Akhila Satchidanandam

It all began when man started suffering from ailments and had no clue why or how to get rid of them. With the study of mechanism of the body’s function, analyzing and interpreting symptoms to diagnose diseases developed the field of medicine. Currently, the purpose of every research work in the biological field is primarily to cure human diseases and increase their lifespan. Medicine has come a long way hence, having discovered various ways of cures and therapeutic methods to prevent, cure or atleast live with most diseases. However, with such discoveries to improve the quality of human life, we also have more diseases propping up with time, which adds to the never ending medical research. Continue Reading »


Mihir Jha

The concept of GNH as i dealt in my previous article is a simple, top-down micro level approach to measure the economy of a state. The concept based on four pillars touches the core of the heart of every human being when it talks of happiness. On the other hand, if we look at its flip side, we will come to know that too much simplicity makes it a wild concept to be implemented and too realistic to be realized. Here it is where Justice Martha Nussbaum of Liberal Theory of Justice and the Nobel Laureate, Mr.Amartya Sen advocates a micro level, bottom-up approach to the concept and coins the term as Capability Approach.

Sen, after ample research work and surveys on several sensitive issues like famine, drought, flood etc. concludes that it is the inequality prevalent at all levels in the society which leads to unhappiness and is the root of all evils considering the fact that only a particular section of the society suffers from its consequences every time and not all. He also professes that the need of the hour is to change the mindset of the people and the society rather than increasing the funds in the consecutive union budgets by sitting the example of teaching illiterate girls. Contrary to Utilitarian and Libertarian theories where the stress is on utility rather satisfaction, CA talks about providing sleep rather than bed and comfort rather than so called facilities.

He says that the government should measure its economy neither with what its subject has at the end of a financial year nor with what significant achievements did it register in the year passed by but the real parameter should be to analyse that how much does it have to its credit as compared to how much it was capable of as compared to how much could it achieve. A microscopic analysis of the aforesaid point can leave one dumbstruck.

Sen claims that the individual opportunities as capacities and at the same time lays stress on enhancement of these capacities ranging from fundamental ones to complex ones. He clubs these opportunities together as Capability Set. This Capability set is formed through the process in which available resources and income are converted through the functions of utilisation namely: Personal, Social and Environmental Factors into political human functioning such as social, economic and political freedoms. Personal Factors include metabolism, physic, sex, intelligentsia etc and Social conversion Factors include social norms, gender and caste issues and several discriminating practices. Environmental Factors talk about demographic factors and climate etc. Sen professes the conversion of the characteristics of all the factors as discussed above under different headings into functioning from the atomic to the molecular level.

He draws attention towards increasing opportunities at every level and says that a piece of land, whose output doesn’t surpass the input or is not sufficiently large enough to earn a livelihood to the concerned, shouldn’t be considered to be productive. Here it is where he says that the need is to increase the capability of the asset whether an individual or a commodity or the society as a whole. The concept says that it is not the resources but it is the capability of the resources which actually matters.

Referring to inequality as the root cause of the unhappiness, Sen identifies five most important factors leading to diversity: Personal Heterogeneity, Environmental diversities, variations in social climate, differences in relational perspectives and Distribution within the family. I would prefer not to go for a detailed description and switch over to Liberal Theory of Justice by Martha Nussbaum having ample relevance to the context. The theory says that. “Which changes or transitions are compatible with the continued existence of a being as a member of the human kind and which are not?” It also talks about what kind of activity must be there if we are going to acknowledge a given life is human.

The journey so far had been very exciting. Isn’t it?? GNH concept supplemented by CA is broad enough to cover all the dimensions and ultimately leading to the dream of what one calls “Happiness”. The concept of these new parameters, by now would be clear to the readers. Yet questions like, “what is the relevance of this alien concept to the economy as big as that of ours?? Is it realistic or not??, implementation issues and of-course What exactly Happiness is??” ,still remains unanswered. I shall deal with them in my next article and conclude this superb concept.

Incorrigible Optimist

Often when you are reading the Newspaper, few simple lines can trigger unprecedented, explosive reactions. It happened me few days back, when I read Pakistani Director Shoaib Mansoor ruminating that song and dance routines should have been phased out by now in Indian Movies. His statement was “Ab tak inhe zabardasti ke naach-gaanon se jaan chuda leni chahiye thi (they should have got rid of unnecessary dance and music by now). Continue Reading »

The Supreme Court pronounced its verdict on OBC reservation today, April 10th 2008, according to which, the 27% reservation proposed for OBC has been upheld. This is a historical event, considering the number of years we have waited for it. Although this definitely is good news to people belonging the OBC, the creamy layer which has been extensively debated lately are excluded from availing this reservation. However, this verdict has muddled up things in a sense that, creamy layer of the population needs to be defined now. Besides, the question of how would the creamy layer population be identified? has been raised. Continue Reading »

Akhila Satchidanandam

Have we ever realized that we know why our laptop works the way it does and why it conks when it does, better than how our own inner systems work and why we look and behave the way we do? Well, the aim of this article is to explain in the simplest way possible, very basic functional unit of life that makes us what we are – DNA, genes and chromosomes. DNA, genes and chromosomes are commonly misunderstood as three separate entities yet, they are not synonymous. Continue Reading »

Incorrigible Optimist


India has produced several mavericks who derided conventional theories and charted their own road to success. Whenever I think of the word maverick, Prahlad Kakkar comes to my mind. His profile and the diverse stuff along with the balancing act never cease to amaze me. This book however talks about Ricardo Semler, CEO of SEMCO SA of Brazil, a true maverick in every sense who broke all the traditional rules surrounding a Pyramidal organization and brought in an anarchist yet democratic way of running a company. I have read quite a lot of business books and most of the time the writers- the CEOs themselves-have an uncanny way of presenting their stories with such personal touch that one begins to feel that you are having a long intimate walk with the CEO who is sharing all his personal beliefs and values and leaves you with a smidgen of inspiration for you to aspire the skies and fulfill your dreams. Continue Reading »


Nirmala Palaniappan

Success seems to be largely a matter of hanging on after others have let go.” – William Feather.

Optimism, idealism*, determination, and a burning desire or passion….. these are perhaps the attitudes and qualities that keep one going despite many a fall and many a failure. In other words, these are qualities that keep one going despite reality! Sometimes I wonder whether it is the people who are very ‘pragmatic’ and accommodating of the weaknesses and the inconsistencies of the world that are really happy…..because they would rarely be disappointed by what they encounter. Continue Reading »