World Humanitarian Day

 

August 19 is designated as World Humanitarian Day by the United Nations General Assembly as part of a Swedish-sponsored GA Resolution on the Strengthening of the Coordination of Emergency Assistance of the United Nations. The day commemorates the tragic loss of Vieira de Mello and his 21 colleagues along with all humanitarian personnel who made the ultimate sacrifice while relieving the suffering of victims of humanitarian crises.

The day keeps the spirit of humanitarian efforts alive while offering the rationalist outlook for adopting the notion of an ethical stance to emphasize the value of human beings, individually and collectively. Humanitarianism reflects a democratic and ethical affirmation that human beings have the right and responsibility to give meaning and shape to their own lives. Humanitarian vision stands for the building of a more humane society.

World Humanitarian Day 2017 campaigns with the theme ‘Not A Target’ and dedicates the day to recognize humanitarian personnel and others who have lost their lives working for humanitarian causes. It marks the day on which the then Special Representative of the Secretary-General to Iraq, Sérgio Vieira de Mello and 21 of his colleagues were killed in the bombing of the UN Headquarters in Baghdad.

Around the world, conflict is exacting a massive toll on people’s lives. Trapped in wars that are not of their making, millions of civilians are forced to hide or run for their lives. Children are taken out of school, families are displaced from their homes, and communities are torn apart, while the world is not doing enough to stop their suffering. At the same time, health and aid workers – who risk their lives to care for people affected by violence – are increasingly being targeted.

For WHD 2017, humanitarian partners are coming together to reaffirm that civilians caught in conflict are #NotATarget. Through a global online campaign featuring an innovative partnership with Facebook Live, together with events held around the world, voices are being raised to advocate for those most vulnerable in war zones, and demand that world leaders do everything their power to protect civilians in conflict.

This campaign follows on the UN Secretary-General’s report on protection of civilians, which was launched earlier this year. Laying out his ‘path to protection’, the Secretary-General calls for enhanced respect for international humanitarian and human rights law, and protection of civilians, including humanitarian and medical workers as well as civilian infrastructure. World Humanitarian Day 19 August, 2017 pays tribute to aid workers who risk their lives in humanitarian service, and to rally support for people affected by crises around the world.

Of Chaos and Inner Clutter

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Images Courtesy Google

It’s a frenzied world out there. From aggrieved news channels reporting nothing but chaos to the information overload of the social media – everything seems to be clogging the brain.  The past few days have been especially harrowing. Ghosts of white supremacy in America, terror attacks in Spain, the stand-off between India and China – things appear to be going awry causing a sense of desperation all over.

The resignation today of Infosys CEO brings us back with a resounding thud to the way business has begun to be conducted. The quitting comes as a culmination to the never ending wrangles going on between the company and its founder-members for some time now. Top notch professionals locking horns over governance issues, attitudes and ownership.

Such extraneous crisis situations can actually play on individual minds. Our minds can only take in so many fracases. So when the world gets too much for you the good thing would be to just shut it off. That is the simplest and the best thing to do in the face of such irrelevant mental exhaustion. Bring out the stress balls and learn to eliminate all peripheral disorder. Gradually learn to concentrate on things you need to do for yourself.

Process. Prioritize. Play it out. Get your to-do-list out and start ticking it off. Once the mind becomes focused you become a little less frazzled and the clutter slowly dissipates. Start taking ways to actively focus and re-energize your brain.  Follow simple effective ways to un-clutter your brain to regain your composure. One of the best things to do is to just say stop to the thoughts inside you.

Easier said than done you might say. But it is possible. Sift through the themes of your thoughts and check out which ones you need to deal with in the immediate work-related situation. As you gradually come to grips with tasks to be done you eventually restore calm to the flood of thoughts. Continue in this manner and very consciously avoid taking in any outside information.

This kind of self-control allows you to focus wholly on the task at hand. Meet that client. Visit the depot. Write that report. The sense of doing something worthwhile and remaining committed to your responsibilities is something that will help you ease out of your over-stretched mind. Once you learn to tap into your thought processes you will have a hold on things around you.

Continue working positively on your mind beyond work hours too. Learn how to escape time! Start doing things that you just love to do. Allow your mind to focus on fun things. Most important release the need to control everything. Most of us with overactive minds have the need to remain in control of most everything in our lives. Just let go!

Do something interesting like start writing a diary. Or just live in the ‘now’ taking in the present more consciously. Connect with nature – go for a walk, exercise, yoga – whatever suits you. Listen to your body. Certainly positive affirmations and proactive stance for your inner balance will keep you balanced. Dismember the media thieves bringing in so much disruption for you. Finally, enjoy the changes you bring to yourself.

Clean India – Green India

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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.

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Crafting an Ace Sales Team

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HERD Pharmacy sales managers and marketing team comprising of Prasanjeet Dhepe, Sachin Salunke, Suresh Poonia and Stawan Bhujbal know it is very essential to create singular, effective sales people. For this purpose they ensure scrutinizing every single reason that goes into motivating each person of the formidable over-seventy sales team. Pharmacy managers have been drilled to never allow the slightest lapse in losing a single sale. If at all such an untoward incident were to happen by a front line sales staff, then it becomes the responsibility of the manager to rescue the deal.

It is here that the manager becomes accountable to teach and train the sales team to learn how to effectively deal with various issues that may affect their proactive sales techniques. Problem resolving in an effective, convincing and timely manner are key skills that have been inculcated to make sure they do not falter when it comes to making smooth sales. Herein the managers have been made proficient to continually tutor sales staff by coaching, reviewing, mentoring and offering motivation.

The series of on-going trainings that began with Dr Amol Deshmukh’s critical workshops on importance of customer-care are now a well imprinted roadmap. The team has learned to focus on additional critical aspects with the view to increase sales, enhance customer base and create brand value for the retail chain-stores. Of late the attempt is to focus on the significant functions of sales with an eye on performance management. Herein inputs like setting goals, evaluating performances, chalking out reasons for non-performance, and appreciating success become necessary.

Top level management does not hesitate to chastise staff members when they fail to perform optimally. This is really crucial so as to keep performance levels in line with set management targets. What this also actually means is that performances need to be kept sharpened. To this end management is always ready to provide more effective coaching. The past two years have seen no dearth of training inputs that very easily can be said to be the key to present levels of achievements.

As stated earlier, it is the projected successes for the sales team that creates the pulls and pushes for their constant coaching. The monthly debriefing sessions help in assessing and evaluating training needs of the staff at all levels. Such joint debriefing sessions help in bringing everybody on the same page and eager to go forward together. It is also a time to take stock, get emotional and then plan ahead for the subsequent phase. It is also the time to make commitments and work out improvised strategies to pitch forward.

Ultimately it is the Pharmacy sales managers who form the crux of the marketing team. Their contributions in spearheading the sales team’s successes cannot be negated. They are the nucleus that gets the entire sales team motivated to be on their toes to see business remains brisk. The pre-planned schedule and manner of approach for creating a sound customer base helps in enhancing effective sales. Herein the managers’ belief in the actions of the sales staff becomes vital for positive outcomes.

Important steps taken all the time by managers include – taking responsibility, distributing responsibility, giving clear communications, evaluating performances and most important of all  setting high standards of performance. Finally it is their sense of accountability that actually determines the outcomes. Presently we are moving ahead with expansion on our mind  and aside from opening medical outlets in new locations we have to continue to make sure that existing stores keep achieving their goals. With an experienced Operations Head, Mr Rahul Agarwal having very recently brought on board, it will not be long before HERD Pharmacy raises the bar responsibly for the business at hand.

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.

‘Cloudy with a Hint of Rain’

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Images – Courtesy Google

The weatherman’s forecast seems to be going awry. It’s bright shiny warm weather at the start of the first week of August! The regional weather warning bulletin is very quiet with a blank ‘Nil’! Rainfall forecast spells out weakly for the districts of Vidarbha – ‘in isolated places’. No agro-met advisories either. Highway forecasts get a clean chit.

It is worrisome for HERD Organic Farms manager Anil Khare. ‘Nine day gone by and no rains…’ he murmurs over lunch at the office café. After a seemingly stable start after mid-June the South-West Monsoon has suddenly stalled. This is now triggering concerns among the farming communities in the region who are getting affected in this rain-fed sowing season. Work appears to be at a standstill.

Even though HERD Organic Farm has secure, established water resource, the worried countenance of marginal farmers around us facing the unexpected deficit, thus far, has us concerned. We hope this is a passing phase and that soon enough the water laden clouds will spurt forth making August drench the fields to make them ready for cultivation.

Understandably the rainfall deficit as it enters the second week since July, may just be an unsuspected gap in the normally heavy rainy season that goes on until September. But now we see that contiguous districts in Vidarbha have been facing a shortfall by varying margins. Worryingly Vidarbha traditionally remains a water shortage area and we have often suffered consecutive droughts in past years. This deficit gap therefore leaves us all apprehensive.

The erratic monsoon may affect the sowing of key field crops such as paddy, pulses and more staple varieties of the season. The lack of rains appears to be going on. Farmers ready with seeds and saplings are getting nervous as there is little rain water and even reservoirs and canals have diminished levels. And therefore the sowing is getting affected with roughly only about 30 percent being done as against the norm of 51 percent that ought to have happened in this period.

The erratic rains could impact yields. Rainfall deficit of 30-40 per cent being witnessed is definitely a cause for concern. Besides affecting ground-water recharge, it will also affect cultivation. One can only wait and watch how the weather turns up.  Very light to moderate rainfall has been occurring in few places over Vidarbha. Also there has been no large change in maximum temperatures over Vidarbha.

We are therefore dependent on the rain gods to be merciful and pray that contrary to the meteorological department forecast of deficit rainfall, hopefully deficit districts in Vidarbha region will receive heavy showers before the end of this month. This brings us back to the moot enquiry as to whether Indian agriculture will forever continue to be dependent on monsoons!

Make Infant Seats in Vehicles Mandatory

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Images – Courtesy Google

It was as late as in October 2014 that the Government of India made it mandatory for car manufacturers in India to equip cars with provision for installing child seats. The safety measure was to facilitate safe placing of child seats in cars and permit car travel to be safe for kids inside cars. The move was to ensure car travel safe for children.

However we do not see this provision being followed by all car makers. As a result several cars have no such facility for cautious parents to be able to fit child seats. With the increasing spate in cab riders in the country the provision of child seat certainly needs to take priority.  What is required is addition of anchors and tethers to be installed in the back seat of cars.

While this mechanism is standard provision in developed countries it is still not happening, in practice, in our country. The child seat allows a child to be securely fastened on the back seat of a car. The child seat supports a child in case of mishaps and sudden brakes or jerks. Even though India has a huge car market we still do not implement rigorous safety measures in our automobiles.

Maruti Kizashi maybe one the few that offers the ISO fix-child-seat anchorage available. But then why is it that only an expensive car has this facility. With the ever increasing rise in Ola and Uber cabs, should not the provision be made mandatory in all cars.  By implementing compulsory child seat provision the government should make car travel safe for infants and kids.

In fact the Road Transport Authority should strictly enforce the rule in place to improve road safety measures, particularly for the safety of children. Our country with its high rate of road accidents, bad road conditions and unruly traffic should definite look into this matter with concern.

It is also lack of awareness that even the public is not sensitized on this grave road safety issue.  In our country we even need to spell out insistence on helmets for people riding cycles for transport. It is simply the lack of knowledge and very poor governance about road safety that makes us impervious to the necessity for such safety measures.

HERD Foundation would like to lay stress on the need to raise awareness on this critical road safety issue. Especially since many drivers do not hesitate to use their cell phones while driving. What is required is a very forceful safety standards implementation drive, with the government leading the way through a strong will and sense of direction.

In present times when parents remain focused on raising one-two child families it makes it all the more imperative to implement strict norms for children’s safety. Yes, smaller families’ means babies and children are that much more precious. Hence it will only be the will power of the transport ministry to push the agenda for child seat anchorage to be made compulsory.

The need for child safety in cars needs has to be highlighted in a big way. Child safety ought to be made a major parameter in our country’s ratings. We have to give up on age old practice of children riding on mother’s laps. As a general rule, just as child locks in cars have been made compulsory so also child seat facility should be made mandatory. Violations should be subject to heavy penalty. It is time that we stopped being silent on safety of children travelling in cars.