Building for tomorrow

High rise number 432 Park Avenue in NYC will have a total residential real estate value of $ 3.12 Billion. To put it in perspective that would make it more valuable than all the real estate value of major U S cities like Concord, NH, Trenton NJ, Juneau or even fuddy old Yankee Hartford Ct. We have to hand it to the braves or the fools of the current wild west view, that there are enough of the 1% around, to flip these properties. Fortune Magazine reported conservatively in its Dec issue, ‘The High-Rise Goes Nuts’ and for Fortune to talk like this, I had to sit up and listen. NYC, London, Tokyo, Hong Kong and other towers of the rich and famous came to mind, and the economic divide now splits the skyline in all its majesty.

All I wish for is that the much smarter civic action towards building the next smart cities required for human progress could get similar funding. While the billionaires are entitled to their stunning views there is a lot of other infrastructure that could be built with such large pools of money. The point being that there is enough capital to go around and I don’t mean to pick on Park Ave in particular and it is just an example. If capital can be invested into the new infrastructure required for smart cities, it will raise productivity and have its own upwards trajectory, by a corresponding increase of required and essential services.

When billions of people worldwide subsist on one dollar per day, we are a far cry from lifting people out of poverty, much less talk of smart cities. The contrast in prosperity between the top and the bottom can be erased if concrete steps are taken. We have today the means to improve the lives on one of the largest scales in human history. We are talking about the improvement in the lives of billions as compared to the few. The scale of human development in the next century should far outpace anything that we have seen in the last century.

We now have the technology and the knowledge to come up with a greener and more ecofriendly system of co-existence with our co creatures on this planet. When developing smart cities we must also at the same time make arrangements for natural reserves for other species on earth to prosper. The Oceans, Earth and our vulnerable atmosphere must be recognized as such and legislation passed to protect it. We must ensure more renewable energy and natural development while using modern means. The challenge for the leaders of the new millennium is the lack of confidence in the global economy. The US can lead but we need other economic engines to also invest in this new global infrastructure for the greatest good.

If we all rise to the need of the hour, to provide the needs of these billions; it will also ensure, an upward cycle of mobility. The beneficial effects of education, culture and the provisions of modern life for residential populations of these smart cities, will attract more and more populations; as they succeed in eradicating poverty. The internet of everything is coming whether we like it or not, and will need all its trappings. It will be a resource hungry world, and how we manage this supply and usage; will be the lessons learned, in the future. For now we just need the will, to move in the right direction; to build what is needed, for our future generations. Building for tomorrow has to start today!

Deserted Hospitals of Delhi

India’s health system will need to add 3.6 million hospital beds, 3 million doctors and 6 million nurses over the next 20 years to meet the needs of the growing population, consultants PWC India estimate. Reuters found that officials and health experts blamed a tortuous procurement process, political wrangling and bureaucratic incompetence when they studied the under utilization of funds by most public health care organizations. Fearing corruption charges, officials work in an environment of “procurement phobia” and routine requests are held up for years. Rajiv Gandhi Super Specialty Hospitals has sat for a decade on 13 acres of prime Delhi landscaped land with 650 empty rooms, as X-Ray machines have no operators, and doctors and other equipment will not be procured for many years at the current rate, is one example. The budgets are left unspent for most government hospitals, as ‘it takes ten agencies to clear the laying of the first brick’; or the requests for doctors disappear into a quicksand of bureaucratic bungling.

India records the world’s highest number of deaths during pregnancy and high rates of child mortality from diarrhea, pneumonia and measles. It spends less than 1% of its GDP on Healthcare, putting it in the race to the bottom with Afghanistan and Sierra Leone. The result is either expensive private care, or no care at all for most of its population. It has 1 doctor for 1,400 patients which is less than even neighboring Pakistan, and there is no plan to improve on these statistics, as budgets will continue to be allocated and not spent given the past history.

ASSOCHAM estimated in 2013 that India’s private hospital sector would grow at 20 percent annually and become a $125 billion market by 2017. Today 80% of the care is provided by the private sector and it will continue to grow as the public facilities have neither the vision nor the administrative capabilities to provide efficient care facilities. Mr. Modi may want to improve this critical area for the well being of his people, but the inefficiencies and mind sets of public sector employees do not point to any near term improvements. With the rise of Kejriwal and Modi on anti corruption platforms, I only expect the procurement phobia to increase as any public employee who does his duty, will also be exposed to witch hunts for corruption.

While a lot of good work has been done in India by tackling infectious diseases and increasing longevity of its population, it is a drop in the bucket. We need to change the mindset of the administrators and let the professionals run health care. Whether it is done through public private partnerships or disinvestment of these facilities to let private sector take them over and run them is up to the government. I do not expect anything to change anytime soon in India, as the road to health for the people needing health care; is dependent on the good intentions, of its new leaders. Campaign slogans rarely turn into effective policy, as a dynamic democracy has its own unique challenges.

Fifty shades of brightness

“We see that these people who are having the successful marriages, who are idealizing, are really very forgiving in how they attribute problems,” Dale Griffin psychologist at UBC said. His finding is that partners who idealize their spouses to a certain extent, have happier marriages.

We all know that love is a powerful equation, as when we love someone; we also idealize that person, and as a consequence, we will not attribute our negative feelings to that person. The kid who is noisy and disruptive and who is not ours, is considered rowdy and undisciplined, and if ours then will be considered enthusiastic and intelligent. We forgive our kids more readily and will often seek to provide compassion and love, when we find they are unhappy. The same can be said for our spouses, as when we are in love; we will attribute any short comings in our marriage, to other factors, and not blame our spouse as vehemently.

Dale’s carried out his study over five years with newlyweds, he found that normally the level of satisfaction steadily deteriorated, over the years for a lot of the couples. It was only the idealistic spouses who ignored their spouse’s shortcomings, who continued to be happier as time progressed. While we must live with facts and face reality, to be successful in life, it is not the same in our relationships. Being overly factual and ground in reality actually may cause relationships to deteriorate, as a little bit of hope, imagination and dreams are required for true bliss.

Based on these findings I want to raise the pedestal on which I put my spouse. It is now my deep belief that if I would only idealize her some more, then our marriage will be even better. In a world of stark and grim reality, I have been too rigid and have allowed her to be confined, to the dark dungeon that has become our home. It is high time that I removed the cobwebs of my mind and allowed the clear light of faith to shine on our relationship. She is not to blame for my unhappiness but instead she is the bedrock of my current and future happiness. I cannot forgive a fact, but I can definitely love and forgive my soul companion. We must add humor and remove hardheadedness to be happy.

So the solution is not in living in a real world where relationships are concerned, but to live in an idealistic world. Give your imagination some string and let it fly. Chose a little humor, some compassion and love, and the weight of the relationship will lessen. The weight on your shoulders will go away, and the hate that clouds of your judgment, will be removed. A simple touch will become electric, and a spoken word becomes an opening to much better communication both physically and emotionally. Fight if you must, but at the end learn to forgive and forget.

I can see the clouds of doubt lifting from my eyes and the hate and my long held distaste melts into the ether. She is like a goddess and I am like her god, and we are on the path to eternal happiness. I love the ground she walks on, and that is enough for now. There is a happiness that envelops us and we are on a path that grows brighter every day. I forgive my past hurts and am one with the present and start again, as each day a new relationship blossoms. Love is not enhanced by carrying the destruction of the past hurts like a loadstone, but instead by trusting our partner will help us make a better life. I reach for her, but she is already on the pedestal now, so our happiness grows and all is well again. Fifty shades of brightness appear before my my eyes, as I look up lovingly, and see my spouse in this new light of knowledge.

Innovations come from first ideas


The figure shows the beneficial effects of innovations. With each successive emerging technology that goes from innovation to diffusion the rate of revenue and return keep increasing. A series of these cycles can lead us into the next millennium for the betterment of all creatures, if we carefully nurture the seeds of these emerging technologies.

“The all items Consumer Price index for the USA increased 0.8 percent over the last 12 months. This is notably lower than the 1.3 percent change for the 12 months ending November. The energy index has declined 10.6 percent over the span. In contrast, the 3.4 percent increase in the food index is its largest 12-month increase since February 2012.” As per the US department that tracks these arcane statistics.
All the facts coming out of the US economy on manufacturing, employment, CPI, GDP growth seem to show signs of a stable environment, in which the markets may be poised to change, into a growth trajectory. With a crumbling infrastructure to take care of the president is promising huge projects. I agree that when a nation’s most memorable engineering works become five decades old, it is time to reenergize and start work on the boldest of the bold new projects now. The Golden Gate and the GW Bridges were great but now we need the next generation of green transport in the form of electric vehicles powered by solar or wind or other non carbon renewables.
New energy, transportation and information grids have to be built just like the old Interstates were built way back when. As cities become smarter they will generate a utopian lifestyle supported by the new information age. Wireless connectivity, driverless cars, efficient lighting and digital security are all developing at a rapid pace to meet this brave new world. Yet these developments need new ideas and thinking and innovators and problem solvers. We are returning thousands of PHDs and graduates every decade due to our immigration policy. The nation’s firms have to set up research centers in these foreign countries where they are returning, taking the jobs and new ideas with them.
Where will the highly skilled labor required for the next millennium come, if we continue to turn away the best and the brightest from our shores. The sign at immigration now reads to the world “Innovators not welcome; we are doing quite well with what we have.” Twelve million workers have disappeared from our employment ranks and millions more of skilled teachers, nurses, doctors, engineers and scientists will retire with the baby boomers. We need to replace these skilled positions with new replacements or our development and way of life will come to an end. With increased productivity fewer workers can support more dependents but there is a limit.
Our public policy must meet the people’s needs even when they cannot see it for themselves. An open society that welcomes new ideas and cultures thrives while a hemmed in society loses touch with the real world. Xenophobia may sound comforting but at the end one must realize that a State has no religion or race, as that would limit its future potential. Ideas and dreams make the future brighter and we must rise to welcome a new dawn.
What our new sign at immigration should read is “Innovator’s welcome, the race has just begun!”

Improving Mental Health

Let us talk about an issue in Health Care that nobody apparently wants to talk about. It is simply the topic of Mental Health, whether it is at an individual level, a community level, national level or at an international level; the basic problem is that people do not want to talk about it. There is “No Health without Mental Health,” slogan appears very right for our times; for it has been conclusively proven, that people with healthier mental attitudes do better in life. Whether it is at an individual level, where a deep sense of positive energy emerges from those who have positive mental health; resulting in their chasing opportunities, which others may easily overlook.
In 2012 over 43 million American over the age of 18 suffered from some kind of mental disorder. Most of these people remain productive citizens but at a subpar level and mental disorder is the greatest drag on human productivity in modern times. By 2030 it is predicted that 6 trillion of productivity will be lost to chronic non communicable diseases but a major portion of this is going to be caused by mental disorders. WHO estimates 800,000 people commit suicide every year, more than double the rate of murder; and mostly in middle and lower income countries.
Even in wealthy America, most states have dismantled the mental health institutions, that had been set up and now a mental health victim is 10 times more likely to be in prison; than a mental asylum or treatment hospital. The US still has 9 psychiatrists for every 100,000 people and the other countries do much worse and the continent of Africa has 1 for a million people. For people fighting debilitating diseases like HIV and Ebola, and genocidal wars, the trauma can have lasting effects on the people. The active community involvement in working with the women from such ravaged countries pays off in the greatest dividends.
As per Insel, Collins and Hyman writing in Foreign Affairs called Darkness Invisible the scale of this problem will grow with longevity and population growth that is taking place across the world. They point to grassroots studies in Congo and Pakistan where simple community worker’s positive intervention with such women led to measurable positive results. The women for example who received such treatment in Pakistan became not only healthier but were more likely to obtain crucial vaccines for their children, while recovering from posttraumatic stress disorder or prenatal and postpartum depressions.
When I started this blog it was meant for faith and hope. I believe it is a noble cause now to try and raise the millions from out of this shadowy darkness that society imparts on the mentally ill. They deserve better and change is possible. We need to draw them out of the shadows of our existence, and bring them into the light of our everyday life.
My belief is that if we all get together and address this issue, it will make a huge difference in the quality of life, of our future generations. Why should that family member be invisible or incarcerated when he/she can be a productive member of our society. We as a community of compassionate, caring people can lead the way and show each person that life is worthwhile, and worth living to the best of our individual faculties. If we pursue positive actions, we are more likely to achieve positive results. Luckily the medications for treating mental disorders, have grown steadily cheaper, and must be made more accessible. Bill Gates are you listening?
Next time you come across an autistic or dyslexic child, or that crazy adult, or harebrained uncle, pause and admire the world; that they see. Join in their reality, and you will find that there are dimensions to our existence; that we have passed by, unheeded. Just like you do not truly play with a child, till you immerse yourself in its world; and see what he/she, is seeing. To understand what a person is going through, one has to enter their world; and then show them the light of hope, and the path to self-fulfillment and happiness. Only then the imaginary world that the child believes in becomes real, and then you find that you are no longer playing with the child anymore. Instead you are helping another human being understand, this crazy game of life itself!