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There is a lot of rhetoric and despair surrounding the current COVID-19 scenario which has declared the market slow-moving or outright stagnant. A cerebral two-day webinar, STIMULUS 2020, was designed to cut through the volume by speaking with industry experts who have dealt with similar cards before. To connect with strategists, business owners and executives in order to canvas possibilities and new ideas in media, luxury, lifestyle, leadership and other industries.
IANSlife spoke to Karan Bhagnay, Founder of The Global Luxury Group who co-organised the event with, Crosshairs Communications (PR Partner) & WIN (Women Inspiring Network – Content Partner) to find out his thoughts on the topic.
Q. Luxury is recession proof but is it also COVID-19 proof?
Bhagnay: We, at The Global Luxury Group agree upon the reality that the customer’s mindset at every level will change post lockdown. This could lead to minimalism in a large context, hence, it will actually affect the shopping pattern of certain customers; it will in turn increase its effect on the entire luxury market. So there will be huge demand versus supply. Hence unlike with recession, I think the entire luxury industry will go through a huge shift in mindset which will prove this that luxury is not COVID-19 proof. It is not.
Q. Startups to flourish or wither with impact of COVID-19
Bhagnay: According to me it is a very inappropriate question. It’s directly propotional to what startups are doing. For example if you were earlier solving problems like these which became a catalyst to the current way of living then the startup will do well. But if you are running a startup around social interactions or an event company then you will see that your numbers will fall drastically, it can nullify especially during the lockdown and later.
Hence, startups will flourish or fade away is specific to what startup you represent. In my case it;s being able to hustle between a digital world and the physical world, its about hustling between events and ecommerce; so, my events business will go through rough times in the current days, but my ecommerce business and my digital businesses will flourish in the coming days.
Q. E-commerce and digitization the new normal for any and every business?
Bhagnay: I truly think so. It is true that ecommerce and digitalization is going to be the new social. You got to have your presence here, otherweise your company, whether it is a small luxury brand or a large scale mall, is going to loose its target audience attention soon. Without digitalization and ecommerce I think it will be very difficult to sustain in the coming wave of paranoia amongst the individuals. I think digitalization and ecommerce are here to stay.
Q. Events like The Indian Luxury Expo will overcome the fear of social proximity and will be back to business as usual?
Bhagnay: The current state is one and equal for everybody globally. I can not confirm that it will bounce back the way it has in its old glorious days. Indian Luxury Expo will tweak itself becoming a much meaningful event amongst select individuals. And that is how it’s going to redo itself than being a large scale event which calls for a huge social gathering. I think row concept of social gathering is going to fade for some years atleast two three years to come.
Q. Is India is set to become the world’s fastest wealth creator in the next few years?
Bhagnay: Well definitely the way current government actually coped with the scenario, it is true that India will not be affected to the average potential of how it could have been, knowing our population and our way of living life which is quite social compared to Europeans or Americans.
We do indulge in a lot of social gatherings in every context from our office work to our transport systems to our religious beliefs. Knowing all of that I think we have not even touched an average estimate of what this could impact in India. And because we are overcoming that India remains pretty much safe in terms of its business.
Since a large part of the Indian population consists of mainly youth, we are going to be wealth creators in a large way. We are a young nation, 70 percent of the total population is young and thus digitalised. The govt. has invested heavily in last five years in digitalization. Now most of the people are equipped with smart tools like mobiles phones and good internet connections. This will help the Indian economy to be much better than all the other large affected economies like Europe, United Kingdom, China or U.S.A. I think they are going to experience a sharp cut down in their GDP, in their entire scheme of being wealth creators. Now I think India will evolve as a huge young nation looking forward as a wealth creator in varoius ways. (IANS)
SAN FRANCISCO — Facebook critics pounced Wednesday on a report that the social network plans to rename itself, arguing it may be seeking to distract from recent scandals and controversy.
The report from tech news website The Verge, which Facebook refused to confirm, said the embattled company was aiming to show its ambition to be more than a social media site.
But an activist group calling itself The Real Facebook Oversight Board warned that major industries like oil and tobacco had rebranded to "deflect attention" from their problems.
"Facebook thinks that a rebrand can help them change the subject," said the group's statement, adding the real issue was the need for oversight and regulation.
Facebook spokesman Andy Stone told AFP: "We don't have any comment and aren't confirming The Verge's report."
The Verge cited an unnamed source noting the name would reflect Facebook's efforts to build the "metaverse," a virtual reality version of the internet that the tech giant sees as the future.
Facebook on Monday announced plans to hire 10,000 people in the European Union to build the metaverse, with CEO Mark Zuckerberg emerging as a leading promoter of the concept.
The announcement comes as Facebook grapples with the fallout of a damaging scandal, major outages of its services and rising calls for regulation to curb its vast influence.
The company has faced a storm of criticism over the past month after former employee Frances Haugen leaked internal studies showing Facebook knew its sites could be harmful to young people's mental health.
The Washington Post last month suggested that Facebook's interest in the metaverse is "part of a broader push to rehabilitate the company's reputation with policymakers and reposition Facebook to shape the regulation of next-wave internet technologies."
Silicon Valley analyst Benedict Evans argued a rebranding would ignore fundamental problems with the platform.
"If you give a broken product a new name, people will quite quickly work out that this new brand has the same problems," he tweeted.
"A better 'rebrand' approach is generally to fix the problem first and then create a new brand reflecting the new experience," he added.
Google rebranded itself as Alphabet in a corporate reconfiguration in 2015, but the online search and ad powerhouse remains its defining unit despite other operations such as Waymo self-driving cars and Verily life sciences. (VOA/RN)
Keywords: Facebook, Renaming, Fallout, Verge
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Scientists temporarily attached a pig's kidney to a human body and watched it begin to work, a small step in the decades-long quest to one day use animal organs for lifesaving transplants.
Pigs have been the most recent research focus to address the organ shortage, but among the hurdles: A sugar in pig cells, foreign to the human body, causes immediate organ rejection. The kidney for this experiment came from a gene-edited animal, engineered to eliminate that sugar and avoid an immune system attack.
Surgeons attached the pig kidney to a pair of large blood vessels outside the body of a deceased recipient so they could observe it for two days. The kidney did what it was supposed to do — filter waste and produce urine — and didn't trigger rejection.
"It had absolutely normal function," said Dr. Robert Montgomery, who led the surgical team last month at NYU Langone Health in New York. "It didn't have this immediate rejection that we have worried about."
This research is "a significant step," said Dr. Andrew Adams of the University of Minnesota Medical School, who was not part of the work. It will reassure patients, researchers and regulators "that we're moving in the right direction."
The dream of animal-to-human transplants, or xenotransplantation, dates to the 17th century with stumbling attempts to use animal blood for transfusions. By the 20th century, surgeons were attempting transplants of organs from baboons into humans, notably Baby Fae, a dying infant, who lived 21 days with a baboon heart.
With no lasting success and much public uproar, scientists turned from primates to pigs, tinkering with their genes to bridge the species gap.
Pigs have advantages over monkeys and apes. They are produced for food, so using them for organs raises fewer ethical concerns. Pigs have large litters, short gestation periods and organs comparable to those of humans.
Pig heart valves also have been used successfully for decades in humans. The blood thinner heparin is derived from pig intestines. Pig skin grafts are used on burns, and Chinese surgeons have used pig corneas to restore sight.
Kidney ready for transplantation from a live donor Image credit: wikimedia commons
In the NYU case, researchers kept a deceased woman's body on a ventilator after her family agreed to the experiment. The woman had wished to donate her organs, but they weren't suitable for traditional donation.
'Good could come from this'
The family felt "there was a possibility that some good could come from this gift," Montgomery said.
Montgomery himself received a transplant three years ago, a human heart from a donor with hepatitis C because he was willing to take any organ.
"I was one of those people lying in an ICU waiting and not knowing whether an organ was going to come in time," he said.
Several biotech companies are in the running to develop suitable pig organs for transplant to help ease the human organ shortage. More than 90,000 people in the U.S. are in line for kidney transplants. Every day, 12 die while waiting.
The advance is a win for Revivicor, a subsidiary of United Therapeutics, the company that engineered the pig and its cousins, a herd of 100 raised in tightly controlled conditions at a facility in Iowa.
The pigs lack a gene that produces alpha-gal, the sugar that provokes an immediate attack from the human immune system.
In December, the Food and Drug Administration approved the gene alteration in the Revivicor pigs as safe for human food consumption and medicine.
But the FDA said developers would need to submit more paperwork before pig organs could be transplanted into living humans.
"This is an important step forward in realizing the promise of xenotransplantation, which will save thousands of lives each year in the not-too-distant future," said United Therapeutics CEO Martine Rothblatt in a statement.
Experts say tests on nonhuman primates and last month's experiment with a human body pave the way for the first experimental pig kidney or heart transplants in living people in the next several years.
Raising pigs to be organ donors feels wrong to some people, but it may grow more acceptable if concerns about animal welfare can be addressed, said Karen Maschke, a research scholar at the Hastings Center, who will help develop ethics and policy recommendations for the first clinical trials under a grant from the National Institutes of Health.
"The other issue is going to be: Should we be doing this just because we can?" Maschke said. (VOA/RN)
Keywords: Transplant, Pig, Human, Kidney, FDA
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Developed by the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), Pune, a Decision Support System (DSS) that extends the ability of the existing air quality early warning system (AQEWS) to have decision-making capability for air quality management in Delhi-NCR was launched on Tuesday.
The website for the DSS (https://ews.tropmet.res.in/dss/) is designed to help the Commission for Air Quality Management for NCR and Adjoining Areas (CAQM) by delivering quantitative information about the contribution of emissions from Delhi and its 19 surrounding districts; the contribution of emissions from eight different sectors in Delhi; and the contribution from biomass-burning activities in the neighbouring states.
These information would assist in managing the air quality in a timely manner, a release from the Ministry of Earth Sciences said.
The need was stated by the CAQM, which was formed by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, during a meeting held in January 2021.
Recently, the Commission reviewed the progress made by IITM and had in principle approved the current version of DSS for air quality management in the Delhi-NCR. The IITM has also developed a new website for DSS with the entire system made operational, the release said.
Union Minister of State for Earth Sciences, Jitendra Singh, while launching the website for AQEWS on the occasion of 'Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav' week organised by the Ministry of Earth Sciences, said, "DSS is a significant contribution to 'Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav' on behalf of MoES and IITM and suggestions are invited on this issue."
The website also has a feature whereby the users can create their own emission reduction scenarios (from 20 different districts, including Delhi) so as to examine the possible projected improvement in air quality in Delhi for the next five days.
"This information would explicitly highlight the most important emission sources responsible for the degradation of air quality in Delhi and suggest possible solutions to ameliorate the same. With a plethora of quantitative data, the AQEWS integrated with DSS could become a user-friendly tool for air-quality management in and around Delhi," the release said. (IANS/JB)
Keywords: Delhi, India, Pollution, IITM, Ministry of Earth Sciences