Saturday, January 30, 2010

Charity, recession and micro-loans

Understandably people give less in charity during a recession. At the very least it forces us to re-examine how, where and to whom we give.

I recently came across Kiva, a microfinancing scheme which involves lending micro-loans "to unique entrepreneurs around the globe" "for the sake of alleviating poverty".

Reading around, there appear to be some drawbacks, most notably the exorbitant interest rates charged to borrowers. This latter aspect flies in the face of the microfinancing envisaged by its creator Muhammad Yunus, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006.

Does anyone have any experience of being involved in such a scheme? Would you consider it as an alternative to "traditional" charity? Share your thoughts here.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The snow has gone

The snow has gone. All of it. As a fully signed up member of the pro-snow brigade I mourn its passing. (Although rumour has it that it may well be back on Wednesday).

As the snow dusted the London cityscape, I continued to regress further into childhood. The mere sight of snow brings back vivid memories of sledging, dysmorphic snowmen and the sheer delight of school cancelation. My wife thought I’d gone insane as I eagerly peered out of the flat window and made my minute-by-minute snowfall pronouncements, cheering on the subzero temperatures and blizzards.

Read the rest here.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

How to measure a mountain

Managed to sneak a letter into today's Guardian review in support of the Persian polymath al-Biruni (973-1048) against Renaissance hegemony.

Letter and accompanying cartoon.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Who am I to argue?

Health, London ©Tauseef Mehrali 2010