Saturday, 30 March 2019

Children of Divorce

With the changing Indian society and matrimonial choices, the Modern Families in India have also undergone a lot of changes. Separations and/or Divorces have become a more accepted fact, as a result of which single parenthood, stepparents and /or adoptions have become common in India. But unfortunately, in India the legal and social support system does not always consider the welfare of the worst affected yet: Children of Divorce

Today we talk about the most neglected aspect yet our most precious resource: Children of Divorce.

As we all know and accept that two mature parents are a must for the all-round social development of children. Parents who stick together through the thick and thin of life foster positive growth in their children. The standards of living of such couples are of course better and so is their contribution towards their children, society and nation. Many times this is a very big reason for not letting go bad abusive ill-relationships between Indian parents. Every time one of the couple starts talking about a separation or divorce, the close family members try to convince them talking about how traumatic it would be for the children. Ironically, thinking of the children of divorce makes the whole process lengthy, worse and more abusive for them.
And so is the way we look at the situation post-separation or divorce. Post-divorce, ill-feelings and curses for each other are common topics of discussions and in most of the cases the father does not even fight for the custody or meeting hours with their own children. Children start living with their close relatives or grand-parents, if alive or the stepparents. At not a single point of time throughout the whole process, do the parents understand that the marriage was a social contract between both the parties, whose failure or success would be a completely COLLABORATIVE affair! So if it did not work out there was nothing to be grumpy about it but accept it and move ahead!

Many times, couples feel that there would be any long-term effects of the divorce on their children if they are young. But, this is not completely true. Children as young as 06 months old can also sense the tension and conflict in your minds. They may not be able to say it in clear words but yes, they will react to the change and the stress through increased temper tantrums and appetites. And what is worse, unlike teenagers, the toddlers will always feel throughout their life that they are the “CAUSE” of their parents’ divorce and hard times.

What do children of divorce feel?

     1.     Anger
     2.     Anxiety
     3.     Fear
     4.     Emotional Pain
     5.     Social Embarrassment
     6.     Divided Loyalty Issues
     7.     Depression
     8.     False hopes about parents’ reconciliation
     9.     Loneliness/Isolation from groups
    10.   Guilt

What do children of divorce do?

     1.     Toddlers understand that a parent has moved away but do not understand why. As a result they cry, whine, stop taking feeds or bite others.

     2.     School-going children may want to take up responsibilities at home such as paying the bills, emptying the bins, getting their younger siblings ready for school or other activities.

    3.     At times, they may not be able to express their feelings or they may ask their friends or relatives to explain everything about divorces. Some of them may start skipping the school and take on to telling lies, bullying, cheating or stealing things at school.

    4.      Teenagers because they are undergoing a lot of physical changes themselves, will feel repulsive towards the opposite sex. They will also go on to declare that they will never marry in their lifetime.

   5.     Some of the teenagers may also isolate themselves from the parents and move towards alcohols, drugs, perversions or bad company.

How do we help children of divorce?

    1.     Parents need to keep the communication lines open.

   2.  Talk to the children in clear words and warn them if both of you are thinking of separation or divorce.

    3.   Do not, I repeat, do not ever start the blame game in front of the children. Also, do not ever make them party to your guilt or fears. If you are at fault accept it and move on. Children of divorce understand issues related to grownups easily if you involve them in the decision-making.

   4.     Do not disturb their routine activities such as going to school, meeting friends or going to the park or play ground. In case of grownup kids, focus on their academic routines. Do not let them skip any important assignments or projects because of your legal battles.

Changes such as divorce are always better than living your life with regrets. But what both the parties need to understand and accept is that children of divorce in whatever age they deserve all the care, warmth and happiness that parents can give them to blossom into beautiful young minds.

Saturday, 23 March 2019

Suicides in teenagers

The Netflix show "13 Reasons Why" aired last year prompted considerable debate over how the show prompted some vulnerable young viewers to commit suicide. The show depicts the suicide of a teen girl, who posthumously narrates, explaining how others contributed to her suicidal intention. As a mother I could still not make my mind to watch the series although I did download it. Though the show has got into lot of trouble from psychiatrists, pediatricians and health organisations like WHO, one thing that’s good about 13 Reasons Why is that it’s opening up awareness and conversation about issues that are typically hard to talk about, especially between adults and teens.
Suicide is a desperate attempt to escape suffering that has become unbearable. Blinded by feelings of self-loathing, hopelessness, and isolation, a teenager can’t see any way of finding relief except through death. But despite their desire for the pain to stop, most suicidal people are deeply conflicted about ending their own lives. They wish there was an alternative to suicide, but they just can’t see one. That’s when a suicide attempt occurs.
Teenage suicide is a serious and growing problem. The teenage years can be emotionally turbulent and stressful. Teenagers face pressures to succeed and fit in. They may struggle with self-esteem issues, self-doubt, and feelings of alienation. For some, this leads to suicide. Depression is also a major risk factor for teen suicide.Untreated mental illness, especially depression, is the leading cause for suicide. Many teenagers who commit suicide suffer from untreated depression resulting from difficult life experiences. These life experiences might include family changes or illness, loss of family or friends, and feeling lonely, helpless, hopeless or depressed.
Warning signs to look for in Teenagers
Though the act to attempt suicide is often impulsive, teens also offer warning signs. Here are some signs to watch for:
·         Hopeless talk. Phrases like, “Would anyone even miss me if I were gone?” or “It would be so much easier if I wasn’t here,” are worrisome and should prompt you to seek help.
·         Social isolation. If your teen stops hanging out with friends, drops out of activities they previously enjoyed, or is spending a lot of time alone when they previously didn’t, be concerned.
·         Giving away items that have meaning. If your teen gives away items that they previously would have never parted with (such as a favorite article of clothing or an electronic device they frequently use), ask what is motivating them to give these things away.
·         Displays of depression on social media. Monitor your teen’s social media postings. Periodically look at their account. If you see posts that worry you, tell them you’re concerned.
·         A previous suicide attempt. This is the number one cause for concern. If they have previously attempted to end their life and are continuing to struggle, seek help immediately.

 Signs that suggest that the teenagers may have an actual suicide plan

  • Threatening to or talking about wanting to hurt or kill him/herself
  • Creating suicide notes
  • Expressing odd or troubling thoughts
  • Showing a dramatic change in personality or appearance
  • Throwing or giving away or promising to give away valued possessions to family members or friends
  • Talking about not being around in the future or "going away"
  • Searching for and trying to obtain weapons, pills, or other means ways to kill him/herself
How can parents help?
·         Tell them you’re worried. A comment such as, “I’ve noticed you’re not engaging with friends and have seemed hopeless. This worries me. Let’s get help so you can feel better.”

·         Consult a professional. Take your teen to their medical provider for a depression screening and find a therapist. 

·         Escalate to be safe. If you’re worried that your teen is suicidal and you can’t keep them safe, take them to an emergency health service centre for an evaluation.

·         Remove firearms from the home. People who act to end their life often do so impulsively. The time between the thought and acting on it can be as short as a few minutes. For this reason, it is important that if your teen is struggling with thoughts of suicide, take them seriously, and remove objects such as knives, poisons, firearms from the home.

Regardless of your feelings about a TV series, teen suicide is a painful reality that absolutely needs to be discussed. Overlooking this issue simply will come at too high of a cost for too many teens and families each year. Talk to your teen children about suicides and let them know you’re concerned if they are worried, stressed or feel low.

Saturday, 16 March 2019


If our country is to progress, we must maintain high educational standards, and this is only possible if malpractices in examinations are curbed with an iron hand.”
-Supreme Court

Cheating in academics is never the proper way to achieve academic greatness, but it can be an easy way out for any level students. In good old manual days, cheating in schools/colleges was left to hiding notes in odd places or glancing over another student’s shoulder during exams. Teachers were able to catch the cheaters either by visual proof or due to the similarities found in the answer sheets.

In yester years, Cheating held consequences but nothing that could ruin an educational future. In today’s world, technology is so advanced that cheating has moved on to a whole other level. For many it has become an easy and assured means of livelihood too. Computers, cell phones, and hand held devices all add to the cheating craze that has swept high school and college level education. Different technologies provide different ways to cheat that make the invigilator’s job to conduct the exams a bit more difficult. That’s why, the Supreme Court suggested harsher punishments for students found cheating in important exams such as the class X and XII.

Why do students cheat?

The educational system is where students learn these tricks and proceed to carry them on into their professional careers and life in general. Not all cheating is done with ill intentions. Students use the internet for research all the time and there are instances that those who cheat are unaware of cheating. Sometimes, students are not prepared to face the exams and do not want to be looked down upon as “losers”, that is when they opt for cheating. Some others do it as “cool” trick they pull on the teachers. But in all the cases, one thing is common that the students who opt for it are somewhere deep down insecure in life. They do not believe in themselves and their unique capabilities. May be no body has ever respected their individual choices earlier. So cheating seems to be an assured way to gain good grades and appreciation from others.

How do students cheat?

These days, internet comes in all kinds of big and small packages and can offer students the opportunity to cheat more accessible. Students often share information via Google. Some students may find information on internet and use it as their own without properly reading it or determining if it is reliable or not. Some students will exchange emails with answers to test or study only those questions which are important or repeatedly revised in the classrooms which is also a kind of cheating.

Consequences of cheating

Students that copy other student’s work are hurting themselves in the long run. The consequences of cheating in exams or while doing home assignments/projects are:

      1.       Loss of creativity

     Their creativity level drops every time they copy or have someone else do their work. After a while of copying and forging, the student’s ability to think creatively and successfully becomes next to nothing.

     2.       Loss of responsibility:

    Students also begin to lose the sense of responsibility when they have other people do their work. They don’t feel that they have to do anything to pass a class. This creates the feeling that life will always be a handed to them on a silver platter. 

    3.       Lack of sense of Accomplishment: 

The students that copy other’s work never get to feel that sense of accomplishment that comes when the project you have been working on is finally complete. They don’t get the uplifting feeling when they receive a good score in the same project because it never was their work. They use other people to receive the score, but they feel nothing. If they never have that feeling, there is nothing to motivate these people to do better the next time around.


       4.       No gain of knowledge

      People can only learn from the things they do, and if someone else is doing their work, they are never going to learn anything. Making mistakes and learning from them may be one of the most effective methods of learning. For instance, if a student performs extremely poorly on a very important paper, chances are that student will always remember what they did wrong and what would have been better. If people don’t do the work themselves, they can never learn from their mistakes.

Is cheating RIGHT or WRONG?

Not everyone gets caught cheating in life. Many will go on to get good grades on the basis of cheating for a long time in your academic or professional life. But, in the long run, these people will never be able to face the reality that their accomplishments were the result of somebody else’s hard work. So, help your children to choose what is ethically right even if it might be difficult to practice today. 

But it will make them creative,responsible and knowledgeable tomorrow. 

Encourage them to: Become an Exam Warrior! Say NO to Cheating in India.

Sunday, 10 March 2019

Dynamite Defence Minister

He was the most unlikely Defense Minister. He started his political career with a blast when he won an election against an established rival politician named S K Patil and got christened as George the Giant Killer. His active participation in procurement and use of dynamite for blowing up distinct yet distant organizational infrastructures in order to “open the eyes and ears” of the Indira Gandhi government during the Emergency made him the Angry Young Man of the Opposition. As a result of his “chained poster” people from Muzaffarpur voted for him in large numbers while he was still in prison.

Clad in his khadi Kurta pyjama and Kolhapuri chappals, with his unruly hair and spectacles; he played the part of a trade union leader much better than any of his other offices. He headed many ministries ranging from the Industries to Railways before he became the Defense Minister in the Atal Behari Vajpayee government. The Defense Ministry proved out to be as extraordinary, controversial and exciting portfolio for him  just as his own dynamic persona. Here’s a look at his work during his two terms as the defense minister of India:

   1.     Unprecedented Impeachment: The worst blow to the establishment of cordial relations between the civilian bureaucracy and the defense personnel credited to George sahab was the unprecedented impeachment of the Naval Chief: Admiral Vishnu Bhagwat on 30 December 1998. George Fernandes initiated the whole process stating the damage the Chief was doing to the National Security which was clear from his comments on the Sagarika anti-ship missile project, the disclosure of the undercover Operation Leech in the Andaman Islands, violating protocol and communicating directly with the Pakistan High Commission. But another major reason was also his boorish and litigious nature.

     Although George Fernandes managed to lose support from a section of Naval Officers, he won their hearts by becoming the first Defense Minister to spend a night in a submarine. The impeachment was not exactly a victory of the Civilian bureaucracy in MOD, as George always wanted it to be an amicable relation. And that’s why along with the Impeachment came the then transfers of the Defense Secretaries. George was many times asked about his transformation from the Trade Union Leader to the Raksha Mantri and he would say, I was a trade union leader and now I am the Defense Minister. Both are totally different roles. But I am trying to do my job with my complete sincerity and willpower.

    2.     The Awakening of the MOD Baboos: Most of us know that George sahab became
  the most popular Defense Minister owing to his 17 visits (during his short 17 months tenure) to the Siachen Glacier to meet the Indian soldiers even at the age of 74 years.  A VIP visit to any station meant extra work for the unit personnel and obviously extra working hours mean no ME time. Still, what kept people praising him was his simplicity while conducting the visits and the follow ups. Every time he went back to MOD he had already thought about ways to satisfy their special needs and requirements. At times, he used to ask the MOD officials to accompany him on these visits so that they became familiar with the harsh living conditions and cleared the files related to procurement of personal gears and arms and ammunition for soldiers at the earliest.

     3.     Chedne wale ko Chodenge Nahi: The rebellious streak in his decision making and leadership was visible from his early political days. As a trade union leader and further as an Opposition leader during Emergency, he had not hesitated to resort to violent methods to prove his presence. In a similar way, he proved to the superpowers of the world that India was no more just a spectator but active user of Nuclear power if the planned to restrict us. Call it Stealth or a calculated risk; he used one of the most important principles of war to his advantage when he initiated the second nuclear test in May 1998 at Pokhran. He made sure that Defense Research and Development Organisation and Indian Army worked closely in conducting those five tests that marked India's entry to the nuclear weapon club. If a nation’s security is endangered…then there is no question of whether we are able to feed our people or not,” He felt.

     4.     Embarrassing Debacle of Assault: But the opposition could not keep him outside the government and within a short span of seven months he was back in the chair of the Defense Minister when the country needed him to uphold the morale of the country’s armed forces when tensions along the border had intensified.  He had then proclaimed "Get your troops out of our soil, or watch them being thrown out." Further, he went on to suggest “If Pakistan Foreign Minister Sartaj Aziz wants to discuss how the intruders are to leave, we can discuss their safe passage." 

      This was again a surprising stand to take in the hour of a war! 

     Many critics blamed that it was his short-sightedness at not expecting any provocation from Pakistan post-Pokharan attacks and the failures of Military Intelligence that claimed the lives of young, trained officers and soldiers of Indian Army in the Kargil battlefields. What was further shameful was the late arrival of aluminium caskets from US dealers specifically designed to preserve and transport the dead bodies of the soldiers from snow-laden areas and the unnecessary brouhaha created over the Defense Ministry making gains out of the martyrs’ bodies!

     5.     Flying or not Coffins come handy: It was a time when there was a lot of criticism of the Russian fighter jet MiG 21 that also earned it the sobriquet of “Flying Coffin” because of high accident rates in the IAF. At an age of 73, he flew in a MiG-21 to take on the growing criticism on. Following his 25 minute sortie in the MiG at Air Force Station Ambala, the IAF breathed little easy. 

     But that was not all. More was to come in the form of the infamous Coffin Gate Scam. But before that, he got involved in the sting operation from two journalists from Tehelka posing as arms dealers, came into his official residence and discussed financial transactions with Jaya Jaitley, his close associate and an office-bearer of the Samata Party. Once again his personal life had been dragged into limelight through a political debacle. George Fernandes was well known for increasing the budget for defense manifolds as compared to his predecessors. As a result, he became an easy target for his opponents and had to resign from the post.
    Summing it up. 

    Nobody can interpret George Fernandes and his actions as Defense Minister in isolation. His persona, his allies and friends and the times in which he was alive defined the course of his life. The man who ran away from a seminary stating his hatred for inequality between “fathers” of the same sect, spent nights sleeping on railway stations, bringing the city to a complete halt fighting for the rights of poor railway and taxi-workers rose to become: The leader with mass appeal during the Emergency. The Rebel who propagated violence, the revolutionary Comrade who supported organizations such as LTTE and allegedly asked aid from CIA became the man to support and lead the most disciplined institutions in the country: the Armed Forces.

It must be courage and the feeling of camaraderie, of keeping the Country before self which would have prompted the Giant Killer to again and again aim at excellence which brought him back to the role of a Defense Minister. He could have succeeded well as the Minister of Industries, Railways or any other Ministry, but he decided to “Serve the Soldier” even at the cost of personal defamation. With a subtle reminder of how damaging Nuclear Power could be in Hiroshima and Nagasaki through a painting hanging in his office, he went on to enable India and its armed forces in the world with the same Nuclear Power.

RIP George  Fernandes