Thursday, 29 June 2017

Society plays Geriatricks

Our society must make it right and possible for old people not to fear the young or be deserted by them, for the test of a civilization is the way that it cares for its helpless members.
                                              -Pearl S. Buck

By the year 2050 India will have the largest population of elderly people in the world, according to a projection based on the census taken in the year 2011.  Being a welfare state, our governments are taking all possible steps to ensure that the elderly are treated well and taken care off. Maintenance and Welfare of Senior Citizens and Parents Act 2007 is just a step towards that ideal. In 2014 the Standing Committee on Social Justice and Empowerment submitted its report, recommending the following:

Implementation of Existing Policies, i.e.:
- Maintenance of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007,
- Setting up a helpline for senior citizens,
- Establishing a National Commission for Senior Citizens, and
- Establishing a National Trust for the Aged
Apart from these the Standing Committee in its report also recommended the formulation of new policies and laws for the welfare of senior citizens. Some of the recommendations made with this regard were:

- A comprehensive law on social security
- Pensions, health insurance and tax exemption schemes
- National Council for senior citizens
- Expansion of old age homes and geriatric facilities
- Formulation of standard norms and guidelines for old age homes

With the increase in life expectancy rates the elderly population across the world has increased and continues to. In India it is expected that by 2050, 20 per cent of entire population would consist of elderly people (60 and above). All the above recommendations appear to be on the right track, but the question which still remains elusive is whether these steps will ensure that the elderly are respected, loved and taken care off instead of being deserted by their own children. As a welfare state, our country has to ensure the welfare of elderly people, but at the same time we should also do an inquiry into the cause of this malaise. One main reason for the poor plight of elderly in our society is weaning away from the age old joint family system. Orphanages and Old age homes are something which are never heard off in our society before the advent of the colonial rulers. The colonial rulers saw that the strength of our society lies in the family system and they systematically planned to corrode this system which is the repository of all values. When people drifted from the Joint family system to the nuclear families the immediate victims are the elderly ones in the family. The most loved and revered ones became a liability over a period of time because in the nuclear family the economic burden is not shared. Parents have to shuttle between the houses of their children and many of them lost a permanent home. They lost their emotional connect with their next generation and were left to ponder when they will get relieved of this painful existence. A society which placed Mata and Pita in a higher pedestal than even the God himself, is now frantically searching for ideal old age homes to dump its parents. This fall is the direct result of getting alienated from our values. Schools nowadays teach children life skills like, how to face an interview, how to take part in a group discussion, how to address people, building their vocabulary etc. these skills are very important and vital for anyone who wants to come up in life braving all the challenges. But along with these if the children are also taught the most important values like empathy, sharing, sacrifice, honesty, respect to fellow human beings, love towards nature etc. that will not only ensure that they imbibe good qualities but will also pave way for society sans Orphanages and Old age homes. Major role in designing an ideal future society lies in the hands of present day parents. If they fail to impart values to their children then they will emerge only as educated zombies. They should make their children realize that life is not just about rights to enjoy, but a lot more about responsibilities and duties to fulfill.  Ideal society is not the one where there are adequate number of Old age homes with all the facilities, but the one which does not have the need to build Old age homes.
V.V.Balasubramanian
YB-ET

Saturday, 3 June 2017

Being Happy…

Every human being’s ultimate aim in life is to be happy. It is towards this ever eluding happiness all human endeavors are aimed at. Our Work, Business, Politics, Recreation everything is intended to provide this Happiness, not only to us, but also to all those who are around us. When the whole world is trying to reach this Mirage called Happiness, our country has devised its own unique approach to be Happy always. It’s a product of our very ancient Vedic Cultural Heritage, its Yoga. Yoga, as popularly misunderstood, is not mere Asanas and Breathing practices. Yoga is wonderful science, which uses our Body and Mind as a tool to get liberated from the very same Body and Mind complex.

Our scriptures say that we are embodiment of happiness. But to realize this, which is the core of our personality, we have to get detached from bondages. We will be able to see that the entire creation is divine once we get ourselves detached from our bondages. Seeing the entire creation as one is the path to the abode of Happiness. Swami Vivekananda said, “Religion is not in Doctrines, in Dogmas, nor in intellectual argumentation; it is being and becoming, it is Realisation”.

Yoga helps us to get this vairagya, which is essential for getting the detachment. If we cling on to the lower truths, our spiritual quest can never become true. Then happiness will forever be a dream to be achieved. In fact we cling on to the bondages because we think that they are the sources of happiness. We also misunderstand that happiness means enjoyment. And try to pursue Happiness through enjoyment. But how do we pursue happiness effectively? After all, some recent scientific research actually cautions us against the pursuit of happiness. For instance, a study led by Iris Mauss, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, found that people instructed to feel happier while watching a pleasant film clip actually ended up feeling worse than people who were instructed just to watch the clip. Findings like this are echoed in the popular press. Renowned Writer Ruth Whippman wrote in a recent New York Times article that the pursuit of happiness is a “recipe for neurosis.” But then is happiness a dream which can never be achieved? Are we doomed to fail at the pursuit of happiness? It depends. The difference between effectively and ineffectively pursuing happiness may all be in how we go about it. Research suggests that people who strive to feel happy all of the time may suffer disappointment, and people who pursue happiness as if it were the only thing that matters may, ironically, chase happiness away. It’s because we search happiness in material beings and forget the real source of happiness.

But in yogic lore Santhosha which is the term many people misconstrue for happiness actually means contentment. It is not about enjoying or possessing valuables but being content with what life has given to you. If our mind is tuned with the help of yoga to get this santhosha then as a natural progression we will be able to get Ananda, the real happiness.

We, as a society, once gave this unending elixir of happiness to the humanity. Now, once again it is our responsibility to remind the world and also us, that the search for happiness can end with realizing that Ananda, which comes through proper understanding and practice of this wonderful Vedic technique called Yoga.
V.V.Balasubramanian

YB-ET