2018-The year of glass half full

in That Makes Sense by

I am not a TIME fan in any sense. However, the last issue of TIME caught my attention. The cover story was named “The Optimist,” edited by Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, Malala Yousafzai and other prominent leaders of the world. Their editorial discussed the positive changes the world is seeing despite all the negativity which surround us today.

The issue begins with a cover story of six children in Ethiopia who just celebrated their fifth birthday when compared to 30 years ago when 1 in 5 children did not survive to see this world. Malala Yousafzai narrated how Malala fund is helping to recruit female teachers in Afghanistan to work in rural schools. How in Nigeria, it helps run mentorship club to help girl resist family pressure to drop out from schools or early marriage. In Lebanon, they are developing e-learning programs to teach STEM skills to Syrian refugee girls. Budd Haeberlein from Biogen showed her optimism about finding a cure for Alzheimer’s in the near future. Bill Gates talked about his foundation’s effort to bring the death rate from 12 million a year in the 1990s to 5 million a year in 2017, and the goal is to bring this to half by 2030. If you want to help several such initiatives please go ahead and donate to UNICEF.

In the same issue, there is a column dedicated to Dr. Mathew Varghese of Delhi’s St. Stephens Hospital near Tis Hazari. Dr. Varghese, an orthopedic surgeon by training, has spent a significant part of his career going from house to house in Northern India trying to study the victims of the Polio in their social context. India has practically eradicated Polio with the number of cases reported being zero since 2011. An article in Guardian dedicated to Dr. Varghese describes him as “India’s polio pioneer works to put himself out of a job”. Dr. Varghese now runs an organization in nearly 29 states which teach medical students to understand the social context of the patients concerning the disease.

In CSG too, we got to know the incredible story of Govinda Upadhyay of LED Safari,
thanks to #CSGInsta, who dropped out of his Ph.D. to work on his startup to solve an unmet need in India-electricity. Washington Post revealed that 1.3 billion people in India remain without power. The government relies on fossil fuel to meet the energy demand which means a nearly three-fold increase in the greenhouse emission by 2030. What Upadhyay realized was that the problem was not with the limited resources but the knowledge or training to repair electrical equipment in this part of the world. He came up with a solar kit to teach kids how to use solar energy to create electricity using basic training modules. He has taken his ideas now to other African countries like Tanzania and Kenya where children can learn about solar energy and technology. The reason I liked Upadhyay’s story was it somehow is in tune with CSG’s core mission albeit looking at a different problem. We believe there are so many of us who have an inherent talent to make a mark in the world or contribute positively in their unique way and what prevents many from reaching that stage is “awareness and education”. It’s not the formal education it is more than that. If we empower this massive chunk of human resource who are disillusioned about how their education and training fits in the rapidly evolving job market, we can create several such leaders as Upadhyay (at least that is our hope).

In an article from the recently published December issue of New Yorker, Richard Haas, an American diplomat was quoted, referring to the fact that the world is entering an era without obvious leadership. However, to me, I think the new world is exploding with leaders who have been inspired to solve some of the most challenging questions of our times, and we don’t necessarily have to wait for political leaders to take in charge of our fate. As long as there are men and women who are aware of the problems that surround us and finds out a way to solve them howsoever small the problem may be and howsoever small a community the solution helps, our future in this planet looks bright.

PS: If you know people who are making small impacts in the world, let us know their story. Write to me at ananda1979@gmail.com

References:
http://time.com/5086870/bill-gates-guest-editor-time/

https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2013/jun/21/india-polio-pioneer

https://goo.gl/7wRDi2 (Washington Post)

Photograph Courtesy:

(Wikimedia Commons) https://goo.gl/WYWrBp

Children at a vaccinations clinic near Sululta, Ethiopia, May 2012

Edited by : Mahamaya Bhattacharyya

Attribution: Yasmin Abubeker/DFID

Obsession & Opinions Cover Image: Manasi Pethe, Ph.D.  San Diego

The contents of Club SciWri are the copyright of PhD Career Support Group for STEM PhDs (A US Non-Profit 501(c)3, PhDCSG is an initiative of the alumni of the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. The primary aim of this group is to build a NETWORK among scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs).

This work by Club SciWri is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License

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