Saturday, October 25, 2008

Stress!! You must be joking!!

So they had a stress management workshop for all the army wives in the cantonment the other day (in Bhopal, capital city of Madhya Pradesh, India). A noted psychologist was invited to speak on the occasion. All the ladies of the station were invited except the separated families!!

I felt these are the ones who needed the workshop first and the foremost. These are the ones who spend long, lonely, anxious hours day and night. But no! this time again I missed the point!! I have a friend whose husband is posted in Siachen. Few days back when we met she was having severe hypertension which resulted in endless sleepless nights. She was upset because due to security reasons her husband and his men were supposed to sleep in bunkers. Siachen has low oxygen levels plus staying in a bunker reduces them further as a result he was pretty unwell. It seems for all our serving officers and their better halves here in the station thought that she actually didn’t need a stress management class!!

There’s another lady who has not been able to talk to her husband for the past ten days due to difficult terrain. He is deployed at a far off mountainous post. She has two daughters one of whom is a severe case of asthma. The authorities very rightly felt that this mother didn't need a stress management class either!!

Another separated army wife was forcibly made to vacate the accommodation only because of the reason that some serving officers in the station were still living in temporary accommodation. While she a meagre separated wife with two small kids was living in a permanent one!! How could she? Her husband was not serving in the station but at the country’s border, how can she claim to live in a huge comfortable house!! No not done. Plus whats the need to need a stress management class! So let’s see who all need stress management class.

Firstly, are the ones who play mah-jong in the mornings to tear away the previous night’s party’s strain. You know how stressful it is to sleep late and get up late! Second are the ones who need to show off the brand new dress, oh! It can become really stressful when you don’t have an occasion to show that latest addition in your wardrobe.

Third are the ones whose hubby’s promotion is due and you just can’t apprehend how stressful it is if the boss’s wife doesn’t smile back!!Yes! I think these ladies need a stress management class more then seperated ones. You see army is never wrong!!

Contributed by Ambreen from her blog

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Smoking ban in India ?

India has banned smoking in workplaces from October 2 onwards. The aim is to discourage smokers, to make them reduce or quit smoking. Those flouting the ban will face a fine of Rs 200. The law is impressive, but would it work?.

OCTOBER 2 onwards, India has banned smoking in workplaces, public places, hotels and restaurants, offices, courts, banks, schools, colleges, libraries, cinemas, auditorium, restaurants, shopping malls, parks, monuments, railway stations, airports, bus stops, buses, taxis.

The new Smoking in Public Places Rules 2008, which was notified this month come into effect from October 2, birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. The only places where one can smoke will be smoking lounges at airports, restaurants with over 30 seats, smoking rooms and of course or your own home. The fine for violating the ban is Rs 200.

Though an appeal was filed before the Supreme Court, it upheld the government ban on smoking in public places from October 2. The government of India had earlier tried to control tobacco use through Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply, and Distribution Bill, 2003. Key provisions of the law include prohibition on direct and indirect advertisements of tobacco products, prohibiting the sale of tobacco products to minors and prohibition of smoking in public places. But one can see many who smoke in public places. Also cigarette packets sold in India are required to carry pictorial warnings along with the text saying smoking is injurious to health and smoking causes cancer in both Hindi and English. But I still have not seen any pictorial warnings.

India is good in making laws, they look good when drafted and announced, but somehow implementation of these laws is a major challenge. It is not about one sector or area, it is across board.

India had banned children below 14 years of age from work, but go to any state, any city one can see children working in dhabas, restaurants, petrol pumps,brick kilns and as domestic labour etc. Hardly anyone gets punished! India has banned sex selection under Pre-conception and Pre-natal Diagnostics Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) (PCPNDT) Act, but the reality is quite different.

Tobacco laws have been there in India, but still more than 250 million people in India use various tobacco products like gutka, cigarettes and bidis and millions of them die, many suffer with heart and lung diseases because of this habit. The data says one in two Indian men and one in seven women use tobacco in the country. Tobacco causes 40 per cent of all cancer disease in India.

So the fact is that law is good, but the issue is of implementation. I am not sure if we have the manpower to implement this law. Do we have necessary structures, people, mechanisms in place who can implement the laws or will it remain as yet another good policy level declaration, which is not implemented on ground.

Contributed by Anil Gulati