Emerging from waves of Covid-19 pandemic, more than ever, we must prioritise the mental health of the growing minds — the children and adolescents. It is our collective responsibility to keep the well-being of young ones at the forefront in the preparation for future Covid-19 waves and recovery plans. Generation Z is quietly perceiving the layers of changes in our lives since the virus encroached on our spaces in early 2020. Now, while the much-awaited return to school is exciting for many, there would be children feeling anxious or even frightened (UNICEF, Aug 2020) to go back to regular school.
This is a time of the year when adolescents would have been spending days at school and college in the company of hundreds of others, preparing for school rituals, sports events, carving out their future plans, but, throughout the last year and a half, they are instead trudging through a difficult new normal. The virus brought in many stressors to the psychological environment, the impact of which is yet to be played out in statistical data charts and graphs to analyse the repercussions on society and the upcoming generation. The pandemic control measures have contributed to new mental health issues or a worsening of existing ones in all but the impact ripples are far and wide or even beyond what we can think now in the teens and adolescent age group.
Some children or youth may be grieving the loss of a parent or a loved one, others may be living in fear of the disease or fear of losing a bread earner in the family or a job. Millions in our country have been dropped out of school despite their and parents’ best efforts to educate them due to their inability to get a device or internet connectivity.
Adolescents across all socio-economic groups have been struggling to adjust to a life without the structure that a traditional school day provides. Social isolation, lack of peer support and the need for personal/ real-world connection seems to be growing. The lost sense of school life’s demands and timely examinations to keep the learning minds occupied have been creating tension in the psychological environment of every child. Out of all, children of essential workers and homeless children are at increased risk for having to live within the confines of homes on their own without adult supervision and the other without the basic amenities of life now made worse under the pandemic.
Across socio-economic conditions, there are children trapped in dysfunctional families with physical, verbal and even sexual abuse, and there’re those living with stressed adults who have been resorting to substance abuse within the confines of homes. To add to the list, flaring up of cyber dependency has been alarmingly on the rise as screen time for children are now the highest in our recent history.
With increasing stress comes an increased risk for mental health symptoms or reemergence of dormant disease, at a time when there are fewer options for getting the support that can help lower stress levels. These are various factors identified as Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), and we know from research studies that when young people have these early experiences, they face an increased risk of lifelong morbidity or mortality.
When schools begin to reopen, we will need to implement more formal structures for mental health screening in the institutes and community settings. We must take precautionary measures against stigma and superstitions affecting caregiving, and there should be social laws in place to minimise the stigma around mental health conditions.
We all know law affects the operation of stigma in society and is the most efficient tool for blunting the effects of prejudice and stigma by protecting the diseased person against harmful conduct from miscreants/ ignorant lot in the society. The authorities must propagate strong messages in the society to create an inclusive environment for the people needing psychiatric help. India’s mental healthcare system needs strengthening. The authorities should now proactively implement the Mental Healthcare Act 2017. And this is a time when there is a dire need for integrated mental healthcare policy in the country covering all aspects of a sick mind.
We also need to enhance mental health awareness and stigma-busting programs in the local dialect or language through government and private sector initiatives. We should expand social-emotional learning programs to help build resilience in the growing minds. Capacity building for mental health management is an immediate must to meet a looming calamity, and suicide prevention programs should be revamped. There is a serious shortage of mental healthcare workers in India, the numbers of which according to WHO are: psychiatrists (0.3), nurses (0.12), psychologists (0.07) and social workers (0.07) for a population of 100,000.
Tele-psychiatry may be an immediate possible solution with such deficient conditions and it has proven to be a promising tool with children and adolescents, more so in emergencies.
Authorities must support schools and behavioural health care agencies in working together to ensure that when schools reopen, students will have the mental health services they need on campuses and in their communities to provide screenings, interventions, and referrals.
Our young people are the future of our country. We must remember that the period from age 10 to 25 remains a critical time of brain development and maturation. Both the experiences our young people face now and the support they receive from us in coping with and navigating these challenges will have profound impacts on their abilities to be successful adults, parents, and citizens for years to come.
The writer is a medical doctor (pathologist) and holds an MA in Creative Writing from the University of London. The views expressed are personal.
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AICTE AND MINISTRY OF EDUCATION’S INNOVATION CELL CELEBRATE NATIONAL START-UP DAY
The All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) and the Ministry of Education’s Innovation Cell (MIC) today celebrated the ‘National Start-up Day’ and highlighted 75 innovative technologies with start-up potential to receive grants assistance, mentorship, and incubation linkage support.
These innovations were part of the e-exhibition held during the Innovation Week that started on January 10. During the Innovation Week, more than 500 innovations and startups showcased their work virtually. The Innovation Week concluded today with an announcement of marking the day as ‘National Start-up Day’ by Hon’ble Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi.
The innovations and start-ups were selected from a host of programs like the National Innovation Contest, Smart India Hackathon, and Toycathon that were conducted by the Ministry of Education. These 75 innovations and start-ups have developed a range of technological solutions and services that will work across 16 different themes and sectors.
Among the start-ups, ‘BioMANS’ (Bio-Based Biodegradable Advance Material) produces a wide range of utility products for daily use like carry bags, medical bibs, cotton earbuds, disposable cutlery, etc. from agricultural waste. The start-up is working to curb single-use plastic pollution.
Another start-up named “Fenice Technical Solutions” incubated at Dr. MGR Educational and Research Institute offers solution in Robotics and Drones segment. Their innovative product ‘Clog Removing Autonomous Bot’ (CRAB) is to clear blocks and clogs in underground sewer and metro pipelines.
“Motion Sensing Glove” is a unique technical tool to assist the physiotherapists has been developed by a team of students and is currently being incubated at Punjab University. The device suggests the best and optimal moves for a patient undergoing physio rehabilitation treatment. The founding team is working in the direction to use AI and ML-based data analysis to further improve its usability.
The MoE’s Innovation Cell and AICTE offers a wide range of policy programs and handholding initiatives to promote and support innovation and startups in educational institutions
Prof. Anil D Sahasrabudhe, Chairman, AICTE emphasised that: “Toycathon and Toy Business league (TBL) are best platforms for both school and college students to collaborate with industries to commercialise their creative outputs. So far 55 toy manufacturers have collaborated with Toycathon winners to refine and manufacture their products”.
Commenting on the success of the programme, Dr. Abhay Jere, Chief Innovation Officer (CIO), MIC, said: “We started with 30,000 ideas from students and faculty. After multiple levels of screening, scrutiny, and training, we have now identified 75 innovations that have really good start-up potential. We are offering them funding support up to Rs.10 lakh each and will monitor their progress for the next two years”.
Highlighting the importance of the initiative, Prof. M.P. Poonia, Vice-Chairman, AICTE, said: “The AICTE has already introduced and institutionalised a new academic program at master’s level on Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Venture Development (MBA/PGDM in IEV) for technical institutions with incubation units to offer this program. So far 21 HEIs are running this program and helping young minds to undertake the career of innovation and start-up as part of the academic. This academic program is a reformative step and aligned with NEP’s multidisciplinary approach and to produce job creators from academic institutions”.
Seems like unfinished business: Akasa on her Bigg Boss 15 journey
In this exclusive conversation, Akasa spoke about her journey in the reality show, rumours of her re-entering the show, her bond with some of the housemates and much more.
Singer Akasa, who was recently seen in Bigg Boss 15, joined us for a candid chat as part of NewsX India A-List. In the exclusive conversation, Akasa spoke about her journey in the reality show, rumours of her re-entering the show, her bond with some of the housemates and much more. Read excerpts:
Talking about her Bigg Boss 15 journey, Akasa said, “The journey was interesting. It took me a while to adjust to the kind of people or the surrounding that I was in. I don’t think I have ever been in such a situation or such vibes before. In the first week, I was like I just want to go home because there are a lot of things that I have not experienced in life yet. I have never had to just use people’s emotions for a game, play with relations and ruin friendships. It was difficult for me to do that and I could not do that till the end. I was like I am just not letting go of morals or my beliefs just for something that will get me more footage. Having said that, there were a lot of things that I learnt much later in the show. It is unfortunate that when I did start opening up or showing my personality, speaking up, playing the game, it was time for me to go home. Overall, the journey was interesting but it seems like unfinished business.”
Addressing rumours of her re-entering the show and whether she would like to re-enter the show, Akasa stated, “I would, for sure. I feel like I got out and I was like ‘No, let me back in. I just started playing’. It changed because next week I was like ‘Do I really?’ A lot of my friends and family said that we are so glad you are out of there because they could see how uncomfortable I was. I do feel a lot. I can’t let go of things. Having said that, overtime watching it, I learnt so many more things. I learnt what it is about, what I should not have done or who is who. I feel like there is so much more untapped potential, there is so much more I have to give and it is unfair that I haven’t yet, whether to the audience or myself. I would definitely like to go back and play my game.”
“Apparently other people know of some things that I don’t but the makers haven’t approached me yet. There are some talks that were going on but not really, nothing is confirmed yet,” she added.
Speaking about her connections with the housemates, especially with Pratik Sehejpal, Akasa said, ‘For me, because I didn’t do anything according to the game, I don’t know. I couldn’t bitch about people. Even if it was required of me, I used to walk out. I don’t know how to fake something, which is why you saw me with some people and didn’t see with some people. I thought even the friendship with Tejasswi was real. They only showed my connection with Pratik but I made more friends than Pratik. I had a close bond with Simba, Umar. Even with the amount of fights I had with Afsana, we did have a Punjabi connection. With Pratik, it was more than just the game. When we spoke, we were not strategizing or thinking about the game. We used to talk about life and we genuinely formed a friendship. Hell yes, the friendship will continue with Pratik for sure.”
A CHRONICLE OF INDIA’S MODIFICATION
The following has been extracted from ‘The Modi Gambit: Decoding Modi 2.0’ written by Sanju Verma. The excerpt is the book’s Foreword and is written by T.V. Mohandas Pai.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power in 2014 with an overwhelming majority. People voted him in with very high expectations of change and development which sixty-seven years of Independence had not yielded. And PM Modi and his NDA government delivered. Many Indians saw development – road connectivity, pucca housing, LPG cylinders, sanitation, electrification, and financial inclusion, come to their vicinity for the first time in their lifetimes.
The perceptible upliftment in citizens’ lives prompted them to vote PM Modi back in 2019 with an even larger majority. Citizens had embraced the change, especially the previously underserved – women and rural Indians. They perceived the lack of corruption in the Modi 1.0 regime. They appreciated his prioritizing execution of development, above all else. Several structural reforms of Modi 1.0 have positively impacted the economy. Demonetization has cleaned up the black money economy leading to increased tax collections and placing cronies under bankruptcy. The GST reforms have unified tax protocols and cleaned up the system. Despite the empty rhetoric of the Lutyens media that predicted PM Modi would lose badly, in 2019, citizens voted him back based on his strong performance record in the first term and expectations of continuity in the second.
Modi 2.0 started off with a strong impetus on continued development and empowerment. Access to clean water was one of the first priorities; the Jal Jeevan Mission was launched and has already impacted four crore households. Socio-political measures like the Citizenship Amendment Act and abrogation of Article 370 are addressing long-standing issues in India. From banning the instant triple talaq to putting the houses constructed under PM Awaas Yojana in the name of the woman of the house, women empowerment continues to be a major pillar of socio-economic development. Modi 2.0 was strongly following the PM’s vision of Modi 1.0 – that by August 2022 marking 75 years of the Republic of India, no Indian would be deprived of the necessities of life. India surpassed both France and the UK to become a Top 5 economy in 2020.
The Modi government has fared well on the inflation front, with average CPI rising 4.8% per annum against 7.8% during the first seven years of the Manmohan Singh government. The former performed better on the foreign exchange front too, with Forex reserves rising from $313 billion in May, 2014, to over $600 billion in June, 2021.
Today, India hosts the third-largest startup ecosystem, after the US and China. From around 24,927 companies recognized as startups in November 2019 by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), the number has risen to 50,000 startups in June 2021. The Modi government’s flagship scheme to promote the Indian startup ecosystem, namely Startup India, has witnessed a 100%+ growth in the number of government-recognized startups in the Modi 2.0 era. With over 26 startups being recognized by the government every day, New India is rapidly growing as a startup hub; commendable, given that the Startup India initiative was launched only as recently as January 2016.
DPIIT’s Vision document of 50,000 new startups, 20 lakh direct and indirect jobs by 2024 along with 500 new incubators and accelerators, 100 innovation zones in urban local bodies and seven research parks to help startups, is certainly on track. The SIDBI Fund-of-Funds (FoF) does not invest directly into startups but offers capital to SEBI registered Alternative Investment Funds (AIFs) as daughter funds, who in turn fund startups through equity and equity-linked instruments. Out of the existing Rs 10,000 crore FoF, as of February 18, 2020, SIDBI had committed Rs 3123.20 crore to 47 AIFs. These AIFs have invested Rs 3378.47 crore into 320 startups, out of which Rs 912.91 crore was drawn from the FoF. This is a great start towards channeling domestic capital into India’s accelerating startup ecosystem.
On the food and agriculture front, the Modi government broke all records with respect to foodgrain production, with 300 plus million tonnes of output in FY21 – a first in over seven decades. In the meantime, policy makers are working overtime to boost demand, support MSMEs and invest more in health, agri-infrastructure and the rural economy. These initiatives will augment productive employment and work towards increasing incomes across India.
Amid this unprecedented development trajectory in Modi 2.0, the Covid-19 pandemic struck. Lives and livelihoods were at stake at a level unheard of in our lifetimes. The Modi government was under tremendous stress to save both – lives and livelihoods. It took a courageous decision to enter a nationwide lockdown to prevent large-scale losses and buy the time to set up the necessary infrastructure. The production of critical items like PPE, ventilators and masks were ramped up from near-zero to near-export-surplus levels in a matter of months. A Rs 30 lakh crore relief package (Central government’s stimulus plus RBI’s stimulus) consisting of a slew of fiscal and monetary measures was launched. Atma Nirbhar Bharat – the vision of a self-reliant India was launched after decades of Independence, along with an imperative to spur local manufacturing with a Vocal for Local flavour.
The second wave of Covid-19 this year has been devastating for every major country. In any country, capacity and infrastructure will always be unprepared for peak stress events such as this unprecedented pandemic. Any other leader would have thrown in the towel. But PM Modi showed extraordinary grit. The Modi government has been taking all possible actions, including launching one of the world’s fastest and largest vaccination programs. Over a billion doses were administered by October21, 2021, with a goal of vaccinating the entire adult population by the end of the year. Meanwhile, foreign policy efforts continue to successfully place India as a top, strategic ally beyond the neighbourhood.
Sanju Verma has been a keen observer of the social, political and economic changes propagated during both the Modi 1.0 and Modi 2.0 regimes. Her previous book “Truth & Dare – The Modi Dynamic” is a detailed chronicle of the Modi 1.0 era where she bases her observations and conclusions on data and facts. Sanju has made a stellar contribution with this new book as well; factual and based on data, not conjecture. It is a must read for anyone who seeks to understand the detailed strategies and vision behind PM Modi’s measures, and the impact of governance on the socio-economic development of 1.38 billion people. India requires more chronicles like this one so that citizens can track the progress of the economy and society.
T.V. Mohandas Pai is Chairman, Aarin Capital.
This book talks at length about various milestones achieved in last two years of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s remarkable second term at the helm.Path breaking reforms like labour code, banking consolidation,denationalisation of coal, making of a V-shaped recovery the PLI scheme, eRUPI, Gatishakti Masterplan, privatization of Air India, unrelenting fight against Covid and of course, historic milestone of crossing a billion doses under world’s largest vaccination drive, reflect PM Modi’s resolute determination.
Abrogation of Article 370,Ram Mandir verdict, banning instant triple talaq, QUAD summit, victories in Bihar & Assam, massive seat-share rise in West Bengal, National Education Policy and of course, PM Modi’s massive contribution to climate justice have been discussed threadbare.
The Congress Party ruled India for decades together but even basics like toilets, sanitation facilities uninterrupted electricity and access to banking facilities remained a mirage. Prime Minister Modi’s biggest legacy is the incorruptible nature of his government where tolerance for corruption is zero.
Introduction of the book has been written by one of the tallest leaders in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), B.L.Santhosh who is the National General Secretary (Organization) of the BJP. Foreword has been written by the erudite Padma Shri Mohandas Pai while Afterword has been written by ace journalist, Anand Narasimhan Managing Editor at CNN News 18. The book has some very interesting takes on Modi 2.0 by Padma Shri, Dr. Sanjeev Bagai and one of India’s most reputed wealth managers Porinju Veliyath, who also shares his insights on PM Modi’s path breaking work. Apart from the fearless journalist and now entrepreneur Rohan Dua testimonials from Padma Bhushan Dr. Devi Prasad Shetty and Ashish Chauhan CEO of Bombay Stock Exchange are worth a read and endorse the brilliant work done by the author Sanju Verma in capturing every mega achievement of Modi 2.0.
I am my biggest critique: Avinash Dagar
As part of the exclusive conversation, Avinash spoke to us about his journey from TikTok to Instagram, the challenges he faced, and much more.
Comedy Content Creator Avinash Dagar recently joined NewsX for an exclusive conversation as part of NewsX Influencer A-List. As part of the conversation, Avinash spoke to us about his journey from TikTok to Instagram, the challenges he faced, and much more. Read excerpts here:
Avinash started the conversation by talking about the kind of content he makes. He revealed, ” I started making content when I was in school. And since school, I have been the goofy kind who cracks jokes to entertain the entire class. When I found that there was such a thing as content creation on the internet, I decided to widen my audience from the classroom to the country. I was 16 years old when I started making videos and my first medium was YouTube.” The creator further said that the ban on TikTok was a major setback for him. “However, my journey has been full of experiences. I had to start over on a new platform but I wasn’t starting from scratch. I had learned a lot on TikTok. I had already posted a shoutout on TikTok to follow me on Instagram and in no time my followers increased from 7k to 35k. “
The influencer then spoke about the challenges that he faced during the transition from TikTok to Instagram. He exclaimed, ” I personally did not face any such issues while shifting to Instagram. The only thing that bothered me was the YT vs TikTok row that took place some time ago. Because of a few people’s opinions, all us content creators were being dragged into the controversy.” Talking about the backlashes he has faced over the years, Avinash said, ” We can’t keep everyone happy. My fans must not like all of my videos. I only posts the videos that I find funny because I am the first consumer of my content.” The creator went on to say that he is his biggest critique. ” Just like I am my first viewer, I am my critique. I take at least 15-20 takes for one single video.”
When asked how he earns through making content on Instagram, he replied, ” Instagram doesn’t monetize its content yet. We only earn through brand collaborations and advertisements. Getting promotions and ads depends on your work as well as your team. One thing is for sure that I wouldn’t be earning so well from any job out there. I feel extremely lucky to have chosen this field. “
Lastly, Avinash advised suggested other budding content creators to make relatable content for the audience.
The goal is to make people smile: Yuvraj Dua
Comedy Content Creator Yuvraj Dua recently joined NewsX for an exclusive conversation as part of NewsX Influencer A-List. As part of the conversation, Yuvraj spoke to us about his journey, his social media growth, content creation on Instagram and much more.
Speaking about his journey, Yuvraj said, “I did my graduation BSC Physical Science & Electronics then I dropped one year to attempt UPSC. Post that, I did my diploma in English Journalism because I had a lot of interest in cricket presentation, as I wanted to become Jatin Sapru. I wanted to stand in the ground and talk about cricket. After that, there comes a point when your heart says that my 100% passion is not in this. Comedy has been my second nature. Not just me, but most of the people in my family have this. We talk like that. I said why not explore that. I liked camera. I used to stand in front of the camera, analyse the game, and always bring humour into it. I thought there are so many influencers and content creators. Why can’t I do what they are doing?! For me, influencing and content creation is secondary. First and foremost, my passion is to make people laugh. I want to spread smiles among millions of people.”
Talking about the growth of his social media presence on Instagram, he added, “I uploaded my first video on 21st March, 2021. It was 5-10 second video. After that, I started uploading these kinds of videos. You learn with the process. There is no other way of content creation. You upload videos, check the response and take feedback. With time, I started getting more creative. I started giving more time to it. Slowly, as it became a fun thing, then it became beautiful. Especially when you have an external motivation of gaining more and more followers, then everything works out.”
When asked where and how does he find motivation to create content amid a phase when there is less engagement on posts, Yuvraj responded, “I am a firm believer of belief. If you have the belief in your ability, like I have the belief that I am producing good content, then that should resonate with people. I have the belief that I am doing good work. It is different thing that I haven’t gained that kind of recognition yet. I have a few thousand followers but I know my work is good. If I keep doing this consistently, then I shouldn’t have two thoughts about it and my belief in myself. There comes a moment of self doubt but you got to make yourself understand the importance of consistency and good, decent and honest work. If you keep doing it, you will get there one day. Consistency is very important and self doubt comes anyways. That is how the human mind is.”
Watch the entire interview on NewsX YouTube:
STUDY FINDS SELF-PERCEPTIONS OF STRESS, AGEING HAVE SIGNIFICANT INFLUENCE ON PHYSICAL HEALTH
According to a recent study, dwelling on negative aspects of ageing can have a measurable negative impact on your physical health and ability to respond to stress.
The research has been published in the ‘Journals of Gerontology’. Using daily survey data from older adults over a period of 100 days, OSU researchers found that people who reported more positive self-perceptions of ageing were more insulated from the physical effects of stress compared with people who felt more negatively about their own ageing.
“Better self-perceptions of ageing are good for your health, regardless of how much stress you have, or how much stress you perceive you have,” said Dakota Witzel, lead author on the paper and a doctoral candidate in OSU’s College of Public Health and Human Sciences.
Research on stress has long found that daily and chronic stress is linked to physical health symptoms, including higher blood pressure, heart disease, and loss of cognitive function. These effects are linked not just to objective stress, but to perceived stress: people’s subjective appraisal of an experience as stressful.
Using responses from 105 Oregon adults aged 52 to 88 who took part in daily online surveys in 2010 via OSU’s Personal Understanding of Life and Social Experiences (PULSE) study, researchers measured participants’ perceived stress and physical health over a period of 100 days, along with an initial set of questions to gauge their self-perceptions of ageing.
The questions asked participants to agree or disagree with statements like “Today, I felt difficulties were piling up so high I could not overcome them,” and “As you get older, you are less useful.”
On average, higher perceived stress was related to worse self-perceptions of ageing and worse physical health symptoms, while more positive self-perceptions of ageing were related to fewer health symptoms.
On days when individuals with more negative self-perceptions of ageing reported more stress than normal, they reported almost three times more physical health symptoms than individuals with more positive self-perceptions of ageing. In other words, positive self-perceptions of ageing had a protective effect against the physical health implications of stress.
This meant that thought patterns or conversations that reinforce or exaggerate various stereotypes of ageing physically impact people’s lives, Witzel said.
“These things are truly important for our health and well-being, not only long-term, but in our day-to-day life,” she said.
“The likelihood of reporting these physical health symptoms is significantly decreased, on average, when you have better self-perceptions of ageing,” she added.
Self-perception of ageing is an area where simple interventions can make a difference, Witzel said. An easy step is to acknowledge that putting a positive spin on the ageing process will have a real impact on your physical health. That doesn’t mean adults should dismiss real health concerns or plaster on a fake smile, she said, but they will see benefits if they consciously work to be more positive about ageing.
“It’s kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy,” Witzel said.
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