'Nothing can be great than playing for India; it's a crazy feeling when you step onto the field': Saba Karim - The Daily Guardian
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‘Nothing can be great than playing for India; it’s a crazy feeling when you step onto the field’: Saba Karim

Saba Karim, Former National Selector & Cricketer joined NewsX India A-List for an exclusive conversation. Saba Karim wears many hats from playing cricket for India at the highest level, managing cricket, being an expert on cricket and talking about it on television.

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Saba Karim, Former National Selector & Cricketer joined NewsX India A-List for an exclusive conversation. Saba has been very vocal about his views on various cricketing aspects and shared many of his insights and expertise regarding the sport with us. Talking about how the year 2020 and pandemic has been for him and how things were for the cricketing world, Saba said “2020 for me personally as well as for cricketers and cricket in general, was a tough year because of so much uncertainty. Initially, if you recall last year in March. We were going through our domestic season when it all happened, and we had to in fact cancel, two or three of the tournaments and everyone felt really sorry for the girls who were all prepped up to play these tournaments, but that’s the way it turned out happily, the Women’s World Cup took place in Australia, then the Indian Team managed to play the Test series in New Zealand. And all this happened after they came back to India, so we didn’t have any problems whatsoever in terms of, managing their safety regulations. But the entire summer that included the IPL had to be postponed. It was eventually played in October. So cricket has had a tough time.”

“We somehow tried to engage them through our online discussions and online monitoring, in terms of their fitness, nutrition and growth. is India is a large country, hence there were different regulations for different states. One had to be very specific so that the players can understand and whenever they get an opportunity to go out and practice they were able to do so, but fortunately, players also could figure it out that these are challenging times, and they did have loads of patience to work on this. But thankfully things have changed now it’s good to see cricket being played, not only in India but, but all over the world. So it is opening up,” Saba added.

Saba Karim wears many hats from playing cricket for India at the highest level, managing cricket, being an expert on cricket and talking about it on television. Opening upon which is the stint that he has enjoyed the most, Saba said “Nothing can be great than playing for India. I think everybody would say the same. Because it’s a crazy feeling when you play for your country and step onto the field with so many of your colleagues. You want to do well whenever you want to go out and play for your country. You know the entire dressing room atmosphere and the team spirit. The kind of high win experiences you possibly cannot compare that with any other activity you do during the rest of your life. But yes, the other experiences also have been quite rewarding. My stint with BCCI was an exciting phase. For three years I was there as a General Manager Cricket Operations. There are some new systems and processes we brought in to spur the growth of Cricket in India, and it was beneficial not only for cricketers but also for some of the remote parts of the country where we were able to build infrastructure. This has been a very pleasant and a very happy experience for me as well.”

Saba shared some of his memorable moments while playing cricket with us and said “The first game I played when I made my debut for India and South Africa was way back in 1997 when I played my first One Day International for India. The second biggest moment one can say came when I played for India’s test match. It happened to be Bangladesh’s inaugural Test match but for me, it was a memorable experience. In all those moments one tends to be nostalgic but those are cherishable moments.”

Talking about the game and has wicketkeeping changed now keeping in mind how the level of athleticism, level of fitness has evolved, and more specifically, after the advent of the IPL and whether the competition is cutthroat now Saba said “The basics haven’t changed and remains the same. The role of a wicketkeeper, if I can put it that way has evolved. One expects a wicketkeeper to score some handy runs, which is all good for the game, good for the team, and good for the individual because you need to develop your game in terms of wicketkeeping skills but also batting skill. I’ve always maintained wicketkeeper is more or less an all-rounder now so you complement each other’s skills. If you happen to be very good wicketkeeper that will rub onto your batting skills and vice versa. If you’re scoring runs in your batting that confidence will help to improve your wicketkeeping. That is the chain with which one has noticed which is very important for the progress of the game.”

Coming to fitness levels, Saba said “It has gone off to a different dimension altogether. But it’s also about how quickly you recover. I think that is the biggest game which I’ve noticed in modern-day cricketers. It is not about your fitness level, but fitness level more or less is judged upon how quickly you recover after playing a game, after having a very intense session, after playing a T20 game or a one day game or a test match. That has become very crucial and the new essences are the Fitness Trainers that are attached to all the national teams now. They are very clear on this front. Now fitness levels are judged as I said, more on recovery and less on the number of 100 meters you run or the number of of your test you do, it’s more important to recover quickly and all these tests are designed to help you to recover, as soon as possible.”

The Indian team on the backfoot has been portrayed as an underdog and then they come out with mammoth victories and that’s exactly what happened in Australia as well and India was perhaps pivoted in the same space in 1983 as well. Nobody gave us a chance against the mighty West Indies in 2007 but India eventually went on to win it. Responding to a couple of questions and his thoughts on the current Indian team as a whole, Saba said “The game has changed, immensely now and I think, India has grown as a cricketing nation. But what I would like to say here is that this kind of a win was expected, and I’ve said this on so many occasions that India over the past maybe decade or so has run the performing side, and I say this why because the kind of talent and potential we have, the kind of cricketers and the individual cricketers India has produced. It was high time we would register wins regularly, not only at home but also overseas, we’d have one-day series, Test series, for instance for India to win only two One-day World Cups post-independence is something which I possibly cannot digest, because I feel we have loads of talent, due to which we could have already been. We should have won at least three or four World Cup. This is good to see the India team has done very well in Australia at this time. But if you asked me seriously I would say this was expected. We had to win because there is this much talent and potential coming through. The time is right now for India to progress on these lines regularly. If you play England, Australia, South Africa at home or away, we are in a far better position to be on these cricketers from all these nations, because we are such a throbbing cricketing culture that runs across the nation and the kind of talent that is coming through right from the 90s.”

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People commenting on Internet need to be kinder: Suhaani Shah

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Suhaani Shah is disrupting and redefining the magic space in India with an ability to read minds with remarkable accuracy. The magician recently joined NewsX for an exclusive conversation as part of NewsX Influencer A-List and shared art of mentalism, how she learnt, experience of being a woman magician and much more.

Speaking about the concept of mentalism and who is a mentalist, she said, “In India, mentalist profession is not too popular. To explain in layman’s language, magic is the parent category under which there are different genres such as illusionism, escapology, street magic, parlour magic and mentalism. So, it is sub genres of magic. You can also call me a magician and as a magician, I expertise more as a mentalist. In mentalism, there are no props. It’s just mentalist and people and their minds become prop. Mentalist is a magician who does magic without props, just by trying to read or giving an illusion of reading people’s minds, influencing and getting information out from them.”

Talking about how she learnt mentalism, she shared, “I haven’t learnt it from anywhere but I started performing magic in general when I was 7 years old. In the process of doing stage shows, it was mixed of all magic genres. I used to do proper stage shows by traveling city to city. Few years back, I realised that was too much. If I wanted to get into corporate sector and level up my game, I need to do something because stand-up comedy had taken over the country. I realised it’s important to capitalize on that as well. So, what I did was, from an illusionist I started to adapt into mentalism. I did an entire show of mentalism and the videos went viral. I never took formal training for anything in terms of magic. My transformation was slow, but then, 2017 was the time when I turned into mentalist and decided to continue as I loved it the most.”

Sharing the advantages and disadvantages of being a women digital content creator in a digital space, she said, “There have been lots of disadvantages. Even before starting YouTube live streaming and taking up digital space, I was really worried of being trolled. But when I started, there was lot of love. I think I was overthinking negativity a lot. A lot of times, its projection of what you are doing. It was not that I never got negativity. What I realised, which I still do even after a year and having million subscribers on YouTube, is that I am not allowed to make mistakes as a woman. I have seen my co-streamers from the other gender making mistakes, which is taken in a fun. Although I am learning to be thick skin to negative comments but it still affects at sometimes. I have known my co-female creators getting threats just for being opinionated and putting out their views. I feel it’s just reflection of our culture, the more the women come out, face these things and be vocal about it, the safer space they’ll be creating for themselves. There are more men than women on internet, that needs to change. It will happen in its own time.”

When asked about what does it feels like to be a women magician, she responded, “The moment you say magician, nobody ever think of a woman and I don’t know why. It’s like an identity threat to me. To be honest, I didn’t think of this till a few years back when another journalist had asked me this question. I am not massively involved in Indian magic communities, so I didn’t know what’s scene there. I didn’t really think of pros and cons. I have to keep my guards up and keep myself safe. I just focus on my craft and work.”

She concluded by sharing her content creators community’s present needs and said, “What I think is needed is to create safe space on internet. I am speaking as a person on digital space. People commenting on internet needs to be kinder, people creating content needs to be more careful. It’s very important to be wise and thoughtful of what we are putting on internet.

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I play around with illusions: David Nobo

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David Nobo is a modern-day magician, illusionist, artist and content creator. His tricks leave people spell bound. David Nobo recently joined NewsX for an exclusive conversation as part of NewsX India A-List. In this exclusive conversation, he talked about his work as magician, kind of illusions he does, his experiences of virtual performances and much more.

Speaking about his work as magician, he said, “I am what they used to call a magician 15 years ago. But then I thank people for making magic clichéd. As soon as we decided to enter into corporate market, we decided to call ourselves ‘illusionist’, just to make magic great again.”

Talking about kind of illusions he does, he shared, “You could expect a lot of interactions, mind-reading, surprises, things appearing, disappearing, people coming up on stage and strange things happening to them, sometimes losing their memories. I play around with illusions that are both optical as visuals as well as psychological. I try to blend both to create a slightly different kind/brand of magic.”

When asked about what difference it makes to be physically out there on a stage vs. performing magic on a virtual platform,  he responded, “I look up to a magician from Las Vegas, who says that ‘all the world is stage’ like Shakespeare. You don’t really need a stage or platform to do magic. 20 years ago, I first started learning magic. After coming from school, I rushed into my room where I had a shoebox with tricks and apparatus in it. I would practice pretending to be on a stage and listening to imaginary applause. 20 years later, I am back in this room with my little box of trick, pretending to be on stage and listening to imaginary applause virtually.  I have given performing in the bedroom a whole new meaning.”

Telling about viability and feasibility of magic as a career option, he expressed, “It is a feasible career option because that’s what I have been doing for the last 15 years. I wouldn’t lie by saying that I have been sailing through Covid. No, it has been difficult. I had to re-adjust a lot of things. Magic doesn’t draw many people because the secret, which people think is the most important part of effect (which is not), is often uninteresting and it involves a lot of practice too. If you want anything enough, you are going to make it. You’ll take up decision and make that decision the right decision.”

Speaking about if going digital is the way forward as far as illusionist is concerned, he expressed, “Digital is part of way forward. No matter how much Covid or any other pandemic happens, nothing beats the human connection of a live show. But right now, going digital has been a blessing.”

Concluding the conversation by expressing the requirements of his and other Indian illusionists, he shared “We are craving for gigs and audience. Best thing about being able to do magic virtually is it is interactive. A lot of magicians need to up their game, understand their audiences and connect to them. Moving with time or being a little ahead of your time rather than behind is always better.”

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KAILASH KHER OPENS UP ABOUT HIS NEW SONG ‘SHRI JAGANNATH ASHTAKAM’

In conversation with NewsX, singer and music composer Kailash Kher spoke about his latest song dedicated to Jagannath Rath Yatra, his devotion towards Lord Shiva and more.

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Kailash Kher recently joined NewsX for a candid chat as a part of NewsX India A-List, wherein he got recognised for excellence as an Indian Entertainment Icon.

Talking about his newly-released song dedicated to Jagannath Rath Yatra, he said, “We, at Kailasa Entertainment Pvt. Ltd, create such a rendition on every Indian festival. In the 15 years of my career, God has made me realise that we should share valuable things from our rich heritage. This is my responsibility. Our heritage remains, even if we don’t. Sambit Patra is my friend and we keep interacting frequently. I told him that we would also make him sing one day. The occasion of Jagannath Rath Yatra was coming. On 4 July, we were talking and that’s when I pitched this idea to him and he graciously accepted it. He came on 7 July, my birthday and we recorded this song the entire day. In just four days, we were ready with this miracle called ‘Shri Jagannath Ashtakam’. Today, this song is out there for the entire world to listen and people are praising it a lot.”

Kher added, “We have urged the devotees of Lord Jagannath to offer their prayers from wherever they are as this time our country is going through a tough phase. We should rather pray for the earth and this challenging phase to pass.”

Expressing his devotion for Lord Shiva and Kanwar Yatra, he said, “Kanwar Shravan Kumar is a symbol of devotion as Shravan Kumar took his parents to the Chaar Dhaam Yatra and offered the holy Ganga Jal in a Lord Shiv temple. In lieu of this tradition, many people now take items of devotion, along with Ganga Jal, which they offer in temples. This happens on a massive scale as India is a huge country but, if Kanwar Yatra is not happening this year, then it is good news (given the Covid-19 situation). We strongly believe in Lord Shiv and have strong devotion towards him. We live by his name. I have a hit song in my Kailasa album, that has become a sort of an anthem for Kanwar and Shravan Kumars. They complete their entire trip while listening to that song.”

Talking about the audience’s response to his show ‘Indian Pro Music League’, Kher said, “This was a very unique show, that’s why people loved and praised it a lot. The reactions that came in were very good, saying that ‘Wow, it’s a beautiful concept’. A show like this, featuring emerging artists with established artists as not just contestants but sitting on the judge’s seat for a day, was amazing and different.”

Sharing his thoughts on how manages to remain positive level even amid such trying times, Kher said, “I strongly believe in the power of God. The law of nature is not within our hands. If you completely surrender and devote yourself then, whatever happens, will happen for good. Everything happens for good, so why not stay cautious a little and not try to take things, that are not in our control. If you can do something, then do truthful work and good work. Help someone genuinely as your instinct is your God.”

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Breastfeeding: Dealing with advice of ‘well-wishing’ aunts and uncles

Dr Emine A Rehman

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Aunty 1: The baby looks so thin, baby needs cow’s milk, my dear. 

Me: Cow’s milk is for cow’s baby, my baby needs my milk.

Aunty 2: Oh God! such small breasts you have, how will your milk be enough? 

Me:  My body has the capacity to create however much milk is needed for my baby and you know it is the best food for the baby.

Aunty 3:  Don’t feed your baby for so long, you are pampering him, he will never leave you. 

Me: How can you pamper your baby by nourishing him?

Aunty 4: Look at you with the baby all the time. In our times we used to do all the household work and brought up so many kids as well. 

Me: Bringing up a baby with love, care, and breast milk is our choice as parents and we need all your help and support to successfully do it

Let’s ponder, how many of us have been the aunty or me in the above conversations in our lives? Almost all, right? Being a first-time mother at the age of 33 was not easy for me, to have a baby late was not a choice as well. Being a paediatrician was a privilege and my personal life took a backseat in the pursuit of higher studies. I thought I knew the solutions to all the challenges of breastfeeding but the reality was far from different. As the saying goes, “It takes a village to bring up a baby”, in modern times “it takes an entire family to breastfeed a baby”. Urbanisation, nuclear families, and career goals have made the art of breastfeeding less familiar to many millennial to-be mothers. 

We want the best for our baby and know that breastfeeding is the best path. However, many of us land up being a bundle of nerves when our babies arrive, not sure where to start and how to go about it. Agreed that breastfeeding is natural both for the mother and the baby but we forget to warn the to-be mothers that it is a helluva painful, stressful, and exhilarating ride. 

To top it all, mothers also have to deal with the benevolent, free-advice churning aunties and uncles amid this roller-coaster. Many a times, the well-wisher could be our own father, mother or even husband. Equipped with knowledge and confidence, I could defend and retort to many of them. However, the dream is to equip every Indian mother with enough knowledge to be the ‘me’ in the above situations.

Adequate breastfeeding is a single practice that can prevent lakhs of children from dying worldwide. World Health Organisation and UNICEF recommends that breastfeeding is initiated within the first hour of birth, the baby is given nothing but mother’s milk till 6 months and breastfeeding to be continued till 2 years of age and beyond. The global rates for breastfeeding are 43%, 41%, and 45% at the first hour, 6 months, and 2 years, respectively. So, it is not as universal as it has to be. A survey by POSHAN revealed that the exclusive breastfeeding rate is 54.9% in India. Mothers face many challenges like the feeling of inadequate milk, household chores, expectations from the workplace, and pressure to supplement with formula etc. She needs the support of her near and dear ones as well as the community to overcome these hurdles. Currently, mothers can get guidance from ASHA/ Anganwadi workers and gain knowledge through materials circulated by the Government of India via radio and TV. She can also access various peer groups in social media as well as consult trained lactation counsellors. World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated every year in the first week of August and this year the theme is “Protect breastfeeding — a shared responsibility”.

Breastfeeding can no longer be left as “ladies’ matter”. Confident and knowledgeable mothers are the foundation of future generations. Hence, let’s come together to support our mothers and become the true “well-wishing” aunties and uncles for our younger ones.

The writer is an Assistant professor, paediatrics department, AIIMS, Hyderabad.

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COMING OUT OF THE SHADOWS: HOW TO PROTECT MENTAL HEALTH OF TEENAGERS

We should expand social-emotional learning programmes to help build resilience in the growing minds.Capacity building for mental health management is an immediate must to meet a looming calamity.

Suravi Sharma Kumar

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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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NCPCR going to check beggars’ kids for substance abuse in Chandigarh

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The National Commission For Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) is going to check beggars’ kids for substance abuse. On 26 July 2021, NCPCR is going to instruct Chandigarh Administration to utilise all mediums to check beggars’ kids for substance abuse using medical tests in case required. This whole program would be managed under the recently launched Joint Action Plan (JAP), in which the Narcotics Control Bureau, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, and Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Ministry of Education are actively involved as stakeholders. NCPCR is going to start such initiatives under JAP across India.

NCPCR has identified 272 such vulnerable districts across the nation where State stakeholders would extensively work on Children who are substance abused and would wean away drugs from their lives while adopting various mediums. A recent study by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment identified 4.6 lakh children in the country who are addicted to inhalants, the only category of substance in which the prevalence was higher among children than among adults. The five states with the highest prevalence of inhalant abuse among children were Uttar Pradesh (94,000 children), Madhya Pradesh (50,000 children), Maharashtra (40,000 children), Delhi (38,000 children), and Haryana (35,000 children).

Priyank Kanoongo, Chairperson of NCPCR told The Daily Guardian, “We introduced to have exclusive De-addiction and Rehabilitation Facilities for Children in 272 Vulnerable Districts. The MoSJE shall expedite the process to establish exclusive de-addiction facilities meant for children. However, if there are any constraints or lack of space, a separate portion in the existing facility has to be identified and partitioned for the children. Also, there has to be a provision of separate toilets; and safety and security of children have to be ensured.”

“The action plan mandates that ‘Prahari Clubs’’ be set up in schools in collaboration with Gandhi Smriti Darshan Samiti, in which children will discuss issues related to drug abuse and become monitors of the abuse,” he added.

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