Sunday, November 04, 2007

HIV/AIDS Based Divorce Ruling

I happened to come across this old ruling by a judge in Delhi.

Though the ruling is old, I think it is definitely a debate of huge importance in our times, and it will shape the future of HIV infected people and their spouses in India. No doubt that this decision is a cruel one for the HIV positive person, but we do need consider the consequences of this decision (or it's opposite) before deciding which way we lean.

One view is that though this ruling is cruel for the infected person, it would be of great help to the woman in the Indian society. I don't know the real numbers, but I feel it would safe to assume that in our society more men get this disease because of their promiscuous behavior and then communicate it to their wives unknowingly or may be at times carelessly. In such a situation, a verdict like this would certainly be a great boon for the women who don't want to stay with such a husband.

Another view would be that women married to HIV infected spouse will stay with them anyways because of our society's belief that woman has to spend her life serving her man, and women leaving their husbands in sickness would be really looked down upon and we can't even imagine what kind of witch-hunt or mob-justice would be used to punish such females unfairly, who will take divorce from their HIV infected husband unfairly. At the same time, males would be able to easily use this precedent to divorce their HIV infected wifes at will without any fingers being raised.

Third way to look at this could be the intellectual way of thinking that it is an issue of rights of healthy person versus rights of an HIV infected person. Definitely that debate can go on for very long and would be very interesting too. In fact, I am not sure which side I will be in that debate. But ideologically I believe that everyone should get a choice to live their lives the way they want, which would translate into the favor of the judgment, though I don't agree with the logic provided by the judge. But at the same time we do need to make sure that just providing a right is of no use if we cannot ensure that the rights given to people can be exercised by every individual without any hindrance, especially by those belonging to the weaker sections of society. Unfortunately, our society doesn't have a good track record of ensuring the rights of marginalized and minority are safeguarded. So I am in favor of keeping the discussion open to come up with innovative ideas to safeguard the rights of women in this case.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

ICT in Healthcare for Rural and Urban areas: Telemedicine

This could be an good idea for people who want to start a business which serves a noble cause too, specifically in the domain of Healthcare. So the basic idea is to provide an asynchronus clinical diagnostic decision support system (CDSS) to healthcare professional on a hand-held device like (tablet/pda/notbook) or a desktop . The way CDSS works is, we have a very big number of cases and expert opinions combined to form rules for diagnosing what disease the next patient (case) has an the basis of symptoms seen. Most systems use bayesian algorithms to formulate these rules. When a new case comes, on the basis of information on symptoms observed and other relevant personal entered, system suggests what diseases could possible be there with probabilities for each of these and explanations for why that disease could be present. It would also suggest what tests should be done to make a diagnosis and in what sequence. Finally the healthcare professional (most often a doctor) makes a decision or diagnosis and treats the patient for that disease. Ideally each new case with final test results and the diagnosis decision should be updated in the system so that rules also get updated for treating the next set of patients better.

Additional support for treatment guidance and sending reminders for taking the medication or check-ups etc can also be provided. Use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in healthcare is increasing but has not been fast enough to catch up with the pace at which technologies are developing. Technically, building such a system is really not a big deal but there is a lack of effective delivery mechanisms which gets adopted well into the healthcare community which apparently is normally not well-versed in use of ICTs. Right now such systems come along with hospital information systems and are thought of as something big, complicated and expensive. What I think is, we can just use Google Gears ( ) as a platform application to build up our own asynchronus application which can run on any client and updates the rules by periodically sending the information/data about the cases treated in the last unconnected period and also downloading the information about updates in the diagnosis rules. This way we can provide a good product at affordable prices to the users. Google provides APIs for using its applications to anyone, and that is a great resource which many entrepreneurs may want to exploit for delivering their services.

The amount of information being generated in healthcare is so huge that it is almost impossible for professionals to keep up with all the latest information in the field. Such systems are an answer to it, as such this is something people have known since long but now is the best timing for launching such systems as healthcare professional are increasingly adopting ICT based systems into their practice. Points mentioned so far hold true for the urban and developed areas around the world and for the underdeveloped areas too. But for underdeveloped and remote (rural) areas where doctors are rarely available this application is going to be far more beneficial, if we can provide healtcare advice through telemedicine using such decision support systems. It is an emerging area and a huge market around the globe. Small entrepreneurs can also start such a system, and if such small entrepreneurs can become the part of a bigger network (something like a cooperative) for sharing the data collected, then it would definitely be called as a great innovation. I believe one group trying to something very similar thing is and I am certain that there would be many more small businesses or non-profits working on this idea.

The first part of such a business would be to collect the information or cases and develop a system which lies on the server. This is possible with some investment of time and money and many firms can do it so to being with an alliance can also be formed. There are numerous initiatives at different universities which have already have a lot of data with them, and I believe one can either partner with them or just buy the data from them. The second and most crucial part would be to efficiently provide such a decision support to the practitioners or telemedicine providers in user friendly way. Direct diagnostic advice to consumers is out of question right now because of the legal issues involved but as some legal barriers fall in future due to increased trust in technology, major players would be able to take advantage of those new laws too. Existing APIs of Google Gears can provide the web in a condensed form asynchronously to client devices, and hence have most of the features which would be required to implement a health decision support in the form proposed above.

Another orthogonal but important aspect here is that governments and insurance providers have a huge interest in reducing healthcare costs and increase efficiency of the healthcare in general. With support of such a system a lot of spurious diagnosis testing could be avoided, because that happens due to either some personal interests of doctors, hospitals and testing labs, or because of the over cautious approach towards diagnosis adopted by the doctors and healthcare providers. These spurious tests account for about a third of total lab tests done specially in the developed economies. So we have stakeholders in the market who have a strong interest in promoting such products and may be making these mandatory in future. New breed of healthcare professionals are receptive to the idea of using ICTs for providing better healthcare and other complementary products, systems or ideas like electronic health records for individuals are also getting acceptance into the market. On the whole use of ICTs in healthcare is gaining momentum and this kind of product/service to deliver diagnosis support would be one of the pillars to provide healthcare in a networked manner.

I believe, it is a good idea for anyone who wants to make money and also do something meaningful. Also, everyone is aware of the humongous size of healthcare market. If anyone would like to discuss more details on this then I would be more than glad to so :-)

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Why competition is a local phenomenon?

In the early days of college, I used to wonder (rather I still wonder!) about this phenomenon. However good, strong or competitive people may be at anything for any level higher to their current level of action, but they get hurt most when someone at their current level of competition beats them. I will try to use a small exercise to illustrate what I mean: try to recall of one activity in which you were really strong in high school and you continued it later also and managed to reach heights which were far bigger than what others in your high school thought you would ever be able to achieve.

Now recall your strongest competitor back from high school in the same activity. It may have happened many or at least some times that due to any reason whatsoever, this other person would have beaten you. Each time this happened, your heart would have burnt to ashes in a second and the next few days were hell :-) Remember how hard it was then to accept that you lost to such a sucker :D Now it doesn't matter but just try to think what or who matters to you now? :-) I am yet to find someone who is able to separate her/himself from the present competition they face. It is the present and the competitors in the neighborhood or physical proximity which makes the adrenaline rush when you are competing, and if it doesn't then you are not in a competition. Either you are a sure winner or you have already accepted that you can't win. But we never get bothered by the far better or stronger competitors whom we know but with whom we are not competing at that point of time, though we will definitely hate them or feel jealous of them when in future we are running the race with them .

The point here is, it is primarily the local competition which drives your growth. It holds true for organizations, groups and countries or any other form of an entity as well. Constructive competition has always been local in time and location. You will find this point being emphasized by many smart people in the history. In fact, in the recent times when one of the most famous business thinkers, Prof. Michael Porter of Harvard had proposed his claim to fame theories on competition, he used this phenomenon a lot. I have read his work in the field of economic development where he just took the same concepts to a higher or macro scale. He says that very strong domestic competition in an industry for a country has historically been the pre-cursor to that country's global dominance in that industry. He also says that we will always observe some very adverse conditions and some pre-existing strengths or support structures which make this path to global dominance possible. So in a nutshell, adverse conditions and pre-existing support structures make the local competition fierce and hence competitors very strong in the long run.

So coming to the level of our everyday life, however bad things people say about the dark human emotions like jealousy and anger (for revenge), smart people have been able to use these to their advantage and win the game. How sustainable this method could be in the long run is really debatable (I personally don't believe it is very sustainable in the long run) but in the short run it is definitely the way to follow, if one wants to progress or grow. I guess if we just take this debate to a very high level then we can say that it is the classic debate about capitalism or socialism :-) So I obviously am a non-existent speck of dust in front of the intellectual giants who are advocating both sides of this big debate. But I do believe that wherever healthy and fair competition exists, it definitely is the engine of growth. Also we should not forget that when the gap between the strength of competitors is very large then it never remains a fair competition unless the strongest is a benevolent person/entity/country.

Again, I still wonder why it so happens that we are always jealous of the person running next to us in the race. Is there something which nature wants to tell us through this?

By the way, an interesting aspect of internet which is worth another posting is how it changes these fundamental or natural law of competition :-)

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Idea of Choice

Back in my undergrad days, when we were taught the concepts of dynamical systems (it is about how a point's position is varying over time), I first heard about the idea of bifurcation points in physics, which is a point beyond which two paths are the possible for trajectories for the same point. I found it a very interesting concept then because to me it represented some unknown conditions leading to two or more possibilities for the future.

Later when I was reading the Indian philosophical books, Bhagwad Geeta and Upanishads, again and again I found the mention of an obvious phenomenon that choices an individual makes define the future. For the westerners, I would say, in the movie Matrix and its sequels we find this idea being thrown to us quite often. Of course one can find that a lot of work has been done on this topic of choice by many philosophers, epistemologists, economists and science fiction writers etc (broadly speaking, people who want to figure it all out :-).

And recently, while working a paper for my research I had to include some aspects of investment decision making (FYI: as a student I try to do some research also for living and its focus is on economics of innovation or technological change, this is what gives me the money for food :) I have a long list of other research areas also where once in a while I try to write some course paper or do some general readings, it includes: Information and Communication Technologies for Development (ICT4D), environmental sustainability, economic development, evolutionary economics, industrial organization). So the point I wanted to make is, everyone says the same thing that choices made today shape your future tomorrow. Statistically and philosophically these choices do get defined by the interplay of the forces of evolutionary pull and historical past. By the use of words "historical past" I mean that the change which happens over time is path dependent (in simple words, nothing changes suddenly) and evolutionary pull is the evidence of the fact that we are alive, thinking and have desires to change things, and for that at times we do anything required.

This is getting longer and sounding more and more confused now, so I will try to cut short and maybe say precisely what I want to say (which I believe I don't know now). So we find that since the beginning of civilized societies intellectuals have been talking about the importance of choice, we can find many developments in mathematics and economics (evolutionary game theory, decision trees, options theory, etc.) which try to mathematically explain and model this phenomenon. Obviously math as of today can not model this fully but all this just shows the convergence of thoughts over different disciplines, which emphasizes the fact that choice is something very powerful. On a optimistic note, we know that whatever the odds are, we are the ones who make our choices.

Therefore at the level of a simple discussion to share knowledge, so far my understanding of all this in relevance to our everyday lives is a very simple and obvious fact. We need to have a sense of direction in life, or know what we want (the biggest question :-) but in order to acheive that doing our best in present is the best thing we can do. This will decide and lead us to the whichever next set of choices we will have. Hence taking us to the next bifurcation point of our life, from where again different paths are possible. No matter what your choices would be, it is the doing your best in the moment which will make the changes possible. I guess the Bhagwad Geeta's one of the most famous verse puts this idea across in the best possible manner, ""Karmanya Vadhikaraste Ma Phaleshu Kadachana, Ma Karmaphalahetur Bhur Ma Tey Sangostva Akarmani". It means, we can take action so we should do that in best possible way, following results is not what we should be doing and we should never fall for the idea of inaction, that won't take us anywhere.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Micro-Finance in Urban Areas

Micro finance has not been successful so far in helping urban poor due to many reasons. Obviously just giving money is not THE SOLUTION. We need a lot many other support structures/reforms so that the poor people can exploit the opportunities better. A big list of such support structures and reforms could be made, but most of those things will be under the control of government. Here in order to just think of a market based solution for making these initiatives successful, I would like to address a specific problem which micro-finance institutions (MFIs) face in urban areas.

When we consider the incentive for MFIs to go an lend money to poor people in urban slums, they have a big discouraging obstacle, i.e. repayments. Repayments in micro-finance are dependent on factors like how stable (location-wise) the population under the experiment is, community ties, shame factor within neighborhoods etc. Urban slums in India and probably everywhere in the world would score badly on these indicators. Population is very dynamic, as in many new people keep coming in to the cities from rural areas looking for jobs and many leave to go to other cities or their villages or somewhere else within the city. Social or community ties are very weak because most people are recent acquaintances only and otherwise also they are not relatives or close family friends since decades as it would be the case in villages. Hence people have no shame in defaulting loans because they don't care about their neighbors.

All these reasons are expected to lead to a very low repayment rate in urban slums for MFIs. Hence they would not like to roll out their operations in these areas. One possible solution for this could be to invest in human capital or people. What I mean to say here is, the micro-credit loans should be given to learn new skills to start a small service or to look for jobs. Borrowers should be required to make a PAN (social security card equivalent) in order to qualify for the loan. And most importantly, a accreditation and job-search assistance service should be run along with. So even if someone wants to take loan and work as maid at any middle-class family's house. MFI can confirm on receiving a call that their new employee belongs to the MFI's borrower network and hence can be trusted relatively more than any other person. This is a good incentive for the borrower to stay connected and make repayments on time as her/his livelihood becomes more certain.

Similarly, because an MFI can start and manage a job-search assistance service, if they do so (or outsource that), they give the borrowers all the more reason to remain a part of the network by keep repaying the loans on time. Additionally an insurance premium could be added to the interest rate in order to cover the borrowers from unfortunate circumstances where they don't get any jobs or are not able to sell their services, due to which they won't be able to repay the loans.

This idea is not in perfect shape but it definitely provides a good line of thought to approach this problem. There are some catches and I am sure innovative solutions for those could be thought of. Anyways, urban poverty is a fast and steadily increasing phenomena everywhere and we need to come up with new ideas to tackle this problem. I hope this could be one way to think about it, because at the end of the day these poor people come to big cities in order to earn more than what they could earn in their villages. So we should probably just focus on how we can help them achieve their goals and in return they need to just repay their loan, which enables them to remain in the network which opens door to more opportunities and a possible support mechanism in their unexpected bad times in future.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Hereditary Lineage in Indian Politics

Recently I was having a discussion over how good or bad having Hillary as the next president of US would be considering the fact that her win will mean that US would become a country ruled by the members of two families for at least 24 years. US will then have a whole generation which can imagine only either some Bush or Clinton as their president. I intend no offence to Hillary's capabilities or doubt her competence to govern the country, but this idea of continuous 24 or 28 years of US presidency shared by two families sound depressing. These two families may represent two opposite ways of thinking prevalent in US but probably anyone can imagine that there is a fair chance that they don't represent enough new or fresh thoughts. George Washinton didn't go for a third term in order to set a precedent for coming generations so that fresh thoughts from new people can keep coming into the Whitehouse. However capable or great a leader is, he/she will tend to think the same way and for a nation to stay ahead new thoughts and ideas should keep coming from the leadership. Having these two families rule US for so long doesn't seem to be in sync with that fundamental belief of George Washington and US.

Anyways, this led me to think about India where since my grandfather's time one Nehru-Gandhi family has ruled the country for most of the time. I admire Nehru even though I feel he made some wrong decisions. I guess his decisions could be justified in the context those were taken. His descendents have done both blunders and some wonderful things for India but its the same family and however different these individuals maybe, finally they end up thinking in similar ways. So the next obvious question which came to my mind was how prevalent the family lineage system is in Indian politics? It's not just about the Gandhi family, I felt maybe all over India in small cities too we can this failure of Indian democracy to bring new people with fresh ideas.

So I thought why not try to look for empirical evidence for this phenomenon because I felt there would be many interesting patterns of succession in leadership varying across regions, religions, economic status, gender and education levels etc. Hence I started to look for data on this and I found that Election Commission of India's (ECI) website has the data online for who all were the Members of Paliament (MP) and Members of Legislative Assembly (MLA) since 1977 but no data on their blood relationships with other MPs or MLAs. I asked two prominent Indian political scientists Dr. Pratap Bhanu Mehta and Yogendra Yadav also about how can I collect this data. Dr. Mehta didn't know and referred me to Prof. Yadav, who told me that he has data on all MPs since the first Indian general election in 1952 but he does not know of any source for data on their blood relationships.

This makes the problem more interesting and challenging, so I thought of an idea for collecting this data. Just to reiterate, the core research idea is to match the ECI data on all MPs and MLAs since 1977 with the information on whether there were or are any blood relatives of these MPs who were either a MP or MLA before or after, in their own constituency or some other constituency with the information on the caste, religion, region, gender, income and education levels of these MPs and MLAs etc. I believe this could make a decent research paper based on inductive reasoning. Additionally we will try to collect information on any natural calamities or crisis (riots) etc during the tenure of these public representatives, their campaign focus and public perception of corruption levels during their tenures.

The idea for collecting this data which I thought is to get the voluntary submissions by general public about their local MPs on some internet website, something like a wiki. It would be like an open-source research project :). I feel it is an interesting idea to try, though I am not sure whether it would be successful or not. And even if I am able to get all or even 90% of the data this way over the time period of an year or so, then also there will be all kinds of reliability issues with that data. I dont care if this kind of data is deemed unreliable and I can't publish the results in a journal, but I strongly feel that if this can be done then it would be an interesting experiment for collecting data in social sciences.. :) I guess the idea is not something new, specially in this information age but its application and operationalization in this context is definitely a new and challenging thing and hence it is worth trying. In fact about 40% of data has been collected representative results could also be shown on the web and updated regularly.

I will try to put up the link for the website which will collect this data here as soon as possible. I will then hope and pray that this experiment becomes a success. It probably could also provide evidence that all over India people accessing internet are interested in politics. And if it happens, then more such experiements will spin-off to collect the data which is otherwise very hard to collect and can provide us some meaningful insights about our own society. Insights which probably would make people think whether what they observe is right or not and what can they do change things which they deem wrong.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Micro Study-loans for Deserving Youth Back Home

This is one more of my for-profit ideas for development to start:
Basically we propose/recommend to make a micro-credit system for youngsters from poor communities in urban areas to pursue college degrees or any sort of education which provides them skills to make their own living. It’s not for courses like engineering etc, but for sciences, accounting, vocational education, and other similar stuff. These youngsters will be provided counseling support, support for finding jobs, and accreditation or references etc. These kids will be selected on the basis of their previous school performance and background etc. They will be given Rs. 3000-5000 a month for the period of their studies, so that they can support their family and pay tuition of their courses etc while they are in college/vocational school. Focus would be on providing skills for jobs or for opening a small service shop (for repairing stuff etc), but not a merchandise shop.

Money given is a loan which these guys are expected to return so that repayments can be used again for expanding the operations. It’s not a charity idea but a for-profit idea, like micro-credit but non-profit in nature as we don’t distribute the money amongst the people who run the operations but plough it back into the operations for further growth and sustainability of the initiative.

To raise the funds, other than organizations and government in India we can approach people in US and other countries. These individual supporters can make monthly commitments for this from their salaries. Many firms double such contributions of their employees by adding equal amounts so it could become something $140 or $70 per month for a person in US.

It is somewhat similar to adopt an orphan kind of idea in some sense, where individuals and organizations could sponsor a kid's education in India. Ideally, we should provide a website where these individual can select whom they want to sponsor from a list of profiles and then they can remain in touch with these kids directly also. It’s a simple idea and good for the able youth in India who miss opportunities to further their education due to the lack of money or other socio-economic reasons. Among the perceived problems, biggest would be to ensure that this scheme is not being misused.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Feedback email to National Knowledge Commission on Literacy Programs in India


I happened to read the note on this topic posted on your website and thought of an idea which I would like to share:

All the points mentioned in the note are quite important but I felt there was no attempt to introduce some for-profit models to these initiatives. Like many others, I believe that for-profit models of development are much more sustainable. Indian youth is very enterprising and if we can create right incentive mechanisms and provide scaffolding support in the beginning then it could really make a lot of difference. In the note it was mentioned that we should spread awareness and teach other things also along with the functional literacy. Including any sort of vocational education for learning basic job skills and computer usage familiarity in that list is must.

In terms of for-profit model I mentioned, I suggest that if the responsible agency can just start some franchise where local owners (enterprising local youth) are told that they need to start the educational programs (teaching services) of a particular standard and they are assured that they will be given customers for one or two years. We then distribute these customer coupons in the community where we want people to participate in these educational programs (there could be more than one program at a time). Successful completion of the educational program by each of these individuals will then entitle these franchise owners to cash the coupons from the responsible agency. Slowly as the people start getting interested in the programs subsidy can be reduced from full to may be zero.

We need to make sure that these coupons can not be misused to just get the money or for other reasons. This could be taken care of very well by using Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) by monitoring and keeping track of coupon distributions, usage and success in the program, and by regular inspections from the agency. When people will see the benefits of returns to these education programs (functional literacy, vocational education, ICT education) they will start paying for it. We can reasonably expect a positive form of domino effect to be induced in the neighborhoods this way. Rates for these courses would be regulated by the agency, hence government. Initial setting up costs of each of these centers will be borne by the local entrepreneurs who qualify for the franchise and they will happily do so because they have assurance of getting customers for 1-2 years. Which is a very good chance for them to establish their businesses.

To get women to participate in the program, we just need to think of right form of incentives to the entrepreneurs who will then in turn find the innovative solutions suiting best to their culture and localities where they function. Government cost would be starting and maintaining the system, monioring, training the enterpreneurs and teachers, and the cost of subsidy coupons distributed.

I hope I made some sense here.


Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Found these news links, which are related to the last post:

Indians most worried about global warming: survey

Most Indians, Chinese back carbon cuts - survey

It seems like White Man's Mess is being accepted by the Brown Man as his Burden :)

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

My second first posting :)

Obviously I don’t how or from where to start; I am again facing the same situation which I encountered 2.5 years back. I registered with and made this page with the grand plans of writing entries regularly so that I can improve my English and writing skills :D

Today again I don’t know where I shall start from. Just wondering why I find it so effortless to talk about anything, and when it comes to writing my mind just blacks out. They are right who say, “Talk is cheap!”. To do whatever we say is a really hard thing, maybe the hardest thing to do. Obviously it also depends on what an individual dares to claim. Anyways, despite of my above mentioned disbelief in words, I don’t stop talking about anything whether it’s something personal or my grand plans to change the world, rather like a child I still cling to the hopes that I will do whatever I claim or aspire for.

As such whatever little I have done in my life so far, I attribute to these lofty and mostly empty claims only. Somewhere my ego makes me do some (10%) effort so that I can achieve at least 0.01% of whatever I aspire for :D :D. I guess we are all like this, and we all feel the we don’t exploit our full potential (Wishful thinking :). It doesn’t mean that I don’t know the simple math that even if I would have put in my 100% I would not have achieved anymore than 0.1%, so why get myself consumed or burnt out fast by putting in 100% :D why not just keep talking about how the world should be or how to change it.

Lazy creeps like me always end up finding some excuse for not doing the work :). Anyways now that I have already written a few lines of some crap in which you are not at all interested, I should be writing something sensible too otherwise you won’t come back next time.

Yesterday, I watched some parts of the republican debate for presidential candidate nominations conducted in New Hampshire. Yeah! I like the republican philosophy of markets being the most efficient. But to my discontent, it was a depressing debate. I used to think that to learn whatever I want to learn, I have come to the country (USA) where people actually use their brains, but yesterday even the last straw of my that belief got washed off.

Though I am over reacting but I was expecting some more intelligent stuff there. I guess expecting intelligent and sensible talk from politicians anywhere in the world is a sin :). (FYI: I aspire to be a politician in India :). Anyways, I don’t want to say that issues like Iraq war, immigration or tax-cuts were not important but with respect to one of the questions asked there about the most pressing moral issue, I have a different opinion to that of what maybe most Americans and at least all of those republicans on the stage yesterday have.

I was amazed that no one there felt that the global environmental issues could even have a moral side to them. Being from India I always feel sad seeing the amount of wastage of natural resources and energy I see everywhere in this country. I often quote this statistic that if an average Indian or Chinese will start consuming the natural resources equal to an average American, then we will need one planet earth for each of these two countries. Jest is, we just don’t have enough to support the same level of consumption worldwide which western civilization is used to. I don’t believe in blaming today’s generation of west for exploitation of our planet by their forefathers to such an extent that global warming and drying of hydrocarbon energy resources are the hard realities the coming near future, as we know of it today.

But not changing the ways of consumption based life here at the cost of development in the developing countries is not at all morally justifiable anymore. We could argue that previous generations were either ignorant of the finite nature of these resources of didn’t believe in it, but this generation which is aware and still not doing the right thing can not expect the rest of the world to look up to them as leaders the way it used to be in past for their forefathers. It is certainly the moral responsibility of the powerful and advanced nations to make adjustments and lead the worldwide transition to sustainable development instead of the current paradigm of consumption based economic growth supported with easy access to credit.

Ironically, it is the developing countries (today India, China and Brasil, and African countries tomorrow) which will have to bear all the burden of sustainable development worldwide. Like a rights theorist I would argue that all the countries and their citizens have the equal right to develop and become safer, comfortable and growing societies. But if West doesn’t reduce its per capita consumption in order to reach a sustainable and globally equal amount for everyone, then it is unfair to the rest of the world. I am certain that (a hypothetical scenario) if West was the underdeveloped world and India or China was the dominant power in the world, then India also would have done the same level of exploitation of resources and probably some American in an Indian university would be expressing the same thoughts in blogosphere.

If people are waiting for some catastrophe to happen and mobilize the transition to reduced consumption levels then whatever god they believe in (or not), they are not doing the right and fair thing. I don’t want to imply anything like the concept of “white men’s burden”, what I want to say is just don’t consume more than your fair share of resources from now onwards. After that people in developing world will figure out and manage how we all can live together on this planet for our generations to come.

In my opinion, one market based solution for making “sustainable development” happen is to peg the currency and prices of all the things everywhere in the world with energy. Let’s call these “energy credits” which can be measured in Joules or any other unit of energy. Each product’s cost would be the sum of energy consumed to produce it and energy contained in it. Price of the products will then be determined by the market. Like any other form of money, these energy credits give us the right to buy the products worth the energy value we give to them, with a minimum price equal to the “current value” or energy cost of that product. I firmly believe that this futuristic (or sci-fi like) form of money with the right economic policy frameworks would lead us to the path of environmentally sustainable economic growth in an efficient manner.

This approach won’t be able to address the issues of inequalities but for that we need to think of other innovative and culturally relevant strategies. On that my personal belief is that we can try to look for answers in the nature. I will write more on this topic of what to learn from nature later. I don’t expect but I do hope and pray that someone will write to comment on this post as a feedback. I am a student and being young I am quite opinionated right now :) so please correct me wherever I am wrong.