Saturday November 18, 2017

Social media – a Connect or a Disconnect?

Social Media; Pixabay

Feb 21, 2017: From the era of post offices to instant messenger and e-mails, we have come a long way. The technology has truly and completely transformed our communication media.

Information is spread in a fraction of second and peoples’ involvement in using these platforms is tremendous. They likeably share every little detail of their lives. It is nevertheless an exaggeration to say the world is now available at a click.

Our forefathers must have told us about how they use to wait for letters or telegraphs to reach their relatives or friends. Maybe the generation today can’t relate to thousand wonderful emotions embraced in a letter to their loved ones!

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With the gargantuan outburst of social media applications and technologies, it has increased the ease of connectivity to a great extent. We are spoilt for choices when it comes to social media apps like Facebook, Messenger, Twitter, Whatsapp, Snapchat, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn, Viber, Hike and many more.

Social media has successfully manifested a thought in us that we are socially active. But the question today is this notion of being a social media freak really encourages a genuine social behavior or is it just an illusion? Well making a thousand friends on Facebook and followers on Instagram or increasing your Whatsapp contacts may sounds like an alluring idea of being popular and socially active but it is far from reality.

Likes, comments, notifications have become an important part of our appreciation and identity but it won’t be wrong to say that how oblivious we are about the truth. Social media apps may have undoubtedly made our conversations feasible with friends and extended family but it is sometimes time consuming, privacy stealing and meaningless to search for friends online and judge people from their profiles.

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Social media is highly misused to stalk people, to defame them publically, to provoke people and community by posting offensive comments, private pictures etc. The cases of cyber bullying, online harassment, trolling, internet fraud, unethical hacking etc. is increasing with increasing number of such platforms. The psychiatrists say that there is direct relation between excessive social media usage and depression. It is eventually turning us into loners.

Well it is totally up to us to choose between a real life and a chat room life. It is no harm using such platforms to connect ourselves with world and express ourselves but we should always be aware of whom we should open up with. It is in our hands to decide what should be given more priority so that we can balance our lives to enjoy real life experiences and moments which are never available online!

Centre for Social Action (CSA) is the development wing of Christ University. Set up in 1999, it believes in strengthening student community with a view to enabling positive changes in the society. Athina Ann Thomas is a volunteer at the organisation.


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Kulaste launches interactive portal for oral health awareness

Awareness on oral hygiene is important as oral diseases are becoming the leading health problems and are attributed mainly to rapidly changing lifestyles

A girl is vaccinated against measles at a Health clinic.

India, March 21, 2017: In a bid to improve awareness on oral health care, Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare Faggan Singh Kulaste launched the National Dental and Oral Information Interactive (IVR) portal here on Monday.

According to the Ministry, awareness on oral hygiene is important as oral diseases are becoming the leading health problems and are attributed mainly to rapidly changing lifestyles, wide-spread use of tobacco and increased consumption of alcohol.

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“Oral health is integral to overall health of a person and will contribute to the all-round development of the nation,” said Kulaste, during the launch on the occasion of World Oral Health Day.

As part of the initiative, the minister also launched Information, Education and Communication (IEC) material.

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Speaking on the occasion, Health Secretary C. K. Mishra said: “Oral diseases are becoming the leading health problems and attributed mainly to rapidly changing lifestyles, wide-spread use of tobacco and increased consumption of alcohol. Due to prevalence and incidence, oral diseases pose a major threat to public health.” (IANS)

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Building Community Toilets cannot counter open defecation in Rural India: WHO

The mere availability of government-built latrines will not end open defecation, we need awareness and education regarding this

Children in slum in India. Wikimedia

Sept 21, 2016: A new World Health Organisation (WHO) report concludes that more than half of the Indian population still “continue to defecate in gutters, behind bushes or in open water bodies, with no dignity or privacy”.

And how are we supposed to cure this?

Proper sanitation is a big threat to our health conditions that India’s politicians have tried tackling since ages. Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), both promised to put an end to open defecation in their 2014 general election manifestos and kept this issue as one of the most important agendas in the election.

PM Narendra Modi, once said during his election campaign, “Toilets first, temples later”.

And the former rural development minister from Congress Jairam Ramesh had also asserted on the fact that, “practising good hygiene is as important as performing good puja” ( the act of worship in Hinduism).

Well, let’s have a look at the government sanitation policy to date for a moment.

Open defecation in India is catastrophic, when done in groups. Wikimedia Commons
Open defecation in India is catastrophic when done in groups. Wikimedia

For the past 15 years, two major campaigns are into action to eradicate the issue of poor sanitation in India: the Total Sanitation Campaign and the Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan. These two have been trying to improve sanitation predicament across the non-urban areas of India by building both household and community latrines, mentioned

But despite all the efforts, there has been very slight change in our plight regarding open defecation. In fact, from 2001 to 2011, latrine coverage in rural India increased by about one percentage point each year. At this rate, it would take the concerned authorities almost 50 years to eliminate open defecation to an extent, if not completely.

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And hence, continuing with the same plan of action is, therefore, not going to help achieve the government’s goal.

According to, a broader matter of concern is public health. The issue of open defecation is catastrophic when practised by groups in close contact with each other. Because India’s population is huge, population density is alarming and growing rapidly hence it is impossible to keep human faeces from crops, wells, food, soil and children’s hands.

The ingested bacteria spread diseases, especially related to the intestine. They cause enteropathy, a chronic illness that prevents the body from absorbing calories and nutrients.

That helps to explain that in spite of rising incomes and better diets, rates of child malnourishment in India has not shown much improve.

UN’s agency for children, the UNICEF has estimated that nearly one-half of Indian children remain malnourished.

Pouring concrete will not solve India’s problems. Leaders and political organisations also need to confront the cultural and archaic reasons responsible for bad sanitation.

Eradicating open defecation from Indian society requires changing minds, not just allocating money to building latrines for people that will either go unused or not be built at all.

Under the current sanitation policy, there is a provision for Information, Education, and Communication, (IEC) but the spending on such activities is restricted to 15 percent of the whole budget signalling that it should be considered secondary to latrine construction.

Consequently, only six per cent of the total sanitation budget has been spent on IEC to date. Instead of capping the IEC budget, the government should be prioritising it, because awareness always helps.

Pieces of evidence show that India must urgently correct its cultural practices, though it is sensitive to say so. Apart from poverty and lack of lavatories, prioritising reasons often cited to explain open defecation in India is the innate cultural norm making the practice socially acceptable in some parts of the society. Researchers found that only a quarter of rural householders understood that washing hands help prevent diarrhoea.

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This suggests that the mere availability of government-built latrines will not end open defecation. The need of the hour is the public campaigns, in schools and in the media, to explain the hygienic and fiscal benefaction of using toilets.

A catchy animated music video put out by UNICEF urges Indians to “take the poo to the loo”. The intention is right, even if the dancing turds will not immediately be to everyone’s taste.

Such campaigns not only mean that government-built latrines will possess a better chance of being used; they would also encourage households to build them for themselves.

– prepared by Arya Sharan of NewsGram. Twitter: @NoOffense9

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India ranks 131 on global index of ICT access: UN report


New Delhi: India ranked a lowly 131 out of 167 countries on the global index that measures the information and communication technology (ICT) access in a country. However, India has witnessed a gradual increase in the number of households using the internet.

UN International Telecommunications Union’s flagship measuring the Information Society Report disclosed that globally 43 per cent of the world population is on the online platform which is 3.2 billion people.

The report also said that mobile subscriptions have reached almost 7.1 billion worldwide and 95 per cent of the world population is covered by mobile network now.

This report recorded the data between 2010 to 2015 and also said that every nation improved during this time. India, however, saw a fall of 6 notches from its position in 2010.

Asia displays a stark difference among its countries’ level of access to technology. While Japan, South Korea and Hong Kong are among the six countries from Asia that are in top 20. Countries like India are ranked disappointingly low.

South Korea secured the numero uno spot followed by Denmark.

India saw an increase in the number of mobile users. In 2010, it was 62 per cent and now in 2015, it has increased to almost 75 per cent. The number of household with a computer has doubled from 6.1 to 13 and the percentage of individuals using the internet went up to 18 per cent from 7.5 per cent, five years ago.

The guild between nations is shown by the fact that 81 per cent households in developed countries have home internet access which is just 36 per cent in the developing world and it drops below to hardly 6 per cent in the least developed countries.

The was a rapid growth in the use of the internet in mobile phones.

India still has a large portion of the population living in villages so it is obvious that the country will take its time to improve its rank.