Friday, June 08, 2012

A "small" step for the Rotarians...?

As per the figures published in Rotary News, the regional magazine of Rotary International for India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka, in its issue of May 2012, Volume 62, Issue 11 (page 12), as on 31 March 2012 the total number of Rotary members in India stood at 109,718. The total number of members in South Asia stood at 121,223, the “world total” being 1,194,855. Page 4 of this magazine informs us that the current annual subscription for Rotary News is INR.480.0 for India and USD.24.0 for “all other countries”. Incidentally, it is worth noting that subscription to this magazine by every member of a Rotary club is compulsory.
These numbers triggered a few thoughts in my mind. What if the RI issued only electronic versions of its monthly magazine, the Rotary News -  say either through e-mail or by putting the same up on a website? What would the impact of this "small" step be?
A back-of-the-envelope calculations shows that for India, the amount that could perhaps be saved every year would be something to the order of Rs.52,664,640.0. That for the members of the entire South Asia it would be Rs.15.2 million approx. (at Rs.55 per USD).  For the whole (Rotary) world the estimated annual savings could be Rs.1,432.4 million approx. That’s about USD.26 million every year. Add to this the cost of printing, packaging, distribution and labour.
Apart from making better use of this not too insignificant sum, just think of the overall impact on the world environment. If we base our calculation on a ballpark figure of 84 pages per issue, an annual circulation of 1,194,855 copies translates to approximately 1,204,400,000  pages (two sides of a single A-4 sized sheet) consumed every year. If the RI switches to the electronic mode for the issue and circulation of Rotary News, think of the number of trees that can be saved every year through this single step!
Why not take that step right away? Let the benefits accrue from today itself! Any takers?

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Genesis of the crisis in Europe

Europe is going through a financial crisis. It's becoming worse day by day, final outcome unknown. 
Many reasons have been offered for it. However, I came across an article titled "The idea of Europe" by Prabhat Patnaik (The Telegraph, 5 June 2012) which throws new lights on its origin.
I did follow the financial meltdown since it erupted on 15 September 2008. Read many articles on it. But, must admit that I didn't come across any analysis that seemed so much to the point. The analysis is from a totally new angle, is very interesting, and - once you read it - seems perfectly logical.
I'd be happy to present a summary of his main arguments, if you are interested. Do leave your comment/request below.

Monday, June 04, 2012

Walking the dog

If you are one of those who take regular morning walks, you'd have certainly observed those who take out their dogs for their morning routine. You'd also have noticed how they manage their pets while on their respective 'walks'. Broadly speaking, these 'dog-walkers' (if I may call them so) demonstrate two distinct characteristics. 
The first do not take the trouble to keep their pets on a leash. Their pets are free to roam, sniff or minutely examine whatever catches their fancy, taking their own time to do so. The 'dog-walker' is mostly patient. He/she keeps a sharp but indulgent watch, all the while leading it on to cover the distance they together set out to, maintaining a certain casual tempo.
The second type of 'dog-walkers' are made of sterner stuff. Members of this type have their wards tied to a leash. The animals are not allowed any leeway whatsoever while on their morning rounds. They are not allowed to stray, not permitted to sniff around or pause here and there for any length of time, or examine anything it considers worth a closer look. Their masters appear to be on a mission - determined to get it over with, and to be back home as soon as possible.
Four years ago we had been on a group/conducted tour to Western Europe. We enjoyed the trip immensely. Last year we'd been to Viet Nam. The experience was even more satisfying, frankly speaking it was unforgettable (the best till date). Late last month we traveled through Spain and also spent two nights in Lisbon - on another group/conducted tour. On this latest outing, the feeling that we came away with was being under the thumb of the second type of 'dog-walkers'.
But....whichever way you look at it, the fact remains that a tourist on such conducted/group tours lead a dog's life. Don't agree with me, huh? Wanna know why???  O.K. Here comes the last throw of the dice... 
While on morning walks, you'd have noticed dogs lifting up their hind legs to leave their mark at every lamp post or bush. So also on group tours  (especially in Europe). Throughout such tours around Europe we were encouraged to do what they do - at every 'loo stop'. "Never ignore a lamp post" - or a bus(h) stop -  appeared to be the motto, the way of life! 
Reasons: Vehicles are not permitted to stop anywhere on the highway. The drivers must take a break every two hours (it's the rule there). One cannot relieve oneself anywhere except at the designated public conveniences - most of which are located only at the service stations, petrol bunks or restaurants where the buses are allowed to stop. Hence.....
Oh, what a (dog's) life we tourists lead sometimes!    
Conducted tour is a conscious, necessary compromise. It is here to stay. Yet, if you are fortunate to have a 'conductor' (your  'dog-walker', the tour manager) who belongs to the first group (the patient, indulgent type), your tour can still be very memorable indeed.