Mental Health Awareness

Mental health is a much talked about topic these days. Earlier people barely talked of it let alone address it as a genuine problem. But this is changing. People are becoming more and more vocal about their mental health issues and sharing their stories over the internet with the hope that it might help someone. 

What is mental health?

Mental health is a total of our emotional, psychological and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel and act.

How we handle stress, relate to others and make choices also depends on our mental health.
But with growing restlessness and fast-moving life, we have neglected our mental health. Neglecting our mental health gives rise to many mental problems. It reflects in your mood, behaviour and thinking. 

Not just restlessness and life but there are other factors also that contribute to mental health problems. Including:

  • Biological factors like genes and or brain chemistry 
  • Life experiences like trauma and stress
  • Family history of mental health problems. 

A person with good mental health will be able to realise their full potential, cope with stresses in life, work productively and make meaningful contribution to the community as whole.

Early signs of mental health problems

Some you might know may be suffering from mental health issues without you being completely unaware about it. Notice the following symptoms and reach out to them if you think they need help. 

  • Eating or sleeping too much or too little
  • Having low or no energy
  • Pulling away from people and social activities 
  • Feeling helpless or hopeless
  • Yelling or fighting 
  • Severe mood swings 
  • Having unexplained aches and pains 

There are other symptoms as well but these are the most common ones. It is very crucial to identify these signs and help the one in need or get professional help before the situation gets worse. People who are suffering from mental health problems may also try to harm themselves. Before the situation gets to this, it is advisable to seek help from a professional. 

Mental health awareness

The pandemic had a big toll on everyone’s mental health. Apart from the people who died because of the coronavirus, there were hundreds of people who died because of mental health issues. It was also reported that the number of suicides increased during the lockdown. 

But our society has since very long considered mental health a myth and has continuously ignored the problem. And the main reason behind this ignorance is the lack of awareness. 

More than half of the people still consider depression as being just sad or crying. They are unaware of the fact that a person may look happy on the outside but may be suffering alone on the inside. They still don’t know that depression and anxiety are so much more than just being sad. 

This is where awareness comes in. People and celebrities have openly started talking about their struggles with mental health. This has encouraged many people to come forward and talk about their stories. Many helplines have also been set up for people who need to talk to someone or a professional. 

You can talk to someone you trust or a loved one. But if you feel like the situation is much worse which can’t be solved by talking out, seek professional help. 

It’s not always the person suffering from a mental health problem who has to reach out to help. If you know someone who might be suffering you can also reach out first. Check up on your loved ones once in a while because it might make a lot of difference. 

In the end, awareness is important but it is useless if not brought into action and implemented properly. 

Axiom announces crew for the first private space mission

It was everyone’s dream to go to space once. The dream started when we aspired to become astronauts but this dream changed as we grew up. Earlier it was only possible for astronauts to go to space. But Elon Musk had other plans. Currently, the world’s richest man, Elon Musk is preparing to send 3 people in space. Yes, you read it right. 3 people who are not astronauts will soon go on a journey to outer space and live the dream we all had.

Axiom Space announced on January 26 that it has selected a crew for the first-ever private mission to the International Space station. It is a crew of four people. One is a NASA veteran and three private paying customers. 

The proposed mission is set to launch a SpaceX Crew Dragon. But this mission will not happen before January 2022. The crew will stay at the International Space Station for a time period of eight days. The objective of this mission is to conduct extensive research and undertake “philanthropic projects”. 

The crew members are:

  • Michael Lopez-Alegria, a former NASA astronaut. He will be the flight’s commander 
  • Larry Connor will be the flight’s pilot.
  • Mark Pathy will serve as a mission specialist.
  • Eytan Stibbe will also serve as a mission specialist. 

Michael Lopez has logged a total of 260 days in outer space in his previous missions and is also the vice president at Axiom. Lopez-Alegria will be the first former NASA astronaut to return to orbit and visit the ISS. He will also be 63 when he launches. 

At the age of 71 years, Connor will become the second oldest person to fly to space. He is the head of the Connor Group, a luxury apartment investment firm with over $3 billion in assets. 

Pathy, 50, will be the 11th Canadian to fly to space after nine Canadian Space Agency astronauts and the co-founder of Cirque du Soleil, who became Canada’s first so-called “space tourist” in 2009.

Patthy is the CEO and Chairman of Marvik, a privately owned investment and financing company. 

Stibbe, who was born in Haifa, will be the second Israeli to launch into space, following his friend Ilan Ramon, who tragically died on the space shuttle Columbia in 2003. Stibbe founded the Vital Capital Fund, which is focused on business and financing ventures primarily in Africa. He is also one of the founders and is a board member of the Center for African Studies at Ben-Gurion University. 

Although Axiom did not disclose the price the three commercial astronauts paid to be on the Ax-1 mission. But according to internal sources, an estimate of cost-per-person is priced around $55 million. 

The mission now needs the approval from NASA. Axiom also proposed the potential of flying two per year. Axiom and NASA are currently working through a Basic Ordering Agreement that will enable private astronaut missions to the ISS. 

The Axiom space station modules will initially be attached to the Harmony node of the ISS. After the ISS is retired, the modules will be separated. It will then become the first free-flying commercial space station in low Earth orbit. 

VOCATIONAL EDUCATION

What is vocational education?

Vocational Education and Training (VET) is a job-oriented technical training course for students who want to focus on a specific career opportunity. In this, the main focus is on a specific career opportunity. Students are provided training, instructions on a specific course. At the end of the course, they are given a certificate which ensures they are well-trained in their work. This type of education is a great asset to our country. Nowadays vocational schools are opened in which students are provided training according to their courses. Students can join such training in high school or even after their graduation. Here is a small list of vocational training:-

  • Architecture
  • Science
  • Art and craft
  • Business administration
  • Project management
  • Law 
  • Media studies
  • Leadership and management
  • Computer science and IT
  • Humanities
  • Hospitality and travel

There are several other courses available too. After this course, you will have excellent job offers in your field. Several colleges provide vocational training:-

  • Jai Hind College
  • SNDT Women’s University
  • GGSIPU
  • Meera Bai Institute of Technology
  • IIFA Lancaster Degree College
  • Pondicherry University
  • ST.Pauls Institute of Communication
  • Tata Institute of Social Science
  • Frameboxx 2.O Animation and Visual Effects
  • George College
  • Ambedkar University
  • Amity University

Like these, various number of colleges are there with vocational courses.

Top-rated courses which are available in vocational education :

  • Integrated B.A+B.Ed
  • Bachelor of Physical Education and Sports
  • Post Graduate Diploma in Counselling and family therapy
  • Bachelor of Education(B.Ed)
  • Nursery Teacher Training(NTT)
  • Early Childhood care and education

Benefits of vocational education

The most important benefit of vocational education is specialisation. After you complete your course you will walk out as an expert in your field.

You will perform better as you would have excellent knowledge of your work.

As you will be specialized in your work, you will have better chances of employment as compared to other people and also vocational courses may help you in getting higher-paid jobs.

It helps you a lot in your personal development.

vocational courses may help you in getting jobs in foreign countries also.

This is a very good source of earning for school dropouts or for the people who couldn’t attend college.

In vocational courses, a better learning environment is provided to the students. They provide thorough learning of the courses.

In agriculture, the vocational course gives you solid help. Technical training and knowledge of pesticides, seeds, irrigation are very much important. And in the vocational course, you get to know everything in detail about everything related to agriculture.

Historically vocational courses were done in the classrooms only. But in recent years the study has been shifted online also. Professionals provide education through online mode which helps students in remote areas to study at their homes. This became easy too because now anyone can attend their classes anywhere.

This type of education has helped a lot for young people. More people can be employed. More people can become independent. Their confidence builds a lot. Their lifestyle becomes better. 

What are soft skills? Why are they important?

Soft skills are as important as hard skills. They can be developed over time and improved with practice. They determine how you fit into a professional environment and how you handle your professional life.  But the question is what are soft skills?

What are soft skills?

Soft skills are interpersonal skills and include communications skills, listening skill, time management and empathy. They are the intangible and non-technical skills. Other names that are used for soft skills are transferable skills and professional skills. They are less about your education and qualifications and more about your personality.
They are especially important for the recruitment process for graduates. A professional environment asks for more transferable skills and potential over professional experience. 

Why are soft skills important?

All the jobs require employees to interact with people and build relations. An employee or person may be technically well aware but may fail to build relations and interact. This where soft skills come in handy and this is why they are important. Employers don’t expect you to have all the knowledge and experience of the job you are initially applying for. They look for a person who can grow, learn and adapt. 

They are not only crucial while dealing with clients but they are also in how you interact within your own office with your colleagues. Soft skills help a person to co-exist in teams and organization as a whole. 

Types of soft skills

These are the soft skills that one must possess and continuously strive to improve. 

  1. Communication:

An able communicator must be able to adjust their tone and style according to their environment. Communication is the most basic and essential soft skill. Communication skills help in fostering relationships that are respectful and productive. Communication skills not only include verbal communication but written communication as well. 

  1. Leadership:

A good leader should have the ability to inspire others and lead them to success. To have leadership qualities you need not be appointed as a leader. You can show leadership qualities even when you are not managing things directly.  

  1. Responsibility:

Responsibility is a highly-valued soft skill. Being responsible means taking ownership of your own goals as well as the company as a whole. A responsible person shows the following qualities:

  • Trustworthiness
  • Discipline 
  • Motivation 
  • Consciousness
  • Accountability 
  1. Teamwork:

Teamwork is a quality that is formed with the help of a set of other soft skills. A person who believes in teamwork shows leadership, collaboration and good communication skills. A good team player respects other opinions and works towards a collective goal rather than personal goals. 

  1. Problem-solving:

Problem-solving is the technique of finding a solution quickly and effectively. Here also teamwork comes in play. Because not all problems can be solved alone. Therefore, working as a team and solving problems irrespective of difference of opinion and finding a common ground is very essential. An employee should grow and learn with every problem he solves and adapt accordingly.

These are 5 of the many soft skills that one must-have. Other soft skills are:

  • Decisiveness 
  • Ability to work under pressure 
  • Time management 
  • Flexibility 
  • Critical thinking
  • Work ethic 

You can improve your soft skills by reflecting on yourself and making adequate changes and observing others. You can also look for courses online which can help you improve your soft skills. And lastly, practice is the ultimate key to honing your soft skills.

What is Financial Literacy? Why is it important?

Financial literacy is knowing how to handle your money and use it productively in more than one way. Often we spend our money carelessly and regret it later. Utilising your money in a way that proves useful in the present or sometime in future is why financial literacy is important. This is just a brief description of it. In a real sense, it is a very vast subject. 

Financial literacy involves things like budgeting, saving, investing and loans and interest. This skill is developed when one gets involved in financial transactions. 

What is financial literacy?

It is the ability to understand and effectively use financial skills. Financial skills include:

  • Budgeting 
  • Saving
  • Investing 
  • Credit management 
  • Financial management

You might deal with these in your day to life. But to acquire these skills one needs to understand the basic financial concepts. These financial concepts include the time value of money, compound interest, annualised returns and opportunity cost. 

Why is financial literacy important?

The answer is very simple. You are financially literate, you can manage your money more effectively. It increases your confidence to manage your money and allocates it towards your goals. 

  • Distributing your income in a way that your expenses get paid without disturbing your budget. Note how much income is coming in and distribute it accordingly. And make sure to keep a track of your expenses and make changes in your spending plan now and then. 
  • If you are financially literate, you know that while seeking a loan you look at for the one with the lowest rate of interest. Comparing different loan plans is very important. You also are well aware that paying credit card bills on time is for your good. Because after a certain time you get charged with interest. This will only increase your expenses. time
  • Emergency funds are very essential in today’s uncertain time. Start saving little by little separately for emergencies. If you are already a financial literate you know that saving money equivalent to your three or six-month income is a must. Use it when you are in dire need of money. 
  • Everyone has to stop working after a certain age. Maybe because of health issues or because of retirement. Thus, you need to have a retirement plan. You should be well aware of which accounts will help you secure a good life after retirement.

How to improve financial literacy skills?

  • Manage your bills properly. Use the auto-debit option for recurring bills. Don’t postpone paying bills for late as it may affect the entire budget.
  • Maintain a good credit score. If you have a good credit score you can secure low-interest rates on loans and credit cards. 
  • Manage your debts properly. Stop spending lavishly and start saving and increase repayments. This will reduce your liability and pay off loans with high interests first.
  • Start saving and investing more. Investments are a good way to increase your saving. Invest where the rate of return is high. Also, don’t spend needlessly and save that money for something better and use it effectively. 

Lack of financial literacy will lead to budget mismatch, higher expenses, accumulation of debt, poor credit score and financial frauds. 

Acquiring financial skills will help you make major financial decisions. It ensures that you have a stable present as well as a future. It is a necessity.

How to create the initial team for your startup

 Establishing a startup is not a one day task. It requires a lot of hard work, patience and most importantly, it requires an excellent team to work with you to achieve your goals. And building a winning team that rides your startup to victory is not an easy task. The people you choose have the ability to make or break your business. You need to take a few essential steps at your initial stage to begin your work. 

  • Identify Positions

 If you are not doing a sole proprietorship, you and your co-founder need to know the positives and negatives of each other. You can’t be perfect in every skill, so you both must do a self-evaluation and know what are your strengths and weaknesses. When you know about it then you both can categorize your work according to your skills.

 When things between you and your co-founder are settled, you should start identifying positions to complete your team. Marketing and sales, accounting and finance, research and development are just a handful of examples of positions that you may need in your team.

  • Selecting your team members
  •   The process of hiring of team members should be done very accurately for the firm.
  •  Try to find T- shaped people for the organization. These people are experienced in one specific area but can handle other tasks too. They are quick learners and ready to take new challenges. They will benefit you more as compared to the employees experienced in a specific area. This will also help in recruiting a few numbers of employees in the beginning. 
  • Hire people who understand the importance of customer service.
  • You can appoint advisors to guide on important matters.
  • If your capital is limited, then you can go scouting in different colleges. Choose interns from there. Explain your plan to them and convince them to join you.

When you select your candidates, you must see that they fit in your startup culture, possess the right set of tools for your startup and should be passionate about what they do.

After selecting your candidates, there should be hiring and training. After this, they should be assigned their roles and responsibility. 

Always keep in mind whether you are choosing your 1st or your 100th candidate, you should know about the needs of your company and only then appoint someone who perfectly fits in that role.

  • Important things to keep in mind while building your startup:-
  • Be focused on your plan.
  • Make products keeping in mind what customers will be attracted to.
  •  Customer satisfaction must be a priority list.
  • You need to create a unique brand proposition of your product.
  • You must have good leadership quality.
  • Always communicate with your team members.
  • You must have a proper check on the cash flow of your company.
  • Never ignore or underestimate your competition.
  • Ability to listen and understand your teammates.
  • You should always be willing to learn and adapt to the changes happening around you.

In conclusion, this African proverb sums up beautifully:

If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together. 

Building your startup is a ride of ups and downs. You need to be calm and positive in the initial period. Thus, if you want to make your startup into the leading company, you need to start by building a winning team that will take you far.

5 PART-TIME JOBS FOR COLLEGE STUDENTS

Education is very important but experience holds equal importance in life. It is not important that you complete your studies and then gain work experience. You can study and earn not only experience but also money. In your free time, there are many jobs that college students can do. Some can be done from home whereas you might need to step out for some.

It has three benefits:

  • You gain work experience,
  • You earn and therefore learn what financial independence is.
  • You learn how the real world works and how you can survive it.

Here’s a list of 5 simple jobs that college students can do. These are easy to do and do not require many skills or any prior experience.

  1. Baby-sitting: 

Babysitting is the most flexible job for students because you can work when you have free time. It’s even better if you love kids. The tasks you need to do in this job may include.

  • Homework help for school going kids
  • Basic household work
  • Meal preparation
  • Attending to the child’s health
  • School pick up and drop

It is one of the easiest jobs. There’s no set income for this job and depends on the parents of the kid and you.

  1. Call centre representatives:

Call centres require a large workforce. There are a variety of people working at call centres. Students also happen to be in large numbers. You need to have good command over language and must be well-spoken. The salary may vary company to company and time dedicated towards the job. The work of a call centre representative includes:

  • Managing calls
  • Reading pre-determined script
  • Selling products or asking for donations
  • Input customer data
  • Researching customer data
  1. Pet-sitter:

This is probably the most fun job on the list especially for people who love pets. You can search for this job yourselves or use apps like Rover. They connect you to the pet owner who needs a sitter. The income through this job also depends on the employer. 

You might need to perform the following tasks:

  • Dog walking
  • Cleaning the pet
  • Taking care of medications
  • Vet visits 
  • Pet transport
  1. Online tutor:

If you are academically strong and can teach other students. Online tutoring is the best job. You can hold classes yourselves or can join an institute as a teacher. This job will pay you good money. 

As an educator, you will have to do the following things:

  • Prepare study material
  • Clear doubts of the students 
  • Check academic progress 
  • Dedicate at least an hour to teach
  1. Social media manager:

This is one of the most rapidly growing jobs in today’s time. Social media has become a part of our lives. Businesses use it to promote their business. For this, they hire social media managers. This job is also well-paying and you can work according to your schedule. But make sure to meet the deadlines. 

Your job as a social media manager will include:

  • Promoting business through social media 
  • Handling social media accounts
  • Posting regularly 
  • Increasing engagement 
  • Holding online events

There are jobs as well which you can do as a college student. Some of them are:

  • Sales associates 
  • Content writers 
  • Translator
  • Web designer 

All these jobs mostly require very basic skills. But if you specialize in something then it’s even better. Like not everyone can do web designing. Only people you have learned it can do it. 

You can search for these jobs locally where you live or can surf the internet. There are many apps as well that connect students to employers who are looking to hire people. 

In the end, all you need is the determination to do something and keep learning. 

Social Media Detox

Social media is a part of our daily routine. We spend hours looking at our phones, chatting and exploring things. We scroll endlessly until we go off to sleep at night. Our lives have somewhat started revolving around Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat. We are curious to know what is happening around the world, the latest trends and keep yourself updated about the latest memes. On average a person spends 1 hour 40 minutes per day browsing through social media. 

Although the world has come closer because of social media it has also increased restlessness in human beings. We start feeling anxious if we don’t check our social media handles every half hour at most. 

Talking about the content of social media. There is a variety of content available to people. From funny to informative, social media has everything. But the lifestyle portrayed on social media can make people feel insecure about themselves. And this results in anxiety and depression. Because we desire to achieve that lifestyle instantly. We beat ourselves up and feel hopeless if we are not able to do that.

Therefore, it is very important to take a break from social media once in a while. It is very essential to break the online walls we have created for ourselves and connect with reality.

How to do a proper Social Media Detox?

  1. Deactivate your Instagram, Facebook and Twitter accounts. It will help you from not checking your social media accounts again and again. 
  2. Uninstall your social media apps. If the apps are not on your phone you will not feel the urge to use them.
  3. Replace social media with some other activity. The time you spend on social media, use it to do something else. Like rediscovering a long lost hobby or honing your skills. 
  4. Talk to your family and friends. The people you have been avoiding for a long time, it’s time to meet them and enjoy the moment like you did before social media took over you. 
  5. Practice meditation and mindfulness. Meditation gives you a moment to reflect on yourself and clears your mind up. Mindfulness will increase your attention span and you will not get distracted easily.

Benefits of social media detox:

There are many reasons how social media detox benefits our day to day life. Some of the benefits of social media detox are:

  • It breaks the comparison cycle. We usually compare ourselves to what we see online. A social media detox will help us break that comparison cycle and focus on ourselves completely.
  • It is not essential to post everything from your life on social media. It is because social media is a dangerous place and many cybercrimes happen through the stuff we post online. It is essential to maintain your privacy, and thus, you should refrain from posting for some time. 
  • We have become so anxious that we feel like we are running a race all the time. And this race is between who has a better life as portrayed on social media. This has made us very competitive. A social media detox will help overcome this feeling of continuous competitiveness. 
  • It will also improve our mood. We will have more time for ourselves and we can focus on other thighs that make us happy in real life. 

According to scientists, a social media detox should last up to 3 months at least. But the dopamine levels can take longer to return to the normal level if someone is excessively addicted to social media.

We have forgotten what it’s like to sit with our family and friends and live in the moment. We are so engrossed in our online lives that we forget how important human essence is. Maybe it’s time we switch off our phones and make real-life connections instead of online connections alone.

Essential Medical Check-ups

We’ve always been told that health is wealth. Even then we forget to take care of bodies the way it deserves. We delay doctor’s appointments and eat whatever pleases not only our taste buds but also our eyes. We ignore the harmful effects it can have on our body. This ignorance does not pay off well as we grow old. 

When we reach a certain age, doctors advice everyone to undergo some health check-ups according to different age groups at regular intervals. 

They help in the early detection and treatment of diseases if any. Some of these tests are given below for your convenience and awareness. They may depend on the age group you fall in.

  1. Weigh yourself:

Knowing your body weight is very important. You should not be more than the required body weight nor less. You might hate getting on the scale but it is a must. You don’t need to visit a doctor for this and it can be done at home.

  1. Blood Test:

A blood test will reveal several things about your body. You may fear a needle but a blood test will only benefit you. It is not very expensive and very quick. It will help you keep a track of your haemoglobin levels, RBCs, WBCs and will also tell you if you have any blood-related issues. 

  1. Cholesterol profile:

Now you will need to go through the painful process of withdrawing blood but keeping a cholesterol check is very important. According to physicians, screening once for the age group of 9-11 years, once between the age of 17-21 years and every 4-6 years after that. If you have a family history of cholesterol or suffer from obesity, cholesterol tests become even more essential.

  1. Pap and Pelvic Exam for women:

Pap smears, pelvic exam and breast examination are very important for women after the age of 21 years. They might cause discomfort but help in detecting cancer cells and diseases that may result in infertility. Pap tests should begin at the age of 21 years and should be done every 3 years till the age of 65 years. Women who have normal results of the pap test can get the test done every five years after the age of 30. Women who are sexually active and are under 24 years and below should also get gonorrhoea, chlamydia and HIV screening. Women at average risk of breast cancer should get a clinical test every 1-3 years if they fall under the age group of 25-39 years. If they are 40 and above they should get it done every year. 

  1. Eye test:

You might not have expected this test on the list and think that you only need to get an eye test when your vision becomes blurry. But no, eye test not only involves tests for eyesight but other eye-related problems as well. So it is recommended that before turning 40 you visit an eye doctor and get a detailed eye test once. If you have vision problems, you should go more often. 

  1. Blood Sugar Test:

Usually, this test is recommended for people who are in their 30s. This test is done after 12 hours of fasting and helps in detecting diabetes. If your test results are <90, your sugar levels are normal. If the results say 100-110, it is pre-diabetes. But if the test is more than 110, the person is suffering from diabetes. If your reading is normal you can get the test done once in a year.

  1. ECG test: 

This test is recommended for people who are 35 years and above. It is done to check if there are any heart diseases. It is advisable to get it done annually if the results are normal.

  1. Immunizations: 

Make sure to visit your doctor and see if you need any immunizations. This can be done annually. Ask your doctor to update you regularly about the same. 

All the above-mentioned tests are to give you a general idea about the tests that are essential to keep your health in check. This article is research-based and for more accurate information you should always visit a doctor.

Where does Ayurveda come from?

All of us are pretty familiar with the term Ayurveda. It is a part of an Indian household and is used almost every day. Not only is it an essential part of our household, but is also an important part of our culture. But have we ever sat back and wondered how and when did Ayurveda origin?

The term Ayurveda is derived from two Sanskrit words, ayur meaning life and veda meaning science of knowledge. Thus, the word Ayurveda as a whole means the science of life. 

Its origin dates back to some 5000 years ago. It is an old art of treating various diseases and conditions that originated in India. It is not only the art of healing but it also teaches us that our health is in balance with the environment, body, spirit and mind. The entire concept of Ayurveda is drawn and based on these 4 factors. 

Ayurveda was first put to practice by Dhanvantari, a physician to the gods in Hindu mythology. It is said that he received the art of Ayurveda from Lord Brahma himself. The first mentions of the Ayurveda are in the Vedas (manuscripts of Hindus), especially in Artharveda. The Vedas are filled with a thousand magical ancient practices of treatment.  It also mentions the ways to expel the demons out of one’s body which were traditionally thought to be the reason behind diseases. The primary conditions mentioned are cough, fever, diarrhea,  seizures, tumours, skin diseases and dropsy. 

Ayurveda is a very wide subject and not only revolves around medication and treatments. It also includes subjects like astrology, government, politics, art and human behaviour.
The recent knowledge of the Ayurveda can be studied through “the great triad” of texts called the Brhattrayi. It consists of three books: Charak Samhita, Sushurta Samhita and Ashtanga Hridaya. They describe the basic principles and theories through which the modern Ayurveda has evolved.
Ayurveda has a deep impact on your body and can give you long term relief. It not only focuses on the symptoms of a disease but focuses on the root of the problems. Thus, an Ayurvedic treatment may show slow progress and maybe long but it shows good results and keeps you healthy for a long time. One of the key reasons why Ayurvedic treatment is considered healthy and safe is because all the medicines and herbs used are organic. They come from the same 5 elements our body is said to be composed of. That is, earth, fire, air, water and space. 

There are several other benefits of Ayurveda.

Benefits of Ayurveda:

  • Aids in weight loss
  • Acts as a stress buster 
  • Balances hormones 
  • Reduces inflammation
  • Removes toxins from the body
  • Reduces risks of diseases
  • Makes skin healthy 
  • Cures insomnia 
  • Reduces bloating 

Some of the important Ayurvedic herbs are Ashwagandha, Brahmi, Turmeric, Cumin and Cardamom. There are hundreds of other herbs that are used in Ayurvedic medicines.
Ayurveda is now begin recognised all around the world. Even WHO has recognised it as a traditional system of medicines. India has also signed an agreement with the WHO for promoting this traditional art. This agreement also includes the practices of  Unani and Yoga. 

Earlier, Ayurveda lost its importance after the country was taken over by the British because they promoted the use of modern medications. This bruised this art form cruelly. 

But now it has slowly begun to be recognised again. Modern medical practitioners have also begun to realise the value of this art form. They are now trying to find a link that will connect Ayurveda to modern science. It is not long that Ayurveda will also see further developments and help in treating people just like ancient times. 

5 INDIAN MYTHOLOGICAL FICTIONS ONE MUST READ

India has a very rich and diverse cultural heritage. If you study India’s history, you will see the lavish lifestyle of the people back in the days. But it is not limited to recent few centuries only. This richness goes way back to the times of gods and goddesses. All this is recorded in the books of literature of the Indian heritage. 

India also has a wide range of books and scriptures one can read if they are into Indian mythological genre or simply mythological genre.

It is a country famous for its wars and folklores and hundreds of things that make Indian history quite an interesting subject. Most of us have grown up listening to these stories by our grandparents. 

Some of the authors have revamped these stories in their creative imagination. Some characters are taken from the most famous stories of Indian history and represent a different aspect of those stories. These have been widely appreciated and loved. Here’s a list of top 5 Indian Mythological fictions one must read at least once:

  1. The Pandavas series by Roshan Chokshi:

An amazing book for the youngsters that tells the story of a young 12-year-old girl named Aru Shah. Her family runs the Museum of Ancient Indian Art and Culture in America. Things turn around for Aru when her friends force her to rub an ancient lamp which releases a sleeping demon. Next thing you see is Aru on an unexpected adventure to set thighs straight by finding the reincarnations of the Pandavas and her journey through the kingdom of death. The series has not yet been completed. But is humorous and full of adventure. The author subtlety and cleverly connects the ancient world to the modern world. 

  1. The Palace of Illusions by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni:

You might have heard the epic of Mahabharata many times. But have you heard it from the perspective of the one major cause behind the war, Draupadi? The Palace of Illusions tells this epic from the perspective of Draupadi, her feelings, how she struggled to find a loving home all her life and how she felt when she might have felt when she was gambled away in a game of chess by her five husbands. The book sums the story in 360 pages and tells her side of the story.

  1. Shiva Trilogy by Amish Tripathi:

One of the most beloved books of people, the Shiva trilogy is a must on this list. Amish Tripathi is known for his storytelling and lucid writing. He intertwines the story of Lord Shiva with a fictional background. He beautifully narrates how a common man because of deeds and karma become a God for people. The first part is The Immortals of Meluha, the second The Secret of  Nagas and the third is The Oath of Vayuputras. This is a must-read for all the Shiva as well as mythological lovers. 

  1. The Ramchandra series by Amis Tripathi:

Another brilliantly written series by the author Amish Tripathi is his second expression into the world of mythic-fiction. Like his previous work, The Shiva Trilogy, The Ramchandra series is also a bestseller. This time Amish explores the epic of Ramayana, each book from the perspective of the three main characters the epic revolved around. The series consists of two books Scion of Ikshavaku and Sita: Warrior of Mithila. This series is much better than the Shiva Trilogy in terms of storytelling and plot. The first part, i.e., Scion of Ikshavaku is from the perspective of Lord Ram, the second part, Sita: Warrior of Mithila is from the perspective of Sita, Lord Ram’s wife. Now the third book of the series is awaited which will be from the perspective of Ravana. 

  1. Asura: Tale of the Vanquished by Anand Neelakantan:

Anand Neelakantan is famous for his books on the two most famous epics of Indian history, Mahabharata and Ramayana. The story follows the original storyline of the original Ramayana but what is different about this book is that it tells you the story from the perspective of Ravana. It gives you the story of the other side, the side which is never told while telling the Ramayana. It is a fresh approach towards the epic of Ramayana and is a page-turner.

There are several other books which are worth giving a read. The list could go on and on. These Indian authors have brought a different perspective of the stories we have heard like a hundred times before.

These books are worth your time. After all who wouldn’t love to divide into the royal, fantasy land even if you only get to experience it through a book and your imagination.

Thyroid Awareness Month

January is the Thyroid Awareness Month of the year. But do we know what thyroid is and how it affects our body?

According to research by the American Thyroid Association, 1 in 10 people suffer from a thyroid disorder. As many as 20 million Americans suffer from a thyroid disorder. More than half of the cases are undiagnosed.

What causes a thyroid is still unknown but if left undiagnosed, can cause various problems. Like an increased risk of osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease and infertility.

The thyroid plays a major role in our body. It regulates metabolism, body temperature and other physical functions. The thyroid produces hormones to keep our body functioning at a certain rate. 

What is the thyroid?

It is a small butterfly-shaped gland found in the lower neck. The gland produces the hormones T3 and T4. It is located above the collarbone and in front of the windpipe. The role of these hormones is to help regulate metabolism, manage body temperature and control heart rate. 

If these hormones are overproduced or underproduced, they can cause serious health issues. 

The two most common diseases related to the thyroid are:

Hyperthyroidism 

Hypothyroidism 

What is hyperthyroidism?

When the T4 (thyroxine) hormone is overproduced in the body, it causes hyperthyroidism. It is also known as an overactive thyroid. This disease causes an increase in metabolism which leads to weight loss and an irregular heartbeat. It affects about 1% of the population. It is five times more common in women than in men. It usually affects people under the age of 50 years and results in enlargement of the thyroid gland. 

It also causes insomnia, increased appetite, excessive perspiration and diarrhea. 

Even though it is associated with more energy, it can sometimes lead to a body break down and make one feel more tired. 

Other symptoms of hyperthyroidism are:

Anxiety

Oversensitive to heat

Increased sweating

Palpitations

Dry, thin skin

Hair loss

Trembling 

What is hypothyroidism?

It is more common than hyperthyroidism. It happens when the body cannot produce enough of the thyroid hormone. It results in a slow down of the body functions. It is also known as under-active thyroid. It affects heart rate, body temperature, and metabolism. 

It mostly affects people over the age of 60 years and increases with age. In older people, it can cause memory impairment, weight loss and loss of appetite. These happen because of old age as well, therefore, hypothyroidism is relatively difficult to diagnose in older people and remains under-diagnosed. 

The possible causes of hypothyroidism are autoimmune disease, certain medicines or surgical removal of a part of the thyroid gland.

Symptoms of hypothyroidism include:

Fatigue

Sensitive to cold/heat

Weight gain and inability to lose weight


Depression

Anxiety

Constipation

Numbness in limbs 

Other diseases that can happen because of improper functioning of the thyroid gland are Hashimoto’s disease and thyroid cancer. 

Thyroid cancer is of four types:

Papillary thyroid cancer is the most commonly differentiated thyroid cancer. It may spread to the lymph nodes of the neck even though it grows slowly.

Follicular thyroid cancer is the second most common thyroid cancer. It grows near areas where there is a high iodine deficiency in the body. It is easiest to cure. 

Medullary thyroid cancer is rare and mostly hereditary. It has higher chances of spreading to the lymph nodes of the neck than other types.

Anaplastic thyroid cancer is the most aggressive form of thyroid cancer and is the rarest of all. It grows rapidly and spreads easily, therefore it is the most dangerous one. 

How to diagnose thyroid disorders?

They can either be self-diagnosed at home first and later consulting the doctor is the best way to be sure.

For self-diagnoses, one can perform the following:

Stand in front of the mirror or take a hand mirror above the collarbones where the area below you Adam’s Apple is visible. 

  1. Tilt your head back and take a sip of water.
  2. Swallow the water and watch your neck for signs of bulging.
  3. Repeat a few times to make sure you don’t see obvious signs of bulging.
  4. If you see a huge bulge, nodule or an enlarged gland, contact a physician.

The only way to confirm you have a thyroid disease and which one is it, it by going through a blood test. 

Treatment:

The treatment usually includes medication to regulate hormone production. Doctors usually treat it with medications, iodine or hormones. In some cases, one may also need to undergo therapy or surgery. 

Thyroid awareness month is recognised to increase awareness about the disorders related to thyroid and their possible symptoms. The symptoms of a thyroid disorder are common in other disorders as well. Therefore it can become difficult to diagnose it and remain ignored. Thyroid disorders are not curable or preventable but are treatable. Consulting your doctor and getting regular health checkups can improve the quality of living to a great extent.

Donald Trump Leave White House for the Last Time

President Trump’s reign comes to an end after a rollercoaster of a journey. On Wednesday, he left Washington DC three hours ahead of the inauguration ceremony of the next US President, Joe Biden. He stated that it has been an “incredible four years” and promised his supporters and everyone else that he will be “back in some form”.

A small group of people waved goodbye to Trump and the First Lady Melania Trump as they walked out and boarded the Marine One helicopter at 8:15 am. The Trump family flew a short journey to the airbase from where they boarded a flight to Florida on Air Force One as Frank Sinatra’s “My Way” played on loudspeakers on the tarmac on a sunny but chilly day

“I just want to say goodbye but hopefully it’s not a long-term goodbye,” said Trump as he addressed a small group of people. 

Trump plans to stay at his Mar-a-Lago in Florida when the US will inaugurate its new President, Joe Biden. 

After the 21 gun salute and a serenade of “Hail to the Chief”, Trump said to his supporters “this has been a great journey”. He further added, “We’ve accomplished so much together. I will always fight for you.”

He also said, “it is my greatest honour and privilege to have been the president.”

Before departing the White House, Trump issued scores of pardons to people convicted of crimes or facing charges, including some prominent allies. 

Influential former Trump aide Steve Bannon — charged with defrauding people over funds raised to build the Mexico border wall, a flagship Trump policy was among 73 people on a list released by the White House.

The 74-year-old Trump has hinted at running for president again in 2024 but faces a trial in the Senate over his role in the January 6 storming of the US Capitol by his supporters and a potential ban on holding office in the future. 

After breaking his long silence, he also addressed the US citizens via pre-recorded video for the first time and urged the American to “pray” for the success of the incoming administration. 

Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will take the oath of office at the very spot where pro-Trump rioters clashed with police two weeks ago before storming Congress in a deadly insurrection.

Although the inauguration ceremony will go as it has for the last two centuries, this will be a little different from the rest because of the events that took place a few days ago at the US Capitol. 

Official Washington has taken on the dystopian look of an armed camp, protected by some 25,000 National Guard troops tasked with preventing any repeat of this month’s attack.

Because the pandemic is still raging in the US, the general public is forbidden from attending the inauguration ceremony. The National Mall seems unprecedentedly empty because of the said reason on Inauguration Day for the first time. Some 200,000 flags have been planted to represent the absent crowd.

Career options in Journalism and Mass Communication

Mass communication and journalism is a rapidly growing field of study. The world is now connected through the media. The information we get daily is the hard work of the mass communication industry. They are constantly working to provide us with the latest happenings around the world every moment of the day. 

But this is not a job of just a handful of people. Thousands of people work day and night on-screen and off-screen.

Earlier it was assumed that the only career option after a degree in mass communication and journalism would land you a job as a reporter or an anchor. And it was not considered a cup of tea for everyone.
But today, people are becoming well aware of the different roles people in this industry play and choosing to opt them as a career. 

If you are confused as to what are the many job options in this industry, below is a list of some of the jobs other than the commonly known ones. 

  1. Public relations:

These are the people who serve as a representative for businesses, institutions, persons and government bodies. PR executives launch campaigns through print, electronic, and online media. Their main role is to create and develop a brand and help them build a positive image and communication in public. You also have to make sure that correct information about your client is being conveyed to the people at the right time.

To become a PR executive you need to have good communication skills, creative, reliable and tech-savvy. Moreover, you need good written and oral skills, strong command over language and good organising skills.

  1. Photography:

As a professional photographer, you will be responsible to manage artists/products, set lights, manage time and create quality content. Your job is not limited to clicking photos only. You can pick one or more than one genre of photography. The genres include candid, food photography, photojournalism, wildlife, fashion or interior. 

If you have a passion for photography and make a career in it, this is the job for you. You must be tech-savvy and willing to learn on the go. The main aspect of this job is to capture emotions and moments.

  1. News Editor:

The job of news editor involves deciding which news stories need to be printed. He manages and produces news to present information with flow, accuracy and within a time frame. They work as a coordinator with other team members and other departments. 

  1. Sound engineer:

They work in films, music, television and radio. They can also work for live performances and shows. They handle tasks like adding sound effects to recordings, resolving technical problems, performing duties assigned by directors and producers. Qualities you must have are, editing techniques and different audio recordings to perform well with the various tasks appointed.

  1. Art director:

The look after the creation of visual material for print, advertisement, film production and other related things. The see how to present the concept visually and which photographs or design elements in the best way possible. Their role is to develop the overall style of publication, television and advertising campaign. They understand the designs elements of projects and keep the projects on budget within the given time frame. 

There are other job opportunities as well. The list is long and this is a field that people are not ready to explore completely. 

But as people are becoming aware, they are seeking jobs in this field. Some other jobs you can try in mass communication and journalism are:

News reporter 

TV correspondent 

Producer 

Radio jockey 

Content writer 

Sound mixer 

Screenwriter 

Film writer 

And the list goes on. Some qualities are specifically important in people working in the mass communication industry. They should be inquisitive, alert, confident, patient and enthusiastic. 

If you are looking to pursue a career in mass communication and journalism, these are some of the options out of the many that you can opt for. The jobs are well paying and you get to learn something new every day. 

CORONAVIRUS ON ICE CREAM CARTONS

After declaring itself Covid-free last year, China is witnessing another wave of corona cases.

And according to the latest reports, the novel coronavirus was found on an ice cream carton coming in from eastern China. 

The Daqiaodao Food Co, Ltd in Tianjin, adjacent to Beijing, was sealed and its employees were being tested for the coronavirus. But there was no indication that anyone among the employees had contracted the virus. 

The batch contained more than 29,000 cartons and most of it was not yet sold. Only 390 cartons were said to be sold to Tianjin. They are now being tracked and authorities elsewhere were notified of sales to their areas. The government said that they have recalled the cartons from the same batch. 

The ingredients included New Zealand milk powder and whey powder from Ukraine, the government said. 

On Saturday, the Health Commission of China blamed the travellers and imported goods saying they brought the virus from abroad. 

Whereas on Sunday, China reported 109 new confirmed cases of Covid-19, two-thirds of them in a northern province that is close to national capital Beijing, though no deaths have been reported. 

Currently, its death toll stands at 4953 and total cases at 88,227.

China was the first country to report a case of coronavirus in Central Wuhan in late 2019. The pandemic is said to have originated from that very place. 

Earlier this month, a team of WHO scientists travelled to China to discover the origins of the novel coronavirus.

According to reports, the Chinese government has banned the entry of two scientists. The Chinese government is of the view that the disease came from abroad and has highlighted what it says are discoveries of the coronavirus on imported fish and other food. But this theory has been rejected by various economies around the world.  

The WHO team says that the motive behind the investigation is not to blame some but to find the scientific answers. It is about studying an important interface between the human kingdom and the animal kingdom.

The investigation will apparently take months to complete even in the best circumstances. The team must also navigate attempts by China to politicize the inquiry.

The novel coronavirus has killed nearly two million people since the first outbreak first emerged in Wuhan. 

Thousands of mutations in the virus have taken place as it has passed from person to person around the world, but new variants recently detected in Britain and South Africa are seemingly more contagious.

Britain has imposed a lockdown for the third time since the first outbreak in the country. Other countries have also reported cases of the new variant and have imposed a strict check on the people entering the country. Adequate measures are being taken all around the world to control the mutant variant.

5 Best Websites for Online Courses

Everything is available online nowadays, be it food, clothes or furniture. Everything is just one click away, even education.

We’ve all wished to gain education from the top universities but were unable to do so for unforeseeable reasons. Some found interest in a subject they were completely unaware of. While others just want to gain some extra skills and learn something new.

With the availability of online education, your dream to acquire a degree from top universities has come true.
Thousands of courses are available on these websites to choose from and they have flexible hours. So you can complete the course according to your own pace.

Here’s a list of top 5 websites for online courses:

  1. Khan Academy:

Started in 2006 by an educator named Salman Khan, Khan Academy is a non-profit academy. It aims to provide free education to everyone and all around the world. 

It is free for both teachers and students. It provides education from the root level, i.e., kindergarten to early college level. 

All the subjects are available on Khan Academy. Be it maths, grammar, history, science and even SAT exam preparation. 

The lectures are not very long and do not make studying boring or monotonous. 

It has some of the most famous partners as its founding partner. Namely, Google, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Reed Hastings.

  1. Coursera:

Coursera is one of the most famous and loved websites by students. It has over 35 million learners and has partnered with 150 top universities from around the world. To name some, Yale, Stanford and the University of Michigan.
Talking about the courses available, Coursera has 2700 courses, 250 specializations and four degrees. Some courses also provide certificates on completion. 

It is the leading provider of massive open online courses.
Some of the courses are free and the paid courses mostly range between $29-$99. But the specializations and degrees have high prices. 

  1. Udemy:

Udemy has around 30 million students and 100,000 courses for you to choose from. Courses are taught in over 50 languages.
It has some of the most expert faculties. With 42,000 instructors and 22 million minutes of video instruction, Udemy is a widely loved website for online education. 

Courses on Udemy are not free but don’t cost much. The price ranges between $9 to $500 depending on the type of course. 

It does not partner with universities but it allows independent creators and educators to create courses and teach online in the subject of their specialization. 

  1. edX:

A non-profit education platform, established by Harvard and MIT, edX aims to break the three barriers in education: cost, location and access.

It has 20 million learners from all around the world. And provide 2400 courses, the majority of which are provided by top-ranked universities in the world.
Some of the courses are free while you may need to pay for some. One of the best things about using edX is that on completion of your course you are rewarded with an official certificate as proof.

  1. Stanford Online:

It offers free online as well as professional certificate, advanced degrees and executive education. Currently, Stanford Online is imparting education to millions of teachers and students. 

It offers courses from Stanford Law School, Stanford Business School and Stanford medical school and many others. 

Many other websites provide online courses that are free or paid. These were some of the most loved and preferred ones. 

Education should be accessible to all and everywhere around the world and that’s exactly what these websites aim for. 

They are simple to use websites and accessible to people of all ages because learning has no age. 

It will not only help you learn something new but will also add skill to your professional career. 

Happy learning!

HOW TO GET OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE

We’ve all felt comfortable in one surrounding and uncomfortable in some. The surrounding you feel comfortable is your comfort zone. You can be yourself, talk freely and express your heart out when in your comfort zone.
But we can’t always stay there. Some situations require us to step out of it and deal with the real world, the one that would not be so comfortable. 

Of course, everyone enjoys being their comfort zone but that might hinder our growth somewhere in life.

The fear we feel when we encounter such a situation limits us from grabbing some wonderful opportunities. We fear being mocked or rejected and as a result, we stop taking action. 

Now, this may seem like a one-time thing but if this continues to happen for a long period of time, it may turn into an anxiety disorder.
As cosy as your comfort zone may seem, it is not deniable that it keeps you from life experiences, professional opportunities and personal growth.

It is very essential to explore the unfamiliar. Be it professionally or personally. Getting out of your comfort zone can be difficult but it is not impossible.

Some of the steps you can follow to get out of your comfort zone are:

  1. Identify your fears:

First, you need to evaluate what makes you the most afraid? When was the last time you felt afraid or uncomfortable? How did your body react to your fear?
Once you know what makes you uncomfortable and what effect it has on your body, it will be easy for you to identify what makes you uncomfortable. It allows you to open up in a situation that makes you uncomfortable. 

  1. Reminding yourself that you are fearless:

Everybody needs a little push sometimes to move ahead. And sometimes you are the only one who can give yourself that push. Every time you face a situation where you feel uncomfortable all you need is a reminder that you are fearless and can achieve anything you set your mind to. You can overcome all the uncomfortable situations and seize all the opportunities that come your way. Next time you do something out of your comfort zone whisper to yourself “I am fearless”.

  1. Recall your accomplishments:

You must have been in an awkward situation in the past and somehow nailed it perfectly. Recall that moment and every other such moment where you thought you couldn’t do it but did it anyway. These accomplishments may be small but they make a huge difference. Remember them and never give up.

  1. Find a valid reason:

If you are stepping out of your comfort zone there must be some solid reason for it. Find that reason and always keep that in mind. You may or may not succeed but you’ll learn something for sure. 

  1. Don’t chose the safe option:

Imagine you are standing on a diverging road, you know one road by heart and are completely unfamiliar about the other. Don’t choose the first road because that is your comfort zone. To your surprise the second road may be unfamiliar but may be prettier than the first road. Even if it’s not, you’ll experience something new. So, always choose the option which does not seem safe or comfortable to you.

  1. Set small challenges:

You are your biggest competitor. Setting small challenges and outdoing yourself is a great way to get out of your comfort zone. After successfully completing these challenges, you will feel accomplished and more confident. This will help you to not give up just yet.

These were some of the simple and most common ways to get out of your comfort zone.
Personally, I’ve been afraid of stepping out of my comfort zone but these steps have helped me a lot. And speaking from experience stepping out of your comfort zone is totally worth it.

LACK OF SEX EDUCATION IN INDIA

Sex has always been a topic talked about behind the curtains. It is considered a taboo in India even today. People are even afraid to say the word “sex” out loud let alone discuss it. And it is not something to be very proud of because it has resulted in a lack of sex education in people. This illiteracy has caused several problems to arise in the country.


Here in India, people associate sex education with just the act of sexual intercourse but it so much more than that. Sex education as a whole is a vast subject. It is a program which aims to build a strong foundation of one’s sexual well being, including sexuality and contraceptives. It also includes gender identity, consent and awareness about sexual abuse. 

From a very young age, children are deprived and kept away from any such means that might expose them to the slightest of intimacy. But isn’t this something everyone is bound to learn about someday in life? People in India are of the view that if children are exposed to sex education, it might corrupt them.
Unlike hunger and thirst, sex might not be a necessity but it surely is important for the preservation and continuation of the human race.

This narrow mindedness related to sex has given rise to numerous problems in the country. Like rapes, stalking, eve-teasing and gender discrimination from a very young age. Because adolescents are deprived of the education that is necessary for them, they resort to half and false information available on the internet. This results in an unhealthy sexual life and may also lead to the spread of STDs. 

There is very little knowledge that people have about safe sex, the use of contraceptives and the consequences unprotected relations can have. 

Not only rapes and eve-teasing has increased in the country because of the lack of sexual education, but other problems come with it. Girls are not taught about female hygiene which results in UTIs and other deadly diseases. Cases of sexual abuse are constantly on a rise in the country. People are educated to satisfy their sexual needs only after marriage and this has led them to find other wrong and illegal ways to satisfy them. Be it women, children, animals or men they are sexually abused.


In schools, girls are embarrassed about their gender and pointed out for provoking the other gender. They are also made to feel ashamed about periods.
Pornography is another medium which teenagers resort to for gathering information. It often vilifies sexist remarks against women. It can contain acts and disturbing visuals to such an extent that people try to replicate it in real life. This harms the other gender and themselves.
STDs are also spreading on a large scale because of the lack of awareness about the negative consequences of unprotected intercourse. 

All these problems would not have existed if sex education was provided from a young age. And when I talk about sex education from a very young age I don’t mean sexual intercourse. What I am referring to here are things like good touch, bad touch and respecting gender differences. Begin with small things that make a big difference. Keeping them away from false and half information is the only situation to these problems. Start teaching them from the right age and break the stereotypes before it causes some even more adverse situations.

WHAT IS MINDFULNESS AND HOW TO PRACTICE IT?

We all have heard the term “mindfulness” a lot of times. But many of us despite being aware of the term don’t know what mindfulness actually is. Some confuse it with meditation. But to your surprise, these two terms are pretty different.
So, what exactly is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a way of living which is achievable with a lot of practice. It is a process of connecting to your surroundings and being completely aware of them. Mindfulness is a practice which enables you to focus on being intensely aware of what you’re seeing and what you’re feeling, without interpretation and judgment.
In a sense, it lets you completely focus on “the now”. It is the acceptance of your thoughts and yourself.

Photo by Daniel Torobekov on Pexels.com

This might seem like a trivial thing and think to ourselves, “I’m completely aware of my surroundings. Maybe I was born mindful.” But no. The human mind tends to get distracted even by the smallest of things. We worry about the future so much that we forget to live in the present. Obsessive thoughts take us over and we leave our present and hop on to an imaginary time machine to travel back and forth in life. 

But one can’t go on travelling back and forth in time and feeling anxious. Here, mindfulness comes in as our saviour.

Now the question is how is mindfulness achieved and how to practice it? I’ve got you covered on this.
Mindfulness needs no equipment like candles, oils or mantras. Find a comfortable and peaceful place and meditate. Not your usual meditation where you may get distracted. But sit with a judgment-free mind, focus on your breathing and let the energy flow within you naturally. 

While sitting down, notice how your legs and arms move. Let your body loose, unclench your teeth, relax your muscles and let your gaze fall onto the ground.
While practising mindfulness, your mind may try to wander off in some distant land. Don’t panic and let it go for some but make sure to come back and focus on your breath. Notice how the air comes into your body and how it leaves. This wandering off may happen a few times but keep guiding your mind back to your breath. Remember this is a judgment-free zone. Give yourself a break and forget about all the worries and anxieties of the day for some time. Slowly, your body will start to feel light. Sit there for at least 10-15 minutes. When you think you are done lift your gaze and go on with your day but with more attentiveness.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

There are several other ways by which mindfulness can be achieved. The simplest one being, trying to stay attentive throughout the day. Noticing your actions, surroundings and movement of your body. Types of mindfulness practices include:

  • You can practice it while seating, walking, driving or even lying down.
  • Short breaks on our daily routines.
  • Combining it with physical activities like yoga.

Mindful meditation may look easy but it takes a lot of practice to be mindful in real sense. Keep practising and you will see the results soo. If you find it difficult to fit it into your schedule, you can download an app or can fix a particular time of the day. 

Something practised by thousands of people must come with a lot of benefits. And, it does. Mindfulness has several benefits which are visible in a short period of time. 

Photo by Elly Fairytale on Pexels.com

Practising it for 8 weeks has been said to be transformative in many forms. 

  • It helps reduce stress, anxiety, pain, depression, insomnia and high blood pressure. 
  • It is also good for our hearts and improves the immune system. 
  • It also increases your attention span, improves sleep and controls diabetes (can only be controlled to a certain level and not cured). 
  • It has also shown a positive impact on relationships and eating disorders.
  • Makes your mind judgment-free and makes us kinder and warmer.

You don’t need to practice it every day, it said that practising it for even 4 times a week can prove to be useful. 
Mindfulness is not just a practice but it is a way of living. It is not toxic, harmful or obscure. And I don’t say it based on faith. It has scientifically and by experienced demonstrators proven that mindfulness does bring a change in the way you live.
In this chaotic and uncertain world, it helps you deal with your problems innovatively. Another plus point? It requires no change in yourself, it brings out the best in us as human beings.
Mindfulness is a great way to collide two different worlds, i.e., our mind and the world into one.

Organic Food’s Growing Popularity

Organic food is the food produced by methods that cycle resources, promote ecological balance and conserve biodiversity. It is either entirely free of synthetic fertilizers or processed food made from organically produced raw materials.

Organic food is slowly becoming a part of the daily diet of hundreds of people around the world. This surge in the use of organic food became somewhere in the early 2000s because of the uncontrolled use of synthetic fertilizers. Synthetic fertilizers started affecting the health of people negatively. Thus, people started shifting to organic food. 

Initially, buying organic food was limited to fruits and vegetables. But today, people prefer almost all food products organic. Like tea, pulses, spices and even oilseeds.

With the introduction of organic foods in the market, people started realising the connection between diet, health and environment. If we consider the environmental perspective, the overuse of pesticides, fertilizers and overproduction have only had negative effects on the environment. It has affected biodiversity, drinking supplies and groundwater. 

India is well known for its organic heritage. Therefore, in India, the organic food market is rapidly growing every year. It has shown an upward trend of 20-22 per cent annually and some data show that about 1.5 million hectares of land area under organic farming. 

Organic food market continuously shows growth and is not expected to decline anytime soon. 

BENEFITS OF ORGANIC FOOD:

Organic foods come with a number of benefits which is why people are shifting to it. Organic food is chemical-free and grown with the help of manure or compost. The consumers of organic products have reported that organic food tastes much better than conventional food. 

Many animals are often fed with growth hormones and antibiotics which passes on to animal food products and further to human consumers of these products. Organic farming prohibits this practice. Animals feed outside in natural surroundings which makes the antibiotic-containing food ineffective in human beings.
Not only organic food but organic farming itself has many advantages. It has acted as a saviour of biodiversity. When humans were continuously exploiting the land to produce more products and the land and soil quality was degrading day by day, organic farming was the only last resort. It promotes the growth of natural varieties and prevents loss of species. It helps preserve the environment which leads to the protection of the wildlife as well. 

Organic farming despite having many benefits has one disadvantage which makes it inaccessible to many. The cost at which organic products are sold tends to be pretty high. Along with high costs, the output is very low because it takes a lot of time and effort to grow or make them.

Globally, the United States holds 40 per-cent of the global market revenue and dominates the organic food market. Europe stands on the second position and accounts for 33 per-cent of the total global revenue share globally.
In the Asia Pacific, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Japan and Korea are major markets for organic foods. 

All around the world, organic food is gaining popularity rapidly. It is mainly because people are becoming more health-conscious because of increasing health issues like heart attacks, obesity and strokes. In a few years, organic products will easily take over conventional food products. And the reasons are very simple and clear. Organic food is GMO-free, nutrient-rich, environment-friendly, negligible pesticides and fertilizers and no growth hormones.
The organic sector is continuously changing, thanks to the new certifications, policies and products which make them safe for the consumers.
But one should be well aware of which product to buy because many companies sell conventional products with the label of organic products. Consumers should stay informed thoroughly and buy only from certified and authentic suppliers.

WHERE IS JACK MA, THE CO-FOUNDER OF ALIBABA?

Jack Ma is the second richest person in China and the co-founder of the Alibaba Group, a multinational technology company.
He is also the ambassador of Chinese business globally, an investor and a philanthropist.  Forbes ranked him 21st in “world’s most powerful people” in 2019. His total net worth as of January 2021 was estimated to be $58.3 billion. He was also ranked among the “world’s most powerful people” in 2017 by Fortune. 

Jack Ma wanted more from his life and thus, in September 2019 he retired from Alibaba. He wanted to pursue educational work, environmental causes and philanthropy. He has actively supported and worked for underprivileged communities in China, Africa, Australia and the Middle East. 

Apart from being a businessman, Ma likes being in the spotlight. He made his acting debut in a short film called Gong Shou Dao, participated in a singing competition, presented a dance performance on Alibaba’s 18th anniversary, all in the year 2017.

Recently, he was also the judge of his reality show Africa’s Business Heroes. But was later replaced because of a “schedule conflict”.

But for the past few months, he has not been seen publicly. After his last public appearance in October, no one is familiar with his whereabouts. This happened after he criticised the Chinese government stating that they need to change now. 

After the news flouted and people started questioning Jack Ma’s disappearance, China’s official newspaper printed an article stating that he is currently “embracing supervision”. This post was, however, taken down soon after. 

Jack’s Ant Group was also suspended after this event. They were offering a $37 billion public offering last November. Alibaba, which was co-founded by him, is also under antitrust investigation. Although he has retired from the company, he still holds a considerable amount of power in the company. All these events happened after Ma pointed out the banking system of China calling them “pawnshop mentality”. 

Jack has since then not posted anything on his social media also. For someone who loves the spotlight and is extremely active publicly, this event seems a bit unusual.

But this isn’t the first event where a celebrity or a millionaire has gone missing from China. A pattern can be observed here. All the previously missing celebrities or businessmen also hit the Chinese government with their critics one time or the other.

In 2020, a Chinese actress suddenly went missing and later it was reported that she was imprisoned for three months. 

Another similar event happened with a Chinese scientist, He Jiankui. He disappeared and was reportedly under house arrest. 

A reporter who revealed about the origins of the Coronavirus has also been missing ever since. 

It is yet uncertain as to where Jack Ma is. His company continues to keep silent about his whereabouts. But patterns and the chronology of the events similar to this have been seen in the past as well. 

All we can do is wait and see how this turns out and if Jack was actually “embracing supervision” or was it some other deeper and darker reason.

US CAPITOL STORMED BY TRUMP SUPPORTERS

On Wednesday, the US Congress resumed the process of certifying Joe Biden’s presidential victory. But something very unusual and surprising happened and the session had to stop midway. Trump supporters violently invaded the US Capitol and created heavy chaos in Washington DC.  

The violent riots left four people dead and the Washington Mayor had to impose a curfew immediately beginning 6 pm on Wednesday. The curfew has now been extended for 15 days. 52 people have been arrested so far. 

A lot of senators who were to support the objection reversed their decision after the violent riot.

WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 06: Pro-Trump supporters storm the U.S. Capitol following a rally with President Donald Trump on January 6, 2021 in Washington, DC. Trump supporters gathered in the nation’s capital today to protest the ratification of President-elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory over President Trump in the 2020 election. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Getty Images)

The US Capitol has seen violence many times in the last 220 years but such an event has never been witnessed before. The mob forced its way past the majestic marble columns, disrupting the passage of power and desecrating the seat of the world’s greatest democracy.

The lawmakers were forced to flee the Capitol and resulted in the death of one woman. The Senate, however, resumed the process of certifying more than six hours after the attack.

Leaders from around the world condemned the act of supporters of President Donald Trump.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain tweeted, “disgraceful scenes in US Congress”. Britain has been a staunch ally of the US for generations. He further added, “The United States stands for democracy around the world and it is now vital that there should be a peaceful and orderly transfer of power.”

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas also tweeted, “Trump and his supporters should finally accept the decision of the American voters and stop trampling on democracy”. He added to it “contempt for democratic institutions has disastrous effects.”

The personal assistant of the President of Nigeria, Bashir Ahmed with a shrug emoji tweeted “The beauty of democracy?”. Nigeria and the US have seen several coups ever since independence.

“In this sad episode in the US, supporters of fascism showed their real face: anti-democratic and aggressive,’‘ tweeted Luis Roberto Barroso, Brazilian Supreme Court justice and the head of the country’s electoral court. He said he hoped “American society and institutions react with vigour to this threat to democracy.”

In a tweet, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he was distressed to see news about “rioting and violence” in Washington DC. “Orderly and peaceful transfer of power must continue,” PM Modi said. 

Venezuela, which is under U.S. sanctions, said the events in Washington show that the U.S. “is suffering what it has generated in other countries with its politics of aggression.”

“This is the widely anticipated outcome of Trumpism,” tweeted a retired Italian centre-left politician, Pierluigi Castagnetti. “And unfortunately it won’t end today. When politics is replaced by deception and fanaticism of the people the drift is inevitable.”

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his country was “deeply disturbed” by the events in the U.S., Canada’s closest ally and neighbour.

Former US President Barack Obama also condemned the violence, saying: “History will rightly remember today’s violence at the Capitol, incited by a sitting president who has continued to baselessly lie about the outcome of a lawful election, as a moment of great dishonour and shame for our nation.”

Apple CEO Tim Cook also said in a tweet, “Today marks a sad and shameful chapter in our nation’s history. Those responsible for this insurrection should be held to account, and we must complete the transition to President-elect Biden’s administration. It’s especially when they are challenged that our ideals matter most.”

President Trump and his supporters are receiving backlash and resistance from all around the world. President Trump might even be removed from office before his term ends in January. The discussion is still ongoing amongst the members of President Trump’s cabinet.

The discussion is focused on the 25th Amendment to the US Constitution, which allows for a president’s removal by the vice president and cabinet if he is judged “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”

The lawmakers said, “The president is unfit to remain in office for the next 14 days. Every second he retains the vast powers of the presidency is a threat to public order and national security.”

10 Books One Must Read At Least Once in their Life

Reading is a great way to keep your mind active. It gives you thousands of reasons to sit back and think about numerous things. It also helps you escape reality and travel to a different world.
 

Reading fills you with little pieces of knowledge that stay with you for a long time. You never know when something might come handy. You come across new words and they start slipping in your vocabulary. It makes you well-articulated and well-spoken. You read something and it gets stored in your brain. Thus it also helps to improve your memory.

There are countless benefits of reading and there are thousands of books to read. But some books are “evergreen”. They are written by some of the greatest literary minds of all times and are known as “classics”. You can pick them any day and they give you the same fresh feeling as it gave you the first time.

A list of 10 books that you must read at least once in a lifetime:

  1. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee:

This book was published in 1960 and appears in almost all the lists of the best books. It explores human behaviour and the collective conscience of the Deep South in the early 20th century. It also revolves around the themes of prejudice, hatred, hypocrisy, love and innocence. And is delicately woven with humour. Anyone who has read it counts it as one of their favourites. 

  1. Harry Potter Series, by J.K. Rowling:

Those who have read the Harry Potter books or have even watched the movie are still waiting for their Hogwarts letter, including me. J.K. Rowling takes you on an amazing journey filled with magic and mystery. She introduces you to the world you will never want to leave. You grow up with Harry in this 7 books series.

  1. The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkein:

Another series that takes you into the world of hobbits, dragons, monsters and gods. This book allows you to escape from reality and go on unimaginable adventures. The book revolves around the themes of fantasy, evil and innocence. This series comprises three books in total. 

  1. Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen:

Jane Austen is said to be one of the most famous writers in English Literature and Pride and Prejudice is one of her best works. It is a story of the courtship of two opposite characters in a world where manners and courtesy are of utmost importance. The book leaves you with the message that “love knows no barriers and finds its way”.

  1. The Diary of a Young Girl, by Anne Frank:

Almost everyone is aware of the story of Anne Frank during the German Holocaust. The Diary of a Young Girl is a raw account of her life as she hides from the Nazis. She teaches the readers a valuable lesson that we should keep believing that people are good at heart and situations to change. She wishes to change her life too. The book is spin-chilling and tear-jerking as it reveals how the Jews suffered at the hands of the Nazis.

  1. The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak:

The book is set in Germany during 1939 when the Nazis were ruling Germany and the Jews were being brutally killed. It revolves around a girl named Liesel and how she rescues books from the wrath of Nazi rule. The story also features an unusual friendship that is formed in the most unusual situation. Like The Diary of a Young Girl, this book also gives you a view of the cruel Nazi rule.

  1. The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien:

Another fantasy fiction by J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit was originally written as a short storybook for children. Later it was made into a long series of movies. It features the story of Bilbo Baggins and his journey to the Middle East to challenge a dragon. The book gives a strong message of bravery and takes you into a fantasy world just like the Lord of the Rings.

  1. Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott:

The story of four sisters, set in 19th century New England. Each sister has their own significant personality trait. The book gives you an account of their struggles and their flaws and how they turn into strong young women. The book is a pure joy to read.

  1. Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte:

Jane Eyre is the first prose fiction to focus on its protagonist’s moral and spiritual development. Jane Eyre is one of the strongest fictional heroines of all time. It is a story of a girl who fights social criticism in a society with a strong sense of Christian morality at its core. It depicts a strong, unbroken woman despite her troubled childhood. 

  1. The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini:

The story revolves around Amir and his journey to find his one true friend. He has to abandon him due to ethic and religious differences that existed in Kabul, Afghanistan. It also highlights the theme of guilt and redemption. It is a story of true friendship and atonement. The book has been awarded as the New York bestseller for two times in a row. 

These were some of the books which one should definitely read once in their life. These books never lose their essence and will surely blow your mind with their brilliant storylines.

Happy Reading!

Mala’s new achievement: MALALA YOUSAFZAI SCHOLARSHIP ACT FOR PAKISTAN

Malala Yousafzai is a living example of bravery and resilience. The 23-year-old is well known around the world for her work as an activist to empower women. She has not only worked for the women of Pakistan but everywhere around the world. She is a female educationist and is the youngest Nobel Peace Prize, winner. 

Being the daughter of an educationalist activist, Mala was always inspired by her father’s work. In 2009, she wrote her first blog about her life during Pakistani Taliban occupation in Swat for BBC Urdu. She gained fame through interviews in print and television and was nominated for the International Children’s Peace Prize at the age of 11-12 years. 

Malala was shot in the head by an assassin in the year 2009. She was immediately taken to the Rawalpindi Institute of Cardiology in a critical condition. After the incident, Malala received an international outpour of support. The act was ordered by the Pakistani Taliban and they openly threatened her with a second attempt at her assassination. After this incident, the Pakistani Taliban was internationally denounced by governments, human rights organisations and feminist groups. 

After recovering, she became a prominent activist for the right to education. She founded the Malala Fund in 2012 and co-authored I AM MALALA with Shiza Shahid. It became an international bestseller. At the age of 17, she became the youngest-ever Nobel Prize laureate.
Ever since then, she has continuously worked for the right to education for girls.

Adding to her latest achievements, the US Congress passed the Malala Yousafzai Scholarship Act on January 1, 2021. With the passing of this act, the number of scholarships available to Pakistani women will expand. It will enable them to receive higher education under merit and needs-based programs. 

The bill has been passed by the US  Senate and will now head to the White House for the US President, Donald Trump’s sign to turn into a law. The bill requires the US Agency for International Development to award at least 50% of scholarships a Pakistan based higher education scholarship program to Pakistani women, between 2020-2022. A range of academic disciplines and the current eligibility criteria have to be taken into consideration. 

Since 2010, the USAID has awarded more than 6000 scholarships to young women to receive higher education in Pakistan. The bill further expands this program. 

A petition was signed by more than 1,000,000 people calling on the government to enrol every boy and girl in primary education. The petition was under the name “United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education”.

She was featured as one of the most influential people globally for three years, 2013, 2014 and 2015. On her 16th birthday, the UN named the day as “Malala Day”. The same day she spoke at the UN to call for worldwide access to education. It was her first public appearance since the attack.  She has received immense respect and support from everyone.

She continues to be an inspiration for thousands of girls around the world. Malala is yet to achieve a lot and improve uncountable lives. The world has a lot to learn from her. Her selfless contributions are heart-touching and never-ending.

A BRIEF ABOUT YOGA AND ITS BENEFITS

The word “YOGA” gets derived from the Sanskrit word Yuj, meaning “union”. It is a group of physical, mental and spiritual practices or disciplines. The origin of yoga goes back to ancient India. It dates back to pre-Vedic Indian tradition. Its traces can be found in the record of the Indus Valley Civilization around 3000 BCE. The first mention of the word “yoga” was seen in the Katha Upanishads.


Yoga is an ancient practice that brings together the mind and the soul. Yoga consists of breathing exercises, meditation and poses designed to relax and reduce stress.

According to the traditional approach of yoga, its ultimate goal is to achieve “moksha” (liberation). The first Hindu teacher of yoga who actively advocated yoga in the western world was Swami Vivekanand. He travelled to Europe and the United States and encouraged people to learn about the benefits of yoga and practice it.

Photo by Elly Fairytale on Pexels.com


Yoga largely consists of asanas connected by flowing sequences known as vinyasas, accompanied by breathing exercises of pranayama. It usually ends with a period of relaxation and meditation.


Yoga has proven to be very beneficial for the entire body. People who practice yoga daily have noticed an immense change in their body and their lifestyle. It also helps in delaying ageing if the body parts, keeps you healthy and keeps unnecessary diseases away
Some of the benefits of yoga are:

  1. Helps relax:

Yoga relaxes your body and decreases stress. Studies have shown that it decreases the secretion of cortisol, the hormone responsible for stress. A three-month yoga program can lower the levels of stress, anxiety and depression. It helps you slow down breathing and focus your shift on the present. Yoga shifts your balance from the sympathetic nervous system to parasympathetic nervous system. The parasympathetic nervous system is calming and restorative.


2. Improves flexibility:


Most people practice yoga to improve their flexibility and balance. If you practice yoga regularly, you will notice an increase in your flexibility. You’ll be able to bend your body more easily. You’ll also notice that the pains and aches in joints start to disappear. Your body becomes muscles become loose. This enhances your flexibility, balance and posture


3. Improves heart health:


Yoga helps lower blood pressure. High blood pressure is the main reason behind heart attacks and stroke. It also helps slow the progression of heart diseases. Yoga lowers the resting heart rate, increases endurance and improve oxygen intake.


4. Improves sleep:


Practising yoga helps improve sleep quality. It relieves you from the hustle and chaos of life and sleeps soundly. You’ll be less tired, less stressed and less likely to have accidents. Studies have shown that yoga increases the secretion of melatonin. It is a hormone that regulates sleep and wakefulness.

Photo by Prasanth Inturi on Pexels.com


5. Promotes a healthy lifestyle:


It is advisable to move more and eat less. Yoga helps you do both. It helps you burn calories and the spiritual dimension helps you focus and become a conscious eater. It helps induce mindfulness which further helps in encouraging healthy eating behaviours.


6. Gives peace of mind:


With today’s lifestyle, many people suffer from stress. Stress can also cause many other health problems. Like migraines, insomnia, high blood pressure and heart attack. Yoga helps you quiet your mind. It will reduce your stress and also keep you safe from all the other diseases related to stress.

Photo by Chevanon Photography on Pexels.com


There are several other benefits of yoga. It has both mental and physical benefits. Some of the benefits are scientifically proven but some are.
Some other benefits of yoga are:
Encourages self-care
Improves immune system
Reduces inflammation
Builds awareness for transformation.


Inculcating the habit of practising yoga for one hour daily can significantly change the way you live. You’ll be happier, less stressed and peaceful.
But don’t do more than your body can accept. You’ll improve slowly but don’t rush into learning everything in one go. It can be risky and cause injury. Your body will learn and adapt with time.

NEW YEAR’S CELEBRATIONS AROUND THE WORLD

People around the world have been waiting for two things: the end of Covid-19 pandemic and the end of 2020. While the pandemic continues to stay, 2020 ended for good.


2020 proved to be a year like no other. The starting of the year saw the Australian forest fires, the death of Kobe Braynat and the breakout of a global pandemic. To top it off, the world was almost about to witness World War III. Luckily, that did not happen but the world came to a halt because of the coronavirus. People were forced to stay at home, some lost their jobs and many lost their loved ones. People named 2020 “The cursed year”.


New year celebrations are a sight to watch around the world. But this year the celebrations shifted to television only. The world watched the clock turn to 12 and the big celebrations but only from home.
We can say that the impact of the pandemic did not leave the new year celebrations alone as well.


Starting with the US, the new year celebration of Times Square, New York is said to be one of a kind. Everyone wishes to see it once in their lifetime. But this year only a handful of people were allowed to enter the Times Square. The frontline workers, first responders and their families were the only few people who saw the midnight ball drop. Celebrities performed through a televised event as usual.
Use of fireworks remained suspended in the cities of San Francisco and Las Vegas.


Australia witnesses new year first around the world. It was also under strict restrictions on movements, gatherings and internal borders. Yet, the fireworks over the Opera House and Harbour Bridge went on like every year.
Melbourne imposed harsh restrictions and cancelled the fireworks altogether.


Germany is under a lockdown till January 10. The government has banned the sale of fireworks and has limited the number of people in public gatherings.


China, which is believed to be the birthplace of the coronavirus saw a scaled-down new year’s celebration. The light show in Beijing was also cancelled. Wuhan however, saw a grand celebration where thousands of people gathered to release balloons in the air.


Russia also complied with the coronavirus restrictions and banned the celebrations. Yet, the fireworks at the Red Square happened like every year. On Thursday, the bars, restaurants and clubs remained closed. They are set to reopen on Friday as Russia starts weeklong festivities that span over Orthodox Christmas.


Italy imposed an 8:00 pm curfew. Bars, restaurants and clubs remained closed.
People stayed at home and continued closed celebrations.


Ireland imposed the highest level of restrictions and banned all celebrations. Household visits were cancelled, travel was limited to 5kms. All the non-essential shops remained closed as well.


England is currently tackling the new coronavirus variant. No celebrations were seen in London. The traditional London Eye celebration shifted to various locations across London.


Hong Kong continued to celebrate the new year indoors for the second year. Earlier it was due to security reasons but this time it was due to coronavirus.
Japan also cancelled the traditional new year’s celebrations.
The South Korea government banned visit to the Gangneung beach where people gather to witness the year’s first sunrise.

In India, Delhi announced a night curfew and restricted public gathering to five people. In Maharashtra, clubs, restaurants and hotels closed at 11 pm. No celebratory events or gatherings were allowed.


The fear of the coronavirus still looms over people. It could be clearly seen all around the world. Even though the celebrations shifted indoors, enthusiasm was seen in people. Some celebrated with families while some were away from home. Everyone prayed that 2021 makes things better around the globe.


People cheered and hoped 2021 brings happiness throughout the year.
I hope 2021 brings lots of happiness to you all. May you achieve all your goals and fulfil all your dreams.
Wishing everyone a very happy new year!

HOW TO ACE YOUR INTERVIEW

Those who have given an interview in the past know how difficult it can be sometimes to ace an interview. Not everyone is born with confidence to impress someone with the first sentence they say. Some people like myself need a little help, research and motivation to prepare for the big moment. 

I will be sharing some of the tips that I came across on the internet, below. They might prove beneficial to you as well to pass your interview with flying colours. 

  1. Basic Research:

The first step is to run in-depth research about the organisation/ company you are applying to. You should be well aware of their background, values and culture. You should also know the latest news about the company. Checking the company’s social media accounts can also give you a lot of information. The interviewer might ask you questions like “when was the company formed?” or “how many divisions does the company have?”. You should be prepared with the answers to such questions. It will reflect your seriousness for the job.

  1. Review the job description:

Read the job description again and see if you are fit for the job or not. See if your experience, skills and accomplishments are enough for the job. You can also look into the hiring process of the company and prepare accordingly. Also, look into your qualifications and goals. You can tell the interviewer how your goals align with the company’s goals. 

  1. Practice answering questions:

Some of the questions are asked in almost all the interviews. Like “tell us about yourself” is the most common question. You should be well prepared for such questions. Don’t memorize the answers but do make bullet points. It will help you remember answers better and make it look natural. Your main focus should be on the company, the position, qualifications and goals. Stand in front of the mirror and practice these questions until your nervousness goes away.

  1. Crisp dressing: 

Believe it or not but dressing up nice gives you a different kind of confidence. You should always wear something formal or something that’s not inappropriate. It makes a good first impression on the interviewer as you walk in. Also, make sure your footwear is neat and clean. The best pick for an interview is usually pants and a formal shirt or a business suit. 

  1. Prepare questions to ask:

The best way to show your interest in the job is to ask the interviewer a few questions here and there. You can also reevaluate if the company’s goals, working environment and company culture are right for you. Prepare some questions that dig deeper into the company. This will show that you have done your homework.

  1. Keep the CV and other documents organised:

Keep your documents ready beforehand. This will not create chaos on the day of the interview. Also, keeping these things ready will reduce your burden a little and make you less nervous. A well-organised file speaks a lot about your work ethics to your interviewer. 

  1. Pay attention to your soft skills:

Your posture, handshake and attentiveness say a lot about your personality. Do not get aggressive during the interview and keep your volume low. Fiddling with your pen, tie or file can show the lack of confidence. Walk with confidence and try not to fiddle. Lastly, maintain eye-contact and a smile. It reflects a positive nature. 

Keeping in mind these few tips can make a huge difference during your interview. In the end, all that actually matters is your confidence. 

VERONIKA DECIDES TO DIE: BOOK REVIEW

“Veronika Decides to Die” gives you an impression the book is depressing, right? I can assure you it isn’t.

Paulo Coelho, the best selling Brazillian author brings another beautifully woven story. It is bound to make you sad and leave you happy by the end. The story does begin with a depressing tone but takes a twist no one expects.


The story revolves around a 24- year-old girl, Veronika. Veronika lives in Ljubljana, Slovenia and has everything one asks for in life. She is beautiful, has loving parents, a lover and a job. But a feeling of fear that everything will go downhill for her after 24 takes over her mind. So, one evening she sits near her window with a bottle of painkillers. As she starts talking one pill at a time, she takes a look at all the things outside which she sees every day. Slowly, she started getting sleepy but death had not yet come.


The plan to kill herself fails and she woke up to find herself in a mental hospital, Villette. The doctor tells her that her attempt at suicide had failed and her heart had taken the toll of it. She finds out that she has a week only to live. Her world had taken an unexpected turn.


Coelho then goes on to explain how he came to know about Veronika’s story. He relates to her story because his parents also admitted him into a mental institution for his “unusual behaviour”. But Coelho appears in the story for a brief moment only.


Coming back to Veronika, shocked and resistant to live in Villette she tries to find a way out of there. But she fails at this too. Reluctantly she becomes friend with Mari, who suffers from panic attacks. Later she claims that she might have fallen in love with Eduard, a schizophrenic. Somehow she slowly gave in and accepted her reality. She decided to live the last few days of her life to the fullest.


Dr Igor, one of the main characters of the stories gives Veronika series of shocks to test his medical theory. He wants to prove through his experiment that he can shock someone into wanting to live again by convincing them that their death is around the corner. That is exactly what he did with Veronika.


Veronika finds herself on a journey to discover herself before she dies. She rediscovers her passion for piano. She played the piano every evening that lifted the spirits of many at Villette. She suffered a heart-attacks throughout the week, she found her desire to live again.


Coelho, makes you rethink your decisions and your routines. Just like all his other books, this book also successfully connects with its readers. Like Veronika, all of us have had moments in our life where we thought the only way out is to die. Paulo gives his readers a new hope to live. You will reevaluate your reasons to continue living. He leaves a hidden message that there a number of reasons in this world to live and suicide is not an option. A moment can change your life.


I recommend this book to everyone especially the people who have been suicidal some time in life. Veronika decides to Die is not a long read. The stories winds up in around 200 pages. By the end of the book, it will leave its readers happy to be alive. Paulo focuses on the fact that even the slightest of change in perspective can make a broken person stronger.

WHAT IS SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING?

 

Social Media Marketing is the use of social media platforms and websites to promote a product or service. Earlier, e-marketing and digital marketing were in vogue . But today, the term Social Media Marketing is gaining recognition. It connects you with your audience and helps in building your brand, increases sales and drives website traffic. It allows brands to establish their social media “tone” and “culture” and manage marketing campaign. 

The major social media platforms used are: Facebook, Twitter, Pintrest, Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube.

Through Social Media Marketing, companies keep in touch with individual followers. This helps instil loyalty into followers and potential customers. The use of new semantic analysis technology helps marketers detect buying signals. This includes content shared by people and questions posted.  

Below is a step by step guide you can use to enhance you social media presence:

  1. SETTING GOALS:

You should know what you want out of social media. Some may use social media for brand awareness whereas some may use it to drive website traffic. You should set realistic social media goals. To begin with, you should set small and achievable goals for yourself. This will scale your social media efforts and will be reasonable and affordable. 

You should pick out the social media platforms where your target audience is more. After creating a good social media presence on some platforms, you can expand it on other platforms as well. 

Your current social media marketing plan doesn’t have to be your plan forever. You can bring changes to it according to how your posts perform.

  1. PLANNING AND PUBLISHING:

Close to three billion people use the internet daily. In the initial stages, your main aim is being consistent on social media. All you’ve got to do is post pictures, videos or a blog post daily. This will bring you brand in the eyes of future customers. You need to plan your content beforehand and publish it at the right time. Also, being aware of your target audience is a must. Also, where does your target audience resides. A variety of social media scheduling tools allow you to publish your content on your preferred time.This saves your time and allows you to reach your audience when they engage with your content.

  1. ENGAGEMENT:

Engagement means that customers and stakeholders are active participants rather than passive. Engagement on social media can be divided into two parts: proactive and reactive conversations. Proactive means regularly posting content like photos and videos. Reactive conversations involve commenting and engaging. People might talk about your brand without your knowledge. So you will want to track conversations about your brand. But it is impossible to check all the notifications. Instead you can use a social media listening and engagement tool. It allows you to see all the mentions and messages throughout different platforms. It also enables you to see the posts that didn’t tag your business’s social media profile.

  1. ANALYTICS:

You will want to know how well your posts are doing in promoting and reaching out to people. You need to analyse the performance of your one post over the other. This will help you to fine tune your content for more engagement. Tracking the metrics of your content in real time will enable you to make small changes. It will save you from sweeping your entire strategy for a new one. You can be reactive in the short term to get the most out of your running campaign. Later,  proactively use these takeaways to inform your next major strategy. 

  1. ADVERTISING:

Promotion through social media ads is one way to promote your brand. It helps you reach greater audiences, even the people who don’t follow you. You can create ads according to your target audience. You can also specify the demographics, interests, etc. Social media advertising tools enable you to make bulk changes, automate processes and optimise ads.

Social media platforms are evolving everyday. You see some update almost everyday on the platforms you use. This means that social media marketing is also evolving everyday. Going with the current trends is one way of improving your content. People like to follow brands which post content with reference to the current trends. Because most of the users of social media consists of GenZs and millennials, it’s best to target them as your audience.

MENSTRUATION: A TABOO IN 21ST CENTURY

Menstruation marks the onset of adolescence in girls. A girl’s body undergoes several changes during this phase. Menarche or the first menstruation usually begins between the age of 11-15 years. It also embarks the beginning of maturity of the female reproductive organs. It is the phenomenon in which the lining of the uterus, resulting in bleeding from the vagina. Menstruation is a beautiful natural process in a woman’s life. Yet, many taboos still revolve around it. These are because of inaccurate, inadequate or incomplete knowledge about menstruation. It is always surrounded by secrecy and myths in many societies. Will we ever get over these taboos? Let us take a glance at the situation in India.

MYTHS RELATED TO MENSTRUATION

In India, taboos related to menstruation still prevail at a large scale. Even in 2020, girls aren’t allowed to talk about periods. They cannot mention it not only in front of males but in front of anyone. Most of the students get introduced to the phenomena of menstruation in class 8. The silence in the class and the disgust on the faces of students tells us a lot about the situation in our country.

Menstruation is still considered as dirty and impure. Cultural norms, parental influence, personal- preference and socio-economic pressures affect menstrual hygiene practices. 

 This social stigma is especially prominent in rural areas. Women are not permitted to engage in household works and not allowed to enter the kitchen. They are not allowed to pray and enter temples when on periods. In Hindu belief, it is always believed that a woman must be “purified” before returning to her daily chores. Some believe,     consuming curd, tamarind and pickles will disturb the menstrual flow. Some even view it as a disease and isolate those undergoing it. Some girls even to believe that exercising during periods may result in excess bleeding. There seems to be no logic and scientific reasoning behind the same. In reality, doctors say that exercising may relieve bloating and cramps. It also releases serotonin, making one feel happy. These taboos have led girls to associate their bodies with a curse and impure.

IMPACT OF MENSTRUATION MYTHS ON A WOMAN’S LIFE

The prevalence of these taboos have affected women’s emotional and mental state. Not only this but it also affects their lifestyle and health. Over 23% of girls drop out of school when they begin menstruating, in India. The main reason behind this is lack of clean toilets in school and access to sanitary products. 71% are unaware of periods until they get it themselves. Parents rarely prepare their daughters for something is set to happen. This unpreparedness leads to anxiety and fear. According to a study, only 35% of women use sanitary pads in India. The rest are dependent on old rags, ash, mud, soil and leaves. From an early stage in life, girls learn to tolerate mental and physical pain. This makes it difficult for them to reach out to others for help during periods. These unhealthy menstruation practices have a direct impact on reproductive health. Further deteriorating their health in the long run.

POSSIBLE STRATEGIES TO COMBAT THESE MYTHS

First and foremost, educating the girls from the very beginning is very important. These taboos still exist mainly because of lack of education. Awareness needs to be raised not only among girls but each human being. Sanitary products are sold at prices that are not affordable to everyone. Low-cost sanitary pads can be made and sold locally, especially in rural and slum areas. The National Rural Health Mission aims to provide low-cost sanitary pads to 1.5 crore adolescent girls. This scheme is yet in its pilot phase and needs more implementation. Men also need to be made aware of menstruation. They need to be sensitive about these issues and help to combat the disbeliefs. It is important for them to understand it and support all the women in their lives. Health workers and Anganwadi workers should be sensitised and involved in spreading awareness. Arunachalam Muruganantham, the real Padman of India is one such person who challenged the stereotypes. He not only gave women the opportunity to become entrepreneurs but also helped change the social outlook. Women and girls need to understand that they have the power to procreate because of this virtue. 

No girl or women should feel ashamed of bleeding every month. In the 21st century, where women are reaching new heights, they should not be pulled down because of this natural phenomenon. Today we talk about women empowerment but make women feel insecure about their bodies. Social media is accessible to almost everyone. This platform can help in raising awareness and showing support. It’s high time we stop judging and discriminating and start engaging in meaningful conversations about periods. Next time you hear the word “period”, don’t feel uncomfortable and talk about it openly. Starting to bring a change now will only help the generations to come.