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A library run by industrial workers means world of change for children

Messages from martyrs like Bhagat Singh, Safdar Hashmi and others adorn the walls of the library. “Behtar zindagi ka raasta behtar kitaabon se hokar jaata hai” (The road to a better life passes through good books) — a board outside the room says.

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A movie screening in the library

Ludhiana (Punjab), Oct 21 : At first look, it is just another small room with one wall almost crumbling. But this 25-square yard space means the world for children of factory workers and labourers in Punjab’s industrial hub Ludhiana.

Without any grant or support from corporates or the government, this education endeavour by workers and daily-wage earners living in the Rajiv Gandhi colony area of Jamalpur in Ludhiana’s Focal Point industrial area, is making a sea of difference to the lives of children who come here every single day with their working parents.

The Shaheed Bhagat Singh Pustakalaya has no fancy address, no high-profile CSR support and no big-time NGO dedicating its resources. Yet, it is on a mission — to create a small education revolution by touching the lives of the many children coming here to study.

Messages from martyrs like Bhagat Singh, Safdar Hashmi and others adorn the walls of the library. “Behtar zindagi ka raasta behtar kitaabon se hokar jaata hai” (The road to a better life passes through good books) — a board outside the room says.

“We established this library in April this year. It is entirely an effort of workers and labourers of the industrial units in Ludhiana, who live in the vicinity of the LIG (low income group) flats and Rajiv Gandhi colony,” Lakhwinder Singh, the man behind the mission to guide the workers’ children to a better future, told IANS here.

The library has been set up under the aegis of the Karkhana Mazdoor Union by collecting funds from the workers. Contributions ranged from Rs 100 to Rs 5,000. Most workers themselves earn less than Rs 10,000 per month.

Lakhwinder, 33, who himself has done an advanced diploma in dye and mould making from a central institute in Chandigarh and has been living in Ludhiana since 2006, is the main force behind the library project. He is married but has no children yet.

“We began everything on a small scale. We have got no funding from the government or any corporate. The children coming here are not being forced to do so. They come here on their own and are liking the concept of teaching here,” he pointed out.

Ludhiana, one of the largest industrial hubs in Asia, with a population of 3.5 million people, is known for its bicycle industry, textile units, auto-parts manufacturing and scores of other businesses. A majority of the workforce here is that of migrant workers from other states, especially Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, who have been living here for decades.

The library gets active from 4 pm to 7 pm every day when the children come here to get an education. Krishan Kumar, a teaching volunteer, uses hands-on concepts, including showing films, to create awareness and impart education. The library has over 500 books in Hindi and Punjabi stacked on iron shelves.

“We make a lot of friends at the library. It is like a family,” Arjun, 12, a student of class VI in a government school, said.

Lakhwinder pointed out that the parents of a majority of the children who come to the library have themselves not studied beyond Class VIII or are illiterate, but do not want their children to suffer the same fate.

“The room can accommodate over 30 children. At times, we have to put a stop on the numbers as the room cannot accommodate more children,” Lakhwinder pointed out.

For an annual charge of only Rs 50, the children are provided a library card and are allowed to take two books home at one time. The fee is charged so as to make the children responsible for the books they take.

“The children like to come here. They are allowed to express themselves freely even when they are being imparted education,” he said.

The children coming here are enthusiastic about what they are doing here.

“It’s quite nice and refreshing to come here. Learning here is a lot of fun,” Khushi, 13, a student of Class VII, said.

In its own modest way, this library is making a definitive change in the lives of the young ones.

(The weekly feature series is part of a positive-journalism project of IANS and the Frank Islam Foundation. Jaideep Sarin can be contacted at [email protected] )

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World Alzheimer’s Day 2020: Everything you must know about the brain disease

The theme for World Alzheimer’s Day 2020 is “Let’s Talk About Alzheimer.”

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Alzheimer disease

World  Alzheimer’s Day is observed every year on September 21. The day aims at raising awareness and challenge the common stigma that surrounds Alzheimer related dementia.

According to Alzinfo, every 65 seconds, someone develops Alzheimer’s disease. At current rates, experts believe the number of Americans living with Alzheimer’s will quadruple to as many as 16 million by the year 2050.

The theme for World Alzheimer’s Day 2020 is “Let’s Talk About Alzheimer.” The day was first observed in 2012.

What is Alzheimer?

Alzheimer, in simple terms, is a brain disease that negatively affects memory, thinking, and behavior. These changes interfere with daily living. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 60 to 80 percent of dementia cases. Most people with the disease get a diagnosis after age 65. If it’s diagnosed before then, it’s generally referred to as early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.

Symptoms of Alzheimer:

According to the National Institute on Aging, in addition to memory problems, someone with Alzheimer’s disease may experience one or more of the following signs:

  • Memory loss that disrupts daily life, such as getting lost in a familiar place or repeating questions.
  • Trouble handling money and paying bills.
  • Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work, or leisure.
  • Decreased or poor judgment.
  • Misplaces things and being unable to retrace steps to find them.
  • Changes in mood, personality, or behaviour.
  • Withdrawal from friends, family, and community.

Stages of Alzheimer:

  • Stage 1. There are no symptoms at this stage but there might be an early diagnosis based on family history.
  • Stage 2. The earliest symptoms appear, such as forgetfulness.
  • Stage 3. Mild physical and mental impairments appear, such as reduced memory and concentration. These may only be noticeable by someone very close to the person.
  • Stage 4. Alzheimer’s is often diagnosed at this stage, but it’s still considered mild. Memory loss and the inability to perform everyday tasks is evident.
  • Stage 5. Moderate to severe symptoms require help from loved ones or caregivers.
  • Stage 6. At this stage, a person with Alzheimer’s may need help with basic tasks, such as eating and putting on clothes.
  • Stage 7. This is the most severe and final stage of Alzheimer’s. There may be a loss of speech and facial expressions.

Treatment Of Alzheimer:

Alzheimer’s is most commonly identified through patient and family history, and by talking to the immediate family about the presence of symptoms. Also, brain imagining may be suggested to check for beta-amyloid protein deposits. As of today, there is no curative treatment for Alzheimer’s. Drugs are usually administered to manage symptoms and healthy lifestyle changes.

Despite this, Alzheimer’s is one of the most expensive diseases to get treatment for. The global cost of dementia is estimated to be around $1 trillion currently.

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At 7, child prodigy honours literary legacy with first book

They added that the title of the book, cover page and all the illustration are also a part of her creativity.

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Abhijita a student of Class II

New Delhi, September 20: Padma Bhushan recipient Rashtrakavi Maithalisharan Gupts and Santkavi Siyaramsharan Gupt’s great grand daughter Abhijita Gupta, who is all of seven years and a child prodigy, has penned her first collection of stories and poems.

The book titled ‘Happiness All Around’, and was launched by Oxford Bookstores’ children’s wing, Oxford Junior in collaboration with Invincible Publishers. Seven-year-old Abhijita, taking after her family’s literary legacy, had started writing at a very tender age of five years.

The collection is an attempt to give children something to read, written by someone of their own age. (Abhijita Gupta – “The little poet”/Facebook)
“Abhijita is a student of Class II and is a third generation writer, to poet duo Rashtrakavi Shri Maithalisharan Gupt and Santkavi Shri Siyaramsharan Gupt. She is an avid reader and very expressive with her pen. She wrote her first story when she was a little over five years. By the grace of goddess Saraswati, she is carrying forward the traits of her forefathers and we hope she extends the legacy of Sahitya Sadan Gharana,” her parents Ashish Gupt and Anupriya Gupta said.

They added that the title of the book, cover page and all the illustration are also a part of her creativity.

“For her, every little thing around her matters: what she sees, she hears, she touches, she smells, she tastes and she feels — constantly soaking in the environment around her. And, her debut book proffers just that – the pure senses and humane values like an elixir.”

The collection is an attempt to give children something to read, written by someone of their own age. The book could prove equally useful for parents of young children, as it gives an insight into the mind of a six-seven year old and what thoughts and things interest her. The writings have been left untouched so that the innocence, mistakes included, of the child are not diluted.

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Covid-19 joblessness pushing youths to extremist groups in Northeast

Adding to this are the reports of a large consignment of China-made weapons reaching the hands of the secessionist Myanmar-based radical groups, who share close links with militant groups in India’s Northeast.

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Unemployment Rate in India

India’s Covid-19 pandemic lockdown is now giving headaches to the national security agencies. Youth, left jobless during the pandemic, are reported to be joining the banned rebel groups such as the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) and other such, in droves.

Adding to this are the reports of a large consignment of China-made weapons reaching the hands of the secessionist Myanmar-based radical groups, who share close links with militant groups in India’s Northeast.

The emerging scenario is threatening to upset the delicate balance achieved through years of hard work by the Indian security and intelligence officers, according to senior executives in the national security establishment, who requested to stay unnamed, citing government service rules.

The Arakan Army (AA) — which seeks an independent homeland in Myanmar’s Rakhine state — has received the fresh cache of Chinese weapons and is known to be one of the key suppliers of arms and ammunition to the rebel groups in Northeast India.

In addition, the AA opposes India’s Kaladan Multi Modal Project, which provides states like Mizoram — a landlocked province — an outlet to the sea through the Sittwe port in Myanmar, officials said. Interestingly the AA has not opposed the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor.

Security agencies have told the government that insurgent groups active along the Indo-Myanmar border find easy recruits among youth left unemployed by Covid-19 pandemic lockdown.

“The successful induction of the Chinese-made weapons by the AA will have an impact on the security situation in India’s Northeastern states, as much of these weapons are finding their way to some of the dormant militant groups of the Northeast,” the official said.

“The new weapons provide firepower to the northeastern groups whose ranks are increasing as youth left jobless by the pandemic are signing for militant groups.”

Strengthened by new recruits and rearmed, the Khaplang faction National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-K) — a banned militant group of Northeast based out of Myanmar — is gathering along the Indo-Myanmar Border in areas such as Mon to plan and execute attacks against the Indian security forces.

In 2016, the NSCN (K) killed 18 soldiers of the Indian Army, forcing India to launch cross border strikes on the militant hideouts taking refuge in Myanmar.

Worryingly, for India, peace talks with the Naga rebel groups have failed despite efforts of the Narendra Modi government.

Agencies have warned that groups like the People’s Democratic Council of Karbi Longri (PDCK) had recruited 15 fresh cadres in Assam. “There was recruitment of 10-15 cadres by the Karbi People’s Liberation Tiger in the outfit,” the source said.

Further, United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) had recruited 15-20 youths in the outfit from Meghalaya.

In Tripura, intelligence input indicates that extremist Parimal Debbrama of National Liberation Front of Tripura (NLFT) is trying to revive his group and some newly recruited members of the outfit had completed their basic training in a hideout of Khagrachari District of Bangladesh.

“These cadres are planning to infiltrate into India for operations,” the source further added.

Intelligence agencies also stated that the India-Myanmar border remained susceptible to threat due to the presence of insurgent groups.

“Many insurgents groups are camping in Myanmar and trying to infiltrate through Tirap, Longding and Changlang districts of Arunachal Pradesh, Mon District of Nagaland and Charaideo district of Assam,” the source said.

(Sumit Kumar Singh can be reached at [email protected])

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