Categories
Health and Fitness Personal Growth Science

How The Coronavirus Pandemic Shaping Humanities Future

It’s been 48 days since I wrote the last blog post on this website (wrote on 23rd February). From that time to now, a lot of things have drastically changed in the world. The world has witnessed a new pandemic in the form of the novel coronavirus. Almost a million people infected and more than 10000 died till now. No one knows how many more lives will die off the virus.

I have been reading from various sources about the virus and its implications. Though, reading or watching a lot of content about the pandemic does not serve any purpose except creating fear in your mind. On top of that, there are fake news circulating everywhere. The real knowledge is lost in this age of information.

This reminds me of one of the quotes from T. S Eliott

“Where is the life we have lost in living?

Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?

Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?

Wherever I go people talk about the virus, news channels are showing the same news 24/7, internet is full of same content and conspiracy theories of experts. Sometimes it feels like someone wants to hijack peoples brain by repeatedly exposing to the same content.

No doubt it’s a tough time for us but consuming the same content throughout the day will not produce anything worthwhile except fear and depression. Of course, you should know what’s going on in the world but give priority to quality instead of quantity. Check the source of the information, whether it is reliable or not.

Remember knowledge removes darkness and ignorance but a little knowledge or fake knowledge is even more fatal than ignorance. A few days back I saw a tweet from Yuval Noah Harari. He is a historian, author of bestselling books, philosopher ( and one of my favorite human beings). Here is his tweet

In an ideal world one would expect people to learn a little bit about the science of viruses, what is it? How it causes disease? How it causes pandemics?

Nonetheless, we are not living in such an ideal world and we are imperfect people. However, we are very fortunate to live in this era.

See, such pandemics are nothing new to the world. In the 14th century there was ‘Black Death’ which killed almost 200 million people worldwide, in the 16th century there was smallpox then great plague, cholera, Spanish flu came one by one. For your convenience look at the list below-

Imagine all those times when millions of people were dying due to a virus but they didn’t have any clue why they were dying. All they used think was about some evil demons as the reason for the pandemics.

But today we know about the existence of viruses and bacteria. It took just two weeks to identify the novel coronavirus, sequence its genome, and to develop a reliable test to recognize infected people. We are already developing vaccines for the coronavirus.

It’s not the incident or event but your response to that event defines you. Soon this pandemic will be over but the world we used to see will not be the same. I am really curious about the concomitant upshot of this novel virus on our forthcoming world.

And we are going to witness a world we have never seen before. The choices we make now will affect the world we will inhabit once the storm passes.

Prof. Harari discussed beautifully about the post coronavirus world in one of his articles. Where he specifically said-

“In this time of crisis, we face two particularly important choices. The first is between totalitarian surveillance and citizen empowerment. The second is between nationalist isolation and global solidarity.”

His contemplation is indeed very interesting and I will reflect upon his thoughts-

1. Totalitarian surveillance Vs Citizen empowerment

By this time you must have realized that in order to prevent the spread of this pandemic entire global population needs to obey certain guidelines (such as social distancing, wearing masks, washing hands time and again).

There are two ways to achieve this. And we are somehow seeing both ways to be operating in the world.

One way for governments is to monitor people and punish people who break the rules. This is what we have seen in some countries such as China. What was believed to be science fiction a year ago, that is true today.

Today the government can keep an eye on all the citizens with the help of technology. By closely monitoring people’s smartphones, with the help of hundreds of millions of face-recognizing cameras, and forcing people to screen their body temperature and medical condition, governments can quickly identify suspected coronavirus carriers.

A range of mobile apps track our movements and warn citizens about their proximity to infected patients. In this way, citizens are totally under government surveillance.

Now you might think, what’s the big deal, even companies like Google or Facebook tracks us. Even they know where we are going? what we are buying?

What we are experiencing in many countries is not something very usual. The surveillance has gone one step ahead. What Prof. Harari mentioned as the transition from ‘over the skin‘ to ‘under the skin‘ surveillance.

Although we were under the surveillance before the pandemic by Google or Facebook, but they only knew our external reactions like what we buy more frequently, they didn’t know whether buying that makes us happy or sad.

They only knew where we are roaming but they didn’t know how that makes us feel. In short, their surveillance is ‘over the skin’.

But now with tracking of your body temperature to blood pressure, the government wants to go inside your body. Previously they were interested to know what kind of news you are reading more, and now when your finger touches your smartphone screen to press a link, government can track the temperature of your finger and blood pressure of your body when you press that link.

Imagine a day, when authorities/companies tracking every response of your body. They will exactly know what makes you sick or what makes you happy , sad, or angry. You don’t know what coming years might bring. In fact, they would know you better then you yourself.

Of course, at this crisis moment government is tracking people for our good, to identify infected people, prevent the pandemic, and it is for some time. But this may not be the case. Yuval Harari put forward some great insights on this. Read below his words-

You could, of course, make the case for biometric surveillance as a temporary measure taken during a state of emergency. It would go away once the emergency is over. But temporary measures have a nasty habit of outlasting emergencies, especially as there is always a new emergency lurking on the horizon.

Even when the infections from corona virus will be down to zero, some data hungry governments could argue they needed to keep the biometric surveillance systems in place because they fear a second wave of coronavirus, or there is a new Ebola strain evolving in central Africa, or because blah blah…, you get the idea. A big battle has been raging in recent years over our privacy (The data war). The coronavirus crisis could be the battle’s tipping point. For when people are given a choice between health and privacy, they will usually choose health.

Instead of building a surveillance regime, it is not too late to rebuild people’s trust in science, in public authorities, and in the media. We should definitely make use of new technologies too, but these technologies should empower citizens. I am all in favor of monitoring my body temperature and blood pressure, but that data should not be used to create an all powerful government. Instead, data should enable me to make more informed personal choices, and also to hold government accountable for its choices.’

Asking to choose between privacy and health is a trap. You might not realize now but privacy is equally important as health in today’s generation and you should enjoy both.

An alternative to this totalitarian surveillance Harari suggests is ‘Citizen empowerment’. If people know scientific reasons of why they should wash their hands or why social distancing is important, perhaps governments don’t need to surveill them 24/7.

Why is more important than what or how (of a fact) to empower citizens. For a person who knows how beneficial it is to just wash your hands with soap, washing hands becomes natural. But for an ignorant person have no clue why should he/she should wash hands.

A self-motivated population is way more powerful than an ignorant population who need to be surveilled 24/7. Countries like Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea have already shown this.

Somehow a lot of government authorities realizing now how crucial is people’s scientific temper.

2. Nationalist isolation Vs Global solidarity

A lot of people over the globe believe that globalization will take a halt after this pandemic. People will less prefer to travel to other countries and countries would separate themselves from other countries. Just the way a lot of nations are sealing their borders right now.

Think about the society where you are living. Imagine a gang of robbers entered your neighbor’s home, beat people there and loot everything. And then again the same thing happened in another home.

What should your society do under such circumstances?

Just seal all the houses, stop speaking with each other, and be in your home all the time or cooperate with each other, share the information of robbers with each other and make strategies to combat them.

You would always choose the 2nd option as It is more reliable and effective.

The same is true at this pandemic time. Countries which fought better with the virus such as Singapore, South Korea could share the information and strategies with other countries.

But the recent incidents have shown the lack of cooperation among countries. Even at this crisis time, many countries are busy in blaming each other and making conspiracy theories rather than thinking about the future of humanity.

The real character of a person revealed at the time of crisis. This is the time for all the world leaders as well as for us to show some character.

From the economic point of view also global cooperation is vital. A sharp decrease in the supply chain from one corner of the world will affect the other corner.

Therefore, thinking about nationalist isolation at this moment will result in a disaster. We must work together as a whole rather thank working as a chunk.

These are the decisions that are going to shape our future. This is the time to make choice between totalitarian surveillance vs citizen empowerment and nationalist isolation vs global solidarity.

Don’t feel like your own personal decisions have nothing to do with the world tomorrow. It’s the choices of every individual human which defines the world. The world is going to change for sure.

What kind of world we would like to see tomorrow is our collective choice. We can empower ourselves for a better future or we can remain ignorant and present our future generations a dystopian future.

Have a safe week. Until next time

Joy

Source:

  1. Yuval Noah Harari: The world after corona virus-Financial Times
  2. The coronavirus crisis- Inkstone News
  3. Home Deus-Yuval Noah Harari
Categories
Biography Personal Growth Social

The Wondrous Journey of a Tree Mother

Centuries ago Aristotle said-

Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all

This is so true, especially in this generation. Most of us rate an educated person by the kind of IQ he/she has, by his/her cognitive skills, by the kind of degrees that person posses. Centuries before wise people like Aristotle, Socrates, Plato, Marcus Aurelius, Seneca told us about what we call education and whom we can call an educated person.

Unfortunately, we as a generation have forgotten all those and education to us means only the feeding of information to our mind.

The basic qualities of a human being such as empathy, compassion, self esteem, social awareness are no longer necessary to call someone a truly educated person. No doubt that’s why we are becoming less human day by day.

Still, in the chaos of modern-day life and the race to become more educated by having more number of degrees, there are some people who time after time teaches us the true meaning of education.

Saalumarada Thimmakka is one such name among them. I am sure most of you probably have never heard this name before. If you are a very socially active person you might have seen the picture below-

Saalumarada thimmakka blessing Indian President

It’s one of the rare pictures where in an award ceremony, a 108 year old lady blessing the Indian President. In 2019, this remarkable lady got the Padmashree award from Indian President ( fourth highest civilian award in India).

You must be wondering who is this old lady and what she has done?

Saalumarada thimmakka (Aalada Marada Timakka) born in Gubbi in Tumakuru district, Karnataka in 1910. Being from a poor background and due to lack of opportunity, she could never attend school or have any kind of formal education. At the age of just 10, she began working as a coolie.

Some years later she got married to Bekal Chikkayya, a farmer from nearby Ramanagar district, who too hailed from a modest background. Most of their life, the couple spent in poverty. They remained childless even after 25 years of their marriage and for the same reason they had to face criticism from their relatives and neighbors.

The couple was ostracised by her relatives and neighbors for not being able to bear children. To cope up with the emptiness in their life, they decided to plant trees and raise them as their own kid. In the first year, they collected 10 banyan tree saplings and planted them along a four-kilometer stretch of highway between Hulikal and Kudur in Karnataka. Next year they planted more number of trees. Numbers increased years after year. In one of her interview with Aljazeera, she said-

One day we thought why not plant trees and tend to them like we would our children

Soon they find solace in planting and nurturing trees. They treated those trees as their own children, they used to water them, protect them from cattle by fencing around them with thorny bushes. At times, she carried 30 to 40 pots of water a day from nearby ponds and wells to water the saplings.

She and her husband plant saplings in the monsoon session so that there could be adequate water for their growth. Thus, a four kilometer highway, which was devoid of any trees, become green and beautiful due to sheer effort of the couple.

Banyan trees planted by the couple on the highway

Her husband died in 1991 but that didn’t stop Thimmakka’s love of planting and nurturing trees. She continued her passion with the same grit and courage.

In all these years she has planted more than 8000 trees out of which 385 are banyan trees. Just unbelievable! isn’t it?

Saalumarada means ‘rows of trees’ in Kannada language. Saalumarada name was given by people to respect her remarkable work towards planting the trees and saving the environment, and the obstacles the couple faced during the process. Her planted trees are taken care by the Karnataka government now-a-days.

She has done much more work than just planting trees. She is still actively involved in the state and national environmental protection campaign. \

Saalumarada Thimakka has been an active campaigner in circulating the message of afforestation. She believes every human being on this planet should plant trees and it is evident when she said-

“How we planted and took care of the trees, everyone from children to the elderly should plant and grow trees. It will be beneficial for all of us”

Saalumarada Thimmaka has been a role model for environmentalist all over the world. In 2016, BBC  included her in their list of top 100 influential and inspiring women. She has won numerous awards in her life for her work including 2019 Padmashree, National Citizens award (1995), Godfrey Philips Bravery award (2006) and many more.

A U.S. environmental organization based in Los Angeles and Oakland, California called Thimmakka’s Resources for Environmental Education is named after her. She has set up a trust for building up a hospital in her village.

Does her life has changed now?

No, all these recognitions and rewards from all over the world haven’t changed her. She is struggling financially and living with mere pension of only Rs. 500 (7 USD). Only thing is now some people knew her and appreciate her work.

Saalumarada Thimmaka had to go through a lot of hardship to achieve whatever she has done for the environment and humanity. According to a study, the total worth of all the trees she has planted and grown in terms of currency is approximate Rs. 17500000 (more than 1.5 million).  Despite this, she has dedicated all the trees to the state and has never expected anything in return.

Her work never changed her financial condition. Never did she flaunted about her work. Still, she is unknown to a majority of people. However, all these never deterred her spirit from helping mankind.

Today Saalumarada Thimmakka at the age of 107 lives with her foster son Umesh. Undoubtedly, she is an inspiration for every human being on this planet.

What mesmerized me most about this incredible woman is her determination towards her work. Instead of the fact that people do not appreciate her work always or she is not going to earn money and live a luxurious life, she is relentlessly doing her job. She is still struggling financially, her work deserves much more attention than what she has got. But all these matter nothing to her. It reminds me of one of the famous quotes-

Destruction has noise but creation is silent

Saalumarada Thimmakka’s work is a perfect example of this. The true way to honor such a tree mother is to continue her fight. If only we plant as many trees as possible and help to save the environment and humanity, that would the best tribute to her.

Saalumarada Thimmakka

Saalumarada Thimmakka also teaches us the true way to become an educated person as I said at the beginning of this article. What’s the point of feeding information in our mind, if it’s not able to contribute for the betterment of the world.

If a woman without any formal education can do so much for the world, imagine what we, with years of education can do for the world.

It’s high time we understand the true meaning of education

Have a meaningful week. Until next time.

Joy

Source:

  1. Saalumarada Thimmekka- The Green Crusador
  2. Mycarmesi.com
  3. Techfacts
  4. The News Minute
Categories
Personal Growth Uncategorized

The Quest For Our Own Uniqueness

Let me share with you story of two friends-

One of them is near perfect in the eyes of his parents, neighbors, and society. He went to college, got the degrees. Finally got a decent job and settled down, just the way the whole world tell you to do.

Another one has a little different story. He also went to college but didn’t like the system there. Being a curious learner always, he later established an online education programme, where a like-minded community of people shares their knowledge and experience with people to become better learners. Later it became a successful platform for learning.

Now let me ask you a simple question. If given a chance, whom do you want to meet between two? or whose story touched you most?

 I am sure for most of the people will remember the story of the second friend.               But why is it so?

This is not a very uncommon story. Look at your surroundings, you admire mostly those people whose life has some unique elements. If someone is doing what almost everyone is asked to do, there is nothing new in that. Obviously, nobody is interested in that story. Moreover, if you become just like everybody else, you can never experience the world your own way, which means you will see and hear what others will make you see and hear, you will have beliefs what others will make you believe. You will have nothing of your own.

But why bringing that unique set of the elements is so difficult?

There is a particular type of brain cells in our brain which are called ‘mirror neurons‘.  These brain cells activate when we see someone doing something. Have you ever thought, how you learned to walk, to speak in your childhood? It’s these ‘mirror neurons‘ are responsible for imitating when we see or hear something. So when you cry while watching a sad scene or smile back to some stranger when they smile at you it’s because of these neurons. To know more on this watch this Ted Talk.

We always try to imitate each other subconsciously. Without even realizing it. Now you can understand why it’s difficult to bring something new of our own.

But is it worth to fight for that uniqueness, cause when you become different than others, the world around you will not be ready to accept you. They will criticize you. However, people will remember only those who are somehow different than them.        Former Indian President ‘ A. P. J. Abdul Kalam once said

” every youth wants to be unique, that is, YOU! But the world all around you is doing its best, day and night, to make you just everybody else. Being like everybody else is convenient at first glance, but not satisfying in the long vision.”

Is there any way to become unique? To stand for yourself. From ages, people repeatedly said us the best way to bring your uniqueness by knowing yourself. Now you are thinking ‘ What! I don’t know myself’ what are they saying. But believe me, whatever little experience I have while meeting different people, most people have no idea what they truly want, how they want to see their life. Most often they try to imitate someone, sometimes subconsciously.

So, how to know yourself?                                                                                                                    What I have learned over the years is-

  1. Write down your feeling, thoughts on a paper                                                                      More than 60000 thoughts arise in our mind in a day. Some are important some are useless. We don’t even remember what we thought yesterday and that’s obvious. When you write down your important thoughts on a paper, It gives you a better insight of your own nature. By writing down you can track your feelings and ponder over them for your betterment. No doubt all the great people from ancient times always kept a journal with them to write down everything. I know it’s not easy to start for someone who never done that but I promise you will amaze when you get to know about your own thoughts consciously. Flannery O’Connor, an American Novelist once said-

” I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say”

 

2. Spend some time alone with yourself every day                                                                            This might surprise you. What I mean by spending time with yourself? You speak the whole day with different people. The whole world is trying to get your attention somehow. With the rise of Social-Media, the war of attention has increased. But do you give attention to yourself? Do you self-introspect?  When you sit alone, no one is there to install their beliefs in you, no one is there to make you biased. You get a chance to think by yourself, not by others prejudice. Moreover, you get a chance to to hear your own voice more clearly. As, Oprah Winfrey said-

” Alone time is when I distance myself from the voices of the world so I can hear my own”

 

3. Expand your world                                                                                                                          If ‘mirror neurons’ are helping us to mimic others activities, why not take advantage of that. Why learn and mimic only a few people, expand your world a little more, meet with different people, read different books to know what other people around the world thinks. Experience different cultures. The more you explore, the more you have options to learn from different people. When your world is too small, your beliefs would be limited. When you stretch out your world, your options, believes everything will increase. You will learn to think in various ways and one way is not for all. As John Powell said-

” A person can grow only as much as his horizon allows”

 

4. Learn to fail                                                                                                                                            What you need to do if you have to become unique. You need to try different things whatever interests you, you need to explore more. So failure obviously would be the part of the process. However, we have been taught from childhood that failure is for losers. In fact, failure is essential for growth, for something new.  The important thing to remember is we need to fail fast, which means we should not waste our time pondering over the last failure and move on as fast as possible. If you want don’t want to be like everybody else you have to be ready to fail and learn from that.                                                 In the words of Winston Churchill-

” Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm”

 

5. Have faith in your own uniqueness                                                                                                   What will happen if one of your friend in a group starts behaving differently, all your friends will start doubting him, criticizing him even maybe disliking him.  Same will happen if you want to stand by yourself,  when you don’t want to become what everyone around you is telling you to do or when you try to do something different from rest of the people in your community or group. It’s your own clarity and faith upon yourself which will protect you during these tough times. The essential thing for most unique people in the world is their confidence and belief in their uniqueness. So how important is your self-belief, as swami Vivekananda said-

” You cannot believe in God, until you believe in yourself ”   

 

Uniqueness is not about to show others how better or worse someone is compared to others. It is not about competition.                                                                                                    It’s something which gives you an identity among more than 7 billion people in the world. It makes you realize your existence on the earth which results in a deeper satisfaction inside. So however hard the world is trying to make you just everybody else, don’t lose to them. Become your own self.   

 

e89e7eb0ec21201cb5f473af959047cd

Have a joyful week. Until next time.                                                                                                                                                                  – Joy

 

 

Categories
Uncategorized

2017- A year in Review.

Someone once said ‘Time flies, but memories last forever‘.

Another year, another memories added to the brain. Another beautiful moments, which will be with us as long as I am alive. Time is very amazing sometimes I feel it moves very slowly but is passes very quickly. We humans are very intelligent, we invent methods to count time so that we can keep track of our lives and check how we use our time. As Benjamin Franklin said   

     If you love your life then do not squander time

      for that’s the stuff life is made of

So if after some years ( or many years) I want to track my life in the year 2017, I can come back at this post. Here are some things below, which left an impact in my life and may be it will continue-

1. Starting Doctoral Study : Ooh big decision, last year exactly at this time I came in Mumbai for my doctoral study. One year passes, lot of experiences. I came to know why people like Da vinci and Bruce Lee said ‘ Knowing is not enough ;we must apply, being willing is not enough; we must do. I felt during my start I may know lot of bookish things but how much can i do in laboratory. I felt there is a big gap between knowing and doing. I also feel, doctoral studies are not for the most intelligent persons but for most persistent persons. During this year I have met some of the wonderful minds in the world of chemistry from Prof. K.C. Nicolaou to Prof. Peter Seeberger. They make me realise people become great not just because of their work but also for their humbleness. I hope meeting with these people will continue and I will  keep learning from them so that I can do my job in a better way.

 

2. Starting Blog- a magical decision : I never thought I could write something on a global platform, although I love reading from my childhood. But as some people say, ‘some things just happen in life, you may not know it’s value at that time but someday you will realize’ . It was one of those things for me, starting my own blog was one of best decisions I have ever taken. It is one of those things which I really do for myself with no expectations from others, though it feels good when others appreciate or even criticise. At this moment I am 6 months old in blogging and not a huge number of people read my posts but as I said I don’t have any expectations, I will carry on as long as I love it. So from the new year I will try to to write on more interesting topics ( that’s the best thing here, you can write anything you like) also I joined medium few days back so it’s a bonus for me as I get another platform to read and publish my posts. Hope 2018 will be a great year for my blog.

3. Books- my best friends this year : If I have to say my best habit till now, it is this- Reading Books. I have learned more in last two years than in my entire lifetime at college and school. I didn’t had any plans for which books to read this year but I have read some amazing books. 5 books which I loved this year are-

The Power of Habit- by Charles Duhigg                                                                                           

So good they can’t ignore you- by Cal Newport

Deep Work- by Cal Newport

Rich Dad Poor Dad- by Robert Kiyosaki

The Gita- by Roopa Pai

IMG_20171225_245952358

I am very hopefull this list will increase next year. 

4. Apps- can really change one’s life : We are living in age of information, where everyday lot of inventions occuring. A simple idea and anyone can be millionaire. According to a stats there are approx. 1,252,777 total apps in the App store and as many 60000 apps are adding each month also this number is increasing each day, So among these huge number of apps I have found one which think is really innovative and very useful specially for those people who want to grow their knowledge but don’t have much time to read. Blinkist is such an app ( made in Germany) which summarises a book and tell you the key points of the book in just four minutes beautifully (they called it Big Ideas in small packages). Though It is not entirely free but first month is free, give it a try. It is choosen as the best i-tunes app of this year.                                                                                                                                                  Also linkedIn which I have known for  last three years but it’s actual value now I am realizing. It is far more useful than I used to think. You can connect with best peoples in your field ( also other) and share your views and much more.   

5.  Health Conscious- You may call it showoff but I love it: What is the one thing that you have to live with no matter where you are, in which situation you are –  it is your body. Probably everyone knows it and understands it’s value but as someone says ‘knowing is not enough, you must do’ . This year I have taken it bit more seriously and started running and going to gym. You may read about the benefits of exercise but just once experience it, you will love it. I have got a very nice sentence, nurturing body-mind-soul. The journey begins this year and to be continued……..     

6. Travelling: One benefit of being a graduate student is you get to see new places frequently. I have never travelled like this year . I visited Tarkarli (a small village popular it’s beaches)  earlier this year followed by  Mahabaleswar and Lonavala at the end of year. It make me realise why ancient people travel in search of knowledge.

 

7. Humanity-yes it still exists: In this era when people are becoming more and more materialistic and self-centric thanks to some people who teach people humans are superior because of humanity. Few months back I have written about an incredible man Vijayan- who despite being a tea seller show us no obstacle can stop you if only you are strong enough. Read his story in case you miss it Click here .

     I have met with some amazing people this year and made some good friends who strengthen my faith in humanity. We need more people like that, hopefully I will meet more of them in 2018.

 

It is being a wonderful year with all the lessons I learned either from good or bad               experiences, which will surely help me improving my life. Looking ahead for an exciting year 2018.

May the sweet magic of christmas not only fills your heart and soul but also spreads to your dears. Wishing you and your family a christmas filled with fun and joy.

A VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR 2018 IN ADVANCE.                                                                                  Love you all