Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Water and sewage cleaners .... in India

Water and the treatment of sewage cleaners; how we become participants in a cultural adharma – courtesy DevDutt Pattanaik

Water plays a very important role in Hindu mythology. Every form of water seems to be linked to a god, and to a caste. The sea is called Varuna, the father of Lakshmi. He is the source of all water. The sea also gives salt and fish, without asking anything in return, which also makes him the symbol of generosity. From the sea come clouds, from the clouds come rain. The rain, in turn, is released by Indra. Indra becomes the god of fresh water who brings rain from the sky. So, the sea god is the father of Lakshmi, goddess of wealth, while Indra is the husband of Lakshmi, who rides white clouds and hurls thunderbolts on dark, rain-bearing clouds.
Rivers and ponds are considered feminine. All the rivers are considered goddesses, associated with apsara or damsels, who flow onto earth (earth is also visualised as a female, Bhoodevi) before returning to their father’s house. Thus, the circle of water is seen as a movement from the sea god, through the rain god, via river goddesses, moving back to the sea. Ponds are also associated with nymphs and creatures known as yakshas, who take the form of birds and fishes to protect these water bodies.
Across India, a tirtha yatra is basically from one water body to another, from one river, to a river confluence, to a bathing ghat, to a pond. Every temple is attached to a pond, also known as Pokhari, in the eastern part of India, Kunda, in the southern part of India and Talav, in the northern part of India. You see this practice even in Sikhism, where the holiest shrine, the Harmandir Sahib, also known as the Golden Temple, has a pond. Muslims also value water: one cannot start the reading of Namaz, without washing one’s hands and feet.
In ancient India, you will see that the water management system is strongly linked to caste. The Brahmin was supposed to perform rituals to get the rain. Therefore, temples are built across India, especially in the southern part of India, where a water pot is kept on top of the temple, almost beseeching the gods to bring in rain. The water flows down the pyramid-shaped roof and reaches the base, where you find, again, images of pots, overflowing with plants, grain, and flowers, indicative of prosperity following the arrival of rain.
The Kshatriya, or the king, who controlled the land, was responsible for building water bodies, like ponds and step wells, to retain the water which came from the heavens. Rainwater harvesting, thus, came under the Kshatriya’s domain. The Vanik, or the Vaishya, utilised this rain. He built canals for the farms and ponds for cattle and buffaloes. He made sure there was enough water for human consumption, as well as for plant and animal consumption in the village. So, he was a water utilizer.
The Shudra, or rather Ati-Shudra, the lowest rung of the service-cadre, was supposed to clean the village, and the toilets, and the garbage. He formed the waste management community. But he was never given respect, despite his role in the cycle of water. He was seen as dirty, unhygienic, polluted. No god was associated with sewage water. We hope this water will be purified on its own when mixed with rivers, and sea, but this does not happen as keeping these atishudras out of the village, the cycle of life is broken, a rupture is willy nilly created that has destroyed social order.
Shudras were denied access to common village resources, like food from the farm, water from the village well, clothes and pots from the craftsmen, despite playing a critical role. He who dealt with efflux of wastewater was seen as inferior to those associated with inflow of freshwater, though part of a life-giving cycle.
Even today, those who clean sewage systems are treated like sewage. They are kept at a distance, not given protective gear, not given cleaning materials to wash before they go home. They often fall prey to toxic gases. Constant contact with dirty smell has a negative impact of mental health. We have festivals for inviting water into our homes, no festivals for dirty water that leaves our homes. Surely a national day is needed for those who clean our sewers, a day to ensure we do not continue to strip them of dignity and deprive them of fair wages.
How many of us have met the men and women who clean our gutters and our cess pits? Do we know their names? Do we offer them gifts once a year, check if they regularly receive fair wages, or least make sure they have good protective gear, or material to clean before they return home? Have we outsourced this to a callous government. If not we are participants in a cultural adharma.

Also read:  http://ris.org.in/pdf/aiib/31May2018/Background_Note.pdf

Sunday, October 27, 2019

The Dal - Roti approach to investing ...a primer

"I know my risk appetite and I know it changes based on earnings. Be open to change"

  • Spend wisely. Don't be wasteful with your money
  • Avoid Debt, except for buying a house
  •  If there is an existing high-interest loan going, repay it first rather than investing
  • Be patient with your investments. Patience is a virtue
  • Increase your investments, with every increase in income
  • In the field of finance, you learn every day....it is never complete!
There are several theories on investing. The dal- chapati approach is always, always better. Try the greens and pickles as garnishing, and top it off with some ras malai, once in a while!
But sticking to the basics, always...always matters!


Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Principle of Consensus

The Principle of Consensus

Especially when they are uncertain, people will look to the actions and behaviors of others to determine their own.
You may have noticed that hotels often place a small card in bathrooms that attempt to persuade guests to reuse their towels and linens. Most do this by drawing a guest’s attention to the benefits that reuse can have on environmental protection. It turns out that this is a pretty effective strategy, leading to around 35% compliance. But could there be an even more effective way?
Well, it turns out that about 75% of people who check into a hotel for four nights or longer will reuse their towels at some point during their stay. So what would happen if we took a lesson from the Principle of Consensus and simply included that information on the cards and said that 75% of our guests reuse their towels at some time during their stay, so please do so as well. It turns out that when we do this, towel reuse rises by 26%.
Now imagine the next time you stay in a hotel you saw one of these signs. You picked it up and you read the following message: “75% percent of people who have stayed in this room have reused their towel.” What would you think? Well here’s what you might think: “I hope they’re not the same towels.” And like most people, you’d probably think that this sign will have no influence on your behavior whatsoever.
But it turns out that changing just a few words on a sign to honestly point out what comparable previous guests have done was the single most effective message, leading to a 33% increase in reuse. The science is telling us that rather than relying on our own ability to persuade others, we can point to what many others are already doing, especially many similar others.
So there we have it. Six scientifically validated Principles of Persuasion that provide for small practical, often costless changes that can lead to big differences in your ability to influence and persuade others in an entirely ethical way. They are the secrets from the science of persuasion.

Courtesy: 6 Principles of Persuasion in his classic book Influence, Dr. Robert Cialdini

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

How much do I need to Invest for my Child's Education?

The third Principle of Influence is the Principle of Authority

This is the idea that people follow the lead of credible, knowledgeable experts.
Physiotherapists, for example, are able to persuade more of their patients to comply with recommended exercise programs if they display their medical diplomas on the walls of their consulting rooms. People are more likely to give change for a parking meter to a complete stranger if that requester wears a uniform rather than casual clothes.
What the science is telling us is that it’s important to signal to others what makes you a credible, knowledgeable authority before you make your influence attempt. Of course this can present problems; you can hardly go around telling potential customers how brilliant you are, but you can certainly arrange for someone to do it for you. And surprisingly, the science tells us that it doesn’t seem to matter if the person who introduces you is not only connected to you but also likely to prosper from the introduction themselves.
One group of real estate agents was able to increase both the number of property appraisals and the number of subsequent contracts that they wrote by arranging for reception staff who answered customer enquiries to first mention their colleagues’ credentials and expertise.
So, customers interested in letting a property were told “Lettings? Let me connect you with Sandra, who has over 15 years’ experience letting properties in this area.” Customers who wanted more information about selling properties were told “Speak to Peter, our head of sales. He has over 20 years’ experience selling properties. I’ll put you through now.”
The impact of this expert introduction led to a 20% rise in the number of appointments and a 15% increase in the number of signed contracts. Not bad for a small change in form from persuasion science that was both ethical and costless to implement.

 Courtesy:  6 Principles of Persuasion in his classic book Influence, Dr. Robert Cialdini

Sunday, February 17, 2019

The Principle of Liking

The fifth principle is the Principle of Liking.

People prefer to say yes to those that they like.
But what causes one person to like another? Persuasion science tells us that there are three important factors. We like people who are similar to us, we like people who pay us compliments, and we like people who cooperate with us towards mutual goals.
As more and more of the interactions that we are having take place online, it might be worth asking whether these factors can be employed effectively in, let’s say, online negotiations.
In a series of negotiation studies carried out between MBA students at two well-known business schools, some groups were told, “Time is money. Get straight down to business.” In this group, around 55% were able to come to an agreement.
A second group however, was told, “Before you begin negotiating, exchange some personal information with each other. Identify a similarity you share in common then begin negotiating.” In this group, 90% of them were able to come to successful and agreeable outcomes that were typically worth 18% more to both parties.
So to harness this powerful principle of liking, be sure to look for areas of similarity that you share with others and genuine compliments you can give before you get down to business.

Courtesy:  6 Principles of Persuasion in his classic book Influence, Dr. Robert Cialdini

The second universal Principle of Persuasion is Scarcity.

Simply put, people want more of those things they can have less of.
When British Airways announced in 2003 that they would no longer be operating the twice daily London—New York Concorde flight because it had become uneconomical to run, sales the very next day took off.
Notice that nothing had changed about the Concorde itself. It certainly didn’t fly any faster, the service didn’t suddenly get better, and the airfare didn’t drop. It had simply become a scarce resource. And as a result, people wanted it more.
So when it comes to effectively persuading others using the Scarcity Principle, the science is clear. It’s not enough simply to tell people about the benefits they’ll gain if they choose your products and services. You’ll also need to point out what is unique about your proposition and what they stand to lose if they fail to consider your proposal.

Courtesy:  6 Principles of Persuasion in his classic book Influence, Dr. Robert Cialdini

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

The first universal Principle of Influence is Reciprocity.

Simply put, people are obliged to give back to others the form of a behavior, gift, or service that they have received first.
If a friend invites you to their party, there’s an obligation for you to invite them to a future party you are hosting. If a colleague does you a favor, then you owe that colleague a favor. And in the context of a social obligation people are more likely to say yes to those who they owe.
One of the best demonstrations of the Principle of Reciprocity comes from a series of studies conducted in restaurants. So the last time you visited a restaurant, there’s a good chance that the waiter or waitress will have given you a gift. Probably about the same time that they bring your bill. A liqueur, perhaps, or a fortune cookie, or perhaps a simple mint.
So here’s the question. Does the giving of a mint have any influence over how much tip you’re going to leave them? Most people will say no. But that mint can make a surprising difference. In the study, giving diners a single mint at the end of their meal typically increased tips by around 3%.
Interestingly, if the gift is doubled and two mints are provided, tips don’t double. They quadruple—a 14% increase in tips. But perhaps most interesting of all is the fact that if the waiter provides one mint, starts to walk away from the table, but pauses, turns back and says, “For you nice people, here’s an extra mint,” tips go through the roof. A 23% increase, influenced not by what was given, but how it was given.
So the key to using the Principle of Reciprocity is to be the first to give and to ensure that what you give is personalized and unexpected.

courtesy: 6 Principles of Persuasion in his classic book Influence, Dr. Robert Cialdini