Tag Archives: France

Education, Social Entrepreneurs and Condolences

When I woke up on Saturday morning (November 14th) in Singapore, I had so many notifications on my phone from BBC, CNN, Le Point, France 24, Strait Times, etc.

While I was trying to open up my eyes, I managed to read one of these notifications and I was shocked.

Unfortunately, all the notifications that morning were related to the attacks in Paris on Friday night.

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First I tried to think which of my friends were in Paris and then, thanks to the Facebook safety check-in option, I figured out who was in Paris and luckily they were all safe—but not the poor 129 people who were killed so cowardly that night.

After absorbing the initial shock, I, like many of you, I am sure, started thinking of what could lead these people to act like this.

Most people came up with the answer of radical beliefs, but the answer is much deeper than that.

From my experience, when people genuinely get richer, that does not turn them into intellectual human beings, but they have an option to buy some level of comfort. Over time, the ability to buy comfort gradually makes them open to further adaptation and modernization, if they are not already.

With the right education in place, they can even be leading intellectuals in their community, too.

So I think the key here is how we can get these people in the very low pillars of society to higher pillars.

Education is key here; but education costs a lot—and for people who cannot meet their basic needs such as security and food especially, education is something of a luxury.

The government may provide education services up to a certain level, but this will always be limited and the kid from the poor family will still lack if he is not supported.

Social philanthropists can play a crucial role here.

For instance, I had a chance this week to meet a social entrepreneur, Alexandre Mars, in Singapore. People like him are quite important, because it is impossible and naive to believe that the state will reach every corner of the world to find disadvantaged people. On top of that, ageing and a broken insurance system in the developed world makes it even harder for governments to bring about solutions.

Alexandre Mars is one of the top twenty philanthropists under 40 in New York. His foundation is called the Epic Foundation and it was initially funded by his personal funds. His foundation currently funds 20 new NGOs every single year to help youths in five different continents. You can find more information on Epic Foundation here.

But of course, we need more Alexandre Mars, and it is easier said than done.

Alexandre mentioned that it was his dream to help the youth and it took 15 years to create enough wealth to pursue his real dream.

Thomas Piketty, a reputable French economist and author of Capital in the Twenty-First Century, argues that the income inequality will continue to rise in the future as the return rate of capital is higher than the rate of economic growth. More importantly, he believes that the inequality level is now around the pre-war era.

I do not believe the utopic idea that everyone should be equal—on the contrary, I believe it is important that people are recognized for their achievement; but the redistribution of wealth is key to funding necessary education for the masses.

G20 in Antalya, Turkey, had been a good chance for leaders to discuss these issues. Since politicians are not entrepreneurs and they move much more slowly than entrepreneurs, I still believe entrepreneurs are the key to the solution.

The world is becoming a very polarized place to live and this is contrary to globalization and trade. We must eliminate illiteracy and poverty to secure a liveable world for ourselves and for our kids.

Expecting my first child next month, these events are very discouraging and lead me to wonder what kind of world we are really leaving for them. I sincerely worry about a world war within my life span.

By taking this opportunity, I would to like to offer my most sincere condolences to the families who lost their loved ones in the Paris, Beirut and Ankara attacks.

All the best from Singapore.

Sukru Haskan
Twitter: @sukru_haskan

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Would you like to be in the same boat?

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According to an article by Patrick Kingsley in Guardian Newspaper, we are facing the world’s biggest refugee crisis since the World War two.

224,000 migrants and refugees have come to Europe in 2015. For those of you who can’t visualize the number, it is equivalent of four Arsenal Emirates stadium in London.

What could be happening in your home country that you could potentially risk your life to go somewhere else?

Abraham Maslow, an American psychologist, could explain it quite clearly with his famous theory called Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

If you don’t have your basic needs met such as physiological and safety, then you can risk anything. And it is very clear that very basic human needs of these people are not being met.

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These migrants are mainly coming from Syria, Eritrea, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Iran, Somalia, Darfur, Nigeria and Mali and all these places are fighting with poverty, civil unrest or war.

What has Europe done for these people? Well – Current European leaders have failed in many ways in the recent years and migrant crisis is just another episode of their failure in the big European project.

To answer my own question; They haven’t really done much. Instead they avoided the problem and as the problem knocks their own doors now, they are murmuring…

When you crunch the numbers, Germany, Sweden and Italy have accepted highest numbers of migrants up until now.

….But I do not think that granting these people asylum, is the real problem solver.

Europe is the birthplace of renaissance and it brought humanism, art, development in science and policy, reform in education and self-awareness.

I would expect the same Europe to bring intelligence, know-how, education, sanitation, water, healthcare and other basic human needs to these countries.

Instead politicians are proudly talking of extra fencing, dogs and police officers. Unfortunately these measures were not really helpful and I’m afraid that they will not be helpful going forward as well.

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By the way, EU has just approved EUR 2.4 billion aid for the current migrant crisis this week. Another short term symptom solving approach rather than digging deep into the problem.

The message, these people are conveying to us, is crystal clear…

“Instead of living in my home country, I rather prefer to be dead or live somewhere else!”

To our beloved politicians: If you really want to keep these people away from your own countries, you shall bring basic human needs to them to get them developed!

You should channel the money to your own NGOs instead of pumping money to their corrupted government. Some European NGOs are already on the ground for some time and they know the countries and their specific problems much better than anyone else.

Charities such as Wateraid and Oxfam can play more significant role than the governments.

Although I focus on European migrant crisis in this post, the problem does not only exist in Europe.

Migrants from Myanmar and Bangladesh are trying to reach to Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Australia whilst migrants from Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala and Mexico are trying to reach USA.

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According to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), the following countries are hosting the most refugees from Syria.

Turkey     – 1,805,255
Lebanon – 1,172,753
Jordan     –    629,128

In other words; Turkey is hosting 30, Lebanon 20 and Jordan 10 Arsenal stadiums size of people in their own country. 

Imagine the congestion on the way to Finsbury Park station after an Arsenal game and multiply it by 30 to figure out the refugee population in Turkey.

Of course it is not easy when Europe is going through economically hard times but we still could help these people in a better way!

Empathy is a valuable virtue!

Our behaviours will set the scene for a future world war or sustainable peace just like it did in the beginning of 1900s.

Finally, I will encourage you to listen Gary Haugen’s TED talk to understand a bit more what could be the motivations behind migrants journey to Europe.

Next week, I will be focusing on China and its economic policies. Keep following and please register your email to my subscription list!

Best from Singapore,
Sukru Haskan
Twitter: @sukru_haskan

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