07 Jun 2011

Sample essay: Diabetes

Diabetes, often referred to as a lifestyle disease, is very common nowadays. We know people who have this kind of disease or at least one or two in the family has this. In the United States, it is estimated that almost 24 million of the general population is affected by diabetes in lifelong terms. In 2007 alone, roughly 1.6 million of people at the age of twenty above are diagnosed with this condition. Not to mention, there are still a lot of people who have not still received prompt diagnosis and medical attention yet display the signs of symptoms of the dreaded disease (National Diabetes Information Editors, 2011). The sections hereafter will discuss on the main basic points one must understand about diabetes.

The American Diabetes Association (2010) pointed out that diabetes affects chiefly the metabolic functioning of the body. The way the body utilizes digested for energy and growth is affected. The food that people eat is usually broken down into glucose. This glucose forms as kind of sugar present in the blood and this is the main source of fuel or energy for the body. Problems arise when such glucose or blood sugar becomes abnormally high. In the normal body process, digestion allows the glucose to be used up by the tissues and cells of the body for energy, growth and repair. Cells in the body contain a membrane or covering that does not automatically allow substances like glucose to get inside it. In order for glucose to get inside the cells, a hormone called insulin must be available. This insulin is normally produced by a large gland behind the stomach called pancreas.

During eating, the pancreas is signaled by the brain to produce the adequate amount of insulin so that the blood sugar in the bloodstream can be taken up by the cells. However, in diabetes, the pancreas is unable to produce sufficient amount of insulin. At most instances, it produces very small or no amount of insulin at all. Another problem is that the cells of the body cannot respond the properly to the insulin that is produced. This is called insulin resistance. It means that an abnormality is happening as the “doors” that allow entry of glucose in the cells cannot be opened. The pancreas will not cease in producing insulin because the cells have very little amount of sugar inside it. But still, resistance will not allow the access of glucose in the cells. As a result of these, the glucose builds up in the bloodstream and becomes a by-product as it is excreted with urine (Emedicine Editors, 2010). So, although the body contains large amount of sugar in the blood, it is not able to convert this into the desired component to fuel the cells. Sometimes, the increased amount of insulin can eventually lead the entry of blood sugar into the cells. However, the pancreas would be exhausted and would be unable to compensate with the body’s increasing insulin needs. Consequently, the excessive glucose in the bloodstream due to the failure in cellular entry will start to build up in tissues around the kidneys, heart, eyes and nerve endings. Such build-up explains the short-term and long-term complications of diabetes.

How does one determine if he or she has diabetes? In the early stage of the disease, only few symptoms may appear so one will not know right away if he or she is already suffering from the condition. The rapid and serious effect of diabetes is seen on its complications on the eyes, kidneys and cardiovascular system. If you experience frequent urination, extreme thirst and/or hunger, sores, bruises and wounds that heal slowly, dry and itchy skin, unapparent weight loss, blurry vision, abnormal fatigue or drowsiness, tingling or lack of sensation in the hands or feet, recurrent skin, gum, bladder or vaginal yeast infections, you may be at the brink of having the disease(Mayfield, 1998).

Diabetes affects people of all ages and races. But there are various groups in terms of gender, age and ethnicities who are at a greater risk of developing the disease. The occurrence is much higher in men but the serious effects of this disease are more prevalent among women. Women with diabetes tend to have lower survival rates and poorer quality of life compared to men who have the disease. Complications of the disease, such as blindness, are also more seen in women. Pregnant women may also acquire the condition during pregnancy. This is termed as gestational diabetes. Certain racial groups are also highly affected by diabetes. African Americans, Hispanic/Latino Americans, American Indians, Asian Americans, and Pacific Islander Americans are at higher risk for diabetes especially the type 2 form of the disease. The explanation to this, according to many researchers, is that the ancestors of these ethnic groups had developed a certain kind of gene ought to be “thrifty” in nature. This means that this gene allowed them to store foods in preparation for famines where foods were scarce. Over time, when the scarcity of food became uncommon for these groups in America, the genes that were once of use were no longer working the same way it did for their ancestors. Meanwhile people with certain lifestyles are at risk of the disease. People, who have unbalanced diet like high cholesterol and low fiber meals, above 45 years old, overweight, and who have sedentary lifestyles are included. A family history of diabetes can impose the development of the disease because the inherited genes are more susceptible to diabetes (CDC editors, 2010).

Moreover, the cause of diabetes can be attributed to the abnormal function and cell’s resistance at a metabolic level, as described earlier. In Type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune reaction, or when the body destroys and attacks its own cells, happens. The exact cause of such reaction is unknown but it can be attributed to triggers that include:  infection with a particular virus or bacteria, exposure to chemical toxins from foods and exposure to cow’s milk during infancy. Such assumptions are still unproven though. Type 2 diabetes, on the other hand, is caused by variations in insulin production and glucose transport to the cell. It can be due to unbalanced diet, obesity, physical inactivity, some medicines, pregnancy and other conditions in the body which can affect production of insulin such as pancreatitis. Stress and high blood pressure also have direct relationship to the occurrence of diabetes.

Treating diabetes, in type 1 and type 2 cases, varies in each individual who has the disease. The goal of treatment is centered in keeping the levels of blood sugar in the blood as normal as possible. It would entail self-management, medical intervention and more importantly modification in lifestyle. Insulin injections are the most common treatment for diabetes. In type 1 diabetes, it would also include exercises, balanced diet along with insulin doses. Type 2 diabetes, on the other hand covers weight reduction, complying with diabetic diet and medications to maintain the normal level of glucose in the blood. Weight reduction and exercise can be helpful to the whole treatment process because it increases the body’s sensitivity to insulin. Thereby, cells can permit the entry of glucose in order to lower sugar levels in the blood. Oral medications are given as maintenance treatments, in case lifestyle modification is not enough. Furthermore, there is no acknowledged absolute cure for diabetes. At the moment, continued scientific and clinical researches are made in the hope curing diabetes (McCulley, 2008). The transplantation of islets, which are cells that carry insulin in the body, is one example of the current subjects that is still under investigation. Thus, the management of diabetes, at the moment, is still on the preventive and treatment levels.

People who already have diabetes are advised to modify their lifestyles. If the condition is associated with obesity, weight reduction is called for. It can be in the form of doing exercises but it does not necessitate heavy workouts. Moderate activities like walking for 30 minutes could help a lot in this sense. Activities of daily living which are advantageous include taking the stairs instead of elevators and walking to work if possible.  Aside from that, living with diabetes also means being conscious of the foods that one takes in. One should avoid foods that are high in salt and cholesterol as well as carbohydrates. A healthy diabetic diet includes fruits such as apples, oranges and peaches. Vegetables like broccoli, asparagus, beans and peas, and green leafy vegetables also top the list. Fiber rich foods to also include grains would be a great diet alternative because fiber delays sugar absorption or build up, so as to lower down glucose levels.

In the end, the way to get diabetes in clear perspectives from its cause down to its management entails awareness. Timely medical consultation is also of major help. Keeping blood sugar levels as normal as possible is the central factor in having healthy and longer life in spite of having diabetes.

References

Book

McCulley, DeWayne. (2008) Death to Diabetes: The 6 stages of Type 2 Diabetes Control and Reversal. Webster New York. De Wayne Publishing.

Electronics

National Diabetes Information Editors. (2011). Diabetes. Retrieved March 28, 2011, fromhttp://diabetes.niddk.nih.gov/dm/pubs/overview/index.htm#more

Mayfield, Jennifer. (1998). How do I know if I have Diabetes.? Retrieved March 28, 2011 http://familydoctor.org/online/famdocen/home/common/diabetes/basics/327.html

Medline Plus. (2010). Diabetes. Retrieved March 28, 2011,from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/diabetes.html

American Diabetes Association. (2010).Diabetes. Retrieved March 28, 2011,from <http://spectrum.diabetesjournals.org/>

Emedicine Editors. (2010). Diabetes Mellitus. Retrieved March 28, 2011,from <http://emedicine.medscape.com/>

CDC editors. (2010). Learn Your Risk for Diabetes and Take Steps to Protect Your Health. Retrieved March 28, 2011,from http://www.cdc.gov/Features/DiabetesAlert/

Sample essay: Biracial Originality and Its Effects on Racial Views

The originality of a person largely contributes to his or her perceptions on social and cultural elements, which are found to be dominant in almost all societies. According to various American psychologists, the originality of a person significantly contributes to the social class in which the person finds himself or herself. In American societal settings, there are a number of races which clearly distinct themselves from each other. The races include; the whites, African Americans, the Hispanics and the Indian Americans to mention but a few.

Basing on surveys which have been conducted in the United States, people from the same race is much likely to interact, socialize and collaborate in certain activities as compared to individuals from different races. For instance, African American children have been demonstrating a higher degree of collaboration among themselves than when juggled among other races. Previous and even current societies have molded society members to be accommodative to people from their own race. As a consequence, the rule seems to favor mono-racial or individuals whose mother and father are from the same race as compared to multiracial children.

Basing on the article by David Brunsma on interracial families, biracial element has an effect on the racial classification of a person. A study which was carried out in longitudinal study of early childhood showed that children from a biracial background are more biased to identify themselves with the race which is dominant in that society. For example, a child whose father and mother is from Hispanic and a white respectively is more likely to identify him or herself with the mother’s race as compared to that of the father. In American societal settings, Hispanics are less dominant hence more prone to discrimination and other negative race-linked practices. Conversely, white are more dominant and classified at a higher social status in comparison to Hispanics. According to Brunsma, being a biracial child will accrue a negative perception on one of the races while favoring the dominant (Brunsma 5).

Biracial children are more prone to behavioral problems which are linked to racial lineage. This creates a clear picture that the originality of a person distinctively determines his or her acceptability in a given society. According to Udry and Hendrickson-Smith, biracial children are much likely to engage in drug abuse, premature sex or even suicidal attempts. In addition, such children have recorded poor scores in their class work in comparison to mono-racial children. These factors are linked to complexity and technicality of self-identification. In such children, race is a major cause of social problems exhibited in American societies (Udry 3).

Nevertheless, according to Barbara Tizard and Ann Phoeniz article, teenagers had a positive notch on the biracial issue. To teenager, biracial factor offered them a ticket to venture or socialize with different people from diverse backgrounds. To them, it cleared the barriers which exist on being a single race or a mono-racial person. According to surveys conducted in United States, cultural and social practices exhibited by these races determined the striking balance of identification. For instance, majority of American teens would like to have parents from either a white or an African American origin or a combination of the two (Phoeniz and Barbara 5).

Margaret Keiley evaluates how biracial factor affects individual’s perception on the issue of race. Children from different races have a problem of clearly identifying themselves in the society as compared to mono-racial children. Some of them have unique physical characteristics which are absent in other society members (Margaret 3). As a consequence, they are sidelined in social activities. In addition, they are frequently mistaken or associated with other distant races which they do not actually originate from.

Works Cited

Brunsma, David L. Interracial Families and the Racial Identifiacation of Mixed-Race Children:            Evidence form the Early Childhood Longtitudinal Study. Social Forces 84.2,            (2005):1131-1157. Print.
Margaret, Keiley K.  Biracial Youth and Families in Therapy: Issues and Interventions. Journal             of Marital and Family Therapy, 26.3, (2000): 305-315. Print.

Phoeniz, Ann, and Barbara, Tizard. The Identity of Mixed Parentage Adolescents. Journal of   Child Psychology, 36.1 (1995): 1399-1410. Print
Udry, Hendrickson-Smith L. Health and Behavior Risks of Adolescents with Mixed
Race Identity. American Journal of Public Health, 93.11, (2003): 1865-1870. Print.

02 May 2011

Sample Essay: Water Privation


Water privation entails the insufficient supply of quality water. The commonness of water depletion in many of localities has largely been common, even as this pattern shows clear signs of worsening; future water privation on a global scale is almost a certainty. At this very moment, more than ‘a billion people in developing countries,’ (Siegel, and Talantis (63-64), has access to safe drinking water this has caused economic and water poverty (Lall, Heikkila, Brown and Siegfried 1-17). This trend calls for quick and proper measures to be implemented by various governments and departments that oversee the water supply, to guarantee adequate safe water for all. The most appropriate way of mitigating hardships of water is through integrated river basin management.

Not usually a sensible foreboding. But human’s most grave problem in the 21st century may not be conflicts or famine or illness or even the disintegration of civil stability; it may be the inadequate supply of fresh water. Population increase, pollution of the environment and climate change, all enhancing, thus are expected to unite to present a swift decrease in the supply of water in the near future, according to Lall, Heikkila, Brown, and Siegfried (1-17). Actually, that supply is by now problematic for up to a 30 percent of the world’s population.

Currently, 1.1 billion persons lack access to safe water and further 2.4 billion lack proper sanitation facilities; such populations are found in the developing economies. Yet the reality that these statistics are likely to deteriorate inexorably has not been correctly handled by the world community. In spite of apparent status of the predicament, political dedication to overturn these tendencies has not been in practice (McCarthy 1). Grappling with inactivity at the management level and a globe’s population not properly abreast with the degree of the challenge, the international water privation will reach unparalleled levels in the coming years.  Acute water privation translates to hunger, ill-health and death. MacCathy (1) suggests the report released by World Water Development Report in 2003 confirms an alarming projection. By the mid-21st century, the worst scenario of water scarcity is likely to visit no less than seven billion persons in 60 states, but if the proper policies are implemented this trend may be reversed to two billion individuals in 48 states.

Even though water is an easily accessed stuff on the planet, only 2.53% of it is not salt, the rest is saline. Additionally, of the freshwaters, 65% is frozen and locked up in icecaps and lasting snow cover. What is obtainable, in lakes, aquifers, rivers, and precipitation run-off, is now coming under more and more pressure from numerous directions at simultaneously. Population increase is the prime propeller. The augmenting numbers of humans to over six billion by 2000 meant that the consumption of water nearly doubled in five decades. It is notable, between 1970 and 1990 accessible per capita supply of water decreased by 30% (MacCathy 1). Although birth rates are currently slowing, globe population is still expected to augment by 50% as much for the second time, to almost 9.3 billion persons by 2050.

Demand, actually, comes not merely from the necessity to drink, the need to clean and the demand to handle human waste, significant though comprise these issues; the really enormous calls on the supply of water which originates from industrial sector of the developed economies, and, in the increasing popularity of the agricultural world. Imperatively, watering of crops grown in hot arid lands consumes 70 per cent of the entire water used worldwide. Pollution, from manufacturing industry, farming and not least, sewers, adds another vicious pressure. Close to 2 million tons of human waste are channeled every day into water sources. According to MacCathy (1) one liter fecal material is enough to contaminate almost eight times the volume of fresh water. Currently, reports estimate indicate that all over the world there are close to 12,000 cubic kilometers of wasted water, which is far more compared with the whole amount available in the globe’s ten largest rivers at any particular moment. Nonetheless, it can be noted, if rate of water pollution and population growth increases uniformly, the world will eventually cede 18,000 cubic kilometers of the resource within the next four decades; this will be approximately nine times the volume all countries presently use for watering crops.

All that is not proper; though enhancing the pressure on the supply of water, further is climate change. The effect of climate change as projected by UN scientists is likely to account for almost 20% of the enhancement in water privation. While more precipitation is projected to pound in high latitude regions during winters, such as northern Europe, and Britain, in several drought-prone regions, with an extension to a number of tropical regions, rainfall is expected to decline further. Eventually the quality of water is likely to worsen with increasing levels of pollution and varying water temperatures Siegel, and Talantis (62-65). Additionally, the threat of the global growth of towns: currently, 48% of the Earth’s inhabitants reside in urban areas, and within the next two decades, the proportion is projected to hit a high 60%. Urban areas usually have more easily available clean water supplies compared to rural ones; nonetheless, their challenge is that such township areas concentrate wastes owing to poor sewer systems. MacCathy (1) notes: “Where good waste management is lacking, urban areas are among the world’s most life-threatening environments.”

The gravest, direct repercussions of water privation will apparently affect human health. The availability of clean water can be perceived as both trivial as well as an advantage: Water-related infections are among the most prevalent causes of human ill-health and death. In addition, water-borne diseases, for example gastric infections resulting to diarrhea, are caused by consuming polluted water; vector-borne illnesses, for instance schistosomiasis, and malaria are transmitted by the small snails and mosquitoes that use water as their breeding places. Millions suffer from such infections. In 2000, 2.2 million people were suggested to have passed on due to water and sanitation linked illnesses; about half the number died of malaria. The greater part of the victims was below five years of age. The world’s increasing need for fresh water has also been linked to soaring environmental strain; 60% of the globe’s largest rivers have witnessed their stream flows disrupted by reservoirs and, of the living things that prefer inland aquatic environments, thus affecting the existence of 24% of mammals and 12% of birds.

It is notable, one such agency is the Global Water Partnership (GWP), which was created by institutions like the World Bank and the United Nations (GWP). GWP can provide the technical expertise, advice, and funding sourcing that certain governments may require.

The main technical procedures in IRBM is the restoration of freshwater ecosystems, which encompass re-planting of trees in riparian areas, reconstructing stream waterways form and in-stream ecosystems, removing hindrances or implementing simulations of natural flow systems, reducing eutrophication in large water bodies, restoring water flow to reclaimed wetlands and reinventing native species. Re-establishment of innate uses of land within catchment areas is also another class of activities that is imperative to a lasting program for a deteriorated aquatic system. Some agencies and communities believe that water pollution phenomenon the most effective way to prevent water privation, rather than IRBM, which they say is not realistic and mere paper pushing.

Pollution prevention is the aim of water pollution control, instead of pollution treatment. Pollution prevention and minimization of waste encompass non-technical and technical measures aimed at the prevention of the production of pollutants and waste (Helmer and Hespanhol 1). “It is the conceptual approach to industrial production that demands all phases of the life cycle should be resolved with the aim of minimizing or preventing harm to humans and the environment. This involves the design phase of the product, the selection, fabrication and arrangement of raw materials,” the production and assembly of final products, and the management of all used products after their usability is over” (Helmer and Hespanhol 1).

Siegel, and Talantis (63) suggest that water privation in the future is almost a certainty because of the abuse that our water resources are being subjected to. Right now, more than a billion people are suffering from the gradual depletion of water resources. Despite the fact that the surface of the earth is mostly covered with water, this is not relevant because the issue is the supply of fresh water. The most sustainable and effective way to address the possibility of water privation is through river basin management. It has several stakeholders consisting of international agencies, business, and more importantly, the people themselves who share the water. Some people believe that water pollution control is more effective but this is not the case.

One feasible approach to mitigating the challenges of recognizing non-point source contaminators is to ensure all industries producing diffuse contaminats undertake the implementation of practices and technological innovations that decrease the release of polluting substances into waterways (Siegel, and Talantis 62-65). For instance, all cultivators could grow riparian buffers purposely to help in nutrient filtration or cover crops to decrease leaching. Alternatively, ranchers may opt to protect water ways using fences to restrain livestock dung from being washed to the waterways.

Conclusion

Generally, water pollution control does have its merits, but poses problems like toxicity that could potentially harm the water itself and the species subsisting in it, as well as being very costly. Water pollution control is also part of river basin management, although from a broader perspective. Because of the far reaching scope of river basin management, the perceived disadvantages of water pollution control are mitigated. In fact, water pollution control can only be effective and sustainable if used under the process of river basin management.

Works Cited

Dourojeanni, R. “Water Management at the River Basin Level: Challenges in Latin          America.“2001. Accessed 4 April 2011 from         http://www.bvsde.paho.orglbvsacd/aquaiamer.pdf.

Global Water Partnership. “Strategic Goals.” 2011. Accessed 07 April 2011 from

http://www.gwp.org/eniOur-approachiThe-Global-Context.

Helmer, R., and Hespanhol, 1. “Water Pollution Control – A Guide to the Use of Water    Quality Management Princi ples.” 1997. Accessed 4 April 2011 from

http://www.who.intlwater_sanitation_healthlresourcesquality/watpolcontrol.pdf.

Lall U, Heikkila T, Brown C, Siegfried T. Water in the 21st Century: Defining the Elements      of Global Crises and Potential Solutions. Journal of International Affairs, 61.2    (2008): 1-17.

McCarthy, Michael. Water Scarcity Could Affect Billions: Is This the Biggest Crisis of All?      (Web, March 5 2003). Retrieved from           http://www.commondreams.org/headlines03/0305- 05.htm

Ramakrishna, V. and Babu, B.V. “Fresh Water Depletion – A Crisis: Causes &    Remedies.”n.d. Accessed 4 April 2011 from http://discovery.bits-        pilani.ac.in/~bvbabulFrshwaterE&P98.pdf.

Siegel, Paul S., and Talantis, Billie S. Water intake as a function of privation interval when        food is withheld. Journal of Comparative and Physiological Psychology, 43.1 (1950):         62-65.

University of Michigan. “Human Appropriation of the World’s Fresh Water Supply. 2000.

Accessed 4 Apri12011 from http://www.globalchange.umich.

edu! globalchange2/ current/Iectures/freshwater _supply/freshwater.html.Web

World Wildlife Fund. “A Holistic Approach.” 2011. Accessed 7 April 2011 from

http://wwf.panda.org/about_ our_earth/about_freshwater/rivers/irbm/

Sample Essay: Psychology Concept

Fernando Alonso is widely regarded as “the best pound for pound” driver currently in the Formula One World Championship. Over the years since he has been in the sport, he has grown to become an individual who is adored by many but is also hated by others; this disparity is the result of a certain personality traits which are not only conflicting, but are also contradictory with each other like the disparity. The fiery Spaniard, cool to the point of detachment, ruthless, calculating, and loveable are just a few words that could be used to describe Alonso’s personality. These several descriptions fall under a variety of personality components including another possible self, motivation and emotion, temperament, and mental models. The concepts mentioned are interrelated and emerge over time with the development of his personality and his career to complete the equation of his personality dynamic (Hasan, 1997).

Similar to other drivers of this category Fernando Alonso’s motorsport career started at a very young age with go-karts in his home country of Spain. His first experience with a go-kart was a unique one. His father originally constructed a kart intended for his sister of which she had no interest in. The cart was passed down to Fernando who immediately had a liking for it. Although young, the personality component (learned content) for driving karts began to manifest at this stage and would govern his future urges and needs (Lanyon & Goodstein, 1997). Alonso would go on to compete in a number of racing competitions across the world, winning the championship in several of the categories before entering the realm of pro.

According to Erik Erikson emphasis on developmental change, children go through several stages arriving at a stage that begs to question “Who am I?” Clearly, Fernando’s childhood was a key factor in his development in where he was heavily influenced by his handed down gift and competition (Lanyon & Goodstein, 1997). I believe Erikson would have concluded that Alonso’s chosen identity was influenced by his social-cultural climate. Being involved in so many racing competitions staged in different areas created the paved the way to this simple but complex question (Hasan, 1997). Another perspective that can be taken is the Humanistic approach. According to the humanistic perspective “each person operates from a unique frame of reference in terms of building Self Regard or their self concept. Self Concept is one’s own belief about themselves.” (Hasan, 1997) This somewhat egocentric concept highlights the facts that one is free to do as they please according to their own interests. Furthermore “it is based upon the belief that well developed, successful individuals are best placed to make a positive contribution to society.” (Lanyon & Goodstein, 1997) Alonso’s unwavering dedication to his childhood passion is a clear example of this perspective.

A number of variables change when moving into the professional world of Formula One. The physical demands are extreme, the pressure to perform is infinite, the media exposure is constant and overbearing, and the travel to various continents is everlasting (Hasan, 1997). Many enter this world, but very few actually survive. Fernando’s first year in the sport started slowly with no race wins or any championship points. It was not until his third year where he finally picked up his first race win. He picked up further wins in successive seasons and won back-to-back world championships in his fifth and sixth seasons.

McClellands Motivational needs theory is applicable to this stage of Alonso’s career. His model follows the concept “that an individual’s specific needs are acquired over time and are shaped by one’s life experiences.” (Hasan, 1997) Alonso’s early successes in previous categories propelled his motivation to succeed in his professional career, displaying another segment of McClellands theory, the need for achievement. “People with a high need for achievement (nAch) seek to excel and thus tend to avoid both low-risk and high-risk situations.” (Lanyon & Goodstein, 1997) Only part of this theory applies in Fernando’s case. McClelland believes high achievers only choose work between the two spectrums of risk, never the latter.

As I previously stated this world of motorsport is a very elite one with ever pressing variables often times beyond ones control. The feedback he could have received from the individuals closest to him at the time could have had a form of impact on his achievement need. This pressure also contributes to the development of negative personality traits which are eminent from the learning theory and the contingent theories (Hasan, 1997). Among the negative moments, the most prominent moment in Alonzo’s career was in 2006 towards the end of the year. The sheer pressure of performing to win, and the self image contributed to the mental state which Alonzo experienced.

During this time he felt his team did not want him to win the championship. The fear of expulsion emerged from the lack of motivational feedback, coupled with a faltering self image and increased environmental pressure that created subtle fear. The manifestation of that fear could be seen in Alonzo’s feelings of being held back (Hasan, 1997). His tumultuous year at a new team in 2007 and his feelings towards his team, also in 2007 when he ran his teammate of the track at the race in Belgium represent the problems that he had adjusting his beliefs with his environmental image. It can be deduced and observed that the environment in the previous team pushed him to a stature wherein he felt in-charge, however in the new team he had to earn the trust and the respect of his team mates which he failed to do from the beginning.

The environmental factors even then presented a confusing image to Alonzo. In Alonzo’s own opinion, he was a person who could win. This was the behavior which he had learned along with the environmental factors that lead him to believe in the fact that he was not the temperamental Spaniard the world  purported him to be (Hasan, 1997). However, the response from his team mates was against what he had learned as a child according to Erik. As per McClelland’s theory, while the motivation was present Alonzo was unable to access the means as he would need to touch an extreme which was not plausible.

In 2010 Alonzo unsuccessfully tried to move back to his previous team, his character breakdown was prominent near the end of the year when he gesticulated to another player for causing him the championship; all of these are signs of emotional and psychological breakdown. It is apparent that in Alonzo, his alternative self contradicted with the environmental factors, and the lack of positive feedback contributed to the breakdown (Lanyon & Goodstein, 1997). What he had learned in the environment was not supplement by the feedback that he was getting from the environmental variables. This is to say that he was unable to cope with the contingent result and only focused on the perceived outcome.

What can be observed in Alonzo’s personality is how this breakdown could have been avoided with the positive environmental feedback and a controlled self image to the extent of integrating the ability to withstand shock. Also according to Erik’s theory, Alonzo did not recognize the positive environmental feedback; rather, he only regarded it as forced reflection of the self image. The distinction between the environmental feedback and the self image would have enable Alonzo to remain relatively stable even when the feedback was withdrawn. This goes on to show that Alonzo had a dynamic personality; such a personality is prone to drastic changes and fluctuations.

References:

Erik Erikson And Psychosocial Development. (2011). Retrieved April 11, 2011, from Essortment: http://www.essortment.com/erik-erikson-psychosocial-development-50823.html

Hasan, Q. (1997). Personality Assessment: A Fresh Psychological Look. Gayan Books.

Hierarchy of Needs. (2011). Retrieved April 11, 2011, from Hubpages: http://hubpages.com/hub/Humanistic-Theory-Hierarchy-Of-Needs

Lanyon, R. I., & Goodstein, L. D. (1997). Personality assessment. John Wiley and Sons.

McClelland’s Theory of Needs. (2011). Retrieved April 11, 2011, from Net MBA: http://www.netmba.com/mgmt/ob/motivation/mcclelland/

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17 Apr 2011

Sample Essay: The Social Security Reform Debate in the United States of America

The reign of Franklin Roosevelt as the president of the USA was one of the most important in the American history. The Social Security Act (SSA) remains the most influential legislation (Arnoa 25). Prior to its enactment on 14 August 1935, the poor, disabled and the elderly found it difficult to live. This was made worse by the Great Depression. During this time, employment rates dropped drastically, jobs were lost, and poverty levels shot. The enactment of the law primarily aimed at providing a steady income for retired workers. Adults aged 65 or older were targeted. The Committee on Economic Security (CES) initiated plans that would prompt workers to contribute part of their wages into a consolidated account (Leff 289). Subsequent modifications of the law have been occasioned by variations in demographic and economic trends. Increase in the population and fluctuations in the economic growth have been key considerations. Most scholars have supported the system on social grounds. However, some have critically questioned the sustainability of the system. The funding of the system, as well as the benefits that accrue from it seems to be the points of contention about the system (Arnoa 36). Whereas either side in the debate support the benefits of social security, the liberal ideas have often played against conservative ideas in government control, taxation, spending for social security- contentions that will remain for some time to come.

The first argument regards ownership and choice. The fact that the USA is experiencing resource incapacitation in the support of the system is evident. Previous financial crisis characterized by high expenditures and flat contributions may recur (Orszag & Diamond 115). SS deficits are possible in situations where the unemployment rates are high and wages are low. Consequently, the accruing benefits will drastically drop. Population growth has always been thought to be important in the realization of a successful SS. According to the USA federal government the debt base broadens (Arnoa 38). However, the economic growth fluctuations are unpredictable. It is therefore absurd for the government to affirm that an increase in population will be matched by an increase in SS contributions. A situation where expenditures exceed contributions is undesirable. The funding of the government debt becomes difficult. Consequently more borrowing is observed. The SS deficit is questionable. Why should the government opt for external funding due to uncontrolled internal debt? The future health of the system is therefore critical. The fact that many people are reaching retirement age due to the ‘Baby Boomers’ should not be ignored (Leff 289).

The second argument revolves around government taxation. The revenue realized from the SS system should be increased to reduce the regression of the payroll tax. It should be noted that people earning up to $ 72,600 are subjected to SS payroll taxes. The growth in average earnings dictates the level of increase in the cap of earnings (Orszag and Diamond 120). The past 20 years have been characterized by an imbalanced growth of earnings between the high and the middle income groups. Increased SS revenue is ensured when the cap on earnings is raised. This will ultimately ensure that the payroll taxes are non-regressive. The future funding of the SS system will be made possible through tax increase. A decrease in the payroll tax should not be advocated for. It has also been proposed that benefits should be taxed. However, the move is undesirable. It will see the low and moderate-income beneficiaries highly taxed. The tax burden of this income groups will increase while that of the high-income group will fall (Weisbrot and Baker 22).

Another common argument regards wealth redistribution. The USA is characterized by a great financial inequality. The richer have been getting richer while the poor continue to languish in poverty. The reason behind this trend has been the level of wages offered for new jobs. Whereas old jobs offer high wages, current jobs offer low wages (Weisbrot & Baker 23). In addition, the latter may lack retirement plans or health coverage. Similarly, the SS benefit structure exhibits considerable degrees of inequities. Some workers receive lower returns than others. It is common phenomenon to have workers pay for SS benefits not within their scope. In addition, workers are deprived the freedom to control their yearly contributions. In view of this the long-term financial problems inherent with the system should not widen the wealth redistribution gap (Orszag & Diamond 130).

Another common argument in social security reform revolves around trading off wealth creation for social insurance. The internal rate of return has been considered a monetary advantage. It should be noted that SS is a social insurance program, rather than an investment plan. The annuities enjoyed by retirees are adjusted to take care of yearly inflation. The monetary compensation associated with SS system is not enough (Orszag & Diamond 132). The beneficiaries of the system include surviving spouses, children and the disabled. A person, who regards the system as a source of monetary gain alone, underestimates the real value of the system.

Other arguments revolve issues of charitable entitlements, particularly safety nets or earned benefits. Citizens from most countries enjoy safety net activities as a right. However, USA citizens do not enjoy such activities as rights. The only exceptions are the public education for schoolchildren and Medicare funded healthcare for older adults (Weisbrot & Baker 24). In USA, the SS ensures that people work for social benefits. This is usually not the case in other countries. Good citizenship and compliance with laws are usually enough for citizens to enjoy social benefits. Charitable ventures are neither earned nor a right. It should however be proved beyond reasonable doubt, that indeed one is poor. Means-tested programs are common in the USA. However, most of these programs are criticized for their lack of objectivity in ascertaining those that qualify for ‘charitable’ entitlements (Orszag & Diamond 134).

The last ideological argument around social security in the US regards intergenerational equity and particularly on issues regarding supposed burden of social security for future generations. Differences in financial opportunities have been addressed by safety net policies (Weisbrot and Baker 26). Consequently, people with intergenerational histories of poverty and mental incapacitation have been empowered. The economic and social disadvantages have had negative ramification on the affordability of social benefits. Compensatory assistance is the best tool to address the intergenerational inequity. Communities characterized by high poverty levels, low employment rates and low literacy levels should be offered compensatory assistance (Orszag & Diamond 135).

Debate on social security reforms also revolves around whether to privatize social security schemes or not. Central in this argument is whether the schemes are bankrupt or financially sound- issues that would enable privatization. It has been observed that most workers never receive benefits associated with the system (Weisbrot & Baker 29). The long-term solvency is only guaranteed if all the stakeholders play their respective roles properly. It has been argued that higher earners would not benefit from SS benefits as the low earners would, once the tax ceiling is raised (or eliminated). The SS should not be viewed as a private savings scheme (Leff 290). There is need to ensure that fairness is nurtured in the system. The USA should ensure that the system changes with the increasing population needs. Otherwise, financial crisis may erupt in future.

Another issue regarding supposed privatization pits “Pay as you go” against “transition costs”. The pay-as-you-go system has been criticized for its nature to upset the balance between the expected future taxes and benefits. Situations of increased unemployment will lead to decreased payroll tax. A system where transition costs are put into consideration will ensure that bankruptcy is averted (Leff 290). The transition to a fully funded system will minimize cases of unclaimed funds.  The accumulation of economic reserves coupled by increased benefits will be enhanced. Transition to a fully funded system will not only avert the financial problems associated with the pay-as-you-go system. Rather, young workers will accumulate substantial amounts of benefits in their retirement accounts (Weisbrot & Baker 29).

The last argument pits “definite contribution” against “definite benefits” plans. The definite contribution plan allows both the employer and the employees to contribute to the individual account (Weisbrot and Baker 30). The contribution rather than the benefit is not known. On the contrary, the definite benefit plan ensures that individuals receive a given percentage on a monthly basis. The latter plan is the best on grounds of ensuring that one receives benefits commensurate to his/her contribution, salary and length of service (Orszag & Diamond 139).

In sum, it is clear that; Liberal ideas for ages will antagonize conservative ideas in US social security reforms. Several ideological differences that focus on the ownership and choice of SS funding, government taxation and wealth re-distribution have been highlighted. In addition, arguments over safety nets and benefits, wealth creation and social insurance, intergeneration equity have been discussed. Similarly, privatization concerns in regards to the system’s financial position have been outlined. In addition, pay-as-you-go costs are compared with transition costs. Finally, the nature of plan adopted dictates the nature of benefits realized. Definite benefit plan is superior to the definite contribution plan. Essentially, in the social security reform debate, liberal ideas will antagonize conservative ideas for long.

Works Cited

Arnoa, Peter et al. Social Security and mortality: The role of income support policies and population health in the United States. Journal of Public Health Policy. 2011. Advance online publication 17. <http://www.palgrave-journals.com/jphp/journal/vaop/ncurrent/pdf/jphp20112a.pdf>. Accessed 09 April 2011

Democracy Now! Social Security under Attack: Cuts Proposed, Higher Retirement Age Suggested – A video report. <http://www.democracynow.org/2010/7/19/social_security_under_attack_cuts_proposed>. Accessed 09 April 2011

FactCheck.org. “Bush’s State of the Union: Social Security ‘Bankruptcy?”. FactCheck.org: commentary on the speech. <http://www.factcheck.org/article305.html> Accessed 09 April 2011

Leff, Mark H. “Robert Ball and the Politics of Social Security”. Journal of American History, 92 (1), (2005): 289-290

Orszag, Peter, and Diamond, Peter. Saving Social Security-A Balanced Approach. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press, 2005.

US Government Accountability Office, Social Security Reform: Answers to Key Questions. <http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-05-193SP> Accessed 09 April 2011

Weisbrot, Mark, and Baker, Dean. Social Security: The Phony Crisis. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2001.

16 Apr 2011

Sample Essay: The Significance of Indian Independence in the Imperialist Backdrop

India’s struggle for freedom and its consequent independence from the British colonial rule occupies a significant space in British Imperial history, inspiring a debate that attempts to decode the collapse of Britain’s imperialistic ambitions on the subcontinent. The debate has been ensued by historiographical interpretations on the nature and causes behind the downfall of imperialism, analysing social, political, economic and cultural dimensions of the context. Judith M. Brown points at the significance of Indian independence in the imperialist backdrop, stating that the event had a manifold impact on British imperialism as well as on international scenario in the post World War context, beginning with drastic changes in the “logistics of the Empire”1. Brown calls pre-independent India the “cornerstone”2 of British colonial “economic, military and political power”3. Studying the various historiographical perspectives available on the subject,  this paper will argue that the decline of British Imperialism in India was not the result of a uni-dimensional cause, but the outcome of a number of factors that contradict or complement each other.

A study of the decay of imperialism on Indian Territory would trace back to the advent of imperialism to the country. Norman Etherington tries to explain imperialism as a phenomenon interlinked with capitalism, observing that the former arose out of the capitalist nation’s need to expand its markets as a primary solution to a possible proletarian discontent in the face of a dwindling economic scope4. Arguing that while imperialism was “in some ways good for

1Judith M. Brown, India; Wm. Roger Louis. D.Litt., FBA (Ed.) The Oxford History of the British Empire: Volume IV- The Twentieth Century (New York: Oxford University Press: 1999), 421.

2Ibid., 421.

3Ibid , 421.

4Norman Etherington, Reconsidering Theories of Imperialism, History and Theory, Vol. 21, No. 1 (Feb., 1982), pp. 1-36 (Blackwell Publishing for Wesleyan University).

capital”5, Etherington says that the continued scramble for markets across the globe would ultimately usher in an era fraught with rivalry between competing capitalist nations. The consequence of this phenomenon would be the development of hitherto underdeveloped regions that would in turn bring about an “antithesis”6 whereby a class-conscious working class would join hands with an impoverished peasantry to fight the colonial government for “national liberation”7.

Etherington’s notion of a “century of war”8 closely resembles Rosa Luxemburg’s interpretation of the World War. Considering the World War as the culmination of conflict between capitalist nations seeking to divide the world among themselves, Luxemburg said that imperialism marked the last phase of capitalism which was developing towards the turning point of “turning point of the present world war”9. If imperialism is indeed perceived as the zenith of capitalism and mutual struggle for markets abroad, then what marked the collapse of British imperialism in India? Etherington and Luxemburg talk about the conflict between capitalist countries resulting in a world war. But, did World War herald the end of Britain’s imperialistic aspirations in the Raj? If it did, then how does Etherington’s concept of a joint struggle staged by the peasant and the proletariat fit into the Indian context?

According to Paul B. Rich it was the First and the Second World Wars that corroded Britain’s

5Norman Etherington, Reconsidering Theories of Imperialism, History and Theory, Vol. 21, No. 1 (Feb., 1982), pp. 1-36 (Blackwell Publishing for Wesleyan University), 3.

6Ibid.,3.

7Ibid., 3.

8Ibid., 3.

9Ibid., 11.

“early imperialist climate”, an heirloom from the preceding Victorian and Edwardian epochs10. According to Judith Brown, what brought about the end of the British Raj were not so much the national movement and the prolific changes taking place in political and social spectrum as the “pressure of war”11. However, Brown also says that the relatively peaceful exit of the British from Indian Territory implied that the national government replacing the colonial rule would follow a path of continuity rather than marking a break with the previous administration. According to Brown, “imperial endings powerfully affect what comes after”12. Hence, as Brown puts it, the country “inherited a structure of administration designed to achieve Imperial ends rather than goals of national reconstruction”13.

Etherington’s concept of a struggle for national liberation contributing to the collapse of British imperialism in India is discussed by Brown who observes that the unprecedented turmoil witnessed by India during the period between the beginning of First World War to the second half of the twentieth century unfurled a national movement that influenced the country’s socio-political and economic situations. Although Brown argues that it was the far-reaching political developments that resulted in independence in 1947, she points out four major aspects of India’s relationship with Britain in the face of an impending collapse of imperialism: the first of these was Britain’s inability to protect its long term interests in India, which persuaded the imperial government to chalk out plans to facilitate a gradual withdrawal.

10Paul B. Rich, British Imperial Decline and the forging of English Patriotic Memory, c1918-1968 (Great Britain: History of European Ideas. Vol. 9, No. 6, pp. 659-680, 1988), 659.

11Judith M. Brown, India; Wm. Roger Louis. D.Litt., FBA (Ed.) The Oxford History of the British Empire: Volume IV- The Twentieth Century (New York: Oxford University Press: 1999), 445.

12Ibid., 444.

13Ibid., 444.

The rising popular tensions in the Raj made an effective control over the dominion increasingly difficult, thereby accelerating the downfall of British imperialism in India. This sentiment was reflected in the Cabinet minutes of the Labour Government, as it concluded that the unreliability of the Indian army had reached a point where there was a constant threat of things getting out of control if faced with situations that could trigger a civil war14. According to WM Roger Louis, India was “becoming ungovernable”15, presenting the Colonial administration with a political and military crises of the ‘first magnitude’16. On similar lines, Lord Wavell remarked in 1947 that an attempt to control India in spite of having lost the power to do so would prove fatal to the government17.

Judith M. Brown points at the evolution of a powerful national movement as the next theme that determined the decline of British imperialism in India. Brown draws attention towards its ‘attempted’ international image as one guided by Gandhi, juxtaposing it with the actual limitations of its scope and its “strategic effectiveness”18. The question here would be whether Brown’s definition of the national movement would be conspicuously defined by political changes, a valid question since Brown, in the beginning of her essay, states that political changes brought forth India’s independence. This definition restricts the scope of national movement and its role in the collapse of British imperialism.

14WM Roger Louis, The Dissolution of the British Empire, chapter 14; Wm. Roger Louis. D.Litt., FBA (Ed.) The Oxford History of the British Empire: Volume IV- The Twentieth Century (New York: Oxford University Press: 1999), 332.

15Ibid., 332.

16Ibid., 332.

17Ibid., 332.

18Judith M. Brown, India; WM. Roger Louis. D.Litt., FBA (Ed.) The Oxford History of the British Empire: Volume IV- The Twentieth Century (New York: Oxford University Press: 1999), 422.

An alternative explanation is provided by ID Gaur who questions the interpretations of Indian national movement, stating that any attempt to “homogenize” the people so as to portray a unified movement merely reveals an effort to hide the “hegemony” of a particular class19. The national movement was a multifaceted phenomenon that successfully encapsulated a number of contradictions within itself. Gaur then observes that these paradoxes manifested themselves at “various levels”20, such as between British Imperialism and the Indian farmers, British Imperialism and the Indian National Congress, British Imperialism and the Indian middle class, British Imperialism and Gandhian resistance, British Imperialism and the proletariat21, etc.

According to Karl Kautsky, this struggle for independence should be seen as a ‘counter-pressure’, the expected outcome of the establishment of an industrial state’s domination over an agrarian state22, the phenomenon which Kautsky identifies as the starting point of imperialism. In Kautsky’s point of view, political sovereignty is the key to success in this race for domination, and the competition soon leads to a full-fledged war. Etherington points out the loopholes in Kautsky’s thesis, stating that the definition of hinterland is flawed in several aspects. However, if Kaustky’s thesis highlights political sovereignty as the extra edge in imperialism, then Brown’s observation on Britain’s increasing vulnerability and Rich’s statement’s on British government’s inability to control the Indian Territory can be construed as the decline of its imperialism.

John Darwin attributes the decline of British Imperialism to the devastating outcome of the

19ID Gaur, Essays in history and historiography: India’s struggle for freedom. (Anmol Publications: 1998), 66.

20Ibid., 66.

21Ibid., 66.

22Norman Etherington, Reconsidering Theories of Imperialism, History and Theory, Vol. 21, No. 1 (Feb., 1982), pp. 1-36 (Blackwell Publishing for Wesleyan University), 14.

Second World War23. Asserting that the War brought about the accelerated downfall of Britain’simperialistic ambitions, Darwin argues how the “catastrophic British defeats in Europe and Asia between 1940 and 1942 destroyed its financial and economic independence”, which he calls the “the real foundation of the imperial system”24. According to Darwin, the Indian independence in 1947 heralded the decline of British Imperial power. The Raj had channelled Indian resources into the War, and in the face of growing disapproval from the Indian National Congress, it had assured complete freedom “once the war was over”25. Popular antagonism against the Colonial government steadily began to rise in the post war period, and soon the Empire lost one of its wealthiest colonial territories, further weakening its economy.

Darwin’s argument ignores the various other factors that accelerated the process of decline over the years, while solely zeroing in on the Second World War. Darwin’s thesis on the Indian independence in 1947 as the onset of downfall of British imperialism contradicts Keith Jeffery’s opinion that the impact of the Second World War “did much to strengthen the Imperial system”26. Jeffery acknowledges the widespread developments taking place in India during the Second World War, but states that these were inevitable changes whose timing was facilitated by the war. Nevertheless, he discusses the British inability to ignore the Nehruvian indifference towards the colonial government’s declaration of war without consulting the national leaders and the growing demand for the Raj’s commitment to Indian independence, concluding that the price

23Dr.John Darwin, Britain, the Commonwealth and the End of Empire (BBC History).

24Dr.John Darwin, Britain, the Commonwealth and the End of Empire (BBC History).

25Ibid.

26Keith Jeffery, The Second World War, Chapter 13; Wm. Roger Louis. D.Litt., FBA (Ed.) The Oxford History of the British Empire: Volume IV- The Twentieth Century (New York: Oxford University Press: 1999), 306.

paid by the Empire, however, to defend itself during the second World War was its own self.

Karl De Schweinitz’s theory about the decline of British Imperialism in India is connected to an ideology of inequality. Schweinitz explains how this “changing inequality”, that constitutes Britain’s Imperial history in India was sustained by the latter’s inability, unwillingness or perhaps even a lack of interest in asserting a public interest against British Imperialism27. If we consider this perspective to analyse the decline of British Imperialism in India, then we would need to conclude that the fall of the Empire was brought about when India was finally able to mobilize public dissent against Britain’s imperialist designs. This hypothesis implicitly points at the role of a public opinion in the collapse of British Imperialism, thereby overlooking the socio-cultural and economic changes as well as the multidimensional nature of the national movement that contributed to the decline.

According to Schweinitz, it became increasingly difficult for the British administration to ignore Indian public opinion as was evident with the Nehruvian policy of distancing itself from the war efforts in a bid to bargain for sooner national liberation. Nevertheless, Nicholas Mansergh opined that despite this lack of co-operation, the country’s participation in the Second World War sought to prove “not so much the measure of autonomy India had so far acquired as the extent of her dependence”28. Although it can be said that India’s participation in the war was based on a stick-and-the carrot principle, it cannot be ignored that the Nehruvian line of abstinence from Britain’s war effort did not have a wider impact- clearly, public opinion was still divided along ideological and perhaps pragmatic lines.

27 Karl De Schweinitz, The rise and fall of British India: imperialism as inequality (Methuen: 1983), 239-240.

28 Nicholas Mansergh, The Commonwealth Experience (New York, 1969), p. 295.

Robin J. Moore notes that there has been a rise in the amount of research on the role of the Second World War in accelerating the erosion of the British imperial power in India. Moore offers three aspects of this phase of transformation between independence and the end of the Second World War, arguing that the economic, military and administrative conditions underwent remarkable changes and “affected British-Indian bilateral relations”29. Moore explains this by referring to the massive strengthening and ‘Indianization’ of the Indian colonial army, about whose loyalty there were widespread apprehensions owing to the mounting pressure for freedom30. The number of enlisted soldiers reached a whopping two million during the Second World War.

According to Martin Wainwright, the ‘expansion of India’s capabilities’ is closely connected to the downfall of British imperialism31. The war gave an unexpected boost to Indian industries, thereby triggering an unprecedented development in the country. Wainwright highlights the production of arms and ammunition and capital investment32. Moore refers to B.R. Tomlinson’s observation that the war resulted in a huge inflow of sterling to India, and discusses Partha Sarathi Gupta’s argument on how the impact of a rising tide of popular protests on INA trials has been scarcely documented. All these theses underline the importance of war in bringing about the decline of the Empire. Moore argues that Britain’s awareness about the disastrous consequences of an inglorious exit from India worked behind its need to stage a peaceful

29Robin J. Moore, India in the 1940s; Wm. Roger Louis. D.Litt., FBA (Ed.) The Oxford History of the British Empire: Volume V- Historiography (New York: Oxford University Press: 1999), 235.

30Ibid., 235.

31Ibid., 235-236.

32Ibid., 235.

withdrawal and help install a government in its place. But, the question here would be whether an added emphasis on war as the reason behind this decline overshadows the various sequences of events that have unfolded over time.

J. G. Darwin seeks attention to philosophy behind the policies that London pursued”33 as he tries to locate the causes behind the fall of British imperialism in India. If seen from this point of view, the notion of a peaceful exit being the camouflage for the political panic is mirrored in the Cabinet minutes which went on to conclude that “withdrawal from India need not appear to be forced upon us by our weakness nor to be the first step in the dissolution of the Empire”34. Roger Louis argues that the British intention to envisage a continued allegiance to the cause of imperialism from the newly independent nation did not materialize. So, did India’s independence in 1947 indeed mark the end of British Imperialism?

The answer to that question lies in Ranjit Sau’s classification of the four phases of imperialism. Sau traces the first phase back to the sixteenth century and states that the phase was characterised by “colonial plunder with brute force”35. A major part of nineteenth century constitutes the second phase, which is marked by the expansion of markets in the colonies and the search for raw materials. The third phase is covered by the last three and the first three decades of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, respectively. Sau says this phase corresponds to Lenin’s idea

33J.G.Darwin, The Fear of Falling: British Politics and Imperial Decline since 1900; Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, Fifth Series, Vol. 36 (1986), pp. 27-43; 28.

34WM Roger Louis, The Dissolution of the British Empire, chapter 14; Wm. Roger Louis. D.Litt., FBA (Ed.) The Oxford History of the British Empire: Volume IV- The Twentieth Century (New York: Oxford University Press: 1999), 329.

35Ranjit Sau, The Theory of Unequal Exchange, Trade and Imperialism; Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. 11, No. 10 (Mar. 6, 1976), pp. 399+401-404; 399.

of the high-point of capitalism which replaces the export of capital with finished goods from imperialist countries. According to Sau, the final phase began in the 1930 and was marked by what he calls an “unequal exchange in international trade” which surpasses profits, royalty and dividends36. If the drain of resources and unequal exchange are the hallmark of final phase of capitalism, then the decline of British imperialism in India can be said to have occurred with the declaration of independence in 1947 when Britain relinquished its control over the peninsula.

Was imperialism the cause of its own demise in British India? If World War is indeed looked upon as the final nail in the coffin of British imperialism in India, then in the light of arguments put forth by Rosa Luxemburg, Karl Kautsky and Norman Etherington- about imperialistic race for the division of the world leading to war- one can conclude that imperialism brought about its own end. In this case, the wave of socio-political and economic changes that had been taking shape in India would assume secondary significance as these would then be mere by-products (in Etherington’s thesis, struggle for national liberation is an outcome of imperialism abroad) of an on-going process of imperialism.

Darwin offers a perspective that takes into consideration a number of developments taking place between 1900 and 1914 heralded the impending decline of British imperialism in India37. In the years following the First World War, the British government encountered numerous changes that seemed to prophesy the downfall of its imperial power: in India, it failed to check the wave of national movement under the leadership of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi who would not settle for anything less than complete independence.

36Ibid., 399.

37J.G.Darwin, The Fear of Falling: British Politics and Imperial Decline since 1900; Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, Fifth Series, Vol. 36 (1986), pp. 27-43.

John Darwin states that Britain’s decision to oversee the evolution of a national government in India and stage a relatively uneventful withdrawal hints at the waning imperial power of the country. Darwin calls this policy a ‘grudging acceptance’ of imperialist downfall, followed by the realization that the situation could be salvaged only by “fabian tactics and in a spirit of almost Metternichian futility”38. Darwin says the fault lay with the initial brash confidence of British legislators who refused to see the fermenting antagonism in India. While using an iron fist to deal with political dissent in the colony led by Indian National Congress, Britain’s definition of trouble was a possible invasion of India by its imperialist rivals. The colonial government introduced legislations like the India Act of 1935 with a view to cripple a pan-India movement by inducing what they called “provincial jealousies”39.

From Britain’s perspective, the new legislations promising Indians participation in administrative affairs were meant to be safety valves that would prevent pressure from building up within the nation.  What the policy makers did not see was the strengthening of a national movement that finally rose in magnitude to demand total separation from British control. In this case, what brought about the collapse of British imperialism in India was the inability of the law makers to see beyond their short term objectives in the country. The situation, according to Darwin, was exacerbated when the Second World War began. The contingencies of war inadvertently led to large scale developments and mobilization in India, thus strengthening the demand for freedom. The British sentiments were aptly reflected in a letter dated March 1940, written by Lord Linlithgow to Baldwin: the chief point expressed was that the Second World War, provoked by

39John Darwin, Imperialism in Decline? Tendencies in British Imperial Policy between the Wars; The Historical Journal, Vol. 23, No. 3 (Sep., 1980), pp. 657-679.

Hitler had ‘offset’ the British interests in Indian political scenario40.

B.R.Tomlinson seeks to analyse the end of British imperialism on Indian soil from an economic angle. Contrary to Darwin’s theory on the inability of policymakers to understand the long term repercussions of colonial legislations in the twentieth century, Tomlinson argues that the national movement was encouraged by British government’s failure to implement effective economic policies during the war and the post war period41. There was a tide of campaigns against British economic policies in the twentieth century, led by economic nationalists who branded them as exploitative and anti-Indian. Swadeshi movement and Drain of Wealth theory were used to mobilize popular sentiments against the imperial government. By 1947, the imperial powers on Indian Territory had been remarkably weakened and the British government was left with no choice other than staging a peaceful exit from the colonial region, hoping to “secure a bargain with successor governments which had the political roots necessary to run the interventionist economic system now required”42.

The decline of British imperialism in India is not an overnight phenomenon that occurred due to a single cause. It will not be possible to provide a linear explanation to the episode, as the downfall involved political, economic, social and intellectual elements that contributed in one way or another, in India and abroad. A particular theory cannot explain the causes and characteristics of the decline of British imperialism, as the various subtexts ensconced by the event do not conform to any specific straitjackets. On the other hand, the fall of imperialism had

40Linlithgow to Baldwin, 22 Mar. 1940, Baldwin papers, box 107.

41B.R. Tomlinson, The Political Economy of the Raj: The Decline of Colonialism; The Journal of Economic History, Vol. 42, No. 1, The Tasks of Economic History (Mar., 1982), pp. 133-137

42Ibid., 137.

far-reaching consequences for British population in Great Britain. Hence, it can be concluded that each of these above given explanations defines the collapse, while complementing or contradicting each other.

Bibliography:

Brown, Judith M. India; Wm. Roger Louis. D.Litt., FBA (Ed.) The Oxford History of the British Empire: Volume IV- The Twentieth Century (New York: Oxford University Press: 1999).

Darwin, Dr.John.  Britain, the Commonwealth and the End of Empire.  BBC History< http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/british/modern/endofempire_overview_01.shtml> 26 February 2011.

Darwin, J.G. The Fear of Falling: British Politics and Imperial Decline since 1900; Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, Fifth Series, Vol. 36: 1986.

Etherington, Norman. Reconsidering Theories of Imperialism, History and Theory, Vol. 21, No. 1 (Feb., 1982), pp. 1-36. Blackwell Publishing for Wesleyan University.

Gaur, I.D. Essays in history and historiography: India’s struggle for freedom. Anmol Publications: 1998.

Jeffery, Keith. The Second World War, Chapter 13; Wm. Roger Louis. D.Litt., FBA (Ed.) The Oxford History of the British Empire: Volume IV- The Twentieth Century.  New York: Oxford University Press: 1999.

Letter from Lord Linlithgow to Stanley Baldwin, 22 Mar. 1940, Baldwin papers.

Louis, WM Roger. The Dissolution of the British Empire, chapter 14; Wm. Roger Louis. D.Litt., FBA (Ed.) The Oxford History of the British Empire: Volume IV- The Twentieth Century. New York: Oxford University Press: 1999.

Mansergh, Nicholas. The Commonwealth Experience .New York, 1969.

Moore, Robin J. India in the 1940s; Wm. Roger Louis. D.Litt., FBA (Ed.) The Oxford History of the British Empire: Volume V- Historiography New York: Oxford University Press: 1999.

Sau, Ranjit. The Theory of Unequal Exchange, Trade and Imperialism; Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. 11, No. 10: Mar. 6, 1976.

Schweinitz, Karl De. The rise and fall of British India: imperialism as inequality. Methuen: 1983.

Tomlinson, B.R. The Political Economy of the Raj: The Decline of Colonialism; The Journal of Economic History, Vol. 42, No. 1, The Tasks of Economic History: Mar., 1982.

Webster, Wendy: Englishness and Empire 1939-1965. Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2005.

Sample Essay:Off the Menu,Article Critique

The book Off the Menu: Asian and Asian North American Women’s Religion & Theology edited by Rita Nkashima Brock, et.al. is an incredible piece of literary work capturing concepts, insights and thoughts that are both novel and instrumental in their cultural importance, literary implications and religious relevance to its setting. This paper is a critical critique of the book where it will focus on three insights from the readings and will reflect deeply on them in an attempt to demystify all the angles touching on their inclusion in the book. The paper will critically analyze these concepts with the view of attempting to bring to understanding their implication to the audience and the society at large. In so doing, the paper will be in two parts: Part One covering pages ix to 162 and part Two covering from page 163 – 208.

Part One

From the word go, the authors of the book Off the Menu offer an array of composition that is loudly unorthodox and therefore new to the palate. The newness comes from exploring and testing the boundaries of truths, as we know them and presenting new frameworks from which one proceeds to understand the meaning of being Asian in the global setting and in light of contemporary issues- a revamped perception. This is the area that makes the authenticity and the relevance of the book quite historic as it is plausible.

Off the Menu has been arranged in four main parts from which specific issues are discussed and analyzed by the authors. These parts are: History and Identity, Reinventing Spiritual Tradition, Reorienting We-Self, and Embodied Agency. The book addresses the issue of racial discrimination in a manner that is both novel and wise. All of these four parts of the book address the issue of race albeit in varying approaches and degrees. History and Identity section addresses heinous historical injustices that have been perpetuated on non-natives of America. In the section of Fishing the Asia Pacific: Trans-nationalism and Feminist Theology, Kwok Pui Lan asserts that in order to address the issues affecting Asian women, there should be a transnational analysis of the intersections of race, labor, state, and gender in the age of global economy (Brock, Jung, Kwok & Yang 2007, 5). The rest of the essay takes off from Kwok’s deconstructive approach to redefining identities within transnational scope. This idea is well discussed in the book and raises questions regarding equality of the all people and postulates viable probability of there coming a time when peoples’ worth and honour shall not be pegged on their ethnic origin (Brock, Jung, Kwok & Yang 2007, 160).

That notwithstanding however, the authors appear to be overwhelmed by their quest for equality as they are obsessed with calls for freedom and equality to appear to tailor their preaching to appeal to peoples’ awareness of self rather than remaining true to the traditional primal goal of preaching which is to win souls to God (Brock, Jung, Kwok & Yang 2007, 158 – 159). This is particularly so when you consider Miss Saigon’s comments regarding her espousal to an Asian businessman where she makes it intrinsically appear sinful to hold a different opinion for those who were not in agreement with trans-racial marriages.

Part Two

The second part of the anthology, Reinventing Spiritual Tradition, proposes new ways of approaching and consuming the religious, the Asian flavor. Jung Ha-Kim warns of the danger of total assimilation of Asian religious culture into the American system. He claims that there is in the absorption a tendency to lose the borrowed ‘entity’ or ‘dish’ completely (Brock, Jung, Kwok & Yang 2007, 207). Bundang, on the one hand, provides a descriptive approach on how the Filipino Catholics in northeastern Florida practice their faith. Based on her field research, Bundang claims that diasporic Filipino Catholic communities follows almost similar patterns of expressing their faith with that of their home country while diverging on some religious points such as the homogenization of religious experience (Brock, Jung, Kwok & Yang 2007, 198 – 199). The third part of the anthology, Re-orienting We-Self, proposes that in order to avoid alienation, dehumanization all of which are part and parcel of globalization and multicultural existence, we must learn how to reorient our selves or our links with the rest of those around us/ with the rest of the world (Brock, Jung, Kwok & Yang 2007, 168).

The discussion contained in the second half of the book is very authentic and rich in facts and detail. If there is one word that encapsulates all the ‘tasty’ critical studies in the anthology, then it is the word daring. Staying true to the purpose of the anthology, which is to offer Off the Menu Course, the essays saunter into untrodden territories or at least the ‘unfamiliar and the not so popular’. This is where the strength of the anthology lies. It dares to deconstruct views about what it is to be Asian and a woman at that and in a world that is increasingly getting smaller because of globalization. The essays challenge the readers by way of pedagogy, ethnography, logic, and deconstruction to re-inspect every aspect of Asian identity- the self and the community (Brock, Jung, Kwok & Yang 2007, 188).

Conclusion

In summary therefore, Off the Menu is a literary anthology that has great insights some which have been captured in the foregoing discussion. Diversity is one complementary term that best describes Off the Menu. In the preface, the editor previews the diversity that is to characterize the collection as she writes, “Given its inception, PANAAWTM members have recognized the complex, historical, cultural, linguistic, and class backgrounds among us…we became keenly aware that the cultural heritages, struggles, and intellectual traditions of Asian and Asian North American women are diverse…” (Brock, Jung, Kwok & Yang 2007, xiii – xiv). The heterogeneity of Asian identity/make-up is translated into the anthology as the editors choose essays that tackle the divergences while proposing non-standard ways to integrate the dislocated parts for the purpose of solidarity. Off the Menu earns a point for recognizing the diversity among Asians and placing a check mark on the fact that there is no one single definition of Asian. This runs counter to the common belief that a set of characteristics can sum up the Asian identity. Japanese, Chinese, and Koreans may all look alike and their historical backgrounds may converge at one point or another but still each nationality stands unique in relation to the other. No culture among the thousands in Asia is ever a replica of another.

The comprehensiveness of the anthology accounts for the substance. The essays explore a wide range of subjects under the imagined heading, Theology and Religion from the Perspective of Asian Women in a Multicultural Transnational State. Varied aspects of the discourse on Asian Women identity are discussed in the anthology such as historical, religious/ spiritual, environmental and cultural. What further adds to the comprehensiveness of Off the Menu is its multidisciplinary approach. Not content to delve only on theology and religion, the essays take reference from other academic and non-academic sources such as sociology, anthropology, biology, history, economics, philosophy, language, and linguistics. By all means, such kind of a collection cannot slip through the eyes of critique without being branded spectacular, grandeur or an equivalent as far as quality literary prowess involvement is concerned. Inasmuch as the book has a number of its limitations as its sexist perspective of favouring the female gender, it can be justifiable accepted given the setting of the time of its publication which considered the female gender weaker, worthless deserving to be discriminated against. In one word, the book Off the Menu is spectacular both in content and relevant quality!

Bibliography

Brock, Rita Nkashima, Jung Ha Kin, Kwok Pui Lan, & Seung Ai Yang, eds. Off the Menu: Asian & Asian North American Women’s Religion & Theology. Louisville, London: Westminster John Knox Press, 2007.

09 Apr 2011

Sample Essay: College Education a Necessity in World Today

Introduction

There has been a specific discretion among workers in the modern industries today as to what particular capabilities individual applicants have and what particular work requirements they can accomplish. Understandably, it could be observed that this pressure has been heightened especially that modern industries today are focused on expanding their organizations towards the scope of international commerce. These aspects of developments specifically require the performance of highly trained individuals who are able to adjust on the different changes that are presented in the new and changing industry of commerce. How relevant is getting a college degree in facing all of these developmental aspects of industrial advancements? Should graduating in college be considered as a specific necessity for individuals who want to make it good in the field of global development? These questions shall be given particular attention to within the discussion that follows.

What is College Education?

Referred to as the tertiary level of education, college education is considered to be among the highest systems of education anyone could garner especially in the aspect of developing one’s capabilities in handling actual work pressures. Unlike the primary as well as secondary education which is more focused on the generality of several subjects, college education provides mastery of the different aspects of collegiate learning. This allows the students to realize the quality of the education that they are taking in as they apply it in actual fields of working responsibilities. Employers usually look for this requirement among applicants for several reasons. These reasons pertain to work comprehensiveness and capabilities that individuals gain.

Why is College Education Required?

College education is perceived to empower individuals to become the masters of their craft. How? The curriculum of college education specifically promotes focused learning especially on subjects that have been chosen by the students to study which focuses on the ideal consideration of developing expertise among learners aims to provide differential identification between the normalized capability of a person to define his personal ability to work and the enhancement that education itself provides. How is the creation of expertise among student developed through college education? There are actually three particular areas of college learning that makes this possible:

Theoretical lectures that are directed towards relation to actual matters of consideration

This aspect of learning in college opens the door towards expansive understanding of established theories that serve as guidelines in the different subjects of expertise they wish to master. Undeniably, the factor of learning provides the students a clear vision and logical understanding in regards to the system that exists in the society with correlation with the areas with which they aim to develops in themselves.

Actual application of theories in training practices

From classroom setting discussions, it could be realized that instructors try their best to reassess their students as well as allow them the chance to have a hands-on-practice in which they apply the theories they learn from class. This way, the students are given the chance to gain better realization on how practical their lessons from their classrooms are. Instructors are prompted to assist their students in the process of applying their learned aspects of expert work management in school towards the most complicated issues in an actual work arena.

Involvement to actual issues affecting the society

Every college student is given the chance to directly correlates their lessons with the issues that affect the world. Learning how practical their lessons are, they become specifically empowered or motivated to perform at their best as their performance would result to better situations in the society.

Truthfully, through learning the different aspects that make a college education worthwhile, it could be observed why most employers pick first college degree graduate students to fill in the positions they open to the market for job filling. The practical learning and the long-term training that the students get from college universities specifically allow them to set foot in the actual arena of job development in a way that would best allow them to make essential influences to the society that they are living in. With this in consideration, it could then be realized how seemingly important a college education is for current job applicants. It could not be denied that this is a fact that everyone realizes to be true. Question is, why are there many young individuals who are less able to gain better access to college education no matter how hard they desire to?

The Issue behind a Lower Rate of College Graduates

One specific reason behind the lower rate of college graduates in the society today is that of the fact that out of 100 students, only 52 are able to enroll in a college degree and sadly only 23 out of these individuals are able to graduate from their courses. Why is this like so? Primarily, the issue on lacking of financial support becomes a serious matter of consideration. With the entire population of supposed students of college education within the American society, only 43% are able to enroll in colleges (Commission Reports: A National Dialogue: The Secretary of Education’s Commission on the Future of Higher Education, 2006). Attaining higher education would require higher funding from the students who would want to enroll in courses under it. Practicably, it could be observed that there are instances when the willingness of a student to learn is not enough to get him or her the kind of education that he/she desires. This is the reason why it is very important that government programs be established to support the needs of the people. Observably, the students that are most deserving to get college education must given support and the government should give practical attention towards this social need. Only through this way that they would be able to provide support to those who are willing to learn and are considered to be sources of development in the society. What of those who cannot be supported by the government but still want and desire to attain an educational degree that would provide them better chances of getting a good job in the market? There exists the provision of alternative education. What is alternative education?

Technical Training versus College Education

With the issues of deepened attention to education-before-work requirement on most industrial positions, it could be observed how educational entities tried to help other students to meet the ends to gain better chances of gaining the right education that they need in comparison with their capability to pay and the time that they are willing to spend in learning. This is where technical education comes in. Although it is considered lower than a college degree education, learning from vocational schools also provide ample training to hopeful individuals regarding the kind of skill or craft that they wanting to master. The sad truth upon this fact though is that there are very minimal number of individuals who have finished vocational courses that are given a chance to be promoted to higher positions in a company compared to those others who have finished a college degree. Nevertheless, it gives individuals a better chance to at least get a good job that would hopefully suffice their needs to survive living.

Summary and Conclusion

With this presentation, it could be realized how important a college education is in the current society. College education specifically widens the chance of students who apply for jobs in the market to be promoted later on to higher positions in the organizations they tend to work with. Yes, the sad truth behind the fact that employers choose educated people over the skilled individuals for promotion is a situation that proves the importance of a college education in the current world of global competition as well as development. Through the development of college education curriculums and extending the supporting funds to this particular aspect of social learning, it is expected that the number of college graduates would increase. But then again, this issue is a social responsibility and not a sole responsibility of the government alone.

References:

Bakvis, Herman and David M. Cameron (2000), “Post-secondary education and the SUFA“. IRPP.

Commission Reports: A National Dialogue: The Secretary of Education’s Commission on the Future of Higher Education, United States Department of Education, 2006.

Davies, Antony and Thomas W. Cline (2005). The ROI on the MBA, BizEd.

Douglass, John A. and Todd Greenspan, eds. “The History of the California Master Plan for Higher Education.” MBA Magazine.

El-Khawas, E. (1996). Campus trends. Washington, DC.: American Council on Education.

Ewell, P.T. (1999). Assessment of higher education and quality: Promise and politics. In S.J. Messick (Ed.), Assessment in higher education: Issues of access, quality, student development, and public policy. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Finn, C. E. (1988, Jul.-Aug.). Judgment time for higher education: In the court of public opinion. Journal of Change, 20(4), 34-39.

Forest, James and Kevin Kinser (2002). Higher Education in the United States: An Encyclopedia. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO.

Green, Madeleine, F., ed. 1988. Leaders for a New Era: Strategies for Higher Education. New York: Macmillan.

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Sample Essay: Differences Between Crisis Preparedness and Crisis Proneness

Crisis is of different types, they can be classified as creeping, sudden and periodic and each requires a different type of response (Jarman & Kouzmin, 1990). Creeping crisis is systematic and can be anticipated and is inevitable like for example, employee discrimination etc. A sudden crisis occurs all of a sudden “A sudden crisis is one that occurs seemingly from nowhere and often appears overwhelming” (Walker & Hampson, 2003). This kind of crisis is very common in the construction industry. Periodic crisis is crisis that occurs during various periods such as the effect of business cycles, economic cycles etc., wherein it is difficult to predict the occurrence of such crisis. This kind of crisis is quiet common in industrial organizations. Being prone to crisis like for example the construction industry where frequent accidents occur is known as crisis proneness and being prepared to face the crisis with adequate backup plans, appropriate crisis management processes, and alternate strategies is known as crisis preparedness. In this assignment we discuss the differences between crisis proneness and crisis preparedness in business continuity/disaster recovery within organizations.

Crisis Preparedness

Occurrence of a crisis in an organizations was perceived as matter of management failure but now there is an increasing realization that crisis is inevitable in life and an healthy part of any organization’s life that has to be planned (Pascale 1991). A crisis may destroy an unplanned organization but it will benefit an organization that planned for it by helping the organization tap into the greater opportunities that the crisis creates.

Crisis preparedness involves determining how well we are planned to face a crisis in case we come to face it. Crisis preparedness involves planning and “Crisis preparedness planning should be built into the operational infrastructure and management processes of the organization as much as any other management process or ongoing part of doing business in response to customer or patient needs” (Malloch & O’Grady, 2009). A crisis plan provides direction to an organization as well as provides life to it in the event of a crisis because an organization would come across some form of crisis at some point in time during the course of its existence and leaders of an organization should recognize this fact and be prepared for it. The best way to prepare for a crisis is to gather as much information about possible crisis situations and impending crisis and also to be prepared for it. Information gathering is about collecting information about the business environment and scanning it for any possible crisis.

Crisis preparedness in an organization is affected by the way in which the organization is clear about the crisis and its preparedness to face it. Therefore, crisis management skills are as important as any other type of skills like say, human resource management. The potential for crisis is always constant and supporting crisis management tenets should be part of our work management requirements. Therefore, an organization should clearly state that its policy, performance and role evaluation will include the organization’s expectation of a management employee to clearly comprehend and apply environmental scanning skills, interpreting and implementing crisis prediction and planning processes and executing the crisis plan. A crisis plan must clearly define the role and performance expectation from leaders of the organization, full participation in the design, development and implementation of the crisis plan, processes for identifying signal changes and trigger events, and the design, development and implementation of specific plans for specific crisis capabilities.

Today no business is immune to crisis and any form of crisis may hit an organization any time any day of the week. Therefore, crisis management and public relations are closely linked as far as a company goes and it affects a company’s pride and image.

The entire process of crisis management should be institutionalized by its core management team that includes the chief executive office of the company. The crisis management process should anticipate, prepare and be ready to mitigate a crisis. For the crisis management system to be effective it should receive good support and participation from the core management team of a company.  The draft crisis management policy should contain a commitment from the leadership and general guidelines for action to be taken in the event of crisis. This draft crisis management policy should also contain the goals and purposes of the crisis management plan to be created and this should be in consonance with the philosophy and values of an organization. The next step is to create a crisis management team that identifies all possible crisis that the company may face and develop plans, roles and responsibilities for alleviating the crisis. At this stage the role of the leadership is to enable the crisis management team to analyze the various forms of crisis. The third step is to establish an effective communication strategy to maintain communication with stakeholders. Crisis preparedness plans may be designed meticulously and painful drills conducted to test its effectiveness but ultimately it is organizational values and the chief executive’s beliefs that decided an organization’s response to a crisis. An example of a successful crisis management event is the handling of the Tylenol crisis by Johnson & Johnson in the 1980s. James Bruke, the CEO, led the team as per the directions provided by the management of Johnson & Johnson that placed the company’s responsibilities and commitments to customer over and above that of its own stakeholders, employees, and shareholders (Alagse).

Crisis Proneness

Proneness to crisis varies from activity to activity. For example, a person involved in demolition of a house is more prone to a crisis than a person involved in the building of a house. Likewise, a company involved in complex, non-routine and innovative business activities is prone to more risk than a company that follows established business activities. But the fact of the matter is that crisis proneness depends on the way an organization is managed and most crisis prone organizations have certain characteristics in common (Pauchant & Mitroff, 1992), they are, “mistrust, inequality, suspicion and a short-termism” (Walker & Hampson, 2003). They are also inflexible, have a short-term approach, they are formal, penal, exploitative and task-oriented. This is due to such an organization’s management having the impression that such crisis is someone else’s responsibility, they have negative frame of mind and carry the thinking that this happens to others also. Crisis prone organizations are basically reactive in nature and they do not encourage learning from the crisis while at the same time precipitating the crisis, mismanaging it and then causing further major damage. A crisis prone organization does not re-examine the organizational practices in the aftermath of the crisis because they have a short-term mindset and transitional relationships with the perception that the causes for the crisis are not likely to occur again.

Business Continuity Planning

Business continuity planning (BCP) or Business continuity & Resiliency Planning (BCRP) “planning which identifies the organization’s exposure to internal and external threats and synthesizes hard and soft assets to provide effective prevention and recovery for the organization, whilst maintaining competitive advantage and value system integrity” (Elliot, Swartz & Herbane, 1999). The plan that is used in BCP is known as business continuity plan. The purpose of a BCP is to ensure smooth continuity of business and it defines how business should be conducted in the event of a disaster or calamity. BCP training is imparted to employees to reduce operational risk arising out of poor implementation of information management controls. A BCP cycle is said to be implemented only with the availability of a printed manual that is available as a ready reference in the event of disruptions. The aim of a BCP is to reduce adverse implications for stakeholders that is determined by the scope of the disruption. Business Impact Analysis (BIA) zones are classified into different types based on the different types of threats like civil, economic, natural, technical, secondary and subsequent.

An example of business continuity practices was the computer failure or Y2K problem and many governments anticipating this problem with respect to the scope of the problem in utilities like banking, power, telecom, health and finance. Regulatory agencies like American Bankers Association and Banking Administration Institute required their members to have operational continuity practices in place that protected public interest. Newer regulations were put in place based on standards like ISO/IEC 17799 or BS7799 or BS25999. But somewhere in 2000 after the Y2K problem was seen through the governments and businesses started to become lax and this came to the fore when disasters like the terrorist attacks took place in September 2001, the disaster caused by hurricane Katrina and the Gulf of Mexico oil spill took place, which envisaged a “worst case scenario” (Honour, 2003) paradigm for business continuity planning.

Crisis Preparedness – Hurricane Katrina and Disaster Planning – A case study

We all know about the trail of destruction that Hurricane Katrina and the subsequent damage that occurred due to poor disaster planning and coordination. In the aftermath of the Katrina disaster President Bush decided that partnerships with the state and local agencies were no longer effective and as such decided to implement policies that require proactive intervention by the federal government when it anticipates a disaster. The disaster planning would be implemented by the US military’s Northern Command, after review by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The impact of Bush’s decision was that when Hurricane Wilma threatened Florida, he overruled his own brother and Florida governor Jeb Bush and made a three-star general the primary leader for the implementation of the National Response Plan (NRP). In this case the main lesson learnt post-Katrina hurricane damage was the superiority of a pro-active leadership over partnership.

This kind of proactive leadership that shows crisis preparedness is what is required in today’s organizations so as to avoid disasters and aid business continuity. Business continuity that stemmed out of disaster recovery is changing and the methods that were adopted some years ago are irrelevant in today’s world. It is true that business continuity plans or BCP is well-documented but what is largely ignored is the fact that the business continuity requirements have changed due to globalization and a high-tech society that we are living in today, thus requiring a change in BCP for most organizations. The concept of business continuity even now focuses on response and recovery as in the past when it grew out of disaster recovery but what is currently needed is zero-downtime of mission-critical processes, this means prevention rather than disaster recovery.  Therefore, a total shift is required from the traditional approach to business continuity.

Crisis Preparedness – Tsunami Awareness activities– A case study

The Pacific Disaster Center (PDC) and the South Pacific Geoscience commission developed computer modeling applications and other tools that helped the prime minster of Fiji to understand the impact of Tsunamis on his community and it is designed to help other leaders in the other Pacific islands to understand the hazards that Tsunamis cause to their countries and their people. Another tool of the PDC known as the automated Tsunami alert system alerts officials with travel-time information on a Tsunami as and when it occurs. The system based in Hawaii improves the emergency officials’ response in three ways, that is, they deliver emergency Tsunami warning information to the emergency managers through pages and cell phones, posts the bulletin automatically to the PDC’s operational website and posts the Tsunami travel times to Hawaii on the internet through PDC computer models (Pacific Disaster Center). This is a classic case study of crisis preparedness, here constant research is on at the PDC on the ever changing requirements of crisis preparedness and up-to-date strategies are used to counter the threats posed by Tsunamis all over the world.

Crisis Proneness – The Gulf of Mexico oil spill – A case study

A clear indication that business continuity processes keep changing is the case of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. The oil spill occurred in the Gulf of Mexico installation of British Petroleum (BP) an oil producing major headquarted in London, UK. Though BP had well-documented disaster recovery plans in the event of an oil spill it did not have a plan to stop a deep sea spill (Ian Yarret, 2010). BP’s oil spill response plan talks of protecting walruses, sea lions, sea otters and seals etc., animals that do not exist in the Gulf of Mexico. This suggests that portions of some other plan have been used in this document. The plan however considers scenarios like a blowout that occurred in the Gulf of Mexico but it did not offer response options to a deep sea spill out. In the plan there is no specific mention of procedures like laying out containment domes, top kill or junk shots but it mentions about using dispersants, boats, and booms to skim the oil from the surface of the ocean (Ian Yarret, 2010). This clearly proves the crisis proneness of the BP’s disaster recovery plans and as such BP should take the initiative to create disaster recovery plans that suit the changing environment in which it operates. Only appropriate disaster recovery plan or business continuity plan that keeps pace with the changes in the business environment will be able to ensure smooth business continuity for any organization in the event of a disaster.

The BCP should be scalable depending on an organizations size and complexity. Any type of organization may have a BCP manual and if the organization plans to survive and be successful in the industry to which it belongs then it is advisable for it to have a BCP. Companies that do not have a BCP have gone out of business when they suffered a disaster like say fire. For example, as many as 150 of the 350 businesses failed to survive the 1993 world trade center bombing (Naef, 2003) and went out of business, whereas companies that were affected by the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks that had well developed BCP manuals survived the disaster (Stohr, Rohmeyer & Shaikh, 2004).  A BCP manual may contain needed information in the event of an emergency like for example, names, addresses, phone numbers of crisis management staff, clients, location of offsite data backup storage media,    secondary worksite, technical readiness, work recovery measures, means to reestablish physical records, new supply chains, new production centers etc.

Crisis-proneness – The Challenger Case study

NASA had twenty-four successful launches to its credit before the Challenger space shuttle disaster happened. The organizational culture in NASA can be best described in the words of Starbuck-Milliken “When an organization succeeds, its managers usually attribute this success to themselves, or at least to their organization, rather than to luck. The organization’s members grow more confident of their own abilities, of their managers’ skill, and of their organization’s existing programs and procedures” (Starbuck-Milliken, 1988). There were many successful launches by NASA since its first launch in 1958 and with each successful launch NASA started creating an image of itself as a company that does not commit any mistakes. NASA slowly started creating an impression about itself has not being an organization. Instead, “It had a magical aura. NASA had not only experienced repeated successes, it had achieved the impossible. It had landed men on the moon and returned them safely to earth. Time and again, it had successfully completed missions with hardware that supposedly had very little chance of operating adequately” (Boffey, 1986a). This was the thinking and approach with which NASA operated until it was awakened by the Challenger disaster in 1986 to the realities and fallacies of its own shortcomings. NASA had failed to prepare for a crisis. In fact, NASA did not have an effective crisis management plan to deal with the Challenger disaster. The Challenger disaster occurred because of NASA’s desire to go ahead with the scheduled launch despite objections from the engineers of its contractors Morton Thiokol and Rockwell International. It is a different issue that the management of Morton Thiokol and Rockwell International had overruled their engineers and given the go ahead to the launch, which was later attributed to influence from NASA.  Space shuttle Challenger broke apart within seconds of being into the flight leading to the death of all the crew members. The reason attributed to the failure of the shuttle was the failure of an O-ring seal in its right Solid Rocket Booster (SRB). The O-ring breached the SRB joint that it sealed thus allowing pressurized hot air gas from the solid rocket motor to move out and hit the nearby SRB attachment hardware and fuel tank. This incident caused the separation of the right-hand SRB’s aft attachment and failure of the external fuel tank, which resulted in aerodynamics breaking up the shuttle. NASA’s managers had known for a long time that Morton-Thiokol’s design of the SRBs had a disastrous flaw in the design of the O-rings (Brian, 2011) but it was not addressed properly and not only this they had disregarded warnings from Rockwell International’s engineers regarding the dangers of launching the space shuttle in cold temperature and went ahead with the launch and this caused the disaster. Had there been a crisis management plan in NASA these kinds of issues would never have happened and issues related to the O-rings would have been addressed. The warnings to delay the launch of the space shuttle due to cold weather would have been heeded to by the crisis management team and the launch would have been postponed to some other day. There were no crisis-management processes that were followed at NASA and this resulted in the Challenger disaster which threw light on the crisis-proneness of NASA at that time.

Later on, the Rogers Commission appointed to investigate the accident by the US president had found out that NASA’s organizational culture and decision making processes had contributed to the disaster and asked NASA to implement nine recommendations that the commission had suggested before it resumed the shuttle flights.

Development of a Crisis Management or Business Continuity Plan (BCP) Manual

A Business Continuity Plan (BCP) manual has a five-stage development process; they are the Analysis phase, Solution Design, Implementation, Organizational acceptance, and Maintenance phase (Disaster Recovery Templates, 2009).

Analysis Phase

Two types of analysis are carried out; they are the impact analysis and the threat analysis.

Impact Analysis

During this phase all critical and non-critical organizational activities are identified and differentiated. A function is identified as critical if damage to that function would affect the stakeholders and the organization very badly. The level of acceptance of disruptions to these functions may be altered by the cost of establishing and maintaining the right kind of recovery solutions. A function may be classified as critical if it is required by law. For a critical function two different types of values are assigned, they are, Recovery Point Objective (RPO) and Recovery Time Objective (RTO). RPO is the data latency at the time of recovery and RTO is the amount of time needed to restore the function. The maximum tolerable data loss should not exceeded by RPO and the maximum tolerable period of disruption should not be exceeded by RTO. The impact analysis results in the recovery requirements for each critical function. Recovery requirements can be classified as business requirements for the recovery of the critical function and technical requirements for the recovery of the critical function.

Threat Analysis

The next phase is the documentation of the likely threats, the threats may be earthquakes, terrorist strike, an hurricane, flood, fire etc., and the threats have one impact and that is damage to organizational infrastructure. After documenting the threats, one should define the impact analysis scenarios that are the basis of the business recovery plan. The impact analysis scenario should take into account larger problems rather than small problems, as all small problems form part of a large problem.

After completing the analysis phase a documentation of all business and technical requirements should be carried out to start the implementation phase.

Solution Design

The solution phase is the phase where you identify the most cost effective disaster recovery solution that satisfies the business and technical requirements that we discussed during the impact analysis phase. The solution phase determines the crisis management structure, location of the secondary work site, the communication structure between the primary and secondary locations, the software requirements at the secondary work site and the type of physical data requirements at the secondary work site.

Implementation

This is the phase where the solutions identified during the solution design phase are implemented. The identified solutions are tested at the workplace and it is known as organizational testing.

Organizational Acceptance Test

During this phase we test the solutions designed at the implementation phase, whether the solution satisfies the organizational recovery requirements. A solution that was implemented may fail during this phase due to erroneous or insufficient recovery requirements, design solution flaws, implementation errors etc.  The tests that are part of this phase are call-out tests, technical swing test from primary to secondary and back from secondary to primary work sites, application and business process tests.

The British Standards Institute has identified three types of exercises that can be used to test business continuity plans, they are, simple, medium and complex exercises.

Simple exercise

A simple exercise involves a small number of people on specific aspects of an exercise but one advantage of a simple exercise is that it can be executed on not only a small number of people but also on a large and complex group.

Medium exercise

This is conducted in a computerized environment and it would involve several departments, teams or disciplines and it would concentrate on more than one aspect of the BCP. A medium exercise should last two or three hours over a fixed number of days and it should involve interaction between teams.

Complex exercise

This will have all the characteristics of a medium exercise with more additional tasks like no-notice activation, actual evacuation and actual invocation of a disaster recovery site. A start and cutoff time for this exercise would be decided upon but the duration of this exercise may be unknown if the events in the complex exercise are allowed to run their course of time as in a real situation. The expected time to get to the Disaster Recovery site in a complex exercise is forty-five minutes but there should be scope for flexibility in the event of more time being taken to reach the DR site.

Maintenance

During this phase the BCP functions are broken into three periodic activities and they are information confirmation, solution testing and verification to verify if they confirm to established standards for recovery operations and finally the testing and verification of documented organization recovery procedures.

Information Confirmation

As organizations change over time so does their BCP. A call tree testing is done to verify the efficiency of the notification plan and the accuracy of the contact data provided. The changes that would be identified and updated in the manual are, staffing change, staffing personal,  changes in clients and their contact details, departmental changes etc.

Solution testing and verification

Any technical deployments that are done should be tested for its functionality; the checks may be a data verification, application operability check, computer hardware operability check etc.

Testing and verification of documented organization recovery procedures

Work processes change with time and so is the documented organizational recovery procedures. Therefore, all work processes should be checked and it should be verified if all critical work process functions are documented, verification of systems used in the execution of critical functions to check if they have changed, check for change in documented check lists, verify if the documented work processes would enable the staff to perform a recovery within the determined recovery time etc., should be checked for all work processes.
Therefore, the main difference between crisis preparedness and crisis proneness it that in crisis preparedness there is a crisis management plan or business continuity plan in place and this plan is followed by the organization when a disaster strikes the organization, on the other hand in crisis proneness there is no crisis management plan or business continuity plan and this would leave the organization vulnerable to disasters. Ultimately a crisis prone organization is bound to be destroyed or badly damaged by a disaster as and when it takes place.

References

Walker, Derek. Hampson, Keith. 2003. Procurement Strategies – A Relationship based approach. Blackwell Science Ltd., ISBN 0-632-05886-2

Kouzmin A. and Jarman A.M.G. 1990. Towards Comprehensive Planning in Australian Crisis Management’, Asian Review of Public Administration , Vol. 2, Nos 1-2, January-December, pp. 99–113.

Malloch, Kathy, O’Grady, Tim Porter. 2009. Quantum Leader. Applications for the New World Of Work. Jones and Bartlett Publishers International. Library of Congress Cataloging- in-Publication Data. ISBN 978-0-7637-6540-8.

Elliot, D.; Swartz, E.; Herbane, B. (1999) Just waiting for the next big bang: business continuity planning in the UK finance sector. Journal of Applied Management Studies, Vol. 8, No, pp. 43-60. Here: p. 48.

Honour, David. 2003. Paradigm shifts in business continuity. Continuity Central. Portal Publishing Ltd.

Yarret, Ian. 2010. Why Wasn’t There a Better Plan? Before flooding the gulf with oil, BP’s plan to handle a disaster was alarmingly short on solutions. Newsweek.com. http://www.newsweek.com/2010/05/28/why-wasn-t-there-a-better-plan.html

Pascale, Richard .T. 1991. Managing on the edge: how the smartest companies use conflict to stay ahead. Simon & Schuster. ISBN: 0671732854, 9780671732851.

Pauchant, Thierry .C., Mitroff, Ian.I. 1992. Transforming the crisis-prone organization: preventing individual, organizational, and environmental tragedies.  University of Michigan. Jossey-Bass Publishers. ISBN 1555424074, 9781555424077.

Crisis management – a leadership challenge. Promoting Thought Leadership. Alagse.com

Tsunami Awareness Activities. Pacific Disaster Center -Fostering Disaster – Resilient Communities. http://www.pdc.org/iweb/projects.jsp?subg=4&pj=tsunami&type=cs

Brian. 2011. Remembering the Challenger Shuttle Explosion: A Disaster 25 Years Ago. Outer Space Universe.

Stohr, Edward. A.,Rohmeyer, Paul, Shaikh, Matin. 2004. Business Continuity in the Pharmaceutical Industry.

Naef, Wanja Eric. 2003. Business Continuity Planning – A safety net for businesses. IWS – The Information Warfare Site. Infocon Magazine Issue. Retrieved on 1-Oct-2003. http://www.iwar.org.uk/infocon/business-continuity-planning.htm

2009. How to develop a Business Continuity Plan (BCP) manual in 5 simple steps. Disaster Recovery Templates. Disasterrecoverytemplates.com. http://www.disasterrecoverytemplates.com/how-develop-business-continuity-plan-bcp-manual-5-simple-steps

Starbuck, William, Milliken, Frances. 1988. Challenger: Fine-Tuning the Odds Until Something Breaks.Journal of Management Studies 25(4), July 1988.

Boffey, P.M. 1986a. “NASA Soon To Get An Outside Chief, Reagan aides say”, New York Times, February 22, pp. A1, A29.
Barnes, James. C. 2001. A guide to business continuity planning. John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., 2001. ISBN 0471530158, 9780471530152.

Fulmer, Kenneth .L. Rothstein, Philip Jan. 2004. Business Continuity Planning, A Step-by-Step Guide with Planning Forms on CDROM. Rothstein Associates Inc Publisher. ISBN: 1-931332-21-5.

Sample Essay: Artificial Intelligence

Introduction

Artificial intelligence is the area of science that focuses upon creating machines that have the ability to behave more intelligently than human beings. The potential to develop intelligent machines has fascinated human beings for several centuries. The introduction of computers and over 50 years of research in techniques of artificial intelligence programming have led people to believe that the dream of such smart capabilities will soon become a reality. The main issue of artificial intelligence is the challenges that have not yet been met and scientists are not yet aware of how to resolve the issue in terms of manufacturing intelligence. The issues related with determining the very meaning of intelligence and consciousness have adversely impacted the progress in innovating systems that equal human levels of intelligence. Another reason why such a possibility remains quite remote is that the search is not being done in the right direction.

Researchers have started developing intelligent systems that can perform almost the same functions as the human mind, in addition to understanding speech and performing several other functions that were not possible earlier. It is now possible to ascertain how militaries of different nations make use of artificial intelligence techniques in developing their high-tech systems. This paper will thoroughly examine the history of artificial intelligence and the development that has taken place in this regard over the last few decades in providing human beings with better facilities and higher standards of living.

Main Body

Artificial Intelligence and Technology

The phrase artificial intelligence was coined in 1956 by John McCarthy, who was a computer science professor at Stanford University. According to him, artificial intelligence implied the engineering and science of creating intelligent machines. During the initial years of the development of artificial intelligence there was considerable excitement and the pioneers of the concept had made confident and forthright predictions. Herbert Simon was an innovator of artificial intelligence systems and had predicted in 1965 that within 20 years machines will be capable of doing everything that human beings can do. Two years later, MIT scholar Marvin Minsky predicted that the next generation will be able to get over the complexities associated with creating artificial intelligence systems. In keeping with such determination amongst researchers, popular culture started taking for granted that artificial intelligence will be able to provide man with robots that could perform all human functions.

Movies such as Jetsons, Star Wars and Rosy the Robot were instant successes and created a wave of popularity whereby high expectations were raised in the context of artificial intelligence. However, after a few decades of such assertions people have started questioning what artificial intelligence has done for humanity. Many believe that if artificial intelligence is defined as a means for self learning and self-awareness, then it has obviously proved to be a big disappointment (Scientific American, 2002).

Accessibility to Tools

Every time that people search through the worldwide web they get responses from NetFlix and are prompted to give further feedback in order to allow artificial intelligence systems to provide the required results. They may also get opportunities to speak on telephone voice recognition systems that are tools devised for making constructive use of intelligent machines. It can be said that people may not be having the facility of fully functioning robots that perform all human functions, but it is also true that artificial intelligence is now ingrained heavily in people’s everyday lives. Amongst the most influential factors that have boosted artificial intelligence is the Moore’s Law because artificial intelligence cannot do without power from the CPU. This is corroborated by the fact that the world had take twenty years to transform from 5MHz technology to 500MHz technology but only eight months were required to transform to 1GHz technology. Scientists such as Burrus have argued in favor of expert systems and artificial intelligence that work in the background of different functions.  According to him, the initial applications that allowed artificial intelligence to succeed were made in the financial services sector in the context of loan approvals.

The introduction of artificial intelligence systems in financial institutions reduced the time taken in the servicing and approving loans from two weeks to a few minutes. In addition, there are several other examples of artificial intelligence such as air force pilots being able to land their planes on aircraft carriers. Expert systems are now widely used for the management of room service orders in luxury hotels. Artificial intelligence allows hotel staff to know when they should start cooking and when they should deliver the food. Hotels that use artificial intelligence systems convey to their guests the exact time of delivery of breakfast while other hotels have to give the approximate time of delivery. Therefore, such hotels enjoy competitive advantages.  Although energy prices are rising consistently the cost of artificial intelligence systems has been constantly going down, obviously because appliances are becoming more intelligent.

Barriers

Artificial intelligence allows users to get access to software tools, which has enabled several government agencies to make use of the services of robots and of language processing. NASA is an agency that was very successful in getting public response from its Mars Rovers. Techniques of artificial intelligence have been providing opportunities of varied nature around the world. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is known to have made huge investments in meeting the challenges of developing the Internet during its earlier phases. The agency now sponsors contests to make innovations in building autonomous vehicles involving artificial intelligence systems. This practice allows teams to amalgamate varied disciplines such as problem-solving, learning systems and machine vision while researching in unknown areas. Amongst the most successful products relative to artificial intelligence is the iRobot, which is a home training vacuum product that has been purchased by more than 2 million families across the world. Surveys have revealed that almost half of the customers have given pet names to their machines in keeping with the intense emotional attachment they have developed for them. With the success of this product, more and more people have now started accepting robot appliances.

Just as one can have expectations from a manufacturer that makes tools for the actual world, artificial intelligence and robots comprise of software and codes that can be used again and again at different platforms. These products can be successfully used in low level functions in order to take care of varied situations by avoiding obstruction, which is considered to be the most successful attribute of artificial intelligence. Researchers have referred to this quality of artificial intelligence as bottom heavy cognition.

Artificial intelligence is known to suffer from language barriers. Machine vision is also a barrier for the navigation and movement of robots in any given environment. But language barriers continue to loom, although the pattern is declining. Researchers have been able to develop more feasible systems through the introduction of voice recognition systems that allow robots to be trained in the given language or to respond to a given vocabulary of different groupings.  Google regularly uses techniques of artificial intelligence in its different functions relating to language analysis and words stemming, after which the given results are applied to the relevant index. Word stemmers are true examples of artificial intelligence tools that have become quite common in program modules across the world. It is now possible to buy these products easily across the shelf and consumers can start using them immediately without any technical complexities. It is also possible to choose the kind of language and rules that users wish to use are required because every language has different rules of usage.

Research in Artificial Intelligence

Eric Horviz of Microsoft has said that “about a quarter of all Microsoft research is focused on AI efforts” (Russel, 1995, p.102). Microsoft Research is known to include more than a thousand Ph.D level researchers in its eight campuses spread across the world. The company has a substantially broad based research and publishing environment. “It’s a think tank, but not a captive one. We have an open publication model” (Russel, 1995, p.113).  The main goal of researchers in the companies is to work in a pattern whereby they can come out with new state of the art products. Horviz claims that “researchers do their best work, publish in journals, and then work with product teams to build the best software or service” (Russel, 1995, p.134).

Another example of artificial intelligence can be witnessed in the project called ClearFlow, which is a desktop application for managing traffic. The idea for the project was born in attempts to resolve the intense problems associated with traffic congestion in Seattle. Researchers examined several routes used by commuters on the assumption that the flow of local street traffic reacted to the frequency of accidents on different routes. In having realized that side streets get blocked when drivers try to escape jams on the highway, a viable solution was found by devising ClearFlow. Microsoft provided details of traffic movement on its website maps.live.com that also gives suggestions to commuters for taking the best possible routes.

However the intense and artificial hype created about artificial intelligence from the 1950s to the 1990s has made the public to become fed up because of promises that remained unfulfilled.  Although every consumer electronic product has some element of artificial intelligence, the tools inside the product never include artificial intelligence in the functioning of the gadgets.  Artificial intelligence is incorporated in several consumer products and continues to be used in every part of the world. However, instead of calling such products as artificial intelligence, manufactures have adopted the pattern of calling the technology developed by this artificial intelligence as only tools of convenience. It has to be remembered that while conducting a web search, artificial intelligence does all the heavy work that was previously done through a chain of events that involved several people, such as the role of the Post Office.

John McCarthy has defined artificial intelligence as “the science and engineering of making intelligent machines, especially intelligent computer programs. It is related to the similar task of using computers to understand human intelligence, but AI does not have to confine itself to methods that are biologically observable” (Russel, 1995, p.132).  It is quite difficult to believe in today’s world that one can buy a machine that has the ability to play chess at advanced levels.  The machines have the potential to defeat any world champion in view of their ability to view ahead 200 million positions every second. In the common man’s language, artificial intelligence can be understood as a study of computer related systems and devices that can be produced in acting in ways, which is why they are spontaneously called intelligent. Immediately after the Second World War a number of scientific people started working on ideas of developing intelligent machines. These were the people who succeeded in programming computers instead of just producing machines.

Artificial Intelligence Examples

Common examples of artificial intelligence in the contemporary world can be found in game playing activities such as puzzles, backgammon, chess, checkers and cards. Voice technology has been intended for use of artificial intelligence systems that are not only inclusive of emerging technology but are also adopted by most of the large corporations of the world. Artificial intelligence is used in computer vision for functions such as image guided surgery, image recognition, facial recognition and virtual reality. Voice recognition is now being extensively used in several functions such as customer service and banking as also for dictation software and in assisting handicapped people. Deep Blue is a program developed by IBM for playing chess.  This program had beaten the world chess champion Garry Kasparov. Proverb is an artificial intelligence system that can solve crossword puzzles more efficiently than human beings. Watson is a version of the answering machine that can make different TV game shows. Infotame is a text analysis search capability that was initially devised by the Russian KGB for intercepting communications.

The Reality of Artificial Intelligence

It cannot be denied that McCarthy’s vision has actually become a reality. In the current popular culture, artificial intelligence continues to conjure up visions of intelligent robots. Films such as Star Trek and the Matrix demonstrated super intelligence that was much superior to human beings, especially in the context of problem solving and reasoning. Nevertheless, the truth about artificial intelligence technology cannot be said to have achieved the far reaching vision of science fiction. But it is possible for scientists at least in the near future to create artificial intelligence machines that possess human abilities. Kewin Warwick, who teaches cybernetics at the University of Reading strongly believes that super intelligent artificial intelligence systems will arrive in the coming future and usher in a speedy and changing technology, which he has referred to as singularity. He holds that,

“I feel that by 2050 that we will have gone through the Singularity and it will either be intelligent machines actually dominant – The Terminator scenario – or it will be cyborgs, upgraded humans. I really by 2050 can’t see humans still being the dominant species. I just cannot believe that the development of machine intelligence would have been so slow as to not bring that about” (Minsky, 2005, p.104).

At the core of artificial intelligence there is a challenge that has not yet been solved and scientists are not yet aware of how to resolve the issue in terms of manufacturing intelligence.  The issues related with ascertaining the very meaning of intelligence and consciousness in this regard have adversely impacted the progress in innovating systems that equal human levels of artificial intelligence. Another reason why such a possibility remains quite remote is that the search is not being directed on the correct route.  According to Reading’s Warwick, “I think in the ’60s, ’70s people were maybe making predictions – we were going to have AI systems like the human brain in 10 years and things like that – maybe they were completely unrealistic scenarios but we’ve tended to use AI systems for specific areas. We’ve not been looking at recreating humans” (Minsky, 2005, p. 136).

Machine learning is a central concept of artificial intelligence and the two are often used interchangeably in meaning the same things. The assumption is that instead of programmers attempting to devise comprehensive and direct sets of instructions that systems should essentially follow to achieve their goals, they are provided with several examples of related data so that they can develop their own recognition systems and rules for operation. An example in this context is the character of the data and information in terms of thousands of images that can be developed through different sources of knowledge in order to recognize words in different settings and handwriting. Alternatively, they can perform better jobs of recognition as compared to systems that are not provided with a regular dose of related data.

Presently, spam filters are also artificial intelligence systems that are learning adapted because they prompt e-mail users to identify what they feel is spam so that the performance of the website is improved. Machine learning is very strong because it provides systems with solutions to effectively manage the complex environment that they have to function in. They have to also develop, improve and efficiently manage the changes that keep being introduced in the operational systems. The bottom line in this context relates to the fact that systems have the ability to become aware of operating different strategies more efficiently than human beings.

Researchers have now started making efforts at including artificial intelligence into more efficient and electronic systems so that power flows in both directions and can be equally distributed as per requirements. McCorduck has said in this regard that “This is one of those cases where people can try and engineer this in advance but I think that just like in other applications it will be demonstrated that a learning adapted system just does a much better job than something that people could engineer with their own perceptions of what’s going to happen” (McCorduck, 1979, p.29).

Machine learning is considered to be a central norm that is repeatedly being used in artificial intelligence and at times is used to mean the same things. Several breakthroughs have been made in the context of artificial intelligence in recent times. They have become possible largely because of modern methods of development in machine learning. Just as one can have expectations from a manufacturer that makes tools for the actual world, artificial intelligence and robots comprise of software and codes that can be used again and again at different platforms. These products can be successfully used in low-level functions in order to take care of varied situations by avoiding obstruction, which is considered to be the most successful attribute of artificial intelligence.

Conclusion

Although there is no established paradigm or theory that helps in guiding research in artificial intelligence, researchers are not in agreement over several issues. Some of the issues that continue to remain unresolved relate to whether artificial intelligence simulates natural intelligence through the study of neurology or psychology. Another issue is whether human biology is relevant to research in artificial intelligence. Intelligent behavior cannot be explained with the use of simple concepts such as optimization and logic. Researchers are in disagreement whether intelligence can be produced by making use of high level symbols such as ideas and words. Researchers have started developing intelligent systems that can perform almost the same functions as the human mind in addition to understanding speech and performing several other functions that were not possible earlier. It is now possible to ascertain how militaries of different nations make use of artificial intelligence techniques in developing their high-tech systems.

Once digital computers became a possibility during the 1950s, research in artificial intelligence had started exploring possibilities of human intelligence being reduced to manipulation through symbols. However, artificial intelligence continues to be a common area of discussion in both predicting the future and in science, in the context of technology use in societies. The presence of artificial intelligence that compares with human intelligence creates strong ethical considerations. Moreover the power and potential of technology raises both fear and aspirations.

References

Image 1 borrowed from AI’s album cover art from the album “Artificial Intelligence”,

http://theband.hiof.no/albums/artificial_intelligence.html.

John McCarthy, (2011). What is artificial Intelligence, Accessed from

http://www-formal.stanford.edu/jmc/whatisai/whatisai.html.

McCorduck, Pamela. (1979). Machines Who Think, W.H.Freeman & Co Ltd.

Minsky, Marvin (2006). The Emotion Machine. New York, NY: Simon & Schusterl.

Music by Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon album “On the Run”, my personal music library

on iTunes.

Russel, S.J. (1995). Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach, Prentice Hall.

Scientific American. (2002). Understanding Artificial Intelligence, Grand Central Publishing.

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