Monthly Archives: January 2021

Care to Cuddle? It is comforting.

In The Free Press Journal, Mumbai; January 31, 2021.

To read more:

Qutub Minar among 50 landmarks across the world lit up as a sign of unity on second World Neglected Tropical Diseases Day today

New Delhi, January 30, 2021: On the second World Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD) Day on January 30, 2021, more than 50 landmarks representing 25 nations worldwide were lit up to celebrate how far we’ve come in beating these diseases. India too proudly joined these countries by illuminating UNESCO world heritage site, Qutub Minar. 

The day highlights the global community’s commitment to end the NTDs. These diseases cause immeasurable suffering among the world’s most marginalized communities. 

From Tokyo Tower to Qutub Minar to Seattle Columbia Center, the world came together to end the neglect of NTDs and bring a brighter future to the most impoverished communities worldwide.

One in five people around the world are affected by NTDs and India, is home to the world’s largest absolute burden of at least 11 of these major neglected tropical diseases. These diseases debilitate, disfigure, and can even be fatal to those affected. But NTDs can and must be beaten.

Filmmaker Arati Kadav uses imagination and innovation to the hilt to embark on a riveting sci-fi ride @ 55 km/sec

Filmmaker Arati Kadav’s sci-fi short film 55 km/sec starring Richa Chadha and Mrinal Dutt on Disney+Hotstar is a poignant retelling of the year that was for most of us. It is set against a meteor attack and covers the last few minutes before the end comes calling for the two protagonists and all others who inhabit the planet, and it gets over with a bang.
At a deeper level, it is an ingenious attempt to look back at the year when the mighty Coronavirus hit the entire world, and a few of our own — relatives, friends, acquaintances — and lakhs of unknown people around the globe became hapless victims of COVID, much like the meteor — Celestine — moving at a speed of 55 km/sec that was about to hit the planet at 3 pm on that fateful day, wiping all traces of life and living out of it.
The writing on the walls only adds to the fright factor with the planes zip, zap, zooming in the clear blue sky adding to the woes. The flight service to another safe place is available only to a chosen few. There’s no escape from the impending doom for most of the people as the TV anchors announce, giving hope that they will be together, uninterrupted, with their viewers till end. The deserted streets and quiet supermarket are reminiscent of the times that all of us lived and survived in the early part of the year gone by, so the shots and settings are relatable, as are the video and phone calls. The VVIPs had been safely escorted to a safe haven as the voiceover announced; a few lucky ones had found a place in the underground bunkers of dubious construction quality while others who couldn’t make it to the lottery system were in the queue, waiting for the inevitable end. The government had sent the animal kingdom’s embryos to outer space to save the species from extinction. Just as life seemed slipping away, minute by minute, a bunch of college buddies get together on a video call to bide away time and prepare for the strike of the meteor, together, talking, laughing, and bantering. There is a twist in the tale when the boy Suraj (Mrinal Dutt) confesses his love for Shrishti (Richa Chadha) over the video call, and out of the blue. Perhaps the morbid fear of the end makes him say what he would have otherwise never said. She tells him about the greeting card with hearts that he had received from an anonymous sender back then was actually from her; he finds it lying in one of the cartons and it fuels the spark in his heart. He keeps asking her, “are you alone?” till the voice on the other end, blanks out and with that, his hope of togetherness too. The names of the protagonists are metaphorical.
The entire film was remotely shot during the COVID-19 lockdown, and the cast and crew deserve a big round of applause for adapting to the new normal in filmmaking with perfect ease. Their seamless coordination, the frugality of the means and minimalism in the filmmaking approach make Kadav’s effort commendable. The subtle subtext and the deftness with which she handles her subject — questioning the human existence with a lot of empathy — leaves us shocked and awed, in equal measure, at her clever attempt. Her sci-fi gives an out of the world experience that unfolds in a little more than 20 minutes but keeps you gasping till the big thud announces that it is all over, and the blank screen gives way to the credit roll. It’s an escape from the mundane world to the unknown, unheard, unseen and unexplored, and is undoubtedly worth a watch. ~ Shillpi A Singh

Official poster of 55 km/sec designed by Ankur Kapoor.

Bamboo rice is the next superfood

In The Freee Press Journal, edition dated January 24, 2021.

Benefits of Bamboo Rice

  • Decreased Constipation and Colon Cancer Risk because it is rich in dietary fibre.
  • Lowered Risk of Cardiovascular Disease because the high fibre content also reduces the bad cholesterol levels and maintains blood pressure levels.
  • Optimized Brain and Nerve Health because it is a phenomenal source of B complex vitamins.

(By Dr Shweta Mahadik, Clinical Dietician, Fortis Hospital, Kalyan)

(To read more:

Jaipur Literature Festival announces programme for virtual 2021 edition

New Delhi, January 21, 2021: Set to take place between 19th to 28th February 2021, the Jaipur Literature Festival returns with a stellar online programme, spread over 10 days, for its 14th edition.

The ‘greatest literary show on Earth’ returns in a virtual avatar, featuring a spectacular line-up of speakers from across the world, consisting of writers, poets, playwrights, thinkers, politicians, journalists, cultural icons and recipients of major literary awards including the Man Booker, the Pulitzer, JCB Prize for Literature, Commonwealth, European Union Prize, the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature, PEN Award for Poetry in Translation etc.  

The programme, unveiled today, is vast and kaleidoscopic, with themes ranging from Technology & AI, Politics & History, Environment & Climate Change, Mental Health, Economics, Translations, Poetry & Music, Food & Literature, Geopolitics, Science & Medicine, Democracy & Constitutions, Water & Sustainability, Historical Fiction, Travel, etc.

Some highlights from the programme include Glasgow-born author Douglas Stuart whose 2020 Booker Prize-winning debut novel Shuggie Bain evokes the essence of addiction, parenthood, courage and love. Following the bond between a son and his mother, fractured by alcoholism, poverty, aspiration and human misery, the novel graphs an intimate, devastating yet ultimately hopeful journey through their lives.  In conversation with writer and playwright Paul McVeigh, Stuart will unravel the thought and process behind bringing this heartbreaking story out into the world.

Celebrated American linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist, historian, social critic, and political activist Noam Chomsky’s latest book, Requiem for the American Dream: The 10 Principles of Concentration of Wealth & Power, sharply questions the utopian idea of neoliberalism and the consequences of markets dictating all aspects of society. Evaluating the ten principles that have fuelled this idea, he will unravel its roots and its troubling impact on American society, culture and politics, in conversation with journalist Sreenivasan Jain.

Covering the ongoing pandemic, doctors and co-authors Randeep GuleriaChandrakant Lahariya and Gagandeep Kang will discuss their exciting new project in conversation with award-winning journalist Maya Mirchandani. The focus of the session will revolve around whether India wins the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Randeep Guleria, Director of All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, is an MD in Medicine and the first DM in Pulmonary Medicine in the country, and has been at the forefront of the Government of India’s efforts on the COVID-19 pandemic’s preparedness and response. Dr. Chandrakant Lahariya is a leading public policy and health systems expert and a recipient of the Indian Council of Medical Research’s Dr. BC Srivastava Foundation Award for his work on translating community-based health research in public policy interventions. Dr. Gagandeep Kang is a renowned infectious disease researcher and virologist who serves on many advisory committees in India and internationally, including for the World Health Organization.

During the Festival, award-winning Irish writer Colm Tóibín will take us through the rhythm and roots of his writing process and celebrated career. A master of expression and text, Tóibín possesses a unique ability to inhabit and blend through his words an expansive universe of fiction, nonfiction and poetry. He is the bestselling author of The MasterThe Blackwater LightshipThe Testament of Mary and Nora Webster; his upcoming book is The Magician.

Marina Wheeler, a Queen’s Counsel in England, opens the portals of memory as the daughter of a woman traumatised by the Partition of 1947 that divided British India into Pakistan and India. Wheeler follows her mother’s buried past, her marriage and move to England where she refuses to look over her shoulder at a lost world. In conversation with Navtej Sarna, the former High Commissioner of India to the United Kingdom, she will explore the meaning of the Punjabi Sikh identity as it survives through cultural transitions.

In a special session, director and writer Devashish Makhija’s latest book, Oonga will be launched followed by a conversation exploring the book.  The book is a powerful novel based on his film of the same name. Capturing the inherent paradox between dystopian ‘development’ and utopian ideologies, the book narrates the journey of a little boy in the midst of a clash between Adivasis, Naxalites, the CRPF and a mining company.

Acclaimed author and historian Vincent Brown‘s groundbreaking geopolitical thriller Tacky′s Revolt: The Story of an Atlantic Slave War takes on the Atlantic slave trade with a subversive and powerful reconstruction of the history of insurgency, rebellion, victory and defeat. With a keen emphasis on the seminal uprising that upended the dominant imperial rule of the British Atlantic world, eventually becoming known as the Tacky’s Revolt, and ultimately leading the way for abolition. At as session titled ‘Tacky′s Revolt: The Story of an Atlantic Slave War’, in conversation with writer and academic Maya Jasanoff, Brown will unpack the complex narratives binding the conflicting histories of Europe, Africa and America, offering illuminating insights into the condition of terror and war, more relevant than ever in the era of BLM and socio-political change.

Our knowledge and information of the Aztec empire, their history and their conquest, for generations have been informed by the Western pen. Author and historian Camilla Townsend’s Cundill History Prize-winning Fifth Sun: A New History of the Aztecs brings to light a complex and riveting history of the Aztecs based entirely on direct translations of the annals written in the neglected Nahuatl language. The author will speak to acclaimed author and Oxford professor Peter Frankopan and explore the precarious survival and brutal conquest of the people of the sun and their journey of endurance.

Journalist and writer George Packer’s Our Man: Richard Holbrooke and the End of the American Century is an enduring account of the force behind the Dayton Accords which famously ended the Balkan wars. Packer’s sweeping diplomatic history is based on Holbrooke’s diaries and papers and gives a peek into the life of a man equally admired and detested. In conversation with journalist and writer Basharat Peer, Packer will dive into the life and career of an extraordinary and deeply flawed man and the political and social circles he inhabited.

Journalist and writer Meenakshi Ahamed’s latest book, A Matter Of Trust, charts the complex relationship between India and the United States from the years following Indian Independence to today’s evolving politics. Based on her research of presidential papers, newly declassified documents, memoirs and interviews, the book evaluates the dynamics between the people in power in both countries against the backdrop of constantly developing socio-political-economic changes. At a book launch session, the writer will be in conversation with former Foreign Secretary to the Government of India, Shyam Saran and former diplomat Frank G. Wisner, and will discuss the far-reaching implications of this relationship and the current global political climate.

Tripurdaman Singh‘s latest book Sixteen Stormy Days: The Story of the First Amendment of the Constitution of India is a fascinating look into the turbulent history and contentious legacy of the First Amendment of the Constitution. In conversation with journalist and writer Karan Thapar, Singh will explore the nascent years of India in the context of what he calls ‘the first great battle of ideas.’

Democracy is an inherently participatory process that ensures the role of constituents in the direction and operation of political and social life. Electoral systems convert individual votes and choices into larger decisions that impact societies, cultures and nations. At a special session, a distinguished panel consisting of author and the 16th Chief Election Commissioner of India Navin B. Chawla, former Chief Election Commissioner of Nepal Neil Kantha Uprety and the Chief Election Commissioner of Bhutan Dasho Kunzang Wangdi will decipher and evaluate the electoral process in conversation with anthropologist and writer Mukulika Banerjee.

These are dangerous times for democracy. In his new book, The Tyranny of Merit: What’s Become of the Common Good? renowned philosopher Michael Sandel shows how the polarised politics of our time reflects the deep divide between winners and losers. He argues that we must rethink the attitudes toward success and failure that have accompanied globalisation and rising inequality. In conversation with celebrated author and Member of Parliament Shashi Tharoor, Sandel will offer an ethic of dignity and solidarity that points the way to a new politics of the common good.

The Festival continues its rediscovery of the vast heritage of India’s languages. In a session focused on Hindipoetry, scholar and academic Rupert Snell will speak of the enduring legacy of the Bihari Satsai with its evocative romantic imagery and visual vocabulary, in conversation with fellow scholar, academic and translator Harish TrivediThe Bihari Satsai is a work of the early 17th century by the poet Biharilal in Braj Bhasha. The Satsai was written in the court of Raja Jai Singh of Amber near Jaipur. The poet was rewarded with a gold coin for each verse; 700 verses were compiled into the Bihari Satsai, which has been considered an outstanding representative of the Riti period, weaving together worldly experience and divine immanence, and adapting the writing style of court poetry. Rupert Snell’s translation for the Murty Classical Library is scholarly yet accessible and brings alive the tradition for modern readers.

The first Bhojpuri novel to be translated into English, Phoolsunghi, is a period piece about the life of a tawaif in the late 19th century in colonial Bihar.  Though Bhojpuri songs and cinema have gained popular appeal, the richness of Bhojpuri literature is not widely known. Gautam Choubey,  an academic and a columnist, has innovatively translated this modern classic and rendered it with cultural nuances and poetry. Academic and author Francesca Orsini is Professor of Hindi and South Asian Literature at SOAS, University of London. In conversation with academic and award-winning translator Jatindra Kumar Nayak, Orsini and Choubey will discuss the novel, the times it was set in as well as the challenges of presenting it for contemporary readers.

In conversation with the author of Mapping the Heavens: The Radical Scientific Ideas That Reveal The Cosmos, Priyamvada Natarajan, acclaimed Italian physicist and writer Carlo Rovelli will take us through the deeper meaning of the universe and our place in it. Drawing inspiration from the ancient Buddhist philosopher Nagarjuna, Rovelli will take us on an illuminating journey through the unknown, exploring the mysteries of the cosmos, the fabric of space and the nature of time.

The Festival will remember legendary Indian actress Devika Rani through award-winning author and playwright Kishwar Desai’s book The Longest Kiss: The Life and Times of Devika Rani which charts the life and career of the celebrated actress. Based on her personal letters and documents, the book narrates her journey through the creation of Bombay Talkies, India’s first professional studio, her marriages to Himanshu Rai and Svetoslav Roerich, and the struggle of being a woman in the entirely male-dominated world of Indian cinema.

Speaking on the programme of this year, author and Festival Co-Director Namita Gokhale said, “It’s been a joyous challenge to work on the programming for Jaipur Literature Festival 2021. We look at our transformative times and try to understand the future through the lens of the present and the past.  Our hybrid digital outreach has opened up a new universe of possibilities. I’m excited at having Italian astrophysicist and writer Carlo Rovelli in conversation with Professor Priyamvada Natarajan, on Nagarjuna, Sunyata, and Stardust. Winner of the 2020 Booker prize, Douglas Stuart, speaks of his award-winning debut novel. We rediscover Emperor Ashoka’s ancient edicts through music with T.M. Krishna.”

“There is so much more to experience and reflect upon – from Gulabo Sapera and the dance of the serpents to the science, art and philosophy of Indian food – from the tragic life of the great Bangla writer, poet, and playwright Michael Madhusudan Dutt to the one and only M.S. Subbulakshmi. Shekhar Pathak and Ramachandra Guha tell us of the people’s history of the Chipko Movement. We present S. Hareesh’s award-winning novel ‘Moustache’, translated from Malayalam. In ‘Brown Baby’, British writer Nikesh Shukla explores shifting ideas of home. We pay tribute to the genius of S.R. Faruqi as we present his posthumously published novel, ‘Kabze Zaman’. These are some glimpses of the treats in store – a few surprises still await!” she added.

Sanjoy K. Roy, Managing Director of Teamwork Arts, producer of the Jaipur Literature Festival, said, “A year after the world was felled by the pandemic, we have persevered and shown that human endurance can and will prevail, fuelled by knowledge and information, empathy and the right to justice. The Jaipur Literature Festival is representative of these ideals and will continue to be a platform to celebrate the joy of knowledge.”

The full programme will be available to view at : Programme – Jaipur Literature Festival

Jaipur BookMark (JBM), a B2B segment held parallel to the Festival, will open its eighth edition with an engaging virtual programme between the two weekends of the Jaipur Literature Festival. The virtual edition of JBM will run from 22nd to 25th February 2021, hosting two sessions per day. JBM will continue to bring together a wide range of publishers, literary agents, writers, translators, translation agencies and booksellers from across the world and give them an opportunity to exchange ideas and listen to major global industry players.

Manto’s free spirit and courage to stand up against orthodoxy drew me to his story: Nandita

Actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui in and as Manto.

Ten years after making her directorial debut with Firaaq, actor Nandita Das is ready with her next on the life and times of revolutionary Urdu writer Sadaat Hasan Manto. Starring Nawazuddin Siddiqui in the titular role with Rasika Dugal as his wife Safia, the biopic is set in India and Pakistan and focuses on the period between 1945 and 1949; it is woven around five of Manto’s stories. In an exclusive piece, she talks about Manto, her fascination with his life and work, her Manto-esque father, and why Manto is still relevant today’s times.

Introduction to Manto

I first read Manto when I was in college. A few years later, I bought the complete original works in a collection called Dastavez, in Devanagari. I was struck by his simple yet profound narratives and the way he insightfully captured the people, politics and times he lived in. He wrote as he saw, as he felt, without dilution, and with a rare sensitivity and empathy for his characters.

For years, I thought of making a film based on his short stories, even before I made my directorial debut, Firaaq. In 2012, when I delved deeper into his essays, they helped the idea expand beyond his stories. Today I feel equipped, both emotionally and creatively, to tell this story that so needs to be told.

What drew me to the story of Manto was his free spirit and courage to stand up against orthodoxy of all kinds. He was irreverent and had an irrepressible desire to poke a finger in the eye of the establishment, often with sharp humor. As I plunged deeper into Manto’s life, I wondered why he seemed so familiar. Soon I realized that it felt like I was reading about my father, an artist. He too is intuitively unconventional, a misunderstood misfit, and whose bluntness is not too different from my protagonist.

Resonance with Manto:

It is his fearlessness and a deep concern for the human condition that I have always felt most deeply connected to. No part of human existence remained untouched or taboo for him. For him, the only identity that mattered was that of being a human. Manto’s faith in the redemptive power of the written word, through the hardest times, resonates with my own passion to tell stories. In some mystical way, I feel I am part of that hopeful legacy! Through him, I feel I am able to kindle my own conviction for a more liberal and compassionate world. I feel there is a Mantoiyat, in all of us – the part that wants to be free-spirited and outspoken. 

Actor and filmmaker Nandita Das.

My father is very Manto-esque:

My father Jatin Das is an artist and at a person level I feel he is very Manto-esque. In the sense that though an artist he has never really been part of the artist’s market group, as art has also sadly become a commodity. Like Manto, he has also never really been driven by money. He is very outspoken and somewhat a misfit. I’m very close to my father and when I come across struggles of someone who is so honest and wants to speak up all the time. Somewhere I feel that the film on Manto has the power of making a difference. That’s why I want to do films.

This is something that I feel so passionate about because it is a story that I really want to tell. I feel Manto had this feeling that writing and literature have that power of making a difference. That’s why he continued writing even when he was financially in a bad shape and became an alcoholic, especially when he was in Lahore. But he had a belief that his writing can contribute to some kind of change – not that he has ever said it but at a subconscious level he believed it. I think there is a resonance there as well.

Favourite works and why:

When I first read Manto in college, I was struck by his simple yet profound narratives. As for my favourite Manto work, there are many, so please don’t ask me to choose! To name a few, Dus Rupiya, 100 Watt Bulb, Hatak, Khushiya, Khol Do and many more – each one is powerful in its own way. His essays and sketches about people are equally poignant and sharp. 

Manto once said, “Why would I undress a society that is already naked? It is true I make no attempt to cover it, but that’s not my job…my job is to write with a white chalk so that I can draw attention to the blackness of the board.” Manto wrote as he saw, as he felt, without dilution.

Relevance of Manto today:

The deeper I delve into this project, the more convinced I am about the relevance of Manto in these times. Not much has changed… almost 70 years later and we are still grappling with issues of freedom of expression and struggles of identity. Even today our identities lie inextricably linked to caste, class and religion as opposed to seeing the universality of human experience. I know he would have had lots to say about the times we live in. It is no surprise that so much is being written about Manto and that many theatre groups are often performing his plays and essays. He was relevant then and will sadly continue to be relevant for a long time to come. 

Actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui in a still from Manto.

Struggle for freedom of expression:

Manto never perceived himself to be an activist. He in fact says that ‘as much as Gandhi has to do with films I had to do with politics’. He didn’t feel that he was political and yet he was actually extremely political in all his writings. According to him, what political meant was to understand why things happen the way they happen. In today’s times, we can see this all around – censorship, people who are self-censoring to avoid trouble or moral policing where some group decides that something is hurting their sentiments.

And that is what Manto fought against. He was tried for obscenity six times – three times by the British government and three times by the Pakistani government, just because he wrote about the sex workers. There are a lot of interesting essays. We also have scenes in the film showing the way people attacked him saying that what he wrote was obscene and pornographic and how he defended literature, as his writing was not meant to titillate somebody. His writing tried to understand and empathize with people who are on the margins of society. It was about those people who nobody wants to write about. In fact he also says that if you can’t bear my stories it is only because we live in unbearable times. The stories only reflected what happened in society. So I think it is relevant not just in our South Asian sub-continent but also around the world. Artists, writers, freethinkers, rationalists are all being attacked in some form or the other and are being silenced. Any society grows and develops when you have people speaking up the truth and thinking differently. And if you silence them then what hope do we have?

On Manto being labeled a mainstream or an art film: 

I do not like to label films as mainstream or art. And at the end, this film is an artistic expression. Manto was a great writer, and his story will reach out to millions because I think it is very relevant to our times, for multiple reasons. We are still grappling with issues like freedom of expression and struggles of identity. Also we don’t know many of our own writers, artists, scientists, and through them the history of our country and times they lived in. I think people in our country and globally, will connect to the story, as at the end of it all, it is a human story of struggle and courage and the will to speak out and be your own self – something we all struggle with. 

(This interview was first published in Air Vistara’s inflight magazine, Vistara, in April 2018)


Seven tips to ace the wellness game in 2021

Dr Kirti Sabnis

The concept of wellness is not new, but the pandemic really compelled us to take the time to focus on our health. Instead of working out to the point of exhaustion, people have taken a more holistic approach to their overall wellbeing. From how we work out, what we eat, what we drink, the products we put on our bodies and faces, the way we rest, everything has changed — and the impact of these changes will be felt into 2021 and beyond.

According to studies, people across the world have adopted fitness routines and immunity-boosting diets, making health as their first priority. Here are a few tips on how you can ensure your wellbeing in the new year.

FOCUS ON COMMUNITY CARE: The pandemic has compelled us to focus on community care rather than being self focused – a growing awareness that is helping propel people towards a greater pathway to happiness. Scientific researchers say that people are prioritizing giving back, donating their time, skills, and using their power to address systemic issues that are present in their own lives, workplaces, and communities.

BUILD STRONG METABOLIC HEALTH: With the adverse effect of COVID19 on one’s health, one of the most noticeable effects were weakened metabolic strength. People suffered from the disease because they could not fight the virus. The eating and lifestyle patterns have never been of much concern until this year. Now, everyone is concerned about what they eat, and whether their body has the strength to fight the disease. Food with all the vital elements to provide balanced nutrition to our body is now on everyone’s priority list. Green leafy vegetables, eggs, fruits like berries, apples, citrus fruits, Melon are good for metabolic strength and will become must-have’s in 2021.

MENTAL WELLBEING IS PARAMOUNT: For years together, the issue of mental wellness didn’t get much needed attention. However the pandemic changed this, and for good. In India, there is a surge in telemedicine services for mental health consultations, especially from tier II and III cities as well. People have now understood the relevance of caring for oneself and for the community too. There are newer technologies and wearable devices that now share alerts on your mental wellbeing. Coming year, you will see more devices with built-in alerts to remind you to stop and breathe when it measures that your heart rate is up.

SEEK OUT FOR VIRTUAL FITNESS TRAINING & EXERCISE MODULES: With fitness centers only opened in a limited capacity, many trainers have turned to virtual classes. This has created more access for fitness training for those who didn’t have the time or capacity to go to a gym. There are several platforms that offer holistic virtual programs. Also, trainers are leveraging social media to offer free classes. This trend will picked momentum this year.

MONITOR SLEEP PATTERNS: Not getting the recommended hours of sleep is linked to weight gain and obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, heart disease, stroke, and a greater risk of death. Furthermore, sleeping for less than seven hours a day leads to impaired immune system, decrease in cognitive performance, and an increased risk of accidents. There are several apps that track your sleep and give you important insights into your sleep patterns. These apps are designed to help you improve your sleep patterns and help fight insomnia.

MINDFUL EATING HABITS: The trend of ‘eat fresh, eat local’ has been gaining strength in India. Moreover, people will continue to turn away from restrictive diets, especially those that completely demonize certain macronutrients, such as carbohydrates. I also believe there will be an increase in people embracing food in all its forms through the trend of upcycling food, which means that strange-looking vegetables and wasted food scraps can be turned into delicious meals and snacks. It is a step toward a healthier, more sustainable, and more conscious future.

BUILDING IMMUNITY: An optimally functioning body and a nutritious diet is the key to keep your immune system on track. A healthy immune system can safeguard the body from any disease, even fight COVID19. The awareness among people for immunity-boosting nutrients has now taken a peak, and everyone is now looking for health supplements or food with rich immunity-boosting elements. The immunity booster supplements whether it’s Green Tea or fruits rich in Vitamin C are now part of every household. This is something that has drawn maximum people’s attention and will be practiced in 2021 as well.

While the above mentioned wellness trends are significant for complete wellbeing of mind and body. It is equally important to seek expert guidance for all medical needs. Adhering to precautionary measures such as maintaining social distancing, sanitizing hands and wearing masks are key. Patients are recommended to follow treatment guidelines in managing chronic diseases such as diabetes, obesity, cardio-vascualr diseases, cancer especially in the elderly to ensure health and safety of everyone around us.

(Dr Kirti Sabnis is Infectious Disease Specialist at Fortis Hospital, Mulund and Kalyan)

‘Virtual healthcare options proved as the saving grace during the pandemic’

While telemedicine as a concept has been around for quite some time now, Remote Patient Monitoring is a relatively new concept for most of us in India. But the CORONA crisis that struck early last year made the not-so popular practice as the go-to service for many.

Dr Brajesh Kunwar

Virtual healthcare services such as telemedicine and Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) have been of immense help during the pandemic. While telemedicine as a concept has been around for quite some time now, RPM is a relatively new concept for most of us in India. The CORONA crisis struck last year and changed the way doctor-patient interacted during the new normal. RPM gained popularity during the lockdown with healthcare providers preferring, adopting and recommending it. RPM services are more critical than ever because they enable physicians to monitor patients without meeting them, hundreds of miles away, thus cutting out the risk of being exposed to the novel coronavirus. Yet, many people still don’t know much about RPM. 

What is RPM health service? 

Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) uses digital technologies to collect medical and other forms of health data from individuals in one location, and electronically transmit that information securely to healthcare providers in a different area for assessment. RPM allows providers to continue tracking healthcare data for patients once they are discharged. It also encourages patients to take more control of their health. Some of the benefits associated with RPM for patients include:

  • Better access to healthcare
  • Improved quality of care
  • Peace of mind and daily assurance
  • Improved support, education, and feedback

RPM v/s telemedicine and telehealth: 

While most of it may seem alike for patients, their application, interpretation differs in many ways. While RPM’s definition may seem straightforward, there is some confusion about the concept, including how it differs from telehealth. Distinguishing between remote patient monitoring and telehealth is vital for several reasons, including coding, billing purposes and patient understanding.

Telemedicine uses electronic information and communications technologies to provide and support healthcare when distance separates a doctor from the patient. The term is also applied more narrowly to medical applications that use interactive video, typically for specialty or subspecialty physician consultations. Telehealth includes telephones, facsimile machines, electronic mail systems, and remote patient monitoring devices, which are used to collect and transmit patient data for monitoring and interpretation. Therefore, understanding when to use RPM, or telemedicine is of utmost importance for a patient.

When should you opt for RPM? 

As RPM services are akin to telemedicine technologies, they automatically observe and report on patients, often with chronic illnesses, so caregivers can remotely keep tabs on patients. Moreover, they help in improving medical staff performance, avoid routine visits, and increase the quality of care. But patients need to know when to opt for such services. RPM services are meant for patients who are under a prescribed treatment regime. These services help patients monitor their blood pressure, diabetes, oxygen saturation levels and other health vitals. For more critical healthcare needs, patients need to connect with their doctors in person. Also, it is not advisable for new disease diagnosis.

(Dr Brajesh Kunwar is Director-Interventional Cardiology, Hiranandani Hospital, Vashi – A Fortis Network Hospital)

Adam Imam: The standout star from Jharkhand

Shillpi A Singh

In your name, the family name is at last because it’s the family name that lasts,” wrote author, professional magician and mentalist Amit Kalantri in his book Wealth of Words. Well, the young and talented Adam Christopher Imam, 21, from Hazaribagh in Jharkhand couldn’t agree more with his statement. After all, he comes from one of India’s most distinguished families, which has produced a steady stream of intellectuals for the past two centuries.

Adam is the son of Justin and Alka Imam, the grandson of Padma Shri Bulu Imam and Syed Hasan Imam’s great-grandson. The enviable family lineage has made him conscious because with great power comes great responsibility, and he is aware of both – power and its responsibilities. “My great grandfather was the president of the Indian National Congress in 1918. My parents are founders of Virasat Trust while my grandfather is an environmentalist and social worker who was honored with the Gandhi Peace Award in 2011. I have seen them work so hard for the revival and resurgence of Kohvar and Sohrai paintings in and around Hazaribagh, Jharkhand, all through my growing up years. It is thanks to them that Kohvar and Sohrai paintings bagged the GI tag,” says the youngest Imam, highlighting his illustrious family’s history.    

Adam with his parents – Justin and Alka- and sister Eva.

An alumnus of St Xavier’s School, Hazaribagh, Adam is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in travel and tourism management from Chandigarh University. The choice of the subject was obvious. “I come from a family that has devoted itself to the preservation of Jharkhand’s art, culture and tourism. I would like to contribute towards enriching their legacy, and my love for travelling is another reason,” says the travel buff. 

His last trip to the Land of Pyramids & Pharaohs in June 2019 was an enchanting experience. “I was in Egypt for 45 days as a global youth volunteer for a cultural exchange program. I travelled across the country and explored more than eight big cities during my trip,” he adds. The young lad is different from others of his ilk; his fondness and pride for his state, and all things Jharkhand is remarkable. “It comes from my parent’s grounded upbringing. I’ve always been taught to embrace our culture and stay connected to our roots because only a tree with strong roots laughs at storms,” he quips. Adam took it upon himself to ‘educate’ his ignorant classmates and faculty at his College about his home state’s richness. He flaunts his Jharkhand tag with immense pride. He loves dressing up in the traditional attire, and quite often.   

He can count on his attitude and aptitude and these alone will go a long way in helping him carve a niche in the tourism sector. The young boy is angling for his moment in the spotlight and has the personality and charm to be the standout face 2021 from Jharkhand. Watch out world, here comes Adam Christopher Imam. 

Adam Christopher Imam.


Nano Stories

(A dear friend sent me this beautiful photo clicked by an amazing photographer, Rene’ Kahle’ from Netherlands who posted this photo on his instagram handle rene_kahle.My friend asked me if I could write a nano story based on this photo.And I did write a story which I am sharing with you all here)

When she was captured and put in a fancy cage, the love bird couldn’t bear the separation from her mate and stopped eating.She grew weak and lost her sheen.The bird catcher took pity and released her.
She couldn’t fly high but found a thorny cactus to rest.In an instant , her long lost mate who hadn’t let her go out of his sight found her.

He perched himself beside her inspite of the thorns piercing his body, fed her lovingly and groomed her till she got her sheen back.

The Chubby Little Girl.
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