November 16, 2014

Block Hunger, Build Life

Dull light brown uncombed hair covered in dust
Skinny bones and a pot belly
A faded frock and a head carrying the weight of heavy stones
Bare feet, running nose and a jaded smile

Conjures a familiar picture, no?  We see many such children in India, working at construction sites, roadside dhabbas or tapris and, or selling toys at traffic signals. They work day and night, these children because of a lost childhood. Books, school, playing..these are distant things for them. Their goal is to work day and night with their families so as to feed themselves. They never learn and never get a chance to change their lives. They work and they work and grow up, they get their kids to work the same way they did and thus the vicious circle continues. What drives them to work and not study, what keep them away from school? Hunger! Hunger keeps them away from school, hunger drives them to work, when they should be learning and playing.

Here are some disturbing statistics about Hunger (Source: World Food Programme):-

  1. Hunger kills more people than AIDS, Malaria and TB
  2. 1 in 9 people on earth do not have enough food to lead a healthy life
  3. Asia is the continent with the most hungry people
  4. Nearly 45% of children under the age of 5 die due to poor nutrition every year
  5. 1 in 6 children in developing countries are underweight
Ofcourse it comes as no surprise that when hunger is so prevalent, children can hardly think about studies. Their own and their families' goals would only be to feed their mouths. Imagine an India where each child had food and the entire generation was educated. Today we have reached Mars, with an educated generation, the whole universe could be ours!

The quest to diminish hunger and make children attend school is really tough. Akshay Patra has started a unique mid day meal programme to make sure that children get nutritious food and come to school. The Akshaya Patra Foundation is a NGO headquartered in Bangalore, India. The organisation strives to fight issues like hunger and malnutrition in India. By implementing the Mid-Day Meal Scheme in the Government schools and Government aided schools, Akshaya Patra aims to fight not only hunger but also to bring children to school.



Since 2000, the organisation has worked towards reaching more children with wholesome food on every single school day.

Akshaya Patra reaches out to 1,402,393 children in 23 locations across 10 states of India, providing them with freshly cooked meal on all school days. Currently, Akshay Patra runs the mid-day meal programme in 10,661 schools of the country, with plans to increase that number to hundreds more.

Some ways in which we can support this quest is:-

Contribute to Akshay Patra - The most logical thing right, they are doing it the right way and we can aid them. Here's how you can help - http://www.akshayapatra.org/onlinedonations

Regularly Donate to an Organization- You can donate to NGOs in your locality which deal with hunger and education of poor children. Take the initiative to meet the children on your own. Possibly reward them with comics to build an excitement in them towards reading and learning. If you have the time and inclination, teach them or hold a workshop for them on a topic that you specialize in.

Blog about this - Blogadda in association with Akshay Patra will feed a child for a year for one blogpost written by you. Yes, that's how simple it is! I think it is a wonderful initiative by Blogadda and every blogger should blog about this.

I am going to #BlogToFeedAChild with Akshaya Patra and BlogAdda.

August 10, 2014

Become an Organ Donor


Times of India is running an Organ Donation campaign. I think it is a wonderful initiative and everyone should participate in it. You can sign up as a donor by visiting this FB page -https://www.facebook.com/TOIMYTIMES and use their app to invite more of your friends to sign up as an organ donor. TOI will donate 10,000 rupees to NGOs of your choice if you are able to get more friends to sign up. You can also register to donate your organs by visiting this website - http://www.organdonationday.in/. Please note I am not in anyway connected with TOI, but I think the initiative is really commendable.

An organ donor has the potential to save 8 lives. Many people have reservations about organ donations, be it due to concerns about what would happen to their body after their death, or due to religious beliefs or just the fact that does this really work?

Here are some of the major concerns regarding Organ Donations and my attempts to address them:-

1) If I meet with an accident and am listed as an organ donor, the medical authorities would not strive hard to save my life - Every doctor in India takes the modern version of the Hippocratic Oath (source - IMA website). Here's what it says:-

  • I solemnly pledge myself to consecrate my life to service of humanity.
  • Even under threat, I will not use my medical knowledge contrary to the laws of Humanity.
  • I will maintain the utmost respect for human life from the time of conception.
  • I will not permit considerations of religion, nationality, race, party politics or social standing to intervene between my duty and my patient.
  • I will practice my profession with conscience and dignity.
  • The health of my patient will be my first consideration.
  • I will respect the secrets which are confined in me.
  • I will give to my teachers the respect and gratitude which is their due.
  • I will maintain by all means in my power, the honour and noble traditions of medical profession.
  • I will treat my colleagues with all respect and dignity.
  • I shall abide by the code of medical ethics as enunciated in the Indian Medical Council (Professional Conduct, Etiquette and Ethics) Regulations 2002.
  • I make these promises solemnly, freely and upon my honour.

Yes, there are issue with medical practice but no doctor would attempt to neglect you or kill you if you are an organ donor.

2) Organ Donation is against my Religion - Religion is to guide and help mankind. Every religion talks of compassion and of the joy of helping others. The act of organ donation is consistent with beliefs of almost all religions, still, if you doubt it, consult with a religious guru who can dispel your doubts.

3) I am not in good health, who would want my organs? or I am too old, my organs couldn't possibly help anyone?  - You may be suffering from a kidney disease but your eyes maybe in perfect condition to help someone who needs a corneal transplant. You maybe old but the state of your organs maybe perfectly fine. If you want to donate your organs, go ahead. We cannot predict the state of our organs at the time of our death. A medical practitioner is best qualified to take that decision. Let him/her decide when the time comes.

4) India is full of corruption, so I donate my organs, what if it doesn't reach the right person? - I agree that India is full of corruption at present but we always hope for the best. Maybe, times would be different in the future, when our death comes. As a donor, be it an organ donor, or just a normal donor, whenever you donate something, your intent matters and the worthiness of the receiver matters. By worthiness of the receiver, it means whether the receiver really needs help or are you just thrusting something at someone in the name of help? Donations are done with the intent to help another person..and our duty to an extent ends there. If the one who is given, is not worthy, its not really our fault..we tried to find the worthy one. So, even with organ donation, we hope to reach and help out the one who really needs our help. There are people involved, doctors, organizations..we have to take a leap of faith and trust that when we are dead, these others would make the right choice and donate our organs to those who really need it. We have to take a leap of faith that our organs will not show up on a Organ Bazaar, where the highest bidder wins.

5) Rich and Famous get the Organs and the Poor Suffer - Its not true, the rich and famous don't jump the queue. Organs are donated to all donors irrespective of their financial status. Like I wrote before its about taking that leap of faith.

6) My family will be charged for the Donations - The donor family is not charged for the cost of organ transfers and transplants. The costs for those are borne by the receiver.

Please consider donating an organ today. We are the second most populated country in the world and we have the least number of organ donors. Let's strive to change that, this Organ Donation Day - 13th August 2014.

June 6, 2014

Parasite

I stood at a crossroads with two roads in the front - M and E
I chose M and moved ahead
The road was tough and kept on hurting me
Suffering got to my head
Time passed and I reached the crossroads again
I chose M again to see where it lead
I hoped for happiness this time but it gave me more pain
Still I went on to persevere till I am dead.

But God had other plans and brought me to the crossroads one more time
Like a fool I still went ahead and chose M
A little over a year went by, with great trials and tribulations
There were spurts of joy but more scars were mine
Now I stand at the crossroads again and choose E
My past choices I regret and condemn
The journey has taught me a valuable lesson
Nothing is ever more important than me!

Sometimes we make wrong choices that give us pain
I am not being obstinate
But its not right to follow the choice in vain
When something isn't right, God shows you the way
He gives you a chance again to recreate
Your new path and your new bay
Till you wholeheartedly accept your mistakes you are given chances
Brought again and again to the crossroads
Its upto you to wake up from your trances
And stop the pain and wrong path before it corrodes
Corrodes and eats you up like a parasite
Accept and change, don't take it light
Its not a joke but your entire life!

June 5, 2014

My Favourite Stamps

I am a collector of stamps and here are some of my favourite stamps from my stamp collection:-

Radha - Kishangarh


  • Bani Thani or Radha of Kishangarh - Bani Thani is a painting from the Kishangarh school of art. It is so far my second most favourite painting in the world.  I personally feel that it deserves the status accorded to Mona Lisa. The painting is a portrait of Bani Thani, who was a singer and poet in the court of Savant Singh - the king of Kishangarh. Artist Nihal Chandra, painted Bani Thani as Radha and Savant Singh as Krishna in several of his paintings. The reason that this painting is also called Radha of Kishangarh is because Radha has always signified impeccable beauty in the Hindu tradition. I remember a poet once describing Radha as that beauty who looked more and more beautiful as you went closer to her. Normally, a person looks pretty from far and as you get closer, you notice his or her imperfections but Radha was flawless in appearance and looked more and more beautiful as you went closer to her. This postage stamp was released in 1973 with a set of stamps on miniature paintings from India



Taming of Elephant


  • Taming of Elephant - Taming of Elephant is another Indian Miniature painting that was released as a stamp in 1973. In total, 4 stamps depicting 4 miniature paintings were released - Radha of Kishangarh by Nihal Chandra, Taming of Elephant by Zainal Abidin, Lovers on a Camel by Nasiruddin and Dance Duet by unknown artist from Auragzeb's time. My stamp has got a bit torn as can be seen in the pic above but nevertheless its still pretty intact



Chittaranjan


  • Chittranjan - I like this because India railways connects the whole of India and this stamp is steeped in the history of Indian Railways. This stamp shows a 2-8-2 WG class Indian Railways Good train. This steam engine driven locomotive was introduced in 1950s and many were manufactured upto the 1970s. Chittaranjan refers to Chittaranjan Locomotive Works or CLW - a production unit of Indian Railways situated in Chittaranjan near Kolkata. CLW is named after Chittaranjan Das - a freedom fighter who was also known by the title - Deshbandhu



Bhagwad Gita


  • Bhagawad Geeta - This is a stamp from 1978, showing a quote from The Bhagwad Gita  - कर्मण्येवाधिकारस्ते मा फलेषु कदाचन (Karmanye vadhikaraste maa phaleshu kadachan).  It means keep doing your work without worrying about its result. These are words of wisdom to remember always. Sometimes we get boggled down in life with the circumstances we are in but its important to remember to do the right thing and keep doing it, without worrying about its results. Life goes on, and its important to go on doing the right thing. Everything should be done by giving it your 100%. If you pass or fail, let it be, just remember to go on and do the right thing



Lion & Palm Tree


  • Lion & Palm Tree - I think this stamp is truly special. It was released in 1977 and is a stamp on a stamp. Lion and Palm Tree is one of the oldest stamps of India from the British Raj. It used to cost Half Anna. In 1977, this stamp was released to depict the original Half Anna stamp



Times of India - 150 Years Stamp


  • TOI - 150 Years Stamp - This stamp was released in 1988 to commemorate 150 years of Times of India. I like it because it has RK Laxman's famous creation - The Common Man, golden ink and a stamp duty of 1.50 to match the 150 years of TOI



Forts of India - Simhagad


  • Forts of India - Simhagad - This is the only stamp I have from the Forts of India collection. The Forts of India collection was released in 1984 and has 4 forts - Vellore, Jodhpur, Gwalior and Simhagad. Interestingly enough, Simhagad is the closest to me and yet I have not visited it



Raksh Lango


  • Raksh Lango - Bhutan - This is a stamp from Bhutan which I like very much. It was released in 1985. I like it because I find it very fascinating and colourful. This stamp shows a Bhutanese dance called Raksha Marcham



1953 Chevy Corvette

  • 1953 - Chevrolet Corvette - What can I say? Its a stamp on the 1953 Corvette. This stamp was released by USPS in August 2005


American Kestrel

  • American Kestrel - Nothing special about this stamp - I just like the bird and colours



Global Forever


  • Global Forever - This stamp was released in 2013 and shows a satelite rendition of the earth. Its World Enviroment Day today and what better day to share this stamp :) I like this stamp because it shows the earth and is round like the earth