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August 9, 2016

Need Of The Hour: Water Sustainability, Not Water Conservation

Posted by Aruna C. Newton (View Profile | View All Posts) at 9:20 AM

Need Of The Hour:  Water Sustainability, Not Water Conservation

One of the most fertile agricultural areas on the planet is California's Central Valley. Chances are that if you walk around an American grocery store's produce section, most of the fruits and vegetables come from that area. But a strange thing is happening to that valley. It's sinking. To be sure, we hear a lot about ocean levels rising - but land sinking?

You bet. As the effects of climate change make agricultural areas more arid, farmers have been forced to drill deep into the earth to access underground aquifers. No more is this apparent than in California's Central Valley, which has undergone years of debilitating droughts. In order to save their crops, farmers there have drilled so deep for water and used so much of it that deep beneath the earth, the empty aquifers are collapsing and, like dominoes, every layer of soil above them is sinking as well. Another byproduct of tapped out aquifers that have collapsed deep below the planet's surface is that they can no longer be refilled as they have for millions of years by natural sources (like rain and melting snow).

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April 22, 2016

Earth Day Challenges Us To Cherish That Pale Blue Dot

Posted by Aruna C. Newton (View Profile | View All Posts) at 12:21 PM

Earth Day Challenges Us To Cherish That Pale Blue Dot
The 'Pale Blue Dot' is a photograph of planet Earth taken on February 14, 1990, by the Voyager 1 space probe from a record distance of 6 billion kilometers.*

"Look again at that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there-on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam..." - Carl Sagan, American astrophysicist and author.

Today is Earth Day, when we celebrate the pale blue dot that Carl Sagan was moved to write about after he saw the blurry image from a photograph the Voyager 1 space probe had taken. Voyager 1 was heading farther into interstellar space at the time when this photograph was taken. Shooting these images were not originally planned, but Sagan, a member of the Voyager imaging team at the time, came up with the idea of turning the spacecraft back toward its home for a last look. Voyager 1's gesture was all too human, a kind of final farewell to the planet, which led Sagan, who also created the popular documentary Cosmos in the 1970s, to write an emotional essay about our place in the grand scheme of things. He reminded us eloquently and indelibly that our island home is indeed a finite and limited resource.

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December 4, 2015

Dangerously Close To 2 Degrees Celsius

Posted by Aruna C. Newton (View Profile | View All Posts) at 6:14 AM



The Importance of 2 degrees [Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2oQUcUKInmI]

Environmentalists have marked the 21st meeting of the Conference of Parties (COP21) - also known as the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference - being held this week and the next in Paris, on their calendar eagerly. The topic of climate change is nothing new. It has been debated and discussed extensively in the past two decades by politicians, governments, and environment activists. But, this time around, there seems to be a sense of urgency. Average temperature of the Earth has increased by 0.85 degrees Celsius since 1880. And if the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions stay high, experts predict that we could see the average temperate rise anywhere between 2 to 4 degrees Celsius. Global warming to that extent can wreak havoc across the world. We're talking about floods, wildfires, extreme heat, limited water supply, and much, much more. That's why, it's more important than ever for heads of states at COP21 to arrive at an agreement to keep global warming below the critical threshold of 2 degrees Celsius.

As someone who is passionate about preserving the environment, I've been closely following the discussions around COP21. It's encouraging that many large corporates are also pledging their commitment to this endeavor. In an open letter to world leaders, CEOs from 78 companies, including Infosys CEO Vishal Sikka, have come together to reduce GHG emissions, and help the world move to a low-carbon, climate-resilient economy. CEOs, in collaboration with the World Economic Forum (WEF), have offered to contribute concrete innovations, solutions, practices, and policies to reduce the overall global warming. This alliance has set targets to reduce their own GHG gas emissions and further seeks to catalyze and aggregate action and initiatives from companies from all industry sectors.

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July 13, 2015

Learning: A Process Of Knowledge Construction

Posted by Aruna C. Newton (View Profile | View All Posts) at 11:31 AM

Learning: A Process Of Knowledge Construction

Learning, like religion, is a personal process. Often when people say, "I made them learn," or "I taught them," what they actually mean is, "I facilitated the conditions for learning to take place."

Research suggests that this realization is changing our thinking, from simply delivering the curriculum to infusing learning within the multiple contexts of our lives. According to Robert Resnick, an educator who specialized in physics, the cognitive theory of learning emphasizes three interrelated aspects of learning. The first is that learning is a process of knowledge construction, not of knowledge recording or absorption. Secondly, learning is knowledge-dependent - people use current knowledge to construct new knowledge and thirdly, learning is highly attuned to the situation in which it takes place. According to a Stanford University report on learning theories, the learning environment makes a difference, too. The report argues that people learn by making associations and learning takes place in social and cultural contexts. Therefore, teaching is all about creating or organizing the right environment. Knowledge and people form parts of the right conditions for learning.

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June 5, 2015

The Environment Is Our Business

Posted by Aruna C. Newton (View Profile | View All Posts) at 8:07 AM

Here's a glimpse of the small steps we are taking as an organization to better this planet

Today, on the occasion of the World Environment Day, I want to seed a small thought. When we think of saving the environment, why do we only think at the doomsday scale - probably even feel bogged down? While global warming, climate change, carbon footprint, deglaciation and deforestation are issues of serious concern, shouldn't we also focus on the little differences that we can make, everyday?

I can tell you that the large corporates or non-government organizations are already doing what they can: Apple's new headquarters will be entirely solar powered, Google is committing to renewable sources of energy, and Infosys is pioneering radiant cooling in its buildings in India. How is it that we - you, me, and every other person - don't figure in a narrative where we are both the prime actors and the biggest beneficiaries?

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April 22, 2015

Carbon Divestment Becomes a Financial Imperative

Posted by Aruna C. Newton (View Profile | View All Posts) at 10:42 AM



Pricing Carbon: It's About Our Economy & Our Future [Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PQPDGfeRoS8]

Today, we celebrate Earth Day.

This day takes many of us out of our comfort zones, which is what it is designed to do. It forces us to think about the finite natural resources we have on what the astrophysicist Carl Sagan once referred to as "that little blue dot" floating around in space. It's the only home we have, so we might as well do everything we can to take care of it.

Sometimes that's easier said than done. For years, carbon divestment strategies were in the sole realm of universities and were based completely on moral issues. That moral high ground is nice, but something is happening around the world to transform it into a financial imperative. As that transformation takes place, more people, governments, and corporations are sitting up and taking notice.

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March 24, 2015

Building (And Flying) With Sustainability In Mind

Posted by Aruna C. Newton (View Profile | View All Posts) at 5:09 AM



Solar Impulse 2 takes off for historic around-the-world attempt [Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vy9PB0Zn2Z4]

Places that have ageing urban infrastructure have a golden opportunity on their hands. When they do re-build, they should take the chance to do so with sustainability in mind. Then there are places that are about to undergo a building boom, like India. Studies show that a whopping two-thirds of the commercial buildings planned until 2030 are yet to be built.

I think this is a brilliant opportunity for Indian companies to create the most efficient structures in the world. Why? Well, much of India is blessed with a lot of golden sun, which means a lot of solar energy. And the more we learn about sustainability, the more we're realizing that solar energy is the most efficient and cost effective energy in the long run - especially to build with.

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August 1, 2014

The Great Divide: Myth or Reality?

Posted by Aruna C. Newton (View Profile | View All Posts) at 7:47 AM


Indra Nooyi says that women cannot have it all [Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h8yi5Cz2oH4]

Being a passionate professional, driving woman's leadership and empowerment, I am deeply interested in gender studies and movements. Did you know that India has 614.4 million women, which is roughly about 8.77% of the world's population and 300 million more people than the entire population of the United States of America! And, as a country, we have been ranked 101 out of 136 countries in the 2013 World Economic Forum (WEF) Global Gender Gap Report, which benchmarks national gender gaps on economic, political, education and health-based criteria.

According to a study titled 'Women in America - Indicators of Social and Economic Well-Being' by the US Department of Commerce, Economics and Statistics Administration in 2009, only 7 percent of female professionals in the country were employed in the relatively high paying computer ($1,253 median weekly earnings) and engineering ($1,266 median weekly earnings) fields, compared to 38 percent of male professionals. In 2009, nearly one-fifth of all women were employed in just five occupations: secretaries, registered nurses, elementary school teachers, cashiers, and nursing aides. The US ranks 23rd in the 2013 WEF report. Norway, which was ranks 4th in the same report, widely adopts an approach of Gender Mainstreaming that calls for the integration of gender perspectives into all stages of policy and processes − design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation − from government to private enterprises.

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February 10, 2014

Developing the Right Skills for the Future

Posted by Aruna C. Newton (View Profile | View All Posts) at 11:47 AM

Anyone who has ever ridden public transportation in England has seen the curiously phrased warning sign "Mind the Gap." I often think of that sign when I hear about how public leaders are thinking about the young people in their respective countries.

We all like to speak of sustainable societies. But beyond just recycling, we need the skills and talents of people to be sustainable as well. That got us to thinking about "minding the gap" when it comes to how India's younger population are prepared for the economy of tomorrow. No doubt about it: Our young people are bright, dynamic, and important to our future. That's why we need to make sure they have the right talents to succeed in a challenging, high-tech global economy.

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September 20, 2013

Female Mathletes Are Finishing Strong

Posted by Aruna C. Newton (View Profile | View All Posts) at 6:18 AM


Inspiring the next generation of female engineers: Debbie Sterling at TEDxPSU [Source:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FEeTLopLkEo]

Girls. And their education is a subject close to my heart. That's one of the reasons I also closely follow the activities of Infosys Foundation.

Part of the Infosys Foundation's mission is education. We've helped teach thousands of children across India. In the West we're active in a number of charitable efforts as well, not the least of which is sponsoring an entire class of students enrolled in the YWCA of Greater Atlanta's "Teen Girls in Technology" program (TGI Tech).

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May 17, 2013

Sustainability More Important Than Ever

Posted by Aruna C. Newton (View Profile | View All Posts) at 9:48 AM

Patrick Adamcik, ConCert Project Director, DNV discusses about business sustainability

The BRICS countries - Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa - are big places with rapidly growing populations and expanding economies. So when a renowned think tank says that Infosys is among the five most sustainable companies in all of those countries, it's a distinction for us to celebrate.

I say this because sustainability isn't always cheap. It's not always easy. And it's certainly not the most popular set of programs to foster when the global economy is stuck in neutral and shareholders scrutinize every corporate activity for its cost-effectiveness. We have been a sustainable company through thick and thin, and we believe that our serious, long-lasting commitment to the environment - physical, social and economic - continues to pay off in a number of ways.

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