Thursday, July 15, 2004

Emotions Matter

Life is a roller coaster of emotions. Emotions define every moment of our lives. The decisions we make, the things we say and every thing else depends on our emotions.

Did you ever realize that there are thousands of words in the English language just to define different feelings? Check out this link for a sample of ‘Feeling Words’. These words are just a sampling of the variety of feelings that a person can experience during a lifetime. And to understand the fact that each of them actually affects your life is amazing.

Every since Daniel Goleman’s book on Emotional Intelligence was published in 1995, there have been tremendous strides towards understanding the effects of emotions on a person’s behavior. Research has confirmed that IQ by itself does not define a person’s standard of living. A person with a high IQ but with no control on emotions can almost never be a successful person. It has been proven that people with moderate IQ but with a good understanding of their emotions have been successful.

The concept of EI has spread to various areas of society. It has helped people be better parents, better spouses and better friends. Companies have adopted EI as one factor that affects employee performance and customer satisfaction. Employees are being trained to recognize and control their emotions. This helps improve the work environment and increase job satisfaction. You can find information on various EI research projects here.

Now consider a society where everyone can harness their emotions and act emotionally intelligent - a society where every person understands the value of happiness, grief, anger and all the other emotions that a person can experience. That would be the perfect world – free from all the social evils we face today.

Now this is real life. It is almost impossible for all people to control their emotions. But, each of us can at least try to harness our own emotions. If we can’t make the whole world a better place, we can definitely make our lives and the lives of the people around us so much better. That in turn will pave the way for a better world.

So, how are you feeling today?

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Patented Lives

Take a look at the world around you - your clothes, shoes, furniture, TV, radio, food, toys and everything else that you see, touch or use. Have you ever realized that every one of these has been patented, copyrighted or trademarked by some person or company? All their designs, manufacturing processes and the machines that make them are someone else’s property. You can use them because you’ve paid for them. In effect the world around you has been patented and does not belong to you.

Patenting and other similar laws were primarily created to safeguard the interests of the inventors, artists or innovators, who conceptualize these products. While creating a means to reward these people through royalties, such laws are also thought to encourage new innovations.

But for the common person who is really not innovating all the time, he or she is literally paying someone to do just about anything in life. Shouldn’t we all break out of this shell? Come to think of it, you realize that there’s really no way out. You just cannot get by without using at least one patented item.

But, there’s one thing we all can do. We, as individuals, still control our minds and emotions. Maybe we should put these to better use and try to be more creative, more innovative and nicer people. These are priceless qualities that can never be controlled by any law. And at the end, everyone will profit!

Need to know more about patents, copyrights and other similar topics? Check out the World Intellectual Property Organization website.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Textiles - Made in China

With the removal of trade quotas for the textile industry at the end of this year, China is poised to become the largest supplier of textiles to the world. There are numerous discussions about the impact this would have on the industry. Firstly, countries whose major source of income is textile exports will be hardest hit, as business will move to China. These are mostly poorer countries and this will be a severe blow to the people dependent on this industry for survival. Developed countries too will lose their export income to China.

Secondly, countries to which China is already a major supplier of other goods will become all the more dependent on China. For example, the US textile industry will completely be dependent on China within the next couple of years. So, variations if the Chinese economy will directly affect the US economy. And there will be little to fall back on, as the local industry would have already disappeared when the imports have grown significantly.

How does China achieve this market position? This again is a subject of discussion in many forums. Obvious reasons for China’s dominance include

Currency manipulation by the government
Highly subsidized industry
Low wages

All of these reasons are illegal as per the WTO or IMF regulations. But few countries have raised their voice against this. Are most countries already dependent on China that they are afraid of any change in Chinese policies? Does the business world just care for low prices regardless of how the prices came to be that low?

China and the textile industry are just one example. There are other countries too that use their dominance in a particular area to gain unfair advantage over other countries. And these situations will always exist as long as there is no authority to strictly govern all international trade.

Here’s one suggestion. How about a manufacturer’s label, similar to nutritional information on food products? So if a label states:

This product is cheap because of:

Illegal currency manipulation,
Unpaid Labor and
Unethical industry practices

Would a consumer then buy the product?

(Here’s a link to some interesting discussions on the textile industry).