Archive | August, 2009

Vishal-Making Money in Hard Times

Posted on 31 August 2009 by admin

Ding, ding, ding that sounds like the recession is finally coming to an end! Is that the sound of bulldozers, and machines working to make more buildings in the GTA region? Isn’t the GTA region already crowded, do we even need those multi-million dollar buildings being built? Well, it looks like we are still in need for developers within the Real Estate field. Generation Next sat down and spoke with  talented Mr. Vishal Mansukhani . Born in Mumbai, Vishal and his family migrated to Canada in September 2004. Back in Mumbai, Vishals father was primarily a real estate holder and still is but he is also working in Canada now.

These days if you do not have money then you do not have respect. Vishal tells Generation Next, “When I first came to Canada, there was some type of discrimination in youth but I did not really pay attention to it or acknowledge it as much, I was focused on making money and doing other things”. To some people discrimination is a huge thing while to others it is not. Some people are able to adapt to their surroundings very easily while for others it takes some time. For Vishal it was not that hard, “I can go anywhere and I am fine, I learn to adapt and settle fast without having any problems”.

Even though Vishal has big dreams for the upcoming future life of his, he still realizes how big of a role education plays in his life. He is currently completing his degree at York University in management. Side by side he is also doing his real estate certificate so he can get a head start once he has graduated. “At the moment I am currently working as a project manager and estimator for a site developmental company, I am hoping to build a career this way in real estate development”. Every youth should consider all the different opportunities that come across them since you do not know how it can or cannot benefit you.

Like Vishal, this was not the first time he considered taking a job that related to real estate work. “At the moment I deal with real estate developers as a contractor, I get drawings from them and we price them. Even though I am on the opposite side of the profession that I want to be in, this is still beneficial to me since it is giving me the exposure and experience to where I want to lead in the future”.

It seems like all youth these days are experiencing a hard time with having to pay their bills, tuition, rent, food, transportation, and etc. Most youth are trying to juggle school and work at the same time. Vishal gives some hints and tips for the youth to consider if they are in the same boat as him. “Currently I am taking a lot of online courses and if I am required to go to class, my classes are usually in the evening, I am still taking full time course load but most are online. I find it much easier to do online courses since you are doing everything on your own time and it is easier to go back and learn if something is missed or not understood as well”.

Dedication, hard work, and commitment all three of these qualities are within everyone and if they are hidden it is time to bring them out! All youth should consider different opportunities that come towards them since you do not know how it can help you. It is either you make the choice now to succeed in the future or you stay behind while the rest of your peers walk ahead of you.

Author: Kiran Takrani

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Majority of the Internet is Free?

Posted on 31 August 2009 by admin

A revolution has taken place and we haven’t really even thought about it, yet we are living it everyday. The majority of the Internet is Free. Free as in liberal speech and Free as in lunch. But its the latter that I am interested in and so is every Internet company (from startups to the established brands). Yes, we pay for our Internet usage to our ISP (well, those of us not stealing WiFi from our neighbors), but that is the cost of the distribution infrastructure, not the actual content. From news articles, funny on-demand videos, search results to your social network of choice – these are services that provide us with value at no cost to us.

Why we don’t pay for viewing websites?

The revolution is that as we move from the world of the atoms to the world of bits we inherently change our economic point-of-view. And why not? It costs an insignificant amount per user to distribute the 0s and 1s of the Internet that its not worth it for a company to charge nickels and dimes to us. Given the decision to pay even 1 cent online for everything we do would severely limit how we use the Internet. The mental cost of making the decision to pay for something would cripple our usage. Not to mention that a competitor would come along that will provide a free service because the cost is marginal for getting our attention.

 That has been the trend driving every website to move to a model where $0 is price to use their service. But then what? Sure it costs practically nothing to serve a single user, but what happens when you have a million users and “practically nothing” amounts to several hundred thousands in server and maintenance costs?

So how does this really work?

Make money by making your website go viral!

Free is not a new concept, as Chris Anderson points out in his new book “Free: The Future of a Radical Price”. Marketers have been using this concept to get consumers to buy “2 for 1″ or to try out a sample that hooks you on the product, or even give away hardware for free or really cheap but make up the money on expensive but necessary accessories (think free printers to sell ink). Radio has been free and so has the content on cable television – supported by advertising of course. 

The move from Web 1.0 to Web 2.0 has been defined in various technical (desktop-like interactions, user-friendly) and social ways (collaboration, crowdsourcing). But one other way to describe it is the trend of building websites that gain lots of users as quickly as possible without a solid business model (also known as making your site go “viral”). Then somehow or other the site would make money by being acquired by a larger company or by laying out advertising on the page and hoping people would click on them. Well Google did it they say! But Google is a search provider – people are trying to find something, so its only natural to show them an ad. But you aren’t trying to find anything when you are talking to your best friend.

 The new web, Web 3.0 which again can be described in many different terms (semantic web, personalized/humanized web, mobile web) can also be thought of in terms of a more economically stable web. And we are in the midst of it.

Websites may even Charge you to use their service

Companies will no longer just rely on advertising (and advertising itself will be highly targeted and relevant). In fact, websites may even – hope you are seated for this – charge you to use their service!

 Actually, even this is not new. As in anything on the web, it is simply a reshaping of previous models and ideas. There is also no hard-line between the different “versions” of the web. What I am talking about has successfully been adopted before by Flickr, LinkedIn and Basecamp, but its adoption to the rest of the web is only now starting to happen.

‘Freemium’-10% users pay for all others

The business model is called “freemium”, where a basic form of the service is free and support say 90% of users, and premium features cost a subscription free per month or year by the rest of the users. So 10% of the users of a site can essentially subsidize the use for the rest of the 90%. But why would a company even care about those 90% of users? Well – they act as proponents of the service (word-of-mouth marketers) and as potential customer base to transform into the premium service. They also are very adept at producing content (added value to your service) and driving traffic to your site (increasing your brand and reputation). The real trick is figuring out what features 10% of your users will be willing to pay for and what limitations will not annoy your free users. 

But if you can figure this out for your web startup, then you can leverage free to actually make a lot of money. This may all be not-so-new to some of you but what will be interesting about the new sustainable web is how freemium and other creative business models that leverage free will evolve.

Author: Fahad Butt

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Tania-A Humble ‘Activist’

Posted on 31 August 2009 by .

In the hustle and bustle of downtown life, I had arranged to meet a girl who likes calling herself an ‘activist’ now. Having spent a good amount of my life in that area, I tried thinking about a quiet spot to have an intellectually stimulating conversation with her but finally we ended up meeting at Tim Hortons for the ease of finding it and saving ourselves the trouble. Tania showed up with a bright smile in a flowing white skirt matched perfectly with her pink blouse, silver earrings and sandals; a perfect summer-casual yet professional look.

After exchanging pleasantries, we started talking about her life and experience in Canada over our hot coffee cups. Tania proudly mentioned that she identifies herself as a Bangladeshi even though she grew up in the Middle East. Like many other families, her parents moved to the western world so that their daughters could pursue further education. Tania grew up in various parts of the world and I was inclined to ask her what she identified as ‘home.’ Tania gets a bit confused over this question, she laughs and then replies with a strange look in her eyes, “Home to me is Bangladesh and home to me is also Middle East because I lived there.” But then she also mentions that Canada has become an important part of her life, even though she wishes to move back one day but she is not sure ‘how much of a reality it would become.”

Her response was neither strange nor unusual, her apprehension was understandable and many other South Asians can relate to her as well. But has that made her a confused individual? I don’t think so. Tania is strong about her values, culture and traditions for which she thanks her mother and her up bringing.

Her list of credentials and involvements in various organizations is long, but currently she is working full-time as a coordinator at Ontario Bar Association and continuing her education at the same time at Ryerson University. She graduated from George Brown College with a community work diploma and from Seneca she did a social work diploma.

Currently she is involved in the student union at Ryerson where she actively participates and organizes student campaigns, also she is part of Drishtipat (a human rights organization on Bangladesh) and she is a board member for South Asian Women’s Centre.

After listening intently to her for a considerable amount of time, I was not only impressed by the long list but also her time management, dedication and her passion that she mentions ‘lies in social work’.

Taking her diverse first-hand experience into consideration I asked her about the issues that South Asian youth face today in Canada. She replies instantly that they are numerous in number. She narrates her own personal experience; “When I came here with my younger sister, I felt like there were lots of cultural barriers. There are a lot of issues within the south Asian community and generation gap is one of the prime things. When parents come here, they have a certain expectation of raising up their kids, and when kids come here, they are kind of forced in the way of the hustle and bustle of the cultures, and sometimes within that hustle and bustle some of us make it through, knowing what our identities are while others lose themselves. Sometimes people send different messages and get lost within themselves. Identities are lost, I have seen it personally happen.”

Taniah also points out the inner conflicts she has to deal with being a religious practicing Muslim and a westernized woman, “I myself am a Muslim person and have high regards for Islam, one would call me a spiritual believer but there are times when I feel pulled and I don’t know what I should do as a Muslim person but also as an independent woman. Canada is a country that really really pushes and encourages independent thinking.”

Talking about cultural differences she says with a concerned look in her eyes, “ South Asian culture is a kind of culture where we go with what our parents and elders have taught us, or laid out for us because they are the wiser of us. But when lack of communication happens, because our culture is more conservative, parents don’t understand the changes the kids are going through. So, for me I think it’s the biggest issue. The lack of identity. Identity is a huge part of a human being whether you are a south Asian or not. Sometimes, often that becomes a problem for you and people around you. Hence ,the break down of families and all of that.”

Tania also mentions the cultural barriers and the stereotypical views attached with social work as a career as people in our community think that it is not worth the effort, “When I told my parents initially that I was getting involved in social work, they thought that it wasn’t paid work. Volunteer work is typically not recognized in our community because it’s not being a doctor or an engineering.”

Even though she understands the problems kids go through, she is still sympathetic to the parents and asks the youth to step up, “The awareness part also needs to come from the youth. It’s hard for the parents to settle into a new culture themselves. They have their values set, so I think that’s where agencies and help comes.”

I wished that my coffee had lasted longer so I could have heard more of her views, but the time was short and it was getting late. We departed our ways at the subway station, her train left while I pondered over the questions she had left behind. I started walking down the Bloor Street in the dark night with pleasant thoughts, more answers and new queries to pursue.


Author: Saniya Zahid

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I Heard the Aunties say….

Posted on 31 August 2009 by .

I Heard the Aunties say….

  • An aunty saw me greet my husband and gave me this advice, “Never tell your guy you love him, you will lose your value.”
  • My friend got dating advice from an aunty, “Let the man come after you, you are the prize after all ;)
  • An aunty visiting our house told my 14-years old sister, “You should learn to cook quickly, what would your in-laws say?”
  • An aunty told my cousin on her wedding day,“Never let your husband think that your parents can financially help you after you are married, he will keep on asking for more.”
  • While cleaning my purse and throwing away old receipts, an aunty said to me, “Keep the receipts in a safe place, you need to return things that your husband bought without thinking.”
  • Giving advice on marriage, an aunty said, “Don’t be too nice to your mother-in-law, she will think you are plotting against her.”
  • Also, “your mother-in-law is your mother-in-law, don’t buy it if she says she is like your mother.”
  • An aunty “Don’t let your husband near his female friends, men are not to be trusted.”
  • “Your husband should work and provide for the family, stay home and enjoy your day, don’t go crazy finding yourself a job.”
  • “When your husband returns from work, tell him how tired you are because you have been looking after the house and the kids. Never give him a chance to say he works more.”
  • “Always ask your husband’s permission, good wives let the husbands decide and make them feel like a man.”
  • After 2 weeks of marriage, aunties start asking, “Is there a good news?” (That’s their way of asking if you are pregnant, YET!)
  • After throwing a party at their house, all aunties say, “I am going for a facial at the spa tomorrow, I need to get rid of the stress I have been in from last 24 hours.” I never knew cooking was so stressful.
  • While getting my arms waxed at a spa, the aunty sitting next to me said this after I said ‘Oouch’ a little too loud, “You think this is painful, wait till it’s your wedding night.”

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I am So Desi…

Posted on 31 August 2009 by .

I am So Desi…

  • Every time I go out with friends, my mom says, “Stay away from water”, she thinks I will drown. I have been a swimmer since I was 5
  • I saw some desis gathering near the electronics aisle at Canadian Tire, my mothers starts dragging me towards them, “Hurry, something must be on sale!”
  • We have a 3-bedroom house, and every summer my relatives crash at our place. That’s 25 people living under 1 roof for more than a week!
  • Every time we have guests visiting Toronto, we go to Niagara Falls. That’s more than 10 visits per season!
  • Every time we tell our parents that it’s a long weekend and we should celebrate, they take us to the nearest mall.
  • Whenever we go out to dine, my mother starts saying, “I could have cooked a better meal at a cheaper price at home”
  • My friends bought the camping gear this season. We camped at Algonquin Park for 2 days, and returned the equipment when we came back.
  • My elder sister always gets new clothes, I have to do with the ones she can’t fit in anymore!
  • When my brother returns from work, my mother starts shouting, “Get up and give your brother something to eat!” I return from work 10 minutes before him.
  • Every time my 10-year-old brother misbehaves, my mother says, “Wait till your father comes home!”
  • Every time we have guests visiting, my father calls my 5-years old sister and says, “Beta, sing the poem you learnt at school.” She has been singing, “Twinkle Twinkle little star…” ever since she was 3.

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Your Mental Health

Posted on 31 August 2009 by .

One too many studies and academic literature provide background information and statistics on mental health. What should always be at the forefront of this issue is that, before it even creeps on you, a sibling, or your friend, it’s quite possible to turn the other direction with several ways of coping, battling, and dealing with the difficult things that shoot towards you. Here are some ideas how:

TALK!

Bottling feelings and reoccurring, tormenting thoughts is unhealthy, which manifests mentally and even, physically, and also can hinder your everyday routine, friendships/relationships, and self-esteem/confidence/and worth. It is definitely easier said than done, considering many factors can affect one’s ability to speak out, such as trust issues, stigma/taboo, shyness, and so forth but at other times, it may also be unknown as to who and where to go to talk. First of all, try talking to a friend; more often than not, you’ll find him/her actively listening to you as well as providing insight and advice on your troubles. If that doesn’t sound appealing, try someone you look up to like a family member, a teacher, a guidance councillor, etc. Not only would they likely play the role of a friend in your time of need, but may also guide you on what to do based on experiences they may have encountered in the past.

Go out!

Make use of what’s out there in your community; you build a social network and you can develop or expand on different skills, both of which will definitely benefit you in the long run. Not only that, but it’s healthy to be active, especially with things that you enjoy doing, such as being a team player on a sports team, taking swimming classes, even just doing a workout at the gym. And you can always take a friend along with you. If you want a bit more professional help or someone to talk to, also try out community services and agencies, that quite often have a variety of programs to best suit your needs; internet searches as well as inquiring at your school would be ideal places to begin.

Hobbies!

Often in this day in age, hobbies constitute as playing video games, computer games, and so forth and the interests that used to be widely popular have received less attention. But things such as reading, writing, drawing/art, playing instruments, etc still are practical and interesting hobbies to take up as, they build skill, allow you to make use of time, and exercise your brain.

Make use of school!

It’s not only about the classes and homework; school has a lot more to offer, such as participating on committees (i.e. student council), in clubs, on sports teams, and various events. Alongside this, if there are particular interests which you want to further explore but starting up clubs begin taking initiative and beginning something from the help of peers and staff is also a great way to keep yourself occupied in an enjoyable learning environment.

The bottom line is, there’s never a dead end. Utilizing the several things around you, inquiring about them, taking a friend or two along with you can’t hurt; if anything, you’ll greatly benefit from them. Treat yourself right, the way you deserve; being happy and healthy are two significant places to start.

Author: Poonam Patel

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Sikh Student Association- Keeping the Culture Alive

Posted on 31 August 2009 by .

Are parents being as aware and cautious towards children, as they should be? Why is it that most kids want to get involved with gangs or are doing drugs or taking part in violent acts? Has our society failed to teach our younger generation as well as future generations how to be civil still? Generation Next sat down with Jasdev Singh to get a better understanding of how the Sikh community is today. Being a part of Canadian organization of Sikh students he is highly active within the organization. Being the vice president, he tells us how “It is an umbrella organization of all Sikh student associations in all universities and campuses; it is a national organization which has members all over Canada”. The main focus of this organization is to get Sikh children and their focus away from drugs, gangs, and violence. “We want to get in touch with the culture and the roots that are there as well as religion so these children have a sense of understanding the Sikh religion”. Are youth these days not paying the attention they should towards religion and cultural aspects? “Children these days are getting more involved with drugs, gangs, and violence, we feel as an organization if we have different community events set up for them they will feel that they have other things that they can divide their time and attention towards”.

What made Jasdev get involved within the Sikh community were many different reasons. “I look at it as God’s blessing that I am in this religion, because I grew up in areas where there was much gang violence and if I didn’t get the chance that I had to get into the Sikh religion and be involved within the community, I would have been a different person”. Change is able to occur within any youth, it’s just the youth has to take the initiative. These children are going to be our future generation and we would want nothing but the best for them. With any youth these days the topics of drugs, gangs, and violence seem to be a huge growing issue. “Kids from any South Asian community in high school experience a lot of exposure towards gangs, drugs, and violence, I feel that there needs to be more support groups for youth where you can get these kids off drugs.”

These classes are now being spread everywhere because Jasdev wants to see change within the South Asian community not only among Sikh youth. His words were very inspiring and he is very serious about the different negative aspects that these youngsters are being involved with. Jasdev holds classes every Monday and Wednesday at a Gurdwara in Brampton, he teaches Sikh martial arts during these days and they are being set up in all areas across the GTA region. Other ways for children to be involved are with camps which are held every year during march break as well as summer holidays where children are taught not only about religion but also issues they come across in schools. The children are taught different leadership roles and how to prevent from being involved with drugs, gangs and violence. Not to forget, these children are also taught about their cultural background, their mother tongue, Punjabi, as well as they try to get the children to read and write Punjabi. “We try to teach the children everything we possibly can so they can have a better understanding of Sikhism, we also teach them the Sikh philosophy so that they can have a better understanding of Sikhism in more depth.”

It is very important that youth get involved with these types of activities since the rate of youth doing negative things are skyrocketing. As Jasdev tells Generation Next, “Abortion rates within young girls are around 85% now, which is such a horrible thing since these children are young and should be focusing their time and efforts towards something else”. South Asian children need to be more involved within the community so that they can stay on the right track. “Every community should be aware of what is going on, we want our kids the “new generation” to be very educated and on the right path”. Lets work together to make this community a better place for these youth to grow up in.

Author: Kiran Takrani

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Want to Save the Environment? Start at Your Own Home

Posted on 31 August 2009 by admin

There is no question that the environment is one of the most important issues in the world today.  Our planet is truly at crossroads, and what we do in the next ten years alone will have significant consequences, either good or bad, for future generations.

The problem is that sometimes we feel so overwhelmed with the challenges at hand; we feel that we can’t do anything to solve the problem.  Yet the environment is one area where we actually can make a difference and have an impact almost immediately.  There’s no need to wait for government treaties, revolutionary new forms of energy, or miracles cures.  We can start right now and right here in our own homes and our own communities.  So what are we waiting for?

They say home is where the heart is, and when it comes to our ecosystems, it is also where the solutions are as well.  There are literally hundreds of things we can do in our everyday lives that will make a difference.  To begin, we can simply consume less energy.  This means, for example, shutting off the computer when you’re finished using it.  Common lore says that we can just leave our computers running for hours and hours.  Unknown to many is that a fan running on a standard desktop computer uses as much energy as a light bulb.  Would you leave a lamp on in your living room for no reason?  I would hope not.  Why would you do the same for your computer?

We can also take shorter showers, use florescent light bulbs that use less energy with the same amount of light, ensuring that your home is insulated properly (which will also radically cut down on heating bills in the winter since as much as 35% of heat loss occurs though an un-insulated ceiling alone), buying appliances that use less energy, and using fans in summer instead of air conditioning.

Stepping outside the home, we can also walk and bike more instead of driving all the time.  This would reduce greenhouse gas emissions that are increasing global temperatures and threatening thousands of species around the world.  It would also cut down on costly gas bills.  If walking or biking is impractical, take public transportation.  It’s still cheaper than driving a car, and it’s better for the environment.  If you have to drive or are thinking about buying a car, purchase an environmentally-friendly hybrid vehicle or one that has good gas mileage.  Also, make sure your tires are properly inflated.  This will mean paying less at the pump, and it will make a real difference in air quality over the long run.

These are just few of the things you can do each and every day.  What is most surprising is how really easy they are to do – and how much money they’ll save you.  We can’t wait any longer to turn the tide and clean up our environment.  We can do so right in our very own homes, starting today.


Author:
Bilaal Rajan

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Viva G.O.A – Are you Ready for an Indoor Soccer Tournament?

Posted on 31 August 2009 by .

Goan Overseas Association (G.O.A) is a cultural organization that works to preserve the Goan culture throughout GTA.  I talked with Roland Mascarenhas, the youth coordinator of Viva Goa, to enlighten me on Goan culture as well as the organization that he has been working with. This non-profit organization was established in 1970 to help people immigrating to Toronto to settle down. Now they have an executive team of about 23 members efficiently running the organization.  Having about 15-20 thousand Goans living in Toronto, Roland says that it created a community in GTA and a cultural organization, which has subsequently been growing ever since.

One of the biggest events organized by them is Viva Goa, which is partly a soccer tournament and partly a cultural show. With an attendance of more than 7000 people in North York they have attracted media coverage from City TV, CBC Radio and several different media organizations. To make the event a success about 400 volunteers dedicate their time every year at Viva Goa.

Talking about the soccer tournament, Roland mentions that the membership fee to participate in the tournament is 225 dollars per team if 75% of your team has Goan members and $285 if less than 75% of the team is Goan. This comes to about a rough estimate of $25 per member that guarantees 3 games, free entrance as well as invitation to the official after party. They have 4 fields for their soccer tournament. Also, they will be using a brand new facility at Alpin soccer center. Roland mentions that when they started the indoor soccer facilities within Toronto were scarce but now they have grown up to 30-40 facilities, “Viva Goa is huge and its been running for 10 years. It has really blossomed since then, as indoor soccer has grown so has this event.”

In Viva Goa, all ages are welcome to take part although the average age is 17-23 years old. Roland explains that the age group is diverse as well but the teenagers are a bit shy to come out.

Talking about the interest South Asians show in soccer, he explains that the assumption that South Asians are only involved in cricket is fallacious, “When I went to India, West Bengal, Calcutta, even Punjab are major hub for soccer. It’s no different here os majority of my friends that are Punjabi play soccer and are very attracted to it or get involved in it. But they don’t necessarily have the same resources or don’t know very much about it.”

Although Viva Goa typically has Goan teams, G.O.A is trying to incorporate different South Asian teams as well.  He also explains that it is not necessary to be a Goan to participate in the events. G.O.A believes in diversity and multiculturalism and is working to promote that. This year, they are incorporating south Asian teams in order to promote integration within the South Asian culture.

Finally, talking about the youth involvement, Roland says that the facebook phenomenon has made it more accessible to reach out to the youth to get them involved. Initially it is the word of mouth and families and friends that spread the word around but Ronald with help of a subcommittee of 10 members has made use of the social networking sites to reach out to the shy youngsters who want to come out but are hesitant for some reason. So, make use of your facebook account if want to get involved as well!

Author: Kiran Takrani (Mississauga)

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