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Letters to the Editor: Mental health awareness

In India, people with severe mental illnesses often turn to temples and shrines, not to doctors.

Letters to the Editor

Sentinel Digital Desk

Mental health awareness

In India, people with severe mental illnesses often turn to temples and shrines, not to doctors. The foremost reason for India to lose its mental health is the lack of awareness and sensitivity about the issue. There is a big stigma around people suffering from any kind of mental health issue. They are often tagged as "lunatics", "crazy", "possessed" and many more by society. This leads to a vicious cycle of shame, suffering and isolation of the patients. India is a developing country. Healthcare infrastructure is not yet completely developed and everyone cannot get cost-effective treatment. Getting treatment for physical problems is naturally a top priority as it incapacitates the person. Since people have limited finances, physical problems are given preference and mental issues take a back seat as its impact is not as visible as physical issues. There is a lack of education and awareness about mental health. People consider mental issues as taboo and they try to hide them. They don't discuss it openly with others and feel low and a sense of guilt for suffering from mental illness. A person suffering from mental health issues is seen as a mad man deserving of a mental asylum. We have been living in joint large families and mental health issues were very less. Levels of stress, anxiety and depression were quite few because people felt connected with their families, villages and societies. As the world has modernized, we have been moving to nuclear families and social connections have been broken. The stress to earn more, have more and be better than others have increased. That has caused an increase in cases of mental health problems. The Government, NGOs and other social institutes need to start educating about mental health issues and remove the misconceptions attached to it. They have done this successfully for diseases like polio, leprosy, HIV, typhoid etc.

Mohsin Hussain,

Cotton University

Paper tiger?

Chhatrapati Shivaji was and is and will be ever remembered as the ultimate hero for the Marathas. Similarly, Bir Lachit Borphukan was and is and always will be remembered as the greatest hero for the Asomiyas. These two heroes from different geographical areas fought against the invading Mughals and conquered them in battles and subsequently both are worshipped as a symbol of valour by the Marathas and the Asomiyas. Shiv Sainiks has in the meantime formed a regional political party named Shiv Sena in Maharashtra. Coincidently, in our state, there is an organization named Lachit Sena named after the great warrior but till now it has remained apolitical. But both these senas (Lachit Sena and Shiv Sena) mainly thrive on forceful donations from the public and try to make their presence felt by their extreme hooliganism on the streets. The recent hooliganisms unleashed by the cadres of Shiv Sena on the streets of Mumbai make us believe that they are true followers of the Taliban, not Lord Shiva or Chhatrapati Shivaji. I feel in the better interest of indigenous Axomiyas our Lachi Sena should make their presence felt in bordering areas of Mizoram, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya and likewise the Shiv Sainiks should go to Afghanistan to protect the Indians from the Taliban.

Else they would be always treated as paper tigers who are best at roaring in front of innocent people.

Dr Ashim Chowdhury,

Guwahati

The hidden truth

Many of us don't know that when terrorist Yasir Arafat, declared the nation of Palestine against Israel which country was the first to recognize Palestine. The general answer would be either Pakistan or Saudi Arabia or Afghanistan or Iraq or Turkey but the fact is that it was 'secular' India under the leadership of Lt. PM Indira Gandhi who was the first country to recognize Palestine. Lt. Gandhi did not stop there but went on to confer 'Nehru Peace Prize' upon terrorist Arafat. Later on, her son Lt. Rajiv Gandhi in 1988 went a step further to bestow Yasir Arafat with the 'Indira Gandhi International Peace Prize' which carried Rs 1 crore and a shield made of 200-gram gold. One can imagine the value of Rs. 1 crore, some 33 years back. All these were done by the mother-son duo to appease particularly religious people. More astoundingly, Lt. Rajiv Gandhi later on, gifted Arafat a Boeing plane from the Government of India to roam around the world.

A few years later, the same Yasir Arafat described Kashmir as the integral part of Pakistan in the Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC) meet. He also declared that his soldiers would assist Pakistani troops in their fight against India whenever Pakistan wants. Yasir Arafat was a declared terrorist by 103 countries worldwide who were involved in the hijacking of six planes and killing over more than two thousand innocent people.

All these facts were hidden by historians. The appeasement policy of Congress has let down the country in every aspect be it in national or in an international forum.

Julie Bhuyan,

Gaurisagar.

New generation courses in colleges

I'm writing this letter to bring to your notice the future of students. At present, candidates face unemployment because a large number of students graduate from a few specific courses. This is due to the lack of introducing new-generation courses to them.

Also, teaching will not be effective when some classes are overcrowded with students. Instead of adding more seats to some particular courses and creating more candidates, students must be directed to new courses. Implementing this strategy will help future students to explore a wide variety of new generation courses and it could also bring down unemployment. Permission should be granted to the colleges to start new generation courses.

So, I request you to look into this problem and respond at the earliest.

Manjima Nambiar,

Gauhati University

Starvation deaths

Addressing hunger is a foundation for stability and peace. In Jharkhand, there were instances where people were seen eating rats to satiate their hunger. Deaths due to starvation may seem impossible in today's time, but it is a reality in a part of India, Jharkhand. According to the latest government data, nutritional deficiency among rural children aged 6 months to 5 years in Jharkhand is 13% more than the national average. Even among adult men and women of Jharkhand, the level of nutritional deficiency is more than 10% of the national average.

Nature is not the only factor to be blamed for causing famines, there are man-made causes as well, like a collapse in the system that produces, distribute and manage food. Long-term climate change is a contributing factor to the occurrence of drought that also impairs the functioning of food systems. Hence, along with food and water conservation, we must also prevent land degradation and deforestation.

To avoid future famines, planning is needed, that goes beyond emergency relief by the government. We need to transform our food systems to make them more inclusive, resilient and sustainable. In short, local communities must develop food systems with high-level resilience. In the meantime, traditional approaches to managing the famine must be implemented.

Sohail Zaman,

Guwahati

Naamghars

Faith is on the rise. According to a report, over 84 per cent of the global population identifies themselves with a religious group. Religious places are in a certain way similar to the factories, but the only difference is that these religious factories deal with things that no one has ever seen or felt. Still, people are ready to die for their religion. It's like we are fighting for nothing. Among all these religious places, Naamghars in Assam is an exception. In other religious places, all you would find are discussions about God, his creations and his miracles. But Naamghar which was the brainchild of Mahapurush Sri Sri Sankardev is all-encompassing. Naamghars' doors are always open for people of any religion or caste. Naamghars are bounded by half walls to show their all-encompassing nature. Naamghars are not only places of worship but also centres of learning. Different art forms like dance, singing, painting, drama, recitation etc., are practised in the Naamghar premises. Naamghars also have the distinction of being a minor court in the area for solving brawls between two families, land disputes etc. The government of Assam has recently announced cash incentives for the beautification and overall development of Naamghars for which the government deserves a pat on the back. The religious places can take an example from the Naamghars, it would be nice if they realize that there is a world beyond religion too.

Noopur Baruah,

Tezpur

Vaccination for young children

Through the columns of your esteemed paper, I want to draw the attention of the authorities concerned. Everyone 18 and older is eligible to get a vaccine against Covid-19. The vaccines were widely available for adults. The government is tackling the Covid-19 with full requirements. And the people should follow the SOPs to reduce the Covid situation. The Covaxin is expected to be available in September for children in the age group of 2 to 18 years. This Covaxin vaccination should be widely available for children without fail. The kids must not wait for long to get vaccinated. Here the government and parents should be aware of the fact that children of this age group can hardly tell what is happening to them so the authorities concerned should be ready to solve any problem regarding Covid vaccination for young children. I request the authorities concerned to look into this matter.

Padmini Das,

Cotton University

Afghanistan situation

It seems Afghanistan has now become the Las Vegas of the terrorists, of the radicals and the extremists. Particularly when the United States, which has been battling the Taliban and their militant partners in Afghanistan, Al Qaeda and the Haqqani network, for 20 years, now escalates its evacuation at the Kabul airport before on August 31. The bomb attacks on Thursday at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul that killed nearly 200 people have underlined the catastrophe that has befallen Afghanistan. Six years old ISIS-Khorasan has claimed to bomb saying it was carried out by one of its suicide bombers against "a large gathering of translators and collaborators with the American Army at Baran Camp near Kabul Airport". Among the deaths, the deaths of the 13 US militaries, in the attack, made it the largest single-day casualty since 2011. World strongly believe that the US service members who died in an attack in Kabul did not die in vain. Because of their heroic actions, more than 100,000 people have been evacuated. US President Biden mourned the loss of the US service members while vowing: "To those who carried out this attack, as well as anyone who wishes America harm, know this: We will not forgive. We will not forget. We will hunt you down and make you pay," Biden said. "Our mission will go on. America will not be intimidated."

But for India the situation is getting more critical day after day, hence India's priority is to evacuate all its nationals, and allowing all those Afghan nationals who want to become refugees after losing everything in their own homes. It's necessary if India wishes to retain its long friendship with the Afghan people in open heart and prevent a repeat of the shabby deportation after 16 hours waiting of an Afghan woman parliamentarian. The government has said it was a mistake. It should ensure a course correction.

Bidyut Kumar Chatterjee,

Faridabad 121005

LS & RS websites

Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha secretariats should put comparative figures of activities of members as Parliamentarians regularly updated on their respective websites. Such activities may include their attendance records, number of questions asked and bills presented, participation in Parliamentary debates, utilization of MPLADS funds, attendance in meetings of Parliamentary committees, number of adopted villages under Aadarsh Gram scheme and all other such activities.

Making a comparative study of all such activities of Parliamentarians will make them responsibly behave as Parliamentarians and will induce competition to work more effectively as Parliamentarians. Political parties then will be compelled to give party tickets only to better-performing Parliamentarians in their earlier tenures. Even best-parliamentarian-award should also be given on basis of performance made public annually rather than being clubbed for three years as at present.

It is often seen that many Parliamentarians, especially celebrities nominated in Rajya Sabha waste their tenure as Parliamentarians only as an additional feather in their caps. Some highly influential persons from prominent industrial groups enter Rajya Sabha only to use membership as an effective tool for lobbying without any activities as Parliamentarians. Rajya Sabha in absence of any publicised comparative study of activities has become a billionaire club where seats are purchased by the ultra-rich in the present faulty system of open voting for the upper House.

Madhu Agrawal,

Delhi-110006

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