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Throwback Thursday: The Icon Among Indian Writers Ruskin Bond

Celebrating the 88th Birth Anniversary of Ruskin Bond, known for his love for narrating stories and children’s literature.

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Ruskin Bond

Today, the 19th of May, 2022, is the 88th birth anniversary of a well-known name, the respected, most loved writer of India, Ruskin Bond. Ruskin Bond has been heard of in every household. His short stories and novellas have found a place in the school textbooks and our personal book shelves as well. His writings have been adapted into many movies and TV serials. On the occasion of his birth anniversary, we’ll leap down to know some anecdotes of his life, his career, and the delight of Children’s literature and story writing. 

Early Life

Ruskin Bond was born in the beautiful, serene hill town of Kasauli. He was born to Edith Clarke and Aubrey Bond. Ruskin moved from place to place, as his father was a member of the Royal Air Force. At the age of eight, a young and naïve Ruskin Bond had to face his parent’s divorce and split. His mother married a Punjabi Hindu man. Since then, the relationship between Ruskin and his mother was complicated and hard. They rarely met each other. His mother couldn’t provide him with the affection and care he needed, and eventually they grew apart and distant.

For the next two years, Bond stayed with his father. His father was his happy pill. All his spare time was for his son alone. As a young child, his father made him feel cherished, happy, and safe. However, those were the last two years of his time with his father. His father passed away, and Bond was deeply shaken. Bond says, “But they were two wonderful years, and in writing about them over 70 years later, I find they are still as vivid and alive with tender emotions as they were such a long time ago.” Following his dad’s death, Bond moved to Dehradun. There, his grandmother raised him. 

He received his early education from Bishop Cotton School in Shimla. During his time in the school year, he won several writing competitions. Some of them were the Hailey Literature Prize and the Irwin Divinity Prize. He completed his graduation in 1952 and moved to England and stayed with his aunt for four years. 

Story Writing and Children’s Literature 

Ruskin Bond did not have the ideal childhood. During the tender age of 9 and 10, a child is often in need of his parent’s protection, love, guidance and care. Ruskin couldn’t have that. In such a blemished turn of events, it is only logical to think that Bond would have harboured within him sad and pessimistic memories and opinions of his childhood. However, that is not true. Bond looks back at his childhood with the fond, sweet, livid and innocent memories of his parents, his grandmother and his life in Dehradun. His optimistic outlook on life was his father’s teaching, and Bond developed that in his writing. His father had instilled in him a habit of reading books, and soon Bond found himself being shaped by his own story writing experimentations. 

At the age of 17 in London, he began to write his first novel, The Room on the Roof.

No sooner than later, Ruskin Bond came to be known as the pioneer of Children’s literature in India. His children’s story had heartwarming characters and picturesque descriptions. His works were more or less influenced by his own childhood, and a longing for a happy childhood. Bond has always loved the world of children. He describes them as innocent, curious, sweet, and open-minded. Children are like a breath of fresh air and are not deceptive. That is why Bond penned more and more children’s literature. 

Achievements and Accolades

The Room on the Roof was published when Bond was 21-year-old. The novel had autobiographical elements in it. For his first ever novel, in 1957, he received the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize for his efforts. This gave him the impetus to write its sequel, Vagrants in the Valley. 

In 1980, Penguin Publishing House approached Ruskin Bond and asked him to write some books. In 1933, Penguin India published “The Room on the Roof” and its copy “Vagrants in the Valley” in one volume. Bond had a penchant for supernatural stories, and so grew his collection of supernatural stories like A Season of Ghosts, and A Face in the Dark. He also wrote essays and articles which were published in many magazines. Currently, he has published over 500 short stories, essays, and novels. 

Ruskin Bond was awarded the Sahitya Academy Award in 1992 for “Our Trees Still Grow in Dehra.” In 1999, he was awarded the Padma Shri for his lifetime contribution to Indian Literature in English and Padma Bhushan in 2014.

Even though Bond is known more for his books on children’s literature, he has also written and published work of many other genres like romance, horror and poetry.

Here wishing a very happy birthday to Sir Ruskin Bond!

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Editor's Pick

Twilight in Delhi by Ahmed Ali

Twilight in Delhi by Ahmed Ali : A Journey Through Colonial India Enter the Heart of Delhi and Witness the Trials of Love, Loss, and Change

sherrylsanjaypal@gmail.com'

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Twilight in Delhi, Ahmed Ali, Colonial, Delhi, Mr Nihal

Twilight in Delhi by Ahmed Ali casts a spell that sends readers back to the heart of colonial India, where the blazing summer heat mirrors the simmering tensions within the Nihal family. Set in British-occupied Delhi in the early 20th century, the novel paints a vivid picture of a city caught between tradition and modernity, struggling to retain its identity amidst the overpowering shadows of colonial rule.

A Short Glimpse

At its heart, Twilight in Delhi is a tale of familial bonds tested by the tides of change. Mr Nihal, the house patriarch, stands as a symbol of tradition, grappling with the shifting sands of a fast-changing world. While his son Asghar navigates the nuances of love and marriage, we, as readers, are drawn into a web of emotions that go beyond time and culture.

Ali’s prose is rich with sensory detail, evoking the sights, sounds and smells of old Delhi with remarkable clarity. From the bustling markets to the quiet corners of the Nihal household, each scene comes alive with a tangible sense of atmosphere, immersing the reader in a world that is just as enchanting as it is unforgiving.

Themes and Characters:

The characters are finely drawn, each bearing the weight of their hopes, fears and desires. Asghar’s journey from passion to heartbreak is simultaneously embedded with a rawness that is cathartic and heartbreaking, while Mr Nihal’s inner turmoil reflects the struggles of a nation in transition.

Themes of colonialism, identity and the passage of time weave through the narrative, inviting readers to ponder the broader implications of history upon individual lives. Through the lens of the Nihal family, Ali explores the multifaceted nature of power and privilege, illuminating the complexities of class, gender and religion in a society on the brink of transformation.

The TakeAway

While Twilight in Delhi is undeniably a product of its time, its resonance is timeless. In an age marked by political upheaval and social change, Ali’s exploration of love, loss and the quest for identity feels as relevant today as it nearly did a century ago.

Ahmed Ali’s work is a masterful historical fiction that transports readers to a bygone era while offering timeless insights into the human condition. As the sun sets on Mr Nihal’s world, the reader is left with a deep sense of wonder and longing, ready to traverse their journey through the twilight of colonial India.

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The Stray Dogs Tales: Rescue For A Cause

Rescuing strays is not a compulsion but a choice. Let’s understand the importance of rescuing better with the tales of Blacky and Biki.

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Strays, dogs, blacky, biki

Dogs are a man’s best friend. But sadly for many in India, this best friend comes with a price tag, because of the societal compulsion to get a pedigree dog to show one’s social status. According to the report titled, “State of Pet Homelessness Project”, released by pet food company Mars Petcare India, over 60 million homeless pets such as dogs and cats in India are living on the streets. With other socio-political human issues taking up the entirety of the newspaper, our best friends hardly get any recognition. Let’s try to understand the condition of today’s stray dogs through two case studies, i.e., Blacky and Biki.

The Tale of Blacky

Blacky’s day starts at around 9-10 am casually looking at the streets and staring at the passersby. At times he changes his spot from lazing in front of his favourite shop called ROG to the hardware store called, Mtech Services; which is right in front of ROG. He is not like your average dog who would accept pets and treats from every Tom, Dick and Harry. His days on the streets have taught him better than that. He doesn’t appreciate being touched, he won’t accept your treats when you’re staring at him. But that doesn’t mean he didn’t notice your affection, he just doesn’t like to look easy. A dog is almost always expected to be warm and friendly but Blacky is anything but that. But you know the weirdest thing? He never bites. He growls to let you know that he doesn’t appreciate the petting or the staring but he means no harm. 

Blacky, strays, dogs, Indian street dog
Credits: Alisha Das (Blacky lounging at his favourite place).

Normally many people ignore him for his not-so-typical friendly dog-like behaviour but the owner of ROG and a few other people who have managed to gain his trust adore him. Given his uncharacteristic behaviour, one can only speculate what hardships he must have endured to make him lose faith in all humanity. Yet he refuses to give up on living. Showing up one day out of the blue in 2012, Blacky continued to live his life in the best way he can on the streets of Taverekere, Bengaluru. Neglected, diseased but never beaten up by life, Blacky trudged on till 2024 probably never finding the comfort of a home.

The Tale of Biki

On the streets of Taverekere, Bengaluru there thrives another paw spirit, Biki. Unlike Blacky Biki is a laidback friendly dog. He doesn’t exactly jump on you or wag his tail when you meet but he enjoys your company which is evident by the way he doesn’t mind you petting his head or showering him with rubs. He graciously accepts all the food you give him, but there are days when he just walks around without having even a grain of rice to quench his hunger. 

Biki, strays, dogs
Credits: Alisha Das (A very hungry Biki).

With puppy eyes and a golden heart, Biki roams around the streets hoping to one day be showered with all the love and affection that he deserves. Yet all he gets are a few pets here and there. Some leftovers in the trash or some biscuits left by passersby. 

Biki, strays, dogs
Credits: Alisha Das (Biki staring intently for more food).

The Middlepoint

The similarity between the tales of Biki and Blacky are many but the one that stands out the most is the fact that they are creatures who deserve as much love as any other pet in the world. But sadly all they get are biscuits and passing pets as strays. It hurts to see them in this state, but it hurts your bank balance when you buy a dog instead of giving one a home. Sure they both are highly neglected, smelly and probably carry some germs, but choosing someone furry with a price tag, not only deprives a needy stray of a home but also leads to the vicious cycle of breeding. Sure there are many ethical breeders but backyard breeding is still highly prevalent in our country.

Putting these innocent pups through that life of illegal breeding seems like a nightmare but is the reality in many places. Buying from ethical breeders is not bad but you must first check how they are breeding the dogs and taking care of them before going ahead with them. But instead of getting a dog who might be unsuitable for Indian climates or not resistant to the diseases commonly found in dogs in India, consider adopting local dogs who are resistant to many of the diseases in India, are perfectly suitable for Indian climates and desperately need a home.

Rescuing strays is not a compulsion but a choice that truly could help many furry paws that need a home.

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Editor's Pick

Alcohol Use Disorder: Awareness and Affects on Mental Health

Shedding Light on the Silent Struggle Within. Unmasking the Hidden Battle: Alcohol Use Disorder and Mental Health.

sherrylsanjaypal@gmail.com'

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therapeutic, alcohol use disorder, awareness, stigma, mental health

Alcohol Use Disorder is not merely a physical affliction; it casts a shadow over mental well-being, weaving a complex web of challenges that often go unnoticed. While the consequences of excessive alcohol consumption on the body are widely acknowledged along with its therapeutic interventions, its profound impact on mental health remains a topic usually shrouded in silence. As we delve deeper into this intersection, it becomes increasingly evident that addressing alcohol abuse goes hand in hand with safeguarding mental well-being.

DISCLAIMER: THE INFORMATION PRESENTED IN THIS ARTICLE IS FOR GENERAL INFORMATION AND AWARENESS PURPOSES ONLY.

FOR IN-DEPTH DIAGNOSIS PLEASE CONTACT YOUR NEAREST MENTAL HEALTH CARE PROFESSIONAL.

According to the DSM, Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) is characterised by problematic alcohol consumption leading to significant impairment or distress, with symptoms appearing within 12 months. These include consuming alcohol in more substantial amounts than intended, unsuccessful attempts to cut down, spending excessive time obtaining or recovering from its effects, craving alcohol, neglecting responsibilities due to alcohol use, experiencing social or interpersonal problems, sacrificing important activities, engaging in hazardous situations, and continuing use despite knowing its harmful effects. AUD can also involve tolerance and withdrawal symptoms. Remission stages include early (no symptoms for 3-12 months) and sustained (no symptoms for over 12 months)

At its essence, alcohol use disorder is a coping mechanism for many individuals grappling with underlying mental health issues. It serves as a temporary relief from the relentless feelings and situations of anxiety, depression, trauma and other various psychological distress. However, this relief comes at a heavy price, as alcohol can increase existing mental health conditions and give rise to new ones as well.

The most insidious aspect of alcohol use disorder is its ability to hide existing mental health struggles, perpetuating a vicious cycle of self-medication and deterioration. What begins as a way of coping and numbing emotional pain swiftly spirals into a full-blown dependency, further amplifying feelings of despair and hopelessness.

Additionally, the societal stigma surrounding both alcohol use disorder and mental health creates barriers to seeking help. Many suffer in silence, fearing judgement and social ostracisation, while the dual stigma compels them to hide their struggle even further from their loved ones. This isolation only worsens and deepens the wounds of mental anguish, reinforcing the belief that recovery is an unattainable dream.

What Can We Do

The journey towards healing begins with acknowledging the intertwined nature of alcohol use disorder and mental health. By removing the barriers of stigma and shame, individuals can reclaim their stories and embark on a path of recovery. This process entails not only addressing the physical aspects of alcohol use disorder but also delving into the underlying emotional turmoil driving its consumption.

A lot of integrated therapeutic approaches simultaneously target alcohol use disorders and mental health disorders, which is very important in fostering lasting recovery. Therapeutic interventions provide invaluable tools for coping with cravings, managing triggers and navigating the complexities of emotional distress. Additionally, peer support groups offer companionship and understanding, reinforcing that nobody is alone in their struggles.

Preventive measures also play an essential role in mitigating the risk of alcohol use disorder and its detrimental effects on mental health and due to mental health. Psychoeducation initiatives to dispel myths and misconceptions are indispensable in empowering individuals to make informed decisions. Early intervention programs targeted at identifying and addressing mental health concerns before they escalate can significantly reduce the likelihood of self-medication through alcohol.

What is equally important is the cultivation of a supportive community that fosters open conversations and destigmatising discussions surrounding alcohol use disorder and mental health through awareness. By cultivating empathy, compassion and acceptance, communities can serve as pillars of strength for those grappling with these intertwined challenges, offering a beacon of hope amidst the darkness.

In the pursuit of alcohol use and related disorders and mental health advocacy, every voice matters. Whether sharing personal experiences, spotlighting marginalised voices or advocating for policy changes, each action contributes to a more inclusive and supportive society. Together, we can shatter the silence and dismantle the stigma, illuminating the path towards healing and recovery.

In conclusion the awareness for alcohol use disorder and mental health are intrinsically linked, each exacerbating the challenges posed by the other. By fostering awareness, promoting integrated therapeutic treatment approaches and cultivating supportive communities, we can address the root causes of this dual crisis and pave the way for a brighter, healthier future for all.

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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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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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