“Does India tilt?” – “Which way? I think we stand upright.”

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Today is a day to remember Indira Priyadarshini Gandhi, the singular child of Jawaharlal Nehru, christened ‘Priyadarshini’ by none other than Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore when she had joined Shantiniketan. Besides studying in India, as a young woman she also had the good fortune and caliber to attend schools in Switzerland and England, including Somerville College, Oxford.

As the second longest serving prime minister of India and the only woman to hold this office, she remains the world’s all-time longest serving female prime minister. She did possess the suave and strength to undertake responsibilities of her post, and as history bears out several decisive transformations occurred in our country on her watch. However, October 31, 1984 remains a horrific testimony to her assassination.

Looking back to the tragedy 33 years later what first comes to mind are her exemplary appearances on the nascent television viewing world of Indians. Be it her beaming countenance when Astronaut Rakesh Sharma aboard the Salyut 7 orbital station responded “Sare Jahan se Accha” in response to her query – “Hindustan Kaisa dikhta hai” or her terse response to Indian foreign policy position in a press conference in USA in 1982 “Does India tilt?” she was asked. “Which way? I think we stand upright.” No one can remain impervious to her presence and presence of mind.

To many minds, her 1982 official visit to USA, dubbed ‘Operation Defrost’ saw her making her presence felt as never before. She conquered the American public and US officialdom with her determination and elegant presence. It was her first visit to the US in 11 years. Even the press was charmed by her persona and speech. Mrs Gandhi dominated the front pages of newspapers and prime time on television!

Clearly Mrs Gandhi’s visit enhanced friendly relations between the two countries and gave the US a better understanding of how important they could be to each other. The most successful aspect was her personal stance before the Senate and also the House Foreign Affairs Committees. These committees play as important a role as the White House and the Senate in shaping US foreign policy and Mrs Gandhi facilitated a respectable bon homie by her serenity and confidence.

It appears in hindsight that the frigid Indo-US ties were unknotted favorably. It is since then that subtle changes in US perceptions of India have gradually taken place over time. Yes, Mrs Gandhi could hold her own. Whether it was addressing the Melbourne Commonwealth Conference, meeting the British Prime Minister or discussing with the Middle East rulers – all contributed largely to the change in perceptions.

What everyone soon came to realize is that Indira Gandhi walks the talk. India was actually seen as being truly non-aligned. We owe this to Indira Gandhi for having given us this respectful position as being ‘seen’ to be with the non-aligned movement. In fact, this may very well have been the reason for the coming closer of two of the world’s largest democracies. Senator John Glenn, a vociferous critic of India on the nuclear and non-proliferation issue, stated – “Mrs Gandhi’s visit provides an opportunity to embark on a new relationship with the world’s largest democracy.”

British actor Peter Ustinov, who was to record on film an interview with Prime Minister Indira Gandhi that fateful day, shortly before she was assassinated, said the attack ‘seemed quite unreal’ in the pastoral setting of her garden! Indira Gandhi will remain imprinted on the minds of an era. Even as this day has seen tributes pouring in, our greatest tribute to the unswerving leader would be to adopt her courage and determination.

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Problem Solving

October 25th, 2017 saw managers, supervisors (Pharmacy division), HR staff and office staff of HERD Group of Companies attending training on problem-solving. Mr Ramesh Sangare, the facilitator began the first session by recounting his experiences in a rural setting in a bid to explain the all pervasive nature of issues and problems that affect us all, including villager’s civic lives. It is appalling that even today people are not aware of problems and how they can be resolved for their best interests.

After an initial listing of problems presented by the participants, the facilitator remarked that in truth people definitely faced problems in all walks of life. Problems are really challenges that spur progress. This is apparent and we have witnessed it through the ages. It is because humans have the faculty of reasoning that sets them apart from other species and so we have inbuilt skills for problem solving. These skills are effective and can be learned through problem-solving trainings that offer systematic approaches to resolving issues.

We first need to understand problems, see them in the face, and then resolve them. The training programme provided overall framework in order to guide participants to plan effectively to sort out their unique problems through a clear understanding and structured approach. Through telling accounts of true inspiring problem solving stories, the facilitator brought out the benefits of problem solving techniques. The programme offered a robust approach to bear on real business challenges to be used in all sectors of business.

Participants were made to undergo several exercises to drive home the point as to how to develop their problem solving skills. These included games and group sessions for out-of-the- box thinking and learn how to tackle issues they may be facing by following logical as well as creative processes. By focusing on the right problems employees can examine what problems to take on for resolution so as to ensure that efforts were spent suitably.

The fact of the matter is that anything that deviates from favourable expectations creates problems. All kind of hurdles, failures, conflicts, loss, blockades, sanctions and unexpected, unwanted, undesirable elements lead to the creation of problems in the workplace. We need to develop a range of creative and logical options to develop and adopt ways to build viable and suitable choices to overcome issues. Once we have answers lined up we can save time by understanding how to deal with each problem. This way we do not spend additional time in resolving problems.

The other thing is we should learn from our mistakes as well as from our successes. Here on we can develop processes to actively review situations and likewise follow pre-decided approaches to solving problems that work for our company. There can be endless ways to resolve issues. This was aptly demonstrated by the 20 odd participants who surprisingly could find 70 creative uses of an ordinary ball point pen besides its sole function of writing! Providing the example of Japan’s rise after its demolition in the wake of the Second World War, it was the Kaizen principles that brought the country back on its feet. Kaizen is the practice of continuous improvement. Originally introduced to the West by Masaaki Imai, today Kaizen is recognized worldwide as an important part of an organization’s long-term competitive strategy.

The one-day training concluded with reference to Jay Brown’s book – Nobody’s Perfect. The trainer said that managers should adopt a step-by-step problem solving process and provide an accessible approach to problem solving. They need to be appreciative and encouraging of the teams working under them.  A lot of problem solving effort is wasted because it tries to solve the wrong problem. Managers should take the time to ensure the focus of their efforts is right which is an essential first step.

Managers must always be focused on the desired outcome and where is it that they want to reach. With this end in view they should tackle to create ideal solutions. Often the solutions and ideas to resolve issues should also be solicited from staff and it is in this that ideas will be developed. So brainstorming and arriving at a consensus should be key elements to help in finding options and making choices. It is only then that the company can establish a range of ways of evaluating and selecting the ‘best’ solution to a problem.

One needs to take the right action in order to decide what is important, but so is making sure that you have thought of everything before committing yourself. Problem solving is to be a process that improves over time. Reviewing over time as to what has and hasn’t worked is an essential last step so that you can continually refine your approach to problem solving. One definitely needs to add creative techniques so as to get the best out of a situation.

The training programme certainly provided a robust understanding and offered a framework that can be used to tackle problems. Creativity techniques can be used to compliment the framework introduced during this problem solving training. The most popular method would be to use our creativity by logical thinking and generating apt ideas. Successful organizations are those that can rely on critical thinking and creativity at the same time to generate inventive solutions to everyday problems. The training programme had the participants understanding the need to leverage left and right brain thinking to gain knowledge and skills to analyze problems, spur creativity, and implement innovative ideas in a practical way at the workplace.

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HR Training Program – Problem Solving & Leadership

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Images Courtesy Google

The HR Unit of HERD Group of Companies in collaboration with expert external consultant Mr Ramesh Sangare of Human Resource Development Corporation, Nagpur, has designed a series of Training Programs to keep staff motivation upbeat and at optimum levels. These training, held at regular intervals in specific areas, are deemed essential to enhance their skills as well as to turn them out as productive leaders of respective teams. The training process includes a well-planned series of step-wise interventions that are followed methodically to run efficient training programmes.

In line with the agenda, October 25 and 27, 2017 will see the execution of a two-day training program for managers and supervisors on problem-solving and leadership. These trainings would be incorporating systematic activities that will inform staff to modify their skills, attitudes and their behavior in the performance of their roles. The cross-themed training module teaches employees to gain management experience by helping them absorb skills and abilities needed to perform varied functions appropriately.

The HR Unit has purposefully planned the process to identify present and possibly future resource build-up that would serve the organization to achieve its long term goals. It is hoped that the human resource planning will serve as the crucial link between human resource management and overall strategic agenda of the HERD Group of Companies. HR therefore works to build this roadmap to ensure that HERD Group meets its current and future human resource potential. This is where HR pitches in to see that organizational goals are met successfully.

These HR training programmes help employees to learn specific knowledge-based skills in each successive session that keeps them improving their performance in their current roles. These training programmes thus allow them to strengthen their skills and each successive training program adds to their development, bringing them to a higher level. With improved performance staff members become more capable of optimally performing their jobs.

It is true that most of us do have some weakness or some lacunae in our workplace skills. Often we may not be aware of handing situations or to know how to act as leaders. This training program will facilitate to strengthen those missing areas that each employee needs to improve on. It will develop and assist them to upgrade their knowledge and skill-sets to a higher level. It is here that we recognize the importance of training that actually assists in enhancing skills, capabilities and knowledge. These trainings mould and frame the thinking processes of employees and lead them to deliver quality performances.

One of the most essential things to happen is that such trainings boost the motivation levels of staff members. Employees are of course vital to the business at hand but a motivated workforce really means a highly productive staff. Such motivated individuals can help in achieving the varied business goals. As such organizing trainings become a core area to tend to for up-scaling business plans. We need to undertake such motivation sessions from time to time. It is an important managerial function that we have to assume to solicit our employees best performances.

Shocking!

 

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Images – Courtesy Google

Shocking! Beyond words! But words we do need to inform the kind of shameless inhuman crimes that occur against women throughout the length and breadth of our land. Despite the huge public furor after the ignominious Nirbhaya case, just a few years back, there appears to be no sign of the scourge stopping, anywhere. The callous molestation of women continues.

Trending currently is the news of a twenty year-old drunk man raping a woman in broad daylight on the footpath of a busy road in Visakhapatnam. The video going viral on social media makes it clear that passersby remain impervious to this animal-like behavior. While the person who shot the incident did make his way to the police station, but did not do anything to prevent the crime.

A similar incident today has the Mumbai police slapping sections 354 and 509 of IPC on a man shamelessly outraging the modesty of a young girl traveling with her family in a local train. Likewise, is the case of the young girl who jumped off a running train in Mumbai to escape her molester. Pick up a newspaper, follow social media or check out on the internet – you will get a spate of molestation accounts from all over, every day!

All of us on social media would be aware of the “#MeToo” campaign on Twitter and Facebook recently. This campaign has become a global rallying point for women to expose the scale of sexual exploitation in the world today. The movement started on October 15 in response to accusations of sexual misconduct against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein by actress Alyssa Milano. She tweeted: “Suggested by a friend: If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote ‘#MeToo’ as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem”.

In just 24 hours #MeToo became one of largest trending issue on Twitter with over half a million tweets and shares on Facebook. From celebrities to ordinary women from both sides of the globe, millions and millions of women had this campaign going viral. Actresses from Hollywood to Bollywood, media women from west and east, corporate women, working women, college girls and school girls everywhere had the #MeToo hash-tag appended to their social media sites.

You just had to scroll through social media sites to read of accounts posted by friends and friends of friends to make you realize how pervasive the problem really is. The anecdotes all sounded so similar and so familiar that it added to the sense of solidarity against sexual harassment. The culture of silence around such incidents as if lifted in unison and allowed victims to be heard. Mumbai-based HR Professional, Trevor Mark Fernandes rightly called it a “collective catharsis”.

The campaign leaves one feeling flabbergasted. The enormity of the problem comes home when you see almost everyone that you know has had some sordid experience. You are aware that such things happen. You keep reading about them. But to realize that these things happen every day around you, to people whom you know – family, friends and acquaintances shakes you completely.

Rape today is the fourth most common crime against women. The National Crime Records Bureau 2013 report has 24,923 rape cases reported across India, of which 24,470 were committed by someone known to the victim! India is characterized as one of the “countries with the lowest per capita rates of rape”! According to 2012 statistics, New Delhi has the highest number of rape reports among Indian cities, while Jabalpur has the highest per capita rate of rape reports.

In the wake of the infamous Nirbhaya rape case, followed by several other heinous rape cases that received media outrage and public protests, the Government of India reformed its penal code for crimes of rape and sexual assault. However, molestation and rape continue unabated. But the two ghastly incidents trending today are so shocking and disgusting; they call for strict enforcement of the harshest punitive measures.

World Trauma Day 2017

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Image – Courtesy Google 

Each year October 17 is observed as World Trauma Day. The day reminds us all regarding the rising number of accidents and injuries that cause death and disability across the world and how we may prevent the same. Trauma refers to “any injury caused to the body” physical or mental. Injuries may be due to road accidents, fires, burns, falls, or acts of violence.

Surprisingly in all these causes it is road accidents that remain the number one reason for trauma all over the world. Road accidents often lead to temporary or permanent disability of victims and may even be fatal. It is estimated that every year nearly 5 million people die from injuries across the world.

In our own country statistics reveal that every year about a million people die while 20 million get hospitalized due to serious injuries. The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) states that nearly 1, 40,000 people die in road accidents in India on an average in any given year. In reality the numbers may be even more since these would probably be the numbers of reported cases.

The fact is that road accidents keep occurring all the time that also increases the morbidity and mortality rate. It is therefore very important to take all required precautions and steps to contain both accidents and injuries. Since as we all know prevention is always better than cure, people, especially the young ones should be taking care. Authorities should stay alert towards imposing restrictions on speed, wearing of helmets and act responsibly in traffic regulation.

Road accidents are the scourge of modern times. These deaths and disabilities can be prevented if proper training is imparted to the common man on how to handle emergency care in accident cases. For, apart from causing deaths in a largely young population, trauma will, by 2020, be ranked third for causing disabilities among the Indian population. Trauma can therefore be looked upon as an epidemic.

It is for this reason that HERD Foundation has been promoting Basic Life Saving Skills Training and advocating emergency medicine courses for not only medical people but for lay persons as well. If life sustaining help is not provided by first responders within minutes of an accident, then chances are we may be left counting more fatality statistics. We also need to impose strict rules for vehicle drivers to be careful and observe safety and wear helmets.

In line with our role as health care providers, HERD Foundation is committed to saving lives of critical patients. We urge every person working in healthcare sector and even laypersons to gain essential knowledge of life support skills. We know that early recognition and immediate life support intervention saves lives. It has therefore become a life’s mission for us to undertake Life Support Training Skills programme and to make them as widespread as possible.

In most trauma cases where deaths occur before medical help arrives, there is nobody who knows what to do. Precious minutes are lost. It is for this reason that we have undertaken training in basic life-saving skills. If a person is not given help within three minutes of an accident then we can lose a person. Today, on October 17 2017, we once again reiterate our mission and also raise awareness about the World Trauma Day.  Here are some do’s and don’ts to remember and follow to avoid accidents:

Do’s

  • Follow road safety rules carefully.
  • Always fasten seat belts and child care safety seats.
  • Pay attention to warning signs and traffic signals.
  • Always wear a helmet while riding a two-wheeler.
  • Avoid distractions like mobile phones and loud music.
  • Take short breaks in case of long distance driving.
  • Keep children away from electric switches and wires.
  • Carry a first aid safety kit at your home and in your vehicle.
  • Learn basic life support techniques and help the injured.

Don’ts

  • Do not drive when you are tired, sleepy or drunk.
  • Do not drive rashly when in a hurry.
  • In case of a head/spinal injury do not move victim from accident site without professional help.
  • Do not give fluids to any unconscious or semi-conscious traumatized person.

 

Let There Be Light

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Image – Courtesy Google 

Deepawali, the festival of lights is just round the corner. It ritualistically begins with cleansing. Every household gets busy with this annual cleaning frenzy to rid abodes of months of dust, cobwebs, dirt, grime and filth that go nearly unnoticed, until now. Hidden corners, high ceilings, ceiling fans, shut cupboards, lofts, store rooms, and bathrooms are all cleaned up vigorously. The deep-cleaning spree is to turn our homes come out shining and new!

But while we are so enthusiastic about welcoming the festive season with a home that is spruced up and squeaky clean, should we also not be concerned about keeping our surroundings pollution free too? Should we not pause and question as to why we make use of fire-crackers that will be polluting not only the environment but also our bodies. Should our bodies not need more attention to be kept clean along with our households?

Fire-crackers are synonymous with Diwali celebrations that environmentalists for years have been attempting to warn off. Intelligent people certainly welcome the Supreme Court decision prohibiting sale of firecrackers in Delhi-NCR. Why don’t other cities follow suit and look forward to a relatively cleaner Diwali. Don’t we all want relief from the annual rise in air pollution levels during Diwali? It is true that in India pollution levels go up much higher than national standards just as soon as the winters begin. It is for this reason alone that there should be comprehensive control on air pollution all over the country.

Pollution after Diwali fireworks affects all parts of the body. Your skin, eyes, nose, heart and even lungs may get affected. Chronic diseases like asthma and other lung related allergies get seriously aggravated after Diwali pollution. Warns Dr. Suchika Gupta, co-founder and Managing Director of HERD Foundation: “There is little doubt that the numbers of patients suffering from respiratory diseases spikes up tremendously after Diwali, not to speak of fire related accidents that get victims rushed to hospitals. It is therefore best to light lamps and celebrate peacefully rather that invite hazardous substances in our bodies and our environment”.

Aside from risk of skin burns or similar suffering that may follow burning firecrackers, the other hazard comes from smog that soon engulfs surrounding areas. It makes breathing difficult. Yet house after house goes berserk lighting up all kinds of fire crackers that aside from profusely littering the streets also affects air quality. Smog filled up with chemicals from fireworks fills up the environment and continues to hit residents particularly during early mornings and late evenings. The concentrations of ultra-fine PM2.5 reach as high as 1,000 ug/m3, nearly 17 times the safe limit of 60 ug/m3.

So even when Diwali is over, the smog continues to affect morning walkers, school-going children, and anyone else who comes in contact with this pollution-laden air. How then does it help anyone to first take part in such hazardous activity, and then get affected by the toxic fumes? Think especially of the damage that occurs to people suffering from chronic respiratory diseases or those having weak immunity?

Anyone experiencing breathlessness, coughing fits, chest tightness or watery eyes after Diwali can be sure that these are after effects of high levels of air pollution. Such people should not be going about outdoors early morning and late evening. Additionally they should invest in a quality face mask. It is true that prolonged exposure to concentrated metal particles may cause serious lung diseases.

India’s Central Pollution Control Board routinely monitors four air pollutants namely sulphur dioxide (SO2), oxides of nitrogen (NOx), suspended particulate matter (SPM) and respirable particulate matter (PM10). Bursting firecrackers during Diwali sends PM2.5 levels soaring. New Delhi, the capital city ranks notoriously high on unhealthy levels of particulate matter pollution. So while the recent judgment is a step in the right direction, other Indian cities ought to follow strict norms too. Unfortunately air quality levels are monitored by the government in only a handful of cities!

HERD Foundation suggests – let there be light this Diwali in your homes and also in your minds! Go for a fire-cracker free Diwali and do yourself, your neigbourhood, and your city a huge favour. We take this opportunity to wish everyone a peaceful and fun-filled Deepawali. May the festive season ahead be one that paves the way for better health, cleaner environment and breathable air.

Images – Courtesy Google

 

International Day of the Girl

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The world observes International Day Of The Girl today on October 11. International Day of the Girl Child or Day of the Girl is an annual event that highlights issues concerning the gender inequality facing young girls. This year’s theme is “The Power of the Adolescent Girl: Vision for 2030.” The focus is on addressing the needs and challenges that girls face and to ensure that we all promote girls’ empowerment.

Designated by the UN, October 11 is the day that reminds us all to invest in adolescent girls. A united effort in this direction will create a formidable ripple effect to create a better world by 2030. That is the idea. On this International Day of the Girl, all countries join in to highlight the unique challenges and potential of adolescent girls. With nearly 600 million girls aged 10 to 19 in the world today, one can only imagine the limitless individual potential they have to offer.

UN Women rightly feels that focus on girls is disappearing from public awareness and the international development agenda. It is a sad fact that girls all over the world face inequity issues, protection issues, and inability to complete secondary education. Adolescent girls everywhere are uniquely impacted and this ought to be corrected by offering benefits by targeted investments and programmes that address their distinct needs.

There are 1.1 billion girls in the world, and every one of them deserves equal opportunities for a better future. They are a source of energy, power and creativity. They can drive change and help build a better future for all. Yet, most girls face disadvantage and discrimination on a daily basis, and those living through crises suffer even more. Therefore this year pays special attention to the theme – “Empower girls: Before, during and after conflict”.

Every 10 minutes, somewhere in the world, an adolescent girl dies as a result of violence. In humanitarian emergencies, gender-based violence often increases, subjecting girls to sexual and physical violence, child marriage, exploitation and trafficking. Adolescent girls in conflict zones are 90 per cent more likely to be out of school when compared to girls in conflict-free countries, compromising their future prospects for work and financial independence as adults.

Throughout 2017 we have seen growing conflict, instability and inequality, with 128.6 million people this year expected to need humanitarian assistance due to security threats, climate change and poverty. More than three-quarters of those who have become refugees or who are displaced from their homes are women and children. Among these, women and girls are among the most vulnerable in times of crisis.

Displaced and vulnerable women and girls face higher risks of sexual and gender-based violence, as well as damage to their livelihoods; girls are 2.5 times more likely than boys to miss school during disasters; and displaced girls are often married off as children in an effort to ensure their security. Across the world, empowered girls are raising their voices to fight for their rights and protection in all contexts. They are working to end violence against women and girls, to recognize indigenous rights, and to build peaceful and cohesive communities.

Let this day be a pledge to ensure that girls are offered positive options that allow them to grow and develop social and economic skills. Let ngo’s and civil society organizations boost civic engagement and leadership for girls by advocating their social participation and resurgence. Let nations turn adverse situations into opportunities of empowerment for girls and young women.

On this International Day of the Girl Child let us all commit to investing in skills training and education for girls and livelihood activities for young women. We are well aware of the plight of young girls in our own country. Let us not be passive any more but address the issues affecting the girl child and help to rebuild our communities to create a better future for all of us.