Month: July 2003

A Slice of Adventure for Parents

A Slice of Adventure for Parents

The Majestic Himalayas are one of the most sought after destination of adventure-lovers. The Himalaya, also known as India’s crowning glory, is a magic place where the magnificence of the world’s highest mountains is mirrored in its rugged beauty.   The beautiful snow-capped mountain peaks beckon trekkers from all over the world.

Every year, many students from Thane experience the heavenly beauty of the Himalayas first-hand by participating in annual treks organised by city-based NGO, Jidnyasa Trust. But there are others who, even though fascinated by the idea, are unable to join these treks because their parents, who are apprehensive about the dangers that are associated with such treks, do not grant their consent.

If you are one such student, it’s time to rejoice. For now your parents too have an opportunity experience the bliss that is Himalayas. Have your parents enrol for the Himalayan trek being organised especially for parents aged between 25 and 45 years. The trek, being organised by Jidnyasa, will extend over a period of 15 days and is scheduled somewhere in mid-September, soon after the Ganpati celebrations.

The trek is mainly for those parents who wish to re-kindle the spirit of adventure or would like to experience the glory of Himalayas and also see for themselves how safe such treks are, for their sons and daughters. "The reason we have scheduled this trek in September is because the Himalayas look very beautiful immediately after monsoons. The Valley of Flowers especially blossoms in August and September," says Sagar Oak from Jidnyasa.

The participants can expect to get a taste of adventure as they will stay in tents and eat food made in the same camp. Long stretches of walks will help them unwind. But most importantly, anxious parents will know exactly what their children would live through at such treks. So the next time your child comes to you seeking permission for an adventure-trek, you’ll be able to make an informed decision.

The trekkers will take the Rajdhani Express to Delhi, from where they will enjoy a bus-ride right up to the base of the Har-ki-dhun glacier via Rishikesh. The trust has organised similar treks to the Himalayas on two earlier occasions and had received very encouraging response from parents. They are also planning two treks for youngsters in the nearby Sahayadris – on August 10 and September 21. For more details, you may contact Jidnyasa on 25403857.

A Question of Felicitation
Soon after the SSC and HSC results, there are countless felicitation ceremonies held in the honour of the toppers. Every second day we read about this guild or that association, commending and complimenting those who’ve done well. Everyone celebrates success. But very few discuss failure. So, we were pleasantly surprised when a few days ago we were invited for a speaking engagement at a seminar being organised in Thane for those who failed to clear their board exams. The idea was to address unsuccessful students – their apprehensions, reservations and misgivings.

It is a fact that there is a huge stigma attached to failing at board exams. And many students, who fail, end up losing their self esteem and their confidence. Agreed, that it’s an extremely competitive world. But competition is alright as long as it’s healthy and encourages participants to perform to their optimum levels without inflicting harmful and depressing after-effects on those who don’t succeed. Try, try and try till you succeed is not an empty maxim. Almost everyone who’s achieved great success has learnt to fail gracefully. Thousands of examples of Success after Failures are found in every field one can think of – Films, Sports, Business, Politics, and Science and so on. The big difference between those who ultimately succeed and those who don’t is that those who succeed refuse to get seduced by failures. They view each failure as a step closer to success. When Thomas Edison was working on his 10,000th attempt at inventing the light bulb, he was asked how he kept going in spite of 9999 "failed" attempts. Edison said he believed that what he had in fact done was discover 9999 ways NOT to invent the light bulb.

Young minds are often confused and a large part of the blame rests with their parents and the society in general. By all means, we must felicitate those who succeed and encourage them to achieve even greater success. But at the same time it is our collective responsibility as a society to ensure that those who fail are not neglected. It’s important that we create the awareness that failure is just a temporary phenomenon. And one failure does not outline your chances of success in a life so full of opportunities.

So if you know anyone who has flunked his or her school exams, please offer them wisdom of perseverance. You never know who among them has the potential to become a great scientist. After all, Thomas Edison "failed" at his attempts to invent the light bulb over 10,000 times.

Eyesore!

Eyesore!

It is a known fact that computers are the number one cause of eyestrain. But why only eyestrain, computers have been guilty of various other health issues. Over a period of time, excessive computer use can have cumulative negative effects on the user including the worsening of eyesight, astigmatism, eye-focusing disorders and poor eye coordination. In addition, constant working from a set position can cause neck and shoulder stiffness, as well as stress headaches, which can then cause pain in the jaw.

Some studies estimate that 90 per cent of all individuals using computers for more than 3 hours per day experience Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) in some form.

But it is also a fact that these hi-tech processing machines have become indispensable. So, given that we cannot escape computers, we must learn to live with them. And helping residents of Thane city in this learning process is the Ghantali Mitra Mandal (GMM), a city-based group that organises workshops and seminars for the benefit of the residents. GMM also runs a yoga institute. Under the guidance of Yogacharya ShriKrishna Vyavahare, the GMM Yoga Institute recently conducted a two-week long workshop on CVS.
Sujata Bhide, one of the guides in the programme says, "In just two weeks, the participants showed such a marked improvement in their quality of vision. Blurriness and strain had reduced – so had headaches and backaches." The measure of success was based on the assessment by two city-based ophthalmologists, Dr. Vavikar and Dr. Gadgil, who examined the participants both before and after the workshop.

The response was so good that it prompted GMM to organise another episode of the workshop which began on July 14, earlier this week. At the workshop, five guides Dr. Ulka Natu, Sujata Bhide, Vidya Kunte, Sunanda Joshi and Arvind Bhave coach the participants in the yoga methods including meditation techniques that directly address the specific problems associated with computer fatigue.

"Computing is not about computers any more. It is about living," claims Nicholas Negroponte, Professor of Media Technology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in USA. The professor should know – after all, he lives with these machines.

Fact File
Here are a few tips from experts that may help you reduce computer-related fatigue:

  • Set up your computer correctly. The proper viewing distance is 20-24 inches. The correct viewing angle is 10 to 20 degrees from the mid-screen to the top of the screen.
  • Use a good monitor – usually the higher the resolution, the better.
  • Do eye exercises every 30 minutes.
  • Use proper posture – a straight upper back with feet flat on the ground.
  • Ensure appropriate illumination. The room should not be more than three times brighter than the screen.
  • Adjust screen brightness and contrast properly.
  • Keep your wrists relatively straight while typing. Wrist support pads can be very helpful. Support your elbows too, to prevent shoulder tension.
  • And finally, take frequent five-minute breaks to stretch your back, neck, hands and legs.
Sprouting Scientific Minds

Sprouting Scientific Minds

As the new academic year begins, it’s time for students to get involved in various supplementary activities that facilitate their all-round development. And the scientifically inclined among the students look forward to the National Council for Science & Technology Communication (NCSTC) organises the Children’s Science Congress.

NCSTC is an apex organisation of the Government of India that endeavours to popularise science and technology by stimulating scientific and technological disposition. NCSTC has been founded by Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of India. The State Science Council of all the States along with prominent NGOs working in the field of science are the members of this organisation.

The Children’s Science Congress is an annual national event that culminates at the end of the year with participation from all the states in India. Meritorious and innovative projects are selected for district congress, state congress and national convention. Each state also sends two delegates to the Annual Session of the Indian Science Congress.

The Congress is organised each year in almost all districts across India. The number of schools participating has been growing with each year. The Congress is an opportunity for brilliant young scientists (between 10 to 17 years of age) to:

  • work in teams under a guide on an identified theme
  • select a problem from the neighbourhood
  • develop a hypothesis and conduct field research
  • see patterns in data and prepare a report
  • present findings before peer group in one’s own language.

Like last year, the focal theme selected for this year’s congress is "Food Systems towards Nutrition for all" and sub-themes are:

  1. Production and improvement in food and animal husbandry
  2. Storage of agricultural produce
  3. Traditional Knowledge and Modern Technology
  4. Animal husbandry for financial stability
  5. Nutrition & Nutritional requirements
  6. Food Safety and Food adulteration

Last year, Thane city created a record with as many as seven of its projects reaching level of the national convention of the Congress. Another national record for Thane at last year’s Congress was that one of its schools, the Saraswati Secondary School, sent 48 entries to the Congress – the highest number of entries from any single school! "We have loads of talent in our city. I don’t see any reason why city students would not repeat the excellent performance this year too," asserts Surendra Dighe who is the state coordinator for the Congress. Dighe was recently elected on the national governing body of the NCSTC. He is the managing trustee of the city-based Jidnyasa Trust, which is actively involved in welfare of students.

Students who wish to participate can form groups of three to five. Each group is expected to work on the field and use scientific methods to collect, analyse and interpret data. On the basis of their, findings they would then write a thesis in about five hundred to seven hundred words. At the District Congress presentation, which will be held October 02, 2003, the group leader will present the project in eight minutes, followed by a question-answer session that will last for seven minutes. The winning projects would be sent to the State Level Congress.

The state level Congress will be held in two parts – November 29 and 30, 2003 in western Maharashtra and December 06 and 07, 2003 in Vidarbha & Marathwada. The Big Finals – the National Children’s Science Congress – will be held between December 27 and December 31, 2003 at Lucknow.

For those interested, the last date for submitting the forms is August 30, 2003. For further details, please contact the Jidnyasa Trust on 25403857.

Call of Duty

Call of Duty

The Ashadi Ekadeshi yatra is one of the oldest and perhaps the single largest annual processions in the world. Also called the Wari procession, it starts at Alandi and culminates with the darshan of Lord Vithal Rukmini in Pandharpur on the Ashadhi Ekadashi day. The procession covers a distance of about 250 km with hundreds of thousands of devotees walking barefoot through the hilly path. The procession tests the endurance of the participants who march towards Pandharpur for 21 days. This year the procession began on June 20 and will reach Pandharpur on July 10, 2003.

21 days and 250 km on foot is not an easy task. Various kinds of hurdles can be expected, medical problems being the most likely of them. Fortunately for the devotees, social organisations like the Sahayadri Manav Seva Manch, a trust from Thane, reach out to assist them in their excursion.

20 km after crossing the Ghats, when the procession reaches a place called Saswad, a team of about 22 selfless individuals from Sahayadri Manav Seva Manch greets them. The team, which includes seven city doctors and 10 para-medicos, conduct a free medical camp which begins at 9 am and wind up at 6 pm. The procession spends about two days at Saswad and the noble volunteers from Thane examine and treat close to 3,000 patients. Most of the complaints are due to over-exertion, exhaustion, dehydration and so on. Minor injuries are also not uncommon.

Come July 5, 2003, and a busload of medicines, equipment, doctors and volunteers will once again pack off for Pandharpur. This time they will hold camps at various spots across the path and spend four days treating devotees to ensure that their journey is hassle-free and enjoyable.

Sahayadri Manav Seva Manch is a Thane-based trust that comprises of city doctors who are socially inclined with a desire to help the underprivileged. Registered with Charity Commissioner in 1994 under the trust act, the trust depends entirely on donations from individuals, institutions and certain pharmaceutical companies.

Though provision of health care facilities to the deprived and underprivileged happens to be the main thrust of the trust, it also undertakes synergistic activities like organising seminars and lectures on health and hygiene, drug awareness, prohibition and the like. It undertakes distribution of free books and uniforms to the Adivasi school children. Last year, it organised a medical camp for auto-rickshaw drivers at Thane Station.

One really commendable activity of the trust is the way they have medically adopted a remote village called Devbandh in Mokhada Taluka in Thane District. Surrounded by forest and hills, this secluded area has hardly any basic facilities to speak of, leave alone medical provisions. Every second Sunday of the month, a team of doctors and other volunteers from the trust, visit the village, carrying with them medicines and equipment that are needed for therapy. They examine and treat anywhere between 300 to 400 hundred patients and also provide them free-of-cost medicine.

"He who requires urging to do a noble act will never accomplish it," said Kahlil Gibran. NGOs like Sahayadri Manav Seva Manch do not require any urging – they engage in noble deeds voluntarily.

Infusing Discipline and Courage
The Jidnyasa Trust has been organising an annual "Military Training Programme" in the city for the last nine years. Held under the guidance of Major (Retd.) Subhash Gawand the programme is open to students of class XI, VII and VIII. The purpose of the training is to inculcate the highest sense of discipline among its participants. It also aids improving general behaviour, develops stamina & achieves overall growth of young students.

One of the objectives of this training is to prepare its students for the competitive entrance tests such as National Defence Academy (NDA). Students will be trained in Military Parade, Air-Rifle shooting, Self-defence, Mountaineering, First-Aid, Civil-Defence and Aero-Modelling. Important skills such as Group discussions & Public speaking are also on the agenda.

This year, the training is being organised in association with P.E. Society’s English School and training sessions will be held in the school premises.

The minimum weight of applicants should be 30 kg while they should be at least 135 cm tall. The training sessions will be held on every Sunday morning 7.00 a.m. to 10.00 a.m. from 29th June 2003 to March 2004.
 
Readers may contact Maj. (Retd.) Subhash Gawand, Trustee of Jidnyasa Turst, Thane, at P. E. Society’s English School, Mithbunder Road, Thane (E) between 7.00 a.m. on Sunday from 6 July 2003.