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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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Culture and Lifestyle

Why Do Movies Change The Way People Dress?

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via GIPHY

Movies transcend the silver screen. Apart from being avenues for actors to show off their skills, they also let the great and good of Hollywood strut their stuff. Impacting fashion, then, is inevitable.

At least, it has been for the past couple of decades. Directors and stylists create the looks, and ordinary people try to recreate them as best they can. But why? What makes films the leaders of fashion? After all, they are the original influencers because their reach was far and wide before social media became a thing!

Here are four factors that give Hollywood a say in the fashion industry, and why anything isn’t likely to change.

Escapism

People don’t watch movies to connect with real life. If you wanted to do that, you’d binge-watch documentaries or never turn off the news. No, you sit down to take in a film because you want to get away from life for a few hours. What this does is convince you that the characters are not representations of fictional people, but real. So, recreating their charm and swagger through their outfits seems like the logical next step. After all, you may see yourself through the width of a lens rather than your eyes.

Latest Trends

Of course, actors aren’t regular, run of the mill human beings. They’re part of the 1% of society, which means they get rich and famous perks that aren’t available to others. This means they don’t turn up on set looking angelic – they are morphed into Gods and Goddesses by stylists. Stylists are professionals with their fingers on the pulse of fashion, so they know how to dress people to appear cool or sultry or effortless. The public doesn’t have this type of access, but that doesn’t stop you from copying the styles.

They’re popular for several reasons!

via GIPHY

Pop Culture

It’s hard not to know about the latest pop culture trends, even if you actively stay away from them. That’s because they are everywhere, including on your TV screen. This has been the case for decades, from Morpheus’ rimless glasses in “The Matrix” to Marilyn Monroe’s blonde hair and white dress combo in “The Seven Year Itch.” Part of the reason that movies are iconic, aside from famous lines, is their recognizable outfits. At some point, you’ll see a trend that you love and want to recreate at home because there are thousands of movies/they are derivative.

via GIPHY

Accessibility

Film is one of the most conspicuous forms of media. Movies start their lives in theaters, move onto your screen, and finish in your DVD collection. As a result, you get tons of opportunities to see the latest fashion trends. You’re exposed to it, even if you don’t read glossy magazines or class yourself as a budding fashionista. The rise of Netflix has solidified the effect as your reference points are only one click away in an app or folder on your mobile device.

And, that’s why movies will continue to change the way people dress in the future.

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Weed It And Reap! It’s Time To Design Your Own Garden

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home garden

With our new normal seeing us staying at home a lot more because of the current Covid-19 pandemic, there has never been a better time to invest in your garden. Because people are seeing the staycation as the default holiday this year, homeowners are going above and beyond the annual garden tidy-up and are embarking on a full remodel of their outside area. If you have triffid-like plants overtaking your borders, your lawn has seen better days, there are no zones to enjoy and you can’t even consider dining outdoors, it can be challenging to find the joy in your garden. You need to treat your garden like the interior of your home. Your humble abode is your pride and joy, so this should extend into your outside area.

Gardens are no longer a patch of lawn and a couple of side borders full of plants. There are all sorts of glorious garden styles for you to enjoy depending on how you see your garden being utilized. Will you want a grand, elegant array of blooms? Do you want to grow vegetables? Or are you seeing your garden as an outdoor party area? Take a look at how you can design your own garden using these ideas to inspire you.

Create Some Zones

Gardens serve many purposes. Some days you will be outdoors with the kids, spending some time playing games and kicking a ball around. All you need for this is some artificial grass that is resilient and requires little maintenance. Many individuals aren’t willing to put the mowing time in, and would rather have a permanent lush green carpet underfoot. This is why artificial lawn is so popular. Alternatively, you could plan for a pool out the back. For those kids who are active and a little older, a dip in the pool can be more attractive than the video games on offer inside. All you need to do is source water pump spare parts for your kidney shaped pool every couple of years, get it cleaned regularly and look forward to some exciting outdoor summer pool parties.

Vegetables

Many people are keen to explore the concept of sustainability. This means foregoing any reliance on supermarkets for food, and having a go at being more self sufficient. You could decide to create some raised beds, ready for sowing. Think about the vegetables you love to cook with and eat, and get planting. You might want a couple of rows of parsnips, some pumpkin and some artichoke. If you want to get the kids involved, think about whipping up a greenhouse or some polytunnels, and plant some strawberries, cucumbers and tomatoes. These salad veg and fruit enjoy the more humid conditions.

Al Fresco Dining

If you see the outside of our home as being an extension of your pad, you might want to consider how you can accommodate some outdoor dining. Whether you are having a barbecue or enjoying eating outdoors for a summer dinner party, you need a patio with an awning for cover adjacent to your home. This means your guests don’t have to go too far to sit and eat and relax and chat. Being a host, having your diners outside can be fun and enjoyable in the summer months. You could even give it a go during winter. While chillier, you can create a cozy atmosphere with an outdoor heater, a firepit and some subtle lighting.

Barbecues are also fun for the whole family. You could pick up some good quality garden furniture from a local garden center and enjoy eating some halloumi burgers, marinated salmon and grilled corn at the weekend.

Planting

If you adore flowers and color, it’s time to consider your planting. Don’t just head to the garden center and pick up flowers because you love the look of them without any planning. You need to work out when your flowers will bloom, whether you want all year round color, or whether you fancy some shrubbery or grasses. If you don’t have a green fingered bone in your body, it might be a good idea to pick up some wildflower seeds. These can be left to grow on their own and love nutrient poor soil. All you need to do is mow it back a couple of times a year. Wildflowers also help you do your bit for the environment as they are great pollinators for bees.

If you love an English country garden look, you’ll want traditional blooms. Consider some roses, hydrangea and scented heather and lavender. These are wonderful for those gardens that have a lot of colors: reds, yellows, oranges, and violets. If you prefer a more modern or exotic look, palms and bamboo can be ideal, provided you have the sunlight. Read up on the sort of plants that match well together and draw out your patch for planting. Then you can plot which shrub or flower you will plant where.

Water Feature

If you don’t have the room for a pool, but you still fancy a water feature, consider a fountain or an illusion orb. For a garden to be a relaxing space, the sound of water can add to the atmosphere of calm and tranquillity. Couple this with a hammock or some gentle swing seating, and you can have an extra zone where you can kick back, read a book, have some alone time, or chill with pals.

When you do have your garden zones, don’t forget the finer details. How will you move between each zone? Will you have a tiered garden or do you need to think about paths? Sand and paving come in all different sizes making an easy path to lay. You could opt for a shingle path instead or go for some decking.

Designing a garden can be tricky, so think about getting the professionals in if this gives you more confidence. There are many factors to consider with a garden, but follow this guide and you will soon weed it and reap!

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The best ways to stay entertained at home

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home entertainment

They say that home is where your heart is. After all, our home is the place where we spent most time at. But sometimes, if we lack of the proper forms of entertainment, our time at home can become dull and boring. That is why today we have brought you a list of the best entertainment applications and softwares in order to turn the time you spend at home into the best time of the day.

Make sure your sound systems are on point

Sound is a key factor in most modern media forms. It does not matter whether we plan to enjoy watching a new film or some quality gaming session, if we do not have the proper sound systems, the quality of the experience becomes way less pleasant. 

Many people try to solve this problem by buying expensive sound equipments, but, how can you know if they are working to their fullest potential? The solution to this problem is simpler than you could think, all you need to do is run a speaker test on your sound devices. 

This test will help you realize the quality and range of your speakers, headphones, earplugs, etc. It does not matter the type of audio system you use to consume digital media, thanks to this quick and easy test, you will be able to enjoy the experience at its fullest potential and detect any possible problem your device could have.

Having access to the best apps on the market

Nowadays, we can find all forms of media compiled on different apps. These apps are an user friendly way to present what traditionally could only be found on websites. For example, the popular video page Youtube has its own app with a more user friendly interface for phone users where users can find their videos in an easier and faster way. And same goes for social media apps, game apps, software apps, etc. 

All these apps can be easily found on the play store. The only thing you would need to do is to download Play Store compatible with your mobile device. Once you have installed the latest version of the Play Store, a whole new world of apps will open in front of your eyes. All you need to do is pick your favorite ones and start enjoying them. 

Stimulating our kids

The time our kids spend at home is precious and we should always treasure it. However, we all know that kids get bored easily, so we should always look forwards to productive ways of keeping our kids entertained while stimulating their learning process. This can be easily achievable using music games. Music games are the perfect stimulus for our children. Their colourful layouts will catch their attention while the music will teach them how to differentiate between different instruments, tones, etc. Before they realize, our kids will be learning everything about music in a fun and productive way. 

Learn to dance without leaving your home

Learning how to dance is a goal we often share but that we often struggle to achieve. Knowing how to dance properly is a skill that would always come in handy for social gatherings and for a quick self-esteem boost. However, this would usually imply that we would need to enroll ourselves in expensive and boring courses at dancing schools. But thanks to the recent developments on technology, learning how to dance is now easier than ever. Websites like  www.salsabachatadance.de provide their users with everything they would need to get started on learning how to dance from the comfort of their own homes. From virtual lessons with a 3D instructor to dance sessions using Virtual Reality systems, you can turn your living room into a disco floor and start learning how to dance like a real professional.

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