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Topics - Tamanna Sharmin Chowdhury

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Virtually everyone knows that a healthful lifestyle — never smoking, normal body-mass index (BMI), moderate-to-vigorous physical activity, moderate alcohol intake, and a higher-quality diet — is good for their health. What very few people know is just how much benefit they get from achieving all these lifestyle goals.

A Harvard team examined data from about 111,000 people at age 50 and followed them prospectively for as long as 34 years. Healthful lifestyle factors were measured repeatedly and systematically, and development of various diseases and death were recorded. The primary endpoint was life expectancy free from diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and cancer. Women who met all the healthful lifestyle measures had an additional 10.7 years of disease-free life compared with women who met no healthful lifestyle measures. For men, the number was 7.6 additional disease-free years.

Most of the patients know that a healthful lifestyle is good for them, but very few appreciate just how good — which negatively affects their desire to adopt one. This report might be helpful in that regard.

A day without traffic congestion cannot be imagined by Dhaka city dwellers. Those who live far from the work place and those who need to commute daily for various purposes are the main victim of road traffic congestion. City dwellers regardless of age and sex have to face the inevitable notorious phenomenon.

According to the traffic index 2020, Dhaka has become the most traffic congested city in the world. In Dhaka, the traffic congestion ruins 3.2 million working hours every day according to the World Bank. In the last decade, the average driving speed in Dhaka city dropped from 21 km/h to below 7 km/h. If the current trend continues, within a decade it would become 4 km/h, which is slower than the walking speed.

Traffic congestion not only kills our time on the roads but also puts us in noise and air pollution during the time in the vehicles. In Dhaka city, the public transport are smaller in size and frequently overloaded which have an inadequate head clearance for the standees, less leg rooms for the seated ones that force them to adopt a wrong posture. A compact private vehicle or rented three wheeler also provides a minimal space for the seated passengers to alter their postures. Staying in a wrong posture for an extended period of time can induce a musculoskeletal disorder, research revealed.

A number of studies have been conducted to measure the impact of traffic congestion on environment and human psychology. But long delays in the vehicles due to traffic congestion and its impact on physical health has not been studied before. Recently a study has been conducted on 628 full-time bank employees in Dhaka city to examine the effect of traffic congestion on their musculoskeletal health.


What research revealed?

A shocking picture was found in this research. The prevalence of musculoskeletal pain among full-time bank employees in Dhaka city was 57.2%, while 60.6% lady bank employees complained about the same.

However, when traffic congestion related factors have been analysed, more shocking scenario has been retrieved. About 80% bank employees who need 60 minutes or more time to come to office by facing traffic congestion reported musculoskeletal problems. Likewise, those who travel more or equal to 9 km to come to office, among them, 75.7% reported musculoskeletal health problems.

Furthermore, the prevalence of musculoskeletal health problems were sky high (80.5%) among those who travel by public transport like bus.

When the findings were compared to others scholarly articles, it was concluded that long delays on road was an important factor that induced or enhanced musculoskeletal health problems.

Previous researches stated that traffic congestion not only forces commutes to stay long time in the same posture, but also produces enormous amount of sound and force commuters to inhale fume polluted air. Research also found that sound and air pollution can induce depression, anxiety and sleeplessness which are strongly correlated with musculoskeletal health problems.


Which musculoskeletal health problem were more prominent?

Total eight musculoskeletal health problems were reported. Those were shoulder pain, neck pain, migraine, low back pain, leg pain, headache, arm pain and upper back pain. Among these eight problems, low back pain (LBP) was the most prevalent. Overall, 36.6% participants said that they got LBP which was followed by neck pain, upper back pain and shoulder pain.


How we can get rid from these problems?

Traffic congestion in Dhaka city is inevitable. But there are ways to avoid musculoskeletal health problems. Previous research found that more physical activities could reduce physical pains. We should increase our physical activity in the leisure period. At least 150 minutes walking per week proved highly efficient to control or prevent musculoskeletal health problems.

We can take frequent breaks at office hours and can avoid long sitting induced health hazards such as LBP or neck pain. The most important thing we can do is changing our commuting mode. Bicycle can be a great option for those who live within 10 km of working place. Using bicycle can keep us physically fit and it can reduce pressure on public vehicles.


What the government can do?

Now a days, musculoskeletal health problems have become a significant public health concern. The government should take necessary steps to reduce traffic congestion as well as encourage city dwellers to take healthy practice.

When roads are designed, city planners should include separate and safe bicycle lane to encourage cycling to go to office. Pedestrians' ways should be free to encourage public to walk. Some European cities impose taxes on drivers and banned private vehicles in the city center to tackle traffic congestion. Our government also can think about this

BERLIN, Feb 27 (Xinhua): German stocks continued this week’s negative trend and were off to a shaky start on Thursday, with the benchmark DAX index losing 248.28 points, or 1.94 percent, opening at 12,526.60 points. The biggest and only winner among Germany’s largest 30 companies at the start of trading was German utility RWE, increasing 0.37 percent, followed by energy company E.ON decreasing by 0.82 percent and housing company Vonovia decreasing by 1.04 percent. Shares of Lufthansa fell strongly by 3.29 percent and Germany’s largest airline was the biggest loser at the start of trading. On Wednesday, Lufthansa announced the decision to offer its employees unpaid holidays in order to reduce its costs. To save costs, the airline has also decided that all planned new recruitments would be “re-examined, suspended or postponed to a later date.” Multinational chemical and pharmaceutical company Bayer announced Thursday an increase in group sales of 3.5 percent for the fiscal year 2019. It recorded a growth of net income by 141.4 percent to 4.1 billion euros (4.5 billion U.S. dollars). “We delivered in 2019 and kept our promises in all areas,” commented Werner Baumann, chairman of the board of management of Bayer on Thursday. Earlier this month, Bayer was sentenced by a U.S. court to pay a plaintiff farmer a total of 265 million dollars because the herbicide Dicamba had destroyed his fruit crop. In line with the general negative development of most German stocks, shares of Bayer decreased by 2.59 percent on Thursday. The euro was trading almost unchanged at 1.0883 dollars, decreasing slightly by 0.02 percent on Thursday morning. German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz plans to temporarily suspend a government “debt brake” to hand out tens of billions of euros to struggling municipalities, weekly Die Zeit reported on Wednesday, reports Reuters. With years of fat budget surpluses, Germany has long faced calls at home and abroad to loosen its purse strings, but the spread of the novel coronavirus and its likely impact on economic growth have given them new impetus. “Scholz will present a plan in March,” Die Zeit wrote without citing its sources. Scholz would need two-thirds majorities in both parliament’s directly elected lower house and the upper house representing the states to suspend the debt brake. Anchored in the German constitution at the height of the financial crisis in 2009, the rule prevents government from running a deficit of more than 0.35 percent of the gross domestic product in normal times. Finance Ministry spokeswoman Katja Novak declined to comment on “speculation,” telling AFP “the finance minister will present his proposals for dealing with old debt early this year.” “At present various options are being discussed,” Novak added. Scholz has long backed plans to lift a near-unbearable burden of repayments from 2,500 municipalities by shifting €40 billion ($43.5 billion) of their debts to Berlin. He hopes it would lift a major hurdle to increasing infrastructure spending and eliminating financial and planning bottlenecks in municipalities responsible for projects like roads and schools. Many of the towns affected are in deindustrializing “rust belt” zones, like Germany’s most populous state North Rhine-Westphalia. After years of a no-new-debts policy known as the “black zero,” economists and EU partners are increasingly pressuring Berlin to upgrade aging infrastructure and stimulate its flagging economy with new spending. A manufacturing slowdown in Europe’s top economy and the looming impact of the coronavirus have added urgency to such calls. What is more, the European Central Bank’s monetary policy is already extremely loose, with negative interest rates and mass bond purchases under a “quantitative easing” scheme. With little room to maneuver in Frankfurt, eurozone governments are on the hook to stimulate flagging economic growth, especially in case of a potential hefty shock stemming from an unforeseen event like the virus.

Source :

Business & Entrepreneurship / Downbeat at DSE, CSE continued
« on: February 27, 2020, 10:38:52 PM »
Country’s premier bourse, Dhaka Stock Exchange (DSE), closed today continuing downbeat as investors rushed for sell-off sectors’ specific shares amidst dilemma exacerbated by banks’ interest rate.

The broad index, DSEX closed at 4480.22 points on Thursday, last working day of week, with a loss of 68.88 points or 1.51 percent, BSS reports.

Besides, the two selective indices, Blue Chip index, DSE30 and Shariah index, DSES also went down by 25.33 points and 15.41 points to settle at 1492.37 points and 1044.90 points respectively.

On the DSE trading floor, a total number of 145,319 trades were executed in today’s trading session with a trading volume of 215.21 million securities.
Market turnover, another crucial indicator, stood at Taka 5.61 billion, which was also lower over previous day’s mark of Taka 6.27 billion.

Losers took a strong lead over gainers as out of 356 issues traded, 60 securities gained price while 250 declined and 46 remained unchanged.

The top 10 gainers were Central Pharma, Bengal Windsor, Intraco Refueling, Daffodil Computer, FAR Chemical, Olympic Accessories, Phoenix Finance First Mutual Fund, ICB AMCL Sonali Bank First Mutual Fund, Argon Denims and Silva Pharma.

Brac Bank topped the turnover chart followed by VFS Thread, Central Pharma, Silva Pharma, Indo-Bangla Pharma, Orion Pharma, National Polymer, Grameenphone, FAR Chemical and LafargeHolcim Bangladesh.

The top 10 losers were Standard Ceramic, International Leasing, Saiham Textile, United Air, Hakkani Pulp, Global Heavy Chemical, Libra Infusion, Beximco Synthetic, Family Tex and Islami Insurance.

On the other hand, port city bourse, Chittagong Stock Exchange (CSE), also closed at red extending the losing trend of previous day.

CSCX and CASPI declined by 122.42 points and 198.15 points to stand at 8332.98 points and 13742.96 points respectively.

At CSE, a total of 10,853,451 shares and mutual fund of 239 companies were traded, of which 53 issues advanced while 162 declined and 24 issues remained unchanged.

Source :

Mustafa Kamal says Bangladesh will be hunger and poverty free within 2030

Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal has said Bangladesh will achiever double digit growth within the next five years.

“We firmly believe that we will achieve double digit growth within the next five years,” he said at an international conference on Harnessing Blockchain Technology for Development (Unleashing the potential of Bangladesh for Blockchain Applications) at BICC in Dhaka on Sunday.

Adding to that, the minister said Bangladesh will be a hunger and poverty free country within 2030.

The Bangladesh Resident Mission of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) organized the two-day program to further promote growth, inclusion, service delivery and smart governance.

In the inaugural session, Kamal said Bangladesh has the best GDP growth among South Asian countries. “GDP growth will increase by 1% each year after completion of the Padma Bridge,” he said.

The finance minister urged international investors to invest more in Bangladesh. “You can use Bangladesh as a safe place for investment. The production cost is lower than in other countries. Besides, there is a location advantage too,” the minister said.

Manmohan Parkash, country director of ADB, said Bangladesh has made rapid progress in the last 10 years. Bangladesh is today seen as a model for both social and economic development.

“We, therefore, thought that it is timely to bring experts from around the world to talk about technology and its applications so that we become aware of its potential and unleash it for Bangladesh development,” he said.

Dr Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury, power, energy and mineral resources affairs advisor to prime minister, Farida Nasreen, secretary (acting) of Economic Relations Division of Finance Ministry, among others also spoke at the program.

Source :

According to its data, the country received $1.59 billion in July, $1.44 billion in August, $1.47 billion in September and $1.63 billion in October of the FY2019-20

Expatriate Bangladeshis sent $6.15 billion remittances in the first four months of the current FY2019-20, which is 20.48% higher than the corresponding period of the preceding year, according to Bangladesh Bank data.

The country received $5.10 billion remittances during July-October period in FY2018-19.

"The flow of remittances into the country shows upward trend in the current FY2019-20 as the government has taken effective measures, including two percent cash incentive, to streamline the legal channel for encouraging non-resident Bangladeshis (NRBs) to send money to the country," said Bangladesh Bank Spokesperson M Serajul Islam, reports BSS.

He said the recent flow of remittance indicates that it is gradually increasing and this trend is likely to continue in the upcoming months.

According to its data, the country received $1.59 billion in July, $1.44 billion in August, $1.47 billion in September and $1.63 billion in October of the FY2019-20.

However in FY2018-19, the country got $1.31 billion in July, $1.41 billion in August, $1.13 billion in September and $1.23 billion in October.

In July this fiscal, six state-owned commercial banks: Agrani, Janata, Rupali, Sonali, Basic and BDBL-received $353.15 million while one state-owned specialized bank- Bangladesh Krishi Bank, received $30.24 million.

Of the state-owned banks, Agrani Bank received $147.12 million, Janata Bank $75.94 million, Rupali Bank $20.76 million, Sonali Bank $109.23 million and Basic Bank received $0.10 million.

Besides, the expatriates have sent $1.24 billion through private commercial banks. On the other hand, the expatriates have sent $15.82 million through the foreign commercial banks.

Source :

Facebook and Instagram users in the UK can expect to see major changes following the latest controversial change from everyone’s favourite social media platforms.

Instagram was bought by Facebook back in 2012 for $1 billion and since then, both platforms have begun testing out hiding likes. The trial started by hiding likes from selected users in Canada in 2019 and was then expanded to more countries, including Ireland, Australia and New Zealand. So it was only inevitable that it would eventually hit the UK.

How do the counts work?
Instagram is testing the recent change with a limited number of UK users so, at the moment, not all users will recognise this.

However, the pool of selected users may have already noticed the changes when scrolling through their feeds. Instead of a post highlighting the total number of likes it has received, it now shows that an account and ‘others’ have liked the post, without any numbers being displayed. Clicking on ‘others’ will display the full list of users who have liked the post but again, no numbers will be displayed.

It’s important to note that content publishers will be able to view the total number of likes they receive for a post, but it will no longer be made public. Of course, you can scroll through the list of likes to calculate the number for yourself, but do we have time for that? I think not!

So why the recent change?
At the heart of the change is the mental wellbeing of teenagers and young people. While that doesn’t necessarily mean that this change won’t affect adults, we can see that the younger generation have been the driving force behind the decision. The feature is designed to remove the ‘pressure’ of gaining as many likes as possible and prevent the competition that has developed amongst social media users.

The UK has seen an increase in reported mental health issues, with 1 in 4 people experiencing a mental health difficulties each year. The topic of mental health has become less taboo in the past few years, and as a society, we’ve become much more open and honest with our issues. This has also helped to raise awareness of the challenges that come with mental health illnesses.

Over the past few years, psychologists have started to look into the effects of social media on mental wellbeing to assess whether there is a connection between the two. A recent University of Pittsburgh study of young adults found that people who frequently checked social media were almost three times more likely to be depressed than occasional users.

Three of the main problems surrounding social media use and mental health problems are:

Lack of sleep
Using the platform as a life comparison tool
Chasing likes on the platform to build self-esteem
Facebook and Instagram have taken these matters into their own hands and have recognised the need for change. Being too active on social media has been linked to anxiety, poor body image, and diminished mental health, particularly in teenagers. This has forced social media giants to make big changes to their platforms - they had to act, and quickly!

Is this the future?
Whilst nothing has been set in stone, the outcome of the trial will no doubt determine the future of visible likes on both Facebook and Instagram. Whilst some believe it won’t make a difference because other factors that are to blame for poor mental health, others believe it’s a step in the right direction.

We all know that social media platforms are making continuous changes to their networks to improve the overall user experience - whether this is an algorithm update, the introduction of a new feature or the removal of likes. The progress that Facebook and Instagram have already made from 2010 to date is extraordinary and uncomparable; so who knows how they will function in another 10 years?

যদি খেয়াল করে দেখি তাহলে একটা জিনিস খুব ভালোভাবে চোখে পরবে; সেটা হলো আমাদের দেশীয় ব্র্যান্ড আছে হাতে গোনা, অথচ আরো অনেক বেশি ব্র্যান্ড থাকার কথা ছিলো। আমাদের অনেক কোম্পানি আছে কিন্তু সেই কোম্পানি গুলো ব্র্যান্ডে পরিনিত খুব একটা হয়না। আবার হলেও দেখা যায় কিছুদিন পর আর খুঁজেই পাওয়া যায়না।

আমাদের দেশের বেশিরভাগ ব্র্যান্ড বা কোম্পানি তাদের সেলসের দিকে বেশি মনোযোগ দেয় যার ফলে দেখা যায় বছর শেষে অনেক মুনাফা আসে। আর সেই মুনাফায় তারা খুশি থাকে। কিন্তু ব্র্যান্ড ভ্যালু বলে যে একটা কথা আছে সেটা উনারা কানেই নেন না বা মাথাতেই রাখেন না ফলে যা হবার তাই হয়। কয়েক বছর পর শোনা যায় অমুক ব্র্যান্ড বন্ধ হয়ে গিয়েছে। বন্ধ হবার পর উনারা মাথায় হাত দিয়ে ভাবতে থাকেন যে কেন বন্ধ হলো? অথচ এটা আগে ভেবে যদি ব্র্যান্ড হিসেবে দাড় করানোর চেষ্টা করতেন তাহলে আর বন্ধ করে দিতে হতোনা।

একটা ব্র্যান্ড নিজের সন্তানের মত, আপনি তাকে যেভাবে লালন পালন করবেন সেভাবেই সে বেড়ে উঠবে। আপনি যদি সব কিছু বাদ দিয়ে শুধু রেজাল্ট আশা করেন তবে ভালো রেজাল্ট পাবেন ঠিকই কিন্তু একজন পরিপূর্ণ মানুষ পাবেন না। ঠিক তেমনিভাবে শুধু সেলস চাইলে সেলস পাবেন কিন্তু ব্র্যান্ড ইমেজ, পজিশন এবং ব্র্যান্ড ভ্যালু পাবেন না। অনেকেই মনে করেন যে শুধু সেলস দিয়েই মার্কেটে টিকে থাকা যায়। সেলস দিয়ে আপনি হয়ত টিকে থাকতে পারবেন তবে একটা ব্র্যান্ড হিসেবে কখনই পজিশন পাবেন না। আরেকটা জিনিস মাথায় রাখতে হবে সেটা হলো – সময়ের সাথে সাথে আধুনিক প্রযুক্তির সাথে তাল মিলিয়ে চলতে হবে এবং কাস্টমারের সাইকোলজি বুঝতে হবে নয়ত একসময়ের টেকি জায়ান্ট মোবাইল নির্মাতা নোকিয়ার মত হারিয়ে যেতে হবে।

অনেক কথা হলো, এবার অল্প কথায় জেনে নেয়া যাক যে একটা ব্র্যান্ড কি কি কারনে হারিয়ে যেতে পারে।

১। নিম্নমানের পন্য মার্কেটে ছাড়লে কিছুদিন হয়ত ব্র্যান্ড ইমেজের কারনে চলবে কিন্তু মানুষ এত টাকা দিয়ে খুব বেশিদিন এই পণ্য কিনবে না। মার্কেটে বিভিন্ন ব্র্যান্ডের অনেক পণ্য আছে বা আসছে প্রতিনিয়ত সুতরাং বাজে পণ্য দিয়ে শুধু ব্র্যান্ড নাম দিয়ে চলা মুশকিল। শক্তিশালী ব্র্যান্ড ইমেজের সাথে সাথে ভালো পণ্য উৎপাদন করতে হবে।

২। আপনি একাই পুরো মার্কেট দখল করতে পারবেন না কারণ আপনার মত আরো অনেক ব্র্যান্ড আছে তাইনা? সুতরাং আপনার সেই পণ্য ভালো মানের এবং মার্কেটে চাহিদা আছে সেটা নিয়েই কাজ করুন। সব কিছু নিয়ে মার্কেটে আসার দরকার নেই। স্যামসাং তার মোবাইল, টিভি, ফ্রিজ দিয়ে ভালোভাবেই মার্কেট ধরে রেখেছে কিন্তু ক্যামেরা এবং শীতাতপ যন্ত্র বা এসি নিয়ে তেমন বলার মত কিছু করতে পারেনি সুতরাং স্ব কিছুর পেছেন ছোটার দরকার নেই।

৩। আপনার ব্র্যান্ডের উপর বিশ্বাস করেই কিন্তু মানুষজন চোখ বন্ধ করে আপনার পণ্য কিনছে। সুতরাং তাদের সেই বিশ্বাসটা ভাংবেন না। হাতির কথা বলে ঘোড়া বিক্রি করার চেষ্টা করবেন না কারণ আপনার মত অনেকেই মার্কেটে আছে যারা ঘোড়া বলে ঘোড়াই বিক্রি করবে সুতরাং সাবধান।

৪। সারাক্ষণ ঘ্যান ঘ্যান করতে থাকবেন না আপনার পণ্য নিয়ে কারণ মানুষ বার বার একটা জিনিস দেখতে চায়না, বিরক্ত হয়। আপনি নিজেও বিক্রত হন সুতরাং যতটুকু দেখানো দরকার তাই দেখান। বেশি দেখালে দেখবেন আপনার ব্র্যান্ড ছেড়ে অন্য ব্র্যান্ডে চলে গিয়েছে।

৫। সময়ের সাথে সাথে মানুষের চাহিদা, সাইকোলজি এবং আধুনিক প্রযুক্তির সাথে তাল মিলিয়ে মানিয়ে নিতে হবে। নয়ত নোকিয়া, মাই স্পেস, ইয়াহুর মত হারিয়ে যেতে হবে।

৬। পণ্য বিক্রি করার পর বা কোন সেবা দেয়ার পর যদি সঠিকভাবে সেবা দিতে না পারেন তবে খুব বেশিদিন মার্কেটে টিকতে পারবেন না। এয়ার ইন্ডিয়ার মত ব্র্যান্ড সঠিকভাবে সেবা দিতে না পারার কারনে হারিয়ে যাওয়ার পথে। সুতরাং শুধু ব্র্যান্ড ভ্যালু আর পণ্য বিক্রি করেই টিকে থাকা সম্ভব নয়, মানসম্মত সেবাও দিতে হবে।

আরো অনেক কারণ আছে তবে আমি এই কয়েকটা বললাম। একটা ব্র্যান্ড প্রতিষ্ঠা করতে হলে শুধু ইমেজ, পণ্য দিয়ে সেটা সম্ভব নয়। সবকিছু মিলিয়ে একসাথে করতে পারলেই মার্কেটে একটা শক্তিশালী ব্র্যান্ড হিসেবে প্রতিষ্ঠা পাওয়া

BBA Discussion Forum / The new era and digital technologies
« on: February 27, 2020, 02:11:31 PM »
US satellite launching company SpaceX launched its Falcon-9 rocket carrying the payload of Bangabandhu-1 satellite around 2:14am Bangladesh time. Following a successful launch, SpaceX confirmed the first stage entry burn to be completed and a successful second stage engine cutoff. Falcon 9 Block 5 first stage also landed successfully on the ‘Of Course I Still Love You’ droneship following the launch. Hours before the launching, SpaceX wrote on its official Twitter page, “All systems looking good for Falcon 9’s launch of Bangabandhu Satellite-1. Weather is 70 percent favourable for today's launch window, which opens at 4:14 p.m. EDT, 20:14 UTC.”
Built on the new-generation Spacebus 4000B2 platform from Thales Alenia Space, the satellite is fitted with 26 Ku-band and 14 C-band transponders. Its coverage area includes Bangladesh and surrounding regions. Positioned at 119.1° East, the system will provide Ku-band coverage for Bangladesh and its territorial waters in the Bay of Bengal, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, the Philippines and Indonesia. It will also provide C-band capacity for the entire region. Earlier yesterday, SpaceX postponed the launching of the rocket due to a "standard ground system auto abort at T-1 minute" on Friday Bangladesh time. SpaceX had earlier assured Bangladeshi officials that the satellite launching will resume around 4:14 pm (Florida local time) yesterday.
“Standing down today ( Friday) was due to a standard ground system auto abort at T-1 min. Rocket and payload are in good health—teams are working towards tomorrow’s backup launch opportunity at 4:14 p.m. EDT, or 20:14 UTC,” SpaceX said in a tweet yesterday. About the postponement of the launching process, Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) chairman Dr Shahjahan Mahmood told a press conference: “The satellite and rocket are in good condition. But after the failure to launch the satellite, the Spacex in-charge informed us that there are some problems at the ground system. Such problems can happen any time. He said it can be launched on Friday afternoon local time.” (The Independent, May 12, 2018).

Now the time has come to focus on Digital Technologies. The 4th Industrial revolution, broadly defined as the current and developing environment in which disruptive technologies and trends such as the Internet of Things (IoT), robotics, virtual reality (VR), and artificial intelligence (AI) are changing the way we live and work and the preceding or underlying digital revolution (the development of computers and information technology), have raised renewed interest among development scholars and policy makers for the role of innovation and technology in development. For a long time, the dominant discourse has been that it is more efficient for developing countries and domestic firms to acquire foreign technology created in industrialized countries, because innovation is costly, risky, and path-dependent. The basic idea was that if innovations were easy to diffuse and adopt regardless of their nature and type, a developing country could catch up rapidly by absorbing the most advanced technologies through various transmission mechanisms including international trade, foreign direct investment (FDI), migration, international research collaboration, and integration in Global Value Chains (CVCs). In due course, many developing countries opened up their markets to attract FDI and to import the latest technologies, and invested in foreign education of students and international research collaboration.

The policies aimed to gain from technology diffusion and adoption met with several difficulties though. One is that technology diffusion and adoption is not costless and unconditional. The speed of diffusion and adoption depends on local firms’ absorptive capacity and complementary assets. And only in the presence of local innovation capacity will multinational enterprises adopt a more integrated innovation practice, which has greater linkages with the local economy and thereby enables greater opportunities of knowledge transfer. In addition, technical change is often biased in a particular direction; foreign knowledge, technologies, and innovations developed in industrialized countries may not be appropriate to the economic and social conditions in developing countries. Moreover, it cannot be assumed that private interests of multinationals coincide with the social interests of the host counties.

Part of the explanation as to why ‘catching up’ became such a popular and dominant discourse has been the underlying assumption that innovation in developing countries hardly or insufficiently took place, and that local firms were barely involved in innovation and technology development. For most economies and firms this may have been true for breakthrough, disruptive innovations; but more often than not, innovation comes from the cumulative effect of implementing small-scale ideas over prolonged periods of time, as we have also argued above. These sorts of innovation, which in developing countries predominantly take place in the informal sector, have – as we have also argued – for a long time been ‘below the radar’ in recent development studies. Still, mediating between foreign technology and indigenous innovation might be evident from country level perspective but maybe not so much from the perspective of local firms. On the one hand the North–South technology gap in several industries remains remarkably persistent, and hard for individual local firms to overcome. On the other hand, establishing links between informal sector firms and formal sector firms – either foreign or local – is not so self-evident. The consequence for local innovative firms might be a ‘locked in’ or path-dependent trajectory, which prevents them from embarking on trajectories for further innovation and growth.

Do these conclusions need revision in the light of the new developments in the digital era? One of the biggest changes in the innovation landscape in the many societies in the Global South has been the fast spread of digital technologies. These digital technologies – the internet, mobile phones, and all the other tools to collect, store, analyze, and share information digitally – have spread quickly in developing countries. For example, nearly 70 percent of the bottom fifth in income of the population in developing countries owns a mobile phone, and it is estimated that more people in developing countries have a mobile phone than having access to clean water (World Bank, 2016). And the number of internet users has more than tripled in a decade – from 1 billion in 2005 to an estimated 3.2 billion at the end of 2015 (World Bank,2016). Strong regional and inter-country differences exist though with marked differences between developing countries and the LDCs and between Africa and other regions in the Global South. Although Africa is portrayed in the media as the continent where the spread of mobile and digital technology is currently the most spectacular, this does hide the fact that in terms of mobile subscriptions, computer possession, internet access, and mobile broadband subscriptions, Africa is behind other regions. Still, when comparing country figures, African countries like Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa show on average the same figures as India. The presented figures are only indicative that interregional comparisons are relative, and that digital technologies are unevenly spread across the Global South.

Besides the fast rise and spread of mobile phone technology and internet, the World Bank (2016) identifies five developments in digital technology which are expected to spread quickly to the developing world: Artificial Intelligence (AI), robotics, autonomous vehicles (including drones), the Internet of Things (IoT), and 3D printing. Numerous examples of applications of these technologies can be found throughout the developing world, for example in education, health, farming, and in banking and insurance. If we look at these technology developments through a frugal innovation and development lens, several features stand out. Many products and services can be made frugal because of the availability of new digital technologies. Instead of the high investments needed to develop ‘hardware,’ much of this hardware can be replaced by using software, with much lower fixed costs and investments involved. For instance, smartphone apps can be used to measure body temperature or eye deficiencies, instead of using thermometers or expensive eye measurement apparatus; digitalized weather stations cost a fraction of conventional measurement systems. There are still fixed costs involved in building the app or station, but the marginal cost of adding another one has become tiny. This gives rise to increasing returns to scale, which stimulate new business and delivery models, and makes products and services affordable and available to lower income segments of the population, also those living in remote areas.

In addition, the mobile and internet technology, but also the Internet of Things, have lowered the entry level for entrepreneurs in the Global South to become engaged in innovation. In many economic sectors, the costs of innovation have declined dramatically. Whereas in the past laboratories, staff, and expensive equipment were needed, nowadays one person with a laptop can design and develop innovative products and services and run his or her business likewise from his or her own location. Globally, there has been a rise in spaces where people can gather to build and learn with electronics, software, and digital fabrication. Known as maker spaces, FabLabs, iHubs, etc., these spaces have democratized access to tools, and empowered participants to build and learn on their own. These developments have opened new opportunities for entrepreneurs in the Global South to gain relatively easy access to technologies that could help them to embark on innovation-driven growth trajectories, and opened up new opportunities for those who aim to serve their own or foreign markets, and these trajectories will probably be different from the trajectories that have been followed in the Global North. The new technologies can allow for the creation and development of context-specific solutions, affordable, and with good enough quality, typically basic features of frugal innovation.

But we need to remain cautious. Some scholars speak about a democratization of technology across regions and societies. In contrast, the World Bank (2016) concludes that despite many individual success stories, the effect of technology on global productivity, the expansion of opportunity for the poor and the middle class has so far been less than expected. Digital technologies have been spreading, but digital dividends are not spread equally over the global population or several reasons. Nearly 60 percent of the world’s people are still offline and cannot participate in the digital economy in any meaningful way. Public sector investments in digital technologies, in the absence of accountable institutions amplify the voice of elites, which can result in policy capture and greater state control. And because the economics of the internet favour natural monopolies, the absence of a competitive business environment can result in more concentrated markets, benefiting incumbent firms. Not surprisingly, the better educated, well connected, and more capable have received most of the benefits while a majority of people lag behind. Given that many of today’s frugal innovations build upon digital technology and its various applications, this raises urgent questions and asks for critical research on who reaps the benefits of frugal innovation and who does not; and what will be done with these benefits? Frugal innovation research definitely needs to delve into these urgent questions if it aims to contribute to further insights on the developmental relevance of frugal innovations

The first clinical trial in the U.S. of a possible coronavirus treatment is underway in Nebraska and is eventually expected to include 400 patients at 50 locations around the world, officials said Tuesday.

Half of the patients in the international study will receive the antiviral medicine remdesivir while the other half will receive a placebo. Several other studies, including one looking at the same drug, are already underway internationally.

Dr Andre Kalil, who will oversee the study at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, said the clinical trial was developed quickly in response to the virus outbreak that originated in China. Patients who are hospitalized with the COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, will be eligible to join the trial if they have at least moderate symptoms.

“The goal here is to help the people that need it the most,” Kalil said.

Fourteen people who were evacuated from a cruise ship in Japan are being treated at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. Twelve of them have tested positive for COVID-19.

There are no proven treatments or vaccines for the new and mysterious virus, which has infected more than 80,000 people worldwide and killed more than 2,700, with the overwhelming majority of cases in China.

Doctors give patients fluids and pain relievers to try to ease the symptoms, which can include fever, cough and shortness of breath. In the case of those who are severely ill, doctors use ventilators to help them breathe or a machine that pumps and oxygenates their blood outside the body, easing the burden on the heart and lungs.

At least two patient studies are already underway in China, including the other study involving remdesivir, which is made by Gilead Sciences, and another that tests a combination HIV drug containing lopinavir and ritonavir.

In a draft research plan published last month, the World Health Organization said remdesivir was considered “the most promising candidate.” It was used briefly in some Ebola patients in Congo before that study stopped. But the WHO cited laboratory studies that suggested it might be able to target SARS and MERS, which are cousins of the new virus.

Gilead has provided the drug for use in a small number of patients, including a man in Washington state who fell ill after a trip to Wuhan, the Chinese city at the centre of the outbreak. He is no longer hospitalized, but it is not clear whether the remdesivir helped him.

Business & Entrepreneurship / Enact the Clean Air Act
« on: March 31, 2019, 03:40:12 PM »
We’re all at risk

A few months ago, Delhi was declared as the most polluted city in the world. For most of us who breathed a sigh of relief, the breathing just got harder. The smog caved in and, before we knew it, Dhaka was already creeping up the list to becoming world’s most polluted city.

Dhaka has been consecutively maintaining the highest position among the cities having the lowest air quality in the world. We are all so concerned about landfill waste waters, but very few of us actually consider air quality a major issue.

Air pollution increases the risk of contracting irreversible health problems. And as the decentralization of Dhaka is yet to happen any time soon, the risk of significant parts of the population being exposed to air pollution becomes inevitable.

It is indeed sad to say that the city full of life has also been ranked as the second least livable city in the world by The Global Livability Index 2018.

What have we turned our habitat into? Was this what urbanization had in store for us? Living in Dhaka comes with a hefty price, not only at the cost of money but also at the cost of a healthy life. The toxicity in the air is slowly poisoning each of us, one day at a time.

The Department of Environment (DoE) has found the presence of sulphate, nitrates, ammonia, sodium chloride, carbon, and mineral, in the air, which is responsible for chronic respiratory diseases. These are suspended in the air, often reaching dangerous levels, totally unfit for human inhalation.

The DoE is therefore working to keep such pollution in check by operating the Clean Air and Sustainable Environment (CASE) project. CASE publishes monthly reports and charts on air quality.

It also encourages people to abide by the rules in order to prevent such pollution. It has undertaken several ambitious projects, such as the National Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Program, Brick Kilns Emission management, and vehicular emission standards.

But have these actually worked? Why has our position then been constant in the US-based Air Quality Index, which provides real-time data on the air quality of every city in the world?

Air pollution in Bangladesh is at its peak in the dry seasons, from October to March. The primary culprits behind this are the brick kilns and Dhaka’s traffic congestion. Buses spewing black smoke still rule the roads despite having been banned years ago and factories continue to be built around the outskirts of the capital.

The presence of hazardous substances in the air causes aggravation of asthma, heart, and lung diseases. For example, according to a newspaper report, “lead accumulates in organs, which may lead to poisoning or even death. The gastrointestinal tract, kidneys, and central nervous system are also affected by the presence of lead. Children exposed to lead are at risk of impaired development, lower IQ, shortened attention span, hyperactivity, and mental deterioration.”

If this goes on, it wouldn’t come as much of a surprise to see a future generation suffering from a vast number of health issues.

What does the law say?

The Bangladesh Environment Protection Act 1995 puts a restriction on the driving of vehicles producing smoke harmful to the environment. It even imposes a punishment of imprisonment for a term which may extend to five years or with a fine which may extend to Tk1 lakh, or with both.

However, the presence of these smoke-emitting buses still active clearly goes to show how much the Act has been implemented. In 2013, the government passed the Brick Manufacturing and Brick Kilns Establishment (Control) Act.

This ordered companies to implement modern technology in their kilns within two years’ time. However, it was not realistically possible to do so in the stipulated time limit. 

Although it cannot be totally removed, the focus now should be on air quality management based on the existing environmental laws of Bangladesh. The government took the initiative to draft a Clean Air Act back in 2018.

The organizers, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, the DoE, Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association, however, were doubtful whether such an act can rightfully be implemented.

Rule violators would break it just as they break every other law. Therefore, imposing strict liability is the only way to ensure cleaner air. The Act would need further support from the Ministry and DoE in order to be enacted.

The air we breathe in is vital to life. We have certainly taken our respiratory system for granted. We can hope that we don’t realize these mistakes until it is too late.

Lung cancer remains the most deadly form of the disease

The death rate from cancer has been falling for half a decade in the EU, researchers said Tuesday, although the overall number is expected to rise to 1.4 million this year due to an expanding population.

The chances of dying from cancer for men has dropped about 6% from 139 deaths per 100,000 males in 2014 to 131 this year, according to a paper in the Annals of Oncology medical journal.

For women, the improvement is 3.6% , from 86 deaths per 100,000 females to 83, the study showed.

However the total number of deaths is expected to increase to 1.4 million in 2019, a rise of nearly five percent from 1.35 million in 2014. Some 787,000 will be men and 621,900 women.

The study showed that lung cancer among women will this year claim more lives than breast cancer -- 96,800 against 92,800.

Lung cancer remains the most deadly form of the disease, with 279,000 combined deaths expected this year.

As for breast cancer, the study reports significant improvements since 2014 in the biggest EU countries. Britain leads the way with a 13% fall in the death rate, followed by France down 10% , German nine percent, Italy seven percent and Spain 5%.

Poland however showed a 2% increase, according to the study, written by professors Carlo La Vecchia of the University of Milan and Fabio Levi at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland.

"It is clear that despite the good news that death rates are declining in most cancers, the bad news is that, due to growing and aging populations, the number of people who will die from cancer is increasing," said professor Fabrice Andre of the Institut Gustave Roussy in the Paris region and Annals of Oncology editor.

"This represents a significant burden on society, and more needs to be done to prevent cancers occurring in the first place, particularly by reducing the numbers of people who smoke and are overweight."

Stress is great. It makes us faster, stronger, more agile and our brains have better recall and flexibility. That’s why people are willing to put themselves in stressful work situations or engage in extreme sports.

The problem is that uncontrolled, stress can leave us frozen to the spot and unable to think – something all too familiar for people having to speak in public or students sitting in the exam hall.

Stress developed because it gives an evolutionary advantage. For early man, and with predators everywhere, food could be scarce and diseases prevalent. By understanding what is happening inside our bodies and why, we can learn to control stress and use it our advantage.

Your body, when stressed
When you’re feeling stressed, it’s a sign that your body is going into emergency mode. The turbo button is pressed, the engine of your body has roared into overdrive and you become superhuman. This means becoming ultra vigilant, able to react quickly and increase memory recall, and to remember every aspect of what you are seeing, hearing and feeling. It is this increased attention to detail that gives us the feeling of time standing still, during a car crash for instance.

Inside the body, a complex cascade of hormones is triggered by the release of a hormone called CRH (corticotropin releasing hormone), by a small part of the brain known as the hypothalamus. This results in an increase in breathing, blood pressure and heart rate, to help pump blood and oxygen around the body more effectively.

At the same time the liver breaks down more glycogen, a high energy storage substance similar to the starch in plants. It is made in the body by combining glucose (sugar) molecules – and breaking it down again produces the glucose that our bodies actually use for energy.

Blood is moved from other areas of your body to support – which show increased strength and endurance. Your immune system switches up a gear and your blood prepares itself to clot – in case you’re injured. Your brain also starts working much better – fed by the glucose and oxygen being pumped around your body.

What about burnout?
Like a powerful engine, when we’re stressed we burn hot, but if we do it for too long, we burn out. In the short term, physiological changes, including increased blood pressure, higher levels of glucose in our blood and decreased appetite, are important adaptations, which normally cause little damage to the body. But chronic stress  can result in a suppressed immune system, diabetes, heart attacks, strokes and a range of other conditions.

Our bodies do their best to only use these stress adaptations when they are most needed – maximizing the benefit and minimizing the potential for damage. But despite this, the body tends towards stress, given its potential advantage in our survival.

Breathing to control stress   
One of the simplest things you can do to relieve stress is to breathe – something we all know how to do. The presence of breathing techniques in both traditional meditation techniques  and modern relaxation methods reflects the importance of taking deep breaths. The immediate impact of doing this can be seen in the reduced production of one of the stress hormones, noradrenaline. Levels of cortisol, another stress hormone, will also start to reduce.

Research by scientists in the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, at Stanford University, have now identified that these changes are linked to a group of nerves in our brains called the “pre-Bötzinger complex”, which regulates our breathing. The scientists found that changes in the expression of certain genes in these nerves – which are physically connected to critical areas in the brain associated with relaxation, attention, excitement and panic – can calm an individual. The clear implication being that changes in breathing directly affect stress levels.

Modern meditation techniques are epitomized in the concept of mindfulness, which brings together these breathing techniques and the idea of “living in the moment”, putting concerns for the past and future into context. Psychologically, this helps to reduce the level of anticipation associated with unnecessary forward planning and concerns, while physically reducing important stress hormones.

By learning simple coping strategies, understanding what makes us stressed, keeping stress at manageable levels through breathing techniques, and taking regular breaks from it, we can begin to learn to use stress to our advantage, rather than letting it control us.

Business & Entrepreneurship / Finding happiness from within
« on: March 31, 2019, 03:29:49 PM »
Each one has to find his peace from within. And peace to be real must be unaffected by outside circumstances.” - Mahatma Gandhi
Our daily lives can be busy, hectic and sometimes overwhelming. Sometimes, it may feel like bringing just a little more inner peace and calmness into your life is just not possible. However, it doesn’t have to be that way. Small and smart changes can bring in both small and bigger rewards over time.
So, here are a few tips for finding more peace and calmness in everyday life.
Simplicity and straightforwardness contribute to inner peace, because simplifying things allows you to direct your energy and effort into one single point. Get rid of everything that holds you back – including acquaintances and friends who may only drain you while giving you nothing in return. Throw out or give away everything that you don’t really need. Keep it simple, and try and stay focused on the tasks that matter.
The only time that truly exists is the present. Hence, you should not stress yourself by pondering over things that have happened in the past. Or by the unpredictable future, which is in fact nothing more than your fantasy. So, focus on the present. Give your best to it, and simply live. Don’t let the real, present moment go by because you live in the past or in the future.
Stop and think about how fortunate you really are. Try to think about all the things you have – and I'm sure you will come up with plenty of things. At times, your worst enemy. Remember that even if you get what you hope for at this instant, your mind will very soon find some new object of desire. Expressing gratitude for what you already have or achieved, even for the simplest things we otherwise take for granted, will lead to inner peace and calm.
Try not to procrastinate. Solve your problem and release all the underlying stress and tension that it is creating in your life. You probably already know what to do, you are just not doing it yet. But the longer you wait, the worse the situation becomes.
Nothing is forever, so it is quite unnecessary to wage little personal wars with people you happen to dislike, or to give into sorrow over a break-up. Time will heal even the deepest wounds, but it will work faster if you leave them alone. So, quite often, the best option is to simply let time resolve the problem.
Be patient and try to enjoy your life. Everything will happen when the time is right. Whenever you remember something bad that happened to you, try to think of what good it also gave you. If this bad experience didn’t happen, how much different would you be from your current self? Try to appreciate small things in life – be it good or bad. And above all, take your time.
Close the circle. Your unfinished business is a heavy burden for your present consciousness and peace. Try to notice just how often they pop-up at the back of your mind, leading to anxiety and dragging you down. If there is a thing that you started but don’t want to finish, take your time to think deeply about it and make a final check-line next to it, mentally. Then be sure to never go back to it again.

Sometimes you think you are eating healthy, when the reality is quite the opposite

It is important to eat healthy when it comes to losing weight. Unfortunately, some food items that are considered “healthy” by food bloggers and online dieticians are more harmful than they lead on.

Many online influencers often share “healthy” meal plans that contain food items which promise to help you lose weight. Some of these food items that pop-up in every single blog are in truth stopping you from reaching your weight goal.

Brown bread

Brown bread is often suggested as a substitute for plain white bread in many diet plans. Fitness blogs in particular appear to be obsessed with it.

A darker loaf of bread does not necessarily mean it is made with healthy ingredients; it could simply contain caramel colouring or such a small amount of whole wheat that its nutritional benefits are no different when compared to white bread.

Photo by Unsplash

The real health benefits come from eating wholemeal bread instead of white. Check the label for ingredients such as whole wheat, oats, whole rye, whole grain corn, barley, quinoa, buckwheat or brown rice. Seeded bread is even better, since it contains vitamins, minerals and healthy fats.

Diet drinks

Diet drinks that claim to be low in calories do not necessarily make you gain weight directly, but they can have an indirect effect in making you pack on the pounds.

Photo by Pexels

Scientists have found that switching to diet drinks can make you hungrier and may cause you to consume more food, leading to obesity. Aspartame, an ingredient used in diet drinks instead of sugar, can cause headaches and even cancer in some cases.

Processed foods

Processed food may seem like an easy way out on busy days, in reality they are making you fat with the preservatives. A research by Nature shows that preservatives interfere with our hormones and disturbs the signals that tell us we are full.

Photo by Unsplash

All the canned nuts, meats, and vegetables have preservatives that keep the food non-toxic. However, the very same preservatives slow down your metabolism and promote weight gain.

Fitness breakfast cereals

A bowl of milk with your favourite cereal is a healthy way to start the day to an extent. Sadly, all the nuts, raisins, dried fruits that contain little to no water only increase your calorie consumption as they are high in saturated-fat.

Photo by Unsplash

A cup of Nestle Cornflakes or Fitnesse cereal contains over 100 calories. Add a cup of full-fat milk to it, which has 150 calories, and you will find yourself consuming more calories than you assumed.

Canned nuts

Canned nuts are common on-the-go snacks. It provides you 20-30% of your daily fat requirement. However, a cup of mixed nuts contains over 850 calories. Not to mention, a serving of mixed, roasted nuts contains 172 calories and about 21 grams of fat.

Rather than going for a diet that promises you a thinner waist by the end of the week, make positive lifestyle changes and develop a healthy relationship with food—one that does not include over-eating or starving yourself.

A healthier diet could involve fresh fruits or vegetables and cooking yourself some delicious stew. Switch to skimmed milk from full-fat milk and see the difference in your calorie intake.

That all being said, a healthy lifestyle can start just as easily with a glass of water. Nothing beats a proper detox when you are turning your life around.

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