What is Digital leracy?
Digital Literacy is the individual’s ability to comprehend and engage in information on various digital platforms. It is the individual’s ability in using technology to produce, compose and type text, content, and audio and visual material.
It is a multidisciplinary field where even the knowledge of social sciences is required for a smoother understanding. The term, now, is used both in India and all over the world to describe one’s grasp of technology and digital information.
Digital Literacy in India
The term digital literacy gained traction in India with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Digital India campaign. Launched on July 1st, 2015, the campaign was designed with the aim to provide the country with better technological infrastructure and advanced internet connectivity. It was launched in order to make the country more digitally empowered and to enable civil society to reach state services electronically, thereby, hoping to make the bureaucratic processes faster.
Services such as the National e-Governance Plan, which included MyGov.in, UMANG (Unified Mobile Application for New-age Governance), Swachh Bharat Mission mobile app, etc, and Digital Locker were initiated under this campaign.
In an attempt and with the goal to make 6 crore rural households, with at least one member from every household, digitally literate by 2020, the Pradhan Mantri Gramin Digital Saksharta Abhiyan was initiated under the Digital India program of PM Modi. It intends to make the rural population use digital literacy to solve their everyday life problems and gain opportunities that can help the rural community.
Digital Divide is the disparities in access to information and communications technologies (ICT). This may be due to social, geographical, geopolitical, or economic causes. The digital divide is one of the major hurdles of digital literacy.
The most obvious reason for the digital divide is geography. Connectivity is shabby in areas that are far-flung and those that suffer from unpredictable weather. Apart from this, accessibility depends much on the economic capabilities of the individual. In India, where there is an apparent son preference, gender also becomes one of the determiners for the existence of the digital divide. Some people also find it difficult to catch up with digital literacy due to their age and their lifelong in-exposure to digital media.
Significance of Digital Literacy
“It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver”- Mahatma Gandhi
India is a country having an age-long heritage of medical sciences. The history of this disciple can be traced back to the Vedic times, which is 5000 B.C.
India has grown its healthcare system, starting from Ayurveda, Yunani, and Siddha to Homeopathy and Allopathy.
Our country first became familiar with the modern system of Healthcare in the 17th Century and since then has set up various landmarks in the field of medical sciences.
Notable Achievements in the Healthcare Sector
Since Independence, India has done a lot in its healthcare sector and has also achieved notable improvements. Diseases such as Smallpox and Polio have been eradicated from the country, which some other countries are still fighting from. There are also improvements seen in the life expectancy, the infant mortality rate (IMR), and Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR).\
Various campaigns are also started by the Government to improve the Healthcare system involving Janani Shishu Suraksha Karyakram, Mission Indradhanush, and Janani Suraksha Yojana.
National Programmes for curbing diseases such as HIV, T.B., and Leprosy has also played an important role in improving our country’s health.
Even after so many improvements, certain problems remain evident and need to be looked into.
Concerns yet to be considered
Even after being called the pharmacy of developing nations, many rural Indian citizens cannot get essential medicines and, most importantly, sanitary napkins at a nominal and reasonable price.
Many states, such as Assam and Jharkhand, still face high infant and maternal mortality rates. People normally prefer private hospitals and healthcare centers even after being expensive due to better quality over Governmental institutions.
Healthcare workers are also exposed to various safety and health hazards such as latex allergy, infection by bloodborne pathogens, effects of radioactive materials, waste anesthetic gas exposures, violence at the workplace, and many more.
Towards a better tomorrow
The most important way which can be used to improve the healthcare situation of our country is to improve quality standards. Improvements in the accessibility of medicines at a nominal rate can help in improving the health standards.
Increasing the funds and schemes towards the betterment of society is also necessary, mainly focusing on increasing the number of nursing homes and hospitals in rural areas.
Scenario during COVID-19
COVID-19 has impacted every person in the world. Each country is doing its best to overcome such a tough time, and so is India. It has put its best foot forward to help its citizens, and the whole world overcomes this problem. Being the world’s pharmacy, it had provided medicines to various countries even when it was difficult to.
India is also putting a lot of effort into bringing COVID-19 vaccines in the market, which would help every person in the world. Vaccines by Bharat Biotech and Zydus Cadila are in their second phase of clinical trials. Companies such as Serum Institute of India and Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories are trying to produce foreign vaccines.
With the immense effort put forward by the Government and all the Healthcare providers, India is slowly improving its healthcare system. It would thereby be able to come out of this pandemic and bring its healthcare services in each part of the country to their best one day.
Reservation is a kind of affirmative action taken up by the Indian state to uplift the marginalized and historically disadvantaged sections of the country. It is seen in many sectors of including those of education, employment, and political participation.
Stated in Articles 15 and 16 of the Indian Constitution, the system of reservation is meant to be a step towards achieving equality and equity by causing an upwards push towards the ‘socially and educationally backward classes’ of the population.
History of Reservation
India has witnessed caste-based affirmative action even before its independence.
In 1954, it was recommended by the Ministry of Education that 20% of seats in educational institutions should be reserved for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. It was also suggested that the qualifying marks for these sections of society be relaxed by 5%. A decision came about in 1982 when it was decided that 15 percent and 7.5 percent vacancies would be reserved for SCs and STs respectively in government-owned and government-aided educational institutions.
A major shift in the system of reservation came about after the Mandal Commission of 1979. The Committee recommended the introduction of a reservation of 27% in public sector bodies for OBCs (Other Backward Classes), considering that they formed more than 50% of the country’s population. This was however not implemented until the 1990s.
In 2019, the government announced a 10% reservation of economically weaker sections of the upper castes in educational institutions.
Reservation, though controversial, has been advantageous for the society in some ways.
In many ways, the reservation has also been a contentious issue. This is due to the following reasons.
The most controversial issue about reservation is probably the non-existence of reservation on the basis of gender. Despite the Women’s Reservation Bill being passed in the Rajya Sabha, the Bill still un-voted in the Lok Sabha. Currently, only the states of Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh have a reservation for women in all state government sectors.
A major social issue that plagues our country and the world is Domestic Violence. During the quarantine period of COVID-19, there has been a marked increase in domestic violence cases, women being the worst victims of it.
What is also important to note is that domestic violence does not always leave visible wounds. In fact, more often than not the victims are left with greater psychological wounds than physical ones.
What Is Domestic Violence ?
Often used synonymously with intimate partner violence, domestic violence is the violence or abuse carried out in a family, co-habitation, or domestic setting. It involves abuse that is physical, mental, emotional, sexual, religious, and economic in nature. Even coercion to do activities that one does not want to do falls under the purview of domestic violence.
Psychological Impact Of Domestic Violence
Domestic violence victims have admitted to dealing with fear, depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress, substance abuse, withdrawal from society, and suicidal thoughts.
Depression, Self Harm, and Suicide
In domestic violence, the victim is often made to feel guilty about their existence, activities, and behavior which, according to the abuse perpetrator, are what cause them to become violent. ‘Gaslighting’ is a term that we frequently hear nowadays in relation to domestic violence. Domestic violence victims are time and again gaslit, i.e. they are made to feel that the violence they suffer is their own fault.
This continuous emotional and physical hostility directed towards the victims creates a sense of worthlessness in them. It is almost inevitable that the sufferers develop depression in the face of such a setting.
Such feelings often persist and the victim might have to go through years of therapy to recover from the trauma. Depression also implies that the victim may seek refuge in self-harm or suicide to escape from the cruelties that they face.
Fear and Anxiety
Fear and anxiety are found in most domestic violence victims. A significant section of them has heightened panic and anxiety disorder due to functioning in settings where there was continued and inescapable violence. Some of them withdraw from society or hole themselves up in a place where they feel the safest.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Additionally, many victims of domestic abuse are psychologically impacted enough to develop Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). They have flashbacks and nightmares associated with their abuse, suffer from intrusive thoughts and images, and can be startled or triggered easily by things that remind them of their time of suffering.
These psychological responses to domestic abuse may be debilitating and they sometimes leave a person unable to carry on with their lives even after their abuse has ended. The scars remain even as the evidence fades. To get away from the reality of their situation and their own thoughts, some victims resort to substance abuse.
Victims may also resort to substance abuse
More disturbing are the cases where children are present in the vicinity of abuse. Children, in the developmental stages of life, have minds that are still evolving and adapting. Exposure to violence at such a young age may severely impact the lives that they will lead in the future.
Decision Making has very deep roots in our human society, the decision of our parents to bring us to this world might be a good start to decision making. Right from a young age, we have a choice in how we dress how we speak, well mostly! We do start making decisions as human beings only when we reach a certain level of consciousness. We primarily make decisions the way we have been raised and we cannot distinguish them at that age. The human species take a varied set of decisions that shape up their lives. The decision making depends on their sex, financial condition, desires, emotional longings. Here, we discuss the decision-making power of women especially for women living in rural areas.
Women in rural areas.
By socialization, women are responsible for cooking, giving birth, raising young ones and taking care of the households.
Nevertheless, this cannot be necessarily implied that women do so because they are women; it might be because of several circumstances, including the financial stature of families. Women have been recognized as an aid for men through most of the evolution. This thought process has started to change in the urban areas as of the last decade but the rural areas still are lagging behind a tad too much. Whenever we visit any rural area, for instance, any village or small town, we see women doing the household work and men mostly doing the out of housework. It is almost outrageous for women residing in a rural area to think of doing an office job. Girls are brought up in a way so that they could help the households with little insight into the outside world. For humans, this perspective of life is very limited and subdued, we have seen women in the highest position of office as well as political leaders and almost every aspect of life.
Decision making of women in rural areas.
Although many or all studies have shown how limited and subdued lives women have been living in rural regions, it has also shown a slight bit of improvement in women who once are introduced to the opportunities they have in life, which is largely due to NGOs or small groups of individuals, that they have excelled in multiple fields.
The power of decision making is when you have all the possibilities available to you and then you select a lifestyle and might be, you excel in that lifestyle or you want to change it again, is up to you.
We feel women in rural areas of all the opportunities they have in life, and they are steadily improving their life and the lives around them for the Greater Good.
There is a quote by Verna Myers which goes like “Diversity is being invited to the party; inclusion is being asked to dance”.
The terms diversity and inclusion are often interchangeably used by many people but there is a difference between these two. Diversity is just a mix of people from different backgrounds or cultures but inclusion is a feeling of belonging. Having diversity never guarantees inclusion and the same can be said the other way. Long gone are the days when people only looked for having a high salary package. A sense of satisfaction and a feeling of inclusion is also important for them these days.
But it is not like the company doesn’t benefit from taking care of its employees. It only reaps a better profit. Conducting employee recognition practices like awards and going on office trips are common in most of the companies across the world and the reason behind this is that the employee gets to interact on things apart from their monotonous work and get to know each other. When the interaction works magic, it can be seen in the company profits as well.
But the success of this inclusion falls mostly on the management. Employees who feel that they have to cover their identity regarding their gender, lifestyle, or any other preferences have to work in fear and this can become a hindrance to harmony. It is the duty of the management to get their feedback and make them feel welcomed. Some companies that believe in inclusion and executes it are Loreal and Lenovo.
Loreal sponsors workshops in India on topics like disability awareness offers training in vulnerable Pakistan communities and pairs its employees with multicultural students in the Netherlands. Lenovo scored a perfect 100 on the corporate index for LGBTQ equality. The chief diversity officer of Lenovo, Yolanda Conyers believes that it is not just one out-of-the-box thinking, it’s a million different boxes, and all of the matters and makes them what they are. Deloitte has come up with “ Eight powerful truths” related to diversity and inclusion which are the following-
Furthermore, Deloitte believes that the following are the traits of an inclusive leader-
Organizations with inclusive cultures are-
There must be a great commitment from the company to execute inclusion but the results will be worth it. Higher retention rate, commitment from the employees' side, and a good business environment should be something that any company should idealize and inclusion can show the way.
Do not judge a book by its cover- One of the first quotes that we were acquainted with as children. It is amusing how we have gulped down endless works of philosophers and literary laurels without gracing the thought of it. In fact, all of us, judge people firstly and dominantly on their covers and less on the integrity of their characters, or their minds, or their personality.
When people look at transgenders, they see images that do not concur with their real personalities. They have fostered fear and disgust based on the opinions of society. What they do not see is the courage to shred their covers and be known for their story, their belief, and their identity. They do not give in to the façade of the world but follow their true heart and express themselves as a hundred percent as they are. We just need to see their shine, their heart, and not the roles they are defined to. Just because of our preconceived stigmas and beliefs, we could be losing out on a potential leader or an able doctor, or a nurturing teacher. We have the glass between us and the hammer but what we don’t have is the initiative to break the glass and walk past the boundaries.
Several people and organizations who have studied the transgender community feel that they have been subjected to unfair and unjust treatment and have reached out for their betterment. However, when the pandemic hit and shook the entire world, for this community it was like walking on thorns. Many transgenders survived solely from the money earned at weddings and local transportations. With the world shutting down, so did their income. Many people amongst the community felt like a project subject by people who came in and offered condolences when the world was up and normal. Nobody showed up to investigate their well being.
With the stigma that surrounds them, they could not opt for a job that would temporarily ensure a constant inflow of money, at least enough to ensure that they have a meal in their stomach. Even months after the lockdown, transgender people were struggling for basic sustenance. All the government aids had dried up and relief in the forms of ration needed proper ration cards, which a lot of them did not have because of the inability to acquire Aadhar Cards. In their situation, access to aadhaar cards was a herculean task and begging could not get them enough casting aside the ghastly treatment and potential eve-teasing and other crimes they could be subjected to.
Now the question is- All of this for what? For living life on their terms? For choosing how to feel and doing what they feel like with nobody else’s but their own body. For feeling comfortable in their own skin?
It is time we realize that it’s us and not them at wrong. If we managed to have love and respect for people and not nurture the noxious opinions that spread hatred and abhorrence among people, the world would have been a better, safer, and happier place.
MICA-THE MAGIC INGREDIENT
We all love to look pretty, and so we go for a stroke of eyeliner, a little blush on our cheek, a touch of lip gloss to give that extra shine, and the cosmetic the industry survives on that glamour.
Although most of us carry our little bags of beauty products, how many of us have heard about Mica, the mineral that gives all the sparkle?
Mica is one of the primary mineral ingredients used in cosmetics, making these products glitter and attractive. It is also used in other common products like electronics, insulation, paint, and even toothpaste. The dark side attached to this mineral is that children mine it under life-threatening situations and those little lives are the hidden cost behind all this glamour. Have we ever imagined such cruelty is attached to these beauty products?
The majority of the world’s mica comes from Jharkhand in India, and in 2016 Thomson Reuters Foundation, through its investigation, has brought forward the fact into light that this mineral, Mica, is mined by children at a deadly cost.
Children even from the age of four are risking their lives working in these mines run by illicit operators and carry heavy loads of these minerals mixed with gravel and then separates Mica from them, which is then sold and exported overseas.
These children who work under dangerous working conditions are prone to the dangers of cuts, broken bones, and many respiratory illnesses that can damage their lungs.
Many children have even lost their lives due to heavy debris falling on them. Even though these areas are rich in Mica and other minerals, yet it has one of the country’s highest poverty rates. These kids and their families have no other option to earn a decent living, and despite all these efforts, they still struggle to make both ends meet as they are not being paid decent wages for all their efforts. On an estimation, around 20,000 children are working in mines over the region, and various investigations have reported that approximately 10 to 20 deaths occur in a month in these mining sites.
Once the Mica leaves these mines, they are channeled into a process that covers up the fact that these children were involved in this at all. Traders take this Mica to intermediaries who often sell this mineral under a legal mine license from another part of the country. By the time the Mica is shipped overseas, this mineral’s illicit origins will be stripped away.
Solutions from the top levels would be slow to reach these families; however, efforts are being made on the ground, which provides some hope for these lives. The Kailash Satyarthi Foundation has formulated a concept called ‘Child-Friendly Village’, connecting parents to new income sources so that these children need not go to work. More than 3000 children have been rescued from child labor through this initiative and are enrolled in schools. Funding comes from government services and private business sectors, including Estee Lauder one of the world’s leading beauty and health care companies.
This unregulated nature of Mica causes dangerous work conditions and exorbitant pricing. Lush Cosmetics, the British Company, has taken various initiatives against this controversial ingredient and have even stopped using Mica in their products. They say that they don’t want any ingredient going into any Lush product which had death and cruelty associated with it. There has to be some other ethical way for mining mica, and a transparent supply chain shall emerge. It is quite hard to believe that this glowing, radiant shimmer in our makeup products have tears and pain of children linked with it.
'December' is not just a month, but it is a season of celebration. The feeling of Christmas fills the air, and even before we realize our hearts eagerly wait for the 25th of December. Well, before we reach there, we play our favorite classic Christmas carols, old dusty boxes of Christmas decorations are pulled out, Christmas stars, candy canes, and Christmas stockings are hung. Christmas trees are put up and are all once again draped with strings of little lights as we catch ourselves humming carols, and the best part is when the good old aroma of freshly baked plum cakes fill our homes. The celebration also includes the creation of Nativity scenes depicting the birth of Jesus Christ, and shop shelves get filled with different varieties of Christmas cards, and people send them to their loved ones. It is also when families come together, and little children gather around their grandparents to hear stories of how they celebrated the season in their times.
On this day, we wake up with so much energy and enthusiasm and hear our telephones ring and Christmas wishes are exchanged. Nearly all our phones burst with 'Merry Christmas' wishes, pictures, GIFs, and whatnot.
Oh, Christmas gifts! How can one miss that? Every Christmas morning, we find presents wrapped up underneath our trees in pretty gift papers from our dear Santa Claus. Although the image of Santa Claus tiptoeing into our homes with his enormous bag of gifts and quietly leaving our presents in our homes are just an imagination, deep down in our hearts, we all love to believe in this heartwarming thought.
THE TRUE SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS
Even though we all celebrate Christmas, not everyone knows the true meaning and spirit of Christmas. Years ago, in Bethlehem when Baby Jesus was born, and His Mother Mary wrapped Him in little strips of cloth and laid Him comfortably in a manger and visitors from the east who were led by a star came to see Baby Jesus with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh our celebrations began. Every year we celebrate his birthday with much joy and happiness. Lord Jesus Christ was born into this world and lived among us just like one of us and died a painful death on the cross for our sins and rose on the third day so that we may be free. He taught us the most important lesson, which is to love our neighbour as we love ourselves, and every year we all celebrate His birthday as Christmas. What a beautiful thing it is! Therefore, we must remind ourselves to love and care for one another with kindness and should be thankful for everything in our lives.
THE LESSON TO LEARN
Eventually, the celebration ends. Christmas lights are removed, the trees are taken down, and little decorations and stars are once again wrapped up inside their boxes to be opened only after a year. We all get back into reality with work, studies, and other engagements, but we must keep reminding ourselves what the true spirit of Christmas is and walk with that thought throughout our lives. To sum up, Christmas is an emotion; each of us would have a different story to tell about this season and what it means to us, but the happiness and excitement would remain the same. The greatest lesson to be learned through this festive season is that Lord Jesus Christ, the complete expression of love should be born in our hearts every day and not just on the day of Christmas.
Marriage: A communion so scared, that death is wished upon earlier before facing separation from their companions. A parent in India saves years and years before his/her child is old enough to get married. A knot tied in the presence of our beloved is said to have been decided by the Gods even before we knew. So what does a woman exactly expect when she gets married to her husband? Respect, love, dignity at the least?
As pure as this unity sounds, the darker side of this is as filthy as one can imagine. Consent is the basic right of a human in whichever choice offered is not an option when it comes to marriage, because as most people understand in this country- Marriage is a license to rape women. It is the rightful duty of a woman to please her husband at all times even when she is not willing. Coming to consent, that is probably out of the window. Something women are made to unlearn.
India is among 49 countries that have not criminalized Marital Rape along with countries like Iran, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia. It’s disappointing to see that in a country where we think we are progressing, even rape comes with conditions. One of them being that if you are raped by your husband, It’s practically not rape. Something they did not know they signed up for. Something wives did not know was a part of the marriage certificate.
There are a total of 7117 known languages in the world and “No” means the same in each of them, in every situation regardless if you are a man, woman, happily married or not. According to the testimony of a woman who survived marital rape published in dailyo.in, she faced harassment on the first night of her marriage and she was married to an IAS officer. Let that sink in. An IAS officer. One of the highest-ranked personnel in the country. So can we blame education for this? The man who is supposed to look after the reforms in the country and was sworn to make the country a better place is raping his wife.
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