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Purposeful philanthropy preferable to charity



Frank Islam

In February 2017, I went to India from the United State of America to dedicate the Frank and Debbie Islam Management Complex at my Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) alma mater. At the dedication of that complex, I said: “While the bricks and mortar are important, far more important is what will go on in this setting. It will be a place for sharing of information and imparting and development of knowledge. It will be a place where faculty and students can collaborate on innovative projects. It will be an educational empowerment zone.”

In those dedication remarks, I was sharing my perspective on what I call “purposeful philanthropy”. I look at my contributions to AMU and the numerous other organisations, groups and individuals that I contribute to in India and in the US not as charity but as investments.

Those philanthropic investments are directed at helping to make a difference in pivot point areas that matter to the future of society. The returns on those investments are positive changes to problematic conditions and/or the creation of individuals who will become the agents of change.

As an example, in my comments at AMU I predicted: “From this management complex will come the future leaders who will make the world a better place.” I felt completely comfortable in making that prediction because in addition to giving the financial support to construct the management building at AMU my wife Debbie and I also provided funding for an endowed chair on Entrepreneurship and Innovation in the management school. That ensured the human element would be brought into play as part of the educational equation.

The distinction between purposeful philanthropy and charity is a critical one. The focus in charity is to provide a handout; the focus in purposeful philanthropy is to provide a heads-up.

There certainly must be charitable support and assistance to address problem areas and the needs of the socially and economically disadvantaged. The handout approach, however, has serious limitations. It does not get at the root cause nor change the underlying reason for the need for the charity.

By contrast, purposeful philanthropy concentrates on improving circumstances and conditions. This hand-up approach can take a wide range of forms, ranging from eliminating contaminated water that poisons those who drink or bathe in it to enhancing the safety of working conditions to developing the requisite knowledge, skills, abilities, attitudes and behaviours for a person to be successful in life.

The pivot point areas — areas that can be leveraged and effectively addressed to effectuate change and achieve positive outcomes — for purposeful philanthropy are virtually endless. My priority areas are education, arts, world peace and civic engagement.

I have chosen those areas because they are important to me and because I know that improvement in them can make a substantial difference. The short reasons for my picking and investing in them are:

Education is the great equaliser and opportunity creator. It moves people up the ladder and to help others climb the ladder with them. It is the gift that keeps on giving.
As President John F. Kennedy said: “Art nourishes the roots of a culture.” It connects and inspires citizens and communities. It has a unifying and healing power.
We are living in an increasingly dangerous world and times. World peace is essential for the future of this planet. There is a deadly conflict now and threats of it around the globe which must be controlled.

India and the United States of America are the world’s two largest democracies. Civic engagement is essential to keep those democracies vibrant and vital.

I name these pivot point areas for illustration purposes only. Each citizen must choose an area or areas that matters to them for their purposeful philanthropy.

The essential thing is to make that choice and to invest. The size of that investment isn’t what counts. The act of investment not only of money, but also of time and talent is what does.

In closing, I would be remiss if I did not identify one final approach to charity. That is “hands-off”. The hands-off approach is really self-aggrandizement masquerading as a charitable contribution.

This approach is driven by what I call an “edifice complex” — the desire to get one’s name on a building such as a temple or mosque with little concern for what is being done there to improve the lot of the community or citizens in which it resides. India needs and deserves better than that.

Purposeful philanthropy accomplishes this. It provides the platform for maximizing a citizen’s participation and contribution to enabling India to achieve its full potential. It is a pivotal idea whose time has come.

(Frank Islam is an Indian American entrepreneur, civic and thought leader. The views expressed are personal. His web site is


Don’t let your stomach suffer this summer



summer sweating

New Delhi, March 24: With summer comes various issues of the stomach. Not only do the high temperatures make us sweat more, it also reduces our immunity so make sure you eat eating properly this season.

Kirti Chadha, Head of Global Reference laboratories, Metropolis Healthcare Ltd. says: “Summer brings a majority of digestion related illnesses. Considering the rise in temperature every year, it is very important to manage our food habits to avoid stomach illnesses.”

Chadha suggested few tips to keep your stomach healthy this summer:

* Keep yourself hydrated, always: Drinking the good amount of water helps in fighting 90% of the diseases. Fiber present in the body pulls water into the colon and helps the body in creating softer, bulkier stools. This makes the passage of the stools easier without causing fissures or piles.

* Increase fiber intake: Including elements of your diet that’s high in fiber and rich in whole grains, vegetables, legumes, and fruits can improve your digestive tract. A high-fiber diet helps in avoiding constipation which is a leading cause of fissure.

* Avoid Fatty food: Fatty foods, generally, curb the digestive process. It is advisable to avoid intake of fatty substances in your diet during summers.

* Limit coffee: Limiting excessive intake of caffeine as it can give rise to trouble with the smooth functioning of your digestive system, and lead to problems like stomach ulcers, acidity, and heartburn.

Dhrity Vats, Medical Officer, Healthians — an online diagnostic center that offers home service — further explains the digestive disorders that can trouble you this summer.

* Gastroenteritis: This is the most common stomach infections seen across all age groups. Vomiting, blood in motions, watery motions with froth, dehydration, severe pain in the abdomen are the first symptoms and when not treated initially can cause severe damage like dehydration and sometimes even unconsciousness due to weakness.

* Jaundice: A very common infection of the liver which shows symptoms like nausea, itching on skin, bitter tongue, pale look of the face with a yellow coloration of the eye. The Hepatitis A virus attacks the liver which starts producing extra bile. Contaminated water or unhygienic food is the main reason for this infection.

* Typhoid: A high-grade fever with fatigue, weakness, pain in stomach, vomiting and loose motions, headache and rarely body rashes are all symptoms of the Typhoid Fever. This is a water-borne disease, seen very commonly in summers.

* Food Poisoning- This is a typical infection which happens within 6-8 hours of eating contaminated food kept in low levels of hygiene.

Vats further adds few precautions to be safe:

* Avoid eating food from outside during summers. Carry your own water whenever stepping out of the house.

* Eat freshly prepared food. If the food has been cooked prior either boil it or fry it before consuming it.

* If you face any 2 signs of the above-mentioned symptoms, start with lots of fluid like ORS prepared at home with boiled water, coconut water etc. Increase your intake of water and lemon. If the condition worsens, consult your doctor. Get your stomach tested.


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Refrain from dieting, eat regularly to sustain weight loss



muesli breakfast

London, March 24: If you are trying to manage your weight with dieting, you may be wrong, as it can make you fatter. Instead, start eating regularly, suggests a study.

While exercise and healthy eating habits are considered to be the cornerstones of weight management, the new study suggests refraining from dieting and observing regular eating habits could be essential to successful weight management in both women and men.

“Generally speaking, weight management guidance often boils down to eating less and exercising more. In practice, people are encouraged to lose weight, whereas the results of our extensive population study indicate that losing weight is not an effective weight management method in the long run,” said Ulla Karkkainen, a researcher and nutritional therapist at the University of Helsinki in Finland.

“Often, people try to prevent and manage excess weight and obesity by dieting and skipping meals. In the long term, such approaches seem to actually accelerate getting fatter, rather than prevent it,” Karkkainen added.

For the study, published in the journal “Eating Behaviors”, the team included nearly 5,000 young men and women, where the participants answered surveys mapping out factors impacting weight and weight change when they were 24 years of age, and again 10 years later at the age of 34.

Between the ages of 24 and 34, the mean gain in women was 0.9 kg per year, while in men the corresponding gain was one kg.

“Even though dieting may seem a logical solution to weight management problems, it can actually increase weight gain and eating problems in the long run,” Karkkainen noted.

The research findings prove that instead of losing weight, it is more important to focus on eating regular meals, taking care of one’s well-being and finding a more general sense of meaning in life.

Regular and sufficient meals support the natural biological functions of the body and help in managing one’s eating habits and weight management in the long term.


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‘61% parents use social media to keep tab on kids’



New York, March 20: While social media has been associated with a negative impact on children, 61 per cent parents feel that the online medium has enabled them to keep a track of “tweens”, according to a survey. “Tweens” is a term given to children between the early elementary grades and those entering teenage.

55 per cent of parents would read their tween’s texts or social media pages to learn if their tween was invited to a boy-girl party at the home of an unfamiliar family.





Also, 39 per cent of parents reported tracking their tween’s location on their cell phone during the party.

Mothers were more likely, than fathers, to say they would use technology to monitor their tweens, according to a report from the University of Michigan’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health.

“The tween stage brings new challenges for parents as they often must balance their child’s desire for more freedom and independence with supervision. It’s not an easy balancing act,” said Sarah Clark, poll co-director.

“In some families, reading text messages or social media posts might be seen as ‘spying.’ But in others, parents discuss rules including sharing passwords,” said Clark.

“Establishing family rules around the use of social media, and discussing the reasons for those rules, is an important part of parenting tweens,” Clark said, in a statement released by the varsity.

However, 91 per cent still wanted to get the information about their child via the traditional way, which includes talking with the parents of their kids’ classmates.

About one in four parents reported being very concerned about their tweens experimenting with sexual activity, marijuana or other drugs, beer or liquor, and guns or other weapons.

Importantly, two-thirds of the parents agreed that tweens need some freedom to make mistakes, and balancing freedom with supervision.

“Parents must balance their responsibility to help their tween learn to be responsible and make good decisions while ensuring their tween’s safety,” Clarks said.


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