My First Expert

Years have passed, but those days have been cherished in the most accessible corner of my memory─ the days when you were both my ‘baba’ and ‘maa’, the days when your loving embrace was the most secure thing in the world, the moments when tears rolled down your eyes while talking about ‘baba’ who left us long ago, venerable and unprotected. ‘Maa’ you will always remain the most special person in my life. Today, when I sit down to put what you mean to me, I fumble for words, not because I have nothing much to say but because I never ever defined the intensity of our relation through words. You have always been the one who I could trust more than myself, you have always been the one who had the right advice for all the problems I faced, you could always be shared whatever I had to share, and you will always be the first one whom I will share my happiness with. Your place in my life will never change─ no matter, who comes to my life.


You are the first expert who I could rely on. You taught me how to tie the lace of the shoes, how to comb my hair in the right direction so that the teacher thinks I am a decent boy, you taught me how to cut my nails, and what not. You filled my world with all the emotional needs I ever felt. I will never be able to justify your contribution in my life by writing in words. This is an effort in vain. ‘Maa’ no amount of thanks or gratitude will ever be sufficient to match the pain you have token to raise me up. Today, I just have one thing to say to you, the one thing that sums up this failed attempt of mine to acknowledge your place in my life: ‘maa’ tujhe salam’!

(While your mom can be an expert in anything, when it comes to hair, you can rely on , Godrej Expert Rich Crème. Visit for more details)

How to form new habits that stick

Most of us may feel the need of changing a few habits (for say waking up early), forming new habits (like going to the gym), and discarding some nasty old habits (like smoking and drinking). Most often we make plans, write resolutions, and start with enthusiasm; but soon we fail to continue with our plans and end up in the initial stage. So, how can we form new habits and stick to them? Here I am going to talk about a five-point strategy of building new habits and sticking to them:


1) Ask ‘why

The first important step is new habit formation is being able to answer why you want to form the new habit in the first place. The clearer and more unambiguous is your answer, the better chance you have in taking proactive approach in forming new habits. Therefore, conscious evaluation of the need of the new habit is very critical. For example, the real reasons for beginning to read the newspaper daily can be genuine feeling that being informed about various developments will help you making better decisions in personal and professional life. The reasons of forming a new habit MUST be motivating in themselves. If you can strongly feel the needs of forming a new habit chances are that you will be more successful in sticking to the habits. Creating intrinsic motivators i.e. being motivated to do things on your own and not through any rewards or punishment is an essential process of building habits that last.
The Don’ts:
1) I will start reading the newspaper every day. Most of my colleagues do it.
The Do`s:
1) I will start reading the newspaper every day. I am not doing well in my job because of my lack of knowledge about current developments in my field. So it is a ‘must-do’ for me.

2) Visualize the process
Most often we visualize how effectively forming the new habit will make us better. For example, before starting to exercise daily or starting a new diet, we often visualize (or often fantasize) how we are going to look with our newly formed 8-pack abs. This is a wrong way of visualization. Rather than visualizing the end, if we can visualize how we will effectively execute the plan everyday (i.e. carryout the micro tasks daily), we will have a better chance in being able to stick to our habits. For example, visualizing you exercising daily and eating the right food is more effective than visualizing having a toned body.
The Don’ts:
1) Wow, I am looking so toned up!
The Do`s:
1) Wow, I am going to wake up at 6:30 and then run for 30 minutes in the treadmill.

3) Develop contextual cues
If you can associate your new habit with something that you already do on regular basis then you have more chances of being successful in forming the new habit. So if you want to form the habit of keeping your room clean, tell yourself: “I will clean my room for 15 minutes after I comeback from work every day.” Therefore, you are associating the new habit (cleaning room) with a regular task (coming back from office). This will help you in initiating the new habit and sticking to it.
The Don’ts:
1) I will not eat junk food.
The Do`s:
1) If I am eating out, I will only eat fruit salads and vegetables.
First steps of education
4) The beginning is the most important and it should require least effort
Most of us fail to build a new habit because initiating a new habit requires significant amount of effort. Since beginning is the most important part of new habit formation, ideally it should require very less effort. For example, if you find that you cannot start a new diet plan only because there is a drastic change in your planned diet from your existing diet, then you should take an incremental approach towards starting the new diet. In this approach, you need to start making small and incremental changes in your diet so that over a period of time (for say two weeks) you can completely shift to your new diet. Therefore, taking a very tiny step toward you goal rather than a very ambitious and big step will help you in sticking to your new habit and reduce your chances of faltering.
The Don’ts:
1) I will exercise for one hour from tomorrow.
The Do`s:
1) I will exercise for 10 minutes from tomorrow and increase by 5 minutes every day till I reach one hour.

dont force

5) Don’t prevent, push
Don’t prevent or force to stop something, just push what is required to be done. So next time you want to stop smoking, don’t fight force yourself to stop smoking by ‘Will Power’, just push the idea that smoking is not good for your health in your mind. The more you focus on pushing what is required than preventing what needs to be stopped, the more successful you will become in sticking to your new habits. So focus on what is required and do not emphasize on what needs to be stopped.
The Don’ts:
1) I will have to reduce the amount of meat I eat every week.
The Do`s:
1) I will eat more fruits and vegetables in my meals.

Self-righteousness, Grandiosity, and Narcissism

Our performance, achievement, and our relationship are greatly affected by the worldview we have. In turn, our worldview is shaped by a large number of factors, including the environment we live in, how people think about us, how we perceive other`s thinking about us, our own beliefs about our capabilities and achievement which are result of conscious thinking and irrational and intuitive thinking.


Our intuitions can be deceiving and can make us live in a permanent state of delusion. Our delusions can be quite persistent creating a world of its own and not allowing us to live in the real world. The bad thing is that it is a downward spiral i.e. one delusion leads us to another delusions and the chain continues. Here I am specifically going to talk about self-righteousness, grandiosity and narcissism. These three are not always the same and found in the same person. However, these are closely related and are result of irrational thinking.
People with excessive Self-righteousness has the propensity to prove themselves right all the time. They put themselves through tremendous stress not to say something wrong and even if they say something wrong; they put utmost efforts to prove themselves right. They can be highly argumentative and very difficult to negotiate with.
People with grandiosity have a very heightened sense of their own capabilities or achievements. They think they have some special qualities than others; therefore, they are in a constant need of admiration and approval from others. Lack of admiration from others leads to frustration for them.
Narcissism is in excessive sense of self importance. Most narcissists try to constantly improve themselves. Narcissists tend to lack in empathy.
They best way we can get rid of any of these delusions as that being objective and conscious in judging in our own capabilities and achievements; so that we can live in the reality and achieve what we want to achieve. Being conscious is one of the most import techniques by which we can solve most of our problems. Just recognising a problem is a big step towards solving a problem. We can live a healthy, stress-free and anxiety-free life we can be rational and conscious in judging ourselves and have a balanced world-view.

The Secrets of Making Money

Money is a taboo word for us. Indians. Money is a subject that we don’t discuss in the dinner table. The non-materialistic spiritual tradition of the country somehow has have had such impact on the collective psyche of Indians, that wealth creation is not explicitly considered to be goal that should be pursued. Now the condition is such that we have abundant poverty in the country and we have no idea how to come out of the poverty trap. What makes us different from the developed countries like USA or UK? The answer is that the different lies in the mind-set of the people. We are not financially literate. This is the reason even the most highly educated people make poor financial decisions. We don’t consider money to be very important while most of our problems are related to money. I am not saying money is a panacea to all our problems, but money is essentially a great tool that, if enslaved well, can make life beautiful and flourish societies. Money in itself is nothing. Therefore, it should not be the ultimate goal. The old adage goes like “Money is a great slave and a bad master”. Lack of money keeps us stuck in fulfilling the basic necessities of life. It is only when we have created abundant wealth, other avenues of life opens up for us. Therefore, money is very crucial to explore infinite human potentials.

So how can money be created. The answers lies in how we think about money. We work our whole life for money, but never learn how to make money work for us. So how can we make money work for us? The first secret is that you should have the ability to differentiate the assets from the liabilities –plain and simple. The values of assets keep rising over time while the value of liabilities diminishes. Real estate, financial education, stocks are assets; whereas cars, mobile phones and other electronic devices are liabilities. You invest in real estate in India and the value of your investment is most likely to increase over time because the real estate market is far away from getting saturated in the country. On the other hand, if you invest the same amount in buying a new car, the value of the car is going to diminish at an astounding rate. Moreover, you need fuel to run the car and pay for its maintenance. Someone rightly said, invest in the stocks of Apple rather than their products. So, the first secret is investing in assets as much as possible and avoids spending in liabilities.

The second important point is starting early. If you start investing early, you will be able to create more wealth because of the power of compounding.

Imagination plays an important role in creating wealth. For being really successful, you first need to rehearsal it in your mind. You need to clearly visualize how success is going to look like. What you can clearly visualize will practically manifest in your life.

The next secret is that you have to invest in financial education. Indians lack in financial education, You have to read books, join classes or take help of other sources to educate yourself about return on investment, interest rates, and opportunity costs and how stock market works. Investment in educating is the best investment you are going to make.

Another important secret is deferring your expenses. Defer your expenses as long as you can. Your expenses are your liabilities, which are not going to give you any return.

The sixth secret of creating wealth is buying low and selling high. Well it is very basic and we all know that to make profit, we need to buy low and sell high. But, it is not always easy to know the correct valuation of an asset and know when the asset is overpriced. Knowledge about how market works can help us in knowing the valuation of assets and knowing when the asset is underpriced and when it is over-priced.

…..To be continued.

Next Time for Brazil..

Brazil v Germany: Semi Final - 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil

There is defeat. There is disaster and there is carnage. The last thing explains well the defeat of Brazil in the semi final against Germany. Germany had a well-balanced team, a mix of experienced and young players. They played as a unit throughout the tournament. Compared to that, Brazil was an inexperienced side. Besides, they did not have their star player Neymer with them. The team became too much Neymer-centric! In stark contrast, Germany was a compact unit. So, it was an inexperienced and a clueless team pitted against an experienced and invincible unit. The fight of David and Goliath. The result was not different—a 1-7 defeat of Brazil in their homeland, in from of thousands of cheering fans. They were sad, they cried and moaned when the Mullers of the other world scored one after another goal. The frequent focus of the rolling video cameras on the sad faces of the Brazilian fans made it worse! The match will go down in the memory as one of the most humiliating defeats ever in the history of football. The country that is synonymous with football was annihilated, destroyed and reduced to a school team by the Germans. The hope of crores of Brazilians were crushed. They have to wait another four years for another word cup.
This was just a game. So what? Passion and emotions are very much part of the game. I as an avid supporter of Brazil was word-less last night. I could not believe it was happening. As if it was a bad dream. 4 goals in 6 minutes in world cup semi-final against Brazil. The fans who were witness of the humiliating disrobing of the 11 players with yellow and green jersey in their homeland will remember this day till the last day of their life.


I, belonging to a third world country, will still remain a Brazil, the country of football magicians. They have given the world class players like Pele, Ronaldo and Roberto Carlos! Every child in the every corner of the country is passionate about football. Football is what they dream and aspire. For Brazilians, football is not just a game. I will wait another four years and gear up againin 2018 to cheer for Brazil. You guys are awesome! Long live football, long live Brazil!

Why GM Food is Key to Food Security in India

Sandip Das

There has been significant amount of debate in the recent years on whether India should go for transgenic or genetically modified (GM) crops or not. There is evidence that GM foods enhance productivity and increase food security. However, people who are against the motion points out that it will encourage monoculture and end diversity of traditional crops. Besides, GM crops are still not perceived to be fully safe for consumption; although there is no scientific proof.


This is a very significant issue as the economic security of the country depends heavily upon agriculture that supports over 58% of the population, against 75% of the population in time of the independence. But, on the onset of green revolution in the late 1960s, India has made impressive strides in agriculture with the help of better chemicals, high-yielding cereals and other plant varieties. The revolution has substantially boosted agricultural output, increasing it 2.85…

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Why GM Food is Key to Food Security in India

There has been significant amount of debate in the recent years on whether India should go for transgenic or genetically modified (GM) crops or not. There is evidence that GM foods enhance productivity and increase food security. However, people who are against the motion points out that it will encourage monoculture and end diversity of traditional crops. Besides, GM crops are still not perceived to be fully safe for consumption; although there is no scientific proof.


This is a very significant issue as the economic security of the country depends heavily upon agriculture that supports over 58% of the population, against 75% of the population in time of the independence. But, on the onset of green revolution in the late 1960s, India has made impressive strides in agriculture with the help of better chemicals, high-yielding cereals and other plant varieties. The revolution has substantially boosted agricultural output, increasing it 2.85 times to 235 million tones helping feed the country`s population that has swollen from 440 million to 1.2 billion.


India needs self-sufficiency in agriculture in order to save millions from starvation and drive them out of poverty. Agriculture declined in the mid -`90s causing stagnation and decline in the farmers` income. Agriculture is no more productive for small and marginal farmers, many of whom committed suicide because of debt problems. Studies show that more than 40% of farmers would switch to another job. According to Sudhir Panwar, the president of the Kisan jagriti Manch “
farmers are in agriculture by compulsion, not by choice. The impact is most visible in UP, which has seen net decline of 49 lakh agriculture workers in the last five years. The NSS report shows number of total agriculture workers went down from 4.03 crore in 2004-05 to 3.69 crore in 2009-10 and 3.54 crore in 2011-12.”


The reason is not far to seek. In spite of the success of the green revolution, contribution of agriculture and allied sector to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has fallen from 61% to 19% in the last five decades. At present, India sustains 16.8% of global population on 4.2% of world`s water resources and 2.3% of global land. Per capita availability of resources is four to six times less compares to the world average. This will decrease further due to increasing demographic pressure and consequent diversion of the land for non-agricultural uses.
While sparing virtually negligible land for agricultural use, around 51% of India`s geographical area is under cultivation as compared to 11% of the world average. The present cropping intensity of 136% has registered an increase of only 25% since Independence. Rain-fed dryland constitutes 65% of the total net sown area. Besides, there is an unprecedented degradation of land (107 million hectare) and groundwater resource, and also fall in growth rate of total factor productivity. According to the experts in UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), by 2050, the global population is expected to increase by 40% while the food production need will expand by more than 70% with a rapidly growing middle-class in the developing countries. By 2017, India`s population will grow to 1.3 billion. This will create fresh demand for food items in terms of quantity, quality and affordability. Therefore, current agricultural output needs to be doubled against odds like changing climatic conditions, declining ratio of arable land to population and water getting scarcer.
Agriculture faces toughest challenges arising mainly from grim competition for supplies of fresh water, with its share dropping to 75% from the present 83% in the near future, in the wake of growing industrial and domestic sectors. Presently, excess exploitation of groundwater has caused sharm depletion of water table in central Punjab, Haryana, West Uttarpradesh, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal. In UP, over 260 out of total 800 blocks are already declared ‘dark zones’. Yet, government has not taken water conservation measures for various political reasons. Overuse of canal water in South-west Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan is leading water logging and development of secondary salinity. Conjunctive use of water and diversification of rice-water is required. The problem is compounded by water wastage, around 18.4 million m3/day. Utilising waste water after treatment for irrigation is yet to be made part of water conservation policy.

Micro-irrigation and resource conservation technologies (RCTs), economising on water and nutrients need to be promoted in a big way.

Poor soil fertility is another challenge. Around 25 million hectares of land in the country has low productivity of less than 1 tonne/hectare due to deficiencies and toxicities of nutrients. Adoption of cost-effective technology to improve this mass of land could add 25 million tonnes of food grains to the national food basket per annum.

Production capacity of the ecosystem is constantly wearing away due to reckless use of chemicals and poor management of natural resources. The issue needs to be approached in terms of food security.

This brings into the picture GM crops, a new wave in agriculture as it can increase productivity and help farmers meet food needs of ever increasing population. GM crops are more robust against biotic and abiotic stresses, can resist disease, insects, weeds and climatic changes and are also better in value and nutrient composition. They are capable to tide natural vagaries like droughts, floods and climatic change conditions.

India has drawn a blank in developing the technology even after spending over Rs 200 crore on it in the last decade, while US takes the lead.

In 2012, 170 million hectares of land, around 12% of the global arable land, was planted with GM crops of soybean, corn, cotton and canola in 28 countries. United States of America planted the largest area, 69.5 million hectares, while Brazil showed highest increase in area planted with biotech crops (6.3 million hectares). India planted 10.8 million hectares of Bt cotton and the farm income from 2002 to 2011 was 12.6 billion dollars. Income from Bt cotton among small farm households in India made a positive impact on food security and dietary quality, suggesting transgenic crops can be important in food security strategy.
Still the role of GM crops for food security remains a subject of controversy. The negative perception about GM foods is despite no adverse impact reported from any part of US where GM crops are in use for over two decades. In a World Health Organisation (WHO) report, FAO declared GM crops are not inherently less safe than conventional crops. The issue should be approached in the light of scientific proof. Punjab Government joined hands with the US-based biotech company Monsanto for developing research demonstration farms. UP needs to follow suit. When asked to comment, chief secretary Jawed Usmani said: “We are not averse to the idea, but a decision has yet to be taken.”
There is a need for a holistic approach in which appropriate policy and regulatory frameworks are required to ensure that the needs of poor farmers and consumers are taken into account and undesirable social consequences are avoided.