Category: General

Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan: A Leadership Profile

One of the persons I admire a lot is Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. He is the current President of the United Arab Emirates. The UAE does not follow a democratic political system, but is a monarchy. As a result Mr. Al Nahyan inherited the Presidency from his father on 3rd November 2004. This might appear to be an easy route to power. But in truth Mr. Al Nahyan has had an illustrious career in public affairs prior to his ascension. For much of his political career prior to becoming the President he served as the Prime Minister of Abu Dhabi. He had also served varyingly as the Minister of Finance and Minister of Defence. This quality of having first qualifying himself before taking up a big responsibility is something I admire in him.

Sheikh Al Nahyan was born with a silver spoon – his family is said to possess a collective wealth of $150 billion. This is a whopping figure by any standard of measurement. It can easily make the fortuitous individual feel vain . . . Read More

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Are we going to be the last generation of humans?

The prospect of the annihilation of the human species no longer the subject of science fiction plots. There are numerous threats facing the survival of our species. The foremost and the most sudden is through the method of nuclear warfare. With more than a dozen nations equipped with nuclear arsenal, and national defense policies getting ever more hawkish over the years, it is a real and present danger. If such an event were indeed to happen, there is likelihood that much of the human population would be wiped out. Even as far back as 1945, the examples of Hiroshima and Nagasaki showed the devastating human consequences of atomic bomb explosions. In the decades since that tragic event the power and penetration of nuclear weapons have only become more potent. The technology to create such weapons has now been mastered by many countries. On the basis of this looming catastrophe, it is not outlandish to predict that we may well be the last generation of humans.

Global warming is . . . Read More

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Human races: Are We So Different?

Recent scientific expeditions that have retraced all routes of human migration out of Africa in the last 50,000 years make for a fascinating story. In the exhibit perused for this exercise I discovered that the pivotal moment was the great Ice Age that set in 50 thousand years ago, up until when, the rich and diverse ecology of central and southern Africa began to change. With the substantial drop in temperatures, the erstwhile green and fertile regions began to dry up. And this crisis for survival is perhaps the most important event in anthropology.

The populating of the Australian continent is a tantalizing story of adventure and chance. Scientists were first confounded by the 6000 mile of ocean that separated the East African coast from the nearest shore in Australia. Later it came to light that the radically new geological conditions created by the Ice Age provided an easy passage wherever the sea had receded. Likewise the crossing of the arctic inhabiting Chikchu people . . . Read More

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Steven Johnson’s ‘Where Good Ideas Come From’

Summary and Reaction to Chapter 3 (The Slow Hunch) of Steven Johnson’s book ‘Where Good Ideas Come From’

The main argument in the chapter is that great innovations are due to accumulative processes rather than spontaneous ‘eureka’ moments.  Almost in any major technological or scientific innovation of modern times, the break-through was made possible by the robust base built by accrued prior knowledge.

A key idea put forward by Steven Johnson is that of ‘convergence’.  This is the process of the gradual accumulation of information, concepts and their interrelationships that are precursors to the occurrence of ‘insight’. Although the decision to synthesize and analyze them is that of an individual, the fundamental facts and concepts can be fetched from a disparate range of sources. To this extent, though great innovations are not one-off events of brilliance, they are the result of ‘collective intelligence’. Collective . . . Read More

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Patient Safety and Health Policy

Triggle,Nick. Soaring costs prompt rethink of long-term care planning, Nursing Management 19.10 (Mar 2013) 6-7.

The article talks about how the public health budget in the UK has steadily grown over the years.  It has now superceded military spending and consumers 8.2% of national GDP.  But the bad news is that this trend is expected to continue in the future and could grow to 20% of GDP by 2061.  Considering an ageing population and shortage of funding and resources the country is faced with a large crisis in the near future.

In the article, some constructive suggestions were put forward by experienced healthcare professionals and policy makers. One important idea is to integrate social care and health care so that cost efficiencies are achieved. This is especially true for palliative, chronic or mental health issues.  Another important idea is focussing on preventative health measures so that instances of hospitalization are reduced.  . . . Read More

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Free the Children (FTC) – India Initiative

The Free the Children Initiative is a much needed social project.  It aims to free children in developing nations from bonded labor and other forms of exploitation.  The brainchild of Craig Keilburger, the project has attracted public attention in the United States and the rest of the developed world.  The relevance of such an initiative cannot be overstated, for in the era of globalization, it is grossly unjust how children growing up in different parts of the world experience markedly different standard of life. The most important message of the initiative is how children from one part of the world help their counterparts in another part of the world.  This way, a sense of global solidarity and fraternity is built into children at a very young age.

The Free the Children (FTC) – India Initiative has the basic objective of liberating children from child labor. But this cannot be achieved in isolation from social and economic factors that force children into work.  . . . Read More

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Is Race Real?

Racism as a construct for demographic and socio-political analysis is increasingly being contested.  Today, urbanization has become the norm due to process of industrialization, and cities are getting very cosmopolitan.  This makes it necessary that people from so called ‘different races’ cohabit and cooperate to achieve their shared objectives. Most advanced industrial societies today exhibit some degree of tolerance and adaptability when it comes to issues of race. But the situation is far from perfect and race continues to be a simmering point of contention.  In this backdrop new scientific and anthropological evidence on the veracity of race assumes significance.  They help demystify and demythologize race and racism as previously understood.  In this process the very legitimacy of racial classification is questioned.

The American Anthropological Association’s (AAA) consensus on the subject of race is a rebuke to historical perceptions of race.  The esteemed . . . Read More

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Critical Thinking Essay: Sony PlayStation 4

The upcoming release of Sony PlayStation 4 has created plenty of buzz among video gaming enthusiasts.  With the release of this latest video gaming console from Sony the company hopes to claim leadership position both in terms of technology and market share.  A set of new technological frontiers are set to be breached through the launch.  The console has incorporated advanced motion capture features.  It also offers new real-time networking and data sharing capabilities, which is set to enhance the gaming experience.  On the marketing side, Sony aims to avoid the mistakes it did with the previous version of the console, which was introduced too late into the market, when, by then, Microsoft’s Xbox had firmly established its presence.

Apart from the apparent allure of an entertainment gadget, one can look at the upcoming product launch from critical angles.  The foremost is the social implication of video games in general and PlayStation in particular.   It is a . . . Read More

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Reading Response: “Whose Culture Is It, Anyway?” by Henry Louis Gates Jr.

Henry Louis Gates Jr. makes a cogent case for pluralism in the American cultural context. In the American academia of today the formation of curricula is largely dependent on the ethnic composition of the enrolled students. This implies that courses that come under the purview of liberal arts are seldom offered in colleges with a high ethnic/racial diversity. Gates Jr. sees this practice as discriminatory and divisive. He alerts us to how “political representation has been confused with ‘representation’ of various ethnic identities in the curriculum”. (214) Hereby, instead of real diversity in the classroom, what we have is notional diversity of perspectives in the course content. The effect of this trend is one of promoting a concocted common American identity where none such exists. Political conservatives have tried to justify this practice by citing fears of ‘tribalism’ and ‘fragmentation’ in society. But considering that plurality is at the very core of American . . . Read More

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A response to Beethoven Moonlight Sonata 3rd movement

Ludwig van Beethoven’s music is generally understood as the composer’s personal expression of his deep-felt emotions. The mercurial composer not only suffered from a progressively worsening deafness but also turbulent romantic relations.  His music is said to capture the high and low moments of his personal and professional lives.  His music is also divided into those that were meant for public performance and those that were written for private/intimate enjoyment. The Moonlight Sonata falls into the latter category. The first movement, which is set as Adagio sostenuto sets the romantic mood to perfection. It is very intimate and an expression of longing and anticipation. This is followed b the second movement which is a short Allegretto that provides sharp contrast in tempo and rhythm to the first movement. And finally the third movement, set as Presto agitato, offers an apt conclusion to the sonata. The meaning of the third movement can be . . . Read More

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