Kunal Mukhopadhyay

Archive for the ‘Social trend’ Category

Simply(?) the best…

In Social trend, Sweden on June 13, 2010 at 9:18 am

Came across this news article on The Local about a non-profit organization having conducted a survey of sorts and concluded that Sweden is the “best ” country in the world. Here are some interesting snippets from the Local’s report. My first reaction on seeing the title was “HAH!” as in, “yeah, right.”  I hope to write a more thought-processed and structured response to that later.

We combined the countries placings in the various lists into an overarching ‘meta-index’. Just as when we last did this three years ago, Sweden comes in first place, averaging 4.6. The other Nordic countries take the next four positions. Other countries on the list include Germany, which averages 15.0, the UK on 18.9, the US on 25.4, Russia 72.9, China 82.0 and India 90.6.

These surveys of everything from competitiveness to human rights, the environment and democracy are based on systematic comparative analyses. The fact that Sweden and the other Nordic countries are strengthening their lead is interesting in such a rapidly changing world. Their leading positions strengthen the image of Sweden and the Nordic region as the national park of the global society.

Modern Swedish society is built on various traditions: the right of public access, village councils, private ownership, the social movements, social solidarity – all of which have represented a continuous struggle for a better society, and which are now doing the same on a global level.

The analysis shows that Sweden is not a typical country, if there is such a thing.

However, one area Sweden has fallen back somewhat since our last analysis: the ease of doing business. Sweden is in 18th place, and this is Sweden’s only ranking outside the top ten.

Among the range variables that define business climate, the only one in which Sweden comes in the top ten is trade. Sweden is only the 43rd best place to start a company, the 18th best place to wind up a company, 117th best place to employ workers, 57th best at protecting investors and 71st best for obtaining credit. This ranking list is published by the World Bank.

The timing is quite nice with respect to BD’s recent blog on the impending doom on the future generations if some major reforms to pension plans are not made at the earliest. My biggest peeve at the system right now is the definition of age of retirement. I haven’t understood yet HOW this limit was defined and WHEN. Is it time to re-visit the age-limit in light of the improved living standards in modern-day society compared to 40 or more years ago?

To be continued.

Blah blah blah @ 30000 feet above sea-level

In IT, Social trend on October 18, 2007 at 1:23 pm

I am not sure I want to be hearing some teenager go “ohmygosh” 300 times in one heart beat, while cruising at 30000 ft. if this indeed becomes a reality! I sincerely hope they have thought out the pros and cons of having such a system in place. But then again, being as cramped as they are these days, I wonder if having the option of a “mobile-zone” in the aircraft would be thinkable. There goes my “enjoying a nice book on the flight” spot!


The Saga of Iraq

In Iraq, Politics, Social trend, USA on February 14, 2007 at 9:55 am

The US House of Representatives is to debate on the issue of Iraq. At the centre of the debate lies the decision of The president and his allies to increase the US presence in Iraq by dispatching an additional, whopping, 21,500 military troops. I can almost here the words scream out ….”to achieve what??”

The debate couldn’t have come earlier. What part of the growing global & domestic antagonization caused by the entire situation with Iraq, do the politicians not understand?? Is it not embarrassing enough that the very reasons for entering Iraq, the presence of WMD, were flawed and false from the very beginning? Or are they that thick skinned that it doesn’t affect them??

A growing fraction of the public (American & global) are fed up of the high cost of lives, and financial expenses being meted out for the sake of political games and gains. This isn’t a game of chess the Congressmen can play in the comforts of Washington sitting on padded chairs while servicemen and Iraqi people die on the streets of Iraq! Pull out the troops to calm the flared hostilities and engage neighboring (and far) Arab nations in the effort to rebuild Iraq. What this would demonstrate to the Iraqi people, and the world, is that the US government is indeed interested in the wellbeing of Iraq at heart and not its own selfish gains. Unless of course the truth be otherwise!

In my experience, the average American that I have interacted with, has never travelled abroad. Maybe once, if you are lucky. A very limited fraction of the American people know and understand foreign culture – and most often it is not because they travelled abroad, but rather because of the high diversity and presence of peope from different cultures in the US. I have been pleasantly surprised at how much more people in Sweden and Europe, in general, travel to other nations – even though the reason may be for vacationing/holidaying/leisure. At the very least, they see what a foreign land and its people are like.

How ironic then, that the US government almost assumes an air that it knows best and can help other nations  solve their problems. Does it really? Is the government a real reflection of its people? Not really, if you ask me. How many languages can the average politician in the US speak? Impress me, by just being able to speak spanish or latino….without a native twang, and I will start believing. Otherwise, I am afraid that the image of the “pompous big brat” nation that is popularly becoming the view in the worlds, will be a heavy price to pay by the US.

Pride goes before destruction.

David and Goliath…… live happily together?

In Globalization, Social trend on February 13, 2007 at 3:34 pm

I started this text as a comment but didn’t want to take up whole page, so figured might as well post it here. It was in context to the post by Magnus on his blog, about the future of the idyllic town of Alingsås. The string of thought concerns itself with the “mega” construction project on Kungsgatan, of a new shopping mall with mostly (not all) chain store shops. Magnus worries about the implictions of such an endeavor with respect to the well being of the smaller idyllic shops in this historic town. It is this very unique character of finding a smaller town away from Göteborg, where one can spend the day enjoying the open market in the town square or sip a cup of coffee in one of several cosy cafés, walk the the narrow streets in town through some very pretty old houses, that attracts folk and business from all over.

An interesting observation to a classical dilemma. How does one preserve the richness and originality of a idyllic town while keeping abreast with the pace of modernization?

With globalization re-defining the fabric of lifestyle in almost every part of the world, it is a big challenge to ensure that the economy of the town does not collapse/stagnate in the wave of departmental stores and low price chain stores. One can study a whole lifetime of examples from history of a country like the US where “waves of trends” literally turned towns from tiny establishments to booming industrious wealthy hubs and subsequently to just a historic shell/ghost town/tourist destination (e.g. Jamestown, NY).

Having lived in the US – experienced the fast-paced big city lifestyle in Philly and New York as well as smaller rural setting (Centre county, PA), I find Alingsås the ideal compromise to big city and small town setting. Yet, who doesn’t want the latest, newest, hip and cool shopping experience? Especially when the targeted consumer segment is the 13-30 yr market!

So, yes Alingsås needs the modern shopping mall nested in the midst of all the cafés and small pretty shops. The challenge, I believe the politicians need to face upto, is finding a way to keep the smaller shops and premises to remain in business, perhaps by offering greater incentives and providing assistance in keeping up with the fierce competition. It is, in the end, a David and Goliath situation, only this Goliath is not as “evil” perhaps?

Blog-on yo!

In Blogging, Carl Bildt, Social trend, Sweden on February 8, 2007 at 9:15 pm

If you blog you’re hip…..or at least a bit geeky. Well, if you still had doubts, then here’s a source of inspiration. Carl Bildt has a blog site too! Another demonstration of the… power of blog!

Women in art

In Art, Norm, Social trend, Thoughts, Women in society on February 6, 2007 at 12:56 pm

By large, in the world as we know it today, all famous personalities are males. Not a ground breaking observation, as any sociologist would remark, for traditionally since the dawn of civilization, majority of all societies have been male dominated – thus all known professions (other than, ironically and regrettably what is classed as the “oldest profession” – no comment on that) to “mankind”.
Yesterday my curiosity was piqued when a discussion was initiated by being asked to name a few famous artists (or more correctly, art personalities). When asked, everyone except one woman gave the usual list of celebrities, Picasso being the most common, and other male figures. As was noted, almost everyone named male figures. The question was thus posed – why is it that men are more known in the art world than women? Some answers would have made feminists turn every shade of red on the spectrum. Others were good attempts to find a cover-up answer to what was appearing more to be a shockingly embarrassing revelation in a group consisting of both men and women. It was almost as if the men folk were searching for a justifiable excuse for the outcome of history in the art world. Perhaps some were not trying to justify the same and were “ratifying” the “facts” as they were – there are more male art personalities than female.
Other than the sociological background, there was an interesting thought that the arbitrator proposed. In her opinion, artists (maybe even authors and philosophers could be included) are a little eccentric, often with Bohemian inclinations. Thus the typical Picasso or van Gogh were detached, had their heads in the midst of clouds and weren’t very adroit in practical matters of life such as managing money or finding a regular job or even thinking of a family. Women on the other hand tend to be more practical and more adept in the matters of daily functioning. While not going to the extent of former Harvard University president Lawrence H. Summers, a deeper study into the differences in gender would highlight that women are in many ways different in their methods, and in certain tasks, much better than men. For example, they are not as impulsive as men and are better in planning and assessing risk factors. They tend to be more steadfast than men. Of course, these are generalizations and by virtue of the universe’s constitution, there are exceptions to everything.
I myself am quite thankful that in our household I have a wife who is better than me in staying the course, being steadfast and at assessing risk factors. It balances my oft impulsive side and ensures a safer sailing for both of us and our children. No wonder, then, our wives are often called the “better halves”.