Nagpur Winter Session

Nagpur Winter Session Venue

Nagpur Winter Session Venue

It’s that time of the year again. Nagpur Winter Session! Our city that has been abuzz with members of the Maharashtra Legislature camping in the winter capital of the state will soon fly out. Nagpur will be back to its original calm and quiet demeanor. We have seen hectic activity since the beginning of the month, along with change in traffic regulations and charged up policing efforts. The winter session of the Maharashtra Legislature includes both of its houses – Maharashtra Vidhan Sabha and Maharashtra Vidhan Parishad. This ritualistic tradition is a practice carried out in Nagpur in the winter season every year, Nagpur being the auxiliary capital of the state.

The winter session is held at Vidhan Bhavan, Nagpur, in the heart of the city close to zero-mile landmark. The Budget session of the Maharashtra legislature of course takes place at Mumbai, said to be the financial capital of India. What marks out the event, especially in the Civil Lines area of the city is the happy political blitzkrieg that affects the lives of residents. One can see some roads being closed and made off limits with traffic being disciplined elsewhere. The sight loved best is the Mumbaikars enjoying a bit of chill in the air that a spell of cold Nagpur provides in the season.

The hotelier community is perhaps the one sector that enjoys and makes the most of this occasion. Most visitors love to experiment the gourmet delights the city has to offer. They have a field day testing out the culinary offerings ranging from the local Saoji to the more exotic. This despite the official hospitality taking care of boarding and lodging. The food court of the MLA Hostel canteen that turns into a political adda becomes the spot for food and more droppings. With thousands of people converging to eat here the conversations flow! Along with the piping hot food. And real aficionados will not let slip by opportunities to the nearby foodie streets of the city.

It must have been good news when the Business Advisory Committee of Maharashtra legislature extended the ongoing winter session by one day. The announcement may have spelled different things for different people when December 24th was included in the session proceedings. For Vidarbha-ites the extended session would have perhaps been a sop for justice to Vidarbha and its people. For the traffic police another day of strict duty. For pedestrians and commuters another day of cordoned areas. And for the hoteliers perhaps more business. And for the political representatives another day for bonhomie without the political divides.

Police Personnel for Winter Session of State Assembly, Nagpur

Police Personnel for Winter Session of State Assembly, Nagpur

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The World Seems Too Much – Hope Anyways

Hope for All

Hope for All

December, so called as it derives its name from the Latin ‘decem’ or ten, was initially the tenth month of the Roman calendar that began in March. When the monthless periods became January – after Roman god Janus, and February – after old-Italian god Februus at the beginning of the calendar, December dispassionately retained its humdrum numerical association. But the season of chills and cold winds remains festive to spread good cheer and joy. It marks a short winter break adding hope to the holiday season for the New Year ahead.

As the year draws to a close many of us may go through feelings of retrospection and experience a sense of wonderment at the quick end to a year that appeared to have begun; but just yesterday! Time flies; there is no greater truism than that. The year-end calls for a rumination about things accomplished and things yet to be done. This weekend barely leaves 10-11 days for year 2014 to be over and out. Many of us may be left wistful, browsing the entirety of events gone by that may not have amounted to much.

Not really if we take account the recent world events that leave us completely horrified. Continual conflict simmers in eastern Ukraine. Inhuman ghastly ISIS beheadings. The hostage standoff in Sydney that put an end to three lives including the hostage-taker. The stabbing of eight children in Australia in Cairns, an outrage beyond comprehension. Worse of all the carnage of 145 school children and teachers in Peshawar, Pakistan casting a pall over combined senses. These kinds of crises are unbelievable acts in the midst of civilized societies.

It is time to rekindle humanitarianism and rework imaginations for peace-making efforts. One such endeavor is been the emerging US – Cuba relationship. It is a defining moment when talks of normalizing relations make this a great step that bodes well. Synced in time with the season of joy and compassion it offers hope and comfort. It is also heartening to note that Pakistan takes a stand against terrorism and prepares to tackle terrorists. The imagery of the breaking of the Berlin Wall comes to mind. Let us hope the world sees more order and restraint in the coming year. Hope is a good thing. Perhaps the best of things. Enjoy being hopeful as you contemplate on the Hope Quote shared below.

“Hope is the companion of power, and mother of success; for who so hopes strongly has within him the gift of miracles”.

Stay Involved with Life and Living

Connect with Nature

Connect with Nature

The best among us are subject to depression. There are times you feel drained of all hope, drive and energy. Life appears difficult in the face of the storm you may be facing.  But while severe neurosis will have to be taken care of by experts, if you are simply feeling low or find yourself in the grips of fleeting melancholia then you can do things on your own to improve the situation. Some circumstances will of course take their time in resolving themselves but for bouts of depression that affect us all from time to time, you can work on snapping out of it.

With due diligence and persistence you can even wean yourself out of stubborn depression. Start by taking baby steps to feel better. And in no time you will be able to get yourself out of the woods. You can best do this by making positive changes around yourself, everyday. The road to recovery needs to be action oriented. It is but this fact of taking action is what you must be focused on. Set yourself in the frame of mind to do all the things you chalk out or yourself.

You should start by making small changes and adjustments for your psyche to regain its balance. If you like to schedule action points start with daily walks. Nothing is more invigorating than brisk walking. Besides the exercise doing you a world of good, it becomes the reason to step out of the confines of the indoors that seem to tie you down. Stay focused on your plan and do it with regularity. You should miss the activity if you happen to miss out any day. Getting out and enjoying the outdoors restores your sense of well being.

Next you could begin to look for likeminded people to befriend. Cultivate supportive relationships that will make a huge difference to your state of mind. Enjoy small exchanges and interactions – having tea, going for a movie or conversations. These will help you to maintain perspective over situations as well as keep you from being isolated. It is essential not to be lonely as being alone definitely increases depressive states. It is therefore extremely important to enjoy social relationships and activities that will keep you engaged.

Turn to loyal friends or trusted family members who want your betterment. You should share with them whatever is affecting you and help you to face up to things as they are. Sometimes all you need are people who will just listen to what you have to say. Having people you trust in your life keeps you from withdrawing into yourself. Also good company keeps you away from being down in the dumps. In extreme cases people have joined support groups, where often it is far easier to talk to relative strangers.

It helps to talk to people about your feelings. So never miss an opportunity to have coffee, lunch, movies, concerts, parties with friends. Seek out loved ones.  Be thankful they check on you with such regularity. Stay in touch, make calls, write letters, go back to old friends and meet new people too. Extend your social circle and make no bones about enjoying it all. Keep challenging all negativity around you. Negativity puts a spin on things so make sure you enhance positivity around yourself.

An important aspect of self help is taking good care of yourself. Do all the things that keep you happy. Have a healthy lifestyle. It is half the battle won. It automatically puts you on a get well mode and you manage stress better.  Eat well, sleep well and live well. Get good sleep. Stick to a tidy schedule. Enjoy your favorite show on television. Enjoy music. Enjoy sunshine daily. Sunlight offers a very positive impact. Enjoy eating out on the patio. All these small things will help you to feel better, naturally! Last but not the least – Pray. Enjoy your conversations with God – the most powerful therapist of all times.

Sunlight - Powerful Antidote

Sunlight – Powerful Antidote

Loss of Sense of Well Being

Masking Depression

Masking Depression

When feelings of extreme despondency overtake the psyche it marks the onset of depression. The state brings on low moods and possibly aversion to activity. Depression affects thoughts, feelings and behavior. A person with a depressed mood is sad, anxious, hopeless, helpless, irritable and restless in turns. There is loss of interest in everyday activities. Alternately one could be hyper active. Also a person may experience loss of appetite or conversely continually overeat.

Such a state of mind, if allowed to continue for long, leaves you in a shambles. You cannot concentrate, take decisions or think clearly. Excessive melancholia may even push someone to the brink of life. Other maladies could involve insomnia, excessive sleeping, fatigue, aches, pains, digestive problems and of course reduced energies. The persistence of sadness along with unexplained feelings of worthlessness may lead one towards drinking and pessimism making matters worse.

Often depression may not exhibit any external signs and be present in covert forms. Feelings of fatigue, constant worrying and feelings of doom or guilt are other attributes. Experiencing imagined or actual pains, aches and digestive troubles may also occur. Also there may not be really any specific disorder and one can suffer from physiological conditions – what are commonly now known as psychosomatic disorders. It leaves one feeling at a loss, unable to explain their condition.

Depression leads people to withdraw and hide behind their fears, imaginary or otherwise, but they do suffer from real mental trauma. This makes them shun personal contact, become reclusive till they might gradually shut out life. You may be sure to find depressive personalities hiding behind their surreal personas. The clinical condition may range from miserable mood swings to terribly debilitating mood disorders. So we must not be quick to dismiss people suffering from depression thinking it is an insignificant problem. All of us get depressed once in a while but the prolonged affair with melancholia requires due treatment. The thing is that such mental conditions are not taken as seriously as a physical disorder simply because you do not acknowledge the unseen pain.

The person hiding behind excessive internet usage could be a prime suspect for depressive disorders.  Content taking a backseat in his virtual world, his sleep patterns become disrupted making him more prone to depression. Check out the woman crying excessively for the most simplest of causes, creating a disconnect to remain aloof in a bid to numb her unmentionable pains. Watch out for people who stop grooming themselves. The unkempt youngster in shabby clothes may manifest a disordered personality.  Make note of eating habits of people around you – if they eat too little or a lot more – both are symptoms of appetite problems due to depression.

Depression is a psychiatric syndrome that hampers normal life. The fact is that some minds cannot cope with life events and changes that affect their psyches. From death of near and dear ones, disasters, isolation, relationships, emotional upheavals or catastrophic injury – anything might affect equanimity. If a person cannot bounce back to normalcy in two weeks time after an event and relapses into a state of chronic depressed mood, it may lead to severe clinical impairment. Such conditions include bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder and so on. India has a sizeable percentage of clinical patients who need doctors and specialists helping them to cope through.

Fixing Depression

Fixing Depression

 

Monster of One’s Own Making

Grief Stricken Families

Grief Stricken Families

It is certainly not the time to say – I told you so. But the ghastly tragedy of the merciless killings of school children in Pakistan resonates with Frankenstein-ian horror. The Taliban’s insurgency against Pakistan reverberates with the country’s earlier links to an agency that now works against reformist policies of a pro-democratic Pakistan. Since 2007 the Taliban has mindlessly killed thousands of innocent people.

Despite the Islamist forces to reckon with, the Pakistani people now want democracy. Instead what they are getting is violence in the name of religion. And some like the Taliban even want revenge. Pakistan (coerced by the US) expressed a desire to work towards joining mainstream democratic traditions. However the war from inherent Islamist forces – Taliban included, appears real and deadly.

The question of nurturance of functional polity becomes critical for the country. A lot of rethinking becomes crucial at this point. Pakistan needs to create its world  identity from within its own, to begin to positively influence its state of affairs. The hard-line Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) insidiously fights from within to topple the government hoping to set up a strict Islamic state.

Just some days back Malala Yousafzai, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize created waves by becoming the first Pakistani to be so recognized. In an interview she said that upon return to Pakistan in July 2015 she will build more schools. It was perhaps this statement that irked Tehrik-e-Taliban that threatened to attack all those celebrating Malala’s achievement. It is this very terror group that had shot and wounded her in 2012.

TTP has claimed responsibility for the attack on the school in Peshawar killing innocent children. The assault began with the militants entering the Army Public School  to stage the siege when about 1200 students and teachers were inside. Explosive devices had been planted in school buildings to foil rescue efforts. The attack had 122 people wounded, some critically, as militants entered classrooms to  shoot indiscriminately.

The carnage draws reactions from all over the world. Even as hysterical parents rushed to gather news they went distraught, weeping uncontrollably as they watched in horror the arrival of bodies of the slain victims. What a horrific commotion it must have been to see school uniforms drenched in blood.  It is a bloody carnage of the worst kinds. As world leaders offer support, ordinary people all over the world are flustered at the atrocity. In India schools observed a two-minute silence during morning prayer time to mourn the loss of young lives.

We make our own monsters, then fear them for what they show us about ourselves.” – Mike Carey

Silence -Remembrance at Prayer Time

School Children in India Offer Silence –      Remembrance at Prayer Time

Status of Eyecare Health in India

Stand Alone Eye Clinics - Need of the Hour

Stand Alone Eye Clinics – Need of the Hour

Our country is the second most populous in the world, having 23.5% of the world’s blind population. The prevalence of blindness and visual impairment remains a major problem. Cataract, corneal opacities, glaucoma and posterior segment conditions are key reasons for blindness. These conditions can be treated only by skilled eye doctors in a hospital setting. We need to establish evidence for occurrence of eye problems by conducting baseline surveys to understand precise prevalence of specific conditions.

A national program for control of blindness was started in 1976 in India. Unfortunately it has not been possible to generate enough information for all of the country. However detailed information has been gathered in certain areas through research studies by concerned eyecare agencies. All such studies have shown that prevalence of cataract as the most common cause of blindness. Up until quite recently prevention of blindness was therefore largely cataract-focused.

Of late now ophthalmologists are being trained to increase emphasis on focusing on other critical causes of blindness like refractive errors, childhood blindness, corneal blindness and glaucoma. An ophthalmic workforce and infrastructure survey was undertaken to provide a valid evidence base for human resource and infrastructure requirements for elimination of avoidable blindness. This was the first time that such an extensive survey has been undertaken.

The study was conducted by Ophthalmology Cell, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India from April 2002 to March 2003. Pre-tested questionnaires were administered to all district-level blindness officials and ophthalmology training institutions and supplementary data sources were used too. Data analysis and projections of existing ophthalmologists and dedicated eye beds were made for the entire country using the mean, median and range for each individual state.

The study ascertained that more than half the eye care facilities were located in the private sector. Sixty-nine per cent of the ophthalmologists were employed in the private and non-governmental sectors. 71.5% of all dedicated eye beds were managed by these two sectors. Five states -Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu had half the practicing ophthalmologists in India. There was a wide disparity in access to ophthalmologists and dedicated eye beds across the country.

In order to meet these requirements India will have to work hard to achieve the goals of Vision 2020. Some states and certain regions will be needing special attention. Instead of an across-the-board increase in ophthalmologists and eye beds, regions which are deficient will need to be prioritized and concerted action initiated to achieve an equitable distribution of available resources.

Shockingly, as per this study an estimated 9031 ophthalmologists worked in eye care facilities in our country. Of these 69% (6235) worked in the private sector and 31% (2796) worked in government sector. This clearly shows the disparity in availability of ophthalmologists. We need to increase the efficiency of eye care system in India by increasing the availability of ophthalmologists. Also we need to generate more eye doctors and eye specialists. It is only appropriately skilled ophthalmologists and trained technical staff that can respond to eyecare health in India.

Preventable Child Blindess

Preventable Child Blindness

Second Anniversary of Nirbhaya Gang-Rape

Black December Day

Black December Day

December 16, marks the second anniversary of the ghastly gang rape that occurred in New Delhi. Despite humongous outrage all across the nation, nothing seems to have changed. In so far as the safe commuting of women is concerned, it may not be incorrect to say that things have in fact become worse. Then what does this black day signify for the Indian civil society. Aside from perfunctory media attention – newspaper highlights, radio talks and the barrage all day long on TV, the fact remains that every day since then the crime continues unabated.

Nirbhaya’s second anniversary of the horrific crime may very well bemoan the fact the women are still unsafe. If anything at all, it makes it all the more important to continue to keep up the fight at all levels. Because, even now, countless girls and women continue to face ghastly atrocities. How far is it possible to keep up with the pretense of courage or justice? It has been exactly two years to the day when the 23-year-old physiotherapy student was gang raped, after which she battled for two weeks with death, finally to succumb to it.

Even as the entire nation and the world watched on the brutality of the attacks by the gang of six men on a moving bus in Delhi remains etched as a macabre event. Nirbhaya’s subsequent death sparked off nationwide protests. People thronged in thousands to participate in candlelight vigils and prayers demanding strict punishment for the criminals. Four of her attackers were convicted and given the death penalty last September by a fast track court. And while one convict committed suicide in jail, the juvenile convict was sentenced to a detention centre.

The nationwide protests led to a national debate about women’s rights and safety in the country and forced the Government to pass a tougher anti-rape legislation. But does anything seem to be in control. Has anything changed at all? Are women and girls safe and free to walkabout their lives and business? Nothing has in fact changed. Women are still vulnerable and subject to ever more dangers than before. The state therefore needs to work expediently for securing safety of its women citizens.

The government needs to step up and be more concerned about women’s safety issues. A lot more needs to be done in terms of making our public spaces safer. Simple things for infrastructure improvement can start off by installing better lighting on streets. It needs to enforce and extend safe public transport to the last connecting points. Constant education of the public by way of safety-related information has to be provided at all times. Families need to be reassured about the safe movement of daughters, sisters and partners. The State has to take on this responsibility in all seriousness.

Happening Over & Over Again

Happening Over & Over Again