Depressed India needs to discuss about it

Globally, over 322 million people suffer from depression; what’s more, the number of people living with this condition has jumped by a whopping 18.4% between 2005 and 2015 (WHO). That apart, every 40 seconds, a person kills himself/herself (chiefly due to mental illness), putting suicide amongst the leading causes of death in the world. Approximately 1.5% of deaths in 2015 were a result of this; in fact, the number of suicides committed globally stood at 7,88,000 in 2014 itself!

Probably more worrisome is the fact that over half of the total number of depressed people belong to the South-East Asian and Pacific regions, with people in India and China constituting a large part of this population.  The study by WHO which states this ultimately concludes that India is the most depressed country in the world – a very grave fact. What did we do to deserve this place? Continue reading “Depressed India needs to discuss about it”

Why does India invest in Space?

The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) budget for fiscal year of 2018 was around Rs. 10,000 crore which amounted to about 0.0004% of the 2018 Union Budget of India. To understand the broad reasons behind this investment, it is important to highlight the direct and indirect benefits of Space to the country. The reasons behind the establishment and continued existence of national space programs can be broadly classed under ‘Geopolitical’, ‘Societal’, ‘Scientific’ and ‘Commercial’ gains to the country. In this post, I will briefly summarize how these individual gain areas were the primary motivations for major space agencies of the world. How do these play out as opportunities for India to capitalize on, as it moves ahead? Read on for my two cents.  

Continue reading “Why does India invest in Space?”

Is the Energy Industry Cyber Secure?

Electricity is the major driving force for any economy. ‘Access to clean and affordable energy’, is one of the goals under 2030 Agenda for sustainable development. According to International Energy Agency and World Bank, one-quarter of India’s population lacks access to electricity. While access to electricity has been a challenge for decades, there is one other emerging problem which is ensuring cyber security in the energy sector. Economies have become more dependent on Information and communication Technology (ICT) and hence vulnerable to cyber-attacks. Cyber-attacks target the economic infrastructure to reduce the available state resources and undermine the confidence in their supporting structures. The most serious cyber security risks are those that threaten the functioning of Critical Information Infrastructures (CII). In India, the National Critical Information Infrastructure Protection Center (NCIIIPC), the nodal agency for protection of CII, has identified eight CII which are: Telecom, Banking and Financial Services and Insurance (BFSI), Government database, Power & Energy, Strategic & Public Enterprises (PSUs and Heavy Industries).

Continue reading “Is the Energy Industry Cyber Secure?”

Charter Cities: Crypto‘s Killer App?

Crypto economics – A vision

Five and a half years ago my co-founder and I got started planning a new city development in Zambia. After a year and a half of planning, we started marketing the new town development and got busy doing the actual work of development. Four years in, we’ve done quite a lot, but there’s still a lot for us to execute before the town starts to actually look and feel like a town. Part of what makes what we do interesting is that it’s an exercise in the sort of planning typically done by municipalities and central governments, we have to think about schools, utilities, home affordability, access to healthcare, sanitation, jobs etc. Starting from the ground-up, with resources we’ve built through aggressive pre-sales, and conservative financial planning—we typically have to approach everything from the basis of first principles. Further, given that the city is already self-funded, and with no external investors; we treat our development company like a lean start-up. The first priority is to get the minimum viable product ready, iterate and improve from there. It’s easy to be idealistic when the purse is unlimited, the opposite is true when you have to think of the best and highest use of every dollar spent.

That being said, part of what makes private city development exciting is the possibilities of what could be. What would a network of these private cities look like? Continue reading “Charter Cities: Crypto‘s Killer App?”

The Bridge Project

Why does one want to solve problems in the society? Our mind is a river and these problems around us are like rocks which obstruct its flow. When the mind-river get obstructed, one cannot live in peace. Some rocks smaller, some bigger, some huge. This article is about one such huge rock that affected me 4 years ago and how I tried to alleviate this obstruction. My name is Dhananjay. I am 37 years old, an engineer by profession and I also has spent 20 hours a week for last 4 years trying to solve some problems around me. I co-founded an NGO (non-governmental organization that is not-for-profit), Joining the Dots Foundation predominantly run by volunteers.

Problem

Around late 2015, I was browsing through MHRD website reports to understand the state of education in India. I learned about the ASER reports there. Out of curiosity, I went on to read through the entire ASER (Annual School Education) website. The reports that I saw that day had a very deep impact on me. Probably a little less today than that day with best hopes that our efforts will change this condition. One of the findings in the report said 40% of Grade 5 students cannot read Grade 2 text books. Continue reading “The Bridge Project”

2 Stars for that for that pothole!

Do you even remember how many times you have seethed in rage over a huge portion of your street being ripped open for laying some wire or pipes only to be never closed again? Or when the public works lays a new road on top of the existing one repeatedly such that your front gate is now below the road level? Or when the storm water drains fail miserably during heavy rain? Or how about going to government office to get any work done?  Getting your pension or birth or community certificates, almost any government service under the sun has always been irritating in our country, irrespective of the party in power. You have to admit that even when your favorite political party is in power, these blood boiling irritations remain.

Now as a Product Manager, I have to think a lot about user experience, i.e such as ease of use, how quickly and efficiently the user’s objectives are accomplished. So we’ll have Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and objective metrics to track Continue reading “2 Stars for that for that pothole!”

Zero to 1: Private Governance as a Service

By the turn of this century Africans will constitute 40% of the world’s population. At approximately 1.3 billion people Africa’s population is presently lower than that of China. Over the next 80 years that will change in an incredibly massive way. Whilst this transformation happens, something else equally impressive will be taking place; Africa will be urbanising at unprecedented levels. Almost 20% of the world’s urban population will end up living in African cities; that is some 2.5 billion people. Whats more, at that point in history, Africa’s total urban population is likely to only be 60% of its population versus ~86% in the U.S. today. I believe it’s urbanisation and population growth story will likely persist into the 22nd century; with population growth beginning to slow as Africa becomes more affluent, but with urbanisation likely continuing to be fairly rapid. In many ways the story of Africa over the next two centuries will be one of existing cities growing into mega-cities on the one hand, and completely new cities being built from scratch on the other. Lagos is expected to grow into a city of ~100 million by 2100, up from ~20 million today. Lusaka, where I live, may grow into a city of >30 million by 2100 up from ~3 million today. In both cases I’m doubtful that municipal or central governments will be able to finance the infrastructure rollout required to make such growth in populations sustainable. Financing the growth & the existing deficits at the same time would prove to be an insurmountable challenge. Rather I believe that the private sector will be the means by which the growth of city populations in Africa will be made not only sustainable but rather—possible. The alternate reality will be urban sprawl that consists mostly of shanty cities. A future I believe most people in Africa would prefer not to see unfold. Continue reading “Zero to 1: Private Governance as a Service”

No good excuse to deter #MeToo

So the MeToo wave has finally crashed our shores in India and we are starting to see many famous celebrities getting hit by this wave surfed by some brave women. News channels are discussing these celebrities, people are writing about celebrities are who are exposed, some are shocked, some don’t want to believe anything. But the point of view of everyone whether they support or hate the movement, the MeToo movement from when it picked up steam in Hollywood to its recent strong arrival in India is somehow still largely viewed as a phenomenon that affects celebrities and some of the critics of the movement describe it an as a movement that only gives voice to the urban elites.

And there lays a big problem of this perspective, Continue reading “No good excuse to deter #MeToo”

#MeToo in India

I am disturbed by the number of posts in the social media against various celebrities be it a minister or an actor or a lyricist or a musician in the past week or 10 days. This is not a very good sign of civility in public life if the news feed is in fact correct and it is time to act against such persons whoever be them. This does not create any aspersion on the genuineness of the allegations made but a detailed investigation only can bring out the truth and the malady surrounding these instances can be addressed through coercive or legislative pronouncements.

On going through the history of such incidents, Continue reading “#MeToo in India”

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