How to manage studies and work life as a student?

Life has seen a tremendous change in the past two years. Something that couldn’t even be imagined happened so suddenly within a fraction of a second, completely changing human life. No doubt the Covid-19 lead us more closer to the digital and techno world.

Not only working professionals but also students and non-professional individuals started adapting to the techno era. Slowly and gradually, laptops and mobiles have taken up a huge space in our lives with time and pace.

Especially as a student, these electronics have become a necessity as this is the only source to take the education further. Even students have taken up their responsibilities to upgrade themselves and level up their skills. Along with studies, they are now working individuals too. Many of them are either working interns and managing their studies or working upon their start-up along with studies.

At times managing both of them in a single go becomes difficult, and students feel stressed. This tends to reduce the working capacity mentally as well as physically. To avoid mental breakdowns and get rid of stressful situations, here are a few tips and tricks that will benefit the students. This will not only help them to balance their work-life and studies simultaneously but also help them to level up their productivity.

1) Exercise – Regular exercise, even if practiced daily for 20 minutes, will totally help get energized and boost their minds.
2) You can practice meditation and journaling. These are the proven methods to keep yourself cool and calm.
3) Take short walks in the sun. Studies show that Vitamin D increases a positive and focused mood.
4) Laugh, smile, and spend time with family and friends.
5) Take breaks – A whole day just work will reduce your creativity. Thus take short naps and breaks in between.
6) Practice self-talk and self discussion. Speak positive affirmations to yourself- “this too shall pass” or “I can handle this.”
7) Ask for help – The most underrated yet important thing that students ignore is asking for help. They feel this might make them feel inferior or small, they will be made fun of, and people will laugh at them if they approach people for help. But the truth is when you ask someone for help, it builds up your community and networking. People feel trustworthy and happy that you asked them out!

Remember, anything can be solved when we communicated and speak. Along with work and studies, proper mental health is important. Mental well-being affects a person emotionally and physically as well. Thus, these easy peasy and go-to tricks will help students be calm, focused, peaceful, and relaxed, enabling them to perform well in academics and work life.

Written by – Sonali Sharma (© Copyright Protected)

Edible Oil Becoming Costlier – Bane or Boon?

Edible oil prices have steeply risen since May and are showing no signs of coming down. The main edible oils used throughout India are palm oil and soybean oil. Palm oil is imported from Malaysia and Indonesia, while soybean oil comes mainly from Brazil, Argentina and the US. India relies on more than 60% on the imports of edible oils, and any price hike in the global market is bound to hike its price in the Indian market.

Contrary to our belief, India is far from being self-reliant in edible oil. India is a massive consumer of refined oil, and domestic production is insufficient to meet such high demands. Being a populated country, she has less scope for enormous oil palm plantations than Indonesia and Malaysia. The output in these two global exporters of palm oil has decreased of late. The covid-19 pandemic has resulted in significant emigration of foreign workers to their respective countries, lowering the available labour and thus reducing production.

A similar story goes to a lesser extent for Brazil and the US regarding soybean oil production, with one added point that dry weather in Argentina reduced soybean production. Ukraine and Russia account for most of the sunflower oil imports, which too have gone down due to drought-like conditions. Moreover, the rise of biofuels across the globe demand use of edible oil for energy production instead of consumption. All these together account for the steep increase in prices of all refined oils – palm oil, soybean oil, rice bran oil, and sunflower oil. Prices have increased from a mere 110 rupees to 160-180 rupees a litre.

Cold-Pressed Oils that retains odour, flavour, and texture (colour)

But it is not in every field of edible oil production that India is lacking. In mustard oil, India holds one of the top spots and can also export that to other countries should a need arise. However, like other edible oils, the price of mustard oil has gone up way more than it ever has been. Mustard oil hovered around 130-140 rupees a litre just two months back. It has now increased to 180-200. The production of mustard oil hasn’t decreased. However, it seems to follow the global trend of oil price hike.

India has a long history of oil consumption, with many historians pointing out that the earliest production of oil began in India during the Indus Valley Civilization. Sesame seeds were pressed to extract oil from them using a presser, locally called ghani. In the modern world, sesame oil seems to have been overshadowed by the heavy use of refined oils. It is only in Rajasthan, where it was used historically. In South Indian states of Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Telangana use substantial amounts of sesame oil in local cuisine. Sesame oil is quite expensive in India due to cold-pressed extraction techniques, also called kachhi-ghani, but is much more healthy than refined oils. Thus, a hike in refined oil prices may benefit sesame oil production and consumption in the long run.

Oil Ghani Machine for extracting oil

Cold-pressed oils such as groundnut oil and coconut oil have been used in many dishes of western India and Kerala, respectively, mainly for their retention of flavour, odour, and texture (colour). Groundnut oil, in particular, along with cottonseed oil, has faced a surge in price due to low productivity and crop damage this year. Among the introduced crops, cold-pressed sunflower oil and cold-pressed safflower oil shows promising future, as they are both neutral in taste but much more healthy. Olive plantation has picked up pace in Rajasthan, and the olive oil price has considerably decreased in recent times.

A hike in edible oil prices is very challenging for middle and lower-class families, constituting the bulk of the population in India. This comes at a time when the country is reeling under severe Covid-19 crisis, where a chunk of the population are facing economic stress, and many have lost their job. So in the short term, it is no doubt that the hike in edible oil prices is a disaster for most Indians. However, in the long term, the promotion of indigenous and traditional oil extraction methods by cold-pressed methods from indigenous oilseeds may make a chunk of the population switch to healthier alternatives without compromising much on the cost.

Written by – Himadri Paul

GASPING FOR AIR, GASPING FOR ANSWERS.

The people of India are entitled to a full and honest account of what led more than a billion people to a catastrophe.

The struggle to breathe, or asphyxia, is the most terrifying human experience. Something one takes for granted, which we do more than a dozen times every minute, suddenly becomes an ordeal. I know how this feels having lived through tormenting bouts of asthma in my younger years and, more recently, when I found myself trapped under a raft in the freezing, raging, Zanskar river in Ladakh. The memories of gasping of air and the fear of dying are seared into my brain. Death typically comes as a relief from the terror, as multiple organ systems collapse due to the lack of oxygen, a colourless, odourless, tasteless gas which we are not even aware of until we cannot get enough of it. Oxygen. A word which should signify vitality and exuberance, but which in recent weeks has become synonymous with death and suffering. Who would have ever imagined that the India of 2021 which boasts sending rockets to the stars and manufactures oxygen on an industrial scale, would one day be unable to supply oxygen to save her own people?

The trauma of asphyxia

The word “trauma” typically evokes extreme events such as rape, sexual abuse and war-related violence. This is not surprising given that the word gained currency as a medical condition in the aftermath of the Vietnam war when tens of thousands of soldiers from the united states returning from the brutal conflict exhibited a range of distressing symptoms, giving birth to the diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). But the truth is that trauma can occur in many more diverse ways, and it is only now, with COVID-19 sweeping the world, that gasping for air has been recognized as a traumatic event. What ties these seemingly unconnected experiences together is that they all evoke the same intense emotions: a toxic brew of extreme fear and utter helplessness. These experiences, especially when sustained over hours or days, literally leave an imprint in the brain so that the hallmark features of PTSD symptoms such as nightmares, flashbacks and feeling on edge, recur at any time, sometimes triggered by a totally unrelated event which bears similarity to the trauma.

A recent study from the United Kingdom of over 13,000 survivors of COVID-19 reported a strong correlation between the severity of the infection and subsequent PTSD. While just over 1% of the patients reported breathing problems or hospital admissions, the prevalence of PTSD in the months which followed were staggering: 35% of the sickest, and 15% of even those who only needed home assistance. The most prominent symptoms were frightening intrusive images of being breathless or ventilated. Thus, for those who do survive these nightmares moments on the edge of life, the ordeal is far from over. Even as we struggle to keep those gasping for air alive, we must simultaneously attend to the long-term mental health consequences of survivors, a task even more daunting in a country where trauma-related mental health problems are barely even acknowledged.

Healing through the truth

But, long-term recovery of the collective trauma will need a resolution of the pent-up rage that is burning a hole in our souls. This will need the equivalent of the truth and Reconciliation Commissions which have served to heal the collective traumas of events which affected entire populations, such as apartheid in South Africa. Such an independent commission would document the facts behind the tragedy unfolding across India, hold individuals and institutions accountable, and offer a path towards restorative justice to heal a deeply wounded nation. Last week, when the Delhi High Court issued an order to the central government to ensure the supply of oxygen, I was puzzled by its statement that “as it stands, we all know this country is being run by god.” I will never know who was being referred to as god, but I am assuming it must be the spiritual being we pray to in our myriad places of worship. If so, then we must ensure that this is not the final judgement of the apocalypse that has befallen India. The people of this country are entitled to a full and honest account of what led more than a billion people into a catastrophe if only to put at rest our troubled minds, restore the fractured trust between the people and the state, and be better prepared for the next pandemic.

How stereotypes affect people

Assumptions, we all make them. They help us. Yes, they do. But what happens when you assume someone’s opinions, their sexual orientation, their ability to do something, their financial status, and even their morals? Stereotypes are overgeneralized ideas of what a certain group of individuals should have in common. By stereotyping, we “assume” what a person of a certain group should or should not have as their characteristics.

There have been multiple studies that show how a stereotype can change a person’s behavior, their response to a situation, and even self-image. Stereotypes have undesirable effects on our personality development and the types of activities we do, as well as the way we live and the careers we choose.

There was a study done by Katz and Braly (1933) on Racial Stereotyping. They selected a group of people and gave them a list of characteristics that the group had to assign to a particular type of individual(s), who were differentiated based on their race. The study showed that most of the traits that indicated active lifestyle, hardworking and ambitious behaviors were assigned to white Americans. The characters that implied laziness and unprogressive behaviors were assigned to the individuals who were of African American race. In a related study, when individuals facing performance threat were given a test, it was shown that African American participants performed less well than their White American counterparts. According to Steele, stereotype threat generates “spotlight anxiety” (Steele & Aronson, 1995, p. 809), which causes emotional distress, “vigilant worry,” and “attributional ambiguity,” which can then lead to an underwhelming performance under stress situations.

In a similar study, two groups of women were selected. One group was then reminded of their Asian descent, and another was reminded of them being female, and the one reminded of their descent performed way better than the other one. The reason that came up the most for the result was stereotypical bias.

Stereotypes not only try to strip people of their individuality but also try to mold them into someone they are not. This type of bias, when applied to children, can affect their self-expression, academic success, body image, emotional health, etc. Kids learn from the people that surround them. Forcing young boys to be emotionally unavailable and young girls to be caregivers is something that when they take in their adult life causes a lot of distress not only on an individual level but also massively on a societal level. If they are taught to behave like a stereotype, they can sometimes grow up to not accept other people who do not act in the same way that they do. These things are also a big reason for the hate crimes that a specific group experiences due to stereotypical bias, whether due to their race, ethnic background, sexual orientation, etc.

Media also has a big role in feeding into these stereotypes that lead us to believe that this is the way of life. However, offering education free of stereotypes does not mean taking away all “boys’ toys” and “girls’ toys,” such as dolls or fire trucks. Rather, it means actively encouraging children to make choices usually associated with the other gender. Children should be taught that someone’s way of talking does not describe their sexual orientation. Someone’s sexual orientation or race does not define their ideologies. Everyone deserves a chance to be someone that they want to be without fear of being judged or experiencing hate for who they are, especially when they can’t change it.

Written by – Chaarvi Dwivedi

Assam Earthquake 2021 Analysis

On 28th April 2021, a moderately severe earthquake hit Assam and parts of north-east India. The 6.4 magnitude Earthquake had epicentre at Dhekiajuli in Sonitpur district of Assam, and the focal point was 17 metres below ground level. The epicentre is located just 80 km northeast of Guwahati, the largest city in north-east India. The area falls under Seismic hazard zone V, which most prone to massive Earthquakes.

The Himalayan Frontal Thrust, or the Main Frontal Thrust, is a major geological fault along the Indian and Eurasian tectonic plate boundaries. Many parts of Assam, including Sonitpur, falls near the area of Himalayan Frontal Thrust and is thus prone to significant Earthquakes. The 8.6 magnitude Assam earthquake of 1950 severely damaged the whole state and the neighbouring states of Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram and Meghalaya. This time, as the earthquake’s magnitude was not that severe, many areas, including Guwahati, felt tremors but were not severely damaged.

The earthquake occurred specifically at Kopili fault, a 300 km long part of Himalayan Frontal Thrust stretching from Bhutan to Mayanmar following the foothills of the Himalayas. The Kopili fault is one of the most seismically unstable faults that have produced earthquakes since prehistoric times. The Kopili fault has been quiet for some time, some time and the earthquake released much of the stress building up in the crust. That is the reason for the severity of the quake. The last major earthquake in the region was of 6.0 magnitude on 29th July 1960.

According to the latest reports, two died of shock and at least 10 others sustained injuries in the earthquake. Several buildings and roads in the western part of Assam are damaged. The nearby Arunachal Pradesh districts also felt the tremors where two people are injured after their house collapsed. There was also a report of a minor landslide in West Kameng district induced by the quake, that blocked a vital road in the area.

The earthquake’s timing and duration were the primary cause that it averted any significant damage. The earthquake occurred early in the morning and for a short duration of fewer than 30 seconds. Had the tremor occurred midday, there might have been damages to workers working in high rise buildings and offices. Also, an earthquake persisting for more than 30 seconds will bring more damage to the facilities. However, there were six aftershocks ranging between 3.2 to 4.7 magnitude, which has not caused any significant destruction. Let us hope that no more damaging aftershocks occur amid the pandemic situation in India.

Written by – Himadri Paul