The Indian Express | 1 week ago | 18-03-2023 | 11:45 am
When the television show Balika Vadhu started airing in 2008, it had a social message at its heart and made it a point to reiterate it in every episode. Every episode of Balika Vadhu ended with a long quote that basically summarised why child marriage was a bad idea, and how the practice ruins the lives of the countless children who are pushed into it before they can even decipher what’s best for them. Balika Vadhu consistently repeated that the practice of child marriage was a product of patriarchy aimed at marginalising women and suppressing them even further, and was an offensive idea from the beginning.But, it seems like director Tarun Majumdar, who made the film Balika Badhu in 1976, was living in a bubble when he made a film that showed this practice as if it was the best thing that could happen to the institution of marriage. Balika Badhu has two teenage married couples who are both enjoying beautiful marriages, which in itself is quite unreal, so it seems like the director is trying to underline that perhaps marriages are only successful when kids are forced into them at a formative age, and they have no choice in the matter.The first couple here – Amal and Rajni, played by Sachin Pilgaonkar and Rajni Sharma, are shown as the central protagonists. If this was a film of teenagers falling in love, one could possibly see it as a cute story but the idea that these two kids are now married makes it uncomfortable. The lack of any course correction from the director’s lens makes it unbearable, as Majumdar pays no heed to the fact that how such a portrayal would impact his audience. He is so consumed by the love story of the children that he glosses over the boy trying to make out with his young wife, and her getting extremely repelled by his move. Majumdar set the story in the 1920s, thus trying to justify that this is a tale of another time but the lack of a critical lens here makes the film excessively problematic. It’s like watching Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmaavat, and watching him glorifying the practice of jauhar as if it was something to be celebrated, instead of actually dissecting the practice. There are many uncomfortable social realities that exist around us, but movies aren’t supposed to celebrate them, they are supposed to critique them and examine their repercussions.Amal is tutored at home in the film, but his new wife doesn’t get an education, and we are asked to accept it at face value. For a while, you suspend your beliefs assuming that women going out to study must not be acceptable in the 1920s, but there too, the director shocks you when a dialogue casually implies that women in this universe are studying at university but our poor child bride will never get that chance.There’s another couple in the film – Chandra and Sharat, played by Kajri and Asrani – and we often see them stealing moments with each other which would have come across as adoable until we find out that Chandra, who is still a teenager, is pregnant. This might be the reality of women living in the 1920s but nothing justifies a filmmaker telling this story in the 1970s while completely ignoring the ills of the system that turned young girls into baby making machines, restricted them to their household, and ripped them off all their independence.The song ‘Bade Ache Lagte Hain’ is this film’s lasting legacy, and it is still one of the most popular songs that’s seen as a reminder of true love. Only if those celebrating their love with this song could see how it was used on a teenage married couple, would they know that the story being celebrated here is nothing to be proud of.
He has been on the death row for about 25 years, after being arrested for murder and sent to Pune’s Yerawada jail. During all those years behind bars, this primary school dropout taught himself Marathi and English, and obtained an MA in Sociology. But for the Supreme Court, what really mattered when setting Niranaram Chaudhary free on Monday was a date from the admissions register of a school in Rajasthan’s Bikaner.The register, from Rajkiya Adarsh Uch Madhyamik Vidyalaya in Jalabsar, showed that Chaudhary had dropped out of Class 3 on May 15, 1989.And so, the apex court ruled that he was a juvenile while being sentenced to death in 1998 with two others for the murder of five members of a family, including a pregnant woman and two children, in a “rarest of the rare” case.On Monday, a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court, headed by Justice K M Joseph, directed that Chaudhary “be set free forthwith from the correctional home in which he remains imprisoned, as he has suffered imprisonment for more than 28 years” after his arrest in 1994.Chaudhary’s death sentence had earlier been confirmed by the Bombay High Court and twice by the Supreme Court in 2000. However, abandoned by his family at the time of conviction, Chaudhary’s name and age were incorrectly recorded by the Pune court that awarded him the death penalty. In 2018, with the intervention of Project 39A, a criminal reforms advocacy group based in National Law University, Delhi, Chaudhary moved the Supreme Court again.He also argued that his actual name was Niranaram, which was wrongly recorded by the court as “Narayan”.In January 2019, the Supreme Court had referred the case to the Principal District and Sessions Judge in Pune to decide on Chaudhary’s status as a juvenile at the time of conviction. The inquiry led to the school admissions register in Jalabsar.“Apart from the documents of the school, there is a family card, to which we have referred to earlier. The date of issue of Family Card is 1989 and, in this card, issued by the State Government, Nirana’s age is shown to be 12 years,” the Supreme Court said in its final verdict.“Going by that certificate, his age at the time of commission of offence was 12 years and 6 months. Thus, he was a child/ juvenile on the date of commission of offence for which he has been convicted, in terms of the provisions of the 2015 Act. This shall be deemed to be the true age of Niranaram, who was tried and convicted as Narayan,” the Supreme Court said.Anup Surendranath, director of Project 39A, told The Indian Express that Chaudhary is currently in a jail in Nagpur. “Once the Pune Sessions Court orders his release, the Nagpur prison will set him free,” he said.
You may have often been alerted about the stimulant properties of coffee (or equivalent sources of caffeine) in elevating your blood pressure (BP) levels but so far, no clinical study has been able to prove that coffee-drinking is bad for hypertension. Of course, as with all foods and beverages, doctors advise coffee consumption in moderation simply because it does spike blood pressure temporarily before settling down and is, therefore, considered a stressor for those already hypertensive.Explains Dr Balbir Singh, Chairman, Cardiac Sciences, Cardiology, Cardiac, Electrophysiology-Pacemaker, Max Hospitals, “The BP spike is very temporary and then goes down, so one cannot say that coffee-drinking has a significant long-term effect on BP. This is the reason why we advise people to measure their BP for trustworthy readings 30 to 45 minutes after they have had their cup of coffee. It is for the same reason that we advise people not to have coffee before they undertake any intense physical exercise or strenuous activity which can raise your BP. Even then the BP response varies from person to person. Some studies have shown that in habitual coffee drinkers, the spiral effect reduces over time as they develop tolerance to the brew, compared to non-regular drinkers. Why this happens is yet to be pin-pointed. Some researchers believe that caffeine blocks a hormone that widens our arteries. Others attribute the BP spike to coffee spurring the release of extra adrenaline. At the same time, latest research on caffeine, particularly over the last year or so, has focussed on the encouraging effects of antioxidants and flavonoids present in coffee in reducing overall inflammatory markers in the body.”What worries Dr Singh is that all available research on coffee in the West is done with the way the brew is had there, which is black. “So even if research finds no convincing correlation between drinking coffee and hypertension, it would not apply to the coffee-drinking culture in India. We have our coffee with a lot of milk and sugar and that’s harmful for the body at many levels. Latest research says sweeteners too raise the risk of blood clotting, which is worrisome for heart health. But one to two cups of black coffee are not as worrisome. I have black coffee myself,” says he.Given that coffee is a stimulant, a cup increases your BP by five to ten points for a short period of time. Says Dr Udgeath Dhir, Director and Head of Cardiothoracic and Vascular Surgery (CTVS), Fortis Memorial Research Institute, “This is a rise similar to when we exercise. In a two-year study of 45,589 men, between the ages of 40 and 75, which was released last year, researchers of the Harvard Medical School found no link between coffee consumption and the risk of coronary artery disease even in heavy drinkers. While regular coffee was found to be safe, they found a decaf version to be associated with a slightly increased risk of heart disease, though it claimed the link was weak. Studies have found that coffee does not seem to disrupt the heart’s rhythm, even in recent heart attack patients.”The Harvard Medical School last year even published the findings of a study by US and Swiss scientists on 15 volunteers, who didn’t have a high blood pressure and six of whom were just habitual coffee drinkers. According to the study, “The researchers monitored each volunteer’s blood pressure, heart rate and sympathetic nervous system under four conditions: before and after drinking a triple espresso, before and after drinking a decaffeinated triple espresso, before and after receiving 250 mg of caffeine by intravenous injection, and before and after an intravenous placebo (salt solution). A triple espresso caused quite a jolt, and it did jolt blood pressure readings. But although blood caffeine levels rose to a similar degree in all the subjects, not all experienced a rise in blood pressure. In fact, espresso did not boost the pressures of habitual coffee drinkers, though it raised systolic pressure readings on average by 13 mm Hg and diastolic pressures by 7 mm Hg in subjects who were not coffee drinkers. Espresso is strong stuff, but an intravenous slug of caffeine should be even more potent. Indeed, blood caffeine levels rose to the same degree after the caffeine injections and the espresso. But the straight-up caffeine had a much smaller effect on blood pressure than the espresso, boosting systolic blood pressure by an average of just 6 mm Hg. Moreover, the coffee drinkers and the non-drinkers responded similarly to intravenous caffeine.” A review of 34 studies showed that two cups resulted in an average increase of 8 mm Hg and 6 mm Hg in systolic and diastolic blood pressure, respectively.Dr Dhir’s advisory is avoiding coffee before sleep as it could interfere with the restorative process of cell repair. “Coffee is a sleep disruptor. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says 400 milligrams a day of caffeine is generally safe for most people. However, if you are already hypertensive and worry about its spiking effects, no matter how temporary, limit yourself to two cups a day,” he says.Far more important is the way we control blood pressure through moderate physical activity for anything between 30 and 45 minutes five times a week. “A cup or two of coffee won’t harm us but ignoring high blood pressure levels or avoiding lifestyle correction means that the resultant condition could impact your vascular system, damage arteries, affect the aorta and end organs,” warns Dr Dhir.
Priyanka Chopra first moved to the US when she was only 12 years old and in a recent chat with Dax Shepherd, the actor said that she felt the need to change her accent “every week” because she was trying to fit in. Priyanka said that she felt that she had to “dramatically” change her accent because when she spoke to her peers in school, they wouldn’t understand what she was saying.“I tried a new accent every week, to try to fit in,” she shared and said that this didn’t work for her because she “left America” even before finishing high school.“I felt the need to dramatically change my accent when I was in school because if I said something, the next sentence would be ‘huh? excuse me?’ ‘sorry, what?’ It gets so annoying after a point. You know, people debate this a lot about immigrants who come in and their accents change, it’s basically making it convenient for another person,” she said.Priyanka, who is married to American musician Nick Jonas, said that when Nick travels to India, his accent changes too as he is trying to make it convenient for those around him. “My husband, for example, he is American. When he comes to India, his accent changes. In English, he has a little bit more of an Indian English accent because he is trying to make it more convenient for everyone who hears it a certain way,” she shared.Priyanka Chopra has previously shared that she first moved to the US for school but faced some racism and bullying and ultimately ended up moving back to India to finish her school. “I was living in Bareilly, from there I went straight to Boston and joined school there. I didn’t know how to fit in. Also, I faced some racial issues. Some girls called me ‘browny’ and I was typecast, pointed a finger at for being Indian,” she shared in 2012 at India Today Mind Rocks Youth Summit.
The Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) Tuesday extended the deadline for fresh and re-registration applications for online and online distance learning (ODL) courses. Candidates can visit the official IGNOU website — ignouadmission.samarth.edu.in — to apply for ODL, online programmes.Interested candidates now have time till March 31 to apply for online, ODL courses.Step 1: Visit the official website– ignouadmission.samarth.edu.in or ignouiop.samarth.edu.in.Step 2: Click on new registrationStep 3: Enter your details such as name, phone number, email address and moreStep 4: Once registered, login using your registered username, password and security captchaStep 5: Fill the application formStep 6: Save, submit and pay the feesStep 7: Download the application form for future referenceThe IGNOU registration deadline has been extended several times. Earlier, it was extended till March 10, then till March 14, March 27 and now till March 31However, candidates should note that this extension is not for certificate and semester based programmes, and for other courses (both online and ODL mode)..
Our brave soldiers serve the nation with commitment and conviction, often leaving their families behind. They sacrifice their lives and it is only because of their “shahadat” (martyrdom) that we are safe in our homes today. It is not enough for the government to just give compensation packages and say that it has fulfilled its duty — rules regarding compensation should also be tweaked with time and on a case-to-case basis.As of July 2022, a total of 307 Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) and Assam Rifles (AR) personnel sacrificed their lives in the line of duty in the five preceding years. As many as 156 army men and three IAF personnel were killed in terrorist attacks as well as counter-terror operations in the last five years. In the same period, 819 armed forces personnel committed suicide, with the Army reporting the maximum number of such cases at 642. These figures are an indication of the conditions — including staying away for long from their families — under which our soldiers perform their duties, which often results in mental health issues as well.The recent protests by the widows of Pulwama martyrs in Rajasthan are a grim reminder of the challenges faced by the families of soldiers who have made the supreme sacrifice. It is heart-wrenching to see them struggle to claim the benefits due to them, and running from pillar to post. The government should go out of its way, if needed, and ensure that the rules meant for the welfare of those who survive soldiers should not become a tool for denying them their legitimate demands. The protesting veeranganas (wives of jawans) were detained by the police and treated unjustly. They wanted certain demands to be fulfilled, which would require some amendments in the rules governing the welfare measures meant for families of martyrs.Consider some of the global practices when it comes to the welfare of the families of martyrs: The US provides financial assistance through the police department or local government to help families of fallen officers cover immediate expenses such as funeral costs, housing, and other expenses. The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund provides financial assistance, scholarships, and other support to the families of officers who have died in the line of duty. Similarly, the Fraternal Order of Police provides financial assistance and other support to its members and their families. The UK has schemes like the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme to provide compensation to military personnel who have been injured, are ill or have died as a result of service and War Disablement Pension schemes to provide tax-free financial assistance to military personnel who were disabled in the discharge of their duty.As a country which takes pride in its soldiers, we should listen to the legitimate demands of the veeranganas. The issues they have raised relate to the sentiments of the common man and are above any political considerations.Three major concerns must be addressed. The first is the demand for flexibility in the rules for providing jobs on compassionate grounds. This is a major bone of contention between the government and the veeranganas. The latter have demanded that not just the children of martyrs, but other members of the family, including brothers-in-law, should be given government jobs on compassionate grounds. The government’s argument that if the rules are altered for one case, then the future of all the children of the martyrs will be compromised, is technically sound. If the rules are amended to include distant family relations then they can also be used as a tool to blackmail the widows and pressure them for jobs, shunning them in case they fail to do so.It is argued that if the children are not academically brilliant or are unable to complete their education due to health issues, accidents etc., then having a job reserved for the family will secure the future of the child. The government should be liberal and amend the rules to remove any kind of restriction on the number of children of a martyr who are entitled to jobs on compassionate grounds. One child getting the job and his or her sibling being denied the same is unfair because the loss is equal for both.Second, there is a demand for the construction of multiple statues of martyrs. If other public figures have the privilege of having statues erected in different parts of the country, why can’t we have the same provision for martyrs? The government should amend the rules and a provision can be added that in case of more than one statue, it can involve local bodies like panchayat and municipal administration, local MLAs, NGOs and bhamashah (philanthropists) who can make matching contributions to the extent of 50 per cent for the construction of memorials or statues of martyrs. The government can also utilise corporate social responsibility funds for the same. These statues are not just brick-and-mortar structures, they are symbols of the sacrifice of our martyrs which will inspire the generations to come.Third, a department of welfare for the families of the martyrs, both at the central and state level, should be set up in order to facilitate social security benefits for them. The department should be allocated funds to provide housing grants to the families of the martyrs; marriage grants for their children; financial aid in the form of education, medical care and housing; in addition to offering counselling services to assist them in coping with their loss. By making these additional resources available to the families of those who have been martyred, we can demonstrate our support for them.The department should also work on providing benefits/concessions on utilities, free transportation via air, rail and bus, and benefits for the purchase of prescription medication and other healthcare services to the families of the martyrs. The issue of the welfare of the families of the martyrs is one that goes beyond politics and the solution has to be rooted in a rights-based approach.It is important to bear in mind that these families take pride in their sacrifice. Given the current state of affairs and the apathy of the administration, there is an urgent need for the sensitisation of not only the bureaucracy but also political leaders while dealing with these issues.The writer is Congress MLA from Osian (Rajasthan)