As global warming takes its hold the earth, record temperatures are being recorded throughout the world. A climate change agency has stated that the world just experience one of the hottest May’s ever recorded. While those in first world countries can retreat to air conditioned homes and cars, many are not nearly as lucky. There are more than 50 million people worldwide who are displaced from their homes and living in refugee camps with little resources, few areas of shade, and no adequate shelter from the relentless heat. The number of refugees throughout the world is expanding rapidly because of the situation in Syria. Many Syrians continue to leave their country in large numbers to escape the violence. By the end of 2013, 2.5 million refugees left Syria to settle in camps in other countries. Even more than that, about 6.5 million have been displaced and forced from their homes to another area of the country. Due to the ISIS crisis in Iraq many are leaving that country as well. These refugees are flocking to countries like Lebanon and Turkey where the heat of the summer is very intense.
In a sort of cruel ironic way, the climate change that is making it so unbearably hot is also part of the reason that the conflict in Syria began. The results of climate change were very hard on the Syrian people, even before the conflict. Climate changed caused drought throughout the country, resulting in little crop yields that eventually led to the discontent that caused the nation to go to war. The fight that essentially began over a lack of resources is now continuing to punish those who fled with even less resources and even more extreme heat. The Middle East has reached peak temperatures this summer. The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration refers to the region as possessing a “much warmer than average” temperature from March to May this year.
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At the Helm is a memoir of a veteran technocrat and his stints as the director of Bharat Heavy Electricals, Maruti Udyog, and Steel Authority of India (SAIL). The man who authored the text and lived this amazing life is the former civil servant V. Krishnamurthy. He writes honestly about the struggles these companies went through in their founding years. Those who ran the companies had to get rid of many standard practices in order to change the image that plagued many government run companies in that time. Krishnamurthy writes honestly and clearly of working tirelessly to improve the work culture, enforcing discipline to increase efficiency and dealing with trade unions in order to bring the costumer into the forefront of focus.
Although the government in India is still very controversial today when you read the memoir and look back in history you realize that there were many more problems between 1960 and 1980. Things really have improved and this memoir is part of that story. Krishnamurthy writes of all the problems with deliveries to customers at BHEL. There was no coordination between company’s and how to delivery units to customers. He says that “the customers would usually source equipment from each of the plants and put it together themselves.” He helped to set up a power projects division of the companies in order to provide and integrated service for customers, which yielded better delivery results. Krishnamurthy received the Padma Vibhushan, the country’s second highest honor for his services in 2007.
The memoir overall is an interesting read in how India was able to work within the global market and slowly start to emerge as they enter the list of productive countries. His tone can be a bit self-congratulatory at times, but it forgivable for all that he has accomplished.
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In 2005, Monique Pool lost her dog, named Sciolo. She called the Suriname Animal Protection Society to see if they had any luck finding her beloved pet. They didn’t know where Sciolo was, but they told Pool about Loesje (also called Lucia) a baby sloth that they weren’t sure what to do with. Pool took in the animal and immediately fell in love. She says of sloths, “they’re very special animals to look at…they always have smile on their face and seem so tranquil and peaceful.”
Despite their long claws, sloths are very gentle. However, this doesn’t make them an easy pet to have and maintain. They have a very challenging diet. Pool went to Judy Arroyo for advice on how to feed Lucia. Arroyo runs a sloth sanctuary in Costa Rica. She recommended that she give the baby sloth goat’s milk, as they cannot process cow’s milk. However, in Suriname, where Pool resides there was not an abundance of goat’s milk, so she had it shipped in from the United States. Unfortunately, Lucia died after two years, but Pool learned from the experience and she created a great network of people to continue rescuing sloths.
People from all over Suriname came to her with sloths because she was the only one in the country who had the expertise. Police departments, zoos, and the Animal Protection Society relied on her to take care of, rehabilitate, and re-release sloths back into the wild. Then Pool was flooded with a large request when some forest was cleared and 14 sloths were displaced. They were challenging to take care of because of different sleeping schedules and finding a place for all of them to reside in her home and cages in the back yard. Then, as the clearing continued they realized that there were more than 14 sloths that needed homes, but actually 200. Pool relied on many friends and volunteers and powered goats milk to feed the babies. Every sloth that Pool rescued from the clearing was reintroduced into the wild. Pool lost her pup, but it opened her up to a world of sloths and she has become their guardian angel.
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Do businesses have a responsibility to help the social good of the communities in which they operate? The Harvard School of Business is exploring that idea with a new seminar series. Rebecca Henderson, a Harvard professor started asking these types of questions a few years ago, which prompted the series. Henderson said that when she began asking colleagues and business executives, “they say the answer I regulation or that the answer is taxation. The idea that firms can set themselves up for public good is viewed with suspicion-in my view for very good reasons.”
The first workshop in the series took place on January 30 and involved three-dozen faculty and doctoral students from multiple colleges. The seminar series entitled “Business and the Public Sector” runs through May and is seeking to spark conversation and unpack ideas of the role the private sector may play in shaping capitalism. Henderson stated at the conference that businesses have to incentive to deal with public sector problems. She also noted that businesses becoming involved in public projects bay be seen as misuse of shareholders funds or as trying to be subversive when it comes to democratic institutions. It is a difficult thing to maneuver, but there are reasons for businesses to pursue this idea. One reason is the growing rate of global corruption.
Additionally, there are environmental pressures and inequality and poverty to consider. The government should handle these issues, but sometimes action is not taken. The private sector has more resources than the government does and could make more of an impact. In some cases helping the public sector can also be beneficial to the company. For example, IBM reduced their energy consumption and saved $477 million between 1990 and 2012.
Henderson identified two areas that need to be explored. One area is inducement methods for businesses like regulations and taxes. The second is whether it is desirable for businesses and firms to change and regulate themselves when considering helping the public good. Could helping the public be part of a new standard for business practices? Historically in the United States government and business worked together to help the public. This changed around the 1980s when businesses became less localized and tied to communities. This series will continue the discussion and possibly bring about change down the road for businesses and the public.
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