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SWEETS ARE VITAL FOR A HAPPY DIET

Instead of trying to ban foods from our diet, the approach should be to learn and teach moderation. Just eat more of the good food and less of the bad and you’ll do just fine. Of course, excess of anything is bad.

Kavita Devgan

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I want to begin this column by asking these questions? Have you ever eaten an apparently healthy meal only to feel completely unsatisfied after finishing it? Or, a meal that left you feeling heavy, tired and bloated? Often. Right! That’s probably because these meals were unbalanced, no, not in terms of nutrients or calories, but in terms of flavours.

Today there is clarity that balancing all five tastes—salty, sweet, sour, bitter and the newly discovered umami—is the key to satisfaction and good health. Science now believes that unless we eat all flavours in balance our brain does not think that we have received an adequate amount of nutrition, and so doesn’t get satisfied.

The irony is that while this might be breaking news in modern science, Ayurveda has been following this theory for ages! Our traditional thalis, which always had a little of all (and we wondered why), were so obviously constructed based on this balancing tenet; they propagate a balanced mix of six basic tastes or rasas—sweet (madhura), sour (amla), salty (lavana), bitter (tikta), pungent or hot (katu), and astringent (kashai)) but the subtext is the same: That less or excess of any of these tends to create an imbalance in our body. So yes some sugar fits in our diet fabulously as long as you eat it the right way. Our grandmothers loved this and they are usually right.

As a nutritionist, my take on a “Happy Diet” is very clear. I don’t believe that we need to completely curb our sugar craving, and put a blanket ban on all meetha. Agreed, excess sugar can be bad, like any other item consumed in excess, but a blanket ban is certainly not the solution. In fact it doesn’t work. I have been writing about the fallacy of demonising meetha for a long time. In fact, in my second book Ultimate Grandmother Hacks, there is a chapter titled “Don’t Say No to That Laddoo”.

I believe that a better strategy is to practice moderation instead of going cold turkey. Because the fact is that the more you try to run away from meetha, the more you’ll think about it and crave for it. So it makes more sense to learn instead to get smart about it; choose your sweets right. Eat them in moderation. For example, I believe that a home-made mithai will never harm you. As with these you can control the ingredients and even ensure some nutrition. So aim for portion control instead of trying to ban it completely.

THE WEIGHT-LOSS CONNECTION

When trying to lose weight too, it always helps to focus on the taste factor of the diet. It’s actually the ‘mood foods’ that help drop the kilos, not the foods everyone else says you must eat.

Two big lessons for a diet to be successful you must: One, satisfy your taste buds, keep them on your side—it’s important! Two, you cannot sustain a tasteless diet. And diets only work—obviously—if you can sustain them.

I personally feel that we all have gone overboard trying to project sugar as an absolute villain. Actually we always do that. We love to pick on foods and ingredients and paint them all black or all ‘green’ (good). But the fact is that no food is bad per say—it is only bad in excess. And that holds true for every food, in fact even water. Excess of anything is bad.

So instead of trying to ban foods from our diet, the approach should be to learn and teach moderation. I have a simple rule that I talk about and write about all the time: The power of moderation. Just eat more of the good food and less of the bad and you’ll do just fine. Of course, excess of anything is bad. For example, according to Ayurveda while the sweet taste promotes a feeling of love and well-being, which is imperative, when consumed in excess it leads to smugness and stasis; basically, a lazier version of us (and well, insulin resistance and diabetes too). Similarly, salt in moderation gives energy, promotes growth, and balances electrolytes in the body, but too much may cause acidity and also raise our blood pressure. Too much sour food might lead to water retention. Too much pungency in food might lead to constipation and so on.

So, don’t make any food a villain. Don’t be scared of sugar, eat it responsibly. Make intelligent choices based on your health and lifestyle status. And always choose natural over artificial—this is one rule that can safeguard your health, so don’t compromise on that.

Kavita Devgan is a nutritionist, health writer and author. The views expressed are personal.

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ART KEPT US CONNECTED DURING COVID-19 PANDEMIC, SAYS SINGER SHILPA RAO

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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.

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Exploring new-age entrepreneurship and opportunities for startups

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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Organization of Rare Diseases India presents an enchanting session on Rare Diseases 

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ORDI panel

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:

  1. Rare Diseases: The Untold & Unheard Saga
  2. Rare Diseases: The Indian Scenario
  3. RaceFor7- Walk/ Run/ Ride on 28th Feb
  4. 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.

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‘Startups: Opportunities in the next decade’: Taxolawgy explores new age entrepreneurship

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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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