Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Lifestyle & Culture

The 8th Deadly Sin: Fast Fashion.

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The Ascent claims no ownership over this image.

by Tara Hebbar

The latest trends, newest styles and the brands. Our world seems to want it all – all the time. There seems to be no end to people’s constant desire for what’s new and in style. Going to the store and sweeping the racks has become a pastime for so many. Those who don’t indulge in this, for whatever reason, are looked down upon, and considered not part of the “it” group that our society has crafted. For those who are unaware, the term fast fashion refers to, “cheaply produced and priced garments that copy the latest catwalk styles and get pumped quickly through stores in order to maximise on current trends.” There is never an end to a new dress or a suit that entices people across ages and continental barriers. The term need has been loosely replaced by want. Repeating clothes has become the 8th deadly sin. Clothes are irresponsibly bought and thrown away in the same fashion. Everyone wants more, throwing aside all ideals of logic, care and responsibility. No, I don’t expect the world to roam the streets like the king in ‘the emperor’s new clothes’ – stark naked, or wear clothes just at the chest and crotch like our neathertal friends, however, the current situation has gone way too far. Shopping is no longer an activity that is looked at like buying groceries, a matter of fulfilling one’s basic needs, however, now it is all about who has the most trendy and the most expensive clothes. The amount of money people spend on clothes is astonishing, with shopping now becoming a way to express one’s monetary status. 

This activity is not only making us more greedy and polluted people as a race, it’s detrimental effect on the environment is appalling. It is the second most polluting industry in the world, and is like a monster. Thriving on greed, it continues to grow larger and more scary each and every day that we continue to knowingly feed it to destroy what feeds us – talk about biting the hand that feeds you! The idea of minimalism is not acknowledged by any of us, forget the ability to demonstrate it. Fashion production is responsible for 10% of global carbon emissions, and is the source of all the dried up and polluted water bodies. It’s harmful and toxic reach extends beyond just the making of clothes. The washing of clothes itself leads to the release of 500,00 tons of micro fibres into the ocean annually, equivalent to 50 billions bottles made of plastic. Each and every step of article production taunts the environment in some way or the other. It affects each and other parts of our world. The wastage and immense usage of water and energy is a big part of this. One shirt requires 700 gallons of water to be manufactured. The next time you hear of a drought, know the new shirt you just bought could have saved so many thirsty animals and human beings. Jeans are even worse! Needing 2000 gallons of water each one. If this isn’t enough, here are some more terrifying facts about this industry. 85% of these holy grains of clothes and textiles go to waste each year. People have no connection or control, as one new piece of colorful comes in, another goes, irrespective of its condition. Clothing production has doubled approximately since 2010. In just 10 years, the population is increasing, but so are some people’s shopping habits. People also bought 60% more clothes in 2014 than 2000, while keeping them for only half as long. While this might seem foreign, most of us have contributed to it.

These are just some of the many negative effects of fast fashion. Spewing facts and statistics will only go so far, however, it’s in our hands to turn these facts around into a miracle that the future generations can marvel at. Let’s use and reuse clothes, lend them to our juniors and not feel the need to hit the shops as soon as the “trend” changes. Know that in the end, the trends lie in the hands of our fellow human beings, and each time, the environment bears the brunt. We don’t always need to buy new clothes all the time. The mantra you need to follow is “need not want.” Only buy clothes when you need it, you’ll realise the simple needs of your life. You don’t need the newest H&M release, you want it. And here’s the reality of life, “you don’t get everything you want” or rather, “don’t get everything you want.” Although our world considers being untrendy the 8th deadly sin, it’s truly fast fashion that occupies this villainous throne. 

The Big Fat Indian Wedding: A Celebration of Waste

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The Ascent claims no ownership over this image.

by Diya Barmecha

  The Big Fat Indian wedding has gone past a declaration of love, celebration and interconnecting two families but has slowly become a spectacle of who can put on the greatest show. It has moved on from the various rituals that have to be done and changed to how can we make a mundane thing seem extraordinary. Speaking on a personal level, weddings are a time for me to bond with my family over dance, music, food and eventually after days of fun, the reason we attended these series of functions. The fun that people can have knows no limit, as people are celebrating the union of their friends/family. However, what comes with the spectacle of fun, amusement and enjoyment is a long list of wastage and unsustainability. 

    The Indian weddings started off as only the series of rituals and the wedding at the end. However, as the money started flowing into our country the destinations became more exquisite and the number of people only grew exponentially. In the past, we would have weddings in the same city as we live, now there are weddings in different cities, with hashtags, social media uploads and even fun activities. 

   However, on the whole, once we look at the things we aren’t supposed to, the Big Fat Indian wedding is really a celebration of all the waste accumulated at the end of it. The decoration we once appreciated, is gone to waste by the end of the celebrations. The flowers used to make the environment fresh are put to waste that very day since the next day, it loses the fresh fragrance it leaves. The food that was organised for the hundreds of the guests attending is wasted because not  everybody say if they are coming or not and neither does everyone eat everything. In weddings, with a much needed buffet system there is also a waste system in place. At the end of each meal there is enough food waste to feed at least 200 more people and that is just for a small scale wedding. With up to 2.5 crore weddings yearly, the celebrations and waste is unfathomable. According to an NGO called Feeding India, around 40% of the food in a small-scale celebration is waste and as the guests increase the number can also increase up to 60%/. 

     It is one thing to enjoy yourself and another to enjoy at the expense of destruction, because that’s what weddings have now become. A celebration of all the food waste, decoration waste and flower waste. There is no limit to the amount of fun one can have during the wedding but there is a limit to the amount of waste one wastes.

With a simple RSVP system, the amount of food wastage can be reduced as the amount of food made will be based on the people who are coming and not those who were invited. One can also do something as simple as asking what the guests would prefer to eat in these few days, maybe vote on the basis of what they might like. For example, if collectively the group doesn’t like pasta then pasta will not be made in the first place and hence won’t be wasted. Much like what happens in most airlines where you can choose what food you would like to eat for a few meals while you are on the aircraft. This is just that on a bigger scale and less strict. With knowing what the collective group wants to eat, the food can be made accordingly as can the estimation of food needed be more accurate.  

    There is even more wastage in the cutlery and floral sectors. With floral decorations only being one time use and then being dumped into the trash. However, their life does not have to end when their scent and beauty does. Many organizations  take old flowers and turn them into colors used in Holi to make rangoli.  The cutlery can be made using wood so that it is reused and no water is wasted while washing so much cutlery and it is still easy. It is not about controlling your splurge in weddings because everyone wants to show and flaunt their money and if not that they want the facilities to have the best few days. However, it is controlling and knowing what to do with the waste. I do not want there to be limits on the celebration but I want there to be protocols in place to limit the waste in the first place. 

Human Library #3 – Zirak Marker

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The Ascent claims no ownership over this image.

by Siya Aggarwal

Understanding Mental health amidst Uncertainty with Dr. Zirak Marker.

The second speaker as part of the Human Library series is a distinguished child and adult psychiatrist and psychotherapist. Dr. Zirak Marker has more than 19 years of professional background in the field of Educational Psychology. He has graduated with an MBBS from DY Patil University and DNB in Psychiatry along with clinical training. Today, Dr. Marker is the “Medical Director of the Aditya Birla Integrated School for children with learning disabilities and psychological/emotional problems.”

Question: How did your journey in psychiatry beigain? 

“I don’t think I was particularly inclined towards this field initially, and this profession was a discovery along my journey. Apart from going through schooling, there was really no option in those days. I was also told by my family that I have to pursue a career in medicine and become a good doctor. That was the foundation from which my journey began. After that, strangely enough, I was very keen to specialize in ophthalmology and it was my dream to become an eye surgeon. At the time there were extreme challenges when it came to lack of availability with seats and the percentages that were admitted. I was never a topper in terms of being a 95% student. So while applying to institutes in our forms we had to specify option one option to option three. My second option was psychiatry. There were only four seats available in ophthalmology, and I did not make the cut and that is how I got into psychiatry. The journey post shows what is the pricing enough to do with the movie called “The sixth sense”. There was Bruce Willis as a child psychiatrist and I think that truly fascinated me and brought me closer to this subject” 

Question: What was your mental health like in your youth?

“Through my experiences in school, I did not have the best of times. Between grades 8, 9, and 10 I think I have had the worst years of my life. I was extremely terribly ragged and bullied in school by my close friends who I knew since primary school. Kids can become really nasty during those times and they turned against me.. The bullying varied from verbal to emotional and even physical harm. At the same time, my mom got diagnosed with cancer. In those days there was no real mental health support, there was no concept of counseling or anything along those lines. All of this accumulated and eventually,  I realised the importance of mental health not just for children and the youth but for everybody around.”

Question: Could you tell us a little bit more about that importance of mental health 

“Parents need it today, children need it today, Unfortunately so, I also feel that mental health is still a taboo . In these times which we like to refer to as uncertain times we all need outlets. Even the concept of mental health itself is for some reason connected to suicide, what people read in the news, examples such as Sushant Singh Rajput that has become this sensation. People don’t realize that mental health itself is a continuum. When I use the word continuum it starts with well-being and progresses into the other part of the spectrum being an illness. 

Question: What is the reality of the general state of mental health today? 

“We have to acknowledge the reality that one infour people today in this world have a mental health concern or a mental health illness (World Health Organisation). The same statistics also show that India is the most depressed country in the world. The scariest ofstatics to have recently come out says that there is one suicide attempt every 3seconds and one death by suicide every 40 seconds. The statistics are just to provide you with the concerns about mental health and how it is slowly emerging and going to become a crisis. Another very scary statistic says that 50% of all mental health concerns start from the age of 14. We can’t even say that children are protected from mental health aspects. In fact, it begins in the childhood and adolescent years. As educators, parents,adults or anyone who deals with the youth needs to understand the dire importance of this. The stigma of society is such that by the time there is an onset of a mental health concern until the treatment it takes 8 to 10 years. This is the result of the terrible stigma and the basis that’s around mental health. For parents it’s like a judgement they always feel like people will look at them as a sign of weakness due to the labelling that will surround them.  They look at it as a sense of feeling on themselves or on the child. A huge aspect of why mental health care doesn’t reach the people who need it is also a lack of awareness. There are so many people in the youth going through clinical depression and severe anxiety or panic attacks and things like that but they feel like it’s part of who they are or part of who they are becoming and they don’t even realise that it’s an actual concern. Another typical myth is that “you have to be really crazy and then you go and see a professional”. That’s completely not true , we do not prescribe medication on a whim etc. Even having someone to talk to can be beneficial”

Dr. Marker provided us with not only an informative session but allowed us to acknowledge that what we feel is valid, and there is absolutely nothing wrong in seeking help. Society requires a mindset change regarding mental health. He gave us a reality check illustrating the importance of mental health. His personal experiences paired with his professional expertise enabled us to take away many lifelong learnings. 

The Disciple – A Review

By Anya Daftary

I recently watched the Disciple, a Marathi movie on Netflix. The film was written and directed by Chaitanya Tamhane, and is only his 2nd film yet. The story follows that of Sharad Nerulkar, a student of Hindustani music. Set amongst the backdrop of Mumbai in the 2000s, the film depicts the eternal struggle and quest for a classical artist to find their worth. The process of the art is intrinsically woven into the fibres of a kalakar’s (artist) daily life, and their overall world.

 The film depicts a musician’s journey of age-old traditions in today’s dramatically different cultural climate. It depicts the tradition that somewhat survives like gurusisya parampara, attempts at riyaaz and devoting oneself wholly to music. While outlining Sharad’s story on its own, Tamhane showcases the changes and the adaptation of music through secretly recorded tapes of Maa an older musician with much gyaan to baato, a now-gone but seemingly influential musician — specifically on Sharad. Her recordings divulge into the art form, the focus, the discipline, the subtleties, the relevance of an audience and how beyond everything, this art form can only be understood by having a deep desire to understand it and only it. 

But, that still isn’t enough. While making reference to the purification that music underwent in a post-colonial rule. The part that resonated with me most was how today, for an artist, it is impossible to live and learn music, to unreservedly be submerged within the art form, the tradition and the internal struggle. As a student of the same, the ocean of knowledge is so extensive, deep and wide, that it seems futile to even attempt to set sail. Namita Devidayal, the author of Music Room and Vilayat Khan: The Sixth String, once in an article describes her own journey within the Jaipur Gharana, how after going all the way to Princeton, she returned to continue her music. However, after a year, she stopped. To practice the arts, one must become the arts. I once read a saying, I can’t quite remember who said it — something along the lines of — “If I can sing one sa correctly, my life and my journey in music would be complete. The strive for that one note, the one perfect shadaja, is all a musician can ask for. But, the changing cultural climate wrapped into the state of the economy forces artists to adapt and lead a drastically different life in a different dimension without one way or another, eternally stuck in the quest and the world. 

The arts have saved me, but I wonder if they will even survive long enough to save someone else. 

The Importance Of Shopping From Small Businesses

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Source - https://www.sbmarketingtools.com/how-shopping-small-helps-you-and-your-community/

by Pritha Nag

With the rise of social media, there has been a large increase in Instagram small businesses, especially in India. Small businesses are home-grown businesses that sell handmade, unique and products. There’s a whole community of Indian home-grown small businesses, that all support each other. The majority of small businesses operate through Instagram and sell an assortment of things ranging from jewellery, upcycled clothes, stickers and so much more. Supporting your local small businesses can make a huge impact, that you might not even be aware of, but how exactly? 

In the first wave of quarantine and lockdown, it seemed as if all of us were trying our hand at many different things, in an attempt to pass the time. During around July-August, this is when many India-based small businesses started to launch. Instagram has seen a definite increase in the number of small businesses present, and this is mainly due to the lockdown, and it’s safe to say if the lockdown never happened then some of these businesses would have. Many of these small businesses have accumulated an engaged and active community that constantly interacts in stories and posts, and helps to boost sales. Each small business has something unique to offer, as everything is handmade with lots of love! 

But why should I shop from them, when I can just easily shop from other fast fashion brands? Fast fashion is the concept of cheap and trendy clothing, that has been replicated off the runway, trends and products in designer/high-end stores. The point is to meet the consumer’s demand for wanting the trendiest piece of clothing for a cheap price, and as fast as possible. Fast fashion is mass-produced, which means that the product is made in large batches, in a constant flow. 

There are many reasons as to why you should shop from small businesses rather than fast fashion brands. With fast fashion brands, you can buy the latest trendy clothing and accessories for extremely affordable, but there’s a catch. Children make your clothes. Young children ranging from 5-11, that do not have a voice, cannot speak out on the horrendous conditions they are kept in, cannot shout out about their ridiculous wages. Young children who should be going to school, instead, labouring in poor factory conditions, for hours and earning little to nothing, just to make us clothes we’ll end up throwing when it goes out of style. 

Not only this, but fast fashion harms our planet and environment. With the fast cycle of trends always coming and going, so is the need to throw out your old clothes and get the new trendy ones. But where do our clothes go? They go into landfills, and the amount of clothes in one truck is burned or dumped every second. 85% of textiles go to waste each year, and clothing production has doubled since 2000. With the constant and rapidly increasing cycle of clothes going in and out of fashion, the need to stay up with the trends is present now more than ever. 

Although shopping from fast fashion brands isn’t the best for our environment and children, sometimes it can be seen as the only option. Some of us aren’t always in a position to shop sustainably, ethically or small, so what do I do? Fast fashion is the only option that I see. That’s an extremely valid point, but there are sustainable and ethical alternatives where you can buy clothes, jewellery and accessories sustainably and from small businesses! 

Several small businesses sell upcycled clothes, customisable clothing and many small businesses have their own brand, just like H&M, except smaller, more sustainable and handmade! Small businesses also sell one of a kind quirky and trendy jewellery, stickers, candles, prints and just about anything! With buying from these small businesses chances are that you’ll also be sporting a one of a kind unique piece because small businesses don’t mass produce. Being able to have full creative freedom and custom a piece of clothing/jewellery/bag/accessory however you’d like, is something you’d only get from small businesses! 

With wanting to dive deeper into the importance of shopping sustainably and small, I decided to get the perspective of a small business maker themselves! I interviewed the founder of the small business “Almost Ambivalent”, who sells unique handmade jewellery, based here in India.  When asked “What is one thing you want to tell people about shopping small?” She answered by saying “Even if you buy just 1 product from a small business, it makes their day! You are happy and so is the real person behind the store.” Adding onto what she said, purchasing just one item from a small business is just that one more step to helping them achieve their dreams! 

Most of the time small businesses are run by one or a group of people. It’s not a huge corporation, who are exploiting young children into making the trendiest pieces for ridiculously cheap prices. It’s one or a group of people, sourcing all their materials, putting effort into making the product, putting love and care in the packaging and then sending it off. “You get amazing customer service, and they try to give the best product quality and service”, is what the owner of Almost Ambivalent said when asked, “What are the pros to shopping small?” We can see a clear divide between big corporations such as H&M and Zara. Small businesses keep the goal of wanting to give you “the best product quality” in contrast to big corporations who (most of the time) are just trying to make their own pocket heavier. 

When shopping small

“You are supporting an individual or a small group of people, you could be contributing to someone’s dream or livelihood. Indirectly contributing to the community in contrast to some corporate’s pocket”, said the owner of Almost Ambivalent.

It’s understandable to not always be able to shop ethically and sustainably, but shopping small is a great way to do both for a great price and for helping someone’s dreams. When shopping for yourself, for friends, family, festivals try shopping small! Even if it’s a small item, it goes a long way. Next time you are purchasing from fast fashion or a large corporation, remember there’s another, better, environment-friendly and ethically better way to get the trendiest new pieces! 

Working on the Human Ego…

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https://www.pcma.org/taming-the-ego-is-key-to-lifelong-learning/

By Diya Barmecha

While talking to the crowd, have you ever wondered that the audience can see that you are nervous? Or when you did something embarrassing, did you start thinking about how likely it is that others will remember it and overestimate this? Or even overestimate the amount of work you have contributed to the group project?

These things happen to all of us in different parts of our life and there is a psychological way to understand what is happening here. This is called the egocentric bias and it causes someone to only remember themselves as the key player in a past event even when their role can be a minor one. It can cause someone to assume that all of one’s colleagues or friends will share their political and social beliefs because they are so focused on those beliefs that it is hard for one to imagine things differently. This bias makes us have the tendency to rely very heavily on our own perspective than reality. It’s one of the psychological happenings to satisfy one’s ego. Its main cause is because we believe everyone will remember the same story from the same perspective as you. What you see from your eyes becomes your perspective. This may not be what others see from their eyes. This comes at no fault one any one individual being nor is it good or bad.

Researchers were curious about the concept of egocentric bias,  so they asked the authors of multi-authored papers to say what percentage of the paper they contributed. When they added up all these percentages, it always reached an average of 140% and not 100%. A similar instance happens when couples are asked how much of the housework they each do. The addition of both their perspectives percentages is always over 100%. Many people think that the cause for this is because people want to appear more helpful and smart than they are. But that is not the cause because when asked about who starts the fight most often the same thing happens. The collection of their percentages was over 100%.  To explain this easily, you experience and see vividly what you did and not so much of what another person does.

  A recent podcast shows us a real example of the above. Vanessa Bohns, a graduate student from Columbia University wanted to ask strangers at a New York station to fill out a questionnaire and she expected people to say something terrible and not fill it out. However, to her surprise many people replied saying yes. This raised a red flash for them as they expected more people to refuse than actually say yes. In this research, the conductors were so consumed by their perspective that they weren’t able to see things from another person’s perspective. Vanessa Bohns was now very curious about this bias and decided to conduct another study. She asked volunteers how many people they would have to gather money from to meet their fundraising goals. The volunteers all estimated around 200 people. However, all of them asked under 100 people and were able to meet their goal. The egocentric bias of the volunteers caused them to focus mainly on their anxieties and they weren’t able to think of what it might have felt to be a person being asked for money. 

There are many biases like the above. The illusion of transparency causes people to think that their emotions are more important than others because of the egocentric bias. Whereas the spotlight effect is when people overestimate the degree to which they are noticed by others which also occurs due to the egocentric bias.  When we fail to account that some people don’t know the same things as we do it’s called the curse of knowledge and is caused also due to the egocentric bias.

Although we can’t control what’s happening in our cognitive mind, we can definitely ask ourselves two times before we make an assumption about how others view ourselves. This realization can help us gain confidence while public speaking or give us solace when we think we have embarrassed ourselves. 

Scarcity of Diversity

Source - https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/how-childrens-shows-lead-the-way-in-diversity-on-tv

by Diya Barmecha and Aahana Khemani

The U.S.is no doubt an influential and progressive country and citizens of the world are influenced by what it does . One of the means by which global citizens get to see U.S.and its nuances is through television. However, does cinema capture the diversity of the U.S? Do TV. shows and movies really show how open America is? Or is the diversity of America on television all a checklist that’s only purpose is to be ticked off? Is it censored? We think that some aspects of American diversity are not portrayed to its full potential through television. 

For people living outside the United States of America, the only representation of the U.S. is received from tv shows and films. They portray the culture and they are the closest many get to the states. In the past 15-20 years tv shows and films have worked hard to show diversity and modern thinking. However, is this really true? Does television have a diverse cast? Even though American television tries its best to show the LGTBQ+ community. A study conducted in Nielson, shows that women make up 52% of the US population but onscreen they are only shown 37.9% of the time. Many times shows try to come up with a perfect cast by making a checklist. They add a coloured woman to their cast and their diversity box is ticked. This might not be because it is necessary to  the story, but because it’s a box that needs to be filled. We don’t ask for there to be more diversity, because there is a lack of representation. We ask to show the reality of America in all of its diversity, not to tick a box but to mimic real life scenarios. Another problem tv shows and movies struggle with is the accuracy of the things they show. 

American tv and movie  directors want the audience to believe that the entire of America struggles with issues like teen pregnancy, drug abuse and many others that are constantly shown. Over time, it becomes very hard to differentiate between the real and the fictional. . The film makers are showing this because it becomes easy to use these as conflicts and derive a story from it . The repetition in the movie plot lines mainly occurs because of the limited variety of conflicts that are shown.. It’s not necessary to showcase the real U.S because of moral obligations but because showcasing America in all its reality can help the rest of the world see that no country  is perfect and what we see on TV is not always reality. 

Genuine diversity is extremely important. . People around the world are influenced by America, and the power of television can right multiple wrongs around the world. The US is in the top 3 Cultural Influence Rankings. American music, inventions, literature, media businesses have completely changed individuals around the world. It’s time for American Television to impact people in an optimistic way. It can give hope to people in countries where there’s not much hope, it can bring joy to people, it can encourage people, it can have a positive impact. By showing the true diversity of America, it can truly have good influence on people.  

US cinema has no doubt spread the vibe of America in some form, however, not completely. People around only get to see “the gay best friend” or “the woman employee” in American television, but isn’t America more diverse than that? Through removing the checklist and censorship of American diversity on American television, and genuinely incorporating American diversity into American television, people can actually relate to American diversity and be positively impacted by it. 

“Vegetarianism”

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Source - https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/vegetarian-diet-plan

by Tara Hebbar and Diya Barmecha

We are proud vegetarians. To us, it is beyond imagination how people are non-vegetarian after knowing the devastating impacts it has. However, we understand that it is a challenge to wean off the food that makes people’s taste buds rejoice. We write this article with the best intentions, just to help others understand the impact that they are having so that they can then make an educated decision on whether they would want to switch or remain. We encourage those who are non-vegetarian to make the switch for all the below mentioned reasons. Trust us, vegetarian food is as good and by the simple task of not eating meat, you are making an immensely positive difference to the planet. It is important to understand that the meal is coming at the cost of something and it’s for YOU to decide whether you want to pay that price. 

Why are you killing plants? This is a question that we as vegetarians are always asked. It’s like the bullet for the non-vegetarians, every time an argument about the matter strikes. It is assumed that this is an intellectual question, however, there are several reasons why this argument is completely invalid. The reasons are plenty, some of them being that animal and plant life are starkly different and have different purposes. Animals have the right to mortality, and therefore are equipped with defense mechanisms and mobility to keep them alive. Plants on the other hand, do not have these powers, but instead are allowed to bloom, bear fruit and grow. Therefore, even when we take a leaf or fruit, it’s called plucking, not beheading, since a new fruit will take the place of the old. These differences in nature, just show their purpose. Some animals are food for others, who aren’t able to digest plants and require meat, but humans are not part of this category, we survive perfectly well on simple plants and their gifts. Additionally, by eating and consuming plants, you’re supporting life and biodiversity. The way the food chain works is that plants are eaten by animals which are food to other animals, them being the seed to all living things. Humans are not meant to be on top of that food chain, we have throned ourselves and forced every other creature into submission. One of the biggest misconceptions is that by eating meat, non-vegetarians are keeping the balance. The meat consumed by most is a product of “industrial meat”, which is produced in factories, where animals are being specifically bred to be slaughtered. So, there goes “creating” balance. Moreover, the matter of pain and the nervous system. While it is well known that animals, including humans are aware of pain and have a central nervous system, plant’s do not. When killing animals, pain is caused to them, whereas, when eating plants, there is not pain felt by them. Lastly, the meaning of “killing” must be identified, killing means putting an absolute end to something. When eating animals, they are being killed, since it’s the end of their life. However, when it comes to plants, we end up consuming small parts of each plant, either the leaf or the fruit and rarely the root. Therefore, the root continues to support new life and will bear new fruit, therefore, this is not classified as killing. Lastly, non-vegetarians if they stop eating meat, they have other means of survival in terms of food. What will vegetarians turn to, without plants? These are the reasons that the argument of comparing plants and animals is just a desperate attempt for non-vegetarians to make their eating habits more comparable to that of vegetarians. 

Then we come to the basic arguments of why eating non-vegetarian needs to be changed. Before their death, to be put on someone else’s plate, these animals are treated with cruelty that is hard for anyone to imagine. Crammed into cages with thousands of other animals, they are often not given food, and proper hygiene since these cages are not cleaned at all. Rarely will a meat-eater look down at the piece of beef on their plate and think, how did this animal come here? What did it have to go through? And this is where the problem stems from. There is a lack of empathy, most non-vegetarians forget that they are eating another living creature that has now been killed just for them to enjoy.  Another indirect benefit is dampening world hunger to some extent. The kilos of crops that go towards fattening animals so that humans can eat them, this food can save so many malnourished human beings who die of starvation each day. If everyone was vegetarian, we would need 75% less land for farming than we do today, and feed everybody. Being vegetarian has effects that go beyond one’s imagination. In terms of personal benefit, unlike public understanding, being vegetarian and vegan is great for the cardiovascular system and health, with red meat especially, being a risk for cholesterol related diseases. One of the biggest misconceptions is that by eating meat, non-vegetarians are keeping the balance. The meat consumed by most is a product of “industrial meat”, which is produced in factories, where animals are being specifically bred to be slaughtered. So, there goes “creating” balance. 

Believe it or not, non-vegetarianism also causes deforestation, in which large masses of forests are razed just to accommodate these animals which are being bred to be killed, and to grow crops to feed these large amounts of animals, it is the biggest cause of forest fires. In order to produce industrial meats and for crops and space, people are deliberately starting forest fires and killing so many animals in the process. So, when you’re eating a piece of meat, you are not only responsible for the death of that soul, but so many others. It is destroying wildlife. With the gatherment of so many animals which are kept in filthy conditions to be killed, the risk of infections and diseases such as Corona virus also increases by large numbers. Additionally, it uses up immense amounts of water, almost 50% of the water used in the U.S. goes towards this. With there already being preditcation for water shortage, is it worth it, just for the “good” taste of meat? It releases carbon dioxide emissions and utilises a ton of fossil fuels. Making one hamburger, uses the same amount of fossil fuels as driving a car 20 miles. Pig factories generate the same amount of raw waste as a 12,000 person city. Is a non-vegetarian’s luxury more important than the environment? The answer is simply no. So, everytime there is meat on your plate, not only are you destroying forest, killing more than 1 animal, promoting torture but also causing the destruction of our environemnt. 

The demand for fish increases everyday. With this increases the inhumane ways in which fish are killed and served to us in fancy restaurants. Overfishing is a problem that impacts not only the sea but the balance of the entire ecosystem. When too many fish are taken out of their habitats, there is an imbalance in the food cycle which leads to a loss of many vulnerable species. To get the desired fish killed there are many species who also are on the receiving end of the fish poles. This is called bycatch. The UN estimated that between 20-25% of all sea creatures that are caught in the massive nets are the victims of bycatch. Many fish companies have the tag of dolphin-safe which means that no dolphins were harmed when these fishes were killed. However, according to the World Wildlife Fund upto 300,000 small whales, and dolphins get entangled and are killed during by-catch. As we can see the process we receive these fish to eat is not safe and neither is eating these fish. The most common industrial toxin in the sea is mercury which is deposited through many runoffs and emissions. These lead to toxicity in the oceans and affect marine life. Another impact of the toxins in the sea is plastic poisoning which fish ingest as food. With bioaccumulation, substances such as mercury are absorbed into the larger organism much faster than the smaller ones. In the case of fish, humans are the larger organisms. Mercury poisoning can lead to harmful effects on a human body’s nervous, digestive and immune systems. After all these negatives, we haven’t even tackled the biggest impact of fishing on our world. After watching the documentary, “Seaspiracy” on Netflix we found out that the majority of all the garbage in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch were fishing gear such as nets and poles. As we can see, fishing and eating fish has been harmful to the humans eating them, to the sea, to animals such as dolphins who aren’t eating, and even the environment. Is the taste of fish really worth all the negatives that come along with it? There are plant based seafood products on the market that look and taste like seafood. Why can’t we eat these instead?

This article is written by two vegetarians but we do understand how hard it may be for people to leave some of their favourite foods. However, after seeing the implications and impacts that the killing and the consumption have on us as well as our Earth, everyone should try to limit if not stop their consumption of these products. The advantages of being vegetarian go beyond just not killing animals but it extends to limiting the impact we leave on our ecosystem. Animals are bred to be killed and eaten. No amount of taste and deliciousness is worth another life. Fishes and even other animals living in the sea are killed in bycatch for only consumption. Just imagine if you were in an animal’s place, who was being eaten to satisfy the tastes of a “superior power” in the food chain. This just proves that humans have an impact on each and every problem of this world. There might not be one day where everyone stops eating meat and fish. However, with a few small realizations and changes, there can be change. There are alternatives and there are substitutes only if one is looking for it. So, look out for it, and make a difference.  

Preventing The Negative Effects of Life Online

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Source - https://www.business2community.com/non-profit-marketing/be-the-same-online-vs-real-life-01378992

by Aahana Khemani

Lockdown has not only stolen our sanity but also our mental health! Staring at our laptop screens’ for a million hours is not healthy! By the end of lockdown, we are going to become fat, get spectacles, have an attitude change, and probably a mental sickness! Lucky for you, here are a few ways you can prevent these terrifying things. 

Spectacles can be a pain sometimes! Take it from someone who wears them. To prevent getting them, eat lots of carrots and almonds. They can really help strengthen your eyes and push spectactacles away! Another thing is to wash your eyes every 30 minutes. This will clean them and also give them a break! Last but not least, if your eyes are feeling super puffy and are paining a lot, do the common cucumber hack! Cut cucumber and put it on your eyes for 10 minutes. While your eyes are resting so should you! Trust me it actually helps. There’s nothing like resting in between stressful zoom classes! 

Sometimes, working on your screen can make you a serious grouch! I’ve experienced it. The constant staring at your screen can cause your mind to just blank out and get irritated at everything. Honestly, to avoid this in these times is just to use your screen as less as possible and take breaks frequently. You can have a nice walk around your house, talk to your family etc… And of course, do something you like (ex. Sing, paint, play football, dance etc…) 

Don’t want a huge belly? Don’t worry, I can relate! The best thing you can do to keep fat away is exercise! Make sure you’re working out. You can search up many online fitness programs. Here are some exercises that you can do at home! Alongside keeping physically fit, it is super important to have a good diet. Make sure you consume healthy food and less or no junk. This can not only keep fat away but can strengthen your immune system. Another important thing is to sleep well. Make sure you get your sleep! 

Hope these pointers helped! Some of them may not sound fun, but they help! You can always find more tips and tricks online. You can also talk to people to find out what they do. There are also a lot of courses, webinars, live videos that help you keep fit! Instagram, Snapchat and other social media platforms have great online workshops. Check them out! 

India of Light and Darkness

Source - https://www.firstshowing.net/2020/teaser-trailer-for-ramin-bahranis-empowering-film-the-white-tiger/

by Diya Barmecha

The movie, White Tiger was released a few weeks back on Netflix, and  features the child of a rich businessman,named  Ashok played by Rajkummar Rao and his driver Balram played by Adarsh Gourav. In one short scene sitting, setin a small dhaba (restaurant) Ashok after living in the US said to Balram, “You know this is the real India.” However, Balram described India as something else. He said, “There is an India of light and an India of darkness” These two interpretations are made by characters that reside in India, they aren’t able to see India. So how do filmmakers or other viewers interpret India? 

Filmmakers try desperately to show the “real India” but they all end up putting forward the same things and miss out the land of diverse culture and exotic mysteries. The White Tiger, which was based on a 2008 book by Aravind Adiga may not have shown the real India, but at least it featured real Indians. This is one of the few Hollywood movies that was shot in India and comprises only of Indian cast. 

In the past, there have been movies where Hollywood or British actors paint their faces brown to pass as an Indian. For example, in “A passage to India”. Indian representation, however, has come a long way from those days.Even Steven Spielberg’s “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom,” which was supposed to be set in India, was shot in Sri Lanka. They showed the “savage” nature of our culture with people eating snakes and monkey brains. Even in the movie “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,” there was a home for British expats in Jaipur. It may not seem feasible from the view of many Indians, but that’s how the filmmakers and movie industry have visioned it in various movies. 

To truly represent India in all of its truths, one has to live in India. All the films about India that have gotten international attention are film adaptations from books which are written in English. This would mean that the main audience would be international. Other mentions of India primarily the themes of Mumbai’s big slums and New Delhi’s big class divide. Isn’t the real India more than just these themes? Shouldn’t the filmmakers be aiming to capture India is all of its reality — good and bad?

Balram in The White Tiger was right to say that there is an India of light and an India of darkness, but what he failed to mention is that there is a big part of India that is in between the darkness and the light. The movie highlights the struggles of being a part of a lower socio-economic class and how they are pushed around. In the movie this was interpreted as a rooster coop. 

The roosters in a coop at the market watch as each one gets slaughtered and yet they do not rebel or try to break out of the coop because they have accepted their fate. Similarly in India, people watch as the wealthy and the powerful walk over the others and yet they are unable to do anything. Balram has the belief that the culture of a traditional Indian family makes sure that the rooster coop ways are kept alive. This exists because if a servant tries to disobey his master, the master will punish the servant’s family as well. Towards the end of the movie Balram has the realization that to break free from the coop one must be willing to sacrifice everything. Their morality, values, and even their loyalty to their family.

The real India as we can see is an India of light and an India of dark but what many fail to mention is that there can be a transition of many people from the dark parts of India into the light ones. These transitions as mentioned above require the letting go of morality, values and loyalty. The interpretation of real India lies hidden to people in foreign nations as well as people residing in India as well.

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