Dhanraj Parimal Nathwani
Perseverance is the key to success and I live by this mantra. I am a firm believer of the fact that there is no shortcut to hard work and that an indomitable will helps in sailing through the challenges of life. I am grateful to my father, Shri Parimal Nathwani, for instilling in me strong values that act as driving forces in my day-to-day life. While I have got off to a strong start with his support and guidance, I have my dreams and goals for my future growth clearly in focus. From business & travel to philanthropy and wildlife, the list is long, and I am on a journey to explore, learn, improvise and grow at each step.
Future India Talks
We are stepping into a new year and I have always believed that the best way to do it is by planning for the best and being prepared for the worst. 2019 was a year of many events, incidents, achievements and few disasters. On one side the country took pride in being homeland to another Nobel Laurette, on the other hand smokes of fire in Surat and Delhi ‘greyed’ the blue skies. While it is always nice to carry the memory of the good, it is very important to step ahead with the learnings from the worst.
In the recent past, several Indian cities have experienced disastrous fire incidents that have claimed many lives. Out of the many in 2019 alone, the deadliest such incident claimed 66 lives! The fire that engulfed a coaching center in Surat claimed 23 young lives. In Delhi at least 43 people died and more than 50 were injured in the fire that occurred at a factory building in Anaj Mandi. In both cases, the fire started due to short circuits and the precarious condition of the buildings then exacerbated the situation.
The often-occurring fire incidents across the country are a grim reminder of our repeated failures and perpetual state of unpreparedness when it comes to mitigating disasters. It is true that a fire cannot be predicted. But, if we have proper fire protection measures and equipment in place, then we can prevent loss of lives, serious injuries as well as severe damage to the property.
We have lost far too many lives by not being prepared or properly trained. Lives have also been lost due to illegal constructions that the authorities have somehow missed or intentionally overlooked.Fire Safety
Assessing the fire safety standards of an organisation or residence is an important exercise which can be accomplished by a fire safety audit, which evaluates a building for compliance with the National Building Code of India, as well as relevant Indian standards and the legislation enacted by State governments and local bodies, on fire prevention, protection and life safety measures. Municipal corporations and local bodies are responsible for providing fire services and enforcing fire safety norms. But, due to lack of resources many such services are ill equipped to provide sufficient fire safety cover.
FICCI-Pinkerton’s India Risk Survey of 2018 drew attention to the “under-equipped fire services in the country.” A study sponsored by the Union ministry of home affairs in the same year came to a similar conclusion. It found that out of the 8,550 fire stations that are needed in the country, a little more than 2,000 are in place, which is a shortage of about 65 per cent. According to the report, urban areas alone require an additional 4,200 fire stations just to meet the minimum standard for response time. The report has outlined the sad state of fire-fighting infrastructure in India and unless the shortfall is addressed, cities in India will continue to remain live tinderboxes waiting for a spark.
According to the ministry of home affairs, there is a large deficiency of fire-fighting infrastructure in 144 towns with population over 1 lakh each. Although the government in 2009-13 had given financial assistance of Rs 176 crore to streamline the fire services and supplement the modernisation efforts across states, it now seems apparent that either the funding was poorly utilised or was not enough in the first place.
Other than maintaining a proper fire-fighting infrastructure and having a proper budget to do so, another important aspect lies in building consciousness among citizens about fire safety and prevention.
One simple way of spreading awareness would be to have periodic fire safety workshops in localities, schools, and workplaces with active participation from locally elected representatives. There are many offices or high-rise buildings that have expensive and advanced fire-fighting mechanisms but hardly any person has been trained to use them. Furthermore, lack of regular maintenance of such equipment, which might be a result of insufficient knowledge, adversely affects its functionality at time of a fire.
Unless fire safety is taken seriously by authorities and citizens alike, such incidents are bound to recur more frequently. Citizens need to take an active interest in learning about fire safety and prevention, while fire safety departments need to enforce safety audits periodically and then subsequently act against erring establishments.
It is now well established that the declining air quality in India poses a substantial health risk to the country’s population. The past few weeks have especially been eye-opening, as a thick curtain of smog settled on cities in North India. And as the winter months approach, the air is only expected to become worse, as a dip in wind speed and temperature makes the air colder and denser, leading to accumulation of pollutants. In light of the current public health emergency, it is important we pause as a community to consider the causes and solutions to the dangerously high levels of pollution surrounding us.
One of the major challenges of air pollution is that there are many different factors that contribute to its rising levels. Vehicular emissions, crop burning, dust generated from construction sites, poor waste management, burning of fossil fuels, all play a role. In fact, while much of our discussions revolve around tackling the pollution at the city level, many of the root causes are actually emerging from surrounding rural areas. Indeed, many parts of rural India battle what have been recorded as the worst air pollution levels worldwide, as cultural and age-old practices continue to contribute to the toxic air. Further, urban and rural politicians often clash on what they believe will be the best way forward.
But on the bright side, the air pollution emergency has also shown the spirit of innovation present in our country. For example, there are now microwaves available to treat infectious waste and eliminate air emissions, including toxic POPs (Persistent Organic Pollutants) – harmful chemicals that are detrimental to our health. A Delhi based company, Chakr Innovation is doing their part to curb air pollution by designing the first retro-fit emission control device for diesel generators in the world. It captures as much as 90% of particulate matter emissions from the exhaust air without reducing energy efficiency, and the soot captured is then converted into inks and paints! Now that’s called jugaad!
Inspired by India’s energy crisis and the sheer demand for fans in the market, two IIT Bombay graduates sought to transform the product to make it far more energy efficient. The result is the Gorilla fan by Atomberg Technologies, which consume just 28 watts at full speed. Because of the low-power consumption, these fans run three times longer on an inverter (very important for people living in places where load-shedding is common).
Indeed, from making diesel generators to ceiling fans, there is no dearth of innovative startups seeking a cleaner, more sustainable future. But, in order to gain widespread recognition, these startups will need a stable eco-system of support and encouragement, from consumers, mentors, educational institutions and even government resources. As the government itself begins to prioritize energy-efficient practices, for instance through the Cap and Trade initiative launched recently in Gujarat, this will be a logical next step.
And as consumers, we have a responsibility to make conscious, intelligent choices. Our choices in our day to day lives— from electricity, transportation, to waste management - can all play a major role in managing pollution levels. Every little bit can make a difference, and the time for action is now.
In India, sports and physical activity have historically been considered masculine activities, while girls are usually considered better suited for the kitchen. The examples of women in sport like Mary Kom, the only woman boxer to have won a medal in each one of the first seven World Championships, and PV Sindhu, a badminton champion who was also the first female Indian athlete to win an individual silver medal at the Olympics, are anomalies for a culture that is beset with societal barriers and gender prejudices. There are other icons like Mithali Raj, Hima Das, Harmanpreet Kaur and Vinesh Phogat, to name a few - they have all overcome many challenges to shine bright in their respective sports.
But slowly, things are changing. Increasingly so, girls are being encouraged to play sports. The Indian sports industry is at an inflexion point. The sports sector in India has seen many new, exciting developments in recent years, including the establishment of new leagues in sports like football, kabaddi and hockey, increasing online consumption of sports and the creation of fan clubs. It is important that we create a culture wherein women feel included in sports, not only to challenge patriarchal norms, but also to engage half the population in a rapidly growing sector of the world.
In some ways, this project is already underway. Small outfits across the country, such as the Jude Felix Hockey Academy in Bengaluru and the Saksham Sports Club in Delhi encourage school girls to play even in the face of societal, financial and logistical challenges. The government has recently launched a new initiative, the Khelo India Girls League, aimed at identifying talent right at the grassroots level. The league will begin with football, and this will hopefully help to identify and groom talent ahead of the U-17 women’s football world cup next year.
Efforts like this, by the private sector as well as the government itself, contribute towards building a sustainable and strong sports ecosystem, the benefits of which will diffuse across all segments of the Indian society. Culturally speaking, movies like Dangal and Chak De India also offer a flicker of hope for aspiring sportswomen and depict a society where women can play sports.
Indeed, there are certainly many positives to celebrate. At the 2018 Commonwealth Games, 46% of the athletes were women, and almost 42% of the medals won were by women. At just 19 years old, track and field extraordinaire Hima Das can brag of being the first Indian to bag four gold medals in four days.
We have miles to go before we can reverse decades of gender imbalance, but the future is certainly looking bright for participation by females in Indian sports.
World Lion Day: Save the Asiatic Lions
“Everything you see exists together in a delicate balance. As king, you need to understand that balance and respect all the creatures, from the crawling ant to the leaping antelope” – Mufasa (from Lion King movie)
I wish I could describe how I have loved Mufasa and what all I have learned from these powerful cats in real!
It is World Lion Day today and while the world is celebrating this majestic wild cat through various awareness programs, my mind is pondering on the deep message that was conveyed by Mufasa in the movie ‘Lion King’. Homo sapiens, as the dominant species in the world, have been responsible for the destruction of Nature and making many species extinct. We, human beings, have failed to keep Nature’s balance and respect all creatures.
I wish to dedicate this blog to our cat family, here at home in India, the last of the world’s Asiatic Lions residing in Gir, Gujarat. Much of the attention has been given to the African lion always, but its high time that we also talk about the risks that Asiatic Lions face and appreciate the efforts that people are making to protect them.
Asiatic Lion, (Panthera leo persica), is one of the seven sub-species of lions in the world and they are natives of Gir National Park in Gujarat. Asiatic Lions differ from the African lions in size, (they are a little smaller). The male manes are less full than those of their African counterparts, and thus, their ears are more prominent. Males tend to not live with the females of the pride unless they are mating or have a large kill.
There is a sad news though. With an estimated 700 of them surviving as we speak, Asiatic Lions are listed as Endangered (very high risk of extinction in the wild) by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Their very small population resides in danger of diseases or natural disasters & man-made destruction – all of these can reduce their population to zero. In Gir, the last two years recorded a death toll of around 220 lions.
The balance is shaking and worldwide agencies including Indian government and Indian Wildlife Law enforcement is involved in conservation programs for Asiatic Lions. From organizing trainings for Gir forest rangers in tracking lions, monitoring pride population, and identifying threats, to rehabilitating injured lions with a view to releasing them back to the wild, the commitment of keeping this royal animal alive is something that comes from the heart.
What can help a bit more are educational efforts for local human inhabitants to help them learn to live with the Asiatic lions in their space. After all it is important to respect the balance!
The showpiece tournament of cricket is on and the passion is ubiquitous. From it returning to England for the fifth time to everyone swaying on the tunes of the first-ever World Cup Anthem by the newly added sponsors, Uber, it would not be wrong to say that cricket is in the air.
There is no doubt that the love for the game tops the charts as a reason behind this craze, but what also makes ICC World Cup, the most awaited cricketing tournament is a carpet bombing of big businesses involved in every imaginable sphere. From automobile manufacturers to tobacco brands and banks, there is something for everyone at this global event.
By now we all know that ICC generates income through the tournaments that it organises and the World Cup is the primary source. The main chunk of this moolah is sponsorships and Television rights from global partners which is then distributed amongst the members of ICC. What the businesses gain out of these partnerships needs no mention, but what does need a mention are the remarkable business associations from India!
Indian associations in global cricket events are not a new one and rather they have always been major ones. From the total of 20 global sponsorships at ICC World Cup 2019, 30% (6) are from India. MRF Tyres, also the official sponsor of ICC Cricket rankings, Beer brand Bira 91, India’s premier whisky brand Royal Stag, digital fantasy sports platform Dream11, Bengaluru-based sports business company Gaames and Britannia Industries are the leading Indian brands with the commercial association for the ICC World Cup 2019.
Two other Indian brands, Kent RO and Amul are also making their presence felt in the UK as the respective sponsors of Sri Lanka and Afghanistan cricket teams Beyond the brand associations, ICC’s Broadcast Partner, Star Sports, is an Indian entity. Star India owned Star Sports in 2014 had committed then an unprecedented amount for the global media rights of the all ICC events for an eight-year cycle between 2015 and 2023. The deal includes exclusive live and highlights rights across all platforms for ICC major events: ICC world Cup and its qualifiers, the ICC Women’s World Cup, the ICC World Twenty20 and its qualifiers, the ICC Champions Trophy and the ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup.
This World Cup is also generating the best gate money as well as TV viewership from the India matches. The India-Pakistan match tickets remain the most expensive with the minimum denomination for the June 16 match at Old Trafford, Manchester, starting from Rs 77,000. Regardless of the high price, the India-Pakistan match tickets were sold out within 48 hours from the start of the online sales. This India-Pakistan match garnered a single-day reach of 100 million, one of the highest ever.
It is the craze for cricket in India which leads to this phenomenal viewership and involvement. But, while we can choose to see beyond the boundaries into the biz behind cricket WC, what we all need to see for sure is India bringing back the World Cup!
With ASAT India adds another feather to its capabilities in Space
Recently, after India tested its anti-satellite missile ASAT and successfully destroyed a satellite in a 300-km orbit, India entered into the elite club of three nations – the US, China and Russia – which possess this capability. The story of India’s journey in space technology is that of a humble start in 1962 with high ambitions and we have come a long way since then.
With the visionary Dr. Vikram Sarabhai at its helm, the Indian National Committee for Space Research (INCOSPAR) was set up in 1962 by the government of India. Then, in 1969, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) was formed, and it superseded the erstwhile INCOSPAR. ISRO’s mission was to provide India space-based services and to develop the technologies required to achieve the same independently. Today, ISRO has become one of the six largest space agencies in the world. ISRO maintains one of the largest fleet of communication satellites (INSAT) and remote sensing (IRS) satellites.
ISRO has overseen 72 launch missions, 101 spacecraft missions and has successfully launched 269 foreign satellites from 32 countries into space. ISRO’s satellite and other applications provide weather forecasts, disaster management tools, geographic information systems, communications, telemedicine, cartograph and dedicated distance education, amongst others. Indian space programme also has ambitious plans for extra-terrestrial exploration and human space-flight mission. In 2009, ISRO first conceived the plan for sending a human crew to space. Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a speech in 2018 has said that India plans to send a human crew in space by 2020.
India launched its first unmanned lunar mission in 2008 in which a spacecraft was put in moon’s orbit. The space shuttle orbited the moon for 312 days and surveyed the moon’s surface for its chemical composition. The Chandrayan-1, as the mission was called, made a surprise discovery of ice deposits on its polar regions. The mission scientists were recognized and awarded with many awards globally.
Similarly, it launched its Mars orbiter mission, Mangalayaan, in 2013. It placed the orbiter in Mars orbit successfully in the first attempt, becoming the first country to do so. What was unique about the mission was the fact that it cost just $74 million to achieve the feat, a cost lower than probably the budget of many Hollywood movies.
While most of its focus has been on developing technologies for use for peaceful purposes, it has also developed capabilities for war purpose as a deterrent against any enemy misadventure in the future. The recent A-SAT test is a step in that direction.
ISRO has many new projects in the pipeline for the coming years. It plans to launch around 50 satellites in the coming few years and plans to make 40 rockets for these launches. Several unmanned space missions are planned: ‘Chandrayaan-2’ to the moon, a solar space observatory ‘Aditya L1’, space orbiter ‘Mangalyaan-2’ and POLIX, a space observatory mission with X-Ray Polarimeter.
Thanks to ISRO and its team of world-class scientists, India has today become a major power in ‘Space’ and is ready to reap the associated benefits therein as well as face any space-war threats from other super-powers.