Pollution causes blindness

Air pollution is a global malice. It destabilzes the climate, punishes our lungs and now according to a new study could possibly affect our eye sight or might make you blind.

The research was published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology, it analysed 115,000 participants over 14 years. At the start of the study in 2006, these people have no eye problems but in the latest medical examination , 1,286 of them reported A.M.D (Age related Macular Degeneration). It is the leading cause of blindness among the people aged 50+ in rich nations. There are 200 million people living with this condition.

There appears to be a link between A.M.D and air pollution. People exposed to fine particulate matter are more vulnerable to A.M.D, nearly 8% vulnerable and this isn’t from industry level exposure. Even relatively low level of air pollution could be triggering A.M.D.

Effect on eye sight

The eyes have particularly high flow of blood. This leaves them vulnerable fine particles that flow through the body. It’s important to note that this study is observational. It cannot categorically establish a link between air pollution and A.M.D. However there has been similar study elsewhere with the same results. And the link between smoking and A.M.D has always been known.

The threat from air pollution has always been clear, but new studies are revealing more dimensions of this threat.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that air pollution contributes to 7 Million deaths annually. This leaves us with another cause of concern, toxic air could leave you blind.

SCHOOL SYSTEM IN INDIA

The Indian education system has made significant progress in recent years to ensure that educational opportunities are available to all segments of society. According to the 2009 Right to Education Act, schooling is free and compulsory for all children from the ages of 6 to 14. However, improvements are slow being implemented and disadvantaged groups may still not have adequate access to education. A high value is placed on education, as it ensures a stable future. All parents want their children to attend the best private English schools, but places are limited. The admission process is therefore highly competitive. Most Indian schools have a strong focus on academic subjects, with little scope for creativity and few or no extra-curricular activities. Traditional schooling methods tend to emphasize rote learning and memorization, rather than encouraging independent or creative thinking. There is a strong focus on examinations from an early age. This makes the atmosphere at Indian schools competitive. Many expats prefer to send their children to international schools. Others choose a more progressive Indian school that is less traditional in its teaching style.

The Education System

The Indian education system is structured as follows:

  • Pre-school: Education at this level is not compulsory. The Montessori system is especially popular at the pre-school level
  • Private playschools: Catering for children between the ages of 18 months and three
  • Kindergarten: This is divided into lower kindergarten (for three- to four-year-olds) and upper kindergarten (for four- to five-year-olds)
  • Primary school: First to fifth standard/class/grade (for six- to ten-year-olds)
  • Middle school: Fifth to eighth standard/class/grade (for 11- to 14-year-olds)
  • Secondary school: Ninth and tenth standard/class/grade (for 14- to 16-year-olds)
  • Higher secondary or pre-university: 11th and 12th standard/class/grade (for 16- to 17-year-olds). This is when students choose an academic area on which to focus
  • Undergraduate: A BA is a three-year degree. Specialised courses such as medicine and engineering can be longer
  • Postgraduate: A one-year course

Types of Schools

  • Public/government schools: Most schools in India are funded and run by the government. However, the public education system faces serious challenges including a lack of adequate infrastructure, insufficient funding, a shortage of staff and scarce facilities
  • Private schools: Since many government schools do not provide adequate education, Indian parents aspire to send their children to a private school. Some expats choose to send their children to private Indian schools
  • International schools: There are international schools in all major cities. They are attended by expat and Indian children
  • National open schools: Provide education up to the higher secondary level for children whose schooling has been interrupted and have been unable to complete formal education
  • Special-needs schools: Provide non-formal education and vocational training to children with disabilities

Curricula Systems

There are different systems depending on which level of government or academic organization sets the curriculum and standards for examinations. Schools are affiliated to one of these “boards”.

  • State government boards: Each state government has a board that sets the syllabus and key examinations
  • Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE): This is the most common curriculum in secondary schools. Standards are set by the national government for the syllabus and examinations for classes 9 to 12. There is a strong emphasis on math’s and science under this system
  • Council of Indian School Certificate Examination (CISCE): This is more commonly known as the Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE). The syllabus and exams are set by the CISCE, which is a private body. The subjects are more diverse and equal importance is given to arts, languages and sciences.
  • International Baccalaureate (IB): The curriculum is set by this non-profit educational foundation, which is recognized all over the world. It features a more innovative syllabus that focuses on all-round development rather than just academic subjects. Many international schools follow this curriculum. To find  schools offering the International Baccalaureate curriculum.
  • Cambridge IGCSE: Many international schools also offer the international Cambridge curriculum for 14- to 16-year-olds. The focus is on developing students’ skills in creative thinking and problem solving. For a list of schools in India following the Cambridge curriculum

For more background information, The British Council have published a detailed overview of the Indian School Education System

Fees and Enrolling at a School

As competition for places in good schools is high, parents must start the admission process at least six months prior to the start of the school year in June. An admission interview and/or exam is often required, even at the pre-school level. In addition, some schools admit students based on a list of preferential criteria such as place of residence, a sibling who is already enrolled at the school or a parent who is an alumnus. The documents required for admission include:

  • Application form and fee
  • The child’s birth certificate
  • Proof of residence (utility bill)
  • Report cards of previous school years (if applicable)

Annual fees can vary from Rs25,000 to Rs200,000 at the elite private schools. In addition to fees, a donation to the school is also usually expected, which can range from Rs50,000 to Rs100,000.

The ruthless approach of private institutes.

Right to education a right that is just on the paper. The pandemic situation makes access to education more challenging. The expensive fees of institutes, colleges, and tuition teachers along with the cost of digital gadgets. Make it a dream for the unprivileged child. Along with expensive gadgets, the additional cost of the internet is a matter of concern. This all thing make together cost of education very expensive. That is not affordable for all. The Pandemic hit makes our environment full of grief. Many lost their loved ones as well as earning hands. The question is in that situation how an innocent child pays for the education expenses. the answer is simple. The unprivileged child eventually drops out of school. People have to deal with financial pressure and subsequent anxiety. The pandemic has financially impacted the Indian middle and upper-middle class. Also many lost their jobs during the covid19 hit. The savings are diverted towards the needs. The reduction in earnings with the additional monthly cost of electricity, rent, and other bills make education cost impracticable.

Even during this time that certain private colleges are charging mercilessly an expensive amount of fees. This has put enormous pressure on families that sometimes have only one earning member per family. OR those who lost only earning members of the family. They have continued with their regular scheme of fees without issuing even the slightest bit of deduction. Even the government is not supporting the pitty family;
Even though government gives the judgment that Colleges should not charge more than the students’ tuition fees because they practically have online-only classes. Many students think it is not justified to charge students for the facilities they are no costs such as the library, sports grounds, canteen, etc. Some colleges have given ridiculous explanations about electricity bills, infrastructural cost and maintenance fees. But on the ground private institution didn’t care about this judgment and continue to charge whole fees from the students.
The colleges even ruthlessly pressuring the students and the parents to pay the semester fees on time, which would result in serious consequences if not paid. Private colleges are still looking at their profit margin even during a pandemic. The second wave hit more badly than the first wave. half of the population is covid positive. and admitted to the hospital looking for the medicine, oxygen cylinder, and ICU wards. The grief situation as well as the financial expense in the medical treatment. Given the scarcity of beds, private hospitals are charging a huge amount to the patients’ families. They have no option but to comply. The medical expenses are an additional burden that they have to bear. The bills keep adding and resulted in borrowing .and then never adding a circle of depth began. In such a sad situation how can a student pay his fees?

The students not only have to give compulsory examinations but they also have to pay with the financial expenses. Owing to this expense, students in the middle and lower strata of society are thinking to drop out the college. They are taking up whatever odd jobs they can get with little pay to support their family. Many of them had plans to pursue degrees post-graduation, but they have no option but to give up given the circumstances. In certain families with more than two children, it is becoming an increasing burden for the earning member to keep up with the rising expenses.

Lack of income source, lack of money, and diversion of savings towards basic needs as well as medical expenditures are some of the reasons stated by students facing such a crisis. Even authorities are not assisting the common people. Government is silent on this issue. That’s the reason many students give theatre life as being hopeless by committing suicide. Students want the college to either waive off the fees or provide them with some aid or assistance. The absolute lack of understanding for students has been reflected by these colleges. The mental fatigue and pain caused by this constant pressure are harmful to the well-being of students and parents as well.
It is unfair on the part of private colleges to seek their profits during the pandemic situation. Instead of charging such a high amount, they should either waive it off for students going through a financial crisis or charge them just the tuition fee. The students are already facing mental pressure and anxiety. There is a lack of accessibility to online education existing already. Some have had to purchase laptops, good mobile sets, and costly data packs to attend classes. To assume that everyone’s financial condition will remain unaffected because they belong to a privileged background is wrong and fallacious.
Some colleges are giving excuses that they have to pay to there teachers. Therefore they have to ask for money. But it is not convincing enough for the students who have time and again asked for a breakup of the fee structure. The students are helpless at this point. Even after approaching multiple authorities, they have not received a helpful solution. We can help these needy students through our small contribution. We common people should assist those who are in need.

The complex paradigm of streams.

“Now what?”This question every student encounter in life after completing school. A career plan is the most significant and difficult question of life. Our whole life depends on this small question. Sometimes we choose our path and sometimes our society decides for us. 

The question  “What do I want to do in life?” is hard to answer.

It is tough for a school student to find their path at such a young age, because of the complicated model of ‘streams’. Studying science means you are limited to the medical and the engineering line. Studying commerce means being captured in chartered accountancy, banking, and finance and learning humanities imply that I must choose to become a lawyer or journalist.

The problem is the high competition within society The tragic fact is that we can never come back from this model of education, studies, and streams. we don’t have the right to choose subjects that are a combination of different streams. The reason streams are a challenge for us is that they directly affect our careers. Choosing a career is choosing life. As a career is related to financial independence. The question became more significant. every parent expects from there child to pursue a career that has the reputation, high earning prospect, and quite popular in society. Boys, in particular, are supposed to choose a career that can support their families financially one day. Today passion and happiness don’t matter when it comes to a career. The thing that matters for society is the reputation of the career. For society, boys should not go for teaching jobs, fashion designing and cooking are something that society doesn’t consider ideal jobs. some jobs are called ‘feminine jobs’ not meant for boys. Like cooking is related to females. Some jobs get undermined like fashion designing is compared to tailoring.

Students’ choices are also impacted badly by the stereotypes and repercussions. and they have to choose paths unwillingly as per society’s concern. Even though we are heading towards an impartial society, such differences prevail in our society. The ‘pay scale’ affects the choice of career. Women are still paid less and the gender pay gap continues to widen. 

Lack of awareness of new opportunities is a major challenge that school students face. We are not aware of the options beyond the ‘visible careers’. Visible careers are those careers that we see in everyday life, such as doctors, teachers, engineers, journalists, politicians, and businessmen. We lack knowledge about other options we have. There is a world beyond these visible careers: such as being a therapist, an urban planner, a singer, a beautician, a blogger.

so many jobs are available now because of the internet. such jobs can provide a great opportunity to the newcomer. Like social media marketing, a YouTuber, a blogger, a digital marketer. But the problem is students don’t have access to and knowledge of this career.

 Your career should be based on your strengths. The best choice of career comes from one’s passions and hobbies. Your career should inspire you and be the reason for your existence. It is you who can decide your career, not others. and being yourself and the following passion makes you happier.

This is the #1 reason that is stopping you from putting your best efforts into studying

“Effort is the Key to Unlocking Our Potential.”
Our efforts can be hampered because of Distractions.

Distractions

Distractions can really hamper the ability to study properly.

There can be various reasons why someone is distracted. Finding the root cause is an important step because then we can come up with a solution for it. Some of the factors which can lead to distraction are:

• Music – Loud Music which is meant to distract your mind should definitely be avoided while studying as it can really affect your concentration.

• Phone/Tabs – These gadgets are the biggest problems in today’s era and are the root cause of distraction for most of us. It destroys your productivity and takes you’re your attention towards studying.

• Thoughts – Most of us are deeply focused on our thoughts instead of actually studying. Even if you’re reading your textbook, a thought can easily zone you out of studying.

• No motivation – Finding motivation in today’s fast-paced competitive world is extremely difficult.

• Friends – Your company you surround yourself with can make you or break you. Some friends exist to just distract you from your dreams.

• Games – Games can get overwhelming and can be extremely addictive.

• Movies and TV – In today’s era of OTT platforms, it has become a trend to binge-watch all the episodes of series in a go. Movies too are easily accessible.

Tips to Avoid Distractions:

• Brain Training
Training the brain can make a significant difference in avoiding distractions. The ABC technique has helped the majority of people and it has been proved to avoid distractions.
A – Awareness – Recognize your distraction.
B – Breathe deeply – Slow down, and think about what can be done to avoid the distractions.
C – Choose – The distraction can be dealt with in this step – either by being responsive to it or completely avoiding it.

• Meditation – Meditating can help to clear your thoughts, which in turn can help to be less distracted.

• Turn off loud music – it might be fun, but it can really distract your focus. Instead, use your headphones to switch on some calming study music which will increase your focus and cut down any external noise.

• Get organized with a to-do list.

• Switch off your phone, if that is not possible then use apps which block you from accessing distractive applications, use silent mode/DND, do not keep many tabs open. Switch off any other gadget distracting you.

• Break the overwhelming ocean of syllabus to study into small parts which can be easily achieved.

• Study in a clean, suitable area. Organize your space well. Do not study where you sleep – studying in your bed can lead to distracting yourself – to avoid that – avoid studying where you sleep.

• Don’t overburden yourself – focus on one task at a time as multitasking can do more harm than good.

• Reward yourself when you do not get distracted.

• Have a routine and schedule your distractions.

• Communicate that you are getting distracted – to the people who are distracting you.

• Take a break if necessary. However, stop procrastinating. “Do the work. Everyone wants to be successful, but nobody wants to do the work.”

• Sometimes things are not in your control – accept it.

Conclusion

Distractions can be intimidating but they can be fully avoided using certain methods.
Stop making excuses, have a healthy lifestyle, do not take stress, organize and clean your room, have discipline, make yourself accountable, and set a goal as these factors can help diminish distractions completely – you will definitely avoid distractions if you follow these as well.
Distractions can make you happy in the short term, but for long-term success, you need to study and work hard to achieve those big goals.

HOW TO STUDY AMIDST PANDEMIC

“Victory comes from finding
opportunities in problems.”

Do you prefer to study at home? We millennials have an inherent ability to sneakily use social media during classes, whether in the classroom or online. During our lectures, we know how to eat, sleep, and chat, and that tradition will continue online as well.

But, by the end of the day, don’t we get to do anything useful? It may be navigating congested roads in the rain, maintaining positive social relationships, or engaging in practical learning. During this online process, we will miss out on all of that. So, in such a situation, how does one become productive? It all comes down to self-control, in my opinion. Nobody is pressuring us to read, study, or do something productive; there is no pressure, and we have complete control of how we spend our time.

Which is better: online or in a classroom? Since it is much more receptive and engrossing, the solution is a classroom environment. Learning online, on the other hand, has its advantages. With more spare time on our side, we become more productive time managers. Having said that, I am aware that most of us fall victim to the vicious cycle of procrastination, and to combat this, I have begun to use the Pomodoro technique, which appears to be successful. It divides work into 25-minute chunks, with a 5-minute leisure break in between and a 20-minute reward break after 2 hours or so. It assists me in maintaining a healthy work-life balance. Nobody knows how our educational environment can shift in the coming months, so we must make the most of the time we have and learn some useful skills while we’re at it.

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.

Students and Stress

In the exam hall or before the exams everybody feels the butterflies flying in the stomach. This is how we experience stress during examinations.

What is stress?

Stress is the physical and mental response of the body to demand made upon it. It is the result of our reaction to outside events. Stress is an outcome of:

  1. Examinations and surprise tests. We get stressed during our examinations. Most of the time we get nervous we don’t know the answer to some questions. Our hands start sweating and our mind blanks out at that time.
  2. When we don’t complete a particular assignment at the given time, we panic because of the little time left with us. We cannot give our best at this point of time.
  3. Returning to studies after a long break also is one reason for stress in students. We forget many topics that we had previously learned and read.
  4. Because of poor time management many students suffer from a great loss. Sometimes they study very much, sometimes they play too much or sometimes they spend most of their day on screens.
  5. Various problems at home also gives us a lot of stress. We cannot focus on studies or any other work. The fights between parents impacts a child in a negative manner.
  6. Noise pollution is also a cause of stress. Students are not able to relax while listening to continuous sounds coming from a party, construction site and neighbourhood.

Types of stress

  • Eustress – It is the positive cognitive response to stress that is healthy, or gives one a feeling of fulfillment or other positive feelings. The goal is not too far out of reach but is still slightly more than one can handle. This fosters challenge and motivation since the goal is in sight. The function of challenge is to motivate a person toward improvement and a goal.  Eustress is indicated by hope and active engagement.
  • Distress – A range of symptoms and experiences of a person’s internal life that are commonly held to be troubling, confusing or out of the ordinary. Mental distress can potentially lead to a change of behavior, affect a person’s emotions in a negative way, and affect their relationships with the people around them. Certain traumatic life experiences such as: stress, lack of sleep, use of drugs or alcohol, assault, abuse or accidents can induce mental distress. This type of stress is negative and can deplete or destroy the energy for life.

How does stress affect us?

It increases our heart rate and muscle tension and causes headache, jaw ache, insomnia. It causes many diseases like asthma, hyperactivity, etc and the digestion slows causing ‘butterflies’ in stomach effect. It mentally affects us more. We start thinking negatively. it slows decision making ability and stunts the problem solving skills. There is a decrease in our concentration and focus. We often start forgetting about many things. We experience loneliness and worry about the future or the past. Increase intake of alcohol, cigarettes and caffeine to relax. We tend to isolate ourselves from our family members, friends and neighbours. We feel utterly unmotivated and lose our sense of humor.

We should not let stress affect us immensely. We should cope up with stress. Talking to anyone about our mental health can help. There are many methods to prevent stress which I will discuss in the next article.