THE EYE: THE LAMP OF THE BODY

In my school days, I used to play a game with my friends called the Blindfold Challenge. There are many variants to the game. In one type, one has to chase a friend who would call out the name and then run in a different direction. In another variant, one has to identify objects and name them. In another type, one has to trace one’s way out of the room and reach the spot where the rest of the friends are (it goes without saying that they keep on sneaking from room to room silently). The game is fun! Especially those who are on the running side enjoy it a lot. But for the one who is blindfolded, it gradually begins to feel as if a state of perpetual blindness is creeping in to take a grip. I remember many of my friends used to remove the blindfold out of frustration (even before completing the task) just to get rid of the darkness. And how relieving it felt to be in the presence of light once again!

I’m sure many of you would have played this game as kids! Blindfolds are often used in reality shows on the television when participants are to be given a surprise (either a surprise gift or to welcome a surprise visitor). Have you ever thought why the eyes are the ones which are blindfolded and not any of the other sense organs? The ears, the nose, the tongue, the skin are left to function normally, whereas the eyes are covered, when a person is made to guess/identify/recognize something or somebody. Ever thought why?

In human beings, vision/sight is neurophysiologically, the most dominant sense. Research says that thirty to forty percent of our cerebral cortex is devoted to vision while the other sense organs together make up the rest. Isn’t it now easy to understand why blindfolding is so much made use of?

So tough for those with partial or complete visual impairment!

To add a tinge of humour before delving into some serious lessons, I would like to share something that happened just a few days back. I stepped out of my house in the scorching summer heat around noon, all the while feeling that something was wrong with my eyes – especially with my right eye. All along the way, I was trying to figure out the reason for my blurred vision. The problem was not with my sunglasses. And yes, I had remembered to wear contacts in both the eyes. I closed each eye with my palm by turns and tried seeing through the other. A few times of this exercise and I was sure that my right eye was at fault. Somehow I managed to finish the chores and return home in a few hours. And when I set to remove my contact lenses, the one in the right eye wasn’t there! But, I was sure that I had put it in place. After a little bit of fiddling, I successfully traced and removed the lens from beneath the eye lid!! Though I did smile to myself, I also decided to check and rectify any fault without delay should a similar thing recur in future.

So crucial are our eyes! And, they are placed at just the right position to guide the other important parts of our bodies. That is why the Bible aptly says, “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light.  But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness . . .” 

A lamp lightens the place in the absence of other sources of light. And so, with the help of the light of the lamp one can find his/her way around without much difficulty. In order to get as much light as possible, three things are crucial. Firstly, the lamp has to be placed in a location where the light rays would cover the maximum area. Secondly, the glass/fibre covering of the lamp has to be clean. Thirdly, there has to be a continuous supply of energy to generate light (without which a lamp becomes an useless object).

You may visualize the above three requirements with respect to an oil-lamp or electric lights. Applies just the same!

These three requirements apply to our eyes as well. Our eyes are the natural lamps fitted in our bodies. They serve the body by being windows to the world. The eyes not only help the body to perform its function well, but also help the body as a unit to function normally and usefully with respect to others.

  • Imagine that you had your eyes near your toes. You would then be able to see only the area under your feet. The rest of your body would go berserk without a lack of guidance. Since you and I have had no role in placing our eyes (of the human species) where they are, we just need to thank the Master Designer for His remarkable design. So wonderfully are our eyes lodged that they can see and make seen the maximum.
  • Our roles gain significance in the second requirement, i.e, in keeping our eyes clean. Keeping the eyes clean not only refers to keeping the sclera (the visible white part of the eye) clean, but also to guard the eyes against seeing anything wrong. Here, I would like to mention that our sense organs are crucial gateways to temptation. It is important to keep our eyes externally clean and healthy. Eye exercises are a must. If nothing else, then looking at a stretch of greenery for 10-15 minutes regularly helps ensure good health of the eyes. Any irritation in the eyes, needs to be addressed on an emergency basis. However, once the eyes are clean, what do we see? For the sake of brevity, I will not go on to elaborate the wrongs that the eyes are exposed to, but I sure will leave some food for thought. Deliberately watching things that may be sensually pleasing but are wrong (acts of rage, injustice, sexual perversion, porn) or letting the eyes gaze around lazily and aimlessly – are sure grounds to invite trouble in our lives in the long run.
  • What do we fuel our eyes with? The sclera is just the visible outer covering. It is a protective layer. The mechanism of sight operates when light passes through the cornea and the lens and casts an image on the retina and this information from the retina is sent via optic nerves to other parts of the brain which process the information and allow us to see. If there occurs a disruption in any one stage, vision is affected. In all this, the electrical signals play a crucial role is transmitting to and from different parts of the eyes and the brain. What external signals do we permit our eyes to carry? If we fuel our eyes with sights that are good, healthy and edifying, the signals sent by the brain to other parts of the body will be good, healthy and edifying as well. In certain cases, people are forced to witness what is wrong (for example, a child witnessing the murder of a parent or a husband being forced to watch his wife being raped). These are cases beyond one’s control where the healing touch of God and the comfort of understanding people are needed to come out of it. However, when we decide to deliberately fuel our eyes with all that is destructive and wrong, we prepare grounds for our physical and spiritual destruction. In recent news in India is a couple where the husband has been convicted and jailed for forcing unnatural sex on his wife. Five years of marriage went by smoothly and happily, after which the husband entered into the world of pornography which resulted in his atrocious behaviour. A family shattered!

The eyes indeed are the lamps of the body. They have been placed in the appropriate position by the Creator. Let us resolve to keep them clean and fuel them with supplies of edifying energy!

FREE FROM TRASH

Recently a famous Basketball player visited India and commented that how the Real India was very different from the India of his imagination. How there were cows and monkeys on the road, dirt lying around and the general apathy we have towards even heritage monuments like Taj Mahal. I was really upset. And so were a lot of Indians. And he tweeted an apology the very next day. The first thought that came to my mind was ‘How dare he say something like this about my country?” But if you don’t just react and sit back and think don’t you see some truth in his words? You don’t agree??

Ok fine he is an outsider why accept his words. Let me give you another example. During summer vacations my friend visited her brother in USA along with her two school going children. After a wonderful stay of two and a half months they came back to India. Their father went to the airport to pick them up. On the way back the elder son pointed out that how dirty the Mumbai streets are, how much dirt and filth is accumulated all around. His parents were amazed at how easily the child who had stayed all his life in India got sensitized to the dirtiness in just two and a half months. Have I made my point? Now how can you not accept the words of a 12 year old?

India completed 70 years of Independence on 15th August 2017. For me among other things, one major form of freedom would be the freedom from filth, dirt, waste, rubbish, garbage, trash or whatever you choose to call it from our streets and cities which has become so much a way of life for us that we seem to accept it as part of the landscape.

Next question would be ‘Whose responsibility is it?’ The general answer would be the municipality is not doing their jobs properly, what can we do? The system is not right here… etc. etc. I agree this is their job and they are trying to do it. I have seen the municipal employees working in inhuman conditions while collecting garbage. But the quantum is so huge that they can’t keep up.

I have another question. Who is increasing their job? For this let me give you a little background. We Indians love cleanliness a lot, our houses are kept spick and span. We don’t pray without taking a bath and in some household don’t even enter the kitchen without taking a bath. But this love of cleanliness is limited only to our house or compound. The moment we step outside it becomes none of our concern. I have seen people stepping out of a Mercedes car and carrying a Gucci bag and throwing the cold drink can nonchalantly on to the street. People not segregating the garbage before throwing it and expecting the sanitation workers to go through the muck and segregate it. Garbage getting accumulated around the garbage bins because someone is not bothered to go all the way to the bin and generally toss the garbage in that direction and move on. These are only a few examples but I hope you get the picture.

So the onus to keep our city clean lies with us. We as people need to learn to show a little more empathy rather than apathy towards our public property. Have a feeling of belonging towards your surrounding and don’t do anything deliberately to make it dirty. And most important raise the children is such a way that littering is not a way of life for them. My children carry empty packs of chips or wrappers in their bags or even pockets but never throw it outside. They have become so used to this that they stop even their friends from throwing trash out of the school bus and carry their trash back home to throw in the dustbin.

Keep our city clean. This is not just an official slogan it’s our duty. Remember way back when were kids we read in our civics textbooks that “Rights and Duties are two wheels on which the chariot of life and society moves forward.” If we take our rights so seriously we should be taking our duties also seriously.

When you stand on the road and look around and can’t see or smell garbage. Then according to me we are on path to true freedom.

MEDIA- IT MAKES IT HAPPEN

Hi Everyone,

We all have been watching movies/ advertisements since childhood.  Not only that, many bits from this virtual world of media have etched a deeper place in our hearts and minds.  A memory saved, a habit acquired, a style followed, imitation or emulation or simply given a thought about something that has been seen, it could be anything but not ineffective.  Isn’t it true?

Since we are talking about community cleanliness I want to talk about how media both print and electronic could influence/ rather influencing the efforts in this direction.

Media be it any form-print or electronic impacts our lives in one or other way.  I am not talking any rocket science.  But how could media act as a catalyst in instigating a change, be it a thought or a process.  It is simple.  It is the reach media have that makes it an important player when change of any kind is concerned.  A word of mouth might be taken lightly and forgotten but when same message goes across via print media it carries more significance that makes it noteworthy.  And electronic media takes the appeal a notch higher because visual appeal that a motion picture gives always registers better than a plain word on paper.  Moreover, it has nothing to do with the audience being literate or not and that’s the USP which enables the message to be spread more widely and effectively.

Now that we understood the role of media in spreading a word or rather a message let us see how this has been useful in our Government’s effort to keep our county clean.  For our readers outside India I would like to mention that our government has started a new mission to make and keep India clean and safe (read sans diseases) which is called “Swachh Bharat Abhiyan” the literal translation for which means “Clean India Mission”.  And the handlers of the mission who have very well understood the impact of  message on various channels of media are using different avenues to the maximum possible levels.  I would like to list a few advertisements that I have seen which could  go or might have gone far in bringing about a change:

  • School kids spreading the message of washing hands properly, drinking pure water from purifiers and defecating in toilets only.  This message highlights the importance of hygiene.
  • A famous actress (Mrs. Vidya Balan, brand ambassador of sanitation campaign) reiterating the importance of having proper toilets at home
  • Another famous actor (Mr. Aamir Khan), spreading across the message of keeping our surroundings clean that would eventually help us to have a cleaner country.
  • In almost every leading newspaper, in every language the methods to keep the dangerous diseases (read spread by mosquitoes and unhygienic ways) at bay a column is dedicated.  And that too on a repeated constant basis.

These are just few examples on how media is being used for the betterment of country by inculcating hygienic habits in the citizens.  What I liked most in this campaign is that the target audience, which is the entire country has been cleverly segregated and targeted.  For instance, I was talking about an advertisement featuring kids.  The impacted audience includes children for whom it is very important to learn about cleanliness at a young age.   And the point has been intelligently put across.  Similarly, for youngsters and adults if a person whom they idolize and respect tries to say something or put forth a point, that would be taken easily and acted upon too.

Any mission or policy in order to be a success needs support from the core and the core here is none other than the “public”.  No plan can become an implementation and no implementation can be a success until and unless public involvement is guaranteed.  And only awareness can draw its interest.  And media in this regard has left no stone unturned to blow the horn of this initiative.  Right from the day of this mission’s inception media is covering every aspect and every person (read celebrities from every field) associated.  It would be noteworthy to know that just as the “Ice Bucket Challenge” that became viral “Swachh Bharat Abhiyan” Challenge became viral.  And it was media which spread the word and awareness and drew more and more people – both celebrities and commoners and culminated efforts for better results.

And the results are yielding.  Many backward villages are now trending  in the way of cleanliness and trying to achieve the tag of “ODF” which stands for Open Defecation Free.  This is just one aspect.  The overall impact is surely positive and definitely counting.   To conclude this I just want to say that media is doing its part in bringing about a change. Let’s do our bit and see a “Swachh Bharat” soon.

We watched few videos mentioned in yesterday’s snippet, “Cleanliness at a glance.” For all other advertisements under Swachh Bharat campaign you can always surf on YouTube.

CLEANLINESS AT A GLANCE

Let’s watch few videos that have been made by some brilliant minds to create awareness. 

 

 

 

 

 

DO YOU OWN A TOILET?

Cleanliness starts from home which was rightly pointed out by Aastha yesterday. And if you visit somebody’s toilet and that toilet will let you know how clean those people are whom you have visited. Two things really make me feel awkward and they are dirty toilets and dirty beds. I will never prefer to stay in a place where these two things are not clean. I can sleep on the floor but it has to be clean. I can use any kind of toilet but it has to be clean.

And the worst part of the story in India is, the public toilets we have are the worst. I feel horrible when I feel like using the toilet in the stations or bus stands or any other public place because they are absolutely dirty. And usually what we do in a toilet like that? We use it and come out without flushing or throwing little water in the pan. And the cycle continues to make it more dirtier and nastier.

I tried to get some stats regarding the number of people using toilets in India. And I was astounded.

Around 60 per cent of Indians do not have access to safe and private toilets, a new study has claimed.

A report titled ‘It’s No Joke – State of the World’s Toilets’ by WaterAid states that “If all 774 million people in India waiting for household toilets were made to stand in a line, the queue would stretch from Earth to the moon and beyond.”

According to the study released on the occasion of World Toilet Day on Thursday, the world’s second most populous nation has 60.4 per cent of its people without access to safe and private toilets.

It was a statistic given in The Indian Express in November 2015.

But…

India’s Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MOSPI) has released the Swachhata Status Report, 2016, which states that the usage of toilets is 95.6 per cent in rural India and 98.8 per cent in urban areas

I don’t know how true is the report. But we need to understand that just a simple cemented covering doesn’t make a toilet. A toilet is not complete even when it is beautifully built yet there’s no water supply to it.  

I really don’t know what to do when it comes to “Community Cleanliness.” What will be my role when I talked about toilets! How I am gonna be a part of that movement?

Things to ponder upon…

Some pictures made me think so much… Some don’t even own a toilet and report says, 95%? Huh, I don’t know what to comment on this…

maxresdefault-1I remember the ad where Vidya Balan creates awareness about the importance of building your own toilets at home to avoid diseases and infections…

Because,

Noting that the resulting health crisis is a serious matter, the report said that more than 140,000 children younger than five years die each year in India due to diarrhea.

Let’s think about it seriously…

Keep reading, keep creating awareness and keep participating in different community activities for the well being of human life around you.

Stay Blessed!!!

 

CLEANLINESS STARTS AT HOME, BUT.. IT DOES NOT END THERE

That was my first trip to a foreign country. I had been to northern part of our globe in the Europe region, Finland. It was autumn and nature was filled with colors. It was a visual treat…

Fortunately, I managed to find a place where I can share an apartment with another girl who was my friend’s friend.  In no time the week passed by. I quickly browsed, rented a by-cycle and paid a visit to a couple of lakes nearby on Saturday. The second one was very scenic. It was surrounded by maple trees with leaves ranging from green to yellow to deep orange. The gradients of those colors and their reflection in the water was just awesome. 

A thought crossed my mind. What if the same lake was in India? A smile came over my face, that’s because I am pretty sure the lake would be filled with plastic covers, plastic glasses and all sorts of debris if at all this was India. It’s better I enjoy this evening without such thoughts, I told myself and walked over to the other side of lake..

It rained heavily during the night. I woke up in the morning, made a cup of hot coffee and was peeping outside the kitchen window, the temperature meter outside the window was reading 7 °C. I opened the door after I heard a knock and there stood a small girl, may be around 6 years. She smiled and asked me , “Are you joining us ?”. Before I could respond, my roommate responded with a “yes”.

“Put on your shoes, in the drawer you would find a pair of hand gloves, wear them if you are willing to join me”. I stood there with a question mark look on my face, she read it and said, “we are going to clean the apartment complex and clear all the leaves that would have fallen off for the rain yesterday night”. I joined them with a curiosity, but to my surprise the whole apartment complex is there, right from children who are as young as 3 years to 90 year old’s.  It took close to three hours to clear the compound but it was so much fun and an eye opener for me. 

Later I learnt that, the civil services there would come and clear the compound if it wasn’t, but people also play an active role in keeping the premises clean. No body is forced or requested to do it, but people do it voluntarily. May be “voluntarily” is a bad word to use because they feel the sense of responsibility towards the society they live in and in turn to the nation they belong to. 

For me, that was the very first time I ever participated in a community cleanup, but I have to admit that it was so fulfilling and it gave a sense of satisfaction that I did my bit to the complex I am currently living in. It changed the way I used to think about government, civic bodies, municipalities etc.

India stands tall on the world map for its rich cultural heritage, but there is one thing that really keeps people away from visiting India – CLEANLINESS.

Many educated people like me or who would have visited a different country (which in principal is more cleaner than India) may be embarrassed by the fact that cannot be missed from catching one’s attention –  CLEANLINESS

Indian homes are meticulously kept clean and spot less, but once we head into the streets is when we would find mountains of garbage, graffiti on the walls, filth, debris – you name it and you have it. Most of the dustbins are over flowing, spitting on the walls, peeing in public places , all this leads to unhygienic conditions to live. 

We are very impressed and almost flattered the way cleanliness is maintained in other countries and the very first thoughts would be “I wish India was this clean”, ” I prefer to live in a country which is this clean”, “Don’t know when Indian government would learn from developed countries”.  

I won’t blame government for everything. Give a thought to this – with a country so densely populated as India, the sanitation and drainage system is fairly good. Even in metro cities, it is very uncommon that we see the drainage system failing unless there is a flood of rain. With the population growing at an alarming rate, Indian government is finding it difficult to cope up with the everyday growing demand of waste disposal, which undoubtedly is a fact every Indian would agree. 

Is it only the duty of government ? Nothing  of us – the citizens of a country ?  What can we do to keep our nation clean and make this world a better place to live?

  • Stop littering: Let’s not make it more filthy in the first hand. The waste that you are in possession of, have patience to carry this with you until you find a dustbin. It is not going to take a whole lot of energy to do this 
  • Educate kids of their responsibility:  Certain responsibilities not being taught as part of curriculum could be one of the reason’s we think that it’s solely government who shall be taking care of everything. 
  • Organise community clean-ups: Twice a month or when there is a need, get-together, plan and organise cleaning activities. 
  • An anti-litter policy: Enforce an anti-litter policy in your apartment, office or any other communal place
  • Beautify the surroundings: Grow landscapes, develop pathways and have trash cans at designated places. People tend not to litter when the surroundings are kept clean, and this would encourage them to find the trash can – it is not a treasure hunt after  all.
  • Volunteer for community clean-ups:– No motivation more than keeping our premises clean is needed to roll up our sleeves, isn’t it ? Mark your calendar and have dedicated hours spent at regular intervals.
  • Have your own litter collection: When you organise parties or meet-ups in the roof top or garden area, get your own bins and help keep the premises clean.

Cleanliness is a habit. It has nothing to do with what social class we belong to. We need to help renovate our surroundings, improve the cleanliness and appearance of public places. The sense of involvement in community gives greater satisfaction and leads to a better standard of living. If all citizens are determined for a clean and hygienic environment, the wards, villages and entire cities will become clean.

Keeping our community clean is our primary responsibility …

FINAL WORDS – HANDS AND FEET

Let me stir up your sense of imagination with the final words for this week’s topic. Imagine a life without hands and feet. Yes, please do close your eyes and imagine looking at yourself in the mirror sans your hands and feet. What would your immediate reaction be? Shock, bewilderment, helplessness, grief, crashing dreams??

If by just visualizing our own selves without our hands and feet we feel so much despair, spare a thought about hundreds of people whose hopes are crashed because some person somewhere chose to use his / her healthy hands and feet against them! So disheartening.

Nobel Peace Prize recipient (1952) Albert Schweitzer chose to leave his homeland and travel to the dense African countries to spread the message of love by using his hands to treat the natives suffering of various sicknesses ranging from malaria, dysentery, fevers, sores to leprosy amidst fears of cannibalism.

Mother Teresa, another Nobel Peace Prize recipient responded to God’s calling and left her homeland to make India her home and spread the message of peace and love – picking up people from the streets and tending to them with comforting hands.

Florence Nightingale chose to use her hands to nurse the wounded soldiers during the Crimean War. Her exemplary dedication created a revolution in the world of nursing.

Here are people who chose to use their hands and feet to bring hope where there was despair, to bring love where there was hatred, to spread light where there was darkness. The only thing that put them at a place where they are the world’s who’s who today is that they chose right over wrong.

This calls for a self-check. Whose life have you touched with your hands and feet?

Imagining ourselves without hands and feet is so difficult. But Nick Vujicic born without hands and feet travels across the globe spreading the message of love, compassion and hope. ‘Born without limbs & without limits!’ – reads his tag line. One of the ways he reaches out to the wounded hearts is by giving them warm hugs (yes, you read it right…hugging without arms!!)

As we go along life’s journey, let’s choose to touch the lives of others with our God-gifted hands and feet. And today, if you are rendering yourself incapacitated owing to absence or loss of limbs, remember you can still make a huge difference to many around.