Archive for the ‘Development’ Category

Maybe You’re the Reason Your Job Is Boring

February 22nd, 2010 No comments

Maybe You’re the Reason Your Job Is Boring
4:20 PM Thursday January 7, 2010

If you are finding your job a little boring, you aren’t alone. There are many who feel trapped in their current jobs since the economy has removed a few of the seats in the corporate game of musical chairs. But I challenge you to see that it’s actually you, not the job, that’s boring. First, see if you recognize any of these hard truths:

You’re on autopilot.
When bored, our brains shift into autopilot. This isn’t a good thing for you or your company. Unfortunately, shifting into autopilot is what our brains do best. Our past experiences create the neural pathways upon which our survival depends. The brain interprets current reality and responds to similar situations using behaviors that have served us well in the past. These shortcuts help us save time, but can also sap our interest.
Your energy level is less than impressive.
When we are bored, our energy level dissipates and we lose the focus and purpose so necessary to excel at the job at hand. Our brains no longer work for us and actually start working against us.

You’ve become a conformist.
It’s not unusual for leaders to start sleeping on the job once they hit year three or four. At this point, they have molded the organization in their own image. They know their people, processes, and technology aren’t perfect, but have adjusted to their imperfections and lose sight of the opportunities for improvement. Every day brings the same set of problems and the same responses. From a performance perspective, the sharp “blacks” and “whites” so obvious on Day 1 become indistinguishable shades of gray. “I can’t believe what’s going on here!” slowly but surely becomes “I can’t believe how tired I am!”

So what’s the solution?
Wake yourself up by renewing your leadership agenda.Re-engage by mentally firing yourself and spending the next few weeks acting as if you just joined the company. This entails assessing the current situation anew with the help of key stakeholders. Make it a disciplined process.

This isn’t as easy as it sounds. Although you are bored, you are also extremely busy. Your only choice is to extract yourself from day-to-day operations while you redefine your organization’s future. It’s time to delegate or defer and make sure that the “First 90 Days” activities take priority in your calendar. Activities such as clarifying strengths and opportunities, confirming the mandate for change, and determining how to better allocate existing resources.

This approach is uncomfortable and definitely not boring. Take heart that your organization can operate just fine (for a while) without you and it’s far better to fire yourself mentally today rather than wait for your organization to do so — for real.

Categories: Development Tags:

IREX – Short-term Travel Grants

December 15th, 2009 No comments

2010-2011 Fellowship Opportunity
Short-Term Travel Grants (STG) Program

IREX is pleased to announce that applications are now being accepted
for the 2010-2011 Short-Term Travel Grants (STG) Program

STG provides fellowships to US scholars and professionals to engage in
up to eight weeks of overseas research on contemporary political,
economic, historical, or cultural developments relevant to US foreign policy.

The STG application is now available online at:

Completed applications are due no later than 5 pm EST on February 2, 2010.

Postdoctoral Scholars and Professionals with advanced degrees are
eligible to apply for the STG Program. In addition to the
pre-departure logistic support provided by IREX staff, the Short-Term
Travel Grant also provides:

* International coach class roundtrip transportation
* A monthly allowance for housing and living expenses
* Travel visas
* Emergency evacuation insurance
* Field office support

Questions may be addressed to the STG Program Staff at or
by telephone at 202-628-8188.

Countries Eligible for Research:

Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina,
Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Hungary,
Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Moldova,
Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia,
Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan

STG is funded by the United States Department of State Title VIII Program

SCHOLARSHIP- Weidenfeld Scholarships and Leadership Programme, Oxford Univ.

December 15th, 2009 No comments

SCHOLARSHIP- Weidenfeld Scholarships and Leadership Programme, Oxford Univ.

The Weidenfeld Scholarships and Leadership Programme is expected to
support up to 40 Scholars in the 2010-2011 academic year. This
Programme, launched in May 2007, offers outstanding postgraduate
students and young professionals, primarily from Eastern Europe,
Russia, the Caucasus, Central Asia, North Africa and the Middle East,
support for graduate studies at Oxford University complemented by a
comprehensive leadership development programme.

In seeking to cultivate leaders of the future, the Programme selects
students and young professional with clear leadership potential, and a
demonstrated commitment to contributing to public life. It offers them
the unique opportunity to:

* Pursue fully funded graduate studies at the University of Oxford
with no restriction as to the chosen academic field; and

* Participate in a comprehensive leadership programme providing them with:
– The knowledge and skills needed to contribute to public life in,
and play a transformational role in the development of, their
countries and regions of origin;
– Lasting professional networks across cultures and continents to be
drawn on throughout their post-university careers.

We are asking friends and colleagues around the world to circulate the
attached information through relevant networks in order to increase
awareness of the scheme and widen the pool of eligible candidates for
the next academic year.

As with other scholarships, candidates need to apply through the
official University of Oxford application process by mid January,
2010. Application documents for the 2010-11 academic year are
available on the Oxford University website. Interested candidates must
be accepted by Oxford before being considered for a Weidenfeld
Scholarship. Please note that applications to the Scholarship are
submitted through the Oxford University application form.
Additional information about the programme, the criteria for
eligibility and the application process is attached. Further
information about the programme is available on the Institute for
Strategic Dialogue website

Should you require any further information about the Weidenfeld
Scholarships and Leadership Programme, please do not hesitate to
contact Victoria Fraser, the Weidenfeld Scholarships Programme
Associate, at or by telephone at +44 207
493 9333.

The professional relationships fostered at Oxford, combined with our
leadership programme, is paving the way for the trans-cultural,
trans-continental and thus sustainable networks of leaders of our
future. We would be most grateful for your assistance in raising
awareness of the Weidenfeld Scholarships and Leadership Programme by
circulating this information to relevant universities, networks of
students, educational advising centres in your country, and
appropriate professional networks.

Talks Thulasiraj Ravilla: How low-cost eye care can be world-class

December 13th, 2009 No comments

India’s revolutionary Aravind Eye Care System has given sight to millions. Thulasiraj Ravilla looks at the ingenious approach that drives its treatment costs down and quality up, and why its methods should trigger a re-think of all human services.

About Thulasiraj Ravilla
Thulasiraj Ravilla is the executive director of the Lions Aravind Institute of Community Ophthalmology, helping eye-care hospitals around the world build capacity to prevent blindness.

Categories: Development, Health Tags:

Inaugural TEDxYouthInspire to be held in Accra, Ghana in April 2010

December 13th, 2009 No comments

Accra, Ghana, December 1, 2009 – On Saturday, April 10, 2010, from 8:00AM – 6PM GMT, the inaugural TEDxYouthInspire conference will be held at the Ghana-India Kofi Annan Centre of Excellence in ICT in Accra, Ghana. The one-day, free event will be the first TEDx event dedicated exclusively to young African visionaries ages 14-25.

Tasked with inspiring young people to make sustainable transformation, the conference will utilize the theme “A Good Head & A Good Heart”, from former South African President Nelson Mandela’s 1995 autobiography Long Walk to Freedom, to exhibit how radical thought and integrity of spirit combine to create unlimited possibilities for a brighter future.

“It is important that young people are aware of their power as local and global community leaders,” says Raquel Wilson, event curator, “TEDxYouthInspire will encourage participants to collaborate and embrace their shared passions for change.”

Space for TEDxYouthInspire is limited. Young people interested in attending should apply online at Eligible applications must be received by Sunday, January 31, 2010 to be considered for admission.

Individual and corporate sponsorship packages are available. Additional information about TEDxYouthInspire can be found by visiting You can also follow along on Twitter at or on Facebook at

Categories: Development, Health Tags:

Using Cell Phones for Exams

October 28th, 2009 No comments

Using Cell Phones for Exams
Op-ed submission to the Sydney Morning Herald
By Marc Prensky

I have watched with interest, in far-off America, the media storm raised by the use of mobile phones for exams at Presbyterian Women’s College, Croyden, based – at least in part – on my recommendations. I was even interviewed by phone by two Australian radio stations

This high level of media interest – which places the idea of permitting twenty-first century devices in our teaching and evaluation squarely in the public conversation about how we educate our kids – is as it should be, and here is why:

Too many of today’s adults are of the opinion that their children’s education should remain exactly as it was when they were educated in a period before digital technology, the Internet, and other twenty-first century innovations. Unfortunately, this attitude, if implemented, prepares our children not for the future they will face in their lifetimes, but only for the past.

In particular, the idea of testing a person without all the tools they will have at their disposal in the real world is no longer appropriate. It is akin to asking person to tell you the time, but not letting them consult their watch. Every plumber or doctor, or musician is tested with the tools and instruments of their trade. Can you imagine an examiner saying “OK, doctor, tell me about this patient’s heartbeat – but leave that stethoscope in your pocket!” Or that doctor’s having a question about a diagnosis and not phoning a colleague?

The attitude that we should know as many facts as possible, and hold in our heads every trivial piece of information we might need to use in our lives was useful in a time when the body of knowledge was much smaller and information was much harder and slower to find. Memorizing phone numbers allowed you to dial faster. Memorizing the multiplication tables saved you the trouble of adding. Memorizing the names of places was helpful when maps were not always available.

But those were, in the words of one 10-year-old, the “olden days.” Today’s kids store numbers on their phones, use the calculator in the phones to multiply and divide, and, increasingly, tell the time from the phones as well. This frees their mind, ideally, to think of more important things than what is increasing known as “trivia” – IF they are taught to do so, and IF they are evaluated on that ability, rather than on what they have memorized.

Understanding of key concepts is just as important today as in the past – perhaps even more so. But one can understand what a map of the world looks like and represents without being able to name every country and capital. How completely and accurately could you, the reader, fill in a blank map of Africa, or of the former Soviet Union, or of the former Yugoslavia, without help?

There is nothing shameful or “uneducated” about this, because this information, in the twenty-first century, is easily findable.

Given this, smart educators, like those at PLC, assume the availability of such facts via the students’ always-on devices, and on exams, ask harder questions, such as “What do these facts mean?” or “How do we interpret this information?”

And as for those who raise the scenario of technology breaking down, or of someone’s forgetting, or not owning the tools, I remind those people of what we all do whenever we leave our watch at home, or when its battery runs down: we just ask someone else for the time. It is not doing this that would really seem “uneducated” in the twenty-first century.

Marc Prensky is an internationally acclaimed thought leader, speaker, writer, consultant, and game designer in the critical areas of education and learning. He is the author of Digital Game-Based Learning (McGraw Hill, 2001) and Don’t Bother Me, Mom, I’m Learning (Paragon House, 2006). Marc is the founder and CEO of Games2train, a game-based learning company, whose clients include IBM, Bank of America, Pfizer , the U.S. Department of Defense and the LA and Florida Virtual Schools. He is also the creator of the sites, . Marc holds an MBA from Harvard and a Masters in Teaching from Yale. More of his writings can be found . Marc can be contacted at .

Categories: Development Tags:

Qualcomm to focus on low-cost computing, 3G market in India

October 28th, 2009 No comments
Qualcomm to focus on low-cost computing, 3G market in India

These chips power connectivity in mobile phones that are cheaper than $20 but can be used in a variety of other applications, such as connecting heart monitors to hospitals or car sensors to a traffic grid

K. Raghu

Bangalore: Mobile-phone chip maker Qualcomm Inc. will take back to the US low-cost chips it has designed for emerging nations like India to use them in applications such as connecting electricity meters to power grids, a top executive said.

These chips power connectivity in mobile phones that are cheaper than $20 (about Rs1,000) but can be used in a variety of other applications, such as connecting heart monitors to hospitals or car sensors to a traffic grid.

“You are no longer talking about people (talking) to people,” Kanwalinder Singh, president of Qualcomm’s India unit, said late Wednesday on the sidelines of a conference.

Having produced affordable semiconductor chips and modules, the firm is able to take these to other markets for machine-to-machine applications, he added.

Cellular connections in the US that enable wireless data calls between machines will increase threefold by 2014 from the current 75 million, technology market research firm ABI Research said on 22 September.

Qualcomm’s India centres in Bangalore and Hyderabad, which employ at least 1,000 people, have played a major role in designing single-chip handsets, driving down costs of such phones to $20 from $80 five years ago, said Singh.

The firm dominates the so-called code division multiple access (CDMA) technology used by more than 100 million cellphone users in India. It is now supplying these chips to the US for a year now, Singh said, without giving specific numbers.

In India, Qualcomm is set to begin trials of a low-cost computer called Kayak by the end of this year. Kayak, named after the boats used by American Indians and known for their simplicity, are designed for high-speed broadband connectivity on third generation (3G) spectrum.

India is expected to auction 3G spectrum later this year, which will allow cellular operators to offer high-speed Internet access to content such as video on mobile phones.

“We have the reference design ready. We are talking to operators, application providers so as to ensure that the right applications work,” said Singh.

Kayak, which should cost less than Rs10,000, will have a monitor and a wireless modem, allowing users to access applications and software over the Internet and download some of them locally.

Qualcomm is working with the Azim Premji Foundation, the non-profit education initiative of Azim Premji, chairman of Wipro Ltd, India’s third largest software vendor, to host on the Internet the local language education material it has built for school students.

“Our aim is to demonstrate to policymakers that if you provide connectivity, you can reap benefits in the education sector,” said Sukumar Anikar, head of technology for education at Azim Premji Foundation. “It is not only students, but even teachers who will benefit.”

Qualcomm will licence the technology to hardware vendors and earn royalty on chips sold once Kayak is commercialized by 2010, Singh said.

“We will test them in emerging countries because we are targeting under-penetrated markets,” he said. “Surprisingly, we are getting lot of enquiries (for Kayak) even from developed markets.”

Categories: Development Tags:

The power of mobile money

September 24th, 2009 No comments
Sep 24th 2009

From The Economist print edition

Mobile phones have transformed lives in the poor world. Mobile money could have just as big an impact

ONCE the toys of rich yuppies, mobile phones have evolved in a few short years to become tools of economic empowerment for the world’s poorest people. These phones compensate for inadequate infrastructure, such as bad roads and slow postal services, allowing information to move more freely, making markets more efficient and unleashing entrepreneurship. All this has a direct impact on economic growth: an extra ten phones per 100 people in a typical developing country boosts GDP growth by 0.8 percentage points, according to the World Bank. More than 4 billion handsets are now in use worldwide, three-quarters of them in the developing world (see our special report). Even in Africa, four in ten people now have a mobile phone.

With such phones now so commonplace, a new opportunity beckons: mobile money, which allows cash to travel as quickly as a text message. Across the developing world, corner shops are where people buy vouchers to top up their calling credit. Mobile-money services allow these small retailers to act rather like bank branches. They can take your cash, and (by sending a special kind of text message) credit it to your mobile-money account. You can then transfer money (again, via text message) to other registered users, who can withdraw it by visiting their own local corner shops. You can even send money to people who are not registered users; they receive a text message with a code that can be redeemed for cash.

By far the most successful example of mobile money is M-PESA, launched in 2007 by Safaricom of Kenya. It now has nearly 7m users—not bad for a country of 38m people, 18.3m of whom have mobile phones. M-PESA first became popular as a way for young, male urban migrants to send money back to their families in the countryside. It is now used to pay for everything from school fees (no need to queue up at the bank every month to hand over a wad of bills) to taxis (drivers like it because they are carrying around less cash). Similar schemes are popular in the Philippines and South Africa.

Banking on it
Extending mobile money to other poor countries, particularly in Africa and Asia, would have a huge impact. It is a faster, cheaper and safer way to transfer money than the alternatives, such as slow, costly transfers via banks and post offices, or handing an envelope of cash to a bus driver. Rather than spend a day travelling by bus to the nearest bank, recipients in rural areas can spend their time doing more productive things. The incomes of Kenyan households using M-PESA have increased by 5-30% since they started mobile banking, according to a recent study.

Mobile money also provides a stepping stone to formal financial services for the billions of people who lack access to savings accounts, credit and insurance. Although for regulatory reasons M-PESA accounts do not pay interest, the service is used by some people as a savings account. Having even a small cushion of savings to fall back on allows people to deal with unexpected expenses, such as medical treatment, without having to sell a cow or take a child out of school. Mobile banking is safer than storing wealth in the form of cattle (which can become diseased and die), gold (which can be stolen), in neighbourhood savings schemes (which may be fraudulent) or by stuffing banknotes into a mattress. In the Maldives many people lost their savings in the tsunami of 2004; it hopes to introduce universal mobile banking next year.

Financial innovation has a bad reputation at the moment, because exotic derivatives were one of the causes of the credit crunch. But mobile money and other new ideas that could help the poor (see article) provide a useful reminder that financial innovation in itself is not always a bad thing.

Given all of its benefits, why is mobile money not more widespread? Its progress has been impeded by banks, which fear that mobile operators will eat their lunch, and by regulators, who worry that mobile-money schemes will be abused by fraudsters and money-launderers. In many countries mobile money has been blocked because operators do not have banking licences and their networks of corner-shop retailers do not meet the strict criteria for formal bank branches. And some mobile-money schemes that have been launched, such as one in Tanzania, failed to catch on. As recently as a year ago people wondered whether M-PESA’s success was a fluke.

Out of Africa, always something new
But in recent months there have been some more hopeful signs. Kenya’s success story has demonstrated mobile money’s potential, and its benefits are starting to be more widely appreciated. More enlightened regulators are no longer insisting that these services meet the rigid rules for formal banking. Some banks, meanwhile, have come to see mobile money not as a threat but as an opportunity, and are teaming up with operators. And phone companies have studied Kenya closely to learn how to establish and market a successful mobile-money scheme. MTN, Africa’s biggest operator, has launched a mobile-money service in Uganda in conjunction with Standard Bank; it appears to be doing well. MTN is fine-tuning its service in Uganda before rolling it out across Africa.

Banks and regulators elsewhere should take note. Instead of lobbying against mobile money, banks should see it as an exciting chance to exploit telecoms firms’ vast retail networks and powerful brands to reach new customers. Tie-ups between banks and operators will help reassure regulators. But they, too, need to be prepared to be more flexible. People who want to sign up for mobile-money services should not, for example, have to jump through all the hoops required to open a bank account. Concerns about money-laundering can be dealt with by imposing limits (typically $100) on the size of mobile-money transactions, and on the maximum balance. And inflexible rules governing the types of establishments where cash can be paid in and taken out ought to be relaxed.

Mobile money presents a shining opportunity to start a second wave of mobile-led development across the poor world. Operators, banks and regulators should seize it.

Categories: Development, Telecommunications Tags: