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Managing Editor Jason D Pavorattikaran Editor John Antony Director (Finance) Ceena Associate Editor Carl Jaison Senior Editorial Coordinator Jacob Deva Senior Correspondent Bina Menon Creative Visualizer Bijohns Varghese Photographer Anish Aloysious Office Assistant Alby CG Correspondents Bombay: Rashmi Prakash Delhi: Anurag Dixit Director (Technical) John Antony Publisher Jason D Pavorattikaran

WHY STRENGTHENING DEMOCRACY IS THE ONLY WAY BEFORE HUMANITY Those who are saying Vladimir Putin is committing a war crime in Ukraine, don’t know what they are speaking about. Because, Putin is committing a war crime on the whole world! A battered world was literally crawling out of the two-year old pandemic, after overcoming three waves, and this guy deemed it perfectly fit to start a war, by invading his neighbour which is not even 35% of Russia’s area, not even 30% of Russia’s population, and not even 11% of Russia’s GDP.

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This he did, knowing very well that there would be repercussions. Because, this was not an abrupt war, but a hostile situation at the borders for over a year. So it was very very clear to Putin that his action would attract unprecedented sanctions from Western powers. Still he did what he did. Why? Today, it is amusing to see Western media outlets - including the good and balanced ones - unearthing stories about how Putin was a street bully and petty thug, growing up dangerously in Leningrad, and how he dodged getting caught and jailed by police, and finally joined KGB on his judo prowess, to earn respectability! The point they are trying to make now is clear - Putin resorted to thuggery in Ukraine because he has always been a thug. This is not entirely true. Putin resorted to thuggery in Ukraine because, almost all the nations had turned a blind eye towards the earlier thuggeries he had done in Chechnya, Georgia, Crimea & Syria. Just over a decade back, these same media outlets were hailing Putin as the strongman of Russia for his achievement of placing his country again as a superpower on the world stage by way of military and economic revival. All his flagrant violations of democratic norms to cling on to power and emerge as a de facto dictator were conveniently overlooked. Why? Simply because Western style capitalism was allowed in Russia, and Western governments and giant businesses stood to gain much by operating in the country which was trying to rebuild itself from a small economic base. For over two decades, the West foolishly thought that since communism had collapsed and capitalism was allowed a free run, Russia would turn more and more democratic! Just the reverse happened. Russia turned more and more undemocratic under Putin, with opposition getting decimated, opposition leaders getting killed or jailed, and even Russian oligarchs who didn’t toe Kremlin’s line getting jailed forever and their wealth getting confiscated. Corruption became rampant, and many careful analyses say Vladimir Putin is the wealthiest person in the world today, even ahead of Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos! And with his uncontested power at home, he also started flexing his muscles at all the weaklings around Russia whom he knew he

could easily subdue. With the West turning a blind eye, his military adventures became bolder and wider, with its zenith being in Syria, where he chose a careful enemy that much of the world loathed - ISIS - even when he allied with one of the cruellest dictatorships in the Middle East.

And there are reports that say Putin is seriously sick and under severe medication. What are the side effects of his medications? Is that weakening his judgement on the risks he is forcing Russia and the world into? Some reports say he is afflicted with cancer, and what if the cancer is affecting his brain or nervous system?

And just because he defeated ISIS in their hometurf, the world again turned a blind eye to his war crimes there. Syria, one of the cradles of ancient civilizations and especially its cities of glorious heritage like Aleppo were razed to the ground, beyond recognition or restoration, just to win the war for his Syrian dictator ally, and thus to prove what Russia is capable of internationally.

See the danger the world has put itself into by allowing so much power to concentrate into the hands of a man who may be too sick to make safe judgements? Remember, he is the sole authority to decide on launching intercontinental ballistic missiles carrying nuclear payloads that can obliterate most cities of Europe and North America, and of course most of Russia too, when the West’s programmed nuclear defence systems retaliate in reflex action.

But like all dictators, Putin too has an expiry period. His very act of shutting down democracy has also invariably shut down the sane voices around him. The foolish invasion of Ukraine is the first evidence. Almost all the top military and intelligence leaders who said pleasing things alone to Putin - like Kyiv falling within hours to saviour Putin’s marching army - will soon be headless literally or figuratively. The eeriest thing remains the kind of stuff the West overlooked. As far back as 2014, Angela Merkel had made it clear to Obama that after meeting Putin she had felt that he was totally out of reality, and living in his own world. And repeated instances of President Putin and his aides stealing priceless stuff like a crystal kalashnikov filled with vodka from international museums during their visit, were overlooked. And the literal distance that Putin keeps from his officers and even visiting heads of states during personal discussions - using a looong conference table and the usage of microphones instead to discuss things, were also overlooked. There are reports that say Putin is paranoid about catching Covid as well as other infections.

The world is hoping that such a scenario doesn’t happen. It may not too, but what about the economic burden slapped on the whole world by the senseless actions of this single individual? Oil prices are going through the roof, inflation is breaking all barriers, and the world is being pushed towards an economic turmoil that will take several quarters to be undone, even if peace were to be restored in Ukraine today. Russia is not an isolated case either. Our very neighbour China, who is even more capable than Russia to wage wars, both militarily and economically, too remains a dictatorship where a central figure is increasingly usurping all the decision making powers. Democracy is an imperfect system, but it remains the only hope for the world, if it has to avoid these kinds of ultra dangerous situations it has gotten itself into. The strategy should be perfecting and strengthening democracy and not deriding it for its obvious imperfections. John Antony SEASONAL MAGAZINE


COMING SOON: EDIBLE OIL FROM YEAST! Cultivation of palm oil, the world's most popular edible oil, drives deforestation in the tropics. Now, researchers are making the case for synthetic alternatives to palm oil from yeast.

Just weeks back, the dark clouds of uncertainty were hovering above the capital markets worldwide. But with Covid concerns easing in most parts of the world and the war not spreading beyond some cities of Ukraine, the markets have been making a dramatic comeback. India’s strategy of walking a diplomatic tightrope has ensured that the country is even more insulated from the war’s economic impact. Probably taking into consideration such factors, the Ministers’ Panel entrusted with the task - comprising of Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman; Road, Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari; and Commerce and Industries Minister Piyush Goyal - is likely to wave...

ON A STRONG COMEBACK PATH ON IMPROVING BUSINESS & DIVERSIFICATION Bandhan Bank’s Q3 net profit was up almost 36%, but it was mostly on strong non-interest income and falling provisions, and the market is expecting its diversification from microfinance or group loans to



Jonathan Malesic’s intelligent and careful study, 'The End of Burnout: Why Work Drains Us and How to Build Better Lives', brings clarity to a muddled discussion, by exploring what really is a burnout and what to effectively do about it so as to thrive again.

As Russia’s war in Ukraine looks increasingly disastrous, speculation has mounted that President Vladimir Putin’s misstep could prove to be his downfall. A litany of pundits and experts have predicted that frustration with the

THE ETERNAL WISDOM OF DOSTOYEVSKY What the Legendary Author & Philosopher Wrote on the Meaning of Life, Just After His Death Sentence Was Repealed. - “To be a human being among people and to remain one forever, no matter in what circumstances, not to grow despondent and not to lose heart—

THE UKRANIAN DRONE OPERATORS WHO HALTED THE RUSSIAN CONVOY HEADED FOR KYIV Special IT force of 30 soldiers on quad bikes is vital part of Ukraine’s defence, but forced to crowdfund for supplies.

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Young Indians are dropping out of college, their IIT aspirations turning to dust and many are now in de-addiction centres. Is smartphone dependency growing?



When it comes to capital markets, jewellery chains don’t have a coveted name. Part of the problem is their inconsistency in profit growth, as they are often saddled with large equities as well as large debts to fund new store growth. But Joyalukkas has been following a totally different strategy for growth,

Chennai based Sathyabama Institute of Science & Technology, a leading deemed-to-be-university in the country is surprising the higher education sector with its resilience. The credit goes to Sathyabama's three decades rich

SASTRA GRADED AMONG TOP-5 INSTITUTIONS NATIONALLY Tamil Nadu based deemed-to-beuniversity, SASTRA, has retained the highest grade of A++ awarded by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) in the recently concluded fourth cycle of re-accreditation.

HOW SRM TICKS ALL THE RIGHT BOXES FOR HIGH QUALITY HIGHER EDUCATION In India, it is never easy for a private sector higher education group to be taken as seriously by students, teachers & recruiters, as the country’s famed premium public institutions. But that is what SRM Group has achieved with its deemed and private

KIIT TO ACHIEVE 100% PLACEMENT SOON HOW JSSAHER ENRICHES ITS STUDENTS AND COMMUNITY Mysuru based JSS Academy of Higher Education & Research (JSSAHER) is forever being proactive and innovative with its initiatives, projects, industry collaborations and outreach activities, so much so that its students, research scholars, faculty and the community around it are being enriched continually, like how a true world-class university should be.

When the latest round of placements for this ongoing academic year was completed, the leading deemed-to-be-university has landed placements for 3000 eligible students of the current BTech batch, out of a batch size of 3500 students.

CSB BANK IS MAKING THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS GUARD YOUR HEART HEALTH TO PROTECT YOUR BRAIN POWER A new study has suggested that subtle changes in the structure and the diastolic function of a person's heart between early adulthood and middle age may be associated with a decline in thinking and memory skills.

Proving wrong all who thought that Fairfax’s modern management practices wouldn’t be a good match for this then laidback traditional private sector bank, CSB Bank has grown both its traditional mainstays like gold loans & MSME credit to new heights, even while deploying a dazzling array of next-generation

NEWS-IN-FOCUS CHENNAI BOY SOLVES RUBIK'S CUBE IN 14.32 SECS ON BICYCLE, SETS GUINNESS WORLD RECORD A boy from Chennai has created a Guinness World Record by solving Rubik's Cube in just 14.32 seconds while riding a bicycle after working on his skills for two years. "Jayadharshan Venkatesan...was steering, pedalling and solving this cube whilst keeping his balance," Guinness World Records said, sharing his video on Instagram. Jayadharshan's achievement is put under the category of "speedcubing".


Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MLA from Punjab's Nabha (SC Reserve) Gurdev Singh Dev Mann cycled for 80 kilometres for his swearing-in ceremony as a legislator in Punjab Vidhan Sabha on Thursday. He travelled 80 kilometres one way from Nabha to Chandigarh on a cycle. Mann announced that he would take a token amount of ?1 per month as an MLA.





A US citizen who had been caring for his partner in a Ukrainian hospital was killed by Russian fire as he waited in a bread line after briefly stepping out to buy food, his family said on Thursday. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken confirmed the death of the American, identified by his sisters as Jimmy Hill.

The Maharashtra Metro Rail Corporation Limited, which is implementing the Pune Metro project, has decided to change the names of at least two stations – Bhosari and Budhwar Peth. Officials said they have been receiving complaints regarding the names of the two stations due to confusion among commuters. "We will soon send a request to the...state government," an official said.


Wealthy Russians have stashed up to $214 billion in secretive Swiss bank accounts, the Swiss Bankers Association (SBA) has revealed. However, SBA said the amount of Russian wealth held in Switzerland was small compared with total assets held in the country. Switzerland "must do everything possible to turn off the money taps", Social Democrats' co-president Mattea Meyer said. SEASONAL MAGAZINE

Global prices of commodities and fuel have soared to unprecedented levels amid the war in Ukraine. Edible oil, food grains, corn could become costlier in India due to the war. Rare metals such as nickel, platinum, palladium, and gold could become costlier as Russia is one of the biggest exporters, and sanctions have stopped the metals from reaching global market.

A 37-year-old man who said he felt "humiliated" by his teacher in primary school has confessed to stabbing her to death in 2020, Belgian prosecutors said on Thursday. Gunter Uwents, who stabbed the teacher 101 times, said he never got over comments Maria Verlinden made about him in early 1990s. The murder had gone unsolved despite repeated Belgian police enquiries.

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Ukrainian MP Lesia Vasylenko, while speaking to journalists in the House of Commons, said that Vladimir Putin has "changed his strategy to target the most vulnerable groups of women and children". She added that Russian forces are raping women aged over 60 before executing them. She further said that several women died by suicide after being sexually abused.


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30 STRANDED WHALES DIE ON BEACH IN NEW ZEALAND: GOVT New Zealand's Department of Conservation has said that around 30 pilot whales have died after being stranded on a beach. "The cause of this stranding is not known, but Golden Bay is a high stranding area with Farewell Spit hooking around the northern entrance into the bay," it added. About 34 pilot whales were stranded in the area. SEASONAL MAGAZINE

HARYANA MAN CLAIMS APPLE WATCH'S ECG FEATURE SAVED HIS LIFE; CEO TIM COOK REPLIES A 34-year-old Haryana man claimed that an Apple Watch saved his life after its ECG feature detected irregularities. Nitesh Chopra said he went to the hospital and the angiography revealed there was a 99.9% blockage in his arteries. His wife then emailed Apple CEO Tim Cook thanking him, to which Cook replied saying, "I'm so glad you sought medical attention."

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ladimir Putin’s attack on Ukraine will result in the downfall of him and his friends,” David Rothkopf declared in the Daily Beast. “If history is any guide, his overreach and his miscalculations, his weaknesses as a strategist, and the flaws in his character will undo him.” But what events could actually bring down Putin? And how likely might they be in the foreseeable future? The best research on how authoritarians fall points to two possible scenarios: a military coup or a popular uprising. During the Cold War, coups were the more common way for dictators to be forced out of office — think the toppling of Argentina’s Juan Perón in 1955. But since the 1990s, there has been a shift in the way that authoritarians are removed. Coups have been on the decline while popular revolts, like the Arab Spring uprisings and “color revolutions” in the former Soviet Union, have been on the rise. For all the speculation about Putin losing power, neither of these eventualities seems particularly likely in Russia — even after the disastrous initial invasion of Ukraine. This is in no small part because Putin has done about as good a job preparing for them as any dictator could. Over the past two decades, the Russian leader and his allies have structured nearly every core element of the Russian SEASONAL MAGAZINE

state with an eye toward limiting threats to the regime. Putin has arrested or killed leading dissidents, instilled fear in the general public, and made the country’s leadership class dependent on his goodwill for their continued prosperity. His ability to rapidly ramp up repression during the current crisis in response to antiwar protests — using tactics ranging from mass arrests at protests to shutting down opposition media to cutting off social media platforms — is a demonstration of the regime’s strengths. “Putin has prepared for this eventuality for a long time, and has taken a lot of concerted actions to make sure he’s not vulnerable,” says Adam Casey, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Michigan who studies the history of coups in Russia and the former communist bloc. Yet at the same time, scholars of authoritarianism and Russian politics are not fully ready to rule out Putin’s fall. Unlikely is not impossible; the experts I spoke with generally believe the Ukraine invasion to have been a strategic blunder that raised the risks of both a coup and a revolution, even if their probability remains low in absolute terms. “Before [the war], the risk from either of those threats was close to zero. And now the risk in both of those respects is certainly higher,” says Brian Taylor, a professor at Syracuse University and author of The Code of Putinism. Ukrainians




sympathizers cannot bank on Putin’s downfall. But if the war proves even more disastrous for Russia’s president than it already seems, history tells us there are pathways for even the most entrenched autocrats to lose their grip on power. In a recent appearance on Fox News, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) hit upon what he saw as a solution to the Ukraine war — for someone, perhaps “in the Russian military,” to remove Vladimir Putin by assassination or a coup. “The only way this ends is for somebody in Russia to take this guy out,” the senator argued. He shouldn’t get his hopes up. A military

revolt against Putin is more possible now than it was before the invasion of Ukraine, but the odds against it remain long. Naunihal Singh is one of the world’s leading scholars of military coups. His 2017 book Seizing Power uses statistical analysis, game theory, and historical case studies to try to figure out what causes coups and what makes them likely to succeed. Singh finds that militaries are most likely to attempt coups in low-income countries, regimes that are neither fully democratic nor fully autocratic, and

nations where coups have recently happened. None of these conditions apply very well to modern Russia, a firmly authoritarian middle-income country that hasn’t seen a coup attempt since the early ’90s. But at the same time, wars like Putin’s can breed resentment and fear in the ranks, precisely the conditions under which we’ve seen coups in other countries. “There are reasons why Putin might be increasingly concerned here,” Singh says, pointing to coups in Mali in 2012 and Burkina Faso earlier this year as precedent. Indeed, a 2017 study of


civil wars found that coups are more likely to happen during conflicts when governments face stronger opponents — suggesting that wartime deaths and defeat really do raise the odds of military mutinies. In Singh’s view, the Ukraine conflict raises the odds of a coup in Russia for two reasons: It could weaken the military leadership’s allegiance to Putin, and it could provide an unusual opportunity to plan a move against him. The motive for Russian officers to launch a coup would be fairly straightforward: The costly Ukraine campaign becomes unpopular among, and even personally threatening to, key members of the military. Leading Russian journalists and experts have warned that Putin is surrounded by a shrinking bubble of hawkish yes-men who feed his nationalist obsessions and tell him only what he wants to hear. This very small group drew up an invasion plan that assumed the Ukrainian military would put up minimal resistance, allowing Russia to rapidly seize Kyiv and install a puppet regime. This plan both underestimated Ukraine’s resolve and overestimated the competence of the Russian military, leading to significant Russian casualties and a failed early push toward the Ukrainian capital. Since then, Russian forces have been bogged down in a slow and costly conflict defined by horrific bombardments of populated areas. International sanctions have been far harsher than the Kremlin expected, sending the Russian economy into a tailspin and specifically punishing its elite’s ability to engage in commerce abroad. According to Farida Rustamova, a Russian reporter well-sourced in the Kremlin, high-ranking civilian officials in the Russian government are already unhappy about the war and its economic consequences. One can only imagine the sentiment among military officers, few of whom appear to have been informed of the war plans beforehand - and many of whom are now tasked with killing Ukrainians en masse. Layered on top of that is something that often can precipitate coups: personal insecurity among high-ranking generals SEASONAL MAGAZINE

IN SINGH’S VIEW, THE UKRAINE CONFLICT RAISES THE ODDS OF A COUP IN RUSSIA FOR TWO REASONS: IT COULD WEAKEN THE MILITARY LEADERSHIP’S ALLEGIANCE TO PUTIN, AND IT COULD PROVIDE AN UNUSUAL OPPORTUNITY TO PLAN A MOVE AGAINST HIM. and intelligence officers. According to Andrei Soldatov, a Russia expert at the Center for European Policy Analysis think tank, Putin is punishing highranking officials in the FSB — the successor agency to the KGB - for the war’s early failures. Soldatov’s sources say that Putin has placed Sergei Beseda, the leader of the FSB’s foreign intelligence branch, under house arrest (as well as his deputy). Reports like this are hard to verify. But they track with Singh’s predictions that poor performance in wars generally leads autocrats to find someone to blame — and that fear of punishment could convince some among Russia’s security elite that the best way to protect themselves is to get rid of Putin. “I don’t think Putin will assassinate them, but they may still have to live in fear and humiliation,” Singh says. “They’ll be afraid for their own futures.” The conflict also provides disgruntled officials with an opening. In authoritarian countries like Russia, generals don’t always have many opportunities to speak with one another without fear of surveillance or informants. Wars change that, at least somewhat. There are now “lots of good reasons for generals to be in a room with key players and even to evade surveillance by the state, since they will want to evade NATO and US surveillance,” Singh explains. That said, coups are famously difficult to pull off. And the Russian security state in particular is organized around a frustrating one. Contrary to most people’s expectations, successful military coups are generally pretty bloodless; smart plotters typically don’t launch if they believe there’s a real chance it’ll come down to a gun battle

in the presidential palace. Instead, they ensure they have overwhelming support from the armed forces in the capital - or at least can convince everyone that they do - before they make their move. And on that front, Russia experts say Putin has done a bang-up job of what political scientists call “coup-proofing” his government. He has seeded the military with counterintelligence officers, making it hard for potential mutineers to know whom to trust. He has delegated

Guard - also called the Rosgvardiya - as an entity separate from the military. Under the command of thuggish Putin loyalist Viktor Zolotov, it performs internal security tasks like border security and counterterrorism in conjunction with Russia’s intelligence services.

“The mothers in Russia have always been the pushback against Putin during these conflicts. This is going to be nextlevel scale,” he argued. “We’re worried about Kyiv falling today. I’m worried about Moscow falling between day 30 and six months from now.”

These services are split into four federal branches. Three of these - the FSB, GRU, and SVR - have their own elite special operations forces. The fourth, the Federal Protection Services, is Russia’s Secret Service equivalent with a twist: It has in the range of 20,000 officers, according to a 2013 estimate. By contrast, the Secret Service has about 4,500, in a country with a population roughly three times Russia’s. This allows the Federal Protection Services to function as a kind of Praetorian Guard that can protect Putin from assassins and coups alike.

A revolution against Putin has become likelier since the war began; in fact, it’s probably more plausible than a coup. In the 21st century, we have seen more popular uprisings in post-Soviet countries — like Georgia, Belarus, and Ukraine itself — than we have coups. Despite that, the best evidence suggests the odds of one erupting in Russia are still fairly low.

The result is that the regular military, the most powerful of Russia’s armed factions, does not necessarily dominate Russia’s internal security landscape. Any successful plot would likely require complex coordination among members of different agencies who may not know each other well or trust each other very much. In a government known to be shot through with potential informers, that’s a powerful disincentive against a coup. “The coordination dilemma ... is especially severe when you have multiple different intelligence agencies and ways of monitoring the military effectively, which the Russians do,” Casey explains. “There’s just a lot of different failsafe measures that Putin has built over the years that are oriented toward preventing a coup.” In an interview on the New York Times’s Sway podcast, former FBI special agent Clint Watts warned of casualties in the Ukraine war leading to another Russian revolution. primary responsibility for repression at home to security agencies other than the regular military, which both physically distances troops from Moscow and reduces an incentive to rebel (orders to kill one’s own people being quite unpopular in the ranks). He has also intensified the coup coordination problem by splitting up the state security services into different groups led by trusted allies. In 2016, Putin created the Russian National


Few scholars are more influential in this field than Harvard’s Erica Chenoweth. Their finding, in work with fellow political scientist Maria Stephan, that nonviolent protest is more likely to topple regimes than an armed uprising is one of the rare political science claims to have transcended academia, becoming a staple of op-eds and activist rhetoric. When Chenoweth looks at the situation in Russia today, they note that the longstanding appearance of stability in Putin’s Russia might be deceiving. “Russia has a long and storied legacy of civil resistance [movements],” Chenoweth tells me. “Unpopular wars have precipitated two of them.” Here, Chenoweth is referring to two early-20th-century uprisings against the czars: the 1905 uprising that led to the creation of the Duma, Russia’s legislature; and the more famous 1917 revolution that gave us the Soviet Union. Both events were triggered in significant part by Russian wartime losses (in the Russo-Japanese War and World War I, respectively). And indeed, we have seen notable dissent already during the current conflict, including demonstrations in nearly 70 Russian cities on March 6 alone. It’s conceivable that these protests grow if the war continues to go poorly, especially if it produces significant Russian casualties, clear evidence of mass atrocities against civilians, and continued deep economic pain from sanctions. But we are still very far from a mass uprising. Chenoweth’s research suggests you need to get about 3.5 percent of the population involved in protests to SEASONAL MAGAZINE

guarantee some kind of government concession. In Russia, that translates to about 5 million people. The antiwar protests haven’t reached anything even close to that scale, and Chenoweth is not willing to predict that it’s likely for them to approach it. “It is hard to organize sustained collective protest in Russia,” they note. “Putin’s government has criminalized many forms of protests, and has shut down or restricted the activities of groups, movements, and media outlets perceived to be in opposition or associated with the West.” Protesters clash with police in Independence Square in Kyiv on February 20, 2014. Demonstrators were calling for the ouster of President Viktor Yanukovych over corruption and an abandoned trade agreement with the EU. Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images A mass revolution, like a coup, is something that Putin has been preparing to confront for years. By some accounts, it has been his number one fear since the Arab Spring and especially the 2013 Euromaidan uprising in Ukraine. The repressive barriers Chenoweth points out are significant, making it unlikely — though, again, not impossible — that the antiwar protests evolve into a movement that topples Putin, even during a time of heightened stress for the regime. In an authoritarian society like Russia, the government’s willingness to arrest, torture, and kill dissidents creates a similar coordination problem as the one

“PUTIN’S GOVERNMENT HAS CRIMINALIZED MANY FORMS OF PROTESTS, AND HAS SHUT DOWN OR RESTRICTED THE ACTIVITIES OF GROUPS, MOVEMENTS, AND MEDIA OUTLETS PERCEIVED TO BE IN OPPOSITION OR ASSOCIATED WITH THE WEST.” coup plotters experience —just on a grander scale. Instead of needing to get a small cabal of military and intelligence officers to risk death, leaders need to convince thousands of ordinary citizens to do the same. In past revolutions, oppositioncontrolled media outlets and social media platforms have helped solve this difficulty. But during the war, Putin has shut down notable independent media outlets and cracked down on social media, restricting Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram access. He has also introduced emergency measures that punish the spread of “fake” information about the war by up to 15 years in jail, leading even international media outlets like the New York Times to pull their local staff. Antiwar protesters have been arrested en masse. Most Russians get their news from government-run media, which have been serving up a steady diet of pro-war

propaganda. Many of them appear to genuinely believe it: An independent opinion poll found that 58 percent of Russians supported the war to at least some degree. “What these polls reflect is how many people actually tune in to state media, which tells them what to think and what to say,” Russian journalist Alexey Kovalyov tells my colleague Sean Illing. The brave protesters in Russian cities prove that the government grip on the information environment isn’t airtight. But for this dissent to evolve into something bigger, Russian activists will need to figure out a broader way to get around censorship, government agitprop, and repression. That’s not easy to do, and requires skilled activists. Chenoweth’s research, and the literature on civil resistance more broadly, finds that the tactical choices of opposition activists have a tremendous impact on whether the protesters ultimately succeed in their aims. Organizers need to “give people a range of tactics they can participate in, because not everyone is going to want to protest given the circumstances. But people may be willing to boycott or do other things that appear to have lower risk but still have a


security elites, state media, oligarchs, and Putin’s inner circle of political associates.” Given the Russian president’s level of control over his security establishment, it will take a truly massive protest movement to wedge them apart. It can be difficult to talk about low-probability events like the collapse of the Putin regime. Suggesting that it’s possible can come across as suggesting it’s likely; suggesting it’s unlikely can come across as suggesting it’s impossible. But it’s important to see a gray area here: accepting that Putin’s end is more likely than it was on February 23, the day before Russia launched its offensive, but still significantly less likely than his government continuing to muddle through. The war has put new pressure on the regime, at both the elite and the mass public level, but the fact remains that Putin’s Russia is an extremely effective autocracy with strong guardrails against coups and revolutions.

significant impact, ” says Hardy Merriman, a senior advisor to the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict. You can already see some tactical creativity at work. Alexis Lerner, a scholar of dissent in Russia at the US Naval Academy, tells me that Russians are using unconventional methods like graffiti and TikTok videos to get around the state’s censorship and coercive apparatus. She also notes that an unusual amount of criticism of the government has come from high-profile Russians, ranging from oligarchs to social media stars. But at the same time, you can also see the effect of the past decades of repression at work. During his time in power, Putin has systematically worked to marginalize and repress anyone he identifies as a potential threat. At the highest level, this means attacking and imprisoning prominent dissenters like Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Alexei Navalny. But the repression also extends down the social food chain, from journalists to activists on down to ordinary Russians who may have dabbled too much in politics. The result is that anti-Putin forces are extremely depleted, with many Putin opponents operating in exile even before the Ukraine conflict began.

Moreover, revolutions don’t generally succeed without elite action. The prototypical success of a revolutionary protest movement is not the storming of the Bastille but the fall of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in 2011. In that case, Mubarak’s security forces refused to repress the protesters and pressured him to resign as they continued. “Symbolic protest is usually not enough to bring about change,” Chenoweth explains. “What makes such movements succeed is the ability to create, facilitate, or precipitate shifts in the loyalty of the pillars of support, including military and


So how should we think about the odds? Is it closer to 20 percent — or 1 percent? This kind of question is impossible to answer with anything like precision. The information environment is so murky, due to both Russian censorship and the fog of war, that it’s difficult to discern basic facts like the actual number of Russian war dead. We don’t really have a good sense of how key members of the Russian security establishment are feeling about the war or whether the people trying to organize mass protests are talented enough to get around aggressive repression. And the near-future effects of key policies are similarly unclear. Take international sanctions. We know that these measures have had a devastating effect on the Russian economy. What we don’t know is who the Russian public will blame for their pains: Putin for launching the war — or America and its allies for imposing the sanctions? Can reality pierce through Putin’s control of the information environment? The answers to these questions will make a huge difference. Putin built his legitimacy around the idea of restoring Russia’s stability, prosperity, and global standing. By threatening all three, the war in Ukraine is shaping up to be the greatest test of his regime to date. (By Zack Beauchamp for Vox) SEASONAL MAGAZINE


Just weeks back, the dark clouds of uncertainty were hovering above the capital markets worldwide. But with Covid concerns easing in most parts of the world and the war not spreading beyond some cities of Ukraine, the markets have been making a dramatic comeback. India’s strategy of walking a diplomatic tightrope has ensured that the country is even more insulated from the war’s economic impact. Probably taking into consideration such factors, the Ministers’ Panel entrusted with the task - comprising of Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman; Road, Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari; and Commerce and Industries Minister Piyush Goyal - is likely to wave a green flag for the LIC IPO, so that it happens in April itself without going near the May 12 deadline. Here are 8 reasons why the IPO of India’s largest life insurance and investment behemoth is attractive for investors.



LIC IPO IS A UNIQUE, DUAL OPPORTUNITY Most people think of LIC as the largest life insurance company in the country. But LIC is also number one in another industry. It is the largest and the most successful institutional investor in the stock market. Thus it has twin engines of growth that complement each other. While the very visible cash-flow from life insurance enables LIC to pursue market opportunities around the year, it also gives the LIC immense capabilities to make massive additional investments when markets go for a tailspin, like when it did in March 2020 at the beginning of Covid’s first wave and the lockdown. And after such investments at rock-bottom, when the markets were firing back on all engines within months, LIC could book hefty profits, which was just in time to compensate for the lull in life insurance collections. Hence participation in LIC IPO will give exposure to both insurance and investment businesses.


LIC IPO WILL CREATE A LARGEST CAP COMPANY In bull markets all companies move up, and mid-caps and small-caps move up faster than large-caps. But when the mood changes and it is time for an imminent and long lasting bear market, such smaller stocks are the first to tumble down and to a deeper level. Large caps will generally fall much less, and it will be the largest cap companies that will stay the maximum defensive and start to move up faster once the market stabilizes. LIC’s IPO will result in such a largest cap company in India, with its market capitalization on listing expected to be around Rs. 16 lakh crore, very near to Reliance Industries and ahead of Tata Consultancy Services.


LIC IPO DOES NOT INVOLVE DILUTION Companies usually go in for their IPOs not just to get publicly listed, but to raise serious funds for debt reduction and business growth. But such fundraising invariably involves issue of new shares by the company so that the raised funds end up as equity capital. However, in the case of the super cash-rich LIC, there is no need for any such cash infusion into the company. Hence LIC will not be issuing any new shares in its IPO. Instead, its sole promoter Government of India will use the LIC IPO to reduce its stake by 5% which will set the IPO size at around Rs. 63,000 crore, all of which will go to the Government. Thus this fully Offer for Sale (OFS) IPO will ensure that no dilution or significant value erosion for the IPO investors happens. SEASONAL MAGAZINE


LIC IPO WILL HAVE HIGH RETAIL PARTICIPATION Though the LIC IPO was finalized during the peak of a bull market, there is every chance now that the IPO and listing will happen in a bear market or at least in a highly volatile and directionless market. Usually in such markets, retail investors will be the first to run away, due to the inevitable herd mentality. But in the case of LIC IPO, the retail participation may still end up pretty strong due to a peculiar reason. LIC has made it clear that its employees and policyholders will have reserved quotas in its IPO. Around 5 percent of the issue size may be reserved for employees and up to 10% may be set aside for policyholders. With its formidable leadership in life policies, this will result in great participation from its industry-leading policyholder base, its unparalleled agent army and its huge employee base, as they will also get it at a discount from the floor price.




Even with robust participation from retail investors, an IPO of the size of LIC of India will need to rely much on foreign institutional investors to sail through. To facilitate this, the Union Cabinet had recently decided to allow higher Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in LIC. As per this, the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) has recently notified of a government decision to allow up to 20 percent FDI in IPO-bound LIC with the aim of facilitating disinvestment of the country's largest insurer. This will be through the automatic route, so that foreign institutional investors can lap up significant chunks of LIC shares through the IPO itself. This will also result in large stakes ending up in strongest hands like that of overseas pension funds, sovereign funds and mutual funds, which will give much respectability, better corporate governance, and longterm stability to the LIC stock. SEASONAL MAGAZINE


LIC IPO HAS TIME ON ITS SIDE Though the Russia-Ukraine war, the rate hike by US Fed, and the resurgent pandemic in Asia & Europe have forced the postponement of LIC IPO for now, the insurance major has ample time, that is until May 12th to be precise to launch its much awaited initial public offer, after which it will have to file fresh papers. There is a high degree of probability that the Russian invasion of Ukraine will cease by then, and a clearer picture of the pandemic resurgence will also be known by then. And most favourably, both these unexpected happenings are likely to soften the US Fed’s hawkish stance for the whole year and beyond. Analysts already expect that the US Fed will go at only half the pace than earlier planned for rate cuts. This will result in only a lower flight of capital from risk assets like stocks to interest yielding instruments like bank deposits.




In all life insurance companies, a percentage of policies end up as lapsed, and in the case of LIC of India, this percentage has been rather high, as the public sector major caters to all sections of the society including the economically challenged classes. The last two pandemic years have been especially worse for LIC in this regard, as such weaker customers struggle to restart their policies by paying late fees etc. However, in the run-up to its IPO, LIC has done something really smart, which is to provide a unique window of opportunity for all customers with lapsed policies to revive them, that too by availing significant discounts on the late fee and other charges. This window which began on February 7 will end only on March 25, and has already resulted in tens of thousands of lapsed policies getting revived! This is a double win-win for both the company and the policy holders, as they can now also vie to be shareholders through the IPO. SEASONAL MAGAZINE


LIC IPO HAS LED TO A NEW DIGITAL VERTICAL Though LIC had stayed on top of the rest of the competition, in the pandemic years of FY’20 and FY’21, there has been some indications recently that growth is slowing down in the current fiscal. Though March is not over yet, figures for the January and February of this ongoing fourth quarter indicates that LIC has taken an unusual hit. But don’t expect LIC to give in without a fight, and in fact, the company has been plotting something big to take on private sector players at its own game. Recently LIC Chairman MR Kumar had revealed that this strategy is to start an entirely new digital vertical itself for LIC, which will have the best of features for such a digital delivery channel. This new digital vertical will ensure that LIC finally has a counterweight for its own over-reliance on an expensive agent army as well as for private sector peers’ head-start in tech-led channels and bancassurance. This new digital vertical is expected to bring back industryleading growth in new business premiums to LIC of India.



WHY YOU SHOULD SLEEP ON YOUR PROBLEM By Joanne Bower, Lecturer in Psychology, University of East Anglia

you feel better in the morning. Indeed, studies have shown that, over time, improving sleep can lead to less anxiety, depression, and stress, and increased life satisfaction. If you want to keep your emotions and mental health in check, here are the best ways to get a good night’s sleep: Maintain a consistent bedtime and wake time – even on your days off. This helps your body clock get into a routine, improving your sleep. Having a big shift in sleep time between your work and free days is known as “social jetlag”, which can be associated with increased anxiety.

nstead of lying awake worrying, we’re often told to “sleep on it” when making decisions both big and small. And there’s actually a scientific basis for this advice. Sleep can influence our response to emotional situations, and helps us to manage our mental health. To understand why sleep and emotions are so connected, it’s important to first understand what happens in the brain when we encounter something emotive. Two main brain regions interact to create emotional responses. The first is the limbic system, which is located deep in our brain. This acts as our emotion centre, quickly evaluating a situation and helping us to decide how to react. Historically, this region may have been important for humanity’s survival, as it helps us react quickly in certain situations – if we encounter a dangerous predator, for example. But most of the time we need to adjust our initial emotional response. This is where the second region – the prefrontal cortex – comes in. Located just behind our forehead, the prefrontal cortex helps us to increase or decrease our emotional responses as necessary. So if we see a predator (such as a bear) in the zoo, the prefrontal cortex tells us we don’t need to panic because it’s in an enclosure. These regions need to be well-connected in order to effectively generate and adjust our SEASONAL MAGAZINE

emotional responses. This is where sleep comes in. When we’re sleep deprived, the connections between these areas weaken, making the reaction in the limbic system stronger. Sleep loss not only increases our reaction to stressful events during the day, it also makes these reactions harder to change. This may be particularly pronounced if you lose REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. Studies show that getting poor sleep makes us more likely to choose less effective ways of managing our emotions which could have a knock-on effect for our mental health. Imagine you’re experiencing a difficult work problem. If you’re well rested, you are more likely to be able to effectively problem solve, fixing the issue. But if you’re sleep deprived, you might avoid dealing with the problem. Over time, this could have a negative effect on wellbeing. A stressed woman screams at her computer in a busy office. Sleep is also crucial for processing and consolidating memories from our day. When we have emotional experiences, sleep both helps us remember these events and remove the associated feelings. This happens in REM sleep, when activity in most brain regions is similar to when we’re awake. By reactivating memories during REM sleep, the associated feelings can be removed from the content of the memory. This is why “sleeping on it” really can help

Seek out natural light in the morning and avoid blue light in the evening. Our body clock is strongly affected by light. It impacts a part of the brain called the suprachiasmatic nucleus, which releases a sleep hormone called melatonin. Getting natural light in the morning helps us to suppress melatonin, which improves our mood and makes us feel more alert. The blue light found in electronic devices also minimises melatonin. This means that using electronics in the evening can result in it taking longer for us to feel sleepy. So we recommend that you turn them off or set them to “night time mode” an hour before you go to bed. Avoid certain substances – such as alcohol, caffeine and nicotine. Caffeine and nicotine are stimulants, which can interfere with our body’s drive to sleep. It’s best to avoid these, particularly in the afternoon and evening as our body gets ready for sleep. Alcohol also changes the structure of our sleep, making us more likely to wake up during the night. Studies also show using alcohol daily can decrease sleep quality, especially for people with anxiety. Allow yourself time to wind down before bed. Make sure your bedroom is comfortable, cool, quiet and dark to minimise chances of being disturbed. Before bed, try using relaxation or mindfulness techniques, which have been linked with both better sleep quality and better overall mental health. Getting a good night’s sleep can work wonders for improving our mental health. But it doesn’t stop there. Sleeping well can also improve our memory, attention and other thought processes. It also benefits several aspects of our physical health, including our weight and heart, making sleep an important priority for all aspects of our wellbeing. (Credit: The Conversation)

NEWS-IN-FOCUS SAMOA REPORTS ITS FIRST UNEXPLAINED COVID-19 CASE IN COMMUNITY, GOES INTO LOCKDOWN The Pacific island nation of Samoa has sealed its borders as it entered a nationwide lockdown after recording its first unexplained case of COVID-19 in the community. The case was detected in a 29-year-old on the main island of Upolu. A government report leaked online indicated the woman had taken part in church services, and visited places including a hospital.


Mumbai Police on Thursday removed 358 abandoned vehicles, which were clogging the roads leading to traffic congestion and bottlenecks in the city. Police Commissioner Sanjay Pandey took to Twitter to say that police are now looking for bigger lorries to move the abandoned vehicles to Deonar. Pandey said police received "great support" from the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).

I CALL HIM PAMMI AUNTY: POOJA HEGDE ON 'CIRKUS' CO-STAR RANVEER SINGH Actress Pooja Hegde opened up about sharing screen space with Ranveer Singh in the upcoming comedy film 'Cirkus' and said, "He is like full entertainment." "I call him Pammi aunty. He's just too much fun to be around, and he's so observant of everybody," she added. "We make a great onscreen pair also," Pooja further said.


Italy is ready to rebuild a theatre in the besieged Ukrainian city Mariupol which was destroyed by a bomb attack, Culture Minister Dario Franceschini said. According to Ukrainian authorities, the theatre was bombed by Russia while people were sheltering in it. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy thanked the minister. "Together we will rebuild the country to the last brick," Zelenskyy said.

MAN STABS TEACHER 101 TIMES, 30 YEARS AFTER "HUMILIATION" AT SCHOOL IN BELGIUM A 37-year-old man who said he felt "humiliated" by his teacher in primary school has confessed to stabbing her to death in 2020, Belgian prosecutors said on Thursday. Gunter Uwents, who stabbed the teacher 101 times, said he never got over comments Maria Verlinden made about him in early 1990s. The murder had gone unsolved despite repeated Belgian police enquiries.


Bulgarian former PM Boyko Borissov was detained on Thursday as part of a police operation linked to probes by the EU Public Prosecutor's Office, the Interior Ministry said. Prosecutors have opened 120 investigations of fraud in Bulgaria involving EU funds. Former Finance Minister Vladislav Goranov and former head of the parliamentary budgetary commission, Menda Stoyanova, have also been detained.

LETTING PAKISTAN HAVE KARTARPUR SAHIB DURING PARTITION WAS A MISTAKE: SHAH Home Minister Amit Shah, addressing an event organised by Land Ports Authority of India (LPAI), said letting Pakistan have Kartarpur Sahib gurdwara during partition was a "mistake" as it was just six kilometres away. "I don't know what went wrong. But when a festival of first Guru used to come along, there always was a feeling of sadness," he added. SEASONAL MAGAZINE

When it comes to capital markets, jewellery chains don’t have a coveted name. Part of the problem is their inconsistency in profit growth, as they are often saddled with large equities as well as large debts to fund new store growth. But Joyalukkas has been following a totally different strategy for growth, relying on own capital, high capital efficiency, internal accruals and reasonable debt to power growth across India. That is why Joyalukkas’ plans for its Rs. 2300 crore IPO are keenly discussed by investors.


eading national jewellery retailer, Joyalukkas has filed a Draft Red Herring Prospectus (DRHP) for its proposed Rs. 2300 crore Initial Public Offer (IPO). Joyalukkas is one of the best managed gold and diamond jewellery retailers in the country, and the DRHP sheds light on several of its strengths. Despite growing at a faster clip than most of its peers, Joyalukkas had so far shunned private equity, instead relying on own capital, internal accruals and debt for funding the growth of its formidable retail chain. The promoter Alukkas Varghese Joy (better known as Joy Alukkas) and his family still holds close to 100% of the equity (99.98% to be precise) of Joyalukkas. Such careful guarding of its own equity by the promoter group is extending to the IPO too, and despite its huge IPO size of Rs. 2300 crore, it doesn’t have an Offer for Sale (OFS)


by the promoter group, which it could have easily done. This respect for their own equity by the promoters is likely to be noticed by the discerning investors in the market. The luxury brand’s reliance on debt has also been quite reasonable unlike some of its peers that are saddled with high debt. As on September 30, 2021, Joyalukkas’ net debt to equity ratio was 0.77. And as of 28 February 2022, the total outstanding debt of the firm was Rs 1,524.47 crore. The company has been on a prudent path of debt reduction for a few years now. Net Debt to Equity Ratio had fallen from 1.04 in 2019 to the 0.77 level achieved as on September 30, 2021. Even the bulk of the IPO proceeds - Rs 1400 crore out of Rs. 2300 crore - would be for debt reduction, and this will help Joyalukkas cancel 92% of its current debt and help its journey towards being a debt-free company. Joyalukkas is also noted for its consistency in generating profits, unlike many of its peers. Its weighted average return on net worth (RoE / RoNW) for the past three fiscals stands at a healthy 16.43%, and this is despite two out of these three years being the pandemic years. According to a report by Technopak, the company has the highest EBITDA and one of the highest PAT per square foot among all large jewellers in the country. In FY21, Joyalukkas had clocked a net profit of Rs 472 crore on revenues of Rs 8,066 crore. The company had posted Rs 40.71 crore as profits in the year-ago period, which was the most affected by Covid-19 lockdowns. The growth in the current fiscal is also going stronger than the previous fiscal. For the half year ended in September 2021, its revenue was at Rs 4,012.26 crore against Rs 2,088.77 crore a year ago. Net profit for the period stood at Rs 268.95 crore versus Rs 248.61 crore last year. With a face value of Rs10 each share, SEASONAL MAGAZINE

the current paid-up capital of the company is Rs 770.3 crore divided into 77.03 crore shares. The Net Worth or Shareholders Equity of the company as of September end, 2021, was around Rs 1917 crore, which works out to a book value per share of Rs 283.68, pre-issue. Joyalukkas’ founder Alukkas Varghese Joy, hails from a leading business family in Thrissur, Kerala, and has over 33 years of expertise in the jewellery industry in India, Middle East and several other global markets. The company began operations in 2002 by opening a showroom in Kottayam, Kerala, and has grown ever since then at a blistering pace. Today, the company operates 85 showrooms under the ‘Joyalukkas’ brand located across 68 cities in India with an aggregate area of approximately 3,44,458 square feet, as of January 31, 2022. Of these 85 showrooms, six are large-format showrooms with an area of 8,000 square feet or more. Its largest showroom so far is at Chennai, Tamil Nadu, which has an area of over 13,000 square feet. Quite interestingly, three business groups founded by Thrissur-based businesspersons – namely, ESAF Small Finance Bank, Popular Vehicles and Sales Ltd and now, Joyalukkas, are set to become public listed companies during the ensuing financial year itself as they all have filed initial proposals for their IPOs. The city is also known for producing leading listed financial institutions like CSB Bank, South Indian Bank, & Manappuram Finance. At present, Joyalukkas generates over 90% of its revenues from southern states followed by the Western region. The company is in the process of expanding its geographical footprint, even while maintaining its leadership in its key markets of Southern and SEASONAL MAGAZINE

THE BULK OF THE IPO PROCEEDS - RS 1400 CRORE OUT OF RS. 2300 CRORE WOULD BE FOR DEBT REDUCTION, AND THIS WILL HELP JOYALUKKAS CANCEL 92% OF ITS CURRENT DEBT AND HELP ITS JOURNEY TOWARDS BEING A DEBTFREE COMPANY. Western regions. As mentioned earlier, the net proceeds of the IPO will be utilised for repayment or prepayment, in full or part, of certain borrowings availed by the company of around Rs 1,400 crore. The leading retailer will also use around Rs 464 crore for financing the opening of eight new showrooms. The remaining funds will be utilised for general corporate purposes. Over the next two years, Joyalukkas plans to open eight new showrooms in Telengana, Maharashtra, Odisha and Karnataka. In FY23, four new showrooms will be opened in Mumbai, Habsiguda and Mehdipatnam in Telangana and Bhubaneshwar. Those in Siddipet, Suchitra and Chandanagar in Telangana and Gulbarga in Karnataka will come up in FY24. Total investment on these showrooms will be Rs 492 crore. Not more than 50% of the issue will


be available for allocation to qualified institutional buyers (QIBs) and up to 60% of the QIB portion would be allocated to anchor investors on a discretionary basis. Not less than 15% will be available to non-institutional bidders and not less than 35% of the issue shall be available for allocation to retail individual bidders. The book running lead managers to the issue are Edelweiss Financial Services, Haitong Securities India Private, Motilal Oswal Investment Advisors, and SBI Capital Markets. The registrar to Joyalukkas IPO is Link Intime India. Joyalukkas has a range of over 100,000 jewellery designs, across various price points, and caters to customers across all market segments. The firm maintains an inventory of jewellery made of gold, diamond and other precious stones, platinum and silver, all with an extensive array of designs. Its gold, diamond and other jewellery inventory in each individual showroom reflects regional customer preferences and designs. In FY21, the gold category accounted for 84.24% of its overall revenue from operations, whereas diamonds and others, including silver and pearls, made up 14.14% and 1.62% respectively. SEASONAL MAGAZINE

Its product profile includes traditional, contemporary and combination designs across jewellery lines, usages and price points. Its focus on design and innovation, ability to recognize consumer preferences and market trends, the intricacy of their designs and the quality of the products are among its key strengths in jewellery retailing. Its large format showrooms provide a luxury experience and customer service, with a combination of inventory and variety of jewellery products enabling it to attract and retain a growing customer base exceeding over 2 million customers so far in India. Joyalukkas diamond jewellery is certified by Forevermark, IGI, GIA and DHC. They have developed a number of sub-brands that include Pride, Eleganza, Veda, Ratna, Zenina, Apurva, Masaaki Pearls and Li’l Joy Kids Jewellery. The Indian opportunity in jewellery retailing is unique in the global jewellery market, which is estimated at $320 billion currently. India is the second largest consumer for gold ornaments after China, and one among the top-three in the world when it comes to all kinds of jewelleries, behind USA & China. Global jewellery market is projected to reach $350 billion by 2025. There is no inventory obsolescence risk in jewellery



retailing as products can be recycled to make new ones. But the Indian market opportunity is also unique in two other ways. In India, gold serves a dual purpose of ornamentation and investment, and is therefore never a hard sale like many other lifestyle retail segments. India also plays a significant role in the supply chain of both gold and diamond jewellery market. The Indian market’s growth dynamics also favours organized retailers like Joyalukkas. The size of the Indian jewellery retail sector was close to Rs 4,58,000 crore in fiscal 2020, and it is projected to increase at a CAGR of 9% to reach Rs 6,94,000 crore by fiscal 2025. However, organised jewellery retailers like Joyalukkas would increase at a quicker rate, at a CAGR of roughly 14% from Rs 1,45,000 crore in fiscal 2020 to Rs 2,75,000 crore in fiscal 2025. The share of organised jewellery retail in the whole jewellery market is projected to rise from 32% in fiscal 2020 to 40% in fiscal 2025. To serve to younger and tech-savvy clientele, Joyalukkas had launched its online portal,, in March 2018 where customers can browse the ornaments based on their preferences, collections, and designs, then purchase it and have it delivered to their homes through a partnership with third-party logistics companies. It also offers a purchase advance scheme on its online platform, called the Easy Gold Scheme, where customers can plan for gold jewellery purchases in fixed monthly instalments up to ten months in advance, at the current gold rate, and finally receive their purchase at their doorstep. Joyalukkas is one of the jewellers credited with professionalizing the jewellery retailing business in India into an organized sector. Along with this, its high respect for equity, prudent financial management, better capital efficiencies and high growth trajectory are likely to garner high investor interest in this IPO. SEASONAL MAGAZINE

NEWS-IN-FOCUS CRED ANNOUNCES FIRST FEW WINNERS OF CRED BOUNTY CRED announced that with CRED bounty, members can buzz friends and win big this IPL season. Deepak Gupta won Apple package, including iPhone, MacBook, AirPods, and more, CRED revealed, adding that Amit Ghosh won Greece cruise trip and Diwanshu Gaur, Azhar Saifi and Sachin Sharma won Tanishq jewellery worth ?2 lakh, Amazon vouchers worth ?2 lakh, and Sony package respectively.

GOVT HAVING DISCUSSION, SHOULD ANNOUNCE BOOSTER DOSE POLICY SOON: ADAR POONAWALLA Serum Institute of India CEO Adar Poonawalla has said, "We have appealed to the government (for a policy on booster dose of COVID-19 vaccines) as everyone who needs to travel needs to take the booster dose." He added, "They're having an internal discussion and should announce very soon in next few days on the booster policy."

INDIGO FLIGHT MAKES EMERGENCY LANDING AT NAGPUR AIRPORT, SMOKE SEEN COMING OUT OF AIRCRAFT A Lucknow-bound flight had to make an emergency landing at the origin after takeoff from Nagpur due to a suspected technical snag, the airline said on Monday. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation ordered an inquiry into the incident after smoke was seen coming out of the aircraft, said a senior DGCA official.

MUSK IS SENDING STRONG SIGNAL TO TWITTER CEO AGRAWAL: CATHIE WOOD ARK Invest's Cathie Wood said that Tesla CEO Elon Musk is "sending a strong signal" to the new Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal, after Musk's 9.2% Twitter stake was revealed. She added Musk is making a statement about censorship and that Musk doesn't believe in it. Wood also discussed that the news could also be "setting up for another leadership change".

LICENCE TO MEAT SHOPS ONLY IF THEY AGREE TO NOT OPERATE DURING NAVRATRI: SOUTH DELHI MAYOR South Delhi Municipal Corporation Mayor Mukkesh Suryaan has said that from now onwards licences for running meat shops will be issued to traders only if they agree not to operate during the Navratri. Suryaan has also written to CM Arvind Kejriwal to withdraw discounts on alcohol during Navratri and, if possible, stop the sale of liquor for those nine days.

LASHKAR-E-TAIBA TERRORIST HELD IN JOINT OPERATION IN J&K'S SOPORE A Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terrorist was arrested in Jammu and Kashmir's Sopore, police said on Monday. The terrorist was arrested in a joint operation by the Indian Army and J&K Police from Ladoora area of Rafiabad. "The apprehension of LeT terrorist averted a major incident in North Kashmir. He was assigned to plan attack on security forces personnel," the police added.

FRANCE TO EXPEL "MANY" RUSSIAN DIPLOMATS; MOSCOW VOWS RESPONSE France on Monday said that the country has decided to expel "many" Russian diplomats, "whose activities are contrary to our security interests". "This action is part of a European movement," the French Foreign Ministry said amid the war between Russia and Ukraine. Moscow will respond to France's move, Interfax news agency reported, citing the Russian Foreign Ministry.




The last three years, from 2020 to 2022, will be going down in the history of Indian higher education as the period in which several of the country’s leading private and deemed universities started turning into world class institutions. Not only did they embrace the best technologies to deliver seamless online education, but started participating actively in funded research projects, reflecting a global move in accelerated research and innovation, driven by the challenges thrown up by the unprecedented pandemic. This was so, not only in the medical sector, but in many other sectors too, as the world grappled with the new realities of lessening contact even while maintaining productivity. Add to this India’s booming campus based startup incubation during these past few years, and we have a situation where some Indian private institutions are looking just like their famed Western counterparts. And just when the world was slowly crawling out of the pandemic, after tackling its three waves, has come this bolt from the blue - a reckless Russian invasion of its neighbour Ukraine, which happened to be one of the major overseas medical education hubs preferred by Indian students for many years now. But, just like how even the worst of outcomes may have a sunny side, this double whammy too is likely to be a blessing in disguise for students as well as the Indian higher education sector. More and more students who would otherwise have flown abroad for their studies are highly likely to stay in India, and the comforting fact is that unlike a few years back, this time many private and deemed universities are fully equipped to satisfy even such discerning students. This cover story, ‘World Class Private Universities of India’, includes in-depth coverage on such select higher educational institutions. Key domains that make an institution world-class like their academic achievements, faculty strengths, research accomplishments, national / international accreditation, campus placements, world-class practices, startup incubation, academic tie-ups, industry linkages, innovative courses, infrastructure upgradation, technology adoptions etc are featured here.



Ever heard of Materials Genome? It is the cuttingedge of materials science, in which the varied and minute aspects of functional or engineering materials are described conceptually like in the genomic structure used in biology. This throws open interesting possibilities like the accelerated, automated & iterative development of new functional and specialized materials using Artificial Intelligence technologies like machine learning! This is dizzying stuff for even some of the world’s finest universities. Recently, over one hundred scientists and professors from sixteen countries came together to discuss and analyze the developments in this sector in an international conference on materials genome. But it was not hosted by MIT or Harvard, but a private university in Andhra Pradesh - SRM University at Amaravati. In India, it is never easy for a private sector higher education group to be taken as seriously by students, teachers & recruiters, like how they view the world’s top-class institutions. But that is what SRM Group has now achieved with its deemed and private universities, with feats like the recent materials genome conference. As another example, consider what some SRM engineering students achieved recently. Even while large 2wheeler manufacturers - both traditional brands and


startup firms - were scrambling to create viable electric vehicles, these SRM students went on to develop an electric bike by leveraging the university’s tie-up with a leading battery manufacturer. The students develop such ambition as the university is forever keeping them abreast with the latest technological breakthroughs in every field. SRM’s Distinguished Lecture Series is a prime example for this, which has seen participation frrom IITs, NITs, IISERs, leading domestic & overseas universities, CSIR, DST, DBT, DRDO, DAE, ISRO, NARL, MoES etc. Recently, the 14th edition of this Lecture Series saw a highly knowledgeable talk from Dr Chennupati Jagadish, distinguished professor in Physics in the Research School of Physics and Engineering at the Australian National University. He addressed the students on 'Semiconductor Nanostructures for Optoelectronics Applications'. At the same time, SRM takes care to inculcate compassionate values in its students as well as projects. Assisted by a noted external organization, SRM has initiated a Thought Lab itself for imparting value education to students, who in turn go on to do many charitable activities to the economically challenged communities around them, like distributing winter wear. The Group’s foundation and its medical college hospital also excel in philanthropic initiatives like its recent health card which provides discounts for the needy sections of the population.

In India, it is never easy for a private sector higher education group to be taken as seriously by students, teachers & recruiters, as the country’s famed premium public institutions. But that is what SRM Group has achieved with its deemed and private universities. Take for instance what some SRM students achieved recently. Even while large 2-wheeler manufacturers - both traditional brands and startup firms - were scrambling to create viable electric vehicles, these SRM students went on to develop an electric bike by leveraging the university’s tie-up with a leading battery manufacturer. The students develop such ambition as the university is forever keeping them abreast with the latest technological breakthroughs in every field. SRM’s Distinguished Lecture Series is a prime example for this, which has seen participation frrom IITs, NITs, IISERs, leading domestic & overseas universities, CSIR, DST, DBT, DRDO, DAE, ISRO, NARL, MoES etc. Recently, the 14th edition of this Lecture Series saw a highly knowledgeable talk from Dr Chennupati Jagadish, distinguished professor in Physics in the Research School of Physics and Engineering at the Australian National University. He addressed the students on 'Semiconductor Nanostructures for Optoelectronics Applications'. At the same time, SRM takes care to inculcate compassionate values in its students as well as projects. Assisted by a noted external organization, SRM has initiated a Thought Lab itself for imparting value education to students, who in turn go on to do many charitable activities to the economically challenged communities around them, like distributing winter wear. The Group’s foundation and its medical college hospital also excel in philanthropic initiatives like its recent health card which provides discounts for the needy sections of the population. SRM Group of Universities are growing and spreading their great roots into the communities and industries around them. Its flagship deemed university, SRM Institute of Science & Technology (SRMIST), near Chennai, continues to be a powerhouse in engineering and medical education and research, with over 600 companies offering more than 7000 placements this year to SRM students. SRMIST’s medical wing, SRM Medical College Hospital & Research Centre (SRM MCH&RC) had become internationally renowned as one of the select few centres for Covaxin trials, and has recently started a state-of-the-art Centre for Clinical Trials & Research as well as entering into tie-ups with pharma majors. The Group’s newest university, SRM University, Andhra Pradesh, is also scaling similar or even greater heights by achieving 100% placements for its maiden batch itself, and by starting two Centres of Excellence with industry majors like Titan’s Tanishq Division and Amara Raja Batteries. No wonder then that SRM is getting tie-ups and recognitions from the likes of Harvard & Stanford. Stanford University needs no introduction, and when Stanford speaks, the world listens. Such has been the overall achievement level of this institution that, even while it is not part of the Ivy League, it boasts of real-world achievements that span not only academia and research, but the startup ecosystem. Stanford is indeed the cradle where some of the world’s greatest tech businesses were born. Stanford University had recently selected the top 2% of the world’s scientists in various sunrise fields including energy, biotechnology etc. Only 91 scientists were chosen worldwide for their research achievements in biotechnology, and Dr. Imran Pancha of SRM

University, AP, was one among them. Dr. Pancha is a professor of SRM-AP’s Department of Biological Sciences, and had won this selection in 2020 too. Similarly, when Stanford selected 178 scientists as the top 2% of researchers excelling in energy and related fields, SRM University, AP, had two reasons to smile. Dr Karthik Rajendran and Dr Lakhveer Singh both from SRM-AP’s Department of Environmental Science made the rare cut. This goes on to say much about the diligence with which the SRM management and Vice-Chancellor Prof. VS Rao has been choosing faculty for this most promising new private university in the Indian landscape. Prof. Rao himself is a distinguished researcher who made his mark in US and elsewhere, and made sure that 100% of faculty at SRM-AP should be PhD holders to start with. With such worldclass brains to teach and mentor students, it is no wonder really that SRM University, AP, is going great guns in placements too. While most private universities would struggle to place their first batches, SRM-AP had no issue recently in placing 100% of its students in its very first batch. The maiden convocation for BTech students of SRM-AP was an unforgettable event that was simultaneously conducted physically and online, with renowned international figures like New York University’s President Prof. Andrew D Hamilton, and Dr. Sethuraman Panchanathan, Director of the US National Science Foundation (NSF) gracing the high-voltage event. The first batch of BTech students has received 100 percent placement with an average salary of Rs 7 Lakh per annum, which is a commendable record when compared to peers. The highest offers were for two Computer Science & Engineering students by PVP Inc., Japan, for Rs. 50 lakh per annum. And it was not only about career placements. SRM-AP students also excelled in academic placements, with as many as 24 students opting for higher studies in top universities including University of Michigan, New York University, Georgia Tech, and King's SEASONAL MAGAZINE

College London (Madison Campus). The SRM Andhra Pradesh Convocation was also attended by Chancellor Dr T R Paarivendhar, who is also a Member of Parliament, and President Dr P Sathyanarayanan. These leaders have come to exemplify the unique vision behind SRM University, AP, as well as the other older and larger institutions in their stable, especially SRM Institute of Science & Technology (SRMIST), a deemed university near Chennai with multiple campuses, which was earlier named SRM University. Earlier in the year, students of the SRM Institute of Science and Technology received over 7,111 job offers during the placement season for 2020-21. At least 600 companies participated in the placement process despite the pandemic situation, thereby revealing how companies don’t want to miss the SRMIST talent pool. The participating companies included IT and engineering firms from both India and abroad. Bengaluru-based WorkIndia Information Technology and Services made the highest offer at ?35 lakh a year. Students from SRMIST campuses in Modinagar, Ramapuram and Vadapalani participated, and as many as 2,000 offers with ?10 lakh a year and ?5 lakh a year remuneration were made. The largest number of recruitments were by India born international IT giants Cognizant, TCS, Wipro and Infosys. SRMIST has been achieving such placements year after year, and that is why when the SRM Group started a new university in Andhra Pradesh, it was armed with a wealth of experience on how to train and groom students to be fit enough to be chosen by world-class Indian and multinational companies. However, being a greenfield project, SRM-AP also brings in several new innovations by itself to emerge as one of the top universities in the world. For instance, during the last 3 years, SRM-AP faculty members have published over 700 research papers in scopus indexed journals such as Nature, Nature Communications and other such reputed research publications. Despite its young age, SRM-AP is a powerhouse in research achievements. The faculty is already working on 42 funded research projects with an outlay of Rs


20.13 crores funded by the Indian government and various industry giants. 42 patents have been filed, 32 published and three granted in the past 3 years symbolizing the momentum and brilliance of research here. This year alone faculty from the Engineering and Science departments have been granted six DST SERB projects and Ramanujan fellowships. The university has also signed agreements with various educational institutions, research and industrial establishments in India and across the world. These include Harvard Business School Online, Australia’s Lindus University, Taiwan’s Asia University, CSIR’s Indian Institute of Chemical Technology (CSIRIICT). With IICT, the university has plans to pursue frontline chemicals research. SRM University, AP, has also tied up for niche knowledge transfer with Titan’s Tanishq division and Amara Raja Batteries. Healthcare is one field were SRM Group continues to make great inroads. SRMIST is home to a world-class medical college and its teaching hospital, SRM Medical College Hospital and Research Centre (SRM MCH&RC). Recently, the School of Public Health (SPH) at SRM Institute of Science and Technology (SRMIST), Kattankulathur, celebrated the successful completion and dissemination of the key findings of the National Family Health Survey (NFHS -5) for the state of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry at (SRM MCH&RC). NFHS-5, the fifth in the NFHS rounds, provides information on population, health, and nutrition for India and each of its states/ union territories (UT) and also provides data at the district Level. NFHS-5 includes some new topics, such as preschool education, disability, access to a toilet facility, death registration, menstrual hygiene etc. The scope of clinical, anthropometric, and biochemical testing (CAB) has also been extended to include measurement of waist and hip circumferences and the age range for the measurement of blood pressure and blood glucose has been expanded. The SRM Group continues to push its research initiatives in all domains, and especially in the medical field. SRM Institute of Science and Technology (SRMIST), through its Faculty of

Ravi Pachamoothoo

Dr. P. Sathyanarayanan Medical & Health Sciences had recently set up a 5000 square feet Research Facility in SRM called the ‘Centre for Clinical Trials & Research’. This world-class facility is located at SRM Medical College Hospital and Research Centre (SRM MCH&RC), and will function as a clinical trial research center capable of handling clinical trials of drugs, vaccines, and medical devices. The facility has two wards with 12 beds and several rooms for sample collection, processing, data documentation, and monitoring. It has state-of-the-art equipment for preserving serum samples at -80 degrees Celsius and -20 degrees Celsius deep freezers, high-speed centrifuge, facilities for electronic data capture with high-speed internet, thermohygrometers, and data security is maintained with controlled access. With such new infrastructure in place, SRM MCH&RC which has already come in 46th position in research, is likely to better its ranking. Students and faculty can do any type of clinical trials at this centre like the recent COVAXIN trial done here. The hospital was earlier awarded the clinical trial of COVAXIN, and for that there was a requirement for a virology lab, which was met by SRM itself by developing a world-class lab that was done entirely in-house. The SRM Centre for Clinical Trials & Research is headed by Professor of Pharmacology Dr. Satyajit Mohapatra, and supported by a team of investigators from all major branches of medicine including Clinical Pharmacology, General Medicine, General Surgery, Obstetrics & Gynecology, Pediatrics, Cardiology, Pulmonary Medicine, Nephrology, Anesthesia & Critical Medicine, Dermatology etc. The same team had earlier successfully conducted the COVAXIN Clinical Trials (Phase 1, 2 and 3),


Dr Imran Pancha

Dr Lakhveer Singh

making SRM MCH&RC the only hospital in Tamil Nadu which successfully undertook it. During the last ten years when SRM MCH&RC started focusing more on research, over 35 sponsored and academic clinical trials have been done here. Grants have been obtained from various funding agencies such as ICMR, BIRAC, DBT, DHR-ICMR National, and International Pharmaceutical companies such as Sanofi-GSK, Genova Pharmaceuticals etc to carry out these research activities. The competency-based MBBS curriculum being followed at present in SRM MCH&RC gives the student exposure to Clinical Research in the pre-final year. Students can choose it as an elective subject, and they get exposure to the current Clinical Research and Trials in this Centre. And it is not only in medicine, but in all fields including engineering and material science that SRM Group of Universities are making great R&D strides. Recently, two Centres of Excellence was started at SRM University, AP, which was inaugurated by Dr. VK Saraswat, Member, Niti Aayog. Established to promote translational research, the first one is SRM Amara Raja Centre for Energy Storage Devices, which has been set up in collaboration with Amara Raja Batteries Limited, Tirupati, with the objective of application-oriented research in renewable energy and e-mobility. The second CoEx is the Centre for Pioneering Studies in Gold & Silver, which is a flagship R&D project with Titan Company Ltd (Tanishq Division) to develop novel gold alloy for contemporary jewellery design. The centre also aims to work on projects in collaboration with Waman Hari Pethe & Sons, Mumbai, and other jewellery manufacturers across India to produce high strength 22 Karat gold and to develop tarnish free silver alloys. During his visit, Dr. Saraswat also proposed to develop a Value Addition Centre in SRM University-AP to promote translational research. The centre would be strengthening the relationship between industry and academia to work on product engineering to deliver market relevant products. With several such initiatives in place, it is no wonder that this young university from the SRM stable is already home to 4,500 students and 180 faculty members, from all across the globe.

Dr Karthik Rajendran


WHAT MAKES JSSAHER A WORLD CLASS UNIVERSITY? ‘Advances in Cancer Biology – Metastasis’ published by the Elsevier Group is one of the leading peer-reviewed international journals on the subject. Recently this renowned journal carried an in-depth study on how breast cancer leads to liver inflammation or hepatitis, fibrosis, and even liver cancer. It was an interdisciplinary research, as for understanding the molecular mechanisms behind this connection, researchers from medicine, life sciences and pharmacy had collaborated. The study found that sedentary lifestyle & lack of exercise, high calorie Western diets, obesity & metabolic syndrome were some of the contributing factors. The study which grabbed international eyeballs, would easily have been from the likes of Harvard or John Hopkins, but was from Mysuru based JSS Academy of Higher Education & Research (JSSAHER). For this deemed university,


such achievements are, however, just a way of life now, as can be seen from its research accomplishments so far. It has 9,919 publications to its credit of which 939 were added this year. The impact factor of the publications stands high at 79.32. JSSAHER has also filed for 12 patents of which 2 have been granted. No wonder then that this private sector university has received Rs. 21.77 crore for various Central and State Government research projects. In 2021-2022, JSSAHER had turned truly world-class, as apart from its 34th rank in the country, it got placed in the band of 351-400 among the ranked world universities by UK based Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2022. The deemed university is ably led by JSS Mahavidyapeetha’s Executive Secretary Dr. C. G. Betsurmath and Dr. B. Suresh, Pro-Chancellor of JSSAHER.

Mysuru based JSS Academy of Higher Education & Research (JSSAHER) is forever being proactive and innovative with its initiatives, projects, industry collaborations and outreach activities, so much so that its students, research scholars, faculty and the community around it are being enriched continually, like how a true world-class university should be. No wonder then that national and international accolades are coming searching for this primarily health sciences university which has also diversified well into life sciences. JSSAHER remains at the cutting edge of delivering medical, pharma & dental courses, and has also introduced B.Sc. and M.Sc. in Medical Genetics and Genomics, a sunrise field now. Apart from its new mammoth campus which is under construction, JSSAHER is investing heavily into digital infrastructure for expanding its online education, where it sees exponential growth. It has invested Rs. 12.31 crore for upgrading its various infrastructure and developing this new campus. ““The 12th Convocation of JSS Academy of Higher Education and Research (JSSAHER) was a mega event that saw 2,318 students receiving their degrees and diplomas in various disciplines. Dharmadhikari of Dharmasthala, D. Veerendra Heggade was the chief guest and delivered the convocation address and gave away medals and awards to

the toppers.““A total of 47 candidates were awarded with PhD, with 7 candidates being conferred with Doctorate in Medicine and Master of Surgery on the occasion. 61 academic toppers were presented with 83 medals and awards with certificates for their exceptional academic performance.““JSSAHER has introduced unique programmes this year including Fellowship in Critical Care Medicine at JSS Medical College, M.Pharm in Pharmaceutical Biotechnology at JSS College of Pharmacy in Mysuru, PG Diploma in Nutraceutical Technology at Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, among others. ““In order to carry out research and to develop startups in the area of digital healthcare, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been signed between the JSSAHER and Gurugram based NASSCOM CoE IoT, which is the Centre of Excellence for Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI), which is an initiative by Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, supported by the Governments of Karnataka, Haryana, Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh. This agreement will facilitate the mentoring and participation of startups incubated or supported by JSSAHER to develop different healthcare related solutions. When the Times Higher Education (THE), a Global Ranking Agency, recently released its World University Rankings 2022 which covers more than 1,600 Universities across 99 countries and territories, JSS Academy of Higher Education & Research had a lot to beam about. JSSAHER became the only Indian university, apart from IISc Bengaluru and IIT Ropar, to come in the Top 500 ranks. No other government, deemed or private university from India could make into this prestigious list, which also made a mark as the largest and most diverse University rankings till date. Even from India, 72 Universities of all hues participated in this ranking. There were more reasons for JSSAHER to smile about. While it was ranked in the 351-400 band in the THE ranking behind the two national institutes, when it came to research, the deemed university was at the very top. JSSAHER was ranked number 1 in India for the citations generated from its research

publications, while in world ranking it came at the 8th position. The ranking methodology had assessed the institution’s performance across four areas - teaching, research, knowledge transfer and international outlook. JSSAHER also bagged the fourth rank in India for International outlook. Speaking to Seasonal Magazine, Dr. B. Suresh, Pro-Chancellor of JSSAHER said that rather than resting on these laurels, all efforts are now on to maintain and improve the university’s ranking in the coming years. As a leading health sciences university in India, it is not only in academics and research, but in medical practice too that JSSAHER has been winning international accolades. Recently, Dr. Indira and Dr. B. Nandlal, Paediatric Dentists at JSS Dental College and Hospital (JSSDCH), received the prestigious 'Bright Smiles, Bright Future' Award from the International Association of Paediatric Dentist (IAPD) in the 28th IAPD Virtual Congress. This award is in recognition of an innovative Baby Oral Health Primary Preventive Education Programme to mothers of children below one year of age at the ‘Baby Oral Health Promotion Clinic,’ which is a unique extension clinic of JSSDCH. The six-year old Clinic was inaugurated by Stefanie L. Russel from New York University, and this is not the first time that it has bagged an international recognition. Earlier, the International College of Dentist (India Section) had also recognised the Clinic as one of the best modality to promote oral health in children. This oral health delivery system is as per the recent goals of global oral health recommendations to implement such programmes at sites where the infants visit for vaccination or at a 'well baby clinic' to promote babies' visits to a dentist by one year age, to impart early oral hygiene & brushing habit and advice on teeth-friendly and safe feeding practices. The Clinic has been instrumental in providing anticipatory guidance to mothers to prevent early childhood dental decay in children less than three years. More than 7,000 children have been benefited from this preventive JSS programme since its inception. The SEASONAL MAGAZINE

success and international recognitions for these efforts by JSSAHER underscores the passion and rigour with which this private sector university has been pursuing its community outreach programs so as to achieve meaningful and significant outcomes for the immediate community it serves.

atmosphere in the campus. The outlook of JSSAHER's research initiatives are mostly all long-term. Towards this the focus is on establishing long-term engagements and partnerships with industry partners and research institutions. Emphasis is given to developing patents and protecting

JSSAHER could make rapid strides in research due to the establishment of JSSAHER Research Hub (JSSRH), which is the university's nodal centre for translational and transformative research for societal benefit. JSSRH achieves this by helping the individual institutions grow in research capabilities beyond their boundaries. Towards this, JSSAHER Research Hub develops inter institutional research projects & grants, publications & patents. It also disseminates curated courses in the field of Innovation & Entrepreneurship. Another responsibility handled by JSSRH is forging targeted alliances with partners for product development and commercialization. And all through these activities, the JSSAHER Research Hub inculcates values and principles of international organizations like UN, WHO, and social organizations through various academic, outreach and research activities. The functional wings of JSS Research Hub are Sparkle Cine, Entrepreneurship Cell, IPR Cell, Institution Innovation Council, Innovation Lab, Ideation Lab, 3D Printing facility, Special Interest Groups and the Centre for Advanced Drug Research & Testing (CADRAT). The various Centres of Excellence at

intellectual property rights of the research activities. All the existing national and international research collaborations including with government organizations are taken seriously and continually strengthened.

Dr. C. G. Betsurmath Executive Secretary, JSS Mahavidyapeetha JSSAHER in collaboration with the JSSAHER Research Hub empowers entrepreneurship development, industryinstitution partnerships and furthers the causes of environmental protection and sustainability. The university and research hub spearhead a slew of activities throughout the academic year to achieve these objectives. These include research and academic activities focused on encouraging the spirit of innovation & entrepreneurship in both staff and students. A special focus area is the pursuit of collaborative and complementary research themes. The research hub organizes regular talks, seminars, lectures & workshops so as to germinate a conducive research

JSSAHER has been in the forefront of battling the Covid-19 pandemic both during its first and second waves. It also played a globally noted role as it was one of the select few clinical study centres for Oxford University's Covishield vaccine in India, based on which the vaccine was approved. Now, under the leadership of the university's JSS Hospital, it is fully geared up for extending its services to the people of Mysuru for the imminent third wave of the pandemic. JSS Hospital which had already given 100 beds - most of them oxygenated - to the government during the earlier waves, has agreed to give 317 more beds to the district administration for battling the third wave. The Covid Care Centre of JSS Hospital has a total of 300 beds spread across six wards. As many as 200 staff including 60 doctors and 120 nurses and other medical personnel work in three

JSS Dental College and Hospital


ready by about a month’s time. A new oxygen generator will also be commissioned soon.

Dr. Surinder Singh Vice Chancellor shifts to take care of patients. Based on its experience from the first two waves, the Hospital has upgraded its facilities to meet any eventuality. Since many people in and around Mysuru have been vaccinated, the hospital’s focus this time will be caring for the unvaccinated, especially children. Towards this all paediatric ICU beds have been made oxygen ready. Dr. Suresh said that this teaching hospital of the university is now the most wellequipped in Mysuru to meet any eventuality. The JSS Hospital is also planning to install a 5,000 Kilo Litre Liquid Oxygen Tank soon. Once it is ready, it will produce 500 litres of oxygen per minute, which is enough for supplying to additional 500 to 600 beds. Dr. Suresh informed that it has already been ordered and should be

Karnataka Minister for Cooperation ST Somashekar, who is in charge of Mysuru has lauded the efforts and support from JSSAHER in tackling Covid-19 in the district during the first and second waves, and promised that the Government will extend all help in the setting up of Oxygen Plant at the earliest, for which Union Ministers from the state Pralhad Joshi and D. V. Sadananda Gowda will be appealed for follow up. He made these assurances while visiting the Suttur Mutt, which owns and manages JSSAHER's parent, JSS Mahavidyapeetha. JSSAHER which has been a national level leader in hosting international conferences, seminars and workshops, is continuing these initiatives in the online mode through high-profile webinars that are witnessing excellent participation from subject matter experts and key influencers. JSSAHER's Department of Nutrition & Dietetics, under Faculty of Life Sciences, had organised a two-day National webinar and Infographic Competition on the theme ‘Food Safety: Everyone’s Business’ to commemorate the World Food Safety Day - 2021. The two-day virtual programme included two sessions each day addressed by internationally recognised Nutritionists, Academicians and Health professionals from reputed institutions and industries in the relevant field. The key beneficiaries were JSSAHER's UG/PG students, research scholars and HCPs


Dr. B. Manjunatha Registrar from different subject areas. This webinar focused on the production and consumption of safe food which has immediate and long-term health benefits and synergies between the health of people, the environment and the economy. This event also helped everyone in understanding the role of safe practices in agriculture and in food industries to ensure food security as well as the quality of food products. The webinar was inaugurated by Arun Singhal, IASCEO, FSSAI, MoH&FW. The keynote address was by Dr. B. Suresh, Pro-Chancellor, JSSAHER. There were four sessions by professional leaders in the subject including Dr. K. Madhavan Nair, Chairperson – Scientific Panel on Labelling & Claims/ Advertisements, FSSAI, MoH&FW, Govt. of India & Scientist F (Retd.), NIN, Hyderabad; Dr. K.A. Anu Appaiah, Head, Food Protection and Infestation Control & Sr. Principal Scientist (Retd.), Department Microbiology & Fermentation Technology, CSIR-CFTRI, Mysuru; Niraj Marathe, Co-Founder & CEO, Coolcrop Technologies Pvt. Ltd, Gujarat; and Dr. Chaitra Narayan, Founder – Codagu Agritech & Shivam Distillations, Mysuru. The well attended event was a feather in the cap for JSSAHER's Department of Nutrition & Dietetics, which offers M.Sc in Nutrition & Dietetics, M.Sc in Sports Nutrition & Management, PGD in SEASONAL MAGAZINE

Nutraceutical Technology, B.Sc in Food, Nutrition & Dietetics and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D) programmes. Admissions are open now for these courses. JSSAHER also collaborated with the National Institute of Disaster Management (NIDM), Ministry Of Home Affairs, Government Of India, to conduct a Webinar on the most relevant topic, Impact of Climate Change and Sustainable Development Goals. The keynote address was by Prof. Anil K. Gupta, Head, ECDRM, NIDM. The speakers were Dr. Sushma Guleria, Assistant Professor, NIDM and Dr. Pranab J. Patar, Chief Executive, Global Foundation for Advancement of Environment. JSSAHER's Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Life Sciences (FLS), also conducted a high-profile two-day International Webinar entitled 'The Career Catalyst: Plan, Prepare and Prosper in Life Sciences'. The virtual event was inaugurated by Dr. B. Suresh, Pro-Chancellor, JSSAHER, alongside Dr. B. Manjunatha, Registrar, JSSAHER, Dr. S. Balasubramanian, Director (Research) and Dean-FLS and Dr. K.A. Raveesha, Professor & Head, FLS. The well-attended event which saw 1600 registrations, had renowned experts from India, Australia, Austria, UK and USA, in life sciences, from the academicia, research, industries, startups, education and more. During his speech, Dr. Suresh reiterated that Life Sciences is anticipated

JSS College of Pharmacy

School of Life Sciences as an important sector for next decade alongside Medical & Health Technology for its importance in wellbeing of the mankind.


Dr. Suresh also had some highly inspiring insights to share the global audience of students and research scholars. He elaborated about Dr. Krishna Ella’s illustrious career from being a graduate in Agricultural Sciences and later on heading towards excelling to enable India’s first indigenous COVID-19 vaccine COVAXIN from his company Bharat Biotech. Giving excerpts of his discussions with people like Dr. Krishna Ella, Dr. Suresh mentioned that companies like Bharat Biotech has immense requirement of Life Science graduates with essential skills to cater to the needs of the emerging healthcare sector. On the admissions front, pharmacy seats are already full this year. Dental and life sciences are also witnessing high interest, whereas for MBBS the university is awaiting further guidelines from the government to proceed. JSSAHER is constructing a new mammoth campus, to which almost all of the academic and research wings would be eventually shifted. But for now, the university is giving more priority to investing in its digital infrastructure for online education. Speaking to Seasonal Magazine, Dr. Suresh shared that the university expects the online / offline hybrid model to continue for many more months or years, and that it also provides a way for the university to pursue exponential growth.




The world’s best universities are outpacing the rest of the pack on two key domains research projects and startup incubation. Chennai based Sathyabama Institute of Science & Technology, a leading deemed-to-be-university in the country, has followed this cutting-edge path to emerge in this world class league of universities. In the research domain, Sathyabama has more than 10,000 publications indexed so far in Scopus with a high H Index of 72 and around 5,000 publications in Web of Science with a respectable H Index of 62. The university also has over 250 sponsored research projects, which are worth Rs. 100 crores. Sathyabama is also highly active in applied research, with more than 500 patents filed, over 100 patents published, over 90 patents granted and 10 patents having successfully undergone technology transfer. Sathyabama also has impressive achievements in the startup domain. Nearly two dozen student startups have been incubated at Sathyabama campus so far. These startups have been partially funded by the university and span diverse domains. The credit for Sathyabama’s elevation to a world class league goes to Sathyabama's three decades rich pedigree, being founded by (Late) Col. Dr. Jeppiar who was a successful politician, bureaucrat, entrepreneur, industrialist and edupreneur. This heritage is giving Chancellor Dr. Mariazeena Johnson and President Dr. Marie Johnson the power and creativity to overcome every hindrance and emerge on the world stage.





Sathyabama fares well in campus placements with over 90% of students getting placed each year. More than 350 companies recruit from Sathyabama campus now and the university classifies its recruiters as Dream Recruiters and Super Dream Recruiters, and as of now there are 100 plus companies in the Dream category and over 25 companies in the Super Dream category. In the year 2020-2021, 91.6% of the students had been placed across 257 companies. Some of the recruiters include the international heavyweights, Amazon, Oracle, Microsoft, Siemens, Capgemini, Cognizant, TCS and Wipro,““Admissions to various courses are now open at Sathyabama Institute of Science & Technology. These include graduate, post graduate and research courses in engineering, architecture, management, arts & science, law, dental, pharmacy & nursing. Admissions will be through the two-phase SAEEE 2022 Examination to which candidates can now apply with the tests scheduled for late April and early May.““In the latest Convocation by Sathyabama, over

3,000 students, including 2,892 undergraduates, 386 postgraduate students; 144 PhD scholars, and 10 diploma students from pharmacy, received their degrees. The medals and certificates, including 24 gold medals, were distributed by A Rajarajan, Director of Satish Dhawan Space Centre.““Like a true university destined for greatness, Sathyabama has a strong focus on all dimensions that matter, including stateof-the-art digital delivery of academics, premium physical infrastructure, faculty quality, updated curriculum, industry tieups, campus placements and applied research. Thanks to such overall performance, this private sector deemed university is today a leader in diverse courses spanning engineering, management, science, pharmacy, dental and other such professional domains.““Choosing a well-established university like Sathyabama is important for students in this challenging year as too many things are remaining fluid due to the ongoing war in Ukraine. Sathyabama was ranked at the 39th position among Universities in India by NIRF, Government of India, for the year 2020. The stability of academics and operations at Sathyabama is evident from the fact that it has been ranked among the Top 50 Universities for the fifth consecutive year.““Impressively, apart from students in the engineering stream, placements are also bagged by students in architecture, dental, management, arts and science streams. The university’s success in placements owe a lot to its rigorous approach that includes Online Practice and Assessments, Training Modules including Quants, Verbal, Reasoning, Technical, Soft Skills, Certification Programs, Career Development Programs and Value Added Skill Developments. Training attendance should be at least 90%, and the university arranges for even offcampus interviews after the end of final semester.““In tune with the times, Sathyabama is also highly active in the startup domain. About two dozen student startups have been incubated at Sathyabama campuses so far. These

startups have been partially funded by Sathyabama and spans products & solutions in technology, healthcare, defence, transportation, farming, drones, wastewater treatment, automotive, shielding materials, wearables for Covid patients, seaweed based cosmetics, shrimp supplements, e-waste management, air detoxifiers and more. ““The university is also highly active in the research field, especially in applied research, with more than 500 patents filed, over 100 patents published, over 90 patents granted and 10 patents having successfully undergone technology transfer.““Sathyabama has over 250 sponsored research projects, which are worth Rs. 100 crores. The university has more than 10000 publications indexed in Scopus with an H Index of 72 and around 5000 publications in Web of Science with an H Index of 62.““Sathyabama is home to a Technology Business Incubator (TBI), set up in assistance with National Science & Technology Entrepreneurship Development Board (NSTEDB), a nodal body coming under Government of India’s Department of Science & Technology (DST). This TBI follows best practices by which all student proposals for a startup are scrutinized by an expert committee, followed by presentation of the shortlisted proposals.““These future entrepreneurs are also trained to share their concept in five minutes to potential investors, partners and customers. The TBI at Sathyabama provides free incubation support to potential startups and helps them to accelerate towards angel investors. There is also an active Entrepreneurship Development Club working in the campus that conducts workshops regarding various steps in starting a business. Such workshops are led by leaders from the industry, especially from the startup world.““There was a time when higher education curriculum, even in engineering and management, was required to be updated every decade or so. But when the pace of technological developments accelerated, many engineering colleges and business schools started updating SEASONAL MAGAZINE

their curricula every few years. But even this has proved to be inadequate as disruptive technologies and innovations appear every quarter or so.““Sathyabama University has effectively tackled this challenge through various measures like industrial collaboration and certification programs. The deemed university has tied up with industry majors including Infosys, Cognizant, Wipro, HCL, Capgemini, Accenture, and more such companies to remain abreast of the latest trends in the industry and thus update their curricula whenever necessary.““Sathyabama is also a leader in delivering certification programs in emerging domains and delivers around two dozen such courses in areas like Cloud Computing, Machine Learning & Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things (IoT), Data Science & Big Data, App Development, Embedded Systems & Robotics, Cyber Security & Forensics, Aircraft & Ground Maintenance etc. Sathyabama is one of the handful of



deemed universities to have obtained approval for starting new vocational degrees BVoc and MVoc in domains like software development, hardware & networking, web technologies etc.““Sathyabama has emerged as a strong player in research programs, having undertaken research work for various central government organizations and has proved it mettle in entrepreneurial class projects by creating its own satellite that was launched by ISRO making it the first university to achieve that feat, a few years back. Sathyabama has significant initiatives in both applied and basic research. During the last five years, faculty and researchers at Sathyabama have been undertaking research for various government agencies with supporting grants.““These organizations include cutting-edge organizations like Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), Department of Science & Technology (DST), National Atmospheric Research Laboratory (NARL), Science & Engineering

TO AVOID FURTHER CONFUSIONS IN THIS DIFFICULT ACADEMIC YEAR, SATHYABAMA MANAGEMENT LED BY DR. MARIAZEENA JOHNSON HAS DECIDED THAT THERE WON’T BE ANY ENTRANCE EXAMINATIONS FOR THIS YEAR’S ADMISSIONS, INSTEAD BASING IT ON PLUS-TWO MARKS & JEE SCORES. Research Board (SERB), Natural Resources Data Management System (NRDMS), National Institute of Wind Energy (NIWE), Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO), Combat Vehicles Research and Development Establishment (CVRDE), Board Of Research In Nuclear Sciences (BRNS), Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), and Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), among many such organizations. Sathyabama has also launched a next generation laboratory in the campus, which will further boost research facilities in the university.““Sathyabama is structured as 10 broad schools, including 5 in engineering and one each for business, law, science/humanities, pharmacy, & dental. Sathyabama’s engineering schools are School of Computing, School of Electrical & Electronics, School of Mechanical, School of Bio & Chemical, and School of Building & Environment. However, these five broad schools deliver 15 engineering degrees including in emerging areas like Mechatronics at the graduate level, while at the post graduate level there are 12 courses including in latest domains like Internet of Things (IoT), Medical Biotechnology, Artificial Intelligence etc.““Sathyabama’s School of Science & Humanities similarly delivers 13 graduate programs including in buzzing domains like visual communication, Interior Design and 6 post graduate programs including sunrise sectors like data science, Robotics, Material Science. Research programs are also offered in most domains. Combining these with Sathyabama’s School of Management and School of Law, there is clearly the potential for interdisciplinary work, and

students stand to distinctly benefit from this breadth of courses.““Sathyabama had rapidly deployed an impressive digital infrastructure as soon as the first wave began and this resulted in academic delivery with not much disruption. The university has been awarded with E Lead (E - Learning Excellence for Academic Digitization) Certification for exhibiting excellence in adopting ICT enabled Teaching and learning through online platforms, by QS.““Sathyabama sprawling campus is noted not only for its impressive infrastructure but for the well-planned systems that make the whole Sathyabama team, consisting of faculty, students and support staff, work with

clockwork precision and effectiveness.“ “It is in academic infrastructure that Sathyabama shines even more as no expense has been spared to ensure that its students get the best of classrooms, labs, libraries and auditoriums. The classrooms are spacious and modern with excellent student seating and facilities, and are provided with LCD


projectors and smart boards. The lab facilities starting from the first year of all courses through to the final years are all modern and without cutting any corners. For instance the School of Computing’s multiple lab facilities include network programming lab, computer graphics and multimedia lab, digital signal processing lab, VLSI simulation and system design lab, linear integrated circuits lab, microprocessor and microcontroller lab, production drawing and cost estimation lab, cluster computing lab etc.““Science labs are also comprehensive, including biochemistry lab and plant cell and tissue culture lab. The internet infrastructure is also impressive with a dedicated Internet Leased line of 155 Mbps and a redundancy link of 100 Mbps, connected to all the terminals throughout the campus. Students and faculty are free to access internet over Wi-Fi from locations like library, hostels etc.““Sathyabama is accredited by UGC’s National Assessment & Accreditation Council (NAAC) at Grade A. And unlike some of its peers, Sathyabama is also approved by All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE). Sathyabama has put up a consistent performance all through its history, and especially so during the last few years.““Sathyabama has been featured in the prestigious international rating by Quacquarelli Symonds (QS), and has bagged an overall 4-Star QS Rating, with 5-Stars for three criteria – Teaching, Facilities & Inclusiveness – and 4-Stars for Employability and Innovation. Sathyabama has been awarded with Diamond rating by QS IGUAGE for overall excellence, the rating for Indian universities by QS. ““Sathyabama is also ranked among top universities in the world by Times Higher Education under the category World Ranking, Asia Ranking and Ranking by Subjects. The university has also been ranked in a notable position among World Universities by Times Higher Education Impact Ranking for its contribution towards Sustainable Development. SEASONAL MAGAZINE



A NEW STUDY HAS SUGGESTED THAT SUBTLE CHANGES IN THE STRUCTURE AND THE DIASTOLIC FUNCTION OF A PERSON'S HEART BETWEEN EARLY ADULTHOOD AND MIDDLE AGE MAY BE ASSOCIATED WITH A DECLINE IN THINKING AND MEMORY SKILLS. greater than average increase from early to middle adulthood in the weight of a person's left ventricle was associated with lower midlife cognition on most tests.

he research was published in the online issue of 'Neurology', the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. The diastolic function of the heart is when it rests between beats and the chambers fill with blood.

Tests included a common dementia test that asked participants to do tasks like draw lines connecting alternating letters and numbers, and repeat five words, complete other tasks, and then repeat the same five words. Scores range from zero to 30 with 26 and higher representing normal cognition. Participants with a greater than average midlife increase in left ventricle weight had an average score of 22.7 while those without a greater than average increase in weight had an average score of 24.

"Cardiovascular risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes have been associated with an increased risk for cognitive impairment, but much less is known about heart structure and function and the risks for cognition," said study author Laure Rouch, PharmD, PhD, of the University of California, San Francisco. "We followed young adults for 25 years into middle age and found declines in thinking and memory skills independent of these other risk factors. Our findings are of critical importance in the context of identifying potential early markers in the heart of increased risk for later-life cognitive decline. Such abnormalities are common and often underdiagnosed as they do not produce any obvious symptoms." The study looked at 2,653 people with an average age of 30. Participants had echocardiograms, ultrasound images of the heart, at the start of the study and again 20 and 25 years later. Echocardiograms are non-invasive and widely available. Researchers used the images to measure the following: the weight of the left ventricle, one of four chambers of the heart; the volume of the blood that filled the left ventricle when pumping; and how well the left ventricle pumped blood to the body, specifically the percentage of blood pumped out of the heart. Researchers found that, over 25 years, there was an average increase in the weight of the left ventricle of 0.27 grams per square meter per year (g/m2), with SEASONAL MAGAZINE

average weight of 81 g/m2 in the first year and 86 g/m2 in the last year. There was also an average increase in left atrial volume of 0.42 millilitres of blood per square meter (mL/m2) with average volume of 16 mL/m2 in the first year and 26 mL/m2 in the last year. In the last year of the study, participants were given six cognitive tests to measure thinking and memory skills including global cognition, processing speed, executive function, delayed verbal memory and verbal fluency. Tests included tasks like recalling words from a list 10 minutes after looking at the list, as well as substituting symbols for numbers using a key at the top of the page. After adjusting for factors like age, sex and education, researchers found that a


Researchers also found a greater than average increase from early to middle adulthood in left atrial volume was associated with lower midlife global cognition. However, a greater than average decrease in the percentage of blood pumped out of the left ventricle was not associated with cognition. "What is interesting is that our results were similar after adjusting for cardiovascular risk factors such as high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking and obesity," Rouch said. "As early as young adulthood, even before the occurrence of cardiovascular disease, there may be heart abnormalities that could be risk markers for lower thinking and memory skills in middle age. In the future, a single echocardiogram may help identify people at higher risk of cognitive impairment." Rouch said that future research should determine whether interventions to improve the structure and function of the heart could benefit brain health. She said, "The question of whether altered cardiac structure and function could be a risk factor for cognitive impairment has major public health implications and could reveal another important heartbrain connection."


Microsoft CEO Nadella Says

in a virtual environment, say a virtual office space, simply by plugging into the virtual reality headset like Facebook’s Oculus or Microsoft’s HoloLens. This capability is powered by the Mesh, a virtual collaboration tool launched in March 2021, and will be launched in 2022.


Using Mesh enterprises can also create immersive experiences like a virtual campus, like IT major Accenture has done. The virtual campus called One Accenture Park is where new hires onboarded virtually can meet in digital avatars and personally connect, conduct meetings or just have parties.


The idea is similar to that of Facebook. Both companies have been investing in virtual and augmented reality. Meta Reality Labs’ Oculus and Horizon Worlds, and Microsoft’s Mesh and HoloLens are technologies that would be powering the companies’ metaverse ambitions. Nadella said, “For years, we have talked about creating this digital representation of the world. But now we actually have the opportunity to go into that world and participate in it.” “We are taking these platform capabilities, and building them into our own first-party applications like teams, features like grid views together more and presented more than teams mark the beginning of bringing to the immersive experiences to collaboration. But human presence is the ultimate connection. When you and I can have a meeting, where we are all present together without actually being physically present,” explained Nadella.

fter Facebook rebranded itself as Meta last week, software major Microsoft Corp is now gearing up for its metaverse play, where its consumers can interact and collaborate in 3D digital avatars in offices, or on shop floors – in the metaverse. Speaking at Microsoft Ignite 2021 conference on November 2, CEO Satya Nadella, said, “I can't overstate how

much of a breakthrough this is. It's no longer just looking at a camera view of a factory floor, you can be on the floor. It's no longer just video conferencing with colleagues, you can be with them in the same room. It's no longer just playing a game with friends, you can be in the game with them.” This would be possible through Teams, the firm’s videoconferencing platform, where people can create their own digital avatars and interact/collaborate

According to him, metaverse is not just transforming how we see the world but also how all of us actively participate in it. “What we have shown you today is only the beginning. Our economy and our society are undergoing a sea change of digitisation across every industry sector. We are emerging into a new era where you and the invaluable work you do will be more necessary than ever. And we are building the Microsoft Cloud to help you accelerate into this new world,” he added. SEASONAL MAGAZINE

KIIT TO ACHIEVE 100% PLACEMENT SOON Odisha based Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology (KIIT) is all set to achieve 100% placements for its 2022 BTech batch. Founded by the noted educationist, philanthropist, social worker and Lok Sabha member, Prof. Achyuta Samanta, KIIT is now leaving no reason for students from Odisha to go outside the state for their higher studies.

When the latest round of placements for this ongoing academic year was completed, the leading deemed-to-be-university has landed placements for 3000 eligible students of the current BTech batch, out of a batch size of 3500 students. What is more, multiple offers have been raining on KIIT students, despite this being a most difficult academic year due to the pandemic’s unprecedented second wave and the suddenly erupting invasion of Ukraine by Russia. These 3000 students have bagged over 4200 job offers, even under this scenario. The Bhubaneswar headquartered KIIT had begun its first round of placements in May 2021, with the ‘Day One’ numbers from four major MNC firms alone amounting to over 2000 offers. This had marked a major breakthrough for KIIT as unlike its peers based in metro cities, the university had to battle the image of being housed in a relatively economically SEASONAL MAGAZINE

backward state of the country. The deemed university’s placement performance this year, by way of quantity and quality, since that momentous Day One, shows that it has successfully broken that mould and that it is giving BTech aspirants of Odisha no more reason to go searching for a university outside the state at a much higher cost. For instance, the average CTC in this year’s placements is Rs. 6.05 lakhs per annum, which is a 30% growth over the average CTC last year. Out of the 3000 students who already bagged placement offers, 1500 students have obtained it from Tier 1 or ‘Dream Companies’ with an average CTC of Rs. 8.10 lakh per annum. KIIT also proved that it is attracting topnotch talents, when five of the students in this batch obtained the highest CTC of Rs. 52 lakh per annum, which is comparable to the best institutions in the country. Thirty-five companies also offered above average CTC of Rs. 10.00 lakh or above per annum, to get such high quality recruits trained to perfection at KIIT.

Prof. Acharya’s earlier invention of a high-tech glove for visually impaired people that helps them to detect and navigate obstacles around them, which had bagged a patent from the Australian Government. With such exceptional faculty to inspire, it is no wonder that KIIT students are performing well in the real world too, for which the acid test is campus placements.

The faculty of KIIT has also been an inspiration for these students to outperform. While various KIIT faculty routinely end up as newsmakers, two innovations by Prof. Biswaranjan Acharya of the School of Computer Engineering deserve a special mention.

Assisting KIIT Founder Prof. Achyuta Samanta in the exemplary running of this deemed university are Prof. Sasmita Samanta, Vice-Chancellor, and Prof. Saranjit Singh, Pro-ViceChancellor.

The young Prof. Acharya has successfully created an advanced wearable biomedical device that takes multiple automatic inputs from the user via sensors to assess the stress and anxiety level of its users, and suggest remedial measures like engaging them in soothing talk or notifying some friends or relatives! This invention is likely to bag an international patent, much like





Headquartered near the ancient temple town of Thanjavur, The Shanmuga Arts, Science, Technology and Research Academy (SASTRA), also bettered its score to 3.76/4.00 in this fourth cycle from the 3.54/4 it had scored in the third cycle. With this, SASTRA, led by its Chancellor Prof. R Sethuraman and Vice-Chancellor Dr. S Vaidhyasubramaniam, has been graded at the topmost position among all higher educational institutions in Tamil Nadu and has become one among the top five national institutions with such a score. The peer review team of NAAC, which had visited the university’s primary campus at the laid-back town of Thirumalaisamudhram, recently, appreciated SASTRA’s research and social outreach activities apart from its modern infrastructure and proactive management style before arriving at this final score. With this latest reaccreditation, SASTRA will also remain as a Category 1 University for the next seven years.

After receiving the coveted reaccreditation at the nationally topmost level, Vice-Chancellor Dr. S Vaidhyasubramaniam was thankful to the Central and State governments, the entire SASTRA family of faculty, students & parents, and all other stakeholders for their continuous support and encouragement. It is no wonder really that SASTRA has been steadily moving up in such accreditations, rankings, placements and all such metrics. The deemed university is noted for its proactive stance when it comes to furthering its academic and research standards, which has come to inspire generations of students. SASTRA’s practice of giving Distinguished Alumnus Awards is very telling in this regard. In its latest round, four former students were selected as SASTRA Distinguished Alumnus. The university has a thriving SASTRA Alumni Association, which is now headed by SV Ramanan, Secretary, who is working as CEO (India & South Asia) of financial software major Intellect Design Arena. Himself a SASTRA Distinguished Alumnus, it was he who gave away this year’s awards. The latest winners are, Manoj Varghese (of 1994 Mechanical Engineering batch), who is now Chief Platform Head Mahindra & Mahindra; Prof. S Kalyankumar and Prof. K. Sundarajan (of 1998 ME batch), who are now professors of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Alabama, USA; and C Vasudevan, (of 2007 Biotech batch), who is now a noted entrepreneur having co-founded the B2B startup, Ninjacart, which is India's largest fresh produce supply chain company, backed by Walmart, Flipkart, Tiger Global and others, and almost a unicorn now. How do SASTRA students go on to be such high achievers? Much credit goes to the high quality faculty who have been handpicked by Chancellor Prof. R Sethuraman and Vice-Chancellor Dr. S Vaidhyasubramaniam. There are examples galore of such inspiring faculty in the rolls of SASTRA now, with a recent example being Prof. S. Swaminathan who was recently awarded the prestigious Prof. CNR Rao

RECENTLY THE UNIVERSITY DELIVERED FREE MEDICAL CONSULTATION AT A CAMP ORGANISED IN MEMORY OF THE FOUNDER CHANCELLOR OF THE SASTRA UNIVERSITY, S. RAMACHANDRAN AT THANJAVUR AND KUMBAKONAM. Bengaluru India Nano Science Award at the 12th Bengaluru India Nano, India’s flagship Nanotech Event. Another SASTRA faculty who shot into limelight recently was Senior Assistant Prof. James A Baskaradas, of the School of Electrical & Electronics Engineering, whose innovative idea on the design of intercept receiver for electronic support systems won the Defence Research and Development Organisation’s (DRDO) Innovation Award contest - Dare to Dream 2.0. The idea conceived by Prof. James will be of much use to the armed forces in surveillance support, and his innovation is now under active consideration of the Technological Development Fund Scheme for transforming the idea into a prototype. Apart from selecting, grooming and facilitating such stellar faculty, SASTRA takes immense efforts to forge the right kind of industry tie-ups. Two recent examples of such tie-ups were with Singapore based Cantier Systems and Tata Electronics. The first partnership has resulted in the setting up of the SASTRA - Cantier Centre of Excellence in the campus that will give students a headstart in next generation manufacturing technologies like Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES), Industrial Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Automation etc. Under the tie-up with Tata Electronics, SASTRA students admitted to the twoyear MTech degree in Very Large-Scale Integration (VLSI) Design will complete one year of the course at SASTRA campus in Thanjavur, and the second year in either Asia University or Yuan Ze University in Taiwan. The second-year curriculum will include practical

experience in major lab facilities, and a six-month industry internship in Taiwan's advanced semiconductor manufacturing industry. Tata Electronics will help SASTRA to create the course curriculum and will also provide financial support for overseas education and training of these students. With such world-class initiatives, however, it is easy for any university’s faculty and students to lose touch with the ground realities in India. But such things don’t happen at SASTRA, as the Chancellor and Vice Chancellor are very particular that the university should do more than its reasonable role in supporting the community around it. Recently the university delivered free medical consultation at a camp organised in memory of the Founder Chancellor of the SASTRA University, S. Ramachandran at Thanjavur and Kumbakonam. An excellent medical team led by the Vice-Chancellor of Sri Ramachandra Medical University, Chennai, Dr. JSN Moorthy provided medical advice to the patients suffering from cardiac, neurology and ENT related problems at the camps. People from economically weaker sections in the Thanjavur district requiring surgery will be identified and the cost of surgery will be sponsored by the University. In another major outreach to the community around it, 75 schools in Tamil Nadu have been provided with Virtual Reality (VR) facilities by Sastra University to promote digital education and interactive learning in the state. This will provide students at these 75 schools an immersive & experiential learning experience. This announcement was made as part of the National Science Day Awards presentation function organized by SASTRA. Explaining this contribution from SASTRA to the greater cause of nation building and education, Vice-Chancellor Dr. S Vaidhyasubramaniam, said, “The VR facility each costing about Rs. 2 Lakhs at these 75 schools shall be loaded with pre-developed subject matter content that shall provide students creative pedagogical tools to appreciate science concepts & improve their learning outcome.” SEASONAL MAGAZINE

WITH MORE PEOPLE BURNING OUT FASTER, A BURNOUT EXPERT OFFERS SOLUTIONS Jonathan Malesic’s intelligent and careful study, 'The End of Burnout: Why Work Drains Us and How to Build Better Lives', brings clarity to a muddled discussion, by exploring what really is a burnout and what to effectively do about it so as to thrive again.

burnout—such as Anne Helen Petersen’s widely read 2019 essay— tend to emphasize the heroic exertions of the burned-out worker, who presses on and gets her work done, no matter what. Such accounts have significantly raised burnout’s prestige, Malesic argues, by aligning the disorder with “the American ideal of constant work.” But they give, at best, a partial view of what burnout is.

hat do bankers, TikTok influencers, and Prince Harry have in common? This sounds like the run-up to the world’s most boring joke, but the answer, pundits assure us, is no laughing matter. These industrious professionals all suffer from burnout. Psychologists have been studying burnout for five decades, and certain professions—physicians, social workers—have long warned of burnout within their ranks. In the last two years, the cultural status of burnout has radically changed. No longer is “burnout” a specialized term describing a state of depletion among workers in certain strenuous human-services professions. Burnout is now a conflagration, blazing through the ranks of elite professionals with greater firepower than the most flaming royal red hair. Everyone, from veterinarians to Amazon account managers, complains of burnout; the New York Times seems on the verge of creating a burnout beat, if its churn of coverage is any indication. How did “burnout” become a keyword of our age? The pandemic, of course, has much to do with the term’s newfound popularity. Covid brought in its train a parallel epidemic of worker exhaustion. The stress and social dislocation resulting from a poorly managed, seemingly interminable public health emergency put limits on what workers could tolerate. Yet burnout’s ubiquity cannot be SEASONAL MAGAZINE

attributed to Covid alone. While exhaustion among nurses, teachers, and other frontline workers accounts for some of the uptick in burnout talk, the term has been seized most avidly by highly educated remote workers in such fields as technology, finance, and media. Is burnout, then, really a syndrome resulting from chronic workplace stress, as the World Health Organization has classified it? Is it a form of depression? Or is it a mark of disillusionment with the fictions propping up our world of work?

The psychologist Christina Maslach, a foundational figure in burnout research—the Maslach Burnout Inventory is the standard burnout assessment—sees burnout as having three components: exhaustion; cynicism or depersonalization (detectable in doctors, for example, who see their patients as “problems” to be solved, rather than people to be treated); and a sense of ineffectiveness or futility. Exhaustion is easy to brag about, inefficacy less so. Accounts of the desperate worker as labor-hero ignore the important fact that burnout impairs your ability to do your job. A “precise diagnostic checklist” for burnout, Malesic writes, would curtail loose claims of fashionable exhaustion, while helping people who suffer from burnout seek medical treatment.

Jonathan Malesic’s intelligent and careful study, The End of Burnout, brings clarity to a muddled discussion. He casts a critical eye on burnout discourse, in which the term is used loosely and selfflatteringly. Journalistic treatments of

Malesic, however, is interested in more than tracing burnout’s clinical history. A scholar of religion, he diagnoses burnout as an ailment of the soul. It arises, he contends, from a gap between our ideals about work and our reality of work.

Jonathan Malesic

Americans have powerful fantasies about what work can provide: happiness, esteem, identity, community. The reality is much shoddier. Across many sectors of the economy, labor conditions have only worsened since the 1970s. As our economy grows steadily more unequal and unforgiving, many of us have doubled down on our fantasies, hoping that in ceaseless toil, we will find whatever it is we are looking for, become whoever we yearn to become. This, Malesic says, is a false promise. While the book rarely veers into polemic, it has a strong moral-religious bent. It is an attack on the cruel idea that work confers dignity and therefore that people who don’t work—the old, the disabled—lack value. On the contrary, dignity is intrinsic to all human beings, and in designing a work regime rigged for the profit of the few and the exhaustion of the many, we have failed to honor one another’s humanity. Malesic might seem like an improbable mouthpiece for burnout: to all appearances, he had the perfect job. He was a tenured professor teaching in fields he loved: religion, ethics, and theology. His colleagues were intelligent and friendly, and his salary and benefits more than satisfactory. Secretly, he was a shell of his former self. He would barely make it to class in the afternoons. Isolated in a long-distance marriage, he would spend the evenings eating ice cream and drinking malt beer. His sullen and indifferent students, prone to boredom and plagiarism, had broken his spirit. After quitting his job, Malesic resolved to figure out what happened to him. It wasn’t depression, not quite. Talk therapy and antidepressants didn’t help him. Leaving his job did. His ailment, he decided, was burnout. The legendary sociologist C. Wright Mills proposed that the “sociological imagination”—an understanding of how our own experiences reflect broader social and historical forces—could help us link our seemingly private troubles to public issues. Burnout, a personal malady that indexes a broken labor system, is a prime candidate for such reimagining. The emergence of burnout as a psychological concept roughly parallels the development of a distinct

MALESIC MIGHT SEEM LIKE AN IMPROBABLE MOUTHPIECE FOR BURNOUT: TO ALL APPEARANCES, HE HAD THE PERFECT JOB. HE WAS A TENURED PROFESSOR TEACHING IN FIELDS HE LOVED: RELIGION, ETHICS, AND THEOLOGY. phase in American economic history. In the 1970s, the postwar glow faded and inequality began to skyrocket. The rise of the temp industry two decades earlier was a harbinger of things to come. Corporations, advised by consultants, started shedding their direct employees. “[T]he temp,” Malesic notes, “became the ideal worker.” Workers came to be regarded as liabilities, not sources of productive power. Aided by deregulation and the decline of union power, businesses pulled off a massive risk shift from capital to labor. Meanwhile, the growing domination of the service sector put new emotional demands on workers. In service jobs, our personalities and emotions are “the chief means of production”—they are what employers rent and exert control over. In this context, a new moral code for work took hold: what the sociologist

Allison Pugh calls a “one-way honor system” between employers and employees. Employees must devote themselves wholeheartedly to their work if they expect to get (or keep) a job—all while knowing that their employers feel no obligation to reciprocate. These are prime background conditions for an epidemic of burnout. One fact bears repeating: since 1974, labor productivity has kept increasing, but real wages have stayed flat. We are working harder and getting nothing for it. Meanwhile, as if to compensate for an increasingly precarious economy, our fantasies about work have grown, if anything, more intense. Hard work is likely the most universally cherished American value. One recent Pew survey found that 80 percent of Americans describe themselves as “hardworking”— outstripping all other traits. Work has gotten worse, yet our work ideals remain elevated. If burnout stems, as Malesic says, from the discrepancy between the ideal and the real, then burnout is punishment for idealists. William Morris, in his famous essay “Useful Work Versus Useless Toil,” dreamed of a political transformation in which all work would be made pleasurable. Malesic thinks, instead, that work should not be the center of our lives at all. Since Max Weber’s study of the Protestant ethic, Christian thought has often been blamed for instilling poisonous work ideals. Malesic suggests, however, that the poison might yield the antidote. Religious worship, the Jewish Sabbath: these are leisure practices that affirm higher goods than work. He recruits religious thought and practice to show us communities in which work is marginal, or contained within strictly observed limits—a Benedictine monastery in the New Mexico desert; a Dallas nonprofit that seems like either a dream workplace or a charismatic cult. Such examples demonstrate how communities that subordinate work to higher ends can survive economically while promoting their members’ flourishing. Malesic’s fine book has one defect. For all the care with which he recovers burnout’s clinical history, indicts our work ideals, and suggests new ways of SEASONAL MAGAZINE

organizing our lives, the political valence of his central term remains less than clear. Is burnout a weapon of the weak, a way of pushing back against an unjust work regime? Or is it the latest affectation of a self-absorbed and neurotic elite that traffics in victimhood claims while at a safe remove from the “deaths of despair” ravaging blue-collar America and the “dirty work” of slaughterhouses, prisons, and the like? Malesic is attentive to the workplace pressures that push women and racial minorities to burn out, and his discussion of how disability can lead us to rethink our governing fictions about work— drawing on the disabled artist Sunny Taylor’s superb essay “The Right Not To Work”—is stimulating. But class hardly enters his analysis, beyond a brief discussion of how blue-collar jobs now demand a “white-collar service ethic” (no longer allowing for disengagement), and an interview with an avid cyclist who lost a finger working at a tire manufacturer. He does not say how prevalent burnout is among workingclass people; the burnouts in this book are mostly doctors and college professors. And the closest historical parallel Malesic finds to burnout is neurasthenia—a state of nervous exhaustion that was an ailment of the well-off, highly educated nineteenth-century American brain worker. Indeed, the language of burnout appears in American Nervousness, the classic statement on neurasthenia, published in 1881 by the physician George M. Beard. Comparing the human nervous system to an electrical circuit, Beard writes: there comes a period . . . when the amount of force is insufficient to keep all the lamps actively burning; those that are weakest go out. The clarity of this precedent offers yet another reason for suspecting that burnout, like neurasthenia, is a rarefied malady. One bizarre feature of our present economic order, as Daniel Markovits points out in his recent book The Meritocracy Trap, is how hard the super-rich work. The top 1 percent of the income distribution is composed largely of executives, financiers, consultants, lawyers, and specialist doctors who report extremely long work hours, SEASONAL MAGAZINE

movement in China to outcries against deaths from overwork in Japan and South Korea, there is a growing sense of indignation in wealthy countries about inhumane work ideals that turn prosperity into a curse. Sweden and a few other European countries give burned-out workers paid time off; in Finland, burnout sufferers can qualify for paid rehabilitation workshops.

sometimes more than seventy a week. It seems unlikely that our workaholic elites would score highly on the burnout inventory’s metric of inefficacy (exhaustion and cynicism are another matter). But the strange work ethic the rich have devised seems highly relevant for our understanding of burnout as a cultural phenomenon, especially as it spreads beyond its traditional victims— doctors, nurses, teachers, social workers, anti-poverty lawyers—and courses through the ranks of knowledge workers more generally. The labor ideals Malesic laments as souldestroying fictions are, to a large extent, middle- and upper-class ones; many working-class people, educated by experience, have long understood the exploitative realities of work. But it seems obvious that working-class people do burn out. One recent British study found that low-paid and less-educated workers were more likely to feel that their jobs were useless. The term has achieved cultural prominence precisely because it resonates with affluent professionals who fetishize overwork. Nor is burnout solely an American phenomenon. From the “lying flat”


Burnout, then, holds some limited potential in the fight for more humane working conditions. And in giving an account of how our mass delusions about work prevent us from flourishing, Malesic has done us a service. But “burnout” is, at best, a transitional term. As a topic of cultural fixation, burnout is, at minimum, highly vulnerable to elite capture. At maximum, it is almost entirely an elite phenomenon. It seems unlikely that the mainstreaming of burnout will lead to a more robust public conversation about the positive goods of idleness, or the pursuit of less alienated forms of work. The term has achieved cultural prominence precisely because it resonates with affluent professionals who fetishize overwork. Burnout isn’t going to create alliances between knowledge workers and the working classes if the latter are consistently excluded from the metric or think about their exploitation in a different way. Malesic hopes to restrict “burnout” to official clinical criteria. But the broadness of the term is the source of its appeal; self-declared burnout cases can congratulate themselves on their diligence while dodging the stigma of depression or another weightier diagnosis. Burnout is an indicator that something has gone wrong in the way we organize our work. But as a concept it remains lodged in an old paradigm—a work ethic that was already dubious in America’s industrial period, and now, in a period of extreme inequality and increasing precarity across once-stable professions, is even harder to credit. Malesic’s central term seems destined to follow the fate of neurasthenia, and, perhaps, that of all ideas once in the zeitgeist: to flame brightly, and then burn itself out. (By Charlie Tyson for The Baffler)



verything seemed to be going well for Shaurya Pratap Chauhan. Among the brightest in his class, he scored 90% in his 10th board examination, in 2014. Then, for no apparent reason, his grades began to fall. In the 12th boards, he scored 75%. In spite of coaching from a well-known centre in Rajasthan’s Kota, he failed to clear the Joint Entrance Examination, or secure admission to an Indian Institute of Technology. He then studied math at Allahabad University and barely managed to graduate, but says he can’t solve a single math question now. For years, Chauhan blamed a broken romantic relationship for his problems. Like many others, his parents blamed bad company, lack of focus, and the emotional problems young adults generally face. There was one thing no one considered: Chauhan’s most intimate, constant companion, his smartphone. Ever since 2019, a team led by Dr Rakesh Paswan and Dr Ishanyaraj of the

National Mental Health Programme have been battling an epidemic that’s tearing apart the lives of many young Indians. At a centre in the Motilal Nehru Divisional Hospital in Uttar Pradesh’s Prayagraj district (formerly Allahabad), the doctors have set up a mobile deaddiction centre. For some young people, it’s their only hope.

behavioural addicts—gamblers and kleptomaniacs, for example—get comfort and pleasure from performing an act. The clinical literature on smartphone addiction in India is thin, but one study found high levels of dependency among young men. Another 2014 paper pointed to multiple health impacts of smartphone dependency among young people.

Experts have long recognised the existence of what is called behavioural addiction. While those addicted to drugs become dependent on a substance,

Like many, Chauhan’s phone use exploded when he graduated from a simple smartphone to a touchscreen. He began to spend more than twelve hours a day on phone calls, WhatsApp, two Facebook accounts (from which he would “log in and log out around 400 times a day”) and YouTube. “I would lie the whole day on a charpai, doing nothing except using my phone,” he said in a conversation with me.


23-year-old Shaurya Pratap Chauhan, a resident of Jhansi, scrolling on his smartphone | Photo: Jyoti Yadav | ThePrint The story isn’t unusual. “In one case,” Dr Ishanyaraj says, “a parent came to us SEASONAL MAGAZINE

concerned about their sons, who were in the 11th and 12th standards. One of the boys had flatly refused to sit for his examinations. They became violent when the parents tried to take away their phones. That experience eventually led us to set up the smartphone deaddiction centre.” Chauhan’s story isn’t exceptional. His friend Akash Jaiswal, from a rural background, dropped out of college because of his addiction to playing the video game, PUBG. “He said that he will look after his father’s grocery shop,” Chauhan recalls, “and get a correspondence degree.” Sonu Kumar, 24-year-old student of Allahabad University, saw viewed his father’s WhatsApp status at midnight and immediately got a call from him. “Humko laga tha ki daatenge ki raat ke 12 baje bhi phone se chipke hue ho,” Kumar said, speaking of the far of getting scolded by his father. But he was surprised to see his father beaming with joy and telling him that he was the first person to have seen his latest WhatsApp status, a clear sign of the smartphone addiction having transcended age gaps. It isn’t that young people are unaware of the dangers. Samarjeet Yadav, a 23year-old preparing for the Staff Selection Commission (SSC) examination, has deleted all the social media apps from his phone. “I would ask my mom for a cup of tea,” he says, “and then get distracted by my phone, jumping from one app to the other. Then, I would realise the tea had got cold, so I would ask her to warm it up for me. Then, the same thing would happen again, and again, and again.” Satyam Shukla, another competitive exam aspirant, has stopped charging his phone, hoping it would reduce the usage time. Abhishek Kumar went a step ahead and recently broke his phone—fed up, he says, of endlessly Googling “how to get rid of mobile addiction.” A group of three young men drove past SEASONAL MAGAZINE

“SLOWLY, THE MINDSPACE, FREE TIME, AND CREATIVITY OF YOUNG PEOPLE TURNS AWAY FROM THE REAL WORLD,” SAYS DR PASWAN, “AND BECOMES TRAPPED INSIDE THE SMARTPHONES.” the famous Subhash Chauraha in Prayagraj one summer afternoon last week. One of them was assigned to ride the Pulsar bike, while the one in the middle watched Instagram reels, and the third listened to music. “We have a rota system to drive the bike,” one of them explained. “The fight isn’t over who drives, it’s over who gets to sit at the back, so they can use their smartphones.” Adolescents glued to their phones in public are becoming as much icons of small-town and rural India as farmers working in their fields. There is a story of a Prayagraj student who needed a companion to avoid bumping into lampposts or falling into drains, because he couldn’t take his eyes off his smartphone. The story might be anecdotal, but the message isn’t.

When research about addiction to smartphones first emerged a decade ago, few paid attention. As families began seeking help, though, mental health experts started responding. The first smartphone de-addiction centre in India was opened in Bengaluru in June 2014. Delhi followed soon after. A centre was set up in Pune in 2019, and then in three Uttar Pradesh districts. There is also one in Amritsar. “Slowly, the mind-space, free time, and creativity of young people turns away from the real world,” says Dr Paswan, “and becomes trapped inside the smartphones.” Treatment can help. Over the year, Chauhan has been on medication and his attention span has also increased. His screen-time, earlier more than 14 hours a day, has reduced to 7-8 hours now. There isn’t, however, any magic pill that can fix the problem. “We have registered more than 400 patients,” Dr Ishanyaraj notes, “but only 40% of them turned for follow-ups.” Like all addictions, though, progress can be frustratingly slow, and relapse rates high, the clinical literature suggests. Every addiction, whether behavioural or substance abuse, is interwoven with complex emotional, personal and social factors. The resources to provide all young people in need with sustained mental health support just do not exist. The doctors at the Prayagraj de-addiction centre believe the problem is going to get worse. According to a Deloitte study, India will emerge as the second-largest smartphone manufacturer and about one billion users by 2026, with rural areas driving the sale of internet-enabled phones. Smartphone prices are steadily falling and their use becoming ubiquitous at everything — from online exams, seminars, entertainment, to even a Rs 20 payment at the local fruit-juice shop. The number of smartphone users are set to only grow. And with it, the number of addicts also, inexorably, will explode. (Credit: Jyoti Yadav for The Print)


WHY DUMBPHONES ARE MAKING A DRAMATIC COMEBACK WORLDWIDE DUMBPHONES ARE CONTINUING TO ENJOY A REVIVAL. GOOGLE SEARCHES FOR THEM JUMPED BY 89% BETWEEN 2018 AND 2021, ACCORDING TO A REPORT BY SOFTWARE FIRM SEMRUSH. AND WHILE SALES FIGURES ARE HARD TO COME BY, ONE REPORT SAID THAT GLOBAL PURCHASES OF DUMBPHONES WERE DUE TO HIT ONE BILLION UNITS LAST YEAR, UP FROM 400 MILLION IN 2019. THIS COMPARES TO WORLDWIDE SALES OF 1.4 BILLION SMART PHONES LAST YEAR, FOLLOWING A 12.5% DECLINE IN 2020. eventeen-year-old Robin West is an anomaly among her peers - she doesn't have a smartphone. Instead of scrolling through apps like TikTok and Instagram all day, she uses a so-called "dumbphone". These are basic handsets, or feature phones, with very limited functionality compared to say an iPhone. You can typically only make and receive calls and SMS text messages. And, if you are lucky - listen to radio and take very basic photos, but definitely not connect to the internet or apps. These devices are similar to some of the first handsets that people bought back in the late 1990s. Ms West's decision to ditch her former smartphone two years ago was a spur of the moment thing. While looking for a replacement handset in a second-hand shop she was lured by the low price of a "brick phone". Her current handset, from French firm MobiWire, cost her just £8. And because it has no smartphone functionality she doesn't have an expensive monthly data bill to worry about. "I didn't notice until I bought a brick phone how much a smartphone was taking over my life," she says. "I had a lot of social media apps on it, and I didn't get as much work done as I was always on my phone."

He adds that while it's true that dumbphones can't compete with the latest premium Apple and Samsung models when it comes to performance or functionality, "they can outshine them in equally important areas such as battery life and durability". Five years ago, Przemek Olejniczak, a psychologist, swapped his smartphone for a Nokia 3310, initially because of the longer-lasting battery. However, he soon realised that there were other benefits. "Before I would always be stuck to the phone, checking anything and everything, browsing Facebook or the news, or other facts I didn't need to know," he says.

The Londoner adds that she doesn't think she'll ever buy another smartphone. "I'm happy with my brick I don't think it limits me. I'm definitely more proactive."

"Now I have more time for my family and me. A huge benefit is that I'm not addicted to liking, sharing, commenting, or describing my life to other people. Now I have more privacy."

Dumbphones are continuing to enjoy a revival. Google searches for them jumped by 89% between 2018 and 2021, according to a report by software firm SEMrush.

However, Mr Olejniczak, who lives in the Polish city of Lodz, admits that initially the switch was challenging. "Before I'd be checking everything, such as buses and restaurants, on my smartphone [when travelling]. Now that is impossible, so I have learned to do all those things beforehand at home. I got used to it."

And while sales figures are hard to come by, one report said that global purchases of dumbphones were due to hit one billion units last year, up from 400 million in 2019. This compares to worldwide sales of 1.4 billion smart phones last year, following a 12.5% decline in 2020. Meanwhile, a 2021 study by accountancy group Deloitte said that one in 10 mobile phone users in the UK had a dumbphone. "It appears fashion, nostalgia, and them appearing in TikTok videos, have a part to play in the dumbphone revival," says Ernest Doku, mobiles expert at price comparison site "Many of us had a dumbphone as our first mobile phone, so it's natural that we feel a sense of nostalgia towards these classic handsets." Mr Doku says it was the 2017 relaunch of Nokia's 3310 handset - first released in 2000, and one of the biggest-selling mobiles of all time - that really sparked the revival. "Nokia pushed the 3310 as an affordable alternative in a world full of high-spec mobiles."

One maker of dumbphones is New York company Light Phone. Slightly more clever that the norm for such products, its handsets do allow users to listen to music and podcasts, and link by Bluetooth to headphones. Yet the firm pledges that its phones "will never have social media, clickbait news, email, an internet browser, or any other anxietyinducing infinite feed". The company says it recorded its strongest year for financial performance in 2021, with sales up 150% compared with 2020. This is despite its handsets being expensive for dumbphones prices start at $99 (£75). Light Phone co-founder, Kaiwei Tang, says the device was initially created to use as a secondary phone for people wanting to take a break from their smartphone for a weekend for example, but now half the firm's customers use it as their primary device. SEASONAL MAGAZINE


CSB Bank’s takeover by the Indian-Canadian billionaire businessman Prem Watsa led Fairfax in late 2016 came at not only a troubled phase for this traditional private sector bank which was known as Catholic Syrian Bank back then. This takeover happened at a time when the entire Indian banking industry was in turmoil, reeling from not only the snowballing NPA crisis but the uncertainties from the suddenly announced banknote demonetization plan during the same period. In hindsight, the buyout happened at the perfect time for CSB Bank, and it also helped that the veteran banker CVR Rajendran was at the helm as MD & CEO during this transformative phase. While many in the industry were sceptical whether Fairfax’s modern financial services acumen would be a good match for this untilthen laidback bank, it goes to the credit of Prem Watsa, Fairfax, CVR Rajendran and the entire CSB Bank family that it could pull off a dramatic transformation that brought together the best of both worlds. By the time the Indian banking


industry came out of the demonetization woes, it was time for an even sharper jolt - the Covid19 pandemic - and the ensuing months-long lockdown and the multiyear economic slump. But all through these, under Prem Watsa’s and CVR Rajendran’s vision, the bank focused on growing its traditional strengths in its traditional strongholds. The best example for this strategy was its decision to focus on growing its gold loan business. At a time when bankers were risk-averse about giving unsecured loans to MSMEs and the self-employed, which constitute the mainstay of the Indian economy, the fully secured gold loans proved to be the perfect instrument for both the lenders and the borrowers. This was especially true of Kerala, CSB Bank’s home-turf and from where it still generates over 50% of its business. Today, gold loan has become the mainstay of the bank with it accounting for 37% of the loan book. This substantial business also helped the bank tide over the additional impact on NPAs brought forth

by the unprecedented second wave of the pandemic, much faster than many comparable peers. Another thrust area the bank grew substantially during this troubled period was MSME loans, which has also been a traditional forte, and which now accounts for 13% of the loan book. At the same time, keeping pace with the expertise of its new parent, Fairfax, this still small-sized bank deployed some of the most technologically advanced banking solutions both on its own and in tie-up with leading fintech startups. Thanks to these deployments, the bank today has the CSB Mobile+ App for Android & iOs devices, which ensures that a customer’s pocket has full access to all the banking services. It also implemented Whatsapp banking, which

many of its peer banks are yet to adopt. Signalling a succession plan for CVR Rajendran, the bank had brought in the young banking stalwart Pralay Mondal as its President over 18 months back. With CVR Rajendran opting for an early retirement due to health issues, Pralay Mondal has recently been elevated as the Deputy MD. The Board has also been strengthened with the recent induction of Sharad Kumar Saxena, who was head of technology at ICICI & BoB, as Additional Director. With the overall performance improving sharply, especially in gold loans and on the asset quality front, CSB Bank could register a three-times surge in net profits in the recently reported third quarter of the ongoing fiscal.





JIA JIANG IS THE OWNER OF REJECTION THERAPY, A WEBSITE THAT PROVIDES INSPIRATION, KNOWLEDGE AND PRODUCTS FOR PEOPLE TO OVERCOME THEIR FEAR OF REJECTION. HE IS ALSO THE CEO OF WUJU LEARNING, A COMPANY THAT TEACHES PEOPLE AND TRAINS ORGANIZATIONS TO BECOME FEARLESS THROUGH REJECTION TRAINING. BASED ON JIANG'S DEEP INSIGHTS, AUTHOR JUSTIN BARISO EXPLAINS THE RULE OF REJECTION, WHICH CAN BE AN ULTIMATE SUCCESS SECRET FOR ENTREPRENEURS, SALES & MARKETING PROFESSIONALS, AND PRACTICALLY ANYONE. "Sorry, we've decided not to invest." Those words stung. After several years in the corporate world, Jia Jiang had taken a huge risk when he attempted to start his own company. Now, his longtime fear of rejection had manifested itself once again. "That rejection hurt me," said Jiang. "It hurt me so bad that I wanted to quit right there." But then Jiang thought: Would a successful entrepreneur quit after a simple rejection? That pivotal moment was a catalyst. Jiang decided it was time to overcome his longtime fear of rejection, and in doing so, he began a remarkable journey that led him to purchase the blog that inspired him: Rejection Therapy. The lessons he learned can be summed up in what I like to call "the rule of rejection." The rule of rejection is founded on principles of emotional intelligence, and it can help you overcome your fears, get more of what you want, and learn valuable lessons in the process. The story actually begins decades ago, when Jiang was 6 years old in Beijing. It was there that Jiang's first-grade teacher had an idea: In an effort to encourage her students, she asked each child to say something nice about one of the others. When a child heard his name called, along with their compliment, they could pick up their gift. "There were 40 of us to start with," Jiang relates. "Every time I heard someone's name called, I would give out the SEASONAL MAGAZINE

heartiest cheer. And then, there were 20 people left. [Then], 10 people left ... Five left ... and three left. And I was one of them." There stood Jiang, crying. "I would die to avoid being in that situation again, to get rejected in public again," says Jiang. Fast-forward years later. After getting turned down by the potential investor, Jiang began searching for strategies to overcome his fear. He came across a game called Rejection Therapy. The basic idea was that for 30 days, you seek rejection. In doing so, you gradually desensitize yourself from the pain, building courage and resolve along the way. For his first request, Jiang asked a stranger to borrow $100. So overcome with fear, Jiang ran away as soon as he heard "no." He didn't even respond to the person's question of why he wanted to borrow the money. Over the next several months, Jiang made over a hundred crazy requests, video recording all of them and posting to YouTube. Over and over, he heard the answer that had become so familiar to him: Can I slide down the fire pole at this fire station? No. Can I have a "burger refill"? ("It's just like a drink refill, but with a burger.") No. Can I speak over the intercom here at Costco? No. Can I attend your Super Bowl party (even though I don't know you)? No. Can I have a free room at this hotel? No.

But as time went on, and Jiang's "rejection quest" continued, something interesting happened. Although many rejected him right away, to Jiang's surprise, others actually gave him exactly what he wanted. And with every yes, Jiang gained courage. For example: A stranger said yes to letting him play soccer in his backyard. A pilot said yes to letting him make an announcement on a flight. Survivor host Jeff Probst said yes to singing Jiang's son a lullaby on nationally syndicated television. A pilot said yes to bringing Jiang up and letting him fly his private plane. A teacher said yes to allowing Jiang to give a lecture to his college students. Jiang learned some important truths along his rejection journey. For one, he discovered that if he didn't run, he could sometimes turn a "no" into a "yes," using a single, one-word question: "Why?"


Actress Rhea Chakraborty said that it has been a lot of healing and coming back to normalcy for her during the COVID-19 lockdown. "So other than that, like work I'm trying, I'm hoping something will happen soon. So fingers crossed," she said. While talking about returning to ramp walking, she said, "I am happy to be back at it."

Often, when Jiang asked why (sometimes repeatedly, respectfully, and in different ways), the rejecter would rethink the request. Or they would offer some type of compromise. Or they would offer something else in return. For example, after a stranger rejected Jiang's request to plant a flower in their backyard, Jiang asked why. "Well, I have this dog that would dig up anything I put in the backyard," said the man. "I don't want to waste your flower. If you want to do this, go across the street and talk to Connie. She loves flowers." Connie was more than happy to honor Jiang's request. "Had I left after the initial rejection," explains Jiang, "I would've thought, well, it's because the guy didn't trust me, it's because I was crazy, because I didn't dress up well, I didn't look good. It was none of those. It was because what I offered did not fit what he wanted. And he trusted me enough to offer me a 'referral,' using a sales term." I love Jiang's story so much, because it reminds me of my own life. I also have encountered rejection too many times to

remember--but I've learned not to give up. I've also learned that a "no" doesn't mean "No, forever." It means, no for right now. Or, "No, not the way you just described it." Now to the actual success secret, the rule of rejection. The rule of rejection is simple. It's made up of three parts: A. You won't get anything if you don't ask for it, so don't reject yourself. B. If the answer is "no," ask "why?" This may lead to your getting what you wanted, or getting something else that's close. C. Remember that rejection doesn't define you. It's the way you react to rejection that defines you.


Actor Kartik Aaryan has landed in Mauritius to shoot for his upcoming film 'Shehzada'. He took to his Instagram Stories to share some pictures and videos from Mauritius. The film is the Hindi remake of Allu Arjun-starrer Telugu film 'Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo'. Directed by Rohit Dhawan, 'Shehzada' also stars Kriti Sanon, Manisha Koirala and Paresh Rawal.

So, if you want to overcome your fear of rejection and get more of what you want, don't run. Remember the rule of rejection. When you do, you'll start turning "no" into "yes." More important, you'll change the way you view rejection, forever. SEASONAL MAGAZINE



I mean to work tremendously hard,” the young Fyodor Dostoyevsky (November 11, 1821–February 9, 1881) resolved in contemplating his literary future, beseeching his impoverished mother to buy him books. At the age of twenty-seven, he was arrested for belonging to a literary society that circulated books deemed dangerous by the tsarist regime. He was sentenced to death. On December 22, 1849, he was taken to a public square in Saint Petersburg, alongside a handful of other inmates, where they were to be executed as a warning to the masses. They were read their death sentence, put into their execution attire of white shirts, and allowed to kiss the cross. Ritualistic sabers were broken over their heads. Three at a time, they were stood against the stakes where the execution was to be carried out. Dostoyevsky, the sixth in line, grew acutely aware that he had only moments to live. And then, at the last minute, a pompous

What the Legendary Author & Philosopher Wrote on the Meaning of Life, Just After His Death Sentence Was Repealed. - “To be a human being among people and to remain one forever, no matter in what circumstances, not to grow despondent and not to lose heart—that’s what life is all about, that’s its task.”



announcement was made that the tsar was pardoning their lives — the whole spectacle had been orchestrated as a cruel publicity stunt to depict the despot as a benevolent ruler. The real sentence was then read: Dostoyevsky was to spend four years in a Siberian labor camp, followed by several years of compulsory military service in the tsar’s armed forces, in exile. He would be nearly forty by the time he picked up the pen again to resume his literary ambitions. But now, in the raw moments following his close escape from death, he was elated with relief, reborn into a new cherishment of life. He poured his exultation into a stunning letter to his brother Mikhail, penned hours after the staged execution and found in the first volume of the out-ofprint collection of his complete correspondence, the 1988 treasure Dostoevsky Letters (public library). A century before Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl offered his hard-won assurance that “everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances,” Dostoyevsky writes: "Brother! I’m not despondent and I

haven’t lost heart. Life is everywhere, life is in us ourselves, not outside. There will be people by my side, and to be a human being among people and to remain one forever, no matter in what circumstances, not to grow despondent and not to lose heart — that’s what life is all about, that’s its task. I have come to recognize that. The idea has entered my flesh and blood… The head that created, lived the higher life of art, that recognized and grew accustomed to the higher demands of the spirit, that head has already been cut from my shoulders… But there remain in me a heart and the same flesh and blood that can also love, and suffer, and pity, and remember, and that’s life, too! " Still, even through this elation, the animating force of his being — his identity as a writer — grounds him into a depth of despair. “Can it be that I’ll never take pen in hand?” he asks in sullen anticipation of the next four years at the labor camp. “If I won’t be able to write, I’ll perish. Better fifteen years of imprisonment and a pen in hand!” But he quickly recovers his electric gratitude for the mere fact of being alive and, reassuring his brother not to grieve for him, continues: "I haven’t lost heart, remember that hope has not abandoned me… After all I was at death’s door today, I lived with that thought for three-quarters of an hour, I faced the last moment, and now I’m alive again!" In a beautiful testament to the elemental fact that when all the static of our self-righteousness dies down, what remains between good people is only love, he writes:


"If anyone remembers me with malice, and if I quarreled with anyone, if I made a bad impression on anyone — tell them to forget about that if you manage to see them. There is no bile or spite in my soul, I would like to so love and embrace at least someone out of the past at this moment." "When I look back at the past and think how much time was spent in vain, how much of it was lost in delusions, in errors, in idleness, in the inability to live; how I failed to value it, how many times I sinned against my heart and spirit — then my heart contracts in pain. Life is a gift, life

is happiness, each moment could have been an eternity of happiness. Si jeunesse savait! [If youth knew!]" Half a century before Oscar Wilde penned his extraordinary letter about suffering as a force of transformation and transcendence from prison, where he was interned for having loved whom he loved, Dostoyevsky adds: "Now, changing my life, I’m being regenerated into a new form. Brother! I swear to you that I won’t lose hope and will preserve my heart and spirit in purity. I’ll be reborn for the better. That’s my entire hope, my entire consolation." "Life in the casemate has already sufficiently killed off in me the needs of the flesh that were not completely pure; before that I took little care of myself. Now deprivations no longer bother me in the slightest, and therefore don’t be afraid that material hardship will kill me." Having spent years in material privation myself — though never, mercifully, nearly to the extent Dostoyevsky endured — and being always grateful for how those times annealed me, how they made me less afraid of poverty and hardship, more willing to take risks others might not, to take less materially secure paths in life, I can’t help but wonder how much this harrowing experience fomented Dostoyevsky’s extraordinary perseverance as an artist against the tides of convention and the constant specter of poverty. It certainly reverberates throughout Notes from the Underground, Crime and Punishment, and especially The Brothers Karamazov; it certainly informed his ideas about the meaning of life, set forth decades later in the guise of a dream, and inspired his insistence upon the existential duty of seeing the goodness in people “despite the abundance of all sorts of wretches.” Complement this with Walt Whitman on what makes life worth living, then revisit Anna — the love of Dostoyevsky’s life, who saved him from poverty and debtor’s prison — on the secret to a happy marriage. (By Maria Popova for The Marginalian) SEASONAL MAGAZINE


AS ASSET QUALITY IMPROVES, PROFIT IS SOARING MULTIFOLD Karur Vysya Bank, like most of its peers, was beaten down mainly on higher provisioning during the two pandemic years. But now as asset quality improves sharply, provisions are being written back, and profit is soaring fourfold in the recent Q3 on a YoY basis.


ost Indian banks had lost steam starting in fiscal 2009 due to the global financial crisis, and the resultant NPA crisis that started unfolding back then. The preceding four years of bull run from FY'04 to FY'08 had led to a severe growth bias at corporates and credit excesses from banks to drive that growth, which led to a severe downturn in banking stocks for the next several years. But Tamil Nadu based Karur Vysya Bank was an exception to this phenomenon. That is, until mid of FY'18. From then on the impact of the demonetization drive in the previous fiscal of FY’17 began to spare no banks, including Karur Vysya Bank which was more focused towards the MSME sector which bore the major burden of demonetization. While this traditional private sector bank headquartered at Karur near Erode kept on a good performance on the income front, helped both by the core Net Interest Income (NII) and the Non Interest Income or Fee Income, the Net Profit nosedived to almost half in FY’18 and almost onethird in FY’19. As usual in all banks, the culprit was falling asset quality. But part of the issue at KVB was also this lender’s traditional stance when it came to provisioning. Putting safety first, KVB went in for generous provisioning, at par or even more than comparable peer banks. When the profits went down for two years in a bank that was always growing faster than average for more than a decade, it was only natural that many retail investors panicked and some institutional investors deserted the ship or reduced their

stake. But it goes on to the credit of KVB’s Board and its top management that now when the smoke is clearing in the banking sector, the bank still has most of its high-profile investors like Big Bull Rakesh Jhuhjhunwala, Ashish Dhawan and the Franklin India Group. Even while the stocks of most banks were falling like ninepins, driven first by the NPA crisis, then by demonetization and then by the unprecedented Covid-19 pandemic, intelligent analysts kept on predicting that unless in other sectors, banks will have a faster and more momentous turnaround as provisions get written back into profits. And KVB was one of the first smaller sized private banks to turn around. Interestingly, KVB resumed on the profit growth path as early as FY’20, the year in which the pandemic began. While some analysts predicted that KVB won’t be able to hold on to that turnaround, proving them wrong KVB substantially built up on that base in FY’21 which was the most pandemic affected fiscal by registering a smart profit growth. Meanwhile, starting in the second quarter of FY’21 the bank had a change of guard at the very top after a long time when State Bank of India veteran B Ramesh Babu was appointed as the MD & CEO. Earlier also, the Bank’s Board had selected an SBI veteran for the top post. The bank’s strong performance in FY’21 and its spectacular performance now in FY’22 is also due to a new vision and expertise that Ramesh Babu brought in. For instance, by the first three quarters of FY’22, the bank has registered a profit of Rs. 458 crore as against FY’21’s net profit of Rs. 359 crore.

In his last stint, Ramesh Babu was Deputy Managing Director & Chief Operating Officer in State Bank of India with an experience of developing and overseeing the Retail Business and Banking Operations for more than 21,000 retail branches and 1,20,000 other touch points of the Bank successfully. He has extensive experience in redressing pain-points in Customer Service related areas and furthering Financial Inclusion by actively leveraging the services of Business Correspondents in SBI. He was actively involved in Direction setting and Policy formulation by participating in various apex committees of State Bank of India. Ramesh Babu is also highly experienced in heading banking operations in the Tamil Nadu state, which is also KVB’s core market. At SBI, he has successfully headed the whole business and operations of 1,300 Branches of Chennai Circle of SBI for three years with excellent understanding of business dynamics and man management. Since he was appointed in 2020 with a tenure of three years at KVB, he got the necessary mandate to implement his full vision for taking this traditional lender to the post pandemic world. B Ramesh Babu also holds 14,000 equity shares in the Bank. Recently, the technology initiatives of Karur Vysya Bank have been recognized with three awards. At the 17th Annual Banking Technology Conference, Expo & Awards, 2021 conducted virtually by the Indian Bank's Association, the Bank was honoured with three awards in the Small Banks Category - Best Cloud Adoption - Winner,


Best Use of AI / ML & Data Analytics - Joint Winner, and Best IT Risk & Cyber Security Initiatives - Joint Runner-Up. "These awards reiterate the abiding conviction of Karur Vysya Bank that technology, if harnessed in the best possible manner, will enable delivery of the finest banking services to customers. KVB has been continuously investing in technology and this has resulted in these honours. We derive great pleasure in dedicating these awards to the valued customers and well wishers of the Bank", said Mr. Ramesh Babu, Managing Director and CEO of KVB. Technology has enabled the bank to make such offerings as the KVB DLite Mobile App, the one app that provides complete banking solutions and the Loan Originating System (LOS) that is fully digitalized from application to documentation and disbursal of the


loan, thereby enabling almost immediate in-principle sanction of retail and commercial loans and quickest processing and disbursal of the loans. In the most recent reporting period of Q3, Karur Vysya Bank (KVB) has posted a four-fold rise in net profit to Rs 185 crore as compared to Rs 35 crore during the same period last fiscal. The much predicted writeback of provisions to profits is happening momentously at KVB now. The bank's total income during the quarter was down marginally to Rs 1,600 crore as against Rs 1,614 crore during the same quarter in 2020-21. Operating profit for the quarter stood at Rs 402 crore - up by Rs 133 crore from Rs 269 crore for Q3 of the previous year.

KVB WAS ONE OF THE LEAST AFFECTED BANKS BY MULTIPLE CHALLENGES LIKE NPA CRISIS, DEMONETIZATION & PANDEMIC, AND ONE OF THE FIRST BANKS TO BOUNCE BACK, IN FY'21 ITSELF. Net interest income for the quarter improved by 18 per cent to Rs 687 crore for the current quarter from Rs 584 crore for Q3 of FY 2020-21. Net interest margin stands at 3.68 per cent. Cost of deposits has reduced by 58 basis points to 4.22 per cent compared to 4.80 per cent during the previous period. Yield on advances was at 8.42 per cent (8.66 per cent for Q3 of previous year). Non interest income (excluding treasury profit) improved to Rs 209 crore for the quarter as compared to Rs 197 crore during the previous period KVB improved its asset quality during the quarter, with gross nonperforming assets (NPAs) falling to 6.97 per cent (Rs 3,888 crore) of the gross advances as of December 31, 2021, as against 7.37 per cent (Rs 3,842 crore) in the year-ago period.




inesh Khara, the chairman of country's largest lender State Bank of India (SBI), said on January 28 that the proposed Bad Bank had received all necessary approvals to start operations.

September 2021 to 8.1 percent by September 2022 under a baseline scenario and to 9.5 percent under a severe stress scenario, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said in its Financial Stability Report on December 29. If the current wave of COVID-19 led by the Omicron variant drags on, the figure could escalate. According to the plan, banks will receive 15 percent of the value of assets being transferred upfront in cash; 85 percent will be given as security receipts (SRs). If the debt resolution doesn’t happen within a fiveyear period, the government will have to pay banks against the SRs if the guarantee is invoked.

Public sector Banks will have a majority stake in the National Asset Reconstruction Company Limited (NARCL) while private banks will have a significant stake in India Debt Resolution Company Limited (IDRCL), Khara said. Bad Bank was announced by Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in the last Union Budget. This entity will absorb the bad assets of banks enabling banks to clean up their books. In the initial phase, around 15 cases worth Rs 50,000 crore will be transferred to the proposed bad bank in this fiscal, Khara said. An estimated Rs 2 lakh crore worth bad assets is planned to transfer to the Bad Bank. “There were certain concerns being raised but eventually both entities have requisite approval,” Khara said. A total of 38 accounts with Rs 83,000 crore outstanding in total have been identified for transfer so far but some of these accounts have been resolved already, Khara said. As per the operational structure, NARCL will acquire and aggregate identified NPA accounts from banks while IDRCL will handle the debt resolution process. “This unique public-private partnership

will bring benefit of aggregation, expertise to resolve stressed assets,” said Khara, adding he expects faster asset resolution to take place in the banking sector with the establishment of Bad Bank. Khara said while the initial estimate was Rs 2 lakh crore worth of assets will be transferred to the bad bank, some of the large cases were resolved sub subsequently. The Bad Bank was conceptualized with the objective of absorbing bad assets from public sector banks for a clean-up of the lenders’ balance sheets. Banks are weighed down by huge amounts of bad loans, or loans on which no interest or principal has been paid for over 90 days. Stress tests have revealed that banks' gross non-performing assets (GNPAs) may jump from 6.9 percent of assets in

Khara said he expects resolutions to happen faster with NARCL in place. Launch of bad bank is crucial for the banking sector if it leads to faster bad assets resolution. Banks need to set aside more money to cover bad loans known as provisions in banking industry jargon. The higher the provisions, the bigger is the pain felt by the bank - its profitability subsequently takes a hit. The bank will require more capital to plug the bad loan hole. A huge pile of bad loans on its balance sheet impairs the ability of a bank to extend fresh loans. When credit growth slows, as was the case to industries over the last few years, the economy suffers. This (economic slowdown and consequent job losses) further impacts the ability of companies and individuals to repay bank loans. SEASONAL MAGAZINE


ON A STRONG COMEBACK PATH ON IMPROVING BUSINESS & DIVERSIFICATION Bandhan Bank’s Q3 net profit was up almost 36%, but it was mostly on strong noninterest income and falling provisions, and the market is expecting its diversification from microfinance or group loans to gather momentum and its asset quality to improve, so that its core net interest income grows in double digits. The bank is making new inroads into sectors like housing finance, and making use of new opportunities in government business. The share of its core group loans now stands reduced at 52% which shows its diversification plans are starting to deliver. fter a very difficult Q2 that saw over Rs. 3000 crore loss on the back of over Rs. 5600 crore in provisions against bad loans, Bandhan Bank has made a significant turnaround to profits in the recently reported Q3. The Kolkata headquartered lender’s net profit rose nearly 36% in Q3, but riding mainly on growth in non-interest income. Bottomline turned back to black by registering Rs 858.97 crore for the third quarter, from last year’s Rs 632.59 crore in the corresponding quarter, also aided by fall in provisions. The core Net interest income (NII) from lending activities for the quarter stood flattish at Rs 2124.70 crore as against Rs 2071.74 crore in the corresponding quarter of the previous year. However, the bank’s non-interest income grew 26.67% year on year to Rs 712.29 crore. Provisions during the quarter fell 25.25% YoY to Rs 805.71 crore from Rs 1077.83 crore in the year ago. Asset quality continues to trouble the bank, much like some of its peers coming from the microfinance background. However, the vast difference in NPA growth on QoQ and YoY basis shows that the major pain is over for the bank and that the situation is starting to stabilize. SEASONAL MAGAZINE

Driven by the unprecedented impact of the second wave of the pandemic that took India by storm, Bandhan Bank’s Non Performing Assets (NPAs) on absolute terms soared more than tenfold to Rs. 9441.57 crore from just Rs. 859.22 crore in the corresponding quarter of last fiscal. However, on a sequential or QoQ basis, it rose only 7.74% signalling that the major pain has been witnessed in Q2 of this fiscal. Also, the bank’s gross NPAs, as a percentage of total loans, stood at 10.81% in Q3 compared to 10.82% in the second quarter. Commenting on the results, Chandra Shekhar Ghosh, the bank’s Founder, Managing Director & CEO, said, “Third quarter of this fiscal has been a very good one for the bank where we have witnessed growth across all parameters. After the challenging first half, we have seen growth bouncing back strongly and things stabilising on the asset quality front with collection efficiency improving very strongly. We have seen all round recovery during the quarter with improved collections and increase in disbursements. ” Guiding the market for the coming periods, Ghosh said, “Q4 historically has been the best quarter for the bank and we are positive about our business going

forward. With group loan share in total advances reduced to 52%, the bank is on track to achieve the diversification strategy which it had laid down for FY25.” With Q3 results, the bank has more or less fulfilled its guidance given along with Q2 results that the massive loss in that quarter was due to frontloading the provisions rather than spreading it across the three quarters of Q2, Q3 & Q4. As per this policy, the bank had taken accelerated provisions of Rs. 1500 crore against NPA accounts. In addition to this, it had also provided an additional standard assets provision amounting to around Rs 2,100 crore and provision on restructured assets amounting to around Rs 1,030 crore. The objective was to take up a one-time cleaning process so that the whole challenge is transparently visible to investors in one go, and for the bank to resume its focus on recoveries and lending as in the pre-Covid times. There are several positives in Bandhan Bank’s performance which is evident from Q3 numbers. The overall growth is trending up which is a key positive, driven by both microfinance and nonmicrofinance loans and recoveries. Specifically, Bandhan Bank has seen a pick-up in growth in non-microfinance loans like housing finance which is up

7% QoQ in Q3 after several quarters of flat growth. This is in accordance with the bank’s stated diversification from microfinance or group loans. Secondly, while its credit cost is currently high at around 10%, it will moderate, due to two reasons - steadily improving collections and adequate provisioning buffers which now stands at 4%. This will also offset the high level of restructuring which may continue for a while. The percentage of fully repaying customers stood at 89% in December, up from 79% in September. Around 66% of NPA customers continued to make payments in a bid to regularise their overdue loan accounts at the earliest. Also, around 2/3rd of the bank’s restructured customers also continued to pay despite the moratorium. As a grassroots level bank, its MD & CEO Chandra Sekhar Ghosh closely follows all macro and microeconomic developments that can affect its customers and shareholders. As such he had a clear analysis of the recent budgetary provisions affecting the sector.

Says Ghosh, “Extension of the Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme (ECLGS) till March 2023 and the increase of Rs 50,000 crore in the overall outlay for the scheme will provide relief to this sector. The infusion of Rs 2 lakh crore under the Credit Guarantee Trust for Micro and Small Enterprises will also have a similar effect. It will help channel the flow of credit to MSMEs, while providing comfort to the bankers to lend to this sector.” As a bank that has a newfound bullishness on home financing, Ghosh elaborated further, “The economy and the banking sector could also benefit from the additional outlay of Rs 48,000 crore for the PM Awas Yojana. The boost that the affordable housing segment might receive from this announcement should lead to greater demand for housing finance, and should also spur consumption for other products and services, given the strong backward and forward linkages to this sector.” On the business front, Bandhan Bank continues to make new inroads. Recently it obtained RBI permission to be an Agency Bank to conduct

government business. With this approval, Bandhan Bank will be able to handle transactions related to the collection of state taxes and revenue receipts such as GST and VAT. This will also enable Bandhan Bank for the collection of stamp duty and pension payments on behalf of central and state governments. The Bank’s extensive branch network, its 2.4 crore customer base, especially in rural and semi-urban areas, its state-of-the-art products and services and digital banking capabilities, will help it discharge its duties effectively by bringing governments and citizens closer to each other. Since its launch six years ago, Bandhan Bank has been dedicated to furthering financial inclusion by bringing millions of Indians into the fold of formal banking services and catalysing the creation of sustainable livelihoods. The bank also offers 7% interest on three-year FDs for senior citizens. Bandhan Bank is also scouting for opportunities to diversify. There are unconfirmed reports that Bandhan has teamed up with Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund GIC to bid for IDFC Mutual Fund which has Assets Under Management (AUM) of Rs. 1.26 lakh crore and growing at 19.3% against industry average of 8.6%. SEASONAL MAGAZINE


THE UKRANIAN DRONE OPERATORS WHO HALTED THE RUSSIAN CONVOY HEADED FOR KYIV Special IT force of 30 soldiers on quad bikes is vital part of Ukraine’s defence, but forced to crowdfund for supplies.

ne week into its invasion of Ukraine, Russia massed a 40-mile mechanised column in order to mount an overwhelming attack on Kyiv from the north. But the convoy of armoured vehicles and supply trucks ground to a halt within days, and the offensive failed, in significant part because of a series of night ambushes carried out by a team of 30 Ukrainian special forces and drone operators on quad bikes, according to a Ukrainian commander. The drone operators were drawn from an air reconnaissance unit, Aerorozvidka, which began eight years SEASONAL MAGAZINE

ago as a group of volunteer IT specialists and hobbyists designing their own machines and has evolved into an essential element in Ukraine’s successful David-and-Goliath resistance. However, while Ukraine’s western backers have supplied thousands of anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles and other military equipment, Aerorozvidka has been forced to resort to crowdfunding and a network of personal contacts in order to keep going, by getting hold of components such as advanced modems and thermal imaging cameras, in the face of export

controls that prohibit them being sent to Ukraine. The unit’s commander, Lt Col Yaroslav Honchar, gave an account of the ambush near the town of Ivankiv that helped stop the vast, lumbering Russian offensive in its tracks. He said the Ukrainian fighters on quad bikes were able to approach the advancing Russian column at night by riding through the forest on either side of the road leading south towards Kyiv from the direction of Chernobyl. The Ukrainian soldiers were equipped with night vision goggles, sniper rifles, remotely detonated mines, drones equipped with thermal imaging cameras and others capable of dropping small 1.5kg bombs. “This one little unit in the night destroyed two or three vehicles at the head of this convoy, and after that it was stuck. They stayed there two more

nights, and [destroyed] many vehicles,” Honchar said.

only joined full-time as a combatant in February.

The Russians broke the column into smaller units to try to make headway towards the Ukrainian capital, but the same assault team was able to mount an attack on its supply depot, he claimed, crippling the Russians’ capacity to advance.

In its early days, the unit used commercial surveillance drones, but its team of engineers, software designers and drone enthusiasts later developed their own designs.

“The first echelon of the Russian force was stuck without heat, without oil, without bombs and without gas. And it all happened because of the work of 30 people,” Honchar said. The Aerorozvidka unit also claims to have helped defeat a Russian airborne attack on Hostomel airport, just northwest of Kyiv, in the first day of the war, using drones to locate, target and shell about 200 Russian paratroopers concealed at one end of the airfield. “That contributed largely to the fact that they could not use this airfield for further development of their attack,” saaid Lt Taras, one of Honchar’s aides. Not all the details of these claims could be independently verified, but US defence officials have said that Ukrainian attacks contributed to the halting of the armoured column around Ivankiv. The huge amount of aerial combat footage published by the Ukrainians underlines the importance of drones to their resistance. The unit was started by young universityeducated Ukrainians who had been part of the 2014 Maidan uprising and volunteered to use their technical skills in the resistance against the first Russian invasion in Crimea and the Donbas region. Its founder, Volodymyr Kochetkov-Sukach, was an investment banker who was killed in action in 2015 in Donbas – a reminder of the high risks involved. The Russians can latch on to the drone’s electronic signature and quickly strike with mortars, so the Aerorozvidka teams have to launch and run. Honchar is an ex-soldier turned IT marketing consultant, who returned to the army after the first Russian invasion. Taras, who asked not to use his surname, was a management consultant, who specialised in fundraising for the unit and

They built a range of surveillance drones, as well as large 1.5-metre eight-rotor machines capable of dropping bombs and rocket-propelled anti-tank grenades, and created a system called Delta, a network of sensors along the frontlines that fed into a digital map so commanders could see enemy movements as they happened. It now uses the Starlink satellite system, supplied by Elon Musk, to feed live data to Ukrainian artillery units, allowing them to zero in on Russian targets. The unit was disbanded in 2019 by the then defence minister, but it was hastily revived in October last year as the Russian invasion threat loomed. The ability to maintain an aerial view of Russian movements has been critical to the success of Ukraine’s guerrilla-style tactics. But Aerorozvidka’s efforts to expand, and to replace lost equipment, have been hindered by a limited supply of drones and components, and efforts to secure them through defence ministry procurement have produced little, partly because they are a recent addition to the armed forces and still considered outsiders. Furthermore, some of the advanced modems and thermal-imaging cameras made in the US and Canada are subject to export controls, so they have resorted

The unit was started by young universityeducated Ukrainians who had been part of the 2014 Maidan uprising and volunteered to use their technical skills in the resistance against the first Russian invasion in Crimea and the Donbas region.

to crowdfunding and asking a global network of friends and supporters to find them on eBay or other websites. Marina Borozna, who was an economics student at university with Taras, is exploring ways of buying what the unit needs and finding routes to get the supplies across the border. “I know there are people who want to help them fight, people who want to do a bit more than the humanitarian aid,” Borozna said. “If you want to address the root cause of this human suffering, you’ve got to defeat the Russian invasion. Aerorozvidka makes a huge difference and they need our support.” Her partner, Klaus Hentrich, a molecular biologist in Cambridge, is also helping the effort, drawing on his experience as a conscript in the German army. “I was in an artillery reconnaissance unit myself, so I immediately realised the outsized impact that Aerorozvidka has. They effectively give eyes to their artillery,” Hentrich said. “Where we can make a difference is to rally international support, be it financial contributions, help to get harder-to-find technical components or donations of common civilian drones.” The unit is also looking at ways to overcome Russian jamming, part of the electronic warfare being waged in Ukraine in parallel to the bombs, shells and missiles. At present, Aerorozvidka typically waits for the Russians turn off their jamming equipment to launch their own drones, and then it sends up its machines at the same time. The unit then concentrates its firepower on the electronic warfare vehicles. Honchar describes these technological battles, and Aerorozvidka’s way of fighting, as the future of warfare, in which swarms of small teams networked together by mutual trust and advanced communications can overwhelm a bigger and more heavily armed adversary. “We are like a hive of bees,” he said. “One bee is nothing, but if you are faced with a thousand, it can defeat a big force. We are like bees, but we work at night.” (By Julian Borger for The Guardian) SEASONAL MAGAZINE


DESPITE SHORT TERM CHALLENGES, LONG TERM OPPORTUNITY IS INTACT Being India’s largest non-life insurer is no easy task during economic crises, epidemics and natural disasters. And what if all these three crises come rolled into one extended and mega crisis? That is what the Covd-19 pandemic has been for New India Assurance (NIA), India’s largest non-life insurer. Because, as the leading non-life insurer it dominates in segments like health, motor & other general insurance segments, all of which have been severely affected by either high claims like in health or in low growth like in auto and most general insurance segments. The performance of NIA should be analyzed in this backdrop, and then we will realize that this segment leader is indeed a strong and resilient performer.

rigadier LS Lidder who died along with India’s CDS Gen. Bipin Rawat, in the tragic helicopter accident in Tamil Nadu recently had his personal accident policy with New India Assurance. When NIA was notified of the claim intimation, all it took for the insurance giant to settle this Rs. 30 lakh claim was one hour! Says NIA Chairman & Managing Director Atul Sahai, “Our office swung into action immediately on receipt of the claim intimation from our partner bank at 2 PM on December 10. The personal accident claim of Rs. 30 lakh was paid within one hour.” This incident speaks volumes about the agility of NIA which is unmatched among its PSU and private peers. New India Assurance is India’s strongest and the only listed public sector insurer, and hence its financial results are eagerly awaited, as it also serves as a barometer of the entire non-life industry. Its recently published Q2 numbers were of course a mixed-bag due to the ongoing Covid19 pandemic. Consolidated quarterly SEASONAL MAGAZINE

net profit was down by 77% compared with Q2 of last fiscal, while sequentially it improved by around 43% from Q1 of this fiscal, largely due to the low base effect. This fall in profitability was not really surprising as the extent of Covid-19 claims in Q2 reveals. After paying about Rs. 1250 crore in Covid claims in Q1, NIA paid around Rs. 1100 crore in such pandemic claims in the second quarter. Altogether, NIA has thus settled more than 3.1 lakh Covid claims worth Rs. 2350 crore in the first half of this fiscal, which is a feat unmatched by any other general or health insurer in the country. Now, the issue is that being a listed player, the market has an immediate tendency to take this as a negative development. But what is this really? This is what insurance business is all about. Customers pay significantly from their hard earned money for insuring their assets like health and other belongings in the hope that if some untoward incident happens, the insurer will reimburse the required expense fast and fully. That is what NIA too did in the most judicious manner. When investors invest in general & health insurance companies, they should be aware of this occasional risk. But the problem is that there may be a few private non-life insurers who contested each and every health claim during Covid. They might have succeeded for the moment in limiting Covid claims or claim amounts or both, much to the delight of the market. But is that what a genuine general or health insurance company should be doing? Never expect a public sector insurer like NIA which is proud to play its part in nation building to stoop to such levels.

market participants should understand is that this makes immense business sense too. That is, immense long-term business sense. When NIA paid such claims fairly and expeditiously, they were cementing customer relations for entire lifetimes or across generations. Such customers wouldn’t shift away from NIA ever, whatever lure some new players deploy to win them over. And that is not all there is to it. Will you continue with a private insurer who contested your health claim, to avoid it or trim it, when you were stricken with Covid? Absolutely not! You will shift from their insurance at the very next chance. Even if you were not directly affected, but just heard about a relative or acquaintance who suffered like this from your insurer, you will shift away from them at the next chance. And where will you shift to? Of course, to the largest and strongest non-life insurer out there, NIA, or some of its PSU peers. That is why NIA’s genuine move will eventually prove to be a good business strategy too. In fact, Covid or no Covid, NIA has always followed such genuine strategies, which continued to reflect well in Q2. When it comes to business growth, the Company grew at around 20% compared to the industry growth of around 13%. And good news is that Covid claims are already tapering in this ongoing quarter of Q3. But the operating environment may continue to remain challenging for all non-life insurers including NIA as the nature of some non-Covid losses in Q2

The overseas operations too were negatively impacted due to CAT losses of about Rs. 60 crore on account of floods in Germany and hurricane Ida in US. It should be noted that such losses happen because NIA is not just a leader in India but has general insurance business in 28 countries across the globe. And since India is getting back to normal, motor claims too have also started rising as vehicular traffic comes back on the roads. But the big picture is that despite all these past, present & future challenges, NIA has continued to show considerable resilience as a stable, profitable and growing insurance player. NIA’s net worth has increased from Rs. 36,451 crore in March 2021 to Rs. 39,921 crore as of 30th Sep 2021. The company is continually becoming more and more efficient operationally, as seen from the lower operating expenses. Another big strength at the Mumbai headquartered general insurance giant is its sizeable investment business. A leading player in the equity investment scene in India, NIA’s investment assets have gone up from Rs. 68,639 crore in March 2021 to Rs 82,001 crore as of September 30, largely due to its judicious investment in Indian equities as well as the unprecedented bull market. The NIA stock has been unable to perform significantly since its IPO days, but then it should be understood that this is because soon after its IPO the sector entered a rare cyclical down phase. Who could have predicted something like this pandemic? But what shouldn’t be forgotten is that insurance is a unique long-term business, which adds value over the years and decades, as invariably the periods of no-claims or little claims will be much higher than the rare periods of high claims.

Listen to what NIA Chairman & Managing Director Atul Sahai said about this, “While the company did have a negative impact on profits due to Covid claims, it gives me immense satisfaction that the company could play a major role in providing the necessary financial support to our valuable policyholders during this period.” This is what genuine health insurance is all about! Now, what some private insurers and

reveal. The insurer suffered significant CAT losses (due to catastrophes) during the quarter. The company has claims of about Rs. 235 crore on account of floods in the state of Maharashtra. This is in addition to the CAT losses in the first quarter, of about Rs. 200 crores.




CULTIVATION OF PALM OIL, THE WORLD'S MOST POPULAR EDIBLE OIL, DRIVES DEFORESTATION IN THE TROPICS. NOW, RESEARCHERS ARE MAKING THE CASE FOR SYNTHETIC ALTERNATIVES TO PALM OIL FROM YEAST. om Jeffries and Tom Kelleher met at Rutgers University in the 1970s while studying industrially useful microbes. Jeffries went on to run a yeast genomics program at the U.S. Department of Agriculture; Kelleher spent decades in the biomedical industry, working with biologics like insulin, which are produced by genetically modified microbes in giant, fermenting vats. In 2007, the two reunited to build a company on the back of a grant from the National Science Foundation. Called SEASONAL MAGAZINE

Xylome, the Wisconsin-based startup aimed to find better methods to produce low-carbon fuel by feeding yeast agricultural waste. Yet it was by accident that Jeffries and Kelleher turned their efforts a few years later to a different global environmental problem: palm oil. The world’s cheapest and most widely used vegetable oil, palm oil production is a primary driver of deforestation and biodiversity loss in the tropics. These and other problems with the palm oil industry, such as exploitative labor practices, have for years driven

interest in more sustainable options. But good alternatives have proven difficult to come by: Other vegetable oils have similar drawbacks to palm oil, and sustainable forestry practices are not always effective in the face of rising demand. Today, the world consumes nearly 7.7 million tons (70 million metric tons) of palm oil each year, used in everything from toothpaste and oat milk to biodiesel and laundry detergent. Demand is expected to more than double by 2050. But with advances in bioengineering and

increasing concerns about sustainability, a number of companies like Xylome have developed microbial oils they say could offer an alternative to palm oil while avoiding its most destructive impacts. They join numerous other synthetic biology companies — from ventures hawking new biofuels and fertilizer to lab-grown meat — that aspire to solve environmental problems but share similar challenges scaling up production and demonstrating their approach is in fact more sustainable than the problem they’re trying to solve. Last year, a startup called C16 Biosciences opened a gleaming new lab in Manhattan to develop a microbial palm oil alternative, backed by $20 million from Bill Gates’ climate solutions investment fund Breakthrough Energy Ventures. A California-based startup called Kiverdi is also working to manufacture yeast oil using carbon captured from the atmosphere, and a team of bioengineers at the University of Bath is at work scaling up its own strain of oily yeast. Xylome recently sent the first batches of its palm oil alternative — called Yoil — to a number of large palm oil suppliers and the FDA for testing. Though enormous challenges exist to scaling up production at a cost that can compete with cultivated palm oil, and questions remain about how an emergent biotech industry in the Global North might impact palm oil-based livelihoods in the Global South, these microbial oils could help curb the relentless growth of oil palm, which threatens biodiverse areas along frontiers in South and Southeast Asia, Africa, and Central America. If yeast oils can achieve a price low enough to compete with the trees (a big if) “that would make a huge difference in where palm oil comes from,” said Kelleher, now Xylome’s CEO. “It would all be microbial at that point.” Over Zoom, Kelleher showed off a bluish photo of Xylome’s proprietary yeast strain, developed from an oilproducing species called Lipomyces starkeyi. Through the microscope, the yeast resembled dish soap suds. “You’re looking at yeast which are literally squashed,” he said. “They’re crushed to the outside wall because of the amount of oil produced in these yeasts.” Fed on corn syrup, the genetically altered strain is capable of giving over the majority of


its total weight to lipids. “They do exactly what we do if we keep feeding ourselves sugar,” said Kelleher. “They get big.” In 2013, Jeffries, now Xylome’s president, noticed the oil from this strain was remarkably similar to palm oil, which is prized for its distinctive blend of saturated and unsaturated fats. This blend is solid at room temperature, and liquid at body temperature, perfect for chocolate coatings, soaps, and cosmetics. Other parts of the versatile palm oil are used as fuels, solvents, lubricants, and in many other products, especially in China, India, and Indonesia. The resemblance of the yeast oil to palm oil was discovered by chance — Xylome was going for diesel. But Jeffries and Kelleher realized there might be something to a palm oil alternative when Kelleher’s daughter told him about the


growing interest in palm oil-free cosmetics to address environmental concerns identified by years of international activism targeting unsustainable palm oil. Though palm oil production is responsible for less than 1 percent of deforestation globally, according a 2018 report from the International Union for Conservation of Nature, it is a major cause of deforestation in the tropics. In Borneo, for instance, oil palm cultivation has accounted for more than half of all deforestation over the past two decades. Future demand could contribute to even more deforestation. The same report found that more than 1 million square miles of biodiversity hotspots could be threatened by oil palm cultivation, potentially affecting more than 40 percent of all threatened bird, mammal, and amphibian species, from orangutans and tigers to flycatchers and elephants. This deforestation also creates greenhouse gas emissions, as carbonrich peat built up beneath virgin forests is drained, and trees are burned to clear land for planting. Recognizing these impacts, suppliers — working through organizations like the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, which has certified palm oil supply chains since 2007 — have sought ways to increase oversight of palm oil production to ensure crops are not cultivated on biodiverse or carbon-rich land. While a growing number of palm growers are certified, the approach has limitations, said Janice Lee, an environmental scientist who studies palm oil at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. For instance, it can be difficult to certify smallholder growers, who collectively represent the majority of palm oil production in some regions. “Certification is not a silver bullet,” she said. About 20 percent of palm oil production is certified by RSPO. Finding an alternative to palm oil has proven even more challenging. Other tropical oils — like coconut oil — have lower yields than oil palm and would have even greater impacts if cultivated on the same scale. Other non-tropical oils — like soy or corn oil — can be grown outside the biodiverse tropics, but they require additional processing to replace palm oil in many applications. SEASONAL MAGAZINE

less if environmentally conscious consumers are willing to accept higher prices for palm oil-free products. To be viable, microbial alternatives would also need to be joined by regulatory policies phasing out unsustainably produced palm oil and helping producing countries to diversify their economies, said Chuck. Subsides or carbon taxes could also improve prospects for yeast oils, since the carbon footprint of microbial oils is likely to be lower than palm oil cultivated on deforested land. However, the full lifecycle emissions of yeast oils has not been studied in detail.

That processing is expensive, and produces trans fats, which the FDA banned in the United States in 2015. Kelleher and Jeffries decided to market their yeast as a better alternative. The microbes in their lab produce an oil with a lipid profile almost identical to palm oil. The “bugs,” as they refer to the yeast, can also be fed with materials that don’t require tropical agriculture, such as corn or sugar cane, or waste materials, like corn husks and wheat stalks, which could substantially reduce production costs. The microbial oils could also be produced anywhere, reducing the distance between factory and consumer. The challenge has been getting the yeast to juice out oils at a scale and price that can compete with conventional agriculture — and to do it quickly enough to curb destructive oil palm development. Advances in technology could help. In its Manhattan lab, C16 Biosciences is optimizing conditions to keep its genetically modified yeast strains happy. Christopher Chuck, a chemical engineer with the University of Bath team, is also working on more productive yeast strains, but rather than modify the microbes with gene-editing tools, his team relies on a process of directed evolution. This involves exposing yeast colonies to a regimen of stresses to spur them to produce more oil from cheaper feedstocks. Chuck said this approach can lead to more robust microbes; it also avoids the regulations that govern genetically modified organisms. Xylome, which owns patents on methods of genetically modifying the yeast species Lipomyces starkeyi, is working to increase the yield of its corn sugar-fed strain. Another strain in development can be fed waste products from ethanol production to produce oil, which Kelleher claims could eventually produce an oil at half the current price of raw Malaysian palm oil. Decades of past research on using such fibrous, “cellulosic” feedstocks for biofuel has shown this to be an elusive target, but Kelleher and Jeffries are confident the company can get this approach to work. “The cellulosics are going to eventually prevail,” said Jeffries. Jeffrey Linger, a bioengineer at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, commented that development of such SEASONAL MAGAZINE

microbial oil alternatives is worth pursuing, though he thinks these companies have a difficult path ahead to develop workable strains that can be manufactured at large scale and that can use cellulosic feedstocks. “There are so many knobs you can turn, so I don’t want to say it’s impossible,” he said. “I also don’t want to say it’s easy.” Even with improved strains, there are limits to how far the microbes can be pushed. In a “limits-of-science” model, Chuck’s group envisioned a way microbial oils might reach price parity with palm oil in the future. They found that even in an ideal scenario, microbial oils would still be more expensive than cultivated palm oil, and that a more likely best-case scenario is microbial oils around four times more expensive. “I don’t know who is going to pay for that,” commented Lee. However, if more valuable co-products such as amino acids or proteins could be manufactured along with the oil, microbial oils could plausibly compete with traditional palm oil, Chuck said. Price might also matter


“How do we make sure we aren’t replacing one terrible thing with another?” said Chuck. “There are so many knobs you can turn, so I don’t want to say it’s impossible,” Linger said. “I also don’t want to say it’s easy.” And long before any microbial oils could be made available, curbing the immediate impacts of palm oil production will require more sustainable forestry, Sara Cowling, a spokesperson from the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil wrote in an email. “Our stance remains that palm oil can and should be produced sustainably.” Diana Chalil, founder of the Consortium Studies of Smallholder Palm Oil in Indonesia, added that future deforestation could also be prevented by helping smallholder growers to increase the yield of their existing oil palm crop. Indeed, with 7.7 million tons of oil produced each year, there’s room for more than one solution. Microbial oils would not have to replace all or even most of traditional palm oil production to have significant environmental benefits, Chuck said. They would just have to curb growth in the industry and could start by replacing palm oil in more expensive products, such as cosmetics, which is the strategy companies like C16 Biosciences and Xylome are pursuing. “I don’t think we’re going to disrupt what they’re producing today at all,” said Kelleher. “We really represent an alternative for the growth of the industry.” It could be the start of a not-so-cosmetic change. (This story was originally published by YaleEnvironment 360)



ou may be boarding an electric plane sooner than you think. The first rollouts for a major airline—with United— are due in 2026, and countries like Denmark and Sweden have announced plans to make all domestic flights fossil fuel–free by 2030. The past year has propelled the aviation industry ever closer toward a goal of viable commercial electric aircraft. United Airlines announced in July that it’s buying 100 19-seater, zero-emission electric planes from Swedish startup Heart Aerospace; they are set to take flight for short hops in the United States in 2026. Over in Europe, EasyJet’s partnership with U.S. startup Wright Electric has led to development plans for the Wright 1, an all-electric, 186-seat commercial

passenger jet with an 800-mile range that’s targeted to enter service around 2030. Up sooner still, Wright Electric additionally announced in November plans for an electric 100-seater, the Wright Spirit, due out in 2026. While those are some of the frontrunners, a host of aviation companies— from fledgling startups to industry titans and government agencies like NASA— are actively pursuing electric commercial planes in hopes of achieving carbon emissions–free flight. Experts say the trajectory is an environmental necessity in the face of a worsening climate crisis. “We know that transportation is the single largest contributor to carbon emissions and to global warming right now. And flying is a big part of that,” says Jeff Engler, CEO of Wright Electric.

Lukas Kaestner, cofounder of Sustainable Aero Lab, an accelerator in Germany that mentors global sustainable aviation startups, says the industry’s current fervor is representative of “the new zeitgeist, where global warming has become an issue that a growing number of people care about, and an issue people want to see addressed through action.” Swiss bank UBS estimates a full quarter of the civil aviation industry will be hybrid or fully electric by 2035. The race to get electric commercial flight off the ground is on - here are where things stand. The aviation sector pumped about a billion tons of CO2 into the atmosphere annually, prepandemic, or about 3 percent of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions. If left unchecked on its current fast-paced-growth trajectory, the amount of carbon from airplanes is projected to


triple by 2050. That puts the industry at odds with the net-zero carbon emissions deadline for 2050 set by the U.N. In October, most major global airlines signed on to meet that target, but the limitations of current fossil-fuel-reliant aircraft technology is a setback for such decarbonization goals. Venkat Viswanathan, a Carnegie Mellon University mechanical engineering professor and aviation battery expert, says that electric battery power is “going to give an avenue for addressing emissions, at least for a significant portion of aviation.” Yet he adds a caveat that it alone won’t resolve the carbon crisis: “I think there has to be many other pieces— many other competing technologies— that have to be considered for the full arc of the future of aviation.” Aviation’s reach toward clean energy is coinciding with other areas of transportation, too. “The inevitable shift that’s already happened in the automotive world, that’s happening in the maritime world, we see the same trends in aerospace,” explains Engler, of Wright. At the same time, governments are increasingly establishing policies to usher in a greener era for aviation. Scandinavia is leading the charge: Denmark and Sweden will make all domestic flights fossil fuel-free by 2030; in Norway, it’s 2040. France and Austria, meanwhile, have recently enacted bans on some domestic short-haul flights. In the United States, the Biden administration is also making a push for slashing emissions, with an emphasis on a clean-energy transportation sector. Yet climate activists like Charlie Cray of Greenpeace say U.S. policies “are only just starting down the runway.” Cray says that the administration has focused too much on sustainable aviation fuels and rather “needs to prioritize the introduction and adoption of electric engine technologies for shorter passenger routes and cargo aircraft.” Electric planes, like electric cars, rely on battery-generated electricity for power, rather than standard liquid jet fuel. Yet today’s batteries aren’t nearly as energydense as jet fuel, requiring bulk and weight that pose significant aerodynamic challenges. While batteries that are lightweight yet SEASONAL MAGAZINE


powerful enough for smaller electrified planes, operating shorter ranges, are increasingly viable, Viswanathan says that for larger airplanes, more significant battery breakthroughs—or alternative technologies— are needed. “You probably need like three, four times the weight of the airliner [in batteries] to be able to power that, which is why you can’t make them,” he explains. Accordingly, the budding industry is most immediately targeting short-distance regional flights on smaller planes, which syncs up with a sizeable segment of aviation: About half of the flight routes operated worldwide today are less than 500 miles. Electric planes are proving to be more economical for airlines, too, with reduced expenses around fuel and maintenance. Engler says, “For the airlines, we expect lower costs over time, and they can pass those savings on to consumers.” Michael Leskinen, president of United Airlines Ventures—the airline’s corporate venture fund—says the ES-19 planes it is purchasing from Heart Aerospace are 100 times less expensive to maintain, which offers “operational savings that can be passed on to our customers.” Those lowered operation costs mean electric

startups, including California’s Archer Aviation and Joby Aviation, Germany’s Lilium, and the U.K.’s Vertical Aerospace. United, American Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, and Japan Airlines are among a growing number of airlines that have eVTOL orders on the books, with plans to debut a new kind of air taxi service as soon as 2024. “Ten years from now, the flight from LAX to JFK will still not be electric, but you will probably be able to fly to the airport by electric air taxi at a very reasonable cost and emissions-free,” Kaestner says.


planes have the potential to revive shorthaul routes to smaller regional airports, too, that were previously abandoned due to unprofitability. “Nineteen-seater aircrafts were the norm until a few decades ago for regional flights, until costs drove the industry to use larger planes,” explains Leskinen. He says the airline intends to use the ES-19s on more than 100 of United’s regional routes, out of most of its hubs. An estimated 200 global companies are currently pursuing electric plane projects, several of which have already made short and successful test flights. It’s a diversified competitive landscape where startups may have an edge— Sustainable Aero Lab’s Kaestner says that startups “are faster moving and much more flexible than the industry heavyweights.” Smaller two- to four-person electric planes for private, corporate, and air taxi–type service—primarily via eVTOL (electric vertical take-off and landing) aircraft—are already rolling out, with the first-generation technology backed by big names like Boeing, Airbus, NASA, and Toyota, along with a host of buzzy

Six- to nine-passenger planes are also close to liftoff. Israel’s Eviation has developed a nine-seat electric plane called Alice, which regional U.S. carrier Cape Air is set to fly starting next year. Alice’s electric propulsion engine was built by its sister company MagniX, based in Washington State. Canadian seaplane carrier Harbour Air is also testing the MagniX system to retrofit its fleet, with hopes of debuting commercial service on the newly electric seaplanes later this year. United’s larger 19-seat planes from Heart Aerospace are planned for short-haul domestic routes, out of hubs like Chicago and San Francisco, in 2026; regional U.S. airline Mesa Airlines and Finland’s Finnair have also signed on to purchase Heart’s ES-19s. The largest electric plane in the works is Wright Electric’s 186-seat Wright 1, which EasyJet intends to operate as soon as 2030. Wright also announced plans in November for its 100-passenger Wright Spirit, which will retrofit BAe 146 planes (from British aerospace company BAE Systems) with electric batteries. Retrofitting existing planes with battery technology is considered to be a significantly quicker path through certification than starting from scratch. “It allows us to get to market much faster and start to impact the carbon footprint of the industry much earlier,” Engler says. He estimates the retrofit will reduce the federal certification process to half the time, if not less. Apart from the engineering hurdles around batteries, experts see other barriers against the widespread adoption of electric planes. There are stringent and lengthy certification processes with

regulators, funding challenges, and an acclimation period for the public to consider the new technology as safe. And then there is the issue that electric aviation, targeting smaller planes and shorter routes, won’t ultimately put the kind of dent that’s needed into the industry’s emissions reduction goals. “On the emissions side, 95 percent of the carbon footprint of the industry is airplanes larger than 100 passengers,” Engler says, explaining Wright Electric’s decision to target the development of bigger planes. Kaestner notes that since “transcontinental or even true long-haul operations are still out of scope for the foreseeable future,” cleaner emerging energies like sustainable aviation fuels and, further afield, hydrogen power, must be the industry focus for longer routes. Hybrid-electric technology, which combines batteries with traditional jet fuel engines, is another promising strategy, with companies like California-based startup Ampaire and France’s VoltAero already developing hybrid planes. “I think that hybrids are going to be an important bridge to hopefully, overall, all electric further down the road,” says Viswanathan, who explains that hybrids would offer fuel and energy savings, emissions reductions, and help get the public comfortable with electric flight, similar to what cars like the Toyota Prius have done for the automotive industry. Experts say that consumers, too, hold the purchasing power to help drive a greener aviation industry. Overall, Engler says, “Customers are demanding cleaner, greener, quieter, lower-cost ways to fly.” Herwig Schuster, of Greenpeace, says that environmentally conscious travelers should think twice before flying and suggests more immediate policy measures are needed “to tackle the outof-control emissions from the aviation sector,” like flight reductions, short-haul flight bans, and investment in alternative greener modes of transport, such as rail. Without more urgent action, he cautions, “Greener fuels or electric planes will only provide emissions cuts that are far too little or far too late for today’s demand.” (Credit: Elissa Garay) SEASONAL MAGAZINE