Education, longevity, science

International Day of Older Persons & Longevity Science to Reduce Suffering

October 1 was International Longevity Day or International Day of Older Persons and I want to use this occasion to raise awareness around an important issue that literally each and every one of us face or will face. It’s aging.

A lot of people ask me why I care so much about the aging field and longevity. Let me tell you.

This first picture is that of my beautiful grandparents when they were old but still functional.

This second picture is noticeably different – they look more frail and my Grandmother started developing a brain disorder which eventually took away her speech, brain processing and her life.

And this deterioration in health and onset of age-related diseases with age (could be cancer, Alzheimer’s, other brain disorders, frailty etc.) was not unique to my grandparents. I’m sure a lot of you have seen some elders in your life suffer from it too. Most elderly people ultimately suffer from age-related diseases – it’s just a matter of when the disease arrives and your chances of getting these diseases only keep increasing with age. That’s sad. It’s sad because it signals that eventually each of us has to suffer in old age. And it truly hurts to watch that suffering.

But what if we didn’t have to suffer in this manner? This is where the aging field could truly rescue us.

Now, what is the aging field trying to do? We are trying to reduce this suffering felt by the elderly and their loved ones. We are trying to reverse some of the damage in our bodies to make the elderly feel healthy again. Even if you don’t want to live too long, I’m sure you want to be healthy in your later years. And it’s not that easy to prevent these aging disorders unless we come together to solve this problem. And it means each one playing their part in whatever capacity works for them – starting companies, doing research, raising awareness, donating etc.

There are brilliant scientists and companies doing work in this field to bring back our youthful states when we are older. It is tremendous work all of us could benefit from and if it works, we can all be healthy for longer. Isn’t that something truly wonderful? 

I certainly want to be healthier for longer. I certainly want to spend quality time with my grandchildren. I certainly wish I could have spent more time with my grandparents. And this is why I’m so excited about supporting the field of aging and longevity. And I hope I can get you excited too.

Because at the core of it, longevity science will enable deeper and longer human connections.”

SOURCE: LONGEVITY SCIENCE CAN REDUCE SUFFERING

P.S. If you want to learn about some of the work being done by these brilliant scientists in the longevity field, subscribe to my YouTube. It’s new and I’d love your support! I’ll be releasing interviews with aging researchers with the intention of bringing their work from the lab to the public. 

If you’re interested, make sure to subscribe so you are notified when the interviews get released. I’ve already recorded some interviews so they should be out soon, but in the meantime, you can watch a persuasive speech I gave on a controversial topic “You’re Never Going to Die.” In the video, I explain aging using a banana analogy and it’s a fun watch – enjoy!

Education, Global Problems, India

Could a Liberal Arts Education be the Solution to India’s Problems?

With a wave of political and societal changes engulfing India, a combination of factors could usher in a golden era of growth in the country. India’s demographic advantage and growing enterprise culture favor its rise. However, Pratap Bhanu Mehta, President of the Center for Policy Research in India, argues that “whether India takes full advantage of these propitious conditions will depend upon the policy choices it makes.” In describing the Indian electorate, P. Mehta aptly points out that “the impact of policies on well-being is judged less by aggregate future expectations of the impact.” Could this narrow focus on the present spell the very doom for India despite favorable conditions? Could a growth in liberal arts education enable India to look beyond the present and save the country from the perils of climate change and job displacement due to automation?

While climate change and automation are not problems unique to India, they will disproportionately impact India. If this massive population is to save itself, it must become liberally educated.

David Wallace-Well’s book The Uninhabitable Earth notes that climate change will hit India the hardest. India’s equatorial position and large river system schedule the country to receive ~29% of the economic suffering. Not only will people be dying due to heat stroke, but they will also lose their farming jobs as sea levels rise. India is still largely an agricultural society; lacking the technological skills needed to survive in the modern economy, farmers will be entering poverty in drones.

As the exuberance around the startup India campaign launched by Prime Minister Modi wanes, numbers reveal that funding for startups is still lacking. 90% of Indian startups fail in the first 5 years due to lack of creativity beyond emulating business models from the United States. Moreover, ~30% of the country’s population is employed in low-skilled IT services jobs which mostly serve companies in the United States. Now, with cost pressure faced by U.S. firms and Artificial Intelligence (AI) replacing mundane call-center duties, Indian IT workers are no longer in high demand. As of 2017, the World Bank estimated that ~69% of India’s workforce is threatened by automation.

Is India’s population destined to fail? How can education provide workers with the creativity and high skills needed to help the country flourish? India’s current education system focuses on rote learning and memorization, but with these challenges at its doorstep, Indian students need to learn critical thinking skills and develop knowledge in the social sciences. Author Yuval Harrari argues that in the age of AI, creative jobs will be impacted last. India should develop its non-existent creative services fields.

A liberal arts education equips students with reasoning capabilities. It is imperative that future leaders have a good grasp of history, politics and social sciences and develop empathy and judgement to combat the issues plaguing India. Universities such as Ashoka and Flame are pioneers in bringing this education to India’s masses and more such institutions could not only save India from destruction but could also help it achieve dominance in global affairs.

With the proliferation of the Internet and the rise in over-the-top (OTT) in India, the country needs to pick up Neil Postman’s book The End of Education to be aware of the benefits of reading and critical thinking. The burgeoning middle class needs to channel its money towards a liberal arts education for their children.

The sole focus on technical skills will “shackle it (Indian mind) to the technicalities with which it has become so familiar, and disable it from taking enlarged and comprehensive views even of topics falling within its compass.” (George Sharswood)

Recommended Book: The End of Education: Redefining the Value of School by Neil Postman