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Sat Mag

PROFESSIONAL MANAGER

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Reviewed by

K. A. I. Kalyanaratne

Consultant – Publications

Postgraduate Institute of Management

University of Sri Jayewardenepura

By-annual publication of the PIM : Issue No. 18

There are mainly four ways of acquiring knowledge on management, and for that matter on any discipline. They are through Research, Text books, Seminars and Workshops, and Periodic publications (journals / magazines). Each of these has its inherent advantages and limitations. Research works, once published and presented, take a long time either to come as simplified versions or get accommodated in subject-based text books. Text books have time-gaps as they take longer periods to revise and update their contents. Further, most of these updates are dependent on relevant research works, and best practices evolved through trial and error and acceptance. Seminars and workshops, although serve a useful purpose, their infrequent conduct, limited participation and inadequate documentation would, more often, impose limitations on their impact on the relevant segments.

Against this backdrop, periodicals have been accepted as serving the desired sectors better, especially the professionals, who devote more time on their jobs, than perusing /reading research findings, text books and/or attending seminars and workshops. However, the fact remains that these periodicals need to be regular, frequent and focused, if they are to serve a useful purpose. In the context of the discipline of management, such periodicals should not be mere vehicles for carrying conceptual knowledge. Management, being an operational discipline, what matters most is practicality and proven utility of the practices.

Thus, the Professional Manager, the regular management publication of the Postgraduate Institute of Management (PIM), which has served our professional managers for the last twelve (12) years, has now published its latest issue – Issue No. 18, equipped with a rich array of articles that will further enrich their managerial acumen. As usual, its cover page features an alumnus of the PIM, Mr. Ajantha Madurapperuma, who currently holds a strategic position as Chief Bank Examiner at the Central Bank of Oman. The feature article, presented in the form of an interview, under the caption “Passion to Serve Profession and Industry beyond Borders,” spells out his experiences in serving as a professional in an overseas market, away from home. With his indepth experience as a banker-cum-teacher, referring to performance excellence, he professes that: “There is no time to stop or take a break in professional competence development. Regardless of the level of seniority in career, one must spend time learning, unlearning and relearning.”

An article that would, for certain, gain much currency, especially among the powers that be, is the analytical observations on the most critical issue nations are currently confronted with, namely, the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. W.A.Wijewardena, (former Deputy Governor, Central Bank), being a veteran banker and a professional of repute, currently serving as a member of Boards of Studies of many academic and professional institutions, professes in his essay on “Sri Lankan Economy in Post-Covid-19 Era: A Black Sworn Perspective” that “At the global level nations have to cooperate and collaborate with each other rather than seek to win the game, individually. Individual country efforts can take a nation forward to a certain level. But that level is not enough for it to even restore what it had been earlier, let alone making an improvement.” In fact, Dr. Wijewardena’s critique provides an abundance of food for thought for our leaders as to how the country should be re-directed towards a ‘New Economic Model” in the aftermath of the pandemic.

Prof. Ajantha S. Dharmasiri, Director, PIM, provides under the catchy caption “Legendary Wealth of “Well Done”: Treasures of a Transformational Leader” an insightful account of Jack Welch, legendary leader, former chairman and CEO of General Electric. It’s an article that projects the managerial acumen of Jack Welch from many angles, and shows what Sri Lankan business leaders, and administrators, could elicit from Welch’s doings as well as his goods and bads. Through his profound insight, Welch propounded that “I’ve learned that mistakes can be as good a teacher as success”. A most thought-provoking quote of Welch as mentioned in the article is “We want each man and woman in this company to see a connection between what he or she does all day and winning in the marketplace”. This provides much food for thought for all managers, as what we have been insisting on has been to cling to our job-description, sans an iota of an idea as to how our jobs would impact the overall objectives of the organization. A job, to be meaningful, its doer should know not only ‘what and how’ but also a job’s ‘why’ aspect. A job needs to have relevance to the stakeholders. The brevity of the article would, surely, provide an impetus to make it ‘a must to read’.

The Postgraduate Graduate Institute is at a tremendous advantage in publishing the Professional Manager, as most of its article-contributors are those who have taken to teaching, having had much exposure in their spheres of specialty. Dr. Trevor Mendis who writes on “Banks Drowning Under Non-performing Advances : Reasons to Reflect” is in possession of a repertoire of banking experience. Therefore, its contents are first-hand knowledge, coming from a horse’s mouth. Through his profundity he says that “Corporate Governance explains that directors (of a company) should be a set of professionals with business acumen, knowledge and competencies in their given fields.”

The lineup of the rest of the articles is:

Inside-out vs. Outside-in: Doing Business Differently

The inside–out approach is guided by the belief that inner strengths and capabilities of the organization will make the institution prevail, while the outside-in approach is directed by the belief that customer value creation, customer orientation and customer experiences are the keys to a firm’s success.

Contemporary Manufacturing Practices for Sustainable Supply Chain

Stresses the importance of harmonizing best practices with manufacturing strategy, and emphasizes that supply chains need to respond quickly to shifting market needs and competitive dynamics in the environment while keeping their operational costs at a minimum level.

Our Chit-chat: Can Conversations Make a Nation?

The writer says that a meeting degenerating into just verbal exchanges or carried out in a lackluster manner only to suit the nominal agenda is unlikely to result in any rich exchange of ideas, and overall elevation of knowledge.

Creating a Collaborative Culture: Engaging with 5S and Mindfulness

Organizational culture percolates through every layer of the organization, and influences every aspect of the organization. Taking a cue from the PIM, the writer explains how 5S and Mindfulness have helped the Institution create and promote a collaborative culture. A mutually collaborative approach promotes a system-driven, methodical, creative, disciplined and a conscientious set of employees.

Create or Cremate: Insights for Idea Generation

It’s a must for any organization to be creative for long-term sustainability. Discussing the major tools for promoting creativity, the writer discusses the implications for managers, and sheds sufficient light on the ways and means of creating the desired environment for creativity to spring up. He emphasizes that amidst all other approaches, generating high trust is of paramount importance in this context.

Industrial Engineering as a Utility-driven Discipline: Emerging Prospects

This is an article that highlights a lacuna that exists in our curricula, making a special plea for the introduction of Industrial Engineering, as it’s a utility-driven discipline. The writer proposes that the article may be considered more as a precursor towards future recognition, especially considering its hybrid nature and future prospects.

Money is Not an Evil If One Spends it Wisely

Basing on the Buddhist teachings, the writer succinctly compares and defines money and wealth, and concludes that as per the teachings of the Great Sage wealth is temporary and no path to happiness. The article further discusses some Buddhist teachings on how to collect real wealth in order to spend a wealthy life, and the ways of spending that wealth for maintaining a happy lifestyle.

Vision of a Medical Manager: Building High Quality of Care into Health Systems

The writer, being a medical practitioner, he analyses quality based on quality-dimensions as seen in the health sector. He concludes the essay by saying that “despite the resource constraints high quality of care can be embedded into the health system by ensuring sustainable leadership, and creating a conducive culture at every healthcare organization.

The Challenge of Managing the Foreign Debt: Sri Lankan Government’s Response

A very senior faculty member, specializing in Economics and Strategic Management, minutely analyses what ails our economy and the ways in which the country could overcome the current foreign debt issue. In the concluding remarks, he says that “The challenge is formidable for a country which has had weak and indecisive governments, a private sector which is not known either for its innovativeness or for a strong action orientation, and a population that is deeply immersed in ‘an entitlement culture’”.

Whither Sri Lanka? A PESTEEL Perspective

Analyzing the country’s current plight and applying the PESTEEL framework/tool used by marketers to monitor the macro-environmental factors, the writer, a specialist on economy and strategy, concludes her write-up with the following remarks, ‘A lack of accountability and visionary responsibility seem to have created an ambiance of a “live for the day” mentality’.

A GPS Guide for Correct Communication

The writer, a specialist in business communication, applies the GPS acronym as a guide for correct communication. According to the new interpretation of GPS, G stands for Grammar and Gesture; P stands for Pronunciation and Punctuation while S stands for Spelling, Seasoning and Selection. This acronym, in fact, provides a clear basis for learners in practising communication.

A Window of Global Learning Opportunities: A Glimpse of PIM International Management Programmes

This article, deviating from the normal subject-based analyses and interpretations, provides a window as to what the PIM has been doing in the organization and execution of international programmes. The PIM through this endeavour provides a wide choice and opportunities especially for senior members in public sector organizations to see-study-compare-adopt and excel by replacing the inclusive learning-teaching approach /approaches of yesteryear.

AMDISA, PIM & 15th South Asian Management Forum

The Professional Manager also provides presentations made by the PIM Faculty and the Senior Assistant Registrar at the 15th South Asian Forum (SAMF), organized under the aegis of the AMDISA (Association of Management Development Institutions in South Asia.

The PIM’s mission in publishing the Professional Manager would seem very close to what Peter F. Drucker said about the importance of identifying and exploiting the changes appropriately by the executives. What Management is, in short, is the wise use of means to accomplish the objectives.

“The most important work of the executives is to identify the changes that have already happened. The important challenge in society, economics, politics, is to exploit the changes that have already occurred and to use them as opportunities.”

Peter F. Drucker, The Age of Discontinuity

All in all, the latest issue of the Professional Manager (Issue 18) brings latest knowledge on an array of useful management inputs that will be handy material for professional managers wishing to elevate themselves and their organizations through improvements in knowledge, skill, habits, and attitudes.

 



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Sat Mag

Notes on a not-so radical class

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By Uditha Devapriya

A little over a year ago, Devani Jayathilaka, the Gampaha Division Wildlife Officer now on a crusade against the government, stood up to a State Minister and got away with it. Objecting to Sanath Nishantha’s proposal to build a children’s playground on forest land, she stood her ground even as the Minister and his acolytes attempted to intimidate her.

Videos of Devani retorting to Nishantha and those acolytes gained supporters across social media. Public opinion being very much with her, the government quickly began feting her: Bandula Gunawardena said that the Cabinet took her side, and S. M. Chandrasena regretted the incident while half-heartedly exonerating the Minister.

Devani Jayathilaka’s courage was seen at the time as a symptom of the President’s resolve to make the bureaucracy more independent and efficient, free of bias and politicisation. As such, supporters of the government jumped on the bandwagon. The Daily News dedicated an entire editorial to her, calling her “the toast of all environmentalists, nature lovers and generally all those who cherish our country’s legal and constitutional integrity.” Hopefully, the laudatory piece concluded, “this signal act… will be a beacon to others in the public service to do their bit in fulfilling their public duty while resisting the pressures of politicians.” The subtext was unmistakably clear: the President’s reformism had empowered the officer’s activism.

A year later, and here we are: the premature love affair aborted, the feeling of celebration dampened. Yet could one have expected otherwise? At no point here in living memory have environmental concerns permeated every layer of society, from Colombo’s civil society to Sinhala nationalist outfits, as they are now. A broad conjuncture of oppositional forces, some drawn from organisations that fuelled the ideology which brought the government to power (such as the Sinhale movement), has pitted itself against that government’s apathy over the environment, while social media continues to enthrone activists: environmentalists and state officials. The President’s men, meanwhile, seem to be resorting to a policy of either ignoring or retorting to these voices. In both cases, it’s the government that has lost out.

It is hard not to side with the activists. They have a point: no regime has engaged properly with the environment. Between 2017 and 2019, forest cover reduced from 29.7% to 16.5%. It was the yahapalana government, remnants of which are tweeting against the present regime’s environmental record now, that held

the reins of power then. Yet the administration before it was no different: in 2012, to give just one example, roughly 1,585 hectares of primary forest land were lost, the biggest annual loss in a decade. The numbers for 2020 and 2021 have not been released yet, but there’s no doubting they are as big as, if not bigger than, these figures; according to the Rain Forest Protectors of Sri Lanka, forest cover stands at 17%, above what it was in 2019, but well below the 30% promised by the president.

The politics of the campaigns against the government, however, goes well beyond a simple dichotomy between political representatives and wildlife activists. Frustratingly enough, it’s not easy to put a finger on the dynamics of these protests, to draw a line between protagonists and antagonists within them, not least of all because a simple twofold division – government versus us – has been replaced by a threefold one in them: the government (high level officials included) on one side, activists and officials on another, and us on yet another.

Led by a mostly Sinhala and Buddhist lower middle-class, including the clergy (no less than the Sinhala Ravaya), these campaigns, which have mobilised activists and officials, appear to have unearthed a rather interesting contradiction from within that middle-class: a distrust of political representatives, and an ambivalent attitude towards lower level officials. To identify this contradiction for what it is, and explore it, is not easy: that requires research, the mettle of an anthropologist or ethnographer, and I am neither. Yet from what little I have been able to gather, it appears that this recent spurt of activism has facilitated a shift in the character of anti-state activism, particularly in its class composition. How so?

Devani’s message resonates profoundly with a section of the country’s upward aspiring middle-class, educated mostly in Sinhala but idealising a better life: one to which they feel both government representatives and private interests are obstacles.

They hold contrasting views regarding the state. As far as the government proper – Ministers plus high level officials – is concerned, they are against it. It’s a different story with officials, not least because of the latter a great many hail from the milieu they do: Sinhala educated and upward aspiring. This is the demographic Patali Champika Ranawaka is targeting through his “43 Senankaya”, a demographic parties have not tried to court until fairly recently.

What explains their relationship with the state? Regarding government representatives, their opposition is easy to rationalise: most of these representatives are seen to have risen to where they are now by foul means, not fair. That irks an educated middle-class bereft of political or economic power; simply put, they feel hard done by, left out, unrepresented.

Such feelings of distrust cut through parties; indeed, a defining characteristic of the middle-class is the absence of a unifying political ideology. Any Opposition which believes that by coming to power on the strength of their convictions it can expect support from them forever is therefore walking on water, for this lower middle-class happens to be adamantly protean. It is their protean character, incidentally, that explains their response to state officials.

Their view of the latter is borne out by two main considerations: that they hail from the same class background, and that, since of late, these officials have taken up arms against political authorities, a group whose actions are seen as burdening the lower middle-class.

Indeed, far from berating officials like they berate political authorities, the lower middle-class rebelling against the regime share a desire to enter the bureaucracy as either professionals or administrators, though through education attainment, and not political backing. This desire is essentially a retread of the demand made by unemployed graduates: they want to fill a post in a state institution as soon as they leave university. Under Gotabaya Rajapaka their integration into the bureaucracy has been remarkably rapid: by September last year, for instance, around 60,000 graduates had been absorbed into the Public Service, as part of his “Rata Wenuwen Weda” programme. Yet even this rather modest realisation of lower middle-class aspirations has failed to dampen, or stunt, lower middle-class opposition to his government.

To sum up, what we are seeing here is a division between state officials, assumed to have entered the government through merit, and political representatives, assumed to have entered it through influence. That Devani Jayathilaka continues to be idealised by this class therefore points at the consolidation of a uniquely petty bourgeois consciousness, which at once aspires upward in the bureaucracy, and pits itself against the government overseeing the bureaucracy. Gravitating to meritocratic ideals, they have become a huge floating electorate.

This raises another point: their disavowal of party politics. Let’s not mistake karawala for mallum here, however; the line this milieu touts, that they lack party ideology, should not mislead one into thinking that they can’t be co-opted into any party ideology. For those who believe that a non-political middle-class rebelling against an elected government, even one infringing every other norm in the book, is incapable of political manoeuvring, the case of Anna Hazare offers a counterargument: opposed to political groups, what Hazare achieved in the end was an electoral landslide for just such a group, Narendra Modi’s BJP.

By no means am I saying that Anna Hazare was/is to India what officials crusading against political representatives are/will be to Sri Lanka. Yet not unlike Hazare, these officials have given what little of an Opposition that’s there in the country some much needed ammunition (with which to topple the government). Far from welcoming such a state of affairs, I see two problems with this: the lack of a proper policy on the environment from the Opposition (apart from a few perfunctory protests), and the risk of letting what environmentalists are combating continue under a future administration led by that Opposition. As environmentalists and Left activists have pointed out only too clearly, much of what is being protested against, including the Sinharaja debacle, can be traced back to the yahapalana period. How wise would it be to trust the party that held the cards then so much as to return them to power now?

To these two problems one can add a third: the contradiction between the social conditioning and the activism of the middle-class. That contradiction translates itself into another: between political ideals that pit this middle-class against political authority, and social aspirations that orient them towards personal achievement in education and employment.

One can ask why this is a problem, why it’s so problematic. In matters of political concern, so the idealists say, personal matters are of no relevance.

But that’s precisely the issue. How pertinent are one’s personal aspirations to one’s political inclinations? Not pertinent, some would say; pretty pertinent, in my book.

That leads us to a crucial issue, the most important to crop up from what we’re seeing today: the extent to which those leading the protests are willing to own up to how class aspirations, and not just state complicity, have contributed to environmental degradation.

Let me reduce this to a simple query: how much do you attribute everything wrong with the environment to the government’s doing and non-doing, and how much do you attribute it to, say, our propensity to import, a major factor in environmental degradation?

To be fair, of course, it’s not only imports. The truth is that degradation of the environment is linked inextricably to an economic model rooted in consumerism and urbanisation.

But that merely reinforces my point: consumerism is promoted by the private sector, and urbanisation by the public, because both have an audience: the same middle-class blaming the government for what’s happening to our forests, our rivers, our way of life.

To restate this as simply as I can, then, the problems of environmental degradation today are the result of a decades-long experiment with capitalism and neoliberalism that has failed. The crisis is thus a crisis of a consumerist and exploitative model based on a capitalist framework. Now no critique of what is happening to our forests can evolve without taking this model into consideration. As perhaps its biggest beneficiaries, the middle-class must hence recognise the need to formulate an alternative model to it, in line with their activist inclinations.

However, in continuing to ignore if not marginalise this need, those taking the government to task over the environment are offering an inadequate response, radical enough to question the regime for its failings, yet not radical enough to question our embracement of an acquisitive, consumption-led economic model that has contributed to the quagmire we are in. Now I hate gazing into crystal balls, but if this is what will continue in the future, then these protests, no matter how laudable, will someday, somehow, fizzle out. That would be a pity.

The writer can be reached at udakdev1@gmail.com

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Sat Mag

CELEBRATING EARTH DAY: THE VOICE OF THE NEXT GENERATION

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Our world needs transformational change, and it is time for us, those of the present generation to hold ourselves accountable for our role in the environmental crisis while also calling for bold, creative, and innovative solutions. This year marks the 51st anniversary of Earth Day and this Webinar is designed to commemorate the occasion and to support the worldwide efforts to conserve and revitalize the environment of the blue planet that is our home. If we are to succeed, we must listen to the children who will link hands from around the world during this webinar and voice their concerns and ideas to preserve a pristine environment for their generation.

This is the 17th of a series of virtual zoom panel discussions hosted by the America-Sri Lanka Photographic Art Society in Los Angeles California, USA (ASPAS); Member of Photographic Society of America (PSA) and The International Federation of Photography of Art in France (FIAP). The objective of the series is to showcase the beauty of world fauna and flora and promote environmental conservation in the context of nature photography and tourism, with a special focus on the grandeur of Sri Lanka’s natural habitat. The upcoming programme will commemorate World Earth Day 2021.

At a previous ASPAS Webinar, Dr. Peter H. Sand, former Secretary-General of ICUN, stated, “Pandemics, such as coronavirus, are the result of humanity’s destruction of nature, the illegal and unsustainable wildlife trade, as well as the devastation of forests and other wild places, are the driving force behind the increasing number of diseases leaping from wildlife to humans.” The ASPAS Webinars are intended to offer a platform to discuss a more balanced relationship with these ecosystems and the tools that can help us reach this objective, so that future generations can continue to enjoy and benefit from them sustainably and responsibly.

Earth Day marks the anniversary of the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970 which gave voice to an emerging public consciousness about the state of our planet. Our planet is an amazing place, but it needs our help to thrive! That is why each year on April 22, more than a billion people celebrate Earth Day to protect the planet from pollution and deforestation and environment related issues. By taking part in activities like picking up litter and planting trees, we are making our world a happier, healthier place to live.

In the decades leading up to the first Earth Day, the world was consuming vast amounts of leaded gas through massive and inefficient automobiles. Industry belched out smoke and sludge with little fear of the consequences from either the law or the press. Air pollution was commonly accepted as the smell of prosperity. Until this point, the world remained largely oblivious to environmental concerns and how a polluted environment threatens human health. Since, the great challenge for the environmental community is to combat the cynicism of climate change deniers, well-funded oil lobbyists, reticent policy makers, and a disinterested public. In the face of these challenges, Earth Day prevailed and established itself as a major movement for global action for the environment.

Over the decades, it has brought hundreds of millions of people into the environmental movement, creating opportunities for civic engagement and volunteers in 193 countries. Earth Day engages more than 1 billion people every year and has become a major steppingstone along the pathway of engagement around the protection of the planet.

Now, the fight for a clean environment continues with increasing urgency, as the ravages of climate change become more and more apparent every day. As the awareness of our climate crisis grows, so does civil society mobilization, which is reaching a fever pitch across the globe today. Digital and social media are bringing these conversations, protests, strikes and mobilizations to a global audience, uniting a concerned citizenry as never before and mobilizing generations to join together to take on the greatest challenge that humankind has faced.

It is quite apparent that the youth of our world should also be engaged in this vital conversation as an absolutely indispensable partner.

Governments have recognized this for decades and many have introduced some level of climate and environmental education into their education systems. But the truth is that impact of climate and environmental education is in some cases week, cursory, and still in many countries non-existent. In the decades since the launch of the global environmental movement, it is estimated that more than 3 billion young people have graduated from high school having learned little or nothing about one of the greatest issues that will shape their lives and their livelihoods for decades to come.

The time is now, indeed it is long overdue, for a massive environmental literacy campaign that can create a generation of citizens, workers and leaders who really understand why and how to stop climate change and environmental degradation, ensuring that every student around the world completes their formal education as an environmental and climate literate citizen. A citizen who is ready to take action and speak up for change and build knowledge and skills for the growing green sector of clean energy, efficient transportation, sustainable business and making themselves competitive for new jobs.

The youth must also equip themselves with the knowledge and skills needed to build a better future and be stewards of this planet. They must learn that to sustain a functional society and economy, natural resources must be used wisely and efficiently while protecting the ecological systems to ensure clean air, clean water, and food security for all.

But just as vitally, we need to equip future generations with the knowledge, skills, and enthusiasm to survive and indeed thrive in the decades to come. And that begins in school. Even world leaders recognized that pivotal role as far back as 30 years, when the countries that forged the original United Nations climate change treaty in 1992 at the Rio Earth Summit enshrined climate education as an essential part of a national response to a global emergency.

Educationists believe every school in the world must have compulsory, assessed climate and environmental education with a strong civic engagement component. They have also pointed out that the onus for developing environmental consciousness in youth could not be the sole responsibility of schools as the young people need the help of adult allies. There is a role for everyone, parents, relatives, and society to support youth voices and stand alongside them.

It is in that spirit that the America-Sri Lanka Photohtaphic Art Society Los Angeles, led by its President, Suriya Jayalath Perera, has organized this Webinar to bring together 10 young people from the U.S., the U.K., Canada, and Sri Lanka to voice their concerns and present their ideas on the occasion of Earth Day 2021. Youth from ages six to 18, will address the entire gamut of environmental issues from climate change to plastic pollution. It would be a truly ground-breaking event, and you can be a part of it by virtually joining them on Sunday April 18th, 2021. The webinar will be moderated by Medini Ratnayake.

More Information: www.usacaaspas.com

Join us live on Sunday April 18th, at 8.30 P.M. 2021 https://www.facebook.com/aspaslausa/live Nandasiri (Nandi) Jasentuliyana, Former Deputy Director-General, United Nations

 

 

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Sat Mag

How to flush cholesterol out of your body

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Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance found in all the cells in your body. Your body needs cholesterol to make hormones, vitamin D, and substances that help you digest foods. Your liver makes all the cholesterol you need. The cholesterol in your body that you do not need comes from animal bodies.

If you have more cholesterol in your body than you need, then you are heading for heart disease and heart attacks. A build-up of cholesterol narrows arteries, causing a restriction of blood flow to the heart. Very often a person with high cholesterol levels has no symptoms until he has his first heart attack.

This is even more problematic if you are overweight – which you will be, because the food that causes an increase in cholesterol also increases your weight. Though some cholesterol components are stored in the liver and gallbladder, the main storage area is in fat cells called adipocytes. When you have too much cholesterol, these cells swell up and you gain weight. Too much cholesterol can be caused by eating too much fat or carbohydrates.

 

There are two types of cholesterol: HDL and LDL

High density lipoprotein (HDL) is good cholesterol which protects you from hearts attacks, and strokes, by mopping up excess bad cholesterol. It takes the cholesterol that you don’t need back to the liver. The liver breaks it down so it can be passed out of your body. LDL is bad cholesterol. This blocks the blood supply and causes strokes and heart attacks. Non-HDL take cholesterol from the liver to the cells around your body. Too much bad cholesterol (non-HDL) can be harmful because it sticks to the inside walls of your arteries. This can lead to fatty material (atheroma) building up – this process is known as atherosclerosis.

Cholesterol is found in animal foods, meat, milk, butter and cheese.

There are only two things that raise cholesterol in the blood: saturated and trans fats.

Saturated fats are found in meats, dairy products, chocolate, baked goods like biscuits and popcorn, margarine, deep-fried, and processed foods, basically junk food.

Trans fats occur in some fried and processed foods, also in junk food.

In adults, total cholesterol levels less than 200 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) are considered healthy. 200 – 239 mg/dL is borderline high. 240 mg/dL and above is high. LDL cholesterol levels should be less than 100 mg/dL.

How do you know that your cholesterol levels are high? You usually don’t. There are no typical signs if you have high cholesterol, which is why it is so important to get it checked. It is a hidden risk factor, which means it happens without us knowing until it is too late. Some people get soft, yellowish, growths or lesions on the skin, especially round the eyes, called xanthomas. If you are lucky you develop left-sided chest pain, pressure, or fullness; dizziness; unsteady gait; slurred speech; or pain in the lower legs. Any of these conditions may be associated with high cholesterol.

How do you flush cholesterol out of your body?

Stop eating meat or drinking milk. Avoid ghee, butter and paneer, and seafood like crabs, shrimps and lobsters. Don’t smoke. Exercise. Eat fewer refined grains such as maida. Foods to avoid if you have high cholesterol levels include white bread, white potatoes, and white rice, highly processed sugars. Fried foods should be avoided, as well as foods high in saturated fats.

Eat fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains, every day.

A report from Harvard Health has identified foods that actively decrease cholesterol levels: Oats, barley and whole grains, beans, eggplant and okra, nuts, vegetable oil (canola, sunflower), fruits (mainly apples, grapes, strawberries, and citrus), soy and soy-based foods. Eating just one and one-half cups of cooked oatmeal a day can lower your cholesterol by 5 to 8%. Oatmeal contains soluble and insoluble fibre – two types that your body needs.

In June 2020 a report, led by Imperial College London Majid Ezzati, et al.​ and involving dozens of universities, “Repositioning of the global epicentre of non-optimal cholesterol” ​was published in Nature. It said that while cholesterol levels have declined in high income countries, particularly Europe, since 1980 , they have increased vastly in lower and middle income countries, with Asia, specially Southeast Asia, now being the centre.

The reason for this is the consumption of animal-based foods, refined carbohydrates (maida) and palm oil. In short, the heart attack and stroke risks have been globally repositioned with the shifting of a high cholesterol diet.

A group of nearly 1,000 researchers, from around the world, analysed data from 1,127 studies comprising 102.6 million adults, to assess global trends in cholesterol levels from 1980 to 2018. This is the largest ever study of global cholesterol levels.

Previously cholesterol was considered a problem in high income Western countries.

The report said that Belgium, Sweden, Switzerland (the centre of the milk/meat diet) and Iceland (meat) had shown the steepest declines in cholesterol, going from the highest to the lowest. There has been a sharp drop in LDL cholesterol in the UK, according to the British Heart Foundation.

China, which had the lowest levels of cholesterol in 1980, was among the highest in 2018. India, Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand have not covered themselves in glory either.

In 1980 Australian women ranked 32nd highest in the world in cholesterol levels. Today they are 146th . Australian men have fallen from 31st highest to 116th. 

Dr Avula Laxmaiah, National Institute of Nutrition, one of the authors of the research paper, said LDL cholesterol among Indian men ranked 128th in 1980 and remained the same in 2018.  Women are 139th in the global line-up.

Other conditions, that can lead to high cholesterol levels, include diabetes drugs that increase LDL cholesterol and decrease HDL cholesterol, such as progestins, anabolic steroids, and corticosteroids. India is one of the highest users of steroids – not directly, but through these being fed to chicken.

The authors have suggested that each country in Asia set into place prices, and regulatory policies, that shift diets to non-saturated fats. But, at the end of the day it is not prices that will decide – meat/chicken and milk are already expensive but it doesn’t stop you from eating them. You will have to take a personal decision, depending on how much you value your life or the lives of your family.

(To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org)

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