Wednesday, April 24, 2019

“Planned urban development will be a vehicle for India’s transformation” —Prasanna Mohanty

India’s urban population, estimated at 410 million in 2014, is projected to reach 814 million by 2050.

The country will have three times as much population in cities and towns in the next 75 years.
It is not cakewalk to lead a city or nation into reduced poverty and accelerated growth. It requires years of planning, merit and tools to be able to bring home progress.

Let us take the example of Smart Cities Mission launched by the Government of India with the objective to promote sustainable and inclusive urban development. This mission targets the improvement of civic services through “smart” solutions. Effective planning and management of urban land and transport are critical for this mission.

In the light of this urgent need for reformation and planning of cities for a better tomorrow, Professor Mohanty “calls for incorporating the economic approach to cities into urban planning. This approach advocates a people-centered, rather than place-centric design of the city.”
—Excerpt taken from Planning and Economics of Cities

Drawing from theory as well as practice, Planning and Economics of Cities is an exemplar resource that adds value to our understanding of urban planning as well as development strategies.

Mohanty posits a solution that the nation awaits.

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Tuesday, April 16, 2019

The ‘borderless’ and ‘boundaryless’ markets

The power of digital is everything business and marketers should have hoped for. There still remains this doubt about whether digital will make any difference to those that buy and sell at the Jama Masjid, Chandni Chowk, Chickpet, Burma Bazaar, FC Road, Bapu Bazaar, Serenity Beach Bazaar, Jew Town and other such bustling marketplaces that are strewn across the vast country that is India.

Read our author Ray Titus’, experience to find the answer to this intriguing question.

At Jama Masjid, as I walk through the narrow lanes, everyone seems to be buying something or the other. Sellers on their part try and ward off any  negotiations by putting up boards that say, ‘Fixed Prices’ but the buyers continue to try and drive prices down. My colleagues, when they spot a  sought-after product, they stop to bargain. Plus they do something that opens up a window for me in my digital quest. They click pictures of the products they have zeroed in on and use WhatsApp to relay it back to their folks in Bengaluru. Soon they are on a video call discussing the merits of the product and the price being charged. They also do a quick check on various e-commerce sites to see if there are similar products available & prices being charged. Armed with such digital information, they restart the bargaining. They even pass their mobile phones on to the scarf seller to show him pictures and prices elsewhere, and online. The bargaining reaches a crescendo; the seller seems to be on the back foot. A deal is reached, and the price agreed on is a tad bit lower than before.

Digital Matters!
Even in such marketplaces. My further observations at Jama Masjid and studies elsewhere reinforce the fact that many more buyers in such marketplaces are using digital information to strike a hard bargain. The majority of people seem to be combining physical with digital in buying journeys.

-A case study from the book: Round the clock by Ray Titus

The Seed Bearers of Change

By Dr. Anjali Hazarika

Is it possible for a bird to fly only on one wing? This may sound like rhetoric. But that’s what we have been doing with regard to women- fifty percent of our human resource for the past seventy years.
Ask them what does it feel like to be stereotyped? Is it possible to move out of the female stereotype & be seen in a new light? What does it take to offer differing views, skills & competence while still holding one’s own? Addressing such questions place new demands on us to examine the content of our beliefs, attitudes & assumptions. For these are the filters that color our understanding. Although seeing is believing, we tend to see what we believe & also see things as who we are & not as they are.

As a result, good intentions do not get translated into good practices due to local cultural norms & societal attitudes. No wonder that Centre for Innovation in Public Systems (CIPS) have encountered & reported enormous inequities on gender issues when implementing the agenda on innovation in areas of education, health, workforce participation & governance. For instance, while offering Life Skills & Career Guidance Programs for high school students in three districts of Andhra Pradesh, girls are influenced not to have career ambitions since they will be forced to marry after completing Class X. Could it be that our biases are so deeply ingrained that our actions are not still caught up with our views on gender equality
In order to advance gender equality in India, we need to focus on one critical dimension -
Men as Agents of Change.

Recognizing that young boys & men are the seed-bearers of change, they have to be engaged early. Education is the vaccine for violence. If the idea of an equal relationship between the boys & girls is discussed at school level then the gender role attitudes become more egalitarian & the notion of masculinity will get more positive.
It is heartening to note that the younger generation of fathers want to be involved in their children’s upbringing & be active parents. In many ways, the role model of a young boy is his father. It will create a lasting impact on a growing child if he sees his father sharing household work. Until men are fully equal inside the home, women can never be equal outside of it.

We also need more role models from among influential men to speak up for women’s rights & dignity. They need to be invited to contribute to development of family-oriented policies – whether reproductive health, family planning or parenting- that are not only good for women but also for the entire family.

Achieving gender equality is a complex multidimensional journey with multiple partners who must work together to create an empowered ecosystem. Governments can act as catalyst & shape policies to create an enabling environment. Business enterprises need to invent & invest in new practices that help working mothers that are not only good for women but also good for business. A major challenge in ensuring equality of treatment for the girl child is getting men to be sensitive to the issue. NGOs need to engage men whether as gender champions to help improve the sex ratio across India or as key players to ensure gender parity. Women need to rethink their roles & careers & put the new attitudes to work. New age parents need to groom their children well. Young boys & girls need to be trained in homemaking just as they need to be trained in career making when the time is right. After all gender inequality in society gets reflected as gender inequality at work. However, equality alone is not the solution unless it is accompanied by a complete overhaul of mentalities of both men & women. It is basically a partnership orientation for including women & not excluding men in creating a more equal world.

Dr Anjali Hazarika’s book Walk the Talk recently won the 2nd prize in the prestigious DMA-NTPC management book awards. A must-read which suggests how together we can ensure equity with effectiveness. It provides ideas and agenda for action to create an ecosystem of empowerment.

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Monday, April 15, 2019

Values-an integral part of company’s DNA

 There is skepticism regarding the role of values in business. Values are at best implemented as checklists and codes of conduct and not as a fundamental way of enhancing stakeholder wellbeing, including employees, customers, vendors, and the larger ecosystem. In the current scenario, organizations take note of values only when instances of ethical malpractices surface – be it financial, gender-based, IP, etc. 

Truly speaking, values bring out the best in individuals, teams and the organization, by establishing a strong foundation for actions and interactions. Right from improving the effectiveness of day-to-day meetings, to creating a culture of creativity and innovation, values form the substratum for every aspect and functioning of the organization.

A recent publication by SAGE Good Values, Great Businessestablishes a strong rationale for instilling values in business organizations, by demonstrating how values are the foundation for excellence, productivity, creativity, quality and for creating a stress-free work environment. By presenting experiences, challenges, inspirations, and conflicts regarding values, this book will help employees at all levels strengthen their conviction regarding values at the workplace.

Addressing managers at all levels, the senior management, and the leadership, the book pragmatically discusses how to build and nurture a values-based culture in the organization.

The authors examine the subject of values from the point of view of each individual’s personal journey and finally delve into the crucial topic of values-based leadership, which is indispensable for a culture of values.  
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Social media and elections—Perfect partners?

India being one of the largest democracies of the world has a very interesting political history. Indian politics had very impressive and colorful personalities. Wooing the voters and convincing them to vote in their favor is not an easy job. There are various factors that decide the results of the elections. The first Prime Minister of India, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, won the elections with his message of development. Nehru sowed the seed of development in the minds of the people. And the rest is history.
The 2014 Lok Sabha elections changed the way India perceived it to be and with 2019 elections around the corner, let us see what`s in store.

Social media elections

Termed as ‘social media elections’, it made the largest democratic election in the world to date and so much of it took place online.
While online election activity saw a dramatic increase from early years, the country saw a number of other important election firsts:
150 million between the ages of 18 and 23 were newly eligible to vote, two out of three people in India were under the age of 35 and there was an unprecedented voter turnout at 66.4 percent. India’s Internet penetration is currently estimated to be at 243 million or roughly 19 percent of India’s population. Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi, the two prime ministerial candidates, not only campaigned online but also built themselves a brand online.
Social media also involves educating the voters on the election process, convincing them to participate in voting providing a platform to the stakeholders to share their messages and so on.
“Social media has of late become a major source of news for traditional media players as well as subscribers or users. Citizen Journalism is also widely gaining ground”.
—Taken from the book.
Modern Media, Elections and Democracy analyses the intricate relationships between modern media and society in general and proceeds to focus the discussion on the role and performance of social media in elections.
Know more about how media exerts influence on politics and expands the scope for political pluralism with our book Modern Media, Elections and Democracy.

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Friday, April 12, 2019

How did religion become a political category?

Our identification with a religious community is a sociological process.
When that community begins to organise itself, and makes demands upon the body politic, we see the politicisation of religion. Religious communities are transformed into political actors laying claim to secular power. It was precisely the politicisation of religious identities that was to reach alarming proportions in the pre-Independence period and the process continues till today.
Which religion tells its members to die for it?
It is only ‘religion as politics’ that demands sacrifice of lives.
Today when the status of secularism in the country is in danger of being dislodged from political imaginations and political life, it is time to re-inscribe and revalue the concept. Secularism bridges the empirical proposition that our society is plural and the normative proposition that pluralism is a good.

This is what Rethinking Pluralism, Secularism and Tolerance has tried to do: to bring out the significance of secularism and that of tolerance to our collective life. There is no moment like the present to take up a job that is worth doing.

More than seven decades after Partition, we really have to ask ourselves: Do we really want to live in a bare and stark society marked by informal apartheid? Or do we earnestly desire to inhabit a social order that fosters warm relationships based on civility and mutual respect? The first kind of society will drastically constrain our minds and hearts, our sensibilities and our perspectives. The second sort will enable the unleashing of creative imaginations and allow us to become fuller human beings, at ease with ourselves and with others in a plural society.
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Monday, April 08, 2019

It’s all in the mind—or is it?

Have you ever given a thought about the mental health of your domestic help, a co-worker, sweepers on the road or the beggars?
There is a great chance that most of us turn a blind eye to the psychological distress the underprivileged class undergoes because we assume having a mental issue is a taboo at first and a matter of luxury then.

In the wake of uprising capitalism, it is not completely unbelievable that people who fight each day to make the ends meet suffer critically for stable mental health as well. Now think of the women population of socially and economically backward class keeping in mind that women are twice as frequently ill as men in case of common mental disorders.

“In the twenty-first century where change is occurring at an unprecedented pace, the everyday lives of women are often considered a ‘small detail’ in the larger historical landscape. However, the distress that they face in their everyday lives reveals the link between macro changes and their impact on the day-to-day lives of people”, says Mahima Nayar in Against All Odds

A crucial discussion of various ways of understanding distress itself needs to be opened up. Nayar engages in a study of different kinds of ‘healing’ processes and examines culture, economic conditions and social scenery that impacts the mental health of women.
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Tuesday, April 02, 2019

Do you unfriend or get unfriended? Decode the friend-paradox!

Debashish Sengupta is a dual PhD in management from Central University of Nicaragua (UCN) and Azteca University, Mexico (accredited by ASIC, UK) and holds certificates in ‘Social Psychology’ and ‘Leadership Development’ from Wesleyan University, USA and Japan Management Association, respectively. SAGE is the proud publisher of his book Life of Y and his upcoming book ‘The Life of Z: Understanding Digital Generation Kids and Adolescents?

Life of Y by Dr. Debashish Sengupta is a 1st prize winner of DMA-NTPC book awards 2019. Read more here.

Millennials experience ‘friend-paradox ‘in their lives. You ask any average millennials, how many friends they have and they will all tell in excess of few hundreds. They are all counting their social media friends. However when probed deeper as to how many real friends they have and real means – that those friends will stand by them in all thick and thin; and they will be there with them in all major life events, most of them could not even count on one of their online friends. The fact is that most millennials do not trust their online friends. It is a paradox that one hand, they have so many ‘friends’ but in reality they cannot count on one.

Jimmy Kimmel a famous TV broadcaster in US coined the term Unfriend Day, exasperated by the idea of someone having one thousand friends, urging people to use that particular day (November 17th) to unfriend their offensive, passive or useless online ‘friends’.

Having already found ‘friend-paradox’ among millennials, I decided to use Jimmy Kimmel’s idea of unfriending online friends and explore whether the same behaviour is exhibited by Indian millennials. In a poll, that I ran synchronously on Fb and Twitter for more than a week and then backed-up with more data that I collected, a whopping 93% of the millennials sad that they had unfriended ‘friends’ on social media more than once. That was a staggeringly high percentage. The seventeenth of November every year is now observed as unfriending day.

Impact on Social and Emotional Wellness

This whole gamut of online virtual friends creates a kind of illusion of having many friends amongst millennials. Take Fb for instance – a typical millennial would have hundreds of friends, another few hundred ‘friends requests’ waiting and on top of it Fb also suggest another dozen people who can be their friend. Most such friends either turn out to be trouble for the millennial or are passive and at times very intrusive. Naturally, unfriending became an option.

However unfriending has its own side-effects. It impacts both the social and emotional wellness of millennials. On asking whom they have unfriended on social media, it turns out that many of them have unfriended offline acquaintances and relatives. Some have unfriended complete strangers whose friend request they had accepted because they had some common online friends or impressed by their online profile. Their online behaviour however did not quite live up to that expectation and hence they need to be unfriended. Then there are accounts that keep spamming with unsolicited requests, offensive comments or tagging them into controversial provocative posts, at time even sending obscene materials. These have also been heavily unfriended. And then there have been instances when offline fights or grudges have resulted in unfriending on social media. However this percentage appears to be lesser than the other reasons of unfriending.

Unfriending cannot be seen as a mechanical behaviour or a joyful event in the lives of millennial. They are often hurtful and social and emotionally tormenting. One should not mistake unfriending as an act of vengeance by millennials. Instead it is behaviour that results from emotional exhaustion or social embarrassment and many times than not it is act of self-preservation.

Take, for instance, many millennials have unfriended their close relatives on social media as they turn out to be too intrusive. They use social media platforms to spy on them, stalk them and then create wrong perception about them socially and personally.

There are people who posted comments or put up posts that polarize often about religion or politics who have been unfriended. Or simply some people who keep spamming with useless boring posts or a unending plethora of their selfies have been unfriended as well.

Unfriending on social media is a simple click of a button. However in real life the stakes and consequences are much bigger. Research has shown that people especially women tend to avoid those offline whom they have unfriended online. The cost of unfriending is less online, much more in real life.

There is an emotional impact on those who are unfriended as well. This often boils down to angry offline fights or arguments. People have got angry calls from parents or relatives questioning why they have been unfriended or blocked. Unfriending has affected real life relationships. People who have unfriended and have no means of contacting offline, sometime resort to other social media platforms in an attempt to reconnect, often to be snubbed again. Unfriending in short can trigger a seething anger amongst those unfriended, make things heavily awkward if both know each other offline as well and definitely erode the real life relationships

Necessary Evil

Unfriending is an unfortunate but unavoidable behaviour in the life of Y or a millennial. The social media has been both a blessing and curse for them. The friend’s paradox that they experience is a curse that they have no choice but to embrace. Unfriending is a behaviour that stems out from such realties of their lives and as mentioned earlier is more an act of preserving self and sanity. Although unfriending often brings with it its own share of problems and takes a social and emotional toll on them. This is like a double-edged blade – it cuts them both ways.

Read the SAGE Response book Life of Y by Dr. Debashish Sengupta which dives deep into the life of Generation Y and seeks to create an unbiased understanding about this generation.

Stay tuned for his upcoming book ‘The Life of Z: Understanding Digital Generation Kids and Adolescents?'

If you have any questions for the author, please write to SAGE Publications, India at

Click here for the complete list of books which will help you in becoming top-notch professionals.

This article was originally published on University Express, on February 19, 2019.