• 14 Aug
    Shruti Gupta Delhi

    Seven decades of Indian Mentality

    Exactly 70 years ago, when the clock struck 12, the first prime minister of independent India, Jawaharlal Nehru, made the famous speech ‘Tryst with Destiny’.

    tryst with destiny

    In the very famous speech, he spoke of the emergence of India as a new and independent nation. After all the revolts that had taken place for independence, Nehru spoke of India he dreamt of. As an independent nation, he entrusted us with a few responsibilities.

     

    “That future is not one of ease or resting but of incessant striving so that we may fulfill the pledges we have so often taken and the one we shall take today. The service of India means the service of the millions who suffer. It means the ending of poverty and ignorance and disease and inequality of opportunity. The ambition of the greatest man of our generation has been to wipe every tear from every eye. That may be beyond us, but as long as there are tears and suffering, so long our work will not be over.”

     

    It’s been seven decades, but have we been able to do even a little bit of what had been asked of us?

    India is now a developing country, but how forward are we in terms of mental and political scenario, I do not know. Sure, there has been an advancement in technology. In fact, we cannot do without it, and it is precisely due to this tech, that we know that it is not really accessible to all.

    India has changed, both politically and in terms of mentality. Of course, that is true, otherwise, we would have been living under the Congress till today. The fact that there is another political party except for the INC and the BJP clears the state of liberty in the political scenario. We do elect our leaders with all our faith entrusted to them, but fortunately or unfortunately, things don’t go the way we like. We live in a place where we elect our leaders, but the leaders choose otherwise, just as it happened in Bihar. It seems to me that gradually as the elections have been taking place, one party is taking over the whole country. While this might not be true, we cannot deny the fact either. Are we then, deceiving ourselves to be a part of a democratic country?

     governing parties in India

    On this day, I can’t help but think of the times when we struggled the most and when we felt the most helpless. Demonetization is exactly what I am talking about. In the past seven decades of independence, that was the time when I felt vulnerable as a citizen of the country. Though for the better, many of the citizens had their hands tied because who knew what rule could be brought about by the government? Digitization of money and the idea of the cashless economy seems innovative, and a great reform to curb corruption, but the many loopholes that exist in this system including illiteracy, unawareness and the lack of access to technology and the internet, resolve the purpose behind it. 

    We, as the citizens of the country, have the right to elect our leaders. We, the citizens of the country, however, do not have the right to oppose the decisions of our leaders. Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code states homosexuality to be an offense because it is against the order of nature. In a country as diverse as India, not only this is ridiculous but also shameful. It is sick to think that something as natural as love can be against nature. The stigmatization of the term has led people to believe that it is an illness, and homosexuals to believe that they are not worthy of living in the society and hence giving up their lives. Living in the 21st century, this act has led me to believe that no matter how much we advance, we can never really modernize, mostly because of our backward thinking.

    homosexuality in India

    If this prevails, how are we as a nation shaping up to be?

    Peace has been said to be indivisible; so is freedom, so is prosperity now, and so also is disaster in this One World that can no longer be split into isolated fragments.”

    Nehru spoke of peace in the India he had dreamt of. Unfortunately, peace is the last thing that can be witnessed at present-day.

    In a country where humans are killed over religion, even when each religion prohibits killing, I only find religious unrest. In a country where people are tagged and arrested for voicing their opinion, I find political unrest. If ‘intolerant’ is the word we have to use, why is it only synonymised with a negative trail of thoughts? To ensure peace we must be able to listen to what others have to say and understand it before reacting to it violently without a second thought. It won’t be wrong to say that if Gandhi were alive, he would have been extremely disappointed in all of us. Peace, is not merely what we need to impose, it is something because of which we are forever indebted to all the freedom fighters who chose peace as their way of living, and that’s why, we must intend peace, to repay our debt to those because of whom we are residing in an independent nation.

    Seven decades, and I am not entirely convinced with regard to the change in the nation. There is a revolutionary wave coming about, and it seems that positive changes are yet to be made. Until then, however, we must keep doing what we are and try to bring better changes in the society.

    Jai Hind!

     

     

  • 14 Aug
    Sanjna Verma

    Lucky charms really work

    superstitions

     

    Friday the 13th” in the Western context, or sneezing before leaving the house in the Indian context, we are surrounded by a huge variety of superstitions. According to Wikipedia “Superstition is any belief or practice which is irrational that is, it arises from ignorance, a misunderstanding of science or causality, a positive belief in fate or magic, or fear of that which is unknown.”

    These are some of the reasons due to which people may hold irrational beliefs:

    • The superstitions which have been developed have been prevalent since ancient times much before the development of modern sciences. Unfortunately, even science with all the modern developments has not found any justification towards such superstitions. So they are passed on from generation to generation.
    • Such beliefs are formed because of lack of explanation about the causal factor which led to a certain event. Let's explicate the superstition of sneezing. If a car passes by and splashes water all over your clothes. Your parents or grandparents will blame it on the sneeze you had before you left the house. 

    Those were negative superstitions. Now I will talk about the belief of keeping lucky charms with us. We usually think of keeping lucky charms in terms of amulets or a small idol of God along with us or carrying a lucky pen or pencil during our exams. Even sportspersons like Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods wore a particular clothing for their important matches.

     
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    How Positive are these Superstitious Beliefs?

    Positive superstitions include keeping a lucky charm with themselves for performing a certain task. A research was published in Psychological Science which was conducted by Damisch et.al (2010) wherein he noticed whether crossing one’s finger will increase in motor or mental performance of the child.

    In one experiment participants (28 participants) who were told that the ball they were about to throw was ‘lucky’, showed an increase in the performance of the individual in terms of throwing the ball at a longer distance. In two experiments in which one experiment was of memory testing and other was based on putting the blocks in the right order. Again it was seen that those participants who had their lucky charm along with them showed better task performance than those who did not have their lucky charms.

    This explains as to how the lucky charms can help towards raising one’s confidence level and self-efficacy levels which help them towards accomplishing their goals and striving hard to achieve them.

    mithali raj

    Certain rituals followed before any event also act as a motivator towards keeping calm and performing well. For example, we all must have seen Indian cricketer Mithali Raj reading a book before she went to bat. This, she claimed helped her relax her mind as she went to play. Such rituals turn out to be important as having a relaxed mind will help us focus more on the task at hand and strategies during the game.

     Negative Dependence

    Superstitions are generally known for this factor which is over-dependence or negative-dependence. It is because in ancient time's people hardly had any knowledge about the reasoning behind certain phenomenon. Example- In India, we have this belief of not cutting our nails at night. This might have an evolutionary basis. During ancient times, there was hardly any electricity in the houses due to which there was nil amount of visibility. Now after several years, it has evolved into a superstition that cutting nails at night leads to a disaster.

    black cat

    A prominent example can be as to how a black cat crossing a street is treated as something ominous. One cannot cross the area on which the black act has put its feet on. If a person urgently needs to go to the loo and the washroom is a few steps ahead. But no, he cannot go from there as a black cat had crossed that area. So now either the person needs to find another washroom or he should take the longer route towards the place in such a way he does not cross the area where the black cat had crossed. Isn’t it inadequate? The person needs to hold because a black cat walked through there. In fact, it does not even know how ominous its path is.

    On a Tuesday you notice that your nails have grown quite a bit. You have a PT period tomorrow in school and that teacher is very particular towards such things. You take a nail-cutter and are about to cut your nails until your mother comes and reminds you that it is ominous to cut your nails on this day of the week. Even cutting nails on a particular day can become a turning point in your future.

    This leads us to a conclusion that superstitions which encourage us to do well or work hard are not bad but such superstitions which hamper our daily lives and do not have any clear reason either are not worthy to be followed.

    Also, the present day society will begin to think ill of you as they are more educated and aware of these things.

  • 13 Aug
    Richa S Karthikeyan

    Buddhism and Psychology

    Buddhism is one of the major global religions with an interesting history and philosophy of life. Many believe that Buddhism explains a purpose to life, it explains evident injustice and inequality in the world, and it provides a way of practice or way of life that leads to true happiness. Buddha has taught and written many scriptures, but the basic concepts in Buddhism can be presented by the Four Noble Truths.

    Buddha idol in a peaceful environment

    The four noble truths told by Buddha are:

    1. Suffering exists

    The viewpoint is that life consists of suffering and dissatisfaction. This suffering is called dukkha. Humans are imperfect, as is the world we live in. During our lifetime, we inevitably have to endure physical suffering such as pain, sickness, injury, tiredness, old age, and eventually death. This means you are never able to keep permanently what you strive for. Happy moments pass by, and soon we all will too.

    2. Suffering arises from attachment to desires

    The cause of suffering is called samudaya or tanha. It is the desire to have and control things, such as craving for sensual pleasures. For example, if you desire money or fame, you will surely suffer disappointment and perhaps even cause suffering for others. 

    Attachment to material things creates suffering because attachments are fleeting and loss is inevitable. Thus suffering will necessarily follow.

    3. Suffering ceases when attachment to desire ceases

    The end to suffering is called nirodha. It is achieving Nirvana or liberation, which is the final freedom from suffering. The mind experiences complete freedom, liberation, and non-attachment. It lets go of any desire or craving. It is to attain dispassion.

    Nirvana means freedom from all worries, troubles, and ideas. It is difficult for all of us to comprehend, who have not attained it.

    4. Eightfold path

    There are eight attitudes or paths you must follow to find freedom from suffering. These are the "right" or correct things to do in your life:

    1. Right view
    2. Right intention
    3. Right speech
    4. Right action
    5. Right livelihood
    6. Right effort
    7. Right mindfulness
    8. Right concentration

    This is the way to reach Nirvana.

    Buddha’s diagnosis of suffering or dukkha, that is part of life and human existence rings absolutely true to me, some people might have a different view of it.
    They may present few arguments to support their own point. Here I am explaining a reasonable perspective of these teachings.

    As given by the first two noble truths suffering is an inevitable part of our lives. As we are on earth, we are bound to face challenges and problems.

    The reasons are:

    • I agree with the first and second Noble Truths that our sufferings are inevitable in human life and are due to our attachment or clinginess to the things and the people. For example, if my child has to appear in an exam, I would have an expectation that her result should come as in a certain way. And for that expectation, I would have some anxiety. Here, As I am expecting a kind of result, I am already attached to that result even before it has actually happened. If my child's result comes as I expected then I would be happy, but if the result is not as expected then I might have the feeling like, “why that happened?” or I may cling to this feeling and blame myself or my child. Then, further, if I keep on clinging to this feeling, it might result in low confidence and apprehensions in mind of my child or myself about her performance, which can become the reason for my sufferings or Dhukkha.
    • Buddha's teaching also tells us about the way of eliminating these sufferings. If we detach ourselves from the output or results of our actions, then we can lessen these sufferings. It does not say that we should not work or do not seek pleasure, in fact in Buddhism, our Karma(our ideas and actions), is our  Dharma, means our foremost duty. But we can choose to avoid or handle any negative emotion effectively with right view, right action and right effort (eightfold path).
    • If we go back to the example, looking mindfully (as per the Buddha's teachings) to the whole situation like Socratic thinking, which is used in many psychotherapies, we can acknowledge that the situation can be handled effectively to learn the lesson from the mistakes and improving further. In the example, as we can see, I am not realizing at that time, the impermanence of the situation and may keep suffering due to it. I am not realizing that this result is just a small part of her life and even its effect can be as I choose it to be. One option can be that I keep brooding over it again and again, and keep suffering or another option can be that I learn a lesson from our mistakes and try to improve, in short making this small failure ladder for future successes.

     

    Also, in my opinion, Buddha’s teachings are not a rebellion of science and reason, but they run parallel to it and beyond. To support this, two more reasons from my side are:

    • Buddha's teachings came into the time when humans were not hunters but were already settled into modern civilizations in cities and villages. At that time our e The Buddha taught many things, but the basic concepts in Buddhism can be summed up by the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path. evolutionary emotions like rage and anxiety, did not serve the same purpose as in the forest or hunters' groups. To manage such emotions in those times and after that, humans needed some guidance to handle these feelings. So, that they should not become the cause of our own sufferings. These teachings are necessary to guide us more as the technology is advancing. In this era of the virtual world, spirituality can only give us an anchor to hold our emotions steady.
    • Buddha’s teachings not only guided us in our daily life but also had a purpose of liberating or enlightening us. Which was never on evolution’s agenda. This enlightenment can provide us with absolute happiness, not in this birth but in every all rebirths and ultimately we can achieve liberation.

     

    Thus, I completely find this diagnosis of suffering and liberation given by four noble truths as true. The concepts put forward by Buddha are not Religiously aimed. Following them would just make us a better person, leading a peaceful life in this world of chaos.

     

  • 13 Aug
    Sanjna Verma

    How to Handle Teenage Attraction Positively?

    204141_675x450_flirty_tteens

     

    Certain characteristics are common in the lives of teenagers be it physically or socially. They experience physical changes alongside academic pressures for carving good careers for themselves. Also at this age, the need for belongingness increases. A teenager attempts to become part of a particular group and ends up modelling the group's behaviour as well. This also leads to increase in a drift with their parents as peers become more important.

    Apart from these, there is one more point which is frequently associated with a teenager. Teenagers may become enamoured with a film star or a rock star on TV or on the internet or they may encounter a person of the opposite gender in the neighbourhood who is good-looking or a classmate in school or tuition or someone they saw at a market place. Then for the whole day, the mind of that teenager revolves around their ‘new crush,’ and being with them forever. When they tell their friends about their newly found crush, some of them would be like “Wow!” while others may use the revelation as an opportunity for bullying and teasing. Even when they go on to explain their newly-found excitement to their parents, their parents may not express and reciprocate the teenager's excitement. They may bash them by saying that such things are no good and they should focus on their studies. Bang! This can further develop rifts between the child and their parents.

    This raises a question- Is teenage attraction that bad? But it is not a choice, after all. It happens because of sexual hormones which instigate attraction. It may not last for a very long period of time but this sudden rush of feelings can make a teenager wonder- Why did it happen? And how to act when it has happened?

    These teenagers should be guided that the sudden rush of feelings is NOT romantic love. It is ‘infatuation.’ Love happens at a gradual scale, it is selfless and it often involves a commitment to partners. Whereas infatuation, unlike romantic love, is based on the physical appearance and the infatuated person desires the reciprocation of their attraction at any cost. It can also happen that the infatuation gets over as the teenager gets to know about the disposition of their crush object.

    Coming to the point of parents not accepting their ‘newly found love’. Teenagers then resort to media like movies and porn in order to understand the concept of love and sex. It has been seen that media knowingly or unknowingly promote things like stalking, playing with someone’s feelings etc. Moreover, the idealistic form of love wherein the lovers even after some rifts and struggle live happily ever after. Teenagers should be made to realise that love is not just about expressing their emotions to one another. It is much more than ‘I love you,’and ‘I love you too.’ It is a strong emotion which is felt from the bottom of the heart and which may require work.

     What can parents do towards explaining their kids about their current feelings?

    • Understanding that such feelings are normal: Parents should have a heart-to-heart conversation related to attraction and love. They should not make their child feel that whatever their child is going through is utterly wrong. Admonishing and taunts are the last things they should use at that point in time.
    • Nature of the attraction: The feeling of attraction in an adolescent/teenager is as serious as the marriage of their parents. They should create an environment in order to ensure honest and open communication so that the child feels assured to confide in their parents about their attraction.
    • Is it Love or Infatuation: Teenagers should be made to understand the difference between Love and Infatuation which I had mentioned earlier.
    • Commitment in Relationship: Parents should make their child understand the importance of commitment in relationships. They should encourage their child to think as to whether they are prepared to take such a big step in life; understanding each other and compromising for each other’s needs and wants etc.Teenagers should also be told about financial stability which is one pre-requisite towards being independent. It is when they should think of taking a firm decision as to whether they are prepared for taking the relationship ahead.

     

    To the teenagers who are struggling with the sudden rush of unreasonable romantic feelings- it is normal. It can be remarked as good because studies have stated that having such attractions are a sign of maturity. Do not take decisions related to the relationship in a hurry. You need to trust someone amongst your family and friends who can help you take the right decision. Yes, you can have a normal interaction with your crush (provided he/she is not a celebrity) and express as to how much you ‘like’ their company. Such attractions usually do not last for long and you will scoffingly laugh at it as you reach college or take up a job.

  • 13 Aug
    Sanjna Verma

    Would you mind a Female Boss?

     

    female boss

    Gender stereotypes are quite common, but in the recent times, the notion of the male being the breadwinner and the housewife being the homemaker has undergone a change. Women have begun to contribute towards the financial aspects of their households. All thanks to modernization where women are getting educated and are gaining awareness about how the world works. And now, we see that women are not just leading companies but also their respective nations. A question arises, which is also the intent of this article. Have the office employees imbibed the spirit of modernization well enough, so much so that they accept a woman heading them? Or are they stuck with the notion that women cannot be at par with their male counterparts? Are women ideal for such jobs?

    Characteristics of a Female Boss

    Confidence: Confidence does not come from pretty or a smart dressing sense but it comes from a demeanour. This demeanour comes as they fear no one. They have seen gender bias all around them but they don’t care. For them, it is they and their viewpoints that matter. After years of suppression, when they are leading a group the urge to change it acts as a positive influence in bringing confidence in work.

    Outspoken: They believe in speaking their mind whether it is a flowery praise or a harsh truth, no matter what their colleagues think of their personality. Every human has a right to assert their viewpoint but the problem is their colleagues do not realise the importance of their thought. Rather, they begin to think of their leader as someone who has an aggressive and dominant approach which is obviously not right.

    Assertive: They know how to express their concerns. It is that, in the past, they were never provided with an opportunity to exhibit their potentials. Whenever they try to make their group members do certain jobs they are assigned to, they are termed as excessively dominant, rather than understanding that they are performing their roles just as is expected of a leader.

    Sense of self: They know who they are and what they should be doing instead of people reminding them. Again, it is misunderstood by people as arrogance and excessive pride. It is pathetic to see how the stereotype is still stuck in people’s heads for their female boss- be it a man or a woman.

    Hard-working: Women leaders have a sense of passion in them which drives them to make people do their job ensuring that there is no delay or procrastination in the employees towards performing their duties. They have a set of goals which they are driven to accomplish and have similar expectations from their co-workers.

    Aggressiveness: Women leaders have constructive and emotional components in them which they use it for persuading their employees to do well in their duties thereby doggedly working towards the ultimate goal. Also, they know it well to defend themselves and ensure that no one takes advantage of their gender and work against them.

    It can be seen that the qualities for a female leader are those which can be expected of any leader be irrespective of gender - having confidence in oneself, having a set goal and working hard towards pursuing the goals.

     

    Pros of having a female leader

    Women are empathetic: Women understand what a person might be going through at that particular state. For instance, in the case of providing with maternity leave or some situation related to family or life-related situations, women understand these problems patiently and are more likely to grant leave under such circumstances.

    Women are Good Communicators: Women have been seen as better communicators than men as they are more understanding and cooperative towards their employees which perhaps comes from their own experience of being excessively controlled. Due to their empathetic nature and their good listening skills, they are able to understand their employees’ concerns better.

    Women are Good Collaborators: Women are seen as better in terms of developing networking abilities thereby helping towards collaborating well with different departments in the office. It is because of the fact that women know their ability better than men do and this leads to a better understanding of others.

    Women are Good Mentors: Women have that nurturing spirit in them. This has led to an observation that women are good in guiding their subordinates towards doing the job at the best level and gain satisfaction with their work. It is also because women themselves do not get mentors easily so they have that understanding of a mentor’s importance. 

     

    Cons of having a Woman Leader

    “Queen Bee” Myth: It is a belief that when women become leaders they may begin to see themselves as superior and have critical outlook about others in the office. Research shows it depends more upon the personality trait of that particular individual.

    Jealousy and Backbiting: women are initially seen as being friendly with them but as the counterparts become successful they show hostile feelings towards them. Also, it has been observed by studies that women also resort to actions which lead to the growth of their position in the company.

    Emotional Disturbances: It has been a popular stereotype that women undergo mood swings due to hormonal imbalances and stressors, however, it has been proven true for both the sexes. But from an overall perspective, it has been found out that women are more likely to undergo more emotional disturbances than men. This can hamper their work performance of self and others.

    Self-Branding: It has been observed that women remain modest and silent about their achievement as compared to men who are quite better in doing so because they are very much aware of their strengths. This also helps towards building a rapport with the employees and working towards accomplishing the targets of the company.

     

    Male Boss or Female: Employees’ Perspective

    It is true that most employees whether male or female, they prefer a male to be their head. After having analysed the various pros and cons of having a boss of both the genders, there are two factors justifying this preference - one is the approach towards working with the employees and the other is gender stereotyping. 

    According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), the approach towards management by a female consists more of “mentoring and coaching” but in the case of a male it is more of “command and control.” APA claims that the former’s style may help the organisation in the long run. However, there is a contradiction- this very tendency of women to be caring and mentoring is only towards the female employees, as per the male employees. Even their male ego comes at threat when they see a woman holding a position of power.

    Moreover, the existence of stereotyping is undeniable. The belief that males are better than females somewhere resides in the subconscious. For instance, If a male boss takes his time for reaching to a decision he is believed as being thoughtful whereas if a woman indulges in such thought, they will term it as over-thinking or over-analysing on their part. When the male head tries to be approachable to every employee, he has the quality of a good leader but if a female does so, she has no other work and if she does not do so, she is bossy.

     

    The patriarchal notions and the misogyny operant in the society should be kept outside the workplace. Every employee is here to do their duty and gain money for their living. A female boss is in no way a step above or below a male counterpart. Break the old thoughts and get your views straight! It is 2017 for all that you know!