Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad gave a stern message (warning) to Chris Daniels, CEO of WhatsApp, to address India’s concerns when he (Daniels) visited India in August 2018. The minister had put forth his expectations from WhatsApp—appoint a grievance redressal officer in India, set up a corporate entity in India, store local data locally, and […].. Continue Reading
We live in the age of internet. The opportunities it affords us are boundless and the track on which it has put humanity and human progress finds no parallel in history. What it does bring along with those positives, however, is a bunch of new threats and headaches that organisations (and people) – especially ones that were born in the 20th century – are not equipped for.
What New Age Risks include
To put it simply, New Age Risks include the risks that come along with the advent and rapid progress of technology. As technology has gotten more and more sophisticated, it has opened new avenues for businesses in more ways than one. It has helped organisations expand, reach more people, generate more revenue streams, and most importantly, create more tangible impact than the most optimistic organisations could have imagined hardly two decades ago. Yet, for all its positives, technology also brings considerable risks that often threaten the very core of most of these companies. Between 2015-2017, India was the target of 17% of the cyberattacks, second only to the US, which faced 38% of the attacks.
ICICI Lombard recently dived deep into this issue to try to understand how these New Age Risks are perceived by India’s top business leaders and how evolved (or how elementary) awareness about these risks is. The report, findings of which were unveiled by Bhargav Dasgupta (MD & CEO of ICICI Lombard), Alok Agarwal (Executive Director of ICICI Lombard), and Gopal Balachandran (CFO & CRO of ICICI Lombard) in the presence of Professor Kenneth Rogoff, who is a professor of Economics & Public Policy at Harvard University and was a chief economist at International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Interestingly, the report’s findings revealed that about 30% (just less than a third) of the respondents believed cyber risks to be one of the three most crucial risks facing their business. When pressed with a more specific question, 39% of the respondents believed cyber threats to be the most critical new age risk facing businesses. This was just behind data theft, believed by 47% respondents to be the most critical new age threat. It can, however, be argued that data theft itself is one form of a cyber risk, with new age start-ups dealing with data of tens of millions of people being as vulnerable to these as the Fortune 500 companies. All of this being said, most intriguing finding of the study remains: when asked how risks have changed for their respective companies in the last three years, 63% of the respondents answered that cyber risks “have increased substantially” in the last three years, just behind the 67% that felt the same about data theft.
This statistic, accompanied with the fact that 73% of the respondents maintained that new age risks are being either as important as or more important than the traditional risks, reveals an interesting pattern. Organisations and leaders are growing more and more aware of the ubiquity of the risks facing them and are trying to pay more attention to what these risks could hold for these companies in the near and not so near future.
How do you deal with these risks?
Continuing the discussion of the same study forward, 16% of the respondents felt that the biggest problem associated with these new age risks was the difficulty in identifying the solution. Coupled with the 42% who believe that the source of these risks is hard to identify, it tells us just why new age risks are a cause for worry for organisations. They don’t know where these issues come from and they don’t understand how these can be solved.
This is where the solutions get interesting. If you don’t understand source and solution, would it note be better to trust seasoned insurers to handle these risks? Insurance is a key component of making sure that your company stays secure in case of unforeseen events. If cyber threats are something our organisations are not equipped to solve at the highest levels, insurance companies become not only a quality alternative but also an absolute necessity. While prevention is definitely better than cure and organisations would much rather not find themselves in a situation not requiring an insurance, it is also important to be realistic about the nature and magnitude of threats facing these companies and take steps to best protect themselves if need be.
26 Dec, 18
26 Dec, 18
A 100 years of The Yoga Institute – and the millenial way forward
Amidst today’s information overload and attention chaos, we have witnessed the emergence of a number of meditative practices and art forms. Yet, none match the allure, popularity, and widespread acclaim of yoga. More than any other institution of its kind, The Yoga Institute, the world’s oldest organized centre of yoga, has preached this ancient way of living for exactly a century, having been founded in 1918! More than 55000 teachers have now been trained by The Yoga Institute over its entire existence, a number so baffling that it may give even established global university alumni networks a run for their money!
Today, more than 2000 people visit The Yoga Institute every day! While its original philosophy was pure and centralized on a single centre of practice (in Santacruz East, Mumbai), with time The Yoga Institute has expanded its physical and geographical reach to around ten branches, with a prominent presence in Goa, Delhi, and even Hong Kong! Despite its expansion, the original centre in Santacruz, Mumbai remains the bastion of all learners, with individuals from more than 40 international countries taking tutelage under the gurus through a host of training programs!
Its significance is underscored by the stupendous scale of its centennial celebrations this week, as the ‘Harmony Fest’ – a two-day celebration of The Yoga Institute’s 100th foundational anniversary – is simultaneously India’s biggest wellness festival! From being inaugurated by the Hon. President of India, to being attended by the Hon. Governor and the Hon. Chief Minister of Maharashtra, among other dignitaries, this festival is one of the largest of its kind in the entire world!
Yet, while the Yoga Institute has a rich heritage, how did it all begin?
In a candid interaction with The Yoga Institute’s Director, Dr. Hansaji Yogendra, we explored some of the essences that cement the foundations of this great institution.
“Shri Yogendraji, our founder, preached the first ever yoga lessons conducted by The Yoga Institute, at Versova beach on December 25th, 1918, before leaving for the USA for education”, says Dr. Hansaji Yogendra, Director, The Yoga Institute, sitting through a candid interaction in the midst of an otherwise packed day.
“He interpreted this as a scientific endeavour and would pointedly ask specific questions that elucidate the scientific method in its rawest form – ‘…when you meditate, what happens to your brain? What about your bodily organs and what about the effects of exercise on any or all of your biological systems?…’ – questions that were unheard of in similar fields by other practitioners,” she quipped.
The primary question that drove the narrative early on was indeed to determine the needs of the modern man.
The conclusion? “We need a focused yoga for the householders, and for everyday use without major cumbersome procedures or specially designed environments,” said Dr. Hansaji Yogendra.
Yoga amidst distraction – the householder’s philosophy
This philosophy of not tweaking the practice of yoga basis the environment was on full display when you examine the historical account of the life of Shri Yogendraji and his persistence on setting up the institute and continuing its operations under challenging circumstances. He shifted base from Versova to Bulsar, in Gujarat just ten years after having founded The Yoga Institute at the revered Dadabhai Naraoji’s residence. Just after the conclusion of the Second World War, he was already looking to shift base back to Mumbai, yet the plan only came to fruition in 1948, when he bought a plot in Santacruz, the current residence and base of operations of The Yoga Institute.
Back then, a lot of lush greenery and foliage surrounded the suburban areas of Santacruz and the adjacent Vile Parle, and yoga could not have been practiced in a better environment than the one found here. The only airport operations of the city were at Pawan Hans, in Vile Parle-Santacruz on the western side. Yet, just a decade after its newfound base in Santacruz, the domestic airport in Santacruz suddenly represented a lot of commotion for the peace-loving folks indulging in yoga in its nascent stages.
“Shri Yogendraji truly believed that the brand of yoga – a focus on Classical Yoga – the institute preaches is aimed at householders who represent everyday professions and do not necessarily have silent environments. He, therefore, stuck to the premises in Santacruz despite the newfound commotion and noise, and these roots have not been uprooted till today!”
A focus on research has been the cornerstone of The Yoga Institute
Smt. Hansaji Yogendra, Director, The Yoga Institute
“This institute was the first one to do research on yoga in a scientific capacity, and has done so since inception,” remarked Dr. Hansaji Yogendra.
In today’s commercially-driven fitness mania, some people have taken the physical portions of yoga and commercialized those to the benefit of their respective organizations, but to the detriment of the distorted perception around the wholesomeness of yoga.
Especially chronic in these commercial aggrandizements were the ignorance of both the psychological and the philosophical elements within yoga. While vastly ignored by virtually all other yoga centres in India and beyond, these, along with the other wholesome aspects of yoga, have remained the focus of The Yoga Institute in its bid to imbibe the most complete form of yoga training.
It is no surprise, therefore, that the institute’s four books were selected for preservation in the 1940s by Oglethorpe University, which, after having scavenged for similar pieces of literature across the subcontinent, accredited immense significance to The Yoga Institute’s publications over other prominent ideologues’ written work. This was no ordinary feat. The preservation was specifically towards the ‘Crypt of Civilization’, a first-of-its-kind repository whose contents will only be opened approximately 6000 years later, according these works an unparalleled level of importance.
The transformative vision of The Yoga Institute transcends generations
What was the vision of Shri Yogendraji and what elements of his vision were possibly executed during his lifetime? Which elements still resonate with The Yoga Institute of today as it embarks on global awareness on an unprecedented scale?
“It was difficult for him to found this institution during the British Era,” quips Dr. Hansaji Yogendra. “Only essential buildings were allowed to be constructed, and it also resulted in a tiff between the Founder and the local Municipality Commissioner, who eventually did bow down to the stern stance adopted by Shri Yogendraji. All plants in the institute were planted by Shri Yogendraji, signifying his centennial presence even today.
“He named it ‘The Yoga Institute’ to deprive it of any personal branding as an institutional symbol withstands far longer than any personal scripture embedded within such symbolisms,” she added.
Keeping Shri Yogendraji’s unique contributions in mind beckons another question. Transforming the vision of The Yoga Institute, what were some of the greatest contributions by Dr. Jayadeva Yogendra ji in advancing the ideals of The Yoga Institute?
“He was a Yogi personified – no passion or desires; he was responsible for courses in children, as well as special courses for women. In fact, he thought about the various biological stages of a woman through the course of her life – young girl, puberty, marriage, pre natal care, post-natal care, menopause, old age – the different eras of a woman did beckon a different approach to yoga in order to facilitate a seamless adoption of mental and physical wellbeing. Even an approach towards introducing ‘couple’s classes’ was Dr Jayadeva’s vision, and so were the immensely popular ‘Teacher Training Classes’.”
Governmental push for Yoga in an institutional manner has been quite disruptive
The Government plays a widespread role in advancing a widespread health and well-being movement across the country and beyond. The present Government and the Ministry of AYUSH has fared quite well in exactly the same principles that are important in increasing subscription and adoption – from viral promotional campaigns to the creation of an International Yoga Day (first held in June 2015 in the presence of the Hon. Prime Minister, with Dr. Hansaji Yogendra on-stage), this governmental machinery has indeed multiplied the significance of yoga. The International Yoga Day in particular, under the tutelage of Hon. Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi ji, has attracted widespread acclaim.
In her role as the Chairperson of the Yoga Certifications Committee at the Quality Council of India, Dr. Hansaji Yogendra’s scope covers introducing a standardized metric to regulate the entire field.
“Standardization of yoga is a priority indeed, as lots of institutes and individuals have sprung up in recent times without regard for the actual teachings of yoga,” she said.
The next generation of yoga is no longer averse to millennials – but welcomes them
Millennials have an outsized role in shaping the discourse over the next ten to twenty years. With the cultural depth and therapeutic history of yoga, does The Yoga Institute witness a widespread adoption of the yogic way of living in the years to come?
“Yoga is the classical version as being pronounced and promoted by The Yoga Institute. Asanas is 1/8th of what yoga is as per Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga. Yamas (restraint, the 1st ‘limb’) and Niyamas (discipline, the 2nd ‘limb’), Dhyana (meditation, the 7th ‘limb’) and Dharana (concentration, the 6th ‘limb’) are completely ignored as compared to Asanas in popular discourse elsewhere in the world,” as per Shri Hrishi Jayadeva Yogendra, Assistant Director, The Yoga Institute.
This is the primary concern of The Yoga Institute. “The classical approach itself needs to reach out to masses,” he quips.
“We are changing our own mindsets and expanding beyond this single centre and have started extending, more than merely expanding, our approach and our reach. Yoga is a preventive science rather than the therapeutic science – the essence of yoga is always that it preached for a way of living that encourages prevention of vices.”
“If I just keep a bhavas workshop for instance, people tend to ignore the messaging – but if I transform the messaging into much more interactive modes, the engagement is much higher.”
The Harmony fest is a furtherance of Classical Yoga’s appeal maximization
“We aim to create an environment that will be conducive and welcoming – but it aims to deliver what we actually want to deliver – which are the Misconceptions of Yoga.”
“The basic theories and principles behind the traditional texts and sources in India – on food, for instance – are the basis for some of our initiatives. We have a workshop at the fest on modern food habits in comparison to traditional healthier alternatives – so we do not reject the narrative of pizzas entering modern eating habits but encourage ingredients such as ragi or other organic alternatives.”
Another example is of medicine – how is it possible to integrate modern medicine with traditional medicine? That is another fusion tactic on the platter – since The Yoga Institute has tied up with some of the most prominent hospitals in Mumbai, from Hinduja Hospital to the Asian Heart Institute to S.L. Raheja Hospital. “We have, in fact, given a soothing session to patients before critical surgeries – to reduce stress and tension and increase calmness – increasing success rates of surgeries by simply having a relaxed body and mind.”
Indeed, with so many initiatives, amidst a backdrop of the rich cultural heritage of this ancient practice as well as the transcendental personalities of its founders and caretakers, The Yoga Institute is poised to change lives well into the next century!
16 Feb, 19
16 Feb, 19
Culture and Society
Protecting human heritage on the moon: Don’t let ‘one small step’ become one giant mistake
Why did the hominin cross the plain? We may never know. But anthropologists are pretty sure that a smattering of bare footprints preserved in volcanic ash in Laetoli, Tanzania bear witness to an evolutionary milestone. These small steps, taken roughly 3.5 million years ago, mark an early successful attempt by our common human ancestor to stand upright and stride on two feet, instead of four.
Nearly 50 years ago, Neil Armstrong also took a few small steps. On the moon. His bootprints, along with those of fellow astronaut Buzz Aldrin, are preserved in the lunar soil, called regolith, on what Aldrin described as the “magnificent desolation” of the moon’s surface. These prints, too, bear witness to an evolutionary milestone, as well as humankind’s greatest technological achievement. What’s more, they memorialize the work of the many individuals who worked to unlock the secrets of space and send humans there. And those small steps pay homage to the daring men and women who have dedicated – and those who lost – their lives to space exploration.
The evidence left by our bipedal ancestors are recognized by the international community and protected as human heritage. But the evidence of humanity’s first off-world exploits on the moon are not. These events, separated by 3.5 million years, demonstrate the same uniquely human desire to achieve, explore and triumph. They are a manifestation of our common human history. And they should be treated with equal respect and deference.
I’m a professor of aviation and space law and an associate director of the Air and Space Law Program at the University of Mississippi School of Law. My work focuses on the development of laws and guidelines that will assist and promote the successful and sustainable use of space and our transition into a multi-planet species. During the course of my research, I was shocked to discover that the bootprints left on the moon, and all they memorialize and represent, are not recognized as human heritage and may be accidentally or intentionally damaged or defaced without penalty.
And, just last year, Sotheby’s auctioned off a bag – the first bag that Neil Armstrong used to collect the first moon rocks and dust ever returned to Earth. The sale was entirely legal. This “first bag” ended up in the hands of a private individual after the U.S. government erroneously allowed it to be included in a public auction. Rather than return the bag to NASA, its new owner sold it to the highest bidder for US$1.8 million. That’s a hefty price tag and a terrible message. Imagine how much a private collector would pay for remnants of the first flag planted on the moon? Or even just some dust from Mare Tranquilitatis?
The fact is if people don’t think sites are important, there is no way to guarantee their safety – or the security of the artifacts they host. Had the first bag been recognized as an artifact, its trade would have been illegal.
Introducing ‘For All Moonkind’
That’s why I co-founded the nonprofit For All Moonkind, the only organization in the world committed to making sure these sites are protected. Our mission is to ensure the Apollo 11 landing and similar sites in outer space are recognized for their outstanding value to humanity and protected, like those small steps in Laetoli, for posterity by the international community as part of our common human heritage.
Our group of nearly 100 volunteers – space lawyers, archaeologists, scientists, engineers, educators and communicators from five continents – is working together to build the framework that will assure a sustainable balance between protection and development in space.
Here on Earth, the international community identifies important sites by placing them on the World Heritage List, created by a convention signed by 193 nations. In this way, the international community has agreed to protect things like the cave paintings in Lascaux, France and Stonehenge, a ring of standing stones in Wiltshire, England.
There are no equivalent laws or internationally recognized regulations or even principles that protect the Apollo 11 landing site, known as Tranquility Base, or any other sites on the moon or in space. There is no law against running over the first bootprints imprinted on the moon. Or erasing them. Or carving them out of the moon’s regolith and selling them to the highest bidder.
Between 1957 and 1975, the international community did dedicate a tremendous amount of time and effort to negotiating a set of treaties and conventions that would, it was hoped, prevent the militarization of space and ensure freedom of access and exploration for all nations. At the time, cultural heritage in outer space did not exist and was not a concern. As such, it is not surprising that the Outer Space Treaty, which entered into force in 1967, doesn’t address the protection of human heritage. Today, this omission is perilous.
Because, sadly, humans are capable of reprehensible acts.
But as history shows, this trickle of explorers could soon become a rush. As we straddle the threshold of true space-faring capability, we have an extraordinary opportunity. We have time to protect our common heritage, humanity’s first steps, on the moon before it is vandalized or destroyed.
If we do this right, 3.5 million years from now, not only will his name be remembered, his bootprint will remain preserved and the story of how Tranquility Base became the cradle of our space-faring future will be remembered forever, along with the lessons of tumultuous history that got us to the moon. These lessons will help us come together as a human community and ultimately advance forward as a species.
To allow anything else to happen would be a giant mistake.
Michelle Hanlon is a Professor of Air and Space Law, University of Mississippi.