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COLLECTIVE BARGAININIG IN SPORTS: LEGAL REGULATIONS AND CHALLENGES

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Perhaps the aforementioned quote by the three-time Olympic gold medalist was meant to highlight the spirit of sports in the bygone time – space passageway. Perhaps the quote was meant to encompass sports before it became an industry and before exploitation of players became a common practice. And, perhaps the quote still prevails in the hearts of sportspersons but has compromised a tad space for commercialization.

Today, statutes across the globe and judiciary for the most part, have time and oft been necessitated to measure activities and fields against money. Similar is the case with sports which have become an industry in itself. There is little scope for an industry to not fall under the ambit of law.

This Article examines the interaction among sports, competition laws and labour laws, especially the collective bargaining process. The authors have relied upon multitudes of specific illustrations from a variety of sports. These illustrations have contributed to the recognition and growth of the subject matter. Furthermore, the authors have highlighted the unique characteristics of sports and the challenges posed by the collective bargaining process vis-à-vis the sports industry.

Nonetheless, the Article also clarifies that several of these challenges can be resolved and that the collective bargaining process, irrespective of the multiple issues surrounding it, can be beneficial to professional sports.

LEGAL STRUCTURE OF SPORTS

When talking about the ‘law as a system of rules,’ Sir John William Salmond wouldn’t have believed that the sporting rules would command a distinct division of law, alias ‘Sports Law’. Astonishingly, today, not only sports law is already an acclaimed and practiced area of law, the convergence of sports and law traces its presence through numerous diverse fields of law. Said fields of law include but are not limited to Contract Law, Labour Laws and Antitrust Laws.

Global socio – legal issues such as drugging, tampering, sledging and illegal use of force have been, more or less, dealt with by the respective governing bodies. However, there exist multitudes of issues which haven’t been deliberated upon and have little to no jurisprudence for guidance or resolution.

One such issue is the issue of collective bargaining in professional sports. Collective bargaining is the practice of discussion between the employer and the employees wherein the employees act as one body, instead of separate entities. Historically, during the course of collective bargaining, remuneration, work-hours and working conditions were mandatorily discussed. But, there was always scope for other matters to be put on the table as per mutual agreement. In contrast, collective bargaining in professional sports encompass negotiation related to issues similar to injuries complaints, payments, medical privileges, retirement etc.

With the settlement of the talk betwixt the employer and the collective voice, a binding contract is formed.

THE USAGE AND NEED OF COLLECTIVE BARGAINING IN SPORTS

The reasons for promotion of unions and collective bargaining in professional sports are as solid as all other trades. Similar to all other fields comprising of employer – employee relationship, imbalances of bargaining power find its presence in the case of professional sports as well.

Comparatively, the benefits of collective bargaining in sports are many: Apart from parity in negotiating authority, better deals for the players and regular conversation betwixt players and governing authority / administration are assured. Additionally, players, especially newcomers get to know their liberties and privileges.

Furthermore, as a whole, these entitlements are better protected with the presence of a collective bargaining agreement (hereinafter “CBA”). Ultimately, due to the presence of CBAs, issues like duration of employment, remuneration, complaint redressal become subject to negotiation and aren’t one-sidedly forced by the owners / employers.

CHALLENGES WITH THE AMALGAMATION OF COLLECTIVE BARGAINING AND SPORTS

1. The parties to collective bargaining

Unlike traditional contractual negotiations, at times, there are more than two parties to the process of collective bargaining in certain sports. For instance, the case of Formula One Motor Racing, the situation is a subject of debate:

The racer signs a binary employment agreement with the ‘team’ (Example: Red Bull Racing). But, multitudes of interdependent agreements are present among the racer, the teams and the International Automobile Federation (“FIA”). Ergo, the aforementioned agreement will be administered by multiple regulations. These regulations find their genesis in the top to down set up from regulating authority to the racer.

Therefore, all Formula One motorists ought to follow the conditions of employment necessitated by the racing team along with the rules of the FIA. Hence, in the authors’ opinion, if the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association aims to undertake collective bargaining on behalf of the Formula One drivers, the employing team as well as the International Automobile Federation will have to present.

Secondly, the racing teams participating in Formula One Motor Racing undergo an analogous contract with the International Automobile Federation. Interestingly, although the association betwixt the teams and the International Automobile Federation is not that of employment in nature, it still has witnessed collectivization of teams through the Formula One Teams’ Association.

Notably, the option of the team and the regulating authority functioning as the ‘joint employer’ has been taken up by the US authorities. The relevant jurisprudence states that the regulating authority (of the sport) along with the team (engaging the player) represented a joint employer. On one hand, the regulating or the governing authority commands authority over issues such as transfer of athletes whereas on the other hand, the team has the authority to alter the provisions of a typical contractual agreement.

In the case Formula One, Formula One Management (“FOM”), which is the commercial rights holder, is prominent too. As per the numerous vertical arrangements signed amongst the bodies, FOM has the authority to modify any racer’s contract without running it past the team or the FIA. The Rugby athletes in South Africa collectively bargain with the regulating authority along with the distinct commercial rights controller. Nonetheless, in the authors’ opinion, getting two different bodies in the capacity of employer is a substantial problem: While the regulating authority will aim to safeguard the sportsmanship and uprightness of the game, a body with commercial motives (specifically), might undermine these fundamental aims.

In the case of F1, the irregularity in the interests due to the presence of four noticeable parties will lead to competition amongst the voices present in the process of collective bargaining. Speculatively, the party with highest financial authority will have its way.

Either way, the problems with accommodating multiple parties in the bargaining process aren’t incurable. Alternatively, it is the authors’ belief that confronting the issues objectively, with the parties retaining equal bargaining power, will only shelter the sport from regulatory exploitation. But, it is pertinent that the connections among the players, teams, regulatory or governing entities etc. are openly and clearly determined and accommodated.

On a different note, the judiciary has shown willingness to determine employment connection betwixt players and regulating or governing authority, despite the nonexistence of appropriate documentation highlighting the same. In Jones v. Welsh, the court stated that an athlete’s registration with the governing entity was sufficient to establish employer – employee relationship.

Scholars have pointed out that the adequate way out with this issue is the formulation of a ‘tripartite agreement’ amongst the 3 parties involved. Thus, in case of Formula One Motor Racing, a tripartite agreement among the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association, the Formula One Teams’ Association and the FIA could solve majority of the aforementioned issues.

2. The issue of superstars

The idea of collective bargaining rests upon adequate compensation of employees, which calls for standardization of remuneration. Interestingly, the first inadequate monetary compensation was the reason behind the formation of the first sports union. The policy of compensating predictably and as per the player’s skills is a minute detail undertaken during the process of collective bargaining.

A cooperative compensation scheme has a visible advantage: The process of collective bargaining can be utilized to guarantee adequate compensation to all, especially the ones with the least bargaining power.

But, the aforesaid shared voice has scope for injustice too. While the rigid nature of collective bargaining agreements puts the vulnerable ones in a better position, simultaneously, it harms the remuneration of the best and the most seasoned players. While the big names are few, their influence on the sport is disproportionate. Additionally, no professional league wishes to lose out on the presence a celebrity of the sport.

Ergo, the best are the worst hit by a compromise on individual flexibility. But, there exist ways for attaining flexibility: Rugby CBAs in New Zealand allow the best and most famous athletes to negotiate greater compensation while promising basic (agreed) salaries to all the players.

The issue, however, with the aforementioned exception is that the whole reasoning of the collective gets dented. Once compensation is made flexible, other subjects of the collective bargaining agreements might just fall in the pit of flexibility. This will hinder the exclusivity aimed by the collective bargaining agreements.

Hence, policy initiatives to encompass remuneration of superstars, while keeping all them satisfied, are necessary. In the author’s opinion, the flexibility to reshuffle individual compensation is a slippery slope but is a positive for the game en masse.

3. The Tussle between Labor Laws and Competition Laws

a) The United States of America

The tussle betwixt competition laws and labour laws is characteristic. While competition laws endorse a lawful clash among competitors, labour laws call for coordination among them.

In the US, post the formulation of the Sherman Antitrust Act, judges treated labour unionization as an unlawful constraint on commerce. Later, the Norris LaGuardia Act and the Clayton Act provided statutory exemption to unions. The federal courts have highlighted that labour unions aren’t schemes against competition and commerce.

However, the process of collective bargaining was still not in convergence with the competition laws. To deal with the loophole, the judiciary fashioned non-statutory exemption.

The courts stated that it was pretty hard to make employers and employees negotiate collectively and prohibit them from indulging in anti – competitive practices. Yet, certain constraints can be placed on competition laws to make sure apt collective bargaining takes place.

The federal judiciary has underlined the need for competition laws to make space for collective bargaining when needed. Ergo, the solving of labour conflicts through collective bargaining was favored over antitrust laws. Notably, it was in 1992 when it was explicitly stated that the aforesaid exemption shields the CBA against competition law issues.

Later, in Powell v. NFL, it was established that the exemption covered the employers’ one-sided execution of the provisions of the CBA, including free agency restriction clauses, after the CBA has terminated. Ergo, once begun, the process of collective bargaining lasts post the termination of the CBA as well.

In Brown v Pro Football, after the expiration of the CBA, the NFL one-sidedly executed their last-best deal. The athletes contested this under antitrust laws. However, the judges stated that the exemption shelters the conditions even after the termination of the CBA.

Logically, Brown v. Pro Football has been treated as the jurisprudential successor to Powell v. NFL. Scholars have argued that continuing with the last, best deal is synonymous to preservation of the status quo. Thereafter, it has been argued that suit under competition laws to contest the application of the last offer will hinder the stability betwixt the players and the governing body.

However, a breakdown of the collective bargaining association ends the exemption. Here, the NFL Players Association disbanded its union and thus, obtained access to competition laws.

Thereafter, the affected athletes brought a competition law suit against the NFL. The disbandment of the union was treated lawful and thus, the collective bargaining association betwixt the league and the union was lost. Therefore, the non – statutory labour exemption was dismissed. Conclusively, it was held that the league’s free agency restriction went against the essence of completion law and the athletes were awarded appropriate damages.

Thereafter, America sports witnessed an all growing tussle betwixt the antitrust laws and the employment laws. The league owners would lock out athletes whereas the athletes would disband union and bring competition law suits against the owners.

Particularly, after the 2010-11 negotiations, the players reached out to the district court claiming that the lockout of players was a manipulative mechanism to force the athletes to settle at a price chosen by the league owners and fall in line with the free agency restraining provisions.

Additionally, the athletes highlighted that unionization bound the players by giving the league owners a loophole to implement exploitative limitations on athletes at their will. Furthermore, an injunction against the lockouts was sought by the athletes as the league had locked out the players.

The NFL owners modelled 3 layered argument: Primarily, the judiciary was not authorized to end the lockouts as per the Norris-LaGuardia Act. In arguendo, the owners explained that the lockout was invulnerable to competition law issues as per the non – statutory exemption. Lastly, it was stated that as per NLRB v. Truck Drivers Union, the concept of defensive lockout was upright because it was in line with labour policy of maintaining pre-achieved balance between the parties.

Resultantly, the court refused to buy into the owners’ reasons and lifted the lockout. The judges stated that labor laws were valid at times when the issue included or generated from a labor dispute. If the members reject the union, strip away its bargaining power and advance separate negotiation offers, then the labor laws of the country will not be applicable.

Drawing from the aforesaid argument, the judges stressed that Norris LaGuardia Act and its provisions regarding restriction on ending lockouts was relevant only to labor law issues. With the disbanding of the player’ union, the case did not qualify as a labor law issue. Additionally, the haphazard usage of the labor laws to undermine the rights of the employees by normalizing anti – competitive practices was shunned. Moreover, the court put emphasis on the fact that the non – statutory labor exemption was not pertinent as the union and the bargaining process did not exist altogether.

Later, the court pointed the age – old rule that the labor rules prevailed over the relative competition policy in specific situations where, inter alia, the exemption revolved around compulsory issues of the negations during the collective bargaining process. As the lockout did not form a part of the compulsory issues, the relevance of the non – statutory exemption was nil.

Afterwards, the 8th circuit overturned the lower court’s judgment. The order of the district court lifting the lockouts was withdrawn. It was stated that no law mandated the presence of a union for the dispute to be regarded as a labor dispute. The court found it convenient on the players’ part to disband the union in order to undertake a competition law dispute.

Secondly, the court clarified that the Norris – LaGuardia Act’s provisions about anti – injunction safeguards were not formulated for the exclusive interest of the workers/unions. Thus, the court opined that the Norris – LaGuardia Act did actually forbid a federal court from giving an injunction banning the employer from executing a lockout against the workers.

Finally, the league and the players decided to resolve the dispute and the athletes restructured the union with the parties entering a new CBA.

The NBA has witnessed very similar disputes but the cases were resolved amicably and the parties entered a new CBA.

b) Europe

In Europe, the most significant characteristics of competition laws related to the subject matter are

1. The ban on practices hindering competition

2. The bar on abuse of dominant market position

The European competition law forbids any kind of agreement among entities that hinders competition unless such agreement encourages commerce, assists the customers and takes the essential restraints into account. However, with regards to abuse of dominant status in the market, no exceptions are available. This provision has 3 primary components:

1. A dominant position in the relevant market

2. Exploitation of the dominant position by the entity

3. Consequence borne by the industry

There is little debate regarding the presence of a dominant position in any particular sport: The regulating or governing authority has monopoly in the market.

Nevertheless, similar to America, CBAs are partly protected against competition laws. In 1999, the court looked into the tussle between Competition Law and Collective Bargaining process. In Albany International, the judiciary held that exemption given to CBAs is valid only if it revolves around the essential elements of the CBA like remuneration/working conditions. The rationale behind the same is that the aforementioned elements do not distress any 3rd entity and do not affect the market. Here, the existence of multiple parties to the bargaining process shows that the CBA might disturb 3rd parties and therefore, not fall in the ambit of the exemption.

For instance, the FOM enters into broadcasting agreements with few agencies. Notably, there exists an exclusive employment interconnection among the FIA, the formula one teams and the FOM. Ergo, rival broadcasting agencies come across an air-tight obstruction when they try to cover the sport. Here, a grievance under Article 102 would be easier to establish due to the dominance enjoyed by the governing or regulating authority.

With regards to the UFC, insurance was a long drawn collective demand by the athletes. In 2011, Zuffa insured all MMA fighters participating in UFC. However, the said insurance policy wasn’t a segment of the CBA. If the insurance arrangement was made through a CBA, then the Albany International would have been applicable because such an arrangement would have hindered competition by stopping rival insuring companies from contracting fighters. However, the UFC could take the stance that the Albany exemption applied to the situation and was an agreement betwixt the employer and employee revolving around basic working conditions.

Additionally, scholars have underlined the need to consider the distinct nature of sports. Ergo, even if the prevalent exemptions are not applied, numerous factors of the sporting industry like coordination among more than 2 parties, societal and scholastic features, the need for indecision vis-à-vis the outcome and the sole authority of the governing / regulating body must be taken into account.

Notably, there should be adequate room in the competition policy to consider, inter alia, societal, historical and financial aspects of the sporting industry as its unique features. However, in order to smoothen the process and make sure that no law is compromised in a biased manner, the authorities have laid down certain tests to administer the application of Competition law to the sports industry.

Ergo, there exists little doubt against the belief that competition laws act as the biggest shackle to the process of collective bargaining in sports. Nonetheless, a distinct approach as highlighted in the case of Meca – Medina, is plausible. As stated before, this method acknowledges the advantages that CBAs could provide to the sport.

Conclusively, the issue of CBAs in sports continues to post moot questions. In the authors’ opinion, CBAs can be altered to be advantageous to professional sports. And, while dealing with application of competition law to sports, a novel method can be adopted wherein the unique characteristics of the industry are taken into account.

CONCLUSION

It is no news that the amalgamation of rules and statutes governing professional sports and the process of collective bargaining do not even come close to an overlap. Although the benefits of implementing the process of collective bargaining in the sports industry are clear, the ambiguity in law highlights that there still exist moot issues which seek attention.

Captivatingly, the unique nature of sports has made sure that the collective bargaining process locks horns with numerous laws. While the problems generating from the confluence are unique, they can still be worked around.

The presence of more than two parties to the bargaining process is being seen as a needed division of power for the past few years and has become common in many fields. Additionally, the problems with multi party bargaining can be taken care of through tripartite agreement. Additionally, within a collective bargaining agreement, if some flexibility to the bigger stars of sport helps them remain in the game and aids the newcomers and weaker players to attain better deal, then there is little harm to the process. Moreover, antitrust issues are fit enough to determine some common ground with the collective bargaining process: Recent judicial decisions have highlighted the same. Ergo, collective bargaining is bound to remain and mature in the industry of sports.

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Apple’s Yearly Bonanza -iPhone 13 Pro, Pro Max, and a lot more

Richa Kapoor

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Apple’s much awaited September announcement, they introduced iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max, redesigned inside and out, both models introduce an all-new Super Retina XDR display with ProMotion featuring an adaptive refresh rate up to 120Hz.  The pro camera system gets all new Ultra-Wide, Wide, and Telephoto cameras, powered by the performance of A15 Bionic. Video now gets Cinematic mode for beautiful depth-of-field transitions, macro video. Both models also offer end-to-end pro workflows in Dolby Vision, and for the first time. iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max also include 5G with more bands for better coverage, big improvements to battery life for the best battery life ever on iPhone with iPhone 13 Pro Max, new storage capacity of 1TB, and the Ceramic Shield front cover, tougher than any smartphone glass.

iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max will be available in four finishes, including graphite, gold, silver, and the all-new sierra blue. Pre-orders begin Friday, September 17, with availability beginning Friday, September 24.

  • Customers can get iPhone 13 Pro for INR 119900and iPhone 13 Pro Max for INR 129900from apple.com/in/store.
  • iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max are also available through Apple Authorised Resellers and select carriers.

Apple introduces iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini, featuring a sleek and durable design, an advanced new dual-camera system for improved photos and videos in low light, and introducing Cinematic mode. The device would be available in five gorgeous new colours.

Both models get advanced dual-camera system with a new Wide camera with bigger pixels and sensor-shift optical image stabilisation (OIS) offering improvements in low-light photos and videos. iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini also boast super-fast performance and power efficiency with A15 Bionic, longer battery life, a brighter Super Retina XDR display, double the entry-level storage at 128GB, and IP68 rating for water resistance, and an advanced 5G experience.

iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini will be available in pink, blue, midnight, starlight, and (PRODUCT)RED,1 with pre-orders beginning Friday, September 17, and availability beginning Friday, September 24.

Apple announced Apple Watch Series 7, featuring a reengineered Always-On Retina display with significantly more screen area and thinner borders. The narrower borders allow the display to maximize screen area, while minimally changing the dimensions of the watch itself. The design of Apple Watch Series 7 is refined with softer, more rounded corners, and the display has a unique refractive edge that makes full-screen watch faces and apps appear to seamlessly connect with the curvature of the case. Apple Watch Series 7 also features a user interface optimized for the larger display, offering greater readability and ease of use, plus two unique watch faces Contour and Modular Duo designed specifically for the new device. With the improvements to the display, users benefit from the same all-day 18-hour battery life,1 now complemented by 33 percent faster charging.

It is the first Apple Watch to have an IP6X certification for resistance to dust and maintains a WR50 water resistance rating.2

Apple Watch Series 7 introduces five beautiful new aluminum case finishes, along with a range of new band colors and styles.

  •   All Apple Watch Series 7 models will be available later this year.
  •   Apple Watch SE with USB-C charging cable, new Apple Watch bands, and Apple Watch Nike bands will be available to order from apple.com/store, with availability in stores coming soon.

Apple introduced the powerful new iPad mini with a larger 8.3-inch Liquid Retina display in four finishes. Featuring the brand new A15 Bionic chip, the new iPad mini delivers up to 80 percent faster performance than the previous generation. A new USB-C port allows faster connectivity, and cellular models with 5G bring more flexible mobile workflows. New advanced cameras, Center Stage, and support for Apple Pencil (2nd generation). The new iPad mini is available to order, and will be in stores beginning Friday, September 24.

Apple introduced the new iPad (9th generation), featuring the powerful A13 Bionic chip that packs even more performance and capability into the most popular iPad, all while retaining its all-day battery life. 1 Starting at just INR 30900, the new iPad features a 10.2-inch Retina display with True Tone, a 12MP Ultra-Wide front camera with Centre Stage, support for Apple Pencil (1st generation) and Smart Keyboard, the intuitive iPadOS 15, and twice the storage of the previous generation. The new iPad is available to order on apple.com, and in stores beginning Friday, September 24.

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The use of natural ingredients and therapies in daily needs to stable mental wellbeing

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Our physical body responds to our mind’s interpretation of external sensory perceptions. Most of us feel good when we see a beautiful scene, a happy expression makes us feel relaxed, music has the ability to sooth us or excite us and even sadden us at times. Tasty food makes us feel pleasure and aroma therapy is based on the ability of pleasant sensory perceptions of smell to affect our mood and emotions.

So it’s but obvious that natural environment around us can be modulated to produce greater mental well-being. That’s why we look for green surroundings, peaceful ambience, more spacious and bright places to live and travel to, add plants to our interiors, and aroma diffusers to our offices and temples.

Alternative and natural therapies are based on adding elements in our environment that are known to enhance a sense of well-being. These can include one or several sense organs.

  1. Touch- A massage always works wonders when we feel tightness in our muscles. From Ayurveda to Physiotherapy, acupressure to socio cultural practices of massage, all rely on touch and pressure modalities to induce relaxation in body which has positive feedback effect of relaxing the mind and giving a sense of well-being. Many research papers have been published on effect of touch in modulation of feelings and emotions in normal population as well as people suffering from autism, mood disorders and even physical symptoms like pain and paresthesias .
  2. Vision- How do we feel looking at a dark, dirty space? And now imagine looking at blue skies, blooming flowers, gurgling waterfalls! ‘A thing of beauty’ is not just joyful for poets and writers but for everyone. Visual Imagery related relaxation techniques are based on using calming visions to help in relaxation exercised. Similarly, watching violence in real or virtual world increased release of adrenaline and other stress hormones which cause physical and mental stress leading to mood disturbance, anger, irritability and consequent physical manifestations of body aches, headaches and gastrointestinal side effects. Therapies and therapy environment are thus kept simple, spacious and pleasant to senses to induce a sense of well-being both as part of natural loving or illness management.
  3. Hearing- The energy of sound is used widely in medical fields for how it affects cellular vibrations and hormonal secretions. Use of music is an age old method of improving mental well-being. From chanting mantras to latest sound baths, all rely on how pleasant sounds make us feel better. The negative impact of harsh sounds is all too understood and has even be utilised for criminal interrogation as means of breaking down people. The opposite is obviously true as well and hospitals, ICUs in modern medical facilities and surgeons in operation theatres use music to uplift mood and enhance positivity.
  4. Taste- According to Ayurvedic system of living,Food makes us who we are and various flavours and combinations of edible products have the ability to affect our emotions. In psychiatric parlance, the disorders around stress eating and impact of sweet and bitter flavours is widely studied. It’s also well known that mood affects the taste of food. Alternative therapies have thus used taste and aromas to help create positive and relaxed mental states. Similarly, the distinct categories of sattvik, rajasik and tamasik food in Ayurveda focuses on how food habits affect us both physically and mentally.
  5. Smell- Aroma therapies need no introduction. Smells are potent memory stimulants and emotions of. certain remote past are often felt intensely if associated with a certain smell. Thus use of lavender fragrance for calming the mind and inducing sleep, Jasmine fragrance for uplifting mood and desire, cinnamon fragrance for improving concentration etc are commonly known applications  to improve mental well-being.

Other than the sensory impressions, natural therapy relies on diet, exercises and daily rituals which are supposed to improve wellness and keep illness at bay. The use of fresh and locally available ingredients, evidence based use of herbs and spices for boosting relaxation and immunity, yogic poses and breathing techniques and daily rituals of bathing and grooming along with spiritual norms and practices like prayer, gratitude and faith etc all come together to maintain a healthy lifestyle for a healthy mind and body.

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Lower Back Pain: The 10 prominent causes of it

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In India, 20 percent people of 16-34 age group are treated for back and neck conditions in India. The percentage of young population going for back pain treatment is the highest, whereas, 45% people neglect their pain for more than 7 weeks which results to delayed treatment. Seeing the prevalence, the question arises how does lower back pain happen? Our lower back has a complex structure and it’s made up of the five lumbar vertebrae – L1 – L5. These are held together to form a column, by muscles and ligaments. The lumbar spine provides support for the back and takes most of the weight of the upper body. Therefore, the lower back is more prone to back pain than the upper back because the lower part of the back bears the mechanical load. 

Here are the 10 prominent causes of lower back pain, and some of them are connected to the spinal cord and nerves and others are linked to conditions:

Trauma or injury:

injury to low back and occur with small simple falls at home for example while walking down fast from the stairs or slipping in the bathroom.

While road traffic accidents can cause very bad back injuries right from simple fractures to complete spinal cord injuries paralysing people.

Sports injuries often result in sprains and tears in muscles/ ligaments of the lumbar spine. More Violent injury can cause an intervertebral disc to move out of its place like a toothpaste coming out of the tube and it creates pressure on the spinal cord.

Bad posture

Stooping or bad posture the next most common cause of low back pain. Most people which is entry lifestyle tend to slouch, while sitting for long hours and even while watching TV they do not take proper lumbar support. Long hours of continuous sitting can cause abnormal strain on the disc and can weaken the spinal muscles leading to backpain.

Degenerative Disease

With age, our joints gradually deteriorate due to general wear and tear. The intervertebral discs also similarly start to shrink and the nerve roots become strained. Even mobility of the spine is lost and it becomes stiff. In such a scenario, the spinal canal becomes narrowed, causing a serious condition where intense pressure on the spinal cord causes pain, numbness and difficulty walking called as neurogenic claudication.

Vitamin D deficiency

Recognise to be another major cause for unexplained low back pain, vitamin D deficiency has come as an epidermic and can simply be treated by checking and confirming the low levels and proper exercise and supplementation of vitamin D.

Arthritis:

Osteoarthritis and other type of arthritis including Rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis eventually affect our lower back. When arthritis occurs, it causes inflammation within the joints, erosion of cartilage and bone and consequent pain weakness of muscles.

Referred pain from abdomen or Kidney Stones.

When there is no structural or functional issue in the spine, still low back can happen due to referred in from Indra abdominal organs and kidney stones. Kidney stones can cause pain in the mod and lower back.

Pregnancy.

Backache or back pain is quite common during pregnancy, especially in the early stages. When a woman conceives, the ligaments become softer and it starts getting stretched to get her all set for the labour. This can put a strain on the joints of your lower back and pelvis, which can cause back pain.

Spinal Tumours

Many spinal tumours don’t have any symptoms but there are some that cause extreme back pain and neurological shortfalls including numbness and weakness. The location of the tumour in the spine plays a crucial role. It actually destroys the healthy tissue uch as the vertebrae (bones) in the spine, leading to back pain. About 70% of spinal tumors are located in the thoracic spine, which is located in the upper and middle part of the body.

Cauda equina syndrome

This is a emergency condition in which ruptured disc presses on the spinal cord causing symptoms in the lower limbs, and sometimes the bowel and bladder. If untreated it can result in permanent neurological damage and needs urgent surgical intervention.

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Challenges in Dementia care during Covid-19 pandemic

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Covid-19 pandemic has presented unprecedented threat especially to the elderly suffering from neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s. There is an additional burden of stigma, abuse, ageism, financial impoverishment, loneliness attached to dementia. Disruption of nonessential healthcare services like closure of Daycare centre due to fear of infection affected the treatment and care of the Alzheimer’s patients. A delay of few weeks to months may prove critical for people living with dementia. Especially an early diagnosis window of opportunity is lost.

Persons living with Dementia find it harder to comply with social distancing, usage of mask, gloves or sanitisation. The difficulty in comprehension of the above information manifests as agitation, restlessness, aggression and other problematic behavioural symptoms. Some older adults with dementia are often frail, with impaired mobility, respiratory reflexes are at a high risk of infection and mortality. As a result the caregivers role has become more challenging as dementia patients may not learn properly the use personal protection elements, such as wearing facial masks, washing hands, and keeping social distance and complying with other safeguarding procedures .

These patients are likely to experience additional distress owing to absence of relatives, friends and neighbours who would normally visit them. There is also a strict limitations of social activities such as going for a walk, visit to a place of worship, going for a holiday or shopping which they did on regular basis. This social isolation is linked to more confusion in the patients with Dementia and may result in greater agitation and aggression as well as other unexplained behaviour.

Before pandemic engaging in social activities, preforming cognitive and physical activities and having productive daily routine had been the mainstay therapy. But now and during Pandemic lockdown all that reversed and strict social isolation had to be observed along with other quarantine guidelines. We encourage providing interaction with loved ones, friends and pets on digital services like zoom, FaceTime to the people living with dementia. Also most religious places are zooming their daily prayer services on digital platforms like YouTube which can be easily watched at their convenience. All the above activities increases the “contact time” for people living with dementia. This will help in improving the behaviour issues in the patient and reducing the stress on the caregivers.

As a precaution Vaccinations for all Dementia patients, their prime caregivers as well as family members is recommended. This would give them a good protection from infection. Visitors to the patient should also be vaccinated. They should be wearing a mask for the entire duration of the visit. The place where the visitation is held should be well ventilated preferably outdoors. If the visitor has been exposed to anyone with the virus prior to 14 days , then postpone the visit. Inform the family member immediately if the visitor develops a fever or symptoms consistent with Covid 19 within 14 days of the visit. Check the temperature of the visitor or the caregiver before they enter the home. Ensure that they wash their hands upon arrival and regularly throughout the time they are with the patient. The caregivers as well as the visitors should be made aware that information delivery to people living with dementia must be preformed slowly with frequent pauses, in short simple sentences preferably with the use of audio visual aids.

During highly contagious stage of pandemic we advise the family that there is always a possibility that the caregiver might himself/ herself get infected with the pandemic and is unable to provide required support. Alternate sources of care including friends, relatives or volunteers need to be planned and prepared in advance. Since Dementia care in India is delivered mostly by informal caregivers usually family and women ( wife, daughter, daughter in law, sister) there is an increased burnout strain on them during pandemic due to higher dependency needs.

During and after the pandemic caregiver support is essential. Our team of counsellors at Alzheimer’s Related Disorders Society of India -Delhi Chapter have continuously provided that extra support to the families of dementia patients through tele- counselling and video consultation. We wish to resume our Day care services as early as possible with due precautions and integration with tele- medication to reduce the delay in early diagnosis and care.

The article has been compiled by Renu Vohra, Member Secretary, Alzheimer’s Related Disorders Society of India, Delhi Chapter.

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Meditation for a stable mind

B.K. Mohini

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Spiritual study and meditation stabilise our minds and help us move through times of confusion. We all know the feeling when we come to a fork in the road and suddenly face a choice. At a moment like this it is not practical, and can even be dangerous, to stop and figure it out, because there may be cars behind us. A sensible person will pull the car to the side of the road, put the car in neutral and give himself time to decide which is the right way to go.

The same happens in other parts of our lives. Some people get confused very quickly. Spiritually, when there is confusion, the best thing to do is to pull back from the situation, sit quietly and take the mind into even one moment of peace and silence. Just this one moment can bring great clarity.

Confusion is a subtle form of fear that brings anxiety. Perhaps something on the news disturbs us and we start imagining that the same thing could happen to us. It has never happened, and it is most unlikely that it will ever happen, but it creates anxiety, nevertheless. We begin to assume that it may happen and imagine how it would feel. When we invoke spiritual methods of regular and frequent moments of meditation, stillness, silence and peace, the mind comes to understand that everything will be alright, and even if such a thing did happen, we would know how to handle it at that time. The mind becomes calm and we stop worrying.

Spiritual study and meditation are invaluable practices to stabilise the mind and strengthen the awareness that we are able to deal with anything life may present to us.

Meditation links us with God and we then develop a state of peace so deep that we become unshakeable in the face of anything. We need this quality of mind because uncertain and unpredictable situations can happen at any time. Scenes are continuously changing. Even as they change, we have to remain stable and cultivate the ability to adapt, change, grow and thrive.

We can start with just a moment and then move to many moments of silence and peace throughout the day. This practice of meditation, coupled with deep spiritual understanding of how and why the world is changing the way it is, allows us to sustain an inner state of stability, tolerance and deep peace regardless of what is happening around us.

B.K. Mohini is the Additional Administrative Head of the Brahma Kumaris.

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Royally Speaking

UNDERSTANDING AND ANALYSING ANCESTRAL ACTIVISM

Dr Anjhula Bais

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The days have been flowing at a hectic, almost but not quite frenetic speed that has been all but normalised in the year that was 2020. The nights are even longer but have a distinctively spiritual and self-reflective quality. India is a cacophony of sights, sounds, smells, a sensorial fest where chaos is its equilibrium. But now India teeters around a dangerous flux. A flux around religion and autocracy as exemplified by the shutting down of Tanishq stores and the taking down of television ads due to religious tensions and also the shutting down of the  Amnestry International India office. As I sit in silence during the night, I reflect that in most interviews I do have some variation of this question: Why do you do what you do when you could literally and metaphorically sit on the throne, afford to do nothing and enjoy life? 

In the beginning, I blushed being called an activist, I felt silly, unsure of a label coming from without. As I thought about the earliest experiences and going back and visiting family and friends in Rajasthan and Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, I realise that activism is not something we do but largely who we are as Rajputs. I am fully cognisant that casteism is alive in India, I think about and identify with aspects of the Rajput caste from a cultural, historical, and clan identity lenses much like Dr Gounder and her Tamil roots. This is as opposed to viewing myself from a legacy of possessing hierarchical inalienable rights. In the simplest sense, our very identity, cultural upbringing, and multiple centuries of history render activism not a conscious choice but a way of life.

At conferences when I speak about decolonising psychology and a colonial mindset, I have our relative Raja Rao Ram Baksh Singh in mind. As the Raja Rao of Daundia Kehra of Unnao district of Uttar Pradesh (what was then Oudh province, a vassal state of the British East India Company), he was hanged by the British on 28 December 1857 for taking part in the revolt and being found guilty of killing British Soldiers. Demonstrating Rajputs’ long-held need and penchant for diplomacy, he was a close associate of Nana Sahib, the Indian Peshwa of the Maratha empire and a Brahmin by birth. Our history is steeped with strategic and tactical alliances such as that between Mughal emperor Akbar and the many zealously independent Hindu Rajputs he came across. Through marital alliances and certain tax abolishments, religious discrimination was reduced. Arguably, Rajputs were hard to pin down and viewed as tough. Policies of suzerainty, conciliation, and an enrichment of all were seeded through taking interest in other religions and active discussion. As a result, centres of cultures flourished.

As a little girl, my earliest memories are first paying respect to the ancient Durga mandir on the estate followed by a visit to the memorial the Government of India built in 1992 to honour Raja Rao’s death. I would then watch my grandfather Thakur CB Singh Bais sitting straight and dignified holding court in the cold early morning sunshine in the subregions of Baiswara, where he dealt and sorted a diverse ray of issues from land grabs, zoning, running for office to domestic violence. All of this he did with equilibrium and unmistakable judicious wisdom and dignity. Even though I was running around petting my goats and eating matar ki sabzi, this laid the groundwork for the modern-day workings of our Rajput legacy. 

If before there were preoccupations about war to protect land, genealogy, and the population at large, that protection now comes in forms like that of girl education as championed by Princess Diya Kumari and my father who famously said “You have the face to be on a cover but you also have the brains, be the editor”.  Once when my father Thakur Birendra Bikram Singh Bais asked my grandfather about my elder sister’s marriage prospects, my grandfather replied with feminist infused wisdom, “If you want your happiness, arrange it. If you want her happiness, let her choose”. Often India, and Rajasthan, in particular, are criticised for gender regressive norms yet there are important pockets of free and liberated thinking such as the push for autonomy my grandfather displayed that the next generation of Rajput nobles must capitalise on.

Society in its current avatar is built on cavalier extremism buoyed by the anonymity of social media, a cancel culture, and fragility where tolerance for disagreement and uncertainty is next to nil because of the echo chambers we surround ourselves with. Post-independence, Rajputs have been firm but flexible: reimagining their purpose whilst anchored to a deeply held sense and knowing of resiliency. This Noblesse obliges that extends beyond entitlement and into the realm of serving is what Rajputs can use to strengthen the fabric of society. Indeed, the cultural pull of leadership and identity is so strong that often populations are predisposed to listen to the ‘ruler’ of their hearts rather than a political leader like a Chief Minister. Viewed through the lens of epigenetics and the psychoanalytical collective consciousness; fearlessness, the strength of mind, body, and spirit continue to populate Rajput societies. For the greater good, stability, and peace to prevail, there must be a continued expansion not of land but of mind. The agile cultures are the ones at an evolutionary advantage. We look to replacing deeply patriarchal practices and upholding the dignity of women through education and gender equity, according to her the respect of a goddess not in some, but every realm now. 

No subculture gets it fully right yet it is crucial to realise what we bring to the table. Rajputs are poised to do activism and build bridges precisely because the ancestral history is one of being guardians and custodians of nature and the people, advocating for just and equitable rule (first amongst equals). Going one step further, the current generation must necessarily grapple and think about colourism, casteism, and the relevance of royalty. What are our ways of being that are no longer pertinent and what are ways to take intergenerational nobility, fierceness, and valour and reshape it so it is 21st century fit for purpose? My answer continues to be human rights. 

Dr Anjhula Singh Bais is Founder, Director, Consultant Psychologist at Fourth Dimension Consultancy. She is a Young Global Leader, World Economic Forum, Fellow, Apolitical Academy & Recipient, American Psychological Association Global Citizen Psychologist Citation. 

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