Romani people originally belong to northern India but now are living in all continents mostly Europe, North Africa and North America. They are called ‘gypsies’ as they have migrated throughout the world. The Roma community makes up about 8% of Slovakia’s population. Being a minority community, they face lot of discrimination. Racial tensions continue to make their lives difficult.
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In the Ostrava town in eastern Slovakia where the Roma people reside; there is extreme poverty, life expectancy is below average and unemployment being 80% has made their lives worse. But besides all that, there is extensive racism and discrimination. Not just adults, but even the children are targeted. Walls have been built to separate the Roma kids to mingle with the white kids and to stop steal fruits from their neighbor’s gardens.
Even in schools, there is a sense of separateness. There are separate classroom and buildings for the Roma and white children. In 2004, a strong anti-discrimination law was passed in Slovakia but however there is reluctance to obey this law. The Education minister of Slovakia says that officials are working to eliminate discriminatory practices from schools. In 2013, schools were forced to conduct integrated classes for both Roma and white children but resistance still prevails among the people. A number of schools had pressure from the normal parents who don’t want their children to be together with Roma children.
However, there are some schools that provide a positive model and have same classrooms for children.There is an opening of a new preschool for children so that social inclusion can be embedded from an early age. These schools provide a ray of hope for putting an end to segregation of Roma people in Slovakia.
Shubhi Mangla is an intern at Newsgram and a student of Journalism and Mass Communication in New Delhi. Twitter@shubhi_mangla
Studies reveal that the social stigma of bisexuals have lead to cases of mental illness becoming prevalent among people of their community.
Their decision is questioned by both heterosexuals and homosexuals.
A recent study done by researchers of an American university has stated that the “B” (Bisexuals) in the LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer) community are people, most prone to falling into depression or suffer from mental illness. The research published in Prevention Science is based on data collected from 503 participants aged 18 to 64, who identified themselves as bisexuals, people attracted to both men and women. They were questioned as to how their bisexuality affected their lives. And, many said that they were invalidated and often looked down upon.
Various studies have proven that Bisexual people are more mentally affected than homosexuals or heterosexuals. They feel as if they do not have an identity or they believe in one society. The preconceived notion of bisexuals being a threat to the society and incapable of commitment affects them the most. They are called promiscuous, and their sexuality is considered illegitimate.
A qualitative study conducted with 55 bisexual people across Ontario revealed the typical stereotype- individuals who are confused and unsure of their desires. The participants of the study expressed the strange reactions coming from their families. They are being ignored and relegated by both heterosexuals and homosexuals. Their community needs a separate identity, and support like other communities do. Their needs and place in the society are not identified as much those of the Lesbian, Gay and Transgender community.
The stereotypes against them have made them socially isolated leading to severe mental illness.A Canadian study states that bisexual men and women are 6.3 times and 5.9 times respectively, are more likely to have suicidal tendencies than heterosexual people. A Bisexuality report of 2012 suggests Bi people are more likely to suffer from depression as compared to homosexuals.
As individuals, it becomes our social responsibility to willfully respect the people who have identified themselves as being bisexuals or any characteristic different from ours. Stereotypical and hurtful comments can never be the mark of a progressive society. After all when we all were born with the same fundamental and human rights, where we have the right to choose.
-by Megha Acharya of NewsGram. Twitter @ImMeghaacharya.
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Dobsina, Slovakia, September 10, 2017: As new smartphones hit the market month in month out, one Slovak technology buff is offering visitors to his vintage phone museum a trip down memory lane – to when cell phones weighed more than today’s computers and most people couldn’t afford them.
Twenty-six-year-old online marketing specialist Stefan Polgari from Slovakia began his collection more than two years ago when he bought a stock of old cell phones online. Today, his collection at the vintage phone museum boasts some 1,500 models, or 3,500 pieces when counting duplicates.
The vintage phone museum, which takes up two rooms in his house in the small eastern town of Dobsina, opened last year and is accessible by appointment.
The collection includes the Nokia 3310, which recently got a facelift and re-release, as well as a fully functional, 20-year old, brick-like Siemens S4 model, which cost a whopping 23,000 Slovak koruna – more than twice the average monthly wage in Slovakia when it came out.
“These are design and technology masterpieces that did not steal your time. There are no phones younger than the first touchscreen models, definitely no smartphones,” said Mr. Polgari.
“It’s hard to say which phone is most valuable to me, perhaps the Nokia 350i Star Wars edition,” said Mr. Polgari – who uses an iPhone in his daily life. (VOA)
Former Planning Commission member Arun Maira’s latest book is titled ‘Listening for Well-Being’
Maira observes that physical and verbal violence in the world and on social media is continuously growing
He also highlights the importance of ‘hearing each other’ in order to create truly inclusive and democratic societies
New Delhi, September 5, 2017 : Former Planning Commission member Arun Maira contends that “physical violence” in the real world and “verbal violence” on social media against people whom “we do not approve of” are increasing today. With such trends on the rise, the very idea of democracy finds itself in a crisis.
“We need to listen more deeply to people who are not like us,” said the much-respected management consultant, talking of his latest book, “Listening for Well-Being”, and sharing his perspective on a wide range of issues that he deals with.
“Violence by people against those they dislike, for whatever reason, is increasing. It has become dangerous to post a personal view on any matter on social media. Responses are abusive. There is no respect for another’s dignity. People are also repeatedly threatened with physical violence.”
He said that gangs of trolls go after their victims viciously. “Social media has become a very violent space. Like the streets of a run-down city at night… not a safe space to roam around in.”
At the same time, streets in the physical world are becoming less safe too. “Any car or truck on the road can suddenly become a weapon of mass destruction in a ‘civilised’ country: in London, Berlin, Nice, or Barcelona,” Maira told IANS in an interview.
Maira said that with the rise of right-wing parties that are racist and anti-immigrant, there is great concern in the Western democratic world — in the US, the UK and Europe — that democracy is in a crisis.
In the US, for example, supporters of Donald Trump, Maira said, believe only what Trump says and watch only the news channels that share a similar ideology. On the other side are large numbers of US citizens who don’t believe what Trump says but they too have their own preferred news sources.
“They should listen to each other, and understand each other’s concerns. Only then can the country be inclusive. And also truly democratic — which means that everyone has an equal stake and an equal voice,” he noted.
In “Listening for Well-Being” (Rupa/Rs 500/182 Pages), Arun Maira shows his readers ways to use the power of listening. He analyses the causes for the decline in listening and proposes solutions to increase its depth in private and public discourse.
Drawing from his extensive experience as a leading strategist, he emphasises that by listening deeply, especially to people who are not like us, we can create a more inclusive, just, harmonious and sustainable world for everyone.
But it would be wrong to say that the decline in listening is only restricted to the Western world.
“We have the same issues in India too. We are a country with many diverse people. We are proud of our diversity. However, for our country to be truly democratic, all people must feel they are equal citizens.
“The need for citizens to listen to each other is much greater in India than in any other country because we are the most diverse country, and we want to be democratic. So, we must learn to listen more deeply to ‘people who are not like us’ in our country because of their history, their culture, their religion, or their race,” he maintained.
Maira also said that India is a country with a very long and rich history. And within the present boundaries of India are diverse people, with different cultures, different religions, and of different races.
“So, we cannot put too sharp a definition on who is an ‘Indian’ — the language they must speak, the religion they must follow, or the customs they must adopt. Because, then we will exclude many who do not have the same profiles, and say they are not Indians. Thus we can falsely, and dangerously, divide the country into ‘real Indians’ and those who are supposedly non-Indians. Indeed, such forces are rising in India,” he added.
Maira, 74, hoped that all his readers will appreciate that listening is essential to improve the world for everyone. He also maintained that it is not a complete solution to any of the world’s complex problems but by listening to other points of view, we can prevent conflict and also devise better solutions.
Born in Lahore, Arun Maira received his M.Sc. and B.Sc. in Physics from Delhi University’s St Stephen’s College. He has also authored two bestselling books previously, “Aeroplane While Flying: Reforming Institutions” and “Upstart in Government: Journeys of Change and Learning”. (IANS)