Advent Of A Sustainable Economy

There is a symbolic movement of our times that is promising a new lifestyle. A lifestyle that is not only transforming the vision of the future but changing the way we do business and invest. It is a possibility where the energy is produced and consumed sustainably, the environment is clean, and all of nature is in its healthy state. I know this could sound very idealistic when we are constantly bombarded by bad news. But if we look deeper the sustainable revolution has inspired and compelled governments and corporations to make goods and services such as clean power, extend green tax credits and encourage local recycling mandates that affect our day to day lives. This trend has also resulted in a new race to create better and more efficient cars and buildings which consume less energy and resources. New and advanced methods of growing food, and developing medications with organic ingredients are influencing nutrition and health care sectors as well. More humane procedures, like using fewer chemicals and minimizing animal testing’s has been advocated by consumers and activists alike. Even Local counties and schools are encouraging their constituents to recycle and conserve, this has resulted in many of us reusing shopping bags, using public transportation paying a premium for locally grown organic food and driving a fuel-efficient car.

But then we must also pay attention as to who are joining the movement to “LOOK” good and who are actually participating to” DO” good. Green washing is another technique where many may use to fit and conform into the new trend. Following the investments and the money chasing green projects is one way to keep abreast with what’s happening in the world of sustainability. As an entrepreneur or consumer pputting your money where your heart is another way to ensure the brightest idea will not get anywhere with the wrong funders. Don’t get intimidated by traditional start-ups and their glamorous image. You are not in the business of looking good, you’re in the business of doing good! And this is particularly what makes you stand out from the crowd. Invest in your purpose, put your heart and mind to nurture that big idea. Slowly, but surely, you can get the ball rolling further than you would have ever imagined.

Many VC monies may come with lots of strings attached and loss of creative liberty to steer businesses in the right direction hence not getting get stuck on the idea of VCs and cash in the bank but with key partnerships and  resources instead could be essential. People, skills, relationships that bring the right mix together to co-create things which at the end of the day may increase capacity to help move businesses further that otherwise would have been paid for. The right partners will embark on a journey with you because they believe in what you do and will give time, skills, networks and passion. That may be worth a whole lot than just cash!. If we must need to go the traditional route and go for the big money – VCs, grants etc – being picky about who we are pitching to may be critical. Research the VC’s or foundation’s history of giving, their pre-existing conditions and their relationship with their beneficiaries. Before pitching, try to meet with them informally and see if you click on the same things. Do you trust that person after you have left the meeting? Would they be an enjoyable teammate? Do you want to share more with them and value their advice, beyond just the business side of things? If your answer is yes, then go for it. Investments will come pouring.

In short align your values and stay true to yourself, your mission and your vision.  Never compromise and never lose sight of the purpose of your business, organizations or projects. Be authentic in everything you do!  Authenticity reinforces your purpose. Funding will only make it flourish. But if the Mission of sustainability is not there then there is nothing that can flourish.

Curated By Naved Jafry


Why The Army Should Stay Strong

army strong top_10_active_duty_armiesAccording to the 2012 and 2014 defense plans the U.S. Army will no longer size its main combat forces with large-scale counterinsurgency and stabilization missions in mind. This is world view, we believe is a major conceptual mistake that may eventually decimate our Army and will cause increasing harm to our sacred founding principles with time if we buy into the idea. The active-duty Army is already below its Clinton-era size and only slightly more than half its Reagan-era size. Reductions to the Army Reserve and Army National Guard have been almost as steep. None need grow at this juncture, but the cuts should immediately stop. As of chart shown above, we already now rank below Pakistan and North Korea in numbers and with the leap frogging of technological advances our opponents may soon have the strength to make us irrelevant on any ideological or military battlefield.

This may seem to many as far fetched but if history has taught us anything it may be just truer than ever that an ounce of precaution could be far better than a pound of cure. To maintain counterinsurgency and stabilization capacity, as well as a robust deterrent against possible threats such as the NATO by the Russians, South Korea by North Koreans, the Muslim world by Political Islam, Southeast Asia by China and most importantly the elephant in the room, a possibility of a South Asian Nuclear War.strong army political instability

According to Michael E. O’Hanlon from Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence, A nuclear confrontation would be devastating in South Asia, enormously disruptive to the world economy, and highly dangerous to the whole planet (particularly with the prospect of loose nukes afterwards). An Indo-Pakistani war remains a real possibility today. There have already been three or four, depending on whether one counts the Kargil crisis of 1999, and it is remarkable that there have not been more. If the nuclear weapons threshold were crossed in the future, a foreign military role could become much more plausible, particularly to reinforce a ceasefire. To date, Delhi in particular has eschewed any foreign role in diplomacy over Kashmir or related matters. But in the aftermath of the near or actual use of nuclear weapons, calculations could change dramatically such a world could be characterized by a far different political psychology than today’s. The path to war could begin, perhaps, with a more extremist leader coming to power in Pakistan. Imagine the dangers associated with a country of 200 million with the world’s fastest-growing nuclear arsenal, hatred of India and America, numerous extremist groups, and claims on land currently controlled by India. Such an extremist state could take South Asia to the brink of nuclear war by provoking conflict with India, perhaps through another Mumbai-like attack.

Why could nuclear weapons be employed, even after 70 years of non-use globally? Even if it was the provocateur, Pakistan could come to fear for its own survival in this type of scenario. Having aided a group like Lashkar-e-Taiba, with its extremist anti-Indian views, Pakistan would have given India ample grounds for retaliation. Even a limited Indian conventional counterattack, perhaps influenced by its so-called Cold Start military thinking, could quickly put Islamabad, Lahore, and other Pakistani cities at risk. In such a situation, Pakistan might well see military logic in the use of several nuclear weapons against Indian troops, facilities, or other tactical targets. It is not even out of the question that Pakistan could conduct some attacks over its own territory. If the weapons were detonated a kilometer or so up in the air, the effects of the explosions could be catastrophic to people and military equipment below, without creating much fallout due to dirt and rock upheaval that would later descend on populated areas downwind.Beyond their immediate military effects, such attacks would signal Islamabad’s willingness to escalate. Despite the huge risks, there would be few better ways of making a threat to attack Delhi credible than to cross the nuclear threshold in tactical attacks. Presumably, Pakistanis would have to assume the possibility of Indian attacks against Pakistani armed forces. But that might be a risk the country’s leadership would be willing to accept, if the alternative seemed to be defeat and forced surrender after a conventional battle. It’s not clear whether Indians would interpret such a finely graduated nuclear attack as a demonstration of restraint, particularly if any of the Pakistani attacks went off course and caused more damage than intended. Thus, the danger of inadvertent escalation in this kind of scenario could be quite real. It might not even take nuclear attacks by Pakistan to cause nuclear dangers.

A role for U.S. troops?
strong army US deployments scenerios
If such an Indo-Pakistani war with nuclear implications began and international negotiators became involved, it’s imaginable that an international force could be proposed to help stabilize the situation for a number of years. Kashmir might be administrated under a U.N. mandate and protected by a U.N.-legitimated force, with an election eventually determining the region’s future political status. The fact that nuclear conflict might have occurred by this point would have raised the stakes enormously for both sides, making it hard for any leader to accept a simple ceasefire absent a credible political process. The mission could last a decade or more, time enough to allow for a calming of tensions, for political transitions in both countries, and for Pakistan to clamp down on terrorist groups.
India in particular would be adamantly against this idea today. But things could change fundamentally if such a settlement, and such a force, seemed the only way to reverse the momentum toward all-out nuclear war in South Asia. American forces would likely need to play a key role, as others might not have the capacity or the political confidence to handle the mission. It is estimated that an international force numbering into the low hundreds of thousands of troops could be needed for an extended period.
Is such a scenario likely? Hardly. Is it crazy or implausible? we don’t think so. Could we really sit it out if it happened? we fear not. Can we design the future American Army without factoring in such possibilities? In fact, it would be a big mistake. As we consider questions from the imminence of possible sequestration this fall on the proper size, character, and cost of the U.S. military under our next president, such considerations must factor clearly in our minds. We may not have an interest in ugly stabilization missions, but they may have an interest in us. In fact we argue that In many cases, the needed response may entail not just trainers and drones, but brigades and divisions.

This opinion piece is contributed by Celso Pacheco Jr. and Naved Jafry

army strong front

Cooling The Smart Way

Heating and cooling accounts for the majority of energy usage within our homes and work spaces. It’s estimated that 100 million tons of carbon dioxide are released each year in America as a result of air conditioning. In fact, the whole of Africa uses less electricity in total than America uses for air conditioning alone. In 2008, Americans spent more than 3% of the nation’s GDP in heating, cooling, and lighting—almost two-thirds of the entire defense budget and more than federal government spending on Medicare.

US-based company Advantix have pioneered an air conditioner that uses up to 40% less energy and saves up to 50% in running costs by using salt water. It’s also the same price as a traditional air conditioner.

The technology was discovered by a family who decided to open Israel’s first ice skating rink and had to find a cheap way to cool hot air in their humid climate. It works by simplifying the air-conditioning process, which normally involves complex equipment and expensive gases. The system treats hot air with a non-toxic saltwater solution, which naturally cleans, dehumidifies and cools the air.

Energy Blogger, Gemma Jamieso argues that the added bonus of using the salt-water solution is that it kills any germs in the air, helping to prevent the spread of airborne illnesses and making it a particularly useful and cost-effective investment in the workplace.

cooling engg

Image from Advantix

This system is also a blessing to contractors to prevent mould and mildew related litigations as the air-conditioning unit  eliminates odours and helps to prevent the growth of mould and mildew.

The scalability of the technology is huge as 75% of the world is affected by humidity, including emerging markets China and India. If the technology replaced traditional air-conditioning units, the impact could make a significant difference to the amount of CO2 emitted from both rich and poor countries. As they cite in the Sustainia100 report, “The International Energy Agency has found that basic efficiency standards for appliances, motors, and air-conditioning units in developing countries could account for half the carbon emissions reductions needed to stabilize global temperature rise at 2°C.”

But for many using a conventional air conditioning system is often the most expensive and energy intensive way to cool a home. If you are buying a new air conditioner, first consider reducing heat gain in your home through passive cooling measures and increasing ventilation with low energy fans. Then consider investing in more expensive cooling systems like evaporative coolers, heat pumps, and air conditioners. If you already have an air conditioner, properly maintain it so that it runs at peak efficiency. As for other alternative cooling options mentioned below could open up possibilities for future builders.

Solar Evaporative Coolers

Solar evaporative coolers powered by photovoltaic (PV) cells are one way to make the best out of the worst. This is an ideal system because PV cells operate most effectively during peak hours of the day—the hottest part of the day when electricity is most expensive.

Heat Pumps

A heat pump can be used for both heating and cooling. In the summer, it acts as an air conditioner, removing heat from air inside the house and carrying it outside. In the winter, it operates in reverse, removing heat from air outside the building and carrying it inside to warm the living space. There are two main types of residential heat pumps: air-source and geothermal, which are also known as ground source and geo exchange heat pumps.

Air-source heat pumps

Air-source heat pumps use outside ambient air to cool a home. They are similar to conventional central air conditioning systems except they also have the ability to heat the home. Some models can even provide air circulation, air filtration, humidification, dehumidification, and water heating services. This may sound like an amazing system. However, before rushing out and buying one, note that air-source heat pumps might not heat a home any better than an electric heating system in extreme winter climates. A backup system is often necessary to help the air-source heat pump achieve comfortable temperatures in extreme winter climates.

Geothermal heat pumps

Geothermal heat pumps use the ground, surface water, or underground water as a heat source and heat sink. They use underground pipes, typically buried 3 to 6 feet below the surface, to take advantage of the ground’s relatively constant year-round temperature. The pipes are usually filled with a heat transfer fluid, which in summer carries heat from inside the house and releases it into the ground thereby cooling your home. In winter, it extracts heat from the ground to heat the home. Geothermal heat pumps use 23–44 percent less energy than the more commonly used air-source heat pumps and, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), they can save a typical homeowner 30 to 70 percent in heating bills and 20 to 50 percent in cooling costs. This could amount to over $400 per year in energy savings.

Hence when purchasing any of these systems look for the Energy Star label to ensure you’re purchasing a highly efficient product. Many models have efficiencies even higher than the Energy Star system requires, with COPs greater than 5.0 and EERs greater than 17.0. The price tag may be a little higher than on non Energy Star units, but you will pay off your investment every time you use the equipment.

Overall with technologies such as Solar, geothermal heat pumps being deployed  in major organisations around the world it would be just tempting to believe that sustainable engineers and companies such as advantix could lead the next cooling revolution of the world !!.


A: U.S. Energy Information Administration. 2010. Annual Energy Review 2009. Washington DC: U.S. Energy Information Administration, August 19. link

B, C: Bureau of Economic Analysis. “National Economic Accounts.” link

D, E: Executive Office of the President of the United States. 2011. “Budget of the United States Government: Historical Tables Fiscal Year 2011.” ” link

God & The Advent Of Civilization

Existence of God; a matter of Faith

This  is from a story many of us may have read. It is dedicated to believers and faithful irrespective of any particular religion

One such believer student was challenged by an atheist professor of philosophical science that according to his knowledge of scientific laws, God does not exist. God is neither seen nor felt, neither smelt, heard nor tasted by any of the senses of human being. Hence according to empirical, testable, demonstrable protocol, He does not exist. Not only that He does not exist, but if He did, he is not a good God because He does not eliminate and eradicate the misery and sickness of human, which we have been told He controls, despite praying very hard to Him. Also that He is the one who created (because He is the Creator) Satan and all evil things like dishonesty, hatred, ugliness, brutality, wickedness, crimes etc. on earth for which He is the one who should be responsible and not the feeble human being.

We all get confronted by such tangential arguments at times and get caught off guard at times, making us sometime speechless with no reply. Let us see why do we believe that He exists? The believers always say it is the faith in Him that makes every believer accepts His existence. Faithful may then go on to discuss some other scientific issues, which are philosophically fairly well known but nevertheless interesting and good arguments. Hence I am repeating the substance of that story here attributed to anonymous.

Believer argues that heat exists in the form of energy. There may be more heat or less heat, which is intensity or degree of presence of heat. However, cold that we feel does not exist; cold is the state of absence of heat. Less heat makes us feel colder. It is known that when the heat’s absence grows to minus 458 degree F, it is then totally absent. But cold is non-existent also; it is only the degree of presence or absence of heat. Until this point the heat may keep on becoming more and more absent making the feeling more and colder. Yet another example is that of life and death. What is death? It does not exist in itself. There is no substantive “existence” death as such, it is argued; it is merely the end of existence of life.

Similarly the believer argues that darkness is non-existent. It is the state of absence of light. Lesser the light, more the darkness there is. It is the light that exists; darkness is only its absence of light.

Another similar example is that of immorality; this does not exist. It is the absence of morality making the act immoral. From the same token injustice is nothing by itself, it is absence of justice and even evil does not exist; it is caused by absence of goodness.

So, Justice, Morality, Life, Light, Heat etc. do not disappear to cause the opposite. They are less practiced by choice of the human being. Same is the case of existence of God. It is human being who chooses not to see God everywhere, despite the fact that His signs are abound. Earth producing different colour leaves and flowers, life appearing from almost nothing, life again disappearing with nothing obvious missing from body are all signs of HIM. Some may chose not to accept those signs.

It is so obvious from the foregoing that yes, everything is created by God Almighty. However, He has given the choice to human being to choose good over evil, justice over injustice, and light over darkness (in the world and in the heart both).

Science, as we know, is not complete knowledge of everything around us. We try and explain how things work with our limited knowledge. Like how planets orbit around sun. However, how and who is managing that and the whole universe with so many galaxies and hundreds of millions of suns in not easily explicable scientifically, without assuming a large number of theories and hypotheses. Science may try and explain how the brain works by electromagnetic current in body with the help of synapses and chemicals etc. But it cannot enlighten us how that electromagnetic current is then transformed into a sound that we hear or the picture that our eyes see in the brain, or how do we smell or how the thought processes work.

Scientific facts are simply the awareness of something that always existed but we did not interpret it the way we now do it today. Like earth was always round, but we did not know or believe so because of ignorance. Finding that earth is round or force of gravity exists are called scientific discoveries but they always existed and we are only now “privy” to these facts. There may be many more such facts that we may be made privy to in future only when He wishes.

God has given us at least two additional attributes over other creatures,

  1. a) The wisdom with which we can think and understand right and wrong and
  2. b) The memory, which becomes a guide for choosing in future under similar circumstances.

In summary we may say that

  • We know only that which has been allowed to be known at a particular point in time.
  • We have been given choice by God to chose whatever is right over wrong.
  • Choosing good or accepting evil is our conscious choice for which we alone are responsible

We need to pray to have wisdom to make correct choices. In such choices we need the help of the faculty of our memory to learn from history to always make these decisions.

What are your thoughts ???.

P.S -: This article was originally published on the blog, whose founder Dr. Charania has been a very dear mentor and adviser of mine.

Can India Lead The Way For The Future Of The City Building Business?

According to Robert Neuwirth (2011), 70 million people are moving into cities every year, primarily squatter or shadow cities like Dhravi in Mumbai India . Neuwirth states that one billion people already live in shantytowns and by 2050, a third of humanity will be living in these poor conditions (p. 59).  India, soon to be the most populous nation on earth, use these defining transformations of the 21st century to reimagine the future?.

The head long rush towards urbanization together with skyrocketing technological advances is reshaping much of the world. Within the next few decades 750 million of India’s people will live in urban areas – and its massive young cohorts are impatient for jobs and a better quality of life. Moreover, how these denizens use the planet’s resources will not only impact future generations of Indians but the rest of the world as well. The challenge is gargantuan – and India’s new government has taken  it on by pledging to create 100 new ‘smart cities’ and refurbishing 500 old ones. While old cities may be too difficult to fix, new satellite towns can leapfrog traditional patterns of growth.

In this, South Korea has much experience to offer. Dongtan, for instance, was built from scratch in 6 years, with schools, hospitals, subways, housing – the works. An hour away from Seoul and with easy connectivity, the city has since recovered all the costs incurred in its development.  “We went through much trial and error,” recalled Dr. Jae Yong Lee from the Korea Research Institute for Human Settlements. “Others can now learn from us and arrive at their own unique way.”

India can apply some of these strategies and use the latest in technology to create jobs, provide energy-efficient housing, high frequency mass transportation, 24/7 water and power supply, and seamless internet connectivity so that millions can live, work, and play with maximum  productivity and a minimum  impact on the environment?.

But a sustainable smart city is more than an IT solution Instead,  it is a “system of systems” that requires the alignment of good leadership, governance, investment, and institutions. And, this takes time to achieve. The question is how then can cities be made smarter? What about traffic – that bane of modern  urban  living? The focus needs to shift from moving vehicles to moving people, advised Professor Kenneth Gwilliam of Leeds University. In Curitiba, Brazil, for instance, car use has gone down despite high car ownership thanks to the high-frequency public transport system that enables buses to move seamlessly.

And then there is solid waste. While India has recently launched a ‘Clean India Campaign’, mountains of garbage still litter India’s cities, and landfill sites are hard to find. “Not in my backyard!” is the common refrain. Again, Korea has shown how waste can be turned into a resource; and Stockholm is even buying waste to convert into energy.

Perhaps good governance could be the most difficult issue of all. Not much can be done unless the multiplicity of India’s urban authorities is pared down, institutions are aligned with new ways of thinking, and powers, people, and funds are devolved. “What can a dynamic mayor do if he doesn’t have the powers?.

Whatever the Course of action may be, but with so much money, citizens and  resources to manage, one thing is for certain that India could very well be the wild wild east “gold rush” version for the city builders of the future.

The Balance Between Smart Governance & Honest Business

The free market system money can buy enough propaganda to influence elections at all levels. If  We all have heard of the famous saying, “The flag will always follow the trade “which literally means that governments are created and controlled by those in business and trade. This summary is about how this arrangement leads to society’s  both progressive and destructive transformations and how we as responsible citizen leaders can support and create the right balance between power and progress. Business and  trade are the single biggest reasons for the evolution and improvement of mankind, and whatever we have today from cell phones to spacecrafts to healthcare and leisure, is significantly credited to the desire of the entrepreneur. The standard of living has never been this high, thanks to the relentless drive of businesses to move humanity from one frontier to another. Hence It was no accident that out of the 100 biggest gross domestic products (GDP) in the world a majority of those were that of corporations. In a recent article “ Why voting with your dollar doesn’t work” argues that The idea behind voting with your dollars is to put your money where your values lie. If you are against animal testing on cosmetics, you make sure to only buy cosmetics that are not tested on animals.  Did you know that The Body Shop (the most famous worldwide company for natural and ethically produced beauty products) is owned by L’oreal? I didn’t, and that’s when I tumbled into this particular rabbit hole.

L’oreal is the largest cosmetics company in the world. They own some of the  most recognizable beauty brands in the world, like Maybelline, Garnier, Lancome, Giorgio Armani, Yves Saint Laurent, as well as Matrix and RedKen for hair, to name a few. So while you think you have a lot of freedom to choose between brands and their ethics when shopping, in reality, you have very little choice. The money you spend flows one way and that is to the top. Recently, L’oreal acquired one of my favorite brands, Urban Decay cosmetics, whose stance on animal testing used to be ‘We don’t test on animals. How could anyone?’ I don’t think that jives with L’oreal’s attempt to lobby the EU to reinstate animal testing on cosmetics in Europe. How could anyone indeed.

So I stopped buying  cosmetic products at the drugstore and started buying my lotions and shampoos at natural food stores instead. At least this way I could be sure no animal testing and dirty money were involved, right? Wrong again.

This is the part of the philosophical musings that takes into consideration the evil of man and corporate irresponsibility. Are the two so different? When a pharmaceutical company withholds life-saving drugs for millions of people in the name of patents and profits, should they be tried for murder or celebrated as leaders of industry? In the society we are all so ‘well-adjusted’ to, it’s more of the latter. The fall down the rabbit hole is a long one – and often very painful. Once you start to deconstruct reality around you, you tend to alienate a lot of people. Vote with your dollars is something you will hear well-meaning sustainability-leaning people say a lot. I used to too, but it took a long time to realize just how difficult that is.

The stock market could also be a sociopath’s dream. It has no conscience. Money talks, and even when you have to walk across dead bodies to make a profit, you will be celebrated and envied for it. And the people who are very good at playing the stock market don’t care where their money come from, just as long as it keeps pouring in.As it happens, sustainability is ‘in’. A lot of people want to spend a pretty penny on natural and organic products. What this translates to, in reality, is that as soon as a natural and organic brand ‘go public’ it can be bought and traded on the stock market. Then the big hawks swoop in and buy up the majority shares. They now own and profit from your favourite small business that you enjoyed supporting.

This is how the same people end up owning both Whole Foods AND Monsanto. For example “Take the Vanguard Group. It’s the world’s largest mutual fund company. Corporations, smaller funds, and individuals place their money into the pot, and Vanguard takes it wherever it wants to go with 14,000 employees in offices in the US, Europe, and Asia, Vanguard manages $2 trillion in assets. At the moment, it’s the biggest shareholder in Monsanto, the biggest in Halliburton, the second biggest in Facebook, the third biggest in Whole Foods, the second biggest in Hain Celestial Foods, and the biggest shareholder in the largest defense corporation in America, Lockheed Martin.” Its interesting to see a place where it is perfectly acceptable to be reaping money from organic food and natural skin care, as well as warmongering, crimes against humanity, GMOs and NSA’s spying games ALL AT THE SAME TIME. Because just like sociopaths, we don’t care where our kicks come from and who gets hurt in the process.

But now you know. Are you still well-adjusted?. I realize it is unreasonable to expect everyone to stop buying stuff. Outside a handful of tribes in faraway forests, the rest of us would perish in a matter of weeks without money and commerce. Honestly, I hardly have any money and I still buy things almost every day. I buy vegetables, coffee, milk and fish and I try to get the local and organic kind. I buy $2.5 organic cinnamon buns from my local co-op because they are too delicious to pass up. And I still buy shampoos and conditioner, and recently I had to switch to L’oreal hair care because it is the only product in its price range ($7) that can keep my . Does that make me a hypocrite? Should I cut my hair in the name of sustainability? I look around me and I see people committing way worse crimes against the planet. I mean, some people still eat at McDonald’s. And so the marry-go-round of excuses continues.

True sustainability is not a quick-fix, and it’s certainly not a marketing gimmick. It will require a complete overhaul of our values and the way we handle our limited and dwindling natural resources. As long as money is above the law, it will always be hoarded by those who wish to be king. The first step is to expose their tricks. The monetary system is rigged. But there is a world beyond it in our imaginations. The second step is to unlock it. Don’t fall for their call to inaction. Hence, I urge everyone to arm themselves with knowledge and make educated and intentional decision. It is only through our dollars and votes at the ballots that will eventually transform and empower  the society of the future.

To conclude it is critical for all of us to understand that at no time in human history common citizens armed with knowledge and buying power can’t shape the companies and Candidates of the future. Hence, through our involvement and investments the root of governance will no longer be directed by  bullets  and barrier. But will be powered by socially responsible businesses steered by visionary citizens such as yourself.

What Are The Sustainable Practices For The Future Of Worldwide Education

Do Our Educational Systems Need Change?, According to Yong Zhao, China is an example as what a best (and Worst) education system look like, which tackles an important question as to – what’s the purpose of education and, given that, what kind of schools do we want?, Are we training robots or actually enabling learning among our citizenry?, or with the pace of knowledge nearly doubling every few years is the current education services relevant, or even worthy of the investment of time and resources by us ?.

For a while now, those who follow these things have been in awe of the achievements of the Chinese school system in producing young people who excel academically. For example, students in the US are 33 months behind their Shanghai peers in maths and 17 months in reading. Those are big numbers, which would seemingly translate into a country’s ability to create prosperity by solving problems, and meeting needs, that matter.

The non western school system is less about productivity (students learning more during a given lesson) and much more about input – students just spend longer learning, and often horrendous hours being theoretical and not practical. it appears that eastern schools are poor at nurturing young people who are entrepreneurial, innovative, well-rounded, and suited for the modern-world.

Image from gettyimages

Zhao writes, Chinese schools are “a well-designed and continuously perfected machine that effectively and efficiently transmits a narrow band of predetermined content and cultivates prescribed skills …”

He also quotes Zheng Yefu, a professor at Peking University who writes: “No one, after 12 years of Chinese education, has any chance to receive a Nobel prize, even if he or she went to Harvard, Yale, Oxford or Cambridge for college…. Out of the one billion people who have been educated in Mainland China since 1949, there has been no Nobel prize winner…. This forcefully testifies [to] the power of education in destroying creativity on behalf of the [Chinese] society.” I also do not see any new innovation or ground breaking goods, services and concepts coming out of the east.

Our societies my be at risk of becoming stagnant if the current educational system does not keep up with modern times. Education catalysis the intellectuals, who in turn create technologies to drive economic and social activity. There is a growing concern about the trend of students who have tuned themselves out of the current educational methods. The important Debate of whether the present educational system needs to remain the same or be geared towards using modern scientific methodology, is just heating up. Stakes are high as new ideas clash over how to create abundance and shape the leaders of the future. All competing civilizations know that we need to seek more knowledge, but the question is how the process of seeking and imparting that knowledge will look like? How will we shift from the current industrialized model of education to a more democratic one? What are the acceptable changes we are willing to accommodate in our culture and if changes must happen what is a reasonable time frame all this should be implemented in.

Proponents of changing the educational system such as, Sir Ken Robinson, a renowned social expert, have conducted studies to demonstrate that schools are killing creativity. He claims that with increased technological stimulation in the children’s daily lives, like video games, television, internet and free music, classrooms are becoming obsolete. He argues that current teaching methods are boring or not sufficiently interactive. Such is the magnitude of the problem that The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) 2011 report states that over 35% of kids are failing to graduate from high school and are falling through the cracks. Scientific Review of Mental Health Practice (SRMHP) have shown that more and more of our children are being diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and the rates of ADHD are four times more common among boys than girls. ADHD studies are used by educational scientists like Sugata Mitra to advocate the use of alternate methods of teaching techniques such as Student Driven Educating Systems and Self Organizing Learning Systems (SOLS), which have been known to produce dramatic results in increased knowledge retention and keeping both the normal and ADHD students engaged in their education.

Social entrepreneur, writer and billionaire, Bill Gates, mentions in his book “Business @ the speed of Thought” that technology is the catalyst to improve education. He further advocates strongly for increased funding to public schools to keep our intellectual property creation edge in the world. In Sir Ken Robinson’s recent book “The Element” he states several classic examples. He argues that teenagers are not wearing wrist watches anymore, as teenagers believe that wrist watches are a single function device and in turn is useless as they are surrounded by time everywhere. Adults, on the other hand, forced by habit, still continue to wear wrist watches even though their cell phones, cars and computers can tell time at their disposal. In Robinson’s book he further claims that the same kind of phenomenon bears resemblance to our educational system where we are clinging to the beliefs of the past even when we know it is failing.

Critics on the other hand, like Dr. Wendy Johnson who is Dean of Westwood College, a regionally accredited institution, claim that the new mode of educational system driven by technology is making children lazy, violent and antisocial. Alternatively, public school teachers like Ruhina Surenderan, believe that there should be a balance between new technologically driven training and the old ways of teaching, as nothing can replace the personal relationship between the teacher and the student.

A recent Documentary by Frontline called “Digital Nation” demonstrates that parents are unhappy with new technology seeping into their children’s academic world. Children prefer playing video games or surfing the internet rather than paying attention in class or connecting with peers and parents. Parents further claim that the technological distractions have put a tremendous strain on their relationships with their kids, and in many cases the children had to seek counseling. Politicians, Legislators, tax payers and local authorities are riding on the resistance to upgrading schools with expensive technologies, as balancing the budget and financing other social schemes is far more important than investing in the new technologically driven education system. Over time more serious challenges among students have surfaced. Problems like bullying, hazing, gang related violence and drug or substance abuse have now become the norm even among affluent school districts. In poorer school districts, insufficient infrastructure like lack of adequate toilets, small classrooms and libraries have become a common sight. Abuse of school budgets is rampant, where most money is now directed to high administrative costs than actually hiring competent teachers or improving the infrastructure. Some critics like Bob Bowdon considers our school system operating like a self serving network of “cartels”. In his 2009 documentary Bob Bowdon indicates that the increased crime rates and low values in our society can be traced back to substandard education.

The good news is that, the subject of overhauling our educational system is now on the agendas of several NGO’s, activists, parent teachers associations, political campaigns and even powerful church and spiritual circles. Proposals like introducing the voucher system, which would enable the parents to choose schools on the basis of the quality of the education rather than being forced to choose on the geographical location of their zip codes is gaining momentum. Privatization of public schools and establishing more charter schools is now very close to becoming the main stream norm. I personally think if the federal prisons can be privatized and cell phones can become a thousand times cheaper and faster, than why not our new educational system can evolve by becoming more in tuned with the changing times. Singularity University, co-founded by Peter Diamandis, is a classic example of the democratization of education as a way to catalyze and instill innovation and improved social entrepreneurship. Learning should be a lifelong quest and sometimes the only way a promising student can experience that lesson from that perfect teacher is by having access to it through technology. is now in the process of making those vision a reality.

If we are not prepared to be wrong, we will not be able to create anything original. But sadly our current educational systems are stigmatizing failing in school. Education systems have to be as diverse as we are and we should consider transitioning from the current standardized form of teaching to a more personalized one. Transformation or change has always been controversial, and education is no exception to that rule. We as human beings want to evolve and invent the future but at the same time love the comfort and stability of the past. The concern for the future of our children and our civilization is a very serious one and the decisions we make today will resonate in history for a long time. AT&T says it best that “the system is the solution.” In short, we should all invest our time, resources and knowledge in a more engaging and productive educational system. This new education model will lay the foundation for a safe, accessible, affordable, adaptable and innovative game plan that will puts our children first who in turn will facilitate in creating abundance for all of humanity.

Work Cited

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) 2011 report

The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything, was published in January 2009 with Penguin. By Sir Ken Robinson.

The Road Ahead (1995) and Business @ the Speed of Thought (1999) by Bill Gates

Hole in the Wall by Sugata Mitra educational scientist

The cartel (2009) Bob Dowdon

Peter Diamandis lecture on ted x prize awards