Friday, 31 May 2013

The Great Indian Kids Divide

I recently saw a news coverage on Times Now of a parched village in Madhya Pradesh where mothers send their little children down steep wells, right down to the almost 20-30 feet deep bottom, scaling the inside wall of the well, to fill water in buckets. It is dangerous and risky and all they get at the end of it is maybe 2-5 litres of unclean water. It is an arduous climb down and up with a risk to life and limb. The mother stands above and instructs the kids about filling more water. It is almost a scramble as kids try and get the most water from the depths of the dried well. And this after they have trekked sometimes 30 kms. 

My window overlooks a swimming pool of a neighboring building and I watched kids jumping into the pool as mothers stood by the pool side shouting instructions to swim faster, dive deeper.

The first mother pushes her kids in the well to help the family survive. The second mother pushes her kids in the pool to survive in the rat race of achieving excellence at any cost. For the first set of kids water is a precious life source and for the other set it is a source for entertainment. Ironic isn’t it?

At a traffic signal I watched as young street l kids did the balancing act. Jumped through hoops, balanced on a tight rope as their parents played music and collected money from the bystanders. Soon the cops came and herded the kids away to a juvenile home; I presume and told the parents they can be arrested for child labour. 

I switched on a channel and saw kids as young as 3, 5 and 9 years ‘gyrating’ their hips to lewd songs all the while being cheered by an audience and so called celebrity judges. I saw their parents standing in the wings shouting encouragement. The parents had a sick expression on their face and in their body language, that of making their kids fulfill their dreams at any cost and after all childhood does not cost much. I am sure the same cop must be sitting at home watching this show with his family and even sending a ‘vote’ from his cell phone for the kid participants. His sense of justice about child labour? Nowhere in sight. 

The first set of parents were using their kid’s skills to feed the family the second set were using it to feed unfulfilled dreams and desires. Both at the cost of childhood. Ironic isn’t it?

This is divided India for kids. Poor kids fight for food, water and the basic necessities and the rich abuse those very basic necessities. What is our role as parents and educators? Maybe instill empathy in our kids? Maybe try and do our bit for these kids? Or maybe ensure that our kids do not misuse basic necessities for their use and entertainment while more than half the kids in this country fight for it. 

How do the local authorities give permission to builders to have swimming pools in societies? In fact now you have homes with private swimming pools for each flat. Is this a necessity or a sheer waste and lack of empathy for human suffering? Today half of India is reeling under drought, severe drought. What is urban India willing to sacrifice to support them? We can’t make it rain but we can stop ourselves from extravagant use of water can’t we?

As a sociologist I am worried that this great Indian kid’s divide will not augur well for the mental and social health of our country. Here I would like to quote author and educationist Lilian Katz from her book ‘Intellectual Emergencies’- “I believe that each one of us must come to care about everyone else’s children. We must come to see that the well-being of our own individual children is intimately linked to the well-being of all other people’s children. After all when one of our children needs life saving surgery, someone else’s child will perform it; when one of our children is threatened or harmed by violence in the streets, someone else’s child will inflict it. The good life for our own children can only be secured if it is also secured for all other people’s children. But to worry about all other people’s children is not just a practical or strategic matter; it is a moral and ethical one; to strive for the well being of all other people’s children is also right.”

Let’s try, at least try and reduce this great India divide. Any thoughts?

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Flight Of Fright Or Flight Of Fantasy? Choice Is Yours When You Take A Flight With Your Toddler!

Taking a flight with toddlers can be nerve wrecking. The accusing looks from fellow passengers and flight attendants add to the burden. Although everyone hates to be on a flight that has kids on it - people do not admit it. But as soon as they see a kid on the flight- eyes roll up and you can almost hear them say, ‘Oh god, no’. The flight attendants have the same reaction.

Here are some pointers to make your flight more of a fantasy flight then a flight of terror!

1.    Everyone hates a kid on the plane. So, as soon as you find your seat, introduce yourself to your fellow passengers and ask for their co-operation.
2.    All airlines first board the business class passengers, then moms with kids, followed by seniors. Therefore, do not board first. Yes, if you board first you would be on the flight for 30 minutes before takeoff. That is 30 minutes of extra torture for your kid- avoid it. Instead be the last to board.
3.    Always tele check-in and take an aisle seat closer to the toilet. In overseas flights, the first row is always reserved for parents with kids.
4.    If your toddler is heavy then pay for the extra seat- you won’t regret it. In fact, kids get crankier when they have to share space with you. Therefore, if budget is not an issue then always buy a seat for your child, unless it is a baby in your arms.
5.    For long duration flights, do not take nonstop flights - break up the flight. The kid will appreciate release from the cooped up space and the new airport will keep them interested.
6.    Dress the toddler for the flight. Make your toddler wear comfortable clothes and shoes.
7.    Stock up on food that your toddler likes.
8.    Avoid giving your toddler sugary and salty drinks or snacks as it will increase the activity level.
9.    Check in all your baggage. Try not to carry more hand luggage - only what you will require.
10.  Spend on a porter, right up to the flight.
11.  Cabin pressure during takeoff and landing causes pain in your kid’s ears - make them suck, swallow or chew something.
12.  Most kids scream or howl their lungs out, during takeoff and landing. Screaming helps as it relieves the pain. Just support your child by singing a soft tune and holding their hand.
13.  Carry noise isolating ear buds, not only for your baby but for fellow passengers too. I am serious; you need to support your child. So for that purpose, give your fellow passengers the extra noise isolating ear bud, before takeoff and landing - they will be more supportive.
14.  Be ready for jet lag- yours and the baby’s. It’s going to be crankiness multiplied by two. Feel sad for the father or whoever you will be spending time with after the flight!
15.  Prefer day flights, so that when you land it is night, your toddler is exhausted and sleeps and you can start fresh. The aim is to land at your destination by late evening.
16.  Carry favourite toys at least 2- one book, one soft toy. Take walk up’s and down the airplane with your toddler.
17.  Please do not use video games as baby sitters and do not allow your toddler to run around on the flight.
Travelling with babies and toddlers is never easy. However, with the above pointers you will at least feel more in command and confident. So, have a safe and toddler friendly flight, this summer vacation.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013


98% of the brain develops in the first five years; this has been proven by brain research. So what does the brain require to thrive? It requires –

1.    Oxygen
2.    Chemicals

Oxygen helps the blood supply be healthy and the required amounts reach the brain to keep it thriving. So how does one supply oxygen to the body? Simple breathe in more oxygen by taking kids to open spaces and gardens and help your kids drink pure unadulterated water. This means reduce mall visits and aerated drinks.

The brain requires chemicals that help it to conduct ‘brain’ functions like focus, attention, memory and retention. Chemicals will be produced from the food your child eats and from the emotional environment that you expose your child to. So if the food you give your child has ‘additives’ or too much salt and sugar then these will kill the good chemicals in the body. Also if you are constantly stressing out your child with threats, punishments, disappointments, hurry and worry then the body produces negative chemicals which can damage the neurons in the brain. So this means a healthy diet and a happy environment.

Now given below is what research says about how cancer thrives. Read, relate and understand what you need to do for your family so that you can help them be more healthy and happy.

Every person has cancer cells in the body. These cancer cells do not show up in the standard tests until they have multiplied to a few billion. When the person's immune system is strong the cancer cells will be destroyed and prevented from multiplying and forming tumors. An effective way to battle cancer is to starve the cancer cells by not feeding it with the foods it needs to multiply.


a. Sugar is a cancer-feeder. - By cutting off sugar it cuts off one important food supply to the cancer  cells.  

b. Salt is a cancer feeder- Table salt has a chemical added to make it white in color. Avoid too much salt, stick to the limit.

c. Cancer cells thrive in an acid environment- A diet made of 80% fresh vegetables and juice, whole grains, seeds, nuts and a little fruits help put the body into an alkaline environment. Fresh vegetable juices provide live enzymes that are easily absorbed and reach down to cellular levels within 15 minutes to nourish and enhance growth of healthy cells.  

d. Water-best to drink purified water, or filtered, to avoid known toxins and heavy metals in tap  water.  Distilled water is acidic, avoid it.

e. Cancer is a disease of the mind, body and spirit. Anger and bitterness put the body into a stressful and acidic environment. Learn to have a loving and forgiving spirit. Learn to relax and enjoy life.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

ECA appeals to parents - Stop children from becoming like their ancestors - the grand apes!


Physical inactivity seems normal!
Just a few generations ago, physical activity was a constant part of daily life. Now we have done away with it so thoroughly, that physical inactivity seems normal. The social and economic consequences and costs are unsustainable.

We seem to be comfortable only while sitting-
The human body is wired to move and responds to movement. But sadly our lives have become sedentary and lack in the very movement that our bodies thrive on and need to be healthy. It took centuries for us to evolve from the hunched apes to the erect human body but sadly our sedentary lifestyle is taking us back to be the hunched apes, we are comfortable only while sitting! If ever in the course of modern human history there was a time for action, that time is now.

A unique Opportunity:
The first Ten years of Life Nature made children perpetual motion machines for a reason. As they head into adolescence, children draw the blueprints for their adult lives. Not just their adult bodies, but their adult intellect, character, emotional resilience and social skills. Their preferences and motivations—for physical activity or anything else—form during this key developmental phase.

Inactive children are likely to become inactive adults. Later in life, physical inactivity increases periods of ill-health and morbidity. Perhaps most dangerous of all is the fact that physically inactive parents pass along the same patterns to their children.Physically inactive children are more likely to have higher levels of fat mass and have lower academic achievement than their physically active peers.

ECA appeals to the children and parents!

Early Childhood Association appeals to all parents that these summer holidays ensure that you move and make your child move. Go for walks, climb trees, walk down stairs, play ball, play Frisbee, play GilliDanda. Plan a summer holiday that is not only about sightseeing but body movement too. So join a dance class, play football at the beach, balance on a stick or join a bird watching club and walk, walk. Just move it, move it, this summer holiday.
So join us on our drive to give back ‘movement’ to our bodies and thus gift health and a happier life to our kids. Join the Early Childhood Association this summer in our mission to move to be healthy. Post pictures of your ‘movement fun’ on our face book page and win prizes. Join us on 

Monday- Go for a morning walk with your child
Tuesday-Take your kids to the garden and play with skipping rope
Wednesday- Climb stairs together
Thursday- Play Hop Scotch
Friday- Have fun rolling and jumping on the bed or trampoline
Saturday- Do Yoga with simple animal poses
Sunday-Try and do as many as the above as possible