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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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Common Places To Seek Motivation and Inspiration

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As a social species, we humans thrive on interacting and learning from others. When there are problems to be solved, we can pool together our experiences to find out the right solutions. That’s kind of the basis of how humans have come so far–because we’re an intelligent species that understands the importance of cooperation.

But there’s another reason why we humans like to socialise and learn about one another; because it can help give us direction in life. When we’re struggling to overcome a plateau or need inspiration for something, we can typically look at what other people have achieved, what they’re doing, and also what they could become.

So here are some of the most common places to look if you’re lacking motivation or want to seek out something inspirational to help push your life forward.

Seeking out inspirational figures and learning about them

A surprisingly inspirational and valuable resource that is available to everyone is Wikipedia. We can search up almost anyone and find out plenty of information about them, what their life was like, where they came from, and how they rose to success. We can learn about entrepreneurs that we want to mimic, we can learn from famous people in our field, or we can even learn from influential figures.

But it doesn’t always have to be someone extremely famous. We can also look at people such as Mitch Vanhille, a successful athlete that understands the power of inspiration and shares their journey for others to learn from. Similarly, we can learn from YouTube videos that discuss interesting or difficult topics.

Wherever we look, there is someone out there that could inspire us and give us the motivation we need to break our limitations and reach new heights. We just need to drop any pride that we have and start looking up to other figures.

Understanding a different way of life

Another great way to inspire yourself is to look at another worldview. For example, the process of understanding different cultures can help you embrace a unique way of life. You don’t need to adopt it yourself, but understanding their motivations, what inspires them, and also what compels them can be an amazing way to learn about humans and their actions.

There are so many different ways to approach life that it can really be eye-opening to see how other people plan to make their journey through life. Some people might be hyper-focused on reaching their goals, while others might have a more laid-back approach. Whatever your reasons or motivations, these are both extremely valid ways to tackle life’s challenges.

So whatever struggles you encounter, it’s important to reach out and learn from other people. After all, we’re a social species and we tend to learn more when we start engaging others, interacting with them, and just talking about things. So if you ever need some motivation in the future, we hope these tips can help you overcome life’s challenges and get you back on the right track to your own definition of success.

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DIY Bathroom Repairs Everyone Should Know

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They say “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” but if something is stuck or clogged, one should be on the know-how. Reaching almost a year since quarantine began, people have been spending longer than average locked inside their homes. With this, homes may have experienced more wear and tear than usual, especially bathrooms.

It can be frustrating to feel helpless when dealing with something as tedious as a leaky faucet, a broken toilet, or a clogged drain. Considering this, small do-it-yourself remedies may be resourceful. 

That began said, if challenges are too drastic, larger renovations may be in order. If that is the case, consider commercial bathroom renovations instead. 

For the meantime, these are some nice and easy-to-do remedies than can offer your bathroom a quick fix. 

Uncloging a Bathroom Drain

When taking a shower or washing your hands, having water rise from the drain is the least you would want. Slow bathroom drains are often caused by a build-up of soap-scum and hair. Many resort to using chemical drain cleansers to remedy this; however, these products carry toxic chemicals and can be ineffective at times. 

Instead, use a plastic hair snake. This product resembles a long zip-tie which can bend inside pipes to snag the accumulated gunk.

To begin, remove the drain stopper before inserting the wand. This will require unscrewing and disconnecting the stopper’s horizontal and vertical rods. After doing this, you may finally insert the snake. Once the cleaning process begins, beware: it’ll get gross. As a tip, try to girate or make sweeping motions with the snake in order to grab as much gunk as possible. 

Fixing a Broken Toilet

Dealing with a broken toilet can be a common issue. 

If the toilet won’t flush, check inside the it’s tank. To do so, remove the toilet’s rectangular lid; the lid can be found behind the toilet seat. Look for the chain which connects the flush lever to the plug at the bottom of the tank; the plug is also known as the flapper. If a toilet isn’t flushing, the likeliest answer is that the chain is disconnected from the lever. To resolve this, simply reattach the chain. 

Meanwhile, if water keeps on filling your toilet, it most likely means your toilet is flushing by itself. This isn’t good as it is wasteful. The likeliest reason would be that the toilet has a leaky flapper. To fix this, turn off the water valve from behind/ underneath your toilet. Flush your toilet until emptied. Check the flapper’s size and purchase another flapper. Brands do not matter as long as they match in size. Replace the old flapper with a new one, and voila! 

Replacing a Leaky Faucet

Fixing a leaky faucet often requires replacing the parts inside the handles. To do so, first turn off the hot and cold water valves. Doing this will help prevent any unwanted water geysers from jumping out of the faucet or handles. 

Once you’ve turned off the water valves, check if water is still trickling down. If so, rather than replacing the handles, this means your faucet is in need of a plumber. If it isn’t leaking, you may proceed. 

Pry off the handles and loosen the screws underneath. Once both items are removed, remove the top with an adjustable wrench and pull out all the parts. The best tip is to use needle nose pliers to do this. Head to a home improvement store and ask for help in searching for new replacements. To reassemble, repeat the steps in reverse and test the faucet.

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The 8 Best Christmas Movies to Watch with Your Family

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Movie with Friends

Christmas is the perfect time of year to get together with family and friends and spend as much time as possible with them, but it’s also a time to curl up on the couch and watch those Christmas movies we’ve seen a thousand times. Don’t know which one to choose, though? To inspire you over the next few days, we’ve created a top 8 Christmas movies list to watch with your loved ones during the incoming Christmas holidays. You can easily find them all online in platforms such as movie 4k, Netflix, Hulu or HBO.

Love Actually

One of the most romantic movies of recent times is also one of the most adorable Christmas films, so why not watch or the billionth time? In this movie, director Richard Curtis mixes 10 small love stories that at the beginning do not seem to have anywhing in common, but end up intertwined at the end. Apparently, as he didn’t have them all developed enough to make their own movies, he just left them as optimistic pills. They are very different stories -some euphoric, others tender, others surprising- but all of them to make you grab the handkerchief and want to wish Merry Christmas to the first person you come across.

Serendipity

Some may think that this is one of the most cheesy films in the history of cinema, but there is no denying that the chemistry between Kate Beckinsale and John Cusack is enormous. Serendipity’ is related to chance and the possibility of two people meeting over time and that’s what happens to Jonathan and Sara. The two meet in a department store while looking at a pair of wool gloves; they will connect in such a way that they are going to have a drink and skate to Central Park. When that ‘casual date’ is over, doubts will arise: to exchange the phone or not? To reveal their true identity or not? Destiny will play a key role in them.

Elf

The film follows the story of an abandoned baby who manages to slip into Santa’s sack and ends up at the North Pole. There, he will become one of the elves who help Santa make toys all year round. However, as soon as he learns that he is human, he will go to New York to look for his father. It’s not a masterpiece, but it’s definitely hilarious.

I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus

A classic among Christmas movies starring 90’s TV stars such as Connie Sellecca, Corbin Bersnen and Cole and Dylan Sprouse. The film shows how little Justin sees his mother kissing Santa Claus -and doesn’t recognize his father in the costume-, and he beleives that his mother’s affair is the prelude to their parents divorce, so he tries to keep Santa far away from the house with his bad behavior.

While you were sleeping

A classic romantic comedy that tells how Lucy, a subway ticket vendor, is in love with a man that she sees every morning catching a train. One day, he accidentlly falls on the track; she rescues him and, for some reason, she ends up pretending to be his girlfriend to his whole family. Everyone receives her with much affection except the brother of the victim, who did not buy her story.

Bridget Jones

A good dose of Bridget Jones never hurts anyone, not even at Christmas, and especially if you choose the first movie of the saga -since the second one wasn’t as good and the third and last wasn’t successful at all. Renée Zellwegger brings to life the most clumsy journalist in history who struggles between two men: Daniel Cleaver or Mark Darcy, an old friend of her family who seems a dull, boring guy, but also charming and caring.

Home Alone

Just in case you missed the huge cultural phenomenon that was John Hughes’ big Christmas movie, it needed to be on this list. Starring Macauly Culkin, it tells the story of a young boy who is forgotten at home when his family leaves to Paris to spend the holidays. While the parents try to come back for him, the boy ends up having to defend his home from thieves who are determined to celebrate their own Christmas party by robbing everything in the house.

It’s a wonderful life

Only a director as skilled as Frank Capra could turn a film about a suicidal man into a Christmas classic. Jimmy Stewart leads the cast as George Bailey, a guy who plans to end it all until an angel named Clarence shows him what his life (and that of all his neighbours in Bedford Falls) would be like without him. In a story taken directly from Dickens, it turns out that George has a much bigger impact than he thought.

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