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By Roshni Chakrabarty & Arnab Mitra
Kolkata: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee launched several monetary benefit schemes and employment related policies after she came into power in 2011, to make the lives of Bengal citizens a tad easier. However, common citizens truly in need of the schemes rarely receive any benefit.
It’s a sore reality that one has to be a party worker or a TMC supporter to gain from schemes such as the Yuvasree, Kanyasree, Bardhakya Bhata (old age allowances), or Bidhaba Bhata (widow allowances).
Pranab Mukherjee, 65, doesn’t have any of the luxuries of his namesake, the President. His son’s unemployment and health problems, and the fear of huger makes him travel a distance of 30 km daily to sell his home-made amsattya (a chewy sweet prepared from treated mango pulp) in the Kolkata streets.
Pranab was working at Hindustan Motors when he suffered an accident. Since it occurred during duty hours, the company did provide him the medical compensation, but in the process denied him his Provident Fund.
“I made several attempts to meet Deepa Munshi, who was the MD of the company at that time. But ultimately I wasn’t successful. The company shut down in 2014, so now there is no chance to get my money,” said Pranab.
Pranab gets a pension of Rs 700 per month, which is too less to run a family. In July 2009, he resorted to start selling amsattya to make an honest living.
“My wife and her brother make the amsattya and I go to sell it. I keep the price at Rs 30 per piece. I have been to the Writers Building, Reserve Bank, High Court, LIC office, and even my old Hind Motor office to sell amsattya,” said Pranab.
“Soon after I started to sell amsattya, I went to the Writer’s Building to try my luck. Within half an hour I had sold my entire stock. This gave me a renewed sense of vigor and I decided to continue this business,” Pranab added.
Pranab, who had fractured his leg in an old accident and had to get it set through surgery, walks to most of his business areas from the Howrah railway station. “I like walking. I do have leg problems but if I walk, it feels better,” he said.
Pranab’s wife and son are concerned about his health and the strenuous activity he undertakes everyday, and with good reason. “One day, I was just about to get up on the bus and maybe the conductor didn’t see me… he hit the bell and the bus started. I fell so hard!” recalled Pranab.
However, he is still adamant on earning his living. “My family asks me to not go so far or to come back earlier. How can I come back early? It’s not possible! I finish selling at around nine at night… After that the bus takes more than three hours to reach my area,” he remarked.
Pranab’s son Somnath Mukherjee worked as a manager at ‘Paradise Hotel’ in Kolkata when he was diagnosed with TB in its primary stage in 2013. However, he didn’t receive any medical benefit from the company. When he went to apply for unemployment compensation under the State Government ‘Yuvasree Prakalpa’, he was denied any funds.
“The officials refused my application saying that I did not have any valid documents and they refused to accept my Adhar Card details citing address issues. They paid no attention to me,” said Somnath.
To improve the business, when Somnath applied for a BSKP loan of Rs 5 lakhs to improve the business, but even that didn’t work out.
“As an unemployed person, I need a guarantor for this loan… But who would be the guarantor from an unemployed boy?” Somnath said with regret.
When he had more or less recovered from TB, Somnath suffered a bad accident in December 2014, which almost took his leg off. He was treated at home by a local doctor and two compounders from Jivan Deep hospital. But recently, they declared there was nothing more they could do.
“I still bleed if I stand for too long. A part of the wound is refusing to heal. Doctors say I need skin grafting, a procedure which will cost a lakh. Moreover, this can only be done in a big hospital. We don’t have the financial means to carry this out…” Somnath said.
Somnath, however, commended the help he got from local councilor Sankar Kumar Das. “Sankar da even went with me to the bank when I went to ask for the BSKP loan. It didn’t work out of course, but he assisted me in understanding where to get medical help from, how to obtain medicines, and told me about the official procedures.”
Sankar Kumar Das told NewsGram that the TMC government run Baidyabati Municipality was working pretty well, and that the chairman Arindam Guin was a “good man”. However, since Das himself was a Congress member, there was a high possibility that Guin would face problems from board members for complying with the wishes of a rival party member.
“Board meetings take care of issues deemed important by their own party before dealing with the rest. That is entirely natural and expected,” said Das. “I am pretty sure that if I ask money in the name of two schemes, I will get at least one.”
Arindam Guin, who had come up with the slogan ‘Ma Mati Manush’ which helped bring the current Bengal CM to power, refrained from making any comment.
“I don’t want to make any comment now. If anybody faces any sort of problem, they are always welcome to come to me. As the people’s chairman, I will try my level best to solve their issue,” said Guin.
Pranab Mukherjee’s situation is akin to hundreds and thousands of others in India. Despite numerous promises by the Modi government to make the country economically viable within 2020, possibility of true success is questionable, when the country’s downtrodden are not provided adequate help and resources to contribute towards their self-sustenance.
Photos by Arnab Mitra
When it comes to our day-to-day life, there are several things which help us enhance our day with every step. One such thing is music. It enhances, motivates and boosts certain aspects of our personality in ways that may not come into notice. There have been several researches on how music affects human brain. Studies show it helps us in recovery and healing, and also, encouraging us to be better if exposed to the right kind and fit.
From kids to elderly, music as a commodity, can be consumed by all. It is the universal language that is spoken by each and every being, from animals to humans to plants, each respond to it in their own ways. Suffice to say, we are united by music and the effect it has over us. Plants, for example, grow better when exposed to good music. Many songs are being composed specifically to enhance and boost their growth. Same is the case for humans. For humans, the right kind of music can boost good health, physically as well as mentally. You might have noticed how in gyms, upbeat music is played. That is to channel energy into everyone present. It adds to the workout. Several researches around the world have shown better physical output when exposed to appropriate music. Fast paced songs with upbeat nature channeled speed and the slower ones slowed downs the listeners, without them noticing. The sub-conscious effects of music are continuously being studied.
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Our heart starts beating according to the music we are listening to.Unsplash
Listening to upbeat or happy music also reduces stress and pressure from our minds. Many people become relaxed while listening to calming music. This is why calming sounds are used during a yoga session. Classical music seems to have the same calming and soothing effect. Furthermore, classical music has much more advantages over metal or techno music, it has proven to enhance learning and improve sleep in its listeners. A study was conducted in which participants were divided in groups where one group was exposed to classical music, another to metal and last one was supervised without any music. The group exposed to classical music showed healthier sleeping pattern than the rest.
Also Read: Undiscovered Music Trends For Indian Music
Several brands and outlets encash on different characteristics of music. Calm and soothing music is used in spas to help customer relax. It is a known fact that our heart starts beating according to the music we are listening to. So, music with faster beats will have our heart beating faster and the slow one will have calmer effect. This is why slow music channels calm. And the same fact has led to faster and upbeat music being played in food outlets. A study conducted in a farm, where people were invited to have food, where one half was exposed to slower music and for other fast-paced music was played. Not only did the group exposed to fast-music ate faster but also ate more than the group who ate in slower one. Next time you are in a food outlet or a restaurant observe the kind of music they are playing and the eating pattern.
Music can even be a facilitator of communication. We can sometimes convey our thoughts through the medium of a song. Sometimes someone’s words justify our inner feelings better than us. Or sometimes a song brings back certain memory or a place, and takes us to that certain moment. To say music is a time-machine would not be wrong. It is a dynamic blessing that can be used throughout our lives.
Key Words: Music, Calm, Soothing, Effects of Music
As more and more people are acknowledging the importance of their mental well-being, the wave of awareness the acknowledgment has brought is unprecedented. It may not have paved a clear path towards complete healing but it certainly has shown the way. The awareness is the key to heal. Healing begins only after the problem is identified. Similar to physical illness, the identification of the problem area is the first step. Even in case of a minor wound, when we go to the hospital the nurse first locates the wound. They, then, ask how we got hurt and identify the nature of the wound. Only then, they clean, put ointment and wrap it up if it needs wrapping and protection from air and dust. Sometimes, that protection is not needed. The wound heals out in the open. Same goes when it comes to healing of a mental trauma or illness. Sometimes, we confine in professionals or our loved ones, in order to let it out and process it openly. Sometimes, the trauma reduces with time. In any way, being aware and vigilant is the way to go.
Being knowledgeable about life in general, opens many channels for you. Being knowledgeable about yourself, opens gates inside you that lead to spiritual and general awareness about the concept of self. And the inner awareness is not necessarily internal, it can be seen from the outside as well. When we have positive energy from within it radiates physically as well. Have you encountered someone who’s spiritually awakened and aware? Do they stand out in the crowd? There are prominent examples of people who have made their mark in history, there is Swami Vivekanada, his awakening has revolutionised generations, one live example we can witness is The Dalai Lama.
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Healing is part of the spiritual journey.Unsplash
Also Read: Follow These Tips For a Better Mental Health
Awareness is the first step towards the staircase of spirituality. Healing is part of that journey. In our world, we go by our lives without paying much attention to causes of our actions. Every little thing we do, we do it for a reason. We might be suffering without being aware of it. There might be certain actions which are screaming those are trauma-response and not really us. But we go by our days, without paying heed to the fact that it really is the small actions that carry weightage in our lives. When we become attentive and thoughtful with what we do, we introspect, and then act. Thoughtless actions do not bear much fruit anyway. Thoughtfulness not only benefits us personally, but makes world a better place to live in. It really is the need of the hour to introspect every little doing and if it does not fit with the idea of self, then, it is time to find the root cause of what has us where we are.
Being self-aware is crucial as a human quality as well. When we face our problems, we gain experience, that experience leads us to understand and empathise with others’ sufferings too. It is a wholesome development.
Key Words: Self-awareness, Spirituality, Thoughtfulness, Mental Health
Honestly, who hasn’t watched one of the epic series of HBO– Game of Thrones?
There’s no question that when the first episode of Game of Thrones was released on April 11, 2011, the youth population of the world became exuberant. The main reasons behind this reaction was, first, the theme of the show, and second, the hidden lessons which it put forward.
Some of the valuable lessons which the Game of Thrones taught us are:
1. The pack always survives. This aptly meant that whether your pack consists of your family or your friends, you are the strongest when you are surrounded by a support system. This is what Ned Stark taught his children, to be together when “the winter comes”.
2. Never forget who you truly are. One of the most important lessons was given by Tyrion Lannister. He taught us that we should never forget who we really are. This means that we must not forget our bad habits and where we lack. So, once we know who we are, no one could ever use our lagging points against us.
3. Reading is necessary. Tyrion Lannister said, “A mind needs books like a sword needs a whetstone.” There is absolutely no denying that reading is not a habit now-a-days, but a necessity. If you want to be sharp and smart, then you must devote sometime to books, for they would teach you a lot!
4. Always pay your debts. Well, one of the most philosophical and learned houses if Game of Thrones is House Lannister. And so, one of the sayings of their house is, “A Lannister always pays his debts.” From here we get another life lesson that we must always pay off what we owe from people.
5. Always believe, “You know nothing.” Ygritte said this to Jon Snow in a teasing manner. But, this is actually for all those who believe that they know each and everything. Well, never believe that you know everything. Always learn from new experiences and never hesitate to take advice from others.
So, these were five most significant lessons which the series Game of Thrones offered us. In reality, we all are aware of these lessons, but we never really work upon them. But now, let’s try to understand each lesson and become the heir someday!
Keywords: Entertainment, Game of Thrones, HBO, Series, Youth, Lessons.