INDEPENDENCE DAY: From emotional celebration to mental calibration


To add some adventure to the annual ritual of fervent festivities on Independence Day I want to share with you something we tend to never even imagine in the heat of periodic excitement. In mid-1980s I prophesied, firstly, that by the turn of the 20th century India would emerge as the World Leader in R-A-C-E = Religion Art Culture and Empathy (Karuna), and, secondly, that the 21st century belongs to Hinduism. Both my hunches have come out to be true. Millions across the globe, transcending their creeds, colours, classes, political affiliations, and ethic eccentricities are mesmerised by the mystique of the matchless Indian tradition of spirituality, metaphysics, art, architecture, culture, and social mores.

June 21 stands accepted as World Yoga Day. Innumerable schools for the teaching of Sanskrit [the scientists have recognised as the most scientific language of the world] have been opened in Europe, America, and other countries. Scholars are so charmed as to initiate enthusiastic multi-disciplinary scholastic investigation into the Mystery called India that is Bharat.

World celebrities like the highest-paid Hollywood actor Julia Roberts stands converted to Hinduism who, with irrepressible sense of pride, declares, “I’m definitely a practising Hindu.” Henry Ford’s great grandson abandoned his multi-billion empire to join Hare Krishna Hare Rama, changing his name from Alfred B Ford to Ambrish Das.

My third averment is an observation based on analytical discernment of what goes on in the world by many names under the umbrella-title of progress and development. According to my assessment no genius was born in the twentieth century that somehow subsisted on the historic contribution of 19th-century geniuses in various fields. Some of them were: Charles Darwin, Swami Vivekananda, Mahatma Gandhi, Albert Einstein, Florence Nightingale, Marie Curie, BR Ambedkar, Jawaharlal Nehru, Allama Iqbal, Pablo Picasso, Vincent van Gogh, Carl Jung, Sigmund Freud, Lokmanya Tilak, Winston Churchill, Alfred Hitchcock, Le Corbusier, Frank Lloyd Wright, Mies van der Rohe, Leo Tolstoy, Karl Marx, Henry Ford, Richard Buckminster Fuller, Mark Twain, Thomas Alva Edison, Rabindranath Tagore, Dadasaheb Phalke, Bhagat Singh and Louis I Kahn [the last two belong to the cusp period between 19th and 20th centuries].

Interestingly, the Hindu mythological “Sagar Manthan” [Ocean Churning] went endlessly on during the 20th century to produce, unlike the original event’s 14 ratnas (jewels), innumerable jewels in all fields of human endeavour worldwide. For the purpose of this proclamation I have identified the beginning and end of centuries like this: 19th century ended with its cusp period from 1890 to 1910; and 20th century ended with its cusp period from 1990 to 2010. The term cusp is used in astrology in order to refer to the border between either the signs of the zodiac or the twelve houses. The cusp strength is greatest at the midpoint (or overlapping) of this merging of the signs and the effects gradually diminish toward the end of this period, at the waning of the former sign.

The 21st century properly so called began with a Big Bang in 2011. There are geniuses already born in every imaginable field all over the world: music, dance, acting, martial arts, science, art, and so forth.

Having said so I must appeal to all those who happen to read this note to shed their prejudices and mutual hatred to see in which branch of human knowledge their children and grandchildren are born to make an unprecedented contribution to the making of the Planet Earth a better place to live, work, recreate, and progress in, to the glory of Humanity as the Essence of Man.

My fourth hunch is that by 2050 the world would be ruled by women and the globe would then be the envy of paradise and other imaginary places of universal equality and prosperity—free from the intrigues and machinations of ‘polluticians’.

In view of the unprecedented historic potential of the IT-Era geniuses there is the dire need to provide congenial for their wholesome growth. We should adopt the teaching method of the Upanishadic Rishis; make the best use of so many parks in Chandigarh to undertake this onerous task. Retired teachers and professors of various subjects should voluntarily engage children with the schools’ help every Saturday to effect the mental calibration of the children’s genius with orientation for socially-beneficent activities. If we begin today in earnest we certainly can invent a glorious future giving lead to other nations in this awesome humanitarian project by not confining our creative impulses to mere feverish festivities on Independent Day.


Founder-Teacher and Former Principal, Chandigarh College of Architecture (1982-1996)
Dean, Faculty of Design & Fine Arts, and Senator, Panjab University, Chandigarh (1984-1996)
• [T’ameer Chandigarhi for Urdu Poetry]
3314, Sector 15-D, Chandigarh-160015 (India)
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• PHONE: +91-172-2773258 [Residence]
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Wednesday: 15 August 2018; 5:30 a.m.

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Patriotism, the tailor-made kind

Ashima Sehajpal Batish

DURING the interval of Mulk, a film that deals with seemingly bigger patriotism issues, an ad of an ethnic clothing brand for men brings it down to ‘pehno apni pehchan’. It shows children tutoring their fathers on swadeshi, videshi, suti, paramparic veshbhusha, urging them to wear traditional kurta for a day. More precisely to invest in the brand’s ‘freedom collection’. In the runup to the Independence Day, the sartorial choice is volleyed as a confirmation of patriotism.

Confirmation is now mandatory. Patriotism must be worn on the sleeve, like a flashy cuff-link that will fetch you compliments. How else will you do it? Slip into the brand’s kurta, consume a certain brand of ayurvedic products, binge shop on Independence Day sale offers and watch freedom-themed Satyameva Jayate or Gold. You will also be required to watch Nora Fatehi’s item song Dilber in Satyameva Jayate. Revisit it multiple times a day and contribute to the success of the film on patriotism. Off the cuff, Fatehi’s exemplary belly dancing won the song 100 million views in record time. Before the film’s trailer, the song was launched, so its importance can’t be undermined in a film that preaches desh bhakti.

For more updates on patriotism, log on to ‘desh ka network’. As you do this, you might stumble upon Kunal Kamra’s ‘Patriotism and the Government’. When you settle down after the ROFL bout, you realise the title was misleading. It should have carried a statutory warning: the 10-minute video is detrimental to love-for-the-nation feeling. Within quotes, it states too many uncomfortable truths. I scrolled down and kickers on the lines of ‘the nation wants to know’ rescued my sense of country love. I glued in to heated debates, clapped heartily when the anchor’s hair slipped on his forehead as he passionately jerked his head in anger. That anger, oh yes, is patriotism. Slight variations of it are seen too often now — in the form of lynching, or kanwariyas getting violent, or a mob attacking a school bus.

They all make for the collective definition of present-day nationalism. Any digression can be labelled anti-national. So, when a leader tells you about our ancient Internet days, have faith. Self-praise is the only recommendation; self-criticism can cost you heavy, perhaps even your job. I believe some politicians when they raise doubts of self-propaganda as Umar Khalid is attacked.

To chase away the tiny doubts in my dedication, I bought a Tricolour, hand-painted by a child, who made Rs 10 from it. I put it on my car, as a stamp of love for my country. The rain joined in the celebration. And then, something happened. The orange of the flag bled, mixing with water and taking over the white. The green had washed away. The only colour on the flag made it alien to me. It wasn’t mine. I didn’t buy another one. Patriotism is to be cherished, not flaunted.

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ਤੁਰ ਗਿਆ ਗਵਾਂਢੋਂ ਯਾਰ…

ਯਾਦਵਿੰਦਰ ਕਰਫਿਊ

ਦੋਸਤ ਨਾਲ ਬੜੇ ਸੋਹਣੇ ਮੂਡ ‘ਚ ਬੈਠਾ ਸੀ। ਵਟਸਐਪ ਚੈੱਕ ਕੀਤਾ। ਪਿੰਡੋਂ ਦੋਸਤ ਗੁਰਮੀਤ ਦਾ ਸੁਨੇਹਾ ਸੀ। ਪ੍ਰਿਥੀ ਅਲਵਿਦਾ ਕਹਿ ਗਿਆ ਯਾਰ…। ਲੱਗਿਆ, ਜਿਵੇਂ ਕਿਸੇ ਨੇ ਕੁਝ ਖੋਹ ਲਿਆ ਹੋਵੇ। ਖ਼ਬਰ ਬਣਾਉਣ ਵਾਲੇ ਦਾ ਦੋਸਤ ਖ਼ਬਰ ਬਣ ਗਿਆ। ਖ਼ਬਰ ਸੀ: ‘ਨਸ਼ੇ ਦੀ ਓਵਰਡੋਜ਼ ਨਾਲ ਨੌਜਵਾਨ ਦੀ ਮੌਤ’। ਪਿਛਲੇ 15-20 ਦਿਨਾਂ ‘ਚ ਉਹਨੇ ਦੋ ਵਾਰ ਫੋਨ ਕੀਤਾ ਸੀ। ਦੋਵੇਂ ਵਾਰ ਉਤਸ਼ਾਹ ਅਤੇ ਨਿਰਾਸ਼ਾ ਨਾਲ ਇਕਸਾਰ ਭਰਿਆ ਹੋਇਆ। ਮੌਤ ਤੋਂ ਬਾਅਦ ਲੱਗਿਆ, ਉਹ ਮੇਰੇ ਨਾਲ ਆਪਣੇ ਹਿੱਸੇ ਦੀਆਂ ਆਖ਼ਰੀ ਗੱਲਾਂ ਦਾ ਕੋਟਾ ਪੂਰਾ ਕਰ ਰਿਹਾ ਸੀ। ਮੈਂ ਹਰ ਵਾਰ ਵਾਂਗ ਕਿਹਾ, “ਯਾਰ, ਦਾਰੂ ਘਟਾ ਦੇ।” ਪਿੰਡ ਨਾਲ ਰਾਬਤਾ ਘੱਟ ਹੋਣ ਕਾਰਨ ਮੈਨੂੰ ਨਹੀਂ ਸੀ ਪਤਾ, ਉਹ ਅੰਤਮ ਦਿਨਾਂ ‘ਚ ਚਿੱਟੇ ਤੱਕ ਪਹੁੰਚ ਗਿਆ ਸੀ।

ਪਿੰਡ ਦੋਸਤਾਂ ਨਾਲ ਗੱਲ ਹੋਈ। ਪ੍ਰਿਤਪਾਲ ਸਿੰਘ ਦੀ ਮੌਤ ਕਿਸੇ ਲਈ ਕੋਈ ਝਟਕਾ ਨਹੀਂ ਸੀ। ਸਭ ਨੇ ਬੜੇ ਸਹਿਜ ਨਾਲ ਕਿਹਾ, “ਇਹ ਅੱਜ ਨਹੀਂ ਤਾਂ ਕੱਲ੍ਹ ਹੋਣਾ ਹੀ ਸੀ।” ਖ਼ੁਦ ਮੇਰੀ ਮਾਂ ਨੇ ਕਿਹਾ, “ਪਰਿਵਾਰ ਵੀ ਦੁਖੀ ਸੀ। ਸਭ ਵੇਚ-ਵੱਟ ਖਾਣ ਲੱਗ ਪਿਆ ਸੀ। ਮੁੰਡੇ ਦੇ ਲੱਛਣ ਠੀਕ ਨਹੀਂ ਸੀ ਪੁੱਤ। ਹੁਣ ਤਾਂ ਸਰਿੰਜਾਂ ਸਰੁੰਜਾਂ ਵੀ ਲਾਉਂਦਾ ਸੀ।” ਪ੍ਰਿਤਪਾਲ ਦੀ ਮੌਤ ਬਾਰੇ ਮੇਰੇ ਘਰਦਿਆਂ ਤੇ ਦੋਸਤਾਂ ਤੋਂ ਲੈ ਕੇ ਪਿੰਡ ਦੀ ਅਸੰਵੇਦਨਸ਼ੀਲਤਾ ਨੇ ਦੁਖੀ ਕੀਤਾ। ਉਹ ਮਾੜਾ ਸੀ, ਨਸ਼ੇੜੀ ਸੀ। ਮੇਰੇ ਸਮੇਤ ਸਭ ਨਾਲ ਲੜਦਾ-ਝਗੜਦਾ ਸੀ; ਠੀਕ ਹੈ ਪਰ ਕੀ ਉਸ ਦੀ ਮੌਤ ਪ੍ਰਤੀ ਸਮਝਦਾਰ ਬੇਸਮਝੀ ਠੀਕ ਹੈ? ਕੀ ਸਾਨੂੰ ਪ੍ਰਿਤਪਾਲ ਦੇ ਝਗੜਾਲੂ ਤੇ ਨਸ਼ੇੜੀ ਹੋਣ ਦੇ ਕਾਰਨਾਂ ਤੱਕ ਨਹੀਂ ਜਾਣਾ ਚਾਹੀਦਾ? ਮੈਂ ਵੀ ਉਸ ਦੀ ਮੌਤ ਦਾ ਸਰਲੀਕਰਨ ਕਰਕੇ ਤੋੜਾ ਸਰਕਾਰ, ਚਿੱਟਾ ਤਸਕਰਾਂ ਅਤੇ ਉਹਦੇ ਸਿਰ ਝਾੜ ਕੇ ਖ਼ੁਦ ਨੂੰ ਮੁਕਤ ਕਰ ਸਕਦਾ ਹਾਂ, ਫਿਰ ਦੋਸਤੀ ਦਾ ਕੋਈ ਮਤਲਬ ਰਹੇਗਾ?

ਪ੍ਰਿਤਪਾਲ ਨਾਲ ਯਾਰੀ ਪਹਿਲੀ ਜਮਾਤ ਤੋਂ ਸੀ। ਉਹ ਸਰਕਾਰੀ ਸਕੂਲ ‘ਚ ਪੜ੍ਹਦਾ ਸੀ। ਬਾਪੂ ਨੂੰ ਇਸ ਯਾਰੀ ‘ਤੇ ਘੋਰ ਇਤਰਾਜ਼ ਸੀ: “ਤੈਨੂੰ ਚੰਗੇ ਸਕੂਲ ‘ਚ ਅਜਿਹੇ ਦੋਸਤ ਬਣਾਉਣ ਲਈ ਲਾਇਆ?” ਪ੍ਰਿਤਪਾਲ ਬੇਹੱਦ ਅਵੱਲਾ ਸੀ। ਕਈ ਵਾਰ ਦੋਵਾਂ ਦੀ ਇਕੱਠਿਆਂ ਥੱਪੜ-ਪਰੇਡ ਹੋਈ। ਸਾਡੀ ਪੁਲੀਸ-ਡਾਕੂ ਖੇਡਣ ਵਾਲੀ ਲੱਕੜ ਦੀ ਰਫ਼ਲ ਤੋੜ ਦਿੱਤੀ ਗਈ। ਇਕੱਠੇ ਪਤੰਗ ਚੜ੍ਹਾਉਂਦੇ ਤੇ ਗੋਲੀਆਂ ਖੇਡਦੇ ਕੁੱਟੇ ਗਏ। ਸਭ ਕਾਸੇ ਦੇ ਬਾਵਜੂਦ ਅਸੀਂ ‘ਯੇ ਦੋਸਤੀ ਹਮ ਨਹੀਂ ਤੋੜੋਂਗੇ’ ਵਾਂਗ ਡਟੇ ਰਹੇ।

ਮੈਂ ਪੜ੍ਹਦਾ ਰਿਹਾ ਤੇ ਪ੍ਰਿਤਪਾਲ ਛੇਵੀਂ ਚੋਂ ਫੇਲ੍ਹ ਹੋ ਗਿਆ। ਉਹ ਥੋੜ੍ਹਾ ਬਹੁਤ ਰਾਜਗਿਰੀ ਦਾ ਕੰਮ ਕਰਨ ਲੱਗਿਆ। ਬਾਪੂ ਨੇ ਪ੍ਰਿਤਪਾਲ ਲਈ ਜਾਤੀਸੂਚਕ ਸ਼ਬਦ ਵਰਤ ਕੇ ਕਹਿਣਾ- ‘ਇਹ ਤਾਂ 300 ਰੁਪਈਆ ਦਿਹਾੜੀ ਲੈਣ ਲੱਗਜੂ, ਤੈਨੂੰ ਕਿਸੇ ਨੇ 50 ਰੁਪਏ ‘ਤੇ ਨਹੀਂ ਲਿਜਾਣਾ’। ਜਦੋਂ ਮੇਰਾ ਕਾਲਜ ਸ਼ੁਰੂ ਹੋਇਆ ਤਾਂ ਮੈਂ ਕਾਲਜ ਦੀ ਵਿਦਿਆਰਥੀ ਸਿਆਸਤ ਪਿੰਡ ਲੈ ਆਇਆ। ਦੋਸਤਾਂ ਨਾਲ ਰਾਤ ਦੇ 1-1 ਵਜੇ ਤੱਕ ਪੰਜਾਬ, ਦੇਸ, ਦੁਨੀਆ ਦੀ ਸਿਆਸਤ ਬਾਰੇ ਚਰਚਾ ਹੁੰਦੀ। ਪ੍ਰਿਤਪਾਲ ਘੱਟ ਪੜ੍ਹਿਆ ਲਿਖਿਆ ਹੋਣ ਦੇ ਬਾਵਜੂਦ ਹਰ ਵਿਸ਼ੇ ‘ਚ ਸਭ ਤੋਂ ਵੱਧ ਰੁਚੀ ਰੱਖਦਾ। ਇਸੇ ਦੌਰ ‘ਚ ਉਹ ਮੇਰੇ ਨਾਲ ਖੇਤੀਬਾੜੀ ਦੇ ਕੰਮ ਵੀ ਕਰਵਾਉਂਦਾ ਰਿਹਾ। ਮੈਂ ਉਹਦੀ ਸੂਚਨਾ, ਗਿਆਨ, ਕਿਰਤ ਦੀ ਸਮਰੱਥਾ ਅਤੇ ਊਰਜਾ ਦਾ ਆਭਾ ਮੰਡਲ ਨੇੜਿਓਂ ਦੇਖਿਆ। ਉਹ ਕਿਤਾਬਾਂ ਤਾਂ ਪੜ੍ਹਦਾ ਹੀ ਸੀ, ਕਣਕ ਦੀ ਪਾਂਤ ਮੇਰੇ ਨਾਲੋਂ ਪਹਿਲਾਂ ਲਾ ਦਿੰਦਾ। ਹੜੰਭੇ ‘ਤੇ ਸਭ ਨੂੰ ਮਾਤ ਪਾ ਦਿੰਦਾ। ਨਰਮਾ ਗੁੱਡਦਿਆਂ ਮੈਨੂੰ ਹਰਾ ਦਿੰਦਾ। ਮੋਟਰ ‘ਤੇ ਉਹਨੇ ਕਈ ਵਾਰ ਦੇਸੀ ਦਾਰੂ ਨਾਲ ਕਬੂਤਰ ਭੁੰਨੇ। ਇਕ ਵਾਰ ਸੂਏ ‘ਚੋਂ ਕੱਛੂ ਫੜ ਲਿਆਇਆ। ਉਸੇ ਸੂਏ ‘ਚ ਮੈਨੂੰ ਡਬੋ ਡਬੋ ਕੇ ਤੈਰਨਾ ਸਿਖਾਇਆ। ਸੂਏ ‘ਚੋਂ ਉਹ ਅੰਧਵਿਸ਼ਵਾਸੀ ਲੋਕਾਂ ਦੇ ਛੱਡੇ ਨਾਰੀਅਲ ਸਭ ਤੋਂ ਪਹਿਲਾਂ ਖਾ ਕੇ ਸਭ ਦੇ ਅੰਧਵਿਸ਼ਵਾਸ ਦੂਰ ਕਰ ਦਿੰਦਾ।

ਪ੍ਰਿਤਪਾਲ ਆਮ ਨਹੀਂ, ਵਿਲੱਖਣ ਪ੍ਰਤਿਭਾ ਤੇ ਊਰਜਾ ਵਾਲਾ ਸ਼ਖ਼ਸ ਸੀ। ਹਾਂ, ਜ਼ਿੰਦਗੀ ‘ਚ ਥੋੜ੍ਹਾ ਫਿਲਮੀ ਸੀ। ਕਮਾਲ ਦੀ ਅਦਾਕਾਰੀ ਕਰਦਾ ਸੀ। ਦੋ ਪੈੱਗ ਲਾ ਕੇ ‘ਸ਼ੋਅਲੇ’ ਦਾ ਧਰਮਿੰਦਰ ਬਣ ਜਾਂਦਾ। ਦੁਨੀਆ ਉਸ ਨੂੰ ਪੜ੍ਹ ਨਹੀਂ ਸਕੀ ਤੇ ਉਹ ਦੁਨੀਆ ਨੂੰ। ਉਹ ਬੇਕਿਰਕ ਦੁਨੀਆ ‘ਚ ਫਿੱਟ ਨਾ ਹੋ ਸਕਿਆ। ਫਿਰ ਨਸ਼ਾ ਉਹਨੂੰ ਮੁਕਤੀ ਦਾ ਸਾਧਨ ਲੱਗਣ ਲੱਗਿਆ। ਉਹਦਾ ਹਾਲ ‘ਕੀ ਪੁੱਛਦੇ ਓਂ ਹਾਲ ਫਕੀਰਾਂ ਵਾਲਾ’ ਹੋ ਚੁੱਕਿਆ ਸੀ।… ਯਸੂ ਮਸੀਹ ਕਹਿੰਦੇ ਨੇ- ‘ਬੱਚਾ ਧਰਤੀ ‘ਤੇ ਰੱਬ ਦਾ ਰੂਪ ਹੈ’। ਮਨੋਵਿਗਿਆਨੀ ਫਰਾਇਡ ਕਹਿੰਦਾ- ‘ਬਚਪਨ ਦੀਆਂ ਘਟਨਾਵਾਂ ਦਾ ਅਸਰ ਮਨੁੱਖ ‘ਤੇ ਤਾਉਮਰ ਰਹਿੰਦਾ ਹੈ’। ਬਚਪਨ ‘ਚ ਮਾਂ ਪਿਓ ਦੀ ਮੌਤ ਨੇ ਪ੍ਰਿਤਪਾਲ ਤੋਂ ਓਹਦਾ ‘ਰੱਬ ਹੋਣਾ’ ਖੋਹ ਲਿਆ। ਬਚਪਨ ਉਹਨੂੰ ਜ਼ਿੰਦਗੀ ਭਰ ਤੰਗ ਕਰਦਾ ਰਿਹਾ। ਬਚਪਨ ‘ਚ ਉਹਨੂੰ ਪਿਆਰ ਨਹੀਂ, ਅਦਿੱਖ ਹਿੰਸਾ ਮਿਲੀ। ਹਿੰਸਾ ਨੇ ਉਹਦੇ ਅੰਦਰ ਹਿੰਸਾ ਕੁੱਟ ਕੁੱਟ ਭਰ ਦਿੱਤੀ। ਨਸ਼ਾ ਇਸੇ ਹਿੰਸਾ ਦਾ ਨਤੀਜਾ ਸੀ। ਬਚਪਨ ‘ਚ ਮਾਂ ਪਿਓ ਦਾ ਪਿਆਰ ਨਾ ਮਿਲਿਆ। ਜਵਾਨੀ ‘ਚ ਇਸ਼ਕ ਦੇ ਰੰਗ ਨਾ ਲੱਗੇ। ਪਿਆਰ ਨੇ ਹੀ ਬਚਪਨ ਦੀਆਂ ਸੱਟਾਂ ਦੀ ਮੱਲ੍ਹਮ ਬਣਨਾ ਸੀ। ਪਤਨੀ ਨਾਲ ਵੀ ਉਹਦੀ ਬਣ ਨਾ ਸਕੀ। ਉਹਦਾ ਭਾਵੁਕ ਪੱਖ ਹਮੇਸ਼ਾ ਅਸੰਤੁਲਿਤ ਰਿਹਾ। ਇਹ ਅਸੰਤੁਲਨ ਹੀ ਉਸ ਨੂੰ ਦਾਰੂ ਤੋਂ ਚਿੱਟੇ ਅਤੇ ਝਗੜਾਲੂ ਹੋਣ ਤੱਕ ਲੈ ਗਿਆ। ਲੋਹਾ ਲੋਹੇ ਨੂੰ ਵੱਢਦਾ। ਜ਼ਹਿਰ ਨੂੰ ਜ਼ਹਿਰ। ਉਸ ਨੂੰ ਆਪਣੇ ਹਾਣ ਦਾ ਨਾ ਲੋਹਾ ਮਿਲਿਆ, ਨਾ ਜ਼ਹਿਰ।

ਅਜਿਹੇ ਲੋਕਾਂ ਨੂੰ ‘ਮੁਹੱਬਤੀ ਦਰਵੇਸ਼ ਆਸਰਿਆਂ’ ਦੀ ਲੋੜ ਹੁੰਦੀ ਹੈ ਪਰ ਆਸਰੇ ਉਹਦੇ ਨੇੜੇ ਆਉਣ ਦੀ ਥਾਂ ਦੂਰ ਹੁੰਦੇ ਗਏ। ਸਾਡਾ ਸਮਾਜ ਇੰਨਾ ਅਮੀਰ ਨਹੀਂ ਕਿ ਊਰਜਾਵਾਨ ਲੋਕਾਂ ਨੂੰ ਸਾਂਭ ਸਕੇ। ਕੋਸ਼ਿਸ਼ਾਂ ਦੇ ਬਾਵਜੂਦ ਅਸੀਂ ਸਾਰੇ ਉਸ ਨੂੰ ਸਭ ਕੁਝ ਦੇਣ ‘ਚ ਅਸਫ਼ਲ ਰਹੇ। ਹੁਣ ਪ੍ਰਿਤਪਾਲ ਨਾਲ ਰਿਸ਼ਤਾ ਸ਼ਬਦਾਂ ਤੋਂ ਪਾਰ ਦਾ ਹੈ। ਉਹ ਸ਼ਬਦ ਤੋਂ ਮੁਕਤ ਹੋ ਗਿਆ ਪਰ ਉਹਦੇ ਨਾਲ ਗੱਲਾਂ ਕਰਨ ਨੂੰ ‘ਸ਼ਬਦ’ ਹੀ ਚੁਣਨੇ ਪਏ।

ਸੰਪਰਕ: 95308-95198

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Medication and abnormal lab tests

Samir Malhotra

A few months back I had this telephonic conversation Mr. D: I was put on medication for high blood pressure but it is adversely affecting my kidneys.

Me: I remember. I had stressed on the importance of taking medication regularly.

Mr. D: Okay. I am busy now but can we discuss later? 5.30 PM, your office.

And I was disconnected.

Medications can and do cause adverse effects. One of the several criteria to attribute an adverse effect to a medication is ‘temporal relationship’ – medication can cause adverse reaction only after it was taken.

Medications can harm any organ. Blood carries them to all tissues where they interact with cells. But the liver and kidneys bear the brunt as they try to eliminate what we consume. Both these factors increase the possibility of Mr. D suffering an adverse reaction. However, this article is about statistics.

A lab test tells us about the functioning of an organ. When a lab gives a report, typically it also mentions normal reference range — 0.84-1.21 mg/dL for creatanine. For a test of liver function (AST), it is 5-30 U/L. Values outside the range are considered ‘abnormal’.

The reference range applies to 95 per cent of the normal population. Its implications are important – five per cent of the normal population will have values outside this `normal range’. A value of 32 for AST would most likely mean that the person is among the remaining five per cent although the report highlights it as ‘abnormal’. If we were to test 1,000 healthy individuals, 50 may have values outside the range for that test. Such people are not necessarily diseased.

Another possible scenario: the lab report is within the `normal range’ but has risen from a previous value. For instance, creatinine value of 0.8 before starting a medication, and going up to 1.2 a few weeks after starting a medication may mean kidney damage, although the value is still within range.

Now coming back to Mr. D -although not a medico, his observation should not be ignored. High BP itself can damage kidneys, and so can some medication used to treat it (in certain patients). He came with his reports, feeling concerned, says, “See this creatinine report – it’s outside the normal range.”

Me: How long after starting medication you got this test done?

Mr. D: Two days. He asked me to wait for four weeks but I thought of a test just to be on the safe side. He had my kidneys tested before starting medication and they were normal. I am thinking of stopping the medicine.

I saw his reports – before and after medication. The ‘before’ report was 0.86 and ‘after’ 0.78 (`normal range’ 0.84-1.21) and the ‘after’ value was highlighted by the lab!

First, increased creatinine is an indicator that kidney dysfunction has not decreased; in any case the decrease is too small. Second, though some drugs can produce kidney injury within 24 hours, in this setting two days is too short a period. Third, day-to-day variations in most parameters occur normally. Lastly, differences between labs, within the same lab, sample handling, can all contribute to variations in values.

My reassurance was 50 per cent successful – he did not discontinue his medication but keeps unnecessarily repeating kidney tests every two weeks – which remain normal.

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True sacrifice not about the goat

Sumit Paul

IN these highly polarised times when the binary of ‘they’ and ‘us’ is becoming increasingly blatant and boorish, a heart-warming memory of religious munificence still gladdens my heart and mind. This happened more than a decade ago when I just got my doctorate degree and to acknowledge my gratitude towards an erudite Indian Muslim professor who helped me a lot, I phoned him that I would come to India during Eid-al-Adha (Bakr Eid) en route to Karachi. I met the late Dr Rehan Qadir and his spouse in Calcutta. Both insisted that I must stay with them.

But I had this extremely uncomfortable feeling that they would sacrifice a goat. But no qurbani happened at the professor’s place. Instead, we went to an orphanage and spent time with the inmates distributing clothes and food among them. We fed the poor at Kalighat. I wondered why they did not sacrifice a goat on the occasion of Eid. ‘Aapne qurbani nahin di?’ I enquired, to which they just smiled, and said nothing. I went to Karachi from there and sent a handwritten letter to them, wondering why they refrained from offering a sacrifice on a sacred day.

What Dr Qadir wrote is still etched in my memory. He wrote in Urdu which I am translating into English, “No religion can be greater than fellow-feeling and empathy. You were our esteemed guest and we knew that you never touched meat in your life. It would have been terribly uncomfortable for you, had we sacrificed a goat during your stay at our place. Allah understands the intentions and makes concessions. Moreover, we sacrificed our ardent wish to sacrifice on Eid-al-Adah because Allah says in the Quran, ‘Sacrifice what is closest to your heart and dearest to you.’”

This is the spirit of fellow-feeling and the essence of all religions. My Muslim host sacrificed his (religious) wish to sacrifice for my sake. Ostensibly, he went against the diktats of his faith. But that did not deter him. In fact, he served his religion in a manner Allah would have approved of.

The core of any religion or religious practice is humanity. To sacrifice an animal is literal. The sacrifice of ego, which is dearest to us, is of paramount importance. The Sufis and mystics urged the followers to sacrifice all vices and get rid of ana (egoism). Until the ego disappears, self-realisation will continue to elude us.

Hafiz Shirazi says in a Persian couplet: ‘Ya rakhtam bizaat-e-me izq/ shaist un ana nizq’ (Until your ‘I’ is completely dissolved, no sacrifice will be adequate).

Let us go beyond sacrificial totemism and understand the crux of a religion and its practices. Creating goodwill is the universal message of all religions.

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Torture didn’t break him, this did

Naresh Raj

MY father was a teacher and a freedom fighter who took part in ‘Praja Mandal’, a political outfit launched by Babu Brish Bhan and Giani Zail Singh, former President of India, in the early thirties. He was a young boy then.

In the year 1942, activists of the Praja Mandal were supporting the Quit India Movement. They were few in number. The Station House Officer (SHO) of Sunam — our village — arrested them and took them to a jail in Sangrur since there was no such facility in Sunam. It was a cold month of February. The activists were told to strip and made to lie down on ice slabs. A constable then gave them a beating with a stick. Such was the fervour of patriotism that they did not cry out in pain, but continued raising the slogans of Bharat Mata ki Jai and Vande Mataram. Even the SHO and the jail employees were in a state of shock on seeing their determination and passion for azadi.

We did get our freedom, but at a great price.

My father took to teaching at a college. He could have been a minister, but such persons are above these desires. He produced stalwarts: some of his students became Secretaries, Chief Secretaries, judges of the High Court, IAS and IPS officers and rose to great heights. Even the Chairman of Jet Airways, Naresh Goyal, was my father’s student.

Incidents of rampant loot, corruption, scams, unemployment, crime, communal riots, etc., happening across our country, used to depress my father.

One day, he was reading a newspaper and became very sad. I asked him the reason. He read out the news of a minister found guilty in a scam and sentenced to a jail term by the court. In the same paper, there was a news of the rape of an 18-year-old girl in Delhi, the country’s capital. He said in a voice choked with emotions: ‘Yeh to woh Hindustan nahin hai jiske liye humne itni kurbaniyaan di thi (This is not the Hindustan we sacrificed so much for).’

I could see tears flowing from his eyes. A man who could not be made to cry by third degree torture was made to weep by his own countrymen. There was a sense of betrayal.

I wonder if all their sacrifices were, indeed, in vain.

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A green thumb that got out of hand

Desh Bir Sharma

IN recent months I had felt a keen desire to go green. It meant using green waste from the kitchen for composting. It meant favouring organically grown farm produce, especially vegetables and fruit.

I had a small piece of land 2 km away from home. I decided to use it for growing vegetables for ourselves. I got plant-beds prepared in about two marlas of land. From the nursery, in I bought seeds and saplings. Two beds were used to plant brinjals and some tomato saplings. Another two were used to sow seeds of okra. Other beds received French beans. The last two went to cucumber and karela seeds.

Meanwhile, composting was in progress in a pit at home. All peals and leftovers of organic stuff found their way to the pit. After 15 days I found myself hurrying to the vegetable beds every morning to nurse my green wards. Manure from the pit played its role and after nearly 40 days, brinjals, beans and lady-finger plants displayed such fecundity that I had to go for harvesting every third day. Not knowing what to do with such volumes, my wife became generous. Neighbours, friends and relatives now came to realise how we were facing the problem of plenty.

A conscious effort was made to reap the produce at the most tender stage. The results were amazing. We had never seen such tenderness in vegetables fetched from the market. There was a kind of taste of freshness never experienced earlier. Yet , this plenty made us compulsive vegetable dispensers. Three domestic helps were administered this dose plenty of times. However, one of them confessed that her children did not like brinjals. That was a bathetic point in my green story.

Then the tomato plants came up with such bumper yield that for nearly one and a half months, we didn’t buy from the market. Rather, these reached many other kitchens too.

By the end of June, the yield tapered off. This was a welcome relief because some beneficiaries had started believing that they were being obliged with throwaway stuff. That is what happens when you get a thing without paying a price. That was my lesson.

Yet, something more was to come. I had emptied the compost pit in the flower-bed outside our house. One day, I found hundreds of seedlings pushing their tiny heads from the seeds that had stayed in the compost. By now I have planted papaya in almost all possible available spaces and gifted stout saplings to many. I am still left with many more, awaiting papaya-lovers (not many are expected to volunteer).

Left slightly wiser by the experience, I have now started growing vegetables on the roof-top in grow-bags, using coco peat and compost, for a family of two, lest the green gift of nature should be underestimated by people who receive it for free.

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