant
many trees. Comparatively Urban Bharat may need to plant many more trees.
United States with high carbon foot print may need to plant lot more
trees. Energy efficient Japan may need to plant less trees. China may need
to plant more trees compared to Bharat, because it has more carbon
emissions.

Trees are our only saviours as humanity faces the catastrophe due to
climate change. Let us all promise ourselves to plant one tree a month, if
not more.

Prosperous Bharat

The per capita GDP of Bharat is around 1500 dollars. This compares poorly with per capita GDP of United States or Japan, which is around 50,000 dollars. This compares poorly even with China, whose per capita GDP is around 6000 dollars. Bharat ranks 125th in per capita GDP amoung 195 nations.

Bharat is however growing at fast rate. The per capita GDP was growing at nearly 7% before the recent economic crisis began. Only China was growing faster than Bharat.

GDP growth rate is determined by two factors – Investment rate and ICOR(Incremental Capital Output Ratio). Bharat’s Investment rate is around 36% and ICOR is around 4. GDP growth rate is found by dividing Investment Rate by ICOR. Hence GDP growth rate works out to 36/4 = 9%. We need to subtract 1.5% for population growth, to arrive at per capita 7.5% GDP growth rate.

7.5% per capita GDP growth rate is healthy, however it is far lesser than China’s 11% or so. China’s per capita GDP growth rate is already 4 times that of Bharat. If China continues at present growth rate and Bharat at its growth rate, Bharat will be far poorer nation than China.

For Bharat to catch up and race past China, requires both increase in
Investment rate as well as reduction in ICOR.

It is realistic to expect that with sufficient govermental incentives to
increase savings, Investment rate of Bharat can increase from 36 to 48.

It is equally realistic to expect, with bold reforms that ICOR of Bharat
reduces from 4 to 3.

Now if Investment Rate increases to 48 and ICOR reduces to 3, the GDP growth rate would be 48/3 or 16%. If we subtract 1.5% for population growth rate, the per capita growth rate will be 14.5%, which will exceed China’s per capita GDP growth rate of 11% or so.

At 14.5% per capita GDP growth rate, the per capita GDP would double in 5 years. And in 10 years per capita GDP would become 4 times. In 3 decades, per capita GDP would become 64 times present per capita GDP.

Hence at constant prices in 30 years Bharat’s per capita GDP would be
roughly close to 100,000 dollars. Of course per capita GDP of United
States by that time would be around 100,000 dollars, as perhaps would that be of China.

But unless Bharat increases its Investment Rate to 48% and reduces ICOR to 3, Bharat will lag behind China and United States for very very long time to come.

The per capita GDP of Bharat is around 1500 dollars. This compares poorly with per capita GDP of United States or Japan, which is around 50,000 dollars. This compares poorly even with China, whose per capita GDP is around 6000 dollars. Bharat ranks 125th in per capita GDP amoung 195 nations.

Bharat is however growing at fast rate. The per capita GDP was growing at nearly 7% before the recent economic crisis began. Only China was growing faster than Bharat.

GDP growth rate is determined by two factors – Investment rate and ICOR(Incremental Capital Output Ratio). Bharat’s Investment rate is around 36% and ICOR is around 4. GDP growth rate is found by dividing Investment Rate by ICOR. Hence GDP growth rate works out to 36/4 = 9%. We need to subtract 1.5% for population growth, to arrive at per capita 7.5% GDP growth rate.

7.5% per capita GDP growth rate is healthy, however it is far lesser than China’s 11% or so. China’s per capita GDP growth rate is already 4 times that of Bharat. If China continues at present growth rate and Bharat at its growth rate, Bharat will be far poorer nation than China.

For Bharat to catch up and race past China, requires both increase in
Investment rate as well as reduction in ICOR.

It is realistic to expect that with sufficient govermental incentives to
increase savings, Investment rate of Bharat can increase from 36 to 48.

It is equally realistic to expect, with bold reforms that ICOR of Bharat
reduces from 4 to 3.

Now if Investment Rate increases to 48 and ICOR reduces to 3, the GDP growth rate would be 48/3 or 16%. If we subtract 1.5% for population growth rate, the per capita growth rate will be 14.5%, which will exceed China’s per capita GDP growth rate of 11% or so.

At 14.5% per capita GDP growth rate, the per capita GDP would double in 5 years. And in 10 years per capita GDP would become 4 times. In 3 decades, per capita GDP would become 64 times present per capita GDP.

Hence at constant prices in 30 years Bharat’s per capita GDP would be
roughly close to 100,000 dollars. Of course per capita GDP of United
States by that time would be around 100,000 dollars, as perhaps would that be of China.

But unless Bharat increases its Investment Rate to 48% and reduces ICOR to 3, Bharat will lag behind China and United States for very very long time to come.