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The Root Causes of Alcoholism in India; Possible Solutions.

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Simple economic, age, gender and professional dimensions that define alcohol consumption patterns in small homogenous western nations are insufficient in a multilayered society like India. Despite adoption of western lifestyles, middle class in urban India has yet to entirely do away with the old mores and values. For few in the big city, the old values are still the core of their identity, while for others they are suitable pretences, resulting in schizophrenic environment where youngsters grow up absorbing the worst of both the eastern and the western influences.

Rural India is witnessing a different yet equally seismic shift, where the old joint-family value system and associated economic enterprises are collapsing and people are moving away from traditional professions. There is significant migration in search of livelihood due to ever shrinking size of the agricultural land holdings. Apart from the stress of displacement, a break from ones communities also removes the social safety net that keeps check on alcohol abuse. In some previously semi-arid and moderately populated regions, improvements in irrigation and industrialization of agriculture has created excess wealth and removed the need for few previously agricultural people to work with their own hands. Instant money for these people and also for the land holders in areas near big cities where prices of real estate have sky rocketed has resulted in youngsters who do not know how to handle their newfound wealth and are prone to addiction.

Alcohol abuse combined with ready availability of opium derived drugs seeping in from our western borders has resulted in a whole generation of addicts in Punjab, Jammu, Haryana and parts of Rajasthan. In the flux of values and economic relations of our multilayered society four denominators are can still describe the major pillars of alcohol related problems in India: 1) lack of information 2) adulteration of alcohol 3) inefficient alcohol regulation policies and 4) the paucity of appropriate medical intervention.

While the debate over the merits of alcohol consumption is hotly contested worldwide, the views about alcohol consumption in India usually do not come in shades of gray but often in black and white. There is a taboo concerning alcohol consumption in any amount, especially by women and conservative sections of society, but also in general due to religious teachings of the Vaishnav sect of Sanatan Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, Sikhism, and Arya Samaj and the remnants of anti-alcohol Gandhian drive. Actual practice of alcohol consumption is altogether a different matter, which covers the whole gamut from healthy consumption to fatal abuse. History has taught us that making something a taboo does not solve the problem; it only makes the forbidden fruit more tempting. Taboos encourage closeted and unsafe behavior like binge drinking in the case of alcohol or unsafe sex in the case of premarital relationships. Humans have been enjoying alcoholic beverages since prehistoric times. Alcohol has been celebrated in the Vedic hymns, Shaivism, Buddhism, Tantra, streams of Catholicism, and many indigenous animist and tribal traditions that celebrate alcohol in moderation. In fact many anthropologists and biologists claim that it is likely that alcohol from fermented grains was used as food source much before the bread was invented. In fact, if consumed in moderate amounts over many years, alcohol can have numerous positive health consequences. Moderate amounts of alcohol have been correlated with reducing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, improving cardiac functioning, and reducing stroke incidences, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, gallbladder diseases, arthritis, renal cell carcinoma, thyroid cancer, and non-Hodgkin lymphoma among many other diseases.

When alcohol is consumed in an uncontrolled and excessive manner however, the story is much different. Binge drinking, especially as a repeat pattern, is associated with many health problems including alcohol poisoning, liver sclerosis, cardiovascular diseases, sexual dysfunction, and fetal alcohol syndrome in unborn children of pregnant women. The World Health Organization estimates that 2.5 million deaths per year worldwide are caused by alcohol related incidents, mostly due to heavy inebriation. A strong correlation exists between heavy alcohol consumption and crime. Also, heavy drinking can result in blackouts that leave people vulnerable to crimes such as rape. Apart from health issues, the economic drain and the disruption of societal peace due to increased crime can be quite a big strain on society. Heavy alcoholics (not mild healthy drinkers) are more often involved in domestic abuse than rest of the population. So instead of making something taboo we need to understand a drink or two a day is good for health, unless the woman consuming is pregnant or if someone is patient of a kidney or a liver disease. On the other hand heavy amounts, i.e. more than three to five drinks a day, depending on the size of person, not just causes health issues but it wrecks families. The solution is in moderation for those who like to drink and not in professing abstinence.

Apart from lack of information on alcohol for people to make their own informed choice, adulteration of alcohol and lack evidence based regulation policy are reason for grave alcohol related health problems. Alcohol poisoning is due to non-ethanol alcohols: frequently methanol, also known as wood alcohol, which is highly toxic. Methanol can cause blindness and even death in sufficient quantity. It is sometimes added into illicit alcoholic beverages to increase their potency. In fact, most hooch related tragedies, like the recent one in Gujrat, have happened in dry states or on dry days in wet states. This is not surprising. When one cannot get regulated good quality alcohol and it is taboo to consume alcohol, people resort to shoddy alcohol consumption in hiding. Such prohibition on alcohol also results in binging due to fear of being caught. Failure of prohibition in Gujrat and Mizoram and earlier in Andhra should be an eye opener. This counterproductive nature of prohibition is a global trend and the disasters from the American prohibition era and Pakistani prohibition from the Zia time onwards should act as stern reminder for anyone professing prohibition. One of the most laughable and pretentious acts of alcohol regulation in India is the current ban on alcohol advertisements while allowing alcohol manufacturers to advertize low-selling, almost hypothetical products like music CDs and bottled water that have the same name as their alcoholic beverage. Well-intentioned grass roots movements due to lack of information frequently push for prohibition and so do the self-benefiting NGOs that are merely acting as fronts for converting black money to white through Hawala schemes. One needs a non-prohibitionist, informed grass root movement to set the minds of ruling political elite to focus on the problem of addiction and alcohol abuse in India.

We are also missing well-trained physicians with information on efficacy and availability of de-addiction drugs and an awareness of benefits of psychological, exercise and vocational therapies. Appropriate information to both the health professionals and the family of addicts can result in much needed counseling and support required for anyone wanting to quit alcohol addiction.

I hope as India strives to maintain its much hyped growth rate it also stops its infantile approach in dealing with alcoholism and many other health issues that are part of reason why people’s quality of life is not going up at the same rate as economy. What is needed of people is to be informed of the beneficial and harmful effects of alcohol, shed away taboos that do not serve any good and understand that addiction is a disease that can be cured in most instances and the sooner one intervenes the better one can expect the outcomes to be. What is needed of the government is to have a smart regulation of alcohol that will add to revenue, ensure quality of alcohol, and spread information on the ills of alcoholism without making it the forbidden fruit.

Dr. Sukant Khurana is a New York based scientist, artist and writer of Indian origin. His basic research involves neurophysiology, computational neuroscience, sensory perception, addiction, learning and memory, while his applied research extends into many areas of drug discovery and problems of the developing world. Both his visual art and writing explore the issues of modernization, displacement and identity.

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The Man Who Unlocked the Universe Produced by Lola Karimova-Tillyaeva and Timur Tillyaev

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Lola Karimova-Tillyaeva and Timur Tillyaev

The Man Who Unlocked the Universe is a film that narrates the life and work of the great ruler, warrior and astronomer Ulugh Beg, one of the most outstanding minds in astronomy who also had to live an intense and exciting life in all senses.

Ulugh Beg became an enlightened leader of his time and turned Samarkand, the Uzbek city where he lived, into the world’s great science centre 150 years before Galileo discovered the telescope. The film, produced by Lola Karimova-Tillyaeva and Timur Tillyaev, has critical and spectator support and can be found on digital platforms such as iTunes or Amazon.

This film allows the viewer to meet this somewhat unknown genius and delve into his fascinating life from his birth as a prince to his untimely death announced in the stars he loved so much. This film has a rating of 9 out of 10 in IMDB review and undoubtedly has been a tribute to this leader of the medieval era who was a pioneer studying the stars and the universe.

Lola Karimova-Tillyaeva, the Uzbek producer behind this success

The success and production of this exciting film would not have been possible without the bet of Lola Karimova-Tillyaeva, an Uzbek philanthropist well known in her country for her personal commitment to all kinds of charitable work, especially with the most disadvantaged children in her country. A work she is doing with her husband Timur Tillyaev.

This film has been a personal commitment of Lola Karimova-Tillyaeva and Timur Tillyaev. They wanted to make known to the world the figure of one of the most important scientists of Uzbek origin of all time.

Lola Karimova-Tillyaeva served as Uzbekistan’s envoy to UNESCO for more than 10 years and has been President of the Federation of Gymnastics of Uzbekistan from 2005 to March 2018.

Her strong belief in education, culture and sports as key elements in promoting peace and tolerance also encompasses the cultural realm, and therefore her interest in producing the film The Man Who Unlocked the Universe. She understands that education can act as a bridge between different civilizations helping to overcome ignorance and stereotypes.

In any case The Man Who Unlocked the Universe has become an international success and the figure of Ulugh Beg has been put in value thanks to her.

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PRAMA, the new revolutionary interactive fitness program taking the wold by storm

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This revolutionary new fitness and training method is proving that with the addition of modern technology you really can get amazing results in improving your fitness levels.

The technology used plays a vital role in every training session. This is PRAMA, where you train to the rhythm of music and lights set according to a session programmed to suit you. It add a true sense of fun and achievement. Demand for PRAMA classes are already high as word travels about this new interactive exercise, and it is now the new hot trend in gyms across the US and UK.

This revolution is reaching gyms that are at the forefront of modern fitness, who are adapting their available spaces to cater for this new concept in interactive fitness that combines music, choreography and technology.

But what is PRAMA? The easiest way to describe it is to quote Jennifer Coccia, the Director of Asfalt Fitness in New York, who said that her clients felt as if they were entering a crossover between an arcade game and a playground, “yet getting the best workout of their lives”.

The PRAMA system coordinates music, lights and time and for those who their normal training has become mundane can revitalise that motivation and help them get that joy from working out once again. This is what lies behind the whole concept, bring the fun and party element to fitness, in an immersive, interactive and very motivating experience.

“A crossover between an arcade game and a playground”

The treadmills, static bicycles and all the usual paraphernalia you expect to find in a usual gym are put aside to make way for what seems to be like “a crossover between an arcade game and a playground,” says Marcos Requena, CEO of Pavigym.

But PRAMA is not about improvisation or random workouts. These approaches are not productive for getting the best results. Instead the trainers will push their clients through a series of electrical choreographed workouts, interacting with them through the floor, walls and other areas, to complete a series of exercise circuits with high intensity.

PRAMA is already being spoken about in all the major media, and we are seeing many famous athletes, such as FC Barcelona, Boca Juniors or Nicolás Anelka players have trained using the PRAMA methodology. It is really taking off across cities like New York, London, Paris … all this has only served to increase demand that is exceeding all expectations of the gym directors who have deployed it..

The users of gyms are demanding it because, even though the primary focus of improving fitness and health is still there, because it is provided through a fun concept, it becomes enjoyable for those who previously would have found the work out a real chore. You almost forget you are working out!

What can you expect from the PRAMA experience?

The musical factor is key to the experience, it has long been known that music helps with a workout. PRAMA goes one step further and throws lighting into the mix as well to make it truly immersive. The LEDs work in time to the music and move at the rhythm of those taking part. The walls and the floor are all part of the game.

To give a practical example, those who have spent their childhood playing the Twister from time to time, -the game consisting of putting one foot in the blue circle, one hand in the red one and so on until you can’t do anymore without falling over- can understand a little of what this revolutionary method is about, although in a very simplified way.

Another example is those console dance games carried out at home where you have to follow the choreographed moves, or using a dance mat, is similar and known to be great for fitness and losing weight.

Of course the issue with those examples is that movement is restricted, you can’t stop or pause without the game ending. It is not adaptable to help you achieve fitness goals and it doesn’t help you grow. You can waste a lot of calories stopping and starting.

PRAMA easily adapts to the needs of adults, families, children and athletes

The system is programmed according to each person, be it an elite athlete or a beginner but you can also find programs for children and families. The sessions are 45 minutes and are beneficial for the body and mind, so they can even be rolled out in centers with children with ADHD and other problems, but also can be practiced as a family as a way to improve the time spent together but also improving fitness.

Each 45 minute session can also be ramped up for more intensive workouts, and gives a huge advantage to practitioners of the force program. In this program the floor and walls are complemented by medium to high load accessories, to transition the interactive elements into a more HIIT format that doesn’t work well for everyone.

So there really is a workout intensity for every age group and capability, including an innovative one in which you can play a PRAMA version of basketball, a combination as healthy as addictive, which can only be a good thing when it comes to forming those lifelong fitness habits.

In fact if you know you’re going to the gym, it will make people more inclined to use their membership and actually go, and better attendance means better member retention.

A definitive full body workout suitable for any age and ability, and highly adaptable.

It is not only for losing weight, although results there are pretty good so far with PRAMA, given that it is a system more likely to be stuck with long term. It is also a change to gain strength and agility, and have fun with friends and family.

The ground and walls are sensitive to pressure, and the interactive screens and light combinations that attune to the body’s highs and lows during a workout show just how clever this new system really is.

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Miniature painting: how to get started in this addictive hobby

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Painting a miniature may seem as easy as pie at first; however, any veteran will tell you that giving color to a miniature figure can be a tedious and painstaking job if you are not truly passionate about it. If you do not have the patience, it is advisable that you look for another hobby or hire a good miniature painting service. But for those who are still determined to enter the world of miniatures, here are some tips that can help you paint those little figures more easily.

Keep your workspace organized and clean

Any artist needs their own studio, so if you are going to embrace the art of miniature painting, you will need your own workspace. And, since we are dealing with small figures, having neat, clean one does not only positively affect your work flow, but the output as well. One of the benefits of having an organized workspace is that it saves a lot of time, because it will take you a lot less time to find a tool from a tidy table than from a messy pile of objects, right?

Watch your posture while you paint

Painting miniatures can be a long and tedious process, which means you will have to sit in your chair for hours. Having a correct posture while painting can avoid possible pains in the body that you may experience after working hours. Try not to stoop much when approaching to look at the miniature. You can solve this problem by using a shorter chair, or bringing the miniature closer to your face when you paint it, but your hands might shake a bit – so be careful there to not ruin the work.

Do previous material research

A great deal of people have lost money by not buying the right materials for their figures. So, before going to the mall to get you all set, make sure to research about the right tools, paints and brushes that you will need. Luckily for our generation, Internet i sour best friend, so all you have to do is to type into your Google search the type of figure you are going to Paint, and you will surely find a forum or web where you can answer all your questions. Just be careful to not let your attention deviate from what you were looking for.

Take care of the lightning

When we paint a miniature, we must artificially simulate the lights / shadows that the light would produce if this miniature were to real scale. And that we can do by color variations, Lights and shadows can produce visual changes in volumes and proportions. For example, if we have a face with wrinkles, we can highlight them more or less by playing with the volumes and thus going from creating a face with small facial marks, to creating a very old, creepy one.

Plus, a correct location and shape of lights and shadows can also give a surface the appearance of being composed of one or another material, since light does not reflect in the same way in a plastic as in a metal. In the case of the Warhammer, for example, the same lighting techniques will not work to paint the classics figures and the 40k ones because, as they are set in different time, the costumes are not supposed to be the same material. If you are not sure about how to manage this yourself, there are also warhammer 40k painting service that you can use.

Get started

  • Choose a combination of two or three light colors and a dark one as a balance.
  • Use water to dilute them to make their application easier.
  • Apply a first black or white layer depending on whether you’ll apply metallic or non-metallic colors later, respectively. To apply this first layer you can use spray paint, airbrushing or a hand brush.
  • Apply the following layer with the technique of your choice: dipping, gradients, dry brush, dotted, vitrified, petrified …
  • Small parts such as shields and weapons are best left to the end.

Be patient… And practical

Miniature painting is something that requires patience -a lot of patience, indeed, and it is not enough that you like the theme. For example, in the case of the Warhammer, if you are more interested in playing than in painting itself, it is better not to waste your time and use a warhammer painting service to not get frustrated and be able to focus just on what you really like. But if you are truly interested in doing the painting yourself, don’t despair. It’s not easy at first, but you’ll get better results with time. Even the greatest miniature painters took years to make the works that they exhibit now. You could be the next one.

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