Month: February 2006

Bridging the gap

Bridging the gap

“We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future,” said Franklin D Roosevelt. Wiser words are seldom spoken. Last week Thane Women’s Guild (TWG) organised JOSH, a forum for the youth of Thane where young participants got a rare opportunity to interact directly with public authority figures. TWG is a non-profit group comprising of socially conscious women from Thane.

The forum took place at Sahyog Mandir at Ghantali. The audience comprised of students of various colleges in Thane and Mumbai. Dr D Chavan (DCP Traffic) was the first to address the enthusiastic youngsters. Dr Chavan fielded questions on a range of issues such as traffic regulations, image of the police force, imposition of fines and the issue of bribes and corruption. His message to the youth was, “Be careful of your own safety so that you can take care of the safety of others.”

The next on the firing line was Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC) Commissioner Sanjay Sethi, who provided the audience with an idea of how TMC functions, its unique challenges, and the awards it has won from state as well as central governments. When asked what according to him should be the role of the youth in 2020, he replied, “Knowledge without action does not mean anything. You, the youth, should orchestrate social change. There are many areas where you could get actively associated. For example, you could resolve to address health and education issues in slums so that there would be no under-nourished children. You know what your calling is – just follow it.” When another young man grumbled about how difficult it was to meet him, to share ideas with him, Sethi replied, “There is an office protocol that you must follow. Don’t give up easily. I am always available on Mondays and Tuesdays between 10 am to 2 pm.” An engineering student asked him if it was possible for him to do his internship with TMC rather than the usual corporate sector and was pleasantly surprised on hearing an affirmative response.

The last panelist, Justice A V Nirgude (Additional Sessions and District Judge) dealt with questions regarding the law. When a young lady in the audience asked him if transfer of judges causes delay in the resolution of a case, he replied with a gentle but firm “no”. Justice Nirgude too had some advice to give to the youngsters. Addressing the young women in the audience, he said, “Start thinking responsibly. Plan your future and your career. Do not be dependent on your parents. Live your life as responsible citizens.” He also urged the youth to seriously consider joining the legal profession.

Physics and our lives

Physics and our lives

If Albert Einstein was a giant among scientists, then the year 1905 was a giant year of his lifetime as it was in this year that Einstein published three important papers that radically changed modern physics: Special Theory of Relativity, Photo Electric Effect and Brownian Motion. Marking the 100th anniversary of Einstein’s “Most Innovative Year”, 2005 was celebrated as the “World Year of Physics-2005 the world over, even as a number of Indian scientific institutions organised various programmes underlining Einstein’s work in the area of physics in particular and science in general.

In continuation of the celebration and with the objective of taking awareness of physics to the youth, a nationwide campaign titled “Appreciating Physics in Everyday Life” was launched last week. The campaign, which will conduct intensive science communication activities, will run throughout the year. All the members of National Council for Science and Technology Communication will implement the programmes. In Maharashtra, the student-welfare organisation Jidnyasa has been assigned the responsibility of the campaign.
The programmes under the campaign will give rare opportunities to students and teachers. School students will get hands-on experience of physics experiments, interaction with eminent scientists and a multitude of workshops including development of low cost experiments. Forty college students will undergo intensive training at a six-day workshop to be organised at Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education during the Diwali vacation.
As for teachers, a special regional training workshop for selected science teachers will be organised at Ratnagiri where teachers from Goa, Maharashtra, Daman and Gujarat will participate. These trained teachers will act as guides for future programmes that may follow.

Schooling Values

Schooling Values

At the Sri Ma Group of Institutions (SMGI), the first week of February
each year is a time for contemplation, reflection, learning and
dedication. The annual celebrations mark the foundation of the group in
1975 by a spiritual-oriented woman called Sri Ma, fondly known as the
Divine Mother. Right from its inception the educational institutes
established by SMGI have promoted value-based education. One look at
the annual calendar of the SMGI’s schools will convince you that the
group practices what it preaches. The academic year, besides focusing
on the regular, is replete with co-curricular and extra-curricular
activities. These activities seek to tap and hone the latent talents in
children, which are often lost in the enormously competitive life that
today’s children live. The Divine Mother’s dream is that every child
should be ambidextrous and exude excellence in all the spheres of life,
so that he or she becomes a confident individual who inspires others.

The events and activities of the annual celebrations only
underline the focus on all-round development of the group, whose vision
is to help its students strike a balance between modern living and the
ancient value system of India. The 10-day event covers all aspects of
mental, emotional, physical and spiritual development, with events such
as an inter-school teaching aids competition for teachers, a folk dance
competition for students, and a three-day lecture series by prominent
personalities from diverse fields such as psychological counseling,
dealing with adolescence, astronomy, environment consciousness,
nutrition and yoga, Lord Krishna’s teachings and many more. There is
also an inter-school science project competition for students on the
topics of “Balance in Eco System” and “Innovative Scientific Toys”, in
which as many as 28 schools are participating.

Today, an inter-school folk dance competition is being organised
at 5 pm. The competition is open to students of all city-based schools
and spot entries will also be accepted. The event is being held at Sri
Ma Vidyanagari, which is located outside Hiranandani Estate at
Patlipada, off Ghodbunder Road. For more details you can call
25458750/51. The annual celebrations of SMGI will culminate on Monday
February 13, 2006, which is also the birthday of Divine Mother Sri Ma.
The day is celebrated as Children’s Day and includes a ballet
performance on “Krishna Leela” by Dr. Vasundhara Sridharan and her
troupe that are coming all the way from Coimbatore.

Tips for Beating Exam Stress

One of the topics in the lecture series organised by SGMI was on
examination phobia. The Lighthouse Foundation, a non-profit student
welfare group that helps students deal with exam-related stress,
conducted the lectures. The timing of the presentation was appropriate,
as almost all students tend to become anxious at this time of the year.
On Monday February 6, 2006, approximately 350 students from class VII,
VIII, IX and X chirped and giggled excitedly as the speakers
highlighted the futility of anxiety and the importance of genuine
effort ahead of exams. Especially relevant to class X students, the
advice of the speakers had all the students approving in unison.

Using examples, the speakers explained how fear is an illusion
and serves only to immobilise them. They shared techniques that enhance
the effectiveness of their preparation. Get enough sleep, eat
nutritionally rich food, avoid comparisons, take frequent breaks, be
realistic, and focus on exams and not results were some of the wisdom
words that students heard. The speakers also suggested how students
should deal with parental pressure – explaining to them that parents
act the way they do because they are driven by their love for them and
therefore want them to be happy and successful.

A unique visualisation exercise helped the students understand
the power of self-belief and positive attitude. On their part, the
students asked many relevant questions and participated actively
throughout the talk. After the session, the teachers who were present
large numbers, congratulated the speakers on the excellent presentation
and expressed their gratitude for sharing valuable tips with the
students at the time when they needed them the most.

Conquering Cancer

Conquering Cancer

Cancer is one of the most feared diseases in the world. Yet, it remains widely prevalent across the world. What’s disturbing is that in spite of significant advances in the understanding of cancer and its treatment, the combined death rate from all cancers is not dramatically different than what it was 25 years ago. The causes of most cancers are still unknown, although occurrence increases with age and multiple risk factors have been identified.

For the uninitiated, cancer is a disease of tiny building blocks called cells. Ordinarily, cell division takes place in an orderly and controlled manner. But for some reason, if this process gets out of control and the cells continue to divide, a lump called "tumour" develops. Tumours can be either benign or malignant. Unlike benign tumours, which are not life threatening, malignant tumours invade and damage nearby tissues and organs causing what is known as cancer.

According to the Cancer Aid and Research Foundation, an Indian charitable organisation, it is estimated that approximately one million new cancer cases will be recorded every year and at any given time there will be three million cancer patients in India. Other statistics suggest that one in every 12 Indians is expected to get some form of cancer before they reach the age of 64. With such alarming rates, it is sad that there is so little awareness among the general public about cancer.

An awareness programme on cancer was recently hosted by the New Bengal Club of Thane (NBC), which is a socio-cultural association that organises a number of welfare and developmental activities for the benefit of the society. About 75 people aged between 20 and 70 turned up at the Little Flower School auditorium in Lok Puram to listen to eminent oncologist Dr Shantikumar Chivate, who gave an informative slideshow and talk on cancer and its possible causes. Dr Chivate’s address was lucid and witty and most importantly, gave hope to people. "Cancer is an educational illness, not a dreaded illness. If detected early, cancer is completely curable," he said.

He elaborated on the signs of early detection that include issues like wounds not healing, uncontrollable blood discharges, beauty spots or warts growing in size, loss of appetite, change in voice, persistent cough, any change in bowels and any other abnormalities. He emphasised the terrifying role of tobacco as one of the biggest causes of cancers. Sixty per cent of all cancers in India are causes by smoking or chewing tobacco. Cancer of the lips, cheeks, gums, tongue, pharynx, larynx, lungs and oesophagus are the result of consuming tobacco in some form or the other. An interesting titbit was that if a person smokes 10 cigarettes a day, then as a result of passive inhalation, his family smokes three. Dr Chivate is known to be a crusader against tobacco addiction and is the President of TASK, an NGO promoting tobacco de-addiction.

When someone from the audience asked Dr Chivate to explain lung cancer in patients who do not smoke, he said that cancer cells are present in all of our bodies and factors such as air pollution and exposure to harmful chemicals can also trigger cancer. Later, he elaborated on cancers specific to men and women and highlighted major risk groups, the different grades in cancer and how to prevent cancer. He said that unlike many of our foreign counterparts, we Indians are less likely to suffer from skin cancers caused by exposure to sunlight because of the high level of melanin.

After his presentation, one thing was clear — that cancer is indeed an educational illness and its prevalence and incidence can be greatly reduced if enough awareness is created. But awareness is just the first step: finally, it is up to every individual to conquer cancer by giving up self-defeating lifestyles.