Matured Traditions?

Does our great five-thousand-year-old civilisation has matured traditions? Tradition is the transmission of customs or beliefs from generation to generation or the fact of being passed on in this way.

These traditions are like fruit. Fruits must be eaten, consumed; otherwise, they will get spoiled or rotten. But we forget that to begin with some of these traditions are despicable and are not like a ripe fruit!  Like fruit, traditions become rotten if not changed with time.

I was reminded of a friend who died a few years back, all of a sudden. He was in the early 60 s, and his wife was in the late 50 s. It took its own time for things to stabilise in the family. The sudden death had changed many things in the family, but they were financially comfortable. Life for the lady changed drastically, socially. From Mrs, her title changed to the widow for the society. On one side, she was grieving, and on the social side, things became topsy turvy! In India, all through the year, there are a lot of festivals. Suddenly she realised that people stopped inviting her for celebrations because she had become a widow. The first change expected of the widow is that she should not put vermillion or कुंकू (Marathi custom of putting vermillion) on her forehead when the husband dies. It is supposed to be a privilege of married women or unmarried women. But widows are not supposed to follow that custom. By the way, the lady was running one company as a professional, so honestly, she did not care.

The custom explained above must have started ages back, and continues in most homes, irrespective of the lady’s stature in the society. When and why the tradition started is difficult to predict. But in olden days, a lady without a husband was a liability to the family, and she had no rights. Widow marriages were taboo. In fact, in certain areas in India, the wife would jump into the burning pyre of the husband’s body (many times she was pushed into the pyre). The unfortunate tradition known as Sati was prevalent until about 200 years back.

Opposition to the practice of Sati by Christian evangelists, such as Carey, and Hindu reformers such as Ram Mohan Roy, ultimately led the Governor-General of India Lord William Bentinck to enact the Bengal Sati Regulation, 1829, declaring the practice of burning or burying alive of Hindu widows to be punishable by the criminal courts. These were followed up with other legislation, countering what the British perceived to be interrelated issues involving violence against Hindu women, including Hindu Widows’ Remarriage Act, 1856, Female Infanticide Prevention Act, 1870, and Age of Consent Act, 1891. Despite government laws, Sati practice was reported in certain parts of Rajasthan even in the 20th century.

The origin of patriarchal society must have begun from the days when humans started farming. The male body has always been more massive and robust than the female body. But the female body is designed for the most important and the most stringent function in our lives, the childbearing. Females have been mentally and even physically stronger than males in some respects! I am sure that most of the males won’t even think about giving birth themselves!

Males would perform functions outside the home, and the females would manage home and children. Somehow this got converted into a thought process that males are strong and vital, and females are weak and not so important in the society. But history had forgotten that human life expectancy was low in olden days when these traditions started. The real strength or weakness of a human is known past the age of 50 or now maybe 60!

Now consider my friend’s wife, overall situations have now changed. People live longer and healthier. The age of 60 is now new 50, and people keep on working, living normal lives. They drive, they go to the gyms, and they work professionally or run businesses. They travel locally and internationally. For people residing in cities whether you are strong or not hardly matters; people want to be healthy to work hard and enjoy life. In rural areas, though there is a lot of physical work still needed, things are slowly getting mechanised; so, the strength is not going to be so important over some time!

With such changes in society, why our so-called traditions should not change? When a spouse dies, it is tough and challenging for the remaining spouse to manage life. So, should our traditions try to help them back to normalcy or should we follow old methods to make their life difficult? Traditions are nothing but a way of life, but when the way of life changes, traditions also should be changed. There are no written rules in our religious scripts that after the death of the spouse, certain things should not be done. Death is life’s process, like birth or falling ill. It is like migrating to some other place in their own country or a different country. The difference is that this migration is permanent. We don’t see or meet that person again, ever!

I read one interesting story. Times of India, ex-chief editor Dileep Padgaonkar died some years back. His wife organised a party for Dileep’s friends and family a month after his death. Dileep had suggested that she should invite people and prepare food, and serve drinks that he preferred. I am sure that these people must have really liked the idea suggested by Dileep. In some parts in the UK, if a person dies past the age 80 after living a healthy life, the family throws a party called Golden death party!

People’s thinking is changing, albeit slowly. Our friends now openly discuss falling terminally ill or dying. What does this mean? People are trying to modify the way we live, the traditions! Some of my friends have already told their children about their sickness in old age. They have said that there should be no mechanical intervention like ventilator support!

On the similar lines why the widowed wife of my friend should not be invited for festivals, celebrations and functions? Is it a crime that her husband died? Why do we treat death with deference? Why are we afraid of death? Yes, death is the final adieu to life. Death is the last life process but should it be used to make living difficult for those living? It is a matter for those living to decide how to tackle the situation and manage things. Death should not be used to cut off the living from society! It is a personal matter for that family; tradition should be to take death in stride! I am very much aware that handling sudden demise of young people is tough!

Advertisements

Tango- the Elections!

My friends Nandu suggested I share my views about the Indian elections with others. I am allergic to politics, though I have voted in every election since I became eligible to vote. Maybe I am allergic to politicians! I don’t know; I am confused. Democracy is a necessity of our lives like Roti, Kapda and Makan (Now the latest additions to the need are cell phone and internet!), i.e. Food, Clothing and Home! (For my non-Indian friends!)

Why did I give the title, Tango – the Elections! Meaning of Tango is a ballroom dance originating in Buenos Aires, characterised by marked rhythms and postures and abrupt pauses. In a democracy we expect the ruling and opposition parties to perform the Tango, sharing their views of how to run the country; but our politicians have gone for the last part of the definition, “abrupt pauses”. They take abrupt pauses, change directions, from gentlemanly behaviour switch to use of nonsensical use of language. The attacks this time have become personal, and it appears that there is no end to it! Bad words are used against very senior leaders, Chief Ministers and Prime Ministers. What direction are we taking? There was a verbal diatribe on a lady candidate, below the belt, literally! No pun intended!

When I was in school, India had become independent, and people were thrilled to be allowed to vote. Democracy continues very successfully. (Except for a hitch in 1975) India has adopted electronic voting ahead of all the countries in a big way. We don’t use ballot papers.

I read a story told by Chidanand Rajghatta, TOI US correspondent. He was called in a University to speak about modern election systems in India. At the end of his speech, he was asked to advise the Americans. He said (tongue in cheek), “Outsource elections to India”! There were huge claps all around!

The voting method is where all confusion starts. When parties win elections using the current process, they are ok with the technique. But when they lose the elections, the same method is declared as the vilest system. It gets challenged in the Supreme Court- they have promptly thrown out the petition. Parties catch hold of some engineers who are supporters of that party. These engineers make a big drama of how hacking is simple etc. To overcome such issues, sometime back Election Commission declared a date on which all the parties could come together and prove to EC, how hacking could be done. Not even one political party registered for the event. We make millions of financial, purchasing transactions electronically. Passport system in India is entirely electronic. In India, Visa on arrival is given electronically. But our politicians periodically challenge the electronic process, as an election stunt!

Another issue that is seen this time is the defection from parties. It is on the rise and shows that people are only interested in standing for elections and not working for the party. The usual sprinkling of cine stars is there, and a retired cricketer has also joined the fray.

Another significant change, to worse, is attacking the independent institutions. Decisions given by Election Commission received comments that it is working for the ruling party. Similarly, Supreme Court judgments were twisted to make claims that suit the arguments of the parties. Supreme Court took these people to the task, is a different issue, but such twisted statements waste the time of the Supreme Court.

One state that has galloped ahead of others in “reforms” is West Bengal. Many summers ago, Gopal Krishna Gokhale had said, “What Bengal thinks today, India thinks tomorrow.” Bengal is the land of Rabindra Nath Tagore, Swami Vivekanand,  Netaji Subhashchandra Bose; it is the Bhadralok (prosperous and educated people), Calcutta was India’s capital at the time of British in the initial phase. All industries started in Bengal first.

https://indiatoday.app.link/ylVjmRhPKW

The article in India Today tells us about the anarchy in Bengal. It is titled, “How to rig elections, Bengal style”! I will not go into details as the report covers what is happening today in Bengal during this election. It will suffice to say that the Election Commission acted “Suo Moto” or on its own and disallowed election campaign meetings on a day before the last day, to prevent further anarchy. The indication of such a situation was seen for many years. During the change of government last time, there were attacks and murder galore which continued all through. Shifting of Tata Nano factory to Gujarat was the clearcut signal to the powers that be! But they were too busy appeasing their electorate, and god knows who! I hope India does not start thinking like Bengal, in future!

Another first in this election is that none of the experts can predict anything. No waves are seen, no indication is seen from any patterns in voting. The voter is the ultimate God, who does not talk to anyone. As usual, the caste, religion equations are being discussed, but nobody can come to any conclusion. Most crucial conclusion every expert is saying is that an unstable government will bring chaos to India, but it appears that the opposition may not be able to form a stable government.

In large cities like Pune and Bangalore, voting % seems much lower than most other places. These two cities are cosmopolitan, and the migratory population is very high because of the easy availability of work. The community is young, and for both towns, the voting day created a long weekend. People went away on holiday. Plus transient nature did not allow people to change their voting location from their original city to the adopted city. Times of India has started a new slogan, “Let your vote travel with you”! In days of internet and computers, people should be able “to carry their vote” with them to where they are staying. Technologically it is possible, but the Election Commission needs to change its laws and people should be educated to change their thinking. This change can be connected to something straightforward and doable. For example, if you file your IT reruns from a city A, this can be shared with the Election Commission to change your place of voting. It is just a way it can be done, but it is doable.

What can be done about the criminal records of candidates? Our laws need to tighten further. Another observation is that many candidates become very rich in between two elections. Most of these people never go to the office like you and me; they are not known to have businesses, but where does the wealth come from?

I have discussed mainly systems in Indian elections. One more thing that needs to be tackled is why not hold national as well as state elections at the same time. It will save a lot of costs. Last national election cost Rs.3800/ crores i.e. US $ 0.5/ billion, in 2014! We can assume a 20% increase in five years. If both elections are held together, there will be substantial cost savings. But somehow many political parties are against this. Probably this the cost of democracy!

All said and done, warts and all, we all should be proud of the democratic process India is following. Voting this time is done in seven rounds; these many rounds are needed to manage logistics! After all, we have states like Bengal leading the nation!

Diabetes or DIETese!

Diet5

This blog is going to be an attempt to make us look at diets in a lighter vein. Take your diet seriously but don’t take your self seriously. I get worried when people my age take diets too seriously! But this applies to all age groups. Please do not take this blog seriously, I want people to enjoy their diet!

I am a normal human being who is handling diabetes for the last seven years. I know what diabetes is but here is my disclaimer. My knowledge about Medicine is zero so what I write is based on the internet and social media (which I take with a pinch oh sorry, a fistful of salt) and interaction with others including medical experts. After this brief background of what I think I know, I am going to write about the confusion that is created in my mind with diverse and conflicting information about diabetes.

Ok, let me clarify that the word DIETese is not a spelling error. I feel that DIET is a “sickness” that has recently cropped up and it is spreading as much as diabetes; hence the word DIETese.

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a life-long disease that affects how our body handles glucose, a kind of sugar, in our bodies.

Type 2 diabetes is more prevalent than type 1. Hence I will write about type 2.

The pancreas makes a hormone called insulin. It’s what lets your cells turn glucose from the food you eat, into energy. People with type 2 diabetes produce insulin, but their cells don’t use it as well as they should. Doctors call this insulin resistance.

At first, the pancreas makes more insulin to try to get glucose into the cells. But eventually it can’t keep up, and the sugar builds up in your blood instead.

Some of the reasons for diabetes are

  • Genes
  • Extra Weight
  • Metabolic Syndrome
  • Too much glucose from the liver
  • Bad Communication between cells
  • Broken Beta Cells

Is diabetes reversible?

All the literature available says that diabetes is manageable but not reversible. I know someone who has managed diabetes for more than forty years. Through diet changes, excercise, weight loss and by taking medicines under doctors advise, people are managing diabetes. The drugs that are given are not able to reverse the body condition that causes diabetes. The literature says that very early detection and enough weight reduction can partially repair some of the damaged cells. In that sense, diabetes is partially reversible. But in most cases, since the symptoms are not severe in the initial phase, detection is delayed. Hence chances of cell damage reversal are less.

Following are different methods of controlling diabetes

  • Taking medicine
  • Exercise
  • Diet control and reducing carbohydrates from food
  • Snacking- eating at short intervals of two to four hours
  • Calorie control
  • And many more

I am now going to discuss mainly about diets. I have heard of Tripathi diet, Divekar diet, Bose diet and the latest is Dixit diet. Each one of them has different thinking and ways of managing things. At least I have not heard of Divekar and Bose diets talking about diabetes control; they speak mainly of weight reduction and control. These diets talk about snacking and suggest eating the food that we usually do. Eating more carbs is harmful anyway, both these diets recommend a reduction of carbs from our food. Tripathi diet suggests a diet which is different than what we typically eat. Dixit diet talks of having only two meals a day, but eating regular food.

When I read about these diets, a few questions cropped in my mind. How long should we follow the dieting regime? Should we eat foods during this phase which we usually don’t eat? In Tripathi diet, I understand that eating Jowar, and Bajra Bread (Bhakri) has been suggested. In India, people from different states and areas eat different types of food. In northern India, people eat Wheat and Cornbread. They eat rice only on special occasions. In southern India, people eat foods based on rice. They rarely eat roti or any bread. Jowar and Bajra Bread (Bhakri) is consumed in certain parts of Maharashtra and Gujarat. How can people from North and South adjust to this diet? How long can they eat Bhakri? How long should such diets be continued?

That brings me to the method of testing for diabetes. The first method is fasting sugar and Post Prandial sugar. This combination gives some indication of blood sugar at that particular instant. The second method is HbA1c value; HbA1c refers to glycated haemoglobin (A1c), which identifies average plasma glucose concentration. This value is the average of the previous three months. To a layman like me, the first method is a photograph taken at that instant and the second method is like a video made for the previous three months. To give you an example fasting & pp values were 105/160 on that day but HbA1c value was 7.0! These values don’t confuse me anymore.

I have read Dr Dixit’s speeches where he starts with a comment that his diet is for people with obesity issues. I will share with you his quote from the Times of India. “Giving information about a diet plan that is helpful in an effective weight loss program and prevention of diabetes, Dixit said that his regime is not for the individuals below 18 years of age, and the people who are already suffering from diabetes.”

My confusion starts here. A lot of people who are already diabetic sing paeans of the Dixit diet whereas Dr Dixit is saying that it is not meant for people who are already diabetic. For weight reduction eating two meals a day is an obvious solution. (I am talking of non-diabetic people) If you have only two meals, how much can you eat at a time? By accepting this, diet does not let you eat food at will. If this is Dixit diet for weight reduction, then you don’t need a diet. The simple rule is that if you feast on food all the time and don’t exercise your weight is going to increase.

A lady weighing 90 kgs, went to her doctor and said, “Please help me reduce weight.” On asking what she ate on that day, she said, “I had sweet tea in the morning with a few cream biscuits, had breakfast of potato hash brown and eggs. My husband comes late, so I had a fistful of salted peanuts. He got delayed, so I had two pieces of Mithai before a late lunch.” The doctor said, “Madam you had two full meals before lunch.”

My second confusion. My understanding of sugar values is that when we eat food, the sugar goes up and then starts reducing. In Dixit diet (which is not for diabetic people as per Dr Dixit) after every meal you do not eat anything for eight hours. The gap reduces sugar level in the body, and your body is going towards hypoglycemia. You remain in hypoglycemic condition for the majority of the time. What is the result?  As you are hypoglycemic most of the times, your HbA1c value is going to reduce. Can anyone continue such diet life long?  I don’t think so. To me, HbA1c value reduction due to “Dixit Diet” is a false indication. Once you start your food at regular intervals, your correct values will get reflected.

I have a suggestion for people on Dixit diet. They should wear saffron and live in the Himalayas. You call them, “Hey, let’s have coffee at ten at Vaishali.” “Oh, I am on Dixit diet!” Next week you call again and say, “Buddy Dilip is the town we are meeting at five for some Chat and Bhel.” “Oh, I am on Dixit diet.” How many times are you going utter this sentence? Are you stopping socialising because of your diet? How long do you want to continue? Don’t forget that you can get out of circulation fast. Your friends will have fun discussing your diet. My question is what happens if you take a couple of tablets a day, maintain discipline? Don’t forget that beyond a certain point your tongue becomes very active and demands food which you have been eating for 40/50/70 years. Wear stylish clothes and eat your bhajiya occasionally; don’t take me seriously about saffron. A minor binge is not a crime, don’t keep on thinking only about your diet!

Some of the effects I have observed on people who are on diets (this is my definition of DIETese)

  • People having diabetes (and on diet) keep checking sugar values very frequently
    • I knew someone who would check values three to four times a day and change his medicine dose on his own
  • Keep checking their weight every day
  • Decline to attend programs where some eatables may be served
  • On one on one level, they say that they are always anxious
  • They get hunger pangs if they keep long gaps between two meals
  • Some suffer from acidity
  • Others get migraine

A friend started Dixit diet and declared that his HbA1c value reduced from 8.5 to 7.5 in three months. He was in the US with his daughter and used to eat three ice creams every day. He stopped eating that and ….

Diabetes is manageable DIETese is not!

Notabhai! નોટભાઈ તમે કોણ છો?

નોટભાઈ તમે કોણ છો? This is written in the language Gujarati! In English, it means Notabhai who are you? I have chosen this title as  recent elections in Gujarat brought out this issue forward! Bhai in Gujarati is Brother! I do not write about political stuff as I do not understand many things from that arena. But this is about a procedure in our elections and its significance. What is NOTA? The Supreme Court, in September last year, upheld the right of voters to reject all candidates contesting the elections, saying it would go a long way in cleansing the political system of the country. The apex court directed the Election Commission to have an option of ‘None of The Above’ (NOTA) on the electronic voting machines (EVMs) and ballot papers in a major electoral reform.

Nota

This NOTA facility was available even before Electronic NOTA option. But in that case an individual was required to meet the polling officer, make entry in a register, fill up a form saying that you want to select option “None of the above”! Why people want the NOTA option? This indicates, that the voter finds none of the candidates are worth his vote.

In the recent Gujarat election, it was observed that besides three political parties NOTA option was fourth in the list based on the number of votes captured. That is not a small number, in fact it is a sizable number. In % it was about 2% total valid votes! What is the meaning of this option?

The NOTA option on EVMs has no electoral value. Even if the maximum number of votes cast is for NOTA, the candidate getting the most of the remaining votes would be declared winner. But then why have NOTA when it has no electoral value? The SC said, negative voting would even encourage people who are not satisfied with any of the candidates to turn up to express their opinion and reject all contestants.

It further said that negative voting will lead to a systemic change in polls and political parties will be forced to project clean candidates. If the right to vote is a statutory right, then the right to reject a candidate is a fundamental right of speech and expression under the Constitution.

This momentous decision will go a long way for any democracy! There is no doubt that India is the largest running and thriving democracy. We have been stealing thunder under all the advanced countries in the world, the way we conduct the elections in India. For the most technically advanced country USA, there have been nightmares about voting, counting and in its systems. It seems Florida specializes in them. There have been fiascos in 2000, 2006 and 2012! In one election Supreme court had to intervene and order the recounting to be stopped. Somebody had jokingly said, “Checkup if the counters can count between 0 to 100!” Or was it a serious statement?

You may find this article interesting.

http://www.madrasnow.com/2012/11/us-elections-why-fiasco-in-florida-vote.html

florida_votes_2012

Politics all over the world has been dirty line of work; you are always under scrutiny. But still the politicians have the penchant for foot in the mouth disease! From bribery, secret funds or not so secret love lives, these guys are capable of doing everything! The other day I read during the discussion on “Me Too!” campaign about sexual harassment, a comment was made that in USA if you are lucky to survive sex scandals, you are likely to become the President of USA.

The population world over is fed up of type of people who take part in politics. When all candidates in a constituency “qualify” now we have an option of NOTA! This is a sign of maturing population who may lodge protest by selecting to press NOTA option. Though NOTA vote has no value, it may so happen that without NOTA, candidate A could have won instead of B! Hopefully this will have effect on political parties. They may think twice before forcing certain candidates on populace. Ultimately trying to remain on the winning side is the name of the game! Remaining in opposition, keeps these folks in wilderness of the power game, with “huge loss in income”!

Are the people really serious about offering to serve the nation? Are they so much driven that they are very keen to uplift the society? In India at least, such statements will be a big joke. The dynastic approach in politics indicates otherwise and politicians are here just to loot the system. At least most of them are. If you read about the wealth amassed by such people in a short duration, it is simply shocking. When Income Tax department takes action, there is a hue & cry about political vendetta!

Will NOTA improve the system? It is a positive step in the right direction. There has been discussion of banning candidates depending on punishments meted out to candidates by court of law. But the law itself is such a maze, that we have known of candidates who fought elections from jail! What if one has made an appeal against the punishment? What if one has completed its jail terms? There are always good and bad sides in any democracy. Mind you the other option of dictatorship is simply not on. So, let us hope that we vote in an election in such a way using NOTA, that so called popular candidates are beaten by not so famous candidates!

I will share one small anecdote. Times of India’s correspondent Chidanand Rajghatta from Washington D C, was invited to speak about Indian Election system. Audience was amazed when he shared the details. He was asked, “What can America do to improve its systems?” He smiled and said, ” Please sub contract your elections to India?”