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In the recent past, the discovery of Himalayan pink salt has opened up many avenues of industrial and nutritional study. This salt is acclaimed for its unique mineral content and the geographical value it is associated with.
Found in the sea-bed layer of the Himalayan belt, this salt is believed to be a remnant of the sea that used to cover the mountains many years ago. The lava that flows in this region covered up the salt reserve and protected it from contamination. Being embedded in the lower crust of the earth, the salt imbibed high iron contents which have lent it its popular pink colour.
Salt lamps are used to dissipate the positive ions emitted from electronic devices Image source: wikimedia
Pink salt is found near the mountains that border Pakistan, and is not entirely Indian. It is mined by hand, in the Khewra mines of Pakistan, and exported at cheap rates to India, where it is processed, and exported out to the world as a product of India. Mining in Khewra is highly restricted and performed with great care to make sure that the purity of the salt is unaffected.
This salt has culinary uses outside India, but for the most part, within the country, it is used in Ayurveda, therapy, and for aesthetic purposes. Himalayan salt is said to have properties that alleviate asthma, allergies, and even respiratory disorders. If consumed, it can regulate water content, and electrolyte balance in the body. Salt blocks are placed under the ingredients and are cooked slowly to incorporate the flavour into the dish.
Pink salt is sold in glass bottled packaged for culinary use Image source: wikimedia
Because of its long abode inside the earth, it is believed that the salt contains earth's potential energy. In many households, a block of pink salt is placed in the living room to regulate the energy around the place. Walls of salt are also installed to cleanse the air and provide better breathing.
Using Himalayan salt in beauty products reduces the toxicity from the chemicals present in them. Adding a few crystals in bath water reduces stress, improves blood circulation, and targets cellulite. Salt lamps are also used to dissipate the concentration of ions in the air. They release negative ions which rid the air of dust, pollen, and neutralize the ions released from electronic devices. Owing to all these properties, pink salt is referred to as 'White Gold', and is greatly valued.
Keywords: Pink Salt, Himalayan belt, White gold
India and China are neighbors across the Himalayan range, and history has documented our trade exchanges since the beginning of such practices. Interestingly, however, tea travelled all the way to Europe before Indians had a taste of it.
The British brought tea to India in the form that they enjoyed it most – mixed with milk and sugar, and that is how Indians have been consuming it for years. To better suit the Indian palate, spices were added to create the much-loved Masala Chai, but it is not too far removed from the English brand. Like heritage, the British adopted the Chinese custom of tea, and profited off it from their colonial states.
Teabags are an American discovery, but they are closer to the original Chinese way of brewing the drink Image source: wikimediawikimedia
Tea, originally meant a blend of flavors in water. It is believed that in China, around 2737 B.C., the troops of Emperor Shen Nung were boiling water under a tree. The strong wind blew a few leaves into the water which flavored it. The tree was identified as Camellia sinensis, and became what we popularly know as the tea tree. After this, tea came to be known as the drink that stimulated the senses; the welcoming drink shared between host and guest; and the evening or morning brew that prepared the palate for the rest of the day.
Tea plantations are often situated on hill slopes to suit the soil and climate needs of the plant. Tea plantation in Darjeeling. Image source: wikimediawikimedia
Apart from the many exports China made on the Silk Road, tea was a highly valued commodity because it did not grow anywhere else in the world. It was first packaged as leaves, but soon assumed other forms as it tended to spoil quickly. Powdered tea, however, did not hold the same flavor, and the Chinese then made tea cakes, or tea bricks, of which a little was pinched off and brewed.
With the arrival of the Song dynasty between A.D. 960- 1279, tea became popular in the powdered form again, and was whipped in boiling water. The Japanese took over the mastery of this technique, and made it part of their tea ceremony. In the early 1500s, rolled tea leaves were preferred to bricks and powder, and the tea pot was invented.
The original Chinese teapot Image source: wikimediawikimedia
While the British colonized parts of the world and traded language, practices, and wealth, tea began to gain acclaim across the globe. It was revolutionized in the 1900s when it reached American shores.
Prior to this, tea had become popular in America through the British, but one particular merchant, Thomas Sullivan changed the way it was consumed. He sold the loose tea packed in small silk pouches to his customers. It was intended that they take the tea leaves out of the pouch and brew them, but they found it easier and less messy to simply immerse the entire bag in the boiling water. This new practice called for a revision even in the size of the cups and put the teapot out of service.
Tea being prepared in a stall in Chittagong Image source: wikimediawikimedia
Tea in India is grown in large plantations on hillsides, to allow the plant to derive the full nutritional benefits of the soil and the climate. They do not grow on flatter land. Darjeeling and the Nilgiri hills are most famous hill stations for their tea plantations. Today, Indians consume tea in all the available forms it exists in.
We incorporate the flavor of spices, leaves, and flowers, like the Chinese; use varying qualities and types of milk and cream with sugar, like the British; and have our own preferences for teabags like the Americans. But no matter where you go in India, the best tea is the one sold in the shoddy little shops on the side of the roads, that allures you with its unique aroma.
Keywords: Tea, History, China, Britain, Forms
Family planning is central to gender equality and women empowerment, and it is a key factor in reducing poverty. Millions of girls and women in India can transform their lives if needs for family planning – to delay, space, and limit the number of children that women have – are met.
Beyond health, there are many far-reaching, transformational, and inter-generational effects of women being able to use contraception and take control of their fertility. At the household level, families are able to invest more of their scarce resources in the health and education of their children.
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Girls from smaller families are more likely to complete their education and women with fewer children are more able to seek employment, increasing household income and assets, points out Madhu Joshi, Sr. Advisor, Gender Equity and Governance, Centre for Catalyzing Change.
Some progress has been made towards improving gender equity so that women have greater involvement in decision-making processes and positions in government.
Increasing educational opportunities for girls protects them from premature marriage and childbearing and helps address gender inequalities in economic participation. Family planning empowers women to take charge of their lives whilst also enhancing their contributions to family wellbeing and overall national development, Joshi says.
Efforts are underway to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on family planning access and service delivery. Measures have been taken to reach out with non-invasive methods to communities in conjunction with tracking and tracing of people who are at risk of COVID-19.
She points out: “The estimates done by FRHS in the month of April 2020 presented three case scenarios based on timings of complete restoration of FP services. In the best-case scenario with FP services restoration in the month of May 2020 in full capacity across the nation, it was estimated that as a result of the pandemic, 24.55 million couples would not be able to access contraceptives in 2020. Method wise the loss is estimated at 530,737 sterilizations, 709,088 Inter Uterine Contraceptive Devices (IUCDs), 509,360 doses Injectable contraceptives (IC), 20 million cycles of OCPs, 827,332 ECPs and 342.11 million condoms.
“This is likely to result in an additional 1.94 million unintended pregnancies, 555,833 live births, 1.18 million abortions (including 681,883 unsafe abortions), and 1,425 maternal deaths. What is important is that we do not allow the pandemic to reverse the hard-earned gains of the past decade for increased family planning uptake.”
Adding: “It becomes imperative for all stakeholders to examine the opportunity loss as a result of COVID ½19 pandemic and put Family Planning back on track as we deal with the pandemic through strategic engagement; amongst the top priorities is to reach out to most vulnerable populations who may not be able to articulate the latent need for contraception ½ mostly women dealing with the loss of livelihoods, facing violence and discrimination; young couples who would not be able to access because of barriers of information and social pressure.”
We need to undertake concerted efforts to ensure that opportunity loss is reversed and couples who desire contraception can access it free from discrimination and with quality and are to be able to reverse losses and ensure that decadal gains are not reversed. That multi-pronged effort is being undertaken by the government at all levels to bring FP service delivery on track. On World Population Day, Joshi recommends that “we reinforce, the need to keep listening to voices and support women and men in Choices they make for family planning”.
Community-based distribution of non-invasive contraception be promoted through channels beyond frontline functionaries of the health system.
Modifying delivery mechanisms along the lifecycle continuum of care for women and girls and including self-care across the spectrum of services offered, can increase access to care during calm times and crises.
Bringing focus on spacing contraception which is non-invasive (condoms, daily and weekly pill), and minimally invasive (injectable) not just to promote choice also to reduce pressure on a burdened health system dealing with rising COVIDï¿½19 numbers.
Amplify voices of key constituents on promoting Choice and Voice narrative for Family Planning. (IANS)
Researchers have found that sleeping problems in early childhood may be linked to the development of certain mental health disorders in adolescence.
The study, published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry, found that young children who routinely woke up frequently during the night and experienced irregular sleep routines were associated with psychotic experiences as adolescents. The researchers also found that children who slept for shorter periods at night and went to bed later were more likely to be associated with borderline personality disorder (BPD) during their teenage years.
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“We know from previous research that persistent nightmares in children have been associated with both psychosis and borderline personality disorder,” said study lead author Dr. Isabel Morales-Muaoz from the University of Birmingham in the UK. “But nightmares do not tell the whole story – we’ve found that, in fact, a number of behavioral sleep problems in childhood can point towards these problems in adolescence,” Morales-Muaoz added.
For the findings, the researchers examined questionnaire data from more than 7,000 participants reporting on psychotic symptoms in adolescence and more than 6,000 reports on BPD symptoms in adolescence. Sleep behavior among participants was reported by parents when the children were six, 18, and 30 months, and assessed again at 3.5, 4.8, and 5.8 years old.
The results show particular associations between infants at 18 months old who tended to wake more frequently at night and who had less regular sleep routines from six months old, with psychotic experiences in adolescence. This supports existing evidence that insomnia contributes to psychosis, but suggests that these difficulties may be already present years before psychotic experiences occur.
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The team also found that children who had less sleep during the night and went to bed later at the age of three-and-a-half years were related to BPD symptoms. The researchers also investigated whether the links between infant sleep and mental disorders in teenagers could be mediated by symptoms of depression in children aged 10 years old.
“We found that depression mediated the links between childhood sleep problems and the onset of psychosis in adolescents,” the study authors wrote. (IANS)