Clean India – Green India

97ea429277ec88187995f6008bfa1191

The Clean India Mission launched by the government is a laudable mission. Although begun with zest and passion with suitably amended systems of efficient garbage disposal, we still fail to keep our environs spick and span. For one, we have loads of natural debris free-flying all over and second, lack of civic sense makes matters worse. We Indians may be the cleanest of people within our homes but when it comes to keeping public spaces clean and spruced up we fail in every sense of the word. No brand ambassador can possibly get us to take up the cudgels unless we have been prepared for the task early-on.

Cleanliness and hands-on cleaning lessons should be made mandatory for children in school so that a whole new generation imbibes the importance of spotless surroundings. Both The USA and Japan teach young children in school to work at keeping sanitized bathrooms, ready for subsequent use by fellow classmates. Kids there feel no shame or repugnance in rolling up their sleeves, donning gloves and cleaning up toilets. It is our predispositions and learned susceptibilities that stop us from doing the same. Plus we have the luxury of cheap labour available to do these jobs.

Waste management of odds and ends in India has always run systemically through recycling, making it a sustainable business. We are again fortunate for having the ubiquitous ‘raddiwallahs’ doing the rounds and helping us get rid of clutter of all kind – old newspapers, old clothes, used bottles, tins and everything in between. Along with municipalities getting into the act for garbage disposal these ‘raddiwallahs’ too assist in restoring cleanliness in our homes. However present day over consumerist societies are losing the balance and disrupting these trends with the new culture of everything-throwaway. From plastic bags to online merchandise packing we are throwing paper, cardboard and plastics out the doors for someone else to collect.

The ever increasing waste materials have become a by-product of modern living. Despite norms and legislation for regulating disposal of waste, the unsightly heaps of overflowing rubbish mounds continue to abound. Even with licensed outsourcing of tasks and civic rules in place, compliance appears to be lax. This is especially dangerous during monsoons leading to clogged drains, gutters and nullahs, as well as posing serious threats for foraging animals and rag pickers alike. The recent shocking deaths of gutter-cleaners raised a big hue and cry on following days but ended a natural death. After all today’s newspapers are tomorrow’s rubbish!

As India celebrates 70 years of Independence, it is time to take stock of the rapid urbanization in our country that is making waste management to be such a big challenge. “Over 377 million urban people live in 7,935 towns and cities and generate 62 million tonnes of municipal solid waste per annum. Only 43 million tonnes (MT) of the waste is collected, 11.9 MT is treated and 31 MT is dumped in landfill sites”. These statistics are as per Down To earth environmental magazine. Solid Waste Management is still one of the most basic and essential services devised to keep our cities clean.  Yet the truth is that municipalities simply dump garbage outside city limits. There are no checks and balances on proper disposal.

Of late some cursory measures that are still to be followed systematically have begun to ensure due segregation of waste at source. Again here the people have to make sure that they do this conscientiously.  Since we already sell ‘raddi’ to the recycling industry it should not be an unusual task to segregate waste on a daily basis. This will ensure less waste reaching landfills. It should be the responsibility of the municipalities that just as they have set up a system for collection and transportation, like wise they should have good follow up mechanisms for processing and proper disposal.

With nearly 100 cities slated to be converted into smart cities, the first smart move should be implement effective waste management strategies and challenge people to adapt lifestyles accordingly. Aside from municipalities, schools, colleges, hospitals, corporate houses, government institutions should be made the first line of hand-holders.  A good move planned is to do away with landfill sites and replace them with compost pits for organic waste. Community participation will be crucial and they will have to be made aware of other kinds of waste like e-waste, bio-medical waste and so on. The way forward would certainly be to go full scale with Clean India and Green India as we step into the 71st year of our Independence.

c7a0fd7aa811744e5646acfb0550b423

“Adding Scholarship to Teaching”

 

201707081122 (1)

Sunday, August 6, 2017 saw HERD Foundation attending the Annual Conclave organized by The Hitawada – a leading newspaper of Nagpur. The media-house has been organizing the event for almost a decade in a bid to head-start advancement and progression in the field of higher learning. Entitled “Adding Scholarship to Teaching” the convention included the upper echelons of the teaching fraternity of Nagpur and few surrounding towns of Vidarbha.

The Hitavada is the largest selling English daily newspaper in Central India. It was founded in 1911 by freedom fighter Gopal Krishna Gokhale, whose portrait took center stage at the dais.  Sitting down to hear the speakers spell out their views on how teaching could be enhanced to indoctrinate and instill scholarship in students, the fairly full gathering appeared keen on the offerings that were to follow.

The erudite crowd gave their ear to the submissions of the five speakers invited to share their opinions and insights. Aside from the Chairman, Shiksha Mandal who provided some general interpretations about what it meant to add scholarship to teaching, the remaining four eminent speakers (Amravati University, IGNOU Nagpur, Institute of Science and RTMNU) were actually mulling about teaching-learning methodologies coupled with thoughts on scholarship norms.

A visibly disheartened Chief Editor of the newspaper attempted to salvage and reconstruct the theme for the benefit of the audience. His focused interpretation of scholarship in terms of erudition, knowledge, learning, literacy, education soon made it clear that what was expected of the speakers was to chart out ways to inspire and motivate academic attainments from students. As also, to enumerate the role of teachers in doing so. Sharing influences of teachers of yore, on minds of students, he went on to elaborate how present day teachers could begin to tap the minds of young academicians to bring out enquiry and original thinking.

Apparently the invited speakers had been caught up with their interpretation of the term ‘scholarship’. The first known use of the word scholarship in circa 1536 had of course meant serious, detailed study for academic achievement. Synonymously, it is now understood to pertain to learning of a high order for attaining the character, qualities, and activities of a scholar. The current meaning of scholarship is more commonly understood as an amount of money or grant given by a school to a student to help for the student’s education. Somewhere between these two definitions the convention took off at tandem to make it all inclusive. Of course they did elaborate on the subject in its entirety by adding practical and experiential dimensions to explain teh finer nuances of teaching.

Had it not been for the chief editor’s elucidation, the conclave would have been bereft of the serious nature of the thematic issue at hand. It was his inferences on how a fund of knowledge or learning could help draw out the scholarship (read scholarly quests) of an avid student that lent the right context to the pursuit of this intellectual enquiry. Hopefully the understanding of the theme filtered down to the audience after his simplified description on this serious question of notching up scales in teaching to inculcate scholarship.

“Adding Scholarship to Teaching” was a first-rate attempt at reviewing and making projections for best practices in assessing the teachers role in value-addition to the student’s learning. The goal appears to be refining active learning. Let us work together to ingrain enhanced features that will inspire research and contemporary designs to foster systematic, intentional changes in teaching and learning outcomes. The mission here could be to leverage research among university educators to create appropriate value addition in order to provide orientation for original thinking in students.

201707081114

HERD Pharmacy Adopts Staggered Approaches

 

IMG-20170730-WA0010Since launching HERD Pharmacy two years back, HERD Group has been following a conscious decision to adopt a staggered approach in rolling out more outlets after due checks and balances. In some instances it makes complete sense to go for a full rollout. Like for instance the recent inauguration of the HERD Pharmacy and Clinic outlet at Saoner on August 1, 2017. HERD Pharmacy at Saoner is the first set-up outside city limits of Nagpur. It is a small town located north of Nagpur on the bank of Kolar River and is about 36 kilometres away.

In case of opening stores within the city we are yet following a more cautious approach. We feel it is better to make use of a staggered rollout adopting a gradual spread out process. The pharmacy team believes this approach has some advantages for us, at least for the time being.  The present scenario of market demand, property location and competitor’s positioning, will have us deciding only after minimizing risks and to continue making important improvements in engaging customer support.

A staggered rollout decidedly reduces risk while facilitating changes before you make the next important move. For instance when we plan to open more stores, we will do so by reducing risk by thoroughly checking out criteria like location, static traffic, visibility and competition in the area. After such evaluation and market viability will we make informed decisions on where and when to launch the next store.

We also believe that a staggered rollout will allow us to make effective changes in different areas. We will have to test things as they go, including customer percentages and need for improvements. By the time a new store is established it should be made user-friendly and operational from day one. For this we will have to transfer experienced staff to newer locations. Also new locations will have to seek out direct customer interactions, perhaps door to door initially so as to introduce the set-up.

HERD Pharmacy is fast emerging as a very visible health-care provider in the city. With its well-known backdrop of having been inducted by medical doctors and trained pharmacists, our chain stores are experiencing increasing traffic in several locations. Initiatives designed by a proactive HR department bring motivated health care providers to offer their best services taking customer care to greater heights.

HERD Pharmacy is considering additional locations and the marketing division is keeping a tab on locations and options. The next few months will be critical to step up retail-based clinics along with pharmacies. The gradual expansion plans will of necessity focus on recruiting staff and undertaking training for seamless health-care provision.

“Our attempt is to try and make it easy for shoppers and patients to really get the right care in all our locations, in quick time” says Dr Amol Deshmukh, promoter of the chain stores. “Especially in outlets attached with clinics we hope to focus on treating allergic reactions, common colds, coughs, earaches, stomach aches, throat infections and so on.” The clinics will provide physical examinations as also be offering referral services.

Vision 2017: Access to All for Basic Schooling

What is vision? It is the faculty or state of being able to see. In terms of organizational vision it is the ability to think and plan the future with imagination and wisdom. What is a world vision? This would mean comprehensive view of the world and human life. Presently HERD Foundation’s aspirational vision is keyed on meaningful humanitarian plans intending to serve the future course of envisioned humanist values to facilitate access to basic education.

Having been in the education field it pains us to see that cutting across the country there is still lack of equal educational opportunities for all. More especially for the underprivileged; this leaves countless children bereft of schooling opportunities even at the basic primary education level. Education in India is provided by public sector as well as private sector. The Indian Constitution offers provisions for free and compulsory education as a fundamental right to children between the ages of 6 and 14.

Provision of quality education is dragging at different levels. What is more apparent is that schooling is being transformed into a human supply chain schooling system centered round education becoming a business. We still have hackneyed curriculum and modes for teaching even as we move towards a world thriving on the information boom. Despite India emerging as an outstanding force in the IT sector, we yet grapple with transformational aspects to be introduced in the basic primary school education system.

The current challenge remains that of building up quality and quantity for primary and basic education schooling. Since we all agree that education is a human right, therefore like all human rights we cannot allow it to be taken for granted. We need to take up the responsibility to ensure that boys and girls everywhere get the chance to study a well planned course of primary education.

Such an undertaking is certainly daunting. But the high numbers of children out of school, for reasons beyond their control, make us more determined to find resources for our vision and to include them in our intentions for delivering it to them. Our vision is to improve the quality and learning outcomes for these children so as to provide an education that adapts to the required changes with the wherewithal needed.

Years of being in the business of social change makes us understand that there is a decided connection between access to quality education, and economic plus social development. Lack of access to education to boys and girls, leaves communities with lopsided educational development. It is only when accessibility to education is ensured that we will we be able to reap subsequent benefits relating to health, equality, and employment.

Children today need modern day skills and knowledge, more so ones who come from low income groups and underprivileged communities. Current teaching methodologies and current requisite education has to focus on inputs like reasoning, critical thinking, problem solving, creativity, and digital literacy that is the need of the hour. Even young children need to be familiar with new technologies and cope with rapidly changing educational environments.

We therefore aim to work in constructive ways to improve the quality of education. Innovation has to be brought in with like-minded partnerships that will be forged. Simply financial aid cannot replace domestic-resource mobilization; however donors do play an important role. More so in supporting initiatives needed in these directions. It is for this reason that we look for newfound educational patterns to develop a new order of basic primary education.

Our focus is going to be on intensifying efforts to rope in the poorest and difficult to reach children and ensure they have access to education. Since education is a right for everyone – all girls and all boys should be facilitated to have it. It is a right for the countless out-of-school children and adolescents. Regardless of where you are born and where you grow up, it is time we ensure that primary education has to be made accessible to all.

 

HERD Pharmacy: Building A Brand

download

When HERD Pharmacy got operational two years back, founders Dr Amol Deshmukh and Dr Suchika Gupta were keen to establish a brand image for the business. Their vivid world experiences made them keen to do things differently. HERD Pharmacy team was groomed to be devoted to making business transactions better and to learn to bring people scattered in the different outlet locations to be on the same page with the one idea that running a business is more than just selling.

Dealing with customers it became clear that they were at the heart of the operations. Customer service we soon fathomed was all about human interaction and resolving shopping issues to their complete satisfaction. Yes every now and then we came across situations and problems that brought staff under stressful situations. And so began the journey of training employees in the fine art of customer handling.

Customer service became the pivot around which the entire transactional business rotated. A satisfied customer was our brand ambassador and this is what prompted us to pay closer attention to learn how to handle our customers. Instead of getting under any kind of pressure employees were made to understand that they were to resolve issues through empathetic interactions. This was to be taken up as a challenge and empathy was to be our way forward.

Once front line staff began to learn to deal positively with customers they were soon offering excellent customer experiences. Again the challenge here was to ensure that they needed to offer high-quality interactions with customers. And this is the area that management began to focus on with the belief that they needed to extend empowerment to staff members.

Chief of Operations Ankur Gupta began to ascertain the dictum – if you want your people to act like it’s their business, make it their business! He inspired his team to create the “WOW” effect for every customer who walked in the door. Lending a certain flexibility of approach front line staff was empowered to lead sales by never losing a customer. HERD Pharmacy is now bent on implementing proactive customer service that remains the most critical component for the business.

For Pharmacy managers – Suresh Poonia, Stawan Bhujbal and Sachin Salunke spreading the customer service experience became a mission. Keyed up by the mission and vision statements drilled by management the entire pharmacy team has been trained to do their best. Attempts are now on to direct everybody in the organization to understand the importance of delivery of exceptional service to customers. Everybody is now focused on providing excellent customer service.

All credit goes to the managing directors of the organization who have involved one and all to share this focus which is what has made HERD Pharmacy to become absolutely customer-centric. Regular staff training teaches employees to serve others in a genuine manner as well as to understand how to deal with difficult moments. They have been given the freedom to use their talents and skills to the best of their abilities to make customers happy and satisfied.

We are now looking at the bigger picture and attempting to take on the bigger challenge for customer service and that is to make sure we create an integrated end-to-end customer experience. We do not want our customers having to repeat themselves. Also we do not want them to be out of the loop of off-site touch-points. So we will begin to take the right approaches through the right technology to help in these areas too.

Today, HERD Pharmacy is a visible brand made tangible by its people skills. Standing at the threshold of a burgeoning undertaking HERD Pharmacy reiterates the fact that when it comes to customer service, it’s not about what consumers think. Great service is about feelings and that is what we want to spread. Good will and Good health for all.

 

Keeping the Peace

 

May 29Monday, 29 May 2017 is being celebrated the world over as International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers. The occasion commemorates the importance to honour and remember personnel who are in the forefront to keep the peace around the world. India today remembers 168 of its soldiers who died in various corners of the world for the cause of peace. India actually contributes around 6,900 military personnel among 115,000 peacekeepers in various missions.

It was on December 11, 2002 that the UN General assembly designated May 29 as the International Day of UN Peacekeepers. The day was first observed on May 29, 2003. The International Day of UN Peacekeepers is a tribute to people who serve or have served in the UN peacekeeping operations. Since the first UN peacekeeping mission was established in 1948 until April 2016, 3,400 military, police and civilian personnel have lost their lives in the service of peace as a result of acts of violence, accidents and disease.

The global theme being celebrated this year is – Investing in Peace around the World. Today the focus is to be on offering tributes the world over to the uniformed and civilian personnel’s whose invaluable contribution results in peacekeeping by the United Nations. UNO therefore honours the peacekeepers that have lost their lives serving under the UN flag since 1948.

“Peacekeeping is an investment in global peace, security, and prosperity. It is a flagship enterprise of the United Nations. Today, it deploys more than 113,000 military, police and civilian personnel in 16 peacekeeping operations on four continents. It is a flexible, evolving instrument that brings together political, security and technical tools to assist countries make the difficult transition from conflict to peace.”, as per the statement issued by the UN on the occasion.

“Over time, peacekeeping has grown from simply monitoring ceasefires to protecting civilians, disarming ex-combatants, protecting human rights, promoting the rule of law, supporting free and fair elections, minimizing the risk of land-mines and so much more. They have also work to ensure that women are fully represented in peace processes, political life, and in branches of government including in uniformed services. All of these efforts are fundamental investments in building lasting peace,” adds the statement.

With time peacekeeping has moved on from just simply monitoring ceasefires to protecting civilians, disarming ex-combatants, protecting human rights, promoting the rule of law, supporting free and fair elections, minimizing the risk of land-mines and more along these lines. UN has also worked to ensure that women are represented in peace processes, political life, and in branches of government including in uniformed services. All such efforts assist in being able to make fundamental investments in building lasting peace.

Peacekeeping mission focuses on ensuring rule of law. Currently, UN peacekeeping operations receive contributions of military and police personnel from 124 Member States. This impressive number reflects strong global confidence in the value of UN peacekeeping. Despite the breadth of its operations, peacekeeping’s budget is less than one half of one percent of global military spending. Every mission aims to save lives and prevent mass atrocities to set the stage for peace.

 

 

 

Basic Life Support Skills for All

Teaching of basic life support skills to aid critical victims to help them stay alive until expert medical assistance is at hand remains a mission for HERD Foundation. First responder care to victims of road accidents or heart attacks actually makes the difference between life and death. To accomplish this undertaking HERD Foundation is leaving no stone unturned to make essential first steps and procedures a matter of common knowledge for one and all.

Moving beyond the sphere of healthcare providers even non-medics have been given training to respond swiftly and spontaneously in emergency situations so that an affected person may be administered emergency care. The aim is to save countless people who otherwise die each year from blocked airways or heart attacks and who can be saved with due first aid. Nearly 150,000 fatalities occur on Indian roads alone each year. Victims may readily be safely taken to receive emergency medical care after critical basic first-aid.

Starting with the entire staff of the medical institutes with which we are associated, the BLSS training to become informed first-responders has taken on the non medical staff as well. Even ordinary citizens have been brought under the fold of the training programme that will hopefully be made more widespread. The attempt is to get people of all walks of life to respond to such critical situations without any reluctance. In fact they are being taught to extend a helping hand with awareness, understanding, comprehension and confidence.

The aim is to ensure that people do not die unnecessarily for lack of first-responder care. In many situations like for instance road accidents, drowning, suffocation or even heart attack certain procedural guidance may revive victims without adding any kind of trauma if they are in the hands of an informed person. The thing is that instead of doing nothing and just waiting for medical help to arrive you may lose the victim.

Our trainings have proved to be of use and majority of trainees who earlier did not feel confident about being able to save a life have learnt to respond with certainty and promptness. This has been very encouraging for HERD Foundation and been an inspiration to launch ongoing campaigns to get more people to learn these CPR and first aid skills. Outcomes tell us that whereas earlier people would do nothing if they saw somebody struggling, now they rise up to the occasion to respond prior to arrival of medics or offer care that will suffice until taken to the hospital.

We would also be shortly coming out with a manual that will act as a first aid guide. The manual is a road map that will instruct in life-threatening situations. This entire campaign is backed by HERD Foundation Managing Director Dr Suchika Gupta, for whom it is a heartfelt undertaking that needs to be taken up at the widest levels possible. Her passion and plea is that “Nobody should have to die for lack of a chance to survive. All victims must be offered basic support by an all knowing community that responds with due care so that nobody dies in vain”.