An Unquiet Mind is growing up. It is no longer an adolescent that has to live under the auspices of WordPress.com. It is now getting its own home on the web.
I cannot disable comments on this blog so please do not take the pains to comment here anymore. I am trying my best to get all the posts, comments, etc. moved over to the new site.
I shall announce the new URL when the migration is complete. Hopefully, I should be able to make automatic redirection work, so you will find it yourself!
Thanks in advance. Please bear with me till the migration is complete.
Kids are the fastest evolving species on this planet. Parenting techniques become outdated faster and faster. However, I think many underlying principles remain the same.
I think good parenting is not an acquired skill – because it needs constant acquiring. I need to be learning and adapting all the time if I am to be a good parent, because today’s kids are learning and adapting all the time.
I wanted to share the lighter side of this enriching and enjoyable part of my life – the use of fictional characters to encourage discipline in our 2.5 year old daughter.
“Beta so ja, nahi to Gabbar Singh aa jayega” (Child, go to sleep, else the dacoit will come – a famous line in Indian cinema).
Parents have always needed external deterrents to discipline kids. Everyone imaginable – from police and teachers to demons and ghosts – has needed to be summoned to assist the helpless parent.
Boom Boom Bah
Our deterrent fictional character comes from a Marathi song from an album for kids that has become the rage among all kids in Maharashtra. Kids from a few months to a few years old dig this album like crazy. It features one song about a ghost, Boom Boom Bah, with a nice rhythmic pulsating beat, replete with screams and nightmarish laughter.
Not surprisingly, this guy Boom Boom Bah has become a friend to many Marathi parents. Go to sleep, otherwise Boom Boom Bah will come. Not taking your medicine? Boom Boom Bah will give you fever. Not brushing your teeth? Boom Boom Bah will take them away. And so on.
But, I didn’t want her to imbibe an irrational fear of an imaginary ghost. So the Boom Boom Bah character has mutated into an obnoxious fellow who’d rather be avoided at all costs. Our daughter has even learned to scold him if he doesn’t behave.
Not all deterrents need to be fictional. Our daughter knows the Chairman of our residential society as he has a young kid who sometimes plays with her. After several failed attempts at trying to stop her from endlessly playing with the tap water while washing hands or getting her out of the shower, one day her mother warned that Mr. Chairman will shut off all the water supply. This was more than a year back and the trick still works!
Deterrents rooted in reality don’t necessarily work, because children don’t see and understand the world like we do. Use deterrents that exist in their world.
Change, refine, and adapt the deterrents to suit the situation, age, and culture.
Candies and chocolates in excess can be harmful incentives. Harmless incentives require out-of-the-box thinking. Our daughter is now tiring of a meal-chair that she has used for more than 18 months. Rather than sitting and being forcibly enclosed in the chair, she would like to prance around. A direct, straight-forward directive “Sit in the chair” doesn’t work.
There’s a picture of a baby on the chair. “If you don’t sit in the chair, the baby will feel lonely, and cry. It wants you” works.
Provide incentives, not instructions.
This was a masterstroke by my MIL. Anuja is an imaginary friend of the same age as our daughter, who likes to hang around with her and her cousins. In short, she is part of their kids group. This was established over a few weeks of bedtime storytelling involving Anuja and the real kids. Now, Anuja is becoming a more useful concept than any deterrent, since she is very flexible.
On-Demand: You don’t want to finish your dinner? Shall I give it to Anuja?
Stories with Morals: Elaborate stories at bedtime about how Anuja did not behave properly in some way or the other, leading to her punishment.
Good Behavior: Good behavior on our daughter’s part makes Anuja very happy.
Indirect Scolding: Direct scolding leads to crying and is frequently counter-productive. If our daughter behaves incorrectly in some respects, Anuja mimics her at the same time, and it is Anuja who gets the scolding, not our daughter. Sometimes, this is sufficient for our daughter to mend her ways.
These are just a few examples; the list is endless. I am simply amazed at how all this works!
Use Incentives as a first recourse. If they don’t work, then resort to Deterrents.
- Born to a wheelwright, he left home at age 6 to sing in Vienna’s St. Stephen’s Cathedral. When his voice broke, he was dismissed.
- Haydn like wine so much, he insisted that part of his salary be paid in it.
- The greatest mistake of his life was marrying his wife. Initially, he fell in love with her sister, but she became a nun. Considered a shrew, Haydn’s wife used to rip up his scores and use them as hair curlers.
- Haydn and Mozart used to play string quartets together. Haydn played violin and Mozart played viola. Whose music do you think they played?
- When a Viennese pianist sneered at a Haydn passage, saying, "I would not have written it that way," Mozart replied, "Neither would I. And you know why? Because neither of us would have had so excellent an idea."
- At his last public concert, Haydn had to be carried out in a chair, held aloft by adoring musicians. As he passed up the aisle, Beethoven kissed his hands. The audience shed tears. Before reaching the door, Haydn turned and raised his hand to the orchestra, as if in blessing.
- Mozart’s Requiem was played at Haydn’s funeral.
- For 150 years, Haydn’s skull was displayed at the famed Musikverein (concert hall) in Vienna. Brahms, who couldn’t afford his own home, slept in an apartment there and liked to take Haydn’s skull at night, when he was composing, and put it on his desk for inspiration.
- Read the full article: Haydn vs. Mozart: the battle of the classical composers.
Take a look at these numbers:
- This is my 267th post.
- There are 2962 authentic comments on this blog.
- My posts have 203 tags in 39 categories.
- Total views crossed 100K quite a while back.
- These numbers usually don’t mean much to me. But I always use a trick while climbing a mountain. When I am exhausted and feel like I can’t go up any further, I turn and look the other way around. Seeing how much ground we’ve covered and how much height we’ve attained, is a re-energizing technique that works.
- However, the need to look at these numbers now did not arise because I’m exhausted writing on this blog. Since I started An Unquiet Mind over two years back, I have written exclusively here. And now I’ve come to a fork in my path.
- Discounting my professional writing at MakeUseOf.com, I have decided to start a separate personal blog exclusively focused on technology, specifically social networking and social media websites and technologies.
- Since I began a writing career, I realized that being an early adopter of new technologies, I needed to participate in online communities of like-minded technology enthusiasts and industry influencers.
- While Twitter has been one vehicle to achieve this, FriendFeed has been more empowering. To retain the intellectual flavor of An Unquiet Mind undiluted, I decided to post technology related content separately. Also, it did not make sense to direct the 90K+ MakeUseOf subscribers interested in cool websites, software, and internet tips to An Unquiet Mind!
- Since I am known as the Social Geek in these tech circles, my technology blog is of A Social Geek. I chose Posterous rather than WordPress as a platform since it’s flexibility suits my needs better. Feel free to follow/subscribe to A Social Geek if you’re so inclined. Posts from there are also displayed in the sidebar here. Thus, my blogs reflects my two personae on Twitter – @SocialGeek maps to A Social Geek, @Palsule maps here.
- At this milestone I also decided to experiment with a different theme, primarily for one reason: it gave me the push to do the necessary housekeeping of this blog that has been on the backburner for a while. I have reorganized my categories, which are now displayed at the top. Hovering your mouse over them reveals sub-categories too.
- I think this will help An Unquiet Mind remain unquiet about things that matter. I think unquiet minds rule over matter, but never mind.
Image: Janus, the two-faced Roman god of beginnings and endings.
Friends, thank you for visiting my blog and for your comments.
I met with an unfortunate accident end of last week, and hence will be out of action for a couple of weeks. Nothing serious, but I need to rest and recover. Thanks for visiting. I will be back soon.
With the first swine flu death reported in my city of Pune, I thought I’d provide some Swine Flu related information specific to India.
Swine Flu India is the central website for all information and updates.
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has an information page for Swine Flu.
This MS Word document supplied on the above page has contact information and details of the Control Rooms and Nodal Officers/Doctors for ALL states in India. Here is the information for Pune and Mumbai:
|Control Room||Nodal Officer|
Room No.137, First Floor,
Swasthaya Bhawan, Mumbai.
Office of the Joint Director (Health Services), Central Building , Pune
Dr. Suresh Bohatre
Please do your bit to spread information, not panic. Thanks!
After months of sitting on my computer on a backless settee, I began to realize that my back has a spinal cord, and that it's made up of individual vertebrae.But that's not what this is about. While my new chair does indeed improve my posture, this is a new posturing using Posterous.com. I am writing this email using Gmail, sending it to firstname.lastname@example.org and attaching the photo of my new chair. After I hit the send button, I sit back in my chair. I expect Posterous will:
- Post this email and the photo to my Posterous blog http://socialgeek.posterous.com
- Post my photo to my Flickr photo stream
- Post my photo to my Picasa web albums
- Post this update to my Facebook account (I want to see how it does that, whether it just links, or uploads the photo, etc.)
- Post this email and photo to my WordPress.com blog – An Unquiet Mind
- Post this update to my Friendfeed, which will then tweet an update on Twitter as @SocialGeek
- Post this update as a tweet on Twitter as @Palsule
Just 1 Email. Now, let's see how it works!
While Barack Obama proclaims White House support to the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities to which India is a signatory, the Indian Supreme Court has delivered a landmark judgment in a unique case of young woman in India. My apologies, but the subject necessitates a lengthy post.
Born in 1991, this woman was abandoned by her family in ‘98, when she was just seven years old. After a few years with the Missionaries of Charity, she went to her new home: the state-run Nari Niketan in Chandigarh, India. Though she is 18 years old today, she is said to have the IQ equivalent of a 9 year old. In this state-run institution, she was repeatedly raped by the staff, four of whom have been arrested. All this came to light only when she was shifted from there to another state-run institution Ashreya. The latest unsubstantiated evidence casts further doubt on where exactly she was raped, and on the entire police investigation so far.
When medical investigation revealed that the woman was pregnant, the Chandigarh Administration decided that it was in her best interests to abort the pregnancy. The girl expressed an unambiguous and unequivocal desire to keep the child. Responding to the state’s petition, the state High Court ordered an immediate termination of pregnancy.
A Delhi based lawyer Suchita Srivastava challenged the order, filing a petition in the Supreme Court. After several days of intense debate in the media as well as the public, the Supreme Court refused to allow termination of pregnancy, and stayed the High Court order.
Advocate Tanu Bedi who had earlier assisted the High Court as amicus curiae, argued for the woman, against Administration counsel Anupam Gupta. The highlights of the debate in court as reported in the press offer the gist of the arguments and the court’s judgment.
- “Consent of the victim cannot be decisive. The so-called consent of the girl is no assent either in law or fact.”
- Reacting to the statement that mild mentally challenged people have the capability to take a decision for themselves, Gupta said: “This is a myth, which is completely belied by present scientific knowledge. It is a structural edifice of myth built on a foundation of highly wishful postulates of mental retardation. The argument is underlied by sincerity and overload of commitment, yet it is mere euphoria.”
- Dismissing the emphasis that the girl’s desire to give birth was ultimate, Gupta said: “If this expression of desire is taken as consent, it will be a complete travesty of consent in moral, philosophical and legal category. How can one question her regarding termination of pregnancy when she does not even understand what pregnancy is? She is blissfully oblivious of her pregnancy and unaware of the sexual act.”
- Reacting to the argument that children of mentally challenged rape victims can be taken care by institutes like Nari Niketan and Ashreya, Gupta said: “It’s easier said than done. We seem to be living in a realm of imagination. I am not trying to run down the argument by calling it a fantasy but such change, although welcome, is yet an illusion in our society.”
- Senior counsel Colin Gonsalves, appearing for a social worker in favor of abortion, cited medical reports and said the continuation of pregnancy could result in complications, considering the girl’s age, mental status, and previous surgery. He said she was not aware that there was a child inside her, and hence could not mother a child.
- “It would be a travesty of justice if a mother has to come to the highest court of the land to seek permission to give birth to her own child”.
- Consent of the victim matters most. “She is not mentally incompetent to give consent. Despite her communication problems, she has expressed her desire to give birth to the child. She has immense strength and resilience. We don’t even know our destiny, how can we script the future of someone else?” concluded Bedi.
- Ms. Bedi argued that doctors did not form the opinion that termination of pregnancy was in the best interests of the girl, and that the medical report suggested that she required support and supervision to help her raise the child.
- Counsel argued that termination of pregnancy against the mother’s wish was against the provisions of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971, and the Rights of the Disabled.
- If her mental age is a consideration for the judiciary to think that she cannot take care of her baby, why should poor women, who are found lacking in bringing up their children, be allowed to become mothers?
- Ms. Bedi said India was a party to international conventions that uphold and preserve the rights of the disabled, which had been given the go-by in the impugned order. “We have to respect the girl’s right to life”, she said.
- Ms. Bedi argued that the victim had a right to give birth to her child. She said the National Trust constituted under the National Trust for the Welfare of Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disabilities Act, 1999, had agreed to provide her social and financial support and take care of the child after delivery. Counsel for the Trust said it was funding several institutions and would support the girl.
- Before the judgment: “What you say is right if she is not a mentally retarded person,” Chief Justice Balakrishnan told Ms. Bedi. “We are worried about her future also because she is an orphan. No NGO is going to look after her. It is a difficult decision for us.”
- “We are not in favor of termination of pregnancy. If there are no further complications to the woman in continuation of her pregnancy, then why abort a life?”
- “We are sure that somebody will be in a position to give protection to the child. Our anxiety is the fetus is already 19 weeks. The second medical opinion says her physical condition is good to bear the child. The child is not suffering from any deformity. Nature will give her biological protection. If somebody is ready to take care of the child, should we even then order medical termination of pregnancy? Nature will take care on its own.”
- Justice Sathasivam told Gupta: “Is it not possible for the Chandigarh administration to take care of the child? Is it not your responsibility to protect her?”
- “We know as a natural mother she will not be able to take care of the child. But if somebody is ready to look after the child, then there would not be any problem.”
- After being satisfied that several national-level NGOs had come forward to take responsibility of the child, the 3-member bench was reluctant to accept any other arguments supporting her abortion.
- Acknowledging that if a baby is aborted against her wishes, it would cause further trauma to the woman, the court ordered that the baby should be born with “mother under constant care and supervision”.
I have no way of assessing general public opinion, but in my experience, the opinion regarding the court’s judgment has been largely negative. See this blog post by Aditi Ray on Sulekha. Prerna’s post has a slew of comments criticizing the judgment.
The Bioethics Discussion Blog asks readers’ opinion regarding permanent sterilization of mentally disabled women, and asks if disability rights groups should ever sacrifice the disabled individual to the group’s agenda. I also found an interesting student paper at the University of Kentucky’s Dept. of Philosophy, Health Care Ethics on mentally retarded women and forced contraceptives. Finally, the UN’s Women with Disabilities page is a gateway to much more information and links.
A few days back, I was watching a children’s reality show on TV, Zee Saregamapa Little Champs. Young children sing and compete in this show, and there are two judges, one of whom is Ms. Alka Yagnik.
After one of the kids sung a song composed by Bappi Lahiri, Ms. Yagnik said she had brought a present from Mr. Lahiri for him. Can you imagine what it was?
It was a lemon and chillies bundle made of gold. She said it will help ward off evil spirits from the boy once she waves it around him. Another couple of minutes of air time was spent in close ups and a discussion of how it was 24-carat gold. Can you imagine my utter shock and disbelief? My instantaneous reaction was take it and SIUYA.
Millions of young impressionable minds all over India are passionately watching this reality show. The ratings of the participants matter personally to them. The judges are looked up at as role models who’ve made it big in the music industry. Is this what our role models are supposed to be teaching our children?
[For those not in the know, this is the most ubiquitous charm used in India to ward off the evil eye. See here for more information.]
TV shows like these are the rage on the Indian internet scene. There are countless sites with videos of episodes, innumerable forums where teenagers as well as adults are passionately discussing these shows and the progress of the contestants. If you think educated people with broadband connections who participate in such online activity would be immune to such superstitions, see this:
Of course, our politicians are not behind. This year, the national convention of the Congress in New Delhi sported this ‘good luck charm’. I thought I had seen it all, but then I saw this on a Send Gifts to India shopping site:
What is the harm in following silly old superstitions that harm nobody? Mr. Dabholkar, of the Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti (ANS) says “The idea that there is no harm in following some superstition as long as it is not harmful is what is worrying", in this DNA article Dare to step on lime and green chillies?
The Maharashtra Eradication of Black Magic, Evil and Aghori Practices Bill is still languishing with no support group behind it. From political parties like BJP and Shiv Sena to each and every religious organization starting with the letter ‘H’ – there is vociferous opposition, blatant misinformation, and scare tactics used to sway gullible public opinion. The ANS activists are so frustrated that they are now writing letters to the ruling politicians in their own blood.
With the apathy of educated Indians towards such beliefs, and the mainstream culture embracing such superstitions, I think a lot more people will need to give their blood to this cause if it has any chance of success.