The US presidential poll has been one of the most watched and talked about elections in recent times, not to mention one of the most divisive. It saw a record turnout of 66.9%, which is the highest since 1900, despite the pandemic. History was also made because, for the first time, a woman, of Black and Indian American origin, is going to be the vice president of the United States. This election holds significance also because Indian Americans played a key role in the success of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.
The victory of Joe Biden can be compared to the challenging circumstances when Harry Truman became president in 1945. Trump may have lost, but still enjoys substantial support. Biden now has to cater to all Americans, including Trump supporters and their aspirations—which he implied in his first speech as the president-elect, when he said that he would not look to separate red and blue states. Biden has inherited a country which is also facing huge challenges like the Covid-19 pandemic, an economic crisis and reduced immigration. To add to that, the Trump Administration has criticized all multilateral institutions, walked out of some, and questioned fundamental scientific findings like climate change.
The handling of the coronavirus pandemic has been the top concern for about 4 in 10 voters. Thus, the first and foremost thing that citizens of the USA would like to hear from their president-elect is about the measures he would take in response to the Covid-19 situation in the country. At a campaign rally in Philadelphia, Biden had said that, if voted to power, he would put into place a Covid-19 action plan on the first day of his presidency. He has proposed a nationwide mask mandate and a national testing and contact tracing system.
The entrance of Joe Biden on the world stage, as most analysts have predicted, also opens doors to multilateralism. Thus, it is worth hoping that Biden would support collaborative international efforts to develop and ensure the equitable allocation of Covid-19 vaccines and treatments, in turn, rejecting the notion of “vaccine nationalism” put forward by Trump. A step in this direction could possibly lead to the US joining COVAX, a joint initiative of more than 170 countries pooling their resources for a Covid-19 vaccine.
Joe Biden has argued that Trump’s “America First” unilateral strategy has led to “America Alone.” It is hoped that Biden can quickly restore US leadership on global health by reversing Trump’s decision to leave the World Health Organisation, which is supposed to be effective from July 6, 2021. With Biden in the White House, many European, Asian and African countries could also work together to establish common rules and standards as a reflection of fundamentally similar values. Biden would also try repair relations with partners and allies to counter both China and Russia.
Climate change policy has been another landmark feature of Biden’s presidential campaign. Biden declared climate change the “number one issue facing humanity.” The Democrat campaigned on a $2 trillion investment in green energy and re-joining the Paris Agreement, which the US exited recently on November 4, 2020. In a tweet from that day, Biden had said, “Today, the Trump Administration officially left the Paris Climate Agreement. And in exactly 77 days, a Biden Administration will re-join it,” reflecting his decision to reverse one of the rashest decisions of the Trump administration on day one. The Biden Plan ensures that the US achieves a 100% clean energy economy and reaches net-zero emissions no later than 2050. Given the above promises, a Biden victory would shift the US from being a laggard to a leader in the climate change policy, which is the need of the hour when most countries are nowhere near reducing their greenhouse gas emissions by 7.2% annually through 2030, as laid down in the Paris Agreement.
Among Biden’s top foreign policy priorities is rescuing the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal. In an interview on CNN, Biden had said that, if he becomes the president, the first thing that he would do would be to make an unshakable commitment to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. Secondly, he would offer them a credible path back to diplomacy. Only if Iran returns to strict compliance with the nuclear deal would the US re-join the agreement. This could serve as a starting point for further negotiations. Biden assured that he would take steps to make sure that US sanctions do not hinder Iran’s fight against the pandemic. He had also said that the US will continue to push back Iran’s destabilising activities which threaten US allies in the region. Re-joining the deal—signed by US, China, Russia, and several European powers—would have the effect of improving frayed US cooperation with those nations too. Trump also came to office promising to tame Iran, but everyone knows how it has turned out. Thus, one can only hope that Biden, with his decades of foreign policy experience, is able to save the Iran nuclear deal from being reduced to rubble.
Moreover, a change in US policy towards the Iran nuclear deal will help India immensely. Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran had the unintended effect of limiting India’s investment and development of the strategic Chabahar port—a crucial venture to keep a check on Pakistani and Chinese encirclement on the western front of the country. Biden’s economic agenda suggests a revamp of international trade rules in ways that will benefit both the US and its partners, including India.
There is also buzz that Biden may attempt to extend the New START Treaty with Russia. This treaty is the last remaining bilateral treaty governing the US and Russian strategic nuclear forces. It plays a vital role for a stable peace order in the world because, if the treaty ends in February 2021, the world’s most destructive nuclear arsenals will be unlimited and unverified for the first time since the Cold War.
On the trade front, people are hoping that Biden abandons the self-destructive policies adopted by the Trump administration, like destroying the WTO’s dispute resolution mechanism, rejecting the Trans-Pacific partnership, and trade wars with China and the EU. It is predicted that under Biden, US trade policies will most likely see a shift from protectionism to liberalism. This will help to reiterate Biden’s claim as written on his campaign website: “The next president must repair our relationships with our allies and stand up to strongmen and thugs on the global stage to rally the world to meet these challenges.”
Biden promises to deepen ties with India too, on defence and trade, possibly without the tariffs levied by Trump. He would also start cooperation with India on sustainable and clean energy, which Trump ignored altogether when he decided to drop out of the Paris climate agreement.
Biden is also committed to working on immigration reform. In his remarks at the Bombay Stock Exchange in 2013, Biden had said, “America is a land of immigrants, as we tell ourselves all the time and are reminded in every generation. And America has been strengthened by the diverse cultures of India woven into the fabric of most of our communities.” Biden has promised that he is going to extend H-1B visas, which the Trump administration limited as a means to protect US jobs. India being the highest recipient of these visas would definitely hope for a reversal in the plan of action from Biden. If this occurs, it will provide a shot in the arm of the IT sector in India and project a more positive outlook for the Indian economy recovering post the lockdown.
Biden has been always in favour of developing US-India ties and, in an interview way back in 2006, he had said, “My dream is that in 2020 the two closest nations in the world will be India and United States. If that occurs, the world will be safer.” Biden’s win will thus mean a multi-faceted and potentially more favourable relationship, especially in trade policies, as predicted by UBS Global Research.
Most stock market analysts believe that short-term volatility is likely to remain but a Biden victory may be favourable for India in the long run. The US election is important to India, not only economically, but also strategically. Given the backdrop of the ongoing face-off with China in eastern Ladakh, analysts hope that with Biden’s victory, his multilateral approach may allow India and US to work together in identifying a number of poorer countries in South Asia and the Indo-Pacific region and jointly implement economically beneficial projects as a safe and trustworthy alternative to China’s “debt trap” diplomacy.
The challenges that Biden inherits from his predecessor are so many that it would take a long time for him to settle them. He would have to act as the President of the United States of America and take both Democrats and Republicans along to make America a more responsible power in the times to come. As he does this, the revival of the economy and taking the new world order closer to the old normal should be his top priorities.
Rajesh Mehta is a leading international consultant, entrepreneur and columnist. He is also president (India) of the IndoScandic Council. Badri Narayanan Gopalakrishnan is a leading international economist and consultant.
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ART KEPT US CONNECTED DURING COVID-19 PANDEMIC, SAYS SINGER SHILPA RAO
In an exclusive interview with NewsX as part of its special series NewsX India A-list, Singer Shilpa Rao talked about her recent collaboration with The Yellow Diary for the song ‘Roz Roz’.
Known for exploring new trends and genres, Shilpa Rao is back to win hearts with her latest song Roz Roz, which is in collaboration with The Yellow Diary. Joining NewsX for a candid chat as part of its special NewsX India A-list, Shilpa spoke about singing Roz Roz, especially amid the pandemic and reminisced about her journey so far.
Reflecting upon the year gone by, she expressed that the last year was weird and it was particularly difficult to record songs but they made it happen through emails, voice notes, and recording from home. Expressing gratitude to all the love and appreciation coming her way for Roz Roz, Shilpa said, “It feels really special when people point out a particular line and say that they can relate to it.”
Exclaiming how “creators can’t sit still”, she said that as creators their mind keeps on working all the time. Previously it was hard to manage the time as they had to travel a lot but now when they are at home all the energy goes in one direction and it’s easy to finish the work. Shilpa added that artists are always up for something creative. Talking about Roz Roz, she said, “Not only I but so many artists came up with brilliant music in 2020. Professionally, it was weird to see a drastic change in 2020 but it was a good year. We all were scattered during the pandemic but art kept everyone connected.”
The year 2020 was also special for Shilpa on a personal level as she tied the knot with Ritesh Krishnan. On opting for an intimate wedding ceremony, Shilpa said, “Our parents are elderly so we chose to have a simple registered marriage at home. We kept it plain yet it was a perfect wedding. We officially registered for the wedding and all my friends and family members from all over the world joined in to see the ceremony on a video call.”
According to her, Tose Naina Lage has been the game changer song of her life. “It comes from a different world altogether. It was the most special song for me and will always be. Mithoon and I worked hard on this song and to know what we were in 2006 one should listen to the song,” said Shilpa.
Addressing the coronavirus pandemic, she said, “Post pandemic, we don’t need complex people, we need empathic people.” Shilpa shared a piece of advice with aspiring musicians, “We all are running a race and want to do much more to get success but the world right now needs pacifiers.” Concluding on a musical note, Shilpa sang Tose Naina Lage from Anwar.
Exploring new-age entrepreneurship and opportunities for startups
Taxolawgy Inc presented an intriguing session on ‘Startups: Opportunities in the next decade’, which was joined by leading names from the startup world, including Anil Chhikara, Amit Agarwal and Sajeev Nair.
Moving towards an Aatmanirbhar Bharat, Taxolawgy Inc on Thursday, presented a session on ‘Startups: Opportunities in the next decade’. Eminent leaders from the startup world including CA Farooq Haque, Serial Entrepreneur, Founder & CEO- Taxolawgy Inc; Divya Varma, Co-founder at Taxolawgy Inc, Marketing & Growth Strategist; Anil Chhikara, Founder & CEO, Bluebolt Startup Factory and Founder of Startup India Foundation; Amit Agarwal, author of ‘The Ultimate Sales Accelerator’; and Sajeev Nair, Serial Entrepreneur, Peak Performance Consultant joined the panel.
Charting the course for new-age entrepreneurship, especially in the new normal, Farooq in his opening remarks said, “The new normal is not about changing your destinations but rather changing your path and journey to reach the same destination.” Emphasising how the division between taking a job and or starting your own venture has blurred over the years, he added, “When I became a CA more than 25 years ago, there weren’t many opportunities out there. Either you went into the job industry or started your own practice. Then came the startup revolution around 10-12 years ago which gave a new opening to the young entrepreneurs out there who had the entrepreneurial mind and advantaged from the startup culture in terms of funds, mentorship, and the help they needed. But the new normal that we are witnessing now is a complete game-changer. That iron wall that existed earlier between the job industry and entrepreneurship is now completely broken. I would take this liberty to coin the new definition of freelancing, that is ‘entrepreneurial workforce’. Freelancing is not like a job since you are not on the payroll of the company, you are an entrepreneur developing something of your own in the work domain. This is going to be a game-changer in the forthcoming decade.”
Speaking about the growth of freelancing during and after the pandemic, Divya said, “The pandemic has proved to be a blessing in disguise for the freelancing industry. As the world went into lockdown, the only thing that survived or rather thrived was remote working and freelancing. Employers are re-evaluating budget and opting for a more flexible workforce. Even the employees are showing a growing interest in the independent world. Mac Berry, the founder of freelancers.com, has said and I quote, ‘While Covid-19 has been a trigger for upward-trending freelancer movement, this exponential growth can also be attributed to the strong demand for an individual to finally start their own freelance enterprise, work on their own terms, and supplement their income.”
Anil highlighted the development of the startup eco-system in India in the last decade. He said, “If we put in a time machine and send today’s young entrepreneurs 10 years back, they wouldn’t believe that India was where it was. Things that we almost take for granted were not there. If you look at Silicon Valley, they have gone through various upturns and downturns. The upturn is more important for an eco-system because of the downturn and what happens after the downturn. If you look at the history of Silicon Valley after every massive downturn much bigger companies have come back aligned to the new realities. The biggest change that happens during this is that the investors, mentors, and everybody that come into the ecosystem, are those who have been entrepreneurs before, have had success and failures. They have walked the path. I am happy to see in the last 10 years that the big change that has taken place is stakeholders, whether you are talking about accelerators, incubators, and even the government, today are running something like Invest India and Startup India, rather than putting ‘babus’ to run it. They are putting seasoned entrepreneurs who have been there, done that. The biggest example of this is Aadhar and UPI. I believe that the changes that happened in the last one year will outstrip the changes that have taken place in the last 10 years.”
When asked about how startups should plan their sales activity at the starting stage, Amit said, “There is a how part of sales and 4W part of sales. What I framed is a 4W and H framework of sales. Simply put, it is why are you selling, what are you selling, where are you selling, and who are you selling as well as how are you selling. In a lot of cases, I have seen that there is a lot of focus on the ‘H’, that is how part of sales. Startups should change that to focus on the first 4Ws. If startups start addressing these 4Ws, the ‘how’ part will automatically be optimised. There is a lot of literature on the ‘how’ part and less focus on the 4Ws.”
Elaborating how one can find out the scalability of a startup idea, Sajeev said, “We all know that one of the key factors we always count is the scalability of the concept. The question of how do you say whether your idea is scalable or not is purely based on the idea. Primarily because if you are coming out with an idea, there are many non-scalable business ideas. The basic question, which startup entrepreneurs should ask, is what is your idea. If you have to scale something, what is it that you are going to scale? You need to have a basic core element that you can scale up. When we start a business, we should be focusing very clearly on the element that can be scalable. There could be one or more elements that can be scalable. First, we should define the purpose, then design the products that meet the purpose after which we design the process that can take the products to meet the purpose. Followed by this, we find the people or the distribution channel through whom we can meet that purpose. When you are scaling up based on a purpose, you can gain success.”
INDIA HAS ACHIEVED A GREAT SUCCESS IN COVID MANAGEMENT: LOMBARDY PRESIDENT
The unprecedented coronavirus wave has affected almost 3 million people in Italy and over 500,000 of them in Lombardy, says Attilio Fontana.
Lombardy is one of the 20 administrative regions of Italy, in the northwest of the country, with an area of 23,844 sq km. About 10 million people live in Lombardy, forming more than one-sixth of Italy’s population, and more than a fifth of Italy’s GDP is produced in the region, making it the most populous, richest and most productive region in the country. It is also one of the top regions in Europe for the same reason.
On 13 February, Mario Draghi became the 30th Italian Prime Minister since the birth of the republic in 1946. The former President of the European Central Bank, Draghi is one of the leading figures in the European Union. He has come into office after the Conte government, which was faced with the most challenging year since the end of WWII, due to the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic. For the first time in a decade, the new government is being led by an executive coalition tasked with fostering the country’s recovery. Lombardy, Italy’s economic locomotive, will be playing a strong role in the new Draghi government.
The following are excerpts of interview with Attilio Fontana, President of Lombardy:
Q. President Fontana, this is the second turning point for both Italy and Lombardy, following the first phase of the pandemic in February 2020. In a historic moment, Italy’s new government has given key ministerial roles to Lombard members of your party, specifically those of economic development and tourism.
A. The unprecedented viral wave has affected almost 3 million people in Italy and over 500,000 of them in Lombardy. However, the country has been working to cope with it and continues to move forward. We are entering a new political phase and we realise that ideological barriers must be overcome in order to construct a plan that will work for the whole country. Lombardy will certainly be an important part of it, with no fewer than 9 of the 23 ministers in the new government coming from our region. Clearly, as the most economically active and most international region, we feel confident about that.
Q. How has the global health plan worked in Lombardy and how will the vaccine plan be implemented?
A. It is clear that having transformed a part of the Milan Exhibition Centre into a Covid hospital has proved a successful strategy. Here, at the Fiera Hospital, we have built a large alliance to implement the Lombard model for vaccinations against Covid-19. Our plan is to vaccinate millions of people in six months. And, as Vice-President Letizia Moratti defined it, this important alliance also includes the manufacturers and the trade unions, all aiming to restart Lombardy. This is a historic event, which will save the lives of thousands of people, aiming to save lives and to strengthen the livelihoods.
Q. What kinds of policies will we be seeing in terms of Italy’s post-Covid recovery?
A. The first step is to trust our citizens. The approach is to carry them with us in advance and then carry out checks, randomly or across the board. The public administration will have to implement a radical simplification.
Q. The economic situation requires some kind of Marshall Plan for Lombardy. How can the example of Lombardy be applied in other contexts?
A. The budget of a public entity is divided between investments and current expenditures. The latter is the most limited, as 99% of those expenses are already allocated at the beginning of the year, and it is not possible to incur a debt. Therefore, we have decided—because we cannot intervene directly to support credit and support companies, except with limited resources—to intervene on the investment side. So, we have allocated 4 billion euro ($4.9 billion) in a plan, which is very important for our region, to make substantial investments in our territory. That will include public works—initiatives for which municipalities have been waiting for a long time—tangible and intangible infrastructure, major interventions in terms of digitisation. Certainly, India also knows a great deal about making investments in digitization and intangible infrastructure, and our goal is the same, we also want to choose a direction for the future of our country. On the one hand, investing in research and innovation means providing immediate resources to the economy, on the other hand it also means having a truly international development perspective in terms of how that is invested.
Q. What unites Lombardy and India as it is ahead in many technological sectors in Italy, and among the vanguard in Europe?
A. We are greatly pleased to know that India after reaching a peak of 11 million citizens affected, has achieved a great success in Covid-19 management through excellent planning, control and execution in restricting the spread of this pandemic and now the vaccination programme is underway.
Lombardy has always a synergy with Maharashtra area, which is industrially very progressive. There are numerous exchanges in the industrial sectors but I see particular activities in the pharmaceutical and food processing sectors.
I also hope that tourism will become important common ground between India and Lombardy, showcasing India’s cultural heritages and the beauty of this region’s lakes with the qualities of the centre of Milan. The exhibition and conference sector are also one of the points of great interest, but we will also have to understand how to successfully resume this sector again in Lombardy.
Q. Any plan of Lombardy Region for Odisha state?
A. Firstly, I must congratulate the Chief Minister, Naveen Patnaik for developing Odisha in last two decades and making it an investor-friendly region. His corona pandemic management is truly praise worthy. We have great interest of business and industrial collaboration with Odisha primarily in the areas of mining, minerals, metallurgy, agriculture, food processing and textile. I would personally like to be in touch with him in this connection.
Pratapaditya Mishra, Visiting Professor in MBA Department, Utkal University, conducted this interview with the help of Alberto Cavicchiolo and Francesca Bruni—associated with Art Valley, Milan.
STRANDED ROHINGYAS NOT OUR PROBLEM: DHAKA
Bangladesh Foreign Minister A.K. Abdul Momen says Dhaka is under ‘no obligation’ to shelter 81 Rohingya refugees stranded at sea for almost two weeks and being assisted by India.
DHAKA: Bangladesh is under “no obligation” to shelter 81 Rohingya Muslim refugees adrift for almost two weeks on the Andaman Sea and being assisted by neighbouring India, Bangladesh Foreign Minister A.K. Abdul Momen told news agency Reuters.
Indian Coast Guard (ICG) found the survivors and eight dead crammed on a fishing boat and were trying to arrange for Bangladesh to take them, Indian officials said on Friday.
Speaking at a videoconference briefing on 24 February, Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said that on 11 February, a boat sailed from Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh carrying 64 women including 8 girls and 26 men including 5 boys. “The engine of the boat failed on February 15 and since then it has been drifting. Due to the severe conditions, we understand that eight occupants have died and one of the occupants had been missing since February 15,” Srivastava said.
“When we learnt of the boat in distress, we immediately dispatched two coast guard ships to provide food, water and medical assistance to the occupants. Seven of them were administered IV fluids,” he added.
The spokesperson stated that around 47 of the boat’s occupants possessed identity cards issued to them by the UNHCR office in Bangladesh, which stated that they were displaced Myanmar nationals and person of concern to UNHCR registered by the Bangladesh government.
“We are in discussions with the Government of Bangladesh to ensure their safe and secure repatriation,” Shrivastava added.
Bangladesh Foreign Minister Momen, however, told Reuters that Bangladesh expects India, the closest country, or Myanmar, the Rohingyas’ country of origin, to accept them. “They are not Bangladesh nationals and in fact, they are Myanmar nationals. They were found 1,700 km (1,100 miles) away from the Bangladesh maritime territory and therefore, we have no obligation to take them,” said Momen, who is in the United States.
“They were located 147 km (91 miles) away from Indian territory, 324 km (201 miles) away from Myanmar,” he said by phone, adding that other countries and organisations should take care of the refugees. “Has Bangladesh been given the global contract and responsibility to take and rehabilitate all the Rohingya or boat people of the world?” Momen said. “No, not at all.”
Momen said the UNHCR should also take responsibility as around 47 people on the boat hold ID cards from the UNHCR office in Bangladesh stating that they are displaced Myanmar nationals.
“If (the refugees) are UNHCR card holders, why did they allow traffickers to take their card holders to adrift on the high sea leading to death?”
More than 1 million Rohingya refugees from predominantly Buddhist Myanmar are living in teeming camps in Muslim-majority Bangladesh, including tens of thousands who fled after Myanmar’s military conducted a deadly crackdown in 2017.
Traffickers often lure Rohingya refugees with promises of work in Southeast Asian countries like Malaysia.
The United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR, expressed alarm this week over the missing boat.
With agency inputs
Organization of Rare Diseases India presents an enchanting session on Rare Diseases
Organization of Rare Diseases India (ORDI) recently presented an enthralling session on Rare Diseases on NewsX. There were 4 power-packed panels of experts that joined in the session that was divided into 4 segments covering various aspects concerning the topic. The four segments were:
- Rare Diseases: The Untold & Unheard Saga
- Rare Diseases: The Indian Scenario
- RaceFor7- Walk/ Run/ Ride on 28th Feb
- Rare Diseases: Hopes from the government
‘Rare Diseases: The Untold & Unheard Saga’
Dr Meenakshi Bhatt, Consultant, Clinical Genetics, CHG, Bengaluru kickstarted the first segment by enlightening the viewers on Rare Diseases. Dr Bhatt said, “Rare diseases, as the name suggests are the diseases that happen very infrequently in the population. In countries other than ours, there is a definition, sometimes it is defined in certain countries as something that happens less than once in a population of 2 lakhs. In some other countries, there is a definition that 1 in 2,500 or less of the population is affected by a disease.”
“In our own country, we do not have an accepted definition but I think once we are settled on a definition, it should be 1 in 5,000 people who are affected by a particular disease. Collectively, it has a huge impact because of nearly 7,000 Rare Diseases and we estimate that there must be at least 70 million people affected by it in India with a collection of these diseases. What does it do to the people? It affects many systems of the body and sometimes, one individual that’s affected with the Rare Disease can have many parts of their body including their intelligence affected. So, it’s very important that we recognize it early so that we can do something about it,” said Dr Meenakshi.
This segment was also joined by Prasanna Shirol, Co-founder & Executive Director, ORDI, Sangeeta Barde, Co-founder Director, ORDI, Lalith S, Director, ORDI & father of kids with Sanfilippo syndrome, Arouba Kabir, Counselor & Mental Health therapist, Dr Sujatha Jagdeesh, Head of Clinical Genetics, Mediscan, Chennai, Dr Ann Agnes Mathew, Pediatric Neurologist, Baptist Hospital, Bangalore, Dr Shubha Phadke, Professor & HOD, Medical Genetics, SGPGI.
Rare Diseases: The Indian Scenario
Giving an introduction of ORDI, Prasanna Shirol, Co-founder & Executive Director, ORDI said in his inaugural address, “ORDI is an umbrella organization which represents 7,000 plus Rare Diseases. Basically, we work in the area of advocacy, awareness and patient support.”
Mr Shirol’s quest to finding answers to multiple questions in the area of Rare Diseases led him to find the organization. He personally struggled through his life as his 22-year-old daughter is India’s first Pompe patient which is a rare genetic and neuromuscular disease.
Joining in the conversation, Sangeeta Barde, Co-founder Director, ORDI said, “We really came to a conclusion that there is no organization who can look at this in the most holistic manner. So, if one has to really work in the area of Rare Diseases then how can it be most holistic when it comes to addressing majority of these challenges that people encounter. So, that was the reason for the birth of ORDI and the whole mission is therefore around representing the Rare Diseases here in India. It’s not about one disease, it’s about 7,000 diseases that we are talking about. Some of them are not even identified properly, their names are unavailable, patients are unidentified.”
Other contributors of this segment of discussion were Dr Sumita Danda, Professor & Head, Department of Clinical Genetics, CMC, Vellore, T.S. Singh Deo, Health Minister, Chhattisgarh, Ashutosh, parent of a child of IEM, Samir Sethi, President at Indian Rett Syndrome Foundation, Dr Sarthak Kamath, MD, Psychiatry and is living with DMD, Vaishali Pai, Occupational Therapist & Founder, Tamahar Trust, Bengaluru, Manjeet Singh, President, LSDSS and he also lost his child to MPS, Dr Ratna Puri, Professor and Chairperson, Institute of Medical Genetics, Sri Ganga Ram Hospital, Dr Sanjeeva G.N., Associate Professor, Pediatrics, IGICH, Bangalore, Anil Raina, General Manager, Sanofi Genzyme, Gitanjali Sehgal, Co-founder, FSMA and is an aunt to an SMA girl and Sunila Thatte, Vice President & Head- R&D Solutions India at IQVIA.
Segment 3: RaceFor7- Walk/ Run/ Ride on 28th Feb
Racefor7 is a yearly event that ORDI conducts for the past 6 years. It symbolically represents the 7,000 rare diseases with 7,000 people running for 7 kilometres. Prasanna Shirol, Co-founder & Executive Director, ORDI said that it is a mass awareness run/ walk/ ride. He added that it is unique and largest such program in the world where so many people join to create awareness who are unaffected for causes like Rare Diseases. This year, this event will be held virtually tomorrow, to register, go to registration.racefor7.com.
Segment 3 panellists were Prasanna Shirol, Co-founder & Executive Director, ORDI, Sangeeta Barde, Co-founder Director, ORDI, Dr Meenakshi Bhatt, Consultant, Clinical Genetics, CHG, Bengaluru, Arouba Kabir, Counselor & Mental Health therapist, Sirisha, OI Warrior, President awardee, Anand Shah, Trustee of PPMD India, Uttam Sahoo, teacher & parent of Progeria child Aditya from Uttarakhand, Dr Suresh Hanagawadi, President, Karnataka Hemophilia Society & Professor of Pathology, JMM Medical College, Davangere, Dr Prakash Gambhir, Chief Medical Scientist, Lifecell & Fetomed and Sunila Thatte, Vice President & Head- R&D Solutions India at IQVIA.
Segment 4: Rare Diseases: Hopes from the government
In the last segment of the session on Rare Diseases, the panellists shared the challenges that the government perhaps needs to take account of. Taking the same conversation ahead, Dr Ratna Puri, Professor and Chairperson, Institute of Medical Genetics, Sri Ganga Ram Hospital said, “Being a doctor who has been working half lifetime with patients with Rare Diseases, I think we deal with a very large population and the priorities from the health administration side are probably different. We see our priorities as the most vital, I do agree with the parent community, they are vital because every child has a right to life but we are moving ahead and I hope that with all this, with the noise that is being created, with the platforms that are coming forward to take the voice and the importance of treating children with rare disorders, we are all waiting for a good Rare Disease policy.”
The power-packed panel that joined this segment included Prasanna Shirol, Co-founder & Executive Director, ORDI, Sangeeta Barde, Co-founder Director, ORDI, Dr Meenakshi Bhatt, Consultant, Clinical Genetics, CHG, Bengaluru, Dr Ratna Puri, Professor and Chairperson, Institute of Medical Genetics, Sri Ganga Ram Hospital, Prasanna Shirol, Co-founder & Executive Director, ORDI, Gitanjali Sehgal, Co-founder, FSMA and is an aunt to an SMA girl, Manjeet Singh, President, LSDSS and he also lost his child to MPS, Samir Sethi, President at Indian Rett Syndrome Foundation, Dr Sanjeeva G.N., Associate Professor, Pediatrics, IGICH, Bangalore, Anil Raina, General Manager, Sanofi Genzyme, Sunila Thatte, Vice President & Head- R&D Solutions India at IQVIA, Dr Ann Agnes Mathew, Pediatric Neurologist, Baptist Hospital, Bangalore and Vaishali Pai, Occupational Therapist & Founder, Tamahar Trust, Bengaluru.
‘Startups: Opportunities in the next decade’: Taxolawgy explores new age entrepreneurship
Moving towards an Aatmanirbhar Bharat, Taxolawgy Inc on Thursday, February 25, presented a captivating session on ‘Startups: Opportunities in the next decade’. Eminent leaders from the startup world, including CA Farooq Haque, Serial Entrepreneur, Founder & CEO- Taxolawgy Inc, Divya Varma, Co-founder at Taxolawgy Inc, Marketing & Growth Strategist, Anil Chhikara, Founder & CEO, Bluebolt Startup Factory, Amit Agarwal, Author- The Ultimate Sales Accelerator and Sajeev Nair, Serial Entrepreneur, Peak Performance Consultant, joined the panel.
Charting the course for new age entrepreneurship, especially in the new normal, Farooq Haque, Founder & CEO- Taxolawgy Inc, in his opening remarks said, “The new normal is not about changing your destinations, but rather changing your path and changing your journey to reach the same destination.”
Emphasising how the division between taking a job and or starting your own venture has blurred over the years, he added, “When I became a CA more than 25 years back, there weren’t many opportunities out there. Either you went into the job industry or you started your own practice. Then came the startup revolution around 10-12 years back, which gave a new opening for the young entrepreneurs out there, who had the entrepreneurial mind and advantaged from the startup culture, in terms of funds, mentorship and the help they needed. But, the new normal that we are witnessing now, is a complete game-changer. That iron wall that existed earlier between the job industry and the entrepreneurship is now completely broken. I would take this liberty to coin the new definition of freelancing, i.e, ‘Entrepreneurial workforce’. Freelancing is not like a job since you are not in the payroll of the company; you are an entrepreneur developing something of your own in the work domain. This is going to be a game changer in the upcoming decade.”
Speaking about the growth of freelancing and its growth during and after the pandemic, Divya Varma, Co-founder at Taxolawgy Inc, said, “The pandemic has proved to be blessing in disguise for the freelancing industry. As the world went into lockdown, the only thing that survived, or rather thrived, was remote working and freelancing. Employers are re-evaluating budget and opting for more flexible workforce. Even the employees are showing growing interest towards the independent world. Mac Berry, the founder of freelancers.com, has said and I quote, ‘While Covid-19 has been a trigger for upward trending freelancer movement, this exponential growth can also be attributed to the strong demand for individual to finally start their own freelance enterprise, work on their own terms and supplement their income.”
Anil Chhikara, Founder & CEO, Bluebolt Startup Factory and also the founder of Startup India Foundation, highlighted the development of startup eco-system in India in the last decade. He said, “If we put in a time machine and send today’s young entrepreneurs 10 years back, they wouldn’t believe that India was where it was. Things that we almost take for granted, were not there. If you look at Silicon Valley, they have gone through various upturns and downturns. The upturn is more important for an eco-system, because of the downturn and what happens after the downturn. If you look at the history of silicon history, after every massive downturn, much bigger companies have come back aligned to the new realities. The biggest change that happens during this is that the investors, the mentors and everybody that comes in to the ecosystem, are those who have been entrepreneurs before, have made a success and had failures. They have walked the path. I am happy to see in the last 10 years that the big change that has taken place is stakeholders, whether you are talking about accelerators, incubators and even the government, today are running something like Invest India and Startup India, rather than putting ‘babus’ to run it. They are putting really seasoned entrepreneurs who have been there, done that. The biggest example of this is Aadhar and UPI. I believe that the changes that happened in the last one year will outstrip the changes that have taken place in the last ten years.”
When asked about how startups should plan their sales activity at the starting stage, Amit Agarwal, Author- The Ultimate Sales Accelerator, said, “There is a how part of sales and there is 4W part of sales. What I framed is a 4W and H framework of sales. Simply put, it is why are you selling, what are you selling, where are you selling and who are you selling and how are you selling.” In a lot of cases, I have seen that there is a lot of focus on the ‘h’, i.e how part of sales. Startups should change that to focus on the first 4Ws. If startups start addressing these 4Ws, the ‘how’ part will automatically be optimised. There is a lot of literature on the how part and less focus on the 4Ws.”
Elaborating how one can find out the scalability of a startup idea, Sajeev Nair, Serial Entrepreneur and Peak Performance Consultant, said, “We all know that one of the key factors we always count is the scalability of idea or the concept. The question on how do you say whether your idea is scalable or not, is purely based on the idea. Primarily because if you are coming out with an idea, there are many business ideas, which are not scalable. The basic question, which startup entrepreneurs should ask, is what is your idea. If you have to scale something, what is it that you are going to scale! You need to have basic core element, which you can scale up. When we start a business, we should be focusing very clearly on what is that element that can be scalable. There could be one or more elements that can be scalable. First, we should define the purpose, then we design the products that meet the purpose and then we design the process, which can take the products to meet the purpose. We then find the people or the distribution channel through whom we can meet that purpose. When you are scaling up based on a purpose, you can gain success.”
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