New Delhi: In a bid to thwart separatist outfits from disrupting Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s rally in Srinagar, security forces nabbed over 400 Kashmiris and blacklisted over 50 social media pages on Saturday. The Sher-i-Kashmir stadium, where Modi will deliver his address has been turned into a fortress following the separatist group’s call to demonstrate against the rally.
While many top separatist leaders featured in the list of the detainees, several others have been put under house arrest.
Cases have also been filed against unknown people for allegedly spreading propaganda to fuel unrest.
In addition, political parties have been barred from holding rallies on Saturday.
“The situation is not very ideal. There has been a problem, you can’t deny that. There is a section of people who don’t like such gatherings and if government is taking precaution, it will be for the general good of the people,” said Rafi Ahmad Mir, general secretary of the PDP.
However, the umbrella organization for all separatist groups, the All Party Hurriyat Conference is keen to make it clear that Kashmiris are against Indian occupancy in the state.
“Our rally will be a message for India to read the writing on the wall that Kashmiris are against Indian occupation,” said Ayaz Akbar, a spokesman for the All Parties Hurriyat Conference.
However, the move to arrest leaders drew flak from several quarters who cited that such stringent measures were not taken when former PM Vajpayee visited Kashmir in 2003.
Kashmiris have, in addition, been protesting about the lack of federal government aid more than a year after the worst flooding in over a century devastated half a million homes.
While police set up countless check-posts around Srinagar, soldiers patrolled the streets to prevent any subversive activities.
On Thursday, attacks by militants on a paramilitary camp left 11 soldiers injured.
Modi is expected to declare an economic package to help the state recover from the floods and also reach out to youth.
While the government’s economic package claims to help small industries and startups, what is it that they can really expect to happen in the coming months? As GDP growth rate topples, Motivational Speaker and Life Coach, Sitender Sehrawat attempts to answer questions on startups
The Rise of Startup Culture
2019 saw over 50,000 Registered startups and $14 billion in funding alone. Predictions were that Indian startups by 2025 will contribute substantially to the $5 Trillion GDP aim valuing over $500 billion alone. That was despite their growing losses, keeping the founders up all night, and investors were still signing fat checks. All this sounds terrific till January this year, and then Coronavirus came to shatter ambitions, not just within India but Globally.
Mammoth organisations who dominated the skies and IT are now on the edge of going bankruptcy. It sure does sound scary. Before we know what to fix, let’s do a reality check and see what needs to be fixed.
The Pandemic Effect
The coronavirus pandemic has left many passionate founders pondering and trying to see beyond the clouds. The effect on the consumers is not only economical but also mental. From fashion to consumption of goods, to investment, construction, travel, hotels, restaurants, traditional media –everything and everyone is suffering.
Small-cap startups are finding it difficult to survive since there is no clarity. IMF has already given us a cold shiver saying south Asia’s economy is going to suffer profoundly. Not only startups but big established corporates are also revising their future plans. Big software projects are either canceled or put on indefinite hold. IATA predicts that just in aviation alone about 2 lakh people will lose their jobs.
The catastrophe doesn’t end there, people are going to take time to step out to eat and shop and do other things. A few pieces of research suggest that social distancing might be needed for as long as 2022 or even 2024. Hiring has almost been frozen. Since startups are always on the edge, cashflow is a big concern and it’s resulting in people closing shop. Not just Foodtech, HR, Fintech, logistic but decade-old startups that were profitable are finding polite ways to fire the leadership. It doesn’t happen in India. We are the third fastest startup ecosystem after the US & China. But what does the future look like to and what can we do to stay afloat. Let’s look at how businesses are going to evolve post lockdown.
As per a recent survey, 85 percent of people said they would refrain from eating out and a social gathering. That directly impacts many Businesses. From malls to restaurants, to social gathering events. The impact of COVID-19 isn’t merely on the economy, it’s on the mental health as well. The effects are far more unseen at the moment of uncertainty. Consumer behaviour is expected to be the most affected. There will be an obvious change in people’s lifestyle and spending behaviours. The most impacted are Food, Lifestyle, Luxury, and Travel. But like always we choose to see the positive side of the crisis. Founders must now be in “Bias for action” mode before they reach the end of the runway.
What Can the Startups do to stay in Business?
Go back to the drawing board. We have all had serious discussions about future plans and strategies. But when the future itself is ambiguous, those plans might not prove to be assertive. It’s time we go back to our drawing boards again and put our imaginative & innovative powers to work. Speak with more people and get inside their minds to understand how a customer is re-planning their spending behaviour.
Read the customer’s mind and re-strategise your service.
Can your product or service be more present specific than the future since the future is not certain as of today?
Work from home, a serious consideration?
One of the positive changes that COVID-19 has forced us to realise is that for many job types, work from home can be a serious alternate. Not only startups but larger corporations are considering this option more seriously than ever. It not only saves infrastructural cost but also has a positive environmental effect. A study by American researchers revealed that the most stressful part for people is traveling to work.
Word of caution: Work from home can have a serious mental effect on your employee if not trained properly. Mindfulness and the “Flow” practices are immensely critical before you let your stars work from home.
Can you keep your employees be equally focused even with a disparity in your original vision?
When you interviewed people for this role, they showed a tremendous passion for the vision and the role, that’s why you hired them, right? But what if you have to change your vision to stay afloat? More than trying to woo your customers with huge discounts and lucrative deals, think about your employees’ happiness & wellbeing too. If Founders and employees vow to stand with each other, customers will see the passion in your Company and will most likely stick with you.
Do you really need a fancy Office & Overlapped Roles?
Not all but some startups think of themselves as a miniature version of larger Corporations and end up hiring people in the same fashion. This action creates an overlap in their roles. Startups are as dynamic as the weather in the mountains. What they planned on Monday might not make sense on Friday. A startup needs jugglers. Go over the list of people and see who fits the bill right now. Did your data analyst, developers & other people deliver as efficiently from home as they did from office? Do they need to come to the office? Think again. You might fit in a much smaller office if you need one at all.
Explore online tools that may fill in for expensive business travel and face to face meetings without hampering productivity and revenue. Even your customers will understand the importance of essential social distancing. Larger corporations are encouraging their people to avoid unnecessary travel, we can do it too. Right?
Gearing up for the new Business opportunities
There is news everywhere that the world is looking at India to shift its manufacturing plants. Do you already have the infrastructure and manpower to claim the opportunity? Stay in touch with the government for bigger opportunities. You might want to showcase your resources to take on the next big manufacturing or logistic hub.
Does Your Startup Have Semi- Skilled Workforce?
Many Unicorns and established startups have already tapped the opportunities of the current situation. Food tech startups delivering essential goods, offering the same day, even offering delivery within an hour. Healthcare essentials like medicines, masks, blood tests, and other sorts of “need of the hour” services. It’s the hour of innovation. There is an acute need to work on fundamental issues that have arisen due to the pandemic. If you have a skilled workforce, can you build an online version of the solution? Can you offer online learning, a game, a Virtual meeting tool, an AI robot to support healthcare professionals, the possibilities are enormous? Because the virus didn’t just come alone, it brought the possibilities, can you tap them?
If you are a restaurant, can you offer live streaming of your customer’s food preparation?
Fintech, ed-tech, health tech, e-commerce, and many other types of startups are going to come out stronger and will continue to change the way we live. Startups will not see green cash books, they need to trim their operational costs and innovate in the face of adversity. We all need you to solve real-life problems.
Most Important – Mental Well-being Of Your Employees
Research data from a renowned American University proved that employees who are happy and mindful are more productive. Take care of your employee’s mental health and emotional intelligence. After all, hiring isn’t in your to-do list for months so you’re going to need to get more work done with the same number of people.
Before your roll up your sleeves, ensure you train your employee’s mind to survive the difficult times. What’s most important today is “Mental Health” Emotional Intelligence, and the power of resilience. If you keep them stronger, you will come out as a better person, you will do good for people and your country. Remember the moral obligation of People’s welfare. That’s why you founded your startup, isn’t it? (IANS)
Central American countries are teaming up to conserve the region’s five great forests as part of a regional climate action plan released at U.N. climate talks in Madrid this week, the alliance behind the effort said.
The coalition of governments, indigenous people, green groups and others announced a plan to protect 10 million hectares of forests and degraded land inside those forests — an area roughly the size of Guatemala — by 2030.
In the last 15 years, three of the forests have been reduced by almost one-quarter in size, with illegal cattle ranching responsible for more than 90% of recent deforestation, it said.
Measures planned to safeguard the forests include bolstering agencies that look after protected areas, tracing beef to verify it has been legally produced, cracking down on cross-border cattle trafficking, helping ranchers find other ways to earn a living, and reforesting land where trees have been cut down.
Jeremy Radachowsky, regional director for the Wildlife Conservation Society, a partner in the project, said financing would come from multiple sources, including Central American countries, donor governments and a dedicated fund that will be created for indigenous and community forests.
The five forests, spanning from Mexico to Colombia, are key to curbing climate change as they sequester carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels that would otherwise heat up the planet.
“Nearly 50% of the carbon in Mesoamerica is stored in the five great forests,” said Carlos Manuel Rodriguez, Costa Rica’s environment minister, adding he hoped they would not be fragmented by deforestation.
The forests also provide habitat for wildlife such as the jaguar and scarlet macaw, the alliance said. The initiative aims to ensure no species go extinct.
The forests include the Maya Forest in Mexico, Guatemala and Belize; the Moskitia in Nicaragua and Honduras; the Indio Maiz-Tortuguero in Nicaragua and Costa Rica; the Talamanca region in Costa Rica and Panama; and the Darien in Panama and Colombia.
They provide water, clean air, food security and other natural resources to 5 million people, the alliance said, noting that indigenous and local communities manage nearly half of the forest area.
Candido Mezua of the Mesoamerican Alliance of Peoples and Forests, said it was sad to see the forests of the Amazon burning — and the impact that was having on indigenous people.
“In Mesoamerica, we have our five forests. They still exist. We can still protect them, and even expand them,” he said in a statement.
Amazon indigenous leaders, meanwhile, said this week they would host a world summit in Ecuador next August aimed at protecting the Amazon rainforest and other ecosystems in “response to the environmental crisis in the basin and abroad”.
Leaders representing 20 indigenous groups from Ecuador and Peru also called for global support to stop oil drilling and mining in the Amazon “Sacred Headwaters” region, an ecosystem rich in biodiversity that spans 30 million hectares in the two countries.
Deforestation in Brazil’s huge tract of Amazon rainforest rose to its highest level in over a decade this year, government data showed in November.
The data confirmed a sharp increase in deforestation under right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro’s government, which is considering permitting commercial agriculture and mining on native reserves.
Risks to Brazil’s forests drew global concern in August when fires raged through the Amazon.
Scientists link the fires to deforestation, with people and companies cutting down the forest for timber and then setting fire to the remains to clear the land for ranching or farming.
Gregorio Mirabal, general coordinator of COICA, the biggest indigenous federation in the Amazon, said new ways were needed of dealing with threats to the Amazon, including the “devastating effects” of climate change.
At the U.N. climate conference, states “are making decisions for companies and not for the people”, he said.
“The inability of our governments to solve this (climate) crisis is calling us to do this ourselves, hand in hand with the youth and any others in goodwill who want to join,” he added.
Many indigenous groups are opposed to credits for forest protection being included in carbon trading markets, arguing it would damage their sacred lands and livelihoods, as governments haggle over new rules for those markets at the Madrid talks.
“We do not allow the commodification of nature or that it has a price. For us nature is of value as itself. It is our Mother Earth,” Mirabal said.
According to the Washington-based Rights and Resources Initiative, which works on forest issues, up to 65% of the world’s land is communally held by indigenous peoples and local communities and contains 80% of the world’s biodiversity.
But only 10% of those groups’ land rights have been legally recognized, it said.
“The local cultures and indigenous peoples are the ones that have best preserved nature, and we do not believe that solutions can exist without us,” said Mirabal.
Indigenous groups — officially represented at the U.N. conference for the first time — have pushed for language on protecting their rights to be included in the text on carbon market rules that is under negotiation in Madrid.
But it is not in the latest draft as the talks near an end.
Indonesian indigenous activist Ghazali Ohorella said the rules should ensure safeguards for forest people’s land and rights, as well as a complaints mechanism and opportunities for them to participate in decisions on carbon offsetting schemes. “If not, it will create so much trouble further down the line,” he told journalists at the talks. (VOA)
More than 1 million people participated in a mass rally here, deemed as the largest since the 1990 fall of dictator Augusto Pinochet, against the Chilean government’s austerity policies.
A week after the start of demonstrations that have witnessed the death of 19 people, the capital’s Plaza Italia square on Friday overflowed as thousands more stood on neighbouring streets, reports Efe news.
The demonstration was set to start at 5 p.m. and within an hour, the crowd had swelled to more than a million, according to the municipal government.
Some in the rally held up a giant banner reading “Chile woke up,” a phrase that has become the unofficial motto of the movement demanding the resignation of the country’s President Sebastian Pinera.
The widespread unrest began on October 18 with a student protest in Santiago over a since-cancelled subway fare hike.
Protests escalated into violent incidents that have left 19 dead – some killed by police and soldiers deployed after the government declared a state of emergency, imposed curfews in several cities and put the military in charge of public order.
During the protests, Chileans also expressed their anger over low pensionsn, salaries and the high price of electricity, gas, university education and healthcare.
Chile’s Congress, located in the central port city of Valparaiso, was evacuated earlier on Friday after demonstrators caused disturbances in the vicinity of the building.
The speaker of the lower house, Ivan Flores, ordered the suspension of the legislative session after a group of protesters gathered outside the building and unsuccessfully tried to force their way past members of the Carabineros, Chile’s militarized national police.
According to the latest figures from the National Human Rights Institute (INDH), an autonomous public agency that monitors the actions of security forces, the number of arrests stands at 2,840.
The week-long protests have left 582 people injured, 295 of them struck by rubber bullets or tear-gas canisters.
A UN mission will travel to Chile next week to investigate possible human rights violations during the protests. (IANS)