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5 Ways to Prevent climate Change and Conserve Energy

“Energy conservation is not a choice but a pressing need if climate change is to be averted. You may not be able to influence big policy changes but you can follow these simple and effective steps to save energy in day to day life and help reduce carbon footprints.”

As a deadly blanket of smog leaves most of North India gasping for breath, floods tear apart another part of the country, as the other side reels under severe drought, climate change ceases to be a topic reserved for academic debates. It has leapt from the essays and seminar papers into the real lives of real people and is here to stay by the looks of it. Harmful carbon emissions like carbon dioxide, methane nitrous oxide etc are swiftly and surely killing the planet. To counter this, 14th December is observed as the Energy Conservation Day to raise awareness about the pressing need to save energy and avert climate change. One might ask what is the relation between the innocuous act of using an electric bulb, fan or fridge and the more serious climate change? The answer my dear friend lives in the wind! 

What is the relation between energy conservation and climate change?

Emission of greenhouse gases, which play a significant role in causing natural disasters, is a direct outcome of unchecked human activities. Carbon emission is caused due to two main factors – nature sources like decomposition, ocean releases and respiration, and human sources like burning of fossil fuels like natural gas, coal, oil, deforestation and cement manufacturing. Despite natural sources being the greater source of carbon emission, human sources are the main cause of the problem. Nature has a mechanism to remove the carbon it emits and keep its level in safe range. Human activities, on the other hand, add carbon dioxide in air without having any mechanism to take it back. Households are accountable for nearly three quarters of global carbon emissions. Every hour, each of us is contributing to the emissions of greenhouse gases to the environment – by burning petrol when we drive, when we use cooking gas, or when we use electricity generated from coal to power our home appliances and electronic devices. With billions of harmful emissions in the atmosphere, cutting back on emissions is the only option if we want our future generations to inherit a breathing planet. 

6 simple ways to save energy in everyday life 

The potential solutions to climate change are rooted in lifestyle changes. Social issues like population growth, consumerism, industrialization  catalyze climate change and need urgent intervention. You may find it beyond your control to influence big policy changes but you can do contribute your bit or more than just a bit by following these simple steps to save energy. Some of these points are common knowledge but we are too  careless to incorporate them in our lives. 

  1. Limit Your Needs

Nature has enough for everyone’s needs but not for everyone’s greed.
Let minimalism be the new style statement. There is no shame in repeating clothes and accessories. Capitalism thrives on our unending need to own and hoard things beyond what we need. This consumerism leads to unchecked production at the cost of ecological balance. So, own fewer things and use them well. This small change in mindset can go a long way in limiting carbon footprints. 

   2. Install Solar Panels at Home

Solar panels are not only eco-friendly but also pocket-friendly. In India the installation of solar panels is subsidized by the government. Many people are reluctant to install solar panels as they believe in the myth that the panels need bright sunshine to produce energy. Technological innovation has ensured that this is not the case. The panels can function effectively in any climate and weather – from the coldest mountains to the hot deserts. 

  1. Gender Equality and Small Families

Large population translates into more production, hence more carbon emission. It might seem like an indirect and vague way of addressing the problem of carbon emission but studies prove that countries in which women have higher political status also emit less CO2 per capita. Societies where women have better employment opportunities and reproductive rights see a decline in population.

  1. Use Public Transport or rely on car pooling 

While there is nothing wrong in owning the latest swanky car but make sure others too get a ride in it. Let the community of carpoolers grow. You get a double bonanza – save the environment while making new friends. You never know what benefits and insights fleeting encounters with strangers can bring you!

  1. With off Vehicles at Traffic Lights and Traffic Jams

The Hindi proverb goes – bond bond se sagar bharta hai. If only 40% of the vehicles stuck at traffic lights in just one city of India were to be turned off for as little as a minute, can you imagine how many liters of fuel would be saved? I’ll bet my last penny that the answer will run into thousands of liters.

If you are wondering whether seemingly inconsequential act of switching off vehicle engines and carpooling can avert climate change? Well remember small steps become giant leaps when multiplied by 7.7 billion, the current population of the world. 

     

International Students’ Day: Celebrating Multiculturalism and Diversity

Every year students around the world celebrate the International Students’ Day on November 17. The date commemorates the tragic events that unfolded in Prague during World War II. On this day in 1939, nine student leaders were executed without trial by the Nazi troops and over 1200 students were sent to Sachsenhausen concentration camp after demonstrations against the killing of Jan Opletal and the occupation of Czechoslovakia. In 1941, the International Students’ Council in London decided to introduce International Students’ Day on 17 November.

With its sad history, November 17 is mostly a day for commemoration and a vehicle for student activism. A number of universities worldwide also celebrate the multiculturalism of their international students on this day. As an international student, a diverse and multicultural environment can significantly improve your chances of success as it affects your academic and social experiences. Here are some of the benefits of diversity on the college campus.

Benefits of Multiculturalism and Diversity in College

1. Enriches the Educational Experience

Learning from people with different backgrounds encourages collaboration and fosters innovation. It is vital for a student’s all-round educational experience. Irrespective of the field you are in, you will be expected to work with employers, colleagues, clients and customers from different backgrounds. Early exposure to a diverse educational experience broadens your horizons and helps you look at problems and issues from different angles.

 2. Enhances Cultural and Intellectual Engagement

When you interact with a diverse group of people, it enhances your exposure to new communities and cultures. With over 35 million students, 800 universities and 41,000 colleges, Indian higher education is one of the largest in the world. The vast global network of faculty and students directly translates to increased diversity and enhanced opportunities for both academic and personal enrichment. You get to experience new outlooks, customs and activities. Moreover, diversity in the campus challenges predisposed stereotypes and allow students to become tolerant and thoughtful members of society. 

3. Improves Communication Skills

Apart from academic excellence, good communication skills are essential for students in this day and age. They are essential for the future career of a student. When you interact with a diverse group of people, your communication skills improve, and your confidence will be enhanced.

4. Prepares for a Global Workforce

Once you are out of college, there’s no way to predict the workplace you’ll be in. Colleagues from various cultures bring with them different workplace attitudes, values, behaviors, and etiquette. While these can be enriching and even beneficial in a diverse professional environment, they can also cause misunderstandings or ill feelings between team members. A diverse educational environment can prepare you to take on the challenges of a global workforce.

The Vishwakarma Group of Institutes is home to some 400+ International students from 35+ countries. We have earned a great reputation for delivering academic and research excellence within an inspiring and supportive learning environment.

 

Children’s Day: A close look at the ‘Children Issues in India’

The 14th of November, known as Children’s Day (Baal Divas), commemorates the birth of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of independent India.

Pandit Nehru was very affectionate towards children and became famous as ‘Chacha Nehru’ among them.  He believed that children should be given the childhood they deserve as they are the most valuable assets for the future of a successful country.

He was certain that this could be done only by giving the right education, right care that would show the way to progress. So, for the progress and development of the children of India, he established various educational institutions, proposed plans for their free primary education and free meals including milk to the school children in order to prevent child malnutrition in India.  

Children are the very foundation on which the development and success of a nation can be established. Children’s Day is a time to re-establish the awareness of safeguarding the rights and privileges of the children, for they are the future of our nation.

Children Issues in India

The state of children in India is a far cry from what it is supposed to be. Let’s highlight a few major issues that must be addressed and dealt with the utmost care.

Child labour 

Often people living in poverty rely on their children to supply extra income.

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Children aged 5 to 17 years are victims of forced labour and work at the cost of their right to education. The total number of child labourers in India is estimated to be about 12.6 million!

They toil in homes, mines, fields, and factories, carry heavy loads, work for long hours on low wages, and suffer exposure to pesticides and other toxic substances. The worst form of child labour is hidden workers and bonded labours; especially girls being sold by their parents for money. Major concerns are related to the inappropriate use of children in carrying out illegal activities such as drug peddling, liquor vending, etc.

Malnutrition and diseases

A child needs to have access to good quality health and nutritional facilities even before it is born to ensure its proper physical and mental development. However, the condition of the health of children in India is pathetic. 

The main causes of malnutrition and diseases in India are poverty, lack of access to food and seasonal migration. Poverty seriously affects the availability of adequate amounts of nutritious food. A lack of access to food and nutrition is because of poor income, insufficient financial resources, uncontrolled population and unaffordable prices of food in markets.  During migration, children have to live in challenging conditions with poor nutrition, unsafe drinking water, unhygienic conditions leading to various health problems and no health care services. 

A combination of malnutrition and diseases weakens the metabolism creating a vicious cycle of infection and undernourishment, leading to vulnerability to illness.

Street children and child abuse 

India is home to the world’s largest population of street children. These children are forced to live in junk boxes, footpaths or on streets and are deprived of family care and protection. 

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Street children are subject to malnutrition, hunger, health problems, theft and are sexually abused. They work as rag-pickers, in tea stalls and dhabhas, as shoeshine boys or are involved in activities like street shows and begging.

Every day there is at least one child abuse case highlighted in the newspaper and more than 90 per cent of the abused children are girls.  On an average 40,000 children and young women under the age of 18 are married every year. The children below the age of even five living on streets get raped, are married off or are being sold by their parents just for money.  

Lack of primary education

Education helps in the development of a child and opens up doors for a better future. But for many, a school can be a hard-won luxury. 

Difficult journeys to school 

Children in remote communities have to make the most unimaginable and dangerous journeys every day to access education. Some cross broken bridges, walk along treacherous cliff edges while others trek into the mountains for miles to be at school on time. Parents refuse to send their children, particularly girls, to school in case they are harassed, exploited or sexually abused.

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Unsafe toilets and washing facilities 

Many schools lack clean drinking water, toilets, and handwashing facilities, putting millions of children at risk of disease. Often girls tend to miss out on up to five days of school per month or stop going to school entirely because of insufficient access to water and hygiene facilities, no separate toilets for girls and lack of sanitary supplies.

Conclusion

Children are among the most vulnerable sections of society that need to be protected starting from an early age. Along with the progress in the economic growth of India, there has been an improvement in the condition of children but a major part residing in rural areas and belonging to minorities are still at a disadvantage. The government has taken a lot of initiatives by making laws and appropriate schemes but the implementation part still lags.  For a country to have sustainable development, it is important to ensure that the future of the country is properly taken care of!

 

 

World Student Day : Dr. A.P.J Abdul Kalam and his vision of India in 2020

“Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam entrusted  the young generation with the vision of India in 2020 as he believed them to have  ignited minds and they would be the building blocks of the future. “


15th October, the birthdate of
Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam is observed as “World Student Day”. This day is a celebration of multiculturalism, diversity, and cooperation among students across the world.

Why is the day honoured as World Student Day? 

Dr. Kalam believed that students are like clay.  They can be moulded in a way that will make their future bright and meaningful. He always mentioned that with good efforts, the character of a student can be designed. His view was that a student should always strive to mould his character in such a way that it becomes the topmost priority in his life. So, this day is dedicated to the students with a view to always motivate them to aim for a better  life and to keep Dr. Kalam’s vision alive. 

Purpose of celebrating World Student Day 

Dr. Kalam, through his writings and speeches, always encouraged students to do better in life. He believed that the modern ideology of being a well-learned person is to sharpen the merit of the student. For any student, to rise from being an average student to an extraordinary one, only textbook knowledge was not sufficient. He should walk the path of all branches, like theory, reading, understanding, and its practical application. A student should lead a disciplined life and never walk the path of evil.

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In his famous speech delivered in Hyderabad, Dr.APJ Abdul Kalam outlined his three visions for India and pleaded for Indians to be involved in the nation-building process and to make India a developed nation.  He had a vision of India in 2020 and that cannot be forgotten.

The First Vision: Freedom

He believed that India got its first vision of Freedom in the year 1857 when we started the war of Independence. People from all over the world have come and invaded us, captured our lands and conquered our minds. But we chose to never conquer anyone as we respect the freedom of others. That is the reason for his first vision; it is the freedom that we must protect and nurture and build on.

The Second Vision: Development

India has been a developing nation for more than fifty years, and so it is time we see ourselves as a developed nation. India’s GDP is getting stronger, poverty levels are falling and our achievements are being globally recognised today. Yet we lack the self-confidence to see ourselves as a developed nation.

Dr. Kalam envisioned an India where the national economy of the country is one of the largest in the world; there is upliftment in the general living standards of the common man well above the poverty line, including high standards of education, health and above all, national security. According to Kalam, there are four chief areas of development: the people, economy, strategic strength and infrastructure and to achieve all this, technology is the answer.

His idea of technology was to not provide sophisticated machinery but to provide materials of basic utility value to the common man at an affordable price. He encouraged the use of technology to re-use by-products so as to minimise wastage and environmental pollution. Dr. Kalam defended this theory by saying that although technology is the key to realising our vision, the craving to reach the goal should encompass all sections of society to transform this vision into reality.

Third Vision: India must stand up to the World

Dr. Kalam strongly believed that unless India stands up to the world, no one will respect us. Only strength respects strength. We must be strong not only as a military power but also as an economic power.

India 2020 

Dr. Kalam always insisted that Vision 2020 is certainly achievable with two important facts – sensitisation to problems and a will to achieve.

He has systematically outlined the problems, listed the present solutions that are being offered, identified their merits and demerits and then, finally suggested not one but a series of solutions so that the most feasible one amongst them can be adopted. 

To be able to achieve this vision, we should rise above our routine, mundane problems and try and achieve something beyond the ordinary. It is quite possible that at the time of articulation of this vision, the goal may perhaps appear to be improbable but at no point in time should it seem to be impossible. The developmental process is one in a continuum. We should not rest on the laurels of our past achievements but should try and improve ourselves towards higher and higher standards.

Dr. Kalam’s faith rested in the young generation as he believed them to be the ignited minds to whom the dream to realise the vision should be entrusted. To achieve our Vision 2020, we should settle our superficial differences and think and act like Indians. Nobody can take us there but ourselves.

 

Suicide Prevention and World Mental Health Day 2019

The World Mental Health Day 2019, themed ‘Suicide Prevention’ is yet another effort to spread awareness about mental health issues. The first step towards curing depression, anxiety, suicidal tendencies, and other related problems is to give them due recognition, care, and concern rather than stigmatizing them.  

Like other parts of the body, the health of the mind can alter – it can equally be healthy and working in fine order, but suffer at times, and demand care. Since the illness of the mind can neither be seen nor observed by diagnostic tools like X-ray or blood test, it’s often dismissed as inexistent, or at best a general dampening of spirit. It leaves those who suffer from mental illness extremely vulnerable. In recognition of this immense difficulty of recognizing the importance and existence of mental health, ‘The World Mental Health Day’ is observed on the 10th of October each year. The day intends to focus on the promotion of mental health, consequences of its lack, and interventions to prevent the consequences.  

Suicide Prevention: Theme of the World Mental Health Day 2019

In keeping with the tradition of intervention and prevention, this year the day is themed ‘Suicide Prevention’. Suicide is the act of taking one’s own life and ranks among the 10 leading causes of death in most Western countries. India is fast rising the ladder with 230,314 cases of suicide reported every year. 

The theme of this year, therefore, seeks us to pause for a moment, and recognize that umpteen people end their lives out of desperation, depression, and lack of answers to the question of cessation of a pain that never ends, rather swells. To quote Shneidman, a leading Psychologist who has studied suicide over 30 years, “In almost every case suicide is caused by psychological pain of psychache. Suicidal health, in other words, is an escape from pain. Psychache is the hurt, anguish or aches that takes hold in the mind…the pain of excessively felt shame, guilt, fear, anxiety, loneliness angst and dread of growing old or dying badly…its introspective realty is undeniable”. Unfortunately, this pain is not always recognized or acknowledged rather it is stereotyped and stigmatized i.e. assumptions are made about such people without knowing them, and as these assumptions are mostly negative. 

Cold statistics, however, hardly do justice to the human cost of suicide. A deeper tragedy lurks behind the act. It’s wrongly presumed that a suicide victim wishes to die, and so commits the act. Most people who commit suicide are not fully and firmly convinced but ambivalent about the act when they commit it. They make this choice, irreversible and irremediable, when they are alone in the vice-like grip of a state of severe anguish and psychological distress, unable to make an objective assessment of their problem or find alternative solutions to their problems. They may simply wish to convey a dramatic statement that draws their attention to their distress and need for help. In other words, many who chose to die do not wish to die but can do nothing about it. The families and friends of suicide victims face long term distress as they struggle with the choice of their loved one and ensuing stigma.

Why do people commit suicide? 

People commit suicide owing to a variety of factors that are too numerous to be enumerated here. People between the age of 18 to 24 are at the highest risk while women are about three times as likely to commit suicide. Persons suffering from inter-personal discord, sever life stress and mood disorders are likely to commit suicide. 

How can suicide be prevented ? 

Unfortunately, there are no clear answers. However, there are 3 main thrusts of suicide prevention efforts – 

  1. Treatment of persons with a current mental disorder (s)
  2. Crisis Intervention and
  3. Working with high-risk groups. 

  The first involves treating those who seek help for abnormal behavior such as hearing voices, irrational fears or compulsive depressive suicidal thoughts. Crisis intervention helps persons with suicidal tendencies to regain their ability to cope by maintaining a supportive contact, helping the person find better ways to deal with their problem, as well as making the person realize that their present distress and emotional turmoil is not endless but a passable phase. Working with high-risk groups is yet a nascent idea and involves devising measures to ease life problems of high-risk groups, for example, establishing old age recreational centers to alleviate loneliness and distress among the elderly. Research has proven such intervention lessens their chances of attempting suicide. 

Suicide Prevention Centres 

A simple google search will reveal several helpline numbers and suicide prevention centers like Connecting, established by the former hockey player Arnavaz Damania, Befrienders India, Suicide Prevention India Foundation, AASRA, etc. These centers provide non – judgmental listening space where people feel free and comfortable talking about their feelings, expressing their worries and venting about their problems without fearing stigma. Most of these centers run helplines for those in emotional distress and/or feeling suicidal. These centers, therefore,  help alleviate misery, loneliness, despair, and depression by listening to anyone who feels they have nowhere else to turn to. The information of any individual coming for help at these centers – whether, by telephone, letter, email or in a face-to-face meeting is kept strictly confidential.

You can get in touch with AASRA at their 24-hour helpline number 91-9820466726, Connecting NGO at 9922004305, 9922001122 from 12 pm to 8 pm on all days. You can also visit Connecting NGO from Monday to Saturday from 12 pm to 5 pm at Atur Chambers, 2nd floor, Above Coffee House, Opposite SGS Mall, Moledina Road, Camp, Pune – 411001.

Suicide is complex issue and needs immediate attention from policymakers as well as the general masses. The least one can do is to provide a supportive shoulder for those at risk and avoid stigmatizing mental health problems.  

 

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