Archive | July, 2013

Mahtab Narsimhan: From corporate world to fantasy

Posted on 24 July 2013 by admin

‘The key is, believing in your story…’

“I love Canadian readers because they are always open to new experiences, ideas and worlds.”

DIVYA KAELEY

Author Mahtab Narsimhan was born in Mumbai, her home for 25 years. After working in the Middle East (Bahrain, Dubai and Oman) for a couple of years, she immigrated to Canada in 1997. Mahtab dabbled in the corporate field for some time before she started writing in January 2004. Her debut and award-winning book ‘The Third Eye’ was published after four years, twenty rewrites and numerous rejections. Her novel ‘The Tiffin’ has been nominated for The Snow Willow Awards 2013.

In conversation with Generation Next, the writer shares her ideas about life, churning fantasy stories and her constant pursuit for that undying spark.

1.      You worked in the Middle East (Bahrain, Dubai and Oman) before immigrating to Canada in 1997. Why did you come to Canada?

To make a better life us. There are many more opportunities in the West and the quality of life is a lot better. When my husband and I considered moving west, Canada had always been the first choice, never the US. The fact that my sister moved here a couple of years before we did, helped tremendously. I have to say, though, I could easily do without the winters!

2.      You climbed the corporate ladder in “leaps and bounds”, and as you say, getting better at what you did with each passing year, “but searching, always searching, for that ‘spark’ “. Are you still involved in the corporate world? 

 No, thankfully I am not! I currently assist my husband in an IT Security business we own and I continue spinning stories in my spare time.

 3.      How would you describe your journey as a writer? How easy was it to get into the world of writing? 

It was a steep learning curve with many moments of anguish and soul-searching. But I learned a lot about persistence and not giving up; qualities which helped me tremendously on my journey to being a published author.

When my debut novel, ‘The Third Eye’, won an award, it definitely helped me get noticed. It’s now a lot easier for me to approach Canadian publishers with a win under my belt. But each novel is different and I have to go through rejection each time before it finds a good home. The key, again, is believing in your story deeply enough to keep going.

4.      Some of your books have a distinct Indian taste – how would you describe the response of the Canadian readers to them?

 I love Canadian readers because they are always open to new experiences, ideas and worlds. The fact that my debut novel, ‘The Third Eye’, won the Silver Birch Fiction Award in 2009 (a reading program organized by the Ontario Library Association) is testament to this.

After the Tara Trilogy was completed, I wrote ‘The Tiffin’, a story about a boy searching for family and featuring the ubiquitous dabbawallas of Mumbai. Not only has this book been nominated by OLA for the Red Maple Fiction Award 2013, but it has also been nominated for the Manitoba and Saskatchewan Young Readers Choice Awards.

 5.      How easy/difficult was it to settle in Canada as a newcomer? Did you go through a culture shock?

 I’d like to refer to a non-fiction essay I wrote in an anthology called ‘Piece by Piece, Stories About Fitting into Canada’, published by Penguin Canada, March 2010, which details my journey about fitting in.

 I was lucky enough to get a job within two weeks of landing in Canada in 1997 but I had to work really hard to succeed. I did my CHRP designation on my own dime and with no help from my employer, while working full-time. All I will say to new comers is that:

 You can make it anywhere in the world as long as you have the will to succeed. No one can give you that will and, if you have it, no one can take it away.

 6.      How often do you visit India? How do you look at the country now?

 As my immediate family is here, and the ones who are not prefer to visit in summer, I have not had the opportunity to go back to India often.

I did go back in 2011 to get some footage on the dabbawallas and visit my school. It was a poignant and memorable experience!

 7.      Tell us something about your future projects.

 One of them is a humorous story about a boy from North America visiting Mumbai. We always read books of people from other cultures/countries experiencing culture shock when they come to the West, so, I thought I’d turn the tables and have someone from North America go to India and have him experience a tough time fitting in! I love this story and hope it finds a good home.

 The other is a science-fiction novel set fifty years in the future. It’s still a work in progress so I’d rather not say any more.

 8.      Where all, besides India and your experiences, do you get your writerly ideas from?

 Reading a lot, experiencing new things and eavesdropping on people’s conversations. All rich sources of ideas!

My son is a great fount of ideas, too. Since I’m writing for kids and teens, just talking to them and observing them can also give me excellent ideas.

 9.      Your vision for future

That’s an interesting question and one I’ll answer in my futuristic book which I am writing. Ironically, it’s a look at the future of the world given our current power crisis and exploding population. I think life is going to get a lot tougher for us and for our kids in the next little while and we will have to come up with innovative and collaborative ways on a global scale, to survive.

Comments (0)

Why wealth must be included in the inequality debate

Posted on 24 July 2013 by admin

Is inequality rising between the people in the top income group and the rest of society?

It will strike most readers as silly to ask this question. After all, it has become an article of faith in our society that the distribution of incomes has become more unequal, although it is often accurately noted that it is more pronounced in the U.S. than in Canada.

However, what is not fully recognized is that most studies of inequality exclude all forms of wealth and focus only on income. Income measures the money flowing to an individual over the course of a year. However, the total amount of resources available for an individual to consume includes not just this year’s income flow, but also the stock of wealth they accumulated over their lifetime. This wealth includes assets such as money in savings accounts, investments in stocks and bonds, privately-held businesses, and real estate, the largest and only non-taxable asset for most people. This stock of assets reflects the accumulated savings made from past income flows, set aside either in financial institutions or through the purchase of assets like a home.

Indeed, a recent article on “Levels and Trends in US Income and Its Distribution” by Richard Burkhauser, Jeff Larrimore and Philip Armour, calls into question the exclusion of wealth. The authors demonstrate that an exclusive focus on income flows is misleading, and when the stock of wealth individuals possesses is included in the analysis, the trend to rising inequality in the U.S. disappears.

Most importantly, Burkhauser includes changes in the annual value of these assets as income. Usually, these assets are not reflected in income until the asset is sold. If your asset value rises over a given year, and you do not sell that asset at the higher price, you have decided implicitly to save the asset’s increase in value. Adding together the flow of income and the change in the stock of wealth shows the change in the resources available to an individual in a particular year, which is the true change in income.

Adjusting income for changes in wealth on an annual basis also prevents the income data from being distorted by asset holders suddenly showing a large jump in incomes in a particular year just because they sold an important asset that year. For example, how much of the recent increase in high income earners in the U.S. is due to aging boomers leaving the labour force and selling assets to finance their retirement?

Some will argue that it is unfair to assume that a middle-income homeowner can access their home equity on a regular basis. Yet, individuals routinely re-mortgage their homes to finance everything from starting a new business to putting children through school. Such financing does not appear in the usual statistics on income, but clearly affect consumption patterns. While no one questions transfers to low income people lacking assets, is it good policy to increase taxes on upper incomes, as Ontario and Quebec recently did, to support transfers to people who have lower incomes but are sitting on valuable assets?

By studying the distribution of both income and wealth, Burkhauser concluded that not only has inequality not risen in recent decades, but the lower and the middle class in the U.S. actually posted higher income growth than the upper income groups. The recent surge in house values in Canada suggests that adjusting income for wealth would significantly alter the perception of how our income distribution has changed, especially when it is realized that 69 per cent of Canadians own their home while 42 per cent of these homeowners are mortgage free

Of course, the Burkhauser paper is not the last word on research on inequality. It remains to be seen whether this finding holds up once the full impact of the real estate debacle in the U.S. is factored in. And any paper that uses survey data for incomes risks errors in measuring the very poor and the very rich.

Analyzing inequality is extremely complex. It matters greatly whether you study individuals or the family unit; use incomes before or after taxes and transfers; measure consumption rather than income; adjust incomes for wealth; and how upper and lower incomes are defined. There is no simple answer to the question of whether inequality is rising, much as some reduce such complex matters to simple sound-bites.

The important message is that, just as the adequacy of retirement savings must adjust pensions for wealth, properly assessing trends in income distribution requires adjusting incomes for changes in wealth. vEh:��X �background:white’>“These changes reflect the emphasis Quebec places on language proficiency. The government believes that speaking Canada’s official languages is an essential tool for economic and social integration into the province,” said Attorney David Cohen.

Attorney Cohen added that “while language proficiency is indeed important, not all applicants need these skills to qualify for immigration. Others with limited skills may be able to attain a higher level through language study. As always, Canada’s immigration system awards immigrants who are organized and motivated to come here.”

It is unknown when the Quebec Government will officially release the new list of areas of training/field of study but it is safe to say it will be on or before August 1st, 2013.

http://www.cicnews.com/

Comments (0)

Quebec Announces Major Changes to Immigration Programs

Posted on 24 July 2013 by admin

The Government of Quebec has officially announced changes to language rules for immigration through the Quebec Skilled Worker (QSW) program. This announcement was made in the Gazette Officielle du Quebec/The Quebec Gazette on Wednesday, July 17th 2013.

In addition to modifying language criteria, the government has announced its intent to institute a cap on application intake and to publish a new list of areas of training/fields of study.

Language Rules

Applicants applying to the skilled worker stream of the QSW program can receive a maximum of 22 points for language skills. Up to 16 points are awarded for French proficiency, and up to 6 for English.

French points are assessed on a scale from A1 (beginner) to C2 (advanced/fluent). Previously, points could be claimed for any level of proficiency in listening and speaking. This began with 1 point for A1 level and a maximum of 8 points for a C1 or C2 level for each proficiency.

The points system has been changed so that, moving forward, no points will be awarded until the B2 (advanced intermediate) level. In addition, applicants will now have the opportunity to earn points for reading and writing proficiency. Up to 1 point can be earned in each of these categories.

The charts below illustrates the new points breakdown:

English proficiency has similarly changed. Points for English language skills will not be awarded until the Intermediate level, or levels 5-8 according to government criteria:

It is important to note that applicants would not be disqualified for possessing less than B1 proficiency in French or English. The QSW application is assessed on a points system, and it is possible for an applicant to achieve sufficient points without being awarded points for their language skills.

These language rules will be effective for new applicants beginning August 1st, 2013. The rules will be effective retroactively for submitted files for which preliminary processing has not already begun. What constitutes ‘preliminary processing’ has not been made clear in the government’s announcement.

Proposed Changes

Two additional changes, proposed a week prior, have not yet been made official.

The first will place a cap of 20,000 on application intake for the QSW program. The second will involve publishing a new list of eligible areas of training/fields of study. Currently, applicants to the skilled worker stream of the QSW must have training in one of 110 areas of training/fields of study. This list corresponds to occupations the government has identified as in-demand in the Quebec.

What Applicants Should Know

French language ability has always played a significant role in the QSW program, Quebec’s largest immigration program. English proficiency remains important, however, and maximum points for English language skills have not diminished under this new system.

“These changes reflect the emphasis Quebec places on language proficiency. The government believes that speaking Canada’s official languages is an essential tool for economic and social integration into the province,” said Attorney David Cohen.

Attorney Cohen added that “while language proficiency is indeed important, not all applicants need these skills to qualify for immigration. Others with limited skills may be able to attain a higher level through language study. As always, Canada’s immigration system awards immigrants who are organized and motivated to come here.”

It is unknown when the Quebec Government will officially release the new list of areas of training/field of study but it is safe to say it will be on or before August 1st, 2013.

http://www.cicnews.com/

Comments (0)

Canada Opening Doors to Record Number of International Students

Posted on 24 July 2013 by admin

2012 was a record-breaking year for the Canadian educationsystem. For the first time in the country’s history, over 100,000 permits were issued to new international students. This is an example of Canada’s growing reputation as a global magnet for students of all disciplines from around the world.

Canada’s popularity amongst international students has seen a sharp rise in recent years. 2012’s figures were a full 60% increase from 2004, and the number of new students has the capacity to increase by 7% every successive year. In total, there are currently around 260,000 international students in Canada today, studying both full- and part-time.

What Contributes to Canada’s Popularity?

The government of Canada has worked hard to attract, in the words of former Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, “the world’s best and brightest young minds”. In the global competition for the world’s future leaders and innovators, Canada’s reasons for success are many:

Good Schools – Canada is home to some of the world’s leading educational institutions at all levels of study. McGill University, located in Montreal, is consistently voted one of the 20 best universities in the world. Students in Canada can study in English, French, or often in both languages thanks to the country’s official policy of bilingualism.

Cost of Living – Compared to countries like the US and Britain, the cost of living in Canada is significantly less expensive, easing the financial burden of students during and after studies.

High Acceptance Rate – 81% of study permit applicants receive their Canadian study permits.

Permit Processing Rules – Canada will soon introduce new rules that will restrict the issuance of study permits to only students studying at institutions that have been approved by their province or territory. This will help maintain the integrity of Canada’s work permit program and ensure a smooth study process for students.

Post-Graduation Options – Many graduates from Canadian educational institutions can remain in the country as temporary workers and become permanent residents if they so choose.

After Graduation

After graduating from a Canadian educational institution, students have a number of options before them. Many return to their home countries, where they will use their newly acquired skills to excel in their chosen professions. However, many remain in Canada to live and work for an extended period of time.

“Students who stay in Canada after graduations are a win-win situation,” said Attorney David Cohen. “They are able to begin careers in our thriving economy, while Canada benefits economically from their experience. It is no wonder the country has worked hard to streamline immigration processing for international students graduating from Canadian schools.”

Many students are able to leverage their time in Canada as a stepping stone to permanent residency. Make sure to tune into the next issue of CIC News, where we will explore the different ways in which this is possible.

http://www.cicnews.com/iQj s��X �heme-font:minor-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin’>My faith discourages me from donating any part of my body. Prakash says that the TGLN has spoken with rabbis, priests, imams and pandits, and they all agree that when given the opportunity to save a life, that alone triumphs any religious practice. Yes, each person interprets their faith in their own way, but it is worth it to have this discussion with your spiritual leader.

  1. If I register, the doctors will not work as hard to save my life if the situation arises. Prakash says that the donor database is completely separate from the health records accessible by doctors. Once a person passes away, it is a requirement for the institution to notify the TGLN, and it is only then that the doctors are notified if they are or are not a donor.
  2. I think I am too old to donate. Prakash says that no matter the age, if your organs are healthy enough to save someone else’s life, that is what matters. Also, she emphasizes that just because you register to become a donor, it does not equate with immediately becoming the donor. If death occurs, and it is safe to do a transplant, only then will you become the donor.

Statistics also show the urgent need for donors.

“Right now, there are 1500 people waiting for a transplant [in Ontario], and every three days, one person dies because they could not find a donor. However, with more education and awareness, these numbers will change,” Prakash says.

After almost a year of waiting, it was only in October of 2012 that the transplantation took place for Shilpa Raju. This was after four false calls (false calls is when the doctors think a patient is suited for a transplant, but upon further assessing the lungs and tests, deem the lungs not suitable for the transplant). Now, Raju has recovered and strongly encourages people to become a donor.

“I would not be here if someone (and their family) had not made that selfless decision, and I am incredibly grateful for this gift,” Raju says.

Despite the challenges Raju faced, she has come out of it a stronger person. She persevered through chemotherapy treatment to receive her undergraduate degree in Life Sciences at McMaster University. Soon after her chemotherapy treatment ended in 2007, she went on to receive her master’s in Public Health at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, B.C. Now, she remains incredibly thankful to those around who have helped her, and especially the donor who saved her life.

“All of this, it isn’t just about me. It’s something bigger, and I’m just one story,” Raju says

To learn more about how easy it is to become a donor, visit beadonor.ca. Here, there is information on how to register, and resources to get informed about the process.

Comments (0)

Organ Donation: Clearing up the misconceptions associated with it

Posted on 24 July 2013 by admin

By Badri Murali

Toronto

“..there are 1500 people waiting for a transplant [in Ontario], and every three days, one person dies because they could not find a donor. However, with more education and awareness, these numbers will change..”

Shilpa was at the end of her semester, about to start the final term of her undergraduate years at McMaster University, when she received the diagnosis: Hodgkin’s lymphoma. What this meant was six months of chemotherapy, and then, damaged lungs from the treatment, which eventually put Shilpa Raju in need of an organ transplant.

“You don’t expect this to happen, but it did. After one thing was over, the next thing started and it was a lot to take in,” Raju says.

Raju was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma at the end of 2006. She started chemotherapy treatment in the beginning of 2007, followed by radiation, and that ended in the summer of the same year. For the next two years, Raju continued to study and work, slowly getting back into the routine of life before her diagnosis. But then by the fall of 2010, her lung tissue had deteriorated badly due to the scarring of the tissue from chemotherapy treatments, leaving her with severely diminished lung function. Constantly out of breath from doing simple tasks like going to the washroom, she required the use of external oxygen for all tasks. It was in November 2011, that Raju was placed on the waitlist for a transplant.

“I was lucky enough to be living in Toronto, because all lung transplants in the province take place at Toronto General Hospital, and if you’re on the wait list, you must be within a two hour drive to the hospital. Also, while you’re on the list, you must go in thrice a week for physiotherapy, checkups and testing, in order to assess and prepare you for what’s ahead. ” Raju explains.

So who coordinates the entire process of organ and tissue donation, as well as do outreach to the public about it? The Trillium Gift of Life Network, a not for profit agency of the Government of Ontario, is the organization who does so. The TGLN promotes, coordinates and supports organ and tissue donation and transplantation across the province. Versha Prakash is the vice president of operations for the Trillium Gift of Life Network. Prakash and the TGLN work hard to educate and encourage Ontarians about organ and tissue donation, and to overcome the barriers they face when speaking to certain communities.

            “We are currently targeting residents of the Greater Toronto Area, because our statistics show that there are higher rates of organ donors in rural communities than in cities, despite the fact that they have a lower population. So for example, in Northern Ontario, roughly 50 per cent of the population has signed up to be a donor, while in the GTA, only 14 per cent are registered to be donors. When working with such a diverse area like the GTA, we have noticed a few things that residents here are more apprehensive about, and for that reason, we have three particular misconceptions people have about this subject,” Prakash explains.

These three misconceptions are:

  1. My faith discourages me from donating any part of my body. Prakash says that the TGLN has spoken with rabbis, priests, imams and pandits, and they all agree that when given the opportunity to save a life, that alone triumphs any religious practice. Yes, each person interprets their faith in their own way, but it is worth it to have this discussion with your spiritual leader.
  2. If I register, the doctors will not work as hard to save my life if the situation arises. Prakash says that the donor database is completely separate from the health records accessible by doctors. Once a person passes away, it is a requirement for the institution to notify the TGLN, and it is only then that the doctors are notified if they are or are not a donor.
  3. I think I am too old to donate. Prakash says that no matter the age, if your organs are healthy enough to save someone else’s life, that is what matters. Also, she emphasizes that just because you register to become a donor, it does not equate with immediately becoming the donor. If death occurs, and it is safe to do a transplant, only then will you become the donor.

Statistics also show the urgent need for donors.

“Right now, there are 1500 people waiting for a transplant [in Ontario], and every three days, one person dies because they could not find a donor. However, with more education and awareness, these numbers will change,” Prakash says.

After almost a year of waiting, it was only in October of 2012 that the transplantation took place for Shilpa Raju. This was after four false calls (false calls is when the doctors think a patient is suited for a transplant, but upon further assessing the lungs and tests, deem the lungs not suitable for the transplant). Now, Raju has recovered and strongly encourages people to become a donor.

“I would not be here if someone (and their family) had not made that selfless decision, and I am incredibly grateful for this gift,” Raju says.

Despite the challenges Raju faced, she has come out of it a stronger person. She persevered through chemotherapy treatment to receive her undergraduate degree in Life Sciences at McMaster University. Soon after her chemotherapy treatment ended in 2007, she went on to receive her master’s in Public Health at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, B.C. Now, she remains incredibly thankful to those around who have helped her, and especially the donor who saved her life.

“All of this, it isn’t just about me. It’s something bigger, and I’m just one story,” Raju says

To learn more about how easy it is to become a donor, visit beadonor.ca. Here, there is information on how to register, and resources to get informed about the process.

Comments (0)

The Women’s Centre: A hope for those in crisis

Posted on 24 July 2013 by admin

‘No matter where they come from, women need an assurance that they are fine just the way they are.’

DIVYA KAELEY

When Melvina Walter was growing up, she wanted to be a missionary. Today, she carries the same vision forward with her work towards the empowerment of women who are fighting for justice in every sphere of life.

The Women’s Centre was established in 1989 by a group of women who identified the need for a safe place within the community where women who had experienced abuse could receive after-care and ongoing support services. In 1991, The Women’s Centre became recognized and registered as a charitable organization.

Melvina Walter has been the Executive Director of The Women’s Centre for about 15 years or more. “I saw an ad asking if you wanted to be part of a women’s center. There were conversations of starting a women’s centre 25 years ago for women who needed an after-care and shelter in the Oakville community. Even though I had done a lot of things for women, I thought I would like to work for it.”

Today The Women’s Centre has about 2000 clients per year for services either in person or phone and counseling. “We do everything from crisis to setting up their businesses,” says Walter. The Women’s Centre tries to eliminate financial and cultural barriers by offering free, confidential, immediate supportive counselling. Women learn coping strategies, stress reduction skills and connect to additional resources both within the Centre and community “We can provide crisis support for women in distress, help you to develop a safety plan and empower you to make informed decisions about your life,” she tells us.

Support groups meet regularly at The Women’s Centre and provide opportunities for women to discuss the issues they are currently facing and find effective solutions. Some of them include Abuse Support Group and Women of Wisdom (WOW) Book Club.

Four years ago, Walter thought that the centre needed to provide counseling in other languages as well; she got a grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation for counselling in other languages. Programs like Sharing Across Cultures and Spanish Social Group are pertinent examples of these. “We are planning like to do a program with South Asian women too,” she tells us. “But we also have women from South Asian community who say that they don’t want women from their own community.”

How motivated are South Asian women to join these support groups? “No matter where they come from, women need an assurance and empowerment that they are fine just the way they are. Everybody comes to the legal or the tax clinic. We’ve had South Asian women in abuse groups and self-esteem workshops,” Walter says.

We ask Walter about the concept of equality in the Canadian society. “Because I have worked in a female-dominated area, I can’t really comment on this. But when I hear the stories from women that I see quite often, I feel it’s not an equal relationship because these women have to fight for everything,” Walter replies. “Women could make more money, especially non-profit.”

The Women’s Center gets funding from the United Way of Oakville, the Government of Ontario and through fundraising. “Our budget is $200,000 a year which is not a lot of money,” she adds.

Walter discusses about an upcoming program called ‘Men will make a difference’, which is about honouring men who’ve made a difference in women’s lives. “In order to eradicate abuse against women, we need to engage men and young boys and the process starts at an early age – for instance, concepts like kindness clubs in schools or just teaching little boys and girls to be good human beings,” she signs off.

Comments (0)

Love, Laughter and Peace – Not AIDS

Posted on 24 July 2013 by admin

Nafeesa Jalal

Cape Town

There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.

As I stand in theOttawaAirportcarrying extremely overweight suitcases, it finally hits me that I am leaving. Leaving home, my family, friends, colleagues and my best friend who I married only two months ago. I feel morose because I barely reflected on my decision; lengthy visa procedures, packing and training sessions kept me occupied.

 

I am headed toCape Town,South Africato work on a remarkable HIV/AIDS research project with the very historic and reputableUniversityofWestern Cape, at theirSchoolofPublic Health.

 

HIV/AIDS remains one of the world’s most significant public health challenges, particularly in low and middle-income countries. 35 million people live with HIV worldwide, and over 25 million people have died of HIV to date. These statistics are difficult to fathom

 

When I was offered this 6-month position, funded by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and implemented by the Ottawa-based Human Rights Internet organization (HRI), I quickly accepted. I have always worked in international development and am pursuing a doctorate degree in maternal health in ruralBangladesh.

 

When an opportunity arises where I am potentially able to make a difference in an undeveloped society or work in a role which may benefit deserving people in the commonly termed ‘Third World’, I take it. It is not only my career, but my passion to try to bring positive change to causes and people who can benefit from my experience and education. It is a passion which is challenging at times, yet one I happily pursue with no regrets, and a sense of gratitude for each opportunity which comes my way.

 

I am flying out on Nelson Mandela’s 95th birthday. By the South African Airways counter, I see a lady giving out pieces of paper to each passenger. As Mandela has given 67 years of his life to service, she explains that we are each to commit 67 minutes giving back to a community service activity of our choice. I go right away and write my intentions down. There are many others around the counter, excitedly writing down their commitments. She gives each of us a sticker which states “Take Action, Inspire Change” to help us remember this important day. I stick mine on my laptop, to remember it daily.

 

Mandela may have started off being South Africa’s most recognized leader, but today he is a man who is loved and admired by the world for all he has done for peace, equality and justice. I reflect on his very ill health, and realize that this may end up being one of his last birthdays. He once said “There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” I strive to live by these words, and hope that I can always live life to the fullest like he has.

 

As I look around me here at the airport, I see privileged people with privileged lives. I realize I am one of them. I have everything that matters and much more; where I am headed to, the vast majority of people do not. Based inCanada, I often forget how much I have and still want, but yet how little is needed to live sufficiently and be happy. It is only when I leave my comfort zone and life of privilege that I realize what the world looks like for the vast majority of its people. This brings me a sense of gratitude and appreciation, and compels me to do more for those who have so less. It is a feeling I cannot put into words, but one I wish for you all to experience.

 

If you ever want to work overseas or be involved with global causes from here in Canada, do it now. We Canadians are in a position to do a great deal for parts of the world who could use our support and yet we often shy away because we are too focused on our individual lives, responsibilities and prefer a life of comfort. No matter how much or little we are able to do, let us do it.

When you are reading this, I will likely have reachedSouth Africa. I have little idea of what the next 6 months of my life will hold. I only pray for good health and safety and the rest I will deal with one day at a time. While I go to work on such an important cause, I aim to bring awareness to HIV/AIDS and share my experience with others. We must understand the world’s leading infectious diseases and the millions of faces behind them if we are to promote prevention, awareness, treatments and change.

 

“Give a child love, laughter and peace, not AIDS” said Nelson Mandela. As I get on the plane, leaving behind my loved ones at the airport, I plan to do just that.

Comments (0)

How to Eradicate Terrorism in Pakistan?

Posted on 24 July 2013 by admin

Dr. Hasan Askari

Lahore

  The Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz and the Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf (PTI) projected themselves as friends of the Taliban during the election campaign. The Taliban did not attack their election campaigns. It was therefore expected that there would be peace in the post-election period because the PMLN formed the government at the federal level and in the Punjab and the PTI formed a coalition government in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

  There was no peace in the first month of the new governments. The Taliban and their affiliates resorted to suicide bombings, roadside bombings and sectarian killings. Peshawar witnessed more violence than any single city. Two members of the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa provincial assembly were killed.

 The Taliban and their affiliates wanted to impress the new governments by showing their reach and capacity to engage in violence. These groups are not merely angry people but a determined group that is fighting in the name of Islam and wants to create a domain of authority for itself at the expense of Pakistani state system. They have become a major internal threat to Pakistan.

 The federal government and the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government expressed their desire to start a dialogue with Pakistani Taliban. There was no enthusiastic response from the Taliban for the government’s talk offer. This idea was pushed to the background. The federal government floated the idea of an All Parties Conference (APC) for creating consensus among the political forces on terrorism and violence.

 This APC idea has now been postponed and the federal government is working on the outlines of Pakistan’s security policy. The APC is not likely to produce any workable and coherent policy because a number of political parties, especially the Islamic parties and the PTI, do not view the on-going war on terrorism as Pakistan’s war.

 No security policy will be workable unless the federal government and the Army top brass adopt a shared approach on countering terrorism. General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani described the current efforts to contain terrorism as “Pakistan’s war” but the PMLN federal government is not yet willing to support this statement publicly. The military needs civilian ownership of its security operations. If such a support is not forthcoming and the civilian leadership continued to waver this will have a negative impact on civil-military relations.

  Pakistan’s new counter-terrorism and internal security policy must reflect the following principles.

 First, no violence and terrorism should be tolerated on any count. The state agencies must tackle terrorist groups at the earliest. Do not give any space to violence on the pretext of reaction against drone attacks or any other excuse.

 Second, the primacy of Pakistani state must be asserted over all organizations, groups and individuals within Pakistan’s territorial limits. If drone aircraft violates Pakistan’s sovereignty, the violent activities of all kinds of militant groups is also a negation of Pakistan’s sovereignty.

 Third, the military must assert its control over the tribal areas. The prolongation of the operations in five tribal agency has raised doubts if it is a problem of capacity of the military or a matter of policy that militants are given space to survive. If the military cannot assert its authority in the tribal areas against militant groups, it will be difficult to do so after the withdrawal of western troops from Afghanistan in 2014.

 Fourth, a dialogue with Pakistani Taliban or other militant groups must be held within the framework of Pakistan’s constitution and territorial integrity. The stoppage of violence by these groups would be a precondition for talks.

 Fifth, Pakistan faces different types of terrorism. This includes terrorism by the tribal areas based groups. They also fight with each other to expand their domain. The mainland based militant and sectarian groups, Baloch separatist groups, and the violence in Karachi that combines violence of various kinds: Taliban, political and ethnic, criminal activity, land grabbing and extortion. You will need firm but different strategies for dealing with different types of terrorism.

 Sixth, violence and terrorism in urban areas can be contained mainly by a professional, qualified and well paid police. The police should be strengthened by giving them special counter terrorism training and their salaries be enhanced. All appointment and postings on political considerations should be done away with. The Special Branch and the Intelligence Bureau should be upgraded and given the assignment of information collection about extremist and militant groups and others engaged in the cities.

 Seventh, a unified counter terrorism approach should be adopted by increasing coordination and cooperation among various intelligence and security agencies.

 Eighth, Pakistan’s criminal justice system should be improved so that those charged with terrorism do not get free because ill prepared prosecution case. An effective witness protection program is also a must for prosecuting terrorists.

 Ninth, attention should be given to economic development and employment generation to attract the youth for normal living. However, all this requires the control of terrorism. Otherwise the much needed economic development may not be possible.

 Tenth, rehabilitation and re-education programs need to be introduced to accommodate who give up terrorism and violence. They need to be retained to lead a normal life in the society and must be helped to adopt some professions leading to a financially stable life.

bDwse��؈�ic since the death of 22 children after consuming mid-day meals in Chappra district of Bihar. The party said he had not bothered to visit the families of the kids who died.

Terming as wrong perception that Sangh is ideological fountainhead of BJP, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat on Sunday said the essence of its activities is to build a strong India with Hindutva at its core. “Many misgivings about Sangh is prevailing in the society for different reasons and people talk about Sangh without knowing about it or essence of its activities,” Bhagwat said while addressing a gathering on the eve of Shravan Poornima.

Meanwhile, Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi is in favour of seeking people’s views in formulating the party’s manifesto for 2014 Lok Sabha elections a move the BJP ridiculed saying the electorate want a Congress-free country. According to Indian media, in one of the closed-door meetings with party leaders recently, Gandhi said the party must incorporate what the people want in the manifesto and it should be finalised by seeking their views and not sitting in offices.

“It should have the involvement of people,” Gandhi is learnt to have said.

Comments (0)

Corruption in UPA a ‘small scale industry’: BJP

Posted on 24 July 2013 by admin

Divya Kaeley

Senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley on Sunday said with slew of graft cases surfacing during the UPA government, corruption has taken the shape of a “small scale industry”, and the upcoming Lok Sabha polls will be a fight between morality and immorality. “Upcoming Lok Sabha election will not just be a political fight but a ‘Dharam Yudh’ (fight for justice) between morality and immorality,” said the Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha. Speaking on the graft cases, he reprtedly said, “With 2G, coal scam, Bofors scam running into several lakhs of crores, corruption during the UPA government has taken a form of small scale industry.”

On the other hand, the Congress on Sunday blamed Gujarat riots for creation of terror outfit Indian Mujahideen, a remark slammed as “reprehensible” by BJP which accused it of playing the communal card for vote bank politics. ”Indian Mujahideen (IM) was formed after the Gujarat riots, says NIA in its charge sheet. Even now BJP and RSS will not desist from their communal politics?,” Congress leader Shakeel Ahmed said on microblogging site Twitter.

The BJP on Sunday attacked Congress General Secretary Shakeel Ahmed for his tweet that it was the 2002 Gujarat riots that led to creation of terror outfit Indian Mujahideen, saying none should justify the “murders” or “help the enemies of the nation”.”It is a stupid argument. Pakistan had been funding these outfits so please desist from helping enemies of the country…. Too much of tweeting will lead to quitting,” BJP leader Venkaiah Naidu told reporters.

Taking a jibe at Narendra Modi and his ‘marketing gimmicks’, Union Minister Sachin Pilot says that the Gujarat leader is capable of taking credit for even the businesses set up by Gujaratis across the world over the past many decades. The young minister also dubbed the state government’s investor summit, ‘Vibrant Gujarat’, as a marketing blitz with “exaggerated numbers”, and said that Modi should understand that “taking credit and delivering are different things”.

 BJP, which had so far maintained that it was not unduly bothered about denial of American visa to Narendra Modi, today said it will appeal to the US Administration to lift the travel ban on him. Addressing a press conference here, party President Rajnath Singh said he would take up the issue with the US lawmakers in Washington during the week.

Ruling himself out of the prime ministerial race, BJP President Rajnath Singh on Sunday virtually anointed Narendra Modi as its man to the top job if the party comes to power after the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. He also claimed that the party will get more allies nearer elections and after the polls too. The developmental issues rather than the Ram Janam Bhoomi dispute would dominate BJP’s poll campaign.

BJP on Saturday hit out at Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar for his government’s alleged failure to use Rs 463 crore of central funds meant for mid-day meal scheme and asked him to clarify why this money was not used to provide better and clean food to students.

BJP, whose 17-year partnership with JD(U) broke last month, also charged Kumar has not been seen in public since the death of 22 children after consuming mid-day meals in Chappra district of Bihar. The party said he had not bothered to visit the families of the kids who died.

Terming as wrong perception that Sangh is ideological fountainhead of BJP, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat on Sunday said the essence of its activities is to build a strong India with Hindutva at its core. “Many misgivings about Sangh is prevailing in the society for different reasons and people talk about Sangh without knowing about it or essence of its activities,” Bhagwat said while addressing a gathering on the eve of Shravan Poornima.

Meanwhile, Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi is in favour of seeking people’s views in formulating the party’s manifesto for 2014 Lok Sabha elections a move the BJP ridiculed saying the electorate want a Congress-free country. According to Indian media, in one of the closed-door meetings with party leaders recently, Gandhi said the party must incorporate what the people want in the manifesto and it should be finalised by seeking their views and not sitting in offices.

“It should have the involvement of people,” Gandhi is learnt to have said.

Comments (0)

Teens and Alcohol Addiction

Posted on 24 July 2013 by admin

Alcohol is a very powerful, addictive drug that some adults enjoy in low doses, but that is damaging or even lethal in high doses. Many adults drink moderately and safely. Yet other people drink too much and get hurt. For teens, alcohol can be very harmful — and it’s illegal.

What Is Alcohol?

The scientific name for alcohol that people drink is ethyl alcohol or ethanol. Beer, wine, and liquor all contain ethyl alcohol. Other types of alcohol, like rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol), are poisonous if consumed.

What Happens When You Drink Alcohol?

After you drink an alcoholic beverage like beer or wine, the alcohol enters your bloodstream from your stomach and small intestine. From there, it travels to your brain. There, it slows reaction time, makes you less coordinated, impairs yourvision, and — even at relatively low doses — leads to unclear thinking and problems making good judgments.

Is Alcohol Addictive?

Yes, alcohol is highly addictive. About 18 million adults are addicted to alcohol. This means they need to drink alcohol in order to function normally, and their drinking causes problems in their lives.

Alcohol addiction can begin at any time in someone’s life. But starting to drink when you are a teenager increases the risk for addiction. About half of U.S. teens who start drinking alcohol before age 14 will be addicted to it at some point. Only 9% of people in the U.S. who wait until they turn 21 will be addicted at some point.

Is One Type of Alcoholic Drink Safer than Another?

No. All alcoholic drinks contain alcohol, and all can be just as dangerous. The more alcohol you drink, the more you will be impaired. Beer, wine, and liquor all contain different amounts of alcohol. Beer is between 3% and 5% alcohol; wine is about 12%; and liquor usually is about 40% alcohol. One beer has about the same amount of alcohol as one glass of wine or one “shot” of liquor.

Why Do People Drink Alcohol?

Drinking alcohol is a social activity — most people drink with friends. Because alcohol makes people feel less inhibited, they feel more at ease socializing after a drink. People also drink just because other people are drinking. For many people, it feels good to be doing what everybody else is doing. But drinking just because everybody else is can lead to problems, especially if people are drinking too much.

On the other hand, many people enjoy the taste of alcoholic beverages. And when consumed by adults in small to moderate amounts, especially with meals, alcohol may be good for the heart.

What Is Binge Drinking?

Unfortunately, at some teen parties, the emphasis is on drinking to get drunk. This “binge” drinking happens when someone drinks more than four (for women) or five (for men) alcoholic drinks in about two hours. Binge drinking is the most harmful type of drinking.

How Many Teens Drink Alcohol?

More and more teens are choosing not to drink alcohol. Less than one in 10 teens under 14 years old has drunk alcohol in the past month. For teens 15 to 17 years old, less than three in 10 have drunk alcohol in the past month. If somebody says you need to drink because “everybody” is doing it, don’t believe it. Even though teenage drinking may seem common or even normal, it isn’t.

Why Should You Not Drink Alcohol?

There are many reasons for teens not to drink alcohol or to wait until they are 21. Drinking can cause many problems:

  • Drinking before you turn 21 is illegal. You can be cited by the police and arrested for underage drinking.
  • Drunk driving kills about 4,000 teens each year. Do not drive after drinking. Do not ride with friends who have been drinking. If someone who has been drinking offers you a ride, say, “No, thank you.” They might say they are fine to drive and pressure you to ride. It’s OK to tell them some excuse like, “I want to stay at the party a bit longer” or “I already told another friend I would ride with him.” The best solution is for them not to drive at all.
  • Your brain is still developing and will continue to develop until your early twenties. Drinking during this time may damage your brain. Teens who drink alcohol have worse memories than those who do not drink.
  • Using alcohol may put you at higher risk for dropping out of high school.
  • Starting to drink alcohol when you are a teen puts you at higher risk for being addicted to alcohol at some point.
  • Drinking alcohol puts you at higher risk for being robbed, raped, or assaulted. Under the influence of alcohol, your judgment is impaired. You are more likely to place yourself in a risky situation that you would normally avoid.

What About Peer Pressure to Drink Alcohol?

At some point, many teens are pressured to drink alcohol by friends or peers. You may feel that you need to drink to fit in. But it’s OK to say no. Just remember that most teens do not drink regularly, so you are not alone.

http://teens.webmd.com/

Comments (0)

Advertise Here
Advertise Here