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Ahead of Union Budget 2021-22, Akshaya Motors presents riveting session on top budget expectations

Days ahead of the Union Budget, NewsX was recently joined for a riveting discussion on ‘2021 Union Budget: My Expectation’ presented by Akshaya Motors. This show included experts namely  DN Prahalad, Former Independent Director, Infosys, & Founder, Surya Software, Dr. MP Shyam Shetty, President, FADA, Karnataka, and K Gururaj Acharya, leading CA in Bengaluru.

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Days ahead of the Union Budget, NewsX was recently joined for a riveting discussion on ‘2021 Union Budget: My Expectation’ presented by Akshaya Motors. Considering how 2020 and the pandemic went for all, it’s important that we have a well-balanced budget to give a boost to most of the sectors. This show included experts namely  DN Prahalad, Former Independent Director, Infosys, & Founder, Surya Software, Dr. MP Shyam Shetty, President, FADA, Karnataka, and K Gururaj Acharya, leading CA in Bengaluru. They spoke about the various industries and what they expect from the Budget this year and sharing insights on their respective sectors.

Since work from home became the new normal Mr. Prahalad talked about how the industry has done during this time. He said, “It’s a mixed bag out there. The industry can be divided into services and products. In services, those companies who operate above 100crore will do well because first, they were able to get people working from home very fast. 95% of the workforce was working from home effectively, within a month. Therefore, most customers believe they should be bet on. We have a phenomenon called vendor consolidation happening, so IT companies will do well. When it comes to productivity, work from home has thrown the Jekyll and Hyde phenomenon. People who were productive before have increased their hours of productivity whereas people who weren’t productive before, have gone down to zero. Therefore, work from home has had its ups and downs but I expect people to get back to the office soon. I expect 30-40% of the workforce to continue working from home. Lastly, we’ll have profits because we have not been traveling for projects, sales and it amounts to 2% or more of expenses, so we’ll show profits but they will be pseudo profits because the sales are cannibalized of later years. Overall, the industry is resilient and will prosper the moment traveling starts”.

Automobiles was one of the sectors which took a hit by the lockdown for the first two quarters, sharing his insights, Dr. Shyam said, “The automobile industry has bounced back after the pandemic. The problem it is facing today is the problem of supply, not demand. Because of this pandemic, people have come back to the dealerships to buy personal cars due to safety concerns about using public transport. The industry has come back and 2021 will be a good year for the industry. Due to the pent-up demand, since the market was down in March, April, May, and June, July and August were slow. Demand picked up during the festival season but as of now dealers have less inventory and there is a backlog with almost all companies and they have sold out the 2020 stock. The problem is of stock supply to the dealers”.

For taxmen, it’s been an equally tough year as deadlines have been extended on a number of occasions. Mr. Acharya, said, “Timelines were pushed for individuals and companies. The time given was sufficient but those who do not want to pay taxes will ask for more extensions. When govt announced the ‘aatmanirbhar’ scheme they did good and went to the extent of reducing the TDS rates by 25% and leaving that much money in the hands of the payer. There is still a grudge against the government, questioning what has been given. Whatever reduction has been done in TDS will come back in the form of advance tax, if we look at the person who’s suffering real losses, he’s actually left with that much more money which would’ve earlier been paid to the tax department. That way, the reduction of TDS rates by the government is welcomed. Our institute gives a lot of recommendations to the government about what should be added to the budget. This time we haven’t asked for reduction in the rates because the government has already reduced the rates to rock bottom. Pre-pandemic, the government had slashed the corporate rates and made them as low as 15%. Reduction in taxes even for individuals, they are given the option.”

Mr. Prahalad further spoke about how beneficial were the ‘Aatmanirbhar’ packages provided by the government. He said, “If you see it only from the point of view of the IT industry, I don’t think it’s relevant because most IT companies have a positive cash flow or they are well-funded. For MSME’s in general, the credit guarantee scheme for me is fantastic as it didn’t cost anyone anything but helped everyone instead. People got credit guarantee under this scheme, it should be seen whether this guarantee scheme should be given to big companies because the banks can’t lend, so they need to create opportunities”. Referring to the financial fugitives in India, Mr. Prahalad said, “We should not have uncontrolled lending and the crookedness of an individual doesn’t depend on the scheme or the bank. There will always be people who will defraud but they need to be punished. The credit guarantee scheme really worked for people”.

Talking about the automobile industry, the recent tensions with China, and whether the government could’ve done better, Dr. Shetty said, “What the government could do is that a lot of dealers fall under MSME category, under 400 crores and a lot of them are partnership firms. Corporate taxation should be reduced for proprietary companies and partnership firms as that will help the automobile industry because it directly employs almost 2.5 million people and 5 million people indirectly. The second thing to look at is, there is a high rate of taxes on luxury cars, the GST is 28%, which can be reduced to boost demand. Third, 80% of the vehicles sold are two-wheelers, three-wheelers, and light vehicles so, public transport isn’t very good in the country and people are scared after the pandemic. So, reducing taxes on two-wheelers because it’s what the common man wants”.

Coming to taxation and talking about the need of the hour, things that are archaic and can be done away with in order to help taxation at all levels, Mr. Acharya said, “What we have recommended is to reduce the burden on businessmen and focus on the ease of doing business. The industry wants a reduction in paperwork, archaic laws, and various rules and inconsistencies in Acts. The wish list is, first, tax the untaxed, those who work under the radar. Second, reduce the burden. Third, dividend income was taxed last year but if it was a loan, eventually people may have to incur losses. Fourth, set on of losses or carry backward of losses. Certain companies do very well but a lot of them have incurred losses but this year the turnover has reduced drastically to provide support in present times. While work from home has been a boon for many industries, the real estate sector has suffered because this sector needs to be handheld. They have inventory that is unsold, the company holding the inventory ought to pay taxes on the notional rent that has to be collected. I would like to put personal taxes on two levels- the businessman’s personal tax and the salaried man’s personal tax. This country traditionally survives on a salary man’s taxes and I’d ask the government to look into- an increase of standard deduction and give certain relaxations and liberalize some rules”.

The software industry enjoys certain perks, talking about his expectations for the software industry, Mr. Prahalad said, “The tax rate has reduced already. Two things, product companies have a rough time because the first five years are an investment and they need support, I would suggest there be no tax on them because the reduction will give them money to grow, create employment and companies between 10-100 crores”.

Speaking about startups and the schemes for those, Mr. Prahalad said, “Socially, we must understand that failures are okay because our society thinks it’s bad. Second, people have given up in the beginning but they shouldn’t for the first five years. Startups should have zero complaints in the beginning”.

Giving the wish list of the automobile sector, Dr. Shyam said, “We’re thankful that the government has brought in the new depreciation scheme which is valid till March 2021 and should be extended to 2022 so that people can buy more vehicles. Second, individuals should be allowed depreciation in their hands so that they can purchase vehicles. Third, reduction of corporate tax for companies, we request the government to do so for partnership firms and proprietary firms because the auto dealers come under this category. Fourth, auto dealers should be kept out of the annual TCS because every transaction with banks, there’s a payment of 0.1% TCS and this leads to blockage of funds. Lastly, an attractive scrap age policy. This would boost the industry and hopefully the government comes out with such a policy to boost the manufacturing sector in automobiles, lead to the higher collection of GST, boost sales, and have 360-degree benefit”.

Watch the telecast here:

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Unprecedented transformation of the HR industry

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HR, as one of the most paper-intensive and technologically resistant industries, has undoubtedly undergone an unprecedented transformation. The HR industry has changed course and jumped on the technology bandwagon, from handing out pay slips and pink slips to building teams and organisations. HR and technology were once two words that were never used in the same sentence, but today they have integrated and taken the business world by storm.

HR has undoubtedly undergone an unprecedented transformation as one of the most paper-intensive and technologically resistant industries. The human resources industry has shifted its focus from issuing pay stubs and pink slips to forming teams and organisations. HR and technology were never used in the same sentence until recently, but they have now integrated and taken the business world by storm.

EVOLUTION OF THE HR FUNCTION

As the pandemic drove nations to lockdowns and businesses to disruption, HR was thrust to the frontline to facilitate this wave of changes. From handholding employees, as they took up remote work to embracing new technologies such as AI and automation themselves, the purview of HR widened overnight. The HR department made possible the overnight pivot to remote work, organisation-wide move to the cloud and years’ worth of digital transformation within months. As organisations’ appetite for technology grows, the demand for HR tech is building up simultaneously to catalyse change. 

MASTERING REMOTE WORK MANAGEMENT

Today, an organisation’s workforce is dispersed across different geographies owing to remote work arrangements. To enable employees to carry out diverse tasks remotely, HR teams must provide them with facilitating tools and technologies. At the same time, they require the right tools and technologies to carry out HR tasks remotely. On top of that, HR teams need to maintain the organisation’s culture even when people can no longer see each other in person. Technologies such as cloud computing, unified communication tools, performance management software and video conferencing technologies help HR teams master remote work management.

BRAVING TALENT MARKET CHALLENGES

Remote work mandate meant for the talent market proliferation of job opportunities, wider talent pools and a shift to virtual hiring practices. This resulted in a surge in demand for video interviewing, virtual onboarding and AI-based technologies. In an ever-evolving talent market, a slew of challenges such as the war for talent and the ‘great resignation’ has erupted. As a result, organisations are increasingly investing in automation, AI and data analytics to optimise their hiring processes and enjoy time and cost savings. Additionally, such HR technologies enable recruiters to hire higher-quality candidates faster. 

RE-ENVISIONING EMPLOYEE EXPERIENCE

As the resignation pile mounts up and the stack of resumes becomes less than a handful, HR teams across the globe are racking their brains in the quest for a cure-all. Technology allows HR teams to rethink their employee experience and reinforce their talent retention strategies. From improving the employee onboarding process to supporting greater work-life balance to elevating employee wellbeing, technology is helping HR to reshape the employee experience. Consequently, investments in tools and technologies such as intelligent chatbots, video conferencing, recommended learning and development, etc., that enhance employee experience are continuously rising. 

CONTINUOUS RESKILLING AND UPSKILLING

The global pandemic ushered in a period of great reshuffling, which meant new technologies, tools, innovations and even new jobs. As many jobs, skills and practices become obsolete, HR leaders must upskill and reskill their workforce to take on new responsibilities and challenges. Technologies that enable faster learning paths, interactive and engaging journeys and performance tracking saw an uptick in demand. As digital transformation becomes a permanent fixture on CEO agendas, constant reskilling and upskilling are becoming a priority for HR leaders. As a result, giving rise to persistent demand for new learning and development technologies.  

CONCLUDING THOUGHTS

Technology is enabling organisations to inch closer to the future of work and evolve with it. The coming together of HR and technology can catalyse this wave of change. By making the most of this window of opportunity, HR can evolve from an auxiliary authority to an enabling force.

Yogita Tulsiani is the MD & Co-founder of iXceed Solutions, which is a global tech-recruiter provider.

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THE BOYS SEASON 3 UNLEASHES UNSEEN LEVELS OF GORE AND PROFANITY

The 2010s are widely regarded as the Marvel decade. But, a more accurate way to describe them is as ‘the superhero decade’.

Murtaza Ali Khan

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Amazon Prime Video series ‘The Boys’ is not just one of the best shows about superheroes but it also makes for a great case study in subversion of all the best-known tropes associated with the superhero genre. How many superhero shows out there are focused on exploring how toxic our obsession is with them? ‘The Boys’ does a great job of critiquing the superhero culture as perpetuated by Marvel and DC but never at the cost of entertainment. It is never preachy and always very entertaining and full of whacky ideas. ‘The Boys’ is based on the comic book series of the same name by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson. In its third season, the series spills even more blood (yes, you read it right!), unleashing hitherto unseen levels of gore, profanity, nudity and sex. Don’t believe me? Consider a scene in the season premiere wherein a superhero shrinks down and climbs inside another person’s body part and mistakenly blows it to smithereens. 

The 2010s are widely regarded as the Marvel decade. But, a more accurate way to describe them is as the superhero decade. Interestingly, nobody was so sure about the future of superhero films about 10 years back. Remember, the first leg of the Spider-Man and the X-Men series had ended in 2007 and 2009, respectively. The future looked uncertain for both the franchises. The second leg of the Superman series never really got going after the mixed-bad response to the 2006 film ‘Superman Returns’. What Christopher Nolan achieved with ‘The Dark Knight’ (2008) was seen more as a personal triumph of a director’s vision than a superhero genre breakthrough. It all changed with ‘Iron Man 2’ (2010) which catapulted the Nick Fury-led S.H.I.E.L.D to instant fame—two years after it was first introduced as part of ‘Iron Man’ (2008) during a post-credits scene. Following the release of ‘Iron Man 2,’ the Walt Disney Studios agreed to pay Paramount a whopping amount for the worldwide distribution rights to ‘Iron Man 3’ and ‘The Avengers.’ And the rest, as they say, is history.

Soon, Hollywood was raining superheroes. As Marvel was putting together The Avengers, DC Comics started planning their Justice League lineup. Before we knew it, Marvel’s ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ (2014) also came alive. The X-Men franchise too got a new lease of life with ‘X-Men: First Class’ (2011). Next year, ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’ was released with a fresh cast and storyline. Subsequently, Zack Snyder delivered ‘Man of Steel’ (2013)—the first film of DC’s Superman reboot that was followed by the 2016 offering ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.’ In 2015, Marvel came out with ‘Ant-Man’ which was followed by ‘Ant-Man and the Wasp’ in 2018. In 2016, ‘Deadpool’ went on to become the highest-grossing R-rated film at the time. It was followed by ‘Deadpool 2’ (2018). Soon the battle for female superhero supremacy started as DC came out with the hugely successful ‘Wonder Woman’ in 2017 and Marvel responded with an even bigger success in the form of ‘Captain Marvel’ (2019). 2018 also witnessed another superhero film Venom based on a character that appeared in ‘Spider-Man 3’ (2007). All this proves why the 2010s are regarded as the superhero decade.

When the Amazon Prime Video series ‘The Boys’ premiered in July 2019, it took superhero film enthusiasts by storm. For, it offered something rarely seen in the genre: superheroes, popular as celebrities, influential as politicians, and revered as Gods, abusing their powers instead of using them for good. The Boys follows the eponymous team of vigilantes as they try to expose the Seven, Vought International’s premier superhero team led by the egotistical and megalomaniacal Homelander (menacingly portrayed by Antony Starr; the character is considered to be analogous to DC›s Superman). The Seven, among others, also features Queen Maeve (essayed by Dominique McElligott with equal parts brain and brawn; the character is considered to be analogous to DC›s Wonder Woman). The Boys, on the other hand, are led by Billy Butcher (brilliantly played by the uber-cool Karl Urban), a former CIA operative who despises all individuals with superpowers. 

Following the success of the first season of ‘The Boys,’ the second season proved to be bigger and grander at so many levels. Firstly, the stakes were much higher. We had a few new characters with some incredible superpowers. On one hand, we had the enigmatic Stormfront, gifted with the unique ability to manipulate electricity along with many other powers. Although she joined the Seven as its newest member, her real intentions as well as her actual origins remained unknown (she was later revealed to be the first supe in the world who was once closely associated with the Nazi Party). Then, there was a mysterious new character gifted with the power to get anyone’s head to explode at will (who is shockingly revealed to be none other than Congresswomen Victoria Neuman). The second season of ‘The Boys’ also presented Black Noir in a new light. A-Train and The Deep again had solid character arcs this season. The character of Vought CEO Stan Edgar (chillingly essayed by Giancarlo Esposito) also came to the fore. The various arcs involving Homelander, Billy Butcher, Queen Maeve, Starlight, Hughie, Frenchie, Mother’s Milk, and Kimiko also got explored well.

In the new season also, we are presented with a very interesting mix of the old and the new characters. After his wife Becca’s death, Butcher is more obsessed than ever with killing Homelander (an increasingly menacing and creepy-looking Antony Starr). When Queen Maeve tells him about a past supe known as ‘Soldier Boy,’ Butcher leads an investigation to uncover the truth about his mysterious death. Maeve also gives him a few vials of a new serum developed by Vought that gives normal people superpowers for 24 hours. Given his intense hatred for all things supe, will he be able to wield it in order to take the fight to expose Vought? 

‘The Boys’ has thus far lived up to its promise of being an irreverent, unapologetically sharp-witted, and no-holds-barred flip on the superhero genre. The third season takes us to ever darker places and the end doesn’t seem nigh.

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An elite force can do well without criminal elements

Shweta Shalini

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Ever since the government announced the Agnipath scheme, a lot of undisciplined protestors have taken to the streets. In a democratic country, anyone is well within their rights to protest against any action of the government. However, the outright hooliganism, destruction of public property and rioting by protestors are not just condemnable but also prove a serious lack of discipline in pressing for their cause. Potential candidates for recruitment into the elite defence service are expected to protest in a civilized manner. By burning down trains and resorting to violence, these protestors are making a case against themselves on how they are unfit to don the elite uniform. The hooliganism and anarchy on display in the streets are enough to debar these protestors from the candidature. An elite force ready to make the supreme sacrifice for the sake of the nation can do well without these criminal elements destroying public property.

The Agnipath scheme is an effective initiative by the government aimed at structural reforms in the armed forces. The defence budget of India has been increased by the Modi government from 2.53 lakh crores in 2014 to 5.25 lakh crores in 2022. Unlike the earlier wars that the Indian army fought and won, the warfare of the future will be primarily a contest of technological prowess. The Modi government has displayed proactiveness in procuring the best available technology to arm the country with an effective deterrent. In a security apparatus dominated by technology, youthful dynamic foot-soldiers well-versed with the latest technology and sheer muscle power are a requisite. A proper meritocratic system where the best talents are retained for a longer-term would ensure that the army gets the best of the best foot on the ground to protect our borders. The Agnipath scheme backed by the three service chiefs would ensure an enhanced youthful profile of the force and result in the reduction of average age from 32 to 26 years over a period of time. A youthful profile for the defence forces will lead to increased dynamism, competitiveness to be retained for the long haul and optimal utilization of the defence budget. The tech-heavy jawan of the future will require multiple skillsets to guard our borders and Agniveers would be ideal for this technological revolution. The world is moving into an era where drones and robotic technology will slowly replace manual interventions. The soldiers of the future need to be dynamic and adaptable to the changes in technology. Cyber warfare is emerging as a huge threat and India has been ramping up its cyber assets toward this end. While the earlier reforms in defence were necessitated by adverse situations or wars, the Modi government has proactively optimized defence without the need for external circumstances. It is notable that the past 75 years have seen 2 reorganisation exercises apart from a few administrative revamps in the wake of Kargil and Op Parakram. The two reorganisations were around the 1960s after the debacle of the 1962 war and following the KV Krishna Rao committee of 1975. The current average age of uniformed officers can be attributed to the recruiting spree following 1962 and the increase in retirement ages. The manpower-heavy recruitment of prior decades was justifiable.

With the Agnipath initiative, the Modi Government in a single stroke recruits dynamism and youthfulness into our armed forces while also calibrating the defence structure in line with new theatres of war. The misinformation regarding this move has fuelled a spate of protests across the country as if Agnipath isn’t in the interest of the country. Whether the vandalism on the streets is by candidates or are the vested interests trying to take advantage by creating a crisis situation, needs to be investigated. The Modi government with the Agnipath scheme has continued to live up to its reputation of biting the bullet on vital reforms. Whether it’s section 370 of J&K or GST or Defence reforms, the Modi government is making good use of its majority, which the Indian citizens handed to the BJP. India always needed a strong decision-maker and reformer and India has got one.

The author is BJP spokesperson, advisor to former Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Devendra Fadnavis, and executive director of Maharashtra Village Social Transformation Foundation, a Section 8 Company of the Maharashtra government.

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THE TRAGEDY OF SANJAY GANDHI

On the occasion of his 42nd death anniversary, we peep into the life of one of the most controversial political characters of our time.

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Sanjay Gandhi was the second son of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, who was widely believed to be the next heir to her mother’s chair, just like his mother had occupied her father Jawahar Lal Nehru’s chair after his death. There were unconfirmed stories floating around that Mrs Gandhi was grooming her younger son, Sanjay, who was keen to join politics, for the PM’s chair after her. Rajiv, the elder brother and a pilot with Indian Airlines, preferred to lead a quiet domestic life away from the limelight.

Sanjay started his career as Managing Director of Maruti Motors.

Sanjay started his career as Managing Director of a company called Maruti Motors Limited, founded by the Government of India to produce a people’s car in 1971. The 25-year-old Sanjay becoming the Managing Director of a newly formed motor company, having no prior experience to his credit, attracted several accusations of nepotism and corruption from the political class as well the general public. The 1971 victory of Bangladesh liberation that year silenced all the noise against corruption. Significantly, the company under Sanjay Gandhi produced no vehicle till 1975.

After the imposition of the emergency in the country on 26 June 1975, without having any elected official position, Sanjay Gandhi had become the de-facto power centre in the Prime Minister’s office as his mother Indira Gandhi’s adviser, usurping all the draconian powers of the Emergency, as basic fundamental rights of the citizens were suspended. It was rumoured that the government was run by Sanjay and his friends, called the ‘coterie’, who ran the PMO, from the PM’s house, instead of from the PMO authorized officials of bureaucracy. Sanjay declared a five-point programme, which included the abolition of dowry and family planning. Sanjay and his cronies were dreaded names who had terrorized the whole country.

Sanjay was sent to the best schools in India and abroad, but he didn’t enter a university. Instead, he decided to learn automotive engineering, spending three years at the Rolls-Royce automaker in England, as he was very much interested in sports cars. His other interest was in aircraft acrobatics, for which he had obtained his pilot’s license in 1976. He often used to take off from the Safdarjung flying club for his acrobatics practices. On the morning of 23 June 1980, Sanjay Gandhi took off for his acrobatic practice in a new Pitts S-2A aircraft from the Safdarjung airports’ flying club, accompanied by his instructor, Subhash Saxena.

Minutes later his plane crashed over Chanakyapuri while attempting a dangerous acrobatic maneuver, killing Sanjay and his instructor instantly. Their mutilated bodies were taken to RML Hospital for stitching before handing over to their respective families.

Sanjay was the first one of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s family to meet a violent death. Four years later, Sanjay’s mother was next to meet a violent death, on 31 October 1984, when she was killed by the bullets of her security guards after Operation Blue Star in June of the same year. About seven years later, Rajiv Gandhi, the last surviving member of Indira’s family and himself a former Prime Minister, was the last one to die a violent death, in a bomb attack by an LTTE woman while campaigning for elections for a Lok Sabha seat near Chennai on the night of 21 May 1991. Within a span of 11 years, all members of Mrs Indira Gandhi’s family were wiped out in violent deaths. Mrs Gandhi used to get advised by tantrics, astrologers and swamis, but no one had ever predicted that her whole family would be wiped out in such violent deaths in such a short period.

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THE SECOND DECADE: THE ‘IFS’ AND ‘BUTS’ OF NUTRITION

One of the systematic reviews, which looks at 25 different research studies from different countries in the world, found that most adolescents have inadequate fruit and vegetable intake.

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An ironical co-occurrence continues to persist in India, of under and over-nutrition. Globally, this is referred to as a double burden of malnutrition—the coexistence of under-nutrition along with obesity or the nutrition-related non-communicable disease. Few of the recent studies conducted among school-going adolescents from Punjab and Uttar Pradesh talk about the coexistence of the two, indicating poor eating habits and nutritional inadequacies that lead to obesity and diet-related diseases in later years. 

The second decade of life is a period of rapid growth and development for adolescents’ bodies, minds and social relationships. This is also the life period during which the vast majority of boys and girls end their formal schooling, try to make a permanent or semi-permanent vocational selection and adjustment, and attempt to establish themselves as independent and self-reliant units in society, politically and socially as well as economically. Nurturing the second decade has been a longstanding appeal from the World Health Organization. But nothing comes without ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ when one talks about the adolescents of today. They are more independent and have their food choices as per their understanding and convenience. They tend to eat more meals away from home than the younger children. And last but not the least, they are heavily influenced by their peers. While there is little information about dietary patterns and current time trends in adolescents; the available data seem to show that the tendency in the adolescent population worldwide is to increase those dietary factors that are linked with obesity development. One of the systematic reviews, which looks at 25 different research studies from different countries in the world found that most adolescents have inadequate fruit and vegetable intake. One study from India estimated that 97% of girls had inadequate fruit intake and one out of 5 adolescent girls reported eating fast and convenience foods. 

Lifestyle plays an important role in the overall development of adolescents. Triggered by a complex mix of marketing, social, and economic policies, nutrition transition in India is associated with a significant change in the lifestyle and dietary habits in urban India. The transition in dietary patterns among children is driven partly by demand (increased income and reduced time to prepare food) and partly by supply-side factors (increased production, promotion and marketing of processed foods and foods high in fat, salt and sugar). Proliferating multinational fast food companies have influenced both the rural and urban areas wherein traditional home-cooked meals are being replaced with easy-to-cook, ready-to-eat, and processed foods. 

Nutrient requirements – including those for energy, protein, iron, calcium, and others – increase in adolescence to support adequate growth and development. Sound nutrition can play a role in the prevention of several chronic diseases, including obesity, coronary heart disease, certain types of cancer, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. The low intake of a healthy diet, particularly iron and calcium-rich foods among adolescent girls is a matter of huge concern. Iron deficiency can impair cognitive function and physical performance, and inadequate calcium intake may increase fracture risk during adolescence and the risk of developing osteoporosis in later life. The impact of nutritional status on the occurrence, morbidity and mortality patterns in infectious diseases like diarrhoea, tuberculosis (TB) and HIV has been well documented but not given enough recognition. Tuberculosis and undernutrition are both problems of considerable magnitude and importance worldwide. 

One of the recent reports of UNICEF in association with NITI Aayog revealed that over 50% of Indian adolescents (about 63 million girls and 81 million boys) in the age group of 10 to 19 years are either short, thin, overweight or obese. Another shocking statement was that over 80% of adolescents suffer from ‘hidden hunger’, i.e. the deficiency of one or more micronutrients such as iron, folate, zinc, vitamin A, vitamin B12 and vitamin D. Few of the most alarming findings are: Only 2 out of 5 adolescents take milk in their daily diet and 1 out of 5 adolescents take pulses and green leafy vegetables. Information on the economic returns of various types of investment in adolescent development is scarce. However, few countries have done a cost-benefit analysis for various interventions. For example, in the USA, it is estimated that for every kilogram less of weight at birth, an American child will achieve 15 per cent less in adult earnings over her/his lifetime. In settings with a high incidence of goitre, it is estimated that iodine deficiency disorders depress average intelligence by 13 IQ points. 

It is important to understand and acknowledge that adolescence provides an opportunity to correct nutritional deficiencies that may have occurred in early life and enables catching up on the missed growth. Adoption of good dietary behaviours in adolescence goes a long way in building physiological resilience. Adolescent boys and girls can be motivated to adopt nutrition behaviours that improve their looks, school achievement and athletic performance. One of the unanswered research question is the extent to which the inclusion of adolescent boys in nutrition and healthy lifestyle programs will contribute to the improved nutrition and health of women during childbearing and for infants and young children in the critical early years of life. Addressing the double burden of malnutrition should also be seen as a stimulus for enabling policies and programs beyond health, especially regarding poverty and gender inequity.

The author has attained her PhD in Public Health Policy with a specific reference to policies of government of India vis-a-vis the popular, reproductive health and family welfare aspects.

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India’s drone power on display at Paris event

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Displaying India’s drone power, Made-in-India drones flew high at the four-day Vivatech 2022 conference, which was recently held in Paris, France. Among the 65 Indian startups that were selected to display their drones, BON V Aero and Against Gravity Solution drew maximum eyeballs at the recently-concluded conference.

Satyabrat Satyapathy, CEO, Bon V Aero said, “our entire approach is on building a mobility platform that can carry a higher payload. We had innovated a drone which can carry 200 kg of payload to 40 kilometres distance.”

“We had shown a live demonstration in Vivatech 2022, carrying 50 kg to 20 kilometres. We are building this platform to use in hilly areas. During any disaster, we are the ones who can reach in minutes in difficult terrain where replenishment is not happening because of no road connectivity or where replenishment takes one or two months. By this innovation we can conserve the time to you know a couple of days and two minutes even,” added Satyapathy.

He further added, “We are an Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Mandi, backed venture building state of art intelligent electric aircraft which can operate in Hilly Terrains as well as in urban/rural areas for carbon-free, speedy and economic cargo transportation.” Bon V Aero has developed a drone solution for Smart Aerial Cargo Transportation.

Gavakshit Verma, Promoter, Against Gravity Solution, said, “our company has developed two drones which can work in tunnels or mines where is no GPS connectivity. Our First Person View (FPV) drone can fly at the speed of 120 KM/Hour. This has two cameras and with the Virtually Reality (VR) headset you can view feel like a fighter pilot.”

“Second drone solution can be used in tunnels or mines without GPS. This drone is very successful in monitoring mines or tunnels. This can go to inside the tunnel or mines to one Kilometre and is very useful for mines, oil companies,” Verma further said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had kicked off India’s biggest Drone festival- Bharat Drone Mahotsav earlier this year, wherein he witnessed open-air drone demonstrations and interacted with startups in the drone sector. Talking about the potential of India to emerge as a hub of drones, PM Modi said, “At a time when we are celebrating Azadi Ka Amrit Mohatsav, it is my dream that everyone in India should have a smartphone in his or her hand, every farm should have a drone and every house should have prosperity.”

PM Modi further expressed, “The enthusiasm that is being seen in India regarding drone technology is amazing. This energy is visible and is a reflection of the quantum jump in the drone service and drone-based industry in India. It shows the potential of an emerging large sector of employment generation in India.”

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