Sunday, December 16, 2007

Violence in Children

A Psychological Viewpoint

Two school children in Gurgoan take one of their Dad's gun and shoots a student from the same school who has been humiliating them.There is a public outcry.Violence is on the rise.Too much violence shown in the media,even glorified in films and TV which are affecting children.Media only reflects society.people at large resort to violence because it pays especially when they can get away with it thanks to their nexus with politics and law enforcing agencies.These are the substance of public furor whenever the act of violence is reported.How far are they born by facts?

There is of course a definite increase in the reported incidence of violence over the periods, yet, it is more often due to the fact that it is increasingly more noticeable now than before thanks to the closely knit world and effective media of today.The evidence on the media impact on violence is also not unequivocal or at least more complex than popularly assumed.The criminalisation of politics and the use of violence to achieve the ends is all there to see which has a strong bearing on the minds of children,leading them to indulge in violence, but who cares? Media of course can not be blamed.

Frustration-Aggression hypothesis, an outcome of one of the earliest work in Psychology of violence, states that aggression is the immediate reaction to frustration; the frustration in the gratification of needs such as hunger,sex,belongingness,love,esteem and self-expression.As the move towards the goal for the satisfaction is blocked, the immediate reaction to that barrier is 'flight' or 'fight' (escape or attack) and who takes to flight and who takes to fight is an interesting analysis by itself in the development of Personality meriting consideration separately.The outcome to these reactions will determine the further course in the development of aggressive behavior. The 'normal' person is the one who sees or made to see by people in the environment, the futility of these reaction in the long-term satisfaction of one's needs.

The psychoanalyst would say that it is the poor development of the Superego ( conscience and ego-ideals,social mores and values ) owing to inadequate and improper parenting thereby resulting in the urge for immediate gratification rather than a delayed one.This is also a deficit in the socialisation process of the child.People who are vulnerable to violence have low frustration tolerance or tolerance of uncertainty and have very little effective stress coping behavior.Violence depicted in the media may impact only such vulnerable children.

The Operant analysis of behaviour,another most influential work in Psychology,states that the consequence of behaviour shapes behaviour.When the behaviour is performed, or emitted as they say,what happens to that behaviour will determine whether it is strengthened or weakened.Consequences for our actions are always in the hands of people in the environment.When the temper tantrum thrown by the child will alone scurry the mother to turn around and feed him, throwing temper tantrum is strengthened and child will resort to it only when in need. When aggression alone fetches what one wants, one would retain aggression.

The 'Modeling Effect',an extension of Operant analysis of behaviour,demonstrates how behaviour is adopted by imitation and copying. behaviour of models/heroes in various situations in life seen in films or real life is copied by the child especially those which have yielded desired results.As the Sanskrit saying goes 'yatha raja tatha praja',as the king so the citizen.Bhagavadgita puts it even more tellingly:

Yadyadacharati shreshtaha tattadevetaro janaha / sa yatpramanam kurute lokastadanuvartate// Whatever a great man does is followed by others; whatever the standards he sets up, the world pursues it.

A society where aggression alone 'pays' immediately and handsomely and where the negative consequences of aggression is either not there or come rarely or sometimes after a long time, is no deterrent of violent behaviour.

The negative consequences for undesirable behaviour should be immediate,fairly consistent in time and should be resorted to by all concerned ( no dad-granny or law-politics difference there ).

At the same time, the desirable behaviour also needs to be reinforced immediately,consistently and by all concerned, so that options could be easily seen and adopted by the child.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Sigmund Freud on Life

A friend in the Internet, a Zoology teacher in a College,asked me recently a brief on Freud.The gist of my reply on two emails is this blog.

Stimuli,both internal and external,impinge on the organism always.Stimuli creates tension.The goal of life is to mediate among these stimuli and maintain a relatively tension free state:this is the Principle of Constancy,very similar to the concept of homeostasis.Claude Bernard,a physiologist, applied homeostasis to 'milieu interior', whereas Freud referred to the whole of the organism including psychological and social processes.Freud calls this processes of tension free state as governed by Principle of Nirvana also.

There are two major set of stimuli to which mediating and warding off tension is not that easy thanks mainly to varieties of psychosocial factors and hence they remain within the system controlling and determining behavior. They act as Basic Urges,Psychological Instincts, the driving force of behaviour. They are Life and Death Instincts ( also known as Eros and Thanatos,Libido and Destrudo,Love and Hate Instincts ).

Personality of the individuals is formed to handle the above urges during the first five years of life consisting of three main components representing the three major realm of our existence : biological reality (consisting of body needs) named as ID, the physical/environmental reality, named as EGO and the sociocultural reality, named as SUPEREGO. The urges are tossed around among these domains. Id is a Latin word meaning literally 'that'very similar to the word 'tat' in Samskrit used in Upanishads.It refers to very basic,fundamental,all powerful and embracing reality. For Freud,it represents all that one inherits,the basic instincts and urges.It resides in the deepest core of the Unconscious.It always seeks immediate gratification and is governed by pleasure (relief from tension) principle.Whereas Ego is governed by reality principle and is for delayed gratification of the urges in the sense that although it is in the service of the Id only,it needs 'objects'in the actual environment to satisfy and hence beckons the Id to wait until such a time when it is available and feasible.Ego has no moral qualms.The Superego,the moral and sociocultural representation in us reckons not just availability out there but its long term consequences and the experiences of generations of people with those objects of satisfaction. Accordingly,often,the Superego may not allow (or forbid) the Id impulses the gratification.When such forbidding (repression) becomes too much the individual may break down.The whole scenario may be presented thus :

1. Ego > Id + Superego = Normal.Healthy person as he is able to exercise control on bodily urges as well as on moral cumpulsions.In other words, Ego being the master of the situation is able to manipulate the environment to satisfy the Id without hurting the Superego. This is the art of living!

2. Superego > Id + Ego = mild mental disorders,called Neuroses as basic urges are left unsatisfied because of over imposition of mores and morals.

3. Id > Ego + Superego = severe mental disorders,called Psychosis as urges are running riot without wherewithal with no rationality (weak Ego) working towards objective satisfaction of needs.

Id's crave for immediate gratification of needs , often at any cost and without any wait make it indulge in a activity called Primary Process governed fully by Pleasure Principle wherein the need gets an momentary hallucinatory wish fulfillment by daydreaming or through creative process such as writing fiction,poetry and painting.Whereas Ego follows Realty Principle governed by Secondary Process characterised by logic,reasoning and reality testing to get the needs gratified.

The interplay of the above dynamic forces may take place at any one of the three Levels of mental state : Conscious, Pre-Conscious and Unconscious. Conscious part in any individual at any given time is very little, only a "tip of the iceberg",quite a lot of it is hidden in the Unconscious as they are forbidden impulses by Superego/Ego.The domain of Pre-Conscious also consists of forbidden things but not so strongly,they may be recollected to Conscious with little effort.The Unconscious material can never be retrieved to conscious except by a special process such as Hypnosis or Psychoanalysis involving Free Association Technique,Dream Analysis,Behavior Interpretation and Catharsis.Psychoanalytical Therapy is all about these technique and processes.

The Unconscious forces (forbidden and unfulfilled wishes) represented mostly in Id can not wait for psychoanalysis or indulge in Primary Process alone. It must find its expression somehow and find some sort of fulfillment without hurting Reality (Ego) or society (Superego).Hence the Ego often employ different degree of deviant measures such as Repression,Denial,Suppression,Reaction Formation,Projection, Displacement, Insulation and Sublimation to defend itself from the onslaught of Unconscious forces - it is called Defense Mechanisms - wherein a 'temporary,momentary,hallucinatory wish fulfillment' takes place and wards off the accumulated tension for a while. When these mechanisms also fail or these mechanisms are exclusively depended upon without taking recourse to reality testing measures the mental disturbances set in.

Lastly, the most controversial and misunderstood aspect of Freud's thought is Psychosexual Stages.For Freud, sex (he used the term 'trieb' in German) meant all those relations where any two or more human beings come in close physical contact and as such it involves parent-child relationships and friends or those involved in sexual contacts.Freud also pointed out that body has several erogenous zones other than genitals such as lips,breasts, anal regions and urinary processes all of which gives pleasure when stimulated.Hence when the child sucks breast it is "sexual"(close physical contact). Psychosexual Stages of development involve five stages : 1. Oral Stage ( 0 - 1&1/2 years of age ), Anal Stage ( 1&1/2 - 3 years ), Phallic Stage ( 3 - 5 years ), Latency Stage ( 5 - 12 years ) and the Heterosexual Stage ( 12 - 15 years ). Fixation to any one of these stages before the year 12 during development poses serious problems for personality and mental health later on. Child is the father of the adult,the first five years - formative years - determines the whole of life.For instance, fixation at the oral stage make people dependant,anal-rigid, phallic-doubting and uncertain and latency-homosexual intents.

The famous Oedipus Complex occur around the age of three in the phallic stage.Male child stimulated on the body by opposite sex including the mother gets excited "sexually" and would 'dream' sexual relations with mother. The Complex was named after a Greek tragedy Play where King marries his own mother without of course being aware of it. Similarly, in the female sexual excitement by the touch of opposite sex is known as Electra Complex. Parents should handle them delicately by neither overindulging or under indulging but through moderation wean the child away from such desires to other useful pursuits.Both over protection and under protection would contribute to fixation and hamper the child development seriously.

Freud also has definite views on God ( Moses and Monotheism ), Religion ( Totem and taboo ), art and culture ( Leonardo DaVinci / Hamlet ); for Freud, they are essentially defense mechanisms,a momentary-hallucinatory-wish fulfillment, a futile attempts to ward off tensions.

People mistake Psychology as all Freud! Psychology as a discipline in the Universities was there much earlier to Freud. In fact Psychology did not accept Freud even after fifty years of his work and practice as it had all sort of unverified and unverifiable hypotheses. It is only in the 1950's psychology begin to experiment and was able to accept only some of his theory such as Unconscious,Personality Structure ( Id, Ego, Superego ), defense Mechanisms but never, even now, the Psychosexual Stages.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Corporeal Punishment for School Children Banned in India

Government has recently banned corporeal punishment including threats for school children as there were reports of gross abuse of students by teachers by beating and other physical threats resulting in some cases grievous injuries and even death or suicide.However many teachers are not happy with the ban as they feel that a powerful tool to discipline the pupil for his own as well as organisational and family benefits has been taken away just because of some stray cases of abuse.Debate, discussion and even protest is going on among the teachers and public.

There has been lot of research, mainly by Psychologists,on the effect of punishment including physical ones on behaviour.The effect of Punishment is found to be unpredictable and often unintended too.Use of external force to control can at best only suppress the undesirable behaviour but may not erase it.Even the suppression would be temporary as moment the external force is absent or away the negative behaviour surfaces.Continous external monitoring of behaviour without any let up is not only impracticable but also can damage the development of personality of the child.Further,the internalisation of values to guide behaviour on its own without external threat which alone is the stable and lasting solution to weed out the negative behaviour will not take place when punishment is resorted to control child's actions.Cognitive restructuring will not take place when values are not internalised,and hence,child belief in his action is unaltered however objectionable it may be for the world around him.

There are in fact many alternate ways of handling problematic behavior in the child than punishment.Giving reasons and explaining the need for eliminating undesirable and taking up desirable behaviour is not often not done by parents or teachers."I know everything,look at my age and experience, you just do what I tell you,it is for your good only,you will not understand these right now" is the song of many elders with the child.Letting child know the reason behind prescription and exploring with the child the pros and con's outcomes, of different actions on oneself, on the people around as well as on going about realising one's aspirations will go a long way in internalising values that nurtures life and also in cognitive restructuring in the child.It does require little patience and time with the child but it is a small price to pay for a lasting beneficial effect on the development of child's personality. It also enhances child's feeling of autonomy and self governance.Opening the channels of communication by teachers among the child's "significant others"such as parents,heads of institutions and other teachers including even child's friends whenever problem behaviour occurs so that the real meaning of each others behaviour and intentions get explored and clarified is yet another approach one can employ.

Entering into a behavioral contract with the child that "if you do this(e.g.homework)now, you can do that("is yet another way of handling child's behaviour.Child,then, gets a feeling that people are not against him and he will get what he wants,generally, if he does what is required from him by the elders.

Punishment may have some value after all but it is a delicate mechanism to be handled with utmost care.Punishment for the undesirable behaviour should always go hand in hand with fully encouraging the good behaviour.There are some elders who always make it a point to punish negative behaviour in the child which in itself is not bad ,but when the child does some positive actions(- no one is totally bad or totally good, both would be there in all in varying degrees-)they keep quiet thinking that praising him would go to his head and be spoiled.In such a situation the child will only know what is 'bad', but not what is good expected of him. Mere punishment for bad behaviour and ignoring the good that he does would create hardened negativism in the child.There are other elders who always pat and praise when the child does something good,which is fine , but when the child does bad they keep quite let the child feel hurt and their love /popularity with the child would diminish.This too is equally damaging as the child would not know what to give up.When praise for the good and punishment for the bad is practiced simultaneously the child will not feel that he is lost and think that people are against him when punished as he is also taken sky high when good is done by him.Child finds that he need not throw tantrums or indulge in aggressive or negligent behaviour as he would be getting 'what he wants'by being in the prescribed behaviour

There is an urgent need,therfore,to train teachers in behavioral management of child in the classroom as well as in the school on the one hand and counselling the parents of the problem children in handling the child at home and society on the other, for the good of all.

Personal Growth

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

India's Sinister Left !

Left Parties with so called Communist Ideologies are a despicable lot and their sinister designs on the Nation seem unbounded.They are said to follow an ideology which has been cast off long ago by its founding father nations such as Russia and China as it failed miserably in practice and totally out of tune with the times.If the Left ruling on its own for a long,long time in one of the State in India the whole world knows how,not by its ideology but muscle power!

Communists are not the sole authority on Marx or Lenin and in fact they can be even accused of misusing Marx.Marx belong to the whole world, its rich heritage and treasure.Marx's ideology has opened the eyes of several generations of people and even today he should be a phase in one's life,I have undergone that stage myself and I am all the more better off because of it.He added a new sensitivity in living life. He brought millions of people who were downtrodden and exploited by the 'haves'to enjoy the fruit of civilisation.Marx has influenced me as much as Ambedkar who also played a similar role befitting the Indian context unlike the Communist's ironing out everything to a mythical universal context of human culture.Again Ambedkar is not the leader of Dalits alone but mine and the nation 's too.Ambedkar echoed the spirit of the times like Marx.Yet these great men's ideology can not be said to constitute totality of the reality for all time to come.Truth is multifaceted and has multiple level at any given time.

The Communist in India, as all the Communist elsewhere in the world at the time of their rule,are unjustifiably dogmatic and authoritarian. They use, at the drop of the hat, such terms as scientific,dialectic materialism and so on whose meaning has been changed drastically by the discoveries in science now. Yet Communists are either not aware of these advances in knowledge and times or tend to ignore it as otherwise their whole edifice will collapse.

Take the present case of Indo-US Nuke deal which the Left is opposing and there is a threat of they withdrawing their support to the Government too.The Deal addresses rather effectively one of the urgent and major need of the Country namely,energy.We have achieved tremendous growth especially in the last one decade and we are even said to be marching towards becoming one of the super powers of the world in a decade or two.We can not afford to slacken in our pace of progress at this point in time.Moreover,we are committed in unequivocal terms for the use of nuclear devices for peaceful purposes.Further we are proud of our democracy and would spare no efforts in upholding our sovereignty of the Country and nonalignment in foreign affairs.The best of experts assure us that the present nuclear deal with US do not come in the way of those nurtured values and practices.What then is Left's grouse?Grab Power in the next hustings by embarrassing the Government now and accusing it as working against the interest of the nation.The hackneyed terms the Communist use like American Capitalism and its Imperialistic policies for which they are opposing the Deal does not hold water in the light of the deal not affecting our policies and programmes.

India is a great nation.Its people have shown time and again in every Election a wisdom in their choice.No one can take our people granted. People can not be fooled least of all by those who live on alien and borrowed ideology found not suitable anywhere in the world.People are well aware how the the Communist have run the government both in this country as elsewhere in the world.They perpetuated worst kind of bureaucratic rule riddled with corruption, terrorising and exploiting the common people.It is time that our Communists stop working against the interest of Indian people.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Gender Divide In India

Female foeticide and infanticide is in alarming proportions and the recent one is in this week where more than twenty five dead female fetuses were found in a garbage in Orissa.It is a big blot on humanity unbecoming of any cultured and civilised society.This tragedy on the female is in addition to female child sexual abuse,rape and molestation,inhuman sexual exploitation,victimisation,dowry menace, bride burning, wife beating and harassment at home, few of them reported, even fewer of them booked and convicted but vast majority of them will not come to the public notice at all.Of course all of them are crime under Law including sex determination in the early pregnancy.

On the flip side India has a history of great female adoration too.In the recent past,Indira Gandhi was the Prime Minister,right now the President of India is a woman in Mrs.Pratibha Patil and the President of the majority partner of a ruling coalition government is a powerful woman, Mrs. Sonia Gandhi.Mrs. Kiran Majumdar of Biocon, a biotechnology giant, and Ms. Kiran Bedi in Police are very big and well known names.Ms. Medha Padkar is a most revered social activist. Sarojini Naidu was a freedom fighter along with Mahatma Gandhi.These are the few of the many great names of pre and post Independent India.

In the ancient past we have even greater picture of woman being held in high esteem.In the Rigveda there are more than thirty 'rishike' (female sages) to whom several mantras were revealed.Further, vedic statements like'Imam mantram patni pateth''let the wife recite this holy hymns' shows that women partook in sacred rites.'Brahmacaryena kanya yuvanam vindate patim', 'bride goes in search of young groom after her studies' shows the freedom of choice accorded to women.The dialogue among Gargi, Maitreyi and the sage Yajnavalkya in Brihadaranyaka Upanishad bears ample testimony for the honor and equality with which women were held in those days.
Furthermore, as the lore has it, the primordial force in creation is a female energy, 'adishakti' and to demolish the worst devil it is always a female Diety,'mahakali'whom the gods request or create from the multiple energies of different gods as female person only!

I am often struck with image of ardanareeswara,a Indian Deity with half male and half female body, often portrayed very vividly in many pictures of it.Curiously, the left half of the body is female and the right half of the body is male.We know now, thanks to the neurosurgical works of Roger Sperry onwards that there is hemispheric specialisation in brain functions and the left hemisphere which controls the right side of the body specialises in linear,logical,rational, verbal thinking such as science and mathematics which are generally considered as masculine characters and the right hemisphere controlling left side of the body specialises in nonverbal,non rational,intuitive functions such as arts, dance and music that are feminine characters. Female left half of the body controlled by the right brain is feminine and the right half of the body linked to left side is a masculine character in the idol ardhanareeswara!God is an ideal being and hence the ideal is to integrate both masculinity and femininity within oneself.Modern science also supports the view that we are all androgynous, both masculine and feminine parts.It stands to reason as well. There is hardly any activity that does not include both masculine and feminine skills, be it scientific activity,business,public speaking or cutting vegetables all include logical and creative/artistic/ intuitive abilities to be really successful!Both masculinity and femininity need to be developed in equal proportion in all of us irrespective of gender. Equating female with femininity and male with masculinity is the worst myth perpetuated by society and in a male dominated society for its own vested interest.The ills of gender discrimination crept into Indian history during middle ages where India was ruled by alien rulers for nearly thousand years.

It is time that we wake up to reality, bridge this gender gap and stem the rot that has set in in the interest of our health,growth,peace,prosperity and success of self,society and our nation.Awareness through education,encouraging nondiscrimination by social engineering and stringent implementation of laws against gender discrimination are the urgent necessities of the day to be worthy of ourselves as a civilised citizen and to be considered for the grace of the Almighty!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Great Bharat, Miserable India!

India, not long ago,about a thousand years ago,was a world leader not just in the art and science of living-Philosophy(vedas including upanishads)-but also in science and technology,medicine and agriculture,trade and commerce,art and literature and, education and rural development as well.Aryabhatta, Brahmagupta, Bhaskaracharya, Varahamira are the big names of those period, known to the world, in physical sciences and mathematics.Even today, counting exist in Greek only up to 106, in the West it is 10 to the power of 12 and in India we have up to 10 to the power of 53! Nalanda and Takshashila were the great universities which attracted students from all over the world.Alberuni from Iran came to study sanskrit,science and technology, astronomy and mathematics.Yi Ching from China came to study rural health scheme and ayurveda.We were world trade leader not only in spices but on various other goods as well. A popular joke at that time was "if you buy from Jew to sell it to Scott and still make ten percent profit he must be an Indian"! We were hugely tolerant and encouraged divergence with all respect.Panini a great grammarian and scholar in sanskrit was from Afganistan.Gandhari, wife of king Dritarashtra of Mahabharata was from Khandahar.

Yet, the last thousand years or so has been a dismal show for India which is often attributed to foreign rulers, first by Mughals and later by British,ruling India resulting in loss of initiative and creativity among the ruled.The independent India since 1947 did see rapid strides taken towards developing India.Industrialisation,green revolution(Punjab),white revolution(Gujarat), space technology was indeed firmly rooted in the soil and reaping good dividends.Globalisation,Liberation and Privatisation Policy of the early nineties ushered in a huge thrust to our quest towards modernisation and growth.License Raj was relaxed and the deregulation has brought goods to the market cutting down the ques and scarcity, promoting productivity and competition, all contributing to the growth rate of up to 9%.We are a power to reckon with in the global scenario.We have some of the best educational institutions such as Indian Institute of Science, Indian Institute of Technologies, Indian Institute of Managements.We are now one of the world leaders in Information Technology and moving towards e-governance.Our Forex is rising.Yet there is a terrible darker side too.

On a global comparison India fairs very poorly even after 60 years of Independence. On Human Development Index,India occupies one of the lowest rank, 127th among 177 countries studied.On Corruption Perception Index India is ranked down to 71st out of 102 countries(Transparency International Survey).The World Economic Survey ranked India 45th among 49 countries on honesty of its officials.Global Competitiveness Report puts India in the 45th rank, out of 53 countries; USA tops in competitive spirit, Taiwan 3rd,Singapore 4th and even China is 33rd,much better than India.On the use of Professional Managers in Administration India is down again with 50th rank among 53 countries studied.

Transparency International also reports that India is one of the most corrupt country.An estimated sum of 26,768 crores of rupees is extracted by officials at various levels from citizens in the sectors of education, health,power,telephones,railways,land and building administration, judiciary and the public distribution system.

In India today 28% of people go to bed each day hungry,52% living on less than Rs.45 a day.Job growth in the organised sector fell from 0.11% to minus figure now.Unemployment increased from 8.87% to 9.11%.Increase in food production is offset by increase in population by 1/2%over the former. The software exports is less than 2% of the global market; IT sector as a whole(including hardware)represent less than 3% of the GDP.Trade deficit is widening:exports being 314.05 billion,imports being 471.56 billion,there is a deficit of 157.51 billion rupees.Even Forex reserve of 140+ billion dollars is worrisome as it is mostly "hot money"(portfolio investments and NRI deposits)and is a volatile situation, a slightest disturbance/uncertainty,it would be withdrawn.

In the educational field only 10% 0f the school finisher will go to higher education and only 10% of those 10% get into professional courses.There are too few universities and most of the colleges under it suffer from poor infrastructure and quality of education

The bane of development is the glaring inequality and imbalance; the best and the rich coexist with huge majority of worse and the poor.There is a neglect of education,health and social sectors and generally planning has failed to recognise that every activity has its human and social face also.The growth model need to be more inclusive of all section of divergent people that is India.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Suicide among youths. Fulfillment is in living not in dying

Several cases of suicide by youths is reported recently in the State of Karnataka as well as in India as a whole.Failure in Examinations, not getting the Courses chosen, failure in love 'affairs' and in some cases, poverty coming in the way of one's advancement are some of the major reasons cited for the tragedy.

Every suicide is a reflection of one's concern for the quality of life, nothing less would suffice, said Albert Camus. Psychologist would say that immediate reactions to frustration are 'fight' or 'flight' and fight turned inside on oneself or running away from it all(flight) may sometimes end up in suicide. Excessive reliance only one or only a few, such as say a mother or a job or any one choice alone, excluding all other possibility may result especially when there occurs a loss-actual or imaginary- of those relied upon as then there would be nothing else to fall back on would trigger a suicidal thoughts or actions. A clinical condition, Depression, characterised by feelings of hopelessness,helplessness, inadequacy and inferiority which might underlie the above reason of over dependency is often the cause for several 'attempted' or committed suicides.

Building up of a self confidence that one is endowed with all that is necessary in the services of self and the world by Nature to lead a happy and prosperous life and one has to find and grow with it must be inculcated at the very early age by parents, teachers and others in society as it is based on 'scientific' truth. Encouraging the child to engage actively in all those activities available around-studies, art, culture, music, dance, play, sports, adventure and what have you!-just to experience yourself in the world without restricting oneself, at least in the early stages,with any particular 'choice' or even without attempting oneself to define oneself for an identity is yet another inoculation to prevent depression and suicide. Child must first get the experience of all that one can in the world around and based on those self derived data one should make choices by himself on himself alone and certainly not by here say or imagined things or books or people however valuable, great or dear one they are!

Fulfilment is in living not in dying

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Bridges of Wellness on the Eastern Way!

Happiness of the soul,senses and mind results in health and the way to get it is to work for the happiness of others said sage Charaka, an ancient practitioner of Medicine in India. Education, Self Realisation and Service are the ways to attain such happiness/wellness. Development of the resources of body,mind and soul and, understanding of both spiritual and material-visible and invisible,manifest and unmanifest-aspects of reality is the goal of education. Practices for the access of both the component of reality and in the process discover one's uniqueness and position in the universal scheme of things is self realisation. Dedicating oneself to the happiness of others who need rather than indulge in self gratification is service which is the foundation for prosperity with peace.

Every being is connected with everythingelse-living and nonliving-in the world. Experiencing the unity of beings and nurturing these bonds nurtures the self better in a lasting way. Separation from the unity is the cause of misery. Aim of Psychological Counselling and Psychotherapy is to reestablish the connectedness of beings, help discover one's potentialities and position and, empower the client to relate to the world around in service. This Eastern way is well illustrated in scriptures such as Vedas and Upanishads, Bhagavadgita and Yoga.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Language, Mother Tongue and the Tongue of the World in Multilingual India

Language is the medium of expression, an expression of thought, it communicates message. Hold on, it is much more. Language is not merely an expression of thought but is thought itself, said Vygotosky, a Russian Psychologist. Media is the message, said McLuhan. Look at this language/expression: most of the Westerner would say "I am angry", where as the Easterner would say "anger came to me",( 'gussa agaya' in Hindi; 'kopa bantu' in Kannada). Is it not a totally different world view ?, one identifies with the emotion and the other is separated from it. Language depict world view.

Mother tongue is the language through which we get to know the world within and around, the milieu's perception of life is ingrained in it. We will be alienated from our people, culture and society if we are not rooted in the mother tongue. Hence,there is lot of sense in making mother tongue the medium of instruction in our schools. Yet, is it enough to get imbibed only with my and my culture's view of the world in today's multifaceted, multidimensional and globalised world? How would you expect me to be tolerant of the diversity of living of multitude of people around me in the world? Languages are the means of engaging myself with the diversity of the world to enhance my growth. Further, often, like my mother tongue kannada, it is not adequate to know the world in its entirety as of now. In fact there is hardly any good book on science and technology in that language yet. Should I suffer all my life not knowing reality offered by science having restricted myself to learning of and by mother tongue only? Kannada people can become first class citizen of the world, not the next class of citizen and , we should never miss him any opportunity to become so.

We have a situation in India where those who know English and got education in English schools get posh jobs and those who come from mother tongue only end up in low paid or menial jobs. The poor and the Dalits belong to the latter category. Are we not contributing to the widening of the gap between the have and have nots, to the social inequality? It makes lots of sense as well to introduce a 'global' language,English, as a subject along with the subject/medium of instruction of mother tongue from the Standard 1st in the school. Studies on monolingualism,bilingualism and multilingualism on cognitive status of young children would support the contention that learning more than one language offers greater stimulation of the mind without being a burden which might even contribute to a more tolerant, more open, more creative and more robust personality.

Mother tongue offers me the rootedness, my identity. The root to grow into stem , branches, leaves, flowers and fruits needs water, air, sun, earth and space and a global language can contribute a vital element in all these. I want to be myself and that self of mine long to include the whole world, relate and respond to all that is in this world of today. Mother tongue and a global language such as English must be given equal priority in our Education from day one for the sake of the child, the society and the world and for God's also as He would love the universal person, viswamanava, and the world as a unit of family,vasudaiva kutumbakam !

Monday, June 11, 2007

Ecstacy,Orgasm and Peak Experiences

Abraham Maslow,Psychologist,spoke of Peak Experience wherein the individual feels intense delight being in top of the world,loosing one's identity and merging with the Whole. This experience is more frequent during early childhood, he said,and gradually tappers off by the time he enters 9th year especially when sex typing by the society occurs. The experience is in fact similar to the mutually/simultaneously enjoyed sexual orgasm, "drug"/alcohol induced state and spiritual/Meditative experiences as well! It all points to show that there exist in the being a state- an altered state of consciousness, a fourth state(after waking,sleeping and dreaming) which is highly growth promoting and resulting in a different perception of self and the world ,a more holistic,realistic and all embracing view contributing to greater effectiveness.

Our Education must involve all these. Spirituality is too serious and mundane 'affair' to be left alone to religious people to develop!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Sex Education in Indian Schools

Recently there was a big controversy in the public on the introduction of sex education in schools from 6th Standard onwards as per the directions of National Council of Educational Research and Training which is in turn acting on the advise of National Aids Control Organisation and WHO. The public outcry was mainly on the ground that it teaches only how to have safe sexual intercourse using condoms to avoid AIDS for 11year old children just prior to the attainment of their puberty. The presumption that Indian children start having sexual intercourse immediately after they attain puberty and it is alright if they do so by using condoms was indeed shocking to majority Indians ! " It is just not in our culture", they said.

There is a lot of cases of child sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, ignorance and myths on sex among Indian youth.Sex education on sexual hygiene,sexual diseases and healthy sexual practices including the structure and functions of sexual organs are needed although the particular topics and methodology now introduced may be objectionable. Hence, the Government decision now to stop entirely sex education in schools may be equally objectionable.

Sex education need to go little deeper as well in the interest of better perspective on human sex on scientific grounds. Sex is not a biological instinct in human beings as hunger and thirst are, the survival is not engendered by lack of sexual activity. In the lower animals sex is determined by glandular secretion controlled by autonomic nervous system and is governed by specific seasons as well where as in human beings sex is triggered by sensory stimulation governed by voluntary nervous system and have no seasonal variations. In other words sex is in our control, we are not driven by biological urges. However,just because sex is not a biological instinct in humans it does not mean that it is a less of a force in determining behaviour as many psychological needs, such as need for power,may have much greater force in driving behaviour than even biological need. Further, sex is not merely sexual intercourse but many other activities also. In fact for Sigmund Freud sex is all those activities in which two or more people come in close physical contact such as mother and child and friends, a sort of physical intimacy. Freud also points out that it is not sexual organ alone which is erotic but many erogenous zones on the body as well such as lips, breasts, anus and skin. Psychological needs not satisfied may have devastating effect on ones growth as John Bowlby found that 'maternal deprivation' in the early formative years of the child would result in delinquent and criminal behavior later on. Harlow's experiment on monkeys/chimpanzees showed that reared in by the surrogate mother made up of hard wires produced antisocial behavior as compared to those reared with surrogate "soft"(made up of wools) mother although all other biological needs are met adequately for both the groups. More over sex is not a blind force in human beings as it has been found that it is triggered by voluntary attention to sensory stimuli as well as the fact that when engrossed in a deeply meaningful professional or other activities the interest and frequency of sexual activity decreases drastically in humans.

Sex also has spiritual dimensions in human beings. Mutually and simultaneously derived sexual orgasms in the couples give raise to an altered state of consciousness which is akin to the fourth state of consciousness albeit a brief and laboured one ! that is associated with deep meditation. The deep relaxation and a pleasant yet intense alertness has the capacity to bring fresh insight on ourselves and on life contributing to the growth.

Further, the positive sides of social customs and mores must be reckoned with for a better bonding with people around which offer sustenance to our very existence.

Sex education should involve all of these :the Body(structure and functions of sexual organs, sexual inter course, sexual hygiene and diseases,processes and practices), the Mind( intimacy, warmth and care) the Soul(altered-fourth-state of consciousness) and the society; physiological,psychological, sociocultural and the spiritual dimension of sexual behaviour in human beings.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Experiencing oneself

Our true self is beyond our body,thoughts,feelings,wants and desires, our possessions,status,relationships, titles and awards; do not trust these!Sink within yourself in silence without expectations,memories and thoughts in between every activity and a flash/insight arises,that is the true being. Be guided by it as it is connected to the whole and all of beings existing with all the associated wisdom.This is what I meant when I said yesterday to my young friends in search of their courses and careers. Access your inner being and base your choices on its promptings.You have ensured your success then! Your comments and questions are most welcome

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Indian youth and career choice

School results are out this week. Many of the students are aspiring to take up higher education in search of a career. Those who have obtained good marks,some ten percent of them will get into Professional courses such as Engineering and Medical, remaining majority of them would not know what courses and career to pursue. In the last week TV programme which sought questions from those students who are in doubt about their choices more than five thousand questions came,I believe in just a few hours after the announcement!

The key factor in deciding is not the parental or social expectation,not the pressures,not the lucrative jobs out there,not even the availability but YOU, my young friends. There is no need to feel low on the poor marks obtained or not able to get into Professional courses, the success in life does not depend on such things.There are many top ranking students failing miserably in life and many with average marks doing extraordinary in later life. Nor the career in Engineering or Medical is all that rosy always.Many who passed such Professional courses even with good credits have joined other profession later on such as Civil Services and even those who are in those profession many have low job satisfaction. What contributes to success is not the marks, the high profile jobs but YOU my friends; your talent, your behaviour, your personality on the job.

Experience yourself, make it a daily habit. As you engage in several activities-studies,sports,entertainment,culture, relationships and so on-turn one "eye" within yourself and feel yourself. Some courses/a chapter in a curriculum,some activity, does something to you within: a deep relaxation and pleasant alertness at once! That is YOU my folks.(Or for the current use recollect the happiest moments in your life so far and relate them to those situations/people/activities). Pursue those activities, take courses on it and develop your true self, carry people around to that and make that your career.Then you are on the road to creativity and success resulting in not merely satisfaction/happiness but with peace within and all around you as well.