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Productivity and Philanthropy

There is a wonderful organization called with a creative and very simple motto: "Skip something. Feed a child."



There is a wonderful organization called with a creative and very simple motto: "Skip something. Feed a child."

The introductory video shows a young couple in a fancy restaurant who decide to skip their meal. The waitress takes their plates, goes through a door and on the other side of the door you see a poor village with two hungry children who are happy to get the meal that the couple in the restaurant skipped. Powerful message, indeed. After all, it wouldn't be so difficult for many of us to skip a meal, an expensive Starbucks coffee, a game of golf or a soda and popcorn at the movies (and we may even shed a pound or two in the process).

However, the Skip1 video grossly underestimates the potential impact of skipping something. It suggests that when you skip a meal, you get to feed one child somewhere. The incredible fact is that if you skip just one meal, you can feed a child in a poor developing country for one hundred days!

Let us look at some numbers: Imagine that you and your girlfriend decide to skip going to the movies, just once, saving $24 (Rs.  1080) for movie tickets and say another $10 (Rs. 450) for soda and popcorn — instead, you decide to eat fruit and cereal with milk and stream a movie from Netflix on your large screen TV with your state-of-the-art surround sound system (marginal cost, about $3 (Rs. 135)) — You saved $31 (Rs. 1395). This is what it costs an amazing organization called Akshaya Patra to feed a mid-day lunch to a child in school in India for an entire year. Really! The average cost of a nutritious meal prepared and served by Akshaya Patra is about 5 rupees, which is approximately 11 cents. Clearly, Akshaya Patra is using extremely efficient and mechanized processes for preparing meals and distributing them to schools.

There is, however, something else beyond Akshaya Patra's efficiency that is at work here. It's a fact that in a country like India you can buy more food and services for a dollar than what a dollar buys in a country like the U.S. — five to ten times more (probably many of you who have traveled to poor countries have undoubtedly seen this difference first hand). Why is that? Economists label it differences in purchasing power across countries. But labeling something is not the same thing as understanding it. The question of why local goods and services (but not iPods or cameras) are cheaper in poor countries than they are rich countries still remains. An immediate possibility is that labor costs and wages are smaller in poor countries — which, of course, raises the next question: why are wages lower in poor countries?

Wages are determined by productivity. The reason why wages are much higher in the U.S. than they are in poorer countries is because the productivity is high in the U.S. The fact that the U.S. has large amounts of physical (i.e., machines, technology) and human capital (educated and skilled population) helps boost labor productivity. You might wonder what is so different about serving food in a restaurant in the U.S. versus a restaurant in India. Not much, probably. So, why does a waiter in Los Angeles earn more than a waiter in Mumbai? It's because the people who eat in the Los Angeles restaurants are on average more productive than those who eat in Mumbai's restaurants. So, it's the differences in the productivity of the most productive people — engineers, businessmen, lawyers, investment bankers (yes, I know what you are thinking) — that lifts the wages of others.

So, if you are fortunate enough to live in a country where productivity is high and, as a result, wages are also high, what can you do to help poor people? You could quit your high-paying job and volunteer for a socially-conscious organization. You could take some time-off from work and feed the poor and the homeless. Yes, you could do all that and it probably would help assuage your guilt and make you feel better about yourself. But you could help the poor more, much more, if you continue to do what you do best for which the society is willing to pay you the maximum you can earn, and then donate part of what you have earned to organizations that are the most efficient at helping the poor worldwide, because that is what they do best. This is what Matthew Bishop and Michael Green would call Philanthrocapitalism: Do what you do best and share.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this writing are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of League of India, its Editorial Board or the business and socio-political interests that they might represent.

This article was first published here

Bhagwan Chowdhry is a Professor of Finance, and Faculty Director, Master of Financial Engineering program, at UCLA Anderson where he has held an appointment since 1988. Professor Chowdhry has recently proposed a Financial Access at Birth (FAB) Campaign in which every child born in the world is given an initial deposit of $100 in an online bank account to guarantee that everyone in the world will have access to financial services in a few decades. You can read about the campaign by clicking here.

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Avani Chaturvedi Creates History for the Indian Air Force



Flying Officer Avani Chaturvedi becomes the first Indian woman to fly fighter aircraft MiG-21 Bison solo.

Chaturvedi flew a MiG-21 bison in her first training solo sortie, in Jamnagar, Gujarat.

She completed the half-an-hour long solo flight in the Russian-origin jet in the skies over Jamnagar Air Base. “This is a major milestone in training of a fighter pilot and first time an Indian woman has flown a fighter aircraft solo. It demonstrates IAF’s enduring commitment to ‘Nari Shakti’,” IAF spokesperson Wing Commander Anupam Banerjee said.

It is pertinent to mention here that MiG-21 Bison has the highest landing and take-off speed in the world – 340 kmph.

She is one of the three in the first batch of female pilots, besides Bhawana Kanth and Mohana Singh, who were inducted in Indian Air Force fighter squadron on June 18, 2016.

Speaking to news agencies, Air Commodore Prashant Dixit said, “It is a unique achievement for Indian Air Force and the country.”

She is from Rewa district in Madhya Pradesh.  She completed her training at Hyderabad Air Force Academy. She did her schooling from Deoland, a small town in Shahdol district of Madhya Pradesh. Completing her Bachelors in Technology from Banasthali University, Rajasthan in 2014, she passed the Indian Air Force exam.

Chaturvedi is inspired by her brother who is in the Army.

She was declared as the first combat pilot along with two of her cohort, Mohana Singh, and Bhawana Kanth.

Mohana Singh and Bhawana have also completed training to fly a fighter plane and will soon fly fighter planes. All three were given training in January.s inducted into the Indian Air Force fighter squadron on June 18, 2016. They were formally commissioned by then Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar.

Chaturvedi, who is posted to No. 23 Squadron (Panthers), is from the first batch of three women officers who were commissioned as fighter pilots in the IAF in June 2016. Till last week, she had undertaken flights in twin-seater training jets, accompanied by Qualified Flying Instructors of the IAF. After completing her basic flying training on a Pilatus aircraft at the Air Force Academy, Chaturvedi underwent six months of training on Kiran trainer jets at Hakimpet, which was followed by a year-long training stint on Hawk advanced trainer jets at Bidar Air Base.

Only selected countries, such as Britain, the United States, Israel, and Pakistan, have allowed women in the role of fighter pilots.

It was in October 2015 that the Government took the decision to open the fighter stream for women. Meanwhile, combat roles in the Army and the Navy are still off-limits for women, due to a combination of operational concerns and logistical constraints.

On December 16, 2017, two women from the second batch to enter the fighter stream of the Indian Air Force were commissioned after graduating from the Air Force Academy, Dundigul.

It was only in 1992 that the armed forces began recruiting women to streams, other than the Medical stream. Since 1993, women officers have been inducted into all branches and stream as Short Service Commissioned Officers except in the fighter stream. However, IAF has revised Short Service Commission scheme to induct women into the fighter stream on experimental basis for five years.

The IAF has already selected the next batch of three women trainee pilots for the fighter stream.


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Kindergarten Girl Vows to Clean Dal Lake



A five-year-old girl from northern Jammu and Kashmir has taken upon herself to clean up the state’s picturesque and iconic Dal Lake.

Raw sewage, land encroachment and years of neglect have been threatening the survival of a lake where visitors from Mughal emperors to George Harrison once enjoyed the idyllic stillness of its waters surrounded by Himalayan mountains.

Thousands of tonnes of sewage spew into the lake, feeding weeds and choking the lake and its aquatic life of oxygen. Moreover, lily pads, that cover vast swathes of the lake, hamper the movement of ‘shikaras’ or houseboats.

However, Jannat, a kindergarten student, heads out, armed with a net basket in her hand, with an aim to restore Dal’s aesthetic beauty.

“My daughter used to see me cleaning and this is how she picked up the habit of cleanliness. Dal is the essence of Kashmir and now she has taken the entire responsibility on her shoulders”, said a proud father Tariq Ahmed.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was also moved by the “passion” of the five-year-old towards cleanliness.

The state of Jammu & Kashmir is considered one of the most popular tourist destinations in India. Once dubbed the Switzerland of the east, Kashmir was heaven for skiers, honeymooners and film-makers, who were drawn to its soaring peaks, fruit orchards and timber houseboats on the Dal lake in Srinagar.

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Women Aviators to be Felicitated Today, on International Women’s Day



As part of the year long events to celebrate the centenary year of Civil Aviation in India, and on the occasion of the International Women’s day on 8th March, 2011, the Ministry of Civil Aviation will highlight the role of women aviators in civil aviation in India. The Ministry of Civil Aviation will felicitate women aviators, who have contributed significantly to the civil aviation in India.  Shri Vayalar Ravi, Union Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs and Civil Aviation, Smt Ambika Soni Minister of Information and Broadcasting and Smt Jayanthi Natarajan, Member of Parliament, will be present on the occasion.

The women who will be felicitated are :-

Pioneer Pilots:

Late Capt. Prem Mathur – First woman to obtain Commercial Pilot License.
Capt. Durba Banerjee – First woman Commander of an airline.
Ms. Chanda Budhabhatti – Pioneer Pilot and Founder of Indian Women Pilots’ Association.


Ms. Bhubaneshwari Gautam – First woman Aircraft Maintenance     Engineer.
Capt. Aruna Kandarpa     – First woman Helicopter Pilot.
Capt. Sonica Chhabra – First woman Instructor/Examiner in airlines.
Ms. Harpreet A De Singh – First woman Technical Ground Instructor and First Head of Quality Management Systems of an airline.


Ms. Tulsi Mirchandani – CEO, Blue Dart.
Capt. Shobha K Mani – CEO, North-East Shuttle.


Ms. Tuhinanshu Sharma – First woman ICAO auditor from DGCA.

Airports Authority of India:

Ms Kalpana Sethi, General Manager, (architect) AAI
Ms K Hemalatha, General Manager (Finance), Chennai
Ms Aryama Sanyal, Jt General Manager (ATC), Ahmedabad
Ms R. Vasundara, Deputy General manager (CNS), Chennai

Cabin Crew of IC-814(Kathmandu – Kandhahar hijack flight):

Ms. Sapna Menon
Ms. RajniChandrasekhar
Ms. Kalpana Mazumdar
Ms. Tara Debnath
Mr. Anil Sharma
Mr. M.A. Satish

As part of the event presentations would be delivered on the occasion highlighting the contribution being made by women in all fields of civil aviation as well as the new opportunities that are emerging in the sector.

In continuation with the historic tradition of planning ALL WOMEN FLIGHTS on International Women’s Day, and encouraging women efforts in all walks of life, Air India has also organised flights with all women crew together with women dispatchers, women load and trim staff, women engineers, women staff at check-in counters, women doctor for crew breathalyser test, women staff for security checks and women conducting LOSA safety audit.

The following flights are being planned on the Women's Day i.e. 8th March 2011.

The non-stop flight AI-187 on Delhi- Toronto sector will be operated by commanders Capt Rashmi Miranda and Capt Sunita Narula and First officers Capt Varsha Sheoran and Capt. Nidhi Suri.  The flight is being despatched by women despatcher Ms Rashmi Verma.

There are also other flights which are being operated by all-women crew:

AI-409/410   Delhi-Patna-Delhi
AI-469       Delhi-Raipur-Nagpur-Delhi
AI-811/812   Delhi-Lucknow-Delhi
AI-603/604   Mumbai-Bangalore-Mumbai
AI-569       Chennai-Mumbai
IX-671       Chennai-Colombo-Chennai
IX-302       Kozhikode-Mumbai-Kozhikode

Air India's foray into all-women crew flights dates back to November 1985 when Capt. Saudamini Deshmukh and Capt. Nivedita Bhasin operated an Indian Airlines Fokker Friendship flight from Kolkata to Silchar, followed by the first jet flight when they operated a B737 from Mumbai to Goa in 1989.   In erstwhile Air India, the first A310 flight with all-women crew was operated on March 8, 2004 to Singapore with Capt. Rashmi Miranda in command and Capt. Kshmata Bajpai as co-pilot.

It may be recalled that Air India had organised an all women crew flight last year.The B777-200LR Nonstop flight AI-141 from Mumbai to New York at midnight on March 8, 2010 took off which created history when an all-women crew operated an ultra long-haul flight. In 2010, Air India operated a record 22 all-women crew flight across its domestic and international network.

As part of the event, presentations will be delivered highlighting the contribution being made by women in all fields of civil aviation as well as the new opportunities that are emerging in the sector.

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