Monday, August 23, 2010

Dearer MPs

Our dear MPs—the members of parliament—had raised a furor over the 3-fold salary hike that had been gifted to them…demanding in the lines of an old advertisement for the soft drink Pepsi that proclaimed, “Yeh dil maange more”…give us more…and they have indeed managed to extract more…

The raise in their salary has raised a furor in various circles and I am sure the MPs must be feeling this feeling expressed by others, to be utterly unjust…given that all other professions have an increased pay packet, than what it used to be. Hence to them this furor over the raise, and over their furor, is beyond comprehension…but is it actually so? Are they so na├»ve? I think not…though yes, as is the human nature…what others get always seems to be more than what the self gets. Thus if they felt that they were still the underpaid class…. one cannot blame them!

Though on going through the detailed research and the corresponding reports in The Times of India, Kolkata, dt. August 22, 2010, one would realise how misplaced is the wails of the MPs…that saw them thronging the well of the House (in parliament) in opposition to such a meager (?) hike in their salary. The TOI has quite explicitly reported the details and analysed the implications of this decision of pay-hike—more specifically the extent of the raise. And as if this was not enough it has been incremented further (TOI, dt. August 23, 2010)—typifying the efficiency of the government in appeasing but not in governance.

The salary hike is just the tip of the ice-berg—given the perks, amounting to gratis—considering the almost unlimited privileges being accorded to them…. in a country where a large number of people do not have the privilege of even the most elementary means of sustenance…food, clothing and shelter…and the representatives of the same people ‘were’ to earn Rs.57 lakhs annually (only the salary and not the lump sump package, as the amount excludes the unlimited allowances)….and it being too insufficient a raise, was raised within a span a of a day to Rs. !.6lakhs per month as the lump-sump pay packet, which includes still, not all of the allowances…still they are not happy as they had wanted the monthly salary to be Rs.80,001…to do justice to their self-implanted tag of ‘servers of the underprivileged’…Well, it could happen only in India and that too so blatantly.

The report, based on the original hike, has bared the implicit impact of the increment—104 times that of per capita GDP of the country—that is, they would be earning 104 times more than the annual income of an average Indian—citizens whom the MPs are supposed to serve! Herein certain questions are craving for answer:
(i) Aren’t they costing India too much?
(ii) Are we in a position to afford it?
But they weren’t happy…so to appease them the govt. has partially(?!) acceded to their demands.

It is a forgone conclusion that they do not have a conscience—most of them—and even if they have, they are deaf to it. Their grudge raises a question mark over their credibility as citizens of India. Yes, they have the right to voice their dissent…but on valid grounds…even they are aware whom they are serving…self or the nation.

A very startling realization has struck me. Even the original hike in salary of the MPs being 104 times greater (I haven’t been able to calculate that, after the latest increment as it states that the basic hasn’t been raised only the allowances have been!) than the per capita GDP of our country implies that the average salary of a common (wo)man is that much lesser, which in turn necessitates a downward motion for the growth of the country.

Therefore the salary of an MP is inversely proportional to the growth of the country and directly proportional to corruption. Look at Kenya, where this figure is 180—strife with corruption where the common man is starving while the politicians are thriving (same as in India)—courtesy this disparity, which is another name of corruption. And as opposed to these two countries— in Japan and Singapore—the respective corresponding figures being 6 and 4—records a speedy and steady growth, rather a democratic growth—sans corruption, whose index are these figures and manifestation is in the growth. I don’t know what the economists would say. But the plain truth is visible to one and all.

‘We, the people’, in general do not know the nuances of economics nor do we know how to manipulate it. But the people who matter are aware and quite capable. Still they went ahead and did what they did. No body knows more about finances than our respected PM—undoubtedly an academician par excellence. And our FM—the troubleshooter for this UPA government—too knows the financial implications of this hike. So what was (were) the compelling reasons behind the decision?

True, the MPs have the right to ask why this furor over their salary hike when it is quite natural in all other sectors as well. But then do they, as such, only rely on their salaries for sustenance…the past is strife with shames of frauds and scandals, present is either shielding many such scams or hatching them for the future…. and the trend is likely to continue till eternity…it seems. The MPs have forgotten that it is us they represent and their increment in salary would be levied on us as tax and indirectly as price rise. Instead of being for the people they prove they would do anything to be against them…till the next elections are around…and they entice with crocodile promises.

The way they have extorted the rise, and raise over this rise, is a very crude display of blackmailing the government. And when does one give in to the blackmailers—to save or shield somebody/something—very dear. So even if the demands are dearer, it becomes worth acceding to.

Hence I refuse to accept that our PM and FM hadn’t calculated how this pay hike and hike over the hike, for MPs, would reflect against the per capita GDP. They are very capable; there is no doubt about that. Then why did they use their capabilities in less than desirable manner? There must be a serious and valid reason behind it. And I find the answer in the timing of this decision, and the common factor ‘M’ –in PM, FM and MP. ‘M’ stands for Vitamin M = Money…and not Mother India. This ‘M’ and the timing are in synergy—if my perception is correct. The lure of more ‘M’, lures away… diverts, diffuses, dissipates…the ammonia fumes of Bhopal…and now the ‘visible’ ghosts that were tumbling out of the Bhopal-closet would again be allowed ‘immunity’ in ‘invisibility’.

Thus, though the MPs might have become ‘dearer’, but they would never be ‘dear’ to the citizens—for us it shall always be our ‘Dear Nation…Mother India’—above everything else.

Sushmita Mukherjee,
23rd August 2010.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Euthanasia by Default

The word “Euthanasia” got added to my vocabulary as I read the masterpiece, “Doctors”, by Erich Segal, about 22 years back. Though I must admit the deeper meaning and the bigger picture projected/incubated by the word, in the canvas of life, I could grasp only with the ‘passage of time’—which when translated to its effect implies ‘experience’.

The true essence of a word goes well beyond its literal meaning. It rather depends on its interpretation, distortion, manipulation, assimilation, extrapolation and integration. These operators at times work in tandem—some, if not all. While at other times they are mutually exclusive in their operation. And Euthanasia too is not immune to this norm—as is normal. We have a tendency to lynch a word, try its elasticity—synonymous to versatility and wide ranged applicability—till it reaches plasticity.

Thus when I gradually began to grasp the gravity of the implications of the word I started to gravitate towards either end of the fulcrum—pros and con of the effect imparted by what Euthanasia does. But before dealing with the pendulum of my analytical mind, I need to delve a bit on Euthanasia. Although I am sure almost everybody knows what is Euthanasia—especially my friends from the medical fraternity and legal field, but the teacher in me refuses to proceed further without a proper groundwork!

Euthanasia, as per Wikipedia (our fastest and most commonly used tool for accessing information), has its root in Greek: ‘eu’ meaning ‘good/well’ and ‘thanotos’ meaning ‘death’. The word was first used to signify a peaceful death, devoid of suffering, but was later on modified, by extrapolation by none other than Francis Bacon. He said that Euthanasia is definitely a peaceful death sans suffering but brought about by a physician who helps the patient suffering from an incurable disease and unbearable pain, to get rid of it. The physician at the behest of the patient helps alleviate the pain in the only possible way—by helping him/her to end the life.

Later on, it started being referred to as the practice of ending a life in a manner, which relieves pain, and suffering. According to the House of Lords Select Committee on Medical Ethics, the precise definition of Euthanasia is "a deliberate intervention undertaken with the express intention of ending a life, to relieve intractable suffering”. Well there are many camouflaged, heavily loaded words used as preconditions for a process to be qualified as Euthanasia.
I do not want to enter into an ongoing raging debate all over the world over Euthanasia. But I need to put forth my views in order to validate my purpose behind this piece.

The first word that comes to mind on learning of an unnatural death—of a person, inflicted by another person—is ‘homicide’. Even ‘suicide’ is an act of ‘homicide inflicted by the self on the self’. ‘What led to it’ always comes as an after thought. So Euthanasia too apparently would likely come under it. Maybe this is the reason why it has not been legalized. It is deemed legal in not even a handful of countries, Netherlands being one of them, but then the Euthanasia has to of the “Voluntary” variety and needs to fulfill the conditions (laid down by deciding authority) to qualify for the procedure. And as I write this piece, Germany has made Euthanasia legal.

Euthanasia—ethical or unethical, notwithstanding—has been categorized as:
(i) Voluntary: - The patient unable to bear the pain—caused both by the illness as well the treatment that it necessitates—gives his/her consent….in fact urges with the attending doctor to bring an end to the suffering.

(ii) Non-voluntary: - The consent is unavailable from the patient, one of the example being that of child euthanasia.

(iii) Involuntary: - The consent of the patient is not taken and hence is equivalent to murder.

And even after these categorizations the true Euthanasia is considered to be the first one, Voluntary Euthanasia.

But what about the doctors? What do they do? Irrespective of the “Rights of the Terminally Ill Patient”, they are bound by the Hippocratic Oath. Though I am not the right person to comment upon it, but still there is one point in that oath that I find ‘double-edged’. The proclamation, “I shall not harm my patients”. What is actually harmful depends entirely upon the situation. Aspirin is great for some people while it is devastating on the ‘system’ of others. Likewise, if the situation of a patient is irreparable, the pain irreducible and the necessary drugs to fight the (lost cause) illness aggravate the suffering as an undesirable contra-effect, then is the continuance of the medication healthy or harmful? But then their hands are tied in the tug-of war between ethics of oath, supported by their conscience and contradicted by rational mind. ‘I can’t play God’, that is their overwhelming thought.

In fact, Euthanasia has also been aptly described as “Assisted Suicide”.

Thus is an act of homicide, at its face value. In spite of knowing that ending a life or aiding in culminating the pain, by terminating the working of the heart, would alleviate the pain, release and relieve the soul from the entrapment of the physical sufferings, at least I can’t actively participate in such an act and am happy that am not a doctor! Though of course I can passively play my part… doing what I can, legally, with the backing of the conscience. That is pray for the “Mukti” (release), but don’t inflict it—directly or indirectly by assisting in its execution. And this is all what we do normally. Not because of the “Oath of Hypocrisy” that we seem to have taken by default by dint of being born as humans. But because of our belief in the Supreme Being—as we live in a God ‘fearing’, if not ‘abiding’, society. We accept that the rights to ‘create or terminate’ life resides with God and not with us. As also to bestow the grace of (being) ‘Mercifully Killed’, to terminally ill patients.

But as it happens with various issues, there comes a time when the onus of decision-making cannot be passed on as a buck. We are forced to become ‘active’ from ‘passive’ participants. This is encountered when complications arise during childbirth. Till today various deaths are reported during childbirths—sometimes of both the mother and the child and at times either of the two. These occurrences befall unexpectedly most of the time. But when complications are pre-indicated and the death of one of them is imminent, both the Hippocratic Oath, as well as Oath of Hypocrisy, are tested. The doctor envisaging the improbability of saving both the mother and the child and unable to ignore the Oath that takes cognizance of even an unborn child, wants the decision made by the family members, thereby absolving the conscience (doctor’s) of any guilt. While the family members faced with such a difficult situation are afraid to come up with an immediate answer lest they end up being supporters of Oath of Hypocrisy. Whom do they choose, mother or the child—none has committed any crime to be discriminated against? Yet they have to decide and normally the decision is in favour of (saving) the mother and against the child. Then is it not an enforced Euthanasia by default with respect to the child and that too non-voluntary?

Not only this, but there is another instance—and quite prevalent in India where financial conditions of the majority of the population is very bad, the projected economic growth notwithstanding —where the financial constraints doesn’t allow the treatment to be continued, the patient dies and the family members are rendered mute spectators. I know it is Destiny but is not this Destiny reached via a form of Euthanasia, albeit by default. Because that is what it is, allowing a loved one to die, having no other option—that is what has been said of Euthanasia—to assist in dying; in hopeless and unbearable circumstances.

The countries which do not support Euthanasia legally, what do they have to say about these “Euthanasia(s) by Default”?

Monday, August 16, 2010

Monochromatic Vision

As I have discussed in my previous vision—“Vision of Eyesight”, there are two types of vision accorded to us—physical, which varies with time & situation. Time, because generally those who have been blessed with great eyesight, find their vision to be faltering with advancing age. Though of course there are many who are not that fortunate—having to use specs from their childhood. This vision signifies the physical vision—eyesight. Another vision of the physical nature, is the one we have of happening(s) around us—perception(s) based on the assessment made by the heart and mind—a deeper vision—akin to ‘reading between the lines’.

Apart from these there is another one, which though has a bit of metaphysical implication(s). Vision, which hits upon the inward eye in moments of solitude, to enlighten with realization.

In this one I shall restrict myself to the physical plane, but at times I might become repetitive, as “Monochromatic Vision” is a continuation of “Vision of Eyesight”. Funniest part is the fact that the precursor was written later!

I am sure the title of the piece must be evoking some vision of colour! But before proceeding, I must acknowledge the grace of God for having endowed us with eyesight, which makes it possible to enjoy the riot of colours on the spreadsheet of nature. Nature is truly polychromatic. We look around us and find innumerable variants (shades), of even a single colour—no two colours are identical. But this riot—of colours—is harmonious!

Talking of colours in scientific terms also yields harmonious dividends—as far as accruing of knowledge with regards to its implications and its application is concerned. Implications and applications in fact keep swapping their position(s) as per the need.
Thus we know that “White Colour”, signifying peace, is a result of the ‘harmonious combination’ of the seven colours of “VIBGYOR”! Could one ask for a better harmony and utility of colours? “An apparently monochromatic quality (colour is a quality) is composed of polychromatic components—seven to be specific.” Another manifestation of unity (unit—single colour) in diversity.

While I am talking of colours, how can I not consider the pigments, as pigments are actually the colouring materials? These can be natural as well as artificial. The latter are the precursor of dyes of various types that find use in our life.
But it is the natural pigments that I shall be concentrating on, being pertinent to my purpose.

To do that a bit of Chemistry needs to be discussed and for that I apologise. Though I am sure the extent to which I would go, in my chemical discourse, that much Chemistry everybody is aware of.

Let us start from the plant kingdom. Chlorophyll, a natural green pigment found exclusively in plants, allows them to absorb sunlight and they use the thus absorbed photochemical energy to prepare their food. The plant(s) absorb the photochemical energy and use(s) it to convert the carbon dioxide that it has ‘inhaled’—the one that we have ‘exhaled’—to convert it into carbohydrate. And this entire process is referred to as PHOTOSYNTHESIS. This sustains them and this sustains life in general, around them, with the lives depending upon them to survive. This way the cycle continues—‘all because of Chlorophyll’. Just imagine what would have been the situation in its absence.

Now switching our attention to the animal kingdom, we are aware of the presence of natural pigment: MELANIN, which imparts colour to our skin, hair, and iris of the eyes and scales of the concerned inhabitants of the animal kingdom. It is even present in plants.

Just as we have been made aware of the utilities of chlorophyll, we need to know what are those, for melanin—so as to appreciate its presence and fear its absence.

In humans, those with darker skin have higher concentration of melanin and those having less of it are light or fair-skinned. Melanin is the metabolic product of an amino acid, Tyrosine, in the body.
Though this information is easily accessible from Internet, there is a purpose behind incorporating them here and enforcing inescapability, from reading it. But believe me, once you read the piece in its entirety you will appreciate my action, and your reaction would be positive.

Utilities of its presence, pitfalls of its absence and vagaries of its presence, but in excess:

Apart from its action(s) as pigment other important effects are as follows:

(i) The photochemical properties of melanin make it an excellent photo-protectant, absorbing harmful UV-radiation and transform the energy into harmless amounts of heat via “ultrafast internal conversion”.
This property enables melanin to dissipate more than 99.9% indirect damage, which is responsible for the formation of malignant melanoma. Though it does not provide complete protection from the sun and individuals with dark skin tones too are still at risk form the sun’s damaging rays. But generally, darker skin tones can tolerate exposure to sun for hours without being sun burnt, while fair skinned people feel the contrasting effect(s).
Sun exposure has also been linked with cataracts; one of the causes that leads to cataract in certain cases.

(ii) In the skin, melanin is formed by cells called Melanocytes.
Defective melanin concentration: Certain medical condition(s), viz., Albinism, are associated with lack of melanin: marked by the absence of a normal amount of the pigment in body. Humans suffer from it. Even plants and animals too can have albinism.
Albinism: It has many variants. Depending upon the type—the skin, hair and eyes—all might be affected. Ocular albinism affects not only the colour of the eyes, hair and skin, but leads to poor vision.
Furthermore, some types of melanin deficiency are associated with increased mortality rates.

(iii) In (i), it has been stated that melanin absorbs UV radiation of sun’s rays and converts it to harmless heat, whereby acts as a photo-protectant.
Now the added incentive of conversion to harmless heat is that this becomes ‘useful heat’ as well. Melanin also thus forms a part of a mechanism for absorbing heat from the sun.
This purpose is of particular importance to cold-blooded animals: snakes, lizards, certain types of fish and a wide range of other animals, which depend on their surroundings and sun’s rays to establish and maintain the body temperature.

(iv) It is also important for sharpness of vision as melanin serves to minimize the number of light beams that enter the eye. Furthermore, it provides for absorption of scattered light within the eye.
Thus, pigmentation allows for keener eyesight.

I owe to Internet huge thanks for providing me these data, in a systematically tabulated manner. Now that the indispensability of melanin has been enunciated, I hope people would really appreciate the gravity of what melanin does for us and fear the wrath caused by its absence.

Apart from the health hazards, imagine what would have happened with a low level of melanin or its complete absence. A completely ‘Monochromatic Nature’ would have surrounded us: white or pseudo white. Our eyes would have cried for mercy from this enforced vision, which naturally would have to be ‘Monotonously Monochromatic’.

So it appalls to see melanin being denounced when we have denounced black & white television to embrace colour television. ‘Coloured vision’, brings us closer to nature, with its myriad of colours—green appears green; white is viewed in its true colour—white. But green appears black, in black & white television. We love to watch colour television as it gives us the true picture of things, with the projection of their true colours. Nature is beautiful because it is comprised of diverse colours. The hue that it projects is a resultant of the complementary attitude these colours have towards each other. They show unity of purpose amidst their diversity and provide us with a ‘picture perfect’. It is a sheer gift and joy to behold—but we would have been deprived of it had there been no variety in colour(s). We have what we have, only because there is variety and these varieties—of colours—are in perfect balance with each other and thus in total harmony. Thus existence of variety is must; otherwise a balance would have been struck with whom?

If the colour of the skin, of humans, has a varying percentage of melanin, is it unnatural then? It adds variety and forms the world in which we live.
In this context, I would like to state an observation from the “Doctors”, a classic by the Late Erich Segal. In it he has described melanin as, “a case of too much of melanin”. And yes, it is as simple as that. So why this furor and fuss over the colour of skin of an individual. It cannot be used as an introduction—primary or secondary or tertiary—ever, of a person.

In this context there are certain things on which I would like to draw attention, like many others before me have done.

(i) The longest surviving example in Indian society, of a fetish for the fair skin is portrayed in the desire(s) for a ‘fair’ bride for a prospective groom, who along with his family members prefer to ignore the colour of his own skin! Though times have changed; and thankfully continue to do so, a complete eradication of this malady is next to impossible. Generally, the primary criterion in an almost endless list of requirements, for a bride, is to be fair-skinned. As if it is in her hands!

The only positive out of this ‘melano-phobia’ is the revenue generated by the various fairness creams that have flooded the market promising a ‘whiter pasture’ in the form of conversion to white(r) skin! Now even the ‘male’ fraternity seems to be hit by the this ‘bug of craving’, for a fair skin as a consequence of which fairness creams, exclusively ‘for men’ are being made available by various companies.
Well in all ‘fairness to the males’, how could they be left behind and that too behind the females, in the race for fairness! Now ‘men’ want to tread the path—an erstwhile exclusive domain of ‘ wo-men’—and become ‘we, the men’!

Amidst all this frenzy for ‘fairness’, ‘melanin’ has very few takers. It is being tried to be profiled out gradually as the first preference of skin colour, which in any case it never was.

Then why do we cry foul when outside our country time and again we are discriminated on the basis of the melanin content in our skin?
If we want to be treated equally and at par with the fair-skinned people when we are abroad, then the attitude towards our fellow citizens should change. After all “Charity begins at home” & “As we sow, so we reap”.

(ii) Affinity for anyone ‘white’ glares at us appallingly in our society. The definition of beauty is in ‘being white’. Anyone white would do! I think this incurable permanent polarization towards the fair skin stems from the fact that we have been ruled, in other words, have been slaves, of the British for too long, rendering the effect irreversible and thus irreparable. Time and again it is a horrifying and humiliating site—doing ‘kurnish’ (bending in respect) to any and all fair-skinned, even if metaphorically with actions that manifest it—fellow-countrymen and foreigners alike—even if that means compromising on our cause.
Let me be very clear—I am not against foreigners or fair-skinned people in general—but what is unpalatable is the abject submission to mono skin colour—white. We need to get out of this Monochromatic Vision.
After all we are inching slowly towards 100 years of Independence! (?). So the residual effect of slavery, which instead of being residual is the major, should dissipate completely, sooner than later. And this can happen if only we can be independent of our foolish prejudices instead of being in-dependence of them!

(iii) What has all this led to?
Yes, racism. Because racism implies discrimination on the basis of skin colour, and in my own opinion, on the % melanin content.
Anybody who is not fair is treated very poorly, which is very unfair, to say the least, in various parts of the world—even today when we have advanced so much, scientifically. Every other day, new creations come up to help us in multitude of ways—be it in the field of technology or in the very important area of medicine.
I hope that one day “something” would be invented, which would cure the people suffering from this malady—otherwise I do not see it happening. People refuse to awaken to the cause. Thus the cure needs to be enforced, synthetically!

(iv) To me thus, apathy for Melanin is RACISM as it leads to profiling or regimentation on the basis of the melanin content in the skin. All variants of this discrimination (even prevalent in India, as mentioned)— have to be Racism.

(v) Racism is hence, a sort of Communalism. The only difference from the conventional communalism (based upon religion) is the fact that the specific community—comprising of all with skin colour, which is anything but white/fair—is tortured and not pampered. And any discrimination for and against, alike, a specific community is Communalism, at least to me.
Though people acting against a group are called communal and the ones who pamper a particular sect are called secular—when applied to actions with respect to religion. Such has been the distortion of the definition. Even pampering is discrimination, albeit in favour of and racism is discrimination, against.

(vi) We are all creations of God.
I know that atheists or agnostics wouldn’t agree with me, as by stating what I believe in, I have tried to defy them, as this is the thought that they deny and hence defy!

So whatever be your belief (s), I don’t want to impose mine. Would like to simply state that by being against melanin the people concerned are actually behaving against an unseen, overpowering force—be it scientific or non-scientific, physical or metaphysical.

(vii) There is “Theory of Everything”, to use the title of the book authored by Stephen.W.Hawking. I too believe in this Theory of, Theory of Everything. It is true that the reason behind a ‘happening’ doesn’t manifest itself immediately, but it does come to the fore at its designated appropriate time—chosen by the same invisible force—only if we could keep our mind’s eyes and be receptive to our surrounding(s) as a whole we would be able to recognize it.
And it is on the basis of this belief I would like to justify the creation of black colour.

One of the beauties of black colour is that a black body absorbs and radiates maximum amount of heat. It is this very property which saw to the conventional colour being chosen as black for umbrellas—used not only during the rains but equally during the summers, for protection from the scorching sun—in olden times. Nowadays various colours are being used but none can fight the strong rays of the sun, as does the black one—by radiating it back.

Metaphorically speaking, when the people with ‘non fair’ skin colour are called black, the impact can be analogized with the inanimate umbrella—in absorption as well as radiation. When people are addressed as ‘black’ and abused subsequently, these abuses steel them and increase their resilience. Since energy is always conserved, the abuses are absorbed and translated into a commensurate determination (useful heat as mentioned earlier, in one of the utilities of Melanin)—manifest in their action(s)—Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King—to name a couple of them who typify such individuals. And exemplified—glorified as well, and not without reason(s)—most recently by the election of Barack Obama as the President of The United States of America. The more you expose these individuals to unfair treatment(s), the more determined they become to radiate these abuses in the form of power they go on to acquire—deservedly—and exude.
So beware how you refer to the skin colour, black. If it is as a matter of fact then it perfectly all right. But if ‘black’ is pronounced with disdain, laced with sarcasm—then you know what to expect.

I know I have stated the obvious in my preceding, innumerable lines. But it has been for a cause. To sate my own self, couldn’t be oblivious of the obvious!

When we know—the utilities of Melanin, what happens in its absence and we also know the simple fact that it is the content of Melanin in the skin that decides the skin colour, not the person concerned, why this fuss over the darker hue of skin colour.

It is simply a colour, which cannot decide the identity of a person. Thus is it not advisable and logical and most importantly, desirable, that we shed this Monochromatic Vision?

If not, then ‘racists’ of all ‘race’ and ‘variety’ should be rendered ‘albinos’—if only to make them realise the simple fact and appreciate Melanin, irrespective of its content. This would render their vision at last Polychromatic.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Vision of Eyesight

Those of us, who have been endowed with eyes as well as sight to go with it, are really fortunate. But at the same time those very people—armed with eyesight—are most unfortunate when bereft of vision.

I do not exactly remember where I read the lines: “Unfortunate are those who are gifted with eyesight but not with vision”. The line loaded with truth, because of its inherent philosophy, was given by none other than the incomparably indomitable Helen Keller.

So very true, but normally we end up using sight and vision synonymously. There is a thin line of demarcation, which again cannot be sighted by eyesight but is envisioned by the gift of vision. When we envisage something we are said to have a vision. And vision normally renders one progressive and not regressive. Though a lack of vision definitely draws us that much closer to being regressive, as it has been aptly said that stagnation is death. We need to evolve continuously as human beings. Evolution in the true sense is ‘educational’ progression.

Hence I feel how we graduate in life depends upon the vision or lack of it. Graduating in life doesn’t merely mean academic qualification(s) and financial up gradation. There is more to life—though one can’t do away with either. The most important credentials that we need to have are of a ‘Good and True Human Being’. ‘Human’ is a heavily loaded word. While it accepts as a foregone conclusion the presence of fault lines—we being humans and not ‘super humans’—it most importantly necessitates the innate qualities that are synonymous with ‘human’—the ‘humane’ qualities—empathy, sympathy, helping attitude, devotion…….The list is endless. But I name here the ones, which I find most pertinent.

I might be ridiculed for my observation: “even to possess the humane qualities we need to have vision”. But I would like to prove my point—a bit later! Before that there is something that needs incorporation as a prelude.

At the onset I had dabbled a bit in eyesight and vision. Now I shall come to their physical implications—to me. It is a bit of paradox. Vision to me is in essence an immeasurable quality while eyesight—the sight presented to us through our physical eyes, is measurable. But lo and behold, what does the optometrist say: he is testing our vision—6/6…….Thus vision is used synonymously with eyesight, which is very hard to object to—the definition.

Tied amidst this tug-of-war between my perception of vision—that which sees beyond the apparent, I had a vision of redefining vision (the dictionary meaning too corroborates me!) as being actually a state of sight, wherein we ‘see’ things that are not in the physical plane and are invisible to us, in that sense. Thus there is a difference in the ‘state’ of sight—other than those we see in the physical plane, in our consciousness. It could be mental picture, image, dream, idea, revelation, prophecy as has been enumerated in the dictionary.

The images, at the time we have the vision, are virtual and to make them real we need to take up the cudgels—if they are for a good cause.

That is why I had stated that even to possess the ‘humane’ qualities we need to have vision. Vision allows us to be understanding, show empathy when others are in want of our support the most. The vision would impel us to see ourselves in that predicament, which then would help us to realise what the other person might be going through. Then the human qualities ooze off us of their own volition.

Vision in turn is aided by imagination, awareness and sensitivity. One who is imaginative is automatically sensitive (to the people and surroundings, in general) and the one who is sensitive is rendered aware—to the needs of self as well as else. Needless to say that one who possesses these qualities is blessed with vision. And one who has vision is ‘human’ to the core. It might be an over simplification, but it is a simple chain reaction!

I am talking of positive vision here. Even the perpetrators of crime carry forward their heinous act forearmed with a concrete vision of its outcome. Their vision is loaded with images of spreading negativity and the execution of their vision—though provides them ample satisfaction—renders them ‘inhuman’.

All great men and women have been able to carry out their great deeds with great success, with high ‘effectiv-ity’ quotient because of the purity of their vision. This vision could be available to people of all ages and is free from the worries of being affected by cataract, glaucoma, retinal detachment……the ailments that affect the physical eyes.

Thus vision of an eyesight is desired wherein we would be able to envision things even through our physical eyes—they acting in synergy with the mental eyes—so that one could say that empowerment with an eyesight implies the concurrent existence of vision.

Sushmita Mukherjee,
1st July 2010

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Mobile-d Insomnia

When we look around us we find that our world is inundated with problems. And the biggest problem with problems is, at times while they do manifest themselves, clearly there are times we can only feel the existence of a problem. But we cannot fathom as to what the problem is.

The commonest representation is, going down with fever, contrary to a general feeling of malaise. The latter could be due to any physical or psychological irritant(s). It is these non-apparent problems that cause more problems than the manifested problem. Sorry for adding so many ‘problems’ to the already burgeoning problems posed by life! But not to worry--solutions too are aplenty. Only thing of concern is how we approach a problem!

As a teacher I feel there are two approaches towards a curative goal. And I am sure people from the field of medicines too would agree with me, when I state that one is a symptomatic treatment, the other being the causative approach. While my learned Psychologist friends have been advocating and implementing the latter, being rightly of the view that for every apparent physical discomfort their lies an answer which is non-apparent—the cause. The cause for the psychologists though lies in the realm of psychology. And I too try to ascertain and hence assign a psychological cause for the various cognitive problems the students face. Because scolding doesn’t improve their understanding but definitely compounds their confusion. This in turn aggravates their misery and renders us failures—as teachers.

Thankfully, the movies have provided with infotainment and not mere entertainment—making people aware of some of the reasons behind cognitive deficits. Hopefully now the teachers and parents alike would think of dyslexia and autism before spanking a child.

And hopefully the doctors too would widen their horizon keeping pace with increasing elements, of diverse nature, that lead to ailments. Going by the symptoms do not always provide with ‘the’ answer. Symptoms are the reason we proclaim we are ill but causes are the actual reasons behind the illness. Fever is a symptom, but not the reason. There could be many reasons behind a fever.

On failing to ascertain the reason—consequently to treat the patient accurately—merely by symptoms, doctors prescribe pathological tests for a comprehensive diagnosis of the ailment. Pathology is study of diseases that tries to find the probable pathogenic causes—the causes capable of producing disease. Thus the causative approach—trying to search for the reasons behind the symptoms—is a pathogenic approach, if I am permitted to say.

I know I might be transgressing into an alien domain but I am forced to. I do accept that science is a bane too (apart from being a boon). In spite of that I never anticipated that scientific developments had the potential to be pathogenic. My anticipations have proved to be quite myopic! There have been various such cases and I feel pretty soon the society shall incubate many ‘Converted Insomniacs’—people who were not so earlier.

The mobile phone services have revolutionized telecommunication that allows us to stay connected with our near and dear ones. There is no denying the fact that life in today’s world seems improbable without a mobile connectivity. But we being (greedy as) human beings cannot defy the sops offered by the mobile service providing companies. They offer various apparently lucrative offers but these are quite revealing in what they conceal! The reason behind their reason of offering such sops is not what they actually claim. And by falling prey to it we lose on two counts—money (luring us to opt for offers to fill ‘their’ coffers) and health.

Health, because repeatedly, journals have been coming up with information galore on the contra-effects of its ‘excessive’ use. Using it only for a valid purpose is fine but not for gossip—we fail to accept that fact. We fall for those, forsaking rationale.

Thus the offers of ‘night talk pack’ are lapped up. And what they do? Apart from providing immense pleasure?! As one topic begets another, this leads to prolonged conversations—chain reaction—keeping us awake when we should be asleep. This when continued with, over a considerable period of time will not allow a person to sleep—we are slaves of our habits, habits that we form and that get enshrined in the subconscious pretty fast—when we are done with our ‘talking spree’. This very habit gradually becomes pathogenic. Result is a normal person converted into an insomniac—a pathetic condition.

All because of our inability to control our own impulses? Yes, of course. And if we are unable to raise ourselves above the vice of such negative impulse we would soon be suffering from Mobile-d Insomnia. And doctors would do well to diagnose and differentiate between—and treat accordingly—Normal Insomnia and Mobile-d Insomnia.

Sushmita Mukherjee,
29th July 2010.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Oblivious of the Obvious

There are certain things that evolve without our direct involvement, though passively all of us are involved in it. Evolution of mankind is an integration of evolution of every individual—united we stand and divided we fall…..another extrapolation of the ‘collective fate’! While some evolutions are directly dependent on us, ‘We, the people’.

“Revolutions are a product of an en masse and simultaneous evolution of the thought process in human-beings.”
That is to say when this collective evolution is evaluated we get at a revolution; at least that is how the definition of ‘revolution’ has ‘evolved’ to me!

For these evolutions to take place, the intent has to be there. And this is only possible if we are open to the fact that we are not above evolution—in our thoughts as well as actions. Better termed as ‘behavioural changes’ that need to be brought about for our betterment as individuals.

While the faults of others is ‘compellingly obvious’ to us we are quite ‘conveniently oblivious’ of our own faults and hence for the need of rectification is not felt. And when we are impelled to ‘see’ those faults of ours we justify those as ‘human errors’—‘to err is human’. True, to err is human. And this as a corollary proves the existence of faults within us.

But unfortunately we tend to be ‘obviously oblivious’ of our shortcomings. One such glaring example is our being oblivious to things that are obvious. We rather tend to neglect the issues that are obvious and need reprisal—simply because they are obvious? We take for granted—our situation(s), our near and dear ones, friends and people in general who rally around us, no matter what. Instead of appreciating, when appreciation is the need of the hour we behave as, “There is nothing to rejoice about it. I am in this situation because I deserve it. I owe this satisfaction & success to none but to one and that is me.”

And when some opposition to unsavoury incidents is called for we prefer to be indifferent so long it doesn’t affect us. In today’s world of consumerism the overpowering thought working behind this indifference is, “Why should I risk my PR for some body else.” Though I know it would be wrong to generalize but still, as I feel, “Frequent occurrences of coincidences lead to generalisation”. And I too am not immune to such behaviour, as we worry too much about consequences—PR or otherwise (trying to save one’s skin, so to say) notwithstanding.

Whatever be the reason for relegating ‘the obvious’ to ‘oblivion’, it gets extrapolated to negligence and disrespect of our blessings. Don’t we need to introspect what we would have been, devoid of what we have—the people and the environment, instead of clamouring for what we don’t have? How can we be so sure that what we don’t have would have made us happier by its presence? So sure of ‘the uncertain’ that ‘the certain’ becomes insignificant—that too in this life full of uncertainties?

It would be better to spare some thought(s) on the probable consequences of the ‘absence’ of the ‘presence’, which grace our life in the present—nothing short of a ‘present’, a gift.

It really is a demonstration of Newton’s 3rd Law, albeit by extrapolation. In trying to push the obvious—the reality, to oblivion, we are gradually becoming oblivious of the obvious and drifting far from reality to an era of super-ficiality and that is the reality.