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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

Try These Tips out to Simplify Your Everyday Life

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Everyday life naturally has a way of getting complicated, and spiralling out of control in one way or another.

Especially if you are an ambitious person and want to achieve the most you possibly can in your professional life, while also having a lively and uplifting personal life, it can be very difficult to avoid the experience of being drowned in excessive complexity from time to time.

The thing is, there are many downsides to excessive complexity in your everyday life, ranging from significantly increased stress levels, to a real difficulty with regards to being able to effectively juggle assorted projects and responsibilities.

Try these tips to simplify your everyday life.

Declutter your home and make sure everything has a place

A lot of excess complexity can sneak into your life via a cluttered home, where things just naturally feel overwhelming because of the fact that your mind and attention are constantly drawn to the chaotic nature of your living environment.

There are many different potential benefits to decluttering your home, but one of the key benefits that various home tidying gurus and productivity experts praise about the act of decluttering, is that it helps promote a state of mental tranquillity, focus, and an overall reduced sense of complexity.

So, do what you can to declutter your home and make sure that everything has a place. Contact e-waste recyclers, load bags of clothes to donate to charity shops, and do whatever else you need to do in order to begin simplifying your life and your mindset by simplifying your home environment.

Identify one or two big goals to work towards, and put the rest aside for later

Most of us have all sorts of different dreams, projects, and potential goals that we would hypothetically like to explore and devote our time and attention to, at some point or another over the course of our lives.

Unfortunately, however, trying to juggle too many goals at once is usually a recipe for stress and failure – not to mention a sense of overwhelming complexity, as we are constantly trying to figure out the best way to allocate our time and energy to the various projects we want to make headway on.

One of the best ways of simplifying your life and of focusing your energy, is to identify just one or two big goals to work towards at any given time, and put the rest aside for later.

Do your most important tasks at the start of each day

“Analysis paralysis” is a very real phenomenon, and it tends to occur when we have too many different options at our disposal, and have to try and figure out how best to juggle a variety of factors – such as where to fit in the different tasks and chores that we are committed to each day.

A great simplicity-boosting exercise here is to always do your most important task at the start of each day. That way, everything else is more or less a nice optional extra, and stress decreases dramatically.

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Items every household should have

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Home is where our heart is. Our house is the place where we spend the most time, a place where we should always feel comfortable and safe. However, there are many little problems we can encounter in our daily life, like the arrival of unexpected guests or a sudden flat tire. In order to avoid this, there are some tools and items that every household should have.

Portable tire inflators

Every person in a household has his favorite way of moving around the city from one point to another. Typically, every household would have either a car or alternative form of transportation like bicycles. Because of that, we need to make sure these elements are always on point, and the best way to ensure that is by getting a portable tire inflator

A portable tire inflator is a must in every household. They are the perfect tool not only to check your car or bicycle tires, but also to fill balloons, inflatable boats, inflatable children’s, air mattresses for an unexpected guest’s bed, etc.

You can either keep them at home or carry them in your car’s trunk during any trip you need to make. It is always better safe than sorry, and many unexpected complications can be solved with this useful tool.

Solar inverters

Opting out for renewable energies is now easier than ever, even in our own house. Over the last years, solar energy has become really popular among those wanting to protect the planet while reducing their electricity bills. Solar energy is the cheapest and most accessible form of energy in the world. But if you are planning on getting a solar energy installation for your house, you will need good solar inverters.

Solar inverters convert the energy gathered by the solar panels into the electricity our homes consume.  It is very important that we check the different models available in the market in order to pick the one that better fits our needs and our consumption of electricity. A small investment in this useful tool will translate into a big saving of money over the next few years. 

Sofa bed

It is well known that the living room is the crown of every house and a nice sofa is its jewel. Not only is the living room the place where we spend our leisure time while at home, but the sofa is the place where we tend to do so, offering us the perfect place to relax and watch TV or simply read a book.

However, sometimes we require additional beds in our house and our living room can live up to the task thanks to a sofa bed. Cheap sofa beds are the perfect alternative for every living room. These comfortable pieces of furniture have modern designs that will adapt to your house’s decoration perfectly. At plain sight, they look exactly like any other regular sofa, but with the additional feature of being able to transform into a bed. This can help you if you need a bed for special occasions or if you live in a small apartment and need to save space, since you get 2 types of furniture in one. 

Chlorine dioxide

Health always comes first, that is something we all can agree on. We should always make everything on our hands to protect our family health, and this can be easily done if you buy chlorine dioxide

Chlorine dioxide is a chemical that needs to be in every household’s kitchen. Adding a small dose to your drinking water can kill the bacteria in it and make it safer to drink. It is also very useful to wash and disinfect food like fruits that have been in contact with pesticides or the hands of other buyers. You only need a few drops to make it effective, and it will work wonders in protecting your family, which makes it one of the smartest investments you can do.

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Ways to Modernize Your Entertainment Options

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If you’re looking to do something new with your home’s entertainment systems, your primary focus should be on modernizing it a little. If it’s been a long time since you did that, there are probably plenty of potential options for you to explore. We’re going to explore some of the things you might want to do and what you might want to add to your existing set up. So read on now to find out more.

Start Using Smart Technology

Smart technology is a must in the home these days. By using tech devices that can communicate with one another, you’ll be able to create an efficient and intelligent setup. You can also use voice controls to speed things up and get your technology doing what you need it to do. Explore the smart tech options and decide which will work best for you.

Invest in Gaming Systems That Allow for Retro Fun

If you love gaming but you also want to expand your options into the retro field, you simply need to find a device that makes that possible. Most major gaming companies are now creating their own mini plug and play systems. They’re essentially replicating old consoles with old games pre-loaded onto them. They can then be easily plugged into HD TVs.

Use the Right Streaming Apps for You

Using the right streaming applications is essential if you’re going to create an entertainment setup that’s fit for purpose. These guides by Troypoint tell you what you need to know about setting up a good streaming system that offers plenty of options and value for your money. So that’s definitely something for you to explore; find the applications that you feel are most appropriate for you.

Clean Up the Wires

Too many wires is a major headache in many entertainment setups and gaming areas. With so many devices and consoles, it can be difficult to keep things under control. But with modern cable organization options, it’s certainly possible to get this right. Take the time to keep your wires tidy and in order and use these tools to your advantage. Doing so will make your space much more aesthetically pleasing and organized.

Upgrade the Seating Comfort

If you’re going to get the most out of your tech and gadgets, you also need to make sure that you’re able to use them in complete comfort. Without a good chair and other items that increase the comfort on offer in your space, this will be difficult. Invest in a comfortable armchair and sofa. Or if your focus is on PC gaming, be sure to invest in a good gaming chair instead.

If your old entertainment options have fallen behind the times, now is the time to change that and do something positive about it. A modern setup will offer you a much more polished and fun experience when playing video games, watching movies or streaming TV shows at home.

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