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May 2016

Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 29 may 2016

A number of studies have strengthened the common belief that being around trees and close to nature improves one's mental and physical well-being. Research by Prof. Bin Jiang of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (now at University of Hong Kong) and his team, further emboldens the belief regarding the soothing aspects of green environment on stress levels and blood pressure. The study was undertaken to determine the dose-response curve between tree cover density and stress recovery. It included 158 volunteers in mildly stressful situations. The experiment utilized virtual reality headset to view 360-degree videos of an urban space with varying amounts of tree canopy visible. Results obtained from the tests showed a positive linear association between the density of trees and the self reported recovery from stress. Prof. Jiang comments, 'These finding suggest that viewing a tree canopy in communities can aid stress recovery and that every tree matters.' Researchers found that regardless of age, gender, and baseline stress levels the greater the exposure to trees, the less stress the subject felt. Read on...

Total Landscape Care: University study - Stress falls as exposure to trees increases
Author: Jill Odom


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 22 may 2016

According to the latest report by PwC, 'Connecting the World: Ten Mechanisms for Global Inclusion', providing internet connectivity to the remaining 4.1 billion people and bringing them online would increase global economic output by US$ 6.7 trillion. It will lift 500 million people out of poverty over five years. The report says that affordability, rather than infrastructure and availability, is the main barrier to internet adoption in most areas. Therefore, the report suggests that improvement of existing technology or even simply installing existing technology in developing nations, will be sufficient to achieve the essential cost reduction. The report was prepared for Facebook, that itself advocates cost reduction through Internet.org project. Facebook's approach of limiting the low-cost access to a subsection of the web, giving access to select sites like Wikipedia and Facebook, termed as 'zero rating', has critics in 'net neutrality' advocates like Tim Berners-Lee, who says, 'I tend to say 'Just say no.' In the particular case of somebody who's offering...something which is branded internet, it's not internet, then you just say no.' On the other hand, Jonathan Tate of PwC argues, 'Facebook's approach is worth it in the long term. While zero rating provides access to a slimmer version of the internet than the full web, it's a crucial stepping stone to full access. The important thing here is to get things moving.' Efforts like Google's Project Loon and Facebook's Aquila, are geared to achieve total connectivity by creating 'disruptive technologies'. Read on...

the guardian: Connecting everyone to internet 'would add $6.7tn to global economy'
Author: Alex Hern


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 08 may 2016

UK-India Social Enterprise Education Network (UKISEEN), a collaborative project between IIT Madras (India) and University of Southampton (UK), funded by British Council, was recently launched in India. Prof. Pathik Pathak, Director of Social Enterprise and founding director of Social Impact Lab at University of Southampton, explains his views on social entrepreneurship education and employment, aims and objectives of UKISEEN and how India is embracing social entrepreneurship. ON SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP: 'Fundamentally, it's about using entrepreneurship and innovation to drive social change. Social entrepreneurship is important because it gives students a unique skill-set...We think that social entrepreneurship is a catalyst for producing the graduates that the world needs. This is why so many universities in India have embraced social entrepreneurship.' ON UKISEEN: 'It involves universities collaborating to understand the best practices in social entrepreneurship education and exchanging ideas. There are two levels to the collaboration - at the faculty level and student level.' ON ROLE OF UNIVERSITIES: 'Employability is all about leadership now...universities' role includes more than merely educating students. Social entrepreneurship helps students inculcate innovation and creative skills. Fundamentally, it is about problem-solving, which is what leadership is all about as well. Besides, regardless of the profession you enter, you need to be entrepreneurial.' ON EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES: 'One can go and work in the social investment space...Another indirect way is that it gives them the skills to go into the workforce and become leaders.' Read on...

The Hindu: Leadership through entrepreneurship
Author: Sarthak Saraswat


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 03 may 2016

Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web and founder of the Web Foundation, is concerned about governments not providing open access to their data online. He says, 'The lack of free access to government data - or 'data poverty' - is contributing to widening inequality around the world...Inequality and poverty are about more than income. They are also about information.' Openly published data can help fight corruption and improve services for citizens. It can also be of value in understanding and fighting global warming and related issues like deforestation, floods, fall in crop yields etc. The study by the Web Foundation found that that more than half of the 92 countries it studies now have open data initiatives in place. Moreover, fewer than 10% of the datasets surveyed were open, and most of these are in the rich world, and almost non in African countries. Anne Jellema, CEO of the Web Foundation, says, 'Trying to use traditional data sources to tackle complex development challenges like climate change and hunger is like tunnelling through rock in the dark with a teaspoon. It takes ages and you may come out in the wrong place. Making development data open is vital for fast and accurate collaboration on the SDGs (United Nations Sustainable Development Goals), and the urgency now is to move from promises to implementation.' Read on...

Information Age: Sir Tim Berners-Lee - Data poverty is the next frontier of inequality
Author: Ben Rossi


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