Letters to the editor

Readers’ comments: Media should not have publicised CAG report on India’s ammunition shortage

A selection of readers’ opinions.

Media ethics debate

It is very wrong for the media to disclose the findings of the CAG report about India not having enough ammunition to fight a long war (“Indian Army lacks ammunition and cannot fight a war longer than 10 days, says CAG report”). Given the current tension with China and Pakistan, such news will definitely boost our neighbouring countries’ confidence. It could encourage them to attack our motherland.

Media outlets should think before positing news such as this that could have a detrimental effect on our country and security. – Sachin Patel

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Such information should not have been made public. The CAG should have filed the report as a classified one. The news comes as a shock and is embarrassing for the Indian government given the stand-off with China at the Dokolam tri-junction and the aggressive stance taken by China. – Anil Jadhav

Medium matters

The author needs to do more research before making sweeping claims such as “research supports learning in one’s home language” (“Switching medium of instruction in schools from local languages to English is not educational reform”).

Does he know how many research papers in the field of science or technology, or for that matter, even his field, education, written in local languages in India as compared to English? Does he want children to learn just reading and writing in school and suffer for the rest of their lives?

Does he have data comparing the earnings of students educated in the English medium versus those educated in their local languages?
You might think China has solved its language problem by teaching in the mother tongue and having Enlgish as the second language. But the reality is that many students graduating from reputed Chinese universities find it hard to get into good research or academic jobs because of their lack of communication skills. On the other hand, Indians have thrived, be it in the US or elsewhere.
Also, India’s edge in IT and BPO which has created millions of high paying jobs (by India standards) over the decades has been made possible because of English-medium education.
I am proud of my Indian roots but at the same time I feel that emotions should be weighed against long- term earning potential when it comes to choices related to medium of education. Else, inequality will only rise. – Vijayaraghavan Venkataraman

Young and restless

I have read the excerpts of the book about lifestyle of today’s urban youth (“When do upper middle-class urban youngsters start thinking of themselves as poor?”). Although I should accept the fact that the current generation is in transitional stage, I see that there approach to life and morality is very different to that of the previous generations. It makes me sad and disturbed. – Swaminathan Venkataraman

Disunity in diversity

We Indians are hypocrites (“Pratap Bhanu Mehta on why the celebration of diversity is a dead-end without individual freedom”). There is so much diversity in the country but we continue to discriminate and divide instead of celebrating this. We need a strong government that believes in encouraging the diversity and applying the law equally to one and all. India can only claim to be a secular country if there is a level playing field for everyone. –Jayanthi Jaisimha

Eye on Kashmir

This is brilliant piece and Scroll.in is few of the remaining media houses of which one can be proud (“The Readers’ Editor writes: In Kashmir, the media’s work should not end with reporting on violence”). It is one of the media houses that have maintained their ethics. – Aziz Minat

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Please continue the good reporting on Kashmir and other issues. You tell us what others don’t. I can only hope and pray peace comes to the great land of Kashmir and sets Kashmiri people free. – Ahmed

Meaty debate

The readers who have advocated vegetarianism in their comments don’t seem to understand the nature of life (“Readers’ comments: It’s not fair to project cow-related violence as a consequence of Hindutva”) Every moment, every living thing on earth, from worms to complex beings, fight and kill or eat other organisms. That is the nature of the universe.

People think that since they don’t eat meat, why should others? It is a subtle way of imposing their culture and superiority on others .

Plants too are living bengs. They are wonderful, complex and lovely, more so than humans. Personally, I feel a stronger connection to the flowers or vegetables I grow than to animals. – Deepa Rashmi

Taking action

If this is true, the government of all these countries need to tackle the problem on priority (“India among 10 countries that account for 95% of new HIV/AIDS infections in Asia-Pacific: UN report”). It needs to be brought to the attention of the people. Education and awareness about HIV/AIDS is imperative. It should be taught at the school level too.

Moreover, scientists, doctors and researchers from all these countries should come together to find a way to reduce the prevalence of HIV/AIDS. The government should allot more funds to the cause. – Ram Deshpande Narayanguda

Monetising nature

The correct methodology for ecosystem valuation requires multiplying the annual value of the services provided by the ecosystem with the expected lifespan (“In India, a move to put a monetary value to forests could spell disaster for protected landscapes”). It is no different than valuation of financial instruments that yield annual dividends. So, if the Himalayan forest ecosystem is expected to exist for 1,000,000 years and yields Rs 1,000,000,000,000 a year, the correct ecosystem valuation is Rs 1,000,000,000,000,000,000. – Mikhail Elias

Right note

The article on musician Maria Badstue is beautiful (“A Danish musician discovered her origins in a briefcase – they led to a holy city in Maharashtra”). It proves that given the opportunity, Indians can excel in any field. If her biological parents are still alive and can be traced, what a wonderful reunion it will be! – C Sampath

Controversial TV

Please tell the producer that if he wants to spread awareness about different kinds of love stories, he is more than welcome to show LGBTQ stories, a topic that actually needs to be talked about (“TV show ‘Pehredaar Piya Ki’ is not about child marriage but ‘a rare bonding’, says producer”). – Purva Diwanji

Good fit

Smriti Irani is a good choice for the post of information and broadcasting minister (Watch: Smriti Irani is back in the broadcasting business, this time as a minister.”). Prime Minister Modi has made the right decision. – Swami Iyer

We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
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Changing the conversation around mental health in rural India

Insights that emerged from discussions around mental health at a village this World Mental Health Day.

Questioning is the art of learning. For an illness as debilitating as depression, asking the right questions is an important step in social acceptance and understanding. How do I open-up about my depression to my parents? Can meditation be counted as a treatment for depression? Should heartbreak be considered as a trigger for deep depression? These were some of the questions addressed by a panel consisting of the trustees and the founder of The Live Love Lough Foundation (TLLLF), a platform that seeks to champion the cause of mental health. The panel discussion was a part of an event organised by TLLLF to commemorate World Mental Health Day.

According to a National Mental Health Survey of India 2015-16, conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS), 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. The survey reported a huge treatment gap, a problem that is spread far and wide across urban and rural parts of the country.

On 10th of October, trustees of the foundation, Anna Chandy, Dr. Shyam Bhat and Nina Nair, along with its founder, Deepika Padukone, made a visit to a community health project centre in Devangere, Karnataka. The project, started by The Association of People with Disability (APD) in 2010, got a much-needed boost after partnering with TLLLF 2 years ago, helping them reach 819 people suffering from mental illnesses and spreading its program to 6 Taluks, making a difference at a larger scale.

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During the visit, the TLLLF team met patients and their families to gain insights into the program’s effectiveness and impact. Basavaraja, a beneficiary of the program, spoke about the issues he faced because of his illness. He shared how people used to call him mad and would threaten to beat him up. Other patients expressed their difficulty in getting access to medical aid for which they had to travel to the next biggest city, Shivmoga which is about 2 hours away from Davangere. A marked difference from when TLLLF joined the project two years ago was the level of openness and awareness present amongst the villagers. Individuals and families were more expressive about their issues and challenges leading to a more evolved and helpful conversation.

The process of de-stigmatizing mental illnesses in a community and providing treatment to those who are suffering requires a strong nexus of partners to make progress in a holistic manner. Initially, getting different stakeholders together was difficult because of the lack of awareness and resources in the field of mental healthcare. But the project found its footing once it established a network of support from NIMHANS doctors who treated the patients at health camps, Primary Healthcare Centre doctors and the ASHA workers. On their visit, the TLLLF team along with APD and the project partners discussed the impact that was made by the program. Were beneficiaries able to access the free psychiatric drugs? Did the program help in reducing the distance patients had to travel to get treatment? During these discussions, the TLLLF team observed that even amongst the partners, there was an increased sense of support and responsiveness towards mental health aid.

The next leg of the visit took the TLLLF team to the village of Bilichodu where they met a support group that included 15 patients and caregivers. Ujjala Padukone, Deepika Padukone’s mother, being a caregiver herself, was also present in the discussion to share her experiences with the group and encouraged others to share their stories and concerns about their family members. While the discussion revolved around the importance of opening up and seeking help, the team brought about a forward-looking attitude within the group by discussing future possibilities in employment and livelihood options available for the patients.

As the TLLLF team honoured World Mental Health day, 2017 by visiting families, engaging with support groups and reviewing the successes and the challenges in rural mental healthcare, they noticed how the conversation, that was once difficult to start, now had characteristics of support, openness and a positive outlook towards the future. To continue this momentum, the organisation charted out the next steps that will further enrich the dialogue surrounding mental health, in both urban and rural areas. The steps include increasing research on mental health, enhancing the role of social media to drive awareness and decrease stigma and expanding their current programs. 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.