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A Tea Seller, Novelist And A Student : Laxman Rao

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Laxman Rao

Laxman Rao is the burning example of the fact that no dream is too big to be achieved, no challenge is too big to be overcome and no resource is too little to prohibit the person from reaching the definite goals.

After migrating from his ancestral village in Amrawati Disrrict of Maharashtra, he had to take up several odd jobs including working in a textile mill before settling down to sell tea by the roadside at ITO in Delhi.  Simultaneously, driven by his passion, he started reducing his thoughts and experiences of his life in writing and, that is how, he became writer of his two initial books.

Mr Rao’s books are based on real-life stories of his customers and other people around.

He approached few book publishers, based in Daryaganj, New Delhi. In the beginning, he could not succeed, probably because of his lineage from the poor family and callous attitudes of the publishers towards budding and upcoming writers. But he persisted in and succeeded in getting his books published.

He then got himself registered with the National Institute of Open Schooling for class 12 examinations. He had been pursuing his graduation degree even at the age of sixty.  Now, Laxman Rao, has become a prolific Hindi-language author whose two dozen novels, are now available on online platforms like Amazon along with availability of his books on his famous tea-stall, which has become a good place convergence of writers and intellectuals.

Laxman Rao with Former President of India, Smt Pratibha Rao Patil

The story of Laxman Rao is now included in those inspiring stories from this great nation in which students, studying under a streetlight, those of authors, whose manuscripts get rejected over and over again and of chaiwallahs.

It won’t be an exaggeration to call him Delhi’s most popular chaiwalla – for his passion to write has attracted a lot of attention. Besides, he has been honoured by many dignitaries, including Indira Gandhi and Pratibha Patil. There are many elite visitors to his tea stall in the ITO.

The Talented Indian wishes realization of full potential in his life.

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Editor's Pick

Throwback Thursday: Jyotirao Phule, The Indian Social Reformer Who Challenged The Caste System

Today, 11th April marks birth anniversary of Jyotirao Phule. This year, let’s commemorate his contributions that shape the Indian society.

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Jyotirao Phule, Indian, Social system, reformer, caste

Jyotirao Phule, also known as Mahatma Jyotirao Phule was an Indian social reformer and a writer whose contributions to revolutionizing rights for the Indian masses are immense. He was one of the most influential voices in history against the widespread caste system. He fought for the rights of lower castes and revolted against the Brahmanical rule. 

Early Life

Jyotirao Phule was born near the district of Pune in present-day Maharashtra. He belonged to the Mali caste which falls within the Shudra social class which is the lowest class according to the varnas. His parents worked as fruit and vegetable farmers. Since most lower-caste children were uneducated, Jyotirao Puhle also withdrew from pursuing higher education. Instead, he started working on the family’s farm.

Contrary to the traditional, one of his neighbours persuaded his father to allow Phule to pursue higher education. Following this, Phule started attending a school which was run by Scottish Christian missionaries. His fascination and inspiration with historical movements and various thinkers began here. He learnt about Thomas Paine and his Rights of Man. He was also inspired by the anti-slavery movements in America. At the same time, he was also fascinated with the ideas behind Buddhism and Kabir’s poetry. 

Jyotirao Phule: Contributions to Indian Society

Jyotirao Phule made important contributions to social reform, especially by opposing the caste system and promoting female equality and education. After a personal experience at a friend’s wedding in 1848, he became aware of the injustices of caste prejudice. This urged him to build a revolutionary school in Pune for lower-caste girls. His wife, Savitribai Phule, taught there. Phule continued to pursue his goal of educating and uplifting underprivileged people despite opposition from orthodox Brahmins. He expanded his efforts to build schools for those from lower castes. Additionally, he continued to advocate for widows’ rights and against child marriage. 

He founded the Satyashodhak Samaj, a reform organisation, in 1873. The aim of this was to improve social justice and challenge the caste system. Phule’s devotion to social justice and solidarity was highlighted by his inclusive approach, which included inviting individuals from all socioeconomic classes into his home and sharing his water well with the community. Through his widely published works, such as the well-known “Gulamgiri” (Slavery), Phule sought to highlight the caste system’s oppressive aspects and push social reform. His unwavering efforts to eradicate social injustices and promote a more just and equitable society in India will always be remembered.

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Editor's Pick

Autism Acceptance Month: The Importance of Neurodiversity

As we reflect on Autism Awareness Month, let us recommit ourselves to the ongoing journey towards autism acceptance and inclusion.

anisha.kesarla@gmail.com'

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Autism , Autism Awareness Month , Neurodiversity, Neurotypicals, Awareness

Autism, also known as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterised by a lack of understanding of social cues, challenges in communication and restricted patterns of behaviour, interests and activities. Autism is considered a “spectrum”, considering the wide variation of type and severity of symptoms people experience. It is essential to think that this article aims to spread awareness and knowledge about the topic, not diagnose people. 

Autism Acceptance Month is observed annually in April, where it serves to spread awareness about Autism and empower and reignite the needs and wants of Autistic individuals. It is also maintained to provide knowledge about their world. Researching is an umbrella term formed from recent years of the understanding that Autism, ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), Global Development Delay and other neurological disorders are normal and are a variation in being human. It celebrates being different and promotes inclusivity. At the same time, people under the spectrum are described as Neurodiverse; the people deemed as “normal” are termed “Neurotypicals” to debunk the normality accepted in the world and support the difference in humans. The need for Autism Acceptance Month is crucial as the questions of acceptance as human beings are essential and the need of the hour to respect and support individuals who are autistic and embrace them as valuable individuals of society. However, in the current scenario, autistic are often faced with obstacles and challenges while living their daily lives and routines.

Some of the discrimination faced by Autistics include

Accessibility: Trains, buses, cabs, and other forms of transportation do not consider the difficulty autistics face in communicating their needs, especially regarding sensory challenges. Several of these services have been designed keeping in mind the Neurotypicals’ needs but fail to take into consideration the needs of differently-abled and Neurodiverse people. A structured, inclusive approach to fulfilling all the community’s needs can help create acceptance. 

Education system: The education system lacks the understanding and needs of Autistic individuals who have individualistic support and care. Many teaching professionals lack the knowledge and expertise with respect to Autism and its associated characteristics. This knowledge gap often results in inadequate support and accommodations for autistic students, hindering their academic and social development within the educational environment.

Sociability: Considering the difficulties Autistics face in communication, socialising is a barrier for them to overcome. While understanding the same, it is also important to take initiative and form relationships with Autistic individuals. It serves as a sign of acceptance and respect. This hinders their development, especially for autistic children where sociability becomes crucial during their early years to understand their environment. Therefore, enough research is needed for the parents to make to secure better 

Lack of employment opportunities: Autistic individuals face a variety of challenges in employment opportunities which in turn affects the acceptance they receive from the world. Their skills and abilities are underestimated and are not utilized to the highest degree. 

Lack of knowledge: Neurotypicals are not aware of the existence of ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) and Neurodiversity which go hand in hand. It is necessary for people to have an inquiry into their world and accept them accordingly. To create a better world, we must ensure it is a beautiful place for everyone to live in.

 Given the difficulties and challenges the Autistic community faces, we, as Neurotypicals, can ensure a better world for all of us to live in. 

Here are some of the ways Neurotypicals can be helpful to the autistic community

Promote inclusivity: Inclusivity is the action that represents autistic individuals by fostering environments that embrace their unique needs and perspectives. Ensuring equal opportunities and respect, creating a sense of belonging where everyone feels valued. By promoting inclusivity, we create a society where autistic individuals can fully participate and thrive, celebrating their diversity and contributions to our communities.

Be tolerant: Understanding the communication barriers that exist and also the differences in forming relationships, it is important to stay tolerant and educate ourselves in the most optimal ways to develop relationships with Autistic individuals. Therefore, patience and tolerance can be abided by to assure better living standards together.

Educate ourselves: Educating ourselves and gaining understanding becomes imperative to empathise and put ourselves in situations that discriminate against Autistics the basic human rights. While doing so, we can also advocate for inclusivity, challenge stigma, and support initiatives that promote acceptance and equal opportunities for autistic individuals.

Advocate for accessibility: Advocate for inclusive policies, programs, and services that promote accessibility and accommodate the needs of autistic individuals in education, employment, healthcare, and other areas of society. This includes ensuring that educational institutions provide tailored support and accommodations, employers offer inclusive hiring practices and workplace accommodations, healthcare facilities offer sensory-friendly environments and accessible services, and community organizations offer inclusive recreational and social opportunities. 

Stay flexible: To stay flexible concerning autistic individuals as neurotypicals, it’s essential to recognise and respect their unique needs and preferences. Be open-minded and adaptable in communication and interactions, allowing for diverse communication styles and sensory sensitivities. Embrace a person-centred approach, valuing individual strengths and supporting autonomy and self-expression. By fostering an inclusive and accepting environment, neurotypicals can cultivate meaningful connections and promote the well-being and success of autistic individuals.

Autism Awareness Month: A Recap

 As Autism Awareness Month continues, it serves as a poignant reminder of the importance of embracing neurodiversity and promoting acceptance and inclusion for individuals on the autism spectrum. Throughout this month, celebrate the unique strengths, talents, and perspectives of autistic individuals while raising awareness about the challenges they may face. However, our commitment to autism awareness and neurodiversity extends far beyond the confines of a single month; it is a year-round endeavour that requires ongoing education, advocacy, and action.

Autism Awareness Month has provided a platform for amplifying the voices of autistic individuals, highlighting their experiences, and advocating for their rights. It has been a time for sparking meaningful conversations, challenging stigma, and fostering understanding and empathy within our communities. From awareness-raising events and educational campaigns to social media initiatives and fundraising efforts, individuals and organisations worldwide have come together to show their support for autism acceptance and inclusion.

Moving forward, it is imperative that we continue to prioritize neurodiversity in all aspects of society. This means creating inclusive environments that accommodate the diverse needs of autistic individuals in education, employment, healthcare, and beyond. It means advocating for policies and practices that promote equal opportunities and access to support services. And it means fostering a culture of acceptance, respect, and appreciation for the unique contributions of neurodiverse individuals.

By embracing neurodiversity, we enrich our communities with diverse perspectives and talents and create a more equitable and compassionate society for all. As we reflect on Autism Awareness Month and our strides, let us recommit ourselves to the ongoing journey towards autism acceptance and inclusion. Together, we can build a world where everyone is valued, celebrated, and empowered to thrive, regardless of their neurodiversity.

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Health Psychology: Nurturing Mind and Body

Embracing Health Psychology on World Health Day -Exploring the Intersection of Mental and Physical Well-being for a Healthier Tomorrow.

sherrylsanjaypal@gmail.com'

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Health Psychology, World Health Day, Lifestyle, Stress, Biopsychosocial Model

Every Year on 7th April, we celebrate World Health Day. To raise awareness about health-related issues and advocate for universal access to healthcare. As we commemorate World Health Day this year, it is essential to delve into the profound relationship between mind and body, highlighting the principles of health psychology that are indispensable in promoting overall well-being.

Health Psychology is a field that examines how psychological factors influence health and illness, emphasising the interconnectedness of mental and physical health. It recognises that our thoughts, emotions and behaviours significantly impact our overall well-being, shaping our health outcomes and quality of life.

The Biopsychosocial Model: 

One of the essential characteristics of health psychology is the biopsychosocial model, which says that health and illness result from biological, psychological, and social factors. Understanding this model allows us to see that biological workings do not solely determine health. However, they are also influenced by psychological and social factors such as stress, lifestyle choices, social support, and socioeconomic status.

Stress : 

For instance, stress is a common psychological factor that can significantly impact our health. Chronic stress has been linked to a plethora of health problems, including cardiovascular disease, weakened immune function, and mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression. By managing stress through relaxation techniques, mindfulness practices and seeking social support, individuals can mitigate its adverse effects on their health.

Lifestyle :

Healthy behaviours play an essential role in shaping our well-being. Adapting healthy lifestyle habits such as regular exercise, balanced nutrition, adequate sleep and avoiding harmful substances like tobacco and alcohol can promote physical health and reduce the risk of chronic diseases. Health psychologists work to understand the psychological factors that influence health behaviours and develop interventions to promote positive behaviour change.

Mind-Body Connection: 

Another important aspect of health psychology is the mind-body connection, which has a vital influence on psychological factors and physical health. Research has shown that our mental and emotional states can impact physiological processes in the body, affecting immune function, hormone levels and even the healing rate. Practices like meditation, visualisation and biofeedback harness the power of the mind to promote healing and enhance overall well-being.

Social Support : 

Social support and interpersonal relationships are vital in maintaining health and resilience. Strong social connections have been linked to better physical and mental health outcomes. While loneliness and social isolation can adversely affect health. Building and nurturing supportive relationships can buffer against the adverse effects of stress and adversity, fostering resilience and promoting well-being.

World Health Day : 

As we observe World Health Day, let us understand the importance of embracing a holistic approach to health that recognises the importance of mind-body connection and stress with the help of the biopsychosocial model. By integrating concepts of health psychology, such as lifestyle change and social support, into our lives, we can empower ourselves to make informed choices, cultivate resilience, and strive towards optimal well-being. Together, let us prioritise mental and physical health, laying the foundation for a healthier and happier future.

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Remembering Manonmaniyam P. Sundaram

Honouring the Life and Works of a Pioneering Scholar- Manonmaniyam P. Sundaranar: A Legacy of Literature and Culture

sherrylsanjaypal@gmail.com'

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Manonmaniyam P . Sundarnar, Sundarnar, Manonmaniam, Tamil, Tamil Literature

In the world of Tamil Literature and cultural history, Manonmaniyam P. Sundaram was a luminary whose contributions continue to resonate; Sundaram’s legacy is intertwined with notable works such as his acclaimed Tamil Drama “ Manonmaniyam” and the revered state song of Tamil Nadu, “Tamil Thai Valthu.”

Born on 4th April 1855, Sundaram embarked on a journey of intellectual enthusiasm and literary excellence. His collaboration with Scottish Professor Harvey resulted in the seminal work “Some Early Sovereigns of Travancore,” understanding his interdisciplinary approach to scholarship and his commitment to exploring diverse realms of knowledge.

Sundaram’s impact extended beyond academia as he assumed the role of the first Principal of the MDT Hindu College in Tirunelveli, leaving an indelible mark on educational institutions. His tenure saw the publication of significant works, including the revered “Chathira Saugiragam” and his magnum opus, “Manonmaniam.”

Tragically, Sundaram’s remarkable journey was cut short by diabetes, and he passed away on April 26th 1897, at the young age of 42. Yet, his legacy endures through his literary masterpiece and his profound influence on subsequent generations of scholars and writers.

The impact of Sundaram’s contributions reverberates in various spheres, including cinema and politics. The 1942 cinematic adaptation of “Manonmani” is a testament to his work’s enduring relevance, captivating audiences with its timeless narrative and cultural significance.

Sundaram’s influence extends to the political arena through his descendants, notably his son P.S.Nataraja Pillai, who made significant contributions as a statesman and parliamentarian; his political affiliations with the Indian National Congress and the Praja Socialist Party of India underscore the enduring legacy of service and commitment instilled in by his father.

In recognition of his monumental legacy, Manonmaniam Sundaranar University is a testament to Sundaram’s enduring legacy, serving as a beacon of knowledge and learning in his honour.

As we remember the life and works of Manonmaniyam P.Sundaram, we pay tribute to the visionary scholar whose intellectual curiosity, literary prowess and cultural insights continue to enrich the tapestry of Tamil Literature and Heritage.

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The Device- Digital Consumption in Children

Your child and their best friend ‘The device’ -Navigating the Digital World: Balancing Opportunities and Risks for Children’s Well-Being

anisha.kesarla@gmail.com'

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Digital Consumption, Device, Social Media, Digital Media, Parents

A digital device is probably your child’s best friend. They cannot eat without it, they sleep with it, they play with it and they spend time with it more than anyone in their world. The worries that the parents possess regarding this issue are innumerable. We see every day articles about the increased digital consumption by children, but how, why and what does this signify? Here is an in-depth overview of the whole spectacle.

Digital consumption by children refers to the use of digital devices and media by young individuals, typically under the age of 18. With the widespread availability of smartphones, tablets, computers, and other digital devices, children today are increasingly exposed to various forms of digital content, including videos, games, social media, and educational resources. According to the Times of India, a national survey conducted in India found that six out of ten youngsters between the ages of 9-17 spend over three hours daily on social media or gaming sites. The catalyst for the increase in this need has sprouted from the years of COVID-19 that families went through as the pandemic continued to take over the world, and the emergence of lockdowns with limited activities to do. These children, especially the ones aged from 5-12 resulted in honing towards their screens as a need for entertainment. Now a child is recommended to have a screen time of not more than an hour for preschoolers according to the WHO(World Health Organization). Still, the average screen time of these preschoolers during lockdown was recorded to be more than 6 hours which is a considerably higher amount than the prescribed one. 

Digital consumption has been on the rise since the early 2000s when it became the new norm for children to keep up with the ongoing “news” about television personalities, social media influencers and other trends. The most common reason for the need to do so would be the peer pressure and inclusion of themselves in the casual conversations between their peers. 

Here are the adverse effects of digital consumption by children: 

Instant gratification– If parents observe the pattern of children’s rhymes is observed, it is seen that a certain image doesn’t stay on for more than 2-3 seconds on the screen which leads to a decrease in the attention span of children. This leads them to be conditioned to have instant change or gratification and would thereafter generalize in other domains of their lives. Instant gratification is achieved when the needs of the children are immediately met, this lessens their patience to meet their needs; promotes more needs to be formulated and in turn for them to be fulfilled at the earliest.

Autism– Though there has been ongoing research about this particular topic, it has been widely discussed that the implications of screen time in early childhood can lead to a type of autism called ‘virtual autism’. The characteristics of virtual autism include similar criteria of ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) following the DSM (Diagnostic Statistical Module) where the symptoms include a lack of understanding of social cues, lack of eye contact, and need for structure and many more suffice for the ‘virtual autism’ that has recently been surfaced in the research area

Need for social acceptance– Being part of the digital age, especially teenagers are always in the quest for approval, and this majorly impacts their usage of digital devices. Through the unrealistic portrayal of personality, body, relationships and social interaction, teenagers always do take away their perception of the world. Sometimes these takeaways might not always be the best approach to take to interact with the world but since they have been exposed to a certain manner, their perceptions are already distorted. Therefore, the gullibility of teenagers is also taken as an advantage in digital media which can also lead to the risks of cyber bullying.

Other adverse effects– Adverse effects like delayed language development, reduced outdoor play, risk of addiction, disrupted sleep patterns, impaired social skills, and behavioural problems are other effects that can fall under the detrimental effects.

Digital consumption also leads to certain upsides, which are:

Curiosity fulfilled– While it is crucial to understand the adversities children face resulting from digital consumption, it becomes important to also recognise the potential digital devices have on the growth and development of children. Curiosity always kills the cat when it comes to the latter and the internet in turn sparks the interest of the children to feed them information on their How, What, When, Where and Why’s. This needs to be encouraged by the parents since they are one of the sole providers of digital devices.

Keeping up with the world– The internet is the fastest growing medium that has all the information necessary for the individual to understand the world. To understand several global phenomena and trends, it is essential to stay in touch with digital media. While digital media and social media makes human life easy, it also provides a gateway for these children of the digital era to capitalize on their amenities. 

Knowledge– Digital consumption provides accessibility to information from anytime, anywhere only at the convenience of having it at the tip of our fingers. It also enhances the pre-existing knowledge and abilities by making people competent and also enables them to find their interests which might not always be accessible in their arena. It also connects a person from one corner of the world to another enhancing the connectivity rate of shared information and experiences. 

The ways in which digital consumption can be optimized in a child’s life are vital to comprehend for the child to reach their highest potential throughout development. Parents need to understand that modelling is quite simple yet an effective way to help the child understand the accessibility to digital media. Allowing a certain time for digital learning, which might not involve any other activities like eating, playing and reading; Parents can do this by Spending quality time with the children; Educating them about the adversities of digital media; Monitoring the content consumed are all quite important to take into consideration. 

Digital media has consumed most of the domains of our lives to a higher degree. Therefore, the quality of our lives may also be impaired due to dependence on digital needs. To tackle this challenge, balancing and appreciating the mundane slowness becomes essential and as a result, brings around more ways to improve the quality of life. In conclusion, digital media and social media provides accessibility to information and crucial insights to improve oneself but also opens the window to create mishaps about the same. Moreover, children and their gullibility to misinformation through the digital landscapes can promote hazardous information to spread which may not be beneficial to the child and their environment. Furthermore, fostering open communication between children and trusted adults is essential for addressing concerns related to digital consumption. Encouraging dialogue about online experiences, addressing any challenges or risks encountered, and providing guidance and support are essential for promoting children’s well-being and safety in digital environments.

Overall, while digital consumption offers numerous opportunities for learning, creativity, and connection, it also poses risks that must be effectively managed. By promoting responsible digital habits, fostering critical thinking skills, and facilitating open communication. With the help of parents we can empower children to navigate the digital world safely and confidently, ensuring that they harness the full potential of digital media while minimizing its potential negative impacts.

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