Letters to the editor

Readers' comments: 'Stealthy surgical strikes on one's own people is bad governance'

A selection of readers' opinions.

Cash crisis

What an indictment of demonetisation (“‘Sickening and immoral’: Free market champions Forbes, Wall Street Journal slam demonetisation”)! Wherever necessary I, would like to pay my taxes. But, I do not want somebody to surveil all my financial transactions. Cashless economy means keeping a trail of all your financial transactions. – Paresh Malakar

***

Demonetisation is a ham-handed approach to tackling counterfeit currency or tax evasion. It is akin to a teacher punishing the entire class for one student’s act of indiscipline.

It may result in some temporary benefits but in the long run, the same problems will arise, other than the resentment this will generate.

India is a predominantly cash-based economy and movement towards a cashless system will evolve over a period of time. Crash courses or quick-fix solutions will bring the whole exercise into disrepute. Good intentions are ruined by clumsy execution.

The umpteen times that the RBI has changed or tweaked rules or the snowballing IT raids are generating misgivings. It is indicative of government arrogance at its worst.

The government should have embarked on this course after due process of internal consultation and preparation. Stealthy surgical strikes on one’s own people is bad governance, no matter how you dress it up. – Suresh Chandra Ojha

Scam scent

I know that ideologically Scroll.in does not like the Congress much and prefers to portray it negatively, as much as possible (“The Sahara papers, if proved genuine, could singe the Congress as well as the BJP”). Nevertheless, it is interesting to read that some Congress chief ministers might also be implicated in the Sahara Papers scandal, along with Narendra Modi, if proved true.

This fact actually makes me respect Rahul Gandhi more.

While many intellectuals and politicians have made angry rants about the corruption in the political system, only Rahul Gandhi has proposed a rational and clear solution to tackle it.

The BJP might have thought that since Congress politicians are also involved, the party would prefer not to publicise this scandal. But they have clearly underestimated Gandhi’s integrity and political acumen. – Shabeer

***

I have my doubts about the Sahara papers. Normally, parties maintain their unofficial transactions using code words. So this is only misleading. – KR Patel

***

The Sahara Group’s political reach has been well known even before the allegations of bribery came up. Subrata Roy was a flaboyant business person whose influence was wide and varied. The evidence has to be compelling to the stand scrutiny in court. But I feel the issue may die prematurely. Gopal Balakrishnan

What’s in a name?

I thoroughly enjoyed this article (“The Taimur controversy illustrates Hindutva’s self-inflicted neurosis regarding Islamic history”). Thanks much for publishing this. Scroll.in is a nice source of intellectual input during the times of intellectual bankruptcy. – Prashant Nandi

***

I congratulate you for a remarkably honest, erudite and well-articulated piece on the subject. History, after all, is a coloured and often self- indulgent perspective of facts.

I only wish you would have also traced the origin of the name Taimur and put to rest controversies. The historical figure with whom the name is being associated would not have been the first Taimur.

Nevertheless, I enjoyed reading this and it is certainly one to save for my collections. – Anuradha Maheshwari

***

What has the Taimur controversy got to do with Hinduism? It seems as though you folks just need a point in time to say anything you feel like about Hinduism. It is very sad to see that the media divides the masses for TRPs and hits. – Prateek Soni

***

I think the person who wrote this article is judgmental and he is trying to blame Hindus. I believe it is us who integrate with everyone and do not think about religion when making friends. Others just want to prove they are innocent and not jihadis killing innocents all over the world in the name of religion . So keep this rubbish to your self and don’t try to educate and spread more hatred about Marathas and propagate wrong ideas. – Archana

Tight spot

I agree with Stalin’s concerns (“Tamil Nadu: University VCs meeting Sasikala unethical and unconstitutional, says Stalin”). The vice-chancellors of universities are answerable to the governor first and are suppose to be pillars of ethics, while this behaviour of meeting a person who is not part of any government is ridiculous. If they wanted to convey their condolences, they could have either waited or sent a personal message to Sasikala. These kinds of acts also put Sasikala in a predicament. – Raghavan Mani

Who’s story?

These infamous Indologists only want to fit everything within the framework they have learnt from European and Abrahamic standards (“From Macaulay to Frawley, from Doniger to Elst: Why do many Indians need White saviours?”). Dharmic faiths cannot be defined along the the lines of Abrahamic faiths. The word “nastika” is not exactly like the European concept of atheism. The word “dharma” too cannot simply be defined as religion, just as “karma” definitely goes beyond deed.

It is a false equivalence to compare two kinds of Indologists like Elst and Doniger.

And please don’t give a description of Brahmins, describing them to be as privileged Hindus. Brahmins were only privileged to have repository of knowledge, thus giving them a high social rank. Unlike the European societies, where the people with higher social ranks are the richest of the society, the Indian social order works very differently. Brahmins are not the richest and being high up on the social order as per some text doesn’t put Brahmins at the top of the social hierarchy. In reality, it is the wealthy who dominate. The word “privilege” is the only privilege that we Brahmins have received for ages. Abhinav Vedantham

***

We need different view points. The perspective of Western intellectuals allow us to find new meanings of Hinduism and its text. The Brahminical hegemony in creation of knowledge is a given. From time immemorial, Savarnas dominated the intellectual plain and they are doing so now. BR Ambedkar read the scriptures and gave them a very different view point. There should be a similar exercise to counter the grain reading by Western intellectuals to give the sacred texts new meaning. – Shaibal Das

***

This is an interesting article, However, a lot of important work on studying the cultures and structures of countries and regions have come from so-called outsiders.

Take for instance, Democracy in America, who’s author is French. A People’s Tragedy, one of the best works on the Russian revolution, was written by a Britisher. Closer home, Mother India, a scathing indictment of Indian society at the time, was written by an American, Katherine Mayo, and in many ways helped create the Sharada Act in 1929.

An outsider enjoys the advantage of not being in the system that they are analysing. They carry some baggage of their own, undoubtedly, but the more entrenched you are within a system, the more difficult it becomes to see its flaws and shortcomings. – Arjun Krishnan

***

You have pinpointed it clearly. I agree with you. Thanks for the essay. – Ranjit

At sea

It is sad that one cannot put forth their opinions if they are not in favour of the government (“Police crackdown forces Mumbai fishermen to give up Shivaji memorial protest ahead of Modi visit”). I hope the best decision will be considered (though spending on memorials and masterpieces will not help in a developing country where there are many other facets to be taken care of).

Please do follow-up on this news so we are aware and if there is any way citizens can support the ones who will suffer the consequences.

We also need to point-out how most infrastructure projects are just a money-minting process by contractors. – Heena Jaiswal

***

If you study history, you will realise that the freedom you are experiencing is due to brave souls like Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj (“All that Maharashtra could have done with the money being spent on Shivaji’s statue”).

Shivaji Maharaj is our God, our passion, our pride. How is our nation spending some amount in teaching history to our students a waste of money?
Millions of people from each district protesting for this long-pending demand. As per your own statistics this statue is in pending state from 1980.

This means that hundreds of government officers and ministers might have discussed this topic hundreds of times. So, are you trying to prove that IAS officers and millions of people from Maharashtra are idiotic and careless? That they don’t want to irrigate their farms? They don’t want better educational and health systems for the next generation?

We appreciate mega-structures built by other nations to attract tourism so what is the problem if we do the same? If you calculate the return on investment, it will probably give you some relief that hard-earned money has been spent on the right cause.

I understand the importance of micro-irrigation, education and better health systems for betterment of our lives and we are working on it but at the same time we must preserve our heritage and pass it on to the next generations. – Swapnil Kotwal.

Shaky ground

The article by Chandrima Paul about the real estate scenario in Kolkata seemed biased, with minimal tangible data (“Why real estate in Kolkata is screwed up – and why Donald Trump can’t help”). Yes, the real estate scenario is not great in the city and so is the case in every big city of India. Request you to publish unbiased and ethical articles. – Aniruddha Roy

We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
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Removing the layers of complexity that weigh down mental health in rural India

Patients in rural areas of the country face several obstacles to get to treatment.

Two individuals, with sombre faces, are immersed in conversation in a sunlit classroom. This image is the theme across WHO’s 2017 campaign ‘Depression: let’s talk’ that aims to encourage people suffering from depression or anxiety to seek help and get assistance. The fact that depression is the theme of World Health Day 2017 indicates the growing global awareness of mental health. This intensification of the discourse on mental health unfortunately coincides with the global rise in mental illness. According to the latest estimates from WHO, more than 300 million people across the globe are suffering from depression, an increase of 18% between 2005 and 2015.

In India, the National Mental Health Survey of India, 2015-16, conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS) revealed the prevalence of mental disorders in 13.7% of the surveyed population. The survey also highlighted that common mental disorders including depression, anxiety disorders and substance use disorders affect nearly 10% of the population, with 1 in 20 people in India suffering from depression. Perhaps the most crucial finding from this survey is the disclosure of a huge treatment gap that remains very high in our country and even worse in rural areas.

According to the National Mental Health Programme, basic psychiatric care is mandated to be provided in every primary health centre – the state run rural healthcare clinics that are the most basic units of India’s public health system. The government provides basic training for all primary health centre doctors, and pays for psychiatric medication to be stocked and available to patients. Despite this mandate, the implementation of mental health services in rural parts of the country continues to be riddled with difficulties:

Attitudinal barriers

In some rural parts of the country, a heavy social stigma exists against mental illness – this has been documented in many studies including the NIMHANS study mentioned earlier. Mental illness is considered to be the “possession of an evil spirit in an individual”. To rid the individual of this evil spirit, patients or family members rely on traditional healers or religious practitioners. Lack of awareness on mental disorders has led to further strengthening of this stigma. Most families refuse to acknowledge the presence of a mental disorder to save themselves from the discrimination in the community.

Lack of healthcare services

The average national deficit of trained psychiatrists in India is estimated to be 77% (0.2 psychiatrists per 1,00,000 population) – this shows the scale of the problem across rural and urban India. The absence of mental healthcare infrastructure compounds the public health problem as many individuals living with mental disorders remain untreated.

Economic burden

The scarcity of healthcare services also means that poor families have to travel great distances to get good mental healthcare. They are often unable to afford the cost of transportation to medical centres that provide treatment.

After focussed efforts towards awareness building on mental health in India, The Live Love Laugh Foundation (TLLLF), founded by Deepika Padukone, is steering its cause towards understanding mental health of rural India. TLLLF has joined forces with The Association of People with Disability (APD), a non-governmental organisation working in the field of disability for the last 57 years to work towards ensuring quality treatment for the rural population living with mental disorders.

APD’s intervention strategy starts with surveys to identify individuals suffering from mental illnesses. The identified individuals and families are then directed to the local Primary Healthcare Centres. In the background, APD capacity building programs work simultaneously to create awareness about mental illnesses amongst community workers (ASHA workers, Village Rehabilitation Workers and General Physicians) in the area. The whole complex process involves creating the social acceptance of mental health conditions and motivating them to approach healthcare specialists.

Participants of the program.
Participants of the program.

When mental health patients are finally free of social barriers and seeking help, APD also mobilises its network to make treatments accessible and affordable. The organisation coordinates psychiatrists’ visits to camps and local healthcare centres and ensures that the necessary medicines are well stocked and free medicines are available to the patients.

We spent a lot of money for treatment and travel. We visited Shivamogha Manasa and Dharwad Hospital for getting treatment. We were not able to continue the treatment for long as we are poor. We suffered economic burden because of the long- distance travel required for the treatment. Now we are getting quality psychiatric service near our village. We are getting free medication in taluk and Primary Healthcare Centres resulting in less economic stress.

— A parent's experience at an APD treatment camp.

In the two years TLLLF has partnered with APD, 892 and individuals with mental health concerns have been treated in the districts of Kolar, Davangere, Chikkaballapur and Bijapur in Karnataka. Over 4620 students participated in awareness building sessions. TLLLF and APD have also secured the participation of 810 community health workers including ASHA workers in the mental health awareness projects - a crucial victory as these workers play an important role in spreading awareness about health. Post treatment, 155 patients have resumed their previous occupations.

To mark World Mental Health Day, 2017, a team from TLLLF lead by Deepika Padukone visited program participants in the Davengere district.

Sessions on World Mental Health Day, 2017.
Sessions on World Mental Health Day, 2017.

In the face of a mental health crisis, it is essential to overcome the treatment gap present across the country, rural and urban. While awareness campaigns attempt to destigmatise mental disorders, policymakers need to make treatment accessible and cost effective. Until then, organisations like TLLLF and APD are doing what they can to create an environment that acknowledges and supports people who live with mental disorders. To know more, see here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of The Live Love Laugh Foundation and not by the Scroll editorial team.