NEW RULES NOTIFIED TO MAKE SOCIAL MEDIA AND OTT PLATFORMS ACCOUNTABLE - The Daily Guardian
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NEW RULES NOTIFIED TO MAKE SOCIAL MEDIA AND OTT PLATFORMS ACCOUNTABLE

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Section 144 CrPC order on social media

It warms the innermost cockles of my heart to see that the Centre has in a bold, balanced and brilliant move weeks after a long spat with Twitter very rightly decided to take the right course of action of tightening of rules governing social media and streaming companies, requiring them to take down contentious content quicker, appoint grievance redressal officers and assist probe. This comes in the backdrop of so many anti-India messages being propagated on Whatsapp, Twitter and other social media platforms which were less against farm laws but more against the very unity and integrity of India by espousing a separate nation for Sikhs termed as ‘Khalistan’. How can any self respecting nation ever tolerate this brazen, open and completely anti-India activity to be carried on so brazenly in social media without being held liable to anyone?

Needless to say, when there are rules for news channels and for newspapers then why should the social media and news media also not be held accountable? It is therefore in the fitness of things that Centre has after considering the pros and cons decided to finally take the bull by the horns! There is no reason why this should not be appreciated, applauded and admired in no uncertain terms.

After all, how can we be oblivious of the irrefutable fact that concerns have been raised about abuse of platform in social media and news media for airing anti-India views in Supreme Court as also in Parliament itself? We all know too well that just recently on February 15, 2021, the Supreme Court Bench comprising of Chief Justice Sharad Arvind Bobde and Justice AS Bopanna and Justice V Ramasubramanian had agreed to examine the new privacy policy of Whatsapp under which it had allegedly planned to share the data of its users with Facebook and other companies. So we finally see that for social media platforms, the draft titled ‘Information Technology (Guidelines for Intermediaries and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021’ has been notified replacing the moribund and outdated previous Code from 2011 that will now govern online content which includes allowing users to dispute action taken against them by social media intermediaries such as Facebook and Twitter and others and hold social media, news media and other companies accountable for “misuse and abuse”. This will also obligate the big tech platforms to constitute stronger grievance redressal mechanisms and appoint executives to coordinate with law enforcement in India.

Truth be told, these rules very rightly makes it mandatory to identify the ‘first originator’ of the content that authorities consider anti-national. It is good to see that for social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, etc the guidelines essentially remove the “safe harbor” provided to these companies – it wrongly limited their liability over content that users posted on their platforms – if the platforms do not comply with due diligence norms. The rules also call for a three-tier regulation mechanism for over-the-top (OTT) platforms like Netflix, YouTube etc and require them to self-classify their content into five categories based on age suitability.

It must be mentioned here that online curated content that is suitable for children and for people of all ages shall be classified as “U”, and content that is suitable for persons aged 7 years and older and which can be viewed by a person under the age of 7 years with parental guidance, shall be classified as “U/A7+ rating. Similarly, the content that is suitable for persons aged 13 years and above and can be viewed by a person under the age of 13 years with parental guidance shall be classified as “U/A13+ rating. Also, content which is suitable for persons aged 16 years and above, and can be viewed by a person under the age of 16 years with parental guidance shall be classified as “U/A16+ rating.

It also deserves to be mentioned that online curated content which is restricted to adults shall be classified as “A” rating. Platforms would be required to implement parental locks for content classified as U/A13+ or higher, and reliable age verification mechanisms for content that is classified as “A”. Very rightly so!

It would be pertinent to mention here that Ravi Shankar Prasad who is the Union Minister for Electronics and Information Technology very rightly pointed out that, “The rules establish a soft touch, self-regulatory architecture and a Code of Ethics and a three-tier grievance redressal mechanism for news publishers and OTT Platforms and digital media”. He also clarified in no uncertain terms that social media intermediaries are welcome to do business in India and while the government welcomes dissent, abuse of social media has to be curbed. Also, Union Minister of Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Prakash Javadekar very rightly said that , “A free press symbolises the spirit of democracy, but no one should be allowed to spread fake news.” He also hastened to rightly add that while legacy media were governed by Press Council of India rules, there has been no such regulations for online media, stressing the need for a level playing field. No denying it!

What’s more, beyond streaming and messaging, the Code will also set guidelines for digital publishers of news and current affairs content requiring them to disclose their ownership and other information. Ravi Shankar Prasad rightly said that the Code was needed to make social media and OTT companies accountable for “abuse”.

It must be borne in mind that at a press conference, Union Law & IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had cited a 2018 Supreme Court observation and also a 2019 Supreme Court order in addition to discussion in Rajya Sabha which took place once in 2018 and then through a report laid by a Committee in 2020 to finally press ahead for the dire need to come up with rules to “empower the ordinary users of digital platforms to seek redressal for their grievances and command accountability in case of infringement of their rights.” It also cannot be overlooked that the government has not done it in a hurry as an “overnight exercise” but rather it has been first discussed, debated and deliberated upon each and every aspect of it for over three years. For this Centre has to be applauded in no uncertain terms.

Not just this, Centre as revealed by a statement by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting said that it held consultations in Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai over the past one-and-a-half years wherein OTT operators had been urged to develop a “self-regulatory mechanism”. The statement also added that, “The government also studied the regulatory models followed in other countries including Singapore, Australia, EU and UK and has gathered that most of them either have an institutional mechanism to regulate digital content or are in the process of setting-up one.” Very rightly so!

To put things in perspective, the rules are definitely users friendly as they seek to empower users by mandating the intermediaries which includes social media ones, to establish a grievance redressal mechanism. A Grievance Officer appointed for the purpose shall acknowledge the complaint within 24 hours and resolve it within fifteen days. Also, social media platforms on being asked by court or government will be required to disclose the first originator of the mischievous information that undermines the sovereignty of India, security of the state or public order which till now they were not obliged to disclose! This has to be welcomed in no uncertain terms!

As it turned out, the government also made it clear that, “The rules will come in effect from the date of their publication in the gazette except for the additional due diligence for significant social media intermediaries, which shall come in effect three months after publication of these rules.”

Of course, it has been rightly reported that social media companies need to appoint officers who will be responsible for complying with content moderation orders and both they and streaming service providers will be brought under a three-tier regulatory framework, according to the proposed new rules that will cover high profile media companies such as Facebook and OTTs such as Netflix. Apart from this, it has already been stated above that these platforms will have to carry ratings such as (U)Universal or (Adult) – something they are not required to do currently. This is definitely a good development.

No doubt, the final trigger for pushing ahead with these guidelines came after it was reported that more than 300 to 400 anti-India messages were sent from Pakistan alone and about 1500 from other countries to incite violence and which we saw culminating in the most infamous and worst unprecedented violence in Red Fort on January 26 due to which Centre and Twitter were deeply embroiled in a huge spat over the removal of certain accounts from social media platform but which was not complied with by them accordingly and it was after huge pressure that Twitter initially while refusing to remove allegedly inflammatory tweets and hashtags supporting farmer protests finally agreed to withdraw them! It must be noted that in the Information Technology (Guidelines for Intermediaries and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, the government cited powers provided to it under Section 87 of the Information Technology Act, 2000. This Section 87 allows the government to make rules to carry out the provisions of the law by notification in the Official Gazette and in the Electronic Gazette.

Be it noted, the policy which has been notified on evening of February 25 also brings digital news publishers under the ambit of Section 69(A) of the Information Technology Act which empowers the government to order the blocking of access to content that is considered a threat to public order. It is true that the new rules take effect immediately but it is equally true that significant social media providers (based on number of users) will get three months before they need to start complying. We need to pay attention here to this vital fact that an authorized officer from the I&B Ministry who will head an Inter-Ministerial Committee at the apex of the self-regulatory system can also issue this order under emergency circumstances where the companies will not be given a chance to offer an explanation. The Committee will have to meet within 48 hours to ratify the emergency block.

Please read concluding on thedailyguardian.

What is capturing maximum eyeballs is the commendable rules that lay down 10 categories of content that the social media platform should not host. These include content that “threatens the unity, integrity, defence, security or sovereignty of India, friendly relations with foreign States, or public order, or causes incitement to the commission of any cognizable offence or prevents investigation of any offence or is insulting any foreign States”; “is defamatory, obscene, pornographic, paedophilic, invasive of another privacy, including bodily privacy; insulting or harassing on the basis of gender; libelous, racially or ethnically objectionable; relating or encouraging money laundering or gambling, or otherwise inconsistent with or contrary to the laws of India”, etc. It is also really good to note that the rules stipulate that upon receipt of information about the platform hosting prohibited content from a court or the appropriate government agency, it should remove the said content most promptly within 36 hours.

It has to be said with a big smile on face that Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad was fully right when he underscored that the platforms cannot follow double standards when it comes to different countries. He rightly said that, “There can’t be a double standard for Capitol Hill and Red Fort violence.” We all saw how all human rights activists all over the world condemned the violence by supporters of former US President Donald Trump but those very same activists start questioning Indian government itself when it comes to Red Fort violence even though no force was used against those vandalisers who never deserved so much of kid glove treatment! This is what pinches us most as an Indian!

It is a no-brainer that what Centre has done now was the crying need of the hour also! Now the executives of intermediaries which fail to act on an order issued by the government citing threat to sovereignty or integrity, defence, security of the state or public order, can be jailed for up to a period of seven years under Section 69 of the IT Act. The Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) whose members include Amazon Prime, Netflix, Hotstar, Facebook and Twitter very rightly welcomed the announcement of the framework. It said in a statement that, “IAMAI has welcomed the much awaited Intermediary Guidelines 2021. The guidelines, focused primarily on consumer complaints, will help users of online content and social media resolve their complaints in a process oriented manner.” A Facebook spokesperson said that, “We have always been clear as a company that we welcome regulations that set guidelines for addressing today’s toughest challenges on the Internet. Facebook is committed to people’s ability to freely and safely express themselves on our platforms.” The spokesperson for Facebook also added that, “We acknowledge and appreciate the recognition from the Minister on the positive contributions of social media to the country. Facebook is an ally for India and the agenda of user safety and security is a critical one for our platforms. We will continue to work to ensure that our platforms play an enabling role in fuelling the exciting digital transformation of India.”

On balance, it is high time and now Opposition parties too must stop smelling fishy on whatever government does and applaud it in totality as those big Companies like Facebook and Twitter among others have themselves welcomed it sincerely even though it is they themselves who will now be subjected to the strictest scrutiny wherever the matter involves our national security and honour of the nation or compromises with the privacy of an individual in any manner! It cannot be lightly dismissed that India has 53 crore WhatsApp users, 44.8 crore You Tube users, 41 crore Facebook users, 21 crore Instagram users and 1.75 crore are on Twitter! So regulation over all these big companies was certainly needed also! What Centre has done is a watershed moment and it must be welcomed with both arms! All the big Companies who are operating social media and news media will now be held accountable and answerable for what they publish and propagate and not just escape away conveniently without any accountability with impunity as most unfortunately we had been seeing until now!

Sanjeev Sirohi, Advocate,

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RBI IMPOSES MONETARY PENALTY ON TWO PAYMENT SYSTEM OPERATORS

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The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has imposed a monetary penalty on two payment system operators for deficiencies in regulatory compliance.

A statement issued by the RBI today read, “The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) had, by an order dated October 01, 2021, imposed a monetary penalty of Rs1 crore (Rupees one crore only) on Paytm Payments Bank Limited (PPBL), for an offence committed of the nature referred to in Section 26 (2) of Payment and Settlement Systems Act, 2007 (PSS Act).” It further said, “A Compounding Order dated October 7, 2021, was also issued to Western Union Financial Services Inc (WUFSI), a Money Transfer Service – cross-border inbound service (customer to customer only) operator – imposing a penalty of Rs 27,78,750 for non-compliance with certain provisions of the directions contained in the Master Direction on Money Transfer Service Scheme (MTSS Directions) dated February 22, 2017.”

The RBI further stated that the penalties have been imposed in the exercise of powers vested in RBI under the provisions of Section 30 and Section 31 of the PSS Act.

This action is based on deficiencies in regulatory compliance and is not intended to pronounce upon the validity of any transaction or agreement entered into by the entities with their customers, it added.

The RBI further informed that on examination of PPBL’s application for issue of final Certificate of Authorisation (CoA), it was observed that PPBL had submitted information that did not reflect the factual position.

As this was an offence of the nature referred to in Section 26 (2) of the PSS Act, a notice was issued to PPBL. After reviewing the written responses and oral submissions made during the personal hearing, the RBI-determined that the aforementioned charge was substantiated and warranted the imposition of a monetary penalty.

The RBI further stated that the Western Union Financial Services (WUFSI) had reported instances of breach of the ceiling of 30 remittances per beneficiary during the calendar years 2019 and 2020 and filed an application for compounding of the violation.

The RBI-determined that the aforementioned non-compliance warranted the imposition of a monetary penalty after analysing the compounding application, and oral submissions made during the personal hearing, it added.

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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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